The week@work – the war for talent, following vs. leading, exhaustion, and maybe we should ask a sociologist

The last state to approve the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was Indiana in 1977 – until Thursday when Nevada ratified the ERA, thirty-five years after the deadline imposed by Congress. It was a welcome antidote to the White House photo of the freedom caucus taken the same day (above). Any odds on an extension to revisit and ratify?

“Nevada has given NOW President Terry O’Neill new cause for hope. “Now it’s a two-state strategy,” she tells the Times. “It’s very exciting. Over the past five years, Illinois and Virginia have come close. I think there is clear interest in this.

In other stories this week@work, journalists and experts provided an update on the ‘war for talent’, offered an argument for balancing followers with leaders in the workplace, and expressed concern with a ‘gig economy’ advertising campaign that seemed to glorify exhaustion@work.  The last story this week@work re-examined an idea from the 60’s to establish a Council of Social Advisers to complement the Council of Economic Advisers in D.C. “It’s not just work; it’s how work offers a sense of purpose and identity.”

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Adam Yearsley believe ‘The War for Talent Is Over, And Everyone Lost’. They cite workplace trends indicating more passive job seekers, the appeal of self-employment and the lure of entrepreneurship as competitive factors for employers to attract the best and the brightest, and offer a few best practices to turn things around.

IMGP1335.JPG

“In 1998, after a year-long study on the subject, McKinsey researchers declared that a “war for talent” was underway. In the years ahead, they said, organizations’ future success would depend on how well they could attract, develop, and retain talented employees–an ever more valuable asset in ever higher demand.

Instead of winning a war for talent, organizations appear to be waging a war on talent, repelling and alienating employees more successfully than harnessing their skills.

Today, in a world full of many more Chief People and Chief Happiness Officers, that war nevertheless appears to have been lost on all sides. Of course, many workers excel in their jobs and make pivotal contributions to their organizations. But for every one employee who does, there are many more who are underemployed, underperforming, and just plain miserable at work.”

One of the employer prescriptions for success is to “stop developing people’s leadership skills”.

get_more_instagram_followers-compressed.jpg

“…research suggests there’s a strong negative correlation between the amount of money spent on leadership development (which in the U.S. totals over $14 billion a year), and people’s confidence in their leaders. One of the reasons is that leaders are often deprived of negative feedback, even in training programs. We’ve gotten so used to coaching to people’s strengths that weaknesses get left unaddressed. The basics of human psychology magnify that issue; people are already prone to judging their own talents way too favorably, especially after experiencing a measure of success.”

Which links neatly into the next story of the week@work, Susan Cain‘s ‘Not Leadership Material? Good.The World Needs Followers.’

“Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.”

Jia Tolentino used Fiverr’s new ad campaign to illustrate ‘The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death’.

Tolentino-TheGigEconomyCelebratesWorkingYourselftoDeath-1145.jpg

“It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news. Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars—recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic.”

Maybe we need a few less economists and a few more humanists to address our life@work

There was a lot of discussion in the media this weekend in the wake of the health care bill defeat. What are the lessons learned? We might ask the same question about the November election result, only this time maybe we should be consulting with sociologists vs. economists. Neil Irwin asked “What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?”.

“For starters, while economists tend to view a job as a straightforward exchange of labor for money, a wide body of sociological research shows how tied up work is with a sense of purpose and identity.

“Wages are very important because of course they help people live and provide for their families,” said Herbert Gans, an emeritus professor of sociology at Columbia. “But what social values can do is say that unemployment isn’t just losing wages, it’s losing dignity and self-respect and a feeling of usefulness and all the things that make human beings happy and able to function.

…the economic nostalgia that fueled Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign was not so much about the loss of income from vanishing manufacturing jobs. Rather, it may be that the industrial economy offered blue-collar men a sense of identity and purpose that the modern service economy doesn’t.”

At the beginning of this new week@work consider where work fits in your sense of identity and purpose. It’s not just work.

 

The week@work – End of the fossil fuel era, founders, introverts, college athletes and the one business book to read

The generational disruption continues. This week@work world leaders committed to cut greenhouse gases, ensuring the environment for future generations. MTV labeled the next of these generations ‘the founders’. Silicon Valley is quickly becoming the vortex for college consulting, making sure these ‘founders’ gain admission to the best universities. And a group of Clemson alumni have come up with a creative alternative to legally compensate college athletes via crowdfunding.

For introverts, there were hints for employers to maximize success. And if you only read one business book this year, the experts recommend ‘Rise of the Robots’ by Martin Ford.

The global story this week was reported from Paris by The Guardian.

“After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a legal agreement on Saturday evening that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.

Government and business leaders said the agreement, which set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, sent a powerful signal to global markets, hastening the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy.”

In national news, The Atlantic’s David Sims summarized the MTV survey that resulted in a name for the children of the new millennium.

“The name “The Founders” comes from the kids themselves, according to MTV’s survey of more than 1,000 respondents born after the year 2000. America is still reckoning with Millennials (loosely classified as those born from the mid-1980s to the late-’90s) one thinkpiece at a time, but according to this survey, their fate is already sealed. As the children of indulgent baby boomers, Millennials are classified as “dreamers” who live to disrupt and challenge established norms. The Founders, by contrast, are “pragmatists” who will navigate a tougher world defined by 9/11, the financial crisis, and gender fluidity. Previous generations had to worry about getting into college and finding a job, but the next one is tasked with cleaning up their mess.”

Nathan Heller, writing in The New Yorker imagined how today’s fourteen year olds will impact the economy.

“When the teen-agers call themselves founders, they are not thinking of Roger Sherman or, for that matter, of Henry Ford. They are allying themselves with West Coast startup culture—a milieu that regards inventive business-building as the ultimate creative and constructive act…In embracing “founders,” it affirms the idea that creativity is essential—and performed through business enterprise.

“If the founders hold to their founding, it is not hard to extrapolate the economic model that their interests will support. A founder-friendly society is deregulated, privatized, and philanthropic in its best intent. (See ur-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s recent tax-incentivized pledge.) “Founders,” whose popularity as a Silicon Valley concept followed the 2009 recession, has become a stand-in for more charged, and less heroic-sounding words, such as “small-business owner,” “C.E.O.,” and “boss.” To found is not to manage; it’s to dream and to design. This is the new model for innovative business, scrupulously cleansed of the dank trappings of corporate industry. It’s business all the same, though, and it aims for growth.”

If you are working in the underpaid and undervalued world of college admissions, you have a future in the lucrative business of college consulting. Georgia Perry reported on the growing industry, fueled by parental anxiety, that helps high school students find summer internships, prepare applications and refine essays.

“Private college-admissions consulting is a rapidly growing industry across the U.S. According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association, the number of independent admissions consultants in the U.S. has grown from 2,000 to nearly 5,000 in recent years. In a nationwide study, the marketing firm Lipman Hearne found that of students who scored in the 70th percentile or higher on the SAT, 26 percent had hired a professional consultant to help with their college search. The San Francisco Bay Area has a higher concentration per capita of independent college-admissions consultants than “most cities,” says IECA communications manager Sarah Brachman, though the association doesn’t have specific numbers. The IECA’s most recent report found that nationally, $400 million was spent on college consultants in 2012. Hourly rates in the Bay Area can be as high as $400 an hour, and comprehensive packages with regular meetings throughout high school can add up to several thousand dollars.”

How student-athletes are compensated continues to be a topic in legal proceedings, but this week a group of Clemson folks have come up with an innovative approach that just might work and meet NCAA requirements. Ben Strauss provided the details in his article ‘If Colleges Can’t Pay Athletes, Maybe Fans Can, Group Says’.

“The answer to the riddle of putting money in the hands of amateur student-athletes, who according to the N.C.A.A. cannot be paid, is crowdfunding, said Rob Morgan, a Clemson business school graduate and an anesthesiologist based in Greenville, S.C. His new website, UBooster, started on Friday with the goal of soliciting payments for high school recruits from fans, and delivering the money to the athletes after their college careers end.

“We think this is the direction college sports is headed,” said Morgan, who has been helped in his venture by a former Clemson football player and the interim dean of the university’s business school. “At some point, there is going to be an opportunity for players to make money, and here’s how we can be a part of it.”

“The business model is simple. Fans pledge money to individual recruits, and can leave public notes on the site urging them to attend their favorite college. Morgan said all high school recruits — men and women in every sport from Division I to Division III — would be eligible, though it would seem obvious that most of the interest and money would be directed at top-flight football and basketball prospects. The accounts lock, and no more money can be pledged to players once they formally commit to a college. UBooster will then hold the money in a trust before turning it over to the athletes after their college careers.”

Quiet Revolution founder Susan Cain is an advocate for the introvert in all facets of life. And it’s her website’s section on work that provides insight into fostering career success. This week, Liz Fosslien and Mollie West offered an ‘Illustrated Guide to Introverts in a Start-Up’.

An-Illustrated-Guide-to-Introverts-in-a-Start-Up.jpg

“Famous introvert entrepreneurs include Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Marissa Mayer, and Mark Zuckerberg.

When we imagine our ideal workplace, it looks more like a library full of quiet rooms and isolated carrels than the ball-pit and bullpen situation start-ups are currently obsessed with. As introverts, we may be outnumbered by extroverts at start-ups. According to Laney, “The introvert is pressured daily, almost from the moment of awakening, to respond and conform to the outer world.” This need to conform can be tiring. But we promise, with just a few tweaks in the workplace, you could make us very happy.”

Finally, if there is only one business book you will read this year… and the clock is ticking…the experts recommend ‘Rise of the Robots’ by Martin Ford. Jessica Stillman reported:

“According to the Financial Times and consultancy McKinsey, there’s at least one title even the busiest business owners shouldn’t miss. They recently crowned Rise of the Robots by entrepreneur Martin Ford the very best business book of the year.

Hugely topical, the book discusses the much debated idea that advances in automation will soon radically affect the labor market. “The book reflects growing anxiety in some quarters about the possible negative impact of automation on jobs, from manufacturing to professional services,” explains the FT write-up of the award. This economic reshuffle may require “a fundamental restructuring of our economic rules,” according to Ford, who proposes a guaranteed minimum basic income as one possible remedy.”

Enjoy your week@work… the founders and robots are coming…