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Author: Naomi Thalenberg

Next-Gen Leaders: Weekly Roundup for 2/24 – 03/04

Want to get the latest scoop on what the most progressive leaders are doing nowadays? As always, we’ve got you covered! Here’s the first edition of our Next-Gen Leaders weekly roundup!

How Google Built the Dream Team
Ever since Google publicly disclosed they’re researching 180 teams across their company, everyone’s been wondering: What makes the perfect team? This Google report gets really intimate. We’re talking outside-of-work hobbies, socialization, gender balance, and personal backgrounds and preferences.

Silicon Valley Doesn’t Have a Lock on Great Corporate Culture
Fortune’s recent list of best places to work shows that the tech industry doesn’t always get employee happiness right. So, what’s the catch? Prioritizing culture doesn’t have to cost big bucks or require employee perks. Culture comes from within.

Insights From the Next Generation CEO
Do you know what the future of leadership looks like? TINYpulse gathered answers from VPs, managers, senior directors, CEOs, and other leaders across various industries to get a glimpse of what characteristics and traits make a successful leader.

Can Millennials Undo What the Recession Did to Their Earnings?
A new report looks at millennials’ wages and suggests their current earnings aren’t enough to cover the burden of loans in a slowly recovering post-recession workforce. TINYpulse’s 2015 Engagement Report indicates that 23% of employees would leave their companies if offered a 10% raise elsewhere. Is money increasingly becoming more important to millennials?

Open Sourcing Google’s HR Secrets
How does a global tech company top Fortune’s list of best companies to work for six years in a row? HR, baby, HR! This robust human resource team changed recruitment and hiring processes, performance management, and workers’ comp. Some experiments soared, while others faltered.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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What Does It Say When Companies Take A Joke Diversity Website Seriously?

When Arwa Mahdawi attended the Stupid Hackathon for stupid ideas, she thought she had a hilarious one: a Rent-A-Minority website that spoofed the diversity tokenism rampant in the media and tech industries. It was a funny idea, but also…after 91,000 clicks, a Mahdawi realized her fictional service was being taken seriously as an option by companies seeking to increase diversity in their workforces.

Diversity’s become something all businesses want these days — or feel legally obligated to have, anyway — having been linked statistically to retention, innovation, and productivity. “I created the site because I felt frustrated with the surface-level manner in which diversity issues are often dealt with,” Mahdawi told the Mail&Guardian.

Mahdawi may have wondered at first if her comedy was too broad. It has a hilarious tagline of “Get Ethics with Our Ethnics,” and an opening spiel that starts off:

“Rent-A-Minority is a revolutionary new service designed for those oh-[expletive] moments where you’ve realized your award show, corporate brochure, conference panel is entirely composed of white men. For, like, the fifth year in a row.”

And yet, companies actually thought the site was a legitimate staffing resource. Never mind that it offers to provide minority staff like Cheerful Woman of Color who won’t make you uncomfortable by being “an angry black woman.” There’s also Smiling Muslim Woman, “certified not to support ISIS (or your money back)” and Intellectual Black Guy to “stand next to you while you say racist things at parties.” It’s all pretty hilarious.

According to Haley McEwen, research co-ordinator at the Wits Centre of Diversity Studies (Wits is a real school and not part of the joke in case you’re wondering), companies may be in search of a pre-packaged diversification solution if management doesn’t see itself as having anything to contribute to diversification, or if they’re really only interested in diversifying to avoid a fine.

Rent-A-Minority is not that pre-packaged solution.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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What to Do About ROAD Warriors In Your Office

We’re not talking Mad Max here, or Furiosa. The ROAD warrior we’re talking about here is a R.O.A.D. warrior, with the initials standing for “Retired On Active Duty.” This is the employee whose motto would be “Just in it for the paycheck.” This type of worker may technically be doing his or her job, but only by exerting as little effort as possible. Excellence is totally out of the question. If they do something well, fine. If they don’t, just as fine as far as they’re concerned. One ROAD warrior is a concern; when you have multiple ROAD warriors, your office culture has a serious problem. These people act as motivational black holes, taking zero initiative, and setting an utterly dispiriting example for coworkers with whom they’re not likely to connect anyway.

Jason Forrest, writing for Builder, says companies needs to fix a ROAD warrior problem, one way or another. He says, “I believe wholeheartedly that with enough coaching from their leaders, everyone will either be coached up or coached out. You don’t have to go around firing everyone.” He sees two things that should be done.

Forrest believes the ROAD warrior’s direct supervisor is the key to revitalizing the employee’s interest in the job. “People don’t quit on companies so much as they quit on managers,” says Forrest. A manager needs to invests enough time in developing a stronger relationship with a ROAD warrior to create a feeling of being cared about, supported, and empowered. This can, in turn, stimulate the ROAD warrior’s personal loyalty to the supervisor and thus a desire to excel.

Second, Forrest points out that the best employees feel a sense of camaraderie with their coworkers, and a ROAD warrior’s relationships need to be strengthened. He suggests team-building efforts that have the ROAD warrior needing to collaborate with others to accomplish an achievable goal — this gets the coworkers to work together, learn to depend on each other, and then cement their bond with a feel-good success.

If it all goes well, your ROAD warriors may find unexpected satisfaction in their jobs, and be great for the company. If it doesn’t, since no one really wants to be a ROAD warrior, the employee will probably wind up hitting the, um…well, you know.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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The Secret to Keeping Millennials Engaged Sounds Familiar

Companies have been wondering what they have to do to successfully manage and retain millennial talent. According to FastCompany, millennial women are especially of concern to employers, so the International Consortium for Executive Development Research decided to find out what they want. Respondents’ requests boiled down to:

  • Know me — Invest the time to understand me as a person and what interests me both inside and outside of work.
  • Challenge me — I want to have continued opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Connect me — Relationships are important. I want to interact and collaborate with a wide network of people.
  • Inspire me — I want to derive a sense of meaning from my work.
  • Unleash me — I want to take good risks and have autonomy over my time and projects.

Interestingly, none of what the respondents said is very unusual. In fact, here’s what other researchers have previously said are the behaviors of “centered leadership”:

  • Meaning
  • Framing — adapting to change and building self-awareness
  • Energizing — tapping into the our natural energy reserves and rhythms
  • Connecting — interacting and collaborating with a wide network of people
  • Engaging — taking good risks and using your voice

Even more intriguing, the PERMA study of well-being found that well-being consists of these components:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

It’s all pretty much the same thing, so there maybe there’s no reason to obsess over millennials. They want what everyone wants. FastCompany suggests three things that can work especially well to keep millennials and everyone else engaged.

Give More Than You Take

There are givers and takers, and who you are can help generate positive relationships with employees. One study showed that being a boss who’s a giver enhanced the sense of meaning employees ascribed to their work.

Make Decisions Count

Employees can careen from the beginning to the end of the day, changing tasks with no method or reason, and the effect can be exhausting. Help employees maintain their energy by offering “decision-point” training that enables them to be more conscious of how frequently and why they shift gears.

Create More Positive Emotions

Research shows positive emotions lower blood pressure, enhance creativity, build resilience, and make it easier to bounce back from stressful situations. Do your best to project a genuine positive attitude, not one that’s so over-the-top that it causes stress instead of relieving it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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America’s First Leader Showed How Leadership Is Done

During this February’s week that begins with Presidents Day, one chief executive stands out as an example of what it’s like when someone’s serious about leading: George Washington. You can tell how seriously he took it by the fact that he walked away from it. Twice. Ray Hennessy writing for Entrepreneur points out what we might learn from Washington’s unusual example.

Many people in leadership positions arrive there after climbing competitively up a ladder fueled by ambition or even ego, but Washington seems to have viewed taking charge as just being something that someone had to do. And it may well be that this reticence led him naturally to one of the most powerful skills a wise leader has at their disposal: Knowing when not to use power and to just let things unfold as they will.

The first time Washington decided that the power he held was best left unused was immediately after his victory in the Revolutionary War, even though historically, generals who win wars typically go on to build power and prestige during the peace. Not him; he retired. The resignation letter he wrote to Congress was short and sweet: “Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction…”

Shortly after heading home to Mount Vernon, Washington was prevailed upon to attend the Constitutional Convention, where it was assumed he was going to be the nation’s first president, a job that was deliberately constructed to let Washington shape it as desired once in office. With no term limits yet in place — they arrived nearly two hundred years later in 1951 — Washington could have remained as president until he died, but after two terms, he walked away, saying it was time for the young nation to summon new leadership.

So while a company isn’t a country, the basic principle is the same. It’s that great leaders understand the difference between ruling and serving, and how wisely forgoing the use of power can sometimes its ultimate use.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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5 Easy Ways to Help People See You As a Leader

It seems like some people are just born leaders, with a hard-to-define leadership presence that makes others want to follow. We know it when we see it.

According to Carol Kinsey Goman writing for Forbes, leadership presence is something that one can develop. It’s about the way people perceive someone who exhibits confidence, composure, credibility, connection, and charisma. She offers five very simple things you can do to increase your leadership presence:

1. Prime your brain to power up your confidence: Confidence is probably the most important thing a leader exudes. Think about a time you held power over someone or performed a task really well, in order to spend a few moments with that positive, powerful feeling. Let your body language help project confidence, too, by standing up straight, head up, and shoulders back.

2. Tell yourself, “What’s on their face is not about me”: It’s far too easy to psyche yourself out by assuming someone’s sour expression reflects an opinion about you. Stay cool by remembering it’s probably not, and that they have their own lives to deal with.

3. Increase credibility with “because”: This word has magic in it. Maybe it’s because it communicates reasonability and respect for the listener as being deserving of an explanation.

4. Connect more effectively by shifting your focus: There’s no capital you can acquire that’s more powerful than strong interpersonal relationships. As you converse, set your own goals aside for a moment and try to think of something you can do for the other person.

5. Boost your charisma with body language: Charisma relates to warmth, so use body language to help communicate it. Smile, use friendly eye contact, and keep your arms and legs in non-defensive positions. Think about mirroring others’ movements to subtly impart connection, and face people when they’re talking to you because getting your undivided attention makes the other person feel like he or she is important to you.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Business’s New Top Priority Is Innovation. HR’s Too.

A recently completed leadership study by CIPD, an international professional body for HR and people development, reveals that for the first time, innovation has become the leading business priority. It found that 35% of HR and 32% of non-HR leaders are now viewing the pursuit of innovation as their companies’ primary strategy. But there’s twist.

There’s a schism between the way HR and non-HR leaders think innovation can be nurtured. 26% of non-HR leaders felt that their company was in need of a refreshed people strategy, while 72% of HR people felt current policies were sufficient.

What non-HR leaders want to see in particular is a greater emphasis on diversity as an innovation driver. 31% of them want HR to focus on diversity, but only 19% of HR leaders say they are.

It’s CIPD’s recommendation that HR staff find their own ways to innovate, and that they publicize those efforts within the company as an encouraging example. The survey found a stumbling block, however: HR’s frequent failure to use analytics and to share them with others in the company. 28% of non-HR leaders didn’t know if their HR department had any analytics tools in place, and the same percentage said HR doesn’t share its data with company stakeholders if it does have it. Yet, only 12% of HR leaders felt there was any issue with their data or the way it’s shared with others in the company. CIPD suggests HR would be well served by staying on top of the ever-expanding capabilities of HR analytics tools.

The good news is that non-HR leaders and HR leaders share a common desire to promote innovation, and as Dr. Jill Miller, a CIP research advisor says, “Our survey highlights clear areas of opportunity for better collaboration and communication between HR and other functions.”

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Exceptionally Likable People Share 13 Good Habits

Sometimes we get the feeling that being likable is something people are born with. You either have it or you don’t. It turns out, though, that you can cultivate your likability.

According to Dr. Travis Bradberry of Talent Smart, when UCLA asked respondents to rate over 500 adjectives for how they relate to likability, they found that the key traits were sincerity, transparency, and the ability to understand another person.

TalentSmart did their own study of over a million people and found that people with “emotional intelligence,” or “EQ,” are not only very likable, they’re also much more likely to succeed. It also turned out they had 13 attractive habits in common.

1. They Ask Questions: Lots of questions show that you care about what someone else thinks.

2. They Put Away Their Phones: Do you enjoy it when someone glances at their phone while you’re talking?

3. They’re Genuine: Nobody likes a fake. It’s so much better to be calm, real, and comfortable in your own skin.

4. They Don’t Pass Judgment: An open mind communicates that you respect the other person enough to really value what they’re saying.

5. They Don’t Seek Attention: Being larger than life doesn’t help others relate to you. You may appear desperate.

6. They’re Consistent: An inconsistent personality makes people feel you can’t be counted on.

7. They Use Positive Body Language: People respond when your vocal tone communicates enthusiasm, your unfolded arms show openness, and you lean in slightly to show interest.

8. They Leave a Strong First Impression: People will often make up their mind within just seven seconds. Think body language. Think #10 below.

9. They Greet People By Name: People innately feel closer to someone who uses their name throughout a conversation.

10. They Smile: Since people tend to mirror each other’s behavior, why not help a person have a good time talking to you?

11. They Know When to Open Up: Oversharing, especially about negative things, is a turnoff. Listen carefully to see if there really is reason to say more.

12. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them): Touching communicates caring and releases oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that engenders trust and affection. Of course, you’ve got to be aware of personal boundaries.

13. They Balance Passion and Fun: People enjoy being with others who love what they do and are passionate and excited about it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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How a Changing Culture at Microsoft Is Changing Everything

Microsoft’s Windows Operating System and Office software was so successful — running on a staggering majority of the world’s computers — that the company’s corporate culture became one of preserving past successes rather than going out to seek new ones. And then world domination began to slip away and layoffs ensued. This culture of protection over innovation was central to the reign of former CEO and cofounder William Balmer until he was replaced by Satya Nadella in July 2014. The story of changes within Microsoft’s culture since then is more than a fascinating look inside one company: It demonstrates the critical importance of culture, and how simple shifts in perspective can change everything.

Windows Central interviewed three key figures at Microsoft 2016, asking them how they think things have changed: Chris Prately, Mike Tholfsen, and Chris Yu. All are MS executives. Prately’s been with Microsoft 21 years.

Microsoft is fond of buzzword-type campaign names — like Ballmer’s One Microsoft or Nadella’s Bold Ambition & Our Core — and the three execs see the dominant themes these days as being Customer Obsession, One Microsoft, and the Growth Mindset.

“Customer Obsession” means something especially profound at Microsoft, which for years pushed features designed to appeal to IT departments and buyers purchasing Microsoft products for companies. Now it’s all about the people who use the software.

“One Microsoft” means “we’re all in this together” so departments aren’t competing any more so much as collaborating. Anyone needing help from another department now just has to ask. “Sounds simple, but it wasn’t always,” says Prately.

Maybe the most exciting change is a switch to a “Growth Mindset.” This a fundamental shift from a cautious, defensive crouch to more of an anything-goes creative atmosphere to own the future. Partly says, “The support at all levels for trying things that might not work is tremendous. Such a focus on quick experimentation vs. polishing a first iteration to perfection, favoring action vs discussion, willingness to seek data vs. opinion.” The effect, they suggest, is absolutely freeing and exciting, and employees are thriving in this newly creative atmosphere.

Where Microsoft ends up in the long run is, of course, still unknown. But it’s safe to say that people working in Redmond are now having a great time getting there, thanks to a newly invigorated corporate culture.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Trends in Employee Benefits 2016

Though it wasn’t necessarily obvious on January 1, there are some major employee-friendly trends brewing, according to some HR thought leaders. Competition for great talent is intense at the moment, and Inc. talked to some HR soothsayers about how they foresee companies upping the ante in 2016.

Help With Education Costs

Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management, sees stronger support for employee education. Last year, trendsetting PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that they’d pay up to $7,200 of an employee’s student debt; up to $1,200 a year for six years. Another interesting wrinkle is the approach taken by Starbucks, which announced a partnership with Arizona State University to pay for an employee’s pursuing a bachelor’s degree, full-time or part-time.

 

Family Leave Support

Private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company is paying for workers to bring their kids along on business trips. Companies are also taking notice of Netflix’s unlimited maternity/paternity leave in the first year or a newborn’s life or the first year with an adopted child.

Grovo’s VP of people, Joris Luijke, also sees companies becoming more deliberate about reintegrating employees back into work after an extended leave using flexible scheduling. He imagines companies allowing people to start part-time before diving completely back in.

 

More Support for Body and Mind

According to Luijke, we can expect a continued strengthening of 2015’s increased support of employees’ physical and mental well-being, ranging from reimbursement for a gym membership to providing a staff personal trainer, as Grovo does.

 

Health Care Everywhere

Ron Storn of Lyft expect new approaches to providing healthcare services to an ever-more scattered workforce. Lyft, for example, has 700 people working out of over a dozen regional sites.

Storm is excited about the services of companies like One Medical Group. They operate a 24/7 virtual care clinic employees can reach via a mobile app, and offer same-day appointments with doctors in over 40 cities.

 

Saying Sooth

Making predictions about business is always dicey, especially with the roiling stock markets we’ve seen since so far in 2016. But as long as companies are serious about acquiring and retaining strong talent, we can be sure they’ll continue to search for new ways to support prospective and current employees.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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