Those who are willing to look at the needs and pain points of con-sumers
and the power of technology and turn a business model on
its head to allow it to be competitive in a new economy.
“This new dynamic makes our portfolio in people leadership
more important than ever. I’ve lived through a lot of different
things over the last 25 years, but I think the next couple of years
are going to be a whole new level of change,” said Fullerton.
PREPARING THE WORKFORCE FOR THE FUTURE
For HR leaders and employees who’ve established a playbook on
how to succeed in the old economy, a shift to valuing human or
“soft” skills over experience may be challenging.
Corus Entertainment has introduced the concept of learn-ing
agility into its development programs for new, high-potential
employees and for high-performing mid-career leaders. An assess-ment
tool provides participants with a clear picture of their
current level of agility and adaptability in areas like problem solv-ing,
change and interpersonal relationships so that conversations
about development and career path can focus on these elements.
“We’re starting the shift to the future workforce within our
organization by starting to teach people to value different things.
You need to change thinking before you can ask people to change
behaviours – for example, who to hire or who to promote,” said
Fullerton. “We’re trying to look at talent from a view of who has
flexibility in ability and approach, particularly when facing new
situations. We’re asking questions to uncover, ‘Does this person in
sales have the potential to go and do marketing or programming?’
We’re stretching conversations between functions and within
functions. This kind of agility is crucial because what they’re doing
right now may not exist in five years.”
Nick Todd, general manager at Expression for Growth, a
global training provider, says the most in-demand skills employ-ers
seek today are human skills. Organizations around the
world bring in his facilitators to provide training solutions that
employees may not have encountered in their formal education
or on-the-job learning.
“For us, the common thread is communication,” said Todd.
“These are what some people call soft skills, but for lots of people,
the soft stuff is the hard stuff. It makes the biggest difference to ask
the right questions, listen to answers and seek to understand. That
kind of skill set, whether you’re in leadership, sales or working on
a team, makes a massive difference.”
He’s observed that the qualities that differentiate performance
are softer skills like creative thinking and the ability to build pro-ductive
habits and behaviours with good outcomes.
“Your background or practical skills are not always a good pre-dictor
of how you will show up with your soft skills.”
Another factor that sets workers apart from each other – and
potential AI replacements – is emotional intelligence.
“Basic stuff like being able to ask good questions and really lis-ten
and be curious is amazingly effective, but it can be so hard for
lots of people… 80 per cent of questions people ask are to confirm
what they’re already thinking,” said Todd. “If you’re a manager and
you want to find out how to motivate your team, rather than think
of 72 different ways you could do it, engage your curiosity and
invite a conversation so you’re receiving information and connect-ing
at the same time.”
CREATING AN AGILE WORKPLACE
Building agility and resilience into workplace culture is a crucial
way to help employees informally develop new skills.
“One of the things I love about Corus is that when people go on
parental leave, we see it as a huge opportunity to give other people
different workplace experiences and build up their strengths and
potential for future opportunities,” said Fullerton.
They also try to build a culture where people can learn about,
offer ideas and get involved in other parts of the business. People
who embrace these opportunities help identify which employees
are motivated to be agile and capable of accomplishing things in
ways they hadn’t previously demonstrated. It’s also a chance for
experienced professionals to rub off on people newer to the area
and vice versa, creating that counterbalance between the knowl-edgeable
and the disruptor.
Fullerton acknowledges that leadership plays an integral role in
facilitating a culture of agility.
“Senior leaders have a big impact on what’s acceptable and
what’s not. Leaders here have really spearheaded our culture of
‘test and learn,’ which makes it okay to speak up, try things and
make mistakes. People here aren’t afraid of challenging and asking
questions. One of our core values is to ‘think beyond,’ to challenge
assumptions and invent opportunities. We actively work to nur-ture
When it comes to creating a workplace for the future, the
unknowns can be overwhelming. Fullerton advises making small
changes rather than waiting for full answers.
“We spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the future of
work, disruption and building cultures of innovation, but we’re not
yet spending the same amount of time actually getting started on it.
“For now, we have to play in both worlds at the same time. We
just have to get started.” n
“THIS NEW DYNAMIC
MAKES OUR PORTFOLIO IN
PEOPLE LEADERSHIP MORE
IMPORTANT THAN EVER.”
– CHERYL FULLERTON
24 ❚ JUNE 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL