Month: May 2017

Guest Blog – The Art of Mentoring: Helping create the next female leaders

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NupurLast week, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel discussion at the annual Women of Silicon Roundabout event, hosted this year at East London’s Tobacco Docks.

The event aims to bring together women working in technology to provide inspiration and ideas on how to advance their career, advance the career of others and improve diversity across the sector.

It’s no secret that the IT industry is particularly male dominated but as technology becomes an integral part to everyday life, we must ensure that women are empowered and prepared to thrive in the digital era.

The panel session I took part in discussed the art of mentoring, exploring the importance of role models, how companies can approach this and ultimately, how we can create the next generation of female leaders in technology. The other panelists were distinguished leaders from a variety of major companies, including: LinkedIn, Expedia and ASOS.

What I found most interesting was the varying opinions on what being a mentor is and what it means to individuals. One of the panelists described this as the ‘magic of mentorship’, a completely unique relationship in which the mentor and mentee learn from each other, whether it be a simple catch-up or a focused discussion on how to achieve a particular goal.African elephant female and her baby elephant balancing on a blue balls.

I know from personal experience the benefit of having a mentor, someone to guide you and prepare you for the next stage of your career, or life. That’s why I am a great advocate of TCS’ iConnect platform. This internal initiative provides each employee with a mentor and sends reminders to both the mentor and mentee to meet up and maintain regular contact. We have found that this more formal process of bringing together employees to learn from each other, has ultimately helped to make our overall network a stronger one.

TCS is actively addressing gender diversity across our employee network. More than a quarter of our UK workforce is female while it’s over a third globally. But, the change needs to be systemic and these numbers will only improve across the technology sector by educating young people and inspiring them to pursue a career in IT. Through our IT Futures programme, we’ve reached over 170,000 young people across the UK in less than 4 years. Through inspirational talks from female leaders and partnerships with organisations such as MyKindaFuture and the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), we’ve worked hard to engage the next generation of young women in technology and demonstrate what is possible.

The conference aimed to encourage and inspire those who want to get into technology, helping individuals and businesses alike to understand the role that talent acquisition, retention and development of females has to play.

There’s still a way to go but I look forward to being part of more events and initiatives such as this, and continuing to meet more and more women that are set to play a major role in this sector, and wider society.

 

Nupur Singh Mallick is Director of HR at Tata Consultancy Services UK & Ireland

What Can We Learn About Team Culture From Social Movements?

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Anna Gurun PhotoIn today’s changing workplace, the rise of freelancing, remote working, and virtual teams means many organisations are grappling with how to generate a shared culture. This is no easy task, and here at the Hot Spots Movement, we’ve been looking for new sources of inspiration on how companies can address this challenge.

One particularly interesting insight comes from a field that few of us would associate with organisational culture: social movement theory. This was the focus of my PhD and, at first glance, the two may seem strange bedfellows. But on closer inspection, this field reveals important lessons for companies on how to build what is known as ‘collective identity’.

Collective identity describes a sense of self that goes beyond the individual, placing the desire of a group above your own.[i] Many sociologists have pointed to it as an explanation of why unstructured or informally organised social movements, like the LGBT liberation or anti-nuclear movements were created.[ii] In these movements, a strong, shared identity was compelling enough to bind diverse, disparate groups of people into achieving a shared goal.

Likewise, collective identity is powerful in the organisational context too. Research has shown that when a person starts to identify collectively, there is a shift in their goals, and that even ‘selfish’ individuals become cooperative when they identify with a group.[iii] In addition, when people in a work setting have a strong sense of group identity, morale and productivity rise.[iv]bg-02

So, how can you go about creating a collective identity in your team or organisation? Here are three steps to get you started:

  • Create A Clear Narrative: Whether it be the women’s, LGBT or environmental movement, what binds individuals in social movements is the feeling that they are part of a broader ‘whole’. For organisations, describing what the company as a collective has achieved in the past, or common values and shared characteristics required to be ‘part’ of the collective can replicate this.[v] An example can be seen in John Lewis Partnership, which places the views of their founder on co-ownership as a core part of their organisational and brand identity, ensuring that their employees feel connected to a shared past and mutual beliefs.[vi]
  • Create Common Goals: Social movements are bound together by a shared desire for change, and similarly, identifying a common goal across departments can be powerful in ensuring people feel a shared identity, and don’t revert to identity by function.[vii] We saw this in action in a recent crowdsourcing project we ran with an Irish bank. The Bank invited their 11,000 employees from across divisions and departments to collectively craft five brand values they could all identify with. This provided an opportunity for the employees to work on a shared goal, resulting in a feeling of communal achievement.
  • Create Opportunities for CoCreation: Collective identity in social movements is solidified through actions, whether that be attending meetings or organising protests. For companies, creating shared tasks, which require discussion across the group, can help ensure that employees feel a united identity. For example, our Jam platform allows organisations to build on the power of their teams through crowdsourcing, empowering employees to solve problems together, and creating a shared purpose and engagement in the process.

So, next time you feel your team is not clicking, perhaps draw inspiration from social movements, and focus on building collective identity.

To find out more about our work on identity and culture, contact anna@hotspotsmovement.com

 

 

 

[i] Flesher Fominaya, C. (2010). Collective Identity in Social Movements: Central Concepts and Debates. Sociology Compass 4/6, 393-404. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/64c8/328c26d1819142d8ea6348db1b61ce475a1f.pdf

[ii] Melucci, A. The Process of Collective Identity. Johnston, H. and Klandermans, B. Social Movements and Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

[iii] Van Bavel J. and Packer, D. (December 27 2016). The Problem with Rewarding Individual Performers. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/12/the-problem-with-rewarding-individual-performers

[iv] Halverson, G.C. (September 2014). Getting to ‘Us’. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/09/getting-to-us

[v] Seaman Jr., J.T and Smith, G.D. (December 2012). Your Company’s History as a Leadership Tool. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2012/12/your-companys-history-as-a-leadership-tool

[vi] https://www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk/about/our-founder.html

[vii] Halverson, G.C. (September 2014). Getting to ‘Us’. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/09/getting-to-us