Friday, April 27, 2012

Workforce Of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization By Susan Cantrell, David Smith

Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization

Workforce Of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization By Susan Cantrell, David Smith

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Product Description

Companies have excelled by treating customers as "markets of one"-offering them personalized buying experiences. But in managing talent, most firms still use one-size-fits-all HR practices. With today's diverse workforces, this approach is preventing organizations from attracting, retaining, and leveraging top talent.

In Workforce of One, Susan Cantrell and David Smith show how exceptional companies are tailoring work experiences to employees' talents and interests-customizing job duties, training, recognition, and even compensation, work schedules, and performance appraisals. Their reward? Lower turnover, greater productivity, improved profit margins.

The authors present four customization strategies:

-Segmenting your workforce; for example, by life stage and learning style

-Offering modular choices; e.g., choices regarding rewards, learning needs, or job duties

-Defining broad and simple rules, such as evaluating work by outcomes, not time invested, or hiring for potential in addition to specific skills

-Fostering employee-defined personalization, whereby employees define their own people practices (e.g., using peer-to-peer technologies to learn from one another)

Drawing on extensive proprietary research, the authors explain how to combine aspects of all four strategies to address your organization's unique needs.

Improving workforce performance through customized work experiences is the holy grail of the HR function. This book shows you how the workforce-of-one approach positions your company to win-while transforming your HR team into a strategic powerhouse.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #238356 in Books
  • Published on: 2010-05-04
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .96" h x 6.45" w x 9.50" l, 1.13 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 288 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Susan Cantrell is a Fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance and President/CEO of The Cantrell Group, a research and consulting organization. David Smith is a Managing Director of the Accenture Talent & Organization Performance practice.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
5A results-driven, high-impact approach to talent management
By Robert Morris
During exit interviews of highly-valued employees who have accepted a position elsewhere, the most common reasons they cite for leaving include not feeling appreciated and not receiving the support they need to perform well. According to Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith, the single most important factor contributing to superior business results is how supported employees feel and that is determined by their organization's people practices. "Our guiding question then became, what [begin italics] would [end italics] help employees feel more supported by their organization's people practices and enable a consequent improvement in business results?" After extensive research, "we surmised that the single biggest improvement organizations could make would be to become directly relevant to employees' unique needs and circumstances...hence the `workforce of one' was born."

The exemplary companies that Cantrell and Smith discuss include Best Buy, Microsoft, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, The Container Store, Harrah's, Sprint Nextel, Google, W.L. Gore, Taleo, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Men's Wearhouse. All of these companies have recognized and then responded effectively to several trends "that are driving the workforce of one" initiatives: technology as an enabler of customization, employees viewed as customers, knowledge management's impact of HR, C-suite focus on workforce performance, increasingly stronger competition for talent, and a highly diverse and independent ("free agent") workforce that becomes moreso each day.

In different ways and to a varying degree, each of these companies took one or more of four basic approaches to customize its people practices while maintaining control and alignment with business strategy. Here are the approaches:

1. Segment the Workforce (e.g. Accenture and Capital One): "Just as organizations group customers based on shared preferences and needs and [then] create tailored experiences for each group, organizations can likewise group employees based on shared preferences and needs and [then] tailor people practices for each group."

2. Offer Modular Choices (e.g. Deloitte Touche Tohmatzu and Tesco): This approach "lets employees or their managers select from a list of predefined, limited choices [perhaps requested by employees or their managers] based on what suits their needs and preferences best. Cafeteria benefit plans or allowing employees to select their own rewards from a set established by the organization are common examples of modular choice."

3. Define Broad and Simple Rules (W.L. Gore and Best Buy). "Applied to human resources practices, a classic example of a broad and simple rule would be a broadband compensation scheme that collapses the organization's job worth hierarchy into fewer, wider, yet more flexible salary ranges."

4. Foster Employee-Defined Personalization (e.g. PepsiCo and Google) "The three customization approaches we have discussed thus far involve HR or some other central organizational group clearly defining people practices. With an employee-defined personalization approach, however, the employee or her manager largely defines the practice."

Microsoft and Procter & Gamble are two pioneers that focus on all four customization approaches. It is important to keep in mind that each approach has its own unique requirements and poses its own challenges. Moreover, although Cantrell and Smith's focus on the practices of exemplary companies in real-world situations, it remains for each reader to determine (a) which approach or combination of approaches is most appropriate and (b) how to formulate and then implement a plan to "customize" the people practices in the given organization. Finally, although the exemplary organizations are large and complicated, the Workforce of One concept is relevant to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. How could your organization benefit from the approach? Cantrell and Smith provide a self-audit diagnostic on Page 51, followed by a Scoring Guide.

Based on what the results of the self-audit suggests, now what? The material in Part Three offers some tools and ideas to help you build and manage your own workforce of one organization. In Chapter 6, for example, you are provided with a guide to help you to determine your own unique oath toward managing your workforce as a workforce of one by choosing which customization approach or approaches to emphasize, based on your specific business needs and types of employees. Be sure to check out Figure 6-1 ("The four workforce of one customization approaches compared") on Page 159 and the quiz on Page 187 ("Which Customization Approaches May Best Fit My Organization?"). In Chapter 7, Cantrell and Smith offer advice on how to build a convincing business case for customization (See Table 7-1 on Page 206) and suggestions for how to maintain company unity while focusing on individuals on Pages 206-208, immediately followed by a summary of workforce of one challenges and solutions.

The material shared by Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith is best viewed as an anthology of insights, observations, lessons to be learned from real companies in real-world situations, and suggestions. What they provide enables their reader to possess a framework for innovation and improvisation, not an architectural blueprint or an operations manual. Obviously, those who read this book about customization must customize what they have learned.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
4Analytical look at customizing personnel policies to serve a diverse workforce
By Rolf Dobelli
If your company follows cookie-cutter HR policies, then you're not getting the most from your employees. Talent management experts Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith make a convincing case for customizing your company's people policies. Because your employees have different jobs, work styles, needs and aspirations, rigid, top-down management makes little sense - even if, yes, you lose some control. Cantrell and Smith offer four "workforce of one approaches," explain how to implement each one and provide case studies of companies that have pioneered these strategies. Although at times repetitive, the book's analyses, quizzes and checklists serve as helpful tools in determining which approach - or combination of approaches - is right for your company. getAbstract recommends the book's main message to corporate leaders and human resources professionals: Companies that use customized personnel practices will have a more engaged, productive, satisfied workforce, because one size no longer fits all.


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