Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Spotting Exceptional Talent
May 2, 2012, 11:00 AM
Filed under: Human Resources, Soundview Live | Tags: ,

In The Rare Find, George Anders tells the story of an HR manager at Google who compiled over 300 characteristics recommended by executives as important to watch for when hiring, and compared them against the database of their employees. He found that what Google has considered important for new hires is not what actually stands out in the most successful employees.

From this study the manager began looking at resumes “upside down” – that is he started at the bottom where people list their hobbies, accomplishments and interests. From here he could get the person’s story, what motivates them. This information, considered along with the usual education, grades and the like, gave a much better picture of who might be the most successful employees.

Anders provides powerful ideas for making sure that you don’t miss that candidate with great potential, including:

  • Don’t ignore “the jagged résumé” — people whose background appears to teeter on the edge between success and failure. Such people can do spectacular work in the right settings, where their strengths are invaluable and their flaws don’t matter.
  • Look extra hard for “talent that whispers” — the obscure, out-of-the-way candidates that most scouting systems overlook.
  • Be careful with “talent that shouts” — the spectacular but brash candidates whose positive qualities might not outweigh future problems with loyalty, motivation, and team spirit.

If you would like to learn more about how to find the “stand out” employees for your company, join us on May 10th for our Soundview Live webinar Spotting Exceptional Talent with George Anders. Bring your most challenging hiring-questions for the author as well. One exceptional employee can turn a company around!



Age Profiling in the Workplace

In my blog post back on April 11th, I wrote about the need for companies to develop a work ethic among Generation Y employees as part of my coverage of our webinar with Eric Chester. But as I was writing, I couldn’t help but think of several young adults I know who have a very strong work ethic. Is it fair to toss them in with the rest of Gen Y?

Over the past decade a host of books have been published on the differences between the generations of workers, with labels like Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and so on. As you read books like The 2020 Workplace, Bridging the Boomer-Xer Gap, Generations at Work and similar titles, the authors use the differences between the generations to talk about their skills and weaknesses as groups, and how to take advantage of the skills and overcome the weaknesses.

These are very helpful books in dealing with the big picture of the mixed bag which is our employee pool. These authors answer the important question of how we make the most of each generation’s abilities and also smooth over the wrinkles that appear as these generations mix in the workplace.

But at the same time we must recognize that not every individual of a certain age-range is going to be the same as their peers, and that there is a great overlap between these generations. Also, other factors come to bear in what makes people different including other demographic factors and upbringing.

Mary Anne Osborne, in a guest blog for Sage HR, warns us of the risks of age profiling. She states “But of key concern here is not letting externally perceived notions of generational tendencies cloud judgment of character.” The danger of making assumptions about a person based solely on their generational group can lead to costly mistakes in hiring and training.

Osborne give the example of Generation Y, which some characterize as needy, disloyal and self-entitled. And yet this generation has brought us Groupon, Facebook, Tumblr and foursquare.

The key lesson here is to make use of what we know about the general characteristics of each generation while always giving each individual the benefit of the doubt. The old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here. Don’t judge a person by their “generational cover” – give them a chance to show their true merits.



All Play and No Work Makes Johnny Worthless

American companies are facing a workforce crisis which is commonly called Generation Y. As companies continue to demand productivity and performance from this new generation of workers, these young employees are not demonstrating the work ethic needed to meet company expectations. And this has affected morale and profitability across the country.

Eric Chester, who is an expert on this new generation, expresses the concern well in his Who’s Really Entitled list, which lays out the expectations that employers have for their workers. On the lighter side, he also communicates the broader issues in his song called The Work Ethic rap.

Chester has some sobering words for American companies: “Parents now focus most of their attention on ensuring that their kids are healthy, happy and have high self-esteem. Meanwhile, schools are facing wide-spread criticism and massive cutbacks, and are concentrating every available resource on increasing test scores and keeping students safe. Therefore, the burden of developing work ethic within the emerging workforce has shifted to employers.”

What is work ethic? In Reviving Work Ethic, Chester defines it as “knowing what to do and doing it. It is marked by an individual’s positive attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude.” So how do we instill this is Generation Y when they’ve grown up without it?

Chester’s solution revolves around communication. We need to communicate the knowledge of how to do a job, and then we need to communicate the values behind what we do. He emphasizes that it takes repetition to get across this information. He also makes clear that work ethic thrives best in community, not in isolation. So as workers are trained, there needs to be reinforcement of the values and knowledge from those around them.

Are you struggling with a lack of work ethic in your young workers? Then you’ll greatly benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar Reviving Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce. Eric Chester will present his experienced view of the next generation of workers and will also be taking questions from participants. Join us on April 19th and learn how to instill work ethic in your employees.



Building a Leadership Pipeline

Over the past decade there has been an increased interest in leadership development within companies. Organizations can’t be successful if all their top talent keeps moving on to other companies, and so there is a stronger focus on developing talent from within, providing ongoing growth opportunities and the promise of continued movement up through the organization. While this may seem obvious, developing a pipeline of leaders has not always been a top priority in the past.

A classic title on this subject is The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel. In this book the authors discuss the six critical passages a leader must navigate to fully develop their leadership skills.

Passage 1: From managing self to managing others.

Passage 2: From managing others to managing managers.

Passage 3: From managing mangers to functional manager.

Passage 4: From functional manager to business manager.

Passage 5: From business manager to group manager.

Passage 6: From group manager to enterprise manager.

But they also describe the assessments and leadership development that must take place at each passage, so that the leader builds the skills to continue growing.

Stephen Drotter has just written a follow-up to this book called The Performance Pipeline in which he looks at how the work flows from layer to layer in a company, and how top executives can measure the work of leaders at every level. Ram Charan has also built upon this work with Leaders At All Levels, describing what he calls The Apprenticeship Model of leadership development.

If you would like to pursue this topic further, I would also recommend our Executive Edge report Build a Pipeline of Leaders and this month’s Executive Insights video interview with John C. Marshall of J M & Company, Finding the Leaders Who Can Build Companies. You can access these additional resources with a Soundview Premium subscription. The summaries listed above are available individually.



Have You Experienced Zappos?

As most business people and consumers are aware, Zappos is a shoe and apparel website with a reputation for superior customer service. It was started in 1999 as shoesite.com and after a hefty investment by Tony Hsieh became zappos.com. In 2009 the company was sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion, just 10 year after it began.

But what some people may not know is that Zappos’ commitment to customer service goes beyond its own doors. They have developed a program called Zappos Insightsto help other companies also excel at customer service. Although the company may seem like a wacky one-time success, this success is built on a set of principles that can be applied to any company.

Joseph Michelli, in his book The Zappos Experience, provides us with these principles from his research of the Zappos business, with ample cooperation from its employees and CEO Tony Hsieh. Here are the five Zappos principles:

  1. Serve a perfect fit – Zappos has a rigorous application process to make sure new employees fit with their culture, and let’s all unsuccessful applicants know why they weren’t accepted.
  2. Make it effortlessly swift – Customers are less concerned about WOW service then they are about getting satisfaction without a lot of effort.
  3. Step into the personal – Zappos finds ways to create individualized experiences that extend beyond their solid service platform.
  4. Stretch – Zappos understands that a key to retaining great people is to keep them challenged and learning.
  5. Play to win – High levels of workplace fun are consistently associated with increased creativity and productivity.

If you would like to hear more about these five principles and how they can be applied to your company, join us on February 16th for our Soundview Live webinar The Zappos Experiencewith Joseph Michelli. You’re sure to learn something that can help your business succeed, and perhaps have some fun in the process.



The Top Trends in Corporate Training

In a recent article on the HR.BLR.com website, consultant Dominic Cottone of The Leadership Conservancy listed trends in corporate training that we’ll see over the next decade. Here’s a summary of those trends:

  1. Employers will identify opportunities for employees to learn more—and be more proactive—about health and wellness, including ways to manage stress.
  2. Employers will encourage “attitudinal shifts” in how employees view training and development, so they can “embrace lifelong learning.”
  3. Although e-learning won’t replace classroom training, employers will increase their focus on e-learning and ways to train employees “in short bites.”
  4. Trainers will need to identify and develop training that is adaptable, can be changed on the spot, and can be changed easily.
  5. As companies expand their workforces overseas they will develop “truly global” training, and have employees complete “cultural sensitivity” training and training in foreign languages.
  6. As an aging workforce approaches retirement, employers must find ways to pass along older workers’ knowledge to younger or less experienced workers.
  7. A greater emphasis will be placed on leadership development with an increasing number of experienced leaders directly sharing their knowledge with up-and-coming employees.
  8. Companies will incentivize learners by tying their participation in training to performance management and promotions.
  9. New topics will include training on reputation management, teaching in a virtual environment, understanding the needs of a new generation of learners, and focusing more on training that covers ethics, interpersonal communication, skills for new managers, and refresher skills for longtime managers.

As I scanned this list of trends, I was reminded of the new features provided by Soundview’s Corporate Solutions Program. Our multi-media library now includes book summaries with content assessments, author webinars, video interviews with executives, skill-focused newsletters, author interviews, and audio summaries of HSM World Business Forum and Innovation Forum events.

And now all content is mapped to over 46 competencies to help companies connect content with their corporate priorities. Because this business information can be used on all computers and mobile devices, and the library can be integrated into any LMS system, we support many of these trends.

Are you seeing these same trends coming, and if so, how are you preparing to meet the new demands for training in your company or by the content you’re providing?



The Benefits of Webinars

When searching on “business webinars” in Google recently, I found 126,000,000 results. It would seem that every organization hosts webinars within their field of focus.

For some companies, webinars are used for lead generation. By hosting free webinars that highlight their expertise, they hope to get attendees to then sign up for their newsletters, test a service or purchase a product.

Other companies use webinars as part of their product. Customers pay to attend webinars either individually or as part of a package of content. The webinars are a means of communicating their knowledge and helping their customers.

Webinars really began to see a rise in popularity after 9/11. For some months companies were not sending their employees to as many conferences and seminars. And as companies have tightened their belts over the last decade, webinars have continued to take hold.

A webinar’s attraction is two-fold. Convenience for the consumer – I can register for a webinar through an email that I receive, place the date in my calendar, and then attend on that day with no travel time or expense. Cost-savings for the host – a company can set up a webinar with no location costs, use an inexpensive webinar service easily found online, invite a caliber of speakers that would be expensive to host in person, and set the time and day at the convenience of the company and the speaker. Webinars are a win-win for companies and consumers.

Back before the advent of webinar software, Soundview began hosting tele-conferences with top business book authors in a series called Beyond the Books. We have developed these monthly events along with advances in technology into today’s Soundview Live webinars, and last year expanded them to weekly. Our subscribers love the convenience of sitting around the conference table over lunch while interacting with their favorite business authors.

If you’ve never attended one of our webinars, you can check out our list of upcoming events. Standard online subscribers to Soundview Executive Book Summaries are invited to all webinars free, and our Premium subscribers also have access to our archive of all previous events. If you want direct access to top business authors, the Soundview Live webinars are the most economical way to go.