Category Archives: 2013

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’13, 13, 13!

Category : 2013

It is always hard to believe that another year has flown by and that we will soon be leaving 2013 (’13) behind.

13 is an interesting number.  Some people find it to be “unique” or “cool”; it is often their favorite number.  Others prefer another number.

We are excited about 13!  You see, as Leapfrog Executive Search leaves ’13 and enters 2014, it marks the beginning of our 13th year!  We are grateful for the opportunity to have built long-term relationships with so many of you and to have served so many terrific organizations, those large and small and across all industries.  We remain committed to providing outstanding retained search services focused exclusively on HR leadership roles.  It is what we have done for one dozen years, and we enthusiastically look forward to #13!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


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Talent Tales – Clayton Gammill of EY

Category : 2013

We recently spoke with Clayton Gammill, a Principal in the Dallas offices of EY, to capture his insights on ways that senior HR leaders can best impact the financial bottom-line at their organizations.

Q: Can you describe for us your role at EY?
Sure. We take a more integrated approach to HR solutions than is industry norm.  As a principal in the Tax practice, I have the benefit of looking at HR opportunities for improvement in a multi-dimensional fashion. So in looking at cost optimization, for example, we are able to look holistically at everything from global payroll and global mobility to benefits actuarial services, along with sophisticated workforce need assessment and modeling. This enables us to help the senior HR officer identify which opportunities can have the most material impact on their organization’s revenue plan. At the end of the day, many potential HR initiatives come with primarily intangible benefits, so we add value by helping quantify hard-dollar impacts up front. From there, many projects sell themselves through a compelling financial case while still bringing significant intangible or strategic benefit.

Q: What do you see as a common barrier to the success of value-creation efforts generated from within the HR organization ?
Often HR struggles to execute on transactional responsibilities, due to technologies that haven’t historically supported the business, as well as non-standardized processes. I think HR organizations have gotten a lot accomplished with good old-fashioned sweat equity.  As a result, leaders can struggle to make the business case for change, reducing the senior HR officer’s leverage to get a mission-critical project proper internal resourcing, and putting the overall change effort at risk.

Q: Your emphasis on value-creation prompts us to ask: What is the current state of business process outsourcing (BPO), what trends are you seeing?
If you look to the macro trends, there has been a move away from comprehensive BPO over the last few years. In large part for the reason I just cited – the more comprehensive projects will tend to span multiple business lines within a client site, and so it is seldom clear how the HR officer can keep  it moving along at a satisfactory pace with that much risk of divided attention. In place of comprehensive BPO activity, what the market has shifted to is a more targeted approach to shared services: peeling off discrete pieces of the overall pie, representing more focused cost containment or value creation. For example, there is a compelling business case for uniform global payroll solutions, and that is immediate impact that can be run through to vendor selection by EY.

Another clear trend is in the cloud computing solutions that have rapidly gained acceptance in the marketplace. This is a significant technological development in that historically, HR systems have been plagued with obsolescence challenges.

This stems from HR systems often being the last internal priority for upgrades, and also due to the complexity introduced by in-house customization. Cloud solutions remove those two barriers in that upgrades are pushed out automatically.  Additionally, customization is intentionally limited, forcing the discipline of a standard solution set, which drives down overall costs of ownership, maintenance, and knowledge worker staffing.  As cloud solutions saturate the market and gain in acceptance, we may again see an uptick in outsourcing.  Certain outsourcing companies are currently building their entire platform on specific cloud providers which will enable them to ultimately leverage and scale in a way that was previously unattainable.

Q: Speaking of current trends, do you agree that Workforce Planning (WFP) represents a massive opportunity for HR to impact the bottom-line and shape the future?
Rapidly changing workforce dynamics, both domestically and worldwide absolutely represent the most compelling opportunity facing HR executives today. Everyone is looking for the workforce planning silver bullet. The catch is that HR has not made a compelling case for driving WFP in the past.  Through my discussions with business leaders, they attribute that to HR not knowing business needs well enough to truly understand and accurately forecast upcoming needs. Instead HR professionals are often still focused on blocking and tackling, forced to focus on process and data manipulation due to the inefficient and outdated internal systems we just discussed. HR can’t possibly own workforce planning fully, there are just too many interdependencies ; yet this is a key way HR can add transformational value to the businesses they support and ultimately reshape the future at their organization. By p utting in place systems to assess future workforce needs, factoring in attrition rates, hiring cycle times, and onboarding, HR will be positioned to be proactive instead of reactive, establishing a pipeline of talent to drive future growth.

Q: How is EY approaching this area?
WFP presents a number of challenges based on size and scope alone. At EY, we
take a methodical and structured approach to the dialog with clients from the onset. We start by mapping WFP competencies to the organizational revenue plan, in order to quantify potential revenue creation and cost containment. Assigning a valuation to each of the variables in our model up front is a key step in the process.

Next, we build a checklist, using a a multi-phased process born of best practice experience . Then we put together a plan and proposal for automating against that model.

For me personally, adding significant, quantifiable value to the client makes for the most rewarding work. So partnering on WFP is a passion of mine .  Since we have the discipline, tools, experience and know the right questions to ask we can more effectively support our clients in deploying successful workforce planning solutions . The difficulty is that most HR executives know what needs to happen, they just have too many competing priorities.  What the client gets by engaging us is that we can put our sole focus on the program, greatly increasing speed to market. When a client attempts to do this kind of sophisticated modeling for themselves, they do not always have the dedicated team to execute and because it is one of multiple projects running, the effort can drag out for years and lose momentum. When we engage to support our clients, it is a concerted effort. We’ve done it before, so we know what to look at first and are able to move quickly.

Q: What closing encouragements do you have for our readers?
There are few spaces as intellectually stimulating as human capital right now. When you consider the global complexity as well as the rapidly changing domestic workforce. Experienced HR executives who keep their education current are absolutely positioned to shape the future. The key is to be disciplined about automating and/or engaging outside resources on commodity functions, to reduce time spent on blocking and tackling, and increase time focused on creating strategic impact.


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Talent Tales – Scott Smith of AT&T

Category : 2013

Talent Tales is a quarterly resource that provides insights into talent acquisition, development and retention.  Key HR leaders, vendors, and other subject matter experts provide insights into the people strategies, processes, and tools that help highly successful organizations excel.

This quarter Scott Smith, an SVP of HR at AT&T, who leads staffing, HR generalists, and HR service delivery, talked with us about several aspects of the AT&T employee/employer relationship.

Q:  What attributes do you look for when determining who is a high-potential manager?   Do these attributes evolve over time?

A manager who displays key leadership potential and possesses high integrity, drives results, build relationships, motivates/inspires others, looks for alternative ways of getting things done, and communicates well.   Yes, these attributes can evolve and develop as one has the desire and motivation to hone their skills to make themselves better.  Through their desire to develop themselves, they in turn make those around them better which makes the team function better and leads to higher results.

Q: Are there challenges to advancing high-potential managers?

There are a limited number of promotional opportunities available and with a talented workforce like the one we have at AT&T that alone provides a challenge.  One way that we keep employees engaged is to encourage lateral movement.  Lateral movement allows employees to go horizontally and gain knowledge and exposure in different areas of the business which makes them more competitive when promotional opportunities become available.  The experience they gain broadens their skills set, deepens their knowledge about AT&T and allows them to see the bigger picture.  Through the experience they also increase their business acumen and enlarge their networking circle which are both valuable tools as the market and position themselves for the next opportunity.

Q:  What are several of the key tenets of the relationship between AT&T and its employees?

Trust, empowerment, caring and development are several key tenets of the relationship between AT&T and its employees.  Trust that leadership will do the right thing – every time.  Empowering employees to be innovative and take calculated, intelligent risks.  Showing that we care– through our benefits programs, our focus on diversity and inclusion, and our commitment to our communities.  Lastly, investing in and providing opportunities for development and growth through our coaching, mentoring and training programs.

Q:  What is AT&T doing to understand employee engagement levels and respond to feedback?

For several years, AT&T has confidentially surveyed our employees to get direct feedback about their job, what they need to be successful, their daily work life, working relationships, their leaders and more.  The feedback is provided to leaders, and it is the expectation from the Chairman and his direct report team that the results are reviewed at the leadership level, dialogue occurs between supervisors and their employees and the appropriate action plans are put in place.  We have had positive changes across our company as a result of the feedback received and the dialogue that’s occurred.
This year we added an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) Survey.  It asked three key questions that centered around willingness and likelihood to recommend AT&T as an employer and AT&T products and services.
The eNPS Survey will be distributed several times this year and will be used to drive ongoing dialogue about continuously improving the customer experience.  Similarly to the Employee Engagement Survey Results, each supervisor is expected to have open dialogue with their employees and discover ways that the customer experience can be improved.

Q:  Given the large scale of the organization, how does communication with employees take place with respect to longer-term views of career development?

AT&T University is our corporate university and it offers resources and tools on Career Development, Communication Skills, Individual Effectiveness, and Mentoring just to name a few.  AT&T University resources are primarily designed for management employees. However, they do provide some resources to our non-management employees as well.  The Career Development module in the AT&T University curricula focuses on the areas of Career Exploration, Career Management and offers several self-assessments to assist employees in identifying their areas of strengths and opportunities for growth to ultimately find their best career path.

AT&T also leverages front-line management employees to emphasize the importance of career development.  Often times that front-line manager is the face of the company to our non-management employees and as such we equip him/her with the right tools and resources in order to effectively communicate that message.

Q:  What are leaders in the organization looking for with respect to the next wave of innovation and business support from HR as you strive to have ready talent available to meet the challenges ahead?

AT&T leaders want HR to hire talented, dedicated, diverse, service-oriented employees that will help AT&T succeed.  Our Staffing organization is doing an excellent job of driving traffic to our att.com/jobs website, evidenced by the more than 3.5 million job seekers who visited the site in 2012.  We have gone mobile in our recruiting efforts and launched our Mobile Career Site as we are one of seven Fortune 500 companies that is considered a front runner in the area of mobile recruiting as identified by iMomentous.  Mobilizing recruiting allows us to reach more job seekers since they can engage with us from a mobile device.

AT&T leaders also want HR to be a strategic partner who understands their individual short-term and long-term business goals and objectives.  This places HR in a role to be more consultative which affords us the ability to predict hiring needs and identify skills that will be essential in contributing to the success of their overall business plan.

And our business is looking for HR to make sure we have the right person with the right skills in the right job at the right time.  Our company is going thru a skills transformation and is counting on HR to make sure that we both find external talent and train internal talent on skills that are becoming more important to us as we move to a fully wireless and IP technology company.

Innovation is our backbone from the legacy telegraph to cellular service to a fully automated home, our leaders are expecting that every organization, including HR, is innovating and helping to move our business forward.

Q:  Taking a longer term view, is there a single opportunity / challenge to be addressed relative to the development of leaders?

Through AT&T University and our Talent Management Team we have created several avenues for self-development and made developing our employees a priority.   One of the challenges that we may experience in the future is how to engage a workforce that spans four generations and has unique characteristics and thoughts about what makes a good leader and how they desire to be communicated with.  As we develop our future leaders, it is critical that we teach them how to see situations through a generational lens.  We must continue to emphasize that good leaders build relationships and know how to effectively communicate.  In the mobile and social media world that we now live in, they must not lose sight of the human factor of collaborating, teaming, partnering, speaking and delivering an effortless customer service constantly.