Top HR influencer William Tincup tells us how workplaces need to change and adapt to include a culture of recognition and appreciation
As one of the world’s top HR influencers, William Tincup has established himself as an expert on the convergence of HR and Tech. He’s an extremely popular blogger and much in-demand keynote speaker with over 200 HR articles and about 1,000 podcasts published. His articles have been featured on blogs like Fistful of Talent, Human Capital Institute and LinkedIn Talent Blog to name a few.
Tincup spoke to the Bravo team and had a ton of insightful things to say about how employee recognition is key to not just retaining but acquiring talent, culture stacks and how we in the trenches of HR should learn to listen more to our peers.
Q.: Your journey into HR has been different to say the least. You once ran an ad agency and now you are one of the world’s foremost HR thinkers. How did this happen?
William Tincup: Two things come to mind,
(1) whilst running said ad agency, I did all the HR and TA related tasks. Payroll, hiring, intern program, etc, etc.
(2) marketers can be quite jaded. I was tired of the darkness. HR, while knowing the darkest secrets of the company are consistently hopeful. I like that. I’d rather surround myself with folks that are hopeful.
Q.: You have spoken with a lot of insight on culture and its influences. There is one quote about culture by you that is particularly striking ‘Throw 20 people into a room, give them time, energy, a budget, and initiatives, and culture will happen. It might not be the culture you like! It might not align with anything you have going on, but culture will happen.’ So let’s just say a company has a not-so-great culture. How do you think this can be changed, particularly when the culture is ingrained deeply within an organization?
William Tincup: It’s both easy and difficult… go offsite and define the new culture and the values that support said culture… that would be the easy part. The hire, fire and promote based on your new values a la culture. That would be the tough part.
Q. One question that we have pondered for long is, how do you scale culture without introducing baggage? I remember reading the Netflix culture deck the first time and I was prepared to be disappointed. That I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. The question has since been top of the mind for us. How do you scale culture? How does culture move from the slides of a deck and into the real world?
William Tincup: Great question. One of the things we probably need to agree upon is that culture is not singular. Take the exercise above and add some flexibility to each of the values. Meaning a particular value isn’t absolute – it’s a range… it has edges that need definition. That’s how you scale. You allow culture to be plural yet lockstep.
Q.: As a follow-up to that, what role does employee recognition play in the creation of a great culture?
William Tincup: Depends on the values of that particular company. Now the interesting part of this question is candidates under 30, one of the questions they ask at the interview phase is “how are you going to praise and/or reward me?” So, in some ways, no matter what your values you’ll need a strong recognition strategy just to acquire young talent.
Q.: Millennials are re-defining the workplace. In a world of instant gratification, how best can organizations touch upon the need to provide recognition in a much more timely and individualized manner?
William Tincup: Two strategies I would suggest for younger talent… (1) Know what’s next for them, essentially internal mobility. Have a plan and communicate it to them. (2) Train them. Take a real interest in developing them and their skills and experiences. Do this and reward them and you’ll be fine.
“For candidates under 30, one of the questions they ask at the interview phase is “how are you going to praise and/or reward me?”
Q.: Why have performance appraisals failed to elicit better performances from employees? Does this failure explain the rise of peer-to-peer workplace recognition initiatives?
William Tincup: Performance management fails because it’s about how to get more yield out of the employee. It’s not about the employee, it’s about how can we get them to work harder, faster and better so we get a better return on our investment in people. That’s why it fails.
Q.: If you were to design the ideal employee experience, how would it be?
William Tincup: Simple & difficult… highly personalized to the employee. Period.
Q.: By 2020, more than 50% of the population of India would be below the age of 25 years. That’s half a billion people. This demographic divided poses a risk too due to lack of proper education and training. If you had the opportunity to shape such a huge resource, how would you approach this problem/opportunity?
William Tincup: Let’s take a look at how Israel makes it mandatory to serve in the military in some or another. As I understand it, you must serve. So I think parts of India need to think like that about vocations. Pick 100 vocations. Test, assess and then each person puts three years into the vocation. That could be a model to train the next generation.
Q. Which is the product or technology related to HR applications that you are most excited about for in the future?
William Tincup: I’m really excited about tools that do two things
- Tell me what just happened, why and what I should learn from it, and
- Tell me what will happen next and how I should prepare. Reflective and predictive.
“The good news is culture can be changed, modified and/or created. The bad news is culture takes time, money and focus.”
Q.: Recruiting stacks get a lot of attention. Is there a culture stack that organizations should be paying more attention to?
William Tincup: Culture is attached to many things… values, recognition, engagement, mortality, ethics, recognition, etc., etc., etc. So yes, I think we’re all thinking about culture… but in different ways. Lastly on this point, it also comes down to how a company prioritizes (or doesn’t) culture (budget, technology, programs). The good news is culture and be changed, modified and/or created. The bad news is culture takes time, money and focus.
Q.: Communication is a vital part of employee engagement. Do you think assigning this task to AI tools such as chatbots could be the way forward?
William Tincup: Well yes. Siri, what’s the capital of Texas? Alexa, what’s the GDP of Bangladesh? Siri, who should I recognize today? Alexa, who’s uncompensated and over performing? So, yeah.
“We just need to talk more, listen more and learn more from our peers.”
Q.: One last thing, what are the biggest mistakes that HR personnel are currently making? Both as individuals and as departments? Are these blind spots or something else? HR people reading this would love to get advice from you on this.
William Tincup: Easy. Not talking and/or leveraging peer knowledge. We just need to talk more, listen more and learn more from our peers.