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Daily CSR
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GM ‘Positively’ Disrupts The Way Employees Work


The CTO at GM talks about the disrupting transition highlighted by bridging talent gaps, connecting with employees through “simplicity”, encouraging innovation and seeking purpose and sustainability.

Dailycsr.com – 03 July 2017 – The combined power of employees and culture is not foreign to the Chief Talent Officer at General Motors, Michael Arena. The automobile industry will soon face a “radical disruption”. Therefore it is important to bring in a change of working among the employees that will allow the industry to “keep pace with star-ups” while veteran companies will undergo a transformation.
In the year of 2014, GM’s futurist looked into the importance of employee and workplace from the former’s perspective for the coming year of 2020, whereby four “main areas” stood out. Here are the four areas, as mentioned by the Ethical Performance:
  • “The talent gap. There will be more than 1.5 million vacancies across all industries in STEM talent alone – a major call to action for GM. Now the company hires STEM talent every 26 minutes, and 35 percent of salaried employees have worked at the company less than four years.
  • “Connected simplicity. People want to work for a cause that is bigger than themselves and at a place where they know they can make a difference. They want to feel like they belong, and not feel burdened by bureaucracy and complexity.
  • “Sustainability and purpose. GM research revealed that 86 percent of its new employees would leave in their first year if they discover their values do not align with the company’s values. Communicating the company’s story, values and purpose became paramount.
  • “Innovation. The No. 1 requirement students look for in an employee is ‘can I be part of the growth engine…can I innovate, can I create something new and revolutionize an organization?’”
Fifty millennials were invited for a workshop conducted by GM, wherein the invitees sought to explore further “these four topics”. In the words of Arena:
“We quickly decided it’s not enough to bring in young folks, we need to bring in the middle of the organization. So we asked those 50 to invite 50 middle managers that they wanted to play with for the day. Ninety-nine of the 100 invitees showed up, and that was the birth of something we call GM 2020 … a movement within the company focusing on positively disrupting the way we work.”
Co:Labs holding “interactive workshop” to “strike a balance” of “Shark Tank pitch” and “hackathon” who uses “design thinking” became  a “part of GM 2020”. Talking about how the models works, General Motors writes:
“Someone within the company recommends a topic or challenge, and then an employee brings in 35 of their friends to go execute … they build, prototype, and make something”.
The cycle of development is helped to “fast track” as GM makes sure to have the leaders “in the room” for endorsing. With numerous employees of GM taking part in the Co:Labs sessions, the topics vary from “product design to performance management”.
Similarly, another such initiative of GM is named “Tipping Forward” offers “an auditorium stage” to employees, wherein the latter deliver around four minutes’ talk in front of the peers whereby talking about “a brilliant project they worked on that year”. As a company, in the transition period towards becoming “a mobility company”, GM has taken up all the required work like “autonomous vehicles, Lyft partnership, Maven car sharing service, business model innovation”. Given the wide range of work, GM requires “different types of talent”. Therefore, for GM, ‘effective recruitment’ followed by fostering of talent are a “business necessity”.
While, Arena added:
“It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. We think about what are our core strategies and then leverage a bimodal talent management system.”
“We keep our growth engines connected and networked into the organization, but ensure they feel loose enough so they can truly act as startups. You don’t just start a new company; you create that new innovation engine and at some point in time it becomes the new core.”