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THE BEAM // Spring 2018


Engendering trust for ourselves and others

In her enlightening TED talk titled, How to Build (and Rebuild) Trust, Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei asserts her belief that “trust is the foundation for everything we do, and if we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress.” For many of us, the conversation about the fundamental role of trust is especially relevant in this time when we are losing confidence in people, technology and institutions we once relied on.

As Dr. Frei explains, trust is made up of three component parts: authenticity, logic and empathy. If any one of these elements wavers, trust is threatened. Acknowledging we have all experienced the consequences of broken trust and have the potential to impact change, Dr. Frei sets out to help each of us engender more trust. As she walks through each of the component parts, she provides tools for recognizing where trust wavers for ourselves and gives concrete examples of things we can do to overcome those obstacles.

But understanding how to engender trust isn’t just about benefiting ourselves. Having dealt with significant internal and external trust issues during a recent stint at Uber, Dr. Frei illustrates the broad impact each of the component parts has on both our own lives as well as our spheres of influence. As much as our actions have the power to engender more trust for ourselves, they also have the power to limit the ability of those around us to do the same.

As leaders, this means we must take seriously the critical role we play in creating an environment that encourages authenticity, logic and empathy. Only by doing so will we enable people to, as Dr. Frei says, “achieve greater excellence than we have ever known is possible.”

Steps for making measurable impact

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work can feel overwhelming for many of us because the end goal seems out of reach and the path to get there is unclear. If there is one thing we’ve learned as we continue to explore issues of equity, disparity and privilege, it’s that progress is only possible if we work together. In that spirit, anytime we find actionable tools, we want to share them. Although the following report was created specifically for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, we believe the resources and strategies it outlines apply to companies across sectors.

Equity in the Center recently published a report titled AWAKE to WOKE to WORK: Building a Race Equity Culture. The report was created in collaboration with over 120 practitioners, thought leaders and subject matter experts, and includes findings from both primary and secondary research. The goal of the project was to “identify personal beliefs and behaviors, cultural characteristics, operational tactics and administrative practices that accelerate measurable progress as organizations move through distinct phases toward race equity.”

According to their research, even though every organization’s journey will be different, all companies go through three distinct phases as they transform into a Race Equity Culture: Awake, Woke, Work. These phases, which together comprise the Race Equity Cycle, are defined by the primary goals of representation, inclusion and the integration of a race equity lens respectively. As with any process, there are certain levers that organizations can pull to build momentum and propel themselves forward. Among the seven strategic levers their research identified are senior leadership, board of directors, learning environment and organizational culture.

One of the reasons we have found this report to be a particularly helpful resource is because of the specific, actionable information it provides including:

  • Concrete steps your organization can take to get started such as identifying race equity champions and naming race equity work as a strategic imperative.
  • A detailed breakdown of each of the seven strategic levers that outlines the characteristics and actions that define them at each of the three phases of the Race Equity Cycle.
  • Real examples of how organizations have used each lever to build momentum toward achieving a Race Equity Culture.
  • A glossary of terms related to race equity work that can be used to develop your own competency in this area as well as establish a shared vocabulary within your organization.

Regardless of where your organization is along its journey, this report can provide helpful framework and tangible action steps for moving toward the point of having measurable impact.


The power of a well-written position description

There has been a lot of conversation recently about the looming workforce shortage in the Twin Cities and the competitive talent market that goes along with it. As this “war for talent” continues, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to find ways to differentiate themselves to both attract and retain top talent. In our experience, one of the most commonly overlooked ways for organizations to set themselves apart is through a well-written position description.

We all know that in life, first impressions are important. The same is true for attracting talent. The position description is often the first interaction a potential candidate will have with your company. If it’s not written in a compelling way, you might be losing high quality candidates before you ever have the chance to meet them.

We’ve seen this happen to some of our clients, and it’s one of the reasons that reviewing, repackaging and often reworking the position description is a standard part of our search process at LymanDoran. One of the most dramatic examples of the position description impacting the candidate pool occurred this past year. The client was using their company’s standard form position description to recruit for a senior-level role. Frustrated by the low response rate and the quality of the candidates they were getting, they engaged our firm to complete the search.

By reworking the position description and treating it like a marketing piece for the role as well as the organization, we saw a threefold increase in the response rate in the first week alone. Not only did the volume of candidates increase, but more importantly, the quality of the candidates was noticeably greater. Instead of focusing only on the technical skills the role required, we emphasized the opportunities the positioned offered, highlighted the leadership competencies needed to be successful and elevated the language to reflect the strategic scope of responsibilities we knew the role encompassed. When written this way, the new position description captivated the interest of potential candidates and enabled them to envision themselves in the role.

The power of a well-written position description is often underestimated, but it can be a deciding factor in your ability to build a strong candidate pool. If you’ve been unsatisfied with the volume and/or quality of candidates coming through your doors, we would encourage you to take time to review your position descriptions to ensure you are using them to their fullest potential. It can also be helpful to engage a partner, like LymanDoran, to offer expertise on position scoping and attracting superb talent.