Judgement That Impacts on Your Email / Internet Policies

The European Court of Human Rights’ judgment on the right of a Romanian worker to privacy in his email accounts clarifies the boundary for UK employers on rights to privacy in the workplace.

In this case, the employer asked Bărbulescu to set up an email account for work purposes. He was subsequently dismissed after his employer checked his messages and found he had been sending personal messages to his brother and fiancée during working times.

The original ECtHR judgment found that Bărbulescu ‘s right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had not been breached. They judged that it was reasonable for employers to check whether employees were carrying out work during working hours.

The decision of the Grand Chamber, however, overturns this decision. They found the employer had not struck a fair balance between the right to privacy and the employer’s right to ensure the effective running of the company.

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Workforce Agility

The world of work has changed. Successful organisations know something others don’t: slow, steady and consistent no longer win the race.

Competitive businesses today are fast, flexible and – most importantly - agile.

They create fewer obstacles to responding quickly. They take unpredictable, dynamic market trends in stride. They sidestep when necessary to keep moving forward because they’ve built a workforce based on a non-traditional model that is adaptable, fluid and responsive. They adopt simple, cost-effective processes through which they manage a workforce that is both connected and autonomous.

Competitive businesses today are fast, flexible and – most importantly - agile. They create fewer obstacles to responding quickly.

They take unpredictable, dynamic market trends in stride. They sidestep when necessary to keep moving forward because they’ve built a workforce based on a non-traditional model that is adaptable, fluid and responsive. They adopt simple, cost-effective processes through which they manage a workforce that is both connected and autonomous.

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High-Performing Teams and The Case For Self-Selection

“…having the right to choose group features fosters co-operation”

Previous research has shown that how well team members get on and connect with one another can lead to higher levels of performance. However, with traditional team set-ups, where people are recruited in, it can take a long time to get to a point where team members gel and build trust. Which is why some new research sparked my curiosity.

Roy Chen and Jie Gong explored whether how a team is formed determines productivity and performance levels.

Their research, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, examined the extent to which social connections play a part in helping communication, co-ordination and managing any negative behaviours.

This builds on the work of Barton Hamilton, Jack Nickerson and Hideo Owan who found that diverse teams were more productive than homogenous teams; and Sander Hoogendoorn, Simon Parker and Miriam van Praag who found that diverse ability was linked to increased productivity.

The research

Chen and Gong conducted an experiment run between subjects in a randomised controlled trial. Participants were randomly placed into one of three conditions – (1) randomly assigned into a team; (2) self-selection into a team; and (3) algorithm assigned based on complementary skills.

The researchers gathered data on participants’ pre-existing social networks; performance on the team project itself; and how much time each person in each team contributed to the project.Continue reading

Five Ways to Learn Faster

In the quest to grow as a leader and as a person, you need others' help, you need to learn fast, and it won’t hurt to make your own luck.

Yves Morieux, senior partner at strategy consultancy Boston Consulting Group, has developed an index to show how business complexity has increased sixfold during the past 60 years alone. Organisational complexity — number of procedures, structures, processes, systems, vertical layers and decision approvals — increased by a factor of 35.

To learn fast, you must be interested in people and ideas, not just yourself.

“Be savvy, flexible, learn from mistakes and collaborate with well-connected people,”

wrote Shane Snow, the author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.”

Those who learn fast build diverse knowledge pools and tap into the wisdom of mentors to raise their game. They are fast learners for whom questioning, thinking and growing is the norm.

Here Are Five Ways to Learn More, Faster
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Sales Management at the Heart?

The following article was written by Paul Bridle.

I read an article recently saying that “CEOs who put sales management at the heart of their agenda have captured astonishing growth — outstripping their peers by 50 to 80 percent in terms of revenue and profitability”.

I was a little astonished at this. To me it is like saying, the person that puts organic food
at the heart of their diet are healthier. Probably very true, but the belief that this alone can make a healthy person is ridiculous.

Not five minutes later I came across an article about HR being more effective when it has a seat at the Board and is part of driving the strategic direction of the business. Also a good point but my answer is the same as the previous statement.

Sales are only effective if the strategy is right, the marketing is effective and the organisation has a clear path to its market. This requires engaged people (HR) and good systems (sales) excellent communications (management)….and I could go on. T

here was a time when you could have a sales driven business where Sales Department was the core of the business and everything else was tolerated because sales were King. Those days are gone.

Technology, media and social networking has changed the game. More than this, the public are aware of sales techniques and can see the difference between a sales person and an expert or specialist (or as Apple call their retail staff – Genius).

People do not want to be sold to, but people do want to buy.

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Why Coaching, Not Gadgets, is Key to Getting The Most Out Of Employees

Forget the gadgets and “lifehacks” to increase productivity, research shows that managers need to become coaches to get the best out of their employees.

Coaching means many things, from simply listening to staff, to helping them set personal goals or understand the company’s objectives. When employees understand the business goals, they can make their own decisions and not wait for someone to tell them what to do.

When employees are listened to, they feel valued and empowered. They have greater ownership and commitment to actions that they themselves have identified as necessary. As one manager in our study noted:

When you coach people rather than command people, you almost always
win their hearts and minds, so loyalty, trust and confidence are built.

Research shows manager coaching led to improvements in productivity, engagement and customer service. One manager reported that coaching led to an increase in output from 35% of the target to greater than 100% within 12 months. One organisation improved customer service by 450% within five months of introducing manager coaching.

Coaching also transformed some underachievers into star performers. For example, one employee who was described as “very lacking in self-confidence” developed enough confidence to apply for a promotion and became a highly effective manager. Coaching had helped the employee to identify solutions, by providing advice and expertise when needed.

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Six Best Practices We Can All Get Behind

Employees don’t exist in a performance vacuum, and their environment and organizational systems impact the results they produce. Here are six practices no learning leader will disagree with.

Experienced and successful learning leaders know something their less successful peers don’t. Their secret isn’t about learning design or delivery or some new technology. Their secret isn’t even a secret. It is recognition, acceptance and ownership of the fact that learning alone isn’t enough to change behaviour.

Today’s top learning leaders recognize that how learning is implemented is every bit as critical as content, modality, learner engagement and evaluation. They know that to see long-term sustained behavioural change and performance improvements they need to attend to a number of practices that have proven to be highly effective over the past several decades.

Learning leaders across a wide range of industries are leading the charge to bridge the gap between what participants learn in the classroom and what happens on the job. While every leader is unique, there are six universal best practices that form a consistent core for any effective implementation:

  1. Link to business strategy. Clearly linking learning to the business strategy is best practice number one in both order and importance. This clear linkage to the business is what enables learning organizations to get support and active involvement from leaders at all levels of the organization. Successful learning leaders don’t roll out any initiatives without an identified business need.Kevin Carpenter, sales training manager for DuPont Pioneer, is responsible for generating performance results and ensuring that salespeople deliver a consistent customer experience. This is a big enough challenge for companies with their own dedicated sales force. In Carpenter’s case, the challenge is even greater because none of the salespeople work for Pioneer; each is a small-business owner who contracts to sell Pioneer brand seed. Yet, year after year, sales agents embrace the learning and use the skills and tools the training team provides. “Our training is always about meeting a business need,” he explained. “We never roll out learning without a clear link to our business objectives or data that shows a gap in existing knowledge, skills and abilities needed to drive performance.”
  2. Gain executive sponsorship. Key executive involvement in learning communicates the critical importance of the skills, knowledge and behaviours being taught. While some learning leaders try to gain executive sponsorship after they have designed a program or initiative, the most successful start with the strategy and actively partner with business leaders to identify learning needs. Michael Woodard, global learning leader for GE Power Services, embodies this point of view. With responsibility for developing thousands of employees in 120 countries, he partners closely with a global advisory board of executives to identify the human capabilities that will be essential for strategy execution. From the earliest planning stages, Woodard emphasizes that delivering bottom-line results will require the active involvement of executives and leaders at all levels, and he engages them on an ongoing basis.
  3. Plan ongoing communication. Marketing professionals accept that people need to see an ad seven times before they can recall it. Salespeople know it takes five to nine contacts to capture a prospect’s attention. Yet, many organizations expect employees to adopt new skills and behaviors the first time they are exposed to them. Failure to plan and execute ongoing communications turns a learning system into a forgettable “one and done” event.As a 28-year veteran of the learning industry, Steve Woods knows that when participants seem reluctant to attend a class or when managers resist supporting training, disillusionment is often the root cause. “I get it,” said Woods, manager of airport operations training design at United Airlines. “Many things end up being flavour of the month. It’s rather discouraging when something you liked seems to lose traction and disappear.” Woods said he counters initial scepticism by deliberately and repeatedly communicating a consistent message that each workshop is part of an ongoing journey that directly links to the business. His communication plan includes inviting an executive to kick off every session and asking them to address topics such as -What is our strategy?
    -How does this program fit into our strategy?
    -What’s coming in the next five years?
    -What can I expect after this session?
    -How will we keep the learning alive on the job? These same messages are repeated many times before, during and after people attend a learning program using a variety of communication methods.
  4. Integrate skills and tools with work processes. Successful learning leaders know if new skills are treated as an “add-on” to current work processes, learning will not result in performance improvement. For learning to translate into real-world applications, the knowledge, skills, concepts and behaviours must be integrated into day-to-day work processes. Tools and processes are the scaffolding that supports employee learning and speeds time-to-proficiency on the job. Failure to integrate application tools will mean that learners will struggle to use the skills and may decide it is too hard. “We do more than integrating the skills into the work,” Woods said. “We integrate the skills and nomenclature into our culture. Terminology from our courses becomes part of how we communicate every day in emails, signage and meetings. Now, new hires pick it up because it’s become the language of how we work here.”
  5. Ensure manager preparation. Ensuring managers and other stakeholders support the learning is the single most significant thing learning leaders can do to ensure the transfer of new skills to work performance — but this does not happen automatically. Managers need to be prepared. Effective ways to prepare managers include communicating clear responsibilities, developing coaching plans and coaching skills training, and providing managers with coaching playbooks and other on-the-job tools. Failure to prepare managers will result in situations in which managers are not equipped to coach. Woods said he provides lessons from experience. “With past programs, we were probably overly optimistic. We thought leaders would do more coaching on their own. It didn’t happen as much as we expected. While people loved the courses, we didn’t hear much happening in the way of follow-up. With our more-recent programs, the first thing I did was make sure that leaders take the exact same course as their reps. Second, I added another day of coaching skills.” As a result, managers are equipped and enabled to support the application of learning each day on the job.
  6. Drive coaching and reinforcement. Most organizations now include reinforcement components and coaching tools in the same design as their learning. While providing these tools is a great start, learning leaders need to take steps to ensure these tools are actually used. These steps include developing concrete coaching plans and accountabilities and ensuring managers follow through with coaching, conduct best practice sharing meetings and lead application sessions. Without these steps, new behaviours won’t be sustained, and leaders won’t see the business impact their organization is expecting. For example, GE Power Services’ Woodard said one recent initiative included weekly post-training engagement with managers and participants. The company developed a five-week cadence of meetings that held managers accountable for coaching. Woodard reported progress — or lack thereof — on a weekly basis to senior leaders. After the first week, people realized executives were involved, and engagement soared.

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