The Talent Management Revolution

Talent management has emerged as a top priority for organizations over the last decade and has only been accelerated by the pandemic as employees were sent home, many displaced, and employers had to radically shift business operations. Human Resources (HR) led the charge in supporting business units to make this transition as seamless as possible – while stabilizing a very disrupted workforce. Not only has HR been thrust into the spotlight over these last few years, but progressive HR leaders have played a significant role in shining a spotlight on a much-needed talent management revolution.

Talent management has historically been designed to support more siloed organizational structures, which also tend to be process heavy and administratively onerous. This type of talent model is challenged in its ability to support agility, innovation, and speed to market. While these more traditional systems have guided employees through their employee lifecycle by creating a systematic and predictable set of processes – from acquisition, hiring, onboarding, development, performance management, to offboarding – they are not employee-centric by design, nor do they provide the kind of flexibility people strategies now require. What is more, employee expectations have evolved as demands for more autonomy, internal mobility, meaning, career development, and work-life balance have forced organizations to rethink overall talent management systems.

One of the most notable, and widely reported on outcomes of this shift in employee expectations has been coined ‘The Great Resignation’[1].  As employees are leaving jobs by the throngs, reprioritizing work life and focusing on well-being, employers have been tasked with finding new approaches to support employee engagement and retention. Employees want to gain a deeper sense of meaning from their work and are calling on their workplaces to invest in their development and career mobility.

Another key issue that has been accelerated by the pandemic is known as the ‘skills gap’ which emerged as organizations have increased their reliance on technology. As the World Economic Forum projects, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.[2]  This focus on skills development is an opportunity for organizations to invest in their employees; the key will be for organizations to have a multi-pronged learning and development strategy that targets the development of specific skill sets, taps into individual interests and development goals, while supporting business priorities and creating a strong succession pipeline. As Amy Borsetti, Senior Director of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn notes, “skills are the new currency at work and organizations play a critical role in creating the conditions to learn, advance the learning process, and offer effective learning opportunities for people to grow, get promoted…and contribute to the organization’s vision, mission, and business outcomes.”[3] These kinds of strategies will set organizations apart and become part of the employer value proposition.

A talent model that is emerging as a more practical and contemporary solution to address some of these challenges is the Talent Marketplace, defined by Betterup as an internal system within an organization focused on developing talent. “The talent marketplace lets employees promote their skills and pursue aspirations. It also allows companies to post projects, gigs, new roles, or even mentoring opportunities.”[4]

These platforms have the capability to capture and share data about employees’ current skills, and through personalized profiles, allow employees to update their skills as they complete training, participate in projects, and share their career aspirations and interests.  This is a more networked, interactive, and engaging space where organizations can communicate more effectively, improving speed to market by having the right talent deployed to the right projects. This is a significant shift from more traditional talent management solutions which have lacked mechanisms to capture these kinds of insights, ultimately inhibiting internal mobility and career progression.

As Taylor and Lebo note in their book, The Talent Revolution, 40% of employees feel they are stuck in their jobs. Revamping current career path options requires organizations to take notice of the large, productive workforce available to them.[5] Leveraging the platform as a centralized skills database – where organizations can conduct a skills inventory and gap analysis – does just that; it provides the kind of insight organizations need to understand workforce capability, inform succession, and acquisition planning, and enable internal talent mobility.

There are several talent marketplace solutions that can be adapted to meet the specific needs of your organization; however, you can start to implement some of these practices more immediately by leveraging your organization’s intranet. Creating an internal site where employees are encouraged to post information about their interests, showcase their project work, and update their skills is a great starting point. Similarly, leaders can use the portal to share business updates, workplans, and job opportunities. This can also present an opportunity for organizations to develop mentorship programs where matching interests and development goals to people can become a great, cost-effective development strategy.

4 Best Practices to Support Staff   

In terms of more immediate strategies to help you better support your staff, here are some best practices that you can implement that will help to get you started.

  1. Regular Check-ins are an important activity to build trust with your employees. These regular 1:1s allow you to provide ongoing and relevant support to your staff, and help you determine if additional supports are needed to stay on top of deliverables. In addition to your employee 1:1s, make sure you schedule regular team meetings. This gives an opportunity for staff to showcase their work, consult other team members, and build team trust and collaboration.
  2. Stay interviews are a great way to manage involuntary turnover – especially for high-performing employees. These conversations can help clarify employee motivation and career aspirations, it also provides an opportunity for employees to provide feedback, identify any barriers they may be experiencing in their roles, and what incentives can be put in place to support their retention. These conversations will build trust, instill a sense of reciprocity, encourage engagement, and improve employee morale. The HR department would typically lead this process.
  3. Development Plans help to align business priorities with individual development goals. They also provide strategic stretch and development opportunities. They can include secondments, mentorships, and gig assignments. Development plans should also address any feedback provided in stay interviews and annual performance discussions. The goal here is to help support the development of employees while also mapping career progression. Actively investing in employee development also serves engagement and retention strategies.
  4. Performance conversations should be happening regularly through in-the-moment feedback and your regular 1:1 meetings. Employees shouldn’t be surprised by feedback in their annual performance reviews. Use coaching skills in your regular conversations with employees to support development areas, address any issues, and to revise annual goals and/or expectations as business needs evolve throughout the year. And don’t forget to ask employees to provide you with feedback as well. Stay open to building a reciprocal relationship.

About the Author

Wylie Burke

Wylie Burke is an innovation consultant, facilitator, and leadership coach. She has over 15 years of experience in business administration, human resources, strategic and operational planning, and leading high performing teams. She brings a unique perspective to her work, having had the pleasure of working for a diverse range of organizations including United Way Toronto, CIBC, SickKids, WSIB, and Toronto Metropolitan University. She has led large-scale merger and integration initiatives, cultural transformation and change strategies, and is recognized for taking a people-centred and creative approach to her work and is inspired by helping people and organizations realize potential and reach new heights. As a sought-after coach, consultant, and facilitator, Wylie is recognized for creating inclusive environments that inspire insights, connection, fun, shared learning, and that result in personal and organizational integration. Wylie is passionate about her work with clients in reimagining the overarching HR function, turning it from a process heavy one into a strategically designed talent hub. Employing a design thinking methodology, Wylie helps to evolve talent models, programs, and strategies into innovative, agile, flexible, relevant assets that connect talent decisions to value-creating outcomes.

Wylie is the facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Talent Management program.

 

References

Borsetti, A. (2021, March 2). Skills are the new Currency in the World of Work. LinkedIn. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/skills-new-currency-world-work-amy-borsetti/.

Boudreau, J. (2016, March 17). Work in the Future Will Fall into These 4 Categories. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://hbr.org/2016/03/work-in-the-future-will-fall-into-these-4-categories.

Chung, A. (2021, November 29). What is the ‘Great Resignation’? An Expert Explains. World Economic Forum. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/what-is-the-great-resignation-and-what-can-we-learn-from-it/.

Deloitte Insights. (2020, September 18). Activating the Internal Talent Marketplace. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/technology-and-the-future-of-work/internal-talent-marketplace.html.

Maggioncalda, J. & Yacoub, S. (2020, December 4). 4 Ways to Reskill the Global Workforce – and this is where it’s already happening. World Economic Forum. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/12/4-ways-to-reskill-the-global-workforce/

Miles, M. (2022, March 17). What is a talent marketplace and why do employees need it? BetterUp. Retrieved May 1, 2022, from https://www.betterup.com/blog/talent-marketplace#:~:text=A%20talent%20marketplace%20is%20an%20internal%20system%20within,projects%2C%20gigs%2C%20new%20roles%2C%20or%20even%20mentoring%20opportunities.

Schreiber-Shearer, N. (2022, January 24). What is a Talent Marketplace? Inside The Talent Marketplace: Game-Changing Platform That Unlocks Workforce Agility. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://gloat.com/blog/the-talent-marketplace-explained/.

Taylor, L. & Lebo, F. (2019) The Talent Revolution, Longevity and the Future of Work. University of Toronto Press.

Footnotes

[1] Chung, A. (2021, November 29). What is the ‘Great Resignation’? An Expert Explains. World Economic Forum. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/11/what-is-the-great-resignation-and-what-can-we-learn-from-it/

[2] Maggioncalda, J. & Yacoub, S. (2020, December 4). 4 Ways to Reskill the Global Workforce – and this is where it’s already happening. World Economic Forum. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/12/4-ways-to-reskill-the-global-workforce/

[3]  Borsetti, A. (2021, March 2). Skills are the new Currency in the World of Work. LinkedIn. Retrieved, May 1, 2022, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/skills-new-currency-world-work-amy-borsetti/

[4] Miles, M. (2022, March 17). What is a talent marketplace and why do employees need it? BetterUp. Retrieved May 1, 2022, fromhttps://www.betterup.com/blog/talent-marketplace#:~:text=A%20talent%20marketplace%20is%20an
%20internal%20system%20within,projects%2C%20gigs%2C%20new%20roles%2C%20or%20even%20mentoring%20opportunities
.

[5] Taylor, L. & Lebo, F. (2019) The Talent Revolution, Longevity and the Future of Work. University of Toronto Press.

The Gift of Workplace Coaching

Many employers of choice offer coaching to their new generation of leaders because it’s a tool with transformative powers. Given the ever-changing business landscape—including the transition back to the office after COVID-19—smart employers provide their employees with the tools they need to succeed—from day one. For new leaders, that includes coaching.

In this article, I will talk about what coaching is, the transformative power of coaching, what new leaders can expect from employer-sponsored coaching and how to get the most out of the gift of coaching.

Attitudes About Coaching: Then and Now

Some time ago, I was a young mother working my way up the corporate ladder. Shortly after I secured a management job, I was called into my boss’s office. She told me, “We see your potential and we’d like to support your transition from employee to manager. You’re a young employee with a bright future and it’s important for us to invest in you.” She then announced that they had secured six sessions over the next few months—all confidential—with Susan, a retired HR professor from a Toronto university, who consulted as an executive coach.

Sounds amazing, right? I didn’t think so. Back then, coaching wasn’t popular or common, so I didn’t know how to handle this information. The only time I had heard about a third party being called in was to assist employees getting back on track before they went down the termination road. Prior to having this conversation, no one had ever mentioned coaching in the management transition process. I ran home and said to my husband, “Oh, my God, I don’t understand what’s going on. They just gave me this job, I thought I started off well and now they want me to talk to someone.” My mind raced with questions like, “Was I not communicating properly? Was I not handling myself during meetings? Did I do something wrong? Do they want to get rid of me already?”

After a brief panic, I reflected on what my boss really had said, which was nothing like my initial interpretation. Why was I doubting myself? I had worked so hard to get here. I deserved to be at the table. I decided to trust myself and the process and I called Susan the next day. To my wonderful surprise, getting coaching changed my life—I continued up the ladder and became one of the top female executives in the organization. I was ambitious and hard-working, so I probably would’ve got there anyway, but I’m positive my path was smoother because of the opportunity to work with Susan early on in my management transition.

Fortunately, times have changed; coaching is no longer a mystery or reserved for the executive suite and misbehaving employees. People at all levels—whether they’re in the office or on the shop floor—appreciate coaching for what it is: a gift that brings positive results for months, years and decades.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a developmental practice; coaches use their knowledge and skills to help their clients achieve specific personal or professional goals. Coaches create a learning environment and, as such, there shouldn’t be power struggles in a coaching relationship. Coaching is a two-way communication and feedback process between the employee and the coach with the intention to reinforce strengths and bring awareness of possibilities.

For those that are fortunate to participate in employer-sponsored coaching, it typically starts with six sessions lasting from 60 to 90 minutes each. Coaching often begins with discovering a bit about yourself, setting goals and making solid progress when dealing with issues that might arise in the future. Coaching is a tool that your employer purchases to put in your hand. For leaders—especially new leaders—coaching is essential, just as a measuring tape is essential for a master carpenter. Coaching is an opportunity to help people understand new concepts, learn about themselves and make positive change in their lives.

Coaching sessions are meant to be confidential; this means that what you and your coach talk about stays between you and your coach.[1] In the context of workplace coaching, coaches are accountable to the organization which means they provide attendance updates and perhaps a sentence or two about progress. If the sponsor has asked the coach to work on specific areas, this will be discussed briefly. However, progress reports are generally vague such as, “I met with Taylor, and we worked on some goals. Taylor is a pleasure to speak with and I can see why you consider Taylor leadership material.” The content and limits of the reports are discussed and reviewed during the first coaching session.

The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching is different than mentoring though a coaching relationship can transition into a mentoring relationship. Coaching is goal-oriented and focused on gaining the skills required to navigate issues that come up at work. Mentoring is relationship-oriented; a mentor is a role model you can turn to for guidance and support. Some examples of mentors could be a school principal mentoring a vice-principal or a help desk team leader assigned to mentor an employee working in IT as a clerk, who would like to move to the help desk team to provide IT support.

The Transformative Power of Coaching

Coaching is ultimately about change. Coaching transforms professionals by helping them engage in different ways of thinking, become more effective working with people and increase their ability to handle challenging situations. At the core, coaching helps people learn about themselves and identify what they need to move forward in pursuit of a personal or professional goal.

When Susan and I sat down for my first coaching session, it was in a coffee shop. Despite my reservations, I immediately took to coaching with Susan and was grateful to have the skills and expertise of a female HR executive at my disposal. It was great to have someone to talk to. With Susan, I didn’t have to be “on” all the time; I could be myself while learning about myself. She taught me a different way of looking at things and helped me work through issues and goals so I could go to work and perform.

After our sessions, Susan became a friend and mentor who I spoke to for many years before she passed away. As my career progressed, I became a mentor to other young leaders; one of those women recently sent me a note about how I helped her and her colleague when they reported to me years ago. She said, “You are a huge part of our confidence, giving us a chance. It didn’t matter what we asked, you always had another question for us to answer, and made us walk out of your office feeling like we could conquer the world.” I trace their success back to my time with Susan; this multi-decade legacy perfectly illustrates the transformative power of coaching. It becomes natural to pass on the power of coaching when you’ve been coached.

How New Leaders Can Get the Most Out of Employer-Sponsored Coaching

I’m known for saying every manager needs five superpowers and I believe coaching makes it easier and faster to develop and harness these superpowers, especially when you engage with the process. The more accountability and responsibility you take, the more you’ll get out of your coaching sessions.

Here are my five recommendations for getting the most out of coaching:

  1. Commit to the process – Your coach is there to help you grow, navigate challenges and achieve your goals and this only works if you go all in. Coaching isn’t about going with the flow; it’s about being an active participant in your own journey.
  2. Prepare for each session – Be on time, take notes and be ready to revisit unfinished business from previous sessions. If you have a pressing concern—such as an emerging power-struggle with an employee or colleague—bring it to your session and be ready to think differently about how to approach it.
  3. Be willing to give and receive feedback – Your coach doesn’t tell you what to do; instead, a coach asks questions to help you come up with solutions. These conversations aren’t always easy, so a successful coaching relationship involves two-way feedback. Listen to your coach’s observations with an open mind and tell your coach what’s working and not working for you. Both parties should try not to take feedback personally.
  4. Choose the right meeting place – Coaching can bring up emotions, so it’s important that you feel comfortable in your meeting place, whether it’s a private office, busy coffee shop or virtual.
  5. Speak up if there’s truly not a great fit – With employer-sponsored coaching, you don’t get to pick your coach and, most of the time, it works out well. However, if there’s truly a bad fit, talk to your director of HR or the person in charge of the coaching program. Keep in mind that having a coach who asks tough questions isn’t the same as a bad fit!

What New Leaders Can Expect to Get Out of Coaching

Transitioning from individual contributor to a leadership role is hard, especially without a formal system of support. When new leaders get coaching, they can expect to increase their on-the-job effectiveness, due to gaining new skills and setting their mindset right. With coaching, new leaders learn about themselves, become comfortable enough to be themselves at work and develop the confidence to address issues and create an effective working environment that facilitates success. The coaching process provides space and structure for the reflection necessary for learning and growth and, in many cases, helps people reconnect with what they love about life and work.

In my years as an executive in the HR, financial and operational fields, I’ve seen countless coaching success stories, including my own. Most people go into coaching expecting it to be somewhat helpful and are shocked at how transformative the process really is.

Supporting the First 90 Days: Why Employers of Choice Hire Coaches for New Leaders

“There is a pervasive lack of leadership management training happening when people are moving into management.”

  • Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Thought Leadership, FranklinCovey

In many organizations, new leaders commit to a plan for their first 90 days on the job. The transition from employee to leader—sometimes described as drinking from the fire hose—is incredibly stressful, challenging and, at times, discouraging. Top employers provide coaching support when their employees move into leadership roles (and often when they welcome new leaders to the company). Employers of choice believe there’s no need for anyone to fail within the first 90 days; coaching mitigates this risk and gives new leaders a strong start.

And, in the era of the great resignation, employees want to work for organizations that care about their people and align to their values. Companies that offer coaching demonstrate their commitment to leadership development, succession planning and helping employees fit into their roles. They know that coaching helps employees feel a sense of belonging, find meaning in their work, and achieve greater happiness, productivity and performance. One great leader creates many others; that’s why top employers are thrilled to provide coaching to their leadership team at all levels.

If you’re a new leader and your employer offers you an opportunity to meet with a coach, take it! It can change your life and the lives of others, now and far into the future. So, what are you waiting for?

Further Reading

I highly recommend these two books to help you understand the transformational benefits of coaching:

  • Developing Leaders by Executive Coaching by Andromachi Athanasopoulou.
  • The First 90 Days, Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael D. Watkins.

About the Author

Filomena Lofranco

Filomena Lofranco is a management consultant and executive coach with more than 25 years of human resource, finance, and leadership experience. Filomena strives to share her knowledge and expertise with professionals looking to grow and succeed in the workplace. She understood that there was a profound need for up-and-coming professionals to have the proper training and foundation from the start. Filomena works to identify areas within organizations that require attention and improvement, evaluating potential options and providing practical solutions that are cost effective. For Filomena, fostering relationships at every level of an organization is key when building a strong and prosperous business. She believes these relationships hold great value for an organization and can help mitigate problems when challenges arise. She has been instrumental in staff development, staff empowerment and in driving successful results across a wide range of cross functional teams. She is passionate about promoting and inspiring workplace culture that supports physical, psychological and emotional well-being for all.

 

[1] Limits to coaching confidentiality are much like limits for counselling. For example, if a client discloses threats of harm to oneself or others, a coach is obligated to alert the proper authorities to make sure the client gets the help they need.

Inspiring Leaders: Behaviours Build the Brand

Context & Approach

It is no surprise that when we think of inspiring leaders, we identify people we want to emulate, model ourselves after and have the opportunity to work with. As a colleague once observed, leadership can be summarized very succinctly: “Leaders inspire”.

And it is seldom because of ‘what’ they do, but rather ‘why’ they do it and ‘how’ they do it. A book by Simon Sinek entitled Find Your Why and an earlier TED talk by the author expand on this point.[1]

If one looks further into the part inspiration plays in effective leadership, a trusted source such as the Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a good place to begin. Over a few years, the HBR published three articles on the topic. It is clear that the topic of inspiration warrants serious examination as a major aspect of effective leadership.[2]

Four thoughts informed the writing of this article:

  1. A belief that inspirational leadership was never more necessary than it is in these uncertain times;
  2. A leader’s inspirational behaviours will be a mix of core aspects of character; inspiring actions are often situationally-driven, guided by genuine caring for others and directly related to the needs and expectations of teams, followers and the wider organization.
  3. Moreover, effective leaders inspire through their significant ability to retain balance between and among the competing demands they face; and
  4. While the best leaders are strongly inspirational, they too need support as they continue to lead in a way that invites engagement and commitment. Conversation is of course an important element in this regard, but pragmatic and focused action steps also play a prominent role.

As noted by Ian Cullwick, a retired partner with an international consulting firm: “At a system-wide level, inspiration includes the need to demonstrate and deliver genuine and consistently-applied leadership and management practices; to accomplish this, an accountability framework and related delegated authorities are essential.”

Our discussion starts with some basic thinking about ‘inspiration’, informed in part by a current focused survey of a range of senior leaders, coaches, consultants and clients. In addition, I identify some shared behaviours which I have experienced directly from among those I work with. Along with the research findings, these become for our purposes a ‘baseline’ for the balance of the article.

From there, I highlight some of the challenges leaders face as they manage their own resilience and at the same time, remain supportive of colleagues. The ‘work’ of the leader – and the leader’s organization in supporting their leaders – as they remain strongly inspirational is discussed. Finally, I conclude the article with a few key practical action steps for leaders to consider as they continue to maintain a high degree of effectiveness which balances their own wellbeing with continuing inspiration, engagement and commitment of colleagues.

Download PDF: Inspiring Leaders: Behaviours Build the Brand

Footnotes

[1] Sinek, S., D. Mead and P. Docker. (2017) Find Your Why. London: Penguin Books Limited; Sinek, S. (2010) TED Talk entitled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

[2] See the following HBR articles: Kaufman, S. (2011, November 8th). Why Inspiration Matters; Zenger, J. and J. Folkman. (2013, June 20th).  What Inspiring Leaders Do; and Garton, E. (2017, April 25th). How to be an Inspiring Leader.

5 Benefits to Growing Your Team’s Emotional Effectiveness

In the post-pandemic hybrid world, people are craving reconnection. They are looking to rebuild trust in organizations that look and function differently than they did just a few years ago. Leaders of teams know they must foster new ways of connection among their teams. Growing your leadership team’s emotional intelligence is key to building a connection and managing the increasingly diverse needs of employees, while creating a healthy and engaged organization.

This quote now holds meaning for teams at work:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
   – Margaret Mead, Cultural anthropologist

For the thoughtful, committed teams I have worked with recently, I have observed them having a tremendous experience with each other when they focused on identifying their own level of emotional intelligence, and working to gain an understanding of their own trust-growth opportunities. Then they can leverage trust to have conversations that strengthen their commitment on the team.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we:

  • Perceive and express ourselves
  • Develop and maintain social relationships
  • Cope with challenges
  • Use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way (2012, Multi-Health Systems Inc.)

To learn more about emotional intelligence, and the importance of it to leaders, please see my previous article:  Emotional Intelligence: How Leaders Can Use it to Their Advantage

5 Benefits to Growing Your Team’s Emotional Effectiveness

In the Queen’s IRC custom “Building Team Trust with Emotional Intelligence” program, leadership teams learn about emotional intelligence, and they explore how that relates to different levels of trust from individual, team, and organizational perspectives.

Below are 5 benefits to teams experiencing this program together. They are highlighted with some of the emotional intelligences:

  1. Understanding Emotional Reactions and Triggers as a Team
    There is value in the group learning together about emotional intelligence when they realize that they aren’t alone in learning how to become more emotionally effective. For example, Emotional Self-Awareness is one of the emotional intelligences that the team benefits from talking about. If a team is able to understand emotional reactions and triggers, then they can benefit from sharpening this understanding. If there is any tension in the team, it could be because there are moments of unawareness of how emotions are impacting the group. The team could put these emotions to positive use instead of being derailed by them.
    “We are similar in our journeys, but sometimes you can feel alone at work.” – team member
  2. Leveraging Empathy
    Training all leaders together creates space for people to step out of their departmental box. All levels of leadership participate including supervisors, managers and the CEO. This program is a customized way to promote open communication and collaboration, which often results in them getting to know each other better. One of the best emotional intelligences to leverage is Empathy, where they get to spend time understanding and appreciating how each other feels. For teams that have a lower score for empathy, it may be beneficial to think about how to ensure group consensus is reached before carrying out a decision; this is especially helpful during times where individuals’ worries or concerns take over instead of gaining an understanding of how decisions can be made that would beneficial everyone. Trust is strengthened in the team as they use empathy as a regular tool to be gaining insights into each other’s perspectives.
    “I experienced growth as a collective and individually…  Helped me to not just think of me, but to think of the team.” – team member
  3. Using Reality Testing
    By experiencing the build of a Trust Fit Plan, the team co-creates solutions to using emotional intelligence to their collective advantage.  Reality Testing is one of the emotional intelligences used by teams who want to honestly rebuild and repair trust. Reality testing is about remaining objective and seeing things as they really are, versus seeing things the way you want to see them. (2012, Multi-Health Systems Inc.)   Teams that can view situations from an objective stay point do strengthen their decision-making ability; however, during stressful times, emotions can impact how realistic they are in approaching challenges. When teams focus on accurately assessing a situation and understanding why the reasons occurred, trust becomes a stronger characteristic of the team.
    “There are opportunities to rebuild together now.” – team member
  4. Building Confidence and Trust
    Team members say they have more confidence in the group after sharing and participating in the discussions. They express feeling ready to do the work that needs to be done by making trust a part of their regular conversations – in other words, this program helps teams to look forward. By doing this work together, it helps teams to identify how to be more emotionally effective with each other, which can result in them finding new ways to do the work. Optimism is an emotional intelligence that teams leverage in order to see the best in people, and it helps to remain hopeful about the future despite challenges and issues. Conflict can be a natural result of diversity, so teams that leverage diversity make better decisions and create more trustworthy workplaces.
    “So much wisdom in this group. Now, I would trust you all in a decision. Ready to embrace a new way of working with each other.” – team member
  5. Developing Interpersonal Trust
    One participant said that this opportunity to be vulnerable in the group during the program was key to her learning experience. During the program, there are many small group break out discussions where team members can openly explore how the organization facilitates trust with their stakeholders too – the program looks outside of the organization’s walls so that teams can see themselves as a collective group who are co-creating for their customers, clients and the public in general. The emotional intelligence at play here is interpersonal relationships which is about creating relationships based on mutual respect and trust. This takes time. This 2-day program fully dedicates the time to learn way more about each other than a normal work environment permits; this is one of the most common elements teams build into their Trust Fit Plans: time and space to stay connected.
    “Free of judgement to learn in this space that is fully dedicated to team trust”. – team member 

Building Team Trust with Emotional Intelligence

This two-day custom program is based on our open enrollment Building Trust program. While many parts of the open program are also included when running in-house training, running custom training for your internal leadership team provides the opportunity for building trust and learning together as a team. Some of the highlights of the program are:

  • Prior to the program, each team member completes a confidential self-assessment online survey.
  • During the program, we explore the different emotional intelligences and participants receive their Individual EI Leadership Self-Assessment report.
  • We share a Group Profile – this provides a lens through which to interpret emotional intelligence (EI) results in a team or group setting. (It combines scores of individual self-assessments which is helpful to learn how they contribute to the collective EI of the team.)
  • Participants diagnose their organization’s current state, and collaborate to design a “Trust Fitness Plan” for their team by using the emotional intelligences.

Phases of Strengthening Team Emotional Effectiveness

As teams work together to strengthen their emotional effectiveness, they will follow these phases:

  1. They learn the Concept of emotional intelligence.
  2. They start to Experiment with the concepts by imaging saying or doing something differently.
  3. After the program, they have an Experience by trying it out and actually saying or do something differently.
  4. They Reflect and think about what it was like having that experience: How did you feel? What did you notice in the other person? Impact? Outcome?
  5. Repeat the phases like a fitness rep. The phases of learning constantly repeat, just like our actions for healthy living, like taking a fitness class. We don’t check off the fitness box and say “well, I exercised, so I am done doing that forever.”  The analogy to fitness is the foundation of the Trust Fit Plan where the team EI repetitions are embedded into how they work together.

For more information on a custom “Building Team Trust with Emotional Intelligence” program, please contact cathy.sheldrick@queensu.ca or find more information on our website: Customized Training

About the Author

Linda Allen-Hardisty

 

 

 

 

Linda Allen-Hardisty is an organizational development professional (Queens IRC OD Certificate), an executive coach (ICF PCC professional designation), a team coach (EMCC Global Accreditation), and a Forbes Coaches Council contributing member. She’s built a reputation as a vibrant, contemporary voice in the business world by blending her grounding in OD with a practical approach to addressing organizational challenges and opportunities. With a Masters of Education from the University of Regina, Linda’s uniqueness is that, prior to private practice, she fulfilled corporate leadership roles including the Director of Organizational Development in a company listed on the Hewitt Top 50 Employers in Canada and became the first Manager of Strategy and Performance for a municipal government undertaking cultural transformation. Over her 20-year OD career, she has helped many leaders – from corporate executives to entrepreneurs – improve their personal and professional success. She is a sought-after facilitator and advisor for executive development, strategy and change, team effectiveness, and emotional intelligence.

Linda is the lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Building Trust program, which runs in cities across Canada and virtually. She facilitates custom programs with a wide variety of organizations, including union groups, government organizations and private companies.

Bringing HR Strategy to Life: The Importance of Delegated Authorities and How to Make Them Work

Introduction

One of the many lessons that the pandemic has taught us is that, more than ever, front-line managers and employees need to be ready and able to respond in the moment to the unprecedented demands and expectations of customers and colleagues alike. Effective empowerment and decentralized decision making, both virtually and face-to-face, are what drive great customer outcomes, as well as an engaged and healthy workforce. And in this dynamic digital age that cuts across diverse “brick and mortar” business models and geographies, the need to deliver customer and employee responsiveness and quality is key to both short and longer-term success. Anything less, and customers and employees alike can easily walk and take their buying power and human capital elsewhere.

So, in the face of these realities, how do employers translate human resources [HR] strategies and well intended policies into effective and responsive HR practices and results? A key driver of this success is the clarity and practical application of one’s HR “delegated authorities”.

Knowing what HR decision making authorities to delegate, to whom, and how they need to be supported and applied have become mission critical HR management realities for most organizations regardless of sector. Delegated HR authorities are key to “how” HR strategy is delivered, how desired workplace cultures and employee productivity aspirations are realized. They are also key to how meaningful line management accountabilities for employee engagement, wellness, and performance are achieved.

Download PDF: Bringing HR Strategy to Life

4 Steps to Achieve Sustainable DEI Transformation

In recent years, organizations have turned their human resource energies to enhancing workforce diversity, fostering inclusive workplace cultures and addressing systemic barriers to employment equity. These efforts are simply the right thing to do, and they also reflect leaders’ growing appreciation that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts enhance organizational success. From being able to attract and retain talent, to being more able to innovate and problem-solve, the benefits are plentiful.

Despite these benefits, organizational efforts are not always effective in achieving long-term sustained impact. This work is highly complex and nuanced and, as such, requires careful planning and organizational-wide understanding and commitment. While success requires leadership champions and workplace-wide roll-out, long-term transformative change in this area requires powerful conversations and buy-in across all levels and corners of the organization.

What this means is that at its core, enhancing DEI is about transforming organizational norms, structures and culture. And as with all significant organizational change, without careful attention to how DEI strategies are approached and implemented, the culture change will not be sustained.

Emerging research is identifying some of the success factors that support successful workplace DEI implementation strategies. A 2020 report from McKinsey[1] reveals that those organizations whose DEI efforts have achieved measurable and sustained change share common elements. Specifically, these organizations:

  • Approach DEI efforts in an organizational-led manner with strong leadership commitment
  • Articulate clearly how DEI initiatives support organizational goals
  • Possess a strong culture of accountability
  • Deploy bold initiatives related to inclusion

How do you turn these aspirational elements into concrete actions your organization can take now to enhance its DEI initiatives? This article proposes four practical and foundational steps to begin your workplace DEI planning. Together with the aspirational elements listed above, they propose a path forward that will maximize the likelihood of transformational and impactful DEI changes in your workplace.

Step 1. Know where you’re starting from

The first and most important step in an organizational DEI plan is to clearly understand your current workplace culture. No two DEI strategies are the same. As such, it is impossible to approach this work in a formulaic manner. Your DEI strategy needs to be crafted to address your unique organizational challenges. Knowing your “starting place” requires assessing your current workplace culture through organizational data, surveys and focus groups to identify gaps and areas requiring attention.

To frame your workplace assessment, you may want to consider following three distinct areas of inquiry:

  • Diversity: How diverse is your current workforce? Do you notice varied perspectives, strengths, identities and backgrounds across departments? Are certain identities over-represented at particular levels of the organization?
  • Equity: What systemic barriers – policies, norms, practices – are impeding equity of opportunity for particular segments of your workforce? How might they be addressed?
  • Inclusion: What does it feel like to work in your organization? How inclusive is the workplace culture and do all employees feel they belong?

Once you have explored these questions and identified emerging themes, you will be in a place to have meaningful conversations about setting your goals for change and determining how to achieve those goals.

Step 2. Establish accountability structures

Doing this work is complex and takes time. To ensure success, it is essential to demonstrate an organization-wide commitment, starting from the top down. Your leaders need to show that they understand the importance of DEI and are working for change in this area.

Having a clear structure of governance is a proven way to ensure accountability. Consider the following questions when creating a governance structure for your organization’s DEI initiatives:

  • What structure will be most effective to ensure all voices are contributing?
  • Who will ultimately be responsible for the work?
  • How often will you meet?
  • How will you ensure representative and diverse voices are included?

Step 3. Develop a DEI vision statement

A strong DEI vision statement is an articulation of your organization’s ultimate reasons for engaging in this work and what you want to achieve. Creating a statement serves a number of purposes, including:

  • Demonstrating the organization’s commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture
  • Establishing a common vocabulary across the organization to facilitate employee engagement and understanding
  • Helping employees understand how their own job duties connect to the organization’s overall DEI efforts
  • Enhancing the organization’s employment value proposition

Your vision statement sets the tone and direction for the initiative and should resonate with and engage all employee groups, guiding the work that they do every day to enhance DEI. Creating a strong vision statement is not an easy task; check out Ongig’s article Top 10 Diversity Statements for some helpful tips and examples of statements that stand out.[2]

Step 4. Develop a project plan and measure success

Once you have undertaken the first three steps, you will be well-positioned to develop a project plan and roadmap to help you reach your goals. Best practices in this area include:

  • Creating a project plan with clear and realistic timelines and measurable goals
  • Involving employees at all levels of the planning
  • Identifying ways to engage with staff and to increase understanding and appreciation
  • Designing staff and leadership training on related DEI topics

McKinsey’s identification of the importance of having a strong culture of accountability is relevant here. Your project plan should be ambitious in its attempts to address the gaps you’ve identified in your organization. Similarly, a culture of accountability is one that takes the time to measure and report on progress. This, too, should be built into your plan.

Conclusion

Like all large and complex endeavours, the benefits accrue when you set a vision for where you want to be and then put in place the structures needed to support your work to get there. In the case of enhancing DEI in the workplace, these structures include a team of diverse individuals and a clear and actionable plan to achieve measurable change.

Remember that this paradigm-shifting work takes time and commitment. Investing in these first steps will ensure you have a strong foundation upon which to build more specific strategies.

To summarize, you need to:

  1. Know where you are starting from
  2. Commit to the work by setting up an accountability structure
  3. Develop a DEI vision statement
  4. Develop a project plan that includes clear goals that address the identified gaps and measure your success

If you follow this overall planning framework, your organization will be on the right path to achieve its DEI vision and see sustainable, transformative change.

 

About the Author

Janet Stewart

 

 

 

 

Janet Stewart is a human resource and organizational development consultant whose primary focus is on maximizing workforce engagement.  Her work is informed by her 20-plus years working in public sector leadership roles. In addition to her Master’s in Adult Education, Janet has a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the Justice Institute of BC, a graduate Certificate in Organizational Coaching from UBC, and an Organizational Development Foundations Certificate from Queen’s IRC.  She is a Qualified Mediator with ADR Institute, is a Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation and is PROSCI® change-management certified. Her book Hiring Well: Building Strong Selection Practices in K-12 was published in April 2021.

 

Footnotes

[1] Dixon-Fyle, S., Dolan, K., Hunt, V., & Prince, S. (2020, May 19). Diversity wins: How inclusion matters. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters

[2] Barbour , H. (2020, September 17). Top 10 diversity mission statements. Ongig Blog. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from https://blog.ongig.com/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-mission-statement/

Will They Stay or Will They Go?

The pandemic has provided time for people to reevaluate what they want from their work and personal lives. A resulting shift in perspectives on what fulfilling work looks like is now in play.

After the uncertainty and exhaustion of the past year, this new paradigm, along with a desire for a universal reset, has created the perfect storm for the Great Resignation[1], an unprecedented tidal wave of voluntary attrition. Some workers, frustrated with watching paychecks and advancement opportunities stagnate, are leaving their jobs to accelerate career growth and access more equitable compensation elsewhere. Others are making the switch to more meaningful careers, having used the time during lockdown to reflect on what type of work truly makes them happy and fulfilled. There are also those who have burnout from juggling the demands of work-life balance during the pandemic. To support their mental and physical health, these workers are moving to employers who are offering the promise of greater flexibility and work-life integration.

Can We Stop the Great Resignation?

A survey published by Microsoft predicts 41% of the global workforce are planning to leave their jobs by the end of 2021[2], resulting in talent shortages and staffing instability through 2022. While some of the highest rates of attrition are being experienced by the food service[3], technology[4] and healthcare sectors[5], all industries will be impacted to some extent in the next 3 to 6 months.

Is there anything that employers can do to reverse this trend? A refreshed retention strategy which reimagines the employee value proposition is a powerful first step in getting ahead of and stopping the Great Resignation. Organizations that are truly open and receptive to listening to and proactively accommodating the emerging needs of their workers through a new value proposition, will be well-positioned to survive (and even thrive) during this next period of workplace transformation.

Reimagining The Employee Value Proposition During the Great Resignation

While each organization’s employee value propositions will be different, here are some actions to consider as you move through the redesign process:

Identify Who Your Highest Turnover Risks Are
Collecting and analyzing a mix of predictive attrition data (third party employee surveys, people analytics platforms) and descriptive data (stay interviews, one-on-ones with current employees, manager insights, exit-interviews) will provide key insights about who is most at risk to leave and why. This information will tell the tale of what parts of the existing value proposition are working and what is falling short of employee expectations.

To ensure that the data is comprehensive and balanced, review collection processes and questions for inclusiveness, equity and relevance. Check in with employees too, actively engaging and listening to feedback, to ensure that their experience with these tools is positive and aligned with your culture. Asking external candidates who have declined recent offers why they did not join, can also provide insights about the market competitiveness of your value proposition. Once both internal and external data is collected and analyzed, ensure that employees are made aware of the findings and that any issues will be promptly addressed.

Make It Easier to Get Work Done
How work gets done in an organization, impacts an employee’s experience on a daily basis. When positive, it can reenergize an employee’s commitment to their employer; when negative, it can trigger a decision to leave, especially when more seamless experiences are available elsewhere.

Asking employees if there is anything in their work day that is causing frustration or delays will provide rich data on how to reimagine the value proposition. These frank conversations can be about knowledge transfer processes, communication channels, and work tools, but it can also be about toxic colleagues (martyrs, gossipers, complainers) and interdepartmental conflicts. Life has been hard enough during the pandemic, and getting work done shouldn’t be a contributing factor. Correcting any issues – and then communicating these changes out to employees in a timely manner, will be just as important, if not more important, than learning what the actual issues are.

Help Managers Become More Effective
Effective retention strategies require engaged managers who inspire and motivate their employees to perform at their best, display compassion, keep dialogue open, and give their teams a sense of purpose and connectivity. If employees aren’t experiencing good leadership as part of their employee value proposition, they are more likely to leave.

However, organizations need to also remember that managers are employees too. After over a year of managing flagging morale, hiring freezes, remote workforces and acting as the de facto messenger of difficult news, managers may be feeling burnout[6] and are themselves ready to quit. This group of employees will need a listening and supportive ear to hear their unique concerns, and opportunities to reenergize and realign. Targeted coaching and training will also be of value, to help them continue to be the leaders their teams need during this new period of turnover.

Reengage Employees with Mission, Vision and Values
Life during the pandemic has been isolating for many, with remote work furthering the disconnect. Often when there is less connection, it makes it easier for employees to say goodbye. To cultivate a greater sense of belonging during the Great Resignation, re-marketing and celebrating the Mission, Vision and Values will re-energize employees and remind them how their piece of the work puzzle is valued and fits in with the larger goals of the organization.

Leadership may also find that a refresh of the Mission, Vision and Values may be timely. Just as most of us are not the same person we were over a year ago, organizational identities have also likely evolved. It will be important to include employees in these discussions to ensure that their emerging needs are integrated.

Set Clear Performance Expectations
The fluidity of working remotely has meant that more than ever, employees need clarity on what they should be working on, and what is expected of them to demonstrate success in their roles. When not clear, it can be a source of conflict with their managers and colleagues, and create job dissatisfaction. Ultimately such conflicts and confusion can become a compelling reason to leave.

Reviewing performance evaluation systems to ensure relevance, consistency and equity can mitigate these issues. Most employees have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with performance reviews, so asking these key users for input during any redesign will be essential for buy-in and engagement. Good questions to ask include whether the tools are easy to understand, inclusive in design and accessible for both in office and remote employees.

Pay People What They Are Worth
Dissatisfaction with pay has been one of the most challenging drivers of the Great Resignation. Just as it was before the pandemic, compensation strategies that are perceived to not recognize an employee’s contribution and competitive market value will result in resignations from employees who feel frustrated and undervalued. Two emerging trends have further complicated this challenge. Many employees who were ready to move to a better paying job pre-pandemic chose to hold off in the face of economic uncertainty. Now feeling a sense of urgency to make up for lost time and income, these employees will not be patient with employers who do not recognize their accelerated timelines for more attractive compensation. Another trend is the emergence of salary inflation bubbles[7] in some sectors, such as hospitality and technology. In order to compensate for staffing shortages, candidates are receiving above market premiums with their offers, creating internal inequity between these new recruits and more tenured employees. It will be important to keep these new developments in mind as organizations revisit their total rewards strategies to ensure that no one is left behind.

Integrate Flexibility into Everything
Reimagining flexibility during the Great Resignation is about more than just about picking a side on the remote versus hybrid office debate. Employees are looking for a more holistic approach to organizational flexibility, where employers actively help them build a healthier work-life strategy, by considering the whole employee experience within the context of their work and personal lives. Would an employee who wants to balance commitments as they return to university, be interested in a job share? Do all roles need to be performed during the regular work day, or can parents with young children or those with increased eldercare responsibilities continue to contribute instead of leaving to focus on these life events? An employee value proposition that revisits how policies, practices and culture can better support an employee’s physical, social and mental health needs will go a long way to keeping employees happy, productive and with you, at least for a little while longer. An openness to revisiting job design, time off and shortened work week policies, while ensuring that employees are not at a career disadvantage for seeking these programs or have inequitable access to flexibility are some specific considerations to evolve this employee value proposition.

Accelerate Learning and Development Opportunities
Understanding employees needs around career growth and advancement, and perhaps even more importantly their timelines will be critical to understand during the Great Resignation. Employers that are active career coaches versus passive observers in their employee’s career development plans, will encourage retention. Too often, career growth seekers require context on how advancement happens in an organization, and without support and mentorship to connect the dots, they may unknowingly walk away from viable and attractive opportunities. For example, as products and service models pivot as a result of the pandemic, considering whether to offer employees opportunities to receive vocational training or in-house certification workshops to move into new careers, instead of hiring external candidates, could be a win-win when it aligns with an employee’s career plans.

Moving from the Great Resignation to the Great Retention?

Offering a refreshed and compelling employee value proposition that meets the emerging needs of workers during these unusual times, is a smart focus for retention strategies.

Any process to reimagine existing value propositions must be collaborative, inclusive, equitable and realistic. It must incorporate both a data-driven approach, to understand why people are leaving, but also encourage people to share their opinions and ideas, even if the commentary gets a little uncomfortable for the organization to hear. Building in transparency and time to listen will be key during this process of reinvention, so that employees understand why their opinions are being collected, and what outcomes are expected.

Ultimately, the question that the employee value proposition asks is: “What can we do to support you?” If the answer you give aligns with the current needs, wants and aspirations of employees, they will stay. Organizations who are committed not only in words but in deeds to evolving the employee value proposition will come out with an engaged workforce, one that may one day move the organization from the Great Resignation to that of the Great Retention.

About the Author

Mira Persaud

Mira Persaud is a human resources practitioner, facilitator and writer who is passionate about all things talent, people and culture. She has had the privilege of partnering with leadership teams on their journeys to build sustainable, strategic, and inclusive workplaces.

Mira has held roles in a variety of sectors, including telecommunications, manufacturing and healthcare. She has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Relations from the University of Toronto, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management from Seneca College, where she was awarded President’s List honours. She been certified as a trainer through the Franklin Covey Institute, has been a guest lecturer at the DeGroote School of Business and York University, and is a member of the Human Resources Professionals Association. As a lifelong learner, data geek and avid reader, she is fascinated by the future of work.

References

Cook, I. (2021, September 15). Who Is Driving the Great Resignation? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation

Edmiston, J. (2021, September 27). ‘Something’s got to give’: Restaurants slash hours, trim menus as worst worker shortage ever cuts deep. Financial Post. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://financialpost.com/news/economy/somethings-got-to-give-restaurants-slash-hours-trim-menus-as-unprecedented-worker-shortage-cuts-deep

Klotz, A. (2021, May 30). The Covid Vaccine Means a Return to Work. And a Wave of Resignations. NBC News Think Newsletter. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-vaccine-means-return-work-wave-resignations-ncna1269018

MetLife, Inc. (2021) 2021 Employee Benefit Trends Study. Caught in the Middle: Managers in the Wake of COVID-19. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.metlife.com/employee-benefit-trends/ebts-managers-2021/

Microsoft Corporation. (2021). 2021 Work Trend Index: The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready? Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/hybrid-work

Rastello, S. (2021, July 21). Better pay and ‘micro offices’: Pandemic shakes up Canada’s tech industry. Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/better-pay-and-micro-offices-vc-veteran-ponders-tech-s-future-1.1631511

Recommended Books for Further Reading

Conant, D. (2020). The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights. Wiley.

Kaye, B. & Jordan-Evans, S. (2021). Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 6th Edition.

Oake, K. (2021). Culture Renovation: 18 Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company.‎ McGraw-Hill Education.

Footnotes

[1] Klotz, A. (2021, May). The Covid Vaccine Means a Return to Work. And a Wave of Resignations. NBC News: Think Newsletter. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/covid-vaccine-means-return-work-wave-resignations-ncna1269018

[2] Microsoft Corporation. (2021, March 22). 2021 Work Trend Index: The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready? Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/hybrid-work

[3] Edmiston, J. (2021, September 27). ‘Something’s got to give’: Restaurants slash hours, trim menus as worst worker shortage ever cuts deep. Financial Post. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from  https://financialpost.com/news/economy/somethings-got-to-give-restaurants-slash-hours-trim-menus-as-unprecedented-worker-shortage-cuts-deep

[4] Cook, I. (2021, September 15). Who Is Driving the Great Resignation? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation

[5] Ibid.

[6] MetLife, Inc. (2021). 2021 Employee Benefit Trends Study. Caught in the Middle: Managers in the Wake of COVID-19. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.metlife.com/employee-benefit-trends/ebts-managers-2021/

[7] Rastello, S. (2021, July 21). Better pay and ‘micro offices’: Pandemic shakes up Canada’s tech industry. Bloomberg News. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/better-pay-and-micro-offices-vc-veteran-ponders-tech-s-future-1.1631511

Developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Program

The issue of racism and ongoing oppression of minority groups is well documented. Leadership must recognize their unconscious and implicit biases to begin to help organizations become inclusive.

Leaders who are engaged will recognize inequities and will also recognize bias as well as disrespect and incivility. By addressing these issues through education and formal programs, leaders will help foster the development of others in overcoming historic barriers to both employment and customer service.

There are also limited dedicated resources or programs that assist with equity, diversity and inclusion programs. Often programs are completed off the corner of one’s desk to obtain the check mark. Strategies are required for dedicated resources, education, as well as an acknowledgement that we must foster an environment of equity and inclusivity and become committed to listening, learning and understanding to ensure every person can work and receive care safely, openly and honestly.

Download PDF: Developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Program

The Shifting Challenges for Leaders

In January 2020, when we had only vague and incomplete information on a new strain of virus, The Economist published a column entitled A Manager’s Manifesto for 2020: Eight Resolutions to Adopt in the New Year.[1]  It highlighted many wise practices and behaviours we knew about but which the authors thought we might pay special attention to, e.g. “give out some praise”, the “buck stops with you”, “listen to your staff” and similar important reminders.

And then along came a global pandemic and leaders found themselves in deeper and uncharted waters. The advice cited above from The Economist still remains sound and helpful. What changed, however, in my experience is best described as the need for some aspects of the leader’s role to become “more vivid”. [2]

Leaders realized that the need to balance both task and relationship was central to being consistently effective in their role. The task part of the equation was always central but now the need for attention to, and support of the safety, security and overall wellbeing of teams, was very much a central part of the work of leading others.

Nine months into the pandemic, I conducted a survey to see what changes teams were experiencing and how they continued to operate effectively. What emerged was a parallel series of changes, namely those which leaders of teams were also experiencing.  See Team Effectiveness: From Pandemic to Promise in the Learning Organization (Research Report)[3]

My continuing work with coaching clients, along with the ongoing literature around leadership skills and related topics, [4] prompted this further look at the role of leaders today and what might remain important over the next many months.

Download PDF: The Shifting Challenges for Leaders

Trust Yourself First: Addressing DEI Using Emotional Intelligence

Think of the last time you questioned how much you trust yourself – to make a tough decision on your own, to initiate a tough conversation with someone not knowing if you can handle how it goes, to admit to others you were wrong, to learn something new, or to simply be honest with yourself? Exploring your self-trust is what I call “inner work”, and it is foundational to your contribution to addressing one of the most critical forces of our time – creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) workplace.

As organizations continue to make and refine plans for a hybrid workplace, they are also focusing on the leaders’ top five priorities for 2021. According to the July 28, 2021 issue of HRD Magazine, diversity, equity and inclusion is number two.[1]

Let’s explore how trusting yourself will help you to listen, learn (and unlearn), and be extremely open to your role in making a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Addressing workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the most prominent focuses of organizations today. It is a business imperative.  With all the reports and headlines capturing our attention (as it should), many leaders I work with find themselves overwhelmed with closing the many gaps, for example:

  • “A 2020 Ipsos poll found 60 percent of those surveyed see systemic racism as a serious problem and a majority believe more needs to be done to ensure equality for all Canadians”[2]
  • “But what surprises some people is how far behind Canada is compared with other OECD countries in narrowing the pay gap between men and women. Of the 36 OECD countries, Canada ranks 29th.”[3]

There are some good examples of well-designed policies and practices for corporate DEI efforts to be successful.   As you grow in your ability to trust yourself to learn and unlearn, here are a few ways to get started to trust yourself more.  The emotional intelligences to lean into are:

  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal relationship-building
  • Stress tolerance
  • Self-awareness

Empathy

Empathy is recognizing, understanding, and appreciating how other people feel.  Empathy involves you being able to articulate your understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects other people’s feelings (MHS).  A recent example is Penny Oleksiak’s reflection on how her relay team leveraged empathy over time to achieve:

“I’ve grown a lot as a person in the last five years,” said Oleksiak. “I think we’re all so supportive of each other when someone else is going through a tough time. … Having a team that’s that professional, that empathetic, that amazing, you don’t see that anywhere else in the world.” (Tokyo Olympics, August 2021) – Canada’s most decorated Olympian[4]

To trust yourself to be empathetic, really be present to listen to someone’s reply about what would make a team meeting more inclusive so all can contribute in a way that works for them. Trust that you can learn to set up a team meeting based on what they said – and to also unlearn or stop doing something that didn’t help.  An example question – “When do you feel most included in a meeting?”.   Your intention doesn’t matter as much as people feeling that you understand and recognize their view – only they can tell you if they feel included.

Interpersonal Relationship-Building

Interpersonal relationships as an emotional intelligence refers to your skill of developing and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by trust and compassion (MHS).

Use a coach approach to build relationships with your team members. For example, research has shown that what is known as “political correctness” in the workplace inhibits cross-cultural interactions, when leaders struggling under pressure of rule and regulations limit contact with diverse staff for fear of causing any unintended offense.  A coaching approach, on the other hand, promotes mutual respect and inclusion in a way that raises your interpersonal awareness.[5]

To trust yourself to build interpersonal relationships, engage your team in a discussion about how they define success in the workplace – ask what beliefs and criteria are important.  Trust yourself to build trusting relationships with all people, regardless of your feelings toward them. For example, identify people on your team with whom you have not developed a strong relationship; list areas of these relationships you’d like to improve, and talk with them.

Stress Tolerance

Stress tolerance is an emotional intelligence that involves you coping with stressful or difficult situations and believing that you can manage or influence situations in a positive manner.

High trust relationships lower individual stress. For example, I have noticed that some leaders question their ability to lead the change in shifting their workplace culture to more diverse, equitable and inclusive – because they know it comes with potential conflict and challenging conversations.  This can be so stressful!

Trust yourself to hear difficult things that others may raise, and reframe your role as the one to listen. Listen, listen, listen.  People do want to be heard – that could provide priceless release for people and strengthen level of trust in relationships. The path to DEI workplaces is a journey. Build a strong level of stress tolerance so you can create space for such conversations.

Self-awareness

Self-awareness is “the ability to see ourselves clearly to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world around us.”[6]

Trust yourself to learn and use the essential coaching skills to listen with empathy and ask open-ended questions and show your genuine curiosity without judgement. For example, ask your team what you can do to build a more diverse team that you currently have now, or what you can do to ensure the new DEI policies are followed and leveraged. Be open and don’t be afraid to hear that you may need to change your own actions.

Where to go next?

In our Building Trust program, participants complete an online self-assessment of how they currently use emotional intelligence, and their results are woven into the program self-reflections and discussions. A past participant said:

“This program has changed how I think about my role in improving my relationships; there is a lot I can do to become more trustworthy to others. That EI self-assessment was an eye-opener for me.”  

Of all the definitions of trust that we explore in the program, the one most participants gravitate to is this: To talk about trust, Brene Brown uses the acronym BRAVING which stands for: boundaries, reliability, accountability, the vault, integrity, non-judgment, and generosity. Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.[7]

Building trust with others begins with building trust in yourself to do the inner work that you are so capable of doing!  Trusting yourself will help you to listen, learn (and unlearn), and be extremely open to your role in making a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.

Addressing workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the most prominent focuses of organizations today. It is our collective responsibility. The next time you question if you trust yourself, consider your focus on using empathy, growing your interpersonal relationships, strengthening your stress tolerance, and raising your self-awareness.

 

About the Author

Linda Allen-Hardisty

Linda Allen-Hardisty is an organizational development professional (Queens IRC OD Certificate), an executive coach (ICF PCC professional designation), a team coach (EMCC Global Accreditation), and a Forbes Coaches Council contributing member. She’s built a reputation as a vibrant, contemporary voice in the business world by blending her grounding in OD with a practical approach to addressing organizational challenges and opportunities. Over her 20-year OD career, she has helped many leaders – from corporate executives to entrepreneurs – improve their personal and professional success. She is a sought-after facilitator and advisor for executive development, strategy and change, team effectiveness, and emotional intelligence. With a Masters of Education from the University of Regina, Linda’s uniqueness is that, prior to private practice, she fulfilled corporate leadership roles including the Director of Organizational Development in a company listed on the Hewitt Top 50 Employers in Canada and became the first Manager of Strategy and Performance for a municipal government undertaking cultural transformation.

Linda is the lead facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Building Trust program.

 

References

Brady, R. (2021, August 1). Penny Oleksiak becomes Canada’s most decorated Olympian as swim team Finishes Tokyo Olympics with sixth medal. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/article-canadas-swim-team-finishes-tokyo-olympics-with-sixth-medal-penny/.

Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. Vermilion.

Eurich, T. (2017). Insight: Why we’re not as self-aware as we think, and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life. Crown Business.

Small, T. (2021, August 1). Canadian companies emerge from COVID-19 pandemic with new diversity and Inclusion plans. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-canadian-companies-emerge-from-covid-19-pandemic-with-new-diversity/#comments.

Syed, N. (2021, July 28). Top leadership priorities for 2021 Revealed. HRD Canada. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.hcamag.com/ca/news/general/top-leadership-priorities-for-2021-revealed/292735.

Tanneau, C and McLoughlin, L. (2021, 06 21). Effective Global Leaders Need to Be Culturally Competent | The International Coaching Federation. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://hbr.org/sponsored/2021/06/effective-global-leaders-need-to-be-culturally-competent.

Zink, L. & Squires-Thompson, K. (2021, August 1). Opinion: Companies, get your pay equity act together. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-companies-get-your-pay-equity-act-together/.

 

Footnotes

[1] Syed, N. (2021, July 28). Top leadership priorities for 2021 Revealed. HRD Canada. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.hcamag.com/ca/news/general/top-leadership-priorities-for-2021-revealed/292735.

[2] Small, T. (2021, August 1). Canadian companies emerge from COVID-19 pandemic with new diversity and Inclusion plans. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-canadian-companies-emerge-from-covid-19-pandemic-with-new-diversity/#comments.

[3] Zink, L. & Squires-Thompson, K. (2021, August 1). Opinion: Companies, get your pay equity act together. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-companies-get-your-pay-equity-act-together/.

[4] Brady, R. (2021, August 1). Penny Oleksiak becomes Canada’s most decorated Olympian as swim team Finishes Tokyo Olympics with sixth medal. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/article-canadas-swim-team-finishes-tokyo-olympics-with-sixth-medal-penny/.

[5] Tanneau, C and McLoughlin, L. (2021, 06 21). Effective Global Leaders Need to Be Culturally Competent | The International Coaching Federation. Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://hbr.org/sponsored/2021/06/effective-global-leaders-need-to-be-culturally-competent.

[6] Eurich, T. (2017). Insight: Why we’re not as self-aware as we think, and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life. Crown Business.

[7] Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. Vermilion.

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