I caught Kevin Kelly’s presentation at the Workforce Management Engage 2010 virtual conference the other day. Kevin holds the title of America’s Director of People at Ernst & Young. Title aside I could quickly tell he is as committed to the people there as he is insightful into what drives them. Anyone looking for a good primer on some of the better practices in optimizing employee involvement and engagement should listen in. Here are some of the more interesting nuggets along with my own commentary:
“As companies come out of one of the most difficult economic climates in recent history employees will be watching to see how they invest moving forward.” Well said. Employees are reasonable individuals. Most are good business people. They know why firms reacted to the sudden downturn the way they did. They understand why companies had to hunker down and focusing on survival. Still the austerity response set back the ‘people progress’ most companies had made over the last half decade or so. But Kevin brings up an interesting reality here. As the economy begins to pick up speed, will your employees see you repositioning ‘people programs’ as a priority, or will your actions (or inactions) suggest you have abandoned that commitment?
“People grow best from a combination of formal learning, experiences, and coaching.” I totally agree. At most firms the biggest budgetary line items are allocated to training. But as a practical measure employees need real life experiences to apply that learning followed by timely coaching to help put the lessons learned into the proper context. Kevin purposely didn’t get too granular…he only had 45minutes…but I am sure E&Y’s program strategy is designed to helping managers turn any event into a teachable moment, reinforcing the desired employee behavior along with a little tough love if the moment demands.
“Diversity is all about inclusion. Diversity is the mix. Inclusiveness is how people come together.” I had not thought about the full circle of diversity in that manner before but he’s absolutely right. In order for diversity to spark a ‘collective creativity’ people must interact in a meaningful way. In doing so they form bonds, relationships, trust. Companies need mechanisms that promote and celebrate collaboration across geographic, affinity and cultural barriers. That being said, I have seen some firms struggle with team dynamics across virtual work settings. I would suspect that E&Y’s program strategy helps them promote inclusion by celebrating individual or team contributions across shared objectives.
I have other observations but I will stop here. Kelly has so much more to say and I can’t possibly do justice to his easy delivery style. I encourage you to listen in if you still can.