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April - 2012 - issue > Management
Opening up for INNOVATION
DeLisa Alexander
Executive Vice President & Chief People Officer-Red Hat
Monday, April 2, 2012
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT) is the world's leading open source and Linux® provider. Founded in 1993, Red Hat is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina with satellite offices worldwide. Red Hat has become associated to a large extent with its enterprise operating system Red Hat Enterprise Linux and with the acquisition of open-source enterprise middleware vendor JBoss. Red Hat provides operating-system platforms along with middleware, applications and management products, as well as support, training and consulting services.

According to a recent survey by global recruitment firm Robert Walters, workers can expect salary increases this year, with some countries and sectors approaching 15 to 20 percent. This presents management with an even bigger challenge in retaining and attracting talent than we have experienced in the last few years. To tap into the varying motivations and meet the needs of today’s workers, management must make available a wide spectrum of incentives, from promoting career opportunities to offering competitive compensation and benefits.

Importantly, in addition to tangible incentives, attracting and retaining today’s top talent requires a more open management and leadership approach. The workforce is evolving, and the new employees entering the workforce are part of a major change affecting not only how we hire and who we hire, but how our companies operate on a basic level.

Generation Y is very different when compared to the Baby Boomer and even Generation X, as they want to contribute immediately and expect to fundamentally participate in their companies. By encouraging management to put control in the hands of employees, companies gain a more interested, engaged, higher performing, and innovative workforce who feels like their work means something.

This change is prevalent in businesses throughout all industry groups today. People want to see how their contributions to projects and work make an impact. Think about how quickly things like Wikipedia, threadless.com, Yelp, and Linux progress. What you see, buy, and use is driven by the community because they have a vested interest in making it a success. It is that simple. It is no wonder that people growing up with these technologies and communities want to do the same in their jobs.

Empowering your employees

Imagine an entire workforce wanting to be involved from the bottom up because they genuinely care about making a difference. I believe the days of “paying your dues” for years just to be heard are over. We have found that some of the best ideas come from our new employees with new perspectives, as well as those who have been with the company since the beginning. This attitude and commitment should come from every level in the organization, regardless of title or position.

Offering a tight feedback loop tends to result in the faster delivery of high quality work. For example, “Release early, release often,” is a principle closely held by open source software developers who want to get feedback from users on their work as soon as possible so they can improve it quickly. Likewise, enabling the free flow of information across a company allows work to be streamlined and better tailored to meet the needs of internal teams—and ultimately, the client.

Discovering talent and spurring innovation

By encouraging an open culture, natural leaders step up, and the smartest and most able can get their ideas out and be heard. Success in today’s business world requires a workplace where decisions, even company-wide decisions on things like strategy, goals, direction, and the corporate mission statement are decided by the people in collaboration with upper management, and all opinions are valued.

Innovation thrives in open environments where everyone is allowed to share knowledge and work together toward common goals. An open work culture also benefits management, as you will often see innovations much sooner then they would appear within closed development environments.

High-performing workers demand a different leadership style based on open source principles. They feel ownership and expect company-wide collaboration. And soon enough, this type of worker will be coming into every job market. This is the face of the employee of the future.

These new employees have a vested interest in work that means something to them. It is more than a pay check; it is a vested interest of success. That means getting that next piece of code written, getting the project done, advancing the culture of the company, deciding where the company goes next, and loving every minute of it.

Soon, success in management will require leading by example, within a culture of sharing. We see this new generation and the world at large are moving more and more toward the open source way in expectations and actions. Companies hiring in the near future are challenged to create an environment that fosters collaboration and transparency. They must do so to stay relevant.

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