Dave Ulrich (and Others) on Keys to a High Performance Workforce

The single most powerful way for HR leaders to deliver competitive advantage to their companies is to build and maintain a High Performance Workforce.

As we look at the high performance workforce of the future (something you’ll hear a lot about at TLNT’s High Performance Workforce Summit May 6-7 in Atlanta) we’ve invited talent management leaders and HR thinkers who will be speaking at the conference to share some of their thoughts.

We found their answers to be both innovative and insightful.

“Helping people learn and grow”

Question: Is training ever going to stage a real comeback where companies invest in actually training employees rather than expecting (and demanding) they have all the requisite skills when they are hired?

Answer: I believe that providing opportunities for employees to develop the skills that they need will become increasingly important as the labor market tightens up. However, it will probably not look like traditional training curriculums of the past. I anticipate that skill-development will be more self-directed and on-demand, leveraging a broader network of resources that extend beyond a company’s core curriculum. — Belinda Hyde, Chief Human Resource Officer, Schnitzer Steel

HPWS15_header_2A: The broader issue is not “training” but helping people learn and grow. Employees who have learning agility and a growth mindset will be more effective over time. Helping employees learn and grow may come from formal training, but also from job experience and life experience. It is important to know if employees can learn and grow when they are hired and then to find ways to enable that growth.  — Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Collegiate Professor of Business Administration and Director, Human Resource Executive Program, University of Michigan, and author of The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build

Q: How will generational shifts in the workforce impact an organization’s ability to adjust to the ever-changing needs of our businesses?

A: The outdated command and control managerial style will NOT keep everyone productive. Younger generations get this. We must change the way we think about building relationships, which is the nugget of how business gets done. Younger generations get this too! I look forward to the refreshing perspectives the younger groups bring! — Valerie LarsonDirector of Talent Management, Lorillard

The very best workplaces embrace diversity

Q: Will diversity ever become a true barometer for a high-performing workforce?

A: Workforce diversity can be a key strategy for success in situations in which innovation and inclusiveness are strategic differentiators for the success of the business. However, whether or not the workforce is high-performing will be measured against relevant performance criteria (e.g., profitability, growth, new product launch success, etc.) not by the team’s composition in and of itself. — Belinda Hyde

A: Ask any organization that has truly embraced diversity, and I think they will tell you that diversity already has become one of their barometers! I certainly hope it will be one of the barometers for every organization. Organizations known to embrace and even celebrate their diversity are often those cited as best workplaces. They draw the very best and brightest talent, and their cultures are promoted as appreciative of a variety of ideas and viewpoints. Generational studies have shown that younger generations want to work in organizations in which they can make a meaningful difference. Being at the table and being given a voice are two big steps toward achieving that goal. — Colleen J. McManus, Chief Human Resource Officer, State of Arizona

Q: Will the composition of our workforce continue to change as more organizations embrace flexible scheduling and non-traditional work relationships?

A: I think it will change. I think we will see many Baby Boomers seeking flexible and part-time work options rather than full-time retirement for both economic and fulfillment purposes. As technology allows for more work from alternate locations, I think we will also see students and others seeking positions with flexible scheduling. Instead of having one career position with salary and benefits, we may see more individuals working as personal independent contributors for multiple organizations. — Colleen J. McManus

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A: We will see more personalization inside organizations as employees become free agents and the organization needs to respond to them. — Dave Ulrich

Finding better ways to engage our best employees

Q: Are we ready for a new employer-employee compact that recognizes the differences in how we work today versus how we did it in the past?

A: Thankfully there are a few bright spots in business that are proving this contract needs to be radically revised to honor and give voice to all. They are showing amazing results and members of those groups are very excited about what they can achieve together. However, this is still the minority. Boards of Directors, stockholders and Wall Street need to push the C-suites to get out of their bastions of comfort. Real change, real results and valued workforces will only happen then. — Valerie Larson

A: Employees as agents have more choice. Organizations will have to find more and better ways to engage the best employees who have even more choice. This engagement will increasingly include helping employees find purpose and meaning from their organization. — Dave Ulrich

If you’re an HR leader or talent manager, you already understand the value of a high performance workforce. Now it’s your chance to learn from those who have led the industry in managing talent to provide value to the bottom line in some of the world’s top companies.

TLNT’s High Performance Workforce Summit is built around the pillars of what it takes to build and maintain a true high performance workforce, and you need to join is in Atlanta at the Omni CNN Center Hotel (a GREAT venue) on May 6-7 to hear what all these great HR and talent management thinkers have to share.

3 undeniable reasons to join us in Atlanta May 6-7

  • Learn from those who have already done it. At the 2015 High Performance Workforce Summit, you’ll hear from the best and brightest in your field who have already succeeded in building high performing workforces at their organizations.
  • Our sessions are laser-focused on topics specific to your needs.
  • Network with senior level, in-house practitioners

And one more thing: If you download our free whitepaper —  5 Ways to Drive Performance in Your Workforce — you’ll not only get great information about growing and leveraging a high performance workforce, but a code to receive $300 off  TLNT’s High Performance Workforce Summit May 6-7 at Atlanta’s Omni CNN Center Hotel.

That only leaves one more question to answer: What are you waiting for?

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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