CISO and Director Perceptions of Each Other, and Themselves, Diverge

Few board-level topics have been as noteworthy or confusing
in recent years as cyber risk, and with it, the changing role of chief
information security officers (CISOs).

A pair of interesting studies released in recent months, Optiv Security’s The State of the CISO and NACD’s 2019-2020 Public Company Governance Survey, provide interesting insight into the state of the relationship between CISOs and boards of directors. These survey-based studies show how CISOs and boards view each other and cybersecurity, and perhaps even more interestingly, how they view their work relative to how others perceive their roles.

Boards and CISOs Are Better Aligned

The stereotypical storyline of the board-CISO relationship goes
a little like this: CISOs have trouble communicating with boards due to the
difficulty of connecting cybersecurity programs to business value. As a result,
directors think of CISOs as technical personnel rather than true C-level
executives, and CISOs think board members just don’t get cybersecurity.

However, Optiv’s recent report, which surveyed 100 CISOs from the United States and another 100 from the United Kingdom, indicates that this gap in perception is narrowing considerably. Ninety-six percent of respondents indicated that senior management and directors comprehend cybersecurity more fully now than five years ago, and 86 percent said they are getting more funding for their programs because of this improved understanding.

Similarly, NACD’s most recent survey of directors found that 79.3 percent of board members believe their board’s understanding of cyber risk has significantly improved compared to two years ago. Only 8.7 percent indicated they did not have enough cyber knowledge to provide effective oversight of cyber risks.

There’s Still Room for Improvement

While the communication gap between CISOs and board members
appears to be narrowing, there is still a bit of a chasm when it comes to
business priorities. According to the Optiv survey, 76 percent of CISOs feel that cybersecurity has become so important in
their organizations that “CEO tracks” for CISOs will start to emerge. Seventy
percent of US respondents and 64 percent of UK respondents said that executive
leadership at their company ranks cybersecurity as their top enterprise concern,
even if it slows down business.

But NACD’s survey shows that directors are not quite on the
same page when it comes to business priorities. Only 28 percent of responding
directors said they prioritize security above all else, even if it slows down
business, and 61 percent said that
cybersecurity should not be prioritized above overall business velocity.
While these numbers undoubtedly would have been far lower just a few years ago
(before directors began scaling the cybersecurity learning curve), they indicate
that CISOs may be a bit optimistic in their view of how boards prioritize

Breach Experience Is a Resume-Builder

Perhaps the most interesting finding across the two surveys
is how CISOs and boards view CISO breach experience. It was not long ago that a
breach hitting the headlines was a career-limiting event for CISOs. Today,
there is a greater understanding from boards that breaches are often
unavoidable, and it is the response to a breach that is the true measure of a
CISO’s performance.

In Optiv’s survey, 58
percent of CISOs indicated that having breach experience on their resume increases
their chances of being considered for other CISO roles. This is a far
cry from just a few years ago, when a data breach was a “scarlet letter” on
CISO careers, and indicates a significant shift in how senior executives and
boards view CISOs and data breaches.

However, NACD’s survey validates that CISOs are actually
underestimating the value of breach experience on their career paths compared
to how directors view such skills. Ninety-two
percent of directors surveyed said that experiencing a breach makes a CISO
candidate more attractivebecause
they have expertise in helping companies respond and recover from a breach

The Relationship Continues to Evolve

These are only a few data points on the complicated
relationship between CISOs and their boards. However, the Optiv and NACD
surveys do reveal several important trends:

Cyber risk has become important enough that
cybersecurity is a board-level business priority.Directors are educating themselves on
cybersecurity and have a much better understanding of the risks and security
technology than they did just a few years ago. CISOs are emerging from the old perception of
being “technical personnel” to becoming legitimate C-level executives. The perceptions
around breach experience speak to this: there’s now an understanding that no
organization can stop all breaches, and the most important thing is to have an
experienced hand guiding breach response and recovery efforts.The cyber risk landscape is constantly evolving, and so
shall the relationship between CISOs and boards. It will be interesting to
watch how things progress in the years to come.

Mark Adams is the senior practice director of risk
transformation at Optiv.

A Blueprint for a Tech-Empowered Experienced Workforce

By 2030, the number of employees in the global workforce aged 50 to 64 is projected to increase by 15 to 30 percent. Companies thus face a critical challenge: How can they balance automation and digitalization ambitions with the growing societal demand to help ensure adequate social protection and well-being for older workers?

For example, a recent report from Marsh & McLennan shows that the issue is particularly pressing given that 50 to 80 percent of tasks done by older workers are at high risk of being replaced by new technologies.

The Imperative to Develop an Aging
Workforce Strategy

Companies often view the aging population as a multi-faceted
challenge. A rapidly aging workforce, projected increases in healthcare costs,
and a perceived shrinking talent pool are just three of the issues corporate
leaders must manage. The terms used to describe this expanding demographic
group, such as “silver tsunami,” “silver wave,” or the “grey economy,” often reflect
a negative view of this demographic shift.

In organizations’ quest for higher productivity and efficiency—via automation and digitalization or otherwise—older workers and their valuable experience are underappreciated, if not overlooked entirely.  According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report, only 4 percent of respondents planned on investing in experienced workers as part of their workforce strategy for the future even as 65 percent reported that they planned to invest in reskilling current employees.

Reframing this demographic shift highlights that an older workforce is, in fact, an elegant solution to both a talent shortage and a loss of institutional knowledge triggered by mass retirement. Further, with the expansion of the longevity economy, denoting economic activity driven by those aged 50 and above, retaining older workers ensures that companies understand this new market and stay relevant in it.

The question, then, is no longer about why companies should
value and retain older workers, but how companies can build a comprehensive
strategy around these workers. Three key steps can help organizations as they
begin building this strategy:

1. A Change in Mentality

The first step to building an older worker strategy is to
recognize the value that older workers bring to an organization, namely their extensive
experience and rich industry knowledge. Reframing “older workers” as
“experienced workers” puts a focus on these qualities. This shift goes beyond
the semantics—it precipitates a change in perspective away from the popular
misconceptions of experienced workers as being more costly, less productive, and
less able to learn new technologies. Indeed, research has shown that experienced
workers have many of the qualities that will be in high demand moving forward,
such as verbal and social skills, industry experience, innovative thinking,
maturity, emotional stability, and good judgment in decision-making.

Tapping into the experienced workforce can also help address rising concerns of a shortfall in talent. More than 70 percent of executives predict significant industry disruption in the next three years, citing talent migration as their main concern among the socioeconomic forces.  

2. Tech Integration Rather Than

Companies today face mounting pressure to constantly
innovate and maintain a competitive edge. In the quest for greater productivity
and efficiency, companies will need to effectively deploy new technologies and
digitalize. It would be a mistake, though, to assume this process is antithetical
to retaining experienced workers.

Consider the prospect of achieving a healthy balance between experienced workers and technology: Here, robots and humans would coexist and complement each other at work, as opposed to robots replacing the existing workforce. Such a balance is already being struck in Germany at BMW’s largest European factory, where experienced workers work alongside tabletop robots that assist them in repetitive or physically demanding tasks. The company adopted this combination of robots and humans in response to the increased demand for customization and individualization, which requires a more sophisticated human approach rather than a fully automated process.

Such a balance can only be achieved through a carefully
planned process of integrating technology into the workforce, which involves
redesigning both jobs and talent models.

Job Redesign: Technology
is an enabler for change. Executives should begin by identifying the goals they
want to achieve before leveraging technology to enable them to happen. Job
redesign and augmentation will then require breaking down these goals into
smaller tasks to determine the most appropriate combination of automation and
human skills based on technology implementation.

Job redesign also entails looking at what conditions are
needed to best support experienced workers in adapting to these technologically
enhanced jobs. Analyzing the tasks in each job, for example, can illustrate
where investments are needed to provide experienced workers with the skills to
succeed in jobs that are revised or altogether new.

Talent Model Redesign:
Organizations also need to explore new and innovative talent models, both to
optimize costs and to offer a more attractive employee value proposition for
experienced workers. For example, the rise of the gig economy has brought much
flexibility and mobility to the workplace and has presented itself as a
candidate for the talent model of the future.

The attractiveness of a gig economy model, however, is hampered by structural drawbacks such as the lack of benefits and career development for gig workers, making the arrangement unsustainable in the long run for the experienced workforce. Redesigning talent models will thus require overcoming such challenges, not only in the gig economy but also in other new employment arrangements.

3. An Inclusive Culture

While job and talent model redesign are critical to fully
leveraging a future-ready experienced workforce, they are not enough. These
procedural elements must be complemented by an inclusive organizational culture
that values experienced workers. This requires companies to have a clear
vision, robust stewardship, effective communication and strong accountability
from both the leadership and the board, and finally, a strong suite of
age-friendly policies implemented across the organization.

Given the parallel trends of aging and automation,
forward-looking companies should look to fundamentally integrate technology
into their business models while at the same time empowering their experienced
workforce. Societal pressure to take care of experienced workers aside,
achieving optimal growth requires that corporations refresh their workforce
strategy to include experienced workforce in the future of work.

Leslie Chacko is a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Cos. and focuses on the impacts and application of digital and emerging technologies. He was a coauthor of the recent NACD and Marsh & McLennan report Governing Digital Transformation and Emerging Technologies. Patty Sung, principal at Mercer, is one of the founding members of Mercer’s Innovation Hub, based in Washington, DC.

To learn more, see the Marsh & McLennan’s report The Twin Trends of Aging and Automation: Leveraging a Tech-Empowered Experienced Workforce at

Auditors Can Help Directors Cope with the Changing Information Landscape

Throughout my career, I’ve been
fortunate to have worked in the capital markets at some pretty interesting times:
as a lawyer in Silicon Valley during the late-‘90s dot-com boom, at the US Securities
and Exchange Commission just after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of
2002, and at Citigroup as it emerged from the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009.

As of this posting, I’ve been at the
Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) for just over seven months. And this position is
yet another example of my being in an interesting place at an interesting time.
Why? I see three reasons:

Technology and data have given rise to unprecedented business models and
company structures. We continue to shift to a service- and IP-based economy,
where the massive amount of data generated is now an enterprise asset. Information
Beyond the Financials. Stakeholders have an increased interest in and are relying
on company-reported information outside of the audited financial statements
prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
This information could include non-GAAP financial measures; key performance
indicators such as the sales pipeline; intangible indicators of value not
included in the historical financial statements, such as a company’s brand and intellectual
property; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics; and cyber-risk
management or other types of enterprise risk management disclosures. Timeliness
of Information. This refers to two concepts: First, as we all know, unaudited
company earnings releases and analyst presentations are more likely to move
markets than the annual release of audited financial statements. Second, the news
cycle operates at rapid speed, and a negative news story—accurate or not—can
spread quickly and destroy trust and reputations in a flash.The
Role of Auditors: Present and Future

Although I am not a certified public
accountant, my experiences in the capital markets have ingrained in me a deep
appreciation for the audit profession’s purpose and value.

I often say that the public-company auditing
profession is one of those “assumed” or unremarked-upon institutions in the
capital market system. The profession largely operates behind the scenes, and
people tend not to notice when things are going right.

Yet there is so much taking place behind the scenes, and there is also so much that is going right for this profession. Every day, auditors contribute to high-quality, reliable financial statements, which many have referred to as the bedrock of our capital markets system. Auditors do this by reviewing a company’s financials and internal controls; by serving as an independent check on management and as a resource for audit committees; and by bringing their critical thinking, standards-based analytical skills, and skepticism to those complex areas of the financials, such as fair value. The state of audit quality today is high, thanks in no small part to the profession’s enormous efforts to maintain trust and continuously strive to improve.

The health and stability of the US
capital markets depend on consistent, reliable, and comparable information. But
much of the company-reported information I referred to above—on which
stakeholders are relying—does not go through the rigor of independent third-party

At the CAQ, we believe auditors can
help fill these existing and growing gaps in assured information. It’s a
natural evolution for a profession with unique competencies in standards-based
analysis, objectivity, professional skepticism, and critical thinking. Auditors
can enhance confidence in areas such as:

ESG Reporting. Depending on the particular industry, public companies are increasingly issuing stand-alone ESG reports or including ESG metrics and indicators such as gender and/or minority pay gap statistics, greenhouse gas emissions, or other risks to the sustainability of the business in public-facing filings or documents. This information typically is not subject to an independent assessment. Boards should know that auditors can be engaged to perform an attestation of a company’s ESG information.Cybersecurity. Boards should also be aware of the American Institute of CPAs’ cybersecurity risk management reporting framework, SOC for Cybersecurity. According to the CAQ’s Cybersecurity Risk Management Oversight tool, organizations can use the framework to “communicate pertinent information regarding their cybersecurity risk management efforts and educate stakeholders about the systems, processes, and controls they have in place to detect, prevent, and respond to breaches.” The reporting framework also “enables CPAs to examine and report on management-prepared cybersecurity information.”Learn More: To help directors and other market participants get a handle on this evolving environment, the CAQ has released a new resource, The Role of Auditors in Company-Prepared Information: Present and Future. In clear terms, the paper delineates where the auditor’s role begins and ends today in the context of the audit of financial statements. It also highlights the need for the auditor’s role to evolve for the benefit of stakeholders, public company board members, company management, and the markets.

Of course, expanding the auditor’s role
will not happen overnight, and it won’t occur without considerable effort and
dialogue. My CAQ colleagues and others in the auditing profession look forward
to engaging in this dialogue with all of the stakeholders in our capital
markets system, especially our friends in the director community.

We are fortunate to find ourselves
in interesting times. Let’s prepare ourselves now to make the most of them.

Julie Bell Lindsay is the executive director of the Center for Audit Quality.

Zooming in On the Personalization Minefield

Think about your own online shopping experiences or the
content recommendations on your favorite app—the more tailored it is to your
needs, the better your experience is.

A personalized customer experience is becoming a differentiator
for all kinds of organizations to achieve higher customer satisfaction,
increased engagement, and stronger brand loyalty. With the abundance of choices
that consumers face for every little decision, brands that can help customers
easily find what they need or might enjoy will thrive.

According to Forrester Research, in 2016 89 percent of digital businesses reported spending money on personalization, but only 40 percent of consumers think that what they get matches their unique preferences.

Delivering personalized, one-to-one experiences at scale
requires oversight of data, technology, and talent. Boards must probe the multiple
underlying issues raised by personalization such as avoiding popularity biases,
and how data about the evolving intent of customers will be captured and stored.
Furthermore, boards should have management explain how they have thought
through data privacy: The transparent and responsible use of data is important
to building and maintaining trust with customers.

As the strategic imperative of personalized experiences
grows, here are key principles that board members should keep in mind in their

Real-time and one-to-one experiences. With machine learning, customer experiences are moving from being persona- and segment-based (relying on factors such as demographics and general interests) to being truly individual and one-to-one.

As more and more experiences become digital, organizations
of all kinds stand to benefit greatly by creating and delivering relevant
experiences for their customers—be it in online retail, in-flight
entertainment, or personal finance. Being able to combine real-time user
activity with what is already known about the customer and products is crucial to
delivering relevant experiences. Being able to capture in real time how a
specific user is evaluating a product online, such as zooming in to see certain
details, may allow the seller to suggest a different product.

These insights can help your organization tailor recommendations to specific customers and suggest similar products, and machine learning can enable you to do this at scale across billions of interactions. As board members, you should ask management for a long-term technology strategy and roadmap that allows the evaluations of customer interactions that stand to benefit from individual personalization. It is also essential to ask management to evaluate how well the company knows its customers today. Boards should question: What are the different data sources that the company has access to, and are there any data gaps that would prevent the company from building a comprehensive understanding of their customers’ preferences? It’s also crucial to evaluate whether or not the organization has the right skills in its workforce for a successful rollout of a personalization strategy.

Personalization across
every touchpoint. Brands are increasingly recognizing that personalization throughout
the customer journey is intrinsic to building strong loyalty. Delivering
relevant marketing and customer care experiences up to the last mile can enable
your business to build a flywheel—where every stage of the personalized customer
journey feeds the other. For example, understanding what products or offerings
are driving engagement in a promotional email can subsequently help serve a
more personalized online retail experience.

Just addressing customers by their first names in promotional emails or sending marketing communications based on broad personas is hardly going to cut it. Every such engagement is an opportunity for the brand to deliver meaningful, customized experiences. As board members, ensure that management—especially those in marketing and customer care—is appropriately skilled to build an individual personalization strategy for communication across all points of interaction, be it in-app messages and notifications, interacting with a chat-bot, or a promotional email. Personalized communication means delivering tailored messages, product recommendations, offers, and discounts. Doing this at scale requires a long-term data and machine learning strategy. Directors should ask management to explain what disciplines are included in the personalization project, possibly setting up a cross-functional team that spans product development, marketing, and customer care along with data science and machine learning experts.

interactions and strategy. Most customers interact with businesses across
multiple channels: mobile, web, and with various technological devices.
Consumers expect a consistent experience every time they engage with your brand.

When building a machine learning-driven personalization
strategy, ensure that management is taking a holistic look to bring together
these various pieces of data in one place. This is true not only for data from past
activity but also for real-time interactions: If a user is searching for a
product on a website and then continues on to a mobile app, it is important to factor
in the recent web activity to decide what the experience on the mobile app
should be. Building a true omni-channel personalization experience requires a
strategic focus. When overseeing management, prompt them to consider a
personalization strategy that can be applied equally across every channel that interacts
with customers.

Praveen Maloo is the
senior product marketing manager for Amazon Web Services AI and Machine

In 2020, Directors Worry About Balancing Economic Downturn, Business-Model Disruption

The 2019-2020 NACD Public Company Governance Survey, released this week, received responses from over 500 public-company directors to more than 80 survey questions. The questions discussed the trends most likely to impact organizations over the next year; areas in which boards would like to improve; the size, shape, and structure of boards and committees; and oversight of key areas of focus for the board, including strategy formulation, enterprise risk, cyber risk, human capital, compliance, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Overall, the survey results show that in the year ahead,
boards face two conundrums: navigating a disruptive operating environment while
preparing for a slowdown, and pushing forward with digital innovation while pausing
to ensure a secure cyber environment. Directors also report important progress
in two emerging areas of oversight: human capital and ESG risk.

Public companies face
a conundrum navigating two divergent business forces.

Directors identify growing business-model disruptions (52
percent) and a slowing global economy (51 percent) as the trends most likely to
impact their organizations over the next 12 months. While not contradictory,
these divergent trends create a challenge for many public companies: how to
balance a growth and disruption mindset to stave off competition while
preparing for the impact of a potential recession.

More proactive and continuous board involvement in shaping strategy may be needed to navigate this conundrum. This includes recognizing the potential need for more frequent course corrections as conditions change. Boards should also work with management to create a shared short- and long-term picture to understand where the markets, industry, and competition are heading and what that means for strategy and growth prospects. Tools and tactics to do so can be found in the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission reports on preparing for the future and on adaptive governance.

Public companies must
also confront growing friction between the need to digitally innovate and the
effective management of cyber risks.

Companies have no shortage of opportunities to adopt
emerging technologies in order to buttress their growth and respond to
disruptive competitors. However, new technologies also come with risk,
increasing opportunities for cyber-attackers and heightening exposure to
data-privacy missteps. Boards must work with management teams to reconcile the
need to transform themselves digitally with the need to ensure underlying data
assets are properly secured. Sixty-one percent of directors report that they
would be willing to compromise on cybersecurity to achieve business objectives,
while 28 percent prioritize cybersecurity above all else.

Directors and boards can turn to the NACD Director’s Handbook on Cyber-Risk Oversight to enhance their oversight practices and to the NACD report Governing Digital Transformation and Emerging Technologies to help ensure that the right balance between the two needs is maintained.

Board oversight of human capital is maturing.

Most directors (77 percent) are comfortable with their
board’s oversight of current and future talent needs, although just 43 percent said
they have reviewed charters to ensure that talent oversight responsibilities
are effectively allocated across the board. Additionally, only 34 percent responded
that their boards have set clear expectations for what they require from
management to effectively oversee human capital risk.

To address this issue, boards could expand the discussion of human capital strategy and risk to ensure that it aligns with the overall strategy development process. They should consider updating their governance guidelines and committee charters to formalize human capital oversight responsibilities, as well as consider expanding the set of voices reporting on talent issues to include the information technology, audit, and operating business units. NACD’s recent report Board Oversight of Human Capital Strategy and Risks provides boards with actionable guidance on how to improve their oversight of human capital.

ESG is becoming commonplace in the boardroom, though more work remains.

Nearly 80 percent of public-company boards now engage on environmental,
social, and governance (ESG) issues in some meaningful way, according to the
directors surveyed. Most focus on ensuring links to strategy and risk.
Discussions with investors often center on elements of the “S”in ESG, with an emphasis on human
capital (65 percent) and diversity (74 percent).

To provide effective oversight, boards need to ensure a common definition of ESG across the organization. This definition should be used by management to identify and prioritize ESG risks and opportunities, and it should be presented to the board in the context of the company’s strategy. Guidance is available in NACD’s handbook Oversight of Corporate Sustainability Activities.

Learn more in the full report. In addition to more on these findings, the full report contains data and insights on board size and structure, types and size of committees, board refreshment, and enterprise risk and compliance oversight. All six oversight topics have rich dashboards to show the current state of board oversight in these areas.

Manager as Year-End Career Coach

Whether your organization has embraced the contemporary flow of year-long/ongoing real-time performance feedback processes, or retain the traditional year-end review, this is the time of year managers and employees engage in conversation to review accomplishments against milestones and to set objectives for next 12 months and beyond.  Regardless of the vehicle you use, or the cadence in which you check in, it is highly likely that you or your management team will be conducting some form of planning and evaluation, and the information you gather informs the plan.
Take this opportunity to help your managers and employees, and in turn your organization, grow.  Have an open conversation with the intent to benefit all stakeholders.  With a few strategic questions and the ensuing conversations, managers can gain a better understanding of each employee’s needs and motivation.  Managers will receive honest, valuable feedback and employees will feel respected, taking away a stronger sense of support for their continued success within the firm.
While the planning for these conversations should have occurred months in advance, it is still not too late to include one or more of the questions below from Career Partners International career management and leadership development coaches.  These questions can easily be added to any review and planning process to enhance the conversation and improve engagement.
“If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would be the one thing you would start doing that would have a significant business impact on the company?” – Mike Zorn, Executive Leadership Coach at Promark, A CPI Firm
To start, you learn where their true energy and motivation lie, this is a great way to tailor upcoming projects and objectives.  It is important to follow up this question by seeking to understand why the employee has not pursued this objective.  Has the idea been repeatedly shot down?  Does the employee not feel secure in making such a bold suggestion?  Does it fall outside of their scope of responsibilities?  All of these and more could be potential easy fixes to help the organization and the employee grow.  As a bonus, you might get some amazing ideas to implement in Q1!
“How have you contributed to ROI for the entire organization?” – Terry Gillis, CEO of Ahria Consulting Inc, A CPI Firm
This question requires the employee to determine for themselves what their contribution to the organization has been.  This knowledge helps to develop an increased sense of worth and pride in their position.  The question also ensures that the employee understands how ROI is derived within the organization.  With this level of thought, the employee can understand the company’s strategy to better select and prioritize future projects.   
“Who in your group is ready for a promotion? And, do you have a successor?” John Burke, CEO of Career Partners International Houston
Promoting key individuals is an important part of retaining high performers and top talent. By asking these two questions, the manager is acknowledging the value employees bring and shares a future-focused orientation.  It is not just about, “what have you done for me lately?” it is about “what are we collectively doing for tomorrow?” These questions can signal there is a path to promotion for the employee and others in the organization, a visible benefit which aides in attracting outside candidates to the organization as well.  It also makes clear that the organization expects each manager to be active in growing the future via next level leaders grown and developed from within.  A double engagement win! 
“At work, how do you know you’ve done a good job?” – Karen Valesco, Consultant Coach at Working Transitions, A CPI Firm
The response to this question will tell you both how the employee is motivated and whether the organization’s methods for recognition hit the mark as designed. If you hear a response such as “I just know,” or “I feel good about it,” then the chances are that the employee prefers internal motivation. If the responses are more like, “When someone tells me,” or “Everything works as it should,” the employee likely responds to external motivation. As a manager, once we know someone’s motivational preference (internal, external or balanced), we can engage and enthuse them in their work by being flexible in our leadership approach. We can also have more effective feedback conversations by adopting their natural preferences rather than our own. 
“What skill do you have, one we might not be aware of, that could make a positive contribution to your team or the organisation? How could you use that skill to make a difference?” – Kim Daglish, Director of Operations at Directioneering, A CPI Firm
Performance reviews and development conversations are often conducted within the prism of the employee’s existing role, what they have done in the past, and the logical career trajectory based on that track record. Managers tend to focus on what they understand of the individual’s capabilities as framed through the employee’s role and sometimes neglect to probe beyond these boundaries. This can inhibit the capacity of organisations to tap into the rich and diverse talent sitting within its own workforce. Similarly, employees often assume that their manager is fully aware of their capabilities and therefore, don’t feel the need to highlight any additional areas of expertise. Alternately, individuals don’t always feel comfortable discussing additional skills or motivational interests that sit outside of their current role. By proactively asking the question and showing genuine curiosity, the manager is giving the employee permission to broaden the development conversation and explore new career territory, unlocking talent that may otherwise go untapped.
“What aspects of your work excite and energize you? Are you getting enough of that?” – Penny Locey, VP of Delivery at Keystone Partners, A CPI Firm
This question can surface several situations that allow a manager or employee to act; to enrich the job, change priorities, or plan a shift. For example, a common situation is potential burnout –from doing what was once new and exciting exclusively.  Another issue could be when an individual was hired for one thing but asked to assume so many side-loaded responsibilities they have little time to spend on what attracted them in the first place. Lastly, the question can open a conversation around whether it is time for a person to move on because they want more than the role can give. Having the conversation early and openly helps both parties plan for a smooth transition.
“What developmental support do you need from me and the company in order to achieve alignment between your career growth and the business strategy?” – Sandy Wong, Managing Partner at Cornerstone International Group, A CPI Firm
This question helps the employee align their long-term goals with the objectives of the organization.  Further, it asks them to identify potential hazards and proactively provide solutions in the form of learning and development opportunities.  The manager is showing support to ensure win-win orientation, which in turn encourages the employee to utilize the opportunities to grow her career with the company.
“How has your learning and development this year helped maximise your contributions?” – Kate Johnson, Consultant Coach at Working Transitions, a CPI Firm
Encourage reflection on personal training and development activities.  After all, the organization has implemented these programs with an end in mind.  By asking this question the manager is seeking some validation of what has led to better contributions. Such reflection encourages the debate around what learning activities or approaches would enable growth and enhance performance in 2020.
“As you look to the future in terms of achieving your desired career growth, what do you need from me and the organization?  What can I do to support your growth?” – Sharon Imperiale, CEO at CCI Consulting, A CPI Firm
The philosophy around personal career growth has gone back and forth over the years in terms of just whose responsibility it is.  Is it the employee’s sole accountability, the company’s or both?  To truly engage the employee, they need to experience support and guidance in terms of what skills to develop and how to attain the experience they need to achieve their career goals.  Offering to be part of the journey is a leadership responsibility. Offering assistance and sponsorship while talking about the employee’s future will increase engagement. Performance “reviews”, although usually retrospective, should also be prospective.
Being a good leader requires more than basic management skills; employees now expect the best leaders to act as a guide as well, vested jointly in their success.  With programs like Manager as Career Coach, Career Partners International has helped thousands of managers steer their employees to more fulfilling career paths and better, longer engagements within the organization.  This year take a moment to move beyond the typical performance review and engage in a career coaching opportunity.
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6 Ways to Adapt to an Aging Workforce

In today’s environment of rapid change, forward-thinking organizations recognize the need for strategic workforce planning. Aligning talent strategy with the business strategy leads to smooth succession planning, increases the organization’s ability to respond to growth opportunities, ensures appropriate transfer of critical knowledge and intellectual property, and improves overall organizational performance.
However, there is one cohort that is often overlooked in workforce planning – the older worker or “late-stage careerist.” There is a lot of talk about gender bias, racial bias and culture bias at work, and each of these are important issues. But perhaps one of the most problematic types of bias we face is the bias of age: we often evaluate people based on their age and this is becoming a major challenge in the workplace.
Demographics in the U.S. and other developed nations point to a workforce that is aging at a rapid rate. People age 60 and over are expected to outnumber children under the age of 5 within the next year, and by 2025, it is expected that 25% of workers in the U.S. will be over the age of 55. Since 2018, job vacancies have outnumbered job applicants, largely as a result of baby boomers reaching retirement at a rate faster than millennials or Gen Z are able to step in to replace them.
These statistics reflect two clear demographic trends. First, people are living longer – in the U.S., the average life expectancy was 47 in 1900; it is 79 years today, and by the end of the 21st century it may be 100 or longer. Second, young people are having fewer children and fertility rates are declining throughout the industrialized world. These trends, coupled with stagnating gains in productivity rates, paint a worrisome picture for economic growth.
A potential solution lies with the older worker, and a compelling business argument can be made to hire and retain late-stage career workers and give them meaningful and important jobs. Research suggests that age does correspond with workplace wisdom. For most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise – the main predictors of job performance – keep increasing even beyond the age of 80. And beyond the value and competence older employees can bring to the workforce, there is the issue of cognitive diversity. The vast majority of societal advancements – whether in science, business, sports or the arts – are the result of people working together as a cohesive unit. The best way to maximize team output is to get people of different ages and experiences working together.
People of every age are motivated to come to work and are capable of making meaningful contributions. As the global economy ages, addressing the issue of age bias will become even more important. Follow the lead of progressive companies who are using many of the following strategies to make the workplace more welcoming for older employees:
Bring age diversity into your Diversity & Inclusion programs– research shows that age-diverse teams feel greater psychological safety and more innovative than teams that are age-biased. Age brings a sense of security and wisdom to teams.
Teach younger leaders about reverse mentoring– show them how they can help older people and understand how to manage older employees, who have biases of their own.
Offer accommodations for flexible work– this includes more accessible workstations with more light, larger fonts, and ease of access that can help support the needs of people of all ages.
Look at pay equity by job and level, not by tenure– tenure is a useful measure for pay when it directly translates into experience and skills that bring value to the company. It’s more than okay for an older person to make less money than a younger person if they are new to the job.
Recruit – or “return” – older people– many leading companies – GM, Boeing, Walgreens – invite older workers to come back from retirement through specific programs tailored to the aging and branded as “returnships.” Other companies welcome older workers into volunteer or “ambassador” programs.
Support retirement planning – many older employees have retirement on their minds, even while still in the workforce. Most organizations offer financial planning tools and vehicles but fail to recognize the life-altering shift that comes with retirement.  Programs like New Horizons™ take a wholistic view of retirement to better prepare workers, easing their concerns and ensuring continued engagement and productivity.
These are just a few examples, but they point to a broader challenge and opportunity for both company executives and HR leaders: If you can create an inclusive, fair and meaningful experience for older workers, as well as younger ones, you will not only find your company becomes more innovative, engaging and profitable over time, you will also be benefiting society at large.
Rob Croner,
Vice President, Senior Executive ServicesCCI Consulting, A Career Partners International Firm
The post 6 Ways to Adapt to an Aging Workforce appeared first on CPIWorld.

How To Win With A Design-Focused Strategy

As described in my earlier article on What It Takes To Accelerate Through A Strategic Inflection Point, if there is a change in your situation or your ambitions, you need to jump-shift your strategy, organization and operations all together, all at the same time. There are four primary areas of strategic focus: design, produce, deliver, and service. The choice of which of those areas on which to focus dictates your organizational and operational choices.
This article is the first of four and will take you through how to win with a design-focused strategy. The other three focus on production, delivery and service.

Click here to read more. 

The post How To Win With A Delivery-Focused Strategy appeared first on PrimeGenesis.