8 Strategies to Drive Employee Engagement

8 Strategies to Drive Employee Engagement

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Partner

According to Gallup’s latest ‘State of the World Workplace 2022’ report:

  • 60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable.
  • 59% of these are stressed on a daily basis, 56% are worried, 33% are working with physical pain and 31% are angry
  • Only 21% of the workforce are engaged at work
  • 45% of employees said now is a good time to find a job, up slightly from last year, but less than the record 55% in 2019.
  • The regional outlier for this item is the United States and Canada, which leads the world at 71%, up 44 percentage points from the previous year. The next closest regions are Australia and New Zealand at 59% and South Asia at 50%.
  • The regions with the least promising job opportunities are the Commonwealth of Independent States (35%), MENA (28%) and East Asia (27%).

If you are struggling to attract and retain talent or if you are experiencing evidence of quiet quitting, then these 8 leadership strategies can help.

1. Onboarding shouldn't be boring

First impressions are crucial. Leaders need to build relationships and trust quickly with time spent building intimacy, empathy and understanding. Make the onboarding experience a personal one and ensure that they experience as much about the total company as possible and not just the division they have joined. New starters want to believe that their future is wide open with lots of choice and opportunities.

2. Lead with purpose

Leaders can inspire their team members with purpose beyond making profit. As Simon Sinek says, ‘start with why’. Leaders need to connect daily activities and outcomes to a bigger picture for customers, communities, the planet. When we see how our work contributes to that purpose, we get a huge sense of value and meaning.

3. Build fun into work

Work should be fun. Build fun into the work, the day, or week. Enable the team to create their own ‘fun.’ ‘Forced fun’ can be cringey and disengaging. Fun doesn’t just mean after work drinks but can mean games, competitions, activities, experiences, connect to society. Be prepared to spend money on having fun, it will save you money in the long run.

4. Show care and curiosity

‘I don’t care what you know until I know that you care.’ If we want our team to care for their work and care for their outcomes, then leaders must show they care for them. This interest and curiosity must extend beyond conversations about their performance and onto care for their lives.

Zenger Folkman identified 3 critical characteristics that was associated with colleagues being prepared to ‘go the extra mile’. Zenger Folkman analysts looked at 360 leadership assessments since 2020 and compared 13,000 employee ratings of 2,801 leaders who ‘balance getting results with a concern for other’s needs’, and the extent to which their ‘‘work environment is a place where people want to go the extra mile’. Those leaders with the rated highest on balancing results and relationships saw 62% of employees willing to go the extra mile and only 3% ‘quietly quitting’. The worst leaders had 14% of colleagues quietly quitting and only 22% willing to go the extra mile.

HBR Graph

5. Build trust

‘I couldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you!’ Trust binds people together. It makes them want to stay.

3 critical drivers of trust:

  1. Positive relationships. This means you look forward to connecting and enjoy talking to them. Common interests bind you together, while differences are stimulating. Some team members make it easy to have a positive relationship. Others are more challenging. This is often a result of differences (age, gender, ethnicity, or political orientation). Look for and discover common ground with these team members to build mutual trust.
  2. In addition to being totally honest, leaders need to deliver on what they promise. Most leaders believe they are more consistent than others perceive them.
  3. Do you know your job well? Are you out of date on any aspects of your work? Do others trust your opinions and your advice? Experts can bring clarity, a path forward, and clear insight to build trust. This is especially true in technical divisions such as IT, Finance, R&D, Engineering where technical expertise is given huge significance and attention.

6. Active and conscious inclusion - ABIDE

Leaders need to ensure Access, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity. Build a psychologically safe environment for everyone. A place where it is easy to express yourself. Most leaders believe themselves to be fair and unbiased. This may be true but ABIDE demands active and conscious inclusion i.e., working hard to bring people in is a different mindset to avoiding exclusion.

7. Inspire others

Leaders need to make the team feel feelings about their work, their company, and their career. Inspiring others includes making me feel proud of the company (its contribution to ESG, society, communities), feeling excited about the future (the company direction, vision, and strategy), challenged and passionate for innovation and new products, markets, and opportunities. Feeling involved in the future by feeling valued and part of the company’s future.

8. Grow others

There is a commercial exchange of value between employer and employee. The employee completes tasks between 9am and 5pm and the employer pays the employee a salary. But if the employee wants future growth in their salary, and the employer wants future value in their tasks, so both need to priorities growth, skill development, training, and responsibilities and opportunities where the employee can prove and improve themselves.

Quiet quitting is a real opportunity cost to the business. For leaders, it is not about getting employees to do more than contracted hours for nothing in return. It is about creating the right environment in which there is a ‘value-added’ exchange. The team member receives and experiences growth, development, empowerment to experiment, fun, loyalty, care, recognition, and joy. The company gets loyalty, ideas, innovation, discretionary effort, advocacy, and a collective culture that builds a reputation in the marketplace.

Leaders must lead and find their own passion for the engagement agenda. It does not just happen. Engagement demands conscious planning and execution.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Executive Client Director

The training landscape in 2022 has been largely shaped by the effects of companies returning to the office following lowering of COVID-19 restrictions. Employees are mobile, both physically returning to the office and moving organisations as part of The Great Resignation, impacting training needs and the delivery format. Learning and development as a result is very much front of mind for business leader as they seek to engage and retain their employees.

This article sets out the main trends and themes we have observed during 2022, drawing upon feedback from our clients (either anecdotally or from our surveys), as well from our network of Associates, Partners, and Consultants.

Delivery Format

There has been some debate over in-person training versus virtual training, with the consensus being that in-person training generally is more impactful, while virtual training is more convenient.

In-person is particularly more effective for higher value topics, such as high potential development, leadership, and diversity & inclusion programs. Not only are skillsets enhanced but character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed. Employers also have observed the broader benefits of in-person training being able to help build company culture and embed purpose and inclusivity. As a result, in person training has become the default where possible, but for training involving individuals across wider geographies, virtual training can be more economical and accessible.

Companies can adapt digital training for purpose using technology to help digital learning be more engaging, however, there is a lag in what learners expect compared to what companies are offering.

Top 3 Reasons Why In-Person Training is Preferred

  • Reward and incentivize employees to return to the office.
  • Develop core company values and culture.
  • Enhance employee engagement and team building.

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Training is Not Working

  • Zoom fatigue and low engagement (not switching on cameras or microphone)
  • Technology difficulties and connectivity
  • Not fit for purpose (limitation of physical activities).

Impact of Technology

This takes us nicely to the subject of technology and its impact on learning and development.

We note that hybrid training can be an extremely tricky mode of learning with lack of equity between in-person learners who are typically more engaged and virtual learners who are often isolated. The solution has been the creation of dedicated hybrid training facilities, with Singapore seeing the opening of Catapult which is Southeast Asia’s first leadership training hub designed to groom Asia’s next-generation leaders through immersive, experiential, and impactful learning journeys. All training rooms are hybrid enabled with cameras tracking facilitators movements, while other facilities include recording suites, and 180-degree and 360-degree immersive studios.

Although they have been around for a while, it is worth while noting the growing popularity of online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy where employees select courses and learn at their own pace. Gamification, meanwhile, can provide a wrapper around these resources to help engage learners by rewarding completion of programs with points, badges, or redeemable vouchers.

Furthermore, there is a move towards Digital Certification of learning where learners will receive accreditation of programs they have attended in a digital wallet, verified by blockchain technology. As the accreditation is unique and verifiable, learners can use the accreditation to help with reimbursement of training costs or demonstration of programme completion to new employers. At Arcadia, we are proud to be working with one of our key partners to co-create our own digital certification – watch this space!

Virtual Reality is also moving into the learning arena as well with VR environments such as such as Oculus where you are exposed to a fully immersive virtual experience. Training takes place on a more individual basis but can achieve high level of engagement which can be useful for getting a specific message across as well as for events such as Executive Away Days, or for energising an audience.

Learning Topics

With in-person training returning, the demand for learning topics has also changed, however, we continue to see several themes persisting which continue to be topical. With teams, particularly regional teams, being able to come together in the one location, we have seen a demand for in person training as part of either Leadership Offsites or Sales Kick Offs, with more engaging and energising topics being requested, particularly from our Communication Suite

High Performing Teams – as leadership teams come together, often for the very first time due to changes in management personnel, the need to understand and build relationships with peers has meant that High Performing Teams was in significant demand, as was shown in our Singapore survey earlier this year.

Presentation Skills – with the return to the office, there has been a return to face-to-face presentations and as such there has been a noticeable uptake in demand for presentation skills programmes, specifically from sales teams for Pitching Skills training.

Executive Presence – like Presentation Skills, with fewer meetings taking place virtually, Executive Presence skills has continued to prove to be in heavy demand, particularly as part of Leadership offsites as a motivational and engaging segment.

Strategic Thinking –demand for Strategic Thinking training in 2022 has been by the need for employees to focus on problem solving skills and increasing employee’s connection to strategy. However, we expect this programme to continue to be popular in 2023 as companies deal with the fall out of the anticipated global recession and the need for companies to implement strategies to survive.

Diversity – unsurprising Diversity, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias training continues to be popular amongst multinationals whether to address specific issues or as part of corporate strategies to present the company as employers of choice.

High Potential Leadership Programmes – this includes both First Time Manager Development Programmes and Female Leadership Development Programmes. There is a strong need to create and maintain a strong bench of talent, particularly following the Pandemic where several senior expatriate leaders returned to their home countries leaving gaps in senior leadership teams. Furthermore, the lack of women in leadership continues to raise its head as a key area to address.

Innovation – innovation has been a key business topic in 2022 and we have seen this translate into demand for training programmes at both the employee and leadership level. We also anticipate this need to grow in 2023 with the anticipated recession as companies seek new market opportunities. Consequently, Arcadia is in the process of building a Leading for Innovation programme which will be available from Q1 of 2023

Imposter Syndrome – this is another popular topic trending in the business world and a phrase guaranteed to be included in year end lists of new words and phrases appearing in our vocabularies. The need to define what this means for companies and how we address this has meant that this is another programme scheduled for release by Arcadia later in 2023.

Executive Coaching – coaching has been in high demand for 2022 and the reasons for this are many and varied. Often coaching assignments have been requested to help individuals prepare for the next rung on the leadership ladder, sometimes for specific presentations, townhalls or media interviews. Other times coaching has been selected as an additional resource for support for individuals experiencing high pressure situations.

The Road Ahead

Even before the world was waking up to the pandemic, back in January 2020, the World Economic Forum said that in the next two years – by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. With the advent of the pandemic, change has accelerated this requirement even further (now 50% by 2025).

The demand for technological skills has mushroomed while younger generations are demanding not only training but practical opportunities to practice and demonstrate those skills. Throw in the current economic recovery providing massive opportunities in the job market for employees, companies are turning to learning more than ever to engage and retain employees (now potential Global downturn with a war for talent).

Organisations must be nimble and must listen to the demands and needs of its employees and learning is one of the main tools where organizations can deliver on those demands.

Summary

As companies struggle to retain and attract staff, training has had a renewed focus, after being somewhat neglected during the initial stages of the pandemic. Furthermore, training is key to companies reskilling as they innovate to survive in the post COVID business world, particularly with the anticipated Global Recession in 2023.

To conclude, there are four key trends organisation should consider:

  1. In-person Training – where possible, in-person training is the preference for companies, to engage employees and encourage face to face interactions. It is seen as having a higher value than prior to the pandemic and as a reward to employees.
  2. Virtual Training Convenience – as much as companies want in-person, the realisation is that people have got used to virtual formats and with the disparate APAC geography, virtual training is just easier and allows us to cover off larger amounts of participants.
  3. Technology – technology is always as at the forefront of training, and with immersive training options coming online, the possibilities for remote, engaging content are limitless.
  4. Leadership – the biggest demand we see continues to be for leadership programs – whether that be at Executive levels, for High Potentials/First Time Managers or for Women in Leadership and Asian Leaders Programs.

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Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent in Singapore

Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent in Singapore

Joe Goddard

Joe Goddard

Senior Consultant

As the dust settles and hybrid work-life is acceptable, flexibility acts as the cornerstone of any working culture. Coming into the office for 2 or 3 days per week is commonplace; it finally feels like this could be ‘the new norm’ for many years to come. 

However, at Arcadia, we like to dig deeper — not to just assume but question the change in behaviour and understand what’s making the workplace tick. And crucially what aspects of work-life require in-person engagements for everyone to get the biggest benefit.

A great place to start is to understand where leaders and individual contributors are spending their time and effort training and learning new skills.  There has been a seismic shift in how people participate in training programmes, with offerings that include a range of formats: face-to-face, e-learning, gamification, podcasts, and research papers, but which one of these has the greatest impact on building culture?

Survey Findings

We asked some of our senior leaders across 65 organisations1 in Singapore what their thoughts on the subject were.

Here's What We Found

In-person training still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, as these activities do more than just teach new skills.

Although most organisations now have the capability for digital training, with obvious benefits associated with this method (e.g., accessibility to more people across multiple locations), it appears that the outlook for planned training across the remainder of 2022 is a mixed bag. 90% of organisations are implementing hybrid training (combination of in-person and digital) as opposed to all digital or all in-person.

  • The data suggest that there is a recognition that although in-person training could come with extra effort and cost, it still forms a key part of the broader training roadmap, especially as some skills are more impactful to learn in person.
  • In-person training forms a key part of building and maintaining closer bonds between teams, which is essential to drive purpose and culture. This is due to the nature of activities in workshops being more engaging and rewarding for attendees.
  • Training providers are now in a sweet spot, where different delivery methods are understood and accepted. The corporate world is now primed for innovation to maximise learning further. New ideas such as peer-to-peer (e.g., juniors coaching leaders) or digital innovations, like gamification, could feature heavily in future roadmaps.

Business-critical subjects are worth the extra spend and effort.

After 2 years of COVID, nothing beats face to face! We need to take as much opportunity we possibly can to meet, train, and bond face to face and not only make virtual the default.

- CEO of a multinational technology company

We found that there is a clear trend towards certain subjects preferred for in-person training vs. virtual. These subjects are considered business-critical, not only for decision making but also for building culture, and therefore justify the extra spending and effort, often delivered with smaller group sizes.

With an emphasis on overall employee wellbeing, it’s essential that employers offer their teams an opportunity to properly engage in activities to help them to continue learning new ideas, beyond the traditional subjects of workplace training, into meatier subjects such as Resilience and Growth Mindset. If this need isn’t met, then it will be no surprise to see employees seeking an organisation elsewhere that satisfies this.

The key areas that these critical topics fall into are ones: 

  • With an aim to elevate the performance to exceptional (High performing teams, Executive Presence).
  • That are debate- and discussion-critical (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), which gives all individuals an opportunity to shape company culture and process, e.g., steady performers as well as high performers.
  • That have direct implications on the direction of the business and develop strong leaders, essential for future growth (Strategic Thinking, Presentation Skills).

Virtual training brings great benefits such as bite sized learning, the ability to follow up with application and coaching labs, having the team together across multiple locations, inclusivity, and equity of learning opportunities. There is something unique and special, however, that supersedes this in a face-to-face environment. People are more present, less distracted, more human. It’s more organic. Participants can apply things in the moment, ask a question, interrupt, chime-in real-time. There is a certain energy in the group that allows for more.

- Leader at an Asian luxury fashion brand

Digital learning could have a negative impact on mindset, attitudes and culture, if not tailored to suit the audience

In addition to leaders’ desire to ensure that core topics are ringfenced for in-person engagement, there is also evidence to suggest appreciation that it gives to the overall workplace, where softer measures are essential, e.g., company values and purpose, team building, and engaging all individuals into shaping process. Too much digital learning that has not been tailored specifically for the audience could have a negative impact on mindset and attitudes.

To Summarise:

  • Organisations and leaders must work a lot harder to attract and retain talent, with employees wanting a greater emphasis on well-being and purpose. Individual contributors have reframed their attitudes to how they want to spend their working hours. It is therefore critical for leaders and trainers to observe the broader benefits of building company culture and the long-term payback of embedding purpose and inclusivity, often initiated whilst engaging in company activities such as in-person training.
  • Digital learning is still essential as the backbone of quickly upskilling employees, providing delivery is adapted to the digital environment, i.e., presenter-led programmes are still effective, but could also be complemented with other means where necessary, such as a combination of e-learning (self-paced, podcasts, videos, or gamification). Check out The Mindset Advantage podcast here. There is an interesting space to watch out for in the future here. The entire education sector has been waiting for a shakeup for decades, like how technology has shaped so many other industries.
  • For training, in-person will always be the most beneficial, impactful, and worth the extra effort for important topics, such as developing peak performers, diversity, equity and inclusion, and leadership. Not only are skillsets enhanced but the character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed.

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Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Matthew Crome

Matthew Crome

Senior Consultant

This article explores 3 questions

Why is critical thinking important?

What is the mindset required for critical thinking?

How can a critical thinking culture be nurtured in the workplace?

Why is critical thinking important?

The modern-day definition of critical thinking is widely attributed to the American Philosopher John Dewey. In his book ‘How Do We Think’ (1910), he defined critical thinking as ‘(the) active, persistent, careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends’ – Heavy stuff!

More simply put it is the process of analysing information in order to make a logical decision about the extent to which you believe something to be true or false.

It involves collecting and analysing relevant data from many sources so that we can make informed decisions based on logic. And therein lies the challenge, despite our best efforts to exercise clean logic we are all governed by our emotions. (Your emotions have just influenced your reaction to that last sentence!).

We live in a complex world and are saturated with information and data from multiple sources, many claiming to offer the definitive truth justified by the expertise of the author. These sources are often contrary, and we rarely have the luxury of time to wade through all the data before making a decision.

The stakes can be high. Careers and businesses live or die by the quality of the decisions made. The need for critical thinking is more important than ever when navigating the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world we operate in. We are expected to juggle many tasks at the same time within tight deadlines and demanding stakeholders all of which conspire against us when we need the time and headspace to apply critical thinking to our decision making.

Why is critical thinking important?

We, at Arcadia, are great believers in the importance of Mindset. It lies at the heart of everything we do, and a critical thinking mindset is key to being effective with this discipline.

There are many applied problem solving and decision-making processes that can be used. We also need to have a healthy, conscious awareness of the influence that our mindset plays in our ability to reason and assess the available data and information.

A simple and useful approach to keep your mindset in check might include asking critical thinking questions, e.g.

  • What do I already know?
  • What do they already know?
  • How do I know that?
  • How do they know that?
  • What am I trying to prove/understand?
  • What are they trying to prove?
  • What is my motivation?
  • What is their motivation?

Deliberately ask ‘What if…?’ questions that challenge common sense, current beliefs, and assumptions.

Be aware of your biases – 3 of the most common cognitive biases are:

Confirmation Bias – We like to be right and subconsciously align to people and ideas that agree with our thinking. It’s a tribal thing and cognitive diversity is called for.

Action Bias – Business drives us to swift action rather than ‘wasting time’ thinking something through. Invest time in the process and defend that time.

Association Bias – People have a tendency to connect the unconnected based on experience and folklore, e.g., Expensive means quality – you get what you pay for. Is this always true?

How can a critical thinking culture be nurtured in the workplace?

For critical thinking to work, it is essential that the individuals involved experience a sense of psychological safety in their team. They need to feel free to share ideas, without fear of ridicule. They need to feel safe to challenge the ideas of others without fear of negative consequence.

Without this fundamental feeling of safety, even the most well-intentioned leaders will struggle to gain the full benefit of the collective brain power of their teams. The question is how to create and nurture that environment.

In my voluntary work as a primary school governor, I recently observed a class of 6-year-old children practicing their critical thinking skills to help and support each other with their ideas. They each had the opportunity for their idea to be reviewed and critiqued by their peers and to a child, each experienced a positive and constructive evaluation of their idea, ultimately leading to better outcomes.  In turn, each child presented their idea to their classmates and then they followed a simple 5 step approach.

Step one – Stop, look, think, and notice the idea being shared. Significantly without judgement or comment. Just a few quiet moments being fully present with the idea.

Step two – The owner of the idea would explain their idea and their reasoning behind it.

Step three – Wondering. Others are encouraged to ask questions to help them understand further. Interestingly the questions were prefixed with ‘I wonder…’  e.g., ‘I wonder why you took that approach?’ or ‘I wonder how you saw that working?’.

Step four – The group now actively come forward with their suggestion and ideas to add and build upon the original thought.

Step five – Recognition. Speaking with the teacher, they commented that the successful embedding of this approach hinges upon this last step of praise and recognition of the behaviours demonstrated by the pupils throughout the exercise. 

I share this approach in this paper for the simple reason, it is simple.

There will be enough complexity with the issues being dealt with without making the process overly complicated. And whilst my example comes from primary school children, I was able to observe first hand how powerfully it impacted the class dynamic supporting an environment where individuals felt safe to share and challenge.

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Why Trust Matters in Leadership Communication

Why Trust Matters in Leadership Communication

Cachet Prescott

Cachet Prescott

Client Director, People Experience

On any given day, leaders find themselves communicating with others in a variety of ways (verbally, nonverbally, body language, written, etc.). Communication lines flow between them and the receivers of their messages on a multitude of topics ranging from everyday communication to feedback to managing conflict to communicating change, and each connection provides an opportunity to either build up or chip away at the trust between all involved in the conversation.

Trust and communication have a reciprocal relationship. Your ability to communicate with others relies on how much they trust you (and vice versa), and how you communicate also impacts that trust. Trust bridges the gap between the words being said and how one perceives and receives your message. It makes the difference between simply hearing what is being expressed vs. finding the intended meaning in your words.

Trust in communication enables leaders to:

  • Build bridges and relationships
  • Establish rapport
  • Build consensus
  • Create feelings of belonging
  • Find common ground
  • Navigate conflict
  • Achieve goals
  • Gain buy-in
  • Inspire loyalty

The Impact of Trust (and Mistrust)

Some leaders believe that people will simply listen to, follow, or buy into an idea because of one’s title or level of seniority. But above and beyond who you are, people need to believe in what you say, and trust plays a vital, non-negotiable role in creating that understanding.

Without trust, what you communicate may be dismissed and ignored, creating a culture of mistrust, disconnection, disloyalty, exclusion, division and even fear.

Each instance of communication provides the opportunity for the person (or people) on the receiving end to determine how much they believe what you say as they mentally assess the answers for following questions for themselves:

Can I trust:

  • You as a person?
  • Your intentions?
  • That you will do what you say you will do?
  • That my thoughts matter in this conversation?
  • That how this conversation might impact me matters?

Measuring Trust

Take a moment to think about the leaders that you trust. Why do you trust them? What is about them that makes them trustworthy in your mind?

Many of the questions above are explored in the book, The Trusted Advisor where readers learn about the Trust Equation (which measures how much someone trusts you) and the four vital elements that contribute to one’s level of trustworthiness:

  • Credibility: How much someone trusts who you are (including your credentials) and what you say
  • Reliability: How consistent are you with your actions and words
  • Intimacy: How safe and secure does one feel with you
  • Self-Orientation: How selfless or selfish you are in the relationship

Think about and consider where you stand with your trustworthiness with those around you, and keep in mind that where you stand with one person may not be where you stand with another (and thus, equating to differing levels of trust in each of those relationships).

For the relationships that you feel you’ve developed a firm level of trust, ask yourself: what were the contributing factors to building trust with this person and how might I be able to apply them in other relationships to build and nurture trust?

Those relationships, however, where there may be weaker levels of trustworthiness present an opportunity to build that trust and ultimately, strengthen the communication bonds.

Communicating with Trust

When you think about your future conversations, consider how you can plant and water the seeds of trust each time you communicate with others.

Each interaction provides the space to proactively think through (and address as needed) the following questions:

  • Have I established the proper rapport with this person?
  • In what ways have I built trust with this person?
  • How can I continue to build and nurture trust with this person?
  • What does this person need from me to see me as trustworthy?

 You can also fortify your trust goodwill through:

  • Active listening
  • Clarity, transparency, and empathy in your messaging
  • Flexing your communication style to your audience
  • Showing interest in your audience and asking open-ended questions

Your Challenge: Choose one stakeholder that you communicate with and assess where you stand in terms of trustworthiness with that person and how that has impacted (positively or negatively) your relationship. Look for ways to either continuing growing or cultivate the trust between you.

References

Laundry, L. (14 Nov 2019). 8 Essential Leadership Communication Skills. Harvard Business School Online. Retrieved from https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/leadership-communication

Maister, D.H., Green, C.H. & Galford, R.M. (2 Feb 2021). The Trusted Advisor: 20th Anniversary Edition. Free Press

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Future Leaders

Future Leaders

Vivian Tam

Vivian Tam

Principal Consultant

Last week, Arcadia held our third and final session in our current webinar series. Mark Albas and Matt Lyon discussed how to identify and boost the development of key performers and high potential talent.

When we speak with our clients, we often find that there is a gap between current leaders and the next generation, and that whilst clients want to empower the next generation, they feel that they may not be quite ready yet. Arcadia will therefore discuss some key themes which will help companies upskill the next generation of leaders.

New Leadership Personas

The new generation of leaders emerging embody the new economy and are digitally savvy and innovative, but are perceived to complain too much and often unsupportive of ideas with which they are not engaged.

The best way to develop this individual is to embrace them and try to connect their personal purpose with their corporate purpose. As they are often a “first follower” they can become an important culture carrier within the business. Making them feel part of a project moves them from questioning and complaining to advocate. Importantly they also bring other colleagues into line with the company vision too.

How Do We Identify Talent?

To identify high potential, CEB highlight three key factors:

Aspiration – ability to rise to senior roles

Engagement – the ability to commit to the organisation and remain in challenging roles

Ability – to be more effective in more responsible and senior roles

At Arcadia we take a strengths-based approach to developing future leaders, using Zenger Folkman’s Extraordinary Leader and Extraordinary Performer assessment tools. These tools start with result first, including engagement and profitability, and then works back to identify competencies. As a result, Zenger Folkman have recognised which leadership competencies have the greatest and best correlations to business outcomes. There are 19 competencies in total across five main groups – personal capability, leading change, interpersonal skills, character and focus on results. However, one of the differences about this tool is that it identifies what people are great at, rather than finding out what the average leader is.

The concept is that an organisation is defined by its exceptional people rather than its average people, so it seeks to find out who has extraordinary competencies. Therefore, by identifying what people are extraordinary at and similarly what makes them so successful, we can help build these key competencies further. On the flip side, the tools also surface where your fatal flaws so these too can be addressed.

Leadership Development

Arcadia has identified four critical development needs in high potential / future leaders. By focusing our development programs around these four areas, we ensure that participants develop the right mindsets, skills, knowledge and agency to be seen as future leaders.

1. Mindset

We want to move people away from a “fixed mindset” where individuals have a fixed amount of knowledge and their abilities have plateaued. We move them instead towards a “growth mindset” where the individual believes that they can continually increase their abilities and improve at anything they want to. This can be manifest in challenges, obstacles, effort, skills, criticism or success of others. Ultimately our goal here is to move people out their comfort zones and challenge them.

2. Visibility 

Often people think that when it comes to creating an impression as a future leader, that you take all of your competencies and you promote how good you are at all of these things as part of your personal brand. However, research from our partner Zenger Folkman has shown that this is not the case. Instead, individuals should focus on what is known as the “halo effect”, here you really capitalize on an “F Trait”, which is one where you are very proficient in one certain area. If you are able to do this, then you create a really positive halo effect which will help you develop your brand, enabling those around you to see you as a potential future leader.

3. Organisational IQ 

There are two parts to this. Firstly: how well do you know the organisation? Do you know all the different departments, do know what all the products and services are, and do you know where all your offices are etc. The second part is do you know someone who you can reach out to and connect with in each of these areas. You don’t have to know everyone, but you need to know someone who can connect you to a key person. Over time as we have focused on this subject, we have found that the concept of organisational IQ has expanded and now we find there is an extra element. It’s not only what you know and who you can connect to, but who would connect with you? Who would put you in their organisational IQ? How many people would think of you when they want to connect with someone in your area.

4. Purposeful Leadership

One of the key trends in purposeful leadership is increasing people’s cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence is the capability to function effectively across various cultural contexts whether these be national, ethnic, organizational, generational, gender, race or sexual orientation. Indeed, a survey by the Economist found that over 92% of leaders found that their biggest challenge was finding enough leaders with the CQ to navigate multinational firms. As such, the ability to be able to flex your value system, create psychological safety and demonstrate cultural intelligence in your actions is a huge driver for making people feel connected to the values that an organisation proposes.

Summary

We see future leaders coming from many different backgrounds – local talent, female talent, professional and specialized talent or just straight up high potentials. However, all these future leaders can benefit from development of their mindset, their visibility, their organizational IQ and their overall connection and sense of purpose to the firm. By developing these critical areas they are able to positively contribute to their future and the success of the organization.

If you would be interested in attending future events or would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Vivian Tam at vivian.tam@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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EmPOWERment in a Hybrid World

EmPOWERment in a Hybrid World

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Senior Consultant

Dictionary Definition - Empower

To give someone official or legal authority, or the freedom or confidence to do something:

  • to encourage and support the ability to do something
  • to empower is also to give legal authority for something

Some useful synonyms for us to explore:

control, authority, influence, command, ability, capacity, faculty, property, resources, authority, right, licence, privilege 

When do you feel you have the power to act? What conditions create the confidence for you to take action, move forward, make decisions?

Flatter structures demand more decision making without seniority or hierarchical based authority. Hybrid working has resulted in increased independent work patterns (notwithstanding the demand for collaboration) that in turn means more independent risk taking, decision making and action taking.

What can leaders and organisations do to ensure that increased independent accountability/ responsibility is matched with empowerment?  After all accountability without empowerment is simply abdication or worse.

5 Strategies to Empowerment:

  1. Information
  2. Capability
  3. Authority
  4. Feedback
  5. Relationships

1. Information

Many commentators are now talking about ‘Truth to Power’. Leaders will need to share as much truth as they can within parameters of risk and not status or ego. The absence of information and feeling ‘in the dark’ reduces the confidence to act. Be transparent with vision, strategy, data, finances, implications, risks. Leaders cannot always be around to share the information especially in a hybrid environment, so it is important to do this systematically and at scale. Create information sharing and knowledge sharing environments and management systems.

As Louise Hay stated: ‘People are doing the best with what they know’ and ‘if they knew better, they’d do better’.

2. Capability

People are confident to take action when they trust themselves and their own knowledge, skills and process for execution. In a hybrid world where social learning, learning from colleagues sitting next to you and where waiting for the next training course is not always an option, the Learning and Development team and business leaders will need to provide the necessary knowledge and skills on an on-demand, asynchronous and in a personalised way. Organisations will need a coaching culture where leaders are proactive and agile in their support and responsiveness to the capability needs of the team. Being on the receiving end of great coaching will also teach employees to be great coaches too.

3. Authority

What are the rules? What is legal? Am I allowed to do this/ that? Permission to act needs to be very visible and overt. Bureaucracy, red tape, inconsistency and excessively complex processes of decision making is only made more challenging when the team of people are across multiple sites. Providing the team with clear descriptions of the Legal and risk framework will go some considerable way to reducing the fear. Adopting an agile and adaptive approach where people take action and apologise / learn later will further reduce that fear of failure and reprisals, Authority is real and perceived. Perception is a cultural thing.

4. Feedback

Feedback is the food of champions! It is also the food for empowerment. The more data I have about myself, my actions, behaviours, direct and indirect outcomes the more choices I have. Awareness drives understanding, choice, control and performance.

The things I am aware of I can control. The things I am unaware of control me.

Leaders would be well served to institutionalise a ‘Win, learn, Change’ culture where colleagues reflect on ‘what is working well’, what is not working that we can learn from’ and ‘what can we change’. Continued affirmation of the wins drives confidence whilst focusing on the learns and the changes drives proactivity, accountability, awareness, insight and ownership of issues. Leaders need to focus on coaching + feedback rather than being directive.  Being directive increases dependence.  Coaching drives independence. Once established the culture of feedback can and arguably must work both ways with juniors providing feedback to seniors.

5. Relationships

Everyone should feel empowered to make decisions for the good of the business, its employees, customers and society.  Why would you not want that? It’s difficult to provide that value living in splendid isolation.  Relationships are key and broker the development of interdependence fostered through individual empowerment and collaboration.

Underpinning relationships is:

  • Trust
  • Psychological safety
  • Respect for diversity

When this is achieved, we witness the behaviours of:

  • Collaboration
  • Networking
  • Ideation and creativity

Collective Empowerment

Strategies 1-4 create independence. It is the building of relationships, connections and belonging that builds interdependence – collective empowerment.

Empowerment is a cultural outcome. It depends on a particular leadership style adopted by the organisation from sales and marketing, operations, supply chain, manufacturing HR, IT and Finance.  Any business area that is disempowered by controlling directive leaders will create a bottle neck of decision making and action taking that will affect the rest of the organisation, it’s agility and delivery to customers. The C-Suite must explicitly align and communicate the empowerment leadership model to the team and role model the behaviours themselves. This needs to be met with a ‘ready’ workforce – ready to act, be entrepreneurial and innovative and needs to be reflected on recruitment, onboarding, KPI’s/ measurement, rewards and recognition.

Empowerment isn’t a sentence “you are empowered” but rather a culture borne from a leadership model and leadership capabilities.

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Steve at steve.ellis@arcadiaconsulting.co.uk.

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2021 Trends in Learning and Development

2021 Trends in Learning and Development

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Senior Consultant

Learning and development, like all other corporate functions, has experienced enormous upheaval since the pandemic struck. This has required a complete rethink, not only regarding the topics that organisations need delivered, but how these programs are structured, how they are delivered and how the role of the company’s leadership team in learning and development is viewed.

With all this disruption taking place it can be difficult to make sense of what is happening, especially as the pace of change has increased dramatically since the pandemic began with organisations consistently evolving and implementing new solutions to manage the change. Therefore, to establish what the latest trends and best practice in Learning, Arcadia surveyed a sample of our clients and our network of Associates, as well as conducting our own research and receiving input from our Partners and Consultants across our Global offices. Here is what we found –

The Role of the Business Leader

The role of the business leader is becoming increasingly important in all learning and development activities. We are used to leaders being involved as program champions to help kick off or close out longer, over arching programs by providing business insights, setting goals, and motivating the program participants. However, learning and development is receiving a much higher profile during the pandemic, particularly as it is often seen as a vehicle to help bring employees together and supporting entrenchment of the organisation’s culture.

As a result, business leaders are increasingly looked upon to role model capability and help embed a culture of continuous improvement. It is expected that leaders demonstrate that they are open and share how they too are evolving in their personal leadership style. Central to this, is the expectation that leaders should show their human sides, by sharing personal anecdotes that their teams can understand, empathise, and relate to.

Structure of Learning Programs

With increased focus on learning and development, there comes more scrutiny on the structure of programs to ensure they are a success. Learning programs cannot simply be a tick box exercise to ensure that organisations can be seen to be developing staff. Instead, learning programs must be structured to help create and support a culture of learning. They need to be more customised to the individual learner’s capabilities and they must provide practical opportunities to implement the skills learned – this is particularly important to younger generations of employees who are looking for hands-on opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities. We are also seeing learning outcomes being tied to tangible improvements in performance such as revenue growth and quality improvement or to employee satisfaction scores.

Meanwhile, there is a definite trend for learning to become more bite sized and modular based so that learners can consume the content anytime, anywhere. Typically, we are seeing learning programs being structured so that initially the learner reads and watches content or completes an assessment before moving into an instructor led program containing individual or group-based exercises, receives coaching and/or mentoring and then applies the skills learned with work based projects, simulations or case studies.

The Purpose of Training

Not only are leaders at the top expected to champion learning programs, but the purpose of the learning program also starts at the top. Increasingly we are seeing training programs being linked directly to the mission or the purpose of the organisation itself. Also, programs are expected to embody company values and will relate to the development of the core competencies identified by the organisation to achieve success. Specifically, we are seeing a focus on the development of digital competencies.

Meanwhile there is an increasing emphasis on learning outcomes that will increase productivity, particularly where there has been cost cutting measures implemented or budget freezes.

While learning programs are frequently quoted as one of the principal “use cases” for returning to the office, the pandemic has also led to a general renewed commitment to upskill or reskill employees. Learning is also being used as engagement tool, either to excite or indeed retain employees, which is a particular issue in the current climate as organisations battle “The Great Resign” where resignations are blighting attempts by companies to revive their businesses.

The Impact of Technology

The current pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on learning and how this is delivered. Technology has been central to this and has accelerated the use and impact of technology accordingly. Clearly technology has been an enabler of remote learning, but it has also enabled micro learning – where learning is delivered daily in modular, bite sized chunks.

Indeed, research has shown that microlearning has 17% more efficient knowledge transfer by focusing on the bare minimum learning. Even with Arcadia we have found technology indispensable as we quickly pivoted our programs to digital formats which has been typical across all training organisations converting traditional instructor led learning into online accessible modules.

Technology has also supported the gamification of training and interestingly, studies have shown that 100% of employees will undertake take the microlearning if there is a game involved. Meanwhile, other technological developments in learning include virtual or augmented reality to immerse the learner and adaptive learning, where the curricula unfolds differently depending on how the participant performs.

Learning Topics

Undoubtedly, we are experiencing a strong demand for learning and development solutions and given the wide variety of reasons for these demands, whether COVID-19 related, transformation based, or technology related, there is also a wide variety of topics that companies are requesting. Some of the programs are a continuation of trends we saw before the pandemic while some are a direct consequence of its affects.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Programs – this has probably been the area we have seen the greatest increase in demand. Unsurprisingly, the US and then UK have been the locations where we have seen the most requests, however this is making its way to Asia and increasingly is coming under into the spotlight. There is a realisation that DEI training will not be a quick fix and will need to form part of a broader culture change project. Therefore, such DEI topics are also making their way into the themes of other learning programs such as leadership or hybrid working solutions.

Leadership Development – this is taking various forms, from general High Potential Leadership Development Programs to Asian Leadership and Woman in Leadership programs. One very particular area which is refreshing to see is the demand for Women in Leadership programs specifically for STEMs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Hybrid Working – this is another topic that is in high demand, and again we are seeing interest levels increase in the Far East. Initially demand was in US an UK given these locations returned to the office sooner, while Asia is very much in the planning stages.  This topic also references how to collaborate with organisations and includes culture and wellbeing programs.

Change Management – given that so many companies are transforming themselves, there is a high demand for change management learning looking at everything from internal processes to the employee experience and the customer experience. On a related note, companies are increasingly conducting design thinking workshops or courses on innovation.

Resilience – predominantly because of the pandemic, resilience training has been growing in demand. This can also include including adaptivity, wellbeing, and mental fortitude topics.

Communication – this has been a staple of learning curricula for a long time whether this is presentation skills, personal branding, or executive presence programs. However, one of the most popular programs at Arcadia has been for Digital Presence learning as companies quickly pivoted to Zoom meetings. Meanwhile, we have also seen an increase in data driven story training programs.

Executive Coaching – although this could be defined as coaching in general as it is no longer only senior executives who are receiving coaching sessions. Meanwhile, as organisations seek to embed learning to ensure knowledge transfer and demonstration of skills, we are seeing coaching workshops become an integral part of wider overarching leadership programs and can be conducted on a one-to-one basis or as a “coaching circle” with a small group.

Strategic Narrative – these programs involve strategic thinking, aligning leadership teams and creating high performing executive teams. Again, demand for these programs are a consequence of organisations transforming themselves as a consequence of the pandemic.

Summary

The current global pandemic hijacked the business world and exposed it to major disruption and increasing the levels of uncertainty. We all had to quickly adapt to newer and challenging ways of working, mostly from the confines of our homes!

Four key trends, technologies, and strategies for to consider include:

Learning is Culture and Culture is Learning – learning is one of the main tools organisations are using to build culture, and this is being embedded top down, with leaders championing programs and programs reinforcing the mission and purpose of the organisation

Technology – while some countries are opening up, travel is still complicated to say the least. Tech enabled programs will continue to be a necessity while organisations are embracing more sophisticated uses of technology in all facets of programs

Leadership – probably the biggest demand we see is for leadership programs – whether that be at Executive levels, for High Potentials or for Women in Leadership and Asian Leaders Programs.

Change – the other main theme for programs is change related, whether instilling Agile methods of working, supporting innovative practices or creating change mindsets

If you would like further information on this topic please get in touch with Vincent at vincent.romano@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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High Performing Teams

High Performing Teams

Tom Forrest

Tom Forrest

Senior Consultant

Arcadia recently held the second in our three-part Webinar series on building Purpose & Potential. The topic last week was High Performing Teams (HPT), when Mark Weston and Mark Albas discussed the mindset and behavioural changes needed to drive alignment and high performance within an intact team.

The pandemic has massively affected businesses requiring significant changes to processes, systems and controls. To survive, organisations have had to be agile and pivot to new products and services, bringing in new hires and forming new teams. In a fractured work environment, this has increased the focus on how to align them and encourage the best performance.

The High Performing Teams Model

The HPT model is built on two Fundamental Characteristics – Purpose & Direction and Trust on which we can build the four pillars (Optimising Characteristics) of Communication, Collaboration, Conflict and Accountability. If an organisation sets the foundations in place and builds the optimising Characteristics, then the Results will follow.

Fundamental Characteristics

Purpose & Direction –what sort of team they want to be, what binds them together and what do they stand for.

Trust – this means both trust in each other as individuals and also in the team itself as a whole. Credibility, reliability and intimacy and (lack of) self-interest are all important.

Trust Builders

Credibility means more than having good credentials. Credibility is derived from what you know, and how well you communicate it – to the betterment of the team. 

By contrast, reliability typically has to do with actions. Reliability is grounded in consistency, predictability, and a feeling of familiarity. 

Intimacy refers to the safety that your team feel when entrusting you with something. It also refers to the depth of understanding you have of their motivations, needs, and values.

Self-orientation is most often seen as a significant opportunity for improvement. It is all about focus, more specifically, where your focus is – you or the team? To build trust, your focus needs to be on your team, minimising self-orientation. 

Optimising Characteristics

Communication – everyone has a different style of communicating and different preferences and styles. How you communicate clearly has a massive impact on your ability to build relationships.

Collaboration – here we talk about “Reciprocity Styles”, which includes Givers, Takers and Matchers. Ideally the organisations should move to a culture of giving where individuals put the other person’s needs first.

Conflict – although this characteristic seems counter-intuitive, without healthy conflict and debate a team will not innovate.

Accountability – ultimately this is the goal for every team where every individual in the team takes collective accountability. However, it is important to distinguish between responsibility and accountability.

Results

If teams can unite under a common purpose, and individuals can put self-interest aside then the team can come together to develop the accelerators that achieve results. Ultimately, a sign of success is when daily disciplines are practiced effectively, and where the team take collective ownership for problems and challenges. By using the HPT model you can create a simple and sustainable framework for success, addressing each theme in turn.

If you would be interested in attending future events or would like further information on this topic please get in touch with either Tom at tom.forrest@arcadiaconsulting.com or Vincent at vincent.romano@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders

Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis

Partner

Leadership development demands attention much earlier.

Why now?

Organisations need to move from survive to thrive. To do so they will need leaders and leadership. New hybrid working, change, productivity, global market shifts, net zero, D&I and continued technology demands strong leaders. The problem is that it seems organisations are late to the party and possibly inviting the wrong people. Despite increases in spending on corporate leadership programs in recent years, the quality, rigor, and investment for leadership efforts remain uneven across companies. High-performing companies outspend their competitors on leadership by almost four times (O’Leonard and Krider, Leadership Development Factbook 2014).

As organisations shift from a structured hierarchy to a network of teams, companies require different types of leaders with inclusion and collaboration capabilities. There is a stronger demand for people who can lead at all levels of the company. Companies in this environment are finding that they must identify potential leaders much earlier in their careers and accelerate their movement through the leadership ranks.

Flatter and more dispersed teams means companies need better strategies for developing leaders to perform both as individuals and in teams. Important to this effort is to think systematically about leadership. A portfolio approach that simply assembles a selection of offerings from different vendors is unlikely to promote consistency in leadership development or to ensure that future leaders receive the training they need to direct today’s team-focused organisations. Identifying and developing exceptional leaders require a far more disciplined process, including:

1.   The use of evidence and analytics to identify game-changers rather than relying on manager nominations.

2.   Expanding the use of 360 and psychometric tools to enable organisations to identify high-potential employees earlier in their careers and potential leaders around the world.

3.   Better use of leaders and emerging leaders to team with, mentor, reverse mentor and sponsor.

4.   End to end blended development learning solutions (on-line, face to face, assessment, on the job) that follows the career journey from recruitment, HiPo identification, succession planning, performance management.

5.   Comprehensive development of future leaders in advance of promotions rather than after them.

6.   Identification of key capabilities that are fit for the context .e.g. in 2021 – inclusive leadership, hybrid working, driving net zero, collaboration, leading change, developing confidence in others, innovation, driving digitisation, influencing skills, developing an agile learning culture.

When should future leaders be developed in leadership?

Many organisations provide individual contributors with technical or hard skills training but put off doing leadership or soft skills training until individuals are promoted into management.

Research from Zenger Folkman shows that training opportunities did not occur for many promoted into management until more than a decade after that promotion.

The Ashridge Management Index (AMI) 2012/13–1, carried out by Ashridge Business School, found that many businesses are failing to future-proof their leadership teams: 48% of managers say their organisation is not doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders.

“Talent management programmes and succession planning are essential. Without investment in developing the skills and experiences of younger managers it is hard to see how such organisations will continue to be successful. Businesses are at risk of holding back economic recovery by failing to do enough to develop the next generation of leaders.” says Viki Holton, Research Fellow at Ashridge Business School and the report’s co-author.

The assumptions behind the decision to hold off on leadership or soft skills training until people are in management positions are either that managers are in a better position to utilise and take advantage of that training or that it is not needed until then.

The difficulty is that when we promote individuals into managerial and leadership roles they can be overwhelmed by the new responsibilities and as such they lean on their individual contributor skills to get by. They can then fall into the trap of developing bad leadership habits which will only cost more time and budget to unlearn later.

The consensus amongst researchers, leaders and learners contend that the future leaders will need to balance the trends of humanity, technology and performance. The Davos Manifesto of 2020 now recognises the purpose of a company to serve not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. To deliver this leadership must focus on soft skills, hard skills and technology. Those that manage this will deliver significantly more productivity and contribution than those with just soft skills or just hard skills.

What should future leaders be developed in?

Researchers and Leadership authors Zenger Folkman identified the impact of individual contributors who had both ‘hard skills’ as well as ‘soft skills’ The results below show the overall effectiveness ratings for leaders as the graph demonstrates, hard skills are more highly valued for individual contributors than soft skills. The more meaningful and much more substantial difference is between those who were in the top 25% on both skills.

Hard skills defined as:

  • technical expertise,
  • problem-solving ability,
  • drive for results,
  • and taking the initiative.

Soft skills were defined as:

  • ability to communicate,
  • relationship building,
  • coaching and supporting others,
  • development of colleagues,
  • and collaboration and teamwork.

In addition to this analysis, Zenger Folkman looked at the individual manager’s performance ranking on productivity and effort. When individual contributors were highly skilled at both, 91.6% of those individuals were given the top performance rating.

Summary

Organisations would be well served to invest in systematic leadership identification and development for high potential colleagues before they get promoted. Not only will this deliver productivity returns in their current role but reduce leadership development costs in the future and further aid in identification of the best leaders.

Using a robust 360 assessment and psychometrics will reduce bias and investing in the wrong talent or letting the best talent slip through the net.

HR and its role in the war on talent, the war on skills, wellbeing, inclusion and diversity, hybrid working, culture, organisational brand will be further enhanced by it’s reputation for developing leaders of the future.

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