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Short and snackable insights on talent management, organizational design, agility, culture, change management, HR analytics and technology, leadership, and merger management from our experienced partners at the forefront of today’s trends.

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Continuous improvement: how to get started

Continuous improvement is a testament to consistency—to making changes (sometimes big, often small) each day. Sometimes those changes can be so small, and the organizations implementing them so big, that the power of their impact can only be seen well after their implementation. Given that, it’s no surprise that continuous improvement is often misunderstood and underestimated. Here, in the first post in our myth-busting series, we discuss a common misconception. Myth: Continuous ...

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The 4 biggest assessment myths undermining your hiring process

When we talk to clients about their hiring process, we often get questions on assessments. In particular, one question we often see is starkly simple yet deceptively difficult to answer—which hiring assessments, among the sea of available options, are best? We believe that this question belies a broader misunderstanding of assessments. Assessments are simply a standardized means of collecting information about an applicant to help with hiring or promotion decisions. It is a broad category ...

How continuous improvement can build a competitive edge

What level of impact can continuous improvement achieve? One of our clients would say ten weeks. Why? That’s how much time they were able to save in their product testing process—cutting the time by more than 80%—through a large amount of small changes to how its engineering and testing teams collaborated. What is continuous improvement? Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve all elements of an organization—processes, tools, products, services, etc. ...

Why rigor is the key ingredient to develop leaders

Leadership development interventions often lack strategic rigor, and the results show—only 10 percent of CEOs strongly believe their leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact. For organizations to develop successful strategies requires leaders who are trained to think critically about where to compete and how to break down big-picture strategies into the smallest, most granular components. To break through requires real rigor and data-driven analysis to identify ...

Linking employee engagement to customer satisfaction at Starwood

In 2008, when Jeff Cava became CHRO for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, he partnered with the Marketing and Guest Intelligence Teams—groups focused on measuring guest experience and loyalty—to fundamentally rethink the way Starwood served its guests by unlocking the potential of its employees. Previously identified linkages between employee engagement and guest satisfaction had been descriptive rather than action oriented. This underlines the importance of both gathering and ...

Why we all need performance ratings on a regular basis

McKinsey research shows that the majority of CEOs don’t find the performance management process helpful in identifying top performers. Over half of individuals surveyed think their managers don’t get the performance review right. When neither of these parties finds the process beneficial, it’s no wonder some organizations have done away with annual performance ratings altogether. In working with these clients, however, we noticed an interesting trend. When these organizations ...

Answer these 6 questions before setting up a ‘nudge’ unit

One insurer uses nudges to encourage customers to exercise and lead healthy lifestyles, thus reducing claims. A German utility company employs related techniques to combat irrational decision-making. Embracing behavioral science, organizations are increasingly adopting practices based on behavioral science and establishing behavioral science units (or nudge units as we will call them) to promote change and improve decision-making. Organizations are increasingly adopting practices based on ...

The age of speed: How to raise your organization’s metabolism

What to do when smaller brands are beating us to market at four times the rate of our own innovation cycle? That was the question that the frustrated CEO of a consumer goods company posed to us recently as she revealed her organization’s painfully slow reaction to the new direct-to-consumer, e-commerce-driven market dynamics. Organizing for speed has become a critical component in today’s consumer market as new technologies, trends and ways of shopping transform the landscape. This ...

Never hire leaders based on word of mouth

It took more than a year to find the right candidate to fill the newly-created position of Chief People and Culture Officer (formerly the Head of Human Resources) for a major financial firm. The firm believed their industry would be reshaped and disrupted in the future. Succeeding in this future would require people with a different skillset – one that is adaptable and able to make a difference regardless of the context. They wanted their Chief People Officer to signal this change, both in ...

3 critical steps to improve hiring

A national sales organization approached McKinsey with a talent problem. With record low unemployment and higher rates of attrition among its sales people, the organization was struggling to maintain its desired pace of growth while still making high-quality hires. While many organizations often find it quicker and easier to simply add more assessments to the hiring process, the client here wanted a more objective and data-driven approach—one that begins with a clear definition and measure ...

How to clearly connect your top talent to value

As we facilitated the fifth weekly meeting to identify our client’s top talent prospects, it quickly became clear that the binders we printed, detailing available talent and critical future roles, were being entirely ignored by the executives gathered. Instead, our client gravitated immediately to the digital, interactive app we had just introduced into the meetings. The new app, called TalentMatch and developed by McKinsey, took center stage. This unique visualization technology brought ...

More than work-life balance, focus on your energy

How do you ensure work-life balance? I heard it a lot after my third child was born, and I hate this familiar question. It implies that work is an energy drainer and life an energy restorer. We spend a third of our time at work and many things there energize us, while plenty of things at home deplete us (like getting children to bed). The idea that we need “work-life balance” to stay motivated is too simplistic. The idea that we need “work-life balance” to stay motivated ...

Why defining leadership is imperative

Ask any five management experts what makes a good leader, and chances are you will get six answers: Aspiration. Inspiration. Imagination. Creativity. Authenticity. Integrity. It’s time for a reality check. While there’s no one-word answer to the leadership question, we have identified the stepping stones that enable organizations to develop more effective leadership across the organization. To pinpoint them, we looked at the major schools of leadership, including traits-based ...

Celebrate mindsets that value the customer AND the employee

Admit it. You (and most flyers) don’t really listen intently to the airline flight attendant’s safety demonstration before takeoff. That can prove dangerous, of course, when a problem develops on a flight. But one airline’s flight attendant demonstrated how to get passengers’ attention to grasp the safety message. Employing an olden recording with a Mad Men-style tone, the attendant mouthed its words flawlessly while walking up and down the aisle, gesturing spiritedly ...

7 crucial steps to drive effective learning in your organization

Mention “learning” and “measurement” in the same sentence and it may evoke flashbacks to sharpening your No. 2 pencils in preparation for standardized tests. The good news is that measurement in learning is no longer a distinction between correct and incorrect answers, but rather a process designed to measure and improve engagement and effectiveness. Today, learning measurement involves collecting data from multiple sources—online course activity, surveys, human ...