How to Cultivate Cross-Silo Leadership

How HR managers can look for, develop and reinforce certain behaviours to break down barriers within their organisations.

HR managers who strive to identify and cultivate the best talent for their firms understand certain truisms. They know that hiring can’t be done by a bot, that there is a human aspect to finding the right fit for a particular team, and that there is great value in working across divides, be they cultural or functional.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Tiziana Casciaro (Rotman School of Management), Amy C. Edmondson (Harvard Business School) and Sujin Jang, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, argue that employees who communicate and collaborate across silos to provide integrated solutions for their clients create great value for their organisations. Drawing on their work with hundreds of executives across many organisations, the authors present a set of practices that facilitates cross-silo leadership, which can be learned and developed over time.

How can HR professionals leverage this research to ensure that both job candidates and in-house talent are in a position to work well across departments, regions or functions? In many firms, such skills may be mistakenly considered non-essential or “nice to have”. But the bottom line is that organisations that fail to cross silos are at risk of not providing the services their customers need.

For cross-silo leadership, HR managers can focus on hiring and developing talent with the following skills:

  • Cultivating cultural brokerage
  • Asking questions that facilitate perspective taking
  • Expanding points of view through network scanning

Hire and develop cultural brokers

As Jang has previously written, cultural brokers facilitate interactions between individuals who have different sets of assumptions, values and norms. Although her original research on this topic is based mostly on people working in multinational teams, she posits that functional or organisational cultures can also be brokered.

Jang identified two distinct roles of cultural brokerage: Those who help colleagues work around cultural differences (“bridges”) and those who connect colleagues with one another to build lasting relationships (“adhesives”).

  • A “bridge” allows others to collaborate across silos with little disruption to their daily routine. They do this by taking care of the cross-silo work on behalf of others, in such a way that other employees can continue working as they would within their own silo.
  • An “adhesive” connects colleagues and helps them work directly with one another, rather than acting as a bridge between them. They sow the ground for further fertile relationships to flourish, independent of the cultural broker.

Cultural brokers create great value for a firm. HR professionals can identify cultural brokers by looking at candidates’ background and experience. These are the candidates who tend to have experience in multiple domains (who have lived and worked in multiple cultures or in multiple functions) and have experience helping people work across domains. Such candidates may have been involved in post-merger integration or have experience simultaneously working with others from multiple functions, for example.

To create an environment for current employees to engage in cultural brokerage, HR managers can consider rotation programmes or matrix structures, which provide ample opportunities to develop the skills required to be a cultural broker.

Encourage inquiry and perspective taking

Asking good questions and taking others’ perspective on-board are another set of skills that HR managers can look for in candidates and encourage among in-house talent.

One way employees can see the world through the eyes of others is by asking good questions. Many organisations explicitly hire for demonstrated connecting skills. Southwest Airlines, for example, evaluates empathy when sourcing customer-facing roles. As a result, the company is famous for its award-winning customer service.

In an interview, an HR manager can listen carefully to the kinds of questions asked by candidates. Are they asking open-ended questions that allow them to gain a better understanding of the organisation and their role? Are they asking questions to check their own understanding along the way? Candidates who ask the right kinds of questions know how to engage in effective inquiry to gain perspective.

Beyond hiring for perspective-taking ability, it is also important that a firm provides opportunities to further develop individuals’ perspective-taking capacity after they join the organisation. Some large firms like GE have programmes requiring high-potentials to rotate in different functions such as finance and marketing over the course of several years. Firms with this kind of training recognise the importance of executives who can span divides. Naturally, the high-potentials are not experts in every field, but they do have a sense of what it’s like to work in the different parts of the business. A more technological solution to encourage perspective taking is found in Sberbank, where employees wear a VR suit literally called “Empathy” to develop compassion for their elderly clients and their possible physical limitations.

Having a workforce with developed perspective-taking skills leads to several important benefits. Edmondson has found that cross-industry collaborations can succeed when diverse workers take on the perspectives of other workers from dissimilar backgrounds. And Casciaro’s work shows that curious employees who ask the right types of questions build broad networks that span boundaries across disparate parts of the company.

Help employees leverage their holistic view of the network

Finally, one of the challenges of working across divides has to do with the perception of who is connected to whom beyond the formal org chart. This ability to perceive the web of connection in an organisation is important, because the more employees can broaden their vision of where the interesting opportunities are or where the important intersections might be, the easier it is to work across silos. Casciaro found that people don’t understand exactly who is connected to whom in a network, or what she calls “elemental” perception. For example, if I know Ben and Saeedah, I tend to assume they know each other, even if this isn’t actually the case. Elemental perception isn’t our strong point. Instead, people are more effective at “holistic” perception of networks, such as determining who is central in a network. That is, it’s easier to see which colleague is connected to everyone and which one works on the periphery. With this holistic perception, we understand who our go-to person for information is. Employees can develop their network perception by asking questions and working out who is central in an organisation.

HR managers can help employees distinguish between elemental and holistic perceptions and encourage them to trust their holistic perceptions. When employees start seeing the forest of connections rather than the trees of individuals, they can connect across silos more effectively. In addition, leveraging their holistic network vision will also help them determine which relationships are in need of cultural brokerage and which ones would benefit from thoughtful inquiry and perspective taking.

Cross-silo skills and alignment of incentives

The research by Casciaro, Edmondson and Jang suggests that it is possible to look for and develop all these skills in job candidates. Although it requires some investment, the potential payoffs are great: Employees who can engage in cultural brokerage, take others’ perspective and see the informal network in the organisation are much better equipped to provide the kind of cross-silo solutions that customers need.

One of the biggest barriers to fostering these skills is that these behaviours are often considered non-urgent and are therefore not necessarily rewarded in a way that equals the value they bring to a firm. That is, the connection between who does the work (employees) and who benefits (the company) is often missing. To support these activities, organisations – and HR professionals in particular – can put structures and incentives in place to encourage these skills.

Source: INSEAD

The real ROI on leadership is impact

By Dr. Teresa Ray, PCC

Organizations spend a lot of time discussing the return on investment for every effort they undertake, and rightfully so. Being a good steward of your resources is important.

The difficult truth, however, is that some initiatives like leadership, development and growth don’t have a measurable return on investment.

Measuring leadership investment is like attempting to catch the wind in a jar — you can’t. However, you can see, feel and measure the impact the wind has on the surrounding area. When you consider what it means to be a leader, you shouldn’t be looking at the return on investment but, rather, the return on impact.

Understanding Your Impact

What would those who work with you really say about their experience? Would they describe you as a good leader — or a great one? Would they spend more time and energy talking about you, or talking about the impact and influence you’ve had on others?

Good or bad, leaders always leave something behind, but it’s my experience as an executive coach that most leaders struggle to answer even the most basic questions about the impact they have. Often, this is because they’re unsure about the legacy they hope to leave or they misjudge the scope of their impact. Published in the journal Organizational Dynamics, a review of multiple studies “consistently found that women leaders under-estimated (i.e., predicted lower) how others viewed their leadership behaviors.”

Without knowing what you hope to leave behind, you fail to give yourself a target. So how do you define your target? It requires self-reflection, self-awareness and an understanding of the type of impact you want to have on others.

Type 1: You impact people on an individual level.

One leader I worked with described her passion for helping others to grow. She strives to add value to the careers of those around her by identifying skill gaps and then invests time in influencing, coaching and growing others. If you asked those around her, they would each tell you exactly how they are better at their jobs and on their teams because of her influence. The key to this type of impact is that it’s individual. She isn’t simply hoping people share her vision. She looks at an individual and determines exactly how she can help them.

Now, you might be thinking that this type of impact requires quite the time commitment. Here’s where I’ll challenge you: Leadership isn’t about you. If you’re leading others, it’s all about them. If you can’t find time to connect, you should examine what’s getting in your way.

Type 2: You impact your team by sharing your unique skill set.

A lot of leaders fall in this category. They focus on growing others in very specific areas, usually defined by what they themselves are skilled at. Examples include effective communication, client or project management, sales, meeting or presentation skills and ethics and integrity.

These leaders are known for their own expertise in these areas and they are always watching for ways to influence and impact others in the same areas. When I talk with the colleagues and employees of these leaders, they each describe how the specific skill they gained by working with their leader has impacted their career.

Type 3: You impact the overall company culture.

In this case, the leader demonstrates the power that comes with remembering there is a heartbeat behind every name tag and a person behind every employee ID number. These are the leaders that influence and impact organizational culture. These leaders show kindness and are considered great listeners. They lead with a coaching style of leadership and carve out time with others. These leaders are beloved by their colleagues and employees. Even after they’ve retired or moved on from the position, employees will describe how they carry the behaviors forward. As one employee I encountered put it: “I stop and listen to my people now and avoid jumping to conclusions because my former boss was a great listener and always had time for me.” Another said, “I learned to ask great questions and allow my employees to think through problems and solutions because I worked for someone who allowed me the space to problem-solve and think out loud without judgment.”

Leaders always leave something behind, good or bad. So, if you haven’t spent time thinking about your legacy as a leader, please do. Sit down in a quiet place, consider the type of impact you want to have and write out your goals. In other words, define your target, so you can achieve a positive return on impact.

Source: Forbes

Vice President Life Sciences BPS Sales

Vice President Life Sciences BPS Sales

The Senior BPS Sales Executive is responsible for achieving profitable sales growth by managing/closing multiple sales campaigns using deep sales process and offering or product expertise within a complex market or emerging market/white space. The role report to the SVP & Strategic Business Unit Head and is focused in Life Sciences

Responsibilities: Grow the Business:  Drives sales opportunities to closure – increasingly selling a mix of defined solutions/extensions and new offerings or products into white space; wide range of service group offerings and deal structures

Develop Key Relationships:  Develops strong relationships with key client buyers: the Divisional head/C-Suite level; client decision making spanning multiple layers of organization.

Services offered: We offer strategic Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) solutions that are tailored to help our customers across industries to run, change, and grow their businesses, while enhancing the end-user experience across channels.

Experience:

  • 10- 15 years’ experience in BPS business development in Life Sciences
  • Proven ability to develop new BPS business and meet quotas ($2-$5 million)
  • Excellent communication skills and high level of maturity
  • Superior relationship management and networking skills for both internal and external customer/s
  • Excellent client handling skills, with ability to present and articulate various points of view
  • Ability to forge relationships across and throughout the internal organization

Personal Characteristics:

  • The ideal candidate is able to operate successfully in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.  Energy, drive and an entrepreneurial spirit are necessary characteristics for success.
  • Strong and capable leader, able to win the confidence and trust of his/her team, shape the culture, and exert influence both internally and externally
  • Ability to establish immediate credibility among his/her peers, a professional who is respected for his/her leadership, intelligence and expertise
  • Superb negotiator and communicator

If this could be of interest , please let me know

Larry Janis, Email: Janis@issg.net

 

WHAT IS TOP TALENT AND HOW IS THAT IDENTIFIED?

As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the twenty-second in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

 

Kevin Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Syniti

As CEO, Kevin drives the growth agenda of Syniti with poise and at ease. With a solid track record in driving growth at scale, Kevin joined Syniti, formerly BackOffice Associates, as president, global consulting and services April 2018, and was named as CEO in February 2019.

During his 20+ year, 2-term tenure at Accenture, he was Group Chief Executive for Outsourcing and Group Chief Executive Technology where he drove double-digit growth. Kevin was also CO-COO for Bridgewater Associates and COO for Oscar Health based out of New York.

As CEO, Kevin’s leadership remit here is simple: Inspire and empower those around him to deliver on the business’ vision and purpose. He oversees all aspects of our operation while also taking every opportunity to engage with customers, partners, and employees on the ground around the world.

At home and in relaxed mode, Kevin devotes himself to family life and the resulting bike rides and activities that come with such a commitment. He also coaches his children’s sports teams and can often be found at various sports fields hurling encouragement. This has even been turned in to a group activity when they attend Atlanta United FC as season ticket holders. Go five stripes!

Please share with us the top five characteristics (in priority order, first to fifth) of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each.         

 

  1. Self Aware and Humble – A former mentor told me early on, “Kevin what will confound you is that the people who need the most help don’t ask for it, the people that don’t need as much help,  ask a lot”.  Over the years I have learned that this is a combination of people knowing that they don’t know everything (self aware) and people always seeking input from others to make sure they have checked their thinking (being humble) .  One of the questions I like to ask in an interview is what are your weaknesses?   Some people want to try the “I care too much or work too hard”, but you can gain insights to the person if they say things like “I often get so excited with my ideas, that I get carried away” or “I have a blind spot when it comes to certain capabilities”. Ray Dalio, the legendary investor,  whom I worked for says, know and embrace your weaknesses, that is the key to being successful.
  2. Team/Customer First – I have worked with a lot of great talents over the years, but teamwork is a force multiplier and people who know how to collaborate and both lead teams and be part of teams is a key to success. When talking to people I like to note how many times they use “I” vs “we” when discussing accomplishments.  I also like to challenge people with providing examples where the team’s idea was better  than their own (or the majority thought so)  and how they supplanted their thoughts and committed to the team direction and what was the outcome.  I have also found that team- first people understand that serving the customer/client is priority.  As another mentor once said, last time I checked all our revenue comes from our customers. And on the other hand all of us have examples of brilliant people that couldn’t work with others.
  3. Stretch/breaking through barriers – every successful and talented person has encountered difficult situations in his/her life.  It’s how you deal with it that is key and the strengths you gain from those times . One example for me was when at Exult our stock went from around $8 to 1.52 in 12 hours after we were forced to change auditors.   Who rallied, who were friends in the time of crisis, that sticks with you vs. the people who were Eeyore’s (Character from Winnie the Pooh). Asking people for examples like this or when they had a problem like nightly processing taking 72 hours to run and learning how they thought about the problem, what resources they brought to bear and what they learned. Learning is a big part of breaking through barriers and in today’s world being a life long learner is absolutely required so exploring how people learn new things and what their thirst for learning is, provides additional insights.
  4. Integrity/Transparency – Living our word, saying what you will do and doing what you say is critical.  While very few people will ever say they lack integrity, but  if you ask them for examples where they had ethical dilemmas or they promised to do something  either individually or on behalf of their company and  then had a challenge doing it, you will get some insights into the person’s morale compass.  Also It’s critical  that people are transparent.  You will notice successful people, sometimes contrary to what people think, seldom play politics with their boss, spend little time tearing down those around them and often have little tolerance for not doing the right thing.
  5. Enjoy the ride, have fun, family –  Universally, the most talented people I have worked around, know that everyday might be our last, realize that there is more to life than just work, genuinely care about others and are fun to be around.   I like to know about the people I work with, what makes them tick, what gets them out of bed in the morning, challenges they have in balancing family commitments, etc.  I find that the most talented people aren’t afraid to say, hey I got an event at my kids school so can we move that meeting and they are also genuinely care about others, and pick up on clues when someone is down (hey you don’t seem yourself or you seem stressed). So when talking to people about joining our team, I like to know what they do to relieve stress, what they like about their current teammates, and examples of how they ensure bring their whole selves to work.

 

How do you communicate these characteristics to your HR and senior management team?

At  Syniti, we are fortunate to have gone through a rebranding exercise and as part of that we got input, discussed and debated and established our values.  Not surprisingly our values represent what I and the leadership team think is important to have in each of us and our people. Customer First, Enjoy The Ride, Innovation/Breakthrough, Integrity and Teamwork.

I also have had a couple of hiring principles that I find helpful in communicating what I look for. First, when hiring anyone that is a direct report to me, I do the early interviewing, often the first interview. I learn what is available in the market, and get the chance to see first impressions and establish the hook of the candidate.  I don’t communicate what I think of the candidate only if I want to stop further interviews.  After others of my directs have interviewed the candidates, we discuss what our impressions are and what we see as the person’s strengths and areas of concern.   It helps to make sure we don’t have group think and my views don’t influence others. I will also always have some members of my board interview any of my directs.  I will then spend two more times talking with the person and when I conclude the right person, I communicate why I thought that person was the right candidate.

Second,  I also request that I interview any of direct reports to my direct reports.  I am open to when in the process I do this but I want to make sure I understand why we are hiring the person, what we are looking for and how their success will be judged.  It’s also a chance for me to establish a skip level relationship.  We use the same principles when transferring or promoting people into a role that is a direct report to one of my directs.  Even though the person is already within the company, its good hygiene to ensure same standards are applied as with a new hire.

 

How do you handle challenges to the existing culture by talent you have brought in?

In my view, culture in today’s world cannot be stagnant, it needs to reflect an evolution that mirrors how a business is evolving and what is needed to get to the next stage in a company’s growth.  As a leadership team we sat down shortly after I became CEO and did a design thinking exercise around the type of company we wanted to be, both in terms of objectives and feel and characteristics. It included our values and also included our purpose.  All of this to say that, we defined what we wanted our culture to evolve to and set about making it happen.  As with any move forward the power of the past is a challenge to change.  The forces of resistance can stop the evolution. To counteract the resistance I ask HR and my leadership team to demonstrate the values we want, to recognize people that are demonstrating our values and retrain or replace people following  counter behaviors.  Ultimately, culture is about performance and values.  People,  new or long timers, have to perform and demonstrate the values of the company. If they don’t do both, they are not a good fit and have to leave.  Otherwise, our values and culture are compromised, becoming words.

Study: Remote workers are happier, stay in their jobs longer, and work more hours than on-site employees

By Brit Morse

In recent years, businesses increasingly have offered remote work arrangements to keep employees happy and productive. Now, a new study has quantified just how appreciative remote workers really are–and how much your company stands to benefit.

Video conferencing company Owl Labs surveyed 1,200 U.S. workers between the ages of 22 and 65 for its 2019 State of Remote Work report, and found that employees who regularly work remotely are happier and stay with their companies longer than on-site employees. Of the more than 1,200 people surveyed, 62 percent work remotely at least part of the time.

In the study, released on Tuesday, full-time remote workers said they’re happy in their job 22 percent more than people who never work remotely. The reasons respondents said they decided to work remotely were better work-life balance (91 percent), increased productivity/better focus (79 percent), less stress (78 percent), and to avoid a commute (78 percent).

Not surprisingly, Owl Labs also found that employees are more loyal to companies that offer them increased flexibility. The remote workers surveyed said they’re likely to stay in their current job for the next five years 13 percent more than on-site workers did.

Not only are remote employees happier, but they are prepared to work longer hours, according to the report. Remote workers said they work over 40 hours per week 43 percent more than on-site workers do.

The report also revealed other differences between remote and on-site workers, finding, for example, that remote workers were more than twice as likely to earn more than $100,000 per year. And the higher they were on the corporate ladder, the more likely survey respondents were to have the privilege of working remotely: The job levels with the greatest percentages of remote workers were founder/C-level (55 percent) and vice president (46 percent).

 

Source: Inc.com