What HR can learn from Steve Jobs

Game changer. Visionary. Legend.

When describing any other man, these words would stand tall. However, these words don’t do justice to the man who birthed such revolutionary products such as the Macintosh computer, iPod and the iPhone. Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was an entrepreneur, inventor and co-founder of Apple. His resume includes over 330 patents as inventor or co-inventor, oversight of one of the most profitable companies in American history and claim to an indelible mark on not only business leadership theory but also modern pop culture.

While Steve Jobs was busy spearheading one of the most dynamic companies in recent history, he was also creating a culture worth emulating. In the book Rework by fellow game changers 37 Signals, they talk about how every product creates a byproduct. In creating one of the influential and recognizable brands on the face of the earth, Steve Jobs and Apple also created a compelling example of organizational culture for HR professionals and executive leadership to follow. Here, summarized in quotes from Mr. Jobs throughout the years, are some of the ways that HR can learn a thing or two from Steve Jobs.

 

Purpose over possession.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [Steve Jobs, May 25, 1993]

Money/profit should not be your main motivating factor.

“You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]

Love what you do and let it be contagious.

Interviewer: We were warned about you: Before this Interview began, someone said we were “about to be snowed by the best.”

[Steve Jobs smiling] “We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.” [Steve Jobs, Feb. 1, 1985]

Talent [that get’s “it”] matters.

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Steve Jobs, Nov. 9, 1998]

Invest your way to success in spite of economic downturn.

“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” [Steve Jobs, May 1999]

Embrace creative brainstorming.

“The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

“But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important. [Steve Jobs, Oct. 12, 2004]

Encourage employees to find their “sweet spot.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” [Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

What other business/HR principles have you seen Apple implement that deserve attention?

Company culture analysis

Corporate culture is an organizational mindset that is present in every facet of business operation. It is characterized by the level of communication between management and staff. The staff will typically go all-out to meet or go beyond the standard once they are told about the company’s corporate culture. This is most evident in businesses that offer workers the opportunity to share in the rewards of company success, via additional benefits or profit sharing.

Your company’s corporate culture is an intangible asset that you can use to generate a competitive strategic advantage to distinguish it from other firms and to improve performance. It has a significant function in the development of your company’s reputation. A 2004 study proved that culture works together with communication and the relationship companies have with their staff to predict how the outside world views a particular company.

A detailed corporate culture analysis usually calls for profound understanding of the core values of the company. It won’t completely explain the idiosyncrasies of individual units, groups, and workers, but it usually will reveal practices and values that are common among most employees. The overarching objective is to find out how and why things are done in a particular organization.

A company with strong culture has employees who respond to incentives because they are aligned to the values of the organization. On the other hand, the employees of a company with weak culture are usually not aligned with the values of the organization and you can only control their work and behavior through extensive procedures and red tape. Studies have shown that companies promoting strong cultures usually have clear values that give workers a reason to fall in line with the culture.

Your prospective customers’ corporate culture is also important: a lack of understanding and alignment with your clients’ culture could be a key setback to achieving the results that each party wants. You need to know whether the companies you’re doing business with will micromanage your projects, or whether they prefer free thinkers or envelope-pushing talent.

Most culture changes don’t succeed because organizations don’t turn their vision and values into daily behavior. Organizations get over-involved in the activity of training and improvement teams, but see little impact from them due to lack of focus. Your staff needs to know how the company’s vision will be attained, and this “how” is contingent on the values of the organization.

You can change your corporate culture for the better … or you can live with it. Many executives are taking a closer look at the internal mechanism of their businesses – their values, attitudes and main concerns – to see if they can fit into the new American business setting of reengineering, downsizing, acquisitions and a crowd of other pressures causing havoc on the morale of your staff.

One of the big mistakes in this fast changing environment is the theory that corporate culture is consistent and resilient. Jumpstart:HR uses very refined and specific tools that will give you quantitative and qualitative information, which will result in total understanding of your company and its resources and how to use them effectively and successfully.

Satisfaction and dissatisfactions: Two sides, two coins

“The things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied.” – Frederick Herzberg

Contrary to logic and common ideology, what’s making your employees dissatisfied at work might not be remedied by what’s making them stay…

For far too long, employers have thought that the pendulum of satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction in the workplace is placed on a singular scale. Employers across the globe who believe that more pay, job security and work-life balance are some of the key targets to focus on when trying to make employees happy are missing the mark on what really matters. The real answer might just surprise you.

An introduction to “The Two Factor Theory.” In 1959, Psychologist Frederick Herzberg developed the two-factor theory which is more commonly referred to as Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory. Herzberg’s research lead him to postulate that there are certain aspects of work and work culture that contribute to job satisfaction and other separate factors that contribute to job dissatisfaction.  Essentially, Herzberg concluded that these two categories – the things that make people enjoy work and the things that make people not enjoy work- work independent of one another. Factors that increased happiness were labeled “Motivator Factors” while factors that merely kept dissatisfaction at bay were labeled “Hygiene Factors.” Even though the research was conducted over forty years ago, it’s implications still resonate to this day and HR and executive leadership must grasp this critical concept in order to ensure employee happiness and decrease attrition rates.

Motivator Factor and Hygiene Factor explained.  In order to understand Herzberg’s, one must first grasp the idea of motivation and hygiene. If you can imagine, motivator factors can be described as factors that make work more exciting, enriching and fulfilling whereas hygiene factors simply make the job tolerable. If work were analogous to a car on the showroom floor, motivator factors are what make you really attracted to the vehicle while hygiene factors are those things that should “come standard.”

Motivator factors include: achievement, recognition, the job itself, responsibility, promotion and growth.

Hygiene factors include: pay and benefits (compensation), company policy and administration, relationship with co-workers, supervision, status, job security, working conditions and personal life.

Two sides, two coins. What Herzberg really wants us to understand is that you cannot simply inspire job satisfaction by addressing things that are considered “Hygiene.” His research leads us to understand that we cannot think of satisfaction as the antithesis of dissatisfaction but rather view the two as separate, mutually exclusive entities. The presence of satisfaction as opposed to the absence of satisfaction and the presence of dissatisfaction as opposed to the absence of dissatisfaction would be a better way of understanding this concept.

Key Findings. Herzberg proposes the following findings in light of this concept:

  1. People are made dissatisfied by a bad environment, but they are seldom made satisfied by a good environment.
  2. The prevention of dissatisfaction is just as important as encouragement of motivator satisfaction.
  3. Hygiene factors operate independently of motivation factors. An individual can be highly motivated in his work and be dissatisfied with his work environment.
  4. All hygiene factors are equally important, although their frequency of occurrence differs considerably.
  5. Hygiene improvements have short-term effects. Any improvements result in a short-term removal of, or prevention of, dissatisfaction.
  6. Hygiene needs are cyclical in nature and come back to a starting point. This leads to the “What have you done for me lately?” syndrome.
  7. Hygiene needs have an escalating zero point and no final answer
Why does this research matter? Simply stated, your HR and business strategy must account for these findings if you wish to retain top talent, motivate and encourage workers and to create an agreeable workplace culture. Management cannot expect that employees will be truly happy by providing raises while refraining from recognition and growth. Similarly, if leadership is less than agreeable and relationships with co-workers are tense then an increase in job responsibility will not make the employee forget his or her dissatisfaction. In fact, it just might make things worse.
If you want truly happy employees that lack dissatisfaction, Management and HR leadership must work together to distinguish the current climate of the organization. Once the climate is established, there must be a cohesive attempt to remedy hygiene deficiencies and a push to encourage motivator factors.


 

When to hire an HR consultant, and when not to

When to hire a consultant:

“Why a business needs an outside consultant is pretty basic, says Mike Meikle, CEO of the Hawthorne Group, a managment and technology consulting firm.

‘A consultant can be thought of as a tool that can implement a solution or solutions that are outside the real expertise for an in-house staff,” Meikle explains. “They can leave the client in a better place and more profitable condition.'”

Source: Consultants Thriving as Businesses Struggle to Survive | CNBC.com (September 30, 2011)

When not to hire a consultant:

While there are plenty of obvious reasons to hire an outside consultant, there are also obvious reasons not to, says Marv Doniger, of Doniger and Associates consulting firm.

“Firms that are not willing to accept an outsider’s point of view and make changes should not hire a consultant,” says Doniger. “And staffing a company’s long-term needs should be done by hiring additional help and not through the perpetual use of a consultant.”

Source: Consultants Thriving as Businesses Struggle to Survive | CNBC.com (September 30, 2011)

What Should Every Manager Know (or Get to Know) About Employee Social Media Use?

According to recent research, it is safe to predict that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, three out of every four employees in your office will have accessed social media while on the clock.

Is social media becoming the Wild, Wild West of employee non-productivity? Should companies care whether or not employees are on social networks? Should social media be discouraged or embraced? What’s a manager to do?!

Before you hit the Google search bar to search for social media tips for managers,  you should grab a cup of coffee and read my interview below. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Aliah Wright, the author of a recently released book published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) entitled “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” She shared a few key points that will help you understand the in’s and out’s of what is happening in social media and  what your company should be doing to stay on top of this new form of communication.

Here’s what she had to say to help us all catch up:

Q1. Please tell us a bit about your book and who the audience is.

A Necessary Evil” is for anyone who manages people who connect to the Internet from the palms of their hands. The book encourages employers to embrace social networking and its usage at work. Statistics show that 90 percent of adults use social media. According to a recent Facebook IDC study, 84 percent respondents’ time is spent on the phone communicating via text, e-mail, and social media versus only 16 percent on phone calls.” That’s right. More people are typing than talking. What’s more the enterprise social networking market is growing exponentially with IDC projecting that revenue from such software to grow from $0.8 billion in 2011 to $4.5 billion in 2016. This is the way we communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, gain insight, as well as further our personal brands and careers. It’s imperative that companies allow their employees to use this valuable resource.

 

Q2. What advice would you give to a manager who is new to understanding social media but wants to put guidelines in place for his or her team on how to use it in the workplace?

Familiarize yourself with the social media networks your employees are using. Is it Facebook? Instagram? Viddy? Vine? Pinterest? Twitter? GetGlue? LinkedIn? Google+? Yammer? If you don’t know ask them. Lurk first. Join, sit back, read, watch, and learn. Follow the people you admire, mimic their good behaviors, and then join the conversation. You have to engage first so you know what the culture is like. In terms of policy, employers need to be mindful of regulations. Employees are legally allowed to discuss their jobs on social media. Help them build their brands (while enhancing your firm) through their very own blogs and contributions to Twitter chats, LinkedIn, and other online forums. A good place to start with social media policy is to look at Wal-Mart’s policy. It’s been blessed by the National Labor Relations Board. SHRM members can find it on our website, but you can also Google it.

 

Q3. Do you have any interesting case study stories to tell about how a small business has used social media for their benefit?

Yes. Industrial Mold & Machine in Twinsburg, Ohio, has just 34 employees. Each employee was given an iPad so they could collaborate with one another from their workstations instead of using computer kiosks stationed around the plant. By deploying the social networking tool Socialtext from their iPads, workers are able to save time by reporting directly from their machines instead of the kiosks. Also, companies that cannot afford job boards are increasingly turning to social networking sites to find talent.

 

Q4. What are employees allowed to say about their employer on social media and what should companies do to monitor this activity?

The National Labor Relations Act allows all workers to communicate with each other about issues relating to their employment as long as that communication falls within the realm of protected concerted activity. And that is extended to conversations on social media. Protected concerted activity is when two or more employees discuss the conditions and terms of their employment in a way that’s designed to bring about change. Companies should, however, have policies outlining that employees are not to disclose proprietary information or trade secrets. There are dozens and dozens of social media monitoring tools that allow employers to monitor or eavesdrop on social media conversations. (Radian6 and Sprout Social come to mind—but I’m not endorsing those just listing them as examples). Not only do these tools allow employers to monitor employees, they’re excellent for engaging customers, future talent, and to monitor their brands. Monitoring these conversations helps companies turn those discussions into demonstrable action items (or nip bad publicity in the bud).

 

Q5. What impact do you see social media having on small businesses in the next year? What about the next five years?

 

Can you imagine us having a conversation about letting people use the Internet at work? But that very conversation occurred when the Net was new. People police themselves on these tools—just as they do with the phones on their desks. Those who abuse the tools should be reprimanded—another reason why you need rules. I believe within the next five years, we won’t be having conversations about the need to let people access social media at work. It will be something employers allow automatically because the value will finally be discernible.

 

Consider these interesting statics from my book:

•           53% of businesses that don’t embrace social media will ultimately fail

•           76% of firms that embrace social media will grow faster than those that don’t

•           86% of people who use social media once a week say they were recently promoted; and

•           71% of senior managers say firms that embrace social media at work will find it easier to attract and keep the best talent.

 

Social crowdsourcing—tapping the collective knowledge of peers and others on social networking sites—make us work smarter and faster because we’re turning to our peers and other experts to help us in our jobs. That alone will put companies that embrace it head and shoulders above those that don’t.

About Aliah D. Wright:

AliahsAuthorPic

For more than 15 years, Aliah has worked as an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, artist, manager, web designer, and web content manager. She is also the author of the best-selling book, “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” It was recently published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She works in SHRM’s award-winning editorial division. SHRM is the world’s largest association dedicated to the HR profession. In that role, She has become a subject matter expert on the evolution of HR technology, Social Media Strategies, and Global HR.

Connect with her on LinkedIn | Buy “A Necessary Evil” at the SHRM Store | Follow @1SHRMScribe on Twitter

Click to see more information about Aliah's new book

Click to see more information about Aliah’s new book

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