Viewing posts from: November 2000

Is it possible to engineer the perfect boss?


Google Employees Weighed In on What Makes a Highly Effective Manager. Technical Expertise Came in Dead Last

Google was up to the task and found data that will forever change the keys to getting promoted.

Authored by  Michael Schneider

Google is widely known as an advocate of data-based decision making. So, it came as no surprise when it looked to its statisticians to help decode the secret formula to effective management.

After gathering and analyzing 10,000 manager observations including performance reviews, surveys, and nominations for top-manager awards and recognition, Google stumbled upon a realization that surprised many–even its former senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock.

In a New York Times article that revealed the findings, Bock acknowledged that the company had historically hired managers or promoted people who exhibited a higher level of technical expertise than others. “It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing,” Bock says. “It’s important, but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible.”

Bock’s team didn’t stop there. Upon further analysis of the findings, they narrowed in on the “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.” Although technical skills made the list, it came in dead last. Here is a complete list via Business Insider (listed in order of importance):

  • Be a good coach;
  • empower your team and don’t micromanage;
  • express interest in employee’s success and well-being;
  • be productive and results-oriented;
  • be a good communicator and listen to your team;
  • help your employees with career development;
  • have a clear vision and strategy for the team; and
  • have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team.

If those weren’t shocking enough, upon further examination of the most important habits of effective managers, Bock’s group came to the following conclusions.

1. What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses.

We’ve all had bosses lose their cool. Although no one is impervious to the occasional stress overload, the truth is even a single occurrence can add layers of unnecessary anxiety to your employees’ already overloaded mental bandwidth. With the amount of variability and craziness that already comes with work, employees appreciate managers who are patient, poised, and positive. In environments that already lend themselves to stress, bosses who are regularly intense, high-strung, and impatient intensify challenging professions.

2. Manager’s who helped people puzzle through problems were more effective.

The transition to leadership also requires a transformation of thought. Managers have to redirect their focus from the “work” to their staff. Effective managers take care of their people, understanding that their people take care of the work. This is the key to scaling your technical-self as a manager.

Although he’s not typically associated with management best practices, Benjamin Franklin showed mastery with this quote: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Yes, I know it’s time-consuming. I know you have a million other things on your plate. However, collaborating and supporting your employees in this way pays dividends with each “puzzle” you help them solve. Not only is the work done consistently with your expectations, but your employees observe skills and traits vital to their success. Think of each “puzzle” as an investment in your employee’s future.

3. Top-performing managers took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

Great managers earn respect, engagement, and outstanding effort from their staff. Great mentors and friends gain the trust, loyalty, and appreciation of those they associate with. Now imagine these roles fused together (yep — a Super Boss). Now, I’m not saying you have to be best buddies with your employees. However, managers who truly care about their employees’ success and well-being take an interest in their lives.

Imagine how far someone would go for a Super Boss.

Although promotions usually come as a result of technical mastery, to be effective in your new role as a manager, you’ll have to wear a different hat. Shift your focus to your people, and I promise, you’ll see a significant return.

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What If Companies Managed People as Carefully as They Manage Money?


by Eric Garton

Today’s executives spend a lot of time managing the balance sheet, despite the fact that it doesn’t represent their company’s scarcest resource. Financial capital is relatively abundant and cheap. According to Bain’s Macro Trends Group, the global supply of capital stands at nearly 10 times global GDP. As a result of capital superabundance, global quantitative easing and relatively low demand for investments in R&D and capital projects, the after-tax cost of borrowing for many companies is at or near inflation, making the real cost of borrowing close to zero.

In contrast, today’s scarcest resource is your human capital, as measured by the time, talent and energy of your workforce. Time, whether measured by hours in a day or days in a career, is finite. Difference-making talent is also scarce. The average company considers only about 15% of its employees to be difference makers. Finding, developing, and retaining this talent is hard — so much so that the business press refers to a “war” for talent. Energy, too, is difficult to come by. Though intangible, it can be measured by the number of inspired employees in your workforce. Based on our research, inspired employees are three times more productive than dissatisfied employees, but they are rare. For most organizations, only one out of eight employees is inspired.

There you have it. Financial capital is abundant but carefully managed; human capital is scarce but not carefully managed. Why? In part, it’s because we value and reward good management of financial capital. And we measure it. Great CEOs are held in high regard for their clever management and allocation of financial capital. But today’s great CEOs need to be equally great at managing human capital.

How can we manage human capital better?

Measure it. As the adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. A veritable alphabet soup (ROA, RONA, ROIC, ROCE, IRR, MVA, APV, and the like) exists to measure our financial capital. To measure human capital, you can deploy metrics such as our productive power index, which looks at the cost of organizational drag and the benefits of effective talent and energy management on your overall productive power. You can measure the amount and value of the time that you put into projects or initiatives, and you can measure the return on that time. You can actively measure the amount of difference-making talent that you have in your organization. When Caesars Entertainment, a gaming company, reorganized operations in 2011, the senior team not only developed a database on the performance and the potential of the company’s top 2,000 managers but also analyzed the ability of the top 150 to take on new and different jobs.

Untitled design (14)

Invest human capital just like you invest financial capital. For financial capital, the business world has developed concepts such as the opportunity cost of capital, which is reflected in a company’s weighted average cost of capital. We measure the lifetime value of investments, and we establish hurdle rates before deploying a single dollar of capital. We run Monte Carlo simulations to evaluate various returns under uncertainty. For human capital, we need to start thinking about the opportunity cost of a lost hour. One way to do this is to measure the cost of meetings. My colleagues at Bain discovered that a weekly executive committee meeting at one company consumed 300,000 hours a year in support time from departments across the company. When Woodside, an Australian oil and gas company, took a hard look at meetings, it discovered that they were consuming 25%–50% of staff’s time. A series of pilots reduced meeting time by an average of 14% among the pilot groups — a time savings equal to 7% of those groups’ full-time equivalent capacity. We should think about projects in terms of hours and dollars as well, and before taking on a new meeting or new initiative, including the opportunity cost of time and talent in the hurdle rate.

Monitor it. Teams of financial planning and analysis professionals measure actual and expected results for financial capital. Investment management committees evaluate new investments. Capital expenditure plans are subjected to detailed board reviews. We all must submit capital approval requests to release funds. Similarly, for human capital, we should do periodic reviews of how much controllable organizational drag we have in our organization and what actions we are taking to compress it. Many big data tools, such as Microsoft Workplace Analytics, can provide detailed reviews of how we use time. For talent, we need to know who our difference makers are and whether they are deployed in mission-critical roles and initiatives.

Consider the case of one B2B supplier that wanted to figure out what made some salespeople top performers. A statistical analysis of metrics from Workplace Analytics and other factors revealed that top performers and average performers spent their time differently. Some of the differences were obvious: spending an average of four more hours per week than other reps communicating with customers, or being 25% more likely to cross-sell. But some behavior was surprising. For example, top performers were three times more likely to interact with multiple groups inside the company. In other words, they connected with people who could help them with customer issues, such as staff in finance, legal, pricing, or marketing.

a businessman offering a gift to you (selective focus)

Recognize and reward good management of time, talent, and energy. Historically, successful investment of financial capital can make someone’s career. Variable compensation is often tied to some measure of economic value added. Even though most companies no longer offer lifetime employment, they should still find a way to create a lifetime of assignments for their difference-making talent and work hard every day to re-recruit them by creating a working environment that is inspiring and results oriented. When Reid Hoffman founded LinkedIn, he promised that the company would help advance the careers of talented employees who signed on for two to four years and made an important contribution, either offering them another tour of duty at LinkedIn or supporting their efforts if they moved on. This tour-of-duty approach helped attract and retain entrepreneurial employees.

Leaders should be measured and rewarded on their inspiration quotient. They should also be measured and rewarded for building a talent balance sheet: how many high-potential individuals they have recruited, developed, and retained, and what is the trade balance of talent — that is, the net imports of high-potential talent into their group minus exports. A company’s actual values read Netflix’s famous HR playbook, “are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go.”

These are only some of the ways that we might begin to bring greater discipline to human capital management. There are likely many more creative solutions out there. Time is finite. Talent is scarce and worth fighting for. Energy can be created and destroyed. The sooner we act on these beliefs, the sooner we will get the return on human capital that we deserve.

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Human Resource Management


Introduction to Human Resource Management

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Interview Tips


So, you have impressed with your CV and been called to interview. Congratulations!

This next step is often seen the scariest, but you can use your nervous energy to help you perform on the day.


Do your prep

  • Prepare answers to common interview questions and expected competency questions. Write them down on separate pieces of paper and pop them in a box or record them and load ‘em into iTunes. Then pick them out and set it to random and practise answering.
  • Say it aloud: This is important because you have to get used to hearing yourself express these ideas and answers, otherwise you may surprise yourself or stumble.
  • Research background information about the company, the advertised role and your interviewer. You can find most of this online on Google and Linked In. Think of three questions to ask during the interview.

On-the-day essentials

These may seem pretty straightforward but it’s worth thinking about them in advance. Write a list and follow, in case you start getting overwhelmed by the ‘Big Day’.

  • Have an early night or a quiet night in, if possible
  • Have a travel route and mode of transport planned
  • Have an outfit planned
  • Have a decent breakfast so you’re energised and not embarrassed by rumbly tummy syndrome

Feel the fear!

The majority of candidates get pretty nervous prior to an interview, there’s a lot riding on it after all. It’s a good thing! It shows that something important is about to happen.

Try and channel nervousness by remembering that your interviewer may be more nervous than you! This is especially true of a panel interview, where inexperienced staff may be pulled in and may be afraid of fluffing their lines or losing face in front of colleagues.

No one will mark you down for being nervous in an interview. It even shows a certain amount of respect. You’re more likely to make a poor impression by appearing complacent or superior.

Calm-down techniques

It’s good to have a couple of techniques to hand if you feel nerves getting in the way of your performance.

In the waiting room, forget about cramming notes about the job description, it’s too late for that and you’ll just stress yourself. Instead, think of a happy memory or someone you love.

The pressure point in the middle of your hand relaxes the mind and eases anxiety, press it gently then release and press more deeply, breathe into your belly and release tension. This technique is subtle enough to use throughout the interview.

If all else fails …breathe. So many of us forget to do this when nerves take over. Breathe out a negative and breathe in a positive.

Focus on body language

Remember, the interview starts the minute you step through the door so be courteous to everyone you meet on the premises. Body language counts more than what you say! So pay attention to the following:

  • Smile! This immediately warms the atmosphere and the positive endorphins that smiling releases will calm you too.
  • Have eye contact with your interviewer(s). This makes a connection, shows you are confident and engaged with the interviewer and is a crucial part of forming a relationship with them.
  • Nod your head from time to time to show your understand or agree with points your interviewer is making.
  • Smiling, eye contact and head nodding is the most influential body language, according to research from Goldsmiths University. But don’t slouch and have a firm handshake when the interviewer offers their hand.
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Job Interview Outfits Sussed by Industry


Author Eva Caiden

You’ve researched the company, you can recite your key achievements of the past and have looked up your interviewer on LinkedIn. But have you thought about what you’re going to wear to your interview? A recent survey found that 33% of bosses know within 90 seconds whether they’ll hire someone. And a whopping 65% indicated that clothes could be a deciding factor between two near identical candidates. The message is clear: appearance does matter. And our clothes make up an important part of our appearance. This doesn’t mean spending a fortune, but it does mean working out what’s appropriate for your role. We spoke to some style experts to find out what you should wear – whatever your profession.



Stylist Angela Barnard says formal, polished outfits are a must. “Stick to a suit in a neutral colour like black, navy and grey. You can add colour with a tie if you’re male but nothing too crazy: stick to stripes or a small spot rather than loud flowers. For women, a simple camisole or silk tee under a suit has a more feminine and contemporary feel than a cotton shirt. A tailored dress with a coordinating jacket is also a great option. Keep jewellery simple and make sure shoes are clean and scuff free.’


Angela advises a smart but less formal approach for candidates in this field, “For women, a great option is a smart dress teamed with a jacket or even a fine-knit fitted cardigan. Men could team a blazer with a slim leg chino and a crisp white shirt. Brown brogues look very stylish with a chino. It’s advisable for men to wear a tie in most interview situations.



Style blogger and journalist Christina Miller advises you to add personality with your accessories, “Although these jobs tend to be seen as creative, they are all part of a highly competitive and therefore professional industry. With this in mind, choose muted colours that won’t distract the interview panel in a style that suits your body shape – good quality materials help with structure and well-fitting undergarments are a must for ladies.

“Interesting accessories, such as a statement bracelet or a pocket watch, add personality.” According to Sophie Hay, men should stick to slick suits or, for less formal situations, navy chinos with a smart shirt. “You can opt for a bolder choice of colour or print for ties and shirts – you want to appear modern so look at current trends when making your choice,” she advises.



Be bold, says Sophie Hay, fashion writer. While you should research the company culture to ensure you nail your outfit, this is one situation where it’s ok to turn heads. “Unlike other interview situations, expressing your personality through colour and pattern is a plus when it comes to the arts – in fact, it can be a good conversation starter.

“For guys, I’d suggest black jeans, a chambray shirt and a nice pair of simple leather trainers. The shirt likes you’ve put in some effort whilst still being relaxed: top it off with a light bomber. For women, a jumpsuit (no shorts) is fashionable but office appropriate. If you want a smarter look team some tailored culottes with a simple tee and a smart pair of sandals.”


Education/Teaching/IT/Public Sector

You can ditch the suit, but steer clear of jeans, says Sophie Hay. “A pencil skirt with a silk blouse and a small heel will show you mean business while men should opt for chinos with a shirt and tie. Anything less formal will appear too laid-back.”


Sales/Call Centre

A corporate approach is best in office-based roles such as these. For women, a knee-length shift dress with a court shoe will show you mean business, while men should wear a shirt and trousers (tie not obligatory.)


Retail/Customer Service/Hospitality

Public facing roles require a smart wardrobe and good grooming. A silk blouse with a knee length pencil skirt in neutral tones is perfect for women while men should wear a suit and tie for formal situations (e.g. in the hotel industry). Retail roles will vary depending on the brand but always be aware of the image your employer wants to project.



While your day-to-day wardrobe in these industries may incorporate workman’s boots and jeans, at interview stage you should bypass this for a smarter approach. Men could wear blue chinos with a shirt (tucked in) and some smart, unscuffed shoes while women should try a crisp white shirt tucked into some smart trousers and a pointy, flat shoe.



Hygiene is key here and so is the comfort. A uniform is likely to be mandatory but at interview stage, you should dress practically. Some black or navy trousers and a smart shirt (tucked in) work for both sexes. Women should ensure shoes have little or no heel, that jewellery is kept to a minimum and nails are short and free from polish. Long hair will need to be tied back and piercings will need to be covered.


Fig 1.

Infographic by Totaljobs

Job Interview


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Does How You Dress at Work Matter or When Seeking for Job?


As a job seeker, naturally you want to portray the very best version of yourself when attending interviews, and once landing the job in the workplace.

However, does this extend to the clothes you wear? Does how you dress at work matter or is that a redundant notion in the modern day job market? We debate the issue…

Yes it matters what you wear

Omojuwa works at an insurance call centre which employs 250 staff. Like all the staff at the call centre, his work is telephone based and non-customer facing. Despite this, he says that smart-dressing promotes a tidy work ethic.

“Dressing smartly for work gives off a certain persona, one that implies professionalism and excellence. Being in an environment where everybody is dressed in business wear reminds you that you are part of a team, at work for a specific purpose and are united in that common goal which is to maximise profitability for the company through providing excellent customer service. As you are all collaborating, I think it absolutely makes sense to unite on being smart in appearance.”

Segun strongly feels that when he was interviewed for his current position, his attire made an instant and positive impact.

“I wore a plain suit with a white shirt and tie, my girlfriend commented at the time that I looked like a candidate on The Apprentice! It made me feel confident and put me in the right frame of mind to give a good performance at the interview. I noticed that the other candidates weren’t dressed as smartly, and it made me feel like I had an edge. When I stepped into the interview room I noticed the managers flicking their eyes over my outfit, and before I’d even opened my mouth to say anything the impression that I’d made was a good one.”

“I can’t say definitively that dressing smartly won me the job, but I certainly think it helped and that anybody going for an interview should give themselves the very best chance by dressing as smartly as possible, it’s what most employers expect as a minimum these days.”

No, it doesn’t matter what you wear

Teslim is a web designer for a large firm in Finland. She meets with clients on a regular basis to discuss projects but believes the way employees dress should not be important.

“In my role, I meet with clients but I don’t expect them to take any notice of what I’m wearing. What they should be, and invariably are interested in is my capability as a designer. I do my best work when I am at ease and relaxed. Wearing whatever feels comfortable is the best way to assure that.”

Teslim also believes that removing pressure from people to dress a certain way allows for a more relaxed working environment. “In my workplace, and I’m sure in many others too, the focus should be dealing with tasks.

“There is plenty else to think and worry about than the clothes you are wearing. As an employee, you should be concerned with performing to the best of your ability, and in my role, I need the ability to think freely and be creative. Although we work together as a team, we need to concentrate on making our individual contribution to the company. Impressing other people with what you wear is totally irrelevant in the workplace, that should be saved for your social life.”

Teslim thinks back to the interview she attended to land the role. “I wore skinny blue jeans, Converse trainers and a black jumper. Having researched the company there was no mention of business attire and when I arrived everybody else was dressed in a casual way, there were all sorts of different styles going on. It didn’t make me think any less of the company, in fact, it made me think they were a very cool organisation! Obviously, I got the job, but am absolutely certain that what I was wearing didn’t even come into it.”

She acknowledges that other companies may take a different stance on this topic but doesn’t think it’s necessary. “I understand the logic behind a desire for employers to have all their employees dressed smartly (particularly in professional services), but ultimately it really doesn’t matter. People shouldn’t judge your abilities as a professional based on what you wear, to my mind, it’s similar to judging someone for their lifestyle choices, so long as they turn up and do a great job, who cares?”

Names have been changed in this article

What do you think? Does it matter what you wear at work or should your hard work speak for itself? Share your thoughts on this debate and let us know in the comments box below

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Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 11


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


AI, robotics, and cognitive systems are augmenting and changing jobs, professions, and careers. HR needs to learn about the future of work and help to redesign the organization faster than ever.


Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat

For the final prediction, I would like to address the issue of the “future of work.” Last I checked, more than 68,000 articles have been written on this topic; a new book on global income inequality, the rise of robots and AI, and the need to reinvent our social policies seems to come out every few days.

I was recently asked to research this topic, and develop a point of view and speech which you can read about here.53 The essential issue we face in 2017 is the rapid commoditization of AI technology (speech recognition, natural language processing, sensors, and robotics) and the impact that could have on almost every job.

  • Healthcare workers and X-ray technicians are now aided by smart software that can help to diagnose disease, read X-rays, and recommend drugs with high degrees of accuracy.54
  • Manufacturing plants are rapidly installing robots (China is purchasing more than 260,000 robots this year, and is likely to become the number one market for robotics55) and these robots can see better than the human eye.
  • Most mobile phones have more than six smart sensors (e.g., audio, GPS, accelerometer, temperature, camera, humidity), and are now able to listen to our voice and identify stress. In fact, new research by Stanford56 shows that voice recognition is three times more accurate at typing than our hands.
  • New software which integrates mobility, drone sensors, and weather patterns is revolutionizing farming and farm machines,57 the way we decide which road to take, and how insurance is priced. Insurance companies now have tools that can scan photos of your accident and almost immediately size your claim.58

These new tools are becoming commonplace; they are entering the workforce at a time when jobs themselves are becoming more dynamic, more than 40 percent of workers are contingent,59 and the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has increased. So we, as HR leaders, are in the hot seat to figure out what all of this means.

If you read the article I mentioned above, you will see that the future of work is not simply about using technology to replace people. The real “future of work” issue is all about making jobs “more human”—redesigning jobs, redesigning work, and redesigning organizations so that the “people side” of work has even more importance and focus than ever.


Other Prediction:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle


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Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 10


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


The corporate L&D market is undergoing one of its most disruptive times in the last 15 years.


Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle

We started our research in the early 2000s by studying e-learning and the rapid adoption of learning management technology. Since then, the rate of change in L&D has been relentless and, frankly, I believe the entire profession has had a hard time of keeping up.


Figure 17- Rapid Evolution of Corporation Learning - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.


Consider Figure 17. Only 15 years ago, the concepts of “e-learning” were just beginning; we spent billions of dollars figuring out how to take instructor-led training (ILT) and put it online. In those days, bandwidth was slow; we had to build Flash movies (an old technology that allowed video to run in a browser); we had no real mobile devices; and courses were carefully designed with animations and slow navigation. People loved it because it replaced ILT but, in retrospect, it now seems primitive.

In the mid 2000s, we moved to blended learning, virtual classrooms, and a myriad of technologies for simulation, gamification, and eventually social learning. All of these technologies added value, steadily increasing the instructional fidelity of content— but, of course, they were expensive to build and often long to consume.


Around 2006, YouTube entered the market and the combination of YouTube, the iPhone (2008), and Google and other search engines unleashed the market for self-authored video. Initially, videos were used to promote very simple things (how to replace the SIM card in your Blackberry, for example) but over time they became more popular. The launch of Khan Academy (around 2006) represented a breakthrough, because Sal Khan proved that any individual could take their own expertise and produce it in a useful instructional form without expensive e-learning production. Since then, the world has not gone back.

Today, we see learning produced by thousands of sources (e.g., MOOCs, universities, experts, professional associations); most of them are expert-authored video with increasing levels of entertainment, interactivity, and assessment. Today, between Coursera, EdX, NovoEd, Udacity, Udemy,, Skillsoft, Grovo, and dozens of other content creators, literally millions of video-based courses are available on the Internet. you, as a consumer, can buy or take almost all of them.

This consumerized learning market (which actually was attempted in the early 2000s but never really took off) has been catalyzed by our mobile phones, the fact that video plays everywhere, and the enormous amount of bandwidth we have in homes, hotels, offices, and coffee shops. (I just spent an afternoon in a coffee shop in Berkeley and the entire place was filled with students quietly watching videos of their courses.)

While all of this progress and wonderfully integrated technology has evolved, the poor corporate learning market has been left behind. Until recently, corporate LMS systems have been designed for the old model of e-learning—they typically have difficult-to-use interfaces and they view video as an afterthought. So most big companies (small companies often have the benefit of starting afresh) are burdened with very complex learning management systems that house all of the company’s compliance training, critical tracking of completions, and arcane business rules which have been built up over decades. This new world of “YouTube-style” learning is just not available.

While all of this has been going on, L&D has been trying to reinvent itself and is now adopting design thinking, starting to build apps (see Prediction 7), and realizing that it has to become video producers, not just instructional designers. In many ways, I believe the L&D profession is more exciting and fun now than it has been for a decade, but the technologies that help us to manage this stuff have not quite arrived yet.

In 2017, we will see a real revolution start to happen. Workday Learning, Oracle’s video learning platform, SAP Jam, SumTotal’s new platform, Saba, Cornerstone OnDemand, and fast-growing companies like Grovo and now LinkedIn Learning (a whole new platform which integrates LinkedIn with all the content) are coming to market. These new platforms are video-optimized from the start—they bring together the consumer-like experience of YouTube with corporate features for learning management, and they are starting to find ways to integrate and incorporate MOOCs and other forms of external content. Innovative companies like Degreed, Pathgather, and Edcast are now building “learning experience” systems that sit in front of the LMS, making the entire experience far more integrated and compelling.



As this shift takes place, however, I believe the L&D profession itself has some reinvention to do. While many forward-thinking learning professionals are well along on this journey, I am afraid that almost two-thirds of the companies we survey are still stuck in an older model of corporate training. In 2017, we are going to republish our most well-known study, The High-Impact Learning Organization and, in the process, try to help you to see where the new “high-impact” digital learning organization is going.

One thing we know, which is well-described in our research, is that highly effective L&D teams embed themselves in the business. Level 4 maturity companies have relatively small corporate L&D organizations (while many do have a corporate university); they focus heavily on embedding L&D people, skills, content, and technology into the business. Without this “federated model,” learning is never quite aligned or relevant to every day needs.

Figure 18- The Learning Organisation Maturity Model - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.

But what has really changed for 2017 is the fact that today L&D should embrace “self-directed learning” and truly build a “learning experience” that helps individuals at all levels to learn all of the time. This means adopting microlearning and an open video learning platform:

  • Highlighting the issues of learning culture for leaders
  • Prompting people to look at job rotation and continuous onboarding programs
  • Helping leaders to understand that coaching, developmental assignments, and career conversations are the foundation of building a learning organization


If we go back to my first theme in this report, “digital organizations” are learning all the time. This means people are trying things, discussing mistakes, and learning on the job. L&D needs to take the lead in building and encouraging all of these cultural values—and in embedding themselves into the business to do so.

Case in Point: The New World of Learning Experiences

One of the leading examples of this is a company we have been working with for years, AT&T. It operates in one of the most competitive and disruptive markets in the world—and its employees and engineers must constantly be learning.

The company has built an “always-on” learning model that encourages (and forces) everyone to develop themselves on a continuous basis. Leaders are coached and rewarded for the learning of their teams, and the learning environment is digital and consumer-like.52

GE, Mastercard, Nestle, and many others of our clients have done the same.

I believe 2017 will be a tipping point for L&D and we will see dozens of world-class “digital learning” solutions all over the world.

Other Predictions:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


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Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 9


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


Diversity, inclusion, and the removal of unconscious bias will become CEO-level issues in 2017. New tools are making this problem easier to diagnose and address.


Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority

The topic of diversity has been on the HR agenda for decades. Once considered a compliance program, it has now become a business strategy. In fact, CEOs and company brands are now impacted by an organization’s gender and racial diversity; the topic of unconscious bias has become front of mind; and companies like Google42 and Facebook43 are now sharing their internal tools to help others to deal with the issue. Airbnb posted a manifesto44 on the topic, focusing on hosts as well as their internal operations.

This topic has risen in importance because of the political climate in which we live. Our employees and leaders are bombarded by these issues, and frankly many of them are worried.

Several of our clients have asked us for help in developing new communication tools to aid managers and employees in explaining these issues. Companies now put their hiring metrics and diversity measures on their websites; some countries (Australia, for example) now require public companies to disclose various diversity numbers.

In the U.S., more than 55 percent of college graduates are now women, so the issues of gender pay parity, and women in engineering and leadership are top of mind. All of our research has now proven that diverse teams, an inclusive environment, and gender equality in pay and leadership actually lead to higher-performing companies.45 A new book illustrates further why gender, racial, and age diversity results in higher levels of innovation, trust, and collaboration.46

Not only is the topic timely and relevant today, but also the tools to measure and expose issues of inclusion are starting to become mainstream. New software from SuccessFactors47 now detects bias in job descriptions, interview forms, and other employment-related programs. AI software from HireVue can now detect the age and race of all job candidates from video interviews, and then point out hiring and staffing bias among different managers or teams.48 Deloitte Australia is now piloting a tool to detect unconscious bias in behavior and other programs, and has now published ways to “nudge” people to be less biased in their people decisions.49

In 2017, HR organizations need to put this topic high on the agenda—and make sure that your organization is capturing the right information, sharing it formally, and developing a holistic inclusion and diversity program which touches all of your talent practices.

Our High-Impact Talent Management research, which included more than 1,000 companies around the world, found that “building a culture of inclusion” is one of the very top practices that drive financial business outcomes among all of the HR practices we studied.50 Unfortunately, when we assessed the level of sophistication of most companies this area, 70 percent were rated at maturity Levels 1 or 2, implying that we all have a lot of work to do.

Figure 16 - The Talent Management Model - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.


Interestingly, if you look at the financial performance of these “highly inclusive” companies, it stands out clearly. Our research shows that most “highly inclusive organizations”:51

  • Generate 2.3 times more cashflow per employee
  • Generate 1.4 times more revenue
  • Rate themselves 170 percent better at innovation
  • Are 180 percent better in their ability to adapt to change
  • Are 120 percent more capable of meeting financial targets

So the bottom line is pretty simple—building an end-to-end inclusion focus (including sourcing, hiring, assessment, development, leadership selection, compensation, and career progression) is just good business.


Other Predictions:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


  • High-Impact Talent Management: The New Talent Management Maturity Model , Bersin by Deloitte / Stacia Sherman Garr and Candace Atamanik, 2015.
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Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 8


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


Leadership development continues to be a challenge year after year. In 2017, a focus on “digital leadership” and rethinking the leadership pipeline will be critical to addressing this perennial problem.


Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention

One of the most important things HR organizations should do is to make sure that the organization has a ready supply of strong, well-aligned leaders. Leadership development (which is more than a $14 billion industry33) remains a high priority for HR and continues to be a challenge every year.

In our 2016 Human Capital Trends study, we found an increasing priority in this area (90 percent of companies rate it “critical” or “important,” and the percent rating it “urgent” increased by 15 percent).34 I believe there are many reasons for this change— and most come down to the radical change in management styles and philosophies we have to deal with today. Let me highlight a few of the issues that are expected to change the market in 2017.

  • Millennials are now leaders (more than 50 percent of them have four or more direct reports) and our new research35 shows that they do not aspire to “mimic” the styles of older senior leaders. So they are essentially reinventing the role.
  • Many large companies continue to lag in their investments in new leaders. Most Millennials believe that they are not getting the development they need and only 15 percent of companies believe they have a strong Millennial-focused leadership program.36
  • Our newest research on high-impact leadership37 shows that formal training tends to be the least valuable way to build leaders—a focus on culture, exposure38, organizational context39, and continuous feedback and coaching is needed. Fewer than 10 percent of companies have reached Level 4 in our new Leadership Maturity Model (see Figure 15), so we have a lot of work to do. (This really makes a difference—companies that adopt a “systemic leadership” approach—Level 4

Maturity—are generating 37 percent higher revenue per employee and are 9 percent more profitable.40)

Figure 15 - The Leadership Maturity Model - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.

  • “Digital leadership,” which represents the way we manage companies in the new digital era, is different. Our research shows that highly effective companies today focus on agility, team-centric performance, rapid talent mobility, continuous learning, and pushing to deliver products faster in a more iterative way. The older models of leadership in which leaders were expected to set strategy and lock down goals are simply not keeping up. So many of the traditional leadership models are being reinvented.41

In 2017, I do not believe this large and complex market will be reinvented—but I do believe we will see a large push for new leadership models, new development strategies, and a much more significant focus on building leadership skills among younger employees.


We should push young people into leadership roles, give them the support they need, and coach them so they can grow and improve.


Remember that leadership is learned by doing. We should push young people into leadership roles, give them the support they need, and coach them so they can grow and improve. The traditional model of identifying leaders through a nine-box grid and then waiting until they are “ready to lead” is simply too slow. Today’s teams need leaders who can lead projects, customer situations, and service teams. These are often individuals who have natural leadership skills or inclinations. If we can redesign our leadership strategies to empower and support these people earlier, and focus on the “digital skills” of leadership, this market can reinvent itself.


Other Prediction:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


  • High-Impact Leadership: The New Leadership Maturity Model , Bersin by Deloitte / Andrea Derler, PhD, 2016. 
  • “Exposure” refers to learning that occurs through interaction and relationships with colleagues, professionals, and thought leaders, as well as with peers, customers, and contexts outside of a learner’s immediate job realm. 
  • In general terms, “organizational context” refers to the various attributes in the work environment that may influence a group (such as a company, division, department, work group, work role, etc.), and which have the potential to affect performance, attitudes, and behavior. These attributes include management processes, and organizational culture and systems, among others.
  • High-Impact Leadership: The New Leadership Maturity Model , Bersin by Deloitte / Andrea Derler, PhD, 2016.
  • The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016: Winning over the next generation of leaders, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2016, Bersin by Deloitte High-Impact Leadership research, 2016.


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