Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: The Rare Find

by George Anders

This past weekend saw the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, the biggest thoroughbred race in the United States. For some companies, the process of hiring a new employee can be the same as placing a wager on a thoroughbred. Despite in-depth research, lengthy accolade-filled resumes and ringing endorsements, employers are often left in the same state as gamblers who put their hopes on a “sure thing,”: tearing their tickets up in disgust. Meanwhile, a select few back an unlikely candidate that surges past the pack and into the record books. Columnist and author George Anders takes an in-depth look at the science of recognizing talent in his new book The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else. The summary of Anders’ latest release is now available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Anders tackles the question of talent discovery with writing that will keep any executive riveted to the page. He has a gift for telling a compelling story but sacrifices none of the takeaways that business book readers require in exchange for the investment of their time. By putting examples from Teach for America alongside more predictable references to Facebook and Hewlett-Packard, Anders provides a more complete picture of the talent-scouting process. Any executive who is involved in the hiring process at his or her company will want to read Anders section on “the jagged resume.” A candidate’s scattered success record used to be a one-way ticket to the discard pile. However, Anders does a masterful job of teaching readers why a potential employee with an up-and-down record could become a superstar if your company is the right setting.

To download your copy of The Rare Find in any of Soundview’s multiple digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

Special Reminder for Soundview Subscribers! This Thursday, May 10, George Anders will be our guest on Soundview Live, the exclusive weekly Webinar series that puts you in touch with today’s top business authors. If you’re a Soundview subscriber, you can attend for FREE. Just visit Summary.com and click the Webinars tab to find out how you can sign up!



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.



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?



Book Review: Topgrading

by Bradford Smart, Ph.D.

The challenge of making a good hire continues to prove difficult for a number of organizations. According to author Bradford D. Smart, statistics show that three out of every four hiring decisions result in a situation in which the wrong person ends up in the wrong job. Smart, an acclaimed management psychologist, conducted more than 6,000 interviews over a span of three decades to strike at the heart of why companies make so many hiring mistakes. The result is his book Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People. Soundview Executive Book Summaries is now offering a summary of the revised edition of Topgrading in multiple digital formats.

Executives know that a company performs at its peak when it is staffed with top talent. Smart labels this group “A players.” In Topgrading, he guides readers through the process of finding and hiring more A players. Topgrading has a distinct advantage over similar books on human resources management. Smart balances the process of finding A players with rewarding existing A players on staff. He also is unafraid to answer the question about the remaining portion of a company’s work force: B and C players. In the summary, Smart provides an alternative that emphasizes the positive rather than putting more employees through a revolving door.

Readers will appreciate Smart’s level of honesty and the practicality of his solutions. The methods described in Topgrading will prove valuable to a business regardless of its size. The current economic climate creates a zero margin for hiring and handling talent. Smart provides the tools necessary to keep costs at the bottom while pushing your company to the top.

To get your copy of the summary of the revised edition of Topgrading visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



Walking a Tightrope in HR

If you look closely at many of my posts, you’ll notice that I rarely give out any personal details. Truth be told, I’m quite a private person, despite the fact that I communicate with all of you a few times each week. I sometimes feel as though the continued dominance of social media in our lives has led people to willingly give  up their privacy with nary a second thought.

Strangely, some of the same folks who don’t mind posting photos from a company happy hour on their Facebook pages are likely to bristle at corporate requests for info for a health and wellness survey. They may not have a choice in the near future. This article from CNNMoney.com discusses the increase in Human Resource departments asking employees to fill out a health and wellness questionnaire prior to enrolling in the company’s health insurance program.

I found this article to be loaded with the type of issues that define life in today’s corporate world. The survey can ask an employee about the number of alcoholic drinks he or she consumes each week. However, it can’t ask the same employee whether or not there is a history of cancer in his or her family. This is due to a fear of lawsuits due to genetic discrimination. To help ensure employee cooperation, some companies are offering incentives such as lower insurance premiums for workers willing to participate in smoking cessation programs. Yet, companies are at risk if they bar employees coverage for not agreeing to fill out the survey.

However, I think my favorite quote from the article is this one: “Maybe you think you’ll fudge the truth? Don’t. That’s fraud, and could be grounds for dismissal.” I can almost guarantee that some people reading that statement would reply, “How will they ever know?” I suspect that these are the same folks that would thrill us with a Twitter tweet about low cigarette prices at a local gas station.

Human Resource professionals are in a bind that I, for one, do not envy. As they continue to walk a tightrope between lowering their health care expenses and breaching privacy issues, one has to wonder whether it will be employee or employer who has to make the biggest changes.

For a great read on the difficulties facing HR departments (and how to solve them), check out our summary of The HR Scorecard by Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and Dave Ulrich.



Working With “Y”

I was tempted to write a clever introduction concerning whether or not members of Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1999) are in your midst. Then I realized something vital: this is a blog … on the Internet. There is no other generation who has lived the double-life of virtual and physical existence more than this group. Something tells me that of the numerous readers I have, a good portion of you probably count your birthday somewhere between the years listed above. So, let me start over …

This article came up from the folks at the Guardian in the United Kingdom. While I think the first sentence in the article does more than its share of negative stereotyping, it’s interesting to see that the subject of Gen Y in the workplace continues to get press. We’ve covered it ourselves, both in summaries and in reviews. We’re at a critical juncture in the history of the American work force, and it seems to me that everyone is a touch anxious over where we will go. Suffice to say, Gen Y is currently experiencing one of the roughest job markets in which to enter a work force.

One also has to appreciate the fact that Baby Boomers, the generation that in its youth shifted the focus of everyone from advertisers to political campaigners to the young, are now scratching their greying heads trying to figure out what’s going on with “these kids.” My years may be showing here, but I seem to recall coming of age in an era of economic uncertainty where foreign war made headlines and the environment, social issues and the generation gap were on the minds of many. Throw in a reference to Facebook and an e-mail address, and we’d be looking at Gen Y, wouldn’t we?

The more things change …

P.S.: I mentioned that we reviewed a book on Gen Y. To read it, and dozens of others for FREE, simply sign up at Summary.com.