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October 17, 2017

Jumeirah Hotels – where succeeding means success


Recently I came across this quote: “True succession planning takes time – it’s a process, not an event.”

Earlier in my career, I think I may have underestimated the full impact of this concept; but over time I have come to realise that not only is succession planning a process, but it is also a vital process that serves and benefits both employees and the organization equally.

About a year ago the Jumeirah Group, a global luxury hotel and resort company with over 14,000 employees, decided it was time to design and implement a comprehensive and structured succession planning framework, and one that allowed us to incorporate performance reviews.

This was by no means a small undertaking, and the technology and the work involved from moving data from one system to another required training. In fact, it was only when my colleagues and I first sat down with SumTotal Systems to begin the discussion about how we would proceed, what our goals were and how we envisaged achieving these goals, that the enormity of the task dawned on me.

But fortunately, SumTotal was there to help me integrate the new system with all the old systems, provided training for new systems and technology, and even when it was all up and running continued to provide much-needed support, advice and reassurance through their support portal.

There were a few bumps naturally, but thanks to the simplicity of the design and the expert training, our completion rate of appraisals rocketed from 7% to 97%.

We also noticed that, due to the implementation of the succession planning process, we now could set in motion the steps to ensure any high potentials who were identified were suitably recognized and provided with additional support and opportunities to develop and thrive. In a way, having all this data about our employees has enabled us to establish a talent pipeline and consequently both employees and the organization reap the benefits.

We also went paperless, something I’m personally quite proud of, and despite the additions to our talent management system, it is now a lot easier to access and utilize.

Earlier this month Aon Hewitt, a leading global human resource consulting company named us a “Best Employer in the UAE,” and although I know there are many reasons we earned this accolade, I can’t help but feel that our new talent management processes played a part.

Muna Al Mazam is the Talent Manager of Learning & Development for the Jumeirah Group.

August 17, 2017

5 Things You Need to Know About Managing Talent Today


Even if you have never seen Fight Club you will no doubt be familiar with these now infamous and iconic lines:

The first rule of fight club is you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.

Sometimes, I think HR can be a bit like that. Okay, so we do not pulverise each other, but it can feel like you are working in a vacuum, isolated both from the rest of your organization, but also, and importantly, from other people in HR. There is a myth that HR is something that happens behind closed doors and is only spoken about when a problem arises. Perhaps someone in finance has watched Fight Club one too many times, and then all of a sudden it’s all about HR.

But in the normal run of things, the day to day business of managing talent, this is what intrigues me.

What are your HR peers focusing on? How are other HR departments handling the ever evolving world of the modern worker whose expectations and experiences with HR is rapidly being reshaped by technology at a rate that is both thrilling and equal parts exhausting and infuriating?

Which is why when we do get some insights into the world of HR, we tend to inhale the information as though it was a last meal.

The Fosway Group and SumTotal’s Transforming Talent in the Modern Workforce research and Mercer’s Talent Trends 2017 Global Study have both recently completed large comprehensive studies on the modern workforce and what the findings reveal is that, not surprisingly, HR is feeling the heat of the modern worker and their collected expectations.

#1 Performance management and appraisals show the most progress

88% of company’s made changes to their performance management processes in 2016, with more to follow. However, only 44% reported that their performance management process was ready for the modern work force, which means most do not feel ready.

#2 Learning & Development is not ready for the impact of technology

Again, only 42% believe they are ready to provide ‘very advanced’ learning. What does this mean for L&D professionals, and how can HR address this poor showing?

#3 Career development is not developed

Only 1 in 10 said their approach is very advanced, with 69% saying they have work to do to be ‘ready.’ I am slightly surprised by just how low this number is, and do have to wonder why it is so abysmal? Are we not listening to our talent, who repeatedly express a desire to have the opportunity to advance in their careers and see it as a deciding factor when choosing an employer?

#4 Not promoting from within

Harnessing talent internally is still one of the least advanced elements of the talent agenda. Again, I am disappointed that companies are not seeing the incredible opportunity that is at their disposal, particularly since we all know there is a massive skills shortage and soon we will see companies fighting over talent.

#5 Hiring is misfiring

Less than 1 in 4 believe their talent pool approach is ‘ready.’ Without sounding like I am on repeat, this too is a figure that is less than satisfactory. What are we not doing that we should be doing?

Are you surprised by the results? Or are you nodding your head in agreement?

What would you say are the roadblocks facing HR? Well, if your answer includes any of the following – company culture, lack of organizational urgency around talent management and time constraints- you’d be right. When asked, these were the items that popped up the most.

But I’m curious now to see and hear what HR is doing to combat these concerns and improve the numbers. I’m also encouraged by customers I have the privilege of speaking with who are taking steps to right some of these wrongs.

Perhaps now that such areas of concern have been highlighted, we might see a greater redirection of focus or efforts. But we still need greater buy-in from CEOs and others who can impact company culture and shift the emphasis to greater awareness around managing talent today.

If HR is to win and succeed in managing a workforce that is itself evolving and facing new challenges, we must have more open discourse. Otherwise, much like Fight Club’s protagonist, HR will become embroiled in a war with itself.

June 21, 2017

What is the Future of HR and Talent Management?


HR must give value or give notice” – Dave Ulrich

Okay, so we’ve been hearing this statement for some time now. This, and the fact that HR is facing change like never before: politically, economically, and socially.

But what does it all mean to the person working in HR?

When they go into the office and open their email, what fills those subject lines? What issues or problems do they encounter on a daily basis?

This is what we wanted to know, so we asked. We surveyed HR teams from a broad range of industries, company sizes, and included those from both the public and private sectors. In total, we got 175 responses reflecting the thoughts and opinions of 150 organizations.

We took the responses and developed a white paper, The Future of HR and Talent Management.

Will the results surprise you? Perhaps.

Is it a worthwhile read? Definitely.

The survey provides some fascinating insights – including the reasons for the current penchant for switching jobs regularly, why the traditional bi-annual review is going the way of the dinosaurs, and what it means for everyone – not just HR – that only 10% of respondents rated their onboarding process as effective.

What is the benefit, the value of this information?

I think one of those interviewed, Fran Stott, HR Director with Story Homes provides the answer:

“I think the HR function needs to be able to show their value to the business, and strategically support the business in their medium to long-term ambitions.”

In other words, HR must give value. And to be of value, you must have knowledge, understanding, and a comprehensive and current picture of the situation, in this case the workplace environment, to then be in the best position to serve and provide, yes value.

To get this, I’d recommend you start by reading the white paper, here.

May 22, 2017

How to handle a large, dispersed workforce and ever changing government pay regulations


Change is good, but let’s face it, change brings disruption.

And when it is government rules and regulations that are changing, such disruption can significantly impact HR operations. Now on top of everything else, HR must figure out how best to handle this new development, while simultaneously continuing to provide all the other myriad of services without any glitches.

Now imagine that the change encompasses not only how you report the annual income of all employees, but also impacts retirement pensions. And for a staff that already presents challenges given their dispersion across multiple departments, each with their own separate processes and systems.

This is the rather unenviable position we at Gwynedd Council found ourselves in. We needed to figure out a way to incorporate all these new regulations, yet with a process that was also agile and could, in time, adapt should any further changes occur.

To solve this dilemma, we turned to SumTotal’s configurable payroll solution which allowed us to streamline data and bring together multiple payments in an efficient and less time-consuming manner. What further helped is that the new solution also facilitates greater opportunities for reporting analysis, which was hugely relevant given the new regulations around Real Time Information (RTI).

To streamline the process even more, we integrated auto-enrollment in the workforce pension into the system, which made us compliant with all the new changes, without, and this was important, additional workload.

In short, now we are not only in compliance with all the new government regulations, we have eliminated paperwork and labour intensive procedures for processing payments, can now give payroll managers a comprehensive overview of their entire staff for better budget planning and finally, and significantly, can strategically plan for future changes in government rules and regulations.

To read the Gwynedd Council case study, click here.

May 15, 2017

Join Us at the 2017 India Perspectives


Stepping into the Future of Learning and Talent is the theme of our 2017 Perspectives conference this year.

What does that mean and why did we choose it?

Arguably, it could mean many things. But for us, as the leading provider of eLearning, we feel it is our duty to ensure our customers are prepared. Now while we can’t prepare you for absolutely everything, we can prepare you for the future workplace, the future worker, the future learner.

Let me assure you that the future looks different. Change is happening on every front: from consumer-led content and personalised technology, to gamification, virtual reality, and the arrival of Gen Z.

It is a future that will present people working in L&D and talent management with challenges, but challenges that can be easily met – if you’re prepared.

To ensure you are prepared, we’ve put together an agenda that encompasses all these areas and is filled with expert thought and insight into not only what to expect, but how to meet these expectations.

For starters, our Executive Chairman, Bill Donoghue, will give an overview of the changes we have made to our content, systems, and platforms over the past 12 months and how we plan to continue this growth in the future.

He will be followed by Apratim Purakayastha (AP), our CTO, who will discuss in greater detail our technology. Potoula Chresomales, SVP Product, will unveil Percipio, our new and exciting learning experience, while Bill Docherty, SVP Product, will talk everyone through the new SumTotal Future Roadmap.

Then, we will have a panel discussion moderated by Melissa Ries, VP & GM, APAC on Is Your Talent Future Ready and include Damodar Padhi, VP & Global Head – L&D, TCS, and Prithvi Shergill, ex-CHRO, HCL.

Lastly, from Skillsoft I’ll give you quick overview on all the fabulous new content we have completed and what else will soon be making its way to your systems.

Next, we’ll turn the day over to three of our customers – Tata Communications, Landmark Group, and Sun Pharma to show case their success stories.

Ester Martinez, Editor-in-Chief of People Matters will then host a lively and energetic debate on looking at the organizational learning with two lenses – HR and Business. This will be followed by the Keynote Address by Ashish Vidyarthi, National Award Winning Actor, Speaker, and Founder of AVID MINER.

To end, we will announce the winners of our 2017 India Innovation Awards.

We look forward to see you at 2017 India Perspectives on Thursday, May 18 at The Oberoi Mumbai.

Join us. Register here!

May 11, 2017

Running with blinders on – reducing unintended bias in the workplace


Sometimes lessons present themselves in unexpected places.

During a recent live BBC interview with international relations expert Professor Robert Kelly, on the possible impeachment of the South Korean president, two children suddenly burst into view.  Despite the interruption, Professor Kelly tries to continue with the interview, but it is clear that the news anchor has lost all interest in the subject and instead can’t help but focus on the source of the interruption.

Within hours, the clip went viral.

The video raises several questions about parenting styles, working with children, and perhaps most significantly, why everyone assumed the woman who followed the kids into the room and frantically rounded them up was the nanny?

This assumption, has everyone pointing fingers at one another and some commentators going so far as to suggest that we are all guilty of stereotyping. The family themselves aren’t too bothered, and when interviewed, en masse this time, they simply laughed it off. But it does serve as a stark reminder that no matter how open minded or non-judgemental we may feel, we do tend to categorize people.

In the workplace, this can lead to manager bias whereby a person is treated differently because of their age, race, ethnicity, or gender. This bias, or “blinder,” can be a huge challenge for organizations around the globe.

The question therefore is what measures can an organization take to ensure that the “blinders,” whether conscious or unconscious, are removed from workforce decisions?

The answer is technology. We all need to be using smart, common-sense technology to connect ‘people’ data to ‘numbers’ data and then basing decisions on this, rather than human instinct.

A simple example of this is to leverage a workforce management capability like occurrence tracking. Occurrence tracking gives managers, at their fingertips, objective data that removes subjectivity from tasks like performance reviews by including information like number of absences, how many times they helped their peers with shift trades and so forth.

Another example is scheduling. From within scheduling, managers can leverage capabilities to assign tasks by seniority, skill, and certification rather than selecting an employee because the supervisor is friends with them.

Additionally, providing employees with the self-service capability allows them to indicate their availability and therefore have a say in the schedule, rather than leaving it to a manager’s assumptions. Such assumptions can lead to bias if, for example, a manager decides that a student cannot do an early morning shift because of school.

With “blinders-free” data, managers can not only make decisions that are unbiased and based on fact rather than opinion, it also provides them with tangible evidence for any decisions. As the BBC video shows, we have a long way to go before we can completely and accurately say that bias no longer exists. But in the meantime, we can continue to use technology to progress and move toward a “blinder-free” workplace.

Read about some other trends and continue the conversation with us by requesting a demo.

April 3, 2017

Competency Models and Employee Development – A Perfect Match!


As a manager, I was often asked by my direct reports for help – to tell what them what skills they needed to develop so they could be eligible for a promotion or what they need to do to become a top performer in their current role.

I usually encouraged them to work on those skills in which they were weak; but I realize now what would have been more valuable was if I had competency models – organized and structured paths that I could have used to help these employees both improve their performance and prepare for their next position.

For example, an employee who is currently a sales professional but wants to increase their performance and hopes to eventually become a sales manager, comes to you and asks for guidance. What advice would you give them?

Not sure?

That’s what competency models are for –  now all you have to do is  simply take a look at the competency models for each role – you’ll find that relationship building, product knowledge, strategic planning and decision making are among the competencies recommended for these positions.  Then think of the employee, who you know is really strong on product knowledge and relationship building,  and you offer coaching and feedback so they can develop their strategic planning and decision making skills.

They get the correct career guidance, and you, as the manager, can feel happy that you have provided the relevant L&D opportunities. A win-win.

But competency models aren’t just great for performance coaching, they help organizations unite core talent management functions: learning, performance, succession, and recruiting.  With a common language in place, competency models define what success looks like across all roles and functions.

As the desire for increased development and career mobility continues among employees, it makes good business sense to develop and implement competency models.

And here’s the good news for SumTotal customers – our latest enhancements to the SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite include new competency capabilities which provide a self-service way to explore competencies for current and future jobs targeted as part of employee career plans. Additionally, our core and job-specific competencies make it easier than ever to identify skill gaps and build personal learning plans which will prepare for the role they want in the future.

With so many benefits to creating and implementing competency models, what is stopping you?

March 28, 2017

Participate in our Exciting New Research with Fosway Group!

Got a spare 20?


I’m talking about minutes, because that’s all it takes to complete a Fosway and SumTotal survey, but the results will give us a wealth of data.

Data we will then use to paint the most current and accurate landscape of learning and talent management in organisations across EMEA.

Why is this information important to us?

Because we will use this invaluable material as we continue to design and create world class eLearning and HCM tools. Our thinking is, how can we know what you, the customer, wants unless you tell us? And here is your chance to do so. Your time to let us know what is working and what isn’t, what we need to change and how we can change.

And hey, if you haven’t got 20 – how about 5 or 10?

You don’t have to finish it in one sitting, you can return to the survey and resume where you left off – just don’t forget to save your data as you complete the form.

And I know how hectic your schedules are so why should you invest time answering our survey?

For loads of reasons, but primarily because this is a great opportunity to have your say, your voice heard, in a project run jointly by us and Fosway, Europe’s #1 learning analyst and who, for over 20 years, have provided unique insight into the world of corporate learning technology and innovation.

Be a part of the solution, the future.

When do you get the results?

The results will be officially announced by David Wilson, 16th May at our EMEA Perspectives event, but all those who participated in the survey will receive their own results report first.

To complete the survey

December 27, 2016

Looking Back: 4 Realities of Talent Management in 2016

How well do the realities of talent management line up with expectations? As the year comes to a close, let’s examine how some expert predictions for 2016 came to pass in the last 12 months.

Hindsight: in the Rearview Mirror

Josh Bersin predicted accelerated replacement of dated HR technology, increased focus on analytics, and a reinvention of talent management and the tools that go with it to deliver a better employee experience.

Updating dated HR technology: Many of the organizations we encounter are looking to put less reliance on the ERP/HRIS system as the central focus point of how they run HR and talent, shifting their focus to talent management platforms. They’re also hoping to consolidate vendors to improve efficiency and integration between systems. Organizations are recognizing the value of having talent, learning & development, performance management and workforce all integrated so they can have more insight into the entire employee experience, not just insight into the financials.

Digging into Big Data: The consolidated data and predictive analytics tools modern talent management systems deliver are becoming must-haves for many HR departments—but according to Brandon Hall Group, while 63% of organizations realize predictive talent analytics are critical, just 4% are ready to use them.

The trend seems to be to update systems, then build the capabilities to leverage new functionality once new technology is in place. This second step is crucial, as simply implementing new technology won’t deliver real value to the business—talent professionals must take advantage of the insight and efficiencies the tech offers to realize actual gains.

Improving the employee experience: Firms are working to provide intuitive, seamless, experiences from talent acquisition and onboarding through performance management, retention, learning and career development within the organization. CHROs are challenging themselves and their teams to create an end-to-end employee experience—this delivers a competitive advantage in terms of improved ability to attract and retain top talent.

Transparency—simply giving workers and candidates visibility into what’s happening—can significantly enhance the employee experience. Candidates want to know where they are in the process, what they can expect. New hires want to get to know the company and understand what they need to do to succeed in their roles; staff at all levels want to know how they’re performing and what they can do to advance their careers—they want to see what opportunities are available within the organization. Managers want insight into their team members and how best to support them in their development.

Many organizations are working to deliver an employee experience that mirrors the consumer interactions people enjoy daily with their favorite brands. To change the experience, the technology must change as well—these two pieces are inextricably linked.

Reinventing talent management tools: One of the strengths of SumTotal’s products is our focus on delivering a great employee experience. We deliver the visibility your people need, when and where they need it. All your employees need to love our products—not just HR.

Delivering that seamless experience is one of our major considerations as we develop our new recruiting platform: we’re giving applicants more transparency, making the application process easier and more mobile, then offering them better tools for seeing what’s next once they’re activated as a candidate. We want to make it easier for them to communicate with the recruiting team, as well as make it easier for the employees involved in the interview process to manage their tasks and deliver required feedback.

Built on our existing technology stack, our talent acquisition platform will bring forward a lot of the tools, data, systems and interoperability inherent in our existing products. For example, within our talent platform’s performance management and team management tools, customers build up data about teams—they can bring that data into the recruiting process to show candidates how they compare to people in that role or on the team, in the same way they currently use that intel to help identify relevant learning or advancement opportunities within the organization.

Did your organization keep pace with the predictions? Or do you still have some work to do in terms of your talent management systems and processes?

Make sure you’re focused on the right initiatives: Learn more about talent imperatives many organizations overlook.

October 20, 2016

DP World’s search for an LMS Uncovers a Talent Management Solution

DP World is a key player in the global supply chain, with 77 marine and inland terminals across 6 continents. To maintain a competitive positon and continue providing clients with the service that has earned DP World a great reputation internationally, the company relies on its 37,000 employees. Employees who have chosen DP World because they understand that the company ethos, “Creating the Future Now,” applies as much to how the organization operates as a business, as to how managers treat their talent. With DP World, staff can expect personal development and career opportunities that guarantee an enriching and rewarding future.

SumTotal at CLO Symposium

Ensuring that DP World’s professional development programs met such expectations was beginning to prove challenging. Geographical, language and time barriers meant traditionally delivered methods such as face-to-face training were no longer viable options.

After reviewing the situation, DP World decided that the best resolution was to introduce an LMS into the company. But it wasn’t as simple as that. They wanted a LMS that not only looked good, was cost effective, and could be easily customised to reflect the DP World brand, but—perhaps most importantly—the company was in search of one all-encompassing learning and talent solution.

DP World soon discovered SumTotal could provide this unified solution. The two partnered on what became DP World’s “single biggest IT project in terms of numbers using the system.” Known internally as iLearn, the system incorporates iPerform and iCareer, allowing DP World to offer over 100 courses and manage everything from professional development to end of year bonuses and complete succession planning. All with one easy to use system.

Once introduced, the results were phenomenal. DP World realized an immediate 80% increase in course completion rate. HR staff now plan to roll out iLearn to even bigger numbers.

DP World staff were also impressed with the connection they established with SumTotal. In an interview, Shanavas Koya, Head of Human Capital Projects, DP World, acknowledged the relationship with SumTotal as “a true partnership” and a huge contributing factor in the success of the programme.

Watch this video to learn more about the partnership and DP World’s great results.