Of people, their mindset and work

Sunday 12th June 2011
Courtesy: Portfolio Penguin

As Exeter-based James Caan (ex Dragon's Den) recruitment expert publicises his WebRecruit approach ('Like' us and win an iPad 2'), Penguin publishes "Put Your Mindset to Work" as the all essential asset to win and keep a job. IBM's Scottish-based VP of Human Resources tells how IBM re-invented itself as a modern Corporation (often aided by 'JAM'ing). And these issues are at the core of 26-year-old Feilim Mac An Iomaire's £1,700 cry of "Save Me From Emigration" which catapulted him into the headlines and presumably a Dublin-based job.

James Caan writes that the recruitment sector will become polarised, with search and selection being used to fill the minority of high level roles, but with the vast majority being filled online.

"Using the internet to recruit is a fantastic way to allow businesses to keep costs down without sacrificing quality of service and candidate, " he says. "I’ve been in recruitment for 25 years. Webrecruit are the first company to put their money where their mouth is.

"Companies that will thrive during these economic conditions will be those who can adapt their product offering to suit the realities of the market, just as Webrecruit have done."

Accordingly Webrecruit are getting press coverage by the lure of an iPad2, a whole page presence on Facebook and a Twitter site.

Writing for the a national paper in '93 when the first 'web' job advertisement appeared in job recruitment pages merely naming the employer and the internet address, and suggesting this was the way things would go, the commissioning editor, mindful of his newspapers job ads section said that this idea be toned down considerably.

The newspaper and its current website have duly revised their opinion subsequently. But at a time when it is an employer's market, web recruitment that doesn't land even the skilled and optimistic work in months, may well need to turn the mass numbers to looking at a different approach.

Forget skills: focus on the mindset
One different approach that may be emerging is 'Mindset' authored by Paul Stoltz with (left) James Reed, executive chairman of the Reed group (Reed Executive, Reed Employment, Reed Managed Services and Reed Personnel Services, among others).

Reed's ultimate willingness to adopt a 3G Mindset and post competitors' ads on the site at no charge has helped reed.co.uk carve out a distinctive niche for itself.

 We are all  "Generation Global (Gen G) "a generation defined by the age, than their age, Gen G includes the 2.5billion people worldwide who seek any form of rewarding work in an intensely global market place."

"Work has been fundamentally transformed and with it old expectations about how you are supposed to think and behave can be tossed aside. As a member of Gen G you can set the rules."

Three categories of Gen G are the Up-and-comers, the Builders and the Finishers and what employers really want are 20 good, global or grit attitudes.

At first sight one might be tempted to dub them positively "Victorian qualities" but all 20 fall into the 3G's of Good, Global and Grit.

"My experience is that a skill set can be developed and coached and learned in a lot of cases. But if you don't have the people with the right mindset buying into what's important, then energies can be channelled in completely the wrong way," comments a head teacher, one of the many people interviewed and quoted as 3G people, in a book that will let you measure your 3G mindset and having ranked them, show you how to improve on your weaker points.

In what is that rarity, book-web interaction, each Put your Mindset To Work book  has a unique access code to the web, where you can really concentrate on growing your intelligence, as you apparently do have the ability to develop and change your IQ and accordingly a mindset. (Please note optimism and happiness are interestingly partially genetic!)

The other neat approach in Put Your Mindset To Work is the personal ROI calculator which will establish your value or lack of it to your employer. The book points out that: "The cliched comment that 'Our people are our greatest asset' .. yet in their management accounts typically show people as 'staff costs' and people do not appear at all in either the asset or the liability sections of their company's balance sheet. The truth is some people are indeed their company's greatest asset, while others can be the same company's liability."

Anyone who is employing and hasn't considered worker mindsets should definitely read the book. "Mindset beats skillset every time" says Aviva's John Ainley. 

Whether the CV should now be radically overhauled to included a Mindset sector remains to be seen, but keep an eye out for yet another change to CV layout and design and those hunting jobs in the unforgiving market place should definitely include this on their book reading lists.

IBM always has Mindset
Gary Kildare, Falkirk local boy, self-defined "Passionate about being a Scot, about my family and about IBM," opened his talk to the Glasgow Business School recalling Thomas Watson Jr, IBM's chair and son of its founder talking to his audience when IBM turned 50.

Of the top 25 industrial corporations int he United States in 1900...only two remained on that list by 1961 – one of those because it had absorbed six others from the original list. Two companies had disappeared, and the remaining 15 had slipped far behind."

"Figures like these help to remind us that corporations are expendable, and that success - at best - is an impermanent achievement which can always slip out of hand."

Now celebrating 100 years of history, Kildare notes that history "taught us that Tom was right - success is fleeting. Of the top 25 companies on the Fortune 500 at the time of Watson's lecture...only four remained in 2010.

"But," he adds "the past 50 years have taught us something about how any business or institution can achieve continued success and impact. Long term success is the product of managing for the long term."

"Everyone pays lip service to that, but taking it seriously means clearly identifiable behaviours and choices. I believe that three lessons ....are of special urgency for the world today" and he urged his audience to consider: "How the organisation must change: as the world economy changes; in response to changes in technology; and yet remain the same at its core in face of change."

IBM has always had a global mindset he points out and was one of those companies that created mini-versions of itself in country after country to be able to operate "amid the crazy quilt of international trade and regulatory barriers."

"With the emergence of the World Wide Web, massive global re-balancing is now underway. In part the world is becoming smaller and flatter. Global integration is creating new economic opportunity. Millions of people are entering the middle class, becoming consumers and entrepreneurs, a macroeconomic fact of historic importance."

The Shift changed how IBM worked.
"We transformed IBM over the past decade from the old multinational model to something new - what we call a globally integrated enterprise.

We have moved expertise and decision-making out of corporate headquarters. IBM’s operations are globally networked. Our procurement function is headquartered in China. Web services delivery is located in Brazil. We have dozens of R&D labs around the world, and a significant number of global roles carried out from IBM in Scotland.

"For example, my own role as VP of HR - although based in Scotland, I have responsibility for 400,000 people in more than 170 countries around the globe …

"We have also changed our understanding of the skills, relationships and responsibilities that IBMers must assume to make this globally integrated model work.

In the multinational era, you prepared future leaders through “overseas assignments” – typically for two years, and typically in mature markets.  As a management development system, it was expensive, limited in scope to a handful of executives.

"Today, those old approaches no longer work. We need to create a whole generation of global professionals and global citizens… and the model of overseas assignments won’t scale to that.

"So, three years ago, we launched an experiment we call the Corporate Service Corps. It puts together diverse teams of high-potential IBMers from around the world.

The 20 global teams now comprise perhaps a person in one location and two or three in any other country, forming an autonomous network entity regardless of country, and adding people not for their location, but their skills and knowledge. "They share data, blogs, logs," and argues Kildare "think global, not just geography."

The role of technology for leaders has always been historically profound, he says, and among the things that need attention now are 30bn RF tags and 1bn transistors per human, not to mention 2m people instrumented and interconnected with all the associated opportunites and problems. Add to this the creation of vast collections of data which need extraction, analysis and extrapolation for maximum benefit.

'Sustainable cities' is one IBM move on world challenges and clearly a route not so much into 'new markets' as 'new approaches' to concealed market needs.

Interestingly, Kildare also highlighted IBM selling its PC activities to Lenovo as a very deliberate corporate move to turn aside from simply hard technology and commoditisation of the latest device, to the much softer and more important aspect of services and consultancy expertise.

When it comes to Mindset or 'the way we do things' the most intriguing fact Kildare mentioned has to be the 400,000 global IBMers who participated in the IBM JAM that re-examine and re-defined the company's core values for "creating a smarter, more secure and more sustainable plant."

The JAM itself is an IBM technology tool developed in 2001 as a massively parallel on-line conferencing system where interlinked bulletin boards and related Web pages could hunt among participators for important questions and answers about how IBM's far flung lab, office and home working employees felt.

If one thing was understandably missing from Kildare's  talk, it was the intriguing aspect  of corporate politics, and how, if at all this has changed during the golden reign of Sam Palmisano, IBM Corp.’s current chairman?

Job-seeking mindset is core value winner
Branding himself as Irish joblesspaddy@Gmail.com and putting his heart into the plea, Feilim Mac An Iomaire can now have his choice of employers out of dozens of interviews and avoid becoming one of the 50,000 people forecast to have to leave the country by year end reports  the Daily Mail.

With a background of a year's work in Australia as a travel agent and a Sydney hostel events coordinator, back home in Dublin he found that 100 applications produced only two inconclusive job interviews.

He then invested his money in purchasing stock photos, wooed freelance graphic designers and photographers to offer him cut-rate creative help, the negotiated a bargain deal from a major ad agency for a lone billboard slot.

The result was an iconic ad featuring his plight facing work in either New York and London, and resulting in more than 100 requests from Irish companies looking to employ him. "I just love this country. Being away for a year in Australia really brought home to me how special Ireland is, what a massive village it is," he said. 'This is my home. If I had to leave again, it would be with a heavy heart.'

But his mindset is unlikely to see him unemployed long.                                       Gail Purvis.

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