The Hidden Job Market in Your Corporate Alumni Program

You can bet that your alumni will be in transition not just once, but over and over and over again – which is good news for you.

It's Not the Ceiling You Should Be Worried About

There are exponentially more opportunities for career movement at the base of the pyramid than toward the top.

The Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Provide Outplacement Services

Obviously, you could simply say goodbye to your former employees, and maybe give them a severance package; but here are the top six reasons why you shouldn’t just leave it at that.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What Your Corporate Alumni Program Has to Do With Employee Engagement

Brand, Culture, Engagement - and Your Corporate Alumni Program

Ultimately, the success of any organization comes down to one thing: the engagement of its people.
For most companies, “people” primarily means “employees.” That’s why “employee engagement” is such a big buzzword in the training and development space, and why it shows no indication of becoming less of a concern for HR. The math behind this concern is simple: engaged employees means productive employees, which ultimately means a better bottom line.
For organizations expanding their vision to include their corporate alumni in their people strategy, the math is very similar: engaged alumni means expanded business opportunities, which ultimately means a better bottom line.
The strategy for both boils down to one thing: engaged people.

This originally appeared as an article on To read the full article, please follow this link

Friday, March 28, 2014

Your Career Development Culture - and the Vision Statement Behind It

Transcript: "Let me tell you what I found to be the most important thing when setting up your career development program: it’s establishing your organization’s career vision statement. What is it that you believe in as an organization about career development? It might sound mundane when you think about it, but what we actually find when working with clients all around the world when they’re trying to set this first target is that everyone has a really different view of what career development means."

But remember this: every organization’s vision for career development will be different because all organizations differ with regard to two things:

  1.  Their relationship with their employees, and
  2.  Their organizational culture.

The Key to Career Development Culture

All organizations have different ideas about how long their employees should stay within their roles and within the company, and how much they want them to develop in that time.

Ideally this should be communicated to employees at the time of their hire, if not before – especially if the organization wants to have a long-term relationship with employees when they transition to alumni.  In any case, this should absolutely be established and communicated to employees in the career development vision statement.

This vision statement should be the cornerstone of not only your dialogue with your employees from Day One, but the career development culture that springs up around and as a result of that dialogue.

(Remember, too, that company culture and employee engagement affect each other very directly. For more on this thought, especially as it relates to career development culture, please read Is Your Company Resisting Employee Engagement?)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Career Development Survey Report

We're pleased to announce the launch of our 2014 Career Development Survey Report! A summary comparison of two surveys sent out by Insala in 2011 and 2013,  the whitepaper discusses our findings related to:

  • Social and/or collaborative learning
  • Learning assisted by technology
  • Employees' ability to choose what kind of learning they engage with

Here's a glimpse inside:
It is perhaps not a question of to incorporate or not incorporate technology in employee development strategy: technology is already an integral part of our working lives, and excluding it from learning strategies would be counterintuitive. It is a question, however, of providing employees with a social and collaborative context for their learning, and the ability to choose how, when, and what kind of learning to engage
 If you'd like to read the full report, here's the link to download!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Hidden Job Market in Your Corporate Alumni Program

Hooking Your Alumni

Your corporate alumni program is a long-term strategy. Just as you can’t expect to build it overnight, you need to plan to bring your alumni to your program not just once, but over and over and over again.

The simple fact of it is that alumni are infinitely more likely to make use of your alumni program when they have need of it – namely, when they’re in transition and looking for their next position – than when you want them to (passing on business, referrals, etc.)

So the question is – are you leveraging that fact effectively?

Fact: Jobs Are Not Filled By Job Postings

Lou Adler discussed the results of a survey he had conducted to discover sources of hire earlier in 2013. They were incredible:

“Over half of (58%) of active candidates found jobs in this market, and an astonishing 81% of passive candidates found new jobs here.” (Adler)

This “hidden market” is comprised of individuals’ networks and opportunities for internal career movement – and it happens to be the main source of hire. My thoughts are that organisations and hiring managers are a lot more risk adverse since the last global financial crisis, and this is why such a high percentage of hires are happening by referrals and network introductions.  

In any case, your corporate alumni program is most certainly part of the hidden market, which means it’s extremely valuable to your alumni in transition.

Leverage the Value of Your Corporate Alumni Program

You can bet that your alumni will be in transition not just once, but over and over and over again – which is good news for you. Even if that may not be the case with your Boomer-aged alumni, job change is more frequent in Gen X, and especially so in Gen Y. (For more on engaging your multigenerational alumni community, read "How to Engage Your Corporate Alumni Community.")

They will need your program and network during those transitions. And before you can even start planning to engage them at those moments, you first have to communicate the value of your alumni network to them and get them to buy into it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mentoring vs. Training?

Over on one of our LinkedIn groups (the Mentoring Thought Leaders' Club) there’s been some interesting discussion recently about the merits of training versus mentoring. 

The poll that sparked the discussion asked participants to vote whether they felt employees learned more from training of mentoring. While the majority of the votes were for mentoring (11 compared to 1 vote for mentoring,) the conversation was centered around the fact that there often can be no either/or when it comes to mentoring and training.

Here are some of the highlights:

Mentoring is critical in passing on skills and knowledge and should be coupled with training as well as on the job learning. From my experience training and mentoring cannot be separated.
- Suraya  Abdelrahman

I can't say that learning occurs with one versus another without having a clear understanding of the identified need. I think they are equally effective for learning when used in the proper context.
- Deadra Welcome

Both can be effective support for learning. However, training needs to focus on the right topic at the right time in the person's career with an active mechanism for application and learning transfer. Mentoring could be one of those mechanisms.
- Dana Valley

My honest opinion is that employees learn better with a joint approach. Peer mentoring groups are great to help reinforce learning and to continue to reinforce the learning.
- Deborah Covin Wilson

Yes, a blended learning approach is best… Training provides an opportunity to learn with others on a variety of topics...and the only way to make that experience richer, is to stretch the learning beyond that day in the classroom/webinar or whatever the "event" is.
- Meagan Schmidt

I think the bigger questions for organisations and companies is that too many are still in a teaching mode - the how to that is often equated with training. Yet successful companies are imbued with a learning culture that encompasses everyone - of which mentoring has a critical role to play.
- Brian Cavanagh

What are your thoughts? Feel free to join us on LinkedIn and take part in our next poll and discussion.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's Not a Ceiling You Should Be Worried About

When Moving Up Isn’t Always an Option

A former client recently contacted me about licensing our career development software again with a different objective in mind. Employee engagement has become a real issue for them. They’re losing good, qualified people in whom they’ve invested training, time, and money. And quite rightly, they want to show their employees that they have more good options to move internally than they think they do.
There are three concepts that are linked together quite strongly: employee engagement, self-directed career development, and organisational transparency.

The result? More people realizing they can move laterally as well as vertically - and acting upon it.

This particular client wants their employees to take their careers into their own hands, and is seeking to spur them into action by providing them two things they need to do it:

  1. A way to see what’s available within the organisation and what’s required for those positions (i.e. transparency), and
  2. Benchmarking tools to determine not just what’s realistic now, but what’s achievable in the future.

Organisational transparency is really the foundation of internal career movement, and can mean a lot to employees - not only because it engenders trust between them and the organisation, but because it makes it easy for employees to access the information they need to plan to transition internally when they need it, without having to go through several different channels.

Hitting the Top of the Pyramid

It’s not about hitting the ceiling. A ceiling implies that all paths lead up: that there are many spaces at the top of the organisational structure.

We all know, however, that this isn’t true. There’s only one CEO. Sometimes it’s just true that you don’t have anywhere else to go. You’ve gone as far as you can go in your organisational structure.

And even for people who don’t have such lofty vertical aspirations, the fact remains that there are exponentially more opportunities at the base of the pyramid than toward the top.

So what’s a disengaged employee to do - decide to stop growing in their career? Never. Give up and choose to leave the organisation for better upward prospects? Not necessarily.

It can be extremely enriching for an employee to grow their career horizontally versus vertically because of the inherent developmental opportunities. It’s in this way that career development is linked to career transition. If an individual chooses to take a lateral career move within the organisation, they are able to develop through the experience that comes with that move: a new skill set, a new culture, a chance to foster a closer relationship between departments and improve processes and business.

However, one last word of caution: if an individual is so disengaged that they’re actively hurting the organisation’s process and/or image, it may well be time to help them transition out.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mentor Matching: Valentine's Day Edition

The process of mentor matching is often enough likened to dating that I thought I’d have some fun with it this Valentine’s Day.

The truth is that some mentor/mentee matches do not work. And in the case of mismatch, it’s important to catch it as soon as possible.

There’s not necessarily an easy way for a program admin to determine if a relationship is on the rocks or not until it’s too late. Most of it boils down to checking in with your mentors and mentees regularly and paying attention for warning signs.

Here are some signs that things may be going very, very well – or, alternatively, going very, very badly.

Mentoring Partnership Gone Wrong!

1. Mismatch. The matching process may go wrong for one of many reasons. Many times, however, I’ve found that higher mismatch rates occur either when a) the mentee is not clear about what they want to achieve in a mentoring partnership or b) program admins are doing the matching on paper and by hand, especially with larger groups. That’s a lot of information to keep track of.

2. No chemistry and/or respect. People sometimes feel uncomfortable on a first date for reasons they’re not able to pinpoint at the time. But if they have a lot in common, they might agree to a second date - because surely with all they have in common, something will develop.

The same thing can happen with mentor/mentee matches. A lack of chemistry can be manageable. You may not have had chemistry with all of your college professors, but chances are you still learned from them. And as with some of those first dates, the awkwardness and discomfort passes, and something great develops.

So be sure to remember that the #1 criteria for matching mentors and mentees should be development. If that lack of interpersonal chemistry keeps the development from taking place, the partnership won’t succeed.

Also - you should definitely watch for a lack of respect. If one half of a relationship doesn’t have respect for the other, no partnership can be built upon it.

3. The fights. Of course, if the basis of the mentoring partnership is not respect, you can be assured that little to no learning and development will occur. There may not be actual “fights”, but there will probably be a lot of passivity – or passive aggression – when it comes to the learning plan and partnership goals. We’re not talking about “disagreements” or differences of opinion here – people are people, and many times they can disagree with each other in a way that results in a good sharing of ideas.

Take care, here – they may come to you or another program admin to help them resolve their problem(s). Don’t brush off their concerns – if you expect them to invest in their partnership, you need to invest in them.

On the other hand, even if they don’t come to you,
you still must be alert for signs of this occurring.

4. The breakup. If you aren’t alert, the breakup will probably happen without you noticing. Activity will simply stop. The mentoring pair won’t meet. They won’t set goals. They’ll give up on each other.

Mentoring Partnership Gone Right!

1. Match. Great matches can be made with matching software or without. For optimal matches, just make sure that the criteria and the process is as simple as possible. Complicating the process doesn’t result in “deeper connections” (a la E-Harmony) – at least when it comes to mentor matching, and especially without software to keep track of everything. It just makes more work and frustration for you, and a greater likelihood of causing mismatches. So whether you want to play Cupid and find people their one match, or allow them to browse profiles online and match themselves, just remember: keep things simple.

2. Chemistry and/or respect. Going back to the first date metaphor – while “sparks” may certainly be preferred, the one absolutely necessary thing is respect. If the mentor/mentee pair respect each other – even when there may be trouble – anything can still be fixed.

3. Growing/learning together. It’s an old adage that teachers learn just as much from their students as the students learn from them. Good mentoring partnerships are driven by the mentee – and the mentee’s learning needs. But in most cases, being exposed to a new perspective in the organization can cause the mentor to learn as well.

4. The (optional) breakup. During the separation/redefinition phase of a good mentoring partnership, the breakup occurs only because the formal program has come to an end. The mentor/mentee may choose to remain in the same relationship informally, not relating the mentee’s development back to organizational goals – meaning no breakup at all! Even if they choose not to stay on as mentor/mentee informally, a successful mentoring partnership ends on good, mutually beneficial terms.

Now, true, mentors and mentees dating can be an issue, and I advise all you program administrators to set down rules and guidelines ahead of time to deal with the possibility of mentor/mentee romances.

In the meantime, Happy Valentine’s Day!