I was engaged once. It was 1988 and in between a course of sweetbreads and lamb at the Millcroft Inn in Alton, Ontario, the blue-eyed guy across from me popped the question. I looked at the ring, and I looked at him, and I said, “yes”. In other words, I said (on the inside), “I find you very attractive, I have no idea how this story might end, but yes, I think there are good odds here and I’m game to give it a shot”. After all, we were very young, we had no money, but we had high hopes for the future. We set a date.
During engagement, you buy an expensive dress you’ll never wear again, and you fuss over the strange details of a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime ceremony. You drive your friends and family crazy. Then once the engagement is over and you’ve settled in, you find true happiness.
I’ve thought about this as it relates to the workplace.
Do we need engagement? Or do we need that sense of settling in and happiness?
I think it is the latter.
I’m not sure we are at our best during the engagement. There are reasons why there are TV shows about bridezillas. There is frenzied anticipation and many, many details. There are a lot of things to balance, with time always seeming to be at a premium. Our goal is to have a lovely wedding. We fret at not being able to see much beyond that day. It is when the engagement is over that we have a routine and new goals and a longer-term outlook. We fall more deeply in love with our spouse. That’s happiness.
I fully realize that not everyone on the engagement bandwagon agrees with me. They argue that an engaged employee is not necessarily a happy employee and they argue that a happy employee may be happy because their work isn’t challenging, which doesn’t benefit the business. Ok, fair enough. That said, perhaps I’m being overly technical but the definition of engagement does not include the word motivation (in fact, appointment is a synonym for engagement). Ultimately, motivation is another positive side effect of being settled in to a role where you have confidence. Again, during engagement you are not settled in yet.
So how can you achieve a workplace full of happy people? Try these strategies:
- Find ways to include your employees in long-term planning. So often we set short-term goals in our planning without thinking about how this contributes to the big picture. The more employees can see themselves in your organization 3, 5, 7 years down the road, the more likely they will contribute in ways that will ensure the organization is sustainable.
- Love your organization. Love your employees. I’m talking to you HR. Some of the best organizations out there have amazing programs not only for current employees but also alums. Make it a family atmosphere full of positivity and mutual respect by focusing on programs designed to be supportive of the whole employee, at 24 and 64. The workplace should feel safe and a place to find your centre. This can’t happen in a place where there isn’t an environment of mutual trust.
- Lessen the distractions. People focus best when they aren’t surrounded by a myriad of distractions. They’re happy when the details are set. If that means organizing central pick up for dry cleaning, providing access to a concierge service or being more flexible about work arrangements, go for it.
If you think of your employees after the engagement, the onboarding, all that preliminary stuff, and make the workplace feel like an extension of home, you’re well on your way to achieving workplace happiness.
About the author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award. You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.
Success is the primary objective of every business. But what exactly is success and how is it measured? To many it’s determined by financial gain, and behind financial gain there is always one thing that has set the path – happiness.
With so much emphasis on profit it’s all-to-easy to lose sight of your employees, the backbone of your business. Contrary to popular belief, good business isn’t always about investing in products or services, but investing in people. So before you start analysing statistics to look for a magic formula, take a step back and ask yourself, “are my employees happy?”
Improving Employee Engagement
A hefty paycheck, light workload and long holidays won’t always yield positive results. On the other hand, incentive programmes, career advancement opportunities, and making sure good work doesn’t go unnoticed is directly linked to job satisfaction. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California, conducted a study entitled, Does Happiness Lead to Success? She states that if you implement a daily dose of positivity, your employees will be more engaged and motivated, which will lead to better job performance, – “happy people frequently experience positive moods and these positive moods prompt them to work actively towards new goals.”
Implementing a “Happiness Strategy”
Whether you run a large scale corporation or small business, implementing a “happiness strategy” should be a crucial part of your business model. Google recognises the importance of balance between working and personal life and allows their employees to dedicate up to 20% of their time to a project of their choosing. This has resulted in innovations such as AdSense and GoogleTalk. While small businesses may not have the finances to make such bold investments, changes can still be implemented.
It’s no secret that healthy living greatly contributes to happiness. Coors Brewing Corporation reported a $6.15 return for every $1 that they invested into their corporate fitness programme. In addition, Currency Index reported a 43% drop on absenteeism during the 12 months following implementation of their employee fitness scheme. Again, while investing in an on-site gym may be out of reach for your business, allowing your employees to take a little time out of their schedule to exercise could significantly increase their productivity.
Make Happiness Your Priority
Happiness is often considered a by-product of success. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, has a very different philosophy. Achor states, “Your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed.” His studies have concluded that happiness is actually the driving force behind success and has started sharing his theories with businesses throughout the world.
If you’re serious about long-term financial success, take a leaf out of Achor’s book and make happiness your priority. Start today. Before you dismiss your employees for lunch or send them home, take a few minutes out of your schedule to make the rounds and give them some positive encouragement. A compliment will go a long way.
About the Author: Jenna Evans works part-time as an Employee Relations Adviser at Tollers Solicitors. She enjoys eating far too many noodles and travelling. She is also in the early stages of researching for a book related to empowering women in business.
Do you like your job? Are you fully engaged in it? Though this question is one that may seem like it depends on your personality, there is a certain part of this that is hard-wired into your gender. Though it may seem like old-fashioned thinking, there is more and more evidence linking sex genes and the ability to fully engage yourself in certain tasks.
In the post-World War II era, the “typical” family dynamic had dad at work and mom at home. Though this was not always the way of the world, it was pushed to be the way things should normally be, for several reasons. The idea that women were best served as providers and should be caring for their family was often stated, and the man’s job to go out and work for the family’s income was expected.
These lines began to blur in the 1960′s and 1970′s, as the women’s lib movement pushed back, claiming the right for women to also work outside of the home, and shifting the cultural view to the idea that women can do everything that men can do, and should be expected to try.
Fast forward to the nineties and the turn of the twenty-first century, and the two-family income household had become the norm for married couples. Worker productivity and employee satisfaction became buzzwords, and companies began looking at efficiency consultants, who considered not just the best layout for a business to get the best product for its investment, but the corporate culture, and improving employee engagement.
This is a trend that has continued, and as genetics research continues to become a larger and larger factor in looking at how humans perform, gender-based accomplishment studies have come out. One of the things that has been suspected for a long time is that women are predisposed to be better multitaskers. A number of studies have confirmed this, showing that when asked to do several unrelated tasks in a short period of time, women vastly outperformed men. Men, however, are better at focusing on a single task to the exclusion of another. A famous study often quoted in psychology classes looks at men and women who were given two different stories that were simultaneously read to them, one in each ear. When they were asked to choose one story and listen to it, to the exclusion of the second, men were able to do so. Women were not.
So how do these natural brain differences translate to work engagement now? A lot of it depends on the kind of tasks that men and women are expected to do, and the varying skills needed to complete them. Traditionally, men at a management level were often required to perform many of the larger tasks, but have an assistant to help them perform the smaller, variable tasks that were expected. As the gender playing field has leveled more and more, the high-level jobs have been shown to be performed equally well by both men and women. An engagement survey would likely show equal satisfaction for both genders. Instead, the discrepancies have been shown to be more at the low income and education levels.
At the blue-collar level, there is still a gender bias when it comes to certain jobs. Technical service and repair jobs are more often chosen by men, and jobs like office manager are more often chosen by women. Though this has been partially dictated by the cultural history of these positions, the tasks expected in each job type dovetail nicely with what the brains of men and women are naturally best, and likely most fulfilled, at doing.
What do you think? Is there a notable difference in engagement based on gender? Is the difference more or less pronounced based on income and education level?
About the Author: Louise Gregory is a human resources professional specialized in employment engagement analysis and pensions management at AON. When Louise isn’t working hard in the big smoke you will find her sunbathing on the East coast. She loves cooking, writing in her new blog and trekking with her family and Benson, the house dog.
“High employee engagement is imperative, even amid a turbulent economy”. This was the indisputable fact that Gallup once again revealed in its 2012 study of 1.4 million employees worldwide.
Business units that scored in the top 25 percent of their organizations according to employee engagement showed:
- 37% lower absenteeism
- 22% higher profitability
- 21% higher productivity
- 10% higher customer metrics
- 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
- 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
- 28% less shrinkage
- 48% fewer safety incidents
- 41% fewer patient safety incidents
- 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
But here’s the comedown. According to Towers Watson, almost two-thirds or 65 percent of the workers who participated in their 2012 Global Workforce Study did not show high engagement.
Employee engagement refers to the conditions under which workers make an emotionally-based choice to be loyal to a company. So what is at stake with employee engagement? Essentially everything, as low engagement costs the US economy alone $370 billion year after year.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to increasing employee engagement; what works for Google might not work for Gillian’s Bakery. In saying that, here are 10 ways to keep your workers engaged:
1. Honesty and transparency win. Always.
Public and private organizations can take a few tips from their voluntary counterparts. According to CIPD’s latest Employee Outlook survey, the voluntary sector showed an increase in employee engagement this quarter. Around 55 percent of voluntary workers reported feeling engaged at work, compared to only 37 percent and 33 percent of private and public workers, respectively. This is even more remarkable, considering the layoffs hounding voluntary staff nowadays. According to CIPD, voluntary workers love their “open and honest management teams” who perpetuate “positive communication practices” and “cultures of mutual trust and respect.”
In engagement as in other aspects of life, honesty always seems to be the best policy. Employees tend to feel disposable when orders are barked without explanation.
2. Compensate fairly.
It goes without saying that you get what you pay for. To get excellent work, you need to offer commensurate wages. Explore the possibility of cash bonuses and stock options for employees too. And if you can’t increase salary, give employees prospects for advancement if you want them to play the game to win.
3. Money is not everything. Get personal.
A wad of cash can only go so far in fortifying employee engagement and performance. Sometimes what employees need is not pecuniary: Knowing that you personally care for them might be enough. Workers who see their leaders as real people often exhibit high engagement.
4. Be a transformational leader.
A transformational leadership style appears to be the most conducive to employee engagement. According to researcher Bernard Bass, transformational leaders are supportive managers who offer individualized consideration to followers; supportive management is directly proportional to employee engagement.
5. Understand the value of one-on-one conversations.
One important trait of a transformational leader is the ability to attend to individual needs, i.e. the ability to lend a listening ear. Hear your employees’ ideas and feelings out. In return, give them constructive criticisms and due praises, not just once a year, but regularly.
6. It’s all in the environment.
Employees love commuting to a workplace that is aesthetically pleasing. Take a look at how the SAS Institute took this knowledge one step further. They built a branch in France in an opulent castle no less, enclosed by a cherry-lined garden and a forest with walking trails. They have even splurged on an office nursery, so that mothers in their employ never have to leave their young kids at home again. Result: low absenteeism and turnover.
7. Trust workers enough to let them telecommute.
Sometimes even castles are no substitute for the conveniences and comforts of working at home. Provide flexibility in working. Also, make sure to grant telecommuters access to documents, tools and resources they would otherwise have in the physical office.
8. Move meetings and coursework online.
According to Cisco manager Kim Austin, online events and trainings are much clearer, since the same, unadulterated information is disseminated to employees, whenever, wherever. Furthermore, 53 percent of organization leaders surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit support the notion that video communications enrich relationships with employees.
9. Consider wellness programs.
Wellness programs, or basically those that lead to a healthy and productive workforce, affect the bottom-line positively. To illustrate, Johnson & Johnson reported returns of $2.71 for each $1 dollar invested in these programs. Healthy employees do make highly engaged workers, after all.
10. Help the company be the employer that people respect.
No one likes leaders of ill repute and dubious ethics. When former Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher’s dalliance with an employee led to a media firestorm, airline workers became so self-conscious that they refused to wear their uniforms outside the workplace. People want to work for organizations that they can be proud of.
Photo credit: http://www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au/wp-content/themes/kaledoscope/images/High%20Performance%20Management.jpg
This guest post is written by Lisa Baker from www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au. Since 1994 Kaleidoscope has delivered solutions to individuals through business coaching and with leaders and managers in HR consulting projects.
As a manager, you want to get the most out of your employees. But you know the only effective way to accomplish that is to motivate them to want to perform at their best. This is often easier said than done. Many managers mistakenly believe they must drive their employees to success rather than lead them there. However, this is contradictory to our human nature.
Everyone wants to improve themselves. It is wired into us as humans. As managers, you need to tap into that drive in each of your employees. Below are five ways to engage your employees at work and help them deliver their best.
Challenge your employees
Everyone wants to better themselves. Challenge your employees with goals they can strive for and acquire. Set goals that are just out of their comfort level yet still attainable. Ensure that these goals are specific and measurable and that your employees understand them. But don’t just stop there. Provide each employee with regular feedback on how they are doing. In this role, you are similar to a sports coach that keeps track of each player’s game statistics. As a result, each employee will know how they are performing, what areas they excel at and where they need to improve.
Set the tone
Your attitude as a manager will be reflected by your employees. As you already know, you have to lead by example. Do your employees see you as an example? Do you come across as enjoying your work? Be gracious and available. Treat your employees with respect and courtesy. Encourage creativity and thinking outside the box. In a nutshell, your attitude will set the mood for the team.
Give a little
Punching a clock is difficult enough. Beyond that, your employees shouldn’t feel that every minute of their day is scrutinized. Do you have an employee with small children to get off to school in the morning? Allow that individual to come in a little later to accommodate their schedule. Showing flexibility towards the needs of your employees will be greatly appreciated. If possible, allow for flexible work hours, lunch and work breaks.
After setting goals and challenging your employees to reach and surpass them, it is only fair that you reward those that succeed. Offering public rewards is yet another way to keep employees motivated and engaged in the workplace.
You can be as creative as you want in providing rewards for individuals or the whole team. A simple plaque or acrylic award is appreciated when given with a sincere thank you. The more useful the reward the more it will be appreciated as well.
Other avenues for rewarding success include cash prizes, a few hours off with pay, or, to show appreciation for the whole team, a meal served at the office. Not only will this show your appreciation for a job well done, it will offer a valuable team building experience.
Help with their continued success
If your computer software needed upgrading would you contently accept the outdated version and put up with the loss in productivity that comes along with it? Of course not. Yet many employers fail to regularly update their most valued assets, their employees.
Money and time invested in improving your employees’ skills is not wasted. Not only will they be on top of their assignments but they will also be willing to tackle additional challenges. A fruit tree will never reach its potential bounty if it is never pruned, trained, and fertilized. The same is true of your employees.
Anna McCarthy is an HR specialist who writes primarily on topics ranging from business relationships to employee satisfaction for Able Trophies, a supplier of glass awards and acrylic awards. She spends her free time going on weekend hikes and writing short stories.
There’s so much on the blogosphere about how to motivate and retain your High Potential employees and top performers. This is great because you do want to retain the lot of them if you want to maintain and increase your competitive edge.
There is research to show that employers will actively seek out and reward their top 10% or 20%, because it is believed that that select group will be responsible for the bulk of their productivity and will outperform the rest of their counterparts.
This brings to mind the Pareto Principle which states that …roughly 80% of the effects will come form 20% of the causes.
Therefore it does make sense to nurture the top 20 %. I definitely agree but will add a note of caution that while we must nurture and recognize the 20% it should not be to the detriment of the remaining 80.
Do not ignore the 80%.You still need the rest of the team to achieve a comprehensive output.
The focus should be on elevating the team to All star status via mentoring, knowledge sharing, and recognition. There is value to be gained from moving the 80% progressively from good to better and then best.
It involves investigation, digging deeper to discover the root causes and seeking out customized solutions. Are they in the wrong jobs ill-suited to their skills and competencies? Is mentoring and coaching required? Is it a case of a lack of awareness and ignorance? These are pertinent questions to consider in the quest to bridge the gap.
We are the sum of our parts and when there is a weak link, inevitably we are less than we really could be.
The goal should be the continuous improvement of the whole rather than just the visible parts. When the average moves a notch to become great, and the great becomes exceptional, then everybody wins.
We recently had an employee return to work and after a lay off and if there was one thing that I found really remarkable, it was the new found zeal and dedication to work that was exhibited second time around.
There was an increased appreciation for the opportunity to work and also a willingness to learn and succeed second time around. Plus there was less training required as she was familiar with the work flow and hit the ground running with little to no adjustment required.
I’d like to see more career comebacks in the work place. There are so many benefits to be accrued for all concerned.
While I fully agree that by injecting fresh blood into the system provides access to new ideas and innovation, managing or “loving the ones you are with” beats expending time, energy and resources to engage a new hire.
I am of the opinion that everyone has the potential to be a high potential. I admit this might seem overly simplistic but under the right conditions and circumstances, employees will excel and progressively improve on competencies and abilities.
In work environments, past experience or performance are usually great indicators of future performance but there will always be the exception. One person’s career slips and challenges can make them a better person and can produce a stronger and more valuable team member.
Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and pause, and with keen eyes, seek out ways that we can improve on the existing rather than discarding. So, develop other potentials and every now and then, look past the obvious to find talent hidden in the unlikely. Finally, create an all-star team where everyone can be on the winning streak.
Would we all benefit? I believe so.
With the qualified talent pool shrinking across the globe, the pressure on businesses to retain talent grows. In hopes of retention, companies across most industries are accommodating for generation X and Y’s desires by building a flexible, fun, informal environment that includes summer Fridays, remote work days, casual attire, and more. Start-ups are going to great lengths to mimic the Google and Facebook environments that attract and retain talent across the globe. I benefit from, and am a proponent of these environments. Some companies, however, particularly start-ups, must be mindful of, and guard against allowing informality to result in a lack of accountability, misalignment, and ambiguity. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep talent aligned with a clear company mission and hold them accountable. The flexible, fun, informal environment can only keep talent interested for so long. There must be something deeper for talent to identify with.
Talent must first identify with a company’s mission and core values. It is critical that veterans of the organization all understand, communicate, and embody the same message. Remember, Millennials look for guidance from those above them and as we know, businesses are constantly evolving to remain competitive. It is imperative that managers and executives keep these messages consistent. We cannot expect talent to feel secure and have the desire to commit to an environment that has a mission that continually changes, or a list of core values that is adhered to only when convenient.
Secondly, there must be a “fit to role.” When talking about a fit to role, most people will identify with qualified talent fitting the role; however, the fit to role actually starts with the role being appropriate for the department, division and company. Does the role benefit the company, and can it be successful within the current confines of the environment? With the ever-changing business environment, talent acquisition should ensure that an assessment of true business needs occurs or has occurred with each and every job requisition. It would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for someone to remain engaged in a role that doesn’t make sense for the organization and is not aligned with its mission.
After identifying the appropriate role for the company, the appropriate candidate should be determined for the role. Many companies focus on the technical skills of the candidate and hope for a plug and play that will ensure the business doesn’t miss a beat. However, hiring managers cannot omit the importance of assuring alignment and engagement with the role by determining what the potential hire enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and what drives her to achieve. This can be accomplished through conducting a personal assessment (such as the Harrison Assessment), as well as through technical assessments that assess her technical skill sets for the role.
Hiring the candidate is just the beginning of ensuring engagement and alignment exists throughout the talent’s tenure. There must be a clear relationship among the talent’s job description, career path and development. As soon as talent does not have clarity and understanding around their job descriptions and career paths, one can expect highly desired talent will begin their search for the next step in their career elsewhere. Generation X and Y have had information at their fingertips that allows them to learn; however, simply learning is not enough. It must have a purpose. Aligning short-term, tangible goals to reach the mission at hand will help ensure long-term engagement. Managers should anticipate the need for feedback and the desire to know how this newly acquired knowledge helps talent get from here to there in a career path.
In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is more important than ever to keep your talent aligned with your business and working for a greater purpose. Increased retention rates will be accomplished by creating an aligned environment that is buttressed by accountability across the organization. In addition to the fun, flexible environment that is permeating business places across the globe, leadership must establish and maintain a clear path and hold the talent accountable for accomplishing the plan. After all, how can they be recognized for their accomplishments if their objectives aren’t being established and tracked?
Photo credit iStockphoto
About the author: Amanda Papini, Recruiting Director at Response Mine Interactive started her career in recruiting at Medical Staffing Network in 2005, and moved over to a corporate recruiting role at BKV and Response Mine Interactive in 2007, where she built an internal recruiting practice for both companies. Amanda has since staffed over 250 full-time employees within both companies; an average of 50 hires per year. After assisting with RMI and BKV’s growth over the last 5 years, Amanda decided to move over to focus solely on RMI’s talent acquisition and take on a role more dedicated to employee development.
Remember when the exclamation “I’m engaged!” was almost always immediately followed by the question “when’s the wedding?” In today’s business environment, engagement takes on a whole new meaning, referring instead to how engaged, dedicated, and loyal employees are to their organization.
According to one recent article published in Human Resource Executive Online, HR leaders are increasingly preoccupied with engaging their workers. After all, engaged team members are more likely to exert discretionary effort, have lower absenteeism, and are more loyal to the organization. Engaging employees is in every organization’s best interest.
While it is evident that engaging workers is important, recognizing how to do so is a little trickier. Although many organizations realize the importance, only 29 percent of the population is actively engaged. Studies have shown numerous variables go into employee engagement and, based on Avatar HR Solution's Key Driver Analysis of over 3.3 million responses, include the following key engagement drivers,
- Organizational Culture – work/life balance, diversity, etc.
- Career Development
- Management’s Leadership Abilities and Relationship with Employees
- Strategy and Mission
- Job Content
- Open Communication
- Coworker Cooperation/Satisfaction
- Availability of Resources to Perform the Job Effectively
While these factors all play a role in engagement for most individuals, it is crucial to consider the fact that everyone is unique. Women, for example, may be driven more by different factors than men. Many past posts on this blog have discussed women’s desire to “have it all,” indicating the importance of work/life balance. Women may be more engaged and dedicated in a job where they have the flexibility to balance both their personal and professional lives. Additionally, research has shown that women tend
to focus more on building close personal relationships with other individuals. Men, on the other hand, dedicate more time to practicalities. This dichotomy could reveal that women are more likely to be engaged when they have closer personal bonds with coworkers/managers.
Thus, it is important for HR leaders to avoid the “one size fits all” approach to engaging employees. Every employee is different, and there is no key formula for engaging all of your workers. One of the most effective ways to truly understand what engages each individual is to ask. People appreciate the opportunity to provide input about their job, and it’s a straightforward way of establishing an engagement plan for your team members. Additionally, it allows you to further develop your relationship with your staff.
Questions such as “what about your job makes you enjoy coming to work in the morning” and “do you feel your skills are being utilized effectively” can help shed light on the drivers of engagement for employees. You’ll be surprised at what you find out. Remember, however, that the key is not in simply asking the questions, but actually putting what you learn into action. Your employees will appreciate the individual attention you are giving them, and their engagement will be a great reward for your efforts.
Engagement in the workplace may not be the same as a personal engagement between two people, but the key is that both are relationships, and relationships take work. Dedicating effort to understanding what engages your workers will allow you to create the most effective action plans to improve engagement. Don’t wait to engage your employees. Make the effort now.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
About the author: Melissa Herrett is Associate Marketing Project Manager for Avatar HR Solutions. In this role, she strategically works to position Avatar HR Solutions as a leader in the quality improvement services industry and contributes posts to their blog. You can connect with Melissa on Twitter at @EngageEmployees.
Women of HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?” This is the second post in the series of responses.
If I had the opportunity to be the CEO for a day, I'd tell the entire organization to forget everything they know, have experienced or have been told about Human Resources. We’re going to focus on one thing — making work better! Making the employment experience what it's supposed to be: mutually beneficial.
We spend more time at work than we do anywhere else. I have to believe that all organizations aspire to have people who want to come to work and to have their leadership embrace the effort it takes to make that happen. Yes, it's a huge undertaking that would be time consuming, frustrating and require baby steps that focus on a consistent message which is simply, to make work better. I believe it's possible and after all, this is my story!
So what does it mean to make work better?
It means we'd start by focusing on relationships — starting with one of the most important ones: managers and their teams. Managers who are not effective communicators or who may be uncomfortable confronting tough issues or being transparent will learn how to communicate effectively and productively. Since building good relationships obviously requires multiple people to work well together, employees will also learn how to be comfortable handling feedback and exchanging ideas with their managers and colleagues. All of this will be done face to face or via video chat. How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn't like the tone of that email.” How many times have you had to run interference between a manager and a team member because of a preventable miscommunication that spiraled out of control?
We're going to eliminate the annual performance review process completely!
Don't worry, we'll have ways to manage performance. We'll focus on goals and we'll start Feedback Sessions that will be more frequent, yet brief. Managers and teams will compare notes on the status of their goals, brainstorm about tools that address their individual growth areas, set new goals and provide a clear understanding of how the team's success fits into the progress of the company. Yes, we need to know what needs to be said for effective feedback but it's even more important to know “how” things need to be said.
We're going to step up to the pla
te and hit a line drive with the empathy bat!
te and hit a line drive with the empathy bat!
Employees and managers will do deep dives into understanding each others jobs. Employees will recognize what it takes for their managers to be successful and vice versa. Doesn't it make a difference to work on a project when you know why the project is important and what the direct relevance that your success has on the goals of the company? It makes the difference between wanting to come to work and not wanting to come to work.
We're going to gut the employee manual and focus on simplicity and common sense!
We'll keep the legal stuff in there but we're going to remove some of the dumbest employment policies I've ever seen — the ones that border on being inhuman — like telling people how many bereavement days they get based on how the company defines particular family members. I'll never forget — I once worked with a young man whose parents were killed when he was a baby and he was raised by his aunt. But because his aunt was not defined as an “immediate family member” in the handbook, this man had to take most of his vacation time so he could grieve and make the necessary burial arrangements. You get the point. I digress.
Last but definitely not least. Everyone will leave their egos at the door.
Yes, everyone. Teams can't be built and folks can't collaborate when someone is always vying for the spotlight. Those who can't handle that can make a graceful exit. I've always said that people don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. And you can take that to the bank. Do you think someone who is unhappy at work is going to be helpful and friendly with coworkers and customers? That would be a resounding “no.”
When we improve our internal relationships, teach folks how to foster those relationships, treat people like adults and work in ways that are progressive and unconventional (think anti-Corporate America) everything else will fall into place — like client satisfaction and profitability. Wow, what a concept.
Happy to hear your thoughts.
Photo credit: UnconventionalHR
About the author: Kimberly Roden is an HR pro turned consultant and the founder of Unconventional HR. She has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader. Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology.
As HR professionals we often hear managers discuss their desire to develop their leadership skills, and take on more senior roles within the organization.
Yet many people managers fail to see or understand their responsibility in one of the most critical leadership areas – communicating the organization’s vision to employees. Or, conveying how the work of the team supports the strategic objectives of the organization. They get lost in the tactical execution versus seeing themselves as coaches mentoring their team to success.
So how can these managers expect to be the future leaders of your organization if they don’t recognize the importance of engaging and motivating employees to high performance – performance that helps the organization reach its goals?
While there are a number of skills an effective leader must possess, there are certain foundational skills that are absolute. For a manager to develop into a leader it requires a shift in his or her mindset and behavior, where activities such as motivating and engaging employees become innate. Almost like breathing.
These are the behaviors effective leaders don’t have to think about because they know these activities deliver results:
- Giving effective feedback on an ongoing basis, all year round not just at performance review time
- Aligning and managing employee goals
- Focusing on employee development to help build organizational bench strength
- Recognizing individual motivators to leverage stronger relationships with people
This transition to innate effective leadership behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. And it requires support from HR leaders in helping managers to stop focusing on the functional, and instead focus on helping your organization achieve its vision.
Here are four ways HR can support people managers develop these core skills and understand their role in motivating and engaging their teams.
Teach managers how to give regular, ongoing feedback
Ensuring managers are giving employees feedback on their performance all year round not only encourages high performance, it also increases employee engagement and retention. To be effective, feedback should ongoing, specific, timely, honest and helpful. Managers should be scheduling frequent formal and informal meetings with employees to discuss performance, check in on goals and development plans, provide coaching, etc.
If you have managers who don’t work closely enough with their employees to be able to provide this kind of regular, ongoing feedback, solicit 360 degree feedback from those who do (such as customer, peers, partners).
If your organization leverages a performance management framework, then your managers should be educated on on how to properly conduct performance reviews. Make sure they understand how to use rating scales, and the various levels of mastery to provide real differentiation in ratings and identify areas for development.
Give managers and employees annual training on how to write effective goals
Managers need to be clear about goals and expectations in support of the overriding organizational objectives. With this kind of goal alignment everyone knows exactly how they are contributing to the strategic corporate goals, and are engaged and accountable for the organization’s success.
If you want to help managers do a better job of writing and managing goals, give them the tools and resources to do so. Employees should have access to these tools and resources as well since they should participate in writing their own goals. Train them on how to write SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) and, provide examples.
Also important: managers should regularly communicate to employees the progress and status for high level organizational goals. Effective goal management ensures employees know what is expected of them and helps them find meaning and value in the work they do.
Get managers to focus on employee development
By investing in your employees’ development you communicate to them that they are valued by the organization. So tell your managers that if they want a motivated and productive team, they need to keep the team learning. Are your managers aware of the programs your organization has in place to support employee development and career progression? You may be surprised by how many managers don’t know, and therefore don’t use the tools, resources and programs at their disposal for development.
Also teach your managers the difference between training and development. Development can take many forms: mentoring, job shadowing, volunteer work, lunch and learn sessions, reading books/journals/blogs, coaching, cross-functional team assignments, etc.
Support managers in making better compensation decisions
To effectively manage compensation and rewards so they motivate high performance, managers need training on how pay affects motivation and engagement and how to use data to make informed compensation decisions. They also need to know other ways to reward high-performance all year round, and how to communicate compensation philosophy and practices of your organization.
Employees need to feel that their company rewards performance fairly and equitably so make the process consistent and transparent. That said, sometimes the recognition an employee is looking for is simply a ‘thank you’ or ‘job well done’. Verbal praise is after all, a strong motivator.
Effective employee coaching is a cornerstone of high performance
Managers need to understand they are the stewards of your organization’s talent management strategy, which doesn’t equate to a once-a-year activity, dreaded and rushed through as quickly as possible.
To help your managers develop the skills foundational to effective leadership:
- Provide access to leadership training to develop your managers’ coaching skills.
- Provide your managers with the prerequisite tools, systems, policies, and best practices for managing feedback, evaluating employee performance, identifying potential skill, competency, and behavioral gaps that can be addressed through development planning.
- Give your managers resources on the link between employee engagement and improved performance.You might be interested in the Employee Engagement Center of Excellence our team just put together on this topic.
Photo credit: Halogen Software
About the author: Dominique Jones is VP of Human Resources at Halogen Software and has over 15 years experience in the talent management industry both in Europe and North America. Dominique holds an M.A. Honours degree from St. Andrews University in Scotland, as well as the Institute of Personnel and Development (IPD) certification from the United Kingdom. Through her writing, Dominique offers practical insights that help human resources professionals positively impact business performance.