The Future of Work Podcast With Jacob Morgan | Futurist | Leadership | Workplace | Careers | Employee Experience & Engagement | (business)

With major advances in technology and the talk of AI and automation invading the workplace, the subject of soft skills has become a huge topic of discussion for organizations and individual employees. I think soft skills are very important, however I think that most organizations are asking the wrong question when they address the topic.

Most organizations ask the question, what do we need to do inside of our organizations to teach more soft skills. They believe that they need to teach their managers and employees to have more soft skills. But think about the assumption that is made when we ask that question. We assume that our managers and employees don’t have soft skills to begin with.

The truth is we all learn soft skills naturally as we grow up, as we learn and as we interact with others. We learn how to be empathetic, we learn how to communicate with others, we learn how to deal with emotions. All of these things come naturally as we grow up and experience different things.

The question we should be asking is, why is it that employees feel that they can’t use their soft skills at work? The issue is not that people don’t possess soft skills to begin with, it is that they don’t feel safe enough in their organizations to use them. How can employees feel safe to share their opinions, express care and empathy for coworkers, and show their true emotions in the office when they are in an environment filled with bureaucracy, negativity, fierce competition and where employees are seen strictly as numbers. It’s no wonder employees don’t feel like they can use their soft skills.

Instead of asking, what do we need to do inside of our organizations to teach more soft skills, let’s ask, how do we build an organization where employees feel like they can use the soft skills they already have.

Direct download: encouraging_soft_skills_at_work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:20pm PDT

Jim Kavanaugh is the co-founder and CEO of World Wide Technology.  From St. Louis, Missouri Jim played collegiate soccer, then he played for the U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team in 1984 and finally for the Major Indoor Soccer League. He graduated from St. Louis University and began his business career as a sales manager for Future Electronics. He has been recognized two years in a row by Glassdoor as one of the top ranking CEOs for all large businesses in the U.S. He was ranked #2 in 2017 and #11 in 2018.  

World Wide Technology began in 1990 as a company that was a small product reseller. It has moved into a technology solution provider where they help large public and private organizations discover, evaluate, architect and implement advanced technology.  They are headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with $10.4 billion in annual revenue. WWT currently has more than 4,600 employees world-wide. They are ranked 8 on Glassdoors’ Best Places to Work list for 2018 and 40 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for list.

What is the role of CEO?

“As a leader of an organization you need to be able to look at things at a 30,000 foot view,” Jim says.  Also, understand, what are the most important things as they pertain to your organization. Focus on how you make an impact.

That executive needs to paint the vision from that high level perspective. But they also need to be able to dropdown to the details. For example, if the goal is a new initiative, this might require you to be in the details until it is designed and built. Your goal is to get it going and then delegate it off.

People want to know that you understand the business. See the vision, paint the vision but also have a good understanding of the day to day processes of the business.

How does one become a leader in general and at WWT?

  1. Begin by understanding what is important to that business.

- How does it define success?

- How are you delivering and overachieving on the objectives of the goals of the company?

-  What are the values of the organization that drive them? Make sure they align with your values - make sure you are a good cultural fit.

- Live and breathe those values.

  1. Personally challenge yourself.

- Do a self assessment of yourself.

- Where are your strengths, what do you need to do better?

- How do people perceive you? Challenge yourself to grow.

  1. At WWT, they have a leadership curriculum. They align business concepts and values and they train leaders to be the best manager using these concepts and values.

When asked, what is unique at WWT to have scored so high on best places to work surveys, Jim says you have to care about your employees. They are very smart, if you think you can just say you care and not really do anything to show that– it won’t work. If the leadership teams show that they care about employees, then it is a successful culture.

You must do the right thing from a cultural perspective. This includes both for employees and their families – in order to be healthy from a cultural perspective.

Also, you need to be a smart organization. Set a vision; build an organization with clarity and alignment to the mission. It also must include the right leadership that can build the structure of the organization to allow for growth.

What is the mission at WWT?

To be a profitable growth company that is also a great place to work.

This mission has been around for 15 years. It is three-fold:

  1. Profitable – employees need to be accountable to the goals of the organization
  2. Growth – this is important to allow WWT to attract the best talent in the industry
  3. Create a great place to work – do the right things for the right reasons

What you will learn in this episode:

  • Jim’s advice on how to grow within your company
  • How do you know the right person to hire
  • What do you do if you don’t ‘like’ your job
  • How to overachieve without killing yourself
  • What is the role of a CEO
  • How WWT keeps getting high ratings on employee experience surveys

Contact:

https://www2.wwt.com

Direct download: Jim20Kavanaugh_Podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:21am PDT

Jim Kavanaugh is the co-founder and CEO of World Wide Technology.  From St. Louis, Missouri Jim played collegiate soccer, then he played for the U.S. Olympic men’s soccer team in 1984 and finally for the Major Indoor Soccer League. He graduated from St. Louis University and began his business career as a sales manager for Future Electronics. He has been recognized two years in a row by Glassdoor as one of the top ranking CEOs for all large businesses in the U.S. He was ranked #2 in 2017 and #11 in 2018.  

World Wide Technology began in 1990 as a company that was a small product reseller. It has moved into a technology solution provider where they help large public and private organizations discover, evaluate, architect and implement advanced technology.  They are headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with $10.4 billion in annual revenue. WWT currently has more than 4,600 employees world-wide. They are ranked 8 on Glassdoors’ Best Places to Work list for 2018 and 40 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for list.

What is the role of CEO?

“As a leader of an organization you need to be able to look at things at a 30,000 foot view,” Jim says.  Also, understand, what are the most important things as they pertain to your organization. Focus on how you make an impact.

That executive needs to paint the vision from that high level perspective. But they also need to be able to dropdown to the details. For example, if the goal is a new initiative, this might require you to be in the details until it is designed and built. Your goal is to get it going and then delegate it off.

People want to know that you understand the business. See the vision, paint the vision but also have a good understanding of the day to day processes of the business.

How does one become a leader in general and at WWT?

  1. Begin by understanding what is important to that business.

- How does it define success?

- How are you delivering and overachieving on the objectives of the goals of the company?

-  What are the values of the organization that drive them? Make sure they align with your values - make sure you are a good cultural fit.

- Live and breathe those values.

  1. Personally challenge yourself.

- Do a self assessment of yourself.

- Where are your strengths, what do you need to do better?

- How do people perceive you? Challenge yourself to grow.

  1. At WWT, they have a leadership curriculum. They align business concepts and values and they train leaders to be the best manager using these concepts and values.

When asked, what is unique at WWT to have scored so high on best places to work surveys, Jim says you have to care about your employees. They are very smart, if you think you can just say you care and not really do anything to show that– it won’t work. If the leadership teams show that they care about employees, then it is a successful culture.

You must do the right thing from a cultural perspective. This includes both for employees and their families – in order to be healthy from a cultural perspective.

Also, you need to be a smart organization. Set a vision; build an organization with clarity and alignment to the mission. It also must include the right leadership that can build the structure of the organization to allow for growth.

What is the mission at WWT?

To be a profitable growth company that is also a great place to work.

This mission has been around for 15 years. It is three-fold:

  1. Profitable – employees need to be accountable to the goals of the organization
  2. Growth – this is important to allow WWT to attract the best talent in the industry
  3. Create a great place to work – do the right things for the right reasons

What you will learn in this episode:

  • Jim’s advice on how to grow within your company
  • How do you know the right person to hire
  • What do you do if you don’t ‘like’ your job
  • How to overachieve without killing yourself
  • What is the role of a CEO
  • How WWT keeps getting high ratings on employee experience surveys

Contact:

https://www2.wwt.com

Direct download: Jim20Kavanaugh_Podcast.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:21am PDT

Andrée Simon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of FINCA Impact Finance, a global provider of responsible financial services. FINCA’s network of 20 community-based banks offer responsible and affordable loan and saving products that empower low income women and men to take control of their financial future.

Previously, Ms. Simon served as VP and COO of FINCA International, returning to FINCA after serving for several years as President and COO of Women for Women International, a humanitarian organization dedicated to financial, educational, and interpersonal support of women survivors of war, poverty and injustice.

In 1984, founder John Hatch saw that lack of capital was keeping poor Bolivian farmers poor. Traditional loans were too large and too expensive, and without collateral, the farmers couldn’t borrow.

So he came up with an idea; if the farmers formed groups to share a loan and guarantee repayment, they could access the funds they needed to invest in their farming operations. It was the beginning of what we know today as microfinance.

In urban and rural areas, and in economies as diverse as Guatemala City and Kitunda, Tanzania, Village Banks allowed those with scarce resources to borrow, invest and grow their businesses. They also allowed women—who were routinely denied credit—to build enterprises that kept food on their tables and their children in school.

Remaining true to its original idea, FINCA has become a global network of secure, sustainable microfinance institutions and banks that help low-income families create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living across the world.

FINCA not only impacts the world through finance, they are also transforming their workforce internally to give employees a sense of purpose and ownership. They don’t try to compete with other companies based on perks, instead the compete in ethics and values.

“People come here because they know that they are going to be able to take on a lot of responsibility and get chances to take leadership opportunities that they might not be able to get if they were in a large kind of traditional commercial institution. It's pretty entrepreneurial and it's pretty creative for the most part,” Ms. Simon says.

She says people come to work for FINCA for 2 reasons, because they want to have a career where they can really learn a lot and because it is an organization focused on social impact, which is a strong motivator for a lot of people.

Some trends that Ms. Simon believes will be seen in the future are:

  • A learning leader – Leaders will have to be willing to change themselves and have a learning mindset. This is balanced with the humility to know what you need to know
  • Traditional  organizations won’t work well; they need to be nimble to make decisions and share decision making responsibilities
  • All work is global in some way, shape or form
  • There needs to be a diverse workforce

What makes a leader successful?

  • The need to want to learn.
  • They don’t wear a ‘gorilla suit’ in the role of a leader
  • The don’t feel the need to have all the answers
  • They have an open sense of inquiry across the organization

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What FINCA is doing internally to transform their workforce and become more human
  • How FINCA is allowing their employees to feel like part of the solution
  • How any organization can have a meaningful social impact
  • What is like to be a female CEO
  • What is a CEO gorilla suit and why you should never wear one
  • Where you can ‘meet’ some of FINCA’s clients

Contact:

LinkedIn

Twitter

Direct download: Andree20Simon20Podcast_DONE.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:44pm PDT

Most parents wonder what advice they should be giving to their kids as they grow up and graduate high school. What should they tell them to study in college, what school should their kids go to, what type of career is safe and what type of organization they should be working for.

My advice to these parents and their children, is that we all should be like taste testers when we are young and first entering the workforce. We need to sample different things while we are young to figure out what we are passionate about, what we enjoy and what we care about.

Forcing someone to study something that they do not care about and don’t have that connection with isn’t going to yield success in the long run.It is unrealistic to think that students are going to graduate from high school or college before they have ever held a full time job, and that they are going to automatically know exactly what they want to do and they are going to work for one organization the rest of their lives.

The expectation throughout high school and college shouldn’t be that the students are going to pick one field to go into for the rest of their lives, rather it should be a time to explore, experiment and test different opportunities to get a feel for their likes and dislikes. It is OK for us to be like taste testers and to sample the different opportunities that are out there to discover what it is we are passionate about while we are young

So at the end of the day, my advice to young people is to think like an entrepreneur; learn how to learn, think about how to go about things yourself and don’t be afraid to be like a taste tester.

Direct download: The_Best_Career_Advice_You_Havent_Heard.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:17pm PDT

Mala Singh serves as Chief People Officer for Electronic Arts (EA) where she focuses on developing their talent and cultivating the company culture. In this role, Mala oversees Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Facilities and Corporate Services.

Prior to this position, Mala spent three years as Chief People Officer at Minted where she helped to define the culture and grow the creative and technical teams during a high-growth period for the startup. Mala began her career in the pharmaceutical industry, serving in Human Resources roles in Asia, Europe and North America.

Founded in 1982, Electronic Arts is a leading global interactive entertainment software company. EA delivers games, content and online services for Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. Some of their games include Sims, FIFA18, Maden, and Battlefield. Close to 10,000 EA employees are found around the world.

How does EA compete with other organizations for the best talent?

Mala says they don’t compete with Google, LinkedIn and other similar organizations with a focus on compensation – that, she says, “is a race to the bottom.” Instead, they look at supporting their mission system and finding people with a similar focus. They also provide a manager that supports them, surround them with people they admire, have fun with and want to hang out with. In addition, they provide opportunities to learn and grow – providing different experiences. The quality of leadership, learning and growing, this is how they compete.  “I refuse to compete on ‘perkage’. How do we care for our people while they are here?” It is based on the quality of the work.

How did the trend towards a focus on mental and physical well being of employee begin?

“We used to think about work/life balance - this a false concept,” Mala says. It is really the idea of managing our whole selves while at work. Also, talented people, the skills in our environments are polarizing. The jobs are becoming more specialized. Because tech is available – those skills and great team members are highly in demand. So in order to compete for the same people, you have to bring a different experience for these people. This is why EA is moving in that direction.

How does learning work at EA?

The general philosophy is that 70% of learning happens through experiences. Then, 20% is through direct coaching from the manager and finally 10% occurs through formal learning. What appears to resonate is just in time smaller snippets of learning that allows people to learn and then use it.  

“Diversity of experiences is the lynch pin to everything. When presented the obvious, chose the opposite”. Mala stated that, “Progression comes best from diverse experiences” Apply what you have learned and move to a different setting that you can allow you to apply your skills there.

The mistake often made is that looking at the only way to progress in one's career is to move from level to level - rather than the gathering of skills. If we can create progression where we gain different skills, then “the best way to get different thinking and innovative approaches is by constantly changing your context and experiences which helps you to become more agile. It teaches you how to adapt, helps you diagnose the situation and figure out solutions. That’s why the diversity of experiences is so fundamental to how people should grow their career.”

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What it is like to work at EA
  • What the first days are like as a new employee at EA
  • What should non-HR people know about HR
  • Why tenure is not the metric to track anymore
  • Innovations happening in HR at EA
  • Why it is futile to compete solely on the basis of compensation

Contact:

Mala Singh On LinkedIn

Direct download: Mala20Singh_Podcast_done.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 10:19am PDT

Garry Ridge is President and CEO of the WD-40 Company headquartered in San Diego, California. WD-40 Company is the maker of the ever-popular WD-40 (found in 8 out of 10 US households), as well as 3-IN-ONE Oil, Solvol and Lava heavy duty hand cleaners and X-14, Carpet Fresh, Spot Shot, 1001 and 2000 Flushes household cleaning products. With just under 500 employees, they boast a 93% employee engagement rate – with an average tenure of 10 years - which helps keep the number of employees low.

Garry has been with WD-40 since 1987 in various management positions, including executive vice president and chief operating officer and vice president of international. He has worked directly with WD-40 in 50 countries.
A native of Australia, he received his Masters of Science Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego, CA, in June 2001.

Way back Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” However, people are slow learners. A lot of companies struggle with this because leaders are afraid of letting go and giving people the opportunity.  Garry’s learned to say ‘I don’t know…’ and to make sure that WD-40 “leaders involve their people.”

What can we do to change the mentality of leaders not letting go?

  1. For public companies – take the emphasis off ‘short-term-isms’. Looking at 90 days, etc. so they will make short term decisions that are not as productive.  “Coffee that is brewed over time, tastes better than instant.”
  2.  Education should be a core value– be a learning and teaching company. Instead of ‘mistakes’, look at them as opportunities to get better
  3. Have a clear plan, a clear purpose and clear values
  4. Be open to learning across the company

There are 7 characteristics at WD 40 that shape their workplace culture. They are:

  1. Learning & Teaching – a dedication to it, a number of programs and a commitment to learning and learning moments.
  2. Values – part of their talent development program, everyone sits down with their coach/manager and talks about the values. Employees share how they lived and their values as part of their conversation. The number one value is ‘doing the right thing’. Creating positive lasting memories is another.
  3. Belonging – based on Maslow’s hierarchy of self actualization. The level of belonging in the company is around treating people with respect and dignity. We want to show everyone in everything that is done it is with those in mind.
  4.  Future focus – they understand where they are today is good but they need to move to a new place in the future. One value is to make it better than today
  5. Specialized skills – they have identified certain specialized skills and people that have those skills
  6.  Warriors – for a purpose, not of destruction. They fight for people, brands and for what is right. The spirit of winning
  7. Celebration – reminder that we need to take time to celebrate together.

Garry’s advice to employees is to start an idea within a small team to introduce the concepts to them. You will probably see a change in the team.

His advice to leaders is that change needs to start with them

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What it is like to work at WD 40
  • The ABCs of Trust
  • What The Tribal Culture looks like at WD-40
  • Why WD-40 Invests in People
  • How WD-40 is Excelling in Employee Engagement

Contact:

https://thelearningmoment.net

https://www.linkedin.com/in/garryridge/

 

Direct download: Garry20Ridge.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 9:08am PDT

We all have many relationships throughout our lifetime; relationships with friends, family, significant others, etc...Some relationships we have thrive, they make us happy and encourage us to be better. But some relationships are unhealthy. They stress us out, cause depression and wear us out. We have relationships that we would fight for and relationships we would not fight for.

Working for an organization is very much like being in a relationship. The question is--is it a relationship you would fight for or not? If it is one you would fight for, that is great. You are lucky and you should fight hard to keep that relationship going strong, just as you would for a relationship in your personal life.

If it is not an relationship you would fight for, and so many of us fit in this category, then you should get out of it. So many people are unsatisfied at work, but they don’t do anything about it. If this is you, do something! You owe it to yourself to be at an organization you are willing to fight for and you are the only one who can control your career path.

Direct download: Should_you_stay_at_your_organization.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 8:52am PDT

This week’s episode is all about creating meaningful employee experiences and a thriving corporate culture. We are taking a look back at some clips from CHROs, Chief People Officers, and CEOs who are helping their organizations excel in these areas.


This episode features:

  • Chairman, President and CEO of Rosetta Stone, John Hass on the corporate culture at Rosetta Stone, how he manages, how he deals with complacency and the importance of a clear company mission

  • David Fairhurst, Chief People Officer at McDonald’s explaining why a huge, iconic brand like McDonald’s is going through a transformation and how culture plays into that

  • VP of Enterprise Social Responsibility at Chick-fil-A, Dee Ann Turner on how to create an amazing corporate culture and how does extraordinary talent impact that

  • Chief People Officer at GSN Games, Peter Walmsley on how to scale employee experience in a large company with offices across the world

  • Kimberly Samon, CHRO at Weight Watchers gives an inside look into what it is like to work at Weight Watchers and some of the perks and benefits they provide.

Direct download: Mashup_07.15.2018.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 2:00pm PDT

We are obsessed with Employee Engagement in our companies today, but we give employees surveys to fill out with 50-100 questions on them. There has got to be an easier and more direct way to find out if our employees are engaged at work.

Have you ever had to fill out an employee engagement survey that was 50 to 100 questions long? I think most people these days have. Organizations are obsessed with measuring employee engagement and they feel that in order to get a true picture of how they are doing they have to ask hundreds of questions once or twice a year. But does this really give an accurate picture of engagement?

In a marriage you and your spouse have a good idea of whether or not the relationship is healthy. You could ask your spouse directly, “are you happy with our relationship”, and they would be able to answer you immediately. You wouldn’t have to give them a form with 50 questions to get that answer.

In the same way, employees know if they are engaged at work and enjoy their job and if you ask them they can give you a yes or no answer on the spot. We need to come up with a way to simplify the process. Our challenge is we have to find the one question that we should be asking employees to find out if they are happy, engaged, passionate and feel like they belong. What do you think that one question should be?

Direct download: What_is_the_one_question_we_should_ask_to_measure_employee_experience.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:24pm PDT