Experts discuss "Unlocking the DNA of the Adaptable Workforce" at the Human Capital Institute Summit.

Posted on March 10, 2008. Filed under: HCI Summit, Trends |

 Amanda here. The HCI Community leaders sat down with Denis Brousseau from IBM Global Business Services to discuss adaptability. Here is their story…

00000182As our panel of experts, Bill Craib VP of HCI Communities, Amy Lewis, Director of the Talent Acquisition Community, Joy Kosta, Director HCI Communities and Christine Abbatiello, Director of the Talent Strategy Community all from the Human Capital Institute settle in, the room grows full.

These experts are speaking today about: “Unlocking the DNA of the Adaptable Workforce”. This session is being moderated by Denis Brousseau, Partner, IBM Global Business Services. IBM is also sponsoring this session, you can feel the excitement as the discussion prepares to start!

Bill starts with asking who in the audience has been to an HCI webcast, everyone raises their hands! Of course the same amount of people said they were tempted to play golf today too 🙂

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The IBM survey about adaptability interviewed over 400 companies from 40 countries to understand how organizations are improving workforce performance. The objective? How to improve quality and productivity among the workforce.

That brings us to the four key components for enhancing workforce performance:

An Adaptable Workforce
Effective Leadership
Integrated Talent Management Model
Workforce Analytics

Also, multiple forces drive the need to develop a workforce that is able to adapt to changing business conditions.

Denis to Joy: What driving forces for change have you seen?

Joy responds that she has seen that leading companies are recording that their competencies models have a shelf life. It’s important to refresh your competency models on a regular basis and stresses a collaborative influence.  

The second is silo expertise isn’t enough anymore, collaboration is the answer.

Third, the difference in skills and competencies in the generations. Two way mentoring could be the solution.

Four, doing workforce planning that will result in adaptable workforces.

With that Joy turns the tables and asks the audience: What is driving skill gaps in your org?

One member of the audience states that technology or the lack of technology knowledge has a lot to do with updating people’s skills. 

Also, people just can’t relocate anymore due to the economy.

One member from Kaiser Permanente said she has experienced major shortages in clinical positions. There just isn’t enough man power to fill their needs and hopefully baby boomers will work another 5 years.

Denis added that on a recent study – 14% of those who answered said they were very capable of adapting to change, 53% said generally capable and 30% somewhat capable. What a surprising outcome.

Here’s the big trend/answer – You need collaboration!

Denis to Christine – Looking at your research and your contacts with organizations, what are companies doing to help foster employee skills and what are the needs in the future?

Christine responds that there are 2 bad action words: Transactional and re-actional. The shift needs to happen. Basically, project planning is a must. One question? “What do we want from the four generation workforce?” 1/4 of the workforce is about to walk out the door, we need to identify those skills and fill the gap and you MUST have a project plan for up to 24 months, not just 3 or 6.

Lets see what the audience thinks. Christine asks: Who do you think is responsible within your organization overall for identifying your skill needs (this includes the virtual workforce)?

HR? – No one
The Executive Team? – One person
Department by department? Now we see some hands but the winner is…. a collaborative effort. This surprises Christine – and the rest of the panel.

Not taking this one lying down Bill asks “If we said talent acquisition instead of HR would anyone had voted for that?” Sorry Bill, no one!

Denis: Lets talk collaboration. Implementing new communities of practice for example, informal communities that aren’t dependant on size. They’re also seeing progress of using technology to enhance collaboration. People who work in different ways can connect and share knowledge. Examples are combining communities of practice and wikis or reporting community conferences. This way people can connect informally but also manage.

A suggestion? Search engines with instant messaging capability and skill searches for within the company.

Question for audience from Denis:

What efforts or projects around collaboration have your company been doing?

Answer: Developing an experience tracking system to find SMEs within the company. Bill asks who would put that together? Initially team leaders add the data but individuals also add their own data.

Denis adds about leadership. Concerns of who can provide it. A maturing workforce and retirement is impending. It’s definitely a concern when you look at rapid growth vs. the availability of talent.

Denis to Bill: In terms of the HCI research what options do we have in developing future leaders ?

Bill responds with re-counting of his recent Columbo moment while listening to a different session. Stephen Zacarro had said that he gives tests to developing leaders thinking that they SHOULD fail them the first time. If they don’t, the test wasn’t complicated enough. How can you test yourself with knowledge you already have in a development assessment? Bill concludes that you have to accept failure in the short term so you can learn from your mistakes.

Also lets get back to common sense instead of conventional wisdom! Take a step back and say to yourself “does this make sense?”

Denis says that leadership development requires more than dipping people in executive education courses.

Denis to Joy: The use of e-learning techniques and the adoption rate. The survey was fairly low. Compare it to HCI using e-learning technology?

Joy admits that yes, she is a baby boomer and 10 years ago, being an old fashioned trainer, she felt that she needed warm bodies to teach. However now she realizes that blended learning combines the best of both worlds, personal and facilitated.

Denis to Bill: We need to step up to leadership development but it needs to change. Leaders are facing change in the workforce. People are all over, in different time, different locations etc… And they are all expected to lead at some point. You have to move talent faster, make decisions quicker. What is HR’s role and how can it work more effectively for leaders.

Bills response? HR and the business have to be one, not separate. HR needs to be PART of the business. How many people think they are ready for that he asks. Sadly, no one 😦

Denis to Christine: Why does employee attraction and retention take a backseat?

Christine sites a recent webcast in the “Building a World Class Sales Organization” learning track that focused on sales people. The total cost of onboarding a sales person is over 150K and that’s excluding bonuses etc…So one reason? It’s costly!

In conclusion, Denis explains how to stay ahead:

Avoid complacency
Apply blended thinking
Focus on key employee segments
Look beyond traditional employees

And Bill plugs the HCI webcasts, hey we do have 250 scheduled this year! 🙂

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2 Responses to “Experts discuss "Unlocking the DNA of the Adaptable Workforce" at the Human Capital Institute Summit.”

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great and really help any organistion to better understand its employee

In answer to Denis’ question, who is responsible within your organization overall for identifying your skill needs, I’d agree with the audience that this needs to be a collaboration.

If the question was designed to illustrate the need for collaboration which I think it probably was, then the question worked well.

However, thinking about Denis’ other point on the role of HR and the business, I think a better question would have been who is accountable.

And I think the answer to that IS HR. This can’t be a collaboration as only one person can ever be accountable (or no one is).

Pushing this further, I’d suggest that HR should be accountable for the identification AND delivery of the human capital the organisation needs.

Taking this accountability would definitely help the organisation (and the HR function) stay ahead.


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