We have to learn to disagree

Expert Knowledge

We have to learn to disagree

We have to learn to disagree. We need new ways of eating, living together, consuming, working, building community, and traveling. Be it for different reasons: to be on top of the competition, to save the world from disappearing under water, to cure the cancer of a loved one or to be a trendsetter. We all agree: the sky is the limit. We need innovative and creative solutions. We need to create a new normal.
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We have to learn to disagree. We need new ways of eating, living together, consuming, working, building community, and traveling. Just to name a few: everybody agrees on right-wing parties and left-wing parties; climate change believers and climate change deniers; digital natives and analog natives. Be it for different reasons: to be on top of the competition, to save the world from disappearing under water, to cure the cancer of a loved one or to be a trendsetter. We all agree: the sky is the limit. We need innovative and creative solutions. We need to create a new normal.

Collaboration meets innovation

We also agree that we cannot do it alone: Steve had Steve, Barack had Joe and organizations collectively build teams to deal with complex problems.

Disagreeing is the biggest potential of any collaboration.

But what is it about collaboration and innovation? Merely bringing together a couple of people is not going to do the trick. The key lies in the potential of disagreement. Disagreement is not only inevitable in teams, or anywhere where a collection of people is confronted with each other to get to the next step (think about making a relationship work or organizing the next family weekend). It is also the biggest potential of any collaboration. If a team develops the ability to use disagreement in a constructive way, it has the secret ingredient to create a flow of energy so strong that it opens the world of innovation. However, if the disagreement is dealt with in a destructive way, it is a missed opportunity for innovation.

Agree to disagree

So the first step to innovation is to learn how to disagree; not as a team, but as an individual. We need to learn how to be open to people very different from us; to learn how to disagree with people we would normally not (dare to) disagree with; to respectfully ask about the why and the how of the disagreement. To respectfully explain your point of view and to build upon this conflicting information to construct new points of view. Not only because you just start with more information if you also have contrasting information. It turns out that it is not the disagreement in itself that serves innovation, but the fact that when someone disagrees with us, we start to think differently. Adding contrasting information to the stored knowledge in our brain helps us find new solutions. 

Can you handle it?

But that implies that we can deal with disagreement. And that requires vulnerability, lots of gut and a huge amount of maturity. Because, let's be honest, who really likes pointing out to his/her boss that they have a different point of view? Who really enjoys telling someone who worked blood sweat and tears on a project for months that they forgot to include contrasting but essential evidence? And who likes it to be pointed out by their loved ones that they are wrong? Or admit that they changed point of views after hearing conflicting information?

Every party in the disagreement needs to be mature enough not to see disagreement as a personal or professional attack but rather as an essential part of the route to the solution. That is when we start learning together. That is when we really start thinking out of the box. That is when we start co-creating new things. That is when real innovative ideas are born.

Aspiring HR Manager in 2020? Not without these skills.

Expert Knowledge

Aspiring HR Manager in 2020? Not without these skills.

Look at it like this: when you asked someone how important IT was for strategy in the 80s, people would answer: “not at all.” But today, the CIO often has more to say about the business’ strategy than the CEO. Well, that same shift is happening in HR right now: Once process engineers, now evolving to strategy enablers.
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Look at it like this: when you asked someone how important IT was for strategy in the 80s, people would answer: “not at all.” But in this day and age, the CIO often has more to say about the business’ strategy than the CEO. The "I" in their title might have something to do with that, "Information". Knowledge is power, so they say. Well, that same shift is happening in HR right now: Once process engineers, now evolving to strategy enablers.

A shift in role for HR

Since every company has access to the same "cheap raw material” we call technology, it’s not your location, assets or processes that make the difference, but your people.

For example, let's say you have a firm that helps people invest their money. All of your competitors have the same kind of technology-enabled service that enables clients to follow-up on their investment within seconds. It gives them total transparency about your product formulas and minimizes direct contact if they want to change their portfolio. In this scenario, there are only two ways to make the difference with your competitors.

First, you’ll need great employees on the front line that can give your clients the ease of mind they’re looking for when leaving their money somewhere. Second, by developing new technology & products that serve the changing needs of your customers at an unseen speed. So again, it’s the developers, UX designers, functional analysts... that will make the difference, not the fact that you bought a good piece of software. And it’s enabling those talented people to create true differentiating service/products that will move your HR into that new role.

There's a pressure for HR to show their value.

Traditionally HR was defined as a four-headed role: administrative expert, employee champion, strategic partner and change enabler. The emphasis used to be on the first two roles, but is moving towards the latter two in recent years. So be sure to catch up on these skills to be ready to be the HR manager of the future:

  1. New organizational design and fancy models

    The organization of the future doesn’t look like a family tree anymore. It’s all about circles, squads, chapters, large scale Scrum or becoming teal. Whichever of the models your company will implement, the reason is generally to have a faster time-to-customer process when offering services or new products, or getting more done with less effort. Below we’ve listed some of the models that give an introduction.

    HR Analytics
    Overview Of Big Data Science And Statistics Along The Way

    By the way, the great opportunity here is that these models enable people to have more autonomy, work closer together in teams, apply fewer politics and use their strengths to deliver value (instead of a predefined set of competencies that matches their job description). And coincidentally, those are three things that increase happiness at the job.

  2. The business acumen

    If you want to prepare for the future, it is important to understand the present very well and that everything you do in HR has an added value for the business (even if they don’t see it themselves). From the company’s perspective, it is crucial that HR understands the particular company’s and sector’s challenges, so they don’t invent processes for the sake of inventing processes. From a personal perspective: when working in a more HR oriented role you will have more impact with a business background. If you want to coach and advise your line managers, it will ease your job if you can speak from experience.

    Added tip: dive into some alternative business models and innovative companies, so you can help drive innovation as well. (Bright Shiny Objects And The Future Of HR, It's Time To Split HR, 27 Revenue Model Options Curated By Arne Van Balen)
  3. The shift in HR
  4. Data analytics to the rescue

    Because HR’s role is shifting to that of a profit center, there’s more pressure for HR to show their value. Some companies and institutions are experimenting with the creation of accounting rules to capture the value of their social capital, but it doesn’t even need to be that formal. Using data to show that certain initiatives have an impact in the context of human beings has proven to be difficult, but more advanced technology and predictive algorithms are changing that. Google has shown for example that certain tests about initiative-taking are better predictors of job performance than good grades in ivy-league schools.

  5. Change management

    If we would like to execute our company’s strategy, the involvement of our employees is key. On a company level, we’ll have to change our organization structure, our processes, culture, and leadership. We will design HR initiatives with their desired outcome. And we will measure our progress and impact. Do not forget to use your data analytical skills to measure your company’s progress on the implementation of the strategy.
    Next to the change management on the company level, it is key to look at it from an employee’s perspective. So as HR we should be able to show our employees the interesting impact on their career and way of working. This will be key to drive a faster strategy adoption.


    Want to discuss the future of HR or other subjects with Arne? You can! Just book your 20 minute meeting at HRcoreLab5 in Barcelona.

  6. Talent management

    The classic role of HR as talent manager will stay crucial. First, we have to coach and advise our company’s leadership, so they are ready for a future-oriented management style. Second, we should define those people that have an impact on our organization. They will be key to thrive our strategy. They have to be aware of their influential role, and you will have to coach them to increase their influence. Third, we have to make sure that every employee is aware of our strategy and their individual impact. You should know their skills and passion, their engagement and their involvement in the company. A powerful tool to get into the heads of the employees is creating an employee journey. It will offer you an interesting insight into your employees’ impact on the company. On top of that, you will be able to translate your strategy goals in a more individual and personal way to each of your employees.

Co-written together with An Brosens, HR Director at Tobania.

Why competency models are intellectual masturbation

Strategy & Solution

Why competency models are intellectual masturbation

In the old days, when companies were run like big controllable machines, competency models probably made sense. But using them now is a bit like using a postal pigeon to send a frame-by-frame printout of a YouTube video to a friend. It’s costly, slow, and on the usefulness scale the arrow is pointing to Zero.
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In the old days, when companies were run like big controllable machines, competency models probably made sense. But using them now is a bit like using a postal pigeon to send a frame-by-frame printout of a YouTube video to a friend. It’s costly, it’s slow, and on the usefulness scale, the arrow is pointing to Nada-Zero-Nothing.

Of course, competencies can be useful when used in a reactive way to create the hiring pipeline, guide people into relevant training, gain insight into succession planning and define the desired culture. But they are NOT useful for increasing company-wide performance if you use them to evaluate or promote.

They are oblivious to the complexity of today’s tasks

If you have a company of people that shovel snow off people’s driveways I can imagine that there are competencies that could be used for the role of snow-shoveler to increase overall customer satisfaction. You’d probably want them to be friendly, thorough and proactive. But if a job becomes any more complicated than that, the difficulty of the exercise increases along with it.

It’s by letting them be who they are that they are successful in what they do.

These days people are trying hard to escape the narrow prison cell that is their function description, to meet their clients’ changing needs. When a customer demands flexibility, you simply can't ignore it in this climate of abundant options and possibilities. So if you, being in charge, decide to divide that prison cell into even smaller parts by adding competencies, that person totally loses all breathing room to be creative, take the initiative and actually help your customers. Who made you the "Grand Chief Know-it-all Officer" that knows exactly how everyone in your company should do their job? It’s just unrealistic that a few people in the organization have the knowledge and insight to decide on that.

Psychologically, they give way to evaluation and obstruct coaching

Give people a list of things to score, and they feel powerful. Feeling powerful is not the right mindset to start a coaching conversation. But even without that psychological pitfall, it’s easy to see that those competency lists restrict creativity in coaching. A true coach can help a person figure out what they need to do to improve, without delivering a set of improvement points even before the session has started. His/her goal is not to massage your brain until it’s molded into something that does a specific amount of tasks in a specific way. There are machines for that now.

They work against strengths

This one is easiest to explain with a personal example. At INTUO we have three people working as an account executive (closing deals), one is good in sales because he’s very analytical, the other radiates trust and the last one honestly loves figuring out solutions with the customers. It’s by letting them be who they are and allow them to use their strengths to the fullest that they are successful in what they do. No predefined list of competencies would’ve made them any better, on the contrary.

They counteract customer centricity

A lot of effort is being put into increasing companies' agility, meaning that your companies' tasks (and products) will change very often. In that situation, it's probably not the worst idea to come up with a system for coaching/evaluating people that is adaptive instead of rigid and top-down. By the way, the whole exercise of defining functions with matching competencies takes so long that the result will always be outdated anyway, even in a relatively slow changing market.

Want to discuss competency models or other subjects with Arne? You can! Just book your 20 minute meeting at HRcoreLab5 in Barcelona.

So, take a few steps back and try to keep your competency models on a macro level. Or if you do want to use them in a more micro way, use them reactively. That implies that you don’t decide who’s good at what beforehand, but that you try to analytically discover what skills & behaviors make a person perform well in a role. That’s what you’ll be looking for in a hiring or succession context as well then.

An example of competency overkill

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The most powerful tool to impact your workplace...

Expert Knowledge

The most powerful tool to impact your workplace...

When I look back at my life, one of the greatest regrets in my professional career has to do with things I didn’t say but should have said. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself and thought that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted and expect more and more.
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If you were going to die soon, and had only one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say?

And what is keeping you from doing it right now?

When I look back at my life, one of the greatest regrets in my professional career has to do with things I didn’t say but should have said. In the course of my career, I have met so many wonderful people yet often I failed to express my deepest appreciation to those people for what they did for my company and me. I often felt reluctant to say how I felt about them or was too busy to free up some time to thank them. I was afraid of making a fool out of myself and thought that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted and expect more and more.

It was only much later in my career that I realized that appreciation was the missing link for creating an open and successful organization: a workplace where people could thrive and were able to grow into truly happy and engaged people.

I never realized it was because of my own attitude that we experienced difficulties in building a great team, making our people work more effectively and booking great financial results. Once I discovered this missing link, everything started to change. This is one of the reasons I decided to help other companies build a culture of recognition.

I was afraid that if I appreciated my people too much they would start to take things for granted.

In today’s business world, which is too often cold and unresponsive, uplifting words are springs of warmth and encouragement. We all need a boost from time to time, and a compliment, some words of encouragement or a few lines of praise have been known to turn around a day – sometimes even someone’s life!

On the 1st of March, we celebrate World Compliment Day. World Compliment Day reminds us that praise, appreciation, and encouragement are keys to creating happy, healthy and successful workplaces. But what if you would take this opportunity to share a compliment not just on World Compliment Day but every single day from this day on? If you want to improve your life and the lives of those around you, just start with building a culture of recognition.

People often think of recognition as the kind of fluffy feel-good stuff. However, this recognition can drive real results. And the good thing is that it is not expensive, and you don’t need an MBA or be in a position of authority to do it.

So, if there is one message I hope you will remind from this post, it is that no matter who you are or what you do, you have the power to use recognition to make a difference in people’s lives. Each and every day, you have the power to show people that you truly care and that what they do really matters. You have the power to help individuals reach their full potential by saying how much you value them.

Let us attack the recognition deficit that exists in our workplaces today and together we can make our business world a better, happier place…

Increase your level of job satisfaction by 25%

Tips

Increase your level of job satisfaction by 25%

Lea Water found that feeling grateful predicts 25% of your job satisfaction. By "feeling grateful" Waters refers to "you being grateful" and/or "working in a workplace that has a culture of gratitude." Read on for three simple "Do It Yourself" tricks to move your team and organization towards a culture of gratitude...
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Lea Water found that feeling grateful predicts 25% of your job satisfaction. By ‘feeling grateful’ Waters refers to ‘you being grateful’ and/or ‘working in a workplace that has a culture of gratitude.'

Below are three ‘Do It Yourself’ tricks to move your team and organization towards a culture of gratitude:

  1. Gratitude letters and journals

  2. Ask yourself and your team members to do the following at the end of every day: “when you get home, please write down three things you feel grateful for at work.” Next, you take it a small step further and ask them to write a note, in which to thank a co-worker. You’ll quickly notice that this approach forces you not just to look at what is going wrong, something a lot of managers tend to do. Instead, it makes you sit down and think of “what went well today?” and “what exactly am I grateful for at my job?”

    Feeling grateful determines 25% of your overall job satisfaction


  3. Random acts of kindness

  4. Leave some flowers or a funny post-it on your colleague’s desk, or buy them their favorite snack... for no specific reason other than the fact you like them being there. Send a thank you card to your customer or compose a small shout-out on your social media channels, etc. These acts of kindness will leave you feeling good about yourself and make the receiver’s day. A no-brainer right?

    How we randomly thank our customers and partners at INTUO


  5. “What went well” & Peer recognition programs

  6. I remember being invited to the StoryMe HQ one Friday evening. I was amazed by how all the 50+ employees sat together, had a beer, and started their “good and bad” session. At such a “good and bad” session each member spoke up about what they believe went well that week, or what could have gone better. I witnessed how sharing the “bads” led up to people getting together afterward and converse on how they could help each other. On the other hand, the “goods” rarely were a one-person job —filling the room with praise and applause for the teams!

    To maintain and grow their gratitude culture, StoryMe has recently adopted our INTUO platform, to allow them to capture all praises and feedback. Even more, INTUO enables StoryMe to get a good understanding of how their employees wish to grow within the fast growing organization they have become. Slightly different, yet similar to StoryMe, we have adopted “Thankful Fridays” which occurs each Friday after our team meeting. We each take the time to thank one specific individual or team(s) in the company for how they have impressed us, surprised us, helped someone out, or handled a certain situation.

It may sound cheesy, but "Thankful Fridays" have produced a lot of smiles!

Create a habit out of these three tricks, keep it up, and after 4 months signs of a culture of gratitude will have slipped into your organization, positively impacting your and your colleagues’ job satisfaction.

First published on Jorn's Medium account.

When your team falls apart

INTUO

When your team falls apart

A while back, I had another one of these workshops at the offices of one of our customers. As my colleague and I do for every workshop, we kick it off with a small introduction round. Everyone gets to outline their current role in the company and bring up things that could be better at their workplace.

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It shouldn’t come as a surprise. A very first job can be tough, and that’s exactly what I found out. As a 25-year old, I am the first person to take on the role of Customer Success Manager at INTUO. It is my job to make sure that our customers are happy, and stay happy. This also entails that I’m responsible for organizing workshops for our customers to make sure they’re familiar with our software. We do not only guide everyone through our online tool. We also dedicate a significant amount of time to talking about the importance of coaching and everything INTUO stands for.

A while back, I had another one of these workshops at the offices of one of our customers. As my colleague and I do for every workshop, we kick it off with a small introduction round. Everyone gets to outline their current role in the company and bring up things that could be better at their workplace.

The opening of the floodgates

What then happened, is probably hard to imagine as an outsider. The negativity that arose among this team was enormous. The discussion started with a serious declaration of their discontent and unhappiness about their current work situation. This, in itself, is of course perfectly fine. It's is exactly why we ask these types of questions, to identify a certain pain point lingering within the team.

But this level of hostility was unprecedented. "Frustration", "intolerance" and "fundamental distrust", are the terms I would use to summarize my experience that day. People didn’t have any confidence in their team leaders. Talking about their situation was near to impossible for some members. The whole room was filled with a sense of despair. It was very clear that the atmosphere in this team was at an all-time low.

The tricky part was because of that, our presence (and the introduction of our tool) was equally deceitful to them. Everything we presented to them and tried to discuss was perceived as foolish and unworkable. Every attempt to cooperate or get on the same page failed terribly. No matter how hard we tried, they kept on turning us down.

The realization of failure and burden

After I came home that day, I felt completely defeated. That workshop felt like a very, very bad date to me. I was there to make the best out of it and see if there was a match between us. Instead, I was mocked and rejected, despite my good intentions. Of course, I realize that all the resentment wasn’t aimed at me personally. But, very much like a date, not having a click with someone who you had high hopes for is upsetting.

The next day, I woke up with the same thing on my mind; "What went wrong yesterday?" I couldn’t stop wondering about that mood during the workshop. All those people complaining and clearly being upset with their current situation, yet there was no eagerness to do anything about it and reach out to us. Ironically enough, this is exactly what INTUO is all about: Helping to implement a new mindset and culture with a focus on transparency. This seemed to be exactly what they were looking for. Then why did they reject us so hard? Not so much the platform, but the idea?

They didn't need help, they needed saving.

I started to imagine how it must be like in that situation. What it must feel like to resent my job, to deal with bad vibes, and drag myself to work every day. Not feeling good or excited about anything work-related and worried about what my team leader will lay on me today.

Then, instead of wondering, I started to feel sorry. Not only because of those people's situation but the realization that this is probably the case at a good number of companies. It overwhelmed me because never before had I realized that my main job is not only about supporting, but also about saving.

Lucky me

You could say I'm the lucky one. I’m working at a startup where people are eager to learn and improve, where people constantly are in sync with each other and feel confident to say everything about anything to one another. Don’t get me wrong; not everything is picture perfect here at INTUO. We have our fair share of clashing personalities and contrasting views. Missed opportunities and wrong decisions sometimes get the better of any of us. But every single person in our team feels confident enough to speak up when something is seriously bothering them. It wasn’t until now that I realized how valuable that actually is.

But the reality is, luck hasn't got much to do with it. Before I started here, INTUO's team was already working heavily towards this kind of culture. It was (and still is) a process of a lot of listening, trial, error, and determination to let that culture grow. People have left our company because of it, and people have been asked to leave the company because of it. It isn't always pretty. But at the end of the day, we know where we want to be and we hope every single person is where he or she wants to be as well. Whether it's still at INTUO or somewhere else.

Bouncing back from a struggle

And that's why I very much believe that the company I was giving the workshop at, can still succeed and flourish. Despite the fact that we got off on the wrong foot after the workshop, I feel more eager than ever to make this project work. It will not happen in a few weeks time or even months. People will have to take a good look at themselves and be very honest about what they want. It may not be things you'd like to hear, but things that you'll need to hear. Steps have already been taken to get this ship back on course, which can only be applauded.

And eventually, I'm certain that every single person in that team will be able to feel about their job and team leaders the same way as I do at mine. Sometimes you need that kind of struggle to come out stronger. Rome wasn't built in a day, neither was INTUO, neither was any successful company ever. The struggle has definitely made me stronger as a person and fortified my aspiration to let all the teams and organizations we work with succeed.

So to those struggles ahead, I say: "Challenge accepted."


IMPORTANT This is a personal experience of one of our team members. While we will never disclose the identity of the customer, we do feel it's vital to share these events. More teams may find themselves in a similar scenario but not realize that they aren't an exception and that it can be fixed. Issues like these can come in many different forms. The sooner they are identified, the better they can be dealt with.

Team Features | Release Note

Product Features

Team Features | Release Note

Imagine you went all out for a whole week, together with your team, to get your product out on time. Friday's come, you've made it. You log in into your INTUO platform, only to notice that some colleagues from Marketing have showered the whole crew with nothing but compliments. "Dear Team Product, marketing our goods is so easy because of the service you keep on providing. Never change..."
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Imagine you went all out for a whole week, together with your team, to get your product out to the customer on time. Friday's come, you've made it. You log in into your INTUO platform and are ready to drop some praise left and right. You load up your dashboard, only to notice that some colleagues from Marketing already showered you and the whole crew with nothing but compliments. "Dear Team Product, marketing our goods has never been easier because of the service you keep on providing. Never change..."

Transcript

Dries:

An important aspect of communicating in an organization is reaching and acknowledging the right people.

And a lot of existing solutions tend to focus only on the individual. While more often than not, it really is a team effort.

The danger is that people may feel left out if they see a praise going to someone in their team while they deserve it just as much.

Creating teams but being not able to reach out and praise them as a whole would be a missed opportunity.

So you want to treat your teams as you would treat individuals.

That’s why we have developed an overview specifically for teams, inheriting a lot of the same features that individual profiles have.

So let me introduce you to our "Team Features."

Use the search function and type in the team name or check the list and pick the right one.

You can look up and interact with teams, just as you would like to do with specific people.

The same goes for handing out praise. Use the feedback button as you normally would, search for a team or a person belonging to that team and the rest is the same process you’re already familiar with.

So now you have a handy overview of every team and you’re able to acknowledge their efforts.

Because, as we all know, teamwork makes the dream work.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this INTUO release note.

If you have any questions or remarks, please get in touch through our chat intercom on the website, or by email or telephone.

Bye!

Land your feedback like a champ

Expert Knowledge

Land your feedback like a champ

As a business leader, it takes a lot of effort and courage to give feedback to employees and coworkers. Which stage of feedback expertise you are in today, is the result of being consequent and pushing yourself every day. But despite your best efforts, the way you address your feedback may not land well with everybody. Used correctly, feedback can improve performance, trust and respect.
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As a business leader, it takes a lot of effort and courage to give feedback to employees and coworkers. Which stage of feedback expertise you are in today, is the result of being consequent and pushing yourself every day. But despite your best efforts, the way you address your feedback may not land well with everybody.

Used correctly, feedback can improve performance, enhance trust and respect, and advance the achievement of mutual goals. Used incorrectly, it can be toxic to any relationship and environment.

How can you land your message land and sound helpful, so your people understand that it is well-intended and makes them more willing to act on it?


  1. Engage the person in a specific solution

  2. Managers often have the tendency to offer rather generic feedback, leaving the receiver in "quiz mode." It's up to them to try and guess what the conclusion of the conversation was exactly and what remedy might be spot-on.

    Good leaders are extremely specific: “Ask X for help if you’re stuck” or “If you see something in the reports that shouldn’t be there, ask for clarification.” They encourage employees to problem-solve with them: “What do you feel went wrong?” or “What could you do to get that same result in a shorter time span?” Engaging employees in a specific solution ensures they’ll get it right the next time. It also shows respect for their opinions and builds their confidence. When executed consistently, employees also will be much more prepared for the next encounter about what to expect.


  3. Link the criticism to what’s most important to the employee.

  4. In extreme situations, you can always try this: “Do you think what you are doing right now is going to make your parents proud?”

    Consider someone who cares about being respected by peers but is always 10 minutes late to staff meetings and often blames the tardiness on things that seem out of control. A manager might simply give her feedback nicely (“Please make more of an effort to be on time”) or sharply (“Do we need to get you a new watch?”). But a more effective strategy is to say something like: “How do you think coming in late affects your reputation with your colleagues and how would you feel if you were on the other side of things?”

    If employees see the link between the feedback and the things they care about personally, they’ll be able to relate.


  5. Keep your voice and body language neutral

  6. At times, managers can motivate with a raised voice and expressive gestures. However, workplace criticism is far more effective when delivered in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, with a relaxed facial expression and with neutral body language. An unemotional delivery sends a message that the feedback is simply part of doing business. Feedback isn't about drama.


  7. Learn individual preferences

  8. Employees have feedback preferences. Some people want advice immediately, while others prefer that they are observed, and then receive comprehensive feedback on fixed moments in time.

    In early stages, before your employees have a chance to do anything that requires feedback, ask them how they prefer to receive it. Should you give it immediately or schedule it? Do they prefer an email or a real-life talk? If it’s the latter, should it be in your workspace, theirs, or a neutral spot?

    It is important to be open and receptive to criticism, but that’s easier said than done. Follow these guidelines and employees are much more likely to accept and welcome a culture of helpful feedback.

    Outdated company structures are bound to change. Not just to adapt to the features of future generations but also to respond to the rapidly changing market dynamics. Conversation, empathy, a clear purpose and a sound engagement method will be the driving force of your strategy adoption and culture. And make no mistake, those are all areas in which you, the human, will have to make decisions. AI will merely have an enabling role.

First published on Human Reef's blog.

I'm a millennial, a lazy narcissist

Expert Knowledge

I'm a millennial, a lazy narcissist

Millenials are lazy, impatient and narcissistic… Simon Sinek, management expert, has been quoted a lot in the media during these last months. He feels that he has something to say about millennials and how they behave at work. And the world is indignant. But the funny thing is, and this may come as a surprise, I'm inclined to agree with Simon. And this is why...
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Millenials are lazy, impatient and narcissistic… Simon Sinek, management expert, has been quoted a lot in the media during these last months. He feels that he has something to say about millennials and how they behave at work. And the world is indignant. Being born in 1987, I also feel I have something to say about how my generation behaves at work. But the funny thing is, and this may come as a surprise, I'm inclined to agree with Simon. And this is why:

Let me start with some gratefulness. We owe the generations before us a big and sincere "thank you". A thank you for the roads they cleared for us, for the chances they created, and for the progression they made possible.

According to Simon (as a typical millennial, I take the liberty of referring to him by his first name, even though I don't know him in person), my year of birth makes me narcissistic, lazy, spoiled and selfish. It also makes me impatient. And, being 29-something makes it very hard for me to live without my smartphone. Well I do have a confession to make: I am writing this around 7.30 pm on my way from work to yoga class. My work never gives me feeling that I'm working because I love doing it so much. It also took me a while to find because I had a number of non-negotiable criteria. For example, the job had to be in Munich, because the man I love with all my heart is following his passion in Munich. And of course, I want to be with him. Today, not tomorrow. (impatient, right?)

Oh yeah, did I mention I am writing this on my phone? I go to yoga class at least three times a week. Somewhere in the future, I would love to have kids and tailor my job around the life I have with them, not the other way around. And I'm not finished learning and growing either, both as a professional and as a person. I want all of that, and so much more, like changing the world and reverse climate change. And I would like it all rather quickly because the world needs the changes sooner than later as well.


Even though I can only agree with Simon – based on the wishes I have and the choices I've made – I have to admit that the characteristics he mentioned to define our generation are not very pretty. They even sound pretty harsh and offensive. So I can understand why many of my generation disagree with what Simon says, or worse, apologize for the inconvenience. And I can also relate to the people who say that this is a problem of all times: older generations blame the younger ones that they are lazy dreamers and younger generations react by adjusting to the status quo.

But most of all, I’ve had enough of this blaming and apologizing. Because that is exactly the point that Simon wants to make: the millennials think they themselves are the problem. They are under the impression that they behave the wrong way and that it's about time they adjust to how the adult world works, where value creation equals numbers. A world where breaking the glass ceiling means that women are trying to fit into male role-patterns as perfectly as possible. Flexibility is translated into the routine of one fixed home-office day a week, and don't even think about showing up because there is no room for you today…

But what if we turn it around? Does the world that the generations before us have created actually fit the current reality of burn-outs and melting ice?

Like so many others, I want to spend my time in a meaningful way. I want to have an impact. I want to really contribute to the better world that most people merely talk or dream about. The problem is, creating a better world cannot be done by me or by my generation alone. In this “What is happening to our world”-climate, I want to act. I want to act together with the generations that came before us and with the generations that follow us. It simply feels like a waste of time to wait patiently until the generation above us decided that I learned enough from them to understand how the world works and that I myself am ready now to pass this knowledge onto the next generation. It feels useless to have to climb this ancient, hierarchical ladder.

I need mentors, not managers

I want us to collectively question the "normal." I want to co-create in a meaningful way. I want to connect new and old. Experiment. Learn from mistakes. Learn from differences in opinion and expertise. Be driven by impact. With respect. As a person.

  • Even if it makes me narcissistic – I love myself too much to force myself into a little box that does not feel meaningful.
  • Even if it makes me lazy – I do not want to work from 9-to-5 because I would rather be rewarded for the quality that I deliver than for the time I spend in the office.
  • Even if it makes me spoiled – I know very well what I want, and I fight until I get it.
  • Even if it makes me selfish – I would rather spend a bit more time with myself than being forced to attend meetings where my opinion is asked even though the decision has already been made long ago and way above my pay grade.
  • Even if it makes me impatient – I would rather work with my bosses than to work for them.
  • Even if it makes me ungrateful – I will ask myself the question if our current work culture is truly the most fitting and engaging.
So if millennials are perceived as narcissistic, lazy, spoiled, selfish, impatient and ungrateful, I don't mind being labeled that way all things considered. In fact, I wouldn't want to have it any other way.

First published in Dutch on Charliemag.be.

AI will put talent managers back in the driver's seat

Strategy & Solution

AI will put talent managers back in the driver's seat

Nowadays, job-hopping and fine tuning your career path has become the norm rather than the exception. Choice is abundant and the competition is ruthless. So it’s understandable that people with an HR or Talent Management role are sleep-deprived because of the many challenges that they face.
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Nowadays, job-hopping and fine tuning your career path has become the norm rather than the exception. Choice is abundant and the competition is ruthless. You can’t afford getting bogged down with human capital hurdles or someone else will attract all the good talent. So it’s understandable that people with an HR or Talent Management role are sleep-deprived, due to the following pressing questions:

  • “How do I identify talent? How do I attract the right talent?”
    #1 - How will AI tackle hiring
  • “How do I keep talent engaged? How do I take the right actions?”
    #2 - How will AI influence Retention & Decision making
  • “How do I convince my boss that HR are not just a money draining necessity? What is the ROI of what we do?”
    #3 - How will AI provide Convincing Data
  • “How can I best affect the speed of adaptations, restructures, and globalization within my organization?”
    #4 - And what about my Culture & Strategy


  1. Hiring: S.A.R.A has got your back

  2. For the sake of analogy, let’s assume you’d like to buy a slightly kitsch shower curtain on Amazon. As you browse through countless pages of shower curtains, a machine learning algorithm follows you around in the background, teaching itself what you search for, like, and purchase. Next time you shop at Amazon, your interface will be plastered with smart suggestions, in tune with your… uhh… “acquired” taste. Amazon’s machine learning is merely one type of Artificial Intelligence.

    In order to imagine how AI can impact HR’s hiring process, let’s replace the Amazon website by an advanced HR platform. The platform is powered by a fictional AI, which we will baptize S.A.R.A. (Secure Artificial Recruiting Assistant). S.A.R.A. is going to help us out.

    Things are going well at your company, and you're looking to expand. You want someone with a particular set of skills, strengths, ambitions, etc. Meanwhile, there’s Jane, who’s working at another company. She has strong leadership skills, and S.A.R.A. has learned that Jane has a (fictional) empathy score of at least 78. Unknowingly to Jane, S.A.R.A. has noticed that her engagement has gone down the past three months. A more trustworthy environment would do wonders for Jane's motivation, is the conclusion.

    Jane’s employer has access to the same data, yet decides not (or is incapable) to help Jane grow within her position. That enables the open market system to kick in, informing both Jane and you of the 94% match Jane has with your open position. After you’ve both met and confirmed that there is indeed a good match, all the tedious administration gets handled by S.A.R.A. Even part of the onboarding and training is likely to be performed by S.A.R.A., where information will "drip" to Jane over a period of days or weeks, at Jane’s desired pace, until she’s fully ready to rumble!

    Welcome Jane, and thank you S.A.R.A.


  3. Retention & Decision Making: AI will be your best advisor

  4. Let’s go back to Jane before she joined your company. Jane was doing a more than decent job, yet got genuinely frustrated because her colleague got promoted instead of her. Unfair in her eyes, as the only thing her colleague was better at than her is “kissing ass.” This could’ve been labeled as “just Jane’s opinion”, but all available data was on her side. So equality was definitely being compromised. Jane experienced first hand that poor management and biased decisions can instantly demotivate, even to the extent she wanted to quit her job on the spot at times.

    Why didn’t her manager intervene? Either he or she wasn’t aware of the situation, or just ignored it. Either way, isn’t it a manager’s job to monitor team performance, detect issues and take actions when they’re needed? Or at least communicate the what, how, and why of the situation at hand? Now, throw in some bias and favoritism with those doubtful leadership skills, and we have ourselves a failing manager (1 in 2 according to research).

    Even today, AI can already outperform the skillset of a human manager when it comes to analytics and data processing. However, it is unlikely that AI will outperform human managers on soft skills such as comprehending people’s feelings, evoking motivation and the coaching of new and experienced employees.
    It’s in this understanding that AI will never be the solution, but will definitely be the perfect assistant in dealing with people management. Flagging potential issues that might come up, warning us of engagement levels that are going down, actions that can be taken… A failing manager will not become a good one just by implementing an AI solution, but it will help decent managers to do even better and become excellent coaches in a relatively short amount of time. And that’s beneficial for everyone involved.

    Tim Clauwaert, CEO of INTUO

    Tim Clauwaert, CEO of INTUO, believes machine learning and AI will have a great impact on HR’s future role within its company. He argues that “people-centric machine learning will enable us to distribute time and effort to the areas where they matter the most, i.e. providing feedback to employees, understand what drives them, and coach where necessary. All of which will immediately benefit the long-term future of the company and the individuals, giving Talent-Focused roles a hyper-valuable and important seat at the strategic table.”

    The Japan Post Insurance have recently implemented AI in their payout calculations, demonstrating that HR departments around the world are already betting on AI to optimize decision making and avoid employee disengagement.


  5. Convincing Data: AI exceeds normal analytics

  6. The biggest component in most companies is arguably human capital. And yet this is the component you often understand the least. Yes, while data analytics can already help you to visualize employee performance and some behavior, AI is capable of taking it a couple of steps further. Where analytics still require a user to interpret and think over data, AI can take over a chunk of that process and help you to understand and anticipate situations much faster. Preventing issues faster may lead to avoiding layoffs, detecting skill gaps can lead to faster and better hiring, and suggesting actions to improve engagement may drive up motivation. It’s decision making like this that either saves money or makes sure it’s invested in the right areas, in the most optimal timeframe.

    Arne Van Damme argues that from within HR there is a huge need for AI, “because HR is moving from being a necessary cost center to delivering the most important added value. The pressure on HR is increasing. They have to argue and campaign so much for the spending they do in human capital more and more. That’s why they will need all the HR intel they can possibly get their hands on. And the more thorough and accurate the data, the easier the justification.”


  7. Culture & Strategy: That’ll be all YOU!

  8. On average baby boomers look for a job 11.7 times during their career. Millenials crush that record by changing jobs every two years or less. Knowing that by 2020 the majority of the workplace will consist out of millennials, something’s got to give. And in this case, simply crunching the numbers and implementing artificial intelligence won’t suffice.

    Hierarchy and bonuses serve a short-term purpose and, depending on your industry, can work as motivation. But do consider the fact that more and more young people are not driven by money and short-term benefits. Even more so, one third of young professionals don’t believe it should be a business’ sole purpose "to make money". You see the tendency here? Working for a purpose and finding a company that shares your individual goals to some extent are the main drivers for young people for finding a job nowadays. “WHY does your company do what it does, and what kind of impact does your company (aim to) have?” are the most important questions your company culture needs to answer.
    Choice, flexibility and independence are three key characteristics of the future workplace. Consequently, flattening the hierarchy and making jobs more dynamic will be crucial, giving employees the required autonomy and ownership.

    Outdated company structures are bound to change. Not just to adapt to the features of future generations but also to respond to the rapidly changing market dynamics. Conversation, empathy, a clear purpose and a sound engagement method will be the driving force of your strategy adoption and culture. And make no mistake, those are all areas in which you, the human, will have to make decisions. AI will merely have an enabling role.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, S.A.R.A. just pinged me with another interesting profile.

First published on Jorn's Medium account.

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