Archive | Human Resources

IT Talent: Technology Leaders with People Problems

Squirrel Proof Birdfeeder

Squirrels are great at foraging for nuts, building nests, and finding ways into my “squirrel-proof” birdfeeder (that’s not a picture of my personal birdfeeder, but it gives you the idea). But they’re never going to be great swimmers. Similarly, some leaders are never going to be great at managing people. So what do we do?

Goodbye Manager, Hello Individual Contributor

The most obvious answer is to shift poor people managers into individual contributor roles. With this solution, people aren’t forced to do something they can’t do well. At the same time, the company doesn’t lose their knowledge and experience.

There are two problems, however.

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Stacking the Deck: Using Organizational Networks in Talent Management

Talent Management Snafus. Image by katerha on flickr.

Oops: the employee who just resigned was running an entire function and we didn’t realize it. Oops: the new executive left after three months on the job because she couldn’t build strong relationships. Oops: we thought we staffed our mission-critical project team with influencers and high performers, but the team is failing.

These are the talent management failures that no one wants to experience. Yet many organizations face situations like this every day. Forty percent of leaders going into new roles fail, according to The New Leader’s 100-Day Plan. And companies regularly fail to recognize the value of individuals or roles until they’re gone.

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Handbook for Strategic HR: New Book Coming in November

Handbook for Strategic HR Book Cover

I’m delighted to announce that November 28, 2012 is the release date for Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organization Development from the OD Network.

This volume draws on the best thinking on strategic Human Resources from the chapter on Change Management.

Here’s the blurb about the book from Amazon:

The role of human resources is no longer limited to hiring, managing compensation, and ensuring compliance. Since the 1990s, a transformation has occurred. Companies are calling upon a new breed of HR professionals to behave as organization development consultants, helping to determine priorities in running the business, design how work gets done, craft strategy, and shape culture.

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Blogging for IT Leadership: Future of Work Enabled

Future of Work Enabled

Workforce planning, tech leaders with poor people skills, and critical job vacancies are three topics I’ve recently covered for a new blog called the Future of Work Enabled. The blog explores issues of IT leadership in the networked, hyper-connected enterprise.

Here’s the description of the blog:

New forces are changing the way corporations are organized, how they get work done in the most efficient ways to meet their goals, and how employees approach their workdays. Information technology that makes all of these changes possible – but only when the IT group and its partners in the business community select the right opportunities, the right technologies, and the right strategies to enable this new way of getting work done.

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Talent Management for CIOs: Learning from IT Networks about Organizational Networks

Organization Network Analysis

“It’s not the technical stuff that worries me. It’s the people.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this from IT leaders. They feel confident with the infrastructure, budgeting, project delivery, support, and project management aspects of their jobs. It’s the people stuff that does them in.

It’s not surprising. People are annoyingly complex, creative, and stubborn creatures who continually find ways to do new and interesting things (when you don’t want them to) or resist change (when you want them to change). However, most IT people already have a hidden asset to help them manage people: their understanding of networks.

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The Most Important Positions In Your Company: Lessons from Organizational Networks

Image - Basic Kite

Every organization has a hidden system: a web of relationships and informal networks that people use to complete day-to-day work. This system has its benefits: it helps get things done, disseminate knowledge, and incubate innovation. However, most leaders are unaware of how these networks influence productivity or workflow. By ignoring human networks, leaders miss out on an important network dynamic that can make or break talent management and change initiatives.

Within every network, 5 – 10% of nodes (in this case, individuals) represent critical connectors. These individuals have disproportionate influence over the whole. The critical connectors are:

Hubs – Highly connected individuals who communicate directly and frequently; Gatekeepers – Individuals who manage information flow between areas or around expertise; and Pulsetakers – Quiet, behind-the-scenes influencers who subtly lead and learn.

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Stacking the Deck: Using Hidden Organizational Networks to Develop High Potentials – Session at the Northeast HR Association Conference


How often have you realized, only after an employee has left the company, how critical he or she actually was to the business? Have you ever found your company in dire straits because key positions have been empty for too long? Or have you hired a promising new executive only to see that person fail after just a short time on the job?

If so, you’re not alone. Sixty-four percent of new executives hired from the outside fail at their subject matter experts, innovation leaders, effective implementers, and problem solvers (for a primer on networks, see Networks 101). They show who is deeply trusted, who people go to for leadership, and who might shine on their performance reviews but can’t work well with others.

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The Art & Science of Networking (Yes, There Is a Science!): Presentation at HBA

Maya HBA Networking Event 2011-08

Have you ever wondered how the grapevine really affects your reputation in the company? How a leader’s connections support his or her success leading a project? Whether all these networking meetings really make a difference?

In this interactive, fast-paced session of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Network on July 19, 2011, we learned about the science behind organizational networks. We drew on insights from researchers in the social sciences and practitioners in business to learn about the networking practices of high performers. We dispelled the myth that people who want strong networks should never eat alone and, instead, we learned about the simple actions that significantly contribute to the health of your network.

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Who’s at Risk?: Evaluating Burnout through Organizational Networks

Burnout - iStock

It’s your turn to make the decision.

In this 1-page case study on Board Development, a nonprofit organization needs to find the rising stars among its volunteer pool and identify who’s at risk for being over-burdened. You have the volunteer structure, the volunteers’ work patterns, and organizational networks data.

Who do you think is at risk?

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