Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

The End of the Annual Performance Review

April 1st, 2014

Ruth-Thomas-200x200Guest post by Ruth Thomas, Founder and Senior Consultant at Curo Compensation

Ruth has over 20 years of international experience in the management of compensation processes and the design of pay and benefit structures, salary progression systems, and management incentive plans. Her corporate experience includes Lloyds TSB Group, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Dow Jones Group and Credit Suisse.

If this is the end of the annual performance review what happens to pay for performance? 

An emerging theme amongst the various analyst predictions for HR trends in 2014 is the belief that the traditional annual performance management cycle is no longer fit for purpose. The forecast is that forward thinking organisations are now looking at moving from an annual evaluation-only approach to performance management that is achieved through on-going feedback and coaching designed to promote continuous development.  This is in response to a number of factors including the increasingly dynamic business environment that has emerged where business goals and strategies are changing at a rate that outpaces an annual setting and assessment of performance goals.  Similarly forced ranking or competitive calibration is generally seen as counterproductive in the drive for high performance and engagement. Organisations are also trying to consider how to engage and motivate the growing workforce population of millennials who are characterised by their need for more regular feedback and reinforcement.

So does this also mean the end of the annual compensation review as well?

I think this is unlikely; many organisations have strived to move away from the ad hoc or anniversary based review approach with its inherent problems of budget creep and limited ability for peer/market ranking.  This combined with the reality that many organisations still struggle to manage a single annual review cycle in a way that prevents it from being anything other than a challenging administrative exercise.

Compensation-decision-factors

A better approach is to extend the range of factors that drive effective compensation decisions, to include:

  • Individual performance will move to be assessed more regularly but still provide input into variable pay decisions annually.
  • Annual business outcomes will continue to drive variable pay outcomes, particularly at more senior levels.
  • An assessment of an employee’s talent potential and leadership capabilities should influence compensation decisions, particularly salary in order to retain and motivate high potential employees.
  • More focus on recognising those employees with critical skills or indeed business relationships and networks required to support future business strategy should influence salary decisions.
  • Fairness and equity and market competitiveness will remain overriding principals for all compensation decisions.

Presenting the data on this broader range of factors to Line Managers to enable them to make informed compensation decisions will be a challenge for many organisations that are struggling to effectively access and calibrate HR and talent data.  Now is the time to start adapting reward policies for the new post-recession landscape and preparing yourselves for the data management and analytics required to support these changes.

 

Your employer is watching

February 17th, 2014

And listening, and applying predictive analytics at the same time.

Excellent shout-out in Marginal Revolution (a blog by a couple of award-winning economists, not rebel types) on an FT piece (gated for most of us, unfortunately) on how some employers are improving productivity by measuring employee interactions with each other (interestingly not with clients) and noting employee tone of voice in the process.

It seems talking things through with your peers really does make things better. It also turns out that a sustained spike in dulcet tones while mixing it up on break is in fact highly correlated with productivity improvement.

Employers take note: this kind of experiment is the tip of the iceberg and only goes to prove the old saw, “What get measured gets improved.”

Read it here.

Mooconomics

February 12th, 2014

An excellent post from John Cochrane (The Grumpy Economist) on what works about online learning.

Read it here.

The flipped classroom discussion is particularly good and has implications for corporate training strategies.

Worth a look.

 

Next Steps 2013

November 26th, 2013

October, what a month!! We just wrapped up Next Steps 2013 (#nextsteps13), our global user conference, and it was quite a cross-continent run.  We gathered with our clients in three locations – Chicago, Shanghai & London – with more participants than ever before representing over 120 organizations worldwide.

Next-Steps-banner-2013

Next Steps is focused on creating value for our clients, but it’s always a tremendous learning experience for us too.  Year after year, I come out of Next Steps inspired by the level of innovation our clients are demonstrating on how they use our software in demanding, results-driven environments.

This year was no different …

» Read more: Next Steps 2013

Improving Performance Locally in a Global Market

September 26th, 2013

stacey-harrisGuest post by Stacey Harris, VP of Research and Advisory Services at Brandon Hall Group. Stacey Harris oversees Brandon Hall Group’s research strategy and agenda, solution provider relations, and advisory services.

More than 83% of organizations with a skilled labor workforce state that it’s difficult to find employees capable of addressing their organizations’ hiring needs. By 2020, global workforce shortages are predicted for critical skilled roles in healthcare, high-tech, and manufacturing.

Yet unemployment in 2012 increased by more than 4.2 million people, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), jumping to 197 million people globally. “Many of the new jobs require skills that jobseekers do not have,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. That is especially true for 74 million next-generation workers between the ages of 15- to 24-years-old who are currently unemployed.

Businesses and governments alike are quickly realizing that long-term strategies for performance improvement, growth, innovation, and market share must include a workforce strategy focused on developing critical skills inside their organizations.

On  Oct. 23, at NetDimensions Next Steps 2013 in London, I’m looking forward to addressing these topics and sharing global data from Brandon Hall Group on:

  • Managing global talent scarcity
  • Embracing our changing world: getting on board
  • Creating strategic connections between performance and learning
  • Developing a learning environment to build the workforce of tomorrow

The Skills Gap concerns may very well be global issues – with real business impact:

  • More than 55% of manufacturing organizations say a lack of skilled labor impacts their ability to grow the business.
  • More than 35% of high-tech organizations say a lack of skilled labor impacts their ability manage costs and grow the business.
  • 33% of healthcare organizations say that a lack of skilled labor impacts their ability to comply with external quality standards and regulations.

But the answer to these challenges is more likely a local answer. Those organizations that ranked themselves as first-rate in managing community and educational relationships were 50% more likely to have all of their Key Performance Indicators moving in a positive direction.

Organizations that hired employees expecting to provide continuous development were correlated with the highest levels of ongoing business performance compared to those that hired people with the expectation of providing just onboarding development.

We’ll be holding several discussions throughout the day Oct. 23 about the role of learning, talent, and HR leaders in preparing their organizations to compete in a new world where performance and talent are tightly connected.

Next Steps London
Keynote: Improving Performance Locally in a Global Market

Stacey Harris will share hot-off-the-press global research on how organizations are addressing talent scarcity issues while developing the next generation workforce. 

Click here for more information on Next Steps 2013.

Mobile Learning – The 6 C’s of Innovation

September 14th, 2013

It’s been almost a year since we made available our new on-demand mobile learning native application for iPad and Android tablets on the AppStore and Google Play. It’s called NetDimensions Talent Slate and I think it provides a fresh an innovative approach to how our clients are approaching mobile learning. Of course, the market will tell us at the end if we have been right or not.

screen-slate

What I can say though is that for some time now we have been thinking very hard about what mobile means to learning, employee enablement, and talent development. And allow me to concentrate on tablets here. Because with the advent of the iPad, never before have we experienced a single device on which we can check email, browse the internet, deliver a presentation, do our expense report, read a book, listen to music, watch a movie, play a game, place a video call, and share with our kids. All on the same device.

So, although some describe mobile learning as yet another “channel” or another “modality” of learning, I disagree. I think mobile learning is a paradigm shift, similar to what e-learning was for classroom training. And tablets are the forefront of this paradigm shift.

Nevertheless, most of the early efforts we have been witnessing in mobile learning were all about trying to get e-learning to work on mobile devices. Hence the prevailing question: “how can I get my flash courses to run on the iPad?” I argue that this is not even the right question to ask now, is it? If mobile learning is a paradigm shift, it requires a new wave of innovation for designing, delivering, and tracking learning.

Some of the things we have been working on (and we are still working on) when it comes to our approach on innovating on tablets are:

  1. Cruising – navigating on a tablet is not the same as navigating on a PC or a laptop. NetDimensions Talent Slate features an intuitive navigation concept based on federated search.
  2. Context – context in learning has always been important, but never so much as in mobile learning. My job role and task at hand, my geo location, who (and what) is around me, what I have been doing, the type of device I am using, all provide context that can be extremely relevant to my learning experience.
  3. Connectivity – can it be taken for granted? Is connectivity really ubiquitous globally? We have made NetDimensions Talent Slate operate both online and offline with smart synchronization logic when internet connectivity is available.
  4. Collaboration – a mobile device is used to communicate, so there is the expectation that the application will allow me to locate and connect to other users, share own-generated content, and contribute to the overall knowledge base.
  5. Co-operation – the ability to easily integrate and play well with other systems in the mobile ecosystem is now an even more obvious requirement. Interfaces like the TinCan API will help systems & content speak to each other so that organizations can collect all the learning experiences of their users from across multiple systems into one place.
  6. Content – This will require a different instructional design approach, more tailored to the mobile user and taking better advantage of the unique affordances a mobile device like a tablet offers to users. If we can’t get interactivity or personalized content nuggets on a tablet, where else will we get it?

We have a long way to go still, but now is the time of innovation in the industry, innovation both from technology and content providers and from organizations deploying mobile learning solutions.

And in closing, here’s a product briefing report from the Brandon Hall Group  about NetDimensions Talent Slate.

Too social?

August 26th, 2013

The main part of the mechanismBrandon Hall Group Analyst David Wentworth just posted an interesting piece on the growing problems with enterprise social network initiatives.

You can read what David is thinking here.

We have always believed in social learning rather than in the idea that HR or learning and development departments would end up “owning” enterprise social networks.

To that end we make a point of including core talent-related social affordances in our out-of-the-box offerings (learning and performance interest groups, forums, news, email, chat, file sharing, etc.) and supplying robust API libraries, including widgets, Google gadgets, macros and plugins for working nicely with clients’ enterprise social network choices, whatever they turn out to be.

We think of it as the good neighbor policy.

A light has gone out

August 25th, 2013

Dr_James_MartinJames Martin died recently. He was 80 years old. He died swimming off his house in Bermuda — there are, I’m sure, worse ways to go.

Dr. Martin was a formative thinker on technology and software development. Many of the ideas we consider foundational today — rapid iterative development, reusable component libraries, fourth-generation software languages — were all ideas he either created or greatly advanced. In his 1978 book The Wired Society Dr. Martin predicted how revolutionary what we now call the Internet would become. He was nominated for a Pulitzer for that book, which was just one of more than a hundred books he wrote.

There would be no agile-development-based, SaaS global talent management industry today without Dr. Martin’s many contributions to computer science. He invented new ways of working for programmers, analysts and engineers. He also made major contributions in other fields. He even, over dinner one night at his house on Agar’s Island in Bermuda, dreamed up the idea for what eventually became known as Bowie Bonds, the bundling of intellectual property like song rights into pre-packaged and market-priced revenue streams (and yes, David Bowie and his wife Iman were guests at the dinner).

When Ray Ruff, Michelle Sparks, Emily Chan and I started NetDimensions in 1999, a lot of people told us we were crazy. They said a Hong Kong-based, globally-focused, enterprise technology company that was not even VC-backed (we were effectively employee owned) had no realistic chance of survival.

One of our few industry friends in the early days was Headstrong, a consulting company James Martin founded and chaired. The Headstrong folks did take us seriously. They liked our approach and were willing to partner with us when we most needed the support of a serious industry player. So I am grateful to Dr. Martin and to all of the Headstrong executives who were willing to listen to a new company with some new ideas, including Steve Kucia, Paul Kidman, Liviano Lacchia and Peter Deacon in Asia, Rinze Koornstra and Cor Broekhuizen in the Netherlands and all of their wonderful colleagues in Chicago.

That was almost 15 years ago and we did survive. Now we’re listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM and traded in the U.S. on the OTCQX. We have offices in seven countries and hundreds of clients productively using our solutions in more than 50 countries around the world. Our software touches millions of lives today.

So we are grateful and I’d like to say thank you to the folks at Headstrong who supported us early on.

On behalf of NetDimensions we wish you well and we remember Dr. Martin with the deepest respect.

Forecasting the costs

August 15th, 2013

One of my colleagues just sent me a PDF on likely costs to the U.S. cloud services industry from European nervousness about doing business with companies primarily subject to U.S. law. The loss estimates are big — from $22 to $35 billion over the next three years. All because of a handful of poor policy decisions.

The white paper is by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is an honorary board member). You can find the study here.

Obviously, this paper begs the question — Will at least some European companies start looking to cancel deals with American talent management, HR, CRM and ERP cloud providers? If so, the losses might be substantially higher.

Might there be a bit of a move back toward on-premise license or company-specific private cloud sales? See here for a much higher loss estimate that factors in some of the likely American company buying behavior changes.

Might some U.S. provider companies split themselves into two or more stand-alone entities in order to avoid the jurisdiction issues currently coming to the fore?

We’ve written on this topic before (here and here) and we don’t claim to have a crystal ball. However, it does seem that the issues aren’t likely to go away, at least not quietly.

Learning and Talent in Europe

June 5th, 2013

David-Wilson-photoGuest post by David Wilson, founder and Managing Director of Elearnity, Europe’s leading independent learning and talent analyst.

A major commentator on the learning & talent technology industry since its inception, David is the author of over 140 papers/articles on learning & talent technology innovation and a strategic advisor to many major organisations in the UK and Europe.

Whether it’s a talent strategy, management process or a solution, what does cross-European or global deployment really mean?

Does it mean responding to the diversity of peoples and cultures in different countries and businesses or the imposition of a single overarching and mandated approach for all? Does it mean single, homogenous processes or the provision of frameworks that allow local organisations to flourish? And what is the fine line that separates them? And makes them efficient and effective?

The sad fact for many strategic Learning and Talent initiatives is that they are focused on homogenised, mono cultures and standardised approaches rather than the realities and needs or different geographies and market maturities. The common response to diversity is not differentiation – but to drive conformity. The problem is that this conformity may not just be inappropriate, it may be illegal – for example if it breaks German Workers Council rules or French regulatory reporting requirements.

Also, do you really need mature bureaucratic processes, when part of the company you are servicing is effectively a “start-up”? Whilst they might be right for a mature business, they could just be the thing that stifles growth for an embryonic new part of your business. This is one of the biggest challenges for the delivery of cross-organisational talent strategies.

How do you enable businesses in a way that is focussed on their operating realities, but get the efficiencies of a standardised approach? How do you impose symmetry and consistency onto an inconsistent and asymmetrical world? Even though HR often tries, is it even possible?

A good example, of this is the instigation of a global, HR shared services operations as part of the Ulrich Model. Many global HR operations use this model as their foundation and the creation of central, single processing model for HR transactions – serviced within a global HR shared services group.

Whilst this may be all well and good for controlling the costs associated with managing HR, and be the dominant received wisdom for how HR operates; blindly following this approach, especially on a cross-European or global basis can drive some very dubious decisions. Top of the tree for this is Performance Management. HR frequently instigates annual appraisal processes that feed bonus payments and compensation and rewards. A standardised approach, with one size fits all. But the nature of those processes is often frequently at odds with the speed of business – you only have to look at sales targets and structures needed to support dynamic and fast moving sales cycles.

So why wouldn’t you look to create differentiated approaches for other groups too? The answer has been partly because the service model and supporting systems are unable to support the necessary diversity of process and approach.

In recent years things have changed significantly. Solutions have become much more configurable and more flexible – without needing high costs of external consultants to set things up for you. But the legacy view of ERP-style HR systems runs deep reinforcing the desire from some (often IT) for mono-answers to Talent and Learning questions, deployed globally. Whilst these stagnant approaches are deeply entrenched in the corporate psyche, we will continue to need to ask:

  • Why do pan-European projects fail to engage local audiences effectively?
  • Why do so few global companies really build effective cross-geography learning and talent deployment strategies that can deal with multiple languages, legal and cultural differences?
  • How can local business driven and the centralised learning and talent needs really be accommodated by philosophies and systems that champion cost efficiency at the cost of effectiveness?
  • Where the answers to these questions remain unsatisfactorily, the proliferation of local or departmental solutions rather than true cross-organisational solutions will continue to be a huge issue?
NetDimensions-logoElearnity-logo
Webinar invitation

David Wilson, Elearnity’s founder and Managing Director, will be discussing Elearnity’s research on the realities and strategies for cross-European Talent and Learning at a webinar with NetDimensions on June 26th at 2pm BST / 9am EDT.

Click here for registration.