In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, it can be hard to stand out. Back in the day, competition came from companies that looked just like yours. That is no longer the case. With an always-online hyper-connected economy, your competition could come from an industry so far removed from the one that you are in that it hardly makes sense…and yet if you aren’t watching, your business can find itself on the precipice of being made redundant by a company you never saw coming. (Think Uber to cabs or AirBnB to hotels…or even more recently Amazon to grocers.) It is not at all far-fetched…and with artificial intelligence and other forms of digitization, who knows what the future holds?
Frankly, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the best ideas may come from outside your industry…that’s one of the concepts that SIG holds dear. During a plenary Summit session, we had everyone work with the people at their table to discuss a challenge that one person at the table was facing. Because the tables were random and the people at those tables represented different positions and industries, the results provided some breakthrough moments with complete out-of-the-box thinking.
Does this statement sound familiar: “We’re cutting budgets and unfortunately we need to reduce spend on professional development.” The balance of my professional career has and continues to be focused on helping teams improve productivity, longevity and deliver the right results. For more than 12 years people leaders have told me that their biggest obstacles to training their teams are that they don’t have enough time and dollars. Is this merely a symptom of a bigger challenge? Why is it that seemingly every time budgets are cut, a line item under the microscope is professional development?
In my experience, two primary reasons exist for cuts to professional development budgets. The first reason is that companies are fearful that if they invest in their employees through professional development, they will leave and go to the competition or somewhere else. Secondly, it has been historically difficult for advocates of professional development to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI).
Recent findings from a survey of chief procurement officers by Deloitte and research on professional development shed some light on those myths and support a business case for investing in your people and training them to be the best they can be.
“If we invest in professional development, people will take those skills and go somewhere else…”
Perhaps. The truth is that people will come and go at every organization; this is a reality that will always be the case. No company will ever experience 100% retention of their people. Besides, is that really what you want? The point is, worrying that you will somehow have a mass exodus of top talent as a result of investing in their professional development is unfounded.
Situated in the southernmost part of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, nestled among green rolling hills, coffee plantations and dairy farms is the small town of Santa Rita do Sapucaí. A cursory glance shows Santa Rita as a charming town full of farms and churches but in reality, this picturesque little city has so much more to offer. In recent years, it has become known as “Vale da Eletrônica” or Electronics Valley because it is home to the highly respected technical school, Escola Técnica de Eletrônica Francisco Moreira da Costa and is also known as a hub for technological applications, from carpool and table service apps to toothbrushes with sensors that connect to children’s games. And Santa Rita isn’t the only city in Brazil ramping up their efforts.
Plagued by years of upheaval economically, Brazil is making a comeback and relying on the IT sector to help make their triumphant return. A $200 million joint investment with chipmaker Qualcomm, was welcomed in March by the federal government to build a semiconductor factory in the state of São Paulo where other major tech companies such as Samsung and Lenovo already have operations. Their hope for the investment is that this will be the first step for Brazil in becoming a noteworthy player in the manufacturing of high density semiconductors that are used in 4G and in the future, 5G devices, as well as IoT applications. The investment from Qualcomm is expected to bring in about 1,200 new jobs which only makes a tiny dent in solving Brazil’s unemployment rates—at 11% there is still a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As we move further into arguably one of the worst hurricane seasons in history, our minds and hearts become even more focused on those who were affected by some of the most recent hurricanes. Each news outlet has been sharing the accounts of ordinary people performing heroic acts to save the lives of their neighbors and even strangers. In times of natural disasters, we often find our humanity and the need to reach out a hand to those in desperate need.
I wonder what happens when tragedy is not raining down? Where is the humanity? I would suggest that it is ever present if we choose to look for it. Humanity is shown in the small acts of kindness such as when a stranger goes out of their way to help someone with their luggage, or when a wallet is found and returned in complete condition.
Gandhi stated, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
In business, leaders must be the humanity, providing servant leadership to our teams as they struggle through the daily work challenges. We must remember that our role as leaders is likened to that of a silent hero, focused on helping others in a time of need and without personal recognition.
Here are five things you can do right now to add humanity into your work culture:
Mark Pollack, Vice President, SIG University and Chief Strategy Officer, SIG
Have you ever tried having a productive day at work after being involved in a head on collision the previous day? It is pretty rough! The concussion sure made it hard to focus on what Sally was explaining at the executive meeting. You did not make the best decisions that day and I’m pretty sure you ruined your chances of bringing that one strategic partnership to fruition when your slurred speech was mistaken for intoxication. Actually, I bet you didn’t go to work the next day and I bet your employer told you to take the time you needed to heal, see the right doctors and come back stronger. Physical health issues can affect anyone at any time. For that reason, many workers are given medical insurance, sick time and other benefits to ensure they can recuperate before returning to the work place.
Yet, less visible injuries occur to our mental health and they can be just as frequent and debilitating. However, rather than providing the necessary support to workers, many are not given benefits to take time off or get a mental health checkup. Rather than receiving well wishes of getting better, most people with mental health issues deal with them in quiet because of stigmas that exist.
I decided to write my blog this week on this topic after being inundated with news reports in the recent days, weeks, months and unfortunately even years of crime and other tragic outcomes related to various forms of hate, anger and frustration. As I question my bi-racial child’s future in a hate entrenched society, and reflect on the loss of a friend at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last year, I can’t help but think that there has got to be something that could have been done to prevent this. Is there something I can do? Is there something anyone can do other than teach our children how to show compassion, consideration and love for others?
Think of a great workplace. What sets it apart from the rest?
Nearly 70 percent of employees globally agree that happiness at work is the best ingredient for a unique work experience, according to a new JLL study on the human experience in corporate workplaces. In a survey of more than 7,000 employees in 12 countries, JLL found that the “human experience” means far more than work-life balance concerns, but encompasses how empowered, engaged and fulfilled employees feel in the workplace.
Savvy C-suite executives today see a direct correlation between a productive workplace and a healthy balance sheet. Despite advances in workplace technology and increasing levels of automation in corporate real estate management itself, the facilities and workplace are ultimately about the people they house. Organizations ignore this reality at their peril.
From a real estate perspective, companies need to think about whether their real estate offers the right locations, technology and design to inspire the best from their employees. In an era of rapid business change and stiff competition for talent, creating memorable, engaging workplace experiences is more important than ever for organizational success.
JLL’s new research, Workplace Powered by Human Experience, looks at how the workplace experience and a focus on people can help businesses thrive in the new world of work. The key takeaway? Three priorities drive the human experience in today’s workplace: engagement, empowerment and fulfillment.
Engagement comes first
Ed Nolan, Managing Director, Workplace Strategy, JLL
To truly innovate, you need a certain kind of leadership in your organization. I always look for and hire people who have an insatiable curiosity and who become bored easily. I truly believe if you have the desire to constantly look toward the unknown you are a person who does not like executing the existing.
In John Sculley’s book Moonshot he speaks about how the traditional education system harms our ability to innovate. By making students remember and recite, we reward children by giving As for the right answer versus asking the right question. We reward people at work for executing according to plans, not for taking risks and for having a futurist mindset. Instead of thinking about how to do something better, we need to start with “do we even need to do it at all?”
With a new U.S. Presidential Administration, I have been thinking a lot about the future of my little nephew, who is just a toddler now. Like other aunties, I worry about the longterm impact of current votes on our Earth, our communities and our economy. My nephew is considered a "Centennial.” I thought I'd take a moment and learn more about the Centennials and what tools they will have to combat some of these "orders" and "choices."
Centennials, or Generation Z, are kids born in 1997 or after. They are 25% of the population of the United States (about 78 million people). Nearly 48% of them are minorities. They seem to have an excellent grasp on the challenges they face in their generation; those of decreasing environmental resources like water and increasing cultural issues like religious wars. They have learned that being different is okay. They have learned not to be too risky. However, they have also learned to adapt by working around challenges and building their own solutions. Remember, this is the first generation to live entirely with the internet. They have been surfing the web their whole lives. So this makes for a more serious, more open-minded person, albeit with a short attention span.
Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG
At dinner recently, a guest held us all entranced as he described his current work: a post-doc at a prestigious London university, he has been working for nearly two decades in artificial intelligence (AI), specializing in trying to teach computers how to teach other computers. While much of his work is simply too esoteric to explain here (that's my code for "it went right over my head"), what was very obvious to me was the extent to which things have advanced since we first met - as he was just setting out upon his journey in this field - and how rapidly theoretical advances are becoming practical innovations which then, in turn, move out into the mainstream. Problems he and his peers were wrangling with only a few years ago now seem like ancient history, he said, and while "the future is always infinitely far away, tomorrow seems closer than ever."
If any of us at the table had had any doubts before that we're on the verge of tremendous social change as a result of automation and smart technology - and I don't believe anyone did have such doubts (as one would have to have had one's head thoroughly buried in the sand not to be aware of the whirlwind approaching us), they would have been thoroughly dispelled by the end of our companion's passionate and impressive address. But, of course, how to react to the automation revolution is immeasurably more difficult than simply to assert that it's coming...
As a marketer, I know the value of branding. The largest and most successful companies in the world have teams of people dedicated solely to branding. Branding is no longer about using the same logo, trademark, tagline and/or color scheme on all your marketing material. Branding is composed of different components including: brand identity, brand image, brand character, brand culture, brand personality and brand essence. Marketing agencies and consultants charge anywhere between $75,000-$250,000 to develop and manage a company’s brand.
Now here’s the kicker with branding that every marketing professional will tell you – they have no idea how it impacts their bottom line. Branding is the most difficult type of marketing to measure because you can’t easily quantify it. So, why are organizations across the globe spending so much money and time on branding? Quite simply – effective branding creates consumer confidence. Establishing a brand with a clear voice and values will enable your consumers to be loyal and confident when they buy from you. People have a natural desire to evolve with a brand whose products and services help give their life or business meaning and significance.
It’s not just businesses that need to focus on effective branding. If you care about your future as a professional in the world of work, you need to focus on your own personal brand. Personal branding is critical to establishing who you are and what you represent to those around you, the equivalent of a company’s consumers. They are your employer, your manager, your co-workers, your peers and anyone else that comes in contact with you in a professional setting. I’m not just talking about ensuring that embarrassing picture from your cousin’s wedding isn’t visible on Facebook... I’m talking about preparing for the future by branding yourself as a leader in your industry now.