Skills & Competencies Q&A Call

Posted on Monday, February 22nd, 2021 at 10:37 AM    

Q&A Call Video



Stacia Garr:
Okay, now we are recording. So we're going to go ahead and get started now for those of you, I have not met I'm Stacia Garr I'm Co-Founder and Principal Analyst with RedThread. We have with us today for this Q&A call Heather Gilmartin Adams. And she is the one who has done much of the research here. So it's a good thing that she's on here. So for those of you who have not attended one of these Q&A calls before they tend to be pretty informal affairs. The whole point is for us just to give a quick overview of what we've learned in the research, and then to respond to questions that have either been submitted in advance or two questions that folks have here today. And so we really try to encourage this to be a discussion because, if we wanted to do a webinar, we do a webinar really is a Q&A call, to kind of have that discussion. That's the whole point. Heather, do you wanna go to the next slide?

How we help and what we do

Stacia Garr:
So for those of you who may not know who we are, I assume most of you do, but we are a human capital research membership, focused on a range of things most important for today, learning and career but also do performance and play experience, DNI in people analytics and then HR technologies. The work that we do, you can find on our website, which we have there at the top, which is a research membership. We also do advisory education. We have podcasts now, and actually we are as of next Wednesday, launching our new official RedThread podcast, and the first season is called the Skills Obsession. So that is probably going to be relevant for, for all of you here today. So so with that, I think Heather, let's move on to the next slide and I'll turn it over to you. So skills and competencies, so Heather, what's the deal?

What's the deal?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. So we started this research mid-fall last year and came into it kind of thinking there's all this stuff out here about skills and competencies in particularly the skills conversation as many of you are probably aware has been heating up for the last couple of years and it's become something that's, you know, more from, from sort of a OneNote conversation about robots taking our jobs and how are we going to deal with automation to a much broader conversation about you know, planning for the future, ensuring that employees are developing toward the future.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
How do we know what skills we have in the future? How do we know what skills we have so that we can identify the gaps so that we can fill those gaps. And then also a really big piece around agility, right? So organizational agility and being able to prepare, equip employees, equip the workforce to pivot to quickly changing environments. And so that was sort of the impetus for our research. We saw that the conversation was heating up and decided to look into it and ended up realizing that there was this, this conversation about skills, skills and competencies, and why what are the differences between them and why, why are those differences important and to whom? So it turned out that there was a lot of discussion and a lot of confusion, frankly, in organizations about what are skills, what are competencies, and then floating around there also, you know, what our capabilities and how are, how are they all different and how do you fit them together?

Questions that started our research

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
And so, we decided to start our research there and we started asking questions like, what are the difference between skills and competencies, do the differences matter and to whom, how are organizations reconciling skills and competencies. And importantly, we kind of came into this research with an assumption and a hypothesis that the answer for all organizations was to blend the skills and competencies that the differences really didn't matter. And that the, the conversations about how do we define the, how do we define the terms? And how do we help our employees understand the differences between the two that we really kind of assumed that those didn't matter and that the conversation really needed to focus on just the question of what do we have now, doesn't matter what you can call it. What can our organization do now, and what can our organization do?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
What does our organization need to be doing in the future? It turned out actually that we were wrong about that. The differences do matter, in certain circumstances to certain people. And so that's kind of what I wanted to share with you at first, what we found is that both skills and competencies do answer two very critical questions. What can our workforce do now and what will our workforce need to be able to do in the future? But they don't, they answered them from slightly different perspectives and with strictly slightly different strengths.

What did we find?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
And it turns out that those slight differences do matter to those of us trying to get skills, to sort of reconcile skills and competencies in our organizations. So so people who are in HR or who are in learning and development, who perhaps see that, okay, my organization has perhaps just as an example perhaps a legacy competency framework that we've been using for performance management. And now we're, we're incorporating a skills platform and how do we get those two things to work together? It turns out then that these differences are really, really important to people who are trying to answer those questions. They're not, the differences are not so important to employees or leaders who really just want to know, what do you need me to do? Like where do I need to go to get my development or my learning, or, or my performance management, what system do I need to go to? And what do you need, what information do you need me to put into it? And I don't really care what you call it is kind of the perspective that employees and leaders have.

The differences do matter

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
However, like I said, to those of us trying to reconcile them in our organizations, it turns out that these differences that you see on the slides, on this slide become pretty important. And two that I would call out are that skills are a little bit more granular, whereas competencies tend to be a bit broader and that's important because it, it, the granularity of skills often makes them more transferable across functions or even across industries than competencies, which tend to be more tied to how I do a particular job in a particular context. Also one thing that we found was that skills tend to be owned by the employee. You know, I, I, as the employee, I'm responsible for, for completing my skills profile and for keeping that updated as a way of marketing myself internally to the organization. So that maybe I can be noticed for, for gig work or for side projects or developmental opportunities like that. Whereas competencies do still tend to be owned by HR, meaning that the frameworks are the definitions and the frameworks are decided, written and updated by, by someone in HR.

Stacia Garr:
Sorry, sorry, Heather, maybe let's pause there and see if anybody has any questions or thoughts on this one. Does this align with how you're seeing this difference between skills and competencies? Is there anything in here that's surprising.

Speaker 1:
I think what's interesting to me is with IEEE and open skills network once calling them rich competency definitions, and one's calling them rich skill descriptors, and they mean, their doing the same thing to standardize the transfer of this information from tech platforms and tech platform. So they wanted to use a single data standard from a technology perspective, regardless of what you want to call it, pick the cap of what they're calling them.

Stacia Garr:

Heather Gilmartin Adams:

Stacia Garr:
And it seems inevitable though, right? You have to fix something, some word that we have used in the past, that roughly aligns, even if it comes with a bunch of baggage.

Speaker 1:
Uh huh

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, Great thanks!

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. It's interesting. I think one of the things that came out of this research, and we'll talk about it a little bit later, is the importance of at least deciding within your organization, how you're going to call things. And then, you know, hopefully the idea is that eventually it'll, it'll become sort of a cross-organizational or industry standard. Hopefully those two and IEEE and will reconcile themselves at some point. But that's also one of the powers of of skills ontology is, is that you don't have to have quite as much rigor in your definitions. If you're, if you're a technology is able to kind of group things, regardless of labels, any other questions on this or comments, observations?

Speaker 2:
I think that ownership aspect what's what's the, what's kind of interesting. So, right now we have, let's say functional and core competencies, and we want to move into that skills area. And our thought was that maybe we can actually make the functions, the owner of those kinds of skills, because also we are of course, trying to see, okay, how can we, how can we manage that big universe? Right. And this is where I really liked this thinking about ownership, right? Because I think now in the future, yes, we as HR or we as a corporation, we will, we will still own the competencies. But to be honest for skills, I would really love, love for the functions to actually take this over, because it's actually getting too granular. And also in terms of updating, right, I mean, skills you need to update every year, or maybe even, let's say within the year and for competencies, I think of course you also need to update it, but they are, as you are pointing out, there are far more aesthetic. So I found this a very nice trick of forethought.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah, that's great. And one of the things, the powers of a lot of the skills platforms is that they're continually updating you know, if you're messaging to employees that it's, beneficial to them to keep their profiles updated, then you can kind of rely on the skills that are in your system to be, to be continually updated.

Speaker 1:
And we touched on this a little bit yesterday, in terms of the, is it the skill that's being, what's being updated? Is it the proficiency level evidence of something you've done with that skill? It's not necessarily adding a binary net new skill every day or every week or every month.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:

Speaker 1:
And that's always where the devil is right, in the nuances of that.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
For sure.

Speaker 1:
I'm not sure how Speaker 2 you pronounce your first name, but I think that's exactly the kind of conversation who owns the dynamic nature of that.

Speaker 2:
Exactly, exactly. That is actually right. I mean, we've had, let's say all our experiences in the past with, for instance, we've used Taleo in the past, right. We switched to Workday and in Taleo, we had a thing called talent profile. And of course we always ask people to fill out those those kinds of talent profiles.

Speaker 2:
But to be honest, if you are trying to push this from a, from a corporate point of view, your impact is of course limited, but once you push it down to the businesses and to the functions, then you actually see those let's say populations really putting in their, their skills and competencies and development plans and those kinds of things. So, but I think that's a, that's a great slide to think about. Okay. How do you want to structure your governance around that.

Speaker 1:
And that's an HR department that will let go of that control because they want to own it?

Speaker 2:

Speaker 3:
Yeah. I would like to add one more point it's about competence has been steady. I think competencies as well as skills that are quite dynamic, just because, you know the behaviors change all the time and the situation that people working they're changing really fast. So, you know, positioning competencies aesthetic for me sounds a bit problematic, but other than that, it looks pretty good. So thanks for this summary.

Speaker 4:
Yeah. All right. I actually had the same comment. I was looking at this slide and I think the one that I feel like the, ,it shouldn't be split the way it is, is the skills and competencies for dynamic and study, because I feel like both skills and competencies, can actually go by both descriptions so we can have skills being dynamic can be convenient, continually updating them, and they can also be static at every point in time. So maybe not, not quite split the way everything else is kind of laid out.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Hmm. That's interesting.

Stacia Garr:
Maybe, maybe to kind of dig in a little bit there. I feel like we haven't necessarily picked on the point around enabled and maintained by tech and versus manually built change, which is immediately above. And I think that nature is actually kind of what's driving that comment or that bullet around dynamic versus static, because if something is manually built, it is by its very nature going to be more static.

Stacia Garr:
Just because we don't have, you know, time and energy and the like; versus what we're seeing with skills, which is this continual updating this whole concept of an ontology versus the taxonomy that we've used in the past. And so I think for at least as we looked at it and what we heard in the interviews, that's kind of what drove that distinction.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:

Speaker 5:
Yeah. And then I think we're still, you know, the, the whole industry, you know, in HR and learning and development were still struggling with their definition of competencies. There is no, you know, generally, you know, overall agreement on how we define competence, right. So that is why, you know, when we come from different point of understanding and defining the thing, then definitely we will have far different descriptors for that. So, yeah, depending on their context, probably we'll go with static or dynamic. My preference will go for dynamic for both, just because of the nature. You know, people are evolving all the time, but I don't understand for the assessment perspective, you probably need to have something in a static mode so that you can, you would be able to assess and do revelation.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. Yeah. And actually there's no agreed definition for skills either, or for a lot of the other terms.

Speaker 1:
And maybe that's, that seems to be where we're all focusing on, right. Is the description of what the skill is from our kind of dictionary perspective, but then what people are able to do. If I, I can be always improving my critical thinking, but that's more of a strategic competency. And I forget who it was, who said, strategy can be fairly static, but how you execute that can be really dynamic. And so the definition of problem solving or critical thinking is not going to change at the same rate of how you do cloud engineering, whether it's with Amazon or Azure or whatever those things are going to be in definition, more dynamic from version 10 to version 11. And it's, it's the proficiency of the person. And so I, I don't know if there's a way to describe that or kind of summarize that, that there's this, the definition, that's one thing. And as a scale definition could be static because it's something that's not changing gap accounting doesn't change every week. That's just not the technical static skill or set of skills, but something else could be very rapidly changing.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. I think as we're talking, I think one clarification that I, that I'm realizing in my head is that yeah, these, these definitions are not, or these descriptions

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Are not actually meant to describe the word skill or the word competency they're meant to describe sort of how skills frameworks or skills platforms show up or are used today and how competency frameworks show up and are used in organizations today. Speaker 1, if you're not familiar with…

Speaker 6:
Maybe if I, if I may just, just to be a little bit provocative, it's interesting because we, we, we've been discussing about this, this slide now for about 10 minutes, but we don't have an agreement and everyone is somehow, you know, bringing its own, I know, vision on definition. I just would like to have maybe a provocative thought on that. How, how it sounds so great upskilling race killing it wouldn't be so trendy to say upcompetency recompetency, for me this has to do not really with the content but it sounds to me, again, an older type of let's call it marketing, marketing, you know terminology that in a certain sense, we need to come up in order to be able then to define the different products that where we ask for sheeting today. But this is totally, this is totally you know provocative. So then we would probably learn by listening to you and going to the next slide.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yes. Thank you. I actually, yeah, we were, Stacia and I were back channeling a little bit about, Hey, let's let maybe move on to the next slide. So thank you for that Speaker 6 I think you're right though. There is a decent, there is a marketing angle to this, right? The, some of the skills platforms are just trying to distinguish themselves in the market. That's just a frank element of this.

Speaker 2:
Yeah. And thanks to, you know, for actually making, making that comment. I think that's a very good one because I mean, right now I'm talking, I think it's three or two or three or four different vendors for a competency and skill framework. And of course, as you say, I mean, skills are trendy. They are, they are of course trying to push it. Right. But at the end of the day, I think it's, it's it's really hard to make your, your choice as a company. So thanks for that thought. Nice one!

Forward-thinking orgs are reconciling skills & competencies by…

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yep. All right. So what the research found then is that organizations are reconciling as so, as you mentioned, Speaker 6 there are lots of organizations are grappling with this, right? We have, we have competencies. We are thinking about adding skills. How do we bring, how do we put those two together? And we found in the research that there are three things that organizations are doing to, to help, help them work, work well together. And it doesn't necessarily mean that they're making them the same thing, or that they're bringing them into the same system. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they, don't the things that they're doing to help them work better together are first leveraging their strengths. So understanding a lot of what we just talked about on the previous slide and using that to to tackle whatever business challenges or whatever people challenges are, are most pressing for their organizations.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So the four that we, the four business challenges that sort of popped up the most in our interviews and round tables were employee development, career mobility, performance management, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. It turns out that both skills and competencies have strengths that they can offer to help, to help with those business challenges. And I didn't I don't want to dive into exactly how that happens, but we do have an infographic on our website that, that briefly describes how skills and competencies can support each of those business challenges. So we'll drop that into the chat here during the Q&A. The second thing that organizations are doing are considering, and using as much data available as possible. So, there are, you know, there's a ton of data available in a skills database.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
There's a ton of data available in competencies frameworks, there are also, there's a lot of data outside of that in you know, like LinkedIn and GitHub and job descriptions and all of these other sources that are both internal to the organization and external to the organization. And they're really forward thinking organizations are, mapping all of that out and seeing, okay, how can we, how can we bring this data together, and leverage it as best as possible. So one, just as an example, that data doesn't all have to live in the same system necessarily. Although there are lots of vendors now who are, who are doing a really cool job at bringing as much data as possible together into the same system. But one organization, for example had a lot of skills data in their skills platform, but the skills platform for some technical reasons, wasn't able to capture proficiency information and they wanted proficiency information.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
And so they kept that in a spreadsheet that was available to all employees. And so that wasn't, that's not like their ideal or long-term solution, but it was a solution that allowed them to see everything that they wanted to, at least in the short term. And then the third, and this kind of gets to a lot of what we were talking about. The third thing that organizations are doing are as crafting clear and consistent messaging. So even as we are, are grappling with the distinctions and the definitions, and how are we going to bring all these things together? How are we going to conceptually bring the things together? How are we going to bring the data together? The messaging to employees and leaders needs to be a lot more simple than that. And so what we're seeing, what we've seen is that some organizations, these are just three messaging strategies that we know that there are more, but the, I think these are really good examples.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Some organizations are just saying, we're going to call everything skills, even if they're actually more competencies. And we're going to think about them as competencies within HR, we're going to talk to employees about, about their skills. And, that works well for some organizations, particularly if, if for whatever reason competencies has kind of a bad name in the organization, as you know, sometimes, competencies, just the word, the term has a negative connotation in some organizations. And so those organizations do well by calling everything skills, then some organizations do make it, they, they make clear definitional distinctions. So Johnson and Johnson for example, is one organization we talked to and they talk about competencies at a functional level and skills at a specific job level. And they very clearly say, no, we talked about competencies here and skills here.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
And, and that helps employees understand, okay, this is when I use competencies. This is when I use skills and managers: this is when I use competencies, this is when I use skills. This is how skills ladder up to competencies. And, they make it sort of very clear when employees should do what. And then another approach is not use any terminology at all, and just talk about, Hey, what can you do? What do you need? Leaders, what do you need to be able to do, and have them talk through what they need to be able to do, and then kind of categorize back on the back end, if you need to the. The biggest, biggest learning there though is just to be just pick something and be consistent.

How are people relating skills & competencies to capabilities?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So then this is, you know, the Q&A part of the Q&A, or well the Q part of the Q&A. So these were the questions that we had submitted. The first was how are people relating skills and competencies to capabilities? So kind of going back to what we were just saying about clear and consistent messaging, it differs from organization to organization, depending on what they've chosen for their messaging. Broadly speaking capabilities tend to be talked about as sort of the biggest umbrella and often you'll see skills and competencies as part of the definition of capabilities. Capabilities being the most broad descriptor of what we can do is that, does that jive with what the rest of you are seeing? Any sort of comments on that?

Speaker 5:
I think capabilities is about, more about ability to learn and perform in the future rather than in the moment. So you have skills, competencies and capability for growth, yes. For performance today, as well for growth. At least this is the type of description that we, I use and my colleagues use in our discussions and difference between skills and competencies and capabilities.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
That's interesting. Thank you. Other insights on that,

Speaker 2:
I would tend to agree with that, right. I mean, that capabilities is somehow, let's say a little bit of a higher level. Maybe it just, I mean, maybe I would say that this would coincident with like 70% of the list of the literature that I have read over the last three or four. I think what, what I really liked about your research is that you are pointing out that this might be interesting for HR employees to engage in. And I think this is what was really nice to read because we also have, I mean, I cannot even recall how many hours we've had yet at the trying to distinguish this, but I think also I believe that yes, that may be interesting for us, but for our end to our employees and leaders, I mean, yeah. I mean, they, they might really get, okay, I need this for development, or I need this for hiring or whatever. But let's say for this, for those granular differences, I think, yeah, that is that's not too much of an interest for them. I think that was, that was a great point that you made there.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Oh, thanks. Yeah. It was interesting. You, you mentioned reading articles that was what we found the, the literature that is less focused for an HR audience tended to just sort of use all of the terms as synonyms, right. So you would see sentences that said skills, competencies, capabilities, abilities, knowledge, you know, and they were just using them all interchangeably. Whereas when you do get into the literature, that's more focused on an HR audience. That's when you start seeing distinctions being made. Other, any other sort of questions or insights or comments on this question of how are people relating skills and competencies to capabilities. Okay.

Speaker 1:
I think the capability question is that tends to broker the gap between HR and business or it invites that conversation. It's not necessarily always had or well-defined, but as we start using that, and it's, I've started to see it somewhat confused with the, the interchange of capacity, which is kind of forward planning, but are you capable to do what the business needs to do today? So it can be both now and forward-looking, but the capacity to take on new projects in the future, I think is more, as we think about the kind of operating model or supply chain of skills to take on new R and D or innovation or pivot to new lines of business that's capacity as well as capability. That's interesting.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:

Speaker 7:
One thing I just want to add as for the competency and capability, those tend to be talked about both at the individual level and at the organization level. I don't think that's true as much for skills. It's usually tied to like individuals, but people talk about, you know, we have these organizational capabilities or organizational competencies, and then, you know, in the next breath they'll be talking about individual competencies and,

Speaker 2:
Hmm. That's a great insight. Yeah. Thanks, Speaker 7.

Speaker 7:

How can skills be assessed for proficiency levels?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So the next question was how can skills be assessed for proficiency levels? So this was not something that we included in this report that just came out. And so we've done, we'd done a bit of looking into it. It's something that we plan on looking into a little bit more. So I'll just give kind of a, an initial swag and would love to hear your comments as well. So what we're seeing thus far is that there are some really cool vendors doing some cool stuff to use latent data or data exhausts data that's, that's created sort of in the course of doing business to infer proficiency levels for skills, but we're seeing it happened mostly on the technical skills side.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So for example, there's a company that they work with a lot of healthcare organizations and so they plug their platform or they plug their tech into the employee electronic health records system. And whenever a nurse logs procedure, it infers that that nurse is skilled in that procedure and is getting more skilled in that procedure. Another example is a company that sits on top of project management software, like Jira or Asana. And whenever you complete a task in the, project management software, it will give you sort of credit for having the skills that are associated with that task. And then the more, you do that skill or the more you do that type of task the more it assesses, it gives you credit for proficiency.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
And then that particular software also we'll send a note to the people, the other people associated with that task and ask them to kind of give feedback on your, your skill level at that task. So, so there's some really interesting approaches. So far though, like I said, they're not getting into, Speaker 1 is what you were saying, that the more durable skills or the softer skills, the human skills, whatever you want to call it we're seeing it more on sort of the, the things that are really hard and observable. What are you guys seeing?

Speaker 7:
The other thing I'll add to that is there are some systems also that look at like social data and email, and then they basically identify topics and then tie that to skills and proficiency levels. So if they see you're getting a lot of inbound email on a topic, they'll equate that to a skill and say, you must be you know, you must be very proficient because a lot of people ask you about this.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
That's interesting. Do you, can you share the names of who we should be looking at for that kind of thing?

Speaker 7:
Well, I think Microsoft Viva is taking that approach. And then the other one I am aware of is Starmind Starmind. is doing it well, and actually Viva too. It looks like more of a knowledge management kind of place, or they turn that into like expert location. So you're looking for people with expertise on this topic, and it'll, it'll just show you a list and, Viva at least in a demo of it. It, it does the, it'll look at your organizational content on that topic and give you a list of that as well.

Stacia Garr:
I think Speaker 2 to your, your question in chat around basically data privacy these, from what we've seen organizations are handling this in a couple of different ways. One is by allowing folks to either opt in or opt out of having this information collected on them. The second is by also providing information back to them that could be useful. So, you know, in this example of saying, you know, you, we think your, your top skills and proficiencies are our competencies are X, Y, or Z. Or you're looking for some help with X, Y, or Z. Here's some folks who might be able to help you. And so making sure that that information doesn't just live behind, you know, the, the wall with HR or with a certain subset of leaders, but actually is much more accessible to others. There's some really good research that Accenture did, I guess now about 18 months ago that showed that folks open this to having information about them collected through digital exhaust. Their openness is much higher if they get some value in return for that information being collected.

Speaker 2:
Oh, great. Thanks. Thanks much. I think it's really important to us. I think as we are embarking on this, I mean, I'm residing in Germany and I am, I can already envision that from those conversations with our Vox councils on GDPR. But I think once of course, you give this in opt in and opt out option and of course, making that kind of value proposition, as you say, I think that's a, that's a really promising no, thanks. That's, that's great input. Thanks a lot.

Stacia Garr:
Yeah and I think, you know, in general, so I do most of our data analytics research and in general, we see these things much more slowly adopted in Europe, obviously because of GDPR, but you know, here in California, we've got the CCPA and we've got some other things potentially going down the bike as well. So I have seen a dramatic increase in the carefulness of vendors in terms of thinking about everyone now thinks about, okay, well, how are we going to get this through GDPR? And or how is it going to be GDPR compliant and how will we get it through the works councils? It is much less likely, I think then, you know, three to five years ago where people would just say, well, you know, we'll just focus on the American market or the New Zealand Australian market, and, you know, whatever for Europe we'll deal with it when we, when we need to.

Stacia Garr:
But the tenor has shifted so dramatically that there's just a much higher degree of awareness and we're starting to see technologies get through the works councils that we thought again, like three years ago. Wouldn't so things like organizational network analysis based on passive data collection. So based on digital exhaust, we're seeing that start to get through with much higher frequency in the last 18 months or so. So I think that there is a future here for some of this work in Europe, but there, it may take longer than in the U S and there certainly will have to be all those accommodations.

Speaker 4:
If I may, I, I surely share, of course Speaker 2, being of course in Europe, but what is extraordinary here is if I think that, you know, a couple of years back, and unfortunately I've been around now for a while, but it was, it was simply saw out somehow to just surface and manage, you know, the skills. How many times we said, we exactly don't know what type of human capital we have. And this is probably because there was a certain stringent company tenancy system that was, you know, driven by the organization without effectively surfacing the talent, the real talent, most of the time, the real talents are the secondary maybe job of people and not maybe the job description they haven't been hired for. So what I found extraordinary is this is for sure going to unleash skills that we are even not aware of.

Speaker 4:
Second point is more, how are we going to us as the proficiency for that? That's to me the validation point, it's something that, of course it's still an open and open evolution again, because of course it can go from how many likes, do I get from my, you know, teammates, if I just say that I'm a good singer or properly, you know, proficiency validation that then can be, of course use it also at the benefit of the employee, because somehow, you know, we don't need anymore. I don't know, validation authority that will tell me how good I am with Excel, but this could also become a vehicle for my whole evolution in skills development. So this is absolutely for me you know, extraordinary, of course we will see, but with regulation, something that that will come next for now the ability to unleash this, this is what I believe we should, we should continue to talk about.

Does a learning platform need to have skills and competencies defined before adding an internal marketplace solution?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Very cool. All right. Next question is, does a learning platform need to have all skills and competencies defined before adding an internal marketplace solution? So, Stacia and I were talking about this yesterday, and there's sort of a principle answer and then a logistical answer, or a tech, a tech bounded answer. So the principle answer is no. We don't think so. Depending on what your goal is for the internal marketplace, if you're looking to help people connect with one another on specific topics or even if you're trying to help them find you know, gigs or opportunities that can be done with you know, either partially defined skills and competencies, or you know you could launch that kind of thing and just have it be a place for people to connect. Stacia. Do you want to, you had a good point, you had a good thought on that. Do you want to elaborate on that at all?

Stacia Garr:
Yeah, I mean, I just think that it is, you said it just depends on what your purpose is and having an internal talent marketplace. And so if you're trying, for instance, to increase people's networks and their access to other folks as a result of the internal talent marketplace, as one thing, you know, if you're, if you really are much more concerned about getting skills built and less about measuring them and is the analytics person that of course makes my heart go, but there's also reality. If, if that's the case, then, then, you know, I don't think that you need to have all of this mapped out. I mean, I think we can sometimes get in our own ways as we're trying to kind of get all the details versus just having a minimal viable product that we can use for folks.

Stacia Garr:
But I think to, to Heather's point, you know, from a lot of the tech vendors are requiring that you have this mapped from, at the beginning obviously there's more power and longterm power, particularly if you think about trying to having big data set from which to train your algorithms and to refine what you're trying to do. There's a huge need to have it all mapped in, in the beginning, but you know, we all live in the real world. And so I would say it's not necessary. But it is certainly desirable.

Speaker 6:
Can I ask a slightly different question? Can a learning platform have all skills and competencies defined?

Speaker 6:
The answer's no, I don't think that's a problem that you can solve completely for anything more than a moment in time.

Stacia Garr:
I think that's the beauty of some of the automation and the technical capabilities is that they can get a lot closer to defining a much broader percentage of the skills and competencies that are out there given the technical capabilities and the machine learning that we have in the deep learning, ect…ect… But I think you're absolutely right, Speaker 6, like, are we going to be able to identify every skill in the entire world? Absolutely not.

Speaker 1:
Yeah. I think that's a great point, Speaker 1 and I, and I think with a little bit of a foot in each camp, really, as a skills kind of advocate, but also on the other side, I mean, I'm defining them as, as one thing. I think the precision of surfacing, the nouns that we them with is what a lot of the AI is doing. So they're not defining them. They're just cataloging the nouns that we're using to evolve or described skills and resumes and profiles. And that's not defining them as listing vocabulary. And, and so I think those, it goes back to the previous question, defining proficiency of the skills. That's a whole different that's a whole different beast. So I think that the precision is actually important in how you ask or answer that question.

Speaker 6:
Yeah. I think that definition would like to suggest you have to name it and then you have to scale it. So you have to say, what is what is highly proficient versus, you know, beginner or whatever your scale is. And then I think the other element of it is the context in which that can be demonstrated. And I, yeah, I think just getting the first two, just the definition, just the name and the scale has proven to be pretty difficult. And then when you layer in the context of, you know, what's data analysis for an accountant versus you know, for a product manager or project manager but yes, the tech or the tech is very good at getting that salt, you know, partially salt and you know, it'll get better

Speaker 1:
And you, and you used the word Stacia purpose, right? It depends what your purpose for the marketplace is, which if you take the other side of that, it depends on what your purpose for being in the marketplace is if I have aspirations that are not based on my skill set, but I am incredibly motivated to go do customer service. That's not how I entered the company, but that's what I want to go do. That's more purpose than skillset. And so there are opportunities in the marketplace to connect in that way. Because motivation is a, is a huge factor in performance and desire to learn in some of those static competencies, but are, I want to develop and grow but I have an aptitude for, and that's, that's where I want to put my, my purpose. So, yeah, I think, I think the question's been answered is they don't have to have them all, but the marketplace needs to be looking needs to be able to facilitate non skill based kind of collaboration or connection or promotion or competence giving in those aspects.

Speaker 2:
Because if it is skills only, that's not good either. I mean, I think you and I have talked about women will apply for jobs where they have a super high percentage of skill fit. And even if the tool tells them, you're a 90% fit, that might not be enough of a competence factor, whereas my gender will apply for jobs that were 60% fit for. And so there's other elements of de biasing the marketplace based on some of those kind of social things that we know.

Speaker 2:
And I think that, that other point that you just mentioned, Speaker 1, I think it's also something that, that I did not yet have on my radar, but I think you're very right. I mean, if those marketplaces of course are looking to what skills I mean, that's, that's of course also a very biased view towards things because oftentimes your competencies are far more important than let's say to, to actually go and embrace a new solution.

Speaker 2:
Right. I mean, I started in finance and to be honest, when I moved to HR, I had none of the skills that they did that, you know, is actually required in HR. I mean, they were basically hiring me based on competencies, right. So if I know going to that internal marketplace, I apply for that HR position. I think I'd be filled out immediately. Because I just don't have it. I think that's a, that's a, that's a great point that you are making, and I did not have that on my radar screen yet.

Speaker 1:
That's how many of us have ended up in this field, Speaker 2. Including myself.

Speaker 2:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It could be because as you say, Speaker 1, I mean, it's important is what motivates you, right. What's driving you where you want to develop, how you want to learn, how you take on change, all those kinds of things, right?

Speaker 6:
Yeah. I mean, by far the most common hiring criteria is your experience doing the exact job we're hiring you for which, you know, it doesn't really explicitly relate to the, the skills or to the potential.

Speaker 1:
And also to the desire, you know, I think that's the danger we get ourselves into with some of these things is the algorithm is going to assume, you're going to want to do the thing that's like what you've always done as you just said, Speaker 6, and we know how many of us go into a new job wanting to do exactly what we just did in our last job or a new gig. You know what I mean? That's, that's pretty rare. So you know, it, I know we didn't explicitly talk about this, but, you know, in addition to data ethics concerns that I have with some of this, my, my concern is are forcing people into a box that is not the box they want to be in moving forward. And so we have to make sure that these systems enable, you know, folks to not just say this or, or have captured, but this is what they were good at, but these are the things they want to become good at and make sure that we're using assistance to provide those opportunities. Should we move on?

How do you maintain the skills & competencies models that workers orgs are using today?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
How do you maintain the skills and competencies models that workers orgs are using today?

Speaker 6:
You get all the good ones

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So we touched on this a little bit actually in terms of manual maintenance versus tech maintenance. And I think that's perhaps the most relevant difference, right? Is how do you maintain these? Well, right now it seems that skills frameworks, are more heavily based on tech and therefore more dynamic and more continually updated competencies are maintained largely manually by someone in HR, but as we've discussed, like it doesn't have to be that way. It is just currently the way things are set up. Insights on that?

Speaker 2:
Yeah. I can, I can actually only talk to what competencies I think, because they are, let's say fewer numbers and they are owned by us as a, as a corporation. I mean, I'm referring them every couple of years and typically, I mean, if you're not making changes to the overall, let's say naming of the competencies, we do actually sometimes update the behavioral anchors that we, that we put in place. For instance, if we want to make this more inclusive if you want this more digital, more learning oriented, you know, then, then we might also want to tweak some, some of those things down, but for four skills, I would be interested to hear from the group, because this is probably one to move to. And, and I guess that's the bigger maintenance activity.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. One of the things that came out of the research was this question of, okay, if you're going to, if you have a skills platform that requires employees to input their data in order for it to be maintained and updated. So it relies on employees to say what skills they have and sometimes give, give an estimate of how, of their proficiency level in that, in that skill. And sometimes then it requires even the manager to go in and verify that skill in that proficiency level. So then, then it's a question of sort of change management and motivation and how do you, how do you get people to, how do you incentivize people to to, to do all those things, to provide that information? And one of the things that, and we've touched on this a little bit in this conversation is the importance of sort of demonstrating the benefit of, of doing so.

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
So Stacia mentioned this a little bit in, in when she was talking about the opt in opt out. But it turns out just in general showing the what's in it for me. So sort of helping employees see view their skills profile as a marketing tool for themselves, right. Sort of the way that they would use LinkedIn more broadly. But if they, if they use that as a way to demonstrate to the organization, the skills that they have and the opportunities that they would like to take advantage of the sort of there has to be, there has to be a sort of a cultural element built into it around this. This is what's, this is, this is how you grow in the organization is by marketing your skills and making yourself available for opportunities. That was one of the really, really interesting things that we found when we were talking to people.

Stacia Garr:

Great we have just 4 minutes left. So are there any questions we didn't get to that folks want to try to slide in here before we call it good for today?

What system works best?

Speaker 2:
Sorry if I take some time here. I mean you're, your research is really great that you're saying, okay, skills and competencies, our hypothesis did not work out. Right. We need both. What I'd be interested to hear from the group here is, I mean, how do you think about this working out system wise? Right. Because to be honest for us, we are working with Workday, right. And I think if now, if I take this competency and skill approach and say, okay, they are both relevant. I mean, I just have a big concern that our employees are getting confused because they're all, those are different elements. And yes, of course I can explain it, but I think still to be honest, I already have a different position. That's a setting that kind of internally in HR. So I just wonder what the group could contribute there.

Stacia Garr:
Any thoughts, anybody involved in both things?

Heather Gilmartin Adams:
Yeah. I mean, I'll take a shot. So I think to, to put a little bit more nuance into the findings of the research some organizations are just saying we're going wholesale with skills. I think it was important for us to to highlight that that's not the only route and that for lots of organizations, maybe that don't have a platform like Workday that meshing the two together in a way that makes sense for their organization was what we wanted. That was what we wanted to highlight. It is the case that, you know some of the people that we talked to are making a wholesale push to go towards skills. What they're, what they're encountering though, is some resistance in their organizations to the people sort of standing up and say, Hey, we have this competencies framework. Like, why aren't we using that? And why do we need to replace it with skills? And so then it's a sort of a change management and messaging play.

Speaker 1:
That's a great point, Heather, I meant, or observation in my experience, a lot of those people who are like, Hey, hold on, that's a job. Well, my job is to build that competency framework. And you're about to steam roller it reinvent it, but that's my job. I'm an IO psychologist. I've got a PhD in writing that stuff. So how do I know let's get into the detail, let's have the argument about skills versus competencies and all of that, which would be of a three point scale or a seven point scale, and just take years. And it never goes anywhere. It's, it's unbelievable.

Speaker 3:
I will try to answer the question for Speaker 2. In my experience working with organizations, you know, there were some cases when definitely, you know there was like skills profile, but then there were organizational competencies and they were applicable to everyone within the company.

Speaker 3:
And let's say, the company says, in order to be successful within our business, you need to be able to develop it, to have those type of competencies. And they are, you know, and again, we spoke about that before it could be individual competencies or organizational competencies. So if you look from the perspective of our organization, you know, the question is, you know, why and what we are doing you know, let's say skills profile or competencies, frameworks, and then how do you apply them? What are their overall goal of the competency framework? Is it performance only for specific you know line of business, or it is related to the whole business? In my case that I described to you, there was distinction between skills profiles, and then organizational competencies for everyone to be successful within this organization, it could be, you know, cultural leadership and so on and so forth. So it definitely depends on the task that you are trying to achieve and on their solution that you are trying to find. So my, my 2 cents,

Speaker 2:
No, thanks. Thanks, Speaker 3. That is great input. Thanks much.


Stacia Garr:
Well, I think we are, we are at time and, and Speaker 2 let me know that the invitation did actually say 9:30. We usually only go an hour, so I think we're gonna cut it off there. And if you were planning on 90 minutes, you'll have an extra 30 back in your day. But I want to say thank you very much to everyone for the energy and the sharing of thoughts. And this is exactly what we want from these sessions. This is just the first of what will be many work pieces of work on skills this year. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are putting out the podcast starting next week on the skills obsession, and then we will be doing a number of different pieces this year on skills. So skills vendors is going to be one of them.

Stacia Garr:
And, and we're going to look at that from both the learning and the people analytics side. And we have a number of other ideas skills and diversity, equity inclusion, and belonging being one, and skills and mobility. We've written about both of them separately, but not together. So those are just a few of the ideas that we have for the year. So if anything particularly resonates, let us know. And in the meantime just keep on coming back. I think actually Heather had the slide that just shows our next Q&A call is in two weeks. You don't need to show it, but it's on DNI tech. And so if you're able to join us for that, that would be great. And if not, we will see you on another Q&A call in the future. Thank you so much for the time today, everyone.



Develop People and Connection with Book Clubs Q&A Call

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2021 at 4:14 PM    

Q&A Call Video



Stacia Garr:

Alright. Well, if we're going to go ahead and get started. So we want to first say thanks to everybody for joining today for this first Q and A call here in February. For anybody that I don't know who may watch the recording later, because I think I know everybody who's here today. I am, Stacia Garr Co-Founder of RedThread Research, and today we're doing a little bit of a different type of Q and A call in that we have a guest who's going to be leading the conversation with me and that Steve Arntz in I'll let him introduce himself in just a minute more properly. But the conversation today is around book clubs. And part of the reason that we we've actually been wanting to do this conversation with Steve for a long time. And part of the reason for that is that we've seen book clubs start to, to rise in popularity.

Stacia Garr:

And we have some hypothesis about why that is many of them related to the pandemic, but we think that this is kind of an interesting way to think about connectivity and learning and really kind of the social aspects, and fulfilling social needs that people have right now. So we have invited Stephen, he's going to tell us all about book clubs and everything he's learned as he's launched his company Campfire, and hopefully we'll come out of this knowing a lot more. And also, I think we were talking about maybe seeing if there is some appetite for starting a book club. So with that, for those of you who don't know who RedThread is, I want to go ahead and just remind you, we are a human capital research advisory membership, and we're focused on a range of things most relevant for today, learning and career, but a whole bunch of other things, as well as you see here.

Stacia Garr:

And so folks can check us out on So with that want to go ahead and let Steve introduce himself. And actually Steve is going to get to do much of the sharing, but like I said I want to express my appreciation to Steve for being here. He has a lot going on including a brand new baby. So we're excited that he made a little bit of time for us today. And we're also just in general, grateful for the friendship and the partnership with Steve. As we were launching the RedThread membership, he helped us do a lot of the thinking around it. And we're just very thankful for that. So, okay, Steve, over to you.

Steve Arntz:

Thank you. Stacia a very kind introduction. I do have a little baby girl born December 8th. And so that's been very exciting, good change for us. We had two boys before that and six and a half years, and then we had a little baby girl and Founder of Campfire and Campfire started as a book clubs company. But one thing I want everybody to know is that we don't, we don't really service corporate book clubs in the same way that we used to we're we have now pivoted towards just building man effective manager training basically. And it uses a lot of the same mechanics from book clubs, but as we share the research and the thoughts that I'll share today about book clubs, just know that that's not really our core business. It might have a slight bias to it cause I do love book clubs.

Steve Arntz:

But hopefully I can share it in a, in a more, less biased way than you might hear from a vendor. Who's trying to sell you a software and things like that. So I really appreciate Stacia having me here today. And I don't know how much more of an intro you'd like Stacia? I spent five years in the talent management space working on a suite, a platform called bridge, which was talent performance, career development, learning management, all of those things. So stuff that the RedThread audiences is very interested in and so spent a lot of time with talent leaders in the space. And so that's why I've really enjoyed so much the association friendship and relationship with RedThread, and Stacia and Dani.

Stacia Garr:

Thank you. Well, shall we dive in?

Steve Arntz:

Sure. Yeah, that'd be great. Let me, so I'll share my screen now.

Stacia Garr:

So one thing I should say, cause I don't know that Steve's been on, on one of these calls in the past, but these are highly interactive. He has some slides, but we're a small group and the whole point here is to have a conversation. So you jump in, I do have at the kind of end of what he's prepared, a few slides that have been submitted or a few questions, excuse me, they are on slides that have been submitted, but just jump in like this is a conversation,

Book Clubs are having a moment

Steve Arntz:

Love it so much. And I have slide six. I'll kind of force you to talk a little bit more, but jump in in any slide and that, that's awesome. That's very welcome in my mind. Very different than typical webinars. Webinars are kind of hard to try that energy sometimes because you're just talking to a, a wall sometimes. So as Stacia mentioned, book clubs are having a moment a little bit. There's some evidence of that here. You can see all of, I mean, I just grabbed a few when I searched news yesterday to get some more new stuff, it's just tons of stuff out there. I really liked this one. I changed the search parameters to just be in the last week and you can see stuff from different news sources. Literati is a great little company that does book clubs for kids, as well as for adults now raised $40 million for their business.

Steve Arntz:

You've got all of these different things happening around book clubs. I actually got this in the mail advertising a book club in a box and then I love Simon Sinek and he hosted his own book club at the B towards kind of the beginning of the pandemic saw that as an opportunity and a moment to help people to connect, which was really cool. I stopped searching for stress results because there were just so many articles on the social isolation side. The number I was able to find is that 42% of people are still working remotely at this point in the pandemic. It's predicted to be down to 21, 22% by the end of the year. I think that's probably optimistic. On the stress side of things, what we're seeing is just a dramatic increase in antidepressant prescriptions and all of these different indicators of a mental health challenge that we're having.

What can Book Clubs provide

Steve Arntz:

And, you know, it's, it's probably a little bit I don't know, ambitious to say that a book club could really dramatically impact these really meaningfully challenging hard things. But book clubs do provide a little bit of an antidote to those things. So an article from HBR talked about how it can provide calm. So if you just take a break in your day, read for six minutes, it can reduce stress by 68%. And so I've, I've worked that into my day to where I take reading breaks between meetings. If I have time between meetings, one of the common things that you can do is just go scroll your LinkedIn feed. I've replaced that with just grabbing the book that I'm reading, reading a couple pages and getting back to work and it helps to center me and bring that calm. And then the connection side, I love this quote by Patti Digh, the shortest distance between two people is a story.

Steve Arntz:

People read so that they can connect. They have a common place to now share a conversation. And so they can take this book and have a conversation with each other, but also with the author and it provides that opportunity for connection. And so that's what I, what I think is kind of behind this book club movement is people need both of these things desperately at the moment. And so we we've seen them in, in corporate as well. And so this is that first place to have a little bit of a conversation. And so I like to give people a chance to just sit and think, even though it's awkward on calls, but just think for a minute, I'll be quiet. I promise I'm not going to try to fill the awkward space about the bestest group discussion you've ever been a part of. Just, just sit and think for a minute, see if you can come up with something.

Best group discussion you have ever been a part of

Steve Arntz:

Because the group is so small. Is there anybody that has a group discussion that's come to mind that would be willing to come off mute and share?

Steve Arntz:

Speaker 1 ready?

Speaker 1:

There's several that come to mind. And as we said when I started when we were starting, I am in a book club. So that one comes to mind. I've been with that group for a long, long time. It's a meditation studies group. And so during the pandemic, we switched to book club because it was just something else that we could do. But how did it make me feel? And that thought made me think of my past. And so the feeling of connectedness, the feeling of talking about something that's in common and in our club, we, we sort of collectively choose, you know, someone puts out a list. And so we've, we've had some investment in what, what it is that we're talking about. But it made me think about my past when I was a facilitator and I would travel around to different offices.

Speaker 1:

And so I was the stranger, it was their home ground and the feeling of having a really robust conversation about who they were, what they were doing, which troubles they were having, you know, what we're going to talk about as I was teaching the class, all those things was the feeling of being connected and being helpful and working to together towards solving the problem. And so whether you get it through a book club or a facilitated workshop or a business meeting, it's really to me, I think that sort of productivity feeling like we're doing something important, working together, sharing like a common ground, a common reason for being there.

Steve Arntz:

That's amazing. Thank you for sharing. I love that. Does anyone else have anything that comes to mind?

Speaker 2:

Well just the, the thing that you did before with just being quiet, it just reminded me when I was in college, the program I was in we'd have lectures once a week, but then mostly it was like 20 or so people in seminar rooms and one of my seminar leads was a Quaker. So she's used to sitting in church for like two or three hours, just like silence until somebody had something to say. So she, it was very jarring at first, but she would like pose a question to the group and then she was just happy to sit there until somebody had something to say. And it's just there is a you know, there is a social and a brain process that happens when there's silence because, you know, somebody will get uncomfortable and to jump in and have something to say. So just as a, as a technique to kind of get people to open up and start a discussion, I just felt, it just reminded me of that.

Steve Arntz:

Awesome. Thanks for sharing. A group discussion that comes to mind is actually I was at a, I was at a dinner in San Diego, with someone, who's on the call here was actually there with me. And we had an hour long discussion around one question, which was, what's the one thing that we could change about ourselves that would make all the difference in our marriages to our spouses. And we sat for an hour talking and that was that's the group discussion that came to mind for me. And the reason that it came to mind is because there was safety, psychological safety is a big, massive component of book clubs and discussions that we have.

Steve Arntz:

And we were able to talk about, I think, like you mentioned, of meaningful change in wanting to improve and do better and all of those sorts of things. So is there anyone else that has something that's come to mind? I'm going to take the Quaker technique again, be quiet.

Speaker 3:

I'll chime in, and I have one other to throw in there. This is a runner up to the, to the discussions I had with Steve, because that one was obviously the best one, but in, in the other group discussion I had, it was, it, it was differing opinions and but it was intentionally. So, so when the group was formed to have the discussion, it was the understanding that, Hey, here's this book that, that it was political. This is where I lean in. It's kind of more of a historical, let's all weigh in on it.

Speaker 3:

And like, so everyone read it and gave their opinions on it, but it was all from different perspectives, all with the intent to understand what the other was saying. So it was more like it was, cause it was literally trying to build connectedness and understanding around something that, that it could be more difficult you know, with, with polarization. So that was having that, that intentional, you know, psychological safety going into it. Everyone knew that, that they, they, they were one was going to be actively listening and trying to understand from the other perspective, instead of kind of waiting for their turn to speak. And so that's kind of what, what was my runner up to one of the best conversations I've had as well.

Steve Arntz:

That's cool. Thank you for sharing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I had one more, just what Chris was saying, and I'm doing it as we talk. One thing that I'm noticing for sure, as we're digital talking about it, the, the, the idea of the go round, right. You know, one person talks and then in the classroom when we're digital, it's, it's different, but it still happens the same that as one person talks, then the next one says, Oh, that makes me think of something in the next person. And I'm surprised by that happening on digital, but I think it's to what you were saying that we're psychologically safe in, within a a well-grounded or parametered discussion you know, we're here for a purpose to do it. So please speak. And I find, and I'm curious if others are, are also, like, I just would have never expected us to be so comfortable getting into those kinds of conversations. Look, I'm pointing at Speaker 3 he's right here on my screen that because people just want to talk, people want to have that shared experience and they want to be able to express then as people share more and more, the safety becomes more and more. So I, I find that super fascinating.

Steve Arntz:

I love that. I love that so much. And you, you called attention to the fact that we're all remote now and this environment, like I'm surprised it works in this environment. It makes me think of an idea. It's a little meta now, because you said you know, an idea, it makes you think of an idea. And,

Steve Arntz:

And you're talking about remote distributed teams and groups. And what's been fascinating to me is to challenge ourselves as a team at campfire. How is it better because of the pandemic? What can we learn from the pandemic that'll help us to to do better than we did when we were all in person and one of those ways. So here's something that's a little off script is that as we've learned about how to help people to create psychological safety and connection in groups that are distributed and sometimes large, one of the techniques is we have people move back and forth between zoom and Slack or Microsoft teams, depending on the tool that they're using. And as a facilitator, we'll, we'll prompt with a question we'll put that into Slack or teams, and we'll have everybody quietly type the response to the question. And then they create these threaded discussions very quietly.

Steve Arntz:

It's, it's like a loan together as a, a way to phrase it type of a technique. And what's fascinating about it is just as one example, we had the question who is the best manager you've ever had. We were talking about manager effectiveness. So we put that into the chat and we were able to have 20 people respond with a paragraph about the best manager they've ever had. And then we all quietly read those responses and reacted to those responses. And in a matter of seven minutes, we had had a go around discussion. Like you're talking about Speaker 1, that typically would have lasted a full 45, maybe a whole hour, just for the one question. And so there are some ways that the pandemic that the remote remote tools that we're using have made things easier and better to create that safety, that connection, help people to have these discussions. So I appreciate that comment for just a number of reasons.

Stacia Garr:

I think you see someone on our team smiling, because that's what we do in our round tables.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. We started doing it in. So Speaker 1 and Speaker 2 are both familiar with that technique because we started doing in our round tables.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. We can all write faster than any of us.

Stacia Garr:

Well, and we're in an era where inclusion is just mattering more and more and more as it should. And it's, it's a much more inclusive technique because as you can tell, I like to talk, but it type it's all about, we all have the same amount of space to fill, and then we all can read together. And so everybody has that same voice at that point, which is really cool. So, and Speaker 4 taught us that technique, by the way, she facilitated several books for our team and has done a magical job of, of getting us to connect other thoughts. It looks like Speaker 5 turned her video on, I don't know if that's, because she's wanting to share, don't want to put you on the spot.

Speaker 5:

I wasn't planning on sharing, but I can yeah, you made me think I do, we call it a book club. It'd be more accurate to call it a podcast club because the most we can get In as a podcast throughout the week. But the, yeah, so, so I get together with a group of girlfriends every week, virtually. And we just, we just talk, you know, we go anywhere from discussing the, the merits and flaws of capitalism to talking about our weeks and checking our, you know, like this last week, some of us have had some uncomfortable situations. So we wanted to check our instincts and kind of check ourselves on that. But I always walk away feeling alive. That's, that's always kind of the it's invigorating. It makes me feel alive. There's something about that connection, but also just that expression of yourself as well in a group that accepts that and wants to participate with you as a, as a thinker, as a person. That's just really, yeah. I just keep on thinking every time I walk away, I feel more alive.

Steve Arntz:

That's awesome. I love that. I'm interested in people's thoughts about why a book or a podcast or a piece of content can bring people together. Speaker 3 mentioned earlier about how you can get people from different political viewpoints, for example, to somehow have a, a discussion that can be, you know, friendly, amicable, even if their viewpoints differ, because they are kind of centered on this piece of content. And so I think that there's something to that with what you're talking about, Speaker 5 as well of having a place to start is something that's very, very powerful regardless of whether you agree with the piece of content or not, it brings you together and you can start that discussion and then those discussions end up helping you to feel, I like how you put it alive. With your permission, I'll go back to the deck here and share some more things.

Steve Arntz:

So, you know, our, our brand is purposeful. This is the only time you'll see our brand, but we believe that Campfires are a bit of a symbol of what it means to connect. If you think about group discussions, they sometimes model the way a campfire is built. You have to collaborate to find pieces of things to burn and stick in the center. And then this, the fire starts really hot, and there's an intensity to it that keeps you apart. And then you start to cook things over the fire, and then the fire dwindles, and you have to get an even closer to warm your hands by the fire. And that closeness, that, that change in closeness brings people together and the discussions that are had and those types of things. And I think it helps us to think about how we might model those discussions in our organizations as well.

The research and the selection

Steve Arntz:

We did a lot of research on book clubs, and I don't know if it would be research that would pass the bar of RedThread research. They're phenomenal researchers, and we are kind of product researchers, which is a different bar. But I want to share with you some of the research that we did first, we did some secondary research and I love Davina Morgan Witts. And she's done phenomenal work in researching this from a consumer side and surveyed 5,000 book clubs. This report is incredible. If you want to download it, if you need some insights into how to maybe leverage this for your organizations, this is a great resource. She talks about books selection in her research. And so there's just tons of books. I think the most common mechanic for choosing a book for a book club is basically to just look at the New York times bestseller list.

Steve Arntz:

Somebody picks one off of it that they like, maybe they're going to be the facilitator and they just show up and say, Hey everybody, do you want to read this book? They might pick two or three, and there's a voting mechanic on it. One of the things that Davina found in her research is that book, selection matters quite a lot. And the biggest thing that matters is that everyone is excited and willing to read the book which, you know, seems obvious, right? But I think that people often think that, you know, just choosing one of the bestseller books, people will just show up and they'll, they'll read because they're in the book club. What we found is that if you, if you give people several options, then that helps what helps even more is if the group can decide together on a purpose for reading a book and then select together a book that fits that purpose.

Steve Arntz:

So specifically when we're working in our organizations as talent leaders helping people to identify those problems and challenges, and then choosing a book that will help them to solve that challenge is, is very helpful. And so we worked with a marketing team that read the book Upstream. And the reason they chose Upstream is because they were trying to figure out ways to be more creative and solve problems in advance of those problems, existing, sometimes preventative maintenance type things. And because the team chose that book together, 85% of the participants read the book. Whereas in their previous book club attempts only twenty-five percent of the people had read the books. And so having that shared purpose can be really meaningful and choosing the book and then moving through the content together. What did Davina find that is important about a book? So the, the key indicators of whether a book is great for a group is it gets people talking.

Steve Arntz:

It's well-written. We like to add to that a little bit of, for, for talent leaders specifically, and in our organizations it's well-written and it is research backed. I think a lot of times we can pick kind of the pop business, the pop psychology books, they're fun to read. They create great conversations. I wouldn't say that they're bad to choose. What's even better is one that's well written and well-researched, it's enjoyable to read. An example of that Shawn Achor wrote a book called The Happiness Advantage, and he's he's a psychologist from Harvard, who's studied positive psychology, done a lot of great research and work. And he also writes books that are fun to read. And so it checks a little bit more of the boxes for us that might be a really meaningful book for a club to choose. Stacia, it looked like maybe it came off mute, so I wanted to see if you had something.

Stacia Garr:

Oh, I was just going to exclamation point the Shawn Achor book. I love his work also. Adam Grant's work in terms of being easy to read, but also research based.

Steve Arntz:

Absolutely. And Adam Grant came out with a book yesterday, or it's this week. I can't wait. Okay.

Stacia Garr:

Yeah. Recently I thought it was a couple of weeks ago, but yeah.

Steve Arntz:

Okay. It's the power of knowing what you don't know is what it's about. And I'm really excited to read that book. So does anyone else have thoughts on, on that book selection.

Speaker 4:

On the, on the note of research backed, it was interesting. So, so just as background for the rest of you, I I did a couple of book clubs with the Campfire team the internal book. So we did a sort of internal book club, and it was very interesting to know that there was a lot of energy around the first two books cause they were very, very relevant to what we were, what the team was trying to do. And then the third book we chose was not research backed. It was more sort of anecdotal and a little bit more of a pop psychology, and it wasn't particularly relevant to what was going on for the team at the time. And it, it, it was really interesting to note just how the energy dropped in terms of being in terms of wanting to participate in that book club.

Steve Arntz:

And Speaker 4 is being generous, we cut it off early eight chapters in, and we're just like, nah, forget it. I'm doing this. And, and I think that's actually a useful thing to know, like if a book's not working for a team bail on it, pick something else, you know, this is a powerful mechanic and it can be powerful in both good and bad ways because you're bringing people together to discuss and, and over a topic that needs to be relevant, interesting research backed, going to provide meaningful results for these teams. So,

Stacia Garr:

And it really just goes back to adult learning principles, right? We, we need things that we're going to use in our lives. And if, if we don't, aren't getting it, we're not going to spend the time.

Steve Arntz:

And that's not to say that they all have to be research backed. And I agree with that Stacia for sure. We're currently working with a company that's reading the book, I am Malala, and they're doing that to have an example of one of their values, which is do good. And so they have this value do good in their organization. They're trying to build culture. The purpose is, is not to change behavior or take action necessarily it's to bring people together around a story, get them to have conversations about what it means to do good in the context of their company. And so, you know, narrative and memoir can be a powerful mechanic for that, but you just have to be purposeful about what you're choosing for what reasons, if it's behavior change, choose something, research backed for sure. If it's conversations that you want to generate, you might be able to get away with choosing stories and narratives and memoirs and that sort of thing to help start the conversation.

Steve Arntz:

Any other thoughts observations before I move on?

Speaker 3:

Is it alright, if I pepper you with a quick question, Steve?

Steve Arntz:


Speaker 3:

I'm curious, cause you know, one of the things I thought of actually as I remembered a group shortly after high school and college, where they gathered around you know, fiction books and literature, and that actually brought them together and they would and one of the books that came to mind was one called Islandia, which was, you know, kind of kind of mysterious kind of fantasy type book, but it was very cerebral and everyone was trying to figure out what it means and they all share the perspectives and what they thought was what, and that was part of the, the intrigue and the interest there. So my question is is just, have you seen like fiction books play a part in this and do you see maybe a combination of a hybrid between books that are, are intentional to kind of create purpose and culture? And then some are just, just the enjoyment factor to create connectedness?

Steve Arntz:

I think fiction is very powerful and can be a real positive experience. There's a strategy team that we worked with that read Ender's game together. And I think that there's a lot of strategic principles in that book. I don't know if you've read Orson Scott Card's book. I I think that when you choose fiction, it's even more important that everyone has said, yes, I want to read this book. I think that you know, that's, that's the place where you might find the most drop-off in a business setting. And so if people aren't committed to reading that book and they don't have purpose behind it, you're going to find a really low participation rate in terms of number of people who are actually going to complete the book. And so, you know, I think there's value. I think that stories bring people together. I think that, that they build empathy. You can relate to characters and you can start to learn from different perspectives, but it's just really important that people are all committed at that point to saying yes, yes, yes. We're all excited about this book that will create a lot of energy and a lot more success.

Speaker 3:

Right. Makes sense.

Picking the right book for your team: "What book could we read together that would help us the most right now, as a team?"

Speaker 5:

Hey Steve, can I ask another question? Sure. This is awesome by the way. So I just started a unofficial book club where I work. And so I did a little survey and asked people sort of what are, what are like the high level topics that people would like to talk about. I'm wondering how you've seen, like, what are the best methods you've seen for getting people to agree to what the purpose is or what the book is because I I'd like to get as many people excited about reading as possible.

Steve Arntz:

I love it. So we have a survey for choosing a book that we've used with customers and the survey is, is eerily similar to an engagement survey that you might use as a talent leader. And what's fascinating is that choosing a book for a specific team can be a safer, sometimes more interesting way to find the problem on that team than using your traditional kind of talent management engagement survey that you might use with like a provider like Glint, or, you know, these different providers that have these engagement surveys. When you get a leader with you, let's say a team of six, eight, 10 to say, Hey, like what book could we read together that would help us the most right now, as a team, somehow that's a safer question than like, what's the problem with our team right now? Can you guys take the survey?

Steve Arntz:

I want to check against these eight factors about where we need the most help as a team right now and magically you as a leader, get to see what the team thinks is the biggest problem. And so there's a roundabout way of answering your question, Speaker 5, but you can use similar approaches that you might use for an engagement survey to say like, Hey, what's the problem on our team? What's the thing that would bring us the most benefit. What's the opportunity on our team? If we could do this, just this one thing really, really well, what would that be? And if you tie that back to using books to kind of choose a that thing, it becomes a very safe way to find those opportunities, problems, threats to the team that you might want to surface. And then it's a lot safer way to then go and address it because now it's not you the leader saying, Hey, I think we need to solve this problem.

Steve Arntz:

It's the team saying we need to solve this problem together. And we've chosen this book. We've chosen a guide to help us through the problem. That's not our leader. It's not the leader now lecturing on how to give feedback. It's maybe you know, a research back book on feedback, giving a lecture on how to give feedback and then the leader being able to help support that conversation in a direction that helps solve that problem. So I don't know if I'm answering your question fully Speaker 5, but like, I think you're doing the right thing by identifying, you know, questions that you can ask and seeing how, how the group can give input into the book that they might want to read. And you might also think about how you can tie that to the problems, opportunities, threats for teams, that'll help them to solve the most urgent problems in the context of your business. So

How do we connect with one another through reading

Speaker 6:

Hi Steve.

Steve Arntz:


Speaker 6:

Hi. This is, this is good. Thank you. So I was just listening to these because I joined these because I've been one of the people that never really liked book clubs. I have, I've been an avid reader since I was young, but I read for that enjoyment of just isolating myself and sitting with a good book. So for me, trying to be part of a good club, kind of defeats the purpose. Like I don't want the pressure of read three chapters before you come. And then we have to talk about what we read. It almost feels like school. So I never really was interested in a book club until I joined my first book club this month. And the reason is because we had a trivia with the organization, we had a trivia game and it was sort of like a jeopardy kind and informal networking get together virtually.

Speaker 6:

And then we got to talk about this book and there was a lot of good conversation and just people talking about different books that they had read and some of the perspectives and the team is working on health equity. And so then it ended up spinning off from two months ago into a book club where somebody, you know, started it, picked the book and told everybody, you know, if you're interested, we're going to read this. And for me, the reason why I joined it is because it brought up two things for me is I wanted to read more this year. And that's also a book that I want to read because I'm learning, I'm going to learn so much about that book. And then I'm going to talk to people who make it reading that book, which is not a really a fiction reading that book by myself. It will be hard work and you will probably be harder than talking about it with people. So for me, that made the decision easy. Is that, what am I going to get from these? And then what support am I going to get from that group? So I can see the way the statistics you shared at the beginning. I can see why it's going up because I've never been a book club fan. And I find myself joining one and joining this call because I wanted to learn more about that. So

Steve Arntz:

Thank you for sharing Speaker 6 and I have, I have a suggestion for you about a book club to try in the future. Based on your feedback. One of the, my favorite experiences with a book club was one there, there were some women on LinkedIn who posted about wanting to have a book club and I commented on the post and said, it looks like I'm the only, I'm the only male would you guys be willing to let me join anyway, is that okay? And they said, we'd love to have you. And I was thrilled. And so there were a dozen women and me and we show up for lunch at a place and they asked my thoughts. What do you think about choosing a book? And I hadn't gotten into book clubs yet. And I said, well, I, I don't like book clubs very much.

Steve Arntz:

I just wanted to meet other women in the workforce here. And I was excited to learn from all of them and get a new perspective. And, and they said, well, what do you think we should read? And I said, well, I think we were all reading, right? Like, let's go around the room and say the books that we're already reading. And so everybody went around the table and talked about the books they were reading. And I said, well, like, let's just not stop reading the books. We're already reading. Let's meet again in a week around the lunch table. And let's just bring all the insights that we have from the things we're already reading. And what was fantastic about it was that the first person shared about the book, they were reading the insight they gained. And then somebody was like, that relates to my book and they started to share and, and shared an insight there.

Steve Arntz:

And then someone else. And then by the time we were done, all 12 or 13, people had connected every bit. Like these books, all connected, like we're all connected. These books, all of these are connected. There's this like, as we've, as we've been cataloging, all these books for our customers and things, we've been finding that like through the taxonomy we've created and the way that we've created relationships between these books, they're all connected. And so Speaker 6, something that you can do, who, you know, is one that loves to just read what you're reading. You can have a book club with other people who just like to read and then find the connections between the things that you're reading.

Speaker 6:

Yeah. That sounds so much like me right now. What you just described. I love it. Thank you so much for sharing that because I think that's been my struggle with reading. It's like, I read good books. I get excited, but it's like, I can't talk about it with anybody because nobody, I don't know anybody else read it, but I would love to also hear what other people are reading and what they are getting from me, as opposed to putting the pressure on me, to do some reading and come answer some questions about the reading. So thank you.

Steve Arntz:

You're welcome, Speaker 6. Thank you.

Stacia Garr:

I think the thing that's amazing about that is it's kind of the rethinking of what a book club could mean. Right? Historically, it's just been this idea that we, we read one book, everyone reads the same thing, like what Speaker 6 was, was saying. And and that puts a lot of, a lot of pressure. But if instead, it's, you know, whether it's with what Speaker 5 was talking about about the podcast or, or whatever, but then maybe bring some content, some thoughts on some interesting content that you have consumed in the last, you know, week, month, whatever, and share that. And then kind of build a conversation around that. So, I mean, the, the book is just one of many, you know, content mechanisms really. And so this idea of expanding it into a different approach, I think is really attractive.

Steve Arntz:

That's awesome. Stacia thanks. And you can do that by topic. You can say everybody reads something about feedback. Everybody reads something about communication. Everybody reads something about performance management and we'll all come together and share those things. Or you can do it kind of the anti topic of like read something off the beaten path, something that's not in our normal literature, our normal, you know, canon of, of our discipline and then bring those collisions back to the group. And there's just so many different ways that you can choose these books, the content, the topics, but the important thing is that you create purpose around the discussion. And then when people come together, they can have those meaningful interactions.

Stacia Garr:

Yeah, it's interesting. My my master's, my first master's degree was from the London school of Economics and the British approach is very much so like that they call it, you read a degree, not that you like take a degree with predefined things that are in the curriculum. They literally, I remember the first day I got a syllabus that was like this thick, and it was just like, here are the 10 topics we're going to cover in this, this course. And here are all the books we know about in, on these different topics, but you could use else, just read three or four of them and come to class and have something to say. And I remember feeling just completely unhinged, like, what is this going to be like these conversations. I was incredibly nervous and they were some of the best conversations I've ever had because there were so many different perspectives and connections like, like we're talking about. So I think we have to be willing to be a little bit afraid potentially of the lack of structure, because I think the structure will appear.

Steve Arntz:

That's awesome.

What do you define as reading

Speaker 6:

Well, I have one more point that I was going to make about your suggestion of topic. I think it also aligns with, because I think for awhile, I beat myself up because I felt like I wasn't reading. Like I wasn't reading enough, but then I realized I've been going through a phase where all I'm reading is articles. So I'm not reading books as I'm used to, but I've been reading like lots of articles online and research articles. So I think when you, when you make it by topic, it kind of gives people room to be flexible. You know, are you going to pick a book? Are you going to pick an article? Is it a podcast? you listen to, you know, just what have you consumed in the last, whatever you define that you want to talk about? .

Steve Arntz:

Oh, man, two things I want to call attention to first off is the, the term book guilt. Everybody has it. Speaker 6, we all have book guilt. People often ask me if you read all those books behind you and like, what do you think is my response usually? And it's because the answer is no. Like, no, we like to be surrounded by books. We don't read all of them. It's still great to be surrounded by them. We all have book guilt. The next thing is I got to spend some time with the head of the New York public library in New York at one point and asked that person what do you define as reading? And he said, what do you mean? And I, I said like, you know, is, is an audio book reading. And I was there with a friend who I had basically like tried to make feel guilty because he didn't like to read books.

Steve Arntz:

He liked to listen to books. And I said, that's not reading. And so I was asking to kind of prove my point to this friend in front of, you know, the head of the New York public library. And he said, Oh, we, we constitute any consumption of content as reading. You want to look through a picture book, that's reading. You want to listen to a podcast, an audio book that's reading. So I think that what you've just called attention to Speaker 6, is that we need to kind of redefine that for ourselves as well. I've just a kind of interacting with a piece of content that can challenge your perspective, change your view. Any kind of content is great. It's reading, let's, let's call it what it is. So it sounds like somebody came off mute and maybe wanted to share something.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, Steve, I was going to have the same conversation with my Grandma. So she loves physical books and I love audio books. And she, she said, you're not reading.

Speaker 5:

And I said, I said to her, Grandma, if you go back, you know, 1500 years, you know, the printing press wasn't invented. So how did they, how did they transmit ideas through stories? It was orally passed down. So actually I'm doing the authentic way. Anyway, that's my response to your argument.

Group size and participation

Steve Arntz:

If you guys ever want to, if you ever want to see notes on books that are comprehensive and helpful, you'll look at Speaker 5's notes. He's got some pretty intense notes on these audio books that he reads that if you were to read them, maybe you wouldn't even have to read the book because they're so great. I'm going to keep going, talk about group size. So, you know, in a corporate setting, in whatever setting we're having these book clubs, what's the right size for our group. So Davina did some research, eight to 12 is the sweet spot in the consumer area in this remote world that we're in, in the pandemic. Like we found that four to eight is sometimes even better, creates a lot of space for people to have discussions. And it's kind of hard to create the psychological safety and all the conditions needed for a really great vibrant discussion when you get too large.

Steve Arntz:

But I think that it's really about, can you create space for people to share? And there's a lot of interesting dynamics tools that you've, that we've learned, you know, the threaded discussions, like we've talked about that Speaker 4 mentioned you using the roundtable discussions. There's a lot of different ways that you can create that safety in that space for conversation. But the research that she has suggests that eight to 12 is where the highest engagement level occurs. Really quick notes on this. We like to use the phrase, include all the verts introverts extroverts, ambiverts. You've got, if you've been in a book club, you've noticed people who like to talk a lot, like to hear themselves. And then you've noticed people who are just really quiet.

Steve Arntz:

How can you create an inclusive, inclusive environment? The biggest killer of a book club is having an extrovert that's just way too far in terms of how much they want to share. And so if there's somebody who's just always wanting to share, everybody likes to check out and maybe not come back. And so she had done some research on the types of people that get kicked out of book clubs as well in these just kind of private social book clubs. And it's the extrovert that most often gets invited to leave. And so as a facilitator, you can manage those personalities. And then again, like with zoom and with Slack and with teams and all these tools that we have, we have ways to create inclusive environments where people can all be heard and all share regardless of personality. So these are some of the other things she researched.

Book diversity and facilitation

Steve Arntz:

If you want to look into the research, I won't read them all to you. There's a whole bunch of different that go into having a good and effective book club. These are the three that I've decided to focus on. So frequency in a corporate setting every other week seems to be the best from what we found in the private book club setting, it's monthly, usually monthly tends to get people to lose interest in a corporate setting. And weekly tends to get people to say, I'm too busy for that. And so there's this balance somewhere into every two to three weeks or so to be able to have those conversations book diversity is something I'm pretty passionate about at this point. I filled my, my Amazon cart with books about six months ago, and I got to checkout and I had eight books in my cart, and I looked through all of them.

Steve Arntz:

And for whatever reason realized that they were all white male authors. And I was a little bit frustrated with myself and I dumped the whole cart and I went back and found books by people of color and by women. And I think I filled the entire cart with that and said, I am going to, from this day, make sure when I buy books, half of them are from women, people of color and maybe half are from white male authors at, at worst. And I'm going to try to diversify my bookshelf. So I think that this is something we need to be very conscious of in our books in a corporate setting, but in life, generally, these are the perspectives we're challenging ourselves with. I love this book. I don't know why it came to mind, but Invisible Women.

Steve Arntz:

And it's a, it's a research backed book on data bias in a world. designed for men and reading through the, just the first chapter of it, it, it brought tears to my eyes, a thinking like just how much more I need to do to, to challenge my own perspectives and to bring more diverse perspectives into my bookshelf. It's a, it's a space. I control that. And so, you know, I can create a diverse space there. And so think about that as you're bringing books into the workplace especially in, in challenging your teams with these new perspectives and then facilitating makes a huge difference. What we found is that a really, truly great facilitator can create space and bring people into a room if you're not a truly great facilitator. The research even suggests that it might be better to like not try to facilitate, but to just maybe move people through activities and not try to speak and instruct and facilitate because you can actually do more damage as a bad facilitator.

Steve Arntz:

And so, you know, just kind of being self-aware, am I a truly great facilitator, or am I someone who just needs to bring people together around a topic, pose a few questions and be quiet, that can be better in, in many cases than trying to kind of control the room if you will. And then we did our own research. These are all the people we talked to. We've talked to three times as many companies at this point. And all of these companies we talked to about their corporate book clubs. So companies are doing this, it's a, it's a wide-scale mechanic, like a lot of reasons for that. Sometimes these in fact, the most common reason that surprised us was I'm doing this because I don't have a leadership opportunity in my organization. And so I needed to create one for myself. And so I needed to stand up and say, Hey, I'm having a book club who wants to join and then people join.

Steve Arntz:

And then I get to help create structure and meaning in this group and facilitate a discussion and they get to stand up and say, Hey, look, I can be a leader. And that was a really interesting thing. And so, you know, rather than having to have that happen organically, how can we create those opportunities for people, those leadership opportunities and help them to identify something that's a problem to solve, and then maybe organize a book club around that and lead those, those groups together is really meaningful and cool thing. So we basically just started with tell us about your book club. And we got a bunch of stickies, did our qualitative research, and then we organized the stickies and we found out, you know, why are you doing this? And like I said there's learning and development good for the work environment.

Steve Arntz:

And then there, the opportunity to lead improve my leadership skills. We found out why they fail. Maybe they chose the wrong book. We found out about scheduling. So people were meeting, you know, one meeting per book, monthly meeting, one book per quarter. We learned about facilitation tactics, pacing, group selection, book selection. And I'm not gonna spend too much time on all of this. People were using Slack and in tools like Teams and things to help keep the conversation going between sessions. A lot of the effectiveness comes from, you know, are we doing this for a reason or not? And so many of the book clubs were not purposeful other than, yeah, we just need something fun to do in a way to connect. If you can add another layer of purpose, you'll get the fun and connection because the mechanic is fun and it helps you to connect, but doing it with a purpose helps to to amplify magnify those benefits of fun and connection as well.

How to host a Book Club that doesn't suck 

Steve Arntz:

Plus people will stay engaged. The place where attendance was the greatest was when there was an engaged facilitator. And so the facilitator cared, followed up whether or not they were truly magnificent at creating space in a discussion was less important than whether they were engaged in caring about the thing happening and making sure everybody knew it was important. And so, you know, I did a webinar that was how to host a corporate book club that doesn't suck. And so this was the slide in that webinar. Okay. Just tell me how to run one that doesn't suck. And this is one that isn't great. You pick the latest best seller. So I just go to the New York times bestseller list, pick one in the top 10. That looks interesting to me, ask if everybody wants to read it with me, and then I invite everyone to join.

Steve Arntz:

I put bold on everyone because inviting everyone can be good. I think that in the, in the case where I said that the company is reading, I am Malala together. It's because it's a corporate value it's because they all need to get a perspective and an opinion on what it means to do good in the workplace. If, if that's not the purpose, then you might consider a different invite list. There's a book by Priya Parker called The Art of Gathering. That's fantastic. And, and she emphasizes the importance of who you don't include. And so there are powerful and meaningful book clubs where women get together to develop a perspective on how to be strong women in the workplace. And so maybe they exclude men from that book club and that's okay. But be purposeful about that invite list and think about who you want to join based on the purpose of the discussion that you're trying to have the most common question is what did you think about the book?

Steve Arntz:

And that's the quickest way to get off, off purpose and topic? You might have somebody who lands specifically on what that purpose was. And I would call that luck. It's better to ask a purposeful question that brings people into the room. One of my favorite examples of questions is when that Speaker 4 came up with, for our book club and we were reading the book How to Be an Antiracist after the, the events that occurred in the spring of last year. And the question that she asked the group was when was a time that you felt more than, or less than someone else. And can you share that? And we all thought for probably about five minutes and then shared those experiences about when we felt more than, or less than someone else. That is a much better question than what did you think about the book?

Steve Arntz:

It is on purpose, it's on message with the book. And it brings everybody together into a meaningful discussion that they're kind of United around as opposed to just a free for all around. What did you think? And then, you know, the fire dies in these cases. One that's great is when you declare double purpose. So we are reading how to be an anti-racist so that we can develop our own unique perspectives about the world that we live in, and we can bring that to our work and we can challenge ourselves to do and be better. That's a better purpose than well, we're just, we want to read together, you know, we want to connect with each other. Selecting a book together. We've talked about this already. I feel like you've gotten some insights on how to host meaningful discussions, capturing insights and taking action if the purpose aligns with that. So, you know, some, sometimes it is because we're trying to take action, trying to make change.

Steve Arntz:

We want to be more creative as a team was an example I used. Sometimes it's just because we want to connect. And so you might not want to take notes and take action in those cases. So here, just refresh your gathered with purpose, find or be a great host, owning the space, thinking about the technology and tools that you have available and how you can leverage them, how it can be better than in-person is always my challenge for people. And then include all of the personalities be inclusive in your efforts with these things. So before we jump into the questions on I'll, I'll just stop, pause, see if there's any other thoughts or questions before we talk about the two questions that were in the slides.

Speaker 4:

This is going back a while, but to your point about how this can be better, how it can be better virtually than in person. One of the things that I didn't really think about until just today is that we're all sitting in our own homes in our own already safe spaces which might influence it, could help people feel more comfortable speaking up. There's I noticed with one of, one of my colleagues that she, she considers herself a sort of a private person that doesn't share much. But she, she and I ended up talking about some really personal stuff over zoom that I don't think we would have talked about had we been in the same room physically? And so, so I think it's really interesting in book clubs, particularly in, when you're thinking about safe spaces that nobody is a guest in anyone else's space in this environment, they're already in their own, their own space.

Steve Arntz:

I think there's some powerful ways we can emphasize or amplify that a little bit as well. Everybody thinks I'm in this perfect space, right? It's a color-coded bookshelf, right? And I think that there's a barrier I can break down now and I'll do it right now by showing you the rest of my space. I'm tucked in the corner on a folding table that I got from Costco. That's really cheap and crappy so that I can project this perfect space to you because I own a company that is centered around books and connections. And so I need this backdrop, right. But where am I really well I'm in my basement. There's a TV over there. Books. There's some chairs. There's like a little mattress there that guests sleep on. Sometimes when they come, I've got this white board there, it's really just like this shower board that I bought from home Depot.

Steve Arntz:

And you can see my kids' drawings all over it. And then you can see my closet. That's overflowing with a mess. And I've got like this really crappy parking space here that we haven't replaced. And then here's my desk. This is my real desk. This is where I work a Snickers wrapper. Cause I didn't have time yesterday to eat a good lunch. And I've got this nice elevator desk, like this is a $700 desk. Why am I not sitting at that desk? Well, because I need you guys to think that I'm, you know, a credible CEO of a book space company. Right.

Speaker 6:

I almost feel like what you just showed us is the prop.

Stacia Garr:


Steve Arntz:

Yeah. It's awesome. Right. and so I think like what you mentioned, Speaker 4 is awesome and powerful. And I think when I've done, what I just did with other people it's, it's broken down barriers and created safety and like, yeah, this is my space. This is who I am. What's your status?

Stacia Garr:

Building on Speaker 4's point, one other thing that potentially is a benefit of this virtual environment is you don't have some of the, I think maybe the weird it's not necessarily weird, but the social dynamics that go along like, Oh, I'm going to the book club with Speaker 4, or I don't know anybody at this book club and who am I going to sit next to? And like, what that, what's that going to be? Right. You don't have to deal with kind of that. And I think that for some people particularly kind of, some of us we're introverted folks that can, that can be enough. That would keep me from going to a book club. I'd be like, yeah, I read it, but I don't need to go do that.

Steve Arntz:

I love that so much. And it's it begs questions for me about, do we ask people to turn on their cameras? Do we ask people to come off mute? What are the norms that we want to create there? And I am one who's like anxious when everybody's not on video. Right. And I've over time, gotten more comfortable with the fact that what you just mentioned, like it's safe now to come because I can, I can turn off my video. I can go on mute. I can just listen. Maybe I'm not feeling it today, but I do want, I do want to be there, but I don't want to have to participate today. I'm having a tough day, but I want to listen. Right. And so I think that we need to be careful with those norms and create the right safe space around that. And then, and then we get the benefits that you're talking about, but being able to show up, even if I'm not at my best today or whatever. And then there are, are ways to bring people in when you do need to, so you might say, Hey, we're going to go into breakout rooms and every is going to be in pairs. I would invite everybody to come off mute and turn on their video, at least for this moment. And then when we get back together in the large group, you know, mute it and turn it back off and we can be safe again, that sort of thing. So lots of things to think about in that regard.


Stacia Garr:

Yeah. Well, I know we are at time. Well you, you basically answered all the questions, so that's why I didn't push us to go to the questions. So so I think we, we took care of that. I want to first say thank you to everyone who came today. I think we, this was something that I didn't know much about and have learned a ton from Steve and I hope you did, as well. And then just want to be sure to say thank you so much to Steve for spending some time educating us all. I think we all have learned a lot. We've kind of talked about Dani and me if maybe if we want to start a RedThread book club, but Steve, your comments about like the purpose and why we would do it made me think, okay, well we need to spend a little more time on this and discuss it a bit more. So I think maybe I'll take that as an action item for our team in, see if that's something that we want to do. And then for those of you who are on the line, who are not with RedThread, we'll, we'll reach out and see if you want to want to join. And once we have a clear sense of our purpose, so it seems like that's step number one. Cool. Well, thank you everybody. And have a great rest of your day.



People Analytics Technology Q&A Call

Posted on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 at 1:01 AM    

Q&A Call Video



Stacia Garr (00:00):

Okay. So once again thanks everybody for joining us today. We are going to be talking about people analytics technology here in our first, really our first kind of people analytics focus session of 2021. This is based on research that Priyanka and I did across really the last two years, but more specifically, the study that we published at the beginning of December on the people analytics tech market has, they said this is designed to be highly interactive and a discussion. We do record just so you know, and we put the recording up on our site for our red thread members so that they can view this in the future. So if there's anything that you really, really don't want anybody else to hear maybe hold that back, but otherwise we hope that it is an open and engaging discussion.

Stacia Garr (01:09):

So for those of you who don't know who we are I think most of you do because you're here and you found this, but we're red thread research where a human capital research membership we're focused on a number of practices most relevant obviously for today is people analytics and HR tech, but we also cover DEIB, employee experience, performance learning and career. And and we offer our research through a membership and then we also do advisory services and events and all sorts of good stuff. So that is us. All right. So as I said, this study is based on what we did across the last year, had incredible support and participation from our vendor community, and some of who are on the phone today. And we we published this, as I said in December, 2020. It's kind of funny. I keep on tripping over 2020, 2021, but that was it.

Stacia Garr (02:03):

And so here's the high-level findings of what we found in the people analytics tech market study. First is that we saw some pretty incredible growth in the market. And I will give you all some specific numbers around that second, we saw a much more thoughtful approach to differentiating capabilities in this year's study. So in 20, in the 2019 study, we spent quite a bit of time kind of talking to folks about, Hey, y'all are saying the same thing. Could you maybe be a little bit crisper on what it is that you're offering to your customers? And we were so thankful that we actually saw that happen with with vendors last year and being much more specific about this is what we do, this, how we do it. This is who we work with which, which I think was really refreshing.

Stacia Garr (02:49):

A third thing was kind of vendors responding to customer needs. And we'll talk a little bit more about specifically what that meant, but in general, it meant responding to the pandemic. As well, as the social justice movements of 2019. For us we saw ease of use and user-friendliness remaining high on customer's list of needs. And that was important because we feel like back to this differentiating capabilities topic, a lot of vendors say, Oh, we are easy to use. We are user-friendly. But when we talk to customers broadly and we did a poll of, I think, what was it Priyanka, 150 some-odd customers participate in the poll. And so they said, Hey, look, this is actually still a differentiating feature. So even though everyone is saying that they do it, that isn't necessarily the case. And then finally people analytics practitioners are the key users.

Stacia Garr (03:42):

I actually pulled this slide out because I didn't want to spend too much time talking about it today. But the headline here is, is that in the 2019 study the vendors broadly said that people analytics, practitioners were their key users, about 76% of them said that. And then here, when we moved to 2020 and kind of given everything that happened, that number actually jumped about 20 percentage points up to 96%. So almost every vendor is now saying in our study, it's now saying that people analytics practitioners are there key user. So that's a pretty big shift in terms of what we were hearing. I'll stop there. Cause as I said, this is interactive. Any general questions about this before I share a little bit of additional details or anything that you want to spend a little bit more time talking about?

Speaker 1 (04:33):

I had a question about you, you mentioned there's a approach to differentiating capabilities. Perhaps you're going to delve into that a little bit more, but curious what approaches you've seen. So far.

Stacia Garr (04:47):

Yeah, we, we have a site on that. So we'll talk about that one a little bit more we'll make, and then please, you know, if we don't get to what you're looking for, go ahead and ask some more questions once we get to that slide.

Stacia Garr (05:01):

It looks like you might've just come off of mute.

Speaker 2 (05:04):

Yeah. I was just going to confirm the, the year. So you mentioned going 2019 and then 2020 is this something that was conducted in 2020?

Stacia Garr (05:14):

Yes. 2020. Yeah. So we published a study in 2019 which was kind of the foundational study. It was two actually studies, a very big, very long. And then the 2020 study we did, we tried to kind of condense and focus more on the highlights, but yeah, the, what we're sharing today is based on 2020.

Stacia Garr (05:34):

Anyone else?

To what extent did your org continue existing / make new investments in people analytics tech in 2020?​

Stacia Garr (05:44):

Well then for those of you who are practitioners online, we would just love to kind of understand what perspective you're coming from around the amount of existing or new investment you made with people analytics in 2020. So we just have to kind of hear, did you make any new investments? Did you continue investments? Did you expand them? What was kind of your approach?

Stacia Garr (06:18):

Or if you're a vendor maybe share kind of what you sell broadly with, with your, with your customers?

Speaker 2 (06:25):

From a company perspective, I would say in 2020, my company at that time I was doing data analytics, people analytics for HR, and we did make a good amount of investment in expanding our capability. We didn't change what we're using, but we sort of brought in capacity and, and, and the scope of use.

Stacia Garr (06:55):

And when you say you broaden your capacity, kind of what, what roughly did you go from and what did you go to?

Speaker 2 (07:02):

So we moved, we moved a lot of the backend storage and workings into the cube make for easier access because of a lot of data and a lot of use. We were moving a lot of data on projects onto the database. So we had to make changes at the backend so that performance is not compromised.

Stacia Garr (07:31):

Okay. Makes sense. Thank you. Anyone else want to share what they did in 2020 or what they saw their customers do?

Speaker 3 (07:42):

Thank you for, I mean, for explanation on behalf of the demeanor, let's say in Turkey, so I'm in the last year was a tremendous for companies to session for great tools. So the difference between the main region and the North America is we having access to great tools. So they actually, they wanted to invest, but, you know, there is a blur line between half to find out how to get access to this. So roughly there are great potential. And I mean, my company and I'm a researcher, but a lot of companies reached to me and asking how we can get access to this source. So there's a huge increase, I mean, the willingness, but you should create a good connection with other regions like me.

Stacia Garr (08:41):

Okay. So just to recap what I think I heard, it sounds like there's a lot of interest and enthusiasm around this, but not necessarily a lot of investment quite yet. And from what you saw is that fair to say?

Speaker 3 (08:55):

For sure, because, you know Yeah. Are like behind of the technology, you know, so we did pride a funny some technology here, but the difference is I in the local market, you should know how the culture of to get access to this market, but there's a great potential insight.

Stacia Garr (09:14):

Okay, great. Thank you. Anyone else want to share?

Speaker 4 (09:20):

So we work to support customers with transitions and we saw quite a lot of change just due to events. So we saw HR suddenly become very operational again. So some of the longer term projects have been parked and everyone was operationally running around, certainly in the UK seeking data to try and get through things like furlough, to understand that you said there was more of a request for staff, but it wasn't a tool was strategic. It was very reactionary, which I understand. And we saw many of the longer term aspects of HR teams put on furlough in lots of businesses as well. So it's almost like a bit of a pause in some of the strategic projects, but other companies maybe I think we'll come out of this realizing they couldn't very…they couldn't lay their hands on the data to even do the reaction we stuff very well.

Speaker 4 (10:15):

So, but it still feels I can. The UK, every time someone starts to put their head above the parapet to try and get to something more longer term, suddenly we're locked down again and HR running around like headless chickens, trying to deal with things internally. So we, we, we've just seen number of our longer-term projects. And again, you know, regardless of whether they're very analytical based keep getting kicked back as operational reaction becomes sort of the main thing at the moment. We're hoping things settle down and people actually learn some of the lessons of what they really need in place. So that's what we've seen through 2020 and the first month of 2021 so far.

Stacia Garr (10:58):

Yeah. And I imagine that the current severe lockdown has made it even even more signified.

Speaker 4 (11:05):

Yeah. I think everyone came out, you know, if you don't know what happened in the UK, we literally went back to work for one day and then got locked down so I can keep on going in expecting to sort of hit January and maybe things be a bit better or some people were, and then we were locked down and lots of people are homeschooling and stuff here as well, which is just sort of means that people are barely keeping the wheels on the car at the moment, rather than doing anything else. So, so we've just found that a number of times through the last year, but I think there is a non-independent that people realize, you know, more of the strategic importance, they just can't get there yet.

Stacia Garr (11:44):

Yep. Okay. That's helpful. Thank you. Anyone else want to share?

Priyanka Mehrotra (11:50):

I would just jump into HSA and say that from windows also aligns with what was just said to a point, because if you remember, when we started talking to vendors early on in the year, last year, they, a lot of them told us that their longer term contracts were starting to get put on hold as the people are going into lockdown and considering their budgets. And then later on in the hell, are we heard from some vendors, specifically employee engagement, experience vendors, starting to say that they're starting to see some contracts come back and get renewed. But I think that was specifically for those particular vendors because companies wanted to do those particular things really to employee engagement, keep a pulse on pulse, check on how employees are doing. So I think those, those investments probably saw a rebound versus compared to what Speaker 4 was saying, the longer term strategic investments, I think.

Stacia Garr (12:39):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, maybe we might need to check in with our engagement vendors now to see what's happening too, because so much of the world has gone back into a hard lockdown. And so it'd be interesting to see if it's mirroring what we saw immediately, you know, last March, April may, or if it's a different situation. Yeah. Great point.

Growth: even in times of crisis

Stacia Garr (12:51):

Okay. I'm going to go ahead and move you, move us along and show you all a little bit of some of the data from this study. So just kind of the high level and building off what Priyanka said, we did still see quite a bit of growth last year even in times of crisis. And so this is this is our market sizing efforts based on the revenue numbers that vendors share with us during the study.

Stacia Garr (13:26):

And you can see here that we, we still saw a pretty impressive 35% growth rate from, from roughly 2019 to 2020. Should be clear here, you guys, I'm sure. Facet math and saying, Hey, wait, that doesn't look like 35%. The differences is the 35% is actually calculated on the revenue that we revenue numbers we actually have. Whereas this is an estimate kind of taking into account all the parts of the market on the left hand side of the slide that all the parts of the market that we know exist, but we may not have had revenue numbers for. But anyway, nonetheless, no matter how you cut it, it's still quite impressive, quite significant growth in the market across the last year and continuing you know, the overall strong growth that we've seen in the market.

Stacia Garr (14:15):

We've got 55% CAGR (Compund Annual Growth Rate) for the last four years. So and, and, you know, just to kind of pause, I think, you know, a lot of this has been driven as Priyanka said by, you know, some of the engagement vendors also by some of what we call the multi-source analysis vendors. So, so folks like Vizier cruncher, I know we've got some busier folks on the line today who have, have been in those more in those larger, more strategic organizations and who, where the situation in, in the expectation of data being available, you know, maybe resulted an expansion of the capabilities and the offerings within those organizations. So, so still saw kind of a healthy growth from that sector as well.

Speaker 3 (15:07):

Can you explain, CAGR?

Stacia Garr (15:08):

Oh, I'm sorry. Compound annual growth rate. So instead of just kind of doing growth rate for year to year, it's the compounded growth across the four-year period.

Stacia Garr (15:23):

Thank you. Any other questions?

A crowded market landscape

Stacia Garr (15:33):

Okay. so this is our market landscape two by two. And one thing that's important to note is that unlike some other analyst firms are two by two and our two by two, up into the right is not necessarily better. This is really just trying to help folks understand what the market landscape looks like. And a lot of the vendors who are in each of the different quadrants offer different capabilities and they kind of play together well. So if you think about the folks who are on the left upper side, so the accumulated analytics group, they would generally play pretty well with the folks over here in the upper, right. And they would be kind of part of the overall integrated tech stack. Same thing with the folks down here on the lower right and targeted analytics. Those tend to be engagement vendors and, you know, they would play well with some of the vendors up here in the upper, right, who are, again like there's multi-source analysis platforms.

Stacia Garr (16:29):

The way that this vendor, this two by two is organized is on the X axis. We talk about the type of, or frequency in the finale axis and do this is gonna be the frequency with which somebody might be using these tools. So you kind of go from a quarterly or monthly analysis over here on the left-hand side over all the way to on the right hand side, it might be a daily or even hourly type of analysis, or are folks accessing it critically accessing it more frequently. And then on the data integrator versus creator side in a creator on the bottom is they're actually, you know, primarily survey tools, but basically pulling in creating data directly. Whereas on the top we have integrator tools which are those that are pulling in data from other sources. And part of the reason that we do it this way is one to help folks understand what some of the relative complexity might be for implementation.

Stacia Garr (17:26):

So for instance, down here on the data creators side an engagement tool is a relatively easy rollout. Whereas on the data integrator tool, it could be more complex because you're pulling in data from more sources and having to deal with, with everything involved in that obviously, you know, these different tools here at the top are very heavily focused on making that simpler. And that's a real often a real strength of theirs. But, but it's still, there is a higher level of complexity in general. In the middle we have vendors who are doing both. And so this is kind of one of the big shifts that we saw this year, which is the number of vendors who are kind of in this middle section. So really kind of, let's say from jigs, so on down here to the two, just above the x-axis that, that space is really compressed.

Stacia Garr (18:16):

Meaning a lot more vendors are in that space now. And then we had a lot of vendors who kind of showed up and are now there that we didn't have in, in 2019. And the reason for that is, you know, we've been talking as others about the importance of bringing in more data sources in order to get a more holistic understanding of what's happening. And so we're starting to see vendors who are both, you know, surveying employees for instance, but then also integrating data from different sources. Priyanka, did I miss anything on that?

Priyanka Mehrotra (18:46):

I think the only other point to add is that we saw a lot more vendors shift towards the right this year. So a lot more of we saw vendors improve their capability to providing data more frequently and also seeing users access that data more frequently. So we had a few, one vendors that shifted towards the right, and we had some engagement and experienced vendors who also shifted more towards the right. So that's, that's another difference that we saw from last year.

Stacia Garr (19:15):

Yeah. What questions do you guys have on this? Do you all have, if any?

Priyanka Mehrotra (19:26):

Oh, it looks like we have a question in the chat. How should, how should one understand when a window like Visier and work, they show up more than once in this chart.

Stacia Garr (19:38):

Yeah. So the let's take Visier as an example. So Vizier has an analytics platform or an analytics offering, excuse me, in addition to a workforce planning offering. And so with this group of vendors over here in the accumulated analytics are the ones who are kind of most likely to show up twice. And that's because they have a distinct workforce planning offering. That's separate from the others. Workday is a different case in that Workday has kind of three different analytics products. So they have a their, their Prism product, which is appear in the upper, right. They have their overall people analytics product, which is is kind of available. It does. So with Prism, you can pull in data from external sources with, with people analytics, you cannot and then they have their HCM analytics product, which basically provides a analytics on top of just their HCM data. So each of these kind of represents a different product offering for those different vendors.

Differentiating capabilities according to vendors​

Stacia Garr (20:52):

Okay. well we'll go ahead and keep moving then. So there was a question earlier about the differentiating capabilities according to the vendors and wanted it to kind of highlight what we saw as the differences. So in 2019, we saw that folks were saying things like ease of use customizable short time to implement scalable and flexible is their primary differentiators. And as I said, we were clear in our in our 2019 report that, you know, if everyone's saying the same things, they're not really differentiators. And so folks were quite a bit better in clarifying what their different capabilities were here. In 2020, we heard quite a bit more about domain expertise. So saying, you know, we bring this specific set of capabilities from a knowledge perspective or an industry or a sector or a geography perspective to bear on this particular problem aligned to that, the methodology and science.

Stacia Garr (21:48):

So we saw a lot more people kind of talking about if they had it, the underlying scientific basis on which their analysis was based. And that I think was really I helpful thing for, for vendors or for customers because it helps them understand, Hey, this, this is where this is coming from. This is why it's sound. This is, I think also important when we're thinking about things like AI or machine learning and helping people understand, you know, a little bit more of what's underneath the hood, as it were. Actionability was something that we heard a lot of vendors increasingly focus on. How do we actually go from the, the information to insight and that insight to action. And that I think is something that vendor sync that some vendors are differentiating here. There's a huge amount of opportunities still within that particular item. And then finally we did here still scalable and flexible and, and for some vendors that, that really is still true. Some of them are more scalable and flexible than others. And we didn't hear that. You can see it's kind of number four there. We didn't hear it quite as broadly as we did in 2019, which I think is, is good because it's a little bit more accurate, I think in terms of what's actually out there. Priyanka, did I miss anything there?

Stacia Garr (23:14):

Okay. Any questions on this? I know we had a question earlier,

Speaker 3 (23:20):

Actually. It's not a question. I mean, I just want to add, I mean, some mentions, let's say maybe we have more microservices. I mean, next year, because the people are just some go goes growing increasingly. And we have a lot of maybe microservices in this field because, you know, even we can give wide employee experience in many collaborative tools. So I think for this year we had immediate expertise.

Stacia Garr (23:54):

Yeah, no, I think that's a good point.

Speaker 1 (23:59):

I asked the question before, so thank you for sharing this. I think it makes sense as this market matures you it gets a little bit more specialized, I would say. So domain expertise and the methodology and science and some of the social science research that is so fundamental to HR and people analytics should make more of a hopefully, you know, the make a presence in, in the applications or the dashboards.

Stacia Garr (24:36):

Yeah. Yeah. I was, I was having a really interesting conversation with a people analytics practitioners this morning, actually about this, but this, this need for getting more of our you know, IO psychology and kind of general psychology, quite frankly insights into, into some of these tools and, and how important that is. It is broadly, but also particularly around the skills conversation that we're hearing come up a lot more with people, analytics technologies because, you know, with all of this, we're, we're looking at people. And so that, that strong basis in that science is an important aspect.

Speaker 1 (25:13):

Yeah. That's very true. I think because when it comes to actionability, that's one of the issues you really cannot be very prescriptive when it comes to people it's much more nuanced than let's say a sales application or a finance application.

Stacia Garr (25:35):

Yeah. I agree. And I disagree in that. I think that there is an opportunity for many solutions to one, Change level of expectation of kind of the type of the way people will interact with the system. So, so right now, in general, there is an underlying assumption that the user of these people analytics technologies will have the time energy inclination, whatever to go and kind of do some of the digging to find the most interesting insights. But the thing is, is particularly as we start to expand our base beyond our people, analytics practitioners, and maybe some are savvy HR leaders and obviously the data savvy HR leaders is a small percentage of those folks. I think that there's more of a need to kind of bubble up what some of the, what may be happening?

Stacia Garr (26:36):

So for instance, just to choose an example, if we know if we have a high, we may have a hypothesis, you know, black women are less…are staying at the organization for a shorter period of time than other, another population. Right now in a lot of these systems, you have to have that hypothesis and go digging for it. You have to cut by it. And in, even in the ones where that isn't the case where they might show that they don't necessarily show you what you could do. So, you know, maybe we need to look at compensation. We need to look at levels of engagement, their sense of inclusion, et cetera, et cetera, that group sense of inclusion. I think that there's an opportunity for the technology to make suggestions about this might be what's causing it, or this might be what you could do, not necessarily because it's right, because it may not be right, but what we all know that it's easier to react to something than it is to necessarily come up with the idea a whole hog new on our own. And so I think there's an opportunity to kind of show what could be happening, what could be done in the instant, in the hope that it will drive more action,

Speaker 1 (27:47):

One hundred percent agree. I think you know, full disclosure, we, we take all of our users up to that point, meaning showcasing what the the causes are, so that when the decision-makers are able to see what are the possible levers or the drivers that I need to focus on, I think that's the fundamental role of an analytics application, right. You really need to get there. And as you said, there, depending on the cause whether it is a promotion rate or compensation or something else it's up to them, the HR business partner or the business leader to take the required action.

Stacia Garr (28:27):

Yeah. Great. Any other comments or thoughts?

Vendors responded to customer needs

Stacia Garr (28:40):

All right, let's keep going then. Okay. So the other, the other kind of high level findings that we'd shared with vendors for needing to respond to customers, and they did it in, in five ways. First was it focusing on employee engagement experience kind of already touched on that point? Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So we saw particularly after the social justice movements of last summer an uptick in the focus on DEIB. That though I think is and, and we actually just published, what was it Tuesday Priyanka this week has been so long Tuesday our DEIB tech study. And, and we talk about this in that study as well, because it kind of goes both ways, but we saw an increased focus on that on people analytics. But we think there's actually quite a bit more room to focus on this topic within people analytics, and we're planning to study that here in Q1.

Stacia Garr (29:39):

But, but that was the second, second high theme. Third is getting the basics, right. So I, I pulled the specific slide out on this point, but really what we saw was a focus from our customers saying that their vendors were kind of focusing on some of the core elements, things like surveys, filtering, et cetera, that would enable them to use this solutions effectively. But some of the more sophisticated things like what we were just talking about we saw less effectiveness from, from vendors the fourth one being integrating and analyzing data from multiple sources. So, you know, just to kind of level set HRIS is, is the thing that everybody integrates with. I think it's 90% of vendors integrate agent with HRIS data. But then it kind of really starts to drop off in terms of some of the other talent solutions that are out there.

Stacia Garr (30:30):

And also some of the other technology, so sales or finance or other work cloud technology. So it's still something that focus folks are focused on, but it's just not as high as HRIS, but we did see kind of a greater focus on this in the last year. And then as I already highlighted people, analytics practitioners saw a much bigger focus on that audience. And less of a focus on some of the other audiences though, that said, we did see that when vendors were talking about what they were going to do moving forward. Most of them said that they were primarily going to focus on business leaders and C-suite leaders and that they going to focus on managers much more in the future.

Stacia Garr (31:14):

Priyanka did I miss, anything there?

Priyanka Mehrotra (31:16):


What should users keep in mind before buying new people analytics tech?

Stacia Garr (31:19):

All right. So now we're gonna jump into the questions that we received from folks in advance of this call. And this was the first one, which was what should folks be keeping in mind before buying new people, analytics tech? And this was like a perfectly planted question because we wrote about this in this study. And so what we found in this study was this folk need to focus on first identifying your needs. If you're, if you're a buyer, you know, what is it, what's the problem that you're actually trying to solve? And these are the five challenges that we've heard from vendors that they were trying to solve for their customers. And so we would advise, you know, figure out what really is the underlying challenge that you're looking for and can this vendor actually meet those challenges?

Stacia Garr (32:07):

You know, we see some vendors who are really great at, for instance, in play engagement experience, but they may be kind of more of a tech platform first and may not be focused as much on enabling action. Kind of underneath that too, is that we saw about a 60, 40 breakdown between the percentage of vendors who say that they have consulting included with their platform or some level of consulting to help get you off the ground and to give you support throughout the year. So that was about 60% of vendors and then 40% said they, any consulting is kind of add-on beyond, beyond what they're doing. So it was just important to know what your, what your needs are and whether the vendor can realistically meet your highest priority needs. Second looking beyond the basics. So I'm going to just build this real quick.

Stacia Garr (32:57):

So these are some of the, the kind of additional capabilities that we saw that vendors can offer in some of the new areas that they're, that they're looking into. So for instance, machine learning for, for deep learning about 40% of vendors are doing that about a third. Are you looking at digital exhaust? About 26% are looking at advanced NLP, and that is important to distinguish a lot of vendors say that they offer NLP, but advanced NLP allows you to take into account things like your, your organization's culture and maybe specific language that you use within your, within your organization. It can allow you to group together prescriptive comments. So not just this is what's happening, but this is what we should do. And to understand that. So there's kind of a lot more nuanced underneath NLP than a lot of vendors will say, they'll say, Oh yeah, we've got an NLP.

Stacia Garr (33:53):

We can, you know, group your comments. You're fine. But there's quite a bit more that can be done than that. And then finally we're starting to see the use of voice channels as a, as a thing that folks are experimenting with. And so using that, for instance, to allow folks to either submit video or to do recordings of things that they'd like changed or better, et cetera. And then potentially as we start to see more more information about or the more ability to kind of bring in digital conversations, maybe meetings, et cetera that might be another way that folks are potentially using this in the future. Any other questions or any questions on this?

Stacia Garr (34:51):


Stacia Garr (34:56):

And then it's kind of gets at that understanding vendor support and services I had highlighted a moment ago. So, so you can kind of see here that the data that I, that I mentioned about, you know, I actually think I flipped it, but so 60% of vendors say that they do not provide any sort of consulting services as part of their annual subscription and about 40% roughly so that they do. So understanding that level of, of support, and then also the frequency of customer check-ins by the vendor. So how, how engaged is the vendor and asking you what you need about 60% of vendors are doing that monthly. But you can see that, you know, 17% are quarterly and 15% are only at twice a year in terms of checking in and providing support. So you can understand what it is that you need.

Stacia Garr (35:40):

And then the final thing we mentioned is in terms of folks who are thinking about buying, they need to think about is, is clarifying the ethics expectations. There's a wide range of levels of support that vendors expect to have to provide when it comes to ethics. And you can see here that, and also, I should say it also varies by the type of category for, so for instance, multi-source analysis platforms as a group, as a category, scored the lowest on the amount of, kind of support that they give around ethics compared to, let's say, in play engagement platforms, which are amongst the highest. So you need to understand kind of what your organization's stance is on data ethics, and to make sure that it's either aligned with what your vendor is offering or that you're able to kind of guide your vendor in a way that is aligned to what your organization prioritizes.

Stacia Garr (36:31):

Okay. So I'm going to stop there. That was all in the considerations of what to think about before buying new people, analytics, tech, does anybody have any questions or thoughts or things that you're thinking about when it comes to buying tech that maybe we didn't cover?

Which people analytics tech vendors are focusing on addressing the needs of business and people leaders?

Stacia Garr (36:58):

Well, we'll move on to the next question. Okay. So which people, analytics, tech vendors are focused on addressing the needs of business and people leaders. So this is, I'm Just going to share this data here as a starting point. So vendors are generally planning to invest in non HR users. So what we have on the left-hand side is the current end users. And you can see kind of the, the groups, so business and C-suite people, managers and employees, and in red, we have 2020 data and in purple 2019 data. So you can see, for instance, right now about 55% of our vendors said that they're highly focused on business and C-suite leaders.

Stacia Garr (37:45):

And then on the right hand side, you can see what they said, where they plan to in the, the groups that they think will use their solution more frequently in three years. So you can see, again, 80% of solutions expect business and C-suite leaders to use their solution more in three years than today. So that means that they're planning to build for those folks. So you can see again, you know, business and C-suite leaders and then people managers, and then finally employees are the areas that are expected to see growth in. And we had a whole bunch of other populations on here, including people HR practitioners, HR, business partners, HR leaders, et cetera. Those either held steady, or actually they, they said they didn't expect to see more growth or more use of those the solution by those groups in the future.

Stacia Garr (38:32):

So these are the three that we saw the growth. So in general rule of thumb is, is people, vendors are planning to go after particularly business and C-suite leaders and people managers more in the future. In terms of the specific, you know, vendors, I think we've got, you know, whatever it is, 50 some odd vendors in this study, I hesitate to call out individual vendors and kind of a list. But I think, you know, if folks have a specific question around specific category, happy to answer that one offline. But I think the general expectation should be that, you know, roughly half of them today are focused on business and C-suite leaders and people managers, and that in the future, it's going to be quite a bit more.

How are people analytics tech vendors helping customers with their DEIB challenges?

Stacia Garr (39:22):

Next question we got was how are people, analytics, tech vendors, helping customers with their DEI B challenges? And so for this one, I don't think we put together some data. But I can tell you there, there are a few ways and Priyanka, please jump in here because I'm sure I will…because we just published this study this week. I might, might not have my talk track straight here. But so, so there are a number of ways, you know, one of them is just through, through kind of your, your pure analytics of, of what's happening for these different groups. So this might be looking at retention rates. It might be looking at promotion rates, representation, et cetera, with, with different populations within the group within the organization, excuse me. We are attending to in really until last summer the big focus was on gender for a lot of organizations we've since then seen a big shift to, to race as you would expect.

Stacia Garr (40:21):

But I think we're going to start to see some other demographics come in as well. And so sorry. I see you need to jump off, the recording and slides are only available to RedThread members. So the live event is what's available to anybody, but the recording and slides are available to red thread members. Thanks for the question. In terms of kind of some other ways that we're seeing people, analytics, tech vendors help, you know, one big area has been around organizational network analysis. And so that has been looking at the networks of different populations and understanding where we might be seeing some populations who are maybe not as well connected or included within the organization as others. That's one way that we're seeing it. Certainly other ways we're seeing it are looking at things like within talent acquisition, kind of what what might be happening to different candidates in terms of them dropping out of the pipeline or what actually interestingly might be happening with interviewers.

Stacia Garr (41:22):

So do certain interviewers tend to have a bias towards selecting one type of person or another? So I think they're, they're just a number of different use cases. I mean, in the, in the people that are in the DEIB tech study that we just published, we basically have vendors across all four areas of the talent life cycle. So talent, acquisition engagement, and retention, advancement development, and then people analytics, but fundamentally all those solutions are in, most of them, not all, most of them are or some sort of analytics solution Priyanka, what did I miss? Because I'm sure I missed a bunch.

Priyanka Mehrotra (41:57):

I would just add a thing that we saw the same, a lot more vendors. Talk about inclusion and belonging. So for example, and we mentioned this an our DEIB report, like 40, for example has in its solution tries to capture belonging through its survey for candidate experience as an employee experiences and has that built in, into its culture and hiring tool that they offer to their customers. You know, similarly Workday had released their Vibe, which is their inclusion and belonging index. And some of the employee engagement experience when results are starting to talk about inclusion quite a bit more. So PeakOn for example, that's another example that we had shared in our DEIB study that is working with customers to really understand the different experiences of the underrepresented groups inside the workforce. I think the other thing that we talk about is looking at retention rates and I know leadership among different groups, for example, Visier allows cohort analysis of different groups to see how different groups are progressing through the development and looking at their career progression and where they're falling off in the leadership cycle.

Stacia Garr (43:12):

So I think those, those were some of the examples that really stood out this time in our study.

Stacia Garr (43:19):

What are you all seeing? Are you seeing the technology being applied in different ways or different use cases where you would hope to use?

Speaker 5 (43:31):

Yeah. That that's interesting from the perspective of the survey, because I was thinking about it that I know there was a lot of requests from, from the company I was doing last year. I know that was a big focus for us, was being able to look at the data and, and performance, just like what you just explained, being able to look at that, but I didn't feel like we got that. We're able to get that. That was a request we made to our vendors. I didn't feel like we were able to get that. So are you saying that you saw a lot of requests or are you saying that a lot of the analytics companies have this capability already?

Stacia Garr (44:13):

A number of them, I'm not sure I would go with a lot of them. So a number of them have that capability, for instance, Priyanka just mentioned Visier. Visier has that capability. Workday launched in November I want to say maybe that timing might not be quite right, but their Vibe index which allows for it. She mentioned PeakOn, which is an engagement provider. They allow for a pretty robust DEIB analysis. So a number of them do that, that said kind of, if we think about what we saw in our DEIB tech report that we just published one of the big shifts was that we saw a lot more of what we call DEIB feature vendors. And so those are vendors who do other things, but have recently added DEIB features to their offering and that number Priyanka.

Stacia Garr (45:06):

Do you remember the exact percentage increase we saw, but it's big. My recollection and maybe Priyanka, you can look it up while I'm talking about. My recollection is it was an increase of 136% is what's the number that sticks in my head. So we're seeing a lot of existing vendors add on DEIB features. And what I expect to still see that here in 2021, because the DEIB energy is still very much so there. And I think that given a lot of the commitments that were made by companies in 2020, they're going to be asked, there's going to be some accountability. I think quite a bit more than there has been before in 2021 as to what they've done. And then analytics component of that is fundamental to being able to answer that question.

Speaker 5 (45:57):

Right. So I have one more question. So this research that you did was based on existing vendors, did you also notice a lot of new entry in terms of tech companies that are bringing new technologies for D&I?

Stacia Garr (46:13):

In general, we have. So we had been seeing a significant growth rate of new vendors into the space, both people, analytics and DEIB for, you know, years, but we have seen a bit of a slowdown and we think that was related to the, you know, the financial impact of COVID in 2020. That may shift here in 2021, now that we have a vaccine and kind of a perceived way forward, we also see broadly VC investment in this space is still really high and really growing. So my gut is that it will probably pick up here in 2021, but we did in general, see a slowing of the pace of new vendors in 2020.

Speaker 5 (47:03):

Okay. Thank you.

Stacia Garr (47:09):

Any other questions?

Stacia Garr (47:15):

One thing I realized I did not say, but should have said is compensation analytics is obviously a really big space here. I kind of think of it as like obvious, but it's not necessarily.

Stacia Garr (47:31):

For people who are newer to the space, but the compensation side of, of this has been particularly driven by, by places like the UK who are requiring gender compensation report outs and the like, and, and then that has a ripple effect because if you're gonna do it from large multinational companies, for many of them, if you're gonna do it in one place, you should probably do it in all places. And so we're seeing that broadly across people analytics. So I just should have, I should have mentioned that earlier.

How can people analytics practitioners discern which emerging tools and trends will gain long-term adoption?

Stacia Garr (48:00):

Okay. so this was kind of an interesting question. So how can people, analytics, practitioners discern which emerging tools and trends will gain long term adoption. Now, if I really truly knew the answer to that, I can just shut down red thread and call it good.

Stacia Garr (48:20):

Cause I spend my life as was Priyanka trying to think about this night. I don't necessarily know the answer, but here's how I would start to think about it. One, is it solving a real problem that organizations have? I think that it's really easy for us in people analytics. I include myself in this to say, Oh, we can do this really cool thing. And then to go searching for a problem, you know, a hammer in search of a nail. And sometimes that nail is not really the nail that needs to be hit for the business. And so I think, you know, where I would start is, is a really, truly a problem for the business. Not just something that people analytics or even HR is excited to solve. So that's, that's thing. Number one thing. Number two is, can we actually solve it? And so by this, I mean, is it a problem that we, that is not so complex that we can solve?

Stacia Garr (49:19):

So for instance, I had a great conversation with someone a few days ago where we were talking about skills and now I believe that there, that skills has the potential to be a really powerful thing. But this practitioner was saying, look, I think this is all just hype. Like this whole skills thing is overblown because people are much more than their current skills. There's their potential, there's their interests there's, you know, their lives, the rest of the things that are happening that can impact their performance and skills themselves are really hard and complex. And so if you are trying to solve the skills question, like the level of complexity is so great that I don't think you can get there. I don't know that I have an answer to that point, but the, but the point around the level of complexity and the fact that we're trying to measure things that are very human and influenced by other things that we can't necessarily measure, because we can't measure every single thing about a person.

Stacia Garr (50:15):

I think it does beg the question is, you know, in this example is skills a trend or will it be something that actually gets baked into our organizations and drive long term? So, like I said, first thing, is it solving a real problem? Second thing, is it a, is it a problem that we actually can solve? And then I think third, is do we have the reach to, even if we have the right answer to influence the people who can drive action. So for instance, you know, a lot of solutions are trying to get, as we saw more into the hands of C-suite leaders and and people, managers and employees, which is great, but if we develop a solution now or a feature now that requires those people to do something, but they are not, the reach of the solutions are not broad enough to actually get that information into those people's hands. It's going to end up being a trend that fails a fad that fails. Now it may be that in five years, it comes back and we've got the broader reach and we can get to those people. But if we can't get the right information to the right hand to the right people to make the right decisions, then I think it tends to fail. So that's, that's my thinking on it. Priyanka, do you have anything to add?

Priyanka Mehrotra (51:31):

I think I would just reiterate the first point that you made about the business challenges, I think and that also ties to what the employees need. You know, one of the things that we are hoping to see in, we expect to see for this year is people analytics really move into the development space. And I think that's really crucial from the employee side, as well as from the business side as well. And we know from, from 2020, one of the biggest challenges that businesses and employees face was shifting to this new paradigm of working and suddenly everybody did, needed to learn new things while working remotely. And people analytics really saw an opportunity to come into play over there. So I think marrying those two things really finding out what is it that employees need aligning that with the business needs. I think that's very real see the trends and long-term adoption of what people analytics can really do.


Stacia Garr (52:22):

Great. I see that some folks are having to jump. So I think that's probably a good place to, to end. There was one more question, but I think we'll just stand right there. The overview is available on the site for folks who are not members. The full study is available for folks who are members and also the tool, which gives information on all the vendors who are in this study. A kind of lightweight version is available on the site for everyone and a heavyweight version that has a lot more details on it is available again to RedThread members. So thanks so much for spending some of your time with us today. I know everyone is really busy and so we appreciate that you did. And if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to reach out to Priyanka or me. You can certainly get us at [email protected]. That's probably the easiest way. All right. Thanks so much everybody. Thank you!


Coaching Q&A Call

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2021 at 7:32 AM    

Q&A Call Video



Dani Johnson (00:00):

You don't want anybody in the world to hear what you're going to say, then, then we when we record so that we can provide this to a wider audience to our members. And so yeah, feel free to feel free to share, but please keep it friendly, especially after yesterday. So welcome to our first Q & A call of the year, which is coaching. I've been waiting to do this call for a while now. We've stationed and Heather and I have all had spots on coaching for about six months because we're seeing so much go on in this space. And so we're pretty excited to talk about it. And we're really thankful for those of you who submitted questions which will get us something to talk about here. Just a couple of things before we jump into your questions, this is RedThread.

Dani Johnson (00:50):

If you don't know us, then you should get to know us. We're awesome people. We're a research and advisory firm and we focus on these things. Our latest offering is a membership that we kicked off last fall. It gives you access to all the research. It gives you access to some analyst hours and makes sure that you're staying on top of everything that we're doing. So if you want more information about that, contact us and we'll be happy to share it.

Coaching & Mentoring: Differences?

Dani Johnson (01:14):

So a couple of things to start with, one of the questions that we always get is what is the difference between coaching and mentoring? And I forgot to put the source on this, but this is actually from Kent State University. Coaching is more performance driven, designed to, to improve the professionals on the job performance. If you think about executives, that may be a completely different skillset than somebody on the front line, but coaching is for performance to help people perform better on their job.

Dani Johnson (01:42):

Whereas mentoring seems to be a little deeper and a little broader, it's more development driven looking not just at the professional's current job function, but actually beyond that. And so it takes a much more holistic view or what would you like to do, you know, where would you like to go? Where are your skills? Have you, can I contact for you those types of things going on? So before I sort of, before we move past this slide, I'd love your thoughts on these two definitions. They seem to be the most common out there, but in your organizations, are you using different ones?

Speaker 1 (02:13):

You know, it's interesting I've coached different people on performance, but I've also coach different people on their development career. So for me, I didn't really look at it differently. It just depending what their needs were.

Dani Johnson (02:34):

Yeah. I think that's really fair. And, and quite frankly, I hadn't really considered the differences. And so until we started looking into the organizations vendors often, well, until we started looking at it a little differently vendors and organizations sometimes really separate those two things. And sometimes they're the same. What are other people saying or how are defining coaching and mentoring differently or are you?

Speaker 2 (03:02):

And we are. I'm just looking up. Cause, cause we're actually rolling out a program next week called developing a coaching mindset. So I have that. I have like kind of three things on the side of their vendor. It's a Venn diagram of mentoring, coaching, and feedback. Because I think people get those kind of confused with one another. And so you know, for mentoring what we're saying, we're positioning it as more of a longer tail engagement with somebody where it's focused on, you know, kind of helping somebody through, whether it's, whether it's a performance or development thing. Whereas coaching is more goal oriented and has a shorter kind of life cycle, if you will, where it's really focused on a specific goal or task that you're trying to get people through. So I'm actually, I'm just looking at my notes to see what my definition, is in it, excuse me, when I find it, I'll put it in, I'll put it in the chat just to share. But what, what we're saying is when we talk about coaching here a lot of people do confuse it with mentoring and they any kind of are using it interchangeably. So, so part of our educational program that we're rolling out next week is it's trying to get that delineation between the two. And when you, as a manager are putting on your coaching hat versus when you're either putting on a mentoring hat or recommending somebody to a mentor who is more of an expert in a specific field of study or specialty,

Dani Johnson (04:34):

That's really interesting. So, so you're looking at it as sort of longevity, like sell this immediate home versus longer term. The other thing that struck me about what you said is well, the question that I had was are they often the same people? Are you focusing on the manager, given that you're rolling out this thing as a manager that is doing the coaching and the mentoring?

Speaker 2 (04:55):

I think it's, we're coaching or we're educating managers on how to have more coaching conversations and, and be more of a facilitator in asking open-ended questions to help people drive the answers themselves rather than you being directive and giving it to them. And I think that's the nuance of a mentor. And I was just looking at my notes here where, you know, what, what you're saying is a coach asks open-ended questions to drive job performance, whereas a mentor answer answers, direct questions based on prior experience to support development. So I think a coach is more open-ended they may know the answer, but they're not going to give it to you right off the bat, whereas a mentor it's, it's much more let's cut to the chase and get you to know quicker proficiency.

Dani Johnson (05:39):

That's really interesting. So you're also looking at it in terms the manner in which it's still delivered. That's interesting.

Speaker 2 (05:44):

Yeah, we're trying to, yeah. We're, we're trying to start with the manager and then a manager. If they recognize a coaching opportunity, they would go into coaching mode. Or if they, if they've recognized, Hey, this person really needs some additional support or that support of an expert, they may, you know, which may not be, you know, if I'm a manager and I'm like, and there are people asking me about finances, you know, maybe you should go find a mentor who really specializes in finances. It may not be me as a coach. I mean, a manager coach. It may be me pointing someone to a resource that they might connect with to help them through.

Dani Johnson (06:14):

Okay. Others.

Stacia Garr (06:21):

Okay. Can I, can I share something in here? Oops, sorry. You go first.

Speaker 3 (06:25):

Oh, no, I you know, I am three days into a new role with a company called coach hub. And so this is really an opportunity for me to learn from you all. But it's very interesting to hear Kelly, you know, kind of how you've been thinking about those three different pieces for coach hubs specifically right now, our focus is on leadership development coaching but democratizing that capability across organizations and not so that it's not just an elite you know, kind of opportunity. And that being very similar to what you described goal-oriented although not necessarily short term where a coach can help an individual, whether they're leading others or even an individual contributor or you know, someone that's got high potential to help them understand where their areas of opportunity might be and just decide what they would like to focus on on a long-term basis for growth. And then kind of see how they're doing and measure that over time.

Dani Johnson (07:55):

Yeah. I think that's an interesting observation. Debbie, congratulations on your new role as you, as we go into the next slide, that's one of the things that we're seeing is it's coaching really is being scaled at a level that we haven't seen before. So that's a really interesting observation. Any other comments on this one before we, we click over?

Stacia Garr (08:13):

I just want to add something. Yeah. And, and, or a question maybe for the group, which is, you know, I do a lot of our work on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. And a lot of times we see sponsorship kind of being in the mix here of coaching, mentorship, and sponsorship. And so I'm wondering if you all are thinking about that kind of in this, this cluster of concepts, or if that in your organizations tends to kind of live over within the diversity and inclusion group where it's not something that you're focused on at all.

Speaker 2 (08:51):

I'll just, I'll jump in and just say it's being, it's being brought up more of kind of organic grassroots topic from our employee resource groups specifically from the women's network and, and black employee networks. And, you know, so they're bringing it up as, Hey, you need to find a sponsor. You need to find an advocate, kind of create your own board of directors, et cetera. We haven't taken an ethic, so I sit at the corporate level and we haven't taken it on as a specific discrete project with resources and programs around it. In my, like how I view it is that's all part of social learning, what I would bucket under social learning. So to me, social learnings, you know, that peer learning that includes, you know, your mentors, your coach, your expert, your advocates, your sponsors. And so that's how I categorize it, at least in my brain, but we haven't created a specific program around it. That's putting it in people's development plans or, or even compensating people for, for being a sponsor,

Stacia Garr (10:01):

Any others or any thoughts on this?

Speaker 4 (10:05):

Just one thing I mentioned, just a flavor of coaching that hasn't been mentioned is because we see it along with our clients with like process roll out. So if you're implementing agile or project management or six Sigma or something like that, there's typically a coaching component. I think it fits the definition. You have, it is performance driven. But it's not strictly like you know, your manager is your, is also your coach. It's a, it's a separate role.

Dani Johnson (10:34):

Okay, cool.

Speaker 5 (10:35):

It's definitely a separate for coaches and it has been quite a firm as we're trying to position the term coach within different roles. We've developed internal coaching as well as professional coach. So the target disease is very much in developing, not an individual, but it can be teams or it can be organization as well. And it's differentiating the role and this case because you can learn and demonstrate coaching skills without being a coach per se. So that's quite a key difference as well.

Dani Johnson (11:22):

So it sounds like, you're building it into the culture. So it's not just, it's not just a role that somebody has, you're actually building it deep into the culture so that everybody has that skill.

Coaching & Mentoring: What We See

Dani Johnson (11:38):

All right. Let's switch over to some of the things that we've seen in the last little while, which is why we're talking about this. Cause I would like to research it a little bit deeper this year. The first thing is that we're just seeing more of an emphasis than we ever had before. So it's existed forever.

Dani Johnson (11:54):

I mean, yes. And since we all use the apprenticeship model but there seems to be much more of an emphasis on it. And with that, we're seeing it being pushed down to the lower levels. It's not just for senior leadership or executives anymore. It's actually being pushed down quite far in the organization. And we're seeing vendors like better up and others that are providing an offering that allows this to happen at a much more scalable level. And then we're seeing more of it and I wrote this slide, so Stacia please jump in, but we're seeing more and more handled by the L&D functions. It's, it's being considered part of the learning process rather than a standalone thing. Some of it's still exists in executive development and leadership development, but a lot of it is being wrapped into just L&D Hey, you know, coaching is part of what we do to learn in this organization.

Dani Johnson (12:45):

So like how do we, how do we integrate it into the culture? So it's part of how we learn versus a separate standalone thing to peoples feel special. And it costs a lot of money in order to implement in the organization. And then we're also seeing more emphasis on different kinds of coaching. So we talked about integrating it into the, and we'll talk about these a little bit further because some of the questions that were submitted, sort of talk to these, but we're seeing different types of it. So peer to peer coaching, manager coaching, external coaching, all of these different types of technology, technological coaching coaches on the shoulder, the technology we're seeing a lot of those sort of being handled differently in organizations that you've seen before. It used to be, you got a coach from the outside, you brought it in, you sat it in front of this EO and they talked and they figured out what you needed and then pick up everything was magically better.

Dani Johnson (13:39):

We're actually seeing, you know, as organizations are starting to figure out how to scale this, all these different ways of doing it, we haven't necessarily seen it before. We're also seeing different topics of coaching, so used to be just performance coaching. But in the last couple of months, things like financial coaching, financial wellbeing coaching, we've seen wellbeing coaching, we've seen health coaching. And so a lot of these things are being offered as benefits to organizations, to help with burnout, to help with stress, to make sure that that we're taking care of the whole employee, which I think is really interesting. And then the last one is we're also seeing just a ton of tech. And we'll talk about that in a little bit that is enabling some of this stuff. So let me talk, well, let's stop again on this slide. What are, what are we missing? What else are you all seeing when it comes to coaching and mentoring? Or do you have comments on anything on the slide?

Speaker 1 (14:34):

Yeah, I'm interested in more either discussion on the tech side. That's kind of an area where I got interested in, in it last year with the app from noom and, and and then I have seen it a little bit work with reemphasizing some of the learnings you take away from a, say a class or whatever, and then reform some of those learnings automatically whether by text or email so that, you know, all the things you forgot in the class you remember, and then you start practicing them. So I'm interested in that cause I'm I'm wanting to pilot something next quarter in our company around that. So anything around that would be interesting.

Dani Johnson (15:28):

Okay. Yeah. We'll, we'll definitely hit that question. We've got some data and some slides that'll, that'll help understand that space a little bit better. What else?

Speaker 3 (15:38):

Yeah, just to kind of follow on that, I happened to have spent a lot of years in the space of learning analytics. And you know, one of the things that I know from that time is that the effective application of what's learned in any program is largely driven by the support that they get on their job. And it's always been a tremendous challenge for organizations because they have to first give visibility to the managers into, you know, that program and what is expected. And then the manager has to have the time and attention to be able to follow along. And that's always been a challenge. And so, you know, I see, you know, with the tech companies you know, part of the opportunity is to help elevate your return across your learning investment. You know, with kind of supplementing that with having a coach, be able to support your people to actually apply those skills and make actual behavior change.

Dani Johnson (16:50):

And I think that speaks to kind of maybe why L&D is taking a lead on integrating some of this into the organization because we are seeing it sort of be a carry on from the formal learning experience in ways that we haven't seen before. Kelly mentioned that something that may be missing from this is non-human coaching and I've lumped that into tech. We'll talk about some tech.

Speaker 2 (17:13):

Okay. When I looked at tech, I was thinking for some reason in my brain, I was thinking re-skilling people like moving people from one position to another and that the distance thinking technical people. So if that's it, if that's what that means, then yes, that's great. And then the other point that I put in was it's also being outsourced, which I don't know if that's something that you would capture under different kinds of coaching, because it's obviously it's going to take me a lot longer to get the culture, to adopt coaching as part of a mindset and, and practice. Whereas like you mentioned some external lots And lots of people are cropping up in this space to provide that coaching service for us. So, and that's definitely something that we're rolling out this year for us at our companies.

Dani Johnson (17:59):

Outsourcing it? Interesting. That's interesting.

Speaker 2 (18:02):

Yeah. Cause our, our theory is that you can to really understand what coaching is. You need to experience it for yourself. So we're rolling it out to our people managers first.

Stacia Garr (18:17):

One thing I wanted to add here, Dani, cause you were talking about more of an emphasis than before and why that's happening is maybe just kind of a little bit of a zoom out. And we think about the changes that have happened with performance management and the focus on kind of a much more continuous focus on conversations and, and ongoing conversations and the like you know, when we were at burst and we used to talk about the competitive assessment model of performance management and the coaching and development model of, of performance. And I think, you know, we've now seen just the complete domination of the coaching and development model of performance. And so that's then cascading down into, well, how do we make sure that managers can have those conversations or the entire organization can, can support in these conversations? So I think that's another reason why we're seeing this just so much more broadly than we did, you know, even five years ago.

Dani Johnson (19:06):

To that point, Stacia, I also think we're seeing the expectations of the employees change. So they're in a lot of cases they're forcing these conversations where they didn't force them before. And the messaging from the organization is you should be having these conversations with your manager which again, sort of forces it or encourages it in ways we haven't seen. Yeah, absolutely. Other thoughts on this, what else? Or what else are you all seeing that we, that we missed?

Stacia Garr (19:36):


Speaker 5 (19:37):

Maybe not that you missed, but definitely, you know, having a coaching accessible to nearly everyone in the organization is definitely something that is happening.

Dani Johnson (19:50):

Yeah. Yeah. I definitely think so. We are doing a podcast on skills and we had a really interesting conversation yesterday about sort of the equalization that, that, that organizations are trying to do, offering opportunities to everybody in all levels of the organization where it used to be just reserved for, for those that they were investing in in quotes, that's in quotes for those of you who are not watching. I think that's, I think that's really interesting that coaching is sort of following that as well. It's it's following employees all the way to the bottom of the organization, not just being held at the top.

Speaker 5 (20:26):

With something that is still not completely clear, I think, you know, in, in behind the term coaching, what do we mean by coaching? I think that quite various understanding underlying what coaching is.

Why is the coaching and mentoring conversation important right now?

Dani Johnson (20:41):

Yeah, yeah. I think you're right. We, we throw out some definitions that are fairly common at the beginning, but every organization of handled it differently. Yep. Yeah. All right. Let's get to your questions. The first question we got is why is the coaching and mentoring conversation so important right now? And I want to, I want, before I, before we take a stab at that, I'd love to open it up to you all. Why do you think this coaching and mentoring conversation is so important right now? And maybe, maybe I'll start by throwing out a couple of reasons. I think the first one is we've seen the workplace radically changed in the last nine months. And some of the connections that we used to have with peers and with the organization have been lost or diminished just because of the way that we're working with with folks now.

Dani Johnson (21:36):

And so even though we saw sort of a wrap up to coaching and mentoring before it has become a very, very important thing, particularly with respect to managers and how they connect the individuals back to the organization. So I think one of the reasons is just, just the, just the environment that we're in has, has forced us to think a little bit more about how we are coaching and how we are mentoring individuals and how are we getting to know them given that we don't see them every day. We're not meeting in the, in the break room, et cetera. So I think that's one of the reasons do, do people have other ideas,

Speaker 1 (22:10):

You know, job roles and skills are just rapidly changing. So what you may have graduated and come in with over the years tends to really drastically change now. And, and so I think people in some people are, I wouldn't call them lost, but you know, don't really understand all their options and are struggling to, you know, kind of develop their own career paths. And so they need some support from others that may be, can give them some guidance, ask those right questions, because if you don't, they tend to languish in the same position for years and tend to become obsolete almost in their job roles.

Dani Johnson (22:54):

I think it's a really interesting point. We're doing some research right now on mobility and I'm actually writing the final paper right now. And one of the things that we've realized is that most of the organizations that we talked to said, well, I don't know, you know, we, we want high employee ownership of their own careers, but none of the systems and processes that are in place to support high employee ownership of their own careers. And so I think what you're sort of alluding to is that exact thing, they need help to figure out what their options are and they need the connections of their managers and other people to figure out how to get from point a to point B if we really want them to own their careers. Other thoughts?

Speaker 2 (23:31):

So two things for me with coaching, I agree with what Stacia was saying earlier in terms of a lot of companies have moved to continuous performance management and being able to coach in the moment, give feedback in the moment.

Speaker 2 (23:46):

So to me, that coaching aspect of it, I think it's, it has become more important for managers to kind of play that role and really recognize what their role is in, in that kind of new framework. So for us, that's why we're, we're talking about it is to, you know, help drive high performance and get to that high performance culture, which is which coaching is a cornerstone. For mentoring, for me, what I was thinking is, you know, there's, there's a lot of experts internally that aren't being tapped and a lot of knowledge that's about to potentially walk out the door. And so I think mentoring and especially having kind of a formalized program around mentoring that helps people to connect with one another in an easy way, really helps get to that knowledge transfer from one generation to the next potentially, or even a generation upwards. Right. So I think mentoring is just a good,

Dani Johnson (24:44):

Oh no, we lost, you lost your sound.

Speaker 1 (24:51):

Follow on to some of the discussion. Maybe you had earlier around coaching and asking questions. You know managers in the past, I find you know, when I started as a manager, I thought I needed to be the smartest person in the room, and I needed to tell people what to do. And over the years I realized that's really not the right formula, especially when you have really smart people working with you. And so being a coach and asking the questions and being more facilitative I've become a lot better in that area. And I think, you know, other managers should emulate that type of behavior where they're asking questions and empowering their people versus telling them what to do. And I think you know, our employees of today are asking for that.

Dani Johnson (25:49):

I think that's a good observation.

Speaker 5 (25:52):

Yes. I would agree. I think under there's as well as the complexity of the environments we are in now more than ever, but usually, you know, it's getting things are getting more complex and there's not someone having the answers you're looking for and when they expertise are as well, you know, very deep and complex you need people to be able to come up with novel solutions to problems and coaching can really help to tap into people's own potential and expertise, and not only for their own growth, but as well to help them develop their own and new solution again for the individuals, but as well for the teams in terms of a team coaching, for example. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (26:44):

I agree.

Who are the main recipients of coaching, and what are the trends on that?

Dani Johnson (26:48):

Let's just in the, in the interest of time, let's move on to the next question, which are, who are the main recipients of coaching and what are the trends on that? I think we've already talked mostly about this in the introductory area, mentoring and coaching, unfortunately still resides at the top of the organization. It just does. But we're seeing it, we're seeing it creep down more and more, and we're seeing technology enable that and make sure that it is, I think you called it democratized, which I'm assuming, you know, it takes advantage of those within the organization to, to make it happen. But then again, there are vendors that we'll talk about in a second that are doing all kinds of things to make that scalable and approachable, even for people on even the frontline level. Any other thoughts on this question?

Speaker 4 (27:36):

Yeah, I think you hit the I mean, executives, we also see a lot with new people leaders get some kind of coaching intervention, but like you talked about, it's just getting pushed into more and more places in the organization and the more and more it's getting democratized use your time for sure.

Dani Johnson (27:55):

Be a lot less sort of thing as well. It's not as formal and stayed and kind of yeah. Formal as it used to be. It seems to be creeping into all kinds of places, which I find.

Speaker 1 (28:08):

Yeah. The other thing is, I mean, the recipients, you know, executives tended to be the ones with who are receiving it and they still are today. In our company, we tend to outsource to, you know, high end coaches for our executives. But we can't do that for everybody in the company. So that's why we're looking for ways to make it more affordable to give everybody the opportunity, maybe not, you know, valet you know velvet glove treatment, but some access to some type of coaching for everyone. Yeah. I think also you know, the younger generations perspective is a lot more around PR personalized experience in general. And so the appeal for them is, you know, a high focus on development of course, in their careers. And so I think that also plays a role in organizations being motivated to expand upon who is the recipient of coaching, especially now, as you mentioned earlier just given the environment, the concern over mental wellbeing you know, kind of supporting a diverse culture and, and all of those factors are kind of leading organizations to start thinking about how do we, you know, better support our people.

How can technology enable coaching conversations for performance and engagement?

Dani Johnson (29:41):

Yeah, I like that A lot. All right. Let's move on to the next question, which is how can technology enable coaching conversations, board performance, and engagement. So this is a question that it seems like most of you have around the technology behind and Heather Gillmartin has done a ton of work on our technology landscape or learning technology landscape, which encompasses a lot of these things. And so I've included three, three slides from that discussion. Heather, if you wouldn't mind walking through it, that would be very,

Heather Gilmartin (30:17):

So basically they're, we've seen tons into, as you guys know that we've seen tons of tech providers jump into the space too, as we've talked about democratized coaching in various ways. And they're kind of some, some of the providers do things like just match employees with a human coach, others do more of kind of a coach, Oh, I think this is jumping to the next slide. But yeah, yeah, but basically, yeah, so we're seeing just, just lots and lots of new functionality coming up and basically three different types of coaching that are coming out. So the first is, as I mentioned, if you can go.

Dani Johnson (31:05):

Would you mind if I just stop on this side for one second. I think one of the really interesting things is if you look at some of the, so the nameplates on this slide, you wouldn't necessarily consider them coaching softwares. So some of them you've got your traditional ones like river and Kronos is in there and Everwise. Ones that you would, would associate with traditional coaching. But when we asked them, Hey, do you do some sort of coaching? Every single one of these vendors popped up. And so we're seeing it, we're seeing new entrance for sure, but we're also seeing some of the old guard say, Oh, this is becoming a really important thing. And so we need to add this, this functionality somewhere in here, so that we're covering that part of our learning.

Stacia Garr (31:45):

I would, I would also add some who are kind of crossing over from what would be their traditional area to include nudges that are designed to help with coaching. So you think about Humu, you know, they're an engagement platform fundamentally, but you know, they're real different from other engagement platforms is, is the nudges and the way that they're trying to get people to change their behavior. I think actually I think that one's a really interesting one.

Dani Johnson (32:09):

I'm glad you brought them up. Stacia because they are an engagement platform. That's how they, that's what they say, but the way that they're doing it as they're nudging, both the manager and the individual at the same time, Hey, Susie, doesn't speak up in meetings, Susie, you need to speak up in meetings. But at the same time saying to the manager, Susie, doesn't speak up in meetings, do what you can to focus, needs to speak up. And so it sort of hits it from both sides, which is a different way of doing it. But yeah, so, so coaching is sort of being a station mentioned that's being implemented or integrated all of these other things that we wouldn't necessarily consider coaching in the past. Okay. Sorry, go ahead.

Heather Gilmartin (32:45):

No yeah, I think if you can go onto the next slide. So some, as we, as we talked about some vendors pair, a pair of humans, human with human interaction. And I think this is obviously this is not going to go away because there's certain kinds of, there's certain conversations and types of conversations that you can't have with with technology. And so the, the, the interesting thing that's happening here is that these platforms are allowing scale or they're, they're allowing that matching at scale which is something that traditional coaches we're not, we're not able to do. Right. just as, as, you know, sort of a single coach or a coaching consultancy type organization would not be able to sort of reach out into the organization and say, Hey, these people should talk and these people should talk and these people should talk. So that's really the power of, of these kinds of matching platforms.

Dani Johnson (33:51):

Yeah. And this, this one, particularly like these, the brands that just that you're seeing on the screen are ones that pair external coaches with internal people. And so they're not necessarily using the peer to peer, they're actually matching external to internal, which is the most traditional way that we think about coaching, which as has everybody here on the phone has mentioned is definitely not the only way to do it. And we're seeing much more internal coaching and culture building than we've seen before.

Heather Gilmartin (34:16):

Yeah. And then the, the other type of coaching is sort of a coach on the shoulder, sort of you know, examples might be a Fitbit. That's telling you, you know, how you're doing in your performance. Your, you know, how, how you're, how you're doing it on a moment to moment basis. Another might be you know, a platform that sits on top of email and, and gives you feedback on how, on the language that you're using with your teams. The one, that's the one that pops to mind, my husband just got like a golf simulator and it gives them all kinds of really great feedback on like, was his club head open or closed. And what I love about about these platforms and Dani, you mentioned, mentioned sort of put, you know, pushing down the information to the people that can take action on it.

Heather Gilmartin (35:10):

What I, what, so for me, you know, if you think about coaching, you think about a coach. And I think I might've been Kelly that mentioned this, or maybe it was Debbie that mentioned this early on, right. That you're asking, you're asking open-ended questions and you're helping people get to their own solutions to a problem. That's sort of the fundamental ethos of what a coach is. And I initially had this assumption that only a human could do that. And what I realized, especially, especially by watching this golf software, which is weird, but was that, that in simply providing the data back to the person, to whom it is most relevant, that is sort of prompting the same type of 10 prompts, the same type of self-reflection and, and iteration and practice that, that yields really good improvement that that's sort of what a coach is for. So I would say you know, it's not, obviously it can't solve all problems, but I think this, this, these types of technologies are really, really powerful in prompting behavior change in the people who are most interested in doing so with facts.

Dani Johnson (36:25):

I think a lot of these solutions are super elegant. So Cultivate, as Heather mentioned, it sits on top of your email and sort of reads your email for the last six months and helps you understand how you interact with your teams. So it can provide famous has all kinds of functionalities, but one of the things it does is it listens in meetings to tell you how much you talk versus how much you've listened to the questions that you answered. Cogito I think Stacia knows a little bit more about, but it does something similar. And it's geared toward sales folks and you're on mute, but yeah, sales folks and especially customer service representatives, make sure that they're, they're gaining these skills as they go along as a part of the work. And then if you haven't checked out, Mursion, it's one of my favorites, part of it's.

Dani Johnson (37:09):

I just like the people over there. But they they're using avatars and situations. I remember when they first briefed me, they basically got on the phone and they said, okay, we're going to put you in this situation. Then it was a coaching situation where I was supposed to coach an employee instead of just using the technology, they actually have an actor or someone that sits behind. So it's a combination of this technology versus, you know, expertise on the backend to sort of make it better and clearer, but it reads your facial expressions. It measures your pauses. It helps you understand how you're reacting, how are you being perceived to somebody on the other end, which technology isn't quite good enough to do. But we also don't see a lot of that kind of role-playing happening with the real live mentors. And we definitely don't have the data that goes across different people in those same situations. So we don't know what's going on if we're not using a software like this. So I think these are incredibly fascinating. I've had several conversations with organizations that say, if there's not a person involved in it, can't be real coaching. But I'm kind of in Heather's boat. I think these types of softwares can offer just all kinds of data that people can add on that, that make it incredibly scalable for your organization. So we've talked about trying to remember if we.

Heather Gilmartin (38:31):

Kelly, what is Bravely?

Speaker 2 (38:32):

So briefly is kind of up and coming On the market for coaching. So, you know, when I think of BetterUp there, probably like top shelf, right? Bravely is more of an emerging platform that does connect people to external coaches. That's actually who we're going forward with. So we're, we're planning on rolling this out next month. Or also, I'm also trying to bring in cultivate as an AI coaching system as well. So so Bravely is much more accessible when you think in terms of cost per person per month. And it's unlimited coaching that you can provide for people, right? And they really try to align with the key moments that matter and the mostly around probably the performance management cycle, right? So they see a spike during goal setting, career development planning. But they're kind of pitch really is to make it more accessible to all employees.

Speaker 2 (39:29):

And how I've been positioning this since I'm doing kind of like human one-on-one coaching and AI coaching is, you know, I think about like a coach can tell you the things that you should be doing and all of us know probably what we should be doing, whether it's for our health or fitness or whatever, like you mentioned a Fitbit, but an AI is actually catching you in your behavior and it's passively listening and it's being able to show you those blind spots. Right. So, so that's how I'm trying to position it. You know, here is, you know, we're bringing in this whole coaching kind of philosophy and approach and, you know, one-on-one coach, you know, work with them and then you take it away and you, you know, you forget it potentially the AI can really help you catch whether or not you're actually applying it. So, so for me, it kind of marrying those two. And it's funny, DanI, that you mentioned Mursion as VR. That's another thing that we're planning on bringing in later on this year to practice with them, inclusion and diversity type things. I don't think it's probably what we're planning on doing. Isn't as sophisticated as being able to read facial expressions and things like that, which I think is pretty fascinating, but yeah, that's, it's very cool to see, you know, these kind of put together we're doing the right things. I'm happy. Like that makes me happy.

Dani Johnson (40:45):

Two questions for you, Kelly, first of all, you don't know Bravely, if you wouldn't mind facilitating an introduction?

Speaker 2 (40:52):

Yeah. They've been, they've been fantastic with us. Yep.

Dani Johnson (40:56):

That's the first and then the second is toward the end of the year. Can we check in again?

Speaker 2 (41:01):

Dani you can call me anytime, but yeah, of course. Yeah. I mean, yeah, cause I'm not really struggling right now and maybe we'll get to challenges and things. And I think I submitted a question on the confidentiality aspect of coaching. Cause that is one where I'm putting a pretty big investment in this. So how am I going to prove, am I going to prove it out right now? Like I'm, I am really struggling with thinking how we're going to do that, but yeah, there you go.

How can we prove coaching is having an impact?​

Dani Johnson (41:28):

There's a question for your question. Thank you. This is the question, that's the question for all of L&D it's a question for all pretty much everything that we invest in as far as people. And I think it's a really good question. I know Stacia probably has an opinion on this. She's our people analytics person. Do you want to take a stab at it first Stacia and then I'll follow up with a little bit?

Stacia Garr (41:54):

Yeah, sure. I mean, I think like anything we need to be clear in the beginning, what, what we're trying to impact, right. So are we trying to impact that, that employees feel like they get better feedback or that we trying to impact actual performance metrics? You know, what, what is it that we're trying to impact and, and starting with a baseline before we, we begin the intervention and then measuring over time. I think, you know, obviously the, the challenges is that many of the things that we're trying to impact can be qualitative. And so that can be hard to measure. But what I have tended to see organizations doing more of is, is things just like my manager gives me actionable feedback, or I understand the feedback that my manager wants me to, to do, or they actions they want me to take.

Stacia Garr (42:41):

And then doing that as, as a baseline and then you know, basically happening, good old experiment, you know, control group in an, in another group that you're trying to see if the intervention actually made a difference. So that's what I've tended to see on this. Because I think, you know, just a like, you know, do I like bravely, you know, the smiles shades is just, it's not gonna, it's not gonna be so helpful. One thing I have heard of though actually in regard to one of these vendors, I'm not going to say who it, who it was was that but it was one of these coaching vendors was then it's important to make sure you understand that along the longevity of the engagement. So was talking with one organization that said, Hey, look, when we asked how people felt about this vendor, the initial response was actually great.

Stacia Garr (43:33):

But then when we correlated that against some of those metrics that I just mentioned around people feeling that their manager gave them great feedback, or even their manager's assessment of the employees change in performance. They found that those who had done, I think it was three or fewer coaching engagements. They actually, they actually performed force on all those outcomes. But when they had gotten up to a threshold of, I think it was six or more of those interactions, they performed dramatically better. And so kind of having that sense of the longevity and the potential impact in doing a bit of a deeper dive on the analytics of what's happening with people could make a pretty big difference. So what they did is they went back to the vendor and they said, Hey, you know, w the three up to three is not acceptable. You need to be able to ensure that we're getting at least six reps with each of the people who are engaging with the coaching platform, blah, blah, blah. And they changed their whole approach based on that analysis of, of what was actually happening. So I think, you know, if you need to kind of be thoughtful in terms of what may truly be driving, changing behaviors and over what time period.

Dani Johnson (44:41):

Yeah. Kind of, kind of tag onto that. I know L&D particularly, but HR in general has a tendency to go after the, the all important ROI. I don't, this particular thing lends itself to very well to an ROI. I don't actually think anything does, but particularly this one first of all, because it's too easy to gain. And secondly, because the ROI is a lot of times, as Stacia mentioned intangible and qualitative versus quantitative. And so understanding that the behaviors that you want at the end, and then looking for ways to create actionable metrics rather than dead metrics like an ROI, we don't want to know how we did. We want to know what we need to change in order to continue to, to drive those behaviors is a much deeper problem and much harder to sell, but that actually gets you where you want to go.

Dani Johnson (45:32):

I think the other thing to maybe take into account is understanding what the expectations are from the organization. So what, what do they mean by having an impact? What are they trying to change? How, how, what kinds of metrics that they like to see that are going to help them get where they are? And so a lot of it is communication and making sure you're on the same page, but a lot of it is also relationship making sure that you're constantly checking in with them, making sure that any other thoughts here on this one, has anyone else tried this?

Speaker 5 (46:07):

Maybe there's also, you know, the beginning of the coaching, the contractual realization part where you decide and I'm with the coach, but with the managers as well. And maybe with someone with the HR for example, doing a, quite a PR what we call in France, quite we partied sessions where you have the coachee, the coach, the manager on someone from the HR where you, you, you discuss what would be the objectives of the coaching and you discuss upfront what could be the KPIs, so that you've got your reference points to come to otherwise, you know, it's going to be very subjective and it is in the subjective part of it is. So you want to objectify something, you, you need to have two reference points to see the difference. You know, even if it's in perception from the coach and the manager, do you do perceive that changes happened? How can you see that? What has been demonstrated? So it's qualitative, but observable. So in some way, you, you, you can see the manifestation of changes.

Dani Johnson (47:13):

I think that's a really interesting point now that we've been talking sort of meta what the organization gets out of it, but you should always take it down to the individual level as well, and figure out what those metrics are. Those KPIs that you're trying to hit and have that conversation to make sure that it's at its meaning.

Speaker 5 (47:29):

That's a starting Point. I think, you know,

Dani Johnson (47:31):

Particularly where a lot of organizations are implementing coaching specifically for engagement really, really important thing. Thanks for bringing that up.

Speaker 2 (47:40):

I think that's where I'm struggling though, is getting down to that personal individual level cause right. So I have people analytics team who's really annoyed at me for bringing in a vendor that will allow us to get individual data because of the confidentiality, because we want to be able to say, okay, the managers who have higher engagement scores, you know, on our annual survey report have done these things, you know, and we're kind of locked out of being able to see and less people opt in. And so that's one of the things I'm going to be discussing is if somebody, if the people who are participating in it, if they want to opt in to let us know that they're actually using the service or not.

How do we tackle the issue of confidentiality and privacy?

Speaker 2 (48:20):

So I think it's just, you know, culturally it's, it seemed very different, you know, from, in our folks, in APJ area, they, they see it as am I being punished? Is that why you need a coach? Right. So they don't want people to know it, you know? So I think there's so much around this that we just haven't, we haven't fully been able to crack yet. So I can take the aggregate and be pretty happy with being able to see, you know, return users, activations re you know, things like that to see whether or not it's actually working, but in terms of getting down to, is this really helping a person become a better manager? And if I'm gonna be able to get that?

Dani Johnson (48:58):

A really interesting point flipped over to the next question, which I think was also yours. How do we tackle the issue? Of course. Yeah, no, it's a really good question. Are others dealing with this?

Speaker 5 (49:12):

But definitely I think the confidentiality issue is key. But it's a question of distinguishing, isn't it? What is being shared between the coach, if we're talking about the human coach or, you know, other kinds of data, but in, in what happens in the interaction during the interactions between the coach and the coachee. So, and this is absolutely confidential. Otherwise it's going to impact the quality of the conversation themselves on the progress, because if you know that at any time or any point what you are to shared, you know, and if even more, if it's sensitive and if it's sensitive that there isn't, it's all very likely that it's going to have an impact on you and your performance. So the most sensitive, the more confidential it has to be. But if you agree from the beginning, you know, on, on some KPIs with the managers, you you're, you've got two different things, isn't it? The KPIs is something that it's, it's the ROE somehow the expectations of engaging into the coaching. So that's, what is maybe the agreement that you can get some that done, not in the content of what has been shared doing the parties.

Dani Johnson (50:43):

Yeah, I think, I think this is a really interesting question because the organization is providing the service and so they need some data to show that it's working or not working. We've seen that addressed in a couple of ways. Some organizations are choosing external coaches for this very reason. Like they want, they want that confidentiality to be in place. And so they're less worried about getting the data, then they are making sure that the individual has a sounding board or some, someone to go to, to talk about things that may be difficult to talk about with a manager and an internal mentor. So for example, if somebody, if your organization isn't really good with you moving on or moving to a different position, it's much easier to talk about an external person than an internal person, because you're worried about job security and all kinds of other things.

Dani Johnson (51:24):

The other thing that we're seeing is for some of these vendors that are like the coaches on the shoulder there is an opt in, and the reason that there is an opt-in is because they get enough good information to help them themselves, that they're okay. Sharing that at least at an aggregate at an aggregate level going up. So for example, cultivate, I'll just use them as an example, cause they're a top of mind right now. They, they aggregate information based on a set of competencies or skills that they're trying to build with and managers. And so instead of looking at the individual and saying, this person, you know, is bad at this, they, they kind of take a look at all of the information across everybody, and it is an opt-in, it's absolutely an opt-in, but those managers are willing to opt in to share their data.

Dani Johnson (52:10):

If there are five or more people that sort of go into that, that bucket because they want the information out so bad, that information is very helpful to them to become a better manager. And so it's a, it's a trade-off. And so I think a lot of times it is sort of looking at that trade-off, it's not, it's, it's the way that we communicate in the way that we message about what we're doing here. Hey, we're only using this information for, you know, the better measure of society in general, versus to captivate you when, when we know that something's wrong with you specifically. And it really, really depends on the trust that the organization has with its employees. And that can be a hard pill to swallow in some organizations. Other thoughts on this?

Stacia Garr (52:50):

I would just add in here, you know, the kind of the other option is to do dedicated, you know, match pairing, study focused just on this and just on the specific questions you want to understand, you know, did you, did you practice, or did you focus on these things through your coaching practice, you know, XYZ things asking the same question of the employee, you know, did your manager improve at these things? Did you feel like you got what you needed in, in limiting it? And so you're not getting the data from bravely or from whoever, but you're getting it directly from them. And, and, and at least even if you're not even if it's confidential, so you're still at least getting the pairings. Even if you don't know exactly who the pairings are, if you need to address that level of confidentiality.

Dani Johnson (53:41):

Yeah. Any other thoughts there? All right. We obviously did not get to all the questions left but this has been a really, really good conversation. And we'll be talking about this more this year. We'll be looking into coaching and mentoring and how it's changing and what we can do to implement it better to organizations. So thank you so much for the initial call. We'll be putting out a recording for those of you who are members of red thread. And as always, if you have questions or additional insights, please feel free to reach out and contact us would love to have a chat. Thank you all. Thanks everyone.

Stacia Garr (54:20):

Have a good rest of your day and a good new year. Thank you. Happy new year to everyone!

What Do You See? 2021 Trends Q&A Call

Posted on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 at 2:00 AM    

Q&A Call Video


Introduction/What Are You Seeing?

Dani Johnson (00:00):

Okay. So I think we're recording. Let's just check that really fast. Yeah. Okay, great. Great. So we got that whole conversation right there on tape, I think it'll be riveting for those listening later. But welcome to our last Q and A call of the year where we're going to be talking about 2021 trends. Some of the things that we've seen this year, and some of the things that we have a really good feeling are going to drip over into next year. And I'm here with Stacia Garr we're co-founders and principal analyst of RedThread Research. And I have a dog barking under my desk. So if you hear it, that's what that is just a brief introduction to RedThread. If you're not familiar with us, we are a human capital research membership firm, and we focus on things like learning and career and performance and people analytics, diversity and inclusion has been big for us this year. And all of the technology associated with any of those things. We also cover pretty in depth. Especially this time of year, we get a lot of, we get a lot of pieces out on learning technology.

Stacia Garr (01:07):

Yep. And just to put a finer point on that. So we just launched the formal membership here in December for folks who don't know there's still quite a lot of content available for, for those who are maybe not quite yet ready to become a member. But the idea is, is to kind of formalize the membership and also allow us to do research that's not sponsored. So it's gonna allow us to expand the breadth and the type of research that we do here in 2021.

Dani Johnson (01:39):

Awesome. So today we're going to talk about 2021 trends. We're going to want to start with a question for those of you who are out there. We obviously don't know everything and we say that regularly. We would love to understand what you're saying, what you think trends will be in the upcoming year. So you can either use the chat we're big on chat for introverts, but also if you have, if you just, we've given everybody permission to talk. So let's just have a conversation about some of the trends that we're seeing out there.

Speaker 1 (02:19):

This is Speaker 1. My favorite topics are the digital learning, of course. So if everything's online, if everyone's working from home, if everyone is now needing to be sort of working remotely and independently you know, that affects the tools and technologies that affects performance and goals. What skills and strengths do you need now compared to before? So much of that just goes under, you know, the large heading of digital. And then also like you mentioned, the I liked how you included the phrase belonging in your diversity and inclusion, and so kind of that engagement piece. So, you know, how do people connect in 2021 when you're digital?

Stacia Garr (03:17):

Great. Yeah, and we we actually had a big debate about that internally because we were, you know, the move seems to be to DEI diversity, equity and inclusion. And, you know, I think that belonging piece is really important and we're like, well, it's, you know, four letter for four words, is that too much for an acronym? And we just said, you know what, we're just gonna, it's, it's everything. So we're, we're doing all four.

Dani Johnson (03:43):

I think you hit on a couple of really good ones, Jackie, and some of the things that we're seeing, so learning obviously is expanding quite a bit. And then, and then obviously the diversity and inclusion we've seen sort of ramp this year as well. What are others seeing?

Speaker 2 (04:06):

Hi, this is Speaker 2. Can you hear me? So I knew you know, at my organization, a lot of our current work is really focused on on skills and just, you know, kind of individualizing learning experiences for people so that they are able to improve specific skills that they want in relation to their job or future roles. So that that's something that, you know, I foresee us being focused on next year is personalization. And then how do we help people acquire new skills, right. That they're gonna need and kind of keep up with the evolving change of, of, of their roles within the organization.

Dani Johnson (05:08):

Yeah, I think you're right. So I think we've seen that discussion go on for a while now. And I think we're at the point where it's actually gonna do some good, this whole idea of skills. One more, one more comment before we move on in chat says continuing performance management, and what skills of the future look like, how they'll evolve and how do we prepare people for them. So kind of along with what's he saying skills. Anything else before we move on?

The 10 Big Trends

Trend 1: DEIB Critical To All People Practices

Dani Johnson (05:44):

All right. So Stacia and I recently put together our research roadmap for the coming year, and we're seeing basically 10 big trends and they've kind of fall in buckets. So we want to talk through these trends very quickly before we get to the questions, we had a lot of really good questions that were submitted this time. So the first one that we're seeing is DEIB be critical to all people practices. And I'm going to actually let Stacia talk about that one first.

Stacia Garr (06:09):

Yeah. So I think for those of you, who've seen research that I've done in the past on DEIB our recent strategy report that just came out a couple of weeks ago, the integration of DEIB into everything else that we do is something that we've been talking about for a long time, but it feels like now we're seeing that catch up everywhere else. Which is really exciting whether that's from a, you know, just a general practices and awareness perspective, but also from the tech we're going to be publishing our DEIB tech report the second week of January. And so we're going to talk a lot about some of the changes that have happened there, but I think the most remarkable one and this is a little preview for you all, is that we've actually seen the market size increase by three times since when we did the study in 2019, we published in January, 2019, so two years ago.

Stacia Garr (07:07):

And we think that that just incredible market growth reflects the fact that people are looking to integrate across all the different practices and interested in how tech can be used to, to accelerate that. I know we've got a question a little bit more deeply on, on the tech side of this. So I won't jump to that too much right now, but we just are seeing this show up much more broadly has felt like for a number of years, we were kind of saying this was important and now we're seeing people reflect it back to us, which is really exciting.

Dani Johnson (07:36):

Yeah. And I've been surprised at how much it's creeped into some of the other discussions like skills and, and mobility, for example, it's, it's becoming an imperative to pay attention to an all these other areas.

Trend 2: Managers as connectors

Dani Johnson (07:47):

Same thing we're seeing is a managers as connectors.

Stacia Garr (07:51):

Yeah. So this one is in my space as well. So for those of you who follow our stuff, you may have seen that we did a big study on managers that came out in mid October and what we did there was, it was so cool. Like we do a lot of research and I think all of it's cool, but like this piece was really cool because we had done a snapshot of organizational and manager behaviors actually this time last year, literally actually I remember we closed the survey on December 17th, so literally a year ago. And then, so it was right before the pandemic started. And then we were able to do a comparison of what was happening with managers and their behaviors during the pandemic. So we've rerun the survey in September and October of this year. And one of the shifts that we saw, well, we actually saw two big shifts in that study.

Stacia Garr (08:39):

One was that the amount of autonomy that individual employees felt they had went up as you would expect with what happened with the pandemic. But then second, they said that managers were much more open to new ideas, which was, which was really good. And what you would hope for. The challenge we saw was that pretty much every other support, whether it be through the manager or through the organization, every other support that employees received went down. And so as you think about moving into our, you know, whatever this, this new reality is going to look like, we know that a big portion of it is going to be a higher percentage of workers who are remote. And because of that their managers are going to be even more important than in the past. And in many ways the managers are going to be the connector to the organization in a way that wasn't necessarily as true in an office setting. And so we think that as we look to the future, the question is, is how, what, you know, better understanding that shift for managers and how managers can help connect employees more broadly into the organization is going to be a big theme for this year.

Dani Johnson (09:40):

The other part of that is a lot of times managers, we haven't talked to one organization where, to who is like, Oh yeah, our managers just kill it. They're awesome. A lot of managers don't have the skills that they need in order to do some of the things that Stacy was talking about. And so we've seen a big uptick in the conversations around performance management and learning and mobility and all of these things where managers are, or managers are a part of those discussions as well, where we haven't necessarily seen that in the past. So instead of sort of a standalone thing, we're actually seeing managers integrated more into these different things as well.

Trend 3: Mobility is a focus

Dani Johnson (10:14):

Third one is mobility. Mobility is definitely a focus. I think part of this is because of some of the things that have happened this year with respect to large swaths of organizations being furloughed hand their skills not being needed right at this very minute, we're seeing this a lot, especially with frontline workers. And so mobility has really become a focus we're in the middle of a research project, actually, we're done with the research part and we're in the writing portion of mobility right now. And one of the really interesting things is the switch in the past mobility has mostly been used for retention and for engagement purposes. And now we're seeing organizations also include things like need making sure that we've got the skills in the right place, making sure that we have the right skills. And so moving people around to develop those skills, et cetera. The other thing that we're seeing where it comes to mobility is a lot of our vendor friends have come to us and said, Hey, we've got this new mobility project or product. They would really like you to see and give us feedback on. So it's not just the learning leaders and the business, the people leaders that are seeing this it's also is the vendors that are recognizing that this is a thing and will probably continue to be a thing into the future.

Dani Johnson (11:28):

Any, any comments on that Stacia? Any thoughts?

Stacia Garr (11:31):

Well, I think, you know, it, it ties into some of the other things that you're going to mention here, but, but you know, the focus on skills and kind of, you know, skills, not in isolation, but skills is kind of part of an enablement of other things that are really important

Dani Johnson (11:44):

For sure. And if you've seen a theme so far with just these three it's that some of those walls between some of the silos we've seen within the people practices are really breaking. And we're having to have wider discussions across the organization about how we deal with people on how we help people rather than staying within our talent acquisition and our learning and our performance silos.

Trend 4: Definition of "learning" expands

Dani Johnson (12:05):

The next one is the definition of learning expands. And we've been talking about this one for a while now, but in the past six to seven months, we've seen this really sort of accelerate. We're no longer just talking about courses and we're no longer just talking about the LMS. We're actually defining, learning very broadly. What does it take in order to help people plan? How do we helping people discover what they need? How do we help people experiment? What's our, what's our take on failure in the organization and how can we get people to learn from them? All of these things sort of wrap around this idea of learning, which we're sort of moving toward employee development, because we think that's a more inclusive term. How are we, how are we developing people in our organization to get not just them where they want to go, but where to get the organization where it needs to go. And we think we'll continue to see that through this year and probably beyond that.

Trend 5: Not just skills, skills as an enabler

Dani Johnson (12:58):

And then the final one, a couple of you have mentioned already is skills. We've actually been following the skills conversation for years. Like we started, we started listening about four years ago and I've had regular conversations with companies like Deloitte and Microsoft to kind of understand how they're viewing it and what they're doing and what they see as important. One of the things that we find really interesting about the last six months is we're not just talking about skills, we're talking about skills as an enabler. And so until the, the, the COVID crisis gathering skills and figuring out a skills data was more of a a conversation that we were having with ourselves rather than figuring out what to do with that information to help actually enable things in the organization. And so some of the things that we've seen over the last little while is we can barely have a conversation about mobility without also talking about skills.

Dani Johnson (13:52):

We can't, we seem to be running into diversity, inclusion, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging all the time when we're talking about skills. So all of these things where we're talking about, you know, giving people opportunities to develop these skills and moving people in the organization to develop these skills, have that diversity and inclusion component associated with them. And the same thing with data, why are we collecting this data? Where's this data going, what's it going to do, et cetera. And so we think the conversation is shifting from skills and re-skilling, and the whole sort of philosophical discussion that we've been having for four years on skills. We think it's finally firming up a little bit and we're using skills as an enabler. We're going to do the skill thing, but why are we going to do these, the skill thing we're going to do it for very specific reasons within the organization? Any thoughts, there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (14:39):

Yeah. And I think that, that this also ties in really well to this you know, the, the heating up of the market around, you know, specifics skills and specific needs that organizations have moving forward. And so we're starting, I feel like we're starting to see a lot more specificity and it ties into actually our next trend here, but a lot more specificity around what are the skills that we need, not just like, Oh, the, the, you know, like top 10 general skills we need in 2021. But like, as an organization, as we're actually doing our planning, what are the, what are the skills into what extent do we need them in order to do X, Y or Z thing? So it just feels like it's kind of gone from being up here in the sky and a little bit ephemeral to a lot more concrete around what we're trying to do.

Dani Johnson (15:25):

Yeah. I think you're right. And I think it's also changed the way that organizations are thinking about their people. So up until about six months ago, we were talking mostly about, okay, how do we get the skills? And a lot of times the question was we buy them. But, but since, since there's a shortage of pretty much everything right now we're seeing organizations say, okay, well, how do we develop these skills, and what people need to develop these skills and all of those kinds of conversations have come in that, that weren't there before that I think makes the skills discussion much more interesting and much more concrete and much more actionable.

Trend 6: Data as a crucial element of success

Dani Johnson (15:55):

Data as a crucial element of success.

Stacia Garr (16:01):

Yeah. And so, and so this ties in really well, you know, it's fun cause Dani and I kind of, we have our swim lanes to a certain extent, but they often intersection and the skills conversation is actually one of the biggest examples of how they've been intersecting. So so Dani has been doing a lot of work on kind of skills from a learning perspective and what's happening there. And then I've been doing a lot of work in understanding skills from a data perspective. And, and what's fascinating, isn't in so many organizations, those too late to parallel paths remain parallel and they're, they are not intersecting. And so a big thing that we're going to talk about this year is, is how should they be intersecting? Cause there clearly is talking about the same skills, the same people, the same need in the organization, but it's just tends to happen in two different parts of the organization.

Stacia Garr (16:48):

And so skills is a great example of that with, with data. But I think there's a lot of others. For, again, for those of you who follow what we do, we just publish the people analytics tech study last week. And in that we talked a lot about kind of just a range of, of capabilities that that technologies are now offering folks. And I think the underlying message though from 2020 was that tech, or I'm sorry, that people analytics and then the tech that enables it is more important than ever, you know, as we saw workers go into to leave the office and work from home, there was this incredible sense from leaders that we don't necessarily know what's happening. We don't know what's happening necessarily from an engagement perspective or what's working or what people need. And so we saw the role of people, analytics just really shine this year.

Stacia Garr (17:37):

And I expect that shine not to come off, if you will. You know, I think that now that people have kind of seen the value of it, they're not going to be willing to relinquish it. And so we see that particularly for employee engagement and experience, but we're also seeing that more broadly as we start to see different platforms that can bring in a whole lot of different information and to give us a much more nuanced understanding of what's happening for people, what helps them achieve success and also what are some of the warning signs that we should be looking for? So I just think that we're going to continue to see 2021 as a year to bring in data and to start to really do this analysis with the idea that it will really begin to impact business outcomes in a very large and meaningful way in 2022.

Dani Johnson (18:20):

Yeah. I think one of the outcomes of that too will be that all of the people practices are going to have to start thinking differently about how they do their job, because if you think about it up until fairly recently we've all used our gut to determine whether we hire somebody or, you know, where we move people or all of those things have been largely, you know, how someone's performing has been largely based on gut, but with some of the things that we've seen this year with, with data and technology, we have a much more unbiased view that helps us make decisions better, but also that we can push down to individuals to help them make, make decisions better, which I'm pretty excited about.

Stacia Garr (18:55):

Yeah. And it, and it connects back to the point around DEIB being integrated with everything. You know, that's one of the biggest opportunities is this connection between DEIB and data and people analytics using it to make less biased decisions, help us understand where bias may exist in organizations and to flag that in critical moments of decision-making. We're gonna dig into that topic in Q1. Because I think I've, to be honest, I've been just trying to get there is Dani now for the last three or four months, and we just had other things on the agenda that had to get finished up. But for me, I think that's a huge topic for 2021

Trend 7: Humanizing of human resources

Dani Johnson (19:32):

Humanizing of human resources. I think this is a really interesting one to talk about right after we talked about data. Sometimes we think of data as sort of non-human and cold and exacting. But what we're seeing is that some of this data is being used to actually humanize human resources a little bit more. I think we're also seeing it, this idea of humanization, when we think about kind of how we've addressed this crisis versus how we addressed the last crisis, it's pretty different. So in 2008, a bunch of people got laid off. We didn't, we were more concerned about the world in the economy and the business. And we were about those people this time around, it seems a little bit different. And I don't know if it's because of, because COVID is a really personal thing, or maybe I'm hoping we've evolved as the human race just a little bit, but we are starting to understand that, that the human part of human resources is a really, really important thing. So we've talked about that with the DEIB, we've talked about it with managers and making sure that they connect people, talked about it with that data and how it helps us become more human by making better decisions and less biased decisions. But we think in general, sort of the humanizing of human resources and the experience associated with working we'll continue along that path.

Dani Johnson (20:45):

Any thoughts there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (20:49):


Dani Johnson (20:49):

Apologies for putting you on the spot there.

Trend 8: Purposeful, holistic employee experience

Dani Johnson (20:53):

Purposeful holistic employee experience.

Stacia Garr (20:58):

Yeah. So again, this year we spent a lot of time talking about purpose and the role of purpose and organizations and, and the and how we've seen that kind of tying back to what Dani just said, seeing that really show up in the midst of this pandemic. And, and we expect that to continue in the purpose research, we talked about, you know, it's this just a fad, this whole focus on purpose. And we think not for a whole bunch of reasons that I could go into, but I think that, that, that this focus on connecting having a clear organizational purpose and enabling employees to connect their own purpose to it is going to continue tied into that is this idea again, of this holistic employee experience. And I think there are actually two ways to read holistic. One is you know, is actually Jackie mentioned at the beginning, there has been this big shift to digital.

Stacia Garr (21:49):

And before the pandemic, I felt like we were talking about kind of the digital workplace and then the, you know, in-person workplace and with the pandemic, we've really seen those to integrate and have to think about kind of this more holistic perspective of what does an employee experience mean. Now, when you, when you layer in purpose into that, I think you're not just talking about kind of the nuts and bolts of an employee experience, but really about how does all of that come together and enable an individual to achieve their purpose and enable the organization to achieve the purpose. Their purpose is we think as we look to 2021, we're going to start to see, we are already seeing all of those things kind of meld together in a way that I think is much more holistic and much more, again, human than what we've seen in the past. So not just a digital experience, not just an in-person experience, but really all purposeful holistic employee experience.

Stacia Garr (22:41):

Dani, did you have anything you want to add there?

Dani Johnson (22:42):

Yeah, I think again, that, that data is helping us provide that really personal experience to individuals. And so it's, we're not doing, we're not putting in people in personas anymore. We're not talking about job roles anymore. We're talking about providing that employee experience. That's really personal to the individual and we're able to do that because of some of the advances we've seen in data and technology,

Trend 9: Building networks, changing work

Dani Johnson (23:02):

Building networks and changing work. And I'm going to let, Stacia start on this one too.

Stacia Garr (23:06):

Yeah. So one of the outcomes of the pandemic and people working remotely is that and we know this from a number of the organizational network analysis vendors is that we are seeing people strengthened their immediate network and their immediate relationships with the people that they work with on the day-to-day, but their weaker connections are dying away. And that is problematic for a couple of reasons on the individual level. We know that diverse people tend to have led to be in lower power networks and so, and have weaker connections to higher power networks. So if we think about kind of all the benefits of diversity and all the need to accelerate the, the rise of diverse individuals in the organization that weakening of those networks is a challenge. And then secondly, for the organization, we know that if we have less diversity, we have less of all sorts of other benefits including critically innovation.

Stacia Garr (24:02):

And so, as we think about kind of longterm moving in this new world of, of how we're going to work together you know, there will be a larger percentage of the workforce who are remote. So we've got a real nut to crack we think around how do we make sure that people are still building networks, still making connections? You know, we talked about managers as connectors and that's great, but we all know that that cannot be the only, or the strong, you know, just the it needs to be one of many strong connections. And so we think there's a conversation here around how do we make sure that people are being connected in ways that are meaningful, that allowed them to grow, that allowed them to get access to the opportunities they need with an overall benefit to the whole organization.

Dani Johnson (24:42):

And I think the other part of that, that trend that we're seeing is the changing of work we're seeing work, adjust to accommodate remote better than it ever has before. And the whole world is talking about this right now. So we're not going to address it too much right now, but it will probably, it will most likely, it'll definitely creep into some of the things that we write about because it literally having a remote workforce. And some of the things that have happened this year literally changed the way that we work.

Trend 10: Acceleration…of everything

Dani Johnson (25:07):

And our final one is the acceleration of pretty much everything. So just an example of this, we had a conversation with an organization that was trying to implement an LXP, a learning experience platform at the beginning of the year. And they had this year and a half long plan, and they were going to roll it out to different parts of the organization at different times, et cetera, et cetera.

Dani Johnson (25:28):

And then COVID hit and they were, they had everybody online within three weeks. So one of the things that we think will take a lot of time don't necessarily take the time we think they will. And we're seeing this in pretty much everything. So diversity and inclusion has stepped up, but this year learning has stepped up this year. And the importance of managers has stepped up pretty much everything on this slide has, has been accelerated at least a little bit by COVID in some of that, the DEIB challenges with that we've seen this year, and we don't necessarily think that's going to slow down now that we know that we can get stupid work out of the way and do things faster. And we think it's probably going to continue. Any thoughts there Stacia?

Stacia Garr (26:11):

No, I agree. I think I'd love to hear what other people think though, now that we've kind of laid out our 10 for 2021,

Dani Johnson (26:19):

Any thoughts on this and please feel free to use the the chat as well.

Speaker 1 (26:29):

This is Speaker 1 again, I love the example that you just gave where under previous project planning, that's a year, year and a half, but under crisis it's three weeks. Like that's amazing. It'd be interesting to follow up with them in a year to see, you know, and how's it going now? You know, did it, did it all fall into place just like you expected?

Dani Johnson (26:50):

Yeah, no, I think you're right, Jackie. And we definitely will. I'd love to, I'd love to understand kind of what happens with that organization. I think sometimes we're afraid to introduce change into an organization because we're afraid of the pushback when everybody's sort of rallied around one, cause things tend to go smoother. And so it'll be interesting to see how much change we can continue to push without sort of that, that unifying challenge and bolt says, I love the holistic employee experience, huge topic for us.

Speaker 1 (27:20):


Dani Johnson (27:22):

Any other thoughts here before we move on to your questions or anything we missed or anything we missed?

Stacia Garr (27:27):

We have plenty of contenders who almost made this list.

Dani Johnson (27:39):

Okay. Please continue to comment and share Stacia and I are big on making sure that everyone understands that we don't know everything and how we learn and how we develop and how we make this. The most useful thing possible is to integrate other people's ideas and thoughts and questions. So the questions that we got we got a good chunk of questions we chose about eight of them.

Are there any "usual" trends that override disruption?

Dani Johnson (28:00):

The first one is, are there any usual trends that override disruption? Which we thought it was a really interesting question and we actually put it at the front because we wanted to talk a little bit about it. Just kind of going back to the trends that we've talked about. Some of the things that have been ramping for years now is diversity and inclusion. The DEIB has been ramping for years, the learning trend, it used to be not that that important within organizations and now has become very important, not just to individuals, but also to senior leaders. Data has been ramping for a really long time as well. So we think some of these definitely overrides sort of the crisis that we're in, which means they probably have a longer, their trajectory is still going up. Stacia anything to other,

Stacia Garr (28:46):

Yeah. I think employee experience and purpose. I think that that's another one, you know, again, back to our purpose research you know, we talked about how the business round table made their change to the statement on the purpose of a corporation in August, 2019. So that was clearly before this. And you know, the business round table doesn't do anything until it let's just say they're not the fastest moving most on the cutting edge of, of stating these types of changes. So I think they were really kind of an indication of a long lead up to this focus on broader purpose in stakeholder capitalism. So we think that one and then that integration with employee experience again, was something that we were seeing before this. So I'd just underscore that one too, right?

Stacia Garr (29:32):

Any thoughts from, from you all, are there trends that you've seen sort of accelerated by COVID, but maybe were in place before?

Speaker 3 (29:48):

This is Speaker 3. I have seen a lot more interest in how do we communicate, not just what programs are in place for DEIB, but how do we effectively communicate and connect all of our staff to these initiatives? So before it was a lot of people would just be doing it or not a lot, but some people would be working on it. But now we see more people, I should say more executives than at the board level of the companies that I'm working with are connecting and wanting to make sure that their entire company knows their role in DEIB.

Dani Johnson (30:25):

Yeah. I really like that example. I think that's sort of a perfect example of what we're talking about here. DEIB, we've been, we've all been given it sort of we've, we've been talking about it for years, but now it goes clear up to the board level of Stacia was telling me before this call that we've never seen a higher need for, what did you call them Stacia? The Chief Inclusion Officers?

Stacia Garr (30:46):

Chief Diversity Officers.

Dani Johnson (30:49):

Officers at the top of the organization who are actually giving some real time and effort and consequently budget to, to some of these things that we've been trying to solve for years with volunteer panels and things like that.

Stacia Garr (31:01):

Yeah. Yeah. Just to kind of, to jump on that, you know, we've we published this DEIB strategy report, and one of the things we talked about there was the executives are more open to the DEIB topic more broadly, and I have this is totally a thought experiment, but I'm going to share it with you guys. Cause I think it's kind of interesting. I wonder if part of the reason for the greater openness and the greater desire to move the needle here is that we, by when the social justice movement started this summer at that point we were depending on where you were roughly around three months into the COVID crisis. And I think that through COVID a lot of executives got a whole lot more comfortable with being able to say we don't necessarily know all the answers, this is hard.

Stacia Garr (31:52):

We're doing our best. We're, you know, a much more compassionate, empathetic, open, and potentially vulnerable leadership approach than what we would have seen, you know, six months prior. And so I wonder if some of this greater openness and some of this greater desire to actually maybe properly fix some of the DEIB challenges we have was a result of leaders already kind of having just gone through this, you know, very challenging initial experience with, with COVID and having already adopted kind of a more empathetic posture. So we'll, we'll see if that's kind of a long-term change and if that continues to play out. But I do have a strong hunch that that may have contributed to this greater level of openness.

Speaker 2 (32:38):

Hi, this is Speaker 2, Stacia. Just to kind of jump off of what you were saying. I've noticed in the organization that I am in very heavy involvement, like up to the CEO receiving, you know, emails and messages, even like you know, senior VP leader of leaders, of business units, holding all day conferences and just kind of having their face and their thoughts and out there. Which I think is really interesting because that, that's sort of the first time I'm seeing this embrace by senior leaders all the way up to the CEO being very vocal about this topic.

Stacia Garr (33:25):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think, you know, that that's something we heard from a lot of folks when we did the interviews for that study. And I think it reflects this broader shift that we've seen actually in the in the Edelman trust barometer, where they talk about they, they Edelman focus on within the U S but, you know, by and large us consumers expect companies to do something about social justice and about diversity equity, inclusion, belonging in their organizations. And I think that is actually then translating to action. There was a really cool data point and I need to see if there's an updated one where it said that in Q1. So just before the kind of the pandemic really got going the just 4% of S&P 500 companies talked about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on their earnings calls with investors. And in Q2, that number shot up to 40%. And so I think, you know, there is this heightened awareness that DEIB can have such big impacts on the organizations. And so there is a that greater executive embrace as you mentioned, Speaker 2.

Speaker 2 (34:36):

Yeah. And I think even just showing vulnerability in terms of like, you know, we don't have the answers, we want to work on finding solutions. And you know, we, it's important to keep talking about it and keep the dialogue open. So I think just, you know, whereas before it, might've kind of been not addressed or kind of swept under the rug, like we don't need to address this. I find that leaders are now getting at the forefront of it and addressing things that you know, incidents of social injustice that might happen and say, you know, this is unfortunate. We don't have the answers, but, you know, feel free to reach out if you want to talk about it. So,

Stacia Garr (35:23):

Yeah, definitely. And Marlene, I see your comment. I'll see if I can find the study and send it out to you all. It was RBC. Did the, did the research.

Dani Johnson (35:36):

just to wrap this one, someone says that he and his organization, they're seeing more interest in visual collaboration and digital workspaces as people move as people, as more people work from home. And I think that's, I think that's awesome, first of all. And secondly, I think it's needed we've seen more acceptance of some of the things that we use as well. We use a tool called Miro and we've been able to take that into a couple of organizations and introduce them to something like that that allows you to still do some of those sort of hands-on group activities that need to be done in order to get the work done and in a digital way. So we're thinking, that's fantastic.

How are organizations putting their 2020 DEIB commitments into action?

Dani Johnson (36:11):

The next couple of questions have to do with DEIB. So we'll continue that conversation. How are organizations putting their 2020, their DEIB commitments into action in 2021? And do you have examples?

Stacia Garr (36:25):

Yeah. So, and, and I'd love other folks comments and thoughts here, but I'll kind of kick us off here. You know, one of the things we saw was immediately after the murder of George Floyd that a lot of organizations made kind of very public commitments with regard to what they were going to do with DEIB. So, you know, for instance, we saw like you know, Adidas saying that they were going to fill 30% of their open positions at Adidas and Reebok with lacquer or Latino or Latina candidates. IBM said they were not going to offer or research facial recognition technology because of potential human rights abuses. We saw Facebook and a whole bunch of other organizations talk about the number of black and Latinx employees that were going to bring into the organization.

Stacia Garr (37:20):

They said they were going to double them. And then there were a whole bunch of organizations that pledged to make large contributions to you know, black lives matter, NAACP ACLU, et cetera, et cetera. So, so we saw a lot of immediate action right after, and then I feel like some of the changes that came down or that I feel like then what has happened is organizations have begun to go away. Do some of the hard work mentioned, you know even in, in, I think there was an article in the wall street journal in July that said the chief diversity officer was the hottest job right now in the market. And, and the number of DEIB professionals I've personally seen, just move has been pretty astounding and used to, and it feels like there's a DEIB role at pretty much every company that wasn't there three months ago.

Stacia Garr (38:07):

So I think right now organizations are starting to do the work of putting more people, more investment into their organizations. But what that's going to translate to on the other side is I think still an open question, you know, there's and then I think there's also a question of how they're going to talk about it because there are a lot of changes that organizations will make, particularly as their results and their, their mix of talent and their focus on accelerating particular types of talent that may not get into the news. It may not be, I'm almost certain, it's not going to be the thing that they put into their CSR ESG reporting. And so I think that there's going to be kind of a dance that organizations have to do as they try to demonstrate that they're walking, you know, that they're walking the talk but do it in a way that one, their legal teams feel comfortable with. Cause that's been a big, you know, throttle on DEIB efforts as well as the publication of what's happening with them. So what their, their legal teams are comfortable with and then also what they feel like kind of furthers their, their talent brand. So I think that there are things that are happening, particularly with regard to talent acquisition, and then also talent mobility. But I think it's going to take a little bit of time for us to see them.

Stacia Garr (39:22):

Do I see your comment if the compensation for DEIB roles will improve? I think, I think it will. And I think it already has begun because the talent market is so tight right now for DEIB roles. So I think that's a good call out.

Dani Johnson (39:34):

I think someone actually surfaced a couple of good questions too. So there's the one, she says, one thing that comes to mind as we talk about one so much focus on moving digital and to DEIB is the need to keep in mind the portion of the workforce that can not work digitally. How are they being supported and included in opportunities, et cetera. So really good question. One of the things that I think we're seeing is some of the technology is allowing us to address some of the challenges with the DEIB, even though those are frontline workers and cannot work digitally. And so even that, well, the aspect of digital that affects them as different, but we're still using some of those digital tools to make sure that we're taking care of them. The other thing that we're seeing just no past, and I think this pretty predates COVID two is more of a focus on frontline workers. So a lot of learning tech and tech in general has been focused on exempt workers, people that work in an office. We've seen that shift a little bit as new tools come out and new awareness comes out of, you know, as organizations realize the value of those workers and understand the need for them to grow and develop as well.

Dani Johnson (40:44):

Any other thoughts or questions on this question? All right.

What are the top 3 DEIB goals that are contributing to DEIB tech buying?

Dani Johnson (40:52):

Let's move on to the second DEIB question, which is what are the top three DEIB goals that are contributing to DEIB tech buying?

Stacia Garr (41:01):

Yeah, so And the pet study, we talk a bit about this. So, so the kind of the top three areas that we saw as a, as an area of focus were employee engagement and experience DEIB analysis and monitoring. And that was a big shift, like a few when we did the study last year that was much lower. So that was number two that showed up number two. And then the third one was performance management when we, when we looked at kind of the, the analytics side. And so when we're thinking about kind of the DEIB intersection here, a lot of it is understanding, you know, amongst those three kind of really critical areas, what's happening with people. What are, what do we need to understand about our different populations and and how their experiences are then influencing their the kind of what's going to happen with the talent pipeline overall.

Stacia Garr (42:00):

So we know that representation numbers are backwards looking. And so now I feel like we're starting to see people trying to use the tech to get a little bit farther back into what's happening and to be able to address things a lot faster, but so, so engagement and experience. Certainly like I said, performance management, because that contributes to our ability to advance people in our understanding of how people are performing and their perceptions of what's happening differently. And then the, I should say from the PAT study the learning and development being the third, third one and the understanding of how those learning experiences are different for different populations.

Dani Johnson (42:40):

Great. Any other thoughts on this question? Okay, let's move to the next one.

How are organizations defining mobility?

Dani Johnson (42:48):

How organizations defining mobility. So one of our, the trends that we mentioned earlier, and one of the things that we've seen craziness around is this idea of mobility, moving people in the organization to different parts of the organization. For some reasons, a couple of the biggest reasons that we see the first and I think probably the oldest is we moved people around organizations to, to retain them, to, to give them experience for sure, but to retain them and engage them as part of that larger employee engagement thing that's happening right now. The other thing that we're seeing since COVID is the, the need to move people around the organization to put the right skills in the right places at the right time. So as large parts of organizations have, have become unnecessary, especially given sort of the situation that we're in, we're seeing organizations really ramp up the skilling three skilling and the development to take tangential skills and turn them into the skills that they need in the organization right now.

Dani Johnson (43:49):

So a large communications organization, for example, had to sort of either furlough all of their retail, or it had to retrain them to, to handle some of the online stuff that was coming in at a greater pace, because some of those retail stores were out of commission. And so that's just one example of the way that we've seen organizations sort of think about mobility differently. Another thing that we're seeing is mobility used to mean moving from one job to another job from one role to another role. And that is also sort of being redefined. It's much more of a, I don't want to, I'm not sure how we're going to say this yet in the research, but it's much more of a, sort of a psychological move. So mobility doesn't necessarily mean picking up and moving somewhere, even though a lot of organizations are still thinking about it, that way mobility actually means working out of wherever you are and getting new experiences and new opportunities while maybe still having your home base, where it was before.

Dani Johnson (44:42):

And we're seeing that manifest itself in things like talent open talent, marketplaces. Some people call them gig economies within the organizations. So they're trying out gigs for two or three weeks. We're seeing it in terms of rotations. So you still belong to a central place. But you have the opportunity to experience some new things. In the military, they call them details and they can be up to a year long. And so this idea of mobility is changing to be much more sort of cerebral than it is physical, which I think is really, really interesting. The research that we have coming out in a little bit, sort of talks about how different organizations handle that differently. We have the latter model, which is moving people up, are really defined the latter on, you know, what your put your next step is. We have the lattice model, which has been talked about for 15 years, which is moving people around to give them more breadth.

Dani Johnson (45:28):

We have the agency model, which is what a lot of consulting firms use, which is organizing the people around the work instead of organizing the work around a predefined organization of people. And then we're also seeing quite a bit of organizations start to talk about external workers. So retiree pools and gig workers and contractors and consultants, and those type of people paying attention to them as part of your talent pool and helping the organization understand what skills they have so that they can also be mobilized within different parts of the organization. So we did this study five years ago. We did it again this time I've learned a lot and things have changed quite a bit about about mobility, but those are the biggest things. People are thinking about it more cerebrally than they have in the past. And we're probably including more, more talent pools and, and, and paying attention to skills that skills data to help people get where they need to go. So I'm gonna stop right there for a second. Any questions about mobility?

Stacia Garr (46:29):

You know, I'll just add, as you were talking. I wonder if like, with some of the changes that we've seen with the workforce, like we know we've seen a large percentage of women go out of the workforce, it's like three to one and we've seen other changes around you know, younger workers. And, and I just wonder if all of that will get connected here into mobility, you know, thinking about those different talent pools differently. And, and also, I mean, it seems funny, but we've kind of stopped talking about the whole, you know, baby boomers leaving the workforce, but it's, it's still happening in very great numbers. And so I wonder if this will all kind of end up coming together, particularly as, you know, as we get a vaccine and as potentially the market starts to take off again.

Dani Johnson (47:20):

Yeah, no, I think that's an interesting thought. And as, as walls in organizations continue to become more transparent and permeable as well. When you retire, you don't necessarily retire. You are put into, you know, you're a lot of people still consult with the organizations that they retire from. And so what does that mean for, for the skills that we thought we were going to lose, but maybe we're not losing and the way that people want to move. The other thing that we're seeing that's really interesting is success has to be redefined in this new, in this new sort of way. Not everybody is going to be CEO. We had one organization actually say that not everybody is going to be CEO. And so how do we help people have the best experience and get the best types of experiences that they want and learn what they want to learn while they're here and be okay if they step out of the organization for a while, knowing that we want to keep that relationship good so that they can come back later. So it's, it seems to be that we're rethinking it and we're not necessarily thinking of ownership anymore, but rather relationship, which I think is a pretty healthy way to think about it.

Dani Johnson (48:20):

All right. Any other thoughts here before we move to the next question?

What are the most important questions that HR leaders are trying to answer with data?

Dani Johnson (48:26):

What are the most important questions that HR leaders are trying to answer with data?

Stacia Garr (48:32):

Yeah, I think I kinda touched on this one earlier. But you know, from our, from our PAT study, like I said, it was in playing engagement experience, D&I performance management and learning and development. And so I think what all of that really points to is trying to understand the employee experience much better and to be able to understand, you know, what's going to happen in terms of our talent retention in terms of, you know, what we're gonna need from a skills perspective what we're gonna need from a new talent perspective versus maybe some of these other talent pools. So we're seeing, seeing kind of a focus there, but most immediately the focus has been how are people doing during COVID. And I think that's gonna continue. One thing that didn't actually show up in the PAT study though, that I also am hearing about anecdotally is that focus on wellbeing and burnout. It wasn't in the study. But I think that in something that we're going to hear more about, particularly quite frankly, as we get into February, you know, and for many, many people, the vaccine is still three, four months off. And it just starts to feel hard you know, a long winter, et cetera. So That's what I think.

How important will attention to the remote work be?

Dani Johnson (49:50):

How important will attention to the remote worker be? Pretty important for the next year. I, and I think it will continue to be important. I think I'm hoping there. One of the things that comes out of COVID is enough time understanding how it feels to work remotely, that we have a lot more sympathy, empathy, and impetus to change the way that we work with with our remote counterparts. This one is always really interesting to me cause I've worked remotely for 15 years. Our entire organization is completely remote. We have people working for us that we've never met face-to-face. And so it's, it's an interesting mindset shift to, to take into account remote workers. But I I'm hoping that this has given us enough empathy to sort of think about it differently, moving on. And I think with that, some of the technology that is surfacing per someone's comment to help us do this better is getting better. It's getting better and it's allowing us to do completely different things. We're not just putting the live experience online now. We're actually doing completely different things that may even be very, say a little bit better than, than in-person in some cases. What do you think Stacia?

Stacia Garr (51:06):

Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. I think we're going to the big challenge. I think one of the big challenges of 2021 is going to be, how do we balance when, which, when people are going back to the office, which people go back to the office, which ones maybe don't and with what frequency, and then, you know, when we've all been remote to any more level playing field in some ways. And so as we manage those in office and remote relationships, how do we make sure that we remain inclusive for those who are remote?

Dani Johnson (51:38):

Any thoughts on this one? All right.

Dani Johnson (51:46):

The next one is when things settle down, will purpose still be a thing.

When things settle down will purpose still be a thing?

Stacia Garr (51:49):

So I think you were going to jump in, I saw you come off mute.

Speaker 1 (51:53):

Oh, I was just gonna say one of the phrases I've heard different people saying to you is others have been remote, just like you gave in your example, it's not new to everyone. So I would hope in 2021, those that are well-experienced with working remotely and keeping engaged and keeping on track can, you know, have the bandwidth to reach out to the ones that are struggling. So maybe like like you said, a level playing field because it's not a new thing. It's just new to everybody all at the same time this year for obvious reasons.

Dani Johnson (52:30):

I think that's a really good point. So back to the purpose question, when things settle down, will purpose still be a thing?

Stacia Garr (52:40):

Yes. As I, as I said before, the purpose was, it was a train that had been coming. And I think it's going to still be here when, when this is all said and done. Now you go back to why organizations, you know, clarify their purpose, you know often a part of it is providing clarity in terms of why we're doing what we do in the face of a lot of other changes. So, you know, some of those changes are technology. So as we have more AI and we have more machine learning, a lot of people have been asking before COVID, you know, what is it that makes us human? What's our unique human contribution. And part of that is aligned to purpose is, is understanding what it is that we uniquely do. You know, the gig economy the ability to work from anywhere enhanced by our increased remote capabilities makes us ask questions about, you know, well, why would I join this organization?

Stacia Garr (53:37):

What do I get, what am I contributing by joining this organization? And having a clear sense of purpose helps answer that question. So I think that there's all sorts of reasons that purpose will continue to be a thing. I think the bigger question though, is we'll the organizations who have clarified or reinforce their purpose through COVID remain as committed to it. Well, we still see the level of commitment that we've seen and, you know, it's easy for, for healthcare organizations, you know, we've, we have this purpose podcast that we're that we're putting out right now. And we've had, for instance, Medtronic and Johnson and Johnson on there, and it's easy for easier for them to clearly articulate their purpose, but will other organizations continue to do so. And I think that for some of them who really are clear on this and believe in, it absolutely will. You know, another interviewee was Rachel Fichter at S&P Global, and, you know, that's a financial services firm, and yet they have a very clear sense of purpose. So I think it'll be interesting to see if there's some drop-off but I think that the fundamental reason for a focus on purpose will not shift.

Dani Johnson (54:50):

I think just because of time, we're going to leave it there. We've gone a little bit over what we usually schedule for a Q and A, we really appreciate everybody who has participated, and we really appreciate those that sent these questions in, because that makes our life much easier. When do we have questions in the Q and A session. This we'll be providing a transcript and a recording to, to those who are members on the site. And if any of you have any follow-up questions or would like to discuss any of these further, or have ideas that weren't shared today, please, please, please reach out your questions and your comments make us smarter. Thank you so much.

Stacia Garr (55:23):

Thank You. Happy holidays!

Learning Tech Trends Q&A Call

Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 at 4:13 PM    

Q&A Call Video



Dani Johnson:

So this is our bi-weekly Q and a call. And this one's a special, special edition because we have Christopher Lynn on the phone as well. Christopher and I have known each other for about a year. I don't believe I hadn't heard of him before that, but he, he runs,  a podcast called learning sharks where he talks about learning technology all the time. So I figured between him, between himself and myself,  we just finished some research on learning technology. We can answer any question and out there I'm learning technology. So

Christopher Lind:

Just setting the bar high, any question.

Dani Johnson:

It's going to be a barn burner. That's we have to, this is the way they work. , Please feel free to submit your questions and let's do it in chat since everybody's already familiar with chat. I've also given everybody, speaking rights. So feel free to just talk as well.

I'm going to go the way that we're going to set this up is I'm going to go through just a few slides on some of the data that we've seen in the learning tech market, just to give you a sense for what's going on. And then we had a ridiculous nber of questions being submitted. So I chose 12. I don't think we're going to get to all 12. , but we'll start with those.

And then as, as I mentioned earlier, people on the phone have first dibs. So if you have a question, a follow up question or anything like that, feel free to talk or go ahead and, and put it in the chat. And,  Christopher Lynn just corrected me. Technically the live stream is linked. So look for learning tech talks, when you're looking for that webinar,

Christopher Lind:

Wait, Hey, you know what it fits with the title of this learning tech talks, learning tech trends, right? We got, we got the LTT going. So I like it makes it even more appropriate bringing in that barn burner theme.

Dani Johnson:

Okay. And, and please, we want this to be a conversation. So if you have something to say, please, please jp in. We would love your comments.

The Market

Dani Johnson:

So let's start with the current market. There's a lot of stuff going out there. And we spent all smer long asking technology vendors kind of where they were.

, and they were very good to us and gave us quite a bit of information about what's going on. We, we really, really appreciate their candor. , the first thing that we're saying is there are lots of vendors. We've got about 223 in our database. And we know that isn't all of them. We know it's just a tiny portion of them, but it gives us a sense for kind of what's happening in learning tech in general. So you can see that curve by the year founded that little tip at the end.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's leveling off. In fact, I think,  we've seen an acceleration that a little tip generally, is the time they're founded versus the time that they hit the market. So it takes about a year and a half. We noticed between the time they incorporate to the time they're actually running with something to go to market. So lots of vendors are out there right now, which isn't surprising. , but they continue to grow and grow and grow. It's crazy.

The second thing that we're seeing is there's lots of functionality. Two years ago, and when we started this research, we took a look at how things had been explained. And they are usually explained in terms of LMS, LXP, et cetera. And when we talked to the vendors, they didn't like that because many of them do more than just an LMS.

Dani Johnson:

So an LMS has also an LXP it's also a microlearning platform. It's become a little bit heavier than that. And so we started asking them what functionalities they have in 2018. We recognized about 28 of them. And then in the last two years, we've seen a couple more pop. Knowledge management and podcasting seem to be really, really taking off as far as learning goes.

And so, as we talk about learning in as sort of, we categorize learning on the red thread team we talk about it in terms of functionality, not necessarily in terms of LXP, LMS, we still recognize those as things that show up on the balance sheet. , but in actuality, we're actually talking about what those technologies can do and what they can help you do versus a technology description that doesn't necessarily describe that very well. It turns out there are 30 right now.

Christopher Lind:

With this piece, Dani Well, I was just going to add to this, that I think this is, I liked that at least from an analyst perspective. And I think a lot of the things we're seeing similar to what we're seeing in the workplace as companies are moving more towards skills versus job roles. I think this is a trend we're going to see in learning tech too.

That's going to be helpful. Is this shift from like categories to capabilities and saying, well it's because it is confusing. It is really confusing. And there is a lot of duplicative functionality. And when you try and just categorize things, it gets really hard because it's like, well, here's five LMS is, but they're, their capabilities are vastly different.

And you can't just say, we need an LMS. You need to say, we're trying to do this, this, this, and this, which one can you use? And three of those LMS has, may not be able to do it. So, which, you know, but 10 other things that aren't even an LMS may be able to. So I think it's a, it's an important shift, but I think it also makes it for people who are trying to like navigating the space. It can be very overwhelming.

Dani Johnson:

I completely agree. Marketers tend to use buzzwords. So for a while, and I think still LXP was a buzz word. So I started asking around and said, okay, what do you mean by, you know, you say you're an LXP and you say you're an LXP. And some of them had as few as like three functionalities, but they were still describing themselves as an LXP. And so the big terms, LMS, LXP you know, micro learning platform. They're not, they're not descriptive enough. And as Chris said, they're probably not granular enough to figure out what's duplicative in your organization, as well as what are you trying to do that can help you get where you're going without buying types of technology. The other thing that we're seeing, which is a little it's been picking up over the years is it used to be that budgets were not that flexible.

So you had $10 million every 10 years to put a new learning platform in place. We're seeing that loosen up a little bit. So budgets, you may, may not be getting anywhere. You probably are, but you may not be getting any more, but its spread out over time. And so some of these smaller organizations, these smaller vendors are playing much better because you don't, you're not spending all your money hoping that you get the most functionality you possibly can. You're actually finding the things that are gonna help you, and plugging them in and unplugging them as you go along, which is, I think a really positive thing about that.

Christopher Lind:

And I get it right. I get it. Marketing has to be able to fit things into categories. So I understand where they're coming from. Right. It's kind of like, well, what are we, what category do we fall into? But I think just for people who are starting to navigate this space, it is you do have to break it down into the capabilities. Cause it's not, I mean, SharePoint's an LXP, honestly, like you could say SharePoint is an Alex P but you know, what kind of capabilities does it have? So I think it's, it's an interesting one

Dani Johnson:

For sure. Cool. All right. The next thing we did is we actually took a look at, how many functionalities organizations had, and the, the purple is 2018 and the green is 2020. You can see in 2020, there is a monster nber of vendors that are offering five functionalities or less. So they're really looking at point solutions, providing a point solution versus providing this massive platform.

You'll also see that there are more that are offering more than 20. And so as, as generally happens, we see tech vendors sort of mature and continue to build and buy stuff as they go as they sort of mature over the years. And so I think that's kind of where that's coming from.

Some of those, those technologies are consolidating and becoming more of a platform versus a point solution. But the point of this slide, I think, is it's really important to, to not underestimate the point solutions.

A lot of people say that we're moving toward platforms. Again, there tends to be a pendulum. I don't necessarily think that's true. Two people in a garage with an AWS account can start a learning tech platform and the way that things are situated, I think they probably have more legs than they have in the past. The barriers to entry are much, much lower than they have been. Christopher, I don't know if you have a comment on this.

Christopher Lind:

Right. This debate kind of swings back and forth all over the place. Like, Oh, is everything kind of right? Are we, are we going to end up with,  and without getting into the vendor space, right? Like the Workday that can do everything, is that where we're going? And I agree, I'm, I'm seeing a lot more diversification of things, which I think is a good thing.

Especially with the way budgets are structured, where sometimes it's like, well, we've got this very unique situation or this problem. And I think going back to the point of a shift, we're seeing is back to the budget shift. I'm also seeing a shift of, instead of saying, we have to, we have to get it perfect because this has to last 25 years. It's more of a, well, we might have a situation. We need to use this on.

Christopher Lind:

It may be three months. It may be six months. And then that, that need disappears and we don't need it as much. And I, and I am seeing more flexibility in that. I think one of the things that is interesting in the tech space that,  is, is a positive thing, which will, and I think this may be contributing to the, Oh, it's all simplifying. And we're going more to the platforms. Thing is on the vendor space. I'm seeing more and more vendors basically doing B to B with other vendors.

And so these platforms are integrating their capability behind the scenes. So you think you're buying this and wow. It has everything we're really behind that curtain. There's actually multiple vendors that rather than these big players saying, we're going to reinvent the wheel on all this stuff.

They're saying, you know, we're going to partner with this firm for their video integration capability. We're going to partner with this company because they're the best at social learning. And this is, you know, this kind of stuff. And so it is giving that impression that, Oh, the ecosystem simplifying. But I would say the point solution thing is off the charts.

Dani Johnson:

I would totally agree. APIs are also getting easier. So it's easier to plug things in and out very quickly versus the two year integration that some of the larger platforms used to take. So I think we're seeing much more of an ecosystem play than we ever have before. And it's much easier and not as intimidating as it once was to work with slightly.

Christopher Lind:

That's a good one. Cause David brought up, David mentioned this in the comments is right. I think there is this trend, especially at the senior level to be like, can't we just buy the thing, right. Can't we just can't we just get the one thing. And I think some of it is, it feels easier. There's also a lack of understanding of the actual capability and needs that we have. Like, well, no, we can't like we can get this one thing, but it doesn't really do any of the stuff we need very well.

So I think telling that story is helpful. And I do think digital acen is improving slowly but surely with executives to understand, Oh, okay. We can't just buy an LMS and call it a day. We've got work to do still. But I am seeing kind of more of this understanding that, okay, we need, we need more than just this one platform. And then we call ourselves good,

Dani Johnson:

Agreed. Matthew Turner has an interesting point. He says the ecosystem play that that phrase is what they're seeing their most successful clients deploy. So it's those that are sort of more for thinking and more leaning toward the future are tending to use, an ecosystem play rather than a platform play, which we're seeing as well. Two more slides. This one is more choices for the same functionality.

So you can see in 2018, these were the number of vendors that said that they did these certain functionalities. And then in 2020, the purple, those are the ones that say they do it today. , interestingly and not surprisingly at all, analytics and measurement is number one. Everyone is realizing the importance of element analytics, not just what it can do for the learning aspect of your organization, but how it feeds into other things like performance and talent acquisition and all of these types of things.

So that, that, again, I think it goes back to the thing, the thing that we're seeing with ecosystem play data is a really important aspect of that ecosystem play. , we're also seeing more project marketplaces, which are on the far left side of this graph.

People are starting to use things other than training to educate their people. We're seeing that with the project marketplace and the expertise directories, video practice, career pathing, all of these things sort of roll together to give your people a full learning experience. , it's a changing world. I think I've seen it change remarkably in the, in the past two years. , one caveat. I have no idea what's going on with assessment. So what I'm pointing that one out, cause it's blindingly out there. It looks like if your organizations are focusing on assessment right now, I've dug into that a little bit. And I don't have, I don't have a good answer, Christopher, what do you have to?

Christopher Lind:

So, so a couple of things that I think is interesting about it. So one so the analytics and measurement, and this is one like when I talk to people, I'm like, be very careful in this because I feel like analytics or measurement is now becoming like the, the term LXP. Right? It's everybody's saying it, you know?

Yeah, yeah. Analytics, well, d it's a digital platform. It's capturing data. So if it's digital, it's capturing data, it has the capability to do those kinds of things. I think where we can kind of push more is to, and if you're considering solutions as one to kind of dig into like, what, right? How is it laying that out? Is it right in dashboards? Is it, you know, things, the other thing that I'm seeing starting to creep up more, I still think it's a huge opportunity, but some of the players that are doing a really good job of this is automating insights from that data and analytics, right.

Christopher Lind:

Versus just presenting like, Hey, here's a bunch of information and you're left to figure out. So what does that mean? I'm actually seeing some really unique applications of machine learning and AI on, Hey, we can kind of start to predict, like we can let the machines know this is a trend we're seeing you should do this.

And I think we, as practitioners should be pushing more to say, help us translate some of this because data is fine. But if you don't know what to do with it, it's just numbers on a slide and the capabilities there. The one that surprised me about go ahead, go ahead. No problem.

Dani Johnson:

I was just gonna say, I think sort of an increasing aspect of that it's not just helping L&D leaders have insights about what the data means. It's also about plugging into other systems, so that it's automated. And then we're seeing this particularly with sort of curation external and internal curation and job roles and those types of things.

We're also seeing it with performance. Hey, you performed badly this last month in this area, you know, dragging in information from other systems to help automate some of these things that we've had to do by hand, or had to be very cognizant about as an L and D team to make sure that they happened. All right. Other point and then there were two questions that came up.

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So the, the other one, the other two super quick in terms of assessment, I think we're, we're seeing this vast drop-off is more in the terminology of things than really anything else. Right. Because we've actually granular prized at assessment now.

So instead of it just being kind of this box of like, well, we do assessment, it's like, well, but are we doing that through gamification? Are we doing that through experiential learning? Are we doing we've, we've kind of now niched that out a little bit more. And I think that's where our platforms necessarily tagging themselves as we're an assessment platform. Probably not. They would say right, we, well, we do reinforcement or we do these kinds of things. So I think it's less of a, we're assessing what we're doing.

And more of that analytics is tripping up and we've niched it out. And then the other one that's surprising. But not that I think we're going to see a big spike in is, is AR and VR. I feel like the hardware now is reaching a point and the mindset is reaching a point where people are starting to get it a little bit more in terms of its capability. So it's not growing like I would expect, but I would guess in the next year or two, we're going to see some, some pretty big stuff pop.

Dani Johnson:

Interesting. I'm going to disagree with you there. We'll see who's right in a year or two. I think it's, I think it's a really good tool in very specific circumstances, but it doesn't have wide application. And so I don't think it will grow probably as much as it's new, it's shiny. It's exciting. It's fun. I don't see the growth there. Part of that is looking at the data from this year to last year, it used to be sort of middle in the pack and it just slowly kind of goes down toward the bottom as these other things become more important.

Christopher Lind:

I think it again, could change that. Okay. Is, so you look at the quest and the quest to now I think Oculus made a huge mistake integrating with Facebook, and I think that's going to make it very hard for enterprises to use it, but HTC and some of the other hardware players, these mobile device now that aren't tethered and things like Facebook horizon and Microsoft, Altspace allowing virtual collaboration spaces.

I think where the VR in the traditional sense of a lot of people thinking like, Oh, Sims, like we're developing Sims that I think, yeah, we'll probably always be pretty niche and in general but you look at some of these hybrid VRS, like, you know, you know, where you're joining a zoom session and interacting with a virtual avatar, that's actually a person behind the scenes or as the hardware's more readily accessible having like a virtual meeting where you're actually bringing people together. I think that's, I'm not saying it's going to spike.

I don't think we're going to see in the next year it's up there with LXPs, but I think this kind of little incremental growth will change.

Dani Johnson:

All right. We'll see. We'll see, we'll do this again in a year. So just a couple of questions before we move off his side. , Stephen Turner asks, can you define project marketplace? Yes, I can. So there's an increasing need by to get work done inside that organization, small tasks or projects and also use those projects and tasks for learning.

So some people call it a project marketplace. I've heard open talent marketplace. I've heard gig internal gig economy. All of these things are where managers can post a project and then individuals can sign up for that project, which is usually not, full-time almost always is not full-time to get some experience, fill out the part of the organization, see if they click with a manager, et cetera, et cetera as a way to learn. So that's what our project marketplaces and we're seeing more and more technology to enable that we're also seeing people build it internally.

But we're talking about vendors here enable them that has the largest percent change. How would you define enablement has a fantastic question. Enablement to some word that I came up with two years ago, cause I didn't know what else to call it, but the example that I use is an Apple watch. So when I moved into this house, I got lost every time I came here.

So I finally plugged in the information on my Apple watch and it just took me here without me ever having to step out and look at a map without me ever having to ask somebody else for direction. And so enablement sort of sits on top of whatever technology you're using or whatever system you're using in your work to guide you along as you're, as you're working.

Christopher Lind:

Wouldn't you say with that one? I think because in that market, I feel like the digital adoption platform is probably one of the biggest contributors to this huge spike

Dani Johnson:

Probably. Yeah, I think, I think it also has to do with integration and, accessibility of data. So as some of these things come together, it's much easier to integrate with things that you're already using for work. And it's automated. You're automatically getting the information you need when you need it versus having to stop and go out and find it. So that's what that one is.

That's how you're categorizing it. That makes sense. What insight areas are you seeing prioritize through analytics? Is the industry focusing on the right things? , that's a good question, Laura. Hi, by the way, it's been a while since we've talked. , I think, what we're seeing is basically what Chris talked about is people need, people need to understand what they're doing for a really long time. Learning has been a black box and they're being asked to provide these insights.

But they also need them in order to improve what they're doing. That's what we're seeing right now. But some of the things that Chris talked about on that, I talked about automating stuff like the curation, which we've already seen, but, but soon, you know, bringing in the performance and those types of things I think will be much more important.

So it's more of a machine rather than a dashboard where you stop and look what it is and make conscious decisions about what you're going to do next. I think there will always be a place for that, but I think the automation of getting information to people is where this is actually going.

Christopher Lind:

I also think the analytics and going back to your point about integration, that's encouraging again, are we doing the right things? Some probably better than others. I think we kind of get stuck in that Stockholm syndrome of L and D a lot, right. Where it's like, well, just keep measuring the things that we've always measured and we don't really step out of it and go, Hey, what if we could measure other things?

And I think that's where the tech is opening a lot of doors where it's like, well, let's step beyond, you know, who completed, what and how much time did they spend in these things and things like that. And I think the talent marketplaces have opened some doors and we're seeing, I'm personally seeing a lot of the silos across learning and talent being broken down, which I think that's extremely helpful because then you start looking at the analytics and you can start to connect to all right.

Christopher Lind:

And the other thing is skills. I think skills moving up the priority list of, Hey, do we actually know that people can do things and tech is now allowing us to see our people performing stuff. We can see that through the work they're doing, we can see it through different technology platforms. So rather than just saying, well, they watched a thing or they passed a test, we can actually start to see, you know, this is what so-and-so's really good at. Yes, they're interested in it, but they're also really good at that. And now as the silos of learning and talent breakdown, we can start to see, okay then based in the organization, where should this person be positioned? Maybe they're not in the right role and things like that.

And I think that's where not, everybody's thinking that way. I think that as an industry is an opportunity for us to push our thinking more in that direction and, and step out of this kind of, well, what are people doing? What do they like? What can we recommend based on the things that they watch? Like that's helpful again, not to throw it out the window. It's helpful stuff. As long as you're, you're taking it beyond that.

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. And I think that's a great point. I hear the Netflix of learning all the time and it drives me crazy because Netflix is, is a step in the right direction. But it's definitely not the be-all end-all you don't want to be the Netflix of learning. You want to go beyond and do some of these things that Christopher Lind's talking about. Okay.

One more slide, just to give you a sense of what's what's going on here. , steady growth in tech use, not surprisingly, especially given COVID. , and there's been a huge uptick in tech use in 2020. So this, we asked vendors, you know, their total nber of customers in the last three years. And you can see a 33% growth rate from 2018 to 2019 and a 48% growth rate from 2019 to 2020.

I'm guessing that's even low because we collected this data three months ago. So everybody is paying attention to learning more. Something happened this year. You know, it's weird thing happened this year feels like I'm going to dig in. I missed something. Yeah. Anyway, so it's growing, it's, it's a good time for vendors, but it's also a good time for organizations to sort of reevaluate what's going on. Especially if they were heavily in-person or ILT. , there are many, many technologies that can replace that, especially given our current current situation.

Christopher Lind:

Well, given the fact too, I think the other thing is it's not, it doesn't look like there's a sign that this like disappearing here in the next month or two or anything like that. And I'm seeing one of the things I think is encouraging. So on the vendor side, obviously, right, this is positive, right? All of a sudden it's not only increased growth of what's out there, but I've seen more innovation in the tech space in the last 12 months because people are being forced to be like, well, we, we, we have to do, we've never thought of even having to do this digitally before and now we have to, we don't have a choice. So I've actually seen the functionality of existing platforms grow, which is exciting, but also things that you went, I didn't think anybody was ever going to prioritize this because it was never a priority.

And now it is, which is actually creating, you know, you look at the virtual event space, you look at virtual anything, right? The capability that people have known, we probably should have added for years, but eh, we're just not going to really do it because nobody cares it does now, which is exciting. And I think for practitioners, we need to capitalize on this because our organizations are S not all, but many are more open to taking risks right now with tech and saying, look, we got a problem, right? In the famous words of vanilla ice. If you got a problem, you'll solve it. Right? Like now's the time to say, let's try something here. Right? We we've got a tech solution. It might work. It might not. We don't know, but we have a problem. Let's give it a shot and see what happens. People right now are way more open to experimenting with this kind of stuff to say, okay, fine. We've got a little budget, let's try it out. Let's see what we can do. And you can know that, Hey, this doesn't have to last 20 years. We don't have to do an enterprise implementation, but, but let's experiment and see what kind of problems we can fix.

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. The other thing that we're seeing and we're going to move on to the questions now is things don't take as long as we think they did. They do. So we talked to organizations that were going to put into a place at like a two year implementation for an LXP COVID happen. And like three weeks later, everybody in the organization was on it. So some of the fear we have about introducing large changes to the organization are on hold right now while, while we're working out this COVID thing. So by all means, as Christopher said, take advantage of, of the chaos and implement some of these things. Okay, we're going to jp to some of the questions that were submitted.

Question: What are some of the trends in learning, and how are they being enabled with tech?

The first one is what are some of the trends in learning, and how are they being enabled with tech. And I want to throw this one to Christopher first.

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So, you know, I would say one of the things there's, there's probably two that immediately jped to mind and this is where one of them, we don't agree. We kind of agree, but not necessarily right. One is one that I think anybody would say is the age of personalization is at an all time high and it's only going to get better. And when I say personalization, I don't just, Hey, you watch this.

So here's something that we've met at meta-tags that's associate no, like literally understanding what you're doing, where you're spending your time, things like that and saying, this is your job. And I think these things are relevant. And even you look at adaptive tech, knowing based on your personal experience and knowledge, we're going to change the pathways through content based on what you know. So you're not wasting that level of personalization to me is exciting.

Right? This is extremely exciting because we've talked about it for years. We've said, man, wouldn't it be great if we could have like a one-on-one coach with every employee is like, yeah, never going to happen. Well, tech is enabling that because it can do things with the speed and the efficiency that you need to do to reach that level of personalization. So to me, that is massively exciting and it can't be done without tech.

That's the thing. It's not like a, well, we would do it. If we could know you can, you, couldn't not in our weird, crazy global diverse or there's just no way. And so I think that's one of the things that's really exciting. And then the other one, actually, I could probably talk about this for way too long. So I'll just stick with the second one is we are moving into the experience age, right?

And to me, this is extremely exciting where instead of just saying we're, we're presenting content or we're presenting things like that, we can actually say, let's put people in situations. You know, whether it's at work, you know, through things and we can actually track what they're doing and we can enable them through that kind of stuff and get that meaningful data.

But this is where I look at what VR and AR can do if done, right? We can actually say, we want to put you in a situation and see how you perform. Let's create that safe environment where you can make mistakes, you can fail, but you can learn at the same time. And I think that capability, again, you look at some of these specific use cases. You're not going to put somebody in an environment where they could die. If they make a mistake in the digital world, you can.

And I think that ability to learn through experience or send somebody in their first week on the job, out with AR and say, go do the thing, and we're going to walk you through it. We're going to be right there with you, but you can do it instead of having to learn in this kind of insulated environment that doesn't actually replicate it. And again, we're just to me, personalization, we're way far along the experience age, I feel like we're just scratching the surface. But tech now is at a maturity level where there are no rules. There are no, well, we can't. Yes, you can. If you, if you can dream it, you can do it now. And I think it's a matter of actually pushing that.

Dani Johnson:

I think I agree with one and a half of what you just said. I still think that air VR has very specific pieces. I mean, we've seen it used in sort of to help people learn to speak. We've seen it in terms of diversity and inclusion. I think of those are very interesting solutions. , the thing that I'm seeing in the learning space, it just excites me beyond belief is the fact that we're not relying on courses anymore.  well, we're relying on them, but we're not relying on them as much as we have in the past.

So things like the project marketplace, things like a lot of the coaching software that I've seen, things like enablement tools, all of these things are I'm, I'm doing my work and I'm warning and I'm failing and I'm still learning. And so the things that really excited me are those things like the project marketplace, we've seen an explosion in coaching software.

It's ridiculous. I've got over a hundred vendors on my list that say that they do some sort of coaching. And we're going to deep dive that in a research paper later this year, because there are basically three types of coaching software things like enablement.

I'm very excited about these, these things where we're actually taking the learning out of the classroom and bringing it back to more of an apprentice type model to help people learn and get feedback from either the technology like Chris was talking about Christopher was talking about or through nudges to managers who can then provide that feedback. I think it's much more of a han way of learning than focus is huge. For sure. I agree.

Christopher Lind:

That is extremely exciting. And I think that goes back to the personalization piece right? Of like we're actually getting to know people individually and we can support and enable them at a personal level. Right. So, so that's, that's good for business. It's good for people. And that's, I think really exciting that it's like, instead of it being in competition, like, well, there's learning, but we have to choose between bettering our people and sacrificing workplace performance. It's like it's and now better your people and improve workplace performance.

Question: What technologies are seeing wide-spread adoption?

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. No, I absolutely agree with that. Okay. Let's move on to the next question, which is what technologies are currently are. I think that, that shouldn't say you currently seeing the wide or are currently seeing the widest adoption, LMS LXP constantly role libraries, American micro learning, et cetera, for some of that Krista Graham. And I pitched that to you again first.

Christopher Lind:

Oh yeah. I, so it honestly, so I'm going to say, right, this is, this is a constantly moving target and that's where I'm very hesitant to say which ones am I seeing the most adoption? Because it's like even where I'm seeing adoption, then, I'm not seeing adoption. And again, it really, to me, depends on the learning organization and how they're driving things and the dots they're connecting to it. Now that said, I will say kind of the movement of kind of this integration of learning wherever people are, I guess. And so whatever category you want to tag that in is where I'm seeing massive adoption in this kind of moving, learning to where people are. Anything that's doing that in my opinion is getting adoption because it's getting the things they need to justify the expense. Hey, people are using it, they're benefiting from it.

We're getting metrics on this kind of thing. So things that are connected to where people are. And I think that's something I mentioned earlier in terms of big adoption though, that I'm seeing one that I don't think a lot of people are talking about is it's got the word in it, digital adoption platforms. I'm seeing a lot of growth there and adoption of it. Because again, it's, it's this thing that everybody needs, it's putting something right where people are and it's actually enabling performance. So if you wanted to throw DAP on the list, to me, that would be one that I would say I to some degree came out of left field a little bit.

Dani Johnson:

So how many were getting for those on the phone that don't understand what a digital adoption platform is, including myself? Yeah. Can you, can you explain what that is?

Christopher Lind:

Yeah. So going back to your enablement comment before, right.  you know, we, a lot of the work we do sits on systems, right? We do things in systems, we're on a computer. We're trying to do something, whether it's we're in Salesforce or teams or Workday or whatever we're doing. And there's a lot of stuff that you need to know how to do, but you don't do it that frequently. So you don't remember. And it's like, I need to go do a performance review or request. And I don't know where it is in Workday. And I got that e-learning six months ago. I don't remember any of this. What a digital adoption platform is doing is it's sitting on top of that. And when you go in, it's saying, what are you trying to do? I'm trying to do this. And you ask it. I think of, and they hate when I use this analogy.

But you think of Clippy from office back in the nineties that didn't crash your computer, right? It's like, Hey, I'm trying to do this. Can you show me how? And it's just letting you do it as you go. And I think that's when I'm talking digital adoption platform, it's this tech that's specifically designed to sit on top and augment or almost replaced system training to say, let's just enable people that are doing it when they need it. Let's, let's kind of throw out the way we've thought about it before.

Dani Johnson:

Okay. So you're talking like I can't believe I haven't looked into this a little bit, but you're talking like walk me in those types of things

Christopher Lind:

To me, what fix, you know? Yeah. There's, there's a whole sea of them and they've, and now there's more. And I think that goes back to my point of where I've seen enablement. Just, it doesn't surprise me because that type of technology, especially as everybody's now using these tech platforms and they hadn't before, and they don't know what they're doing.

And now you've got entire organizations with service desk calls through the roof, because everybody's asking about these things that they haven't had to use or did very infrequently, or when they did, they just walked over to Danny and said, Hey, Danny, I'm trying to do this. How do I do it? They don't have that anymore. And so that's where I'm seeing that

Dani Johnson:

Category growth. Okay. That's, that's super helpful. We were calling it sort of enablement that that category is we call an enablement. So digital adoption platforms enablement the same thing for the person that asked that question before. I think it was Steven. Yeah.

Christopher Lind:

The point there is more, I way over simplified that category, but just to give a little bit of a flavor of, of what that is,

Question: Which categories are promoting human-centered technologies?

Dani Johnson:

Which vendors are promoting human centered, learning on their technologies. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna say most of them are at least touting it. So in the last six months, particularly we have gone superhuman. I've seen it a huge difference between what happened in 2008 and how we treated employees and what happened this time around in 2020 and how we treat employees. , the human centered nature, as Chris mentioned, we're moving into the experience age.

The human centered nature of technology really does matter. , it used to be all about the backend platform today. It's much more about the front end experience. And so if you're a tech vendor and you're not focusing on centered learning, you're, you're, you're kind of, you're kind of left behind Christopher. What would you guys do?

Christopher Lind:

Yeah, I, I would say many of them are, you know, I, I spend a lot like you, I spend a ton of time talking to tech vendors and I don't really hear any of them go. Yeah, we don't really care about the people. Right. And to some degree, it's, I would say almost in 2020, you don't have a choice if this isn't the focus, you're just not going to make it because the expectation now that we have to focus on people and we have to focus on the workforce and caring for your people is a business strategy.

It's not a nice to have. It's not something that you do to, you know, make it onto the best places to work list. You do it because it's a competitive advantage in that, in a brutal marketplace right now. So I would say a lot of vendors are focusing, you know, more in this space in different capacities.

And I think that's where it's a tough question to just say here, let me list off five that are doing a really good job, because it's like, well, they're all applying this methodology very differently. But I think the point that we're I'm seeing is this human centered design is not just on the learner either.

I guess that's the other thing I'm seeing a massive shift in vendors saying we need to clean up the admin, the backend, the stuff, because if the L & D organization isn't doing well with this, if they're struggling, if this is a nightmare for them, they're not going to adopt it. And if they're not happy, they aren't happy to actually enable the rest of the organization. So that's where I would say a lot of them are, but most were trying their best before. I think they just now have gotten a lot more visibility and insight and feedback because people are using their stuff.

Dani Johnson:

I think it's important to understand that human centered does not mean a better UI doesn't it can be, that can be part of it, the UI. So we've talked to lots of organizations who have sort of humanize their technology. And what they've done is recreated a new interface. That's definitely part of it, but it's thinking through the systems and processes, it's thinking how it's used in the workplace. It's thinking about what it's connected to. It's thinking about what data it brings in what data it spits out. All of those things have to do with sort of the human centered nature.

And I think we're probably, we're not very far in Christopher talked about personalization, or we're definitely getting there, but this han centered part of L and D and especially tech vendors really feeds into that ability to be true personal. And I think there are ways out on it.

Christopher Lind:

And there's, there's some things, right? I won't mention names cause I had to be super, whenever I mentioned a name, then it creates this whole, whole blue, but there are some platforms out there that are focused more on mental health, you know, how are you helping your employees, right? Relax, or, you know, distress, how are you doing things like that?

So I am seeing that category start to grow up. I think that's why coaching platforms are starting to gain more moment is this ability to kind of coach people through difficult situations and actually provide coaching at scale. So I think that to your point, han centered just doesn't mean, Hey, we cleaned up our UI and it looks really pretty. It's really about how are you, you know, better enabling and taking care of, of people on that.

And again, I think we're just scratching the surface and the thing, I just did a talk on this the other day that I think we have to be very mindful of as we do.

This is you look at, you know, everybody, I think by now has seen the social dilemma. I think we run the risk if we're not careful and trying to think of what are we not thinking about as we move into this han centered design and things like that, what problems might we be creating for ourselves in the future?

And I think 2021 good example of this was everybody was all about how do we improve productivity and how do we still get people to stay product productive in 2020 when everything's remote? And we've now opened this risk of like burnout. People are having a hard time because they we've made things so efficient and so good that sometimes people are having negative consequences. So I think as we move into this human centered piece, there is this need to kind of ask the questions of what are we not thinking about?

Christopher Lind:

How could this go wrong if we do it too? Well, if we do it too well, what might we be doing that could be destructive? You know, I just think of like the guy who invented the like button on Facebook, didn't think it would have psychological consequences and results in depression and things like that. So I think again, not to get too doom and gloom, but I think it's something that we have to be thinking about as we start implementing these texts that are really getting to know our workforce are able to engage them in different ways, are able to push them, you know, and can in some ways influence what they're doing and the way they're thinking. I think we just need to be mindful of it from an ethics standpoint.

Dani Johnson:

Absolutely. Especially since we know that government is, is very far behind in sort of regulating some of these, it really does come down to the vendor and their ethics and the organization and how they're using that technology. specially data data is collected maybe sometimes with the best of intentions. , but it will just forever and it can be used very negatively if we're not careful with it.

Question: We hear a lot about zoom fatigue. How is that influencing learning technology?

Dani Johnson:

, kind of speaking of negative consequences, let's answer this question. We hear a lot about zoom fatigue. Are you seeing this influence learning technology? , for me personally in sort of my view of what's going on, not yet. So you have to take is a fairly new, I don't know if we want to call it an illness. Sometimes it feels like an illness. We haven't seen it yet, but I do think it, it very clearly points out some of the problems with maybe the way that we've been training in the past. So sitting in front of a screen all day, pushing buttons, or even, even collaborating, sitting in front of a screen all day can be fairly damaging. Christopher, what have you seen as far as technology goes to?

Christopher Lind:

So here's, here's, here's what I think we can learn from the zoom fatigue thing that we can do to avoid running into this with learning tech. Part of the reason I think zoom fatigue became such a big thing is what we, what, what typically happens, right? We all had to go virtual and instead of taking the time to figure out like how to do it, right, we just dped everything into back-to-back zoom meetings. And we were in back-to-back meetings in person. We hated them then too, but you could tolerate them because you're like, well, we get snacks and I get to hang out and write it. Wasn't all bad.

But now you took, you took out the good stuff and you just left the crap. Right? And so, as a result, the zoom fatigue kicks in. Cause you're like, geez, this is like the worst of everything on steroids now.

And I think the same is true with learning tech. If, if all we're doing is saying, well, we had this classroom stuff, now let's just stuff, all this classroom in these digital platforms. And G now we can reach people so much faster and more efficiently. Let's just tune up the vole 11 degrees, because why not? Yeah.

We're, we're going to run into learning tech fatigue. People are going to say good grief. Like how much stuff do you want me to go through? How much are you going to push at me? I just can't deal with it anymore. But if we're thoughtful and intentional about it and say, wait, rather than just crank up the vole and throw it in digital, let's let's think about this. What do people really need? Let's break it apart. Let's let's chunk things out. Let's separate. It let's use the right tool for the right situation. Then I don't think we will. And I think the same would be true with zoom fatigue. I don't think we'd have zoom fatigue if we didn't do that with, with meetings.

Dani Johnson:

I think that's a really interesting point. I think sometimes when we think about learning and especially what's happened in the last six months, we've thought about putting in fact the first three or four weeks of the pandemic, I got so many questions about, Oh no, I don't even have an LMS.

How do I, how do I, what are LMS? Do I it, Oh, no. How do I put all my ILT online to be, you know, computer-based or web-based training now? , I think that's the wrong question. Because as, as I've sort of alluded to the last two years, learning is expanding.

We're not just talking about things that you sit in front of and absorb. We're not just thinking, we're not just talking about assessments that you take to prove that, you know, something we're talking about doing things on the job. We're talking about conversations, we're talking about all of these things.

Dani Johnson:

And so organizations particular that, that are experiencing zoom fatigue, because there are a lot of meetings and things like that. I would encourage you to sort of break out of what you've traditionally thought of as learning and implement some of these other things. And there are technologies to help with that. We talked about learning,  Mart marketplaces. We talked about project marketplaces. We've talked about enablement tools. We talked about coaching, coaching, softwares, all of these things, eliminate some of, some of the stuff that can be caused by looking at a computer all day long instead of integrating the learning into the workforce.

Christopher Lind:

Well, I think that's what I said earlier. It wasn't just about AR and VR this whole, like, what are you trying to do? Whatever you're trying to do, the answer is you can do it. You can do it now. So if you take that time and that's why throw around the word re-imagine a lot is it's like stop saying, how can we do what we're doing slightly better? Or in this? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Step back and say, what are we trying to do? What are we trying to do? And if we could do anything, how do we think the best way possible to do it? It doesn't mean you'll always do it that way, but actually go through that exercise. Because if you do that, then you can start to get those capabilities to what we're talking about and say, well, I, I, we would do it like this and we would reach people here.

And this is how we would do it. Great tech now allows you to do that. And I think that's where you can avoid this whole zoom or learning tech fatigue is to actually take that exercise now to Matthew's point, right? What happened happened, because everybody was at a different state of maturity, 20, 20 hit, and was the great equalizer. And it was like, well, guess what? You're not digital. You are today.

And so as a result, yeah, there were a lot of people that had to just play catch up and that's okay. So long as you don't just, okay, we got caught up. Like, let's just call it good and, and hang out because that's where the learning tech fatigue's going to kick in because you have to now at some point, go through that exercise of saying, look, we're, we're back to stable. We're off life support now, how do we, how do we actually improve and enable this in a better way?

Dani Johnson:

Yeah. , the other thing that the tech does, I mean, we should be thinking not what can we replicate that was in person online. We should be talking about what we can do that is completely different than we've been able to do in the past technology. And that's a completely different mindset. And it takes a while to sort of get there. We've seen some really interesting things come out of that. , organizations just being really, really creative about this. We have time for exactly.

Question: What tech is needed to keep pace with learners?

One more question. , especially since Christopher and I are so long-winded we're, we're gonna move to this question right here, which is what are some key technologies needed today to keep pace with learner needs? I'm going to kick that to Christopher as well.

Christopher Lind:

So I feel like this is the wrong question to be asking, right? So if you're, if you're, if you're asking this question, I would say stop. It's just like saying, do we need an outlet XP? Don't ask that question. I would say, step, this is, this is exactly where you can take that step backwards and say, well, don't, don't chase the tech because we're like, Oh, do we need VR? Do we need AI? Do we need a gamification platform? I don't know. I don't know.

What are you trying to do? Take the time to figure that stuff out, because what I can tell you in talking with so many different people from so many different places is there is no universal answer to this and it's not because in an ideal world, we wouldn't want it all like everybody would, but the reality is you have to prioritize.

And so you have to say, where, where are we going to get the biggest lift? And to do that, you first have to say, well, what are the biggest challenges or what are the biggest opportunities where do the biggest holes in our capabilities systems sit, every time I do this, I do a heat map and it's like, you can see, look, you've got 10 platforms that do this. It's green. I don't think you need to focus on that over here, black hole. What can you do to start to get that capability built in? Does it exist in some of this other stuff? Do you need to bring something new in? So to me, I would just say that that would be my answer to this.

Dani Johnson:

Well, I went to this is the last slide kind of to Chris's point, we're not looking for one platform that can do anything or we're not looking for the newest and China's Chinese technology. We're looking at all of the things that we can do. And then we're trying to choose those, those functionalities that are going to best fit with the goals that we have for the organization and the culture that we have ingrained in, in our organization, as far as learning. And just as far as, as, as culture goes.

So when we talk about what we should be looking for, as far as technology, we, we say that we should be enabling six things. We should be enabling employees to plan their, their learning. We should be enabling employees to discover or find what they're looking for. We should be enabling them to conse what they need to conse.

We should be enabling them to experiment, to connect with others, to learn from them and then to which includes some of those things. And so if you go back to this slide right here, when we were talking about all of the different functionalities this one right here, when you, when you sort of aligned them under those six things that we're trying to do, this is kind of how they fall out.

And so, again, like this is the universe of things that you can do, and you should definitely pay attention to trends, things that are going on out there, but you shouldn't dwell on a specific capability or particularly a specific platform. You should be very thoughtful in what you're actually trying to do. What's going to enable you to do that thing the best, and then go after that, to build your, your ecosystem with all of those things in it.

Christopher Lind;

And I would say, wouldn't do in a perfect world. Wouldn't we love to all have all of this. Like, I mean, really, I would love to say, we've got it all. We've got all these things. Boxes are green, but guess what chances are, most organizations are going to struggle to ever get there. And that's okay.

And the reality is these things are going to change. That's the other thing it's like, they're going to, there's going to be new categories and capabilities. We haven't even thought of, we've seen that in the last 12 months. So I think that's where it's like, you just got to back up and say, all right. And there's this visual I think is extremely helpful, Danny, in terms of saying, right, what are you, what are you trying to do? Look at it. What can you not do today? Then start asking the questions. Well, who can do that thing? Who, who has that kid

Dani Johnson:

And who does it in the way that's going to fit best with my organization? That's the other thing like who, whose philosophy do I align with? As far as the vendor goes, that can help me do this the way that it's going to happen best in my organization. We are unfortunately at him and I, we have a hard stop today, but just a couple of things. We've done this research. , if you are not familiar with our learning tech landscape tool, this is what it's going to look like in about two weeks. We have an old version on the site right now that will allow you to go in and put in a vendor's name and pop up what they say they do. , there will be a learning tech landscape report coming out in the next two or three weeks, and then also a supporting infographic. And if you want to be kept up to date on all that stuff, just shoot us a [email protected] and we'll make sure that you get reminders for all of that stuff. I want to take a moment and thank Christopher Linda for joining us today. His insights were super helpful. And I know I learned a lot and I hope we get to do this again. Maybe we should make it a thing every six months we talk about it. Okay,

Christopher Lind:

I'm fine with it. This is fun. This is fun. The barn is officially bread. This

Dani Johnson :

Is what it feels like, Chris, Thank you everybody for joining and for your very intelligent questions in the conversations in the chat we will record this and put it on our website. So feel free to share it with your friends. And we will see you in a couple of weeks for our next month. Thanks a lot.

Christopher Lind;

Sounds good. And thanks for having me.


How Employee Mobility is Changing

Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2020 at 9:51 AM    

Mobility has become increasingly more important in today’s workforce. We began this call talking about internal mobility (within an organization) but ended up talking about mobility in all its forms (including boomerang employees and more). We were especially honored to have a special guest on the call. She shared some valuable insights from her decades of expertise on this subject. Here are just a few of the questions we discussed:

  • What are the models that organizations use to think about mobility (including a new LEVERR model)?
  • What skillsets should employees have to support their mobility?
  • How has mobility changed? Why?
  • How can technology and data support mobility?

There were many great insights during this Q&A. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated live. We hope you join us for the next Q&A call.

Video Contents & Questions Asked

You can jump to the following locations in the video using the timestamps on the video and in the chapters menu (next to the full screen icon).

  • 0:00 Introduction & Housekeeping
  • 1:57 Definition of Internal Mobility
  • 3:35 Why Does Mobility Matter Now?
  • 7:59 Reasons Why Perspective is Shifting
  • 18:54 How Should HR Think of Employee Mobility?
  • 28:13 Mobility & People Data
  • 30:34 Characteristics that Influence Mobility
  • 31:29 4 Models for Mobility
  • 34:08 Career Leverage – LEVERR Mobility Model
  • 36:36 What Skillsets Support Mobility
  • 42:17 How Does Mobility Impact Equity
  • 50:04 Tech & Data Privacy in Mobility
  • 54:26 Wrap & How to Participate More

Q&A Call Transcript

Introduction & Housekeeping (00:00)

Thank you everybody for joining. As I think I know pretty much everyone here, but for those, I don’t know, I’m, Stacia Gar, co-founder of RedThread Research and Dani Johnson is here as well. And we are going to be, I’m going to be kind of the moderator for today cause Dani’s been leading the research that we’re going to talk about. So with that, let’s go ahead and get started. Dani, I’m driving. Sorry. Are we recording? We are. Okay, great. Chelsea’s taking care of it.

So as always housekeeping. We want this obviously to be an informal and engaged conversation, but also a safe space. So excuse me. That means sharing your ideas raising a hand to speak or in this instance for pretty small audience, just jumping up and speaking and meeting yourself. And also being sure to discuss topics there in the chat.

For those of you who may be new to this, or I’m just gonna mention, this is part of that safe space is that this is not a selling space. This is a sharing space in a connecting space. So please don’t sell, please contribute knowledge. And if there’s something that you hear here that you wouldn’t really want to share with others, please do. So just don’t attribute it to a specific individual. All that said we are recording. And so that recording will go on the site. So if there’s something you really don’t want people to know, maybe don’t share that. So I think that’s the only housekeeping I have. Dani, do you have anything? No yeah, I think we’re good. Okay. Well then I’m going to let Dani take it away. She’s going to share with you a little bit of some of the newest research that we’ve started which Chelsea has also been helping out with. And then we’ll dive into the questions we’ve received and as always pop your own questions in the chat, or just unmute yourself and share them with us.

Definition of Internal Mobility (01:57)

So Chelsea has been doing a lit review and we’ve been studying a lot about what internal mobility means. I think the term and the idea of internal mobility has sort of skyrocketed in the last few months for obvious reasons. But it was important even before that we saw some movement, even before that. The definition that we’re using, the working definition we’re using right now is “internal mobility refers to an organization’s approach to moving talent, to new opportunities within the organization or within that company.” We think that internal mobility is probably a little bit broader than that probably is going to incorporate some of the gig workers and some of the talent we have access to that we bring in for short periods of time. But for now, this is what we have. If you all have better definitions, by all means, drop them in the chat. We’d love to sort of wrangle those together and see if we can come up with something that everybody agrees on.

According to a Harvard business review in 2020, it matters now a lot for a couple of reasons. The first one is retaining top talent. This has been a problem forever. The war of talent we’ve been hearing about for a really long time. The one that seems to have snuck up on us a little bit is filling talent gaps. And so we know that it’s much more difficult right now to hire. It’s much more difficult right now to figure out what to do with areas of organizations that may not be productive because of COVID-19 some other things. And so it’s really, really important right now. And we think we’re hearing a lot about it because of the need to retain top talent. It’s a hot thing right now. And this, then the second one is to fill talent gaps. Are there other things that you all are seeing out there? Other reasons why this matters so much right now?

Why Does Mobility Matter Now? (03:42)

Gordon has a really interesting question. What do employees think of when they hear this? Old names for deployment succession, those types of things? I think it’s all wrapped up into the same discussion. I’m hoping we’re getting a little bit more forward thinking and creative about how we think about telling in organizations. For example, succession planning, not so sure it’s such a big deal anymore. You should have a large talent pool instead of a succession because talent moves around so much. But I think it’s a really good question. Are we using maybe external or language that doesn’t matter quite as much. Mitch?

Yeah, I think why does this matter now? I think one of the issues is, is that, you know, there’s a big focus on skills right now. I think greasing the skids, if you will, to make it more fluid and available for people to move around within an organization or even have external workers come in from external to the organization to help out on a particular project. I think because of the changes in technology, it’s not just about a skill, but it’s, it’s about accelerating skill acquisition. And I think this is one of the ways that can help facilitate that. We have a lot of, I would say, hidden talents and value that’s that hasn’t been tapped into inside of organizations. And I think this is yet another way to make that happen and to allow people to use the talents and strengths that they have that may be, you know, may be not known by their, their boss or even their organization.

I love that point for two reasons. First of all, you brought up skills. We’re seeing increasingly that the talent mobility discussion and the skills discussion are one in the same. Two sides of the same coin, two different sides of the same coin, but to make sure I got that right. And also that we’re not necessarily thinking in terms of career ladders anymore. And we’ll talk about that in just a second. We’re thinking in terms of, you know, how do we organize a group of people that have certain skills and how do we figure out what those skills are to get work done? So we’re just thinking about things completely differently than we have in the past. Other thoughts on this?

The a hundred pound gorilla in the room around this logging on relationship to furloughing 12,000 airline workers. What is the other use for this tool or this data? And while we can be very optimistic about its intention and how people are going to use it, I think with the focus on re-skilling, just business survival, the focus on from the C suite now on what this can be used, for what we’ve been claiming, that’s how, that’s, how business data around HR tools, this might just come right around and bite us in the proverbial potentially. And I think there’s a lot of there’s a lot of thinking that we need to do or care that we need to take around this and how it’s actually can be used and that it doesn’t leave a bad taste in lots of employees’ mouths as they go through a skills assessment as part of our career mobility exercise and they’re rift. We did that at Intuit 10 years ago and it took that HR group three or four years to rebuild any sense of workforce trust.

Yeah. and I think part of that has to do with, I’m assuming part of that has to do with the fact that it was an initiative or an event rather than a way of thinking about how you move people around the organization. Kelly has some interesting points as well, Kelly Raider, she says I think employees may think of it as more as rotational program stretch assignments, fellowships short-term round trip assignments, other than one way reskilling to another wall. So I think that’s also like an aspect of employed mobility that I think is up and coming. We’re seeing the many more product marketplaces project marketplaces, for example, but I think it’s starting to change the mind of people with respect to how we actually move people around the work. So why is the perspective shifting? We see four big ones and I would love to understand what else you all are seeing out there.

Reasons Why Perspective is Shifting (07:59)

Number one is unpredictability. We, we know in the market for the last six months has been incredibly unpredictable. It was unpredictable even before that and I think it will remain that way just because things change so quickly.

The second one is sort of the rise of the gig economy. I’m not sure what the right term is for that, but there are more independent workers than there ever have been before. And organizations are starting to use them regularly. They’re starting to figure out the legal and organizational requirements in order to do that and to take advantage of that talent.

The third one is just the way we work. I’ve been saying this for a little while now, but organizations are starting to organize the people around the work instead of the work around the people. So we’re not, we don’t have these strict organizational structures where we move one piece of work to another person who does a piece of work on top of that and move it on like an assembly line. We’re actually seeing more teams, we’re seeing more flexible sort of agency type approaches, where we bring people together for a little bit with their talents. And then they dissolve back into the organization to be reproved. We’re seeing that a lot in tech. We’re seeing a lot in agencies. We’re seeing it quite a bit in healthcare, and we’re definitely seeing it in consulting as well.

And then the final one is employee expectations. When my dad retired, he had spent his entire career in one company and he had moved up the chain just like he was supposed to, but that’s not my career. I’ve had five different careers and I’m not just talking jobs, but actually different careers. And so we need to think about what employees want and how they want to approach their careers. It’s not just, you know, in many cases it’s not just increasing depth and expertise in one area it’s much broader than that.

Can I say something absolutely? I think too, with all the attention in the last several years on millennials and this idea of employee experience and everything from the first date through when they decide they want to go somewhere else. We want them to be ambassadors on behalf of the company they just left. I think if you build this in to perform it to requirements above a certain level, like you aren’t eligible to apply for this VP role because you don’t have this in your package, you didn’t do this. You make it a requirement. It’s sexy, it’s exciting, but also make it so that it’s vital. That it’s a requisite, you know? And then people who come into the company, they look at that experience journey and they can aim for it.

So not only do they build skills, not only just the culture of the company become even stronger, not only does the brand gain strength, both inside and out, but you become the actual employer of choice or employer of trust. People want to come into your agency because they know this is in their future. You know what I mean? And this was an exciting, sexy thing, but it’s professional and they it’s a requirement. Wow. You know, and not everybody may land in a spot in their curve, in their journey that allows this to happen for them. But that’s all gotta be sorted out as we integrate this mobility into everything else we do to manage our talent in the organization. Both from the, all the way from the sourcing to the exit.

Other thoughts here? I would love to jump on that. So Suzanne, I think those are great points. And as Dani mentioned, I’ve been working on a lit review for this project that we’re working on. And we’ve been seeing a lot of research on millennials and what do millennials want. And what we’re seeing is that there’s not really a difference in what millennials want from the workforce, but they’re not really willing to settle. And so, like you said, like we all want learning and development, but a millennial is willing to walk away from the company if it’s not there, whereas somebody else might not. And so we’re seeing that people are seeing “boomerang employees,” you know, I might be working with you for a couple of years. I might go and develop over here at this company, but I had such a great experience with you for those couple of years, I’m going to come back and I’m going to bring that skillset back with me. And so to your point, if you do give those experiences, and if you do let people grow with you, then you might have those boomerang employees that either move from your company outside and then back or from your company to another function and then back.

Right, and then you have the gig economy happening within your sector, your industry sector. Exactly good way. It’s a slightly different interpretation of it, but it has the same look and feel. And the other thing is that when they come back, they may bring other talent with them. So I think it’s interesting that both of you are talking about mobility beyond the walls of the organization. We’ve titled this internal mobility, but I’m wondering if maybe it should just be mobility. Cause I think you’re raising really good points about if it’s not always in your organization and sometimes it’s in your best interest if they get experience elsewhere and then come back.

Right, Dani, there is the use case for internal mobility, which is, I mean, we all understand I think. But just on what Chelsea was sacrament, what’s the positive boomerang metric that HR can feel good about that’s not retention? Longer retention, good thing. People leave, bad thing. What’s actually the positive and how does the profession, on the talent management side of the HR profession and not the operational benefits and compensation side, how does the title management side feel good about it?

(Mic cuts off) We can find other language for it, but there’s so many ways that that could be internally marketed and externally marketed if you’re going to job fairs, et cetera.

Yeah, absolutely. But that’s a cultural shift. That’s needs to happen in the profession and whether it’s SHRM who drive that, or I don’t know who drives that. But the acceptance of that being a good thing, I mean.

Can I, can I jump in here. I’ve been less involved in this research, but what strikes me is we are talking about if you kind of take the big picture historical perspective we had, Dani, like you said, with your dad, like there was this idea that there was a strong, tight relationship between contract really between the employer and the employee. And then, you know, we went through this period during, I’d say the 90s in 2000s where that was clearly broken, but it wasn’t quite clear what was in its place. And I think a little bit about, you know, I played for like, I’m outta here. If you’re not here for me, a new employer with being not quite knowing exactly how to respond or what does that look like? And maybe we’re now like getting to the next phase, which is this idea of, you know, even though we don’t expect that longterm employment, we know that it’s unreasonable. What we do want is overall positive experience because of the ambassadorship, because of, to Suzanne and Gordon’s point the potential for boomerang and like the employer, is it maybe, maybe some of them are fundamentally starting to think of themselves differently than what we had kind of I’d say in the last 20 years. So maybe that’s part of what is shifting in this perspective.

Yeah. I’m not going to articulate this very well, but one of the things I’ve been, that’s been kind of noodling around in the back of my mind around seeing a lot of the drive that the tech sector and the vendors in the space they’re trying to support organizations to do and culturally, while we’re going to try and look after you through the next normal, not the new normal cause it’s going to be an iterating number of next normals that and things like learn-in and the learning sabbatical. Stay with us, be brilliant. We’re almost getting back to the employer for life, but just with careers within that employer. Don’t leave me, I’m going to do everything for you, education, all of these things and share those experiences. You can go get some experience in accounting, you don’t have to leave, keep the institutional memory in and moving around. And so you don’t have to go to the external marketplace.

I feel like I’m seeing that, but like I say, I’m not quite sure how to articulate it clearly, but there seems to be a little bit of a kind of diverging set of values, almost the gig economy, and people are going to just going to be here for a couple of years, but I’m going to invest massive amounts in doing everything I can from a engagement, mental health, wellbeing, coaching, and counseling, everything that we’re seeing to keep them. And it feels just like, kind of diverging or opposite. Like I said, I’m not quite sure what it is.

Yeah, I think it will be interesting. Yeah. I think ordinarily be interesting to see kind of which, which, which wins basically, or, you know, which one becomes most, most prevalent. And I think these, this discussion actually shoots us really well into our first question.

Can I just raise one last on the, what are we, what do I think is driving another fifth bubble, if you will. And people can tell me if I’m being too cut up capitalistic about it. Having seen the inflow of VC into tech in the space, it’s now a hot space that everybody has to add into that portfolio, not for altruistic reasons, but for going and raising $50 million, because that’s, that’s the new profit, right? Go and get VC money with zero turnover. And there’s a lot of people flogging to develop simple career mobility tools, cause it’s not rocket science. And I worry that there’s a flood of a million tools that’s going to end up kind of dilluting the message of the actual benefit. Cause there’s just so many people arriving in the space with their 10 person startup getting $10 million and then crashing and burning or maybe winning. Maybe being the thing.

I don’t know that we can solve for that. That’s a capitalist problem that I think, I mean, I don’t know that we can solve for that, but we definitely are seeing quite a few startups,

But I think it’s driving perspective, right? Perhaps it is. I think there’s now a critical mass of stuff that’s out there of tools. I think it’s influencing the discussion and the focus and why they’re in it to be in it.

How Should HR Think of Employee Mobility? (18:54)

Yeah. Let’s move on to the first question which is how should HR be thinking about employee mobility? And I think we’ve talked a little bit about this. I think the piece that Chelsea and I wrote, and when I say Chelsea and I mean, most of Chelsea, wrote about how we think about how we’re starting to think about employee mobility, our sort of our going in point. One of the things that she said is that career paths are becoming are more like a Pollock painting than a ladder. I think that’s the phrase you used Chelsea, which I found on somebody, somebody quoted it on Twitter today. So it’s, it’s an interesting thought. We’re no longer talking about ladders. There are other ways besides ladders to do this. So in your all’s, in your opinion, what should HR be thinking about when it comes to employment employee mobility?

I’ll jump in here because I haven’t really said much but loving kind of where the conversation is going. One of my past companies, we had an internal brokerage and when I was working with this woman extensively to kind of help her on some of the analytics that we had touched base on this before. But one of the things our, you know, our theory was that at certain levels of the organization, if you’re not switching roles or if you’re not going to gaining different perspectives, then you’re really going to be hard pressed to find something that you really like or can be passionate about as well as again, gaining that the greater perspective from the organization, especially like if you say in HR, if you work in compensation, then you move to talent management, then you move to learning, then move into being an HR VP role with all those perspectives. And even if you’ve changed roles, every, you know, 12, 18 months, you become much more appreciative of the other functions and therefore have a much better, well rounded perspective and can offer so much more back to the organization, you know, in, in terms of kind of the different projects and stuff that you’re working on.

So with that background, one of the partisans we had to do was convince other leaders and kind of some of these people that this is really the right way to go because their biggest pushback was simply the fact that they didn’t want to have to quote unquote retrain somebody. But our theory was that you don’t really have to retrain if these people are kind of constantly moving, they’ve gained the skill set of, you know, quick adaptability. So that is less on you having to train them. They just figure it out faster.

I love that. Jordan. I think you hit on probably one of the biggest problems with mobility and organizations and that’s “talent hoarding.” Leaders do it. We know they do it. And so how do, how do HR organizations put incentives in place to develop talent and let them go rather than hold onto them? I think you, you hinted at another one, which is just flexibility. We’re no longer talking about the ladder, we’re talking about something much broader. And so how do we put a system in place that allows that flexibility and still allows us to get our work done? What are the things that HR should be paying attention to George? I interrupted you. Go ahead.

No, no, that’s totally fine. I’m just going to say the only other point I to make is I think that the tipping point for kind of when we got some of the organization to start seeing this internal brokerage and mobility as helpful is after we did it a few times. We’ve got some of the early adopters look into it. We got these people on projects. And they were like, you know, “this little project that I did with competent and this other thing that it did with dealing with this operation side of the business, you know, I see these two sides.” And they were bringing together ideas that no one would have made connections toward and that’s pretty much where the light bulb clicked for most of them.

I will. I love that. Just a quick example, first, actually first I want to acknowledge the Beverly Kaye is on the line, which I’m fan girling, just a tiny bit. She literally wrote the book on employee mobility. So we’re really happy to have her here today. One example of this that we’ve seen a little bit is lawyers. So big law firms will hire lawyers fresh out of school and in order for them to get some trial experience, they’ll lend them out to the DA departments. So they’ll still pay their salaries, but they’ll get that experience by doing many, many, many trials in a DA’s office so that they’re more valuable to the organization. And I think that’s one of the things that we’ve seen as far as, as different ways of thinking about it, we’re also talking about lending talent. So it’s not necessarily, you know, sending them off and losing connection to them, but actually lending talent to NGOs and other organizations that do some good, but can also help develop really skills. Other things that we think HR should be thinking about when it comes to internal mobility?

And they have to be thinking differently about compensation. Because That drives a lot of traditional thinking. It drives a lot of goal setting which needs to be more flexible in terms of being able to have one goal that might be on the way to somewhere else, but the outcome of something as important than in the job that they have at the time. So that’s visible and has a trajectory.

Yeah, I think you’re right, Gordon. As, as we’ve been looking through what, what the literature says there, there are certain things that need to change based on what your mobility model is. So for example, leadership, messaging, technology compensation, learning. For example, are we responsible for upskilling our people for a certain role, or do we provide more broad sort of opportunities to learn? So all of these things, HR needs to rethink depending on what model they’re using. And so I think cohesiveness is another big thing that organizations have started to think about. How do we make all of our systems aligned to actually get people to act the way that we need them to act?

And I wonder if they need to think about letting go too, because at the end of the day, this is about being a more agile business. And if HR is not in the mindset of understanding what IT need or what skills need to go from IT to sales, to close a deal or whatever it wants about customer service project, then somebody else needs to do that.

I’d love to hear from some of the people that we haven’t heard a bunch from no pressure at all.

Can I add something. And thank you so much for that call out. You’re right. The book “Up Is Not the Only Way” was written in 1982. So that’s been my song ever since. And you know what I think we’re not looking at enough at HR is the learning part. Like we need to, again, help the individual learn what mobility means for them, what the mobility options are. And then we have to help managers learn what the mobility options are and have them have that darn conversation that they’re still not having. And on top of that, we need to reward for different kinds of mobility. And Dani, I’m going to send you an ancient article on rewarding for mobility, you know, from years ago that we never have really taken action on, rewarding people and for enriching. Rewarding people for laterals. Rewarding people for exploring. And I definitely will give you a call later Dani to whine to you, but you’re absolutely right.

Very important. Thank you Bev. Other other thoughts on, you know, generally what HR should be thinking about?

Well, Dani, I’d love to hop in here. I think kind of to sum up everything that we’ve heard. I think that a lot of what I’ve seen doing the lit review for this is that this needs to be a strategic and a cultural change. And so I think that everything that we’ve heard talking about compensation, talking about the managers need to have these conversations, and we need to make sure that everyone is thinking about this, everybody is taken care of, and the organization that comes down to this needs to be part of the strategy. This needs to be part of our culture. We need to be thinking about this constantly.

And so I think that’s been the make or break moment for a lot of these companies is if we really make this embedded, if this is part of our culture, then it’s going to succeed. But if it’s just, you know, we’re going to buy a tech platform and this is going to solve all their problems, then probably not. I think that’s been where I’ve seen a lot of the the difference between successful and non-successful.

I like that a lot, Chelsea, And I think that’s probably where most organizations are falling down right now. Cause they’ve stuck with that traditional model for so long now. They’re like, oh no, what do we do?

Mobility & People Data (28:13)

Can I add one thing here? Someone touched on it at the beginning and I don’t know that we spend any time on it, but I think there’s a question of data here and the new role of data. Because we all know that what gets measured gets done. And also we knew that employees have some level of probably rightful concern about what’s being tracked on them and what the organization knows, particularly in these times when we’re contemplating rifts in many organizations. So I’m wondering if anybody here has been doing any thinking about kind of the connection between mobility and data, people data. And what should be collected and what we should be providing to employees and the insights that, you know, we should be both giving them as well as retaining for HR? It’s fine if the answer is no.

I’ve been thinking about it, but I don’t think you want to hear from me. I think that could be the start of something like excellent hubs, not too different from the centers of excellence idea, which is waning a tad. But I think if, you know, you’ve got to have, if you have, depending on the organization structure, if you have little fiefdoms that are, they have the head person and then they have, you know, the rank and file. Or they’ve changed to a more mobile and agile workforce. But what’s happened is an expertise has developed in that hub or in that location that might be spot. If you want to learn X, you need to do a six week or a six month assignment at that hub because our experts live there. The ones who don’t move, you know, or the ones who have moved and come back because they found their thing, the thing that they want to be passionate about.

When I was young, I swam on a swim team and you had to know all the strokes and you had to be strong in all the strokes, but you were best in one. Then you could fill in if somebody got sick in the second and you were a pinch hitter in the third, but you had to have that kind of rank and file on your skillset. And I think HR needs to do more of that. We need to have a thinking cap around that. That this person is first to graphic designer. Then they’re an idea generator and maybe third they’re a copywriter. I mean, I don’t know, but that’s just an example. But you can’t do that unless as you say, Staica, you gather data on people

Characteristics that Influence Mobility (30:34)

Specifically, like we’ve been hearing more and more, even in the last week, I mean, I think we made the connection before, but more and more about skills and mobility and the data associated with those skills enables mobility in ways that I’m not sure I completely made that connection before. Let’s move on. I’m just a little. How many questions? We’re not going to get to all of them. What organizational characteristics should influence, how companies approach mobility?

I thought this was a super interesting question, cause this is kind of how we’ve been thinking about it as well. I don’t know that you want the same type of mobility in every organization and in every instance. So for example, I don’t want my doctor doing a stint in marketing. I don’t know that she wants that either, but I definitely would feel more comfortable if she was dedicating her time to making sure that things were working well on the medical side.

4 Models for Mobility (31:29)

And so as we sort of gone through the research and access some of the stuff that we’ve done in the past, we see basically four models that organizations are using. And I love to understand if you are hearing more than that. But the first one is the ladder that we’re all really familiar with the most traditional one. You jump in and you sort of move up that ladder and build an increasing expertise and increasing leadership and manager responsibilities.

The second one is the lattice, which we’ve also heard a lot about that’s moving around the organization and getting new new experiences. And this one has sort of emerged again recently as, you know, some way of doing things because it really plays into the employee experience and make sure you have well-rounded and the skills you need in your organization and all of that stuff.

The third one is kind of an agency model. So if you think about advertising agencies or consulting firms, or increasingly the medical field, they have skills and they bring people together around a particular amount of work because they have those skills. They work together and then they sort of dissolve back into the organization. And so tech has adopted that a lot, Stacia and I both at Deloitte. That’s the model they used there. And so it is becoming increasingly used in situations that aren’t some of those more traditional ways. But, but that’s the third one.

And then the fourth one kind of goes back to some of the stuff we were hinting at earlier, which is really leveraging the gig economy or alumni networks or consulting pools or borrowing talent or lending talent. Basically the transitory, I guess we’re calling it. Where we bring people in for a little while to do work, to do a set of work. They’re with us for a while and then they sort of go back and extend beyond the borders of our organization.

And so those are the four sort of models that we’ve seen. And what we’ve realized is where you’ve been thinking through them is that depending on which model you have, the one that you would choose depends on the characteristics your organization has. So if you’re, you know, a doctor you’re not going to do a stint in marketing. And if you’re, you know, and so depending on what kind of work you’re trying to get done and what characteristics your organization has, you might choose a different model. And then the opportunity there is to align all of the systems, the leadership, the communication, the learning, the preferences, all of those things, to make sure that that model is sort of prevalent or understood as the model that you’re using in that space. So I just talked a lot. I would love thoughts on that and that also really love to understand if you’re seeing different types of models in those four.

Career Leverage – LEVERR Mobility Model (34:08)

You know, I’d like to, if I can, offer one more model. It’s interesting. Yesterday, I did a day of filming in my office about this topic. And I was talking about a model I’ve used forever called “career leverage.” And what I said on the film was “Managers, let me make it easy. Sit down with every employee, write down the word lever with two RS and think about how do you give everybody leverage in their careers?” And it’s simply stands for:

L – How do I move laterally?

E – How do I enrich? Which is mega important now.

V – Where do I go vertically and do I know the downside of going up the ladder? We never talk about that. L E V.

E- The second E is exploratory. How do I do those short gigs? That’s where all that gig works fits. And then will I get debrief on my experience in that gig work? That’s the E. Exploratory, really important now.

R – Now the first R in lever is realignment. And that is how do I, and do I dare move down to get across into something that’s richer? Or down and back into my love for technical work when now my manager? How did this happen to me?

R – And then the last R is relocation. And that is okay, this isn’t working. What other organizations are my second and third choice.

So it’s career leverage, and I’d love to work with any of you to give you that and figure out how to make it live more in organizations. So I offer you the career leverage model.

Thank you, Bev. And Stacy captured that and stick it into zoom. If you guys didn’t take notes fast enough. So LEVERR, Laterally, Enrich, Vertically, Exploratory, Realign, and Relocation. Yep. Awesome. Others. Do others have thoughts about characteristics that influence companies or those models that we’ve discussed so far?

What Skillsets Support Mobility (36:36)

We plan on digging pretty deeply into this part of the research in upcoming publications so watch out for it if you’re interested in that topic. The next question is what employee skillsets support their mobility? Self-Reliance, networking, fluidity with metrics, et cetera.

This is a really interesting question. It probably does affect things a little bit, and we see organizations spending training dollars on things like resilience and grit and those types of trainings. And it probably does increase sort of an employee’s ability to move around a little bit. I tend to think, and I would love Stacia’s opinion on this as well. I tend to think that it has more to do with the system than it does with the individual. So I think having a system in place that allows or encourages mobility is probably much more important than those specific trainings, even though they can help the individual and give them a new perspective on how they should think about their career.

Hi, I’d like to just weigh in here. I’ve been managing global and domestic mobility for years and years and years. And one of the things that has always been true is that the skillset, if you will, for someone either being successful in a setting like this or not is typically behavioral. You know, how do you deal with change? Are you the kind of person who can actually move to that new space emotionally, psychologically, mentally? The fact that you can do your job, we’ve already checked that box. Okay. But we want to see, you know, if you have a breakdown, which happens, you know, if you run into some brick wall, let’s say you go on a long term and one of your kids tries to commit suicide. That’s an extreme example, but those things happen. I mean, you have to be prepared for anything. You have to be ready to shift gears, and that’s something that can be learned. And I think that’s where we should be spending some time, energy and money for employees.

They get their skill training for their job other ways, those come through other channels. But the behavioral piece, how do you manage change? How do you deal with it? Are you averse to it? And that can be done through a number of, you know, there’s a thousand psychometric instruments out there and, or, you know, maybe you do that up front when you hire, and then that’s built in, it’s baked into that person, into that set up. The role and the person who encumbers that role. So it’s just an idea, but I have found that to be true, probably 99.9% of the time. I’ve been an expat myself at times, so, I mean, I totally get it.

It does, like many of the group agrees with you. People have been putting things like curiosity, love of learning networking, those types of things into the pot. The ones that we have, or the person who asked the question listed on the screen. So those, those more, the soft squishy skills that are a little bit hard to nail down and really, really hard to measure, tend to tend to help people move a little bit,

Dani, this is Mitchell. I just, I just like to add on this one, I think, I think a key thing that’s really changing the landscape now is the ability of technology to help make skillsets more visible in the organization, not only for leaders, but also for people. So, you know, in the past, the bottleneck was your leader, right? Your leader either knows what you’re capable of or not. And now that’s starting to change, right? We’re starting to make skillsets more widely available. And it’s interesting. We had a HIPO meeting one time, and one of the HR directors mentioned, he says, did you know we’re talking about HIPOs? Did you notice how few of those HIPOs that we’re talking about actually have visibility with more than just their leader. It’s actually a pretty small number.

And so I think that being, you know, knowing others and being known right now today, a lot of that happens manually through networking. But I think this is where technology can really help. And I think from a diversity and inclusion standpoint, I think that’s a really big key to making hidden talents known within the organization, regardless of where they come from.

I think that’s a really good point. What do others think? So we’ve talked about some of the additional sort of softer skills or squishy skills as I call them. What about, what about the systems that need to be in place in order to take advantage of those?

You know, just before we go to systems, I’ll add one more idea. And that is, I’ve always thought that there are skills we need, and then the other category is savvy. And I made a list of what makes us savvy about which skills to use when and how to operate. And I have some lists of those that Dani, I can certainly send over to you. And then I see research. There’s a list of 42 growth skills and 33 self-growth skills that they’re looking at in higher ed. And I think maybe we have to join up again with higher ed. And I know Bob Keller knows a lot about that and take a look at where are we teaching, beginning to teach all those skills.

Bev, you just hinted towards something that we’ve been struggling with in the skills discussion, which is who’s responsibility is it. Is it academia? Is it community? Is it government? Is it self? Is it company? Who plays the biggest role there and how do we get where we need to go? How do we get people the skills they need so that they can be active? But yes, so that they can participate in, in their business and in their community?

How Does Mobility Impact Equity (42:17)

Let’s move on to the next question. How can democratizing employee mobility impact equity? I think this is a super interesting question. I’m actually going to pitch it to Stacia, cause she’s got a more depth in diversity and inclusion and equity. So I’m gonna pitch it to her first and then we’ll open it up.

Yeah. So we know that organizations are, you know, just kind of networks and their opportunity for internal mobility often is tied to our networks. I think somebody made that comment in the chat. But then the other thing we know is that diverse individuals tend to be in lower power networks with less access to people with ability to help them get into those roles, quite frankly. And so, you know, if we can adjust the culture, adjust the expectations, adjust the access to information, in theory, we should be able to make opportunities that are critical to advancement and in gaining those critical skills, much more accessible to all.

So I think, you know, for me, topic of networks and access to information and connections for diverse individuals is kind of one of the biggest bees in my bonnet. We’ve got a study on the site called.. What did we call it Chelsea? It’s women networks in tech is what I refer to it, but I don’t actually remember what we named it. That is a great question. Let me find that article and I’ll hop right back. Okay. Yeah. If you could just pop it in the chat. But we talk a lot about that. And I think a lot of what we see is it’s just a diverse people don’t have access to the same learning opportunities as others. So broadening the field will help. What are other seeing you’re thinking about this?

I think as the question stands… how? I think massively. Just massive because it drives transparency, right? It makes access and visibility to opportunities there for all. Yeah. You’ve got to go look up the career mobility site, I suppose, but that’s a poor site. It should be marketing to you what’s available against your profile. Against the skills it knows you have. I mean, David James at lube can talk about that all the time in terms of the kind of CRM and marketing technology that needs to be part of these tools. That’s not great right now. What we know about people and how do we market cereal to them or dog food. That’s incredibly sophisticated and we do it really badly with more money and more actual kind of impact here. And so yeah, the potential is massive.

Well, and I think it gets to, Gordon, we’ve been talking about, you know, this is the flip side of the skills question, and I think it very much is. You know, some of the technologies we’ve looked out like an Eightfold for instance, can see, you know, not just the skills that you list, but the ones that you’re likely to have. And then because we know that the diverse people tend to list fewer skills and kind of be less robust in their assessment of what they can do. And so if you think about again, kind of democratizing, if you have a systems that can understand that these people cause they had this experience likely also have this skillset, therefore this opportunity could be a good one for them and that’s that’s happening without a manager kind of having to control the flow of information. I think that has a really powerful potential effect on people, right.

Stacia, I think we need to look at the unconscious bias around career mobility. I think organizations have it around moving people in one of those directions that I talked about and I think individuals have an unconscious bias about choosing those mobility options. So that’s an area I’d love to explore.

Yeah, you’re right. I mean, that goes back to the previous question really about what HR should be thinking about. I was speaking at a womanly conference yesterday and somebody was sharing a story of going to a job for career advice and it’s like, well, no, that’s not how we do it. It’s this, that’s how it goes and it’s traditional. And I think that might be a fear factor of letting go of that conversation. The fear of because they’re not involved, they’re irrelevant, but actually it’s truly the kind of empowerment and using what’s possible to facilitate that. And so I think point is kind of right on in terms of getting out of the way to let things happen.

I love the idea of getting out of the way. I think pushing data down to the individual and empowering them to make those decisions is super duper important. I think in the world we live in right now managers and their influence are still incredibly important. I was I was reading through LinkedIn this morning and there was an experience of a woman who said, you know, we were interviewing for this higher job and a woman’s name came up. And they said, well, she’s got a really busy job right now and he’s got two small children. And a man in the room said, okay, but we just talked about six men and we never once brought up their families. And so I think it takes everybody sort of being very conscious of the biases that we have and allowing people to sort of grow where they can, rather than assuming things about their abilities or their pressures on their time and those types of things.

But I think that goes to whether it was the last question, the one before about the organizational characteristics. They have to be ready to be transparent about that, to accept that, to be flexible around enabling that mother to be able to do that job. Maybe that’s going to be a benefit of the kind of COVID work from home, do your job. If you can do it great. If you’re doing it between 8 pm and midnight, nice.

We’re seeing things sort of move in the opposite direction right now.

I think there’s a pendulum swing. That’s going to miss the sweet spot by a country mile I fear.

I think the other thing that is affecting mobility that maybe we don’t talk about enough is leadership programs and HIPO programs. This has been a personal soap box of mind for a while. And I think I’ve pulled Stacia onto it if she wasn’t already there. They’re inherently biased. We know they’re inherently biased. You’re chosen as a HIPO by your manager early on in your career. And if you’re a HIPO, you know, things aren’t necessarily fair for you. You give them the benefit of the doubt and hard years and, you know, given opportunities to learn and grow that other people don’t have. And so I think maybe it’s also time to rethink HIPO and leadership programs and make them more accessible to everybody to increase some of this mobility that we’re talking about it.

And, you know, Dani, I always think that yeah, there are great HIPOs. There are many, many more POPOs that are the massive middle and they are passed over and pissed off. And we need to look for the buried treasure in that POPO population because it’s there

Tech & Data Privacy in Mobility (50:07)

I think we have time for one more question and then I want to give you some, a little bit more information. What tech is needed to facilitate upskilling and mobility and how might data privacy requirements hinder efforts? So I’m going to take the first half of this and then Stacia is probably going to take the second half.

Lots of tech. So in the past week and half four companies have approached me and said, “Hey, you need to look at my new talent mobility platform.” And so they’re coming up like crazy. And over the summer, they’ve just multiplied. So technologies that didn’t have this option before now have this option. They’re ones that are in the field that have been long standing, but we’re starting to rethink how we look at technology and upskilling in general. I think the biggest challenge is assuming that a platform is going to take care of your internal mobility problem. There’s some really good technology out there and there’s some really good data that helps make better decisions. But you got to get your head in your mindset, right? And the structures that support right before you introduce a technology. Because the technology introduced into a bad situation just facilitates the bad situation, it doesn’t fix it. Stacia, thoughts on data privacy?

I kind of alluded to the issue earlier of some fear of skills. And I think that there may be a moment right now with risks and the like particularly in the US. But I think that that that’s something. But I don’t see, and Dan in particular, I’d love your thoughts on this, but I don’t see a big overall problem here. I mean, we’ve been collecting competency data. We’ve been collecting all sorts of data on folks when it comes to skilling or when it comes to employees and what they can do and what we want them to do, et cetera. So for me, I’m on like the first one to say data privacy, but for me, I don’t see a big red flag here. Do others want to weigh in here?

Yes. I mean, I think that the data privacy thing is, is interesting. I mean, while we’re talking about internal, it’s less of a risk, I think, but that’s the least beneficial model for career mobility for an employee, cause it gets locked behind the employer 1’s hirewall when I leave. None of that follows me to employer two. And then when I go back to employer 1 what I did and the experiences that I gained and how I enriched those skills stays behind the other one’s hirewall. And so, I mean, it’s my imagination that the best solutions going to be, all of my data in the cloud that I can take to the organization with me. It’s my career. It’s my biography.

Yeah. It’s a whole blockchain thing that we’re hearing from a whole range of organizations. What is it that camera’s in with at the moment? I can’t remember, but yeah.

Potentially. And we were talking about this from at the open skills network the other day, lots of the skills frameworks or skills lists that are being put out there, they are being scraped from job descriptions on people’s sites, on employers’ sites or on LinkedIn or wherever. Is that on my profile? My profile of skills on LinkedIn, it’s probably been scraped by burning glass and whoever else is in their data center, but that’s my data. I didn’t say they could do that.

Well, you, you kind of did when you…

I understand the legal lawsuits around all that actually able to do that. And should they be able to. And so I think there’s other backroad things, but it comes back to the tech that facilitates the skills and assessment of competence, which I think broadens the dataset. Why wouldn’t I be able to tag my social marketing campaign that I’ve done and employ a wand as a demonstration of my proficiency.

Wrap & How to Participate More (54:26)

Unfortunately, we have to cut the conversation there because I literally have like a minute. But Suzanne don’t worry. There are opportunities to participate more. So really quickly. We’re at the beginning of this research and we’ve got two, two big opportunities. The first one is, if you’re doing something interesting in your organization, please talk to us. We would love to interview you and find out what you’re doing and pick your brain and steal all your great ideas and publish them.

The second one is join one of three round tables. So we’ve divided the round tables up into three different topics would love people to attend to all three. The first one is on talent sources and employee preferences and their role in mobility. The second one is on the virtuous cycle, mobility for skill building and development. And then the third one is on sort of the supports that support mobility, leadership, texts, text messaging, those types of things. And so please sign up, please shoot Stacia or write a note or respond to the invite that you got for this. We would love, love, love to have you.

And that’s all I’ve got. We’ll see you next time. Two weeks from now for another Q&A session. You’ll hear about it in our newsletter. Thank everybody for time and energy and enthusiasm today. This was great. Thank you.

Enabling Employees During Remote Working & Volatility

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2020 at 8:07 AM    

2020 has been a year of volatility as most of us have moved to remote work. In this Q&A call, we talk about how the shift to remote work has impacted managers and how they can better enable employees. We talk about how managers can be more responsive during and after COVID-19, a part of our Responsive Organization research. In the past, managers have focused on efficiency, but now organizations are focusing on different metrics and communicating with employees differently. Here are a few of the questions we discussed:

  • What aspects of managers historical roles have shifted due to COVID-19 and working remotely?
  • How should managers adjust their approach to better enable their employees in this new reality?
  • What performance metrics should managers focus on when assessing work from home performance?

There were many great insights during this Q&A. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated live. We hope you join us live for the next Q&A call.

Video Contents & Questions Asked

You can jump to the following locations in the video using the timestamps on the video and in the chapters menu (next to the full screen icon).

  • 0:00 Introduction & housekeeping
  • 1:23 Overview of responsivity research
  • 4:39 Managers role in responsivity
  • 8:41 The impact of 2020’s volatility on managers
  • 16:21 Changing role of managers during remote work
  • 20:33 Accountability & management
  • 25:29 Focus shift to different performance metrics
  • 28:32 Successful leadership during remote work
  • 35:10 Focus on performance not presence in remote teams
  • 42:12 Comparing employees vs measuring improvement
  • 45:08 Changes to management approaches during COVID-19
  • 53:21 Wrap up

Q&A Call Transcript

Introduction & housekeeping (00:00)

This Q&A session is on how managers should enable employees during remote work and volatility, which seems very timely. And it’s based on actually, let’s start with some, some housekeeping stuff. We always promote everybody to a panelist because we want the discussion. So we answer the questions that have been sent in, but we actually really want the discussion. So if you disagree, or if you have something to say or experiences, please feel free to share, but also make it a safe place. So no attacking. This is not CNN or the comments section of any website. Let’s keep it respectful. We’ve never had a problem with that, but we say it anyway.

Raise your hand to speak. Just to give us a chance to keep order, especially because we’re recording this. Unmute yourself and then feel free to discuss the topics in the chat. The chat often offers us quite a bit of color that we don’t actually get on the the recording. And if it’s of interest to you, we can send you the chat. The other thing that we want to make clear is you are being recorded. So anything you say will be posted live. If you don’t want to say anything to the entire world feel free to chat separately, or to set up a conversation with a separately. Cause we’d love the information. We’d love to talk to you about it. We just want to make sure everybody knows kind of where we are and what we’re doing. Any questions on that before we jump in?

Overview of responsivity research (01:23)

Okay. So late last year and early this year, and then into the summer and now into the fall, we’ve been working on this idea of responsivity. And we determined responsibility as “the ability of organizations to recognize trends in the operating environment and effectively turn possible disruptions from those trends into distinct organizational advantages.” So it’s basically all of the disruption that happens. What are you doing with it? Are you just reacting to it and putting stopgaps in place or actually looking at it and making something out of it? And organizations do this to varying degrees. Some of them do it really well. And some of them don’t.

We published some research in June of this year, which introduced a model. And this was based on lots and lots of interviews. It was based on four round tables and also some quantitative research. What we found was that organizations that were responsive, those that were able to respond to the environments that they’re in, basically looked through the world in four lenses.

The first one is respect for employees. And this one seems to be foundational. If organizations don’t have respect for employees and their skills and abilities, they don’t seem to be able to react much to their environment at all.

The second one is distributed authority, and this has two parts. The first one is how much do organizations push the decision making to the edges of the organization. But it also has to do with how clear they are about the authority that individuals have. So it’s so distributed authority obviously is going to be different in different areas, in different functions, in different industries, but how clear they are on the authority that individuals have seemed to be a pretty big determinant of how responsive they are.

Third one is not surprising to me cause I work in this field, but transparency and growth was huge. Organizations that focus on making sure that their employees are continually growing, tend to do better than those than those that don’t. And those that are transparent about what they’re doing and where they’re going, rather than just treating employees like cogs machine that do one thing all the time also tend to do better.

And then all of these things we thought were really interesting, but what was the most interesting of this study is that there’s a separate set of behaviors that kind of goes along with trust. Trust was by far the most impactful thing that organizations could do to be responsive. And that has a lot to do with community building and purpose-driven sort of mindset and how they handle failure and how they allow people to bring their real selves to work and all that good stuff.

So when organizations, and especially the people in the organizations that help develop the people processes when they develop those people processes, they should be considering each of these four things as they develop those people processes. They should be looking through these lenses and determining if they’re taking care of these four things in order to be responsive.

We actually think responsivity will become the new efficiency. We’ve been focusing on efficiency for about a hundred years, as organizations, we think the ability of organizations to respond to the environments that they find themselves in and take advantage of those disruptions is going to be how businesses get ahead in the future.

Managers role in responsivity (04:39)

So that was the main study. And this model can be found in the report that we put out on that. Since then Stacia has been doing a little bit of work on managers. We found managers to be an incredibly important part of responsivity and organizations. And so I’m going to turn it over to her to describe this side.

Yeah. So kind of to give a little context of you know, what Dani showed on the last slide, we found that there are basically three major factors that can influence organizations’ ability to effectively address what’s in those four lenses. And those three factors were data and technology (So people analytics), managers, and then culture. So we’re kind of working our way through these.

We wrote a report about people analytics which we call “the now of work lessons from an octopus.” And really the idea there being that people analytics and the data and insights that you have, are a big part of what kind of feeds the responsive organization. But so that was the article. Now we’re moving on to this next area of focus, which is around managers and what managers need to be doing.

So if you guys get our newsletter, you probably have seen this engaging in a lot of work on this. So we are, we have a survey live right now on this topic. We’re doing interviews right now on this topic, this Q & A session, and a roundtable really to try and understand this manager topic.

The reason that we're doing another survey is that we had the data from the responsive organizations study with immediately pre-COVID and so we wanted to really be able to focus our understanding on what’s happening during COVID in the social justice movements that you’ve been seeing.

So that brings us to this slide, which is we went out and we said, okay, we know what our data has shown in terms of what responsive managers are doing, but what are other saying right now? And so we went in and looked in and have been working on summarizing what we see and what you see here, I think is a, is a decent summary of what others are saying.

So the first thing is, is that managers have a, in this moment right now, a greater need for, for personal awareness. So an understanding of kind of how they are doing before they’re able, you know, it’s the whole “Fix your oxygen mask before you try to help someone else.” It’s kind of the same thing. You know, managers need to have an awareness of how they’re doing that. They’re doing okay. And before they’re able to kind of turn and support the people on their team.

The second one, and this really aligns to the research that I just mentioned about people analytics, is this idea that they’re gathering information, they’re getting information more broadly, and they’re using that to make better decisions. And that, you know, it completely aligns with what we see with this responsive org model around remote work around distributed authority. Because basically what we have with remote working is a need for distributed authority. We don’t have that kind of same hierarchy that we were seeing before. So that’s bottoms up information.

And then the other thing, and we actually heard this in the round tables that we did in the spring as well, is this, this high focus on authenticity, vulnerability and honesty. And that need certainly to come from managers, but really managers at all levels. What we’ve started to see in the interviews is the importance of just incredibly transparent and timely communications from leaders and then throughout the entire organization about what’s happening. And, you know, the, the statement that “We don’t know yet, but we’re looking at it” is an acceptable statement. Whereas before that may have hurt some organization seem taboo. What we’re seeing so far is that organizations that have done that are farther ahead than those who have just kind of kept their mouth shut and continued whistling in the dark, if you will.

The impact of 2020’s volatility on managers (08:41)

So so these are kinda the 3 things that we seen At least in the external research and that we felt have been validated by what we’ve seen in our own research. So I’d like to pause there and we’ve got a whole bunch of questions. But I want to pause there and just see if anyone has anything else that they want to add in terms of how they’ve seen the volatility of the last 6 months impacting managers.

I think from my Stacia side, it’s MJ, we’ve seen a lot around the trust because we historically had not been an organization where we, I mean, we’re very relationship based. So we, we weren’t remote workers at all. And then all of a sudden we were dabbling in remote working, which is not a bad thing, but a bit of a culture shift for us. Then all of a sudden we’re slammed into this. And we’ve had a lot of conversations about how we support our managers, how we give them the tools to, you know, just let people do their jobs, you know. And if people went dark, how do you go and explore where that person is? You know, what is going on with them without going and being appropriate and doing that without, you know, making assumptions and that kind of stuff.

So all these three things along with the prior slide that Dani presented around trust are things that are manifesting for us. But I do like what you said last, which is we don’t know yet, but we are researching it. I absolutely think, I mean, as a former consultant, especially that that’s a really good answer. But part of the challenge is people don’t have the language and this is, this is a challenge with management anywhere in any organization. If you don’t have the words, you either stumble through it or you make promises, you can’t keep. And so I actually like us getting to the point where we have a different vocabulary.

Yeah. Yeah. And I, I think that the thing that I really like, what you just said MJ, is this idea of even just the phrase it’s giving the phrases to people like these, these are the sorts of things. Like not, not that you have to read this and be an autonomous, but like, these are some of the things.

I often I’ll tell Dani this, like with my kids, this is really funny, but you know, I read these various parenting books, and I used to think that that was completely ridiculous because in the moment I’m clearly gonna know what to say. Obviously that was before I had kids. That’s what I thought. And then now with having kids, I find that, you know, some of the actual literal phrases that come out of the book, that’s like, I see you doing this. Maybe we should consider that. Like having just those words, somebody put them in my head, even though obviously I changed them in the moment when I’m under stress, I need that help.

And I think we’re not that different at work. If it’s a different vocabulary, it’s a different situation that we’ve had just having those words handed to us. And then at least it’s a tool that you can kind of tweak in the moment. I think that’s so, so important.

I think Stacia and MJ, both alluded to this idea of tools, which I think is really important. For lots of years everybody that we talked to said, you know, “our managers suck.” And okay, maybe that may be true, but you can’t fix managers by sending them through training only. I think those tools are tools are increasingly important and I’ve seen more focus been being given to those tools in the last three or four months than I’ve seen it in the last 10 years probably. Yeah. Any other thoughts?

Yeah, Dani, I echo that not all of these problems can be solved with training and it’s really hard to solve it overnight. If you weren’t already on that path and you don’t even have the words word for it, the longterm solution. And I think the willingness and capacity are huge factors. And what happens if the person was not willing or has no capacity? So there’s lots of other factors that take a long time just by definition.

I think that’s true. I think that’s totally fair. And I think I’ve also seen, and Stacia I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too, I’ve seen more of a focus on, are these people, the right people for the management position? Like, can they actually lead people and manage people or do we have the wrong ones in place? Have we been promoting on some weird criteria instead of the ones we need to?

What’s interesting and what I’m seeing, as I’m talking to other people as well, is that there’s like this manufactured authenticity, is the word I might be using, where the managers are now like manufacturing this interest in you and you know how you’re doing. And it almost seems like it’s scripted. Right. Whereas you know, and that’s, that’s emerging a lot through COVID, which it should, people should be interested anyways if your a leader. But that was always a good quality of a leader is like, you know, I care about you, the person I’m leading in addition to, you know, what we’re trying to accomplish here as the business. But it’s one of the downsides I think of what’s happening right now is it’s just, people are manufacturing this care, which again, points to the fact that maybe you shouldn’t be in charge of people in the first place.

It’s true. And I think to your point, Brad, at what I’m seeing is there are some intrinsically good managers, right? And there are some genuine people out there who have always, for years been doing this, they had good role models and they had the language. But I think there’s also a point now with COVID, because it is more of a personal type intrusion or disruption, people are like, okay, when do do I hand them off to a therapist? Or when do I actually have this person get help that I’m not qualified for too? Right? Because I think we all need to know when we’re not an expert in an area, right. There are some things that I am happy to discuss with my talent with my peers. But then there’s some stuff that I’m very well versed in knowing that I’m not trained to handle that. So I think this is a new dynamic too, because for those managers that are really good, they also, I think have to form a bit of a line or a barrier or an understanding to the point about personal awareness of where their capabilities top off.

I think that’s a nice highlighting of the division of responsibilities, if you will, between what managers should and can be doing and what the organization should and can be providing. So, you know, to your point, if, if a manager gets to a point where it’s like, you know, this might be a bit out of my depth knowing where they can turn. Cause I could see there being a hesitancy to have the conversation because it, you know, they forecast it, maybe getting out of their depth. They don’t know where to what the next resources to hand someone off to.

So, you know, knowing, okay, well, if we get to this point, we’ve got a resource that’s now being offered around kind of COVID stress with connections to therapists or, you know, whatever, whatever the particular benefit or resource is. But again, that goes back to, to the concept of communication of information and or organization being able to say, know, this is what we have on offer for this particular moment and the difficulties that are inherent and here’s how you might want to use it. I think that’s kind of the distinguishing factor there.

Anyone else have anything they want to share on this one?

Changing role of managers during remote work (16:21)

Okay. I think we’re going to move on to some of the questions that were submitted for this Q&A session. Let’s start with this one right here. How are organizations communicating the changing role of the manager in the world of remote work? I’m going to kick that to Stacia right off the bat.

Yeah. I’ll start with this and then I want to, I’d love to hear what you all are seeing. So on the basis this on some of the interviews that we’ve been doing. And what we’re hearing is really a range. So we talked to someone yesterday who basically said, “yeah, we’re not talking about this. Like they’re still just managers managing.” We’re like, “Oh, okay. That’s interesting.” And they’re like, you know, “they should probably be talking to their people a bit more and we’re encouraging that. But like, you know, nothing is kind of fundamentally different.”

So that was one end of the spectrum. The other end of the spectrum was an organization that we actually will be featuring in the research. And that is one that kicked off a concept of managerial commitments. And to be fair, that was already in flow before COVID happened, but they’ve kind of tweaked and refined what was happening as a result of COVID. And so they had Chelsea will probably be like, she got this wrong. I think it’s six managerial commitments that every manager is expected to do for their employees. And then the idea is that employees can then hold their managers accountable for them as well. So things that they’re asking you know, whether it’s frequent one-on-ones with the focus on growth and how people are doing kind of in the moment. There’s a of a range of things that are in those managerial commitments, but they’ve been very clear. I’m like, this is what you’re supposed to do. And this is how this looks up at different within COVID and working remotely, et cetera.

So I’ve kind of seen the range of things. And those communications I think, are coming out in a couple of ways. One being certainly direct communications around like, Hey, this is what we expect, et cetera. This organization I’m talking about with the managerial commitment actually then developed a self assessment for the managers to go through and see how they thought they were doing with regard to the commitments. And then they enabled a basically a feedback mechanism. So they could say, “Hey, you know, like I just assessed myself and I kind of have a perspective on how I think I’m doing. What do you all think of how I’m doing so that I can adjust those right now during this time? So I think what I’m seeing is quite varied in terms of that focus.

What are others seeing?

Hi, this is Sandra I’m calling from Quadient. One of the things that we have started to do, we introduced what’s called “smart work.” And it’s around new ways of working and we’ve got three pillars. One is about wellbeing employee wellbeing. And continue to focus on wellbeing as well as the other pillar is empathy. So wellbeing and empathy really came through for us, you know, with the pandemic and employees appreciated the way that the leaders handled and managed and supported. And so we’re looking at well-being, empathy, and we called the way we work.

So we’re introducing working from anywhere. And with all of these, we are providing managers as well as employees with toolkits. And part of the toolkit is coming up with team commitments and holding each other, including the manager, accountable for the team commitments. So I think we are requiring not necessarily more of managers, but a different way of working and how things have just changed and what our expectations of a manager are in this very changing world.

Accountability & management (20:33)

Sandra, you brought up a really interesting point and that is accountability. So when we did our performance management research last fall, every company that we talked to didn’t really have a lot of accountability for their managers to actually develop their people or take care of their people. I think we’re seeing that shift a little bit as well. Accountability is becoming more of a thing. Wondering from all of you, if you’re seeing that as well, if your organizations are more sort of inclined to, to make your managers accountable, whereas before maybe they were just assuming that they were doing their jobs?

Hey gang, this is Ryan. I can speak a little bit of how the transition went for us. And I think we’re fortunate that we have a lot of employee listening tools and you know, we’re able to put in a bit of a continuous listening strategy. But I think how, when you talk about accountability, how it really went for us, it actually went in phases.

So the first phase of accountability was really around communication, and like communication from leader leaders, managers. I think that was like early in the sense when people were a little bit in the dark, not sure what was going on. Are we going remote? Are we, how long are we doing this for? So a lot of what we focused on was just getting that communication out.

The second phase that we started driving accountability on was really then around prioritization, right? So it was around like, how are we making decisions? How are we allocating resources? And that became the next big question. I would say around the summer of like, how are we getting this information out to people? How are people people being brought in to the decisions that are being made around prioritization?

And then I would say the third area that we really, again, been running pulse survey has been getting data back from our employees. The third area that we’ve been most focused on has been burnout, right? We’ve been 6 months in. Schedules have changed. Fluctuated people have been living in this new reality for some time. So the accountability that we’re now bringing back out to the managers and communicating out to them is a more focused accountability around checking in with your people and understanding their wellbeing.

So I think that’s what’s been helpful for us is not to say, you know, let’s, we need to do all of the things all of the time, but dependent on what people are feeling kind of the most strain with and having some of the data to be able to drive us. I think that’s how we’ve seen some of the focus area shift over the last six months.

Nice. So when you say that you’re creating that accountability, is that through the poll surveys kind of getting data feedback back from folks on, on what’s working or not who’s doing it or not?

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s always obviously having our platform makes things quite a bit easier. So I, I recognize that. But in terms of accountability, I think there’s within platform or, you know, within the tools that you have, but then there’s also a lot that we can be doing outside of that, right? And I think that’s again where our people and experienced team has really, really plugged in in terms of creating those forums and those abilities to support managers in that.

So again, when we’re talking about language, that was super important, we have Slack channels built out specifically for mentors, specifically for leaders. So, you know, when things were happening around the social justice movement and how to talk about it, it was just posting language and the manager and leaders channels of like, here’s a Slack that you could send to check in. Here’s a prompt that you could use to open up again. I think there’s stuff that was happening within the platform and how we drive accountability through that. And then I think there’s lots of other ways, again that are asynchronous or almost like communal source, I think is what we’ve went to. It’s like, let’s put the resources out there, whether it’s confluence or in Slack channels and you’re not getting singled out to go and use it, but you can come in and draw from that well when you need.

So that’s another thing that’s been really helpful for us. So it’s been kind of creating those spaces for people to go and grab that language or those frameworks or those templates or whatever it may be that we’re really trying to have a push on. And I do think another key thing that’s been helpful for us as again, like a single focus. So like with managers, we have so many things that we need to carry. So again, being able to focus on a particular thing to work on has also been something that’s worked really well for us. It’s like, let’s just focus on this for this quarter because we’re sensing that this is what our employees are really asking for and what they need.

I absolutely love that, accountability in phases. Our managers are so overwhelmed right now with all the information coming in, everything that we’re asking them to do. You know, we’re shutting down locations or bringing people back in to the office, making decisions about hybrid, remote, onsite. And I think there’s just so overwhelmed with all this information coming at them. And I love this idea of accountability in phases because it makes it, I think, more manageable and more digestible for managers. So thank you. I love that. Any other thoughts? Sorry, go ahead Stacia.

Focus shift to different performance metrics (25:29)

I was just gonna say there was a comment in the in the chat that I wanted to kind of bring up, which is the question. It gets an accountability around the kind of metrics and some of the metrics that may be shifting. So if, if in the past we were focused on efficiency, like what Dani was talking about and maybe some productivity metrics, are we shifting down to metrics such as engagement or resiliency or some other human focused metric? What are your thoughts on that? Particularly in this context of accountability,

I can give you my thoughts, Stacia. I think it’s really scary for organizations who have never done it before to start putting metrics around these types of things. As you heard in the interviews we did for performance management last fall, they’re not doing it. And one of the reasons they’re not doing it is because of that accountability issue. I don’t think a lot of people know how, or what kinds of metrics to put into place to make sure a manager is a good manager. And I think that’s scary for a lot of people.

Yeah. I mean, I’ll maybe share anecdotally what I’m hearing on that kind of the people analytics side of the world. Because a lot of them, you know, kind of what Ryan was talking about are being tasked with, you know, these, these pulses and these updates and the like, and it seems like there’s a real grasping at straws if you will, for, from senior leaders to say, “How, how are we going to be sure that people are doing things like?” There’s a lot of these tools that can look at the email traffic, or when people log on or log off. And like, are those the right metrics? And God bless, most of the people analytics people are like, “No, stay away from this. This is a terrible idea.” Which is, you know, makes, makes me happy.

But I think there is a legitimate question around what are we gonna hold people accountable for? You know, kind of a concurrent area of interest for me right now is what are we going to do with PM this fall? I mean, I know it’s not an annual review of blah, blah, blah, yet a huge percentage of organizations have an annual review. So what are we going to hold up? What are we gonna, what are we going to ask people to measure on? Or are we not? And I don’t, I don’t know the answer there. I know that there’s certainly a lot of consternation around it, which is why, I especially wanted to bring up this question that was submitted.

But you know, my guess has said, it’s going to be much more around on people’s reflections on other people’s impact to them. You know, on the perceptions of how much they helped their ability to flex to the times their ability to kind of think through the problem. Which are much more complex metrics and more subjective. But let’s face it, every metric we’ve had for white collar workers is somewhat subjective. So that’s my gut on where it’s gonna go, but I just don’t know.

Successful leadership during remote work (28:32)

What to make sure we get to some of these other really good questions. I’m going to move us on to the next one. What are the indicators for the types of role person leader that is successful when working remotely? And Stacia actually put a great big, huge X through this one.

And the reason I put a great big X on this one is I don’t think it’s a type of person, right? It’s not a type of leader. Instead if we go onto the next slide, Dani. It’s really about the behaviors, right? So what are the behaviors that can enable that more effective remote working both from a manager, but then also what are the behaviors that our employees need to adopt?

So I have some thoughts here based on kind of some of the reading that I’ve done, but I’d love to turn it open to you all first and get your thoughts on kind of what manager behaviors have you seen that are enabling more effective, remote working.

I think perhaps empathy because everybody’s situation is a little bit different and I’ve seen really great managers kind of flex if you will to situations. So I think empathy is one. Doing more of the checkin before you do the checkup. How you doing? And really, you know, again, that empathy understanding that, you know, some may be parenting, you know, children remotely. So I really think empathy is really key for the managers right now. And resilience, right? They’re often the ones that, you know, they’re the first line of the employees and what’s going on all the emotion there. So I think really empathy and resilience, cause it’s not all going to be pretty.

Yeah, I think from my side, it’s a little bit flexibility and understanding, which ties on to what Sandra was saying about the empathy piece. But I think it’s, it’s this idea that, especially in remote, we don’t all work the same. And so, you know, I have people on my team who are working parents. And you know, when everything’s closed and you’ve got your toddlers at home, they get up and they work from five to seven, they get the kids going from seven to nine, they hand off to their spouse, they get back on. So it’s just being flexible. And I think a little bit adaptable.

And it’s also understanding that we have a shared experience in that we’re all in this together, we’re all home together, but our experiences are not identical. So it’s kind of refraining from judgment to. Just because I don’t have little ones and my guys can go upstairs and basically, it does still challenge their 14 year old executive functioning skills, but they can still, for the most part, get things going. I don’t have that same panic when the kids are running through the camera or I’ve got a toddler on my lap who wants to play with my keyboard and be like mom or dad.

So I think it definitely is stretching managerial capabilities because we all have to get something done, but how we do it and how we go about it isn’t the same. So even though I’m a more senior, more experienced manager, I’m finding myself gut checking myself in my own bias, just to say, “look, if this were you in your twenties, what the heck would you have done? What would you have done in your thirties?” And you know, now that I’m more senior, you know, I still have to kind of bring myself a little bit back and say, “alright, Mary Jo, take a break, see what’s going on. We’ll all get there.” And then just try not to be so judgy.

I think it’s interesting that we stepped out of this sort of sameness. So if you, if you think about zoom calls or conference calls before everybody had the same background. We were talking about background a little bit yesterday. But today everybody’s got a different background and we can actually see in their lives a little bit more than we could before. And I think that speaks to your point, MJ, everybody has to do this differently. And the way that we manage people seems to have become much more flexible and much more empathetic, and I’m going to use the word human because it has to be. I think we’ve stepped out. I think this has been a major step in moving away from sort of the robotic way we’ve treated employees in the past to a much more human and empathetic way that I’m hoping that we continue to treat them in the future.

I want me to ask a question though, cause we’ve been asking this from the interviews. Which is, this is great, like we should be more empathetic. We should be less judgy. We should be all these things, but what’s the organization’s role in enabling managers to do that? Because there’s a lot of onus that we’re putting on managers and saying, “Hey, go do these things that you didn’t do before.” So what do we, as organizations, do to help them do that?

Yeah, I can share a little bit on our end. It was adjusting our performance process, right? So the question that, the very questions that we asked and how we asked how to be looking at accomplishments in light of the last six months or in that last period really made their way into the language by which when we did our performance process the questions had quite dynamically changed. In terms of not moving from what was their accomplishment or, you know, what was the rating or, you know, those types of questions, but very much around you know, “looking in the light of all the change over the last six months, how would you rate how, or how would you go about giving guidance on the, you know, what, what this person did?”

So again, I think it’s just like, again, adding that additional layer of context, knowing that the last three to four months that we went through and we were doing this review are just like unlike any other business period that we’d went through. And so giving that baked into managers to again, give them that framing while they were going through the process of looking back and evaluating and thinking about how performance had looked over the last period was one of the ways that our organization kind of systemically tried to put that mindset across the organization.

I love that. Yeah. And I think that’s the ultimate question. What is the system and what are the incentives within the system to encourage people to do this?

Focus on performance not presence in remote teams (35:10)

And I think that’s actually a really good lead into the next question as well. Which is how best can managers focus on performance, not presence with remote teams. This is something we heard quite a bit in the round tables we did with respect to the responsivity research. A lot of people said ditch the nine to five, it’s not going to work. It’s really not going to work. So how are you doing it within your organizations? And Stacia what have you seen in the interviews that you’ve done with respect to this?

Yeah, I’ll start there and then let others in. You know, the biggest thing is a focus on outcomes and clearly defined outcomes. So moving away from the, we actually talked about this in the report, we did the double double shift on performance management women in COVID. There is a perception or we have a bias that when we see other people working, even if we’re not working with them, but we’re in the same office building with them and we see them over there doing their work, we have a bias about the amount of work they’re doing, the quality of the work they’re doing, et cetera. When someone is physically removed from our vision, our bias is that they, you know, may not be working. Your brain starts to populate with all these questions.

So if you then translate that into exactly what MJ was talking about, where you have some people who are working from five to seven AM and nobody else is online to see them online. And then, you know, they’re breaking off for a period to help their kids. And then it’s intermittent. The biases that we have about that physical proximity then can carry over to what is actually happening in terms of a digital presence.

And so one of the biggest things we’ve seen people focus on instead is very explicit outcomes. And that way you can say, if, you know, no matter when this person is working, if they achieve these things, then, you know, we can say that they’re kind of meeting their goals, meeting their expectations. So that’s one of the big focuses. And of course, you know, we should have been doing this all along when we were talking about our goals and objectives. But the remote working environment is just forcing that much more in a much greater way.

I think Stacia, it’s MJ again, I think what we found a little bit is that when there were performance issues in the physical, in presence environment, those have been kind of exacerbated in remote. And so now they really have to be addressed. It’s not like you can just kind of gloss over somebody or let somebody kind of occupy space and move around to another team member to pick up the slack. It’s becoming more pronounced that this person hasn’t engaged, or this person hasn’t connected with the team or this person hasn’t done their part of a deliverable.

And so it’s almost like, while we have to be compassionate and empathy and empathetic on one side of the house, on the other side of the house, we really have to address some performance problems that maybe would have been hidden or not as pronounced before this circumstance.

How about others? What are you seeing?

I think we see managers struggling. We’ve been talking, you know, since the beginning of COVID, when people were starting to remote. The managers struggling with managing by performance and not presence. Because they were was so used to doing the walk by and, you know, peek over the shoulder, you know, to see what was going on and they don’t have that.

And I think what it really highlighted for a lot of managers and leaders is this whole concept of really having strong outcomes. What are the goals? What are we looking to achieve? And then managing to that. And so I think managers have struggled, but I also think managers have stepped up because they’ve had to make that shift to really focusing in on performance measures, opposed to presence.

I like that idea a lot Sandra. When we when we started the responsivity research or after COVID happened, we saw two things happen. The first one was just a huge uptake in spying software. And there have been a couple of horrifying articles written on it. Where people are taking screenshots every 10 minutes and checking in on the video and making sure that you’re sitting in front of your computer, doing exactly what you want, you’re supposed to be doing. And I think we saw that because of exactly what you’re talking about, a fear that people aren’t doing, what we need them to do. And that kind of goes back to this mindset set that we’ve had forever on efficiency and, you know, on task and all of these types of things.

But when I read those articles, it made me think about the amount of time I spend away from my computer thinking about my work. And how are we accommodating that? You know what I mean? So it’s only fair that if you’re going to take a screenshot of me in front of my computer, then once I leave and start thinking about it, that I also get credit for that work. And how do you do that? And the short answer is you can’t. You can’t know that I was thinking about responsivity was on a walk with my dog. And so how do we actually change that mindset in individuals and managers? And I’m really curious because this is a huge deal right now. How are your managers sort of making that leap from efficiency, you know, on task to as long as the work is done, we’re good.

My sense is that also comes to goal setting and agile goal setting, right? I think there’s a lot of when we’ve done goal setting. Goal setting is hard, right? It’s always like, how do we set the right OKR? How do we find the right measurement? Those things always come up and then you set up and you put them in a glass case. And I think that was something that like, we had to break the glass case pretty immediately. Where, you know, quotas or, you know, the goals that we’d set at the beginning of Q2 just weren’t going to be relevant. So I think it moved into like, how are we bringing goal setting into that weekly, biweekly conversation and adjusting as we’re going.

And then that way it allows us, I think, to say like, okay, well, performance is moving in the direction that we want it to. And we’re kind of capturing that, communicating that more effectively. Rather than like, we put this number or this task at the beginning when we set something. And I think that’s going to continue to be the case because, you know, whether it’s agile or responsiveness, I think organizations are realizing that planning three months out is very much a dice game right now, right? Like it’s, so I think that’s a bit of how is it that goal setting just doesn’t happen at the beginning of the quarter or at the beginning of the year and then we just march to that and measure on that performance, but it is something that’s actively happening in much shorter feedback loops or increments. So that’s another area, I think if the manager and a direct report are talking more about goal setting and remaining aligned on that, I think that’s another way that there’s a lot of benefit that can come from that.

Comparing employees vs measuring improvement (42:12)

I have one more question. I think that was really insightful. I have one more question and I don’t know if I’m going to get any takers on it, but one of the things that we started hearing during the performance management stuff was, we’re not comparing people to each other anymore, we’re comparing people to themselves. Is that playing out at all in, in the performance discussions that you’re having now, because it’s harder now to compare people to each other. And so it’s much more about, I mean, the idea would be that it would be much more about improvement of the individual than it would be about meeting some arbitrary goal for everybody.

Yeah. I didn’t think I’d get any takers. Well, I’ll jump in, because usually no takers means that it’s going to go to Stacia. So I had a conversation with someone yesterday about this. And I think the crux of it is coming down to the extent to which the organization has connected performance scores to compensation. Because ultimately if we step back, the reason we were comparing people to each other ultimately, is to decide, you know, do we give Dani a 10% increase or bonus and Stacia only a 5% or vice versa or whatever.

And so what I have been hearing is that in the organizations that have reduced the tightness of the connection between the two that they are much more open to that idea of comparing people to kind of their growth and the extent to which they’ve, they’ve met their growth and yes, their goals, but, but you know, much more about them as individuals versus the comparison to others.

And those who really still have this tight connection to compensation, they characterize it as, you know super focused on fairness, et cetera, et cetera. And I’m not saying it’s wrong, that’s just how they see it. I think there is a reluctance to move away from that, because if they do that, the whole rest of the system starts to come crashing down. I think you have to take, you have to have someone in an organization like what Cisco did, which is, they just said, “Stop, we’re going to completely stop this and then redesign the entire system.” And that takes a lot of guts to do.

So that’s been, my observation Is just that when there’s the looser connection, yes, focus on growth. When there’s that super tight connection it still seems to be the focus on comparing against each other.

I think for, I completely agree, but I think the when there’s a super tight connection, there are also much better metrics to determine whether or not somebody is hitting that line. You know what I mean? So I think what we’ve tried to do is take Taylorism and apply it to thinking work instead of doing work. And it’s caused all kinds of trouble because it’s really hard to get those metrics for desk workers versus somebody that works on a line. It’s crazy. I don’t know that we have all figured out how to do that yet.

Changes to management approaches during COVID-19 (45:08)

I want to get to the last question that we’ll discuss today, which is: What conscious decisions or changes are managers taking to their management approaches during COVID-19?

And I think we’ve touched on this a little bit. This question was actually written initially more in kind of the first person. So like, what are people, even people here, doing in terms of changing your approaches to managing others during COVID-19? We broadened it, but initially the question was like trying to generate some ideas on what individuals here are doing or are seeing.

I thought I was empathetic. I am. But I just realized how more empathetic that I have become. And also I think trust. I don’t know, I came in late, so I don’t know if we talked about trust. As I think as we, you know, work in this remote environment and we talk about performance versus presence. I think that a lot of managers are learning that they have to build that trust muscle that they may not have had before.

I like that Sandra. And I think it’s actually even broader than just the manager. I think it’s the organization has to figure out how to build trust and how to put the systems in place so that managers can actually do that building of trust. It’s a sort of systemic thing and an individual thing. Other thoughts on this question?

I’m going to jump in with a super tactical one. And that is some of the tools, and this may not be managers themselves, but the organization broadly. I have heard in our interviews so far, a lot of people talking about the greatness that is moving to Microsoft teams or Slack. And not that there’s anything not great about that, for sure there is. But what I have been struck by is some of them who’ve actually focused on, “well, we just do a lot more email.” And those organizations have been also those organizations who have said, “we haven’t really talked much about the changing role of the manager.”

And so I think there’s a discussion around the tools that we use and Slack is a good one. I think, you know, the project management tools. So there’s less back and forth or less scattered back and forth around particular projects. But kind of thinking about how do you actually enable people to work remotely on certain things together, even when they’re physically apart.

You know, we, we had RedThread, we’ve been well again Dani and I have worked remote for like 10 years. So we have we have a ridiculous range of tools for the size of our team. But they’re all designed around kind of this collaboration idea when we’re physically apart. And so that’s something I’ve heard in some of the more forward thinking organizations.

Stacia, this is Dan. So I definitely agree with you guys on the on the tactical side of things. My team has essentially moved more to email communication that we then link back more so to project management documents that have, you know, what I would have considered 6 months ago, you know, too much detail. But as you know, it’s just more task line items with the expectation of dates and times. And then the communication and comments sections are just, you know, much more robust than they ever have been before.

So instead of being in the office having those conversations live, it’s all done over email. Because what we’re trying to do is limit the number of meetings in a length so that, you know, essentially there’s no need for anything over a 30 minute meeting. Because if you haven’t done or haven’t kind of sent forward your comments or your feedback on certain items, then we need to postpone the meeting until you have. And you know, we try to keep the meetings much more succinct now, just simply because we know that these things, meaning online, gets old, it gets tough. And, you know, sometimes we just, we need to be being more succinct with that.

That said we do also take time once every other week to kind of just catch up on completely, whatever else is out there. So if it’s stuff that I’ve researched or something you saw, or if you want to comment on kids’ sports teams or something like that, that’s all that’s all on there. And so the biggest shift that I’ve seen is us managing the work much more closely in these project management tools and then having people much more prepared for the meetings. No one walks into meetings with so give me the update. Like you walk in, everyone knows the update. There’s been a paragraph written about it. You’re expected to read it and then go from there.

Yeah. I love that. I love that. I think we’ve also seen we have a policy that we don’t jump on the phone unless there’s a video. And that is probably because of the 10 years that we’ve worked remotely. We understand how important that that connection is. But we’ve seen an uptake in video used outside of the organizations as well. Just wondering if you guys have seen that. I think it’s a really small decision, but I think it makes a difference when you’re talking face to face with somebody, especially when you’re trying to communicate.

So sorry, I just, I have a good one on this cause my wife and I have talked about this a lot. Cause her team has pretty much moved from all video in the very beginning to sporadic video. And they’ve gotten used to the fact that they can still be on the video and whoever wants to be on there. But they’ve kind of gotten past this policy of majority of the people now are either working out in the middle of the day or, you know, they’re not as business professional during the day. And so they they’re cognizant that, Hey, if I’m not on video, it’s usually because I’ve been doing something else. There’s no need for you to look at me and my, you know, quickly post-workout face or something or, you know, just didn’t have the time to kind of do the whole shower thing in the morning. But I’ve seen it kind of go back and forth. The, the tool, the video usage is up, but the, you know, there’s not a push to, you must be on video, ready to go kind of thing. So that’s just the slight nuance that I’ve seen.

We skip the, you must be ready to go part. It’s basically only when we’re recording that I look like this. You don’t know what the bottom half of me looks like.

You know, I think initially everything was zoom zoom, or we use teams and we found a document. I can’t remember it’s Deloitte or McKinsey. And what it does is help you to focus on how you’re going to communicate. So for meetings, maybe it’s video conferencing. For just a quick question it might be chat within teams. And then for other things, it might be email. So as a team, you sit down and you come up with how you gonna going to communicate. And I think that has helped people as well.

Yeah, I think that’s a great point around communication norms. So Chelsea who’s on our team and who’s actually helping with this research. She just joined and one of the first things I said was, okay, here’s how we communicate about different things and on what urgency scale and like, this is what we do. Cause you’re right. That’s one of the hardest things is knowing. And you know, if it’s a team where like unimportant things should not go on chat, you know, then like, and you’re chatting about stuff that, that person’s like, “why are you interrupting my day?” You know, that creates that dissonance. So I think that’s a wonderful point.

Wrap up (53:21)

I think we’re at time. So we’re gonna go and end the call, but we want to thank you all for your insights and for the questions that were submitted. They have helped this conversation to be pretty rich. And we’re pretty excited about some of the things that we’ve learned here. We will be posting this video as well as the transcript online within a week. So look for that and we’ll send you a link to that as well. And please join us for our next one, which will be on mobility and how you move people around the organization.

And then I want to give a plug. We did a more robust roundtable on this topic that was sponsored by CultureAmp. But that was 80 minutes. We started with an overview as we did today on responsivity, but then we broke up into 4 subgroups and had really rich conversations within those groups. Then we came back together, shared what we learned, did this really cool voting exercise on what people thought was most interesting, and then came out of it with a set of actions that people can go in and do an implement. So if you want to dig in further, please click here for those notes and mindmap.

Thank you so much, everybody. We’ll talk to you next time. Okay. Thanks. Bye.

Empowering Employees to Act

Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 at 5:00 AM    

In this call, we discuss the importance of distributive authority – allowing employees to act in making decisions at all levels of an organization. We talk about good examples (which can be hard to find) and touch on principle-vs-rules-based approaches to decision-making. We discuss empowering employees to act, even when it’s not tied to financials. And of course, we share insights on what is happening during the massive changes we’ve seen this year due to COVID-19.

There were many great insights during this Q&A. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated live. We hope you join us for the next Q&A call.

Video Contents & Questions Asked

You can jump to the following locations in the video using the timestamps on the video and in the chapters menu (next to the full screen icon).

0:00 Introduction
1:28 Overview of responsive organizations research
7:45 How are companies changing culture that is dictated by job levels and titles that become the barrier to empowering employees?
21:02 With COVID-19, have organizations slowed down enough that there is the time to be thoughtful about this and overt to the employees?
25:51 How can my organization find the right balance between allowing broad decision-making and ensuring safety, good decisions, etc?
29:08 Does diversity really affect employees ability to act and react to their environment?
33:54 How do we empower employees to create development plans, document them and act on them if they are not linked to any financials?
41:44 How are companies empowering employees during COVID-19?
44:21 Clients are much more interested in burning topics, getting help with BLM reputation, money management, etc. but broader diversity topics do not get much traction at the moment. Do you relate to this?
46:58 Wrap Up

Q&A Call Transcript

Introduction (00:00)

So our session today is on empowering employees to act. This is a pretty broad subject. Some of the questions that we got will narrow it down a little bit. We want to base some of what we share with you on some of the recent research we did for a responsive organization. So that’s kind of where we’re going. As always, you know, as we go through, please feel free to comment and talk. We want this to be an open space. Obviously we are recording and we will be publishing this. So if you don’t want your face or your ideas out in the public, message us privately, and we’ll keep it to ourselves. But we, we love the feedback and we love the interaction.

So for housekeeping, just, just five, really quick things. First of all, make it a safe place, no swearing, no stomping up and down. None of that kind of stuff. We want this to be a safe place to share ideas. The second one obviously is to share your ideas. Third one, in a group this small probably isn’t as valid, but, you know, raise your hand to speak. We keep a really close eye on what the panelists are doing. So go ahead and raise your hand, unmute yourself, and then feel free to discuss topics in the chat as well, if you’re more comfortable using chat than you are speaking out loud. Any questions on any of that?

Overview of responsive organizations research (1:28)

Okay, great. So when we think about getting employees to act or empowering employees to act it takes us back to some research that we completed in may this year, the responsible organization. And one of the sort of lenses that organizations should look through in order to make sure that their organization can respond to external and internal pressures is distributing authority. So making sure that everybody in your organization has the right amount of authority to move the organization forward. And when we sort of deep-dived the distributed authority portion, or three big buckets that came out.

The first one is how decision-making rights are distributed in your organization: who has the ability to make decisions and how you make sure they have that decision-making ability. The second and third ones were a little bit of a surprise to us, but equally interesting. Diverse and engaged teams. It turns out that when you have a diverse and engaged team, your authority is distributed a little bit more broadly. And collaboration is the other one. When you enable your organization to collaborate, distributed authority is a little bit more prevalent.

So I can talk about this one. So, as part of the responsible organization research. In addition to the four lenses, we basically saw that there were kind of three, three levers or three areas where you can help drive responsive organizations. One of them was the organizational culture itself. Another one was managers, and then the third one was data and analytics. And so we recently, some of you may have seen an article you recently published called “the now of work and lessons from an octopus.” And the idea was how do we take what’s happening with data and analytics and use that to help us understand how to make a more responsible organization.

And so when we think about what that specifically was with regard to distributed authority and the connection of people analytics, we saw, there were three particular items. The first being ensuring broad access to analytics products. So when we think about the role of analytics within responsible organization, a big part of it is giving insights and distributing those insights so that people do have the information they need to make decisions. And from a people analytics perspective that starts with designing for the distribution of information, and then obviously all the relevant security controls and everything else that has to go along with that. But if you start from a bias of, we’re going to share information versus we’re going to keep it from closely held, that makes fundamental differences in terms of your decisions about the types of information you collect, how you analyze it, how you distribute it, what you expect people to do with it, etc.

The second component of this, as it related to people, analytics was about sharing valuable insights. And so the point being, you know, Priyanka and I have at this point looked at, I think, just this year, this last six weeks, 30 different technologies, and we’ve got another 20 to go. And when we look at what’s being delivered to managers, oftentimes it’s interesting information, but it’s not valuable information. And so the distinction being that we want to make sure that what we’re providing, isn’t just something that’s kinda like, Oh, Hey, well, that’s nice. And then I go off and do the rest of my work, but instead I can make decisions that are important and that drive value in the organization based on the information we receive. So that’s the second component from a people analytics perspective.

And then the third component is analyzing and enabling collaboration. So, you know, I know Brian and Max and others who’ve been on here before, you know, we’ve talked to some extent about organizational network analysis and understanding, you know, how does information flow through organizations. And that gets it, Dani’s point a few moments ago about distributing authority. So if we’re understanding how information is being shared, if we understand how people work together and collaborate, that enables us to maybe design organizations more effectively for distributing authority. So these were kind of the three areas we saw within people analytics that can help with distributing authority more broadly.

Yeah, I think it’s really interesting. You’re saying that I mean we’ve heard information has power forever and ever and ever. But it really is when you need a distributed authority, unless people have the right information in order to make decisions that distributed authority doesn’t do anything. And that goes much, much further than just the manager level. In most organizations, we’re seeing information sort of float down the organization till it’s the manager level and then that’s where it resides. We rely on those managers to get that information all the way down to the individuals. But what we’re finding is those organizations that are using technologies and putting systems and processes into place to actually share that information further down. We’re actually getting much more responsivity in their organization cause they’re empowered to do something about it.

So we’ve gone over just two quick models. Are there any, well, it’s the same different aspects of the same model? Are there any comments or questions about these before we jump into the questions?

I’ll just add an addendum. So we, this research getting mentioned, the core research was published in May. It was based on a giant lit. review. We then did a survey of about 300, both HR leaders, as well as managers and employees. And then did a whole, like probably the most sophisticated statistical analysis we’ve done of any research. And that’s kind of how we got to the four lenses and then the sub components of it. So it’s not just some pretty circles on a page, even though that’s what we’re showing. There is a very substantial amount of work that went behind this that’s published in that research for May.

We also ended up doing four round tables with about 30 leaders in each to sort of round out what it meant. It was a really interesting topic, but a very deep and complicated topic. And the stories from those leaders really provided a lot of color and a lot of help to those looking for information on how to do this better.

And those, and we did really nice summaries and mindmaps and everything of those conversations that are available on the website. So if there’s more that you want to see beyond the conversation today, particularly with regard to the other three lenses, that information is available.

Changing the culture of job levels & titles (7:45)

Okay. So let’s jump into the first question. How are companies changing culture that is dictated by job levels and titles that become the barrier to empowering employees?

Stacia and I were talking about this question at the beginning, it took us two or three times the question to sort of understand what it was actually asking, but this is the, this is the big challenge right now. We have really traditional ways of thinking about working organizations and the way that those traditional structures don’t necessarily lend themselves to empowering employees. So what are we seeing that companies are doing to change the culture, to make empowering employees possible?

So I can jump in with, with a start. One of the biggest things that we saw in the research that we just kind of touched on a moment ago is this this topic of decision-making rights. It’s kind of getting that clarified and, and understanding both what is the state today, the explicit state and the implicit state. So there may be a situation where people say, this is what you’re allowed to do. And then there’s what you’re really allowed to do. And then documenting what the changes are or how you need it to be moving forward.

So one of the most interesting things we saw coming out of the round table was a suggestion of publishing a decision-making log, which we had actually never heard of. Maybe you guys have, but the idea that being that we in particularly senior leaders make decisions in the organization, they document what the decision was, the thinking behind the decision-making process. And then they share that broadly, basically one, certainly to communicate, you know, this decision or why. But also more importantly, as part of kind of a learning effort to help the organization learn how they should be making decisions, what are the type of criteria that really matter, and then to be able to model that same type of decision-making.

So, you know, that clarity, I think is one component, the second component being basic, you know, these are the types of decisions that people have authority to make in different roles or titles, etc. And then the third component was that we heard, particularly with regard to COVID was this focus on when it’s appropriate to look to expertise versus title. So, you know, particularly, you know, when you’re close to a customer or you’re close to a particular problem being very clear on, you know, when you, when that person has a higher level of expertise, this is when they should be making a decision versus, you know, other situations. So just being very clear on some of those decision-making rights was one of the biggest things we saw both in the research as well as around too.

Yeah. And interestingly, those organizations that do this best aren’t necessarily the ones that offer the most freedom for decision-making rights, which we found really interesting. It’s more a matter of communicating what decision rights they have. So for example, you know, how do you determine who gets what days off? Do I actually need to ask? Or can I just tell you that I’m going to take Friday off? Or can I provide an extra discount for a long time customer? Is that something that I need approval for? Is that something that I’m empowered to do? So making sure that those communications are really clear and that everybody understands what decision-making authority that they have.

And then the other big problem that organizations run into is consistency. Because a lot of times decision-making rights are really dependent on the immediate supervisor and that can’t be in an organization where you’re trying to get everybody to move in the same direction and be really responsive. So making sure that you have systems and processes into place to make sure that that consistency is there was the other big piece. Any questions or comments on this? What are you all seeing?

I agree with what you’re saying in terms of being clear about what your decision rights are and making sure that it’s consistent. And then I think over time, the blurring of the boundaries and the character of the people and the situation that they’re at. So it’s worth it to come back frequently to review it, whether it’s with your direct manager or organizationally. I’ve seen it where I got to blurry over time. And then it’s like, what Stacia said, what you say and then what really happens, becomes very different.

Yeah. I think a really good example of this is actually Ritz Carlton. And this is the example that’s used all the time, but everybody in that organization knows that they have up to $2,000 to solve a customer’s problems or guests problem, right? So everybody knows what the boundary is. I can sell this guess problem up to $2,000. It’s been communicated broadly and they’ve been consistent in the way that they handle that. So that it’s always going to be consistent. It’s always going to be that. You’re right in a lot of organizations that does get a lot, a lot blurrier and, and not every organization and not every situation is as cut and dried as is Ritz Carlton. But that should be the goal communicate what you can do and then make it consistent across everything. I like that Jacquie, any other thoughts, comments on this one?

I tend to read about it more than I actually see it. And I wonder, you know, it’s great to cite them actually, because one needs to pull out the shining examples where you find them. Certainly not many of the companies I work with would do it, not for lack of pressing them to become more transparent. But I wonder whether there’s a direction in your research, did it emerge at all that larger companies are less likely to do it then smaller companies perhaps? Because I mean, anecdotally small companies I know are doing it, but they’re not the ones I work with. So presumably that’s why they don’t need me because they do it. Maybe that’s the lesson, but I’d be interested in the demographics and stuff that you looked at because is this a handful of large companies and mainly mid, SMBs, midsize companies, or who is doing this good stuff?

I think if it gets even a little bit more complicated between large and small, because you also have situations where there’s a business unit within a large organization that is doing it well. And then there’s sort of a pocket within that organization. That’s doing it. I mean, there are the sort of usual suspects, you know Ritz Carlton, Nordstrom, Gore, those that you hear about all the time that have set this as part of the way that they do things. I think it also becomes an issue of sort of mission and vision and also the way that they handle failure. So when you put something like this in place you have to expect a certain amount of failure. And the communication that you have about that failure is going to determine whether or not it continues to happen or whether it shuts things down completely. And so I think it’s a really complicated thing. And I think you’re right Max. We hear about the really good cases, but we don’t see it broadly. But what we do know from the research is that those organizations that are doing it tend to be much more responsive to the market.

I think the other thing, I mean, we’ve focused a bit here on kind of decision-making rights because that’s where I started us. But, but the other places we think about changing culture that I feel like we’re seeing a lot of is using a lot of the feedback mechanisms, no employee poll surveys or, or the like that we’ve seen particularly explode since COVID. The thing I find fascinating is there, it seems like there used to be an assumption that because people were sitting in the same building and actually knew what was going on in their heads and what they thought as soon as they go to work from home, it’s like, “Oh wait, maybe we don’t know, we need to ask them questions.” And it’s like, well, you probably didn’t know before, but whatever. So, but, but we’ve kind of seen that.

And I think where we’ve started, if we’re talking about this question here about how do we make that shift? One part of it is asking, obviously. The second part is sharing what you’re learning in terms of what people think, feel, things should be done to do the work better. But then the third part is enabling action and enabling that broadly. Do you think the area that we tend to see the biggest trip up is this idea that we just got, you know, whether it’s engagement survey, experience survey, or whatever it is, we just got our results and we, HR going to go and take charge and we’re going to drive the change. And it’s like, you know, HR as a percentage of the organization is so small. And if you’re trying to change company culture, you have to be doing exactly what we’re talking about, empowering employees to act. So what is the enabling action plan that you’re putting in place, but allows people to understand the data and the insights and then to go and do something and to have some structure of the decision-making. You know, these are the types of things that you can do or where you need to get some feedback or check in from our senior leaders. But, you know, giving some reign people to do something that that will drive positive change and gives them a sense of doing something to make my workplace a better place.

I mean, I have one shining example that that really gets me thinking, “Please don’t do that.” And that’s ONA, organizational network and analysis. There’s this whole thing about active analysis where you using surveys and passive analysis where you are putting millstones around their neck, or looking at their emails and phone calls who’s talking to who, etc. And it really bugs me when I see companies saying we are only going to do passive. I said, can’t you pretend to do some active, just so that employees get the impression that you’re interested in what they’re saying. I mean, you can tear them up afterwards, but just try and do that. And I think that I’m seeing that as a sort of a growing trend, more and more passive coming in less and less active. And I kind of wonder, again, I think there’s this dichotomy, you know, when Dani was explaining it very well earlier. Dani, to your point, I wonder if this isn’t sort of Pareto principle or worse, you know, like 80/20, you know, 10/90, 5/95 or something. Because I’m, I’m seeing less. Again, it’s large organizations doing that. But I mean, your, your point that organizations that do do it, do really well when they do it, I think is the, is the key message. And I just, I wish more people would hear that particularly on the ONA front, for example.

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. So I think I’m seeing something slightly different on the ONA front in that you guys, I think there’s more general interest broadly in passive, but there’s still really great reticence, particularly in the bigger organizations that we were talking about to do it. Because of, you know, fear of what happens if it ends up on the front page of the journal. And so I think that I am seeing a bit more interest on active and doing some combination with passive, but relatively like, and maybe it’s just who I’m talking about and I’m looking at others are too. But the kind of acknowledgement of the importance of trust, particularly when it comes to, you know, spying or some of the other things.

I think the thing that bothers me though, we’re talking about what bothers us about ONA is all that information being held within HR. Not that everybody needs to see, you know, the big, pretty graphs and all the rest of that. But, you know, I think I know of only two vendors who are giving an individualized report back out to people that says, here are the people who you said are kind of your trusted network. You yourself tend to be a boundary spanner, and maybe you want to build in these directions or anything that would help people actually do something with the data we’re collecting on them and help them with their career and to be more effective would be great. What bothers me is when it’s all just kept behind and it’s like, okay, well, we’re going to use this decision for succession or for you know, post M&A decisions, et cetera, et cetera. That’s that I think is you know, you’re not distributing authority. You’re not enabling people when you collect the data and then hold everything to yourself. Off my soap box. A hundred percent,

Are companies being thoughtful enough during COVID-19? (21:02)

If I could add another angle, it’s sort of a question with an observation to start in terms of companies changing their culture. I’ve had experience in my past with large companies going fast one way or another. And to me, that’s where the lines get blurry, especially you bring another acquisition and their culture is different. And so in my past, it was always moving too quickly to really have those robust conversations and be thoughtful about what the differences in the cultures were, which ones you want to promote actively or passively one way or another. But now this is my question: with COVID-19 have organizations slowed down enough that there is the time to be thoughtful about this and overt to the employees? Or are we just moving quickly because of crisis and we’re not able to be thoughtful about it? To me, it seems like you have to think both short-term and long-term so that you can focus your resources and be consistent over time and throughout the organization and give that feedback and readjust and all that kind of thing. And I’m curious about what the impact of this year is on those resources and availability.

Well, let me take a stab of that. I don’t know, Stacia and I are going to agree on this, so I want to speak first. (Get your point in before I can) I see what you’re seeing Jacquie, but I’m also seeing sort of a more optimistic view of it. So I think first of all, I don’t think organizations are slowing down. I think they’ve had to speed up tremendously. I use the example of somebody that was trying to put an LSP into place. And they said, yeah, we’re going to roll this out over the next year and a half. And it turns out COVID happened and then everybody was up and going in three weeks. So, we’re seeing things move much more quickly. Stacia and I have had this conversation a lot, change doesn’t take as long as we think it’s going to take. People are much more adaptive than we give them credit for.

So that’s happening. At the same time, because things are happening faster, I think organizations are getting better at adapting and accepting good enough versus accepting perfect. So if you think about a waterfall design versus an agile design. Going through the steps and making sure that everything is exactly right, I think is becoming more and more a thing of the past because things are moving too quickly to do it that way. So now I’m going to throw it to Stacia and see what she has to say.

So, I agree with most of that. I think that we were in this massive period when COVID first happened, crazy acceleration, like Dani said, like, Oh, we got to get this stuff in, we gotta make decisions faster. And I feel like we kind of really ramped up. And then I think we hit the realization that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. And then I feel like we, in some ways kind of backed off. It was interesting. I was actually talking to a vendor yesterday. He was showing me big data set that the analysis that they had done on hours worked and actually you can see it in the hours work. So you actually see the ramp up to a significant increase in hours in the like six to eight weeks post-COVID, so March to end of April kind of roughly time period, mid May. And then it backed down lot closer to where were .and now actually it seems like it’s kind of going back up and I think maybe that’s because we’re starting to look towards the end of the year, final quarter activities, etc.

But that’s kind of a long way of saying that, you know, I think because Jacquie we’re in this it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint period, I think people are now starting to say, okay, well, if we’re going to have this more flexible work from home arrangement, when it, you know, whenever we go back into the office, we’re going to have to rethink what the culture looks and feels like and what the employee experience looks and feels like. Because we’re going to have to design something that people really want to be here and want to do the work. So I think we may be in that moment now, and I’m just starting to hear about some of those conversations. So I don’t have enough kind of data to really say absolutely that’s where we are, but that’s not my gut given all the conversations I’ve had.

One of the one of the really interesting comments we got in our round tables is fairly, forward-thinking guy running an HR department said, “We’re using this as an opportunity to change things that don’t work. We’re weeding out things that don’t work.” And so I do agree with Stacia, like we are slowing down enough to sort of say, okay, now how do we institutionalize this rather than react to everything that’s going on right now? They think we’re doing it much more agilely and we’re allowing ourselves to not be perfect as we do it and adjust as we go rather than the way that we’ve done it for the last hundred years. Any thoughts on that?

I like the opportunity to do it better and fix the things that are broken. And I’m super curious, and I’ll ask you again in three to six months, you know, they had this moment, but did it last? And then how fast did we go back to just how it was or what kind of changes will remain and be institutionalized? It’s a super curious time. Yeah. I mean, please do ask us in six months cause I would like to know as well. I think that’ll be an interesting discussion.

Broad decision-making vs good, safe decisions (25:51)

All right. I’m just looking at time. I think we’re going to move on to the next question. We have many, many questions and we’re still on number one. So let me move to the next one. How can my organization find the right balance between allowing broad decision-making and ensuring safety, good decisions, etc? So this is one of things we heard quite a bit during the round tables and something that we’ve continued to hear is, you know, if I allow this amount of freedom or if we, if we put things in place where things don’t have to be perfect, how do we ensure that good decisions are going to be made and safety and those types of things aren’t going to suffer? You want to take a stab at that first Stacia?

Well, I think that we, we touched on it a little bit on the past question and that’s why we grouped these two together. But I think a lot of this comes down to you know, being clear on the expectations. You know, it’s, it’s a principles approach, not a rules based approach in terms of the decisions we’re making. With the exception being safety. That’s a rules based approach. And Dani and I have actually talked about this in the context of, and even learning systems that we offer. You know, using certain types of learning systems for compliance related content and things that we need to have clearly denoted as having mastery of. Versus other types of learning systems that we use where you’re trying to encourage exploration and learning and it’s okay to fail and all the rest of that. And so I think that that kind of dual track approach is important to think about, I think we have a tendency to rely on doing things one way, but they don’t think that’s the case. So safety, yes, you know, compliance focused. And then, you know, other things being more of a principles based approach and being clear in your communications on that.

I also think this is really changing the conversation we’re having in general and organizations. Like we’ve been so sort of, you know, how’s this person performing on a scale from one to five and if you screw up, you know, what does that mean for your career? We’ve been thinking in those terms for so long, because we’ve been focused on efficiency for so long, but I think this is really interesting. We’re now saying, listen, the world is moving too fast for the people at the top to make all the decisions we have to broadly distribute decision-making authority. So how do we do that? And how do we look at failure as data instead of looking at it as a failure of one individual? How do we take the information from all of those smaller failures and do something with them?

I think in one of these calls, I mentioned the CEO who challenged his direct reports to have intelligent failures. Which I think is really interesting. He didn’t, he didn’t measure them on successes. He measured them on how many intelligent failures, which means they thought through the decision, made the decision and then it still failed. How organizations are starting to think about failure and think about it as data rather than as a career blunder is a really interesting thing for me. And I think it kind of goes back to, Jacquie, the question you were asking. Is this going to hold or are we going to back down and start focusing on efficiency and making sure everybody’s in the right place again? Again, any thoughts from anybody else on this?

Does diversity really affect the ability to act? (29:08)

Let’s move onto the next question. I’m going to toss this one to Stacia because she is our resident expert in diversity and inclusion. One of the things that came out of our responsive organization, stuff that we did not necessarily expect was diversity and the role that it plays. So the question we got was does diversity really affect employees ability to act and react to their environment?

Yes. I mean, we all know, or maybe we don’t all know cause we got this question. There’s, there’s tons of studies that show the impact of diversity and diversity of thought and perspectives on our ability to see around corners, to look at things in different ways, and to be able to react more more thoughtfully and in a more agile fashion. You know, one, the things that ran through the responsive organization research was the importance of taking outside information and bringing it in and using that to kind of change our perspectives. And so when you build in, you have diverse people and diverse perspectives in your organization, you’re enhancing your ability to do that just from the get go, and then continuing to encourage those people to seek out those diverse experiences and diverse information I think is really important.

The other aspect of this, and Dani touched on this a few moments ago, is the idea that because the way information flows through an organization, the way that power networks work and organizations a lot of decisions and information gets held in specific networks within and therefore we’re not having nearly as much participation in providing new ideas, making decisions as we, as we might think we are. You know, just because we have diverse people in the group doesn’t mean that they’re getting the information and making decisions.

And so if you’re able to create a more inclusive environment where those people can bring their perspectives, you’re going to get that broader decision-making and authority. So, you know, if the answer is a resounding yes. I will say though, it’s not easy. And I think that’s the thing about all this distributed authority work is it’s not the most direct line that you can see from here to there. It might, you know, kind of go around and around like this, but the thing is, is when you get here, the result is better, but it takes a a willingness to kind of engage in the less linear path to get there. I think that’s the crux of everything we wrote about in this research is, you know, the greatest efficiency is not necessarily the best way forward. And so we needed to kind of get out of that mindset and be more open, you know, open the aperture to possibilities and ideas that may not be what we, to those in the leadership in the high power positions, think is exactly the right way to get there. Any thoughts on this or examples that you’ve seen?

One of the things that we heard in the roundtables was the idea of introverts versus extroverts and how most workplaces are built for the extrovert. And so we actually had a pretty deep discussion, a 15 or 20 minute discussion, on how you, how you engage those introverts in an organization or in a system that doesn’t necessarily recognize them. A book by Susan Cain “Quiet” is fantastic, especially if you’re like me and are an introvert. But some of the other things that we heard were, you know, send really detailed agendas and make it really how they’re going to be expected to participate in those. Be aware of those that aren’t actively participating in, ask them their opinion, or text them in the background and see if they have questions. Or establish that there aren’t any really bad ideas, there are just ideas and we’re all here to learn from each other. And those things sort of go back to, you know, it’s effort. It’s effort, and it’s not a direct path, but the ideas and the path that you have moving forward is probably going to be much better.

I’ll just add reinforcement, that I agree diversity is very important. Diversity of thought, experience, backgrounds. But I would call out what you just said about the effort that it takes to make it safe for people to put their thoughts forward. Space to fail and also the time that it takes to do all that. And the power networks, I think, is very important to call out the power networks. Trump and many of the others. Because if you’re asking for their opinions or experiences, but they’re only saying what they think the power network wants to hear, you’ll never get that diversity. So there’s other things that are at play. This is definitely not something that stands alone. Any other thoughts on this particular question?

Empowering employees when it’s not linked to financials (33:54)

Okay, let’s move on to the next one. How do we empower employees to create development plans, document them and act on them if they are not linked to any financials? I thought this was a really interesting question. In organizations that are responsive or even organizations that are healthy and that are working well employees understand that those development plans are very useful to themselves. So it’s not just for the organization. It’s not just check the box activity, but they are designed and supported by managers and upper leaders to make sure that that employee is developing in the direction that they wanted to go. And so in organizations where this is not happening, where you’re really struggling to get those development plans in place, it’s usually due to lack of communication about their importance and the benefits associated with him, lack of support from the managers, the direct managers and lack of enablement of those individuals to make sure that those things happen. So in a lot of organizations, if the manager doesn’t value them, then they’re just not going to get done.

(34:57): Whereas in organizations where this is working well, the manager is as involved as the individual, but the individual also knows that they can call on the manager at any time to have that discussion about what’s next in my career and help them move forward. Stacia, did you want to add anything before I open it up?

No. I mean,I just kind of laughing at the beginning because when we first got this question, I was thinking to myself, “Well, what are their incentives, right?” If people know what their purpose is, what their work is, what they’re trying to get out of this experience, I think that this question goes away to some extent. But if you’re unclear on helping people understand what the benefit is: What’s in it for me? And instead if you’re using development plans as a mass grave for just how can we get you to do this work that more effectively for us? And there’s no “what’s in it for me” for the employee then yeah, you’re going to have a problem. Which I feel like is stating the obvious, but it never fails to amaze me how often that seems to get forgotten the ultimate employee what’s in it for me.

Completely agree. One of the other lenses that we’re not necessarily hitting on today is transparency and growth, which kind of weaves right into here. How is your organization providing opportunities for individuals to develop? So if you’re giving them their employee development plan versus opening up and saying, here are all your options, how can I help you develop the way you need to? It’s a completely different mindset and it’s a culture shift, but one we’re seeing more and more. Any thoughts from anybody else?

I think it’s tough developing people in a very VUCA world. So you put plans into place, but nobody really believes that you’re going to be there to enact that plan. Then you have to start saying, “Are we doing this for you as an individual so that you can transcend this company and you can take what we give you to our competitor, etc? So I think we need a new approach for development planning, where we take into account the reality that somebody is probably going to leave in two years. One interesting phenomena and I don’t know if it speaks to this side, I have the privilege and it is a privilege of coaching some great leaders. I’m not a great leader. I’m a much better coach than I am. I’m a better coach of leaders than I am a leader. And I stay with my people from job to job. So when they change companies, I stick with them. And so in a sense that is a continuous development plan. So when we work on the development plan, we don’t make an assumption that they’re going to be staying in the company where I originally started working with them. I wonder if more companies would have the courage to start doing that with their employees, particularly with Gen Zs, by the way.

Yeah. I think it’s an interesting point, Max, and I think it goes into the whole coaching and mentoring aspect that we’re also seeing come up in the development space. Just like with skills. I did a quick sort of view of this space and there are over a hundred technologies that focus on coaching. One of the biggest is BetterUp. And that’s exactly what better up does. It basically says, Hey, coaching is for everybody. And we’re going to bring in these coaches from outside, not necessarily in the organization. And so I’m working with somebody to develop myself, not necessarily develop myself for the role that you need me in right now. So I think more and more organizations are starting to think about that.

I also talked to a really tiny company called Lighthouse started by this woman who’s like 30 years old and she’s kind of on fire right now. What she’s done is she’s basically gone to all the big business schools and recruited people to be coaches for those people that you’re talking about. So Gen z and early millennials basically said, “Hey, you’re moving from your first role to your second role. You need some coaching. Let’s have someone talk to you that just barely got through with that, to help you think through what the next step should be, or what options you have in this place that you are.”

So I think more organizations are starting to adopt that mindset, but it’s hard to get people to stop thinking about what’s in it for me as an organization. What are the immediate things that I can see from developing this person right now to a much broader sort of how do we develop a development culture here? And how do we make it a safe place for everybody to develop and remain friends with them, even if they decide to move on to another organization?

Yes. I was just going to say one thing, literally every client that we work with has rolled out some version of growth mindset in the last couple of months. And as part of that, what we’re starting to see is baking the development into their rewards and recognition. So traditionally, most companies reward some combination of performance and contribution. And adding growth and development to that equation, I think is something that’s sort of a logical next step. If they’re really serious about their growth mindset that you need to recognize and reward the development people are taking on and what they’re accomplishing in that regard. Because it doesn’t necessarily show up right away in their performance or business results. It’s an investment in their future. And that collective future of the organization.

I love that idea Brian. I don’t know that I’ve seen it quite as much as you have yet, but I love the idea of rewarding people for having that growth mindset or being motivated to continue to learn and grow and develop. We’ve talked about how HRN learning and development can’t understand everything that an employee needs. It has to be sort of a do it yourself job. And so rewarding that is really cool. The other thing that I really like about it is as far as performance goes, you’re completely in charge of how you develop. It doesn’t rely on how your function is doing or what your manager did. It’s purer in a sense than some of those other things that we usually measure people on. I love that idea. Other thoughts before we move on here?

So just to add, that’s a great point from Brian, is that at IBM now a growth mindset is a requirement to keep your job literally. So, in other words, you are at risk if you are not developing yourself skills-wise, knowledge-wise, etc. over any given period. So that’s quite quite tough building it in, but very much speaks to the point that Brian was making.

Companies empowering employees during COVID-19 (41:44)

Yeah, very interesting. All right. I think we’re over time already. Let’s do one more question and then we’ll wrap this up. And I think I want to do this one. How are companies empowering employees during COVID-19? I would love before Stacia and I answer this, because we’ve done a little bit of research on it, I’d love to understand from from the rest of you, what are you seeing? How our employees sort of approaching COVID-19 as an opportunity for change?

Well, this is Brian again. I mean, the number one thing is empowering employees to decide if and when they come back to the office under what conditions and what sort of precautions or measures need to be in place. I see that a lot because employees are all over the board. There’s some people that have no intention of returning to the office anytime soon. And some people that really miss being around other people. There’s people who have no interest in wearing masks ever under any circumstances. There’s other people that insist that, if they’re in the office, they want everybody to wear mask. And putting all that decision-making authority in the hands of employees. I think at least four different big clients that we have all taken that exact same approach.

I like that a lot. What are other people saying? Also that seems really important. I don’t know, feeling safe in your work environment seems to be a pretty big deal. So the fact that they’re empowered to actually make those decisions for themselves is awesome. What are other people seeing?

I know, sort of along with that, one of the things that we’re seeing is more organizations are being flexible with work hours. Particularly as students go back to school or not. I know we’re being very flexible with that, right Stacia? It’s a different world than it was in March of last year. And so figuring out how to make it work for your employees so that they can make it work for their families is becoming a bigger thing. Both the hard rock and those organizations that are not allowing flexibility and a benefit in those organizations where they are. Other thoughts on this one?

All right. We have lots of stories in the responsive organization research that kind of address this. So if you’re interested in some more examples, go ahead and go there.

Crisis management vs optimization (44:21)

Dani, there was one comment in the chat that I had just want to squeeze in here before we wrap. So, someone said to the point is it going to hold? And I think this got back at some of the development conversations we were having. This person said, when I speak to strategy consultants selling to C-suite, they tell me that topics which actually get traction with clients right now are burning topics, real crisis management, badly broken things. Optimization topics, the kind we are discussing here are a difficult sell, say the diversity topic we’ve just discussed. Clients are much more interested in getting help with BLM reputation, money management, but broader diversity topics do not get much traction at the moment. Do you relate to this?

So I’ll maybe jump in and then you can open it. I think yes, but I don’t know that that’s any different now than ever. You know, the burning platform is always the thing that is going to get the C-suites attention. I’ll go back to the diversity topic, which I think is potentially different. Particularly with regard to diversity, and also, I may have mentioned we’re doing some research on purpose, there is a greater sensitivity to the purpose-washing or diversity-washing that organizations may be engaging in, particularly right now with regard to Black Lives Matter, then there was in the past.

And so there is a huge amount of cynicism to people just posting on their Twitter account, we believe black lives matter and leaving it at that, if they don’t then turn their focus also inwardly and talk about what they’re doing within their own organizations with regards to diversity and inclusion. Now is that driven because CEOs understand that like BLM management means that it also means you need to focus internally? Maybe that might be it. But I do think that because of the increasing power of employee’s voices as stakeholders that we are seeing that greater focus on a number of things. So so I don’t know that that now is any fundamentally different in burning platforms being what gets attention. But I think the extent of how far the platform is burning into the organization, may be shifting.

Wrap up (46:58)

Any thoughts on that? It’s a big topic. We should have addressed this at the beginning of the end. Lots of say on this one. Yeah. Okay. Well, I think we’re going to leave it there. Always, if you have thoughts or comments that you didn’t necessarily want to share on this call, please feel free to give us a shout out. Contact us on LinkedIn. We’ve provided our email pretty much everywhere. We’d love to hear from you and your, your thoughts. It makes our research better. And I want to mention our next one is September 17th. And I had mentioned at the beginning that you kind of did the slice of responsive organizations for people analytics. We’re going to be doing the slice of responsible organizations from managers. And we’re kicking off that research. We’ve actually got a survey that’s going to publish this week on the topic, and then we’re going to do this next Q&A call also on that topic on September 17th. So if you all want to come along to that, that would be great.

And then the other thing we want to mention is, as I said last time, we have our membership kicking off. It will launch sometime in October. We’re just doing a lot of work on the website. We want to get it perfect, cause it’s brand new. So you all will see that at some point, but I’m not putting my money on it. Maybe by the one after that we’ll have the membership up and going.

Alright, thank you everybody for joining.

People Analytics: Aligning to Business – Q&A Recording

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2020 at 6:00 PM    

In this week’s call we discussed the important role of people analytics in organizations. We grouped questions into three areas around people analytics: business alignment, tech, and COVID-19. We  reviewed the five pillars of business-aligned people analytics and discussed recent trends in organizations. We touched on data ethics, which is an increasingly important topic.

There were many great insights shared on this Q&A. Thank you to everyone who attended and participated live. We hope you join us for the next Q&A call.

Video Contents & Questions Asked

You can jump to the following locations in the video using the timestamps on the video and in the chapters menu (next to the full screen icon).

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 03:58 Overview of Questions
  • 05:27 Business Aligned People Analytics Summary
  • 07:02 Five Pillars Research
  • 23:22 Trends in People Analytics
  • 30:32 What are Data Ethics?
  • 41:10 Legacy Corporate Systems versus Small Vendors
  • 45:21 How can People Analytics Measure Skills
  • 51:05 Applying People Analytics During COVID-19
  • 54:56 APIs and Non-Traditional Data Sources

Q&A Call Transcript

Introduction (0:00)

There we go. Alright. So for those of you who I haven’t met on Stacia Garr, Co-founder of RedThread Research. So, since you’re here, you probably know who we are, but we are human capital research and advisory firm. And today we are going to be covering this topic of people analytics. So I’m joined today by Priyanka Mehrotra. Priyanka, do you want to introduce yourself. Hi everybody. I’m Priyanka Mehrotra. I am a research leader at RedThread Research. So for those of you who haven’t joined these calls before this is actually our third one, and this is something that we started really as kind of a trial over the course of the summer in advance of the launch of our new membership in the fall.

And the purpose of these calls is to really kind of have an informal conversation about some of the questions that we get about the research. And some of the things that we’ve heard from you that you’re interested in talking about, but then also to kind of, you know, use the research as that foundation of the conversation, and to build it out, and bring you all in, to get your perspectives in on some of the questions that are top of mind for all of you.

I mentioned the research membership, so we are actually going to be launching that in September. And so these calls will be a part of that research membership. And there will be one more that’s free before the membership actually takes place. And, and basically what we’re doing with the membership is just putting in place a relatively small paywall so that we are able to continue to fund the research.

To date we’ve been using a sponsorship. And so we’ll probably still be doing some licensing of the content, but we want to kind of move to a broader base of support. Because number one, you know, one of our biggest priorities in launching RedThread was that we do unbiased, high-quality research. And so the membership will allow us to do that. So that’s kind of where we’re going. But if you have any feedback on these calls or anything we can do to make that type of membership more valuable, please go ahead and let us know. So, with that one to go ahead and first start with some housekeeping.

So Priyanka, can we go to the next slide? And for those of you who have been here before, like I see Max, he’s been here before, a few things. One is we’ve been trying to make sure this is a safe space. So this, you know, there isn’t any, any judgment here. We’re really just trying to kind of come together and share ideas and to learn from one another. We ask and as part of that, making it a safe space that you, you can certainly share some of the ideas that you’ve heard from here. But as, since you don’t kind of generally specifically attribute them when you’re doing that sharing we do, however, I should say put the recording of this on the website, as well as the transcript, but we don’t identify in the transcript who, who said what? So want to make it a safe space.

Second, share your ideas. As I mentioned, a few moments ago, that’s really what makes these calls work is people sharing your ideas. And as part of that, as I mentioned for those of you who first joined, we ask you to turn on your video, if you were able. I understand that as, as we were saying, some of you are not able to, but it just makes it a little bit more personable and makes it easier for folks to connect. Along with that we ask that you say your name and your organization before the first time you speak, just so people have a sense of kind of the perspective that you’re coming from.

You can certainly raise your hand to speak there’s that capability within zoom, but also you can, you know, I’ve, I’ve got a decent view of, of you all, so you can also just wave or just unmute yourself and start to talk when there’s a good break. And then also I want to encourage you to participate in the chat. I have the chat up. And so if you’re not able to jump in for whatever reason, you know, screaming children or dogs or cats in the background I’ll make sure that I’m following the chat and we can incorporate that as well.

Overview of Questions (3:58)

All right. I think that’s all that I had. Priyanka. Did you have anything? No, I think they’re good to get started now Okay, perfect. Alright. So next slide. So we had just received a number of questions. We’ve grouped them into these four buckets. So, the first being around business alignment, second round tech, the third round COVID-19, and then finally around ethics. So, I should maybe start by just sharing the, kind of the perspective that Priyanka and I bring to this has been our focus on people analytics across the last two years of RedThread.

So our focus on research has been in people, analytics technology. We’re in the middle of the second version of that study right now. So getting vendor demos and briefings, literally every day, many of them multiple times a day, I think we’ve got two later today. And then also we’ve been doing a series of interviews about the role of people analytics in business alignment and responsiveness, and really kind of the org of the future.

So, which we’ve been said, the org of the future is now the org of now. So, we published a study an article just yesterday on that particular topic. And so we’ll cover a little bit of that today. But again, this isn’t a webinar, this is a Q & A, so we’ll share what we have and then we’re looking for you all to kind of jump in. All right. So then Priyanka, why don’t we dive into the first Q&A that we got?

What does Business Aligned People Analytics look like? (05:27)

First Question: What does business aligned people analytics look like, and just to add a little bit more detail into that, how do you think successful organizations are doing this? Yeah, so this one, I think really aligns pretty well. Priyanka, if you want to go, I think it’s on the next slide to this study that we released back in June. And this was a study called the five pillars of business aligned people analytics. And we did not put, we did not put this question in guys like this really came in from somebody it’s not like a ringer, you’re thankful for it. And so so what we, what we learned in that study was a few things.

One is that a lot of organizations, and even though I think it’s close to 80% of large organizations have the people analytics team, we know that most of them say that it’s not as effective as it should be. And so when, and in what they’re doing right now is kind of on the left side of this bridge, which is this ad hoc data reporting. We then talked to, quite frankly, some of the smartest people analytics practitioners that we know, and tried to understand what it was that they had done.

And what was interesting, and I guess someone expected is that none of them started off really with this kind of great executive mandate and, you know, this sense that they were truly business aligned. They all kind of started on the left hand side of the, of the bridge. And some of the things that they did to get to the right, are the five pillars that we have here. So I’ll give just like a 20 second overview of what those are and then maybe pause and kind of get your alls’ reactions and thoughts.

Five Pillars Research (7:02)

So the first one we say is be a business partner, and that one seems terribly obvious, but what we actually meant here was don’t just be trying to align to the business, actually be a business owner. So meaning coming to the table with thoughts that are at the same level as the part of the business that you’re serving, having new ideas, really understanding the P & L of the business and what makes a business tick.

And so, if you have that understanding saying, okay, you know, I know that in this part of the business, you know, product is what, you know, these particular set of product managers are, what drive the business to its success. So here’s what I’ve done to understand what’s happening with these product managers.

Just as an example, or, you know, in a different part of the business, it might be marketing that really is driving the success, but really understanding what, what are the levers of the business, why they’re important and then focusing analyses and insights on those levers without always having to be kind of told, Hey, well, would you go and do this analysis for those parts of the business? So that’s what we meant by one, two was think like a sales rep.

And this was maybe I think my favorite finding from the research, which was not that you should, it’s not just a matter of going in and saying, “Hey, we can, we can do these things for the business,” but one of our interviewees talked about mapping out the business mapping out who is in the business, the impact that they could make on the business broadly and the things that mattered to them, and then focusing on those people first. So really like a sales rep going in and opening up a new business that was critical to kind of getting people analytics, traction to being able to drive business results.

The third one is delivering products, not projects. And so I think we’ve been hearing this one increasingly in the people analytics space for awhile, which is this idea that when we take on new projects or new work, excuse, they need to be scalable. So it’s not a single product project, but actually a product that will be continually used over time and can be incorporated into business processes.

The fourth being provide context-specific decision support. So that means, you know, just getting that greater level of granularity in terms of what the business needs and not trying, not providing kind of general, “Oh, across the business broadly, this is what we need.” But instead having a bit more of a laser-like focus on different parts of the business and understanding when things change, what the differences should be for the business should do. And then fifth being democratized, personalized insights. And you’ll actually see this thing show up again in another piece of research. So one that we launched yesterday, which is this idea that you need to be taking advantage of the scale of the business. And, and the fact that you have people throughout the business, who can make really important decisions if they have the right data and making that information available to them to make those better decisions. So that certainly is managers, but it’s also employees increasingly.

So I know those longer than 20 seconds, but that has the overview of what we learned from this particular study. Does anybody have any comments or thoughts on what maybe resonated with you or things you’ve seen come alive in your own work or practice? Yeah, I think for me, maybe I can speak. I might’ve missed introductions so briefly I’m, I’m head of people analytics at ICRC. And I think for me out of these, the biggest challenge is number three because I guess where we are is a pretty standard maturity level where yeah, our customers are not yet fully on top of their, of their data.

One of the questions they want to ask an answer to the point that they come to us with a very mature request. So very often as we answer the questions that they came with, we find the question on the way. And yeah, we, we, we cannot start by delivering a product. It has to be a project first where we, where we find we better understand what they need. And at some point after a couple of months after a couple of iterations, it becomes something that could look like a product. Yes. And, and for you, what does that kind of process look like? Cause I think that’s pretty common of what people experience, right. If somebody wants a specific answer and then you kind of have to figure out how do you do that scale-ably across the organization. So what does that journey from the individual question to potentially more of that productized version look like for you?

Well, first of all, I have to say I’ve been two and a half months in my role. So I was in the international committee of the red cross previously, I was in Nestle. So it’s a it’s, I don’t have a process yet. And I think it depends a lot on who you’re speaking with because some parts of the HR organization are more mature and they might already have done things on their side and they come with something that’s already pretty, pretty mature and pretty advanced. And then you can answer more, more effectively and more quickly come to a product. But I think there’s a couple of things that that we learn. I think when we, on people analytics to try to clarify as early as possible, when you start a conversation with someone about a question that they want to answer such as: what data do you have? What data are we going to base this on? And how solid is this data source? Who’s going to be my main point of contact with you as we, as we go along and explore this this issue to make sure that the data we use is correct and that the answers we give are business relevant? And eventually what is the end product looking like? Is that just a one-off question that you’re asking now? Or is that something that you’re going to need to answer on a regular basis? So I would say in general, the more you can flesh out these questions at the beginning of a project, the more you can start off the right way and save a lot of time later. Yeah. And then in the article we just published yesterday, we talked a bit about ABN Amro and how they do this.

Priyanka. Did you want to share a little bit of their story about how they do the the contracting process and how that can help with delivering products, not projects? I was actually thinking about a different example in my mind, but what actually came to me when you were talking about asking questions in the beginning of the project, my instant thought went to Kraft Heinz because this was a recent example that we heard. And that was specific to context to COVIC specifically. And though they spoke about it specific to COVID. I think it applies more naturally through all project cycles and initiatives that people analytics are taking, which is in the beginning, before you start undertake any data collection, data analysis project. You talk to the leadership to understand why exactly are they looking to collect that data, what are the insights that they’re hoping to get out of it, and what is going to happen with those insights. How actual those insights going to be, what is the value that employees actually get going to get out of it? So having that clarity in the beginning, not only puts a lot of shows thoughtfulness going into any initiative, but it also helps clarify the process through the way as well. I think that that’s a very important point that you brought out. Great. How about others? What else, what else kind of jumps out at you from this? Or is it a particular challenge?

Max Blumberg consultant. Most of the clients we’ve worked with them. This is from having people analytics for four more years than I care to remember long before it was called people analytics. I thought I was doing my first project. I, I thought it was a PhD research question that I was answering. And I’m really pleased that I haven’t lost that perspective because that is how I still look at, you know, I’m just solving it. But I find that just to go back to a Priyanka’s idea there about speaking to the executives, the Kraft Heinz example, is that we really increasingly insist on going back to corporate strategy when we’re doing it. And we get a lot of strange looks and a lot of pushback, and we even lose clients at that point. But we know from experience that unless the people analytics strategy, is aligned with the corporate strategy, you’re going to do some bad things. And people say, well, you know, what, what relevance, you know, maybe the HR strategy needs to align with the corporate strategy. But people analytics. And there are some really obvious points of alignment. One of them is what are the core competencies and the non core competencies of the organization. So if you spend your whole time fixing engagement and attrition with art looking to see, is that a priority? You know, is it more important than innovation? You know, yes, it’s costing us $30 million a year. Yeah. Lack of innovation is costing you a a hundred million dollars a year, you know, which is even more.

But people, analytics folk are often afraid to look at that. We go for the familiar engagement retention, maybe a bit of productivity if you’re brave, stress, etc. So my view is that I agree exactly with what you say. I would be more explicit and say, go to the corporate strategy. What are the core competencies? And here’s a great example, by the way, I had one very large, well known brand name. And the head of people, analytics took it to heart and went to the ex-co and said, you know, I’d like a list of, of our core competencies and non core competencies. And they didn’t the company hadn’t actually articulated a list of those. And this guy, he was a guy, took it on as a project was promoted through the organization for it saying, you know, wow. And, you know, the ex-co was saying, we’ve never said that, and here are them. And then from Bose, he ensured that every people analytics recruitment. So if a core competency, if you’re in a development house like Microsoft, you know, presumably developers that are developing Windows 10 or your operating system, or a core competency for you. Therefore your recruitment processes, that address programmers are really critical. Whereas those that address your transactional financials are not core. So you can’t just have one recruitment process for everybody, if you want to get into the core, non-Core. So there’s a great idea for understanding what is at Microsoft: programmers right now. We have a whole suite of people analytics project. So that would be my input go even higher.

Yeah. I have kind of two add-ons to that. One is I think that you speak really well, Max of the the difficulty I think that people analytics has. Because it kind of rests in this uneasy place where often it reports into HR. But you know, when I take off my people analytics hat, and I put back on my HR and all the research I’ve done over the years on HR business partners, and HR operations, and you know, everything else. I mean, we spend all the time talking about how, you know, HR itself isn’t aligned to the business, or has challenges aligning to the business and the terribly hackneyed phrase of having a seat at the table and all the rest of that. So if you think of people analytics to your point, trying to align to HR strategy, which we already spend all this time saying it’s not often aligned to what the business is doing.

It’s highly likely that people analytics is going to get itself into trouble because of that. Now we, the uncomfortable place to your point, I was just, if you go around and essentially around them and you go to the business, people analytics has to deal with the politics. Obviously, if the relationship with HR while trying to pursue kind of what is potentially what is most valuable for the business. So it’s a tough place to be, I think, is the thing to acknowledge. But you know, when these conversations that we had, and this is actually, I think it’s going to be the final article that we’re going to do all these interviews, we’re going to talk about the people analytics operating models and what those reporting relationships maybe should look like or how you should think about them differently. Because I think that’s critical to people analytics success is understanding how to manage those relationships.

There are two companies and I can mention one because you’ve mentioned it already, ABN AMRO, and another one that are kind of saying we are, if business partners aren’t, this is about going around HR and going wherever you need to go. People analytics functions, firstly are pulling themselves slightly away from HR, number one, which is no bad thing. And secondly, they’re saying if business partners, aren’t going to give us the information we won’t, because they’re not sufficiently analytical and elicit quantum, but that is not a requirement you need to be analytical is a requirement. Then we’re going to create our own, and I’m seeing a new job title in at least three companies now called a people analytics partner. And that’s interesting. So the people analytics partner does what the business partners should have done.

And people are saying, well, maybe business partners are on the wrong part of the business, maybe they need to be in the people analytics part of it. So that just speaks to your question. That’s how they get around the HR restriction. Yeah. Yeah. And I’d say one thing really quick. Yeah, no, you probably want to move on to. We’re fine. We’re good. Okay.

And I’m Kristy Muir year for those of you who don’t know me with Instructure, I head up strategy and operations. But I like this, this dialogue between Max and Stacia. And as I said, as I think about data strategies, I was just reading the four worlds of work in 2030, this global workforce of the future report. And it was really interesting because I think that as we see more people, analytics, strategies grow and develop, I think we’re going to see, I think we’re going to see different strategies. It’s not going to just be, you know, one size fits all. And I think that, you know, you have companies that have an innovative corporate strategy and it’ll align with that. You have companies who have like a people matter most strategy, and it will align with that. You have people where, you know, maybe they’re you know, like a code of boxy or they’re doing good in the world. There’s, there’s just so many different strategies. And that really, that report got me thinking a lot in line with this, as well as just to what the future of those HR analytics look like, people analytics look like and how all of the strategies are not like it’s not going to be a one size fits all. And I think it’s going to determine a lot of, even the future of HR tech landscape of the future of that.

Yeah, I completely agree. So one of our interviewees for this particular article actually said that the era of one size fits all is dead. Data moves us beyond best practices to practices that we know based on scientific evidence work in our organization, in a particular context. And so I think that is speaking exactly to what you’re saying, Kristy. There may be, you know, even to use Max’s example, you know, within Microsoft, there may be one part where you have a focus on, on innovation. You know, and then you’ve got another group that’s just like trying to keep windows operating for all of us.

And the skill sets and the way that you manage telling those different parts of the businesses is different. And so, you know, I think the data provides us now the ability to do that much more effectively than it ever did in the past. But if we’re stuck in the old model of quite frankly, models that are just kind of, you know, summaries and really straw men to get us started, or straw women. You know, that is a, I think we are then under-serving the potential that data has to help us make better decisions. What was the, what was that article? I was looking it up. I hadn’t read it. I was just on your website. It’s the five pillars here. I’ll pop it in the chat. I’ve got it. Okay. Thank you. Yeah, absolutely.

Trends in People Analytics (23:22)

And I think in the interest of time, we should probably move on to the next question. So, the second question we have here is what the major shifts and trends are we seeing? So we, I mentioned these interviews that we’ve been doing, and basically we started the beginning of the year. Everybody’s muted, maybe. Sorry. Okay. So we started at the beginning of the year and with this study, where we were like, okay, we had just finished the responsive organization research, which I I’ll talk about here in a moment, but we knew that people analytics was an important component of the responsive organization. And then when we talked about the responsible organization, is all about how organization now, mind you all, this was January. Okay.

What the research was all about, how organizations can respond to volatility and change, because, you know, we’ve been talking about volatility and uncertainty and you know, all this complexity for years. And so we did this study and so we was people, individuals. So we started these interviews. What’s the future of work? What’s people analytics role in this? And then COVID hit. And we said, you know, the future of work is not the future of work, it’s really now. What we thought was all this need for being able to adjust to volatility and changes now. And so that is what this piece of research really looked at. And so, you know, what we thought was something we were going to be talking about happening in five years. So I started happening at this moment. So what, what we found here, if you want to go to the next slide, Priyanka is this, this model of responsivity. And so when we talk about responsivity and gonna go ahead and pull up the definition, make sure I tell you guys, right. What we said.

So, responsivity is: the ability of organizations to recognize trends in their operating environment and effectively turn possible disruptions from those trends into a distinct organizational advantage. And so we said, okay, well, what does that look like? What do organizations that do this well do. And so we found four lenses, which are there on the bottom: respect, distributed authority, transparency, and growth, and then trust. And for this particular piece of research, we said, how does this especially apply to people, analytics leaders? What should those teams be doing in order to meet these changes and trends that we’re seeing happening with COVID? But also, I mean, we’ve had black lives matter, you know, we’re only in August, I’m sure we’re going to see something else major.

Cause it seems like that’s what 2020 is all about. So it’s really, you know, how can people analytics help us respond to that change as you can see here, you know, each of the specific things and some of them aligned to what we just talked about with regard to sharing information, that’s, that’s distributed authority. But also a lot about transparency and growth. How do we provide information to people broadly and then give them a supportive environment so that they know that they should grow and have the ability to make decisions. And then on kind of both sides, we have respect, which is making sure that employees feel heard, which we’ve heard a lot about during COVID. And then trust making sure that people feel like they’re part of the community. And so in this research we talked about how does people analytics do this. I just, again, to be so Priyanka, doesn’t keep yelling at me. I’ll stop there. Is there anything here you guys want to talk about in terms of what we’re seeing with regard to how organizations are responding to this moment? Or have you seen any examples of this happening in organizations?

I am seeing the pallet devolving to a very small number of people in most organizations. So, organizations are discovering that they can get the same amount of work done with one third of the workforce where people are being, especially from group or corporate perspective. And I guess that makes for much better responsivity when you’ve got a smaller team, that’s my observation.

Max, do you think that is happening because of you know, just to be blunt where many organizations are reducing head count and therefore you know, it’s just a consequence of having fewer people around? It’s an accident. It’s a shocking, but accidental discovery. I don’t think anybody was expecting if they just said we can’t afford to keep this many people on. So do you know the usual systems people put on know one, one half of salary or whatever it is for a period. And then we’ll let you know, at the end of four months, what’s happened to footfall, etc. And the core team were told, get on and do as best you can.

Folks will understand if performance isn’t what it was. Performance didn’t decline at all. As far as the group processes where it was a real shocker, it was a shocker to me. Apparently it wasn’t a shocker to all the companies, but to some people at the companies saw it. But so yeah, it, wasn’t, it’s a great example of a kind of an A/B experiment unintended. You know, cause you couldn’t have done that at any other time, but it’s amazing. So small teams create great responsiveness at the best of time. So maybe the lesson in here is something about smaller, more proactive teams, something like that, or for people analytics. Yeah. One of the companies we interviewed and we can’t say who they are. But they basically have a people analytics leader embedded with most of the business. It’s an incredibly organic organization in that they they kind of have a centralized people analytics team, but it’s, it’s not that big. But really instead what they do is they basically have all these people analytics leaders out there in the business. Because the idea is that people analytics so core to how you run the business, but you can’t have someone who’s kind of only tangentially related. But, but the second part of that is they believe that these small teams need to make the decisions.

And so that’s why you have to have the people analytics leader there. So kind of the it’s not one of the things we talked about this with this research was how we’re moving potentially away from an incredible focus on just efficiency for everything and instead more towards responsiveness. So things that we may have in the past thought were inefficient, like having a number of small teams, where there could be redundancies in our new world, they can make us more responsive. And ultimately that may make us more efficient. But it’s a very different, you know, distributed way of thinking about things versus the hierarchical way, which for the last, you know, 40 years we’ve said, that’s the most efficient way to run a business. So it’s very much a mindset shift.

What are Data Ethics? (30:32)

I have a question.

Yeah, Kristy. One thing that I actually think a lot about you have under respect, keep the people in people data and under trust, ensure data ethics. I think so much. And I think even going back to your previous slide, there’s no one size fits all and how the corporate strategy works. There are absolutely corporate strategies where it wouldn’t keep the people in people data. And it wouldn’t, I mean, what are data ethics? That, to me is a big question that I’ve been thinking about.

Yeah, well, we got that question actually. So, so I don’t think we actually have a slide on our thoughts on it, so I’ll just kind of talk and then Priyanka jump in here. But you know, we’ve been, some of our research has been sponsored by the folks over at 222 which is a consulting firm that focuses on people analytics. And one of the things they’ve done that we think is cool. And we don’t like, I’ll talk about Max’s stuff if I think it’s cool. I’ll talk about anybody who’s cool.

So I just mentioned the sponsorship in the interest of transparency. But they worked with their folks to come up with a data ethics charter. And so basically this is a charter that organizations abide by that, that is being on GDPR compliance and gets that, you know, what are the types of things that we should do or shouldn’t do when it comes to people data? So for instance you know providing clear insights to employees on what’s done with their data when it’s collected is one component.

A second component of it is having a data, what do they call it like a, basically a data board to review all the decisions about how data is used and to make sure that it kind of meets their standards. So, you know, for instance, if what they were doing ended up on the front page of the wall street journal, which is, we all know happened last year for some companies, would they be okay with it? Would their employees be OK with it? You know, kind of that sort of conversation because it’s not, it’s not financial data, it’s data about individual people and and you know, whatever, no matter what your strategy is, there should be something, some things that are kind of okay, in terms of what you are analyzing and what you’re not.

The goals may not be things are the end results and decisions may not be things that make everybody happy. And for some people may not be, you know, they may not consider it ethical, but the way the data is handled and the way we think about the data is kind of the, the key thing. That’s kind of on the practitioner side, on the vendor side, we spent a lot of time talking to vendors about their role and their responsibilities when it comes to data, ethics and privacy.

So the reason we’re talking to them is, one overall, this is obviously to your point, Kristy, a new space for a lot of people. They haven’t thought about the ethics of, of all this, but the vendors are dealing with people who are probably new to this space all the time. And so the vendors coming in with a perspective on what’s ethical and appropriate and is at least a starting point to help kind of form the basis of how our industry is thinking.

And so we’ve been pushing on them because vendors, automatic response tends to be what we do with customer wants us to do. And I get that, but the customer often doesn’t know what they should do. And they’re looking to some guidance, particularly around people analytics, cause people are very much looking into partnership relationships with people analytics vendors. So they’re looking to the vendor for some guidance. So we’ve been pushing the vendor to provide some guidance and obviously the, the, the range of what they provide varies.

But what I’ve noticed is that vendors who come from outside of our industry. So let’s say they were in marketing, or there’s an incredible amount of people who come from security, which I’ve observed which is kind of interesting. But the people who come from outside of our industry are very into the individual data. Like we’re gonna, we’re going to give the managers all the information on who’s going to turn over in the next three months, based on our trip model. Like I, as an analyst and like, that’s, you know, put that in the hands of a manager who doesn’t know what to do with that and we all of a sudden have a whole bunch of problems, right? The vendors who have been in our industry are much more like, well, we need to think through what are the implications? What is this like for that person who’s manager suddenly got this information and maybe isn’t handling it very well.

So what, how should we be thinking about that? So seeing seen a significant difference between new vendor or vendors from outside the industry coming into our space, and those who’ve been here historically. There’s lots of things that are good about vendors coming from outside our space. So I’m not trying to throw them under the bus, but I have noticed that difference between the two. And I think it’s something for folks to kind of be aware of when they’re doing this partnerships, cause their ethics and privacy base, I think is a little bit different than people who have been historically in the HR space. So that’s kinda my initial response Kristy to come at that question.

Yeah. I really appreciate that. Thank you.

Yeah. What are, what are others seeing? To those who are working with vendors? I think I can start with that probably because we’ve been doing so many random briefings. And I’ve been particularly excited about this because last year when we published our study on people, analytics, they specifically call out a few things that we think windows can really improve upon, which is a good, a better user experience, more advanced, natural language processing capabilities, better data integration, and more individually passive data. And I think we’re starting to see that this year increasingly with vendors that we have accused of done briefings with.

So we’re starting to see a lot of improvement in user experience, how the dashboards are being built, what the visualizations look like. They’re definitely much prettier this year, for sure. We’ve seen some great advanced natural language processing capabilities and vendors that we were not expecting to see this year. So that was a good surprise. We’ve also seen vendors starting to open up their platforms. Using a lot of API is connecting to nontraditional data sources.

So I think that’s definitely been a that’s that’s upgrade direction. I think the risk seeing some of the trends moving in. I love your idea about educating the manager’s station. So I think ethics, you know, who, whose ethics are we going to use? I remember having this out at a conference somewhere the CEO’s ethics? The committee that you spoke about? Who’s so, you know, I think it’s gotta be a collective thing, but it’s so real what you’re talking about. Because one company at the moment would love to do its organizational networking analysis. And I absolutely dead keen as most of you I’m sure are on, on passive data. You know, and there are huge issues about doing passive data analysis. Cause people don’t know that they’re being tracked and that it’s being used. I’d advise against it, but that’s “Max ethics.” You know, I’m an old guy from another generation. I’m not used to being tracked other than my own, my own watch tracking me. Gen Y and gen Z at the conference didn’t seem to have that much of a problem because black, the lobster they’ve grown up in the water and the heat’s been turned up slowly. And it’s all I know is a life of being tracked. But, you know, I would say at the very least just use that as an ethical example, I would say at the very least, if you’re going to use passive data, do an active survey as well, even if you’re not going to use the results.

Just so that employees feel like they’re part of it. And I think that’s a huge part of ethics. Is that the involvement and, you know, Jonas, you you’re a Nestle person. I remember when Jordan came in and took over the the Fitbit work that was a huge issue and had long discussions about is it right? And Jordan said, you know, max, I would never do anything bad with the data. And I said, you know, Jordan, as I know and love you, I don’t think you would, but what about the person who’s going to take over from from you? And so there are a whole bunch of, as, as you say, there are whole, you need to have a manifesto that’s going to last longer than one manager and bring more managers into it. It’s very tricky. Yeah. And I think that’s the, for me kind of from where I sit in the space, that’s, that’s the thing that worries me the most. A lot of us go to these same people, analytics conferences, and we know each other, it is a community. That’s one of the things I love about this space is it is a community.

But as you know, I see all these kind of new folks coming in and I sound like totally, nimbyism here with our community and I don’t mean to be, but I think we do need to, for those who have been here and we think have good intentions to codify, what are the things we think are right? And maybe they will change, you know, to your point, maybe gen Z is just like, who cares. Right. But that should be a conversation that shouldn’t be an assumption, I think, is that the point that, that we’re trying to make with all of this, because we don’t know what’s going to happen in this. And we all know how powerful data is or data are, I guess, the proper way. So we think that that’s part of what we’re driving to cause right? The ethics aren’t going to be the same everywhere and, and they shouldn’t be, there’s going to be different standards, but being clear on what we think as an organization is okay, and what we think is not, and what we’re going to go to employees for. I think, you know, if it kind of goes to the lens on the far right and around trust. And if you guys haven’t read it, there’s a really great book out there called. Who can you trust? I can’t remember the author.

I remember I remember seeing her a few years ago, but she is, it’s just dynamite. And the thing that’s struck with that kinda stuck with me the most, and it’s actually reinforced by Edelman’s trust barometer is that organizations right now have the strongest amount of trust from people compared to any other entity, more than the government, more than religious institutions. Actually maybe not more than small government, but, but all other government. And this is worldwide study. And so we have an incredible position of importance and if we start to lose that trust we can lose it with, with bad data practices. So I think it’s a really important role that we all have in organizations. So. All right. I’ve been on a soap box for awhile.

How do Legacy Systems Compare with Small Vendors (41:10)

How do you think the legacy corporate systems, like SAP, compare to some of the new, small, but mighty competitors? Oh, SAP, our friends. So, so let’s move on to the next slide for those of you who haven’t seen this. This is our from last year study, people analytics tech study are how we looked at kind of the whole people analytics landscape. So just to orient you really quickly and on the X axis on the left hand side, we have what we called frequent analysis.

And on the right hand side, we had continuous analysis. So tools that are looking at data every day, giving insights every day versus on the left hand side tends to be more like monthly, quarterly, that kind of thing. On the Y axis on the bottom, we have data creators. So they’re creating data by things like surveys on the top data aggregators are pulling in data from other places. I think this year that’ll be did it integrators cause we think that’s more accurate. But anyway and then in the middle of the Y access centers, those vendors who do both. So with that kind of background, you can see number one, there’s tons and tons of the small, but mighty vendors. And then number two, the big vendors tend to kind of be we’ve got SAP on here.

Workday was not on last year study for a number of reasons, but we’re actually talking to them today, so they will be on this year’s study. And then our friends at Oracle just don’t seem to want to play. So but I think that the thing is that the, the bigger vendors are kind of good at being able to bring in certain data from a lot of different sources, and most many of them their own because they’re such big ecosystems. T

hey’re not necessarily so great all the time at pulling in data from other sources. Maybe we’ll get proven wrong about that today when we talked to Workday, but but they, they tend to be really good at that. Because they often, if company has all of their systems with like an SAP success factors you know, they obviously can kind of bring things in a bit more seamlessly than some of the others. But, you know, as is typical with larger organizations, their level of innovation tends to be slower.

Their ability to kind of turn out new ideas tends to be slower. And, you know, they’re I guess I would say that our partnership tends to be not quite as strong as some of the other smaller players, because they’re just so big and there’s so many moving pieces. They obviously offer plenty of really great things. But I think that those remained the bigger, bigger differences. And so then it comes back to you as a practitioner and organization.

What is it that you need? Do you need kind of some of these more innovative approaches do you need by contrast to move that, you know, like SAP is our system and so that’s just kind of who we need to, to work with because that’s kind of what we do here as a company. So it really comes back to the type of partnership I think that folks need and from the vendor and the type of capabilities that they need. Which I know is a little bit of a punting of the question, but I think that it’s hard given, you know, we’ve got 37 vendors on this graphic. It’s hard to speak with more specificity than, than that. Given kind of the question. Is there any specific questions on vendors from what we learned last year or what we’re learning right now? I have a lot of questions, but maybe take up too much time.

What was that Max? Oh, okay. Well, we’ll just leave it there because I do want to, I am sensitive to time and I see that you all put the book, who can you trust in the, in the chat. That’s awesome. Thank you. Alright, let’s go ahead and move on.

How can People Analytics be Used to Measure Skills? (45:21)

How can people analytics be used to measure effectiveness of upskilling and reskilling for increased business performance? So I almost said to Priyanka, let’s not, let’s talk to this question cause it can take up the entire hour. So I think there are a few things. We know that there are a few different models that organizations are using for building their skills taxonomies. So one is kind of a top down model. You know, this is what we think are all the skills that are out there.

The other is more of a bottom up model. So kind of looking at all the skills that are out there and starting to group them into different, different families in the like. I think that, so those are kind of the two models. The benefit of the latter is that it’s more organic. It can be more relevant and up to date. It also requires much bigger kind of competing power, quite frankly, to kind of continue to be getting that information. On the other side, it is probably a bit more stable. It’s probably a little bit better “organized,” but it also tends to be more static and slower to, to keep up with the times.

There are lots of vendors out there who can help you do this. We’re actually working on a big list of it right now. I think we’ve got 15 on it right at this moment. But but you know, some of them that others have mentioned certainly IBM and Degreed and MC and all the labor market analysis vendors, they, they’re all kind of doing this clerical. We spoke with them yesterday. The challenge that we see for all of these is that they either rely on somebody identifying the skills themselves saying that I have these skills or some somewhat imperfect assessments of their skills.

And so right now I think that the assessment mechanism is one of the nuts we have yet to crack. And so when we talk about that, the measure of the effectiveness of these efforts, I think that’s one of the things we’re going to have to get better at before we do this really well. In the moment with what we have right now, I think we’re kind of mediocre at this. And, and that’s part of, we’re actually starting a study on this to try to figure out how we might do this better. But if you assume that you, that your efforts are adequate in terms of the measurement, think then it becomes, okay. Well, how do you make sure that you’re matching this against specific interventions that have been happening in the organizations or specific initiatives and making sure that your measurement at the change in skills is happening at the right point in time? We haven’t seen folks doing this very well yet. So that’s kind of where we’re, I’ll leave that again in the interest of time.

Has anybody else seen folks doing this? No. No. And I think if anything like the skills, taxonomy and the intervention and exactly how that lines up with the assessment, I think for me, that’s the crux that I struggle with with skills is that I don’t know if there’s actually going to be a good answer. This one vendor you didn’t mention is eight-fold. So, I mean, they have, I think it’s 2.8 million different skills identified. And the approaches that you mentioned the top down and bottom up, I think where that should land, where it’s going to land is in skills ontologies as opposed to taxonomies.

So that the relationships, not only between the skills themselves, but between how those skills are categorized it all exists in the same model. And then you can build use cases off that whether those are learning use cases or career mobility or hiring or diversity and inclusion. I mean, that, seems to me where all this is headed. Yeah. That’s a great point, Brad, thank you for, for making it. And I especially do love what eight-fold is doing.

So the thing that they do that I think is very cool is they play with skills inference. So if you have you know, if you’re good at one type of programming language, you’re likely also good at these other skills. And so you, as an individual, don’t have to identify that, which is really I think helpful because that’s something that, you know, people are notoriously not great at thinking about as kind of some of these adjacent skills.

The other thing that eight-fold does that I think is great is they apply that across obviously all people, but when you’re searching for people, they don’t limit to the verified skills they limit, they include the likely skills. Which if you look at that from a diversity perspective, diverse people tend not to list nearly as many skills as of majority population folks. And so when you include the likely skills, you get a much bigger talent pipeline than you would, if you just looked at what somebody actually puts on their resume or their LinkedIn. So I think that it’s it’s has a lot of power, a lot of potential. Yeah. Thank you very much, Brian, for mentioning that.

Sure. Speaking again. Ian Bailey did some wonderful work at Cisco. I think with LinkedIn and they had a wonderful visual dashboard of skills and competencies which I don’t think ever was productized or made available as far as I know. But it’s an internal tool, so it might be worth asking Ian to show them to you.

How has People Analytics be Applied during COVID-19? (51:05)

Yeah. Priyanka. Thank you. Okay. Let’s I know we’ve got just five minutes, so Priyanka let’s go ahead. Alright. So here we come to some COVID-19 reasons. What are some of the interesting ways people analytics has been applied during COVID-19? So if you all have a chance to look at those two articles that we’ve put into chat we have within each of them people analytics during crisis or people analytics during COVID-19. So we’ve got lots and lots of examples of kind of everything that we’ve been talking about today.

But I think that just to maybe tie back to what we were just talking about, the, the skills example, and one of the most powerful examples you think of this working well during COVID was came to us from Thomas Rasmussen, who was at National Australia Bank until just very recently. And basically what they were able to do because of the strength of their skills profile, skills data. They were able to look across all of their employees and figure out which ones had the skills to work more directly with customers. Because as you can imagine with being a bank, so obviously not just a health crisis, but an economic crisis for many, and they were getting many more calls from their customers asking for help. And so they basically were able to redeploy,

I think it’s 700 people within a week from kind of non-customer facing roles, but had customer experience over in the customer-facing role so that they could support their customers during COVID-19. So, you know, we’ve seen a lot of, a lot of studies about using more engagement and pull surveys and all the rest of that. But I think that one was a really powerful example of using skills and just having that strength of skills to actually meet business needs during COVID. So I’ll maybe leave it there because that’s a lot of examples.

Okay. Tiffany, you put in an example here had the same. Do you want to talk about that? Are you able to talk about that Tiffany from chat? Can you hear me? Yes. yeah. We’re a relatively small financial advice firm in Europe and Canada, and because we are organic and sort of grown, we try to keep tabs on who has any sort of licenses or who can serve clients. So when we had to shut down all of our suburban and rural branches and clients couldn’t get-face to-face access with their branch team, we immediately pivoted so that the thousands of home office employees who had the certifications became frontline, investment helpers, answering phone calls and driving service.

So that trades didn’t have to stop just because we couldn’t get that face to face interaction. So that was, that was really a, a huge help for the client base almost immediately when everything’s sort of shut down at a regional level. That’s awesome. Cool. Thank you for sharing them. No, I I’m glad that the question came up and, and the original response actually made me think, “Oh, you know what, we did that too. Wow.”

I wouldn’t have thought of that as a people analytics function, but that’s exactly what it was. Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing to see all the ways that people analytics has been applied in the last four or five months call. Does anybody else have anything on this that you’ve seen? Okay. Well, well we’ll move on then. Priyanka, was that our last one because I think we covered ethics already. Oh yeah, we did. Actually. That was the last question. So in case anybody else has anything to add in the last two minutes, more than welcome to.

APIs and Non-Traditional Data Sources (54:56)

Quick question, when you were talking about the APIs and non-traditional, what was the word you said? I forget. What, what, what do you mean by non-traditional APIs? I meant APIs from non traditional data sources for vendors who don’t, who have not been typically looking at certain data sources in the past for us to starting to look at. So for example, one of the vendors that we spoke to yesterday is being focused on labor market insights data mostly now they are starting to think about other data sources, such as bringing in voice channels, data from voice channels and analyzing that. Bringing in financial services data.

And we’re seeing a lot of engagement and experience vendors also start to think really deeply about how can they pull in performance data and learning data to bring a holistic employee experience platform to the users. So, in the sense that they’re increasing the number of places where they’re pulling in and analyzing data for to bring a more holistic picture for the user. That makes sense. Thank you. Yeah.

All right. Well, I think we’re right at time today. So thank you all so much for a wonderful conversation and the engagement. If you have any other follow-on questions, just go ahead and send them along. And if you have any feedback on how this went we’d love to hear that too. So we’ll say goodbye for now and have a great rest of your day and a good weekend. Thank you very much. Thank you. Take care.

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