As benefits professionals continue to engage with more multicultural, multigenerational and more mobile workforces, their challenges will continue to grow.

“It’s a challenging, but exciting time to be in HR,” said consultant Marcus Buckingham Monday at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in Las Vegas. “If you want to build a great organization, you can’t build it from the center,” he said, predicting an oncoming shift in how benefits professionals and other HR leaders need to better strategize organizational development and leadership.    

Organizations don’t necessarily focus on building engagement tools for team leaders, he said, and, as a result, these tools are being developed for the wrong audience.

“We know engagement varies by leader but we’ve built a system designed for the organization,” he said.

In fact, when developing engagement tools, there are three questions benefits managers should ask:

  1. What are the strengths of my people?
  2. What are they doing?
  3. How are they feeling?

And these questions are going be interconnected, said Buckingham.
“If you build tools for the person running that team, and if they use them, you’ll get data. If you get data you’ll get insight,” he said.

Employers need to move away from big data to real time information, he said, and this will help fuel better performance and higher engagement.

“We in HR cannot be perceived as purveyors of bad data,” he says. “We need to be known for the reliability of real-time data, and I don’t think we are at this point.”

Buckingham advised frequent strength-based check ins as a way to find the strengths of your best leaders. Weekly touch-ins, or light touch conversations, will allow you to see what it is they’re doing right.

Don’t wait for the annual reviews, he added. “Performance reviews are more like mirrors than windows; they reflect the rater, not the person being rated.”

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