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Most Important Developments for 3/6

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Twitter has announced that it will be “strongly encouraging” all of its employees around the world to work from home “if able,” as the company seeks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19. The company hasn’t said how long it will be encouraging employees to stay home. The request for employees to work at home isn’t a mandatory requirement, and those who prefer or need to come into Twitter’s offices will still be allowed to do so (except in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, due to government restrictions there). Twitter’s announcement also notes that it’s working to increase deep cleaning and sanitizing, adding additional notices for good hygiene, and pre-packaging and pre-plating food to help avoid spreading the virus. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also announced that a similar policy would be put into place at Square (of which he is also CEO). The Verge

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LinkedIn Learning’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, released this week, found that leaders in learning and development identified three soft skills as the highest-priority skills that workers need to learn in 2020 in order to succeed and advance at work. The 1,675 experts were provided a list of both hard and soft skills and asked, “What are the highest priority skills gaps you want to close in 2020?” Niche technology skills such as mobile computing and cloud computing, as well as a general knowledge of engineering and coding, were lowest on their priority list. Fewer than 10% of L&D leaders said they were focused on helping their workers learn these skills in the coming year. The most critical skills L&D professionals said workers need to learn in 2020, according to LinkedIn Learning’s survey: leadership and management, creative problem solving and design thinking, communication. CNBC

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Jack Welch was heralded by many as the greatest leader of his era. As CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, he transformed it from a company known for appliances and light bulbs to a multinational corporation that stretched into financial services and media as well as industrial products. He was initially criticized for cost-cutting and layoffs, which earned him the moniker “Neutron Jack,” but as GE’s revenues expanded and its share price soared in the ensuing years, he was lauded. Here’s one of his top priorities: Get your people decisions right. In Peter Drucker’s classic HBR article on this topic, he noted that ”Executives spend more time on managing people and making people decisions than on anything else — and they should. No other decisions are so long lasting in their consequences or so difficult to unmake.” Jack also believed this with all his heart. Although I interviewed more than 20,000 leaders in my three-decade career as an executive search consultant, I never met a practitioner more committed to and disciplined about great people decisions than he was. When I spoke with him while writing my first book, he emphasized that effective hiring was “brutally hard” but a key skill to develop. He estimated that, as a young manager, he had a hit rate of only 50%, but that 30 years later, as CEO, he’d improved enough to make a great selection four times out of five. In his years at GE, Jack probably spent more than half his time getting the right people in the right places and then helping them to thrive. HBR

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The world’s largest human resources firm, Randstad, has its eyes set on making the matching of talent with recruiters a little bit easier by using a combination of the Cypherium blockchain and Google Cloud for corporate needs. Human resources are one area that has long been bogged down by bureaucratic processes and is in desperate need of freshening up. To this end, the Netherlands-based firm has said it believes the blockchain is one answer to streamlining and automating the bureaucratic tasks associated with workforce recruitment. The hope is that the technology can be utilized to handle the “nuts and bolts” of day-to-day recruitment activities, making the entire process more efficient. Randstad has identified the privacy-preserving power of blockchain technology and sees this as a means to keep customers’ personal details secure and safe, but it also allows for the verification of academic and professional qualifications, as well as birth dates, addresses, and IDs, of prospective talent. By breaking down the bureaucratic walls, and ensuring qualification verification while maintaining privacy, the greater implications of this pilot will allow Randstad to match talent with companies that are seeking immediate role fulfillment, such as in a medical emergency, or disease outbreak. Forbes

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There’s a newish book getting some buzz in HR circles (it came out last month), and now the author has a podcast to go along with it. It’s “Leadership is Language: The Hidden Power of What You Say and What You Don’t,” by David Marquet, a former nuclear submarine captain who used that experience to reflect on leadership styles. What does David mean by “leadership is language”? He explains that while there are a lot of professions that require a person to work mainly with their hands, in leadership, because it is always about other people, leaders interact through words — face to face, emails, company statements, annual reports, etc. As he says, “The magic of leadership is that by changing your words you will change the world around you because if you ask a question a different way, you’ll get a different answer.” In his book David gives six plays that all leaders should use to improve how their teams operate. He says a big problem with leaders today is that they are trapped in an industrial-age playbook. In the industrial age leaders gave commands and employees followed, and that was it. But that way of leading is no longer effective, it is outdated. The six plays: Control the clock, don’t obey it. Collaborate, don’t coerce. Commit, don’t comply. Complete, not continue. Improve, don’t prove. Connect, don’t conform. The Future Organization

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