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August 6, 2016 - No Comments!

Find the One – What Does This Mean?

Don't we all want to work with amazing people? There is plenty of research and real life experience that says investing in who decisions pays off.  Finding the one for your company means achieving success or just getting by.

Enlightened CEO's place the importance of people decisions at the top of their list of important skills to develop and invest in. I grew up as an HR professional at American Hospital Supply (AHSC) - later acquired by Baxter Healthcare.  From the first introduction to the company through thoughtful and interactive interviews, to a well articulated offer and then onboarding, I was fortunate to have a world class experience.  I can say that now. After 20 years plus in the field and working with many companies as we help them find the one, they still struggle with this work and more importantly, in getting the process right.

Joining American at the time felt like joining a family. There was great care and planning on making us feel welcome, immediately connected to resources and people that cared about our success.  Thank you Bob Ruh for inspiring me even with that high bar for performance!  We were always clear on what the responsibilities were and where the challenge could take us.  I was very early in my career and had come from a company that offered little development and almost no conversation about the business.  It taught me to take initiative.  AHSC  prepared me for doing my best work with incredibly talented people.

It is important to find the one.  And, it means getting the first part right and then ensuring that you have all the other parts in place; integrating the one into your culture, developing their skills, stretching them with challenging assignments and having a plan for development.  Oh, and I almost forgot, scheduling conversations with key influencers and your boss about how it is going and what is needed to keep you on track and engaged.

Finding the one means;

  • having regular meaningful conversation with people.  It seems many have lost that focus for there is so little time to commit to this today.  There are way more initiatives on everyone's plate and little time to reflect and care for the ones that contribute.
  • looking at entirely new options for your workforce.  Frankly, the one you want may get more excited about a gig, a project, an experience with  you rather than the full time position you have posted.  John Boudreau masterfully talks about these options in his book, Lead the Work. To continue to find the one, we now have to look at other ways for our talent to contribute.

This future of work offers a huge upside to individual workers and their leaders.  Think about it; we see how younger professionals, mid-life or late stage careerists are taking on what they want, when they want it and where they want it. Let's get over the old model of employment and think more about what "the one" defines for themselves.  You will be surprised how committed and aligned those workers will be if we ask, listen, share perspectives and help each other grow.

January 30, 2015 - No Comments!

SBCo January Newsletter: The Inside Perspective on Innovative Learning at Qualcomm

For the New Year, we sat down with one of the most inventive people in Global Learning and Development in California, who also serves asGeoff Stead a thought partner to L&D professionals around the globe. Geoff Stead is the Senior Director, Mobile Learning at Qualcomm and leading the way in Mobile Learning not just at Qualcomm, but industry wide.

Sherry Benjamins: How did you navigate into learning technologies and specifically Mobile Learning?

Geoff Stead: I was a Computer Science graduate and after 2-3 years of classic coding work I wanted to move into something with more “soul”, and found learning technology. I’ve spent the last 20 years in Learning and Development - initially on the vendor side. My primary focus was inventing new technology to reach potential learners that were not being well served. Our goal was to help employees get the best possible support with entirely new approaches to learning.

SB: So who tapped you for the Qualcomm role?

GS: Tamar Elkeles, the Chief Learning Officer at Qualcomm. She had spent months looking for vendors that could provide the technology for her vision at Qualcomm, but couldn’t find anything suitable. We connected online and after a few months, she persuaded me to join Qualcomm. Initially I worked out of the Qualcomm UK offices and later moved my family to San Diego County. I joined the team 2 ½ years ago and formed a new Mobile Learning team. We now have a team of fifteen who work with employees and vendors to improve mobile performance and engagement.

SB: Qualcomm has received many awards (Gold: Brandon Hall (Best Advance in Mobile Learning and Gold: CLO magazine.). What has surprised you about this global recognition?

GS: We have really been surprised by the appetite and enthusiasm for this kind of learning. Both from our employees, and peers in the industry. We’re also surprised by how difficult some other organizations are finding it to go mobile. We’re trying to help the industry along, by publishing our success stories, and guidelines on

SB: What do you think is the end goal with Mobile Learning?

GS: On the employee side of things, we want to offer the best possible support to our people, to help them succeed. We now have over 50 apps ranging from learning to productivity tools. Employees can download them for free and we plan to grow this capability.

From an industry perspective, there is enthusiasm in this space, but not great tools. We want to help peers and vendors embrace mobile, which is great for Qualcomm from a business and partnership perspective.

SB: You and Tamar have been hosting Qualcomm events across the world. What is the purpose of those?

GS: We were both being asked to speak at an increasing number of keynotes and could not attend them all. We decided to bring organizations together (with minimal vendor influence) as an open forum to discuss new ideas in this space. There is no financial gain for us, but there is great intellectual gain for everyone in the room.

We also want to use these events to help push vendors forward; Qualcomm has a multiple-vendor policy, and are always ion the lookout for new and exciting products. We are sometimes a bit harsh to long-standing vendors that are too slow to move to mobile, swapping them for smaller, hungrier businesses with a clearer mobile ambition.

SB: So where do you see the most adoption?

GS: I think Qualcomm has one of the most mature mobile learning initiatives, though others like Apple, Google, IBM, GE and Abbvie all have internal app stores for their employees. If I had to guess, I would say 5% of organizations are at a similar level to Qualcomm, and tghese organizations. And 10-20% want to be at this level, but aren’t yet. At all of our events, I have yet to see a dedicated team like ours.

SB: Are there markets this technology works best in?

GS: To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that question. It works for our company because we are a mobile technology company. We also like risk and we’re bold with experimentation; that is part of our culture naturally.

SB: I love that Qualcomm knows that something’s will work and some won’t, but still want to experiment and re-invent failures to make them successes.

SB: How does your technology look and feel for new employees?

GS: We believe in self-service; find what you need without any restrictions. With that in mind all our apps are available to employees from the start. We also have features that allow you to see what your colleagues are learning. Within our on-boarding process we recommend three to four apps including a campus map and a game that helps new employees get familiar with terms that are common in the office and with our technology.

SB: What is your prediction on where mobile learning is headed?

GS: I think there is a perfect storm brewing. There is the relentless rise of mobile and cloud based technology, a blur between work and home, and a shift in employees’ expectation on learning and career growth. Adding to those factors is an expectation of immediate gratification, the immergence of digital communication, and a demand for digital access to information 24/7. These things are coming whether we are ready or not. Mobile learning can address all of these storm factors.

SB: Do you think organizations are still in denial about Mobile Learning?

GS: Maybe. I think the real “denial” is the difficulty of reframing Learning and Development when faced by the storm, mentioned above. Historically, L&D has been defined by one mode of learning, yet employees want ever increasing ways to improve their skills, via multiple modes. This requires collaboration and management alignment across departments, geographies, and employee levels. For instance, we work closely with IT, Legal, and Communications to make our initiatives thrive across all markets. This desire by employees to have options won’t go away, so Qualcomm decided that we would rather be at the beginning of this trend than try to catch up.

SB: What do you like most about your role?

GS: I like the breadth of this role. I have the ability to span across all departments. We have the flexibility to invent which is rather unique. In fact, we just launched an interactive mural, which you can learn about in an upcoming blog post on Qualcomm's website.

SB: So what can you tell us about the 2015 plan for Qualcomm?

GS: We are enthusiastic about new vendor partnerships. We are also excited about ways that phones can boost interaction based on where you are and what you are doing. We have 19,000 employees interacting with our apps. In 2015 we want to understand better what people are doing, be able to segment groups and follow their narratives.


Geoff shared that more than 90 percent of Qualcomm senior executives use this enterprise technology. He is passionate about how mobile is changing enterprise learning and communication at all levels. The time is right for leaders in HR and L&D to be bold. Wouldn’t you want to be the “go-to team” for learning transformation in your company? Your workforce is ready for a new way to interact and learn. Let us know about your adventure and we will include you in our 2015 newsletters!

June 16, 2014 - No Comments!

Investing in Employees: A New Level of Brand Awareness and Employee Loyalty

You may have picked up your newspaper or checked your tablet today and read about Starbucks offering college classes to over 130,000 employees. It got us thinking, how many organizations are investing in their employees’ education outside of the internal training?

The American Council of Education approximates that roughly 20 percent of graduate students and 6 percent of undergraduates receive some financial assistance from their employers to attend school. As many as a third of undergraduates in fields like business and engineering receive tuition assistance from their employers. In fact, tuition assistance is the most common source of financial aid for college students, and on average it covers about one-third of the average annual cost paid by post-secondary students. Big name companies like Apple, Chevron, FedEx, Gap, Raytheon, and U.S. Airways (to name a few) offer some level of financial assistance to employees looking to further their education.

A 2002 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management of 510 employers found 79 percent offering educational assistance of various kinds. While some employers require that employees agree to stay with the company for a certain period of time post-graduation to “pay their dues” others see this cost as an investment in their talent and their brand. The CEO and Chairman of Starbucks was quoted by the NY Times as stating that even if employees left soon after receiving their education, Starbucks’ investment in the employee “would be accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business…I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people.”

Is there a shift happening in the way employers invest in employees? We think there might be. Organizations are moving away from pension plans and tenures and moving toward investing in early to mid-career employees who show a tenacity for productivity and an ambition to move up the ladder.tuiton



May 31, 2014 - No Comments!

Are you optimizing teamwork?


Plenty of HR leaders are looking at big data and the critical elements that measure people  effectiveness.  I am not sure many of them are looking at something new in the HR systems realm and that is evaluating team performance.  John Boudreau, from USC's Marshall School offers great insight into the power of measuring collaboration and the power of teams rather than the old method of measuring individual performance.  A friend of mine, Gene Tange, of PearlHPS has created a software tool that will help the HR leader and business line leader evaluate the potential of a team and predict their ability to achieve mission critical objectives.

There are years of research available to measure teams but we don't see HR systems built to capture this.  This is another opportunity for the HR organization to add value and be credible as a partner to the business.  Your business leaders will understand this and respond with enthusiasm - they live with the uncertainties of team dynamics, finding the right blend of skills and wondering if they have the optimal team so that business goals are met.  Check out Gene's company, PearlHPS. Look at how "execution analytics" optimizes teamwork and changes the way your company is looking at what Gene refers to as predictors of organization effectiveness.  This is "team competence, goal alignment and continuity."

It is time for HR to let go of old or limted systems and processes that don't add value.  How about changing the focus of our work so that every effort is intended to support a business leader getting the results they want, rather than checking off boxes on programs that may now be irrelevant.  HR can lead this change and demonstrate what many leaders want and that is agility and creativity.

Published by: admin in Talent Economy
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May 2, 2014 - No Comments!

The Evolution of Corporate Focus

“Over the past 60 years, marketing has moved from being product-centric (Marketing 1.0) to being consumer-centric (Marketing 2.0). Today we see marketing as transforming once again in response to the new dynamics in the environment. We see companies expanding their focus from products to consumers to humankind issues. Marketing 3.0 is the stage when companies shift from consumer-centricity to human-centricity and where profitability is balanced with corporate responsibility.”
- Phillip Kotler

Phillip Kotler's quote offers a concise explanation on the evolution of marketing, which by default also begins to define the evolution of organizational culture. In marketing/organizational culture phase 1.0 we saw organizations like Apple really define themselves. Their focus was/is on product and their culture reflects that. By now we have all heard the infamous stories of Steve Jobs and his dictator-like leadership style, so I won't take your time up reiterating those, but it is important to note that Apple is still one of the most successful companies as far as profits and products.  Do people publicly rave about the fun they have working there?... not so much. Do young people beg for a cubicle seat at Apple straight out of college... not so much.

In phase 2.0, it was all about the consumer. There are a plethora of articles pointing to healthcare as the primary consumer-driven market. Kaiser Permanente has phenomenal brand recognition and consumers are their bread and butter. Just like Apple, Kaiser has been successful at their model, but it is not likely that you will hear many (non-healthcare focused) college seniors say, "My dream is to work for Kaiser Permanente right after college!". (To the college seniors who are exceptions to this statement, please excuse my generalization).

Last but not least, phase 3.0. We are in the midst of this phase right now; we have moved from product to consumer to human-centric. Organizations are now flooding their corporate websites with tabs, articles, and videos all about "Corporate Responsibility". IBM, Avon, Target, Intel, TOMS Shoes... this list goes on and on! What used to be the "do-good" ending slide in the yearly corporate meeting has now become mainstream and center stage.

As a consumer, do you simply compare the price and quality of products?  Or do you think about how well the company that makes the product treats its employees; how ethical the company is; and whether they engage with local communities?

Chances are, you think you do the former—but according to a study by Reputation Institute, your willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60% by your perceptions of the company—or it’s reputation, and only 40% by your perceptions of the products or services it sells.

This phase brings new meaning to a well-rounded company. Not only do your products need to be great and your consumer needs to be happy, but you now must place focus on humankind issues. We now see college seniors knocking on the doors of organizations that promote their social causes and serve as advocates in their community. It's an interesting and revolutionary time to be an organization and to be a candidate!

Do you think phase 3.0 is here to stay?