Culture is one of the easiest things to blow off when it comes to organizational investment. You build it, and you just sort of place policies and procedures to make sure it works, right? When HR managers shout from the rooftops that corporate culture can be the downfall of an organization (or at the very least a huge stumbling block) if not properly cultivated and managed, we’re quite often met with an exasperated response. Not THAT again. And yet, when the company stumbles and falls over said block to the tune of millions of dollars, it’s most irritatingly a malady that could have been avoided. There is nothing that guides a company to it goals and beyond quite like a dynamic, properly-cultivated corporate culture, and a perfect example of this has recently hit the news: Zenefits.
This darling of Silicon Valley shot through the uprights not unlike a good number of its start-up constituents: former CEO Parker Conrad Valley’s billion dollar startups, peaking last year when he was able to raise $500 million for a corporate valuation of $4.5 billion. Announcing itself as the fastest-growing software service ever, based on a free cloud-based HR platform for small businesses around the U.S., it makes the majority of its income from commissions when clients use their platform to purchase insurance. The model was genius, and the corporate culture was constructed to obtain those sales by any means necessary.
There was only one big problem: they’ve been accused of partnering with quite a few salespeople without the proper license to sell insurance, and reportedly skirted quite a few laws that would make for the legal sale of insurance products. That’s not just a small pebble they stumbled over; that’s a gigantic legal boulder that’s put them under the watchful eye of the Federal government and downgraded them as an investment. Conrad has stepped down, and the former COO, David Saks, has taken the helm. One of the first things he did was address the errors in culture that led to their current state. He’s quoted in a Forbes article as having sent an email with the following text:
“We must admit that the problem goes much deeper than just process…Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company. Zenefits’ company values were forged at a time when the emphasis was on discovering a new market, and the company did that brilliantly. Now we have moved into a new phase of delivering at scale and needing to win the trust of customers, regulators, and other stakeholders.”
As someone who has made a career out of designing adaptable, successful corporate cultures, I feel that they could have benefitted from strong HR. As Saks stated in the email, the culture that founded the company is very different from the one that will right the ship and keep it afloat. Where it appears the first epoch of the company’s history could be best summed as “by whatever means necessary,” it safe to assume that through careful corporate assessment and an in-depth look at their culture and the talent that supports it, it will most likely evolve to “with our shareholders and customers at the center of whatever we do.”
When speaking of corporate culture, a static approach is never best. You don’t just build it and let it go, letting it self-maintain with performance evaluations, retention and turnover. It must be constantly assessed against the market, customer satisfaction, internal goals, and staffing needs. While the vision, mission, and values of the company remain standardized for long periods of time, corporate culture is an ever-evolving means to accomplish your objectives. It drives, incents, connects, and deploys your resources of a human variety, and without the proper tools to monitor it — and the sense to pay attention to red flags once they’re raised —you will meet with obstacles that are unpleasant. Most important, they can usually be avoided.
The proprietary culture assessment tools I’ve developed from years of experience paired with recent technological advances act as a canary in a coal mine. They’re capable of assessing the culture from all aspects, and paired with market information and 11 other data inputs (13 in total), they can give you a 360-view of your company that can warn of disasters such as these along with other issues, such as turnover/employee defection, potentially derailing internal disconnects, and so much more. You need to monitor corporate culture effectively and often, and I have the tools that can accomplish this and so much more.
More than ever, companies must truly look deep inside their ranks to ascertain what is going on. It’s no longer sufficient to simply rely solely on client and employee engagement data to give you a view of what’s happening with your company; this type of insight only scratches the surface at best. Most employee engagement data tell us 86% of people are disengaged, which is a warning sign within itself. Don’t you want to know why before that expense and productivity issue hits your bottom line? I know I would.
I believe that companies need to take on the issue of culture more than ever before. Dig deep and use tools like my Capacity Framework to connect deep, disparate data for a powerful, actionable source of information: customer data, engagement data, exit interview data, performance data and metrics, talent data and more. Prioritize your corporate culture, and take action on this type of data, outlining the top strengths and challenges for your company. It’s only by connecting all the dots that you will truly paint an accurate picture of what’s going on in your organization, and armed with that knowledge, you can take action and manage your culture as you would any other asset within your company. For it is an asset, perhaps your greatest, and it must be constantly minded as if it could tear your company apart if mismanaged.
Because the truth is — and this Zenefits example is an illustrative example — it most certain can.
About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.
The sign of any great conference is when you continue to mull over the ideas with which you’re presented and the concepts you learn even after the event itself is over. It’s now a little over a week since WorkHuman 2016 wrapped up, and I’m still contemplating much of what I heard.
The event closed on Wednesday afternoon with a keynote from business thinker and author Gary Hamel, in a session titled “For Human Being to Thrive at Work, Bureaucracy Must Die.” The closing keynote spot at any conference can be an unfortunate place on the agenda, as many attendees tend to cut out early to catch flights home. That just did not appear to be the case for most at WorkHuman, and we were treated to an energetic, entertaining, and very relevant message.
The overall theme of Gary Hamel’s keynote was that the design of most of our organizations is in direct conflict with human nature. He offered the following three truths:
- Humans are creative, most of our organizations are not
- Humans are adaptable, most of our organizations are not
- Humans are passionate, most of our organizations are not
And because of these truths, most of our organizations are less human than the people that work within them, and therefore waste more human capacity than they use.
A pretty sad state of affairs, isn’t it?
Hamel went on to suggest that our roles as leaders is NOT to get the people within our organizations to serve the needs of our organizations, it’s to build an environment with such a compelling purpose that our people voluntarily bring their individual gifts to work every day. And when they do that, if we utilize those gifts appropriately, they will contribute to the overall success of the organization. He then promised us seven ways to change the realities within our organizations (but actually only got around to five – probably because he was just so passionate about each one that he spent more time than he expected to on each).
The five ways he touched on were:
- Get Angry – that our workplaces as so designed that our people are forced to show up but leave their humanity at home
- Load Up On data – if you want to inspire and lead change, you need to speak to the head as well as the heart
- Find the Fringe – and then push the boundaries
- Develop a New Set of Principles – whether it be meritocracy, more collaborative decision making, finding and developing the natural leaders in your organization, or embracing the wisdom of the crowd
- Reinvent the “How” – enlarge the scope of decision making and embrace the idea that irregular people doing irregular things in irregular ways create irregular successes
Each of these probably each deserve their own post, and perhaps at some point I’ll revisit them, but for now I’ll leave you with this takeaway…
As HR leaders, we cannot be the champions of bureaucracy and the status quo, especially when that status quo runs contrary to the very nature of human beings. And for many HR professionals that can be a challenge; many by nature and training tend to want to preserve the status quo at all costs. But that is no longer a sustainable way to approach our businesses and workplaces. We have a duty to challenge these constructs that really don’t serve long term sustainability or promote great workplaces and bring out the best in our people, the people who make our businesses what they are.
That’s no easy task, and certainly we can’t do it alone, but we can be the ones at the forefront of the change. The “how” is the difficult part, but these five ideas for changing our realities are a good starting point.
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, learning & development, and employee communications, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.
There are various schools of thought on what drives employee retention. Some expert sources like Gallup place an emphasis on the importance of the manager’s role in engaging, motivating and retaining employees. Other sources suggest that employees rarely leave a job solely because of the boss since there are many other contributing factors such as a compelling strategy, company culture and meaningful work.
Either way, businesses of all sizes are increasingly concerned about employee retention and realizing that high engagement is critical to reducing turnover. The best employees will leave if they’re not engaged, while the lower performers often stay. When this cycle continues, businesses struggle to achieve results and retain customers.
According to the 2015 ADP Midsized Business Owners Study the level of concern about employee engagement spiked 25 percent in 2015 after remaining flat since 2012, with two of five midsized employers expressing high levels of concern. So how can companies more effectively engage their top talent?
Here are three tips to help deepen employee engagement and avoid common pitfalls:
1. Nurture a strong workplace culture. Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, organizational fit and strong leadership often outperform their peers and outpace competitors in attracting and retaining top talent. Key components of a strong workplace culture include diversity and inclusion, a common purpose and a sense of community.
As stewards of company culture, HR leaders should strive to create – and actively promote – an inclusive work environment that champions collaboration and a connection to the local community. Offering volunteer opportunities to give back to the community and employee recognition programs can help employees develop a sense of companionship leading to stronger feelings of engagement.
2. Empower employees to grow their careers. Uncertain career paths are a common pitfall that can result in low employee engagement. Companies that keep career development top-of-mind by offering employees clear career paths, challenging assignments, mentoring programs and training to nurture their professional skills are more likely to retain top performers. Ensure employees understand the diverse career opportunities available to them company-wide and the steps they can take to grow within the organization. And, whenever possible, offer flexibility in how employees chart their individual career paths, such as with job-rotation programs and job shadowing. Career growth comes from creating opportunities for employees to learn new skills and experiences. It doesn’t need to be offering opportunities to ‘climb the corporate ladder’. The ladder has been replaced with a lattice demonstrating the importance of lateral moves in order to grow professionally.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employees need to hear from their leaders. An absence of communication leads to a lack of trust in leadership. Communication is critical to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the corporate strategy and how their work contributes to successful achievement of the company’s goals. Having clarity around their company’s strategy and vision becomes the motivation for employees to make the discretionary effort that defines engagement. Businesses that create frequent opportunities for leaders to communicate with employees – via email, Town Hall meetings, one-on-one interactions or social media help inspire trust. Ongoing communication needs to honest, real-time, and authentic so that employees understand the bigger picture and feel comfortable sharing innovative ideas to help themselves and their employers grow and thrive.
Because employee engagement is strategically linked to retention, HR leaders need to take an integrated approach. This includes fostering a collaborative work environment with trusted leadership, work with a purpose, and diverse growth opportunities. Investing in employee engagement ultimately delivers benefits far beyond the bottom line with increased productivity, reduced turnover and long-term retention of highly skilled staff who directly contribute to achieving business goals.
About the Author: Emma Phillips has more than 20 years of experience leading the design and execution of strategic HR initiatives. As vice president of human resources for ADP’s Major Account Services business unit, Emma and her team focus on attracting, developing and retaining top talent, succession management, performance management, leadership development, change management and associate engagement.
Women account for half the world’s working-age population globally. However, the persisting imbalance of women in positions of power has started a debate in corporate circles about the viability of a gender quota so as to encourage gender equality in corporate positions of power. But why so much hoopla about gender equality? For one, reports suggest that more women in higher roles reflect in the form of better performance for the companies. Moreover, companies that have women in leadership roles have traditionally fared better than their counterparts during times of financial crisis, similar to the recent one. Here is a detailed account of why women leadership would work better in certain situations and how can you promote the same in your office.
A study carried out by Pew Research Center on women and leadership; there is little difference between men and women in key leadership traits like ability to innovate and intelligence, while many observing they are even better than men when it comes to being compassionate and organized. Despite these facts, we see a very limited participation of women in boardroom discussions and at the upper management level. The story is same across all the continents, whether it is Asia, Europe and the US. In an extensive survey carried out by 20-first, a UK-based global gender consulting firm in 2014, women held only 11% of the 3,000 executive committee positions in 300 surveyed companies.
It’s good for financial performance of the company
Multiple research studies have been carried out in this direction. In 2007, a not-for-profit organization Catalyst reported that Fortune 500 companies having females as board members show significantly better financial performance than those having low female representation. The surveys took into account three points- return on sales, return on equity and return on the investment and found that companies having better female representation excelled on all the three parameters. Another major research that reports similar findings is that of DDI, (Development Dimensions International), a global talent management firm based out of US. According to DDI survey, companies that had majority of board members as women witnessed a substantial 87% better performance than their competition.
It’s better for the job economy, as a whole
Better financial performance of the organizations obviously leads to a better economic state where there are greater number of job opportunities, better productivity and more development. This improved financial health will directly reflect in the number of jobs that will increase proportionally. Whether it is marketing jobs or healthcare, the industry hardly matters as long as it is working towards better gender diversity.
It’s Better for Relationship Building
We all have a common understanding that women are equipped with better relationship building skills. This is backed by research from Harvard Business Review, which notes that female leaders are consistently rated a notch higher than their male counterparts in the category of relationship building. This is obviously a good thing for the organization as good peer to peer camaraderie is essential for keeping up the productivity at its optimum level. In addition to inter-office relationships, this skill is also going to boost a company’s client satisfaction levels and help expand the business.
It’s better for Collaboration
With good networking skills comes the ability to easily collaborate with colleagues, clients and workers across teams, functions, and departments. A paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research agrees on the fact that women are more attracted to cooperation than men. Men, often overestimate their capabilities, while downplaying those of their colleagues, while women are a better judge of their abilities and therefore are not averse to suggestions and help from their team members. In short, women make better team players than men.
Women are Better Communicators
While women undisputedly rule the roost when it comes to communication at personal level, does this also extend to businesses? If experts are to be believed, on the whole, women often make better communicators than men. Zenger Folkman, in their survey, also reported the same. A leader should and must have the ability to establish a crystal clear communication with his team members, clients and consumers. Women tend to be better listeners than men, and that’s what makes for a good leader.
It’s also better for men on the whole
Surprised, you might be, but gender diversity at leadership level or in the corporate in general is a good thing for men. This might sound lopsided, but there are many aspects to this argument. We could deal with them one by one.
Men have the freedom to break the norm
In the male dominated corporate world, a man’s identity is inseparably connected to his job, role and pay package. However, once the corporate world comes to term with the rising prominence of women, and their increasing participation in management decisions, this will take some performance pressure off the men’s shoulders. They will no longer be expected the default bread winner of their families, the sole earning member, who has to earn more than his spouse, and lead the family. Men can also try to be what they really want to be. They can break the stereotype and follow their passion, at least once in a while. It does give some breathing room and creates some kind of financial cushion to which they can fall back in case their plan B doesn’t work out as well.
Men can try to be a better parent
As more women take up careers and become an equally important financial support of the family, men can take some time off their work to be a better parent and run the family in a more involved, holistic fashion. When fathers work fewer hours per week, the family benefits, and it reduces the risk of behavioral problems in the kids that is often witnessed in children who had their fathers missing due to work.
About the Author: Saurabh Tyagi is a career and motivational author who consistently writes articles on various job related themes, including gender diversity in organizations. He has been published on various career sites such as under30ceo.com and blog.
How the War for Top Performers Can Be Won by Redefining Success: Capacity and the Definition of Talent
Talent. The War for Talent. Those two terms are the headlines that strike fear into the hearts of companies and create top-line action items for HR groups across the globe. The major fear for us all is what skills will be needed to ensure corporate longevity and success, and how will you get to them before anyone else does? Well, let’s also add to that the ability to attract and retain them. It’s a large problem to solve, that’s for sure. But I’m not entirely sure that it’s an external job. I think it starts with searching internally first, and that means a long, hard look at your leadership and competency models.
This is not to say that more traditional competency and leadership models are failures. Quite the contrary: these frameworks have succeeded in providing the qualities/attributes previous leaders and employees required for daily operational and long-term success. Built upon the success profiles of the past along with proven business acumen, these models have sparked development programs, helped forge career paths, laid the baseline for promotions and compensation rates, and crafted the means through which staffing is performed. The issue isn’t that they’ve never been successful; it’s that they may not be what’s needed moving forward.
We live in a global business world that is filled with daily disruptors, things that come flying at the business before anyone could conceivably see them coming. Technology advances every day, the customer is closer and more vocal than ever, cloud-based services are revolutionizing the way the workplace runs as well as how products are delivered, and it seems our entire lives can be run from our phones. Virtual technology is coming faster than we think, and with artificial intelligence and robotics working its way from the factory floor to self-driving cars and home-based products such as Amazon’s Alexa, the ebb and flow of product delivery and customer contact is getting faster than the speed of imagination. Does your leadership model work in the same way? Maybe it’s time to take a look.
When you review a traditional leadership model, you’ll notice they all have one great similarity: all competencies apply to all leaders, irrespective of their role, division or market. The premise has always been that a central set of leadership behaviors, traits, and competencies must be applicable across all leaders, that everyone must be held to the same standard, and that in order for the company to be successful everyone in management must march in the same direction in the same way. Before maybe five years ago, that worked. But in today’s rapidly-changing world of business, I’d argue that it’s a static, antiquated approach that might get you smashed against the windshield of oncoming change. It’s coming fast, so you must be adept and adaptable, which means rewarding a new set of leadership principles.
Let’s also explore the new prevalent population of the world, the Millennials, and how they affect more traditional role descriptions and success models. This generation isn’t driven by the same cash and prestige rewards as were Boomers and Generation X. They thrive on social causes, they desire to make more global impact, they demand work/life balance, and they require constant feedback. They’re also the most swiftly-adaptable generation in history, they solve problems more efficiently, process data more quickly, and can utilize technology better that their predecessors. We must consider how we look at where these skills fit into the world of work, how to attract and retain their ranks, and how to measure success against present and future corporate needs.
All these points direct us to one overarching point: we must change our leadership and competency models. Question is, how do we do it? I have some thoughts.
First, I don’t believe we should scrap the entire thing. I think it starts with understanding which baseline aspects of leadership must be required based on your corporate vision, mission, and values; you have to start with performance aspects that point to corporate DNA. What does it take to achieve your corporate goals and move your company forward? What does that look like? Those are your baseline leadership aspects. Describe them and attribute them to everyone.
Next, look at your overall goals against market data and understand what it would take to achieve success in each individual role. Adaptability, social change, market expansion, innovation, customer acquisition and satisfaction, the ability to do whatever it takes to ensure customer and market success (also described as leadership brand) — all these things describe what it takes to be a leader. Then you must differentiate at different levels and within different divisions. Growing businesses require leaders with strong entrepreneurial skills. Manufacturing business may measure excellence by production floor innovation and cost savings. Goods-based services might reward the expansion of the business through contract labor. Internal efficiency in companies with large amounts of data such as banks and law firms might be a tremendous measure of success. Every company may financially reward the ability to positively impact the local community or to reduce the impact on the planet. These skills are leadership based, and can (and should) work their way into competency models all the way down to the lowest level of the organization. Once these differences are implemented, you have leadership and competency models that have a similar baseline for success, but reward for individual roles and performance. That is the way to progress to a brighter, more profitable future, and it is the way to win the global talent war in any market in which you play. The same truism applies to the different skills needed to manage a turn-around or a merger.
The difference with this approach is the models remain dynamic. Outside the baseline core, as the needs of the company change, the attributes of the model continue to shift with it, continually updated and reflective of where the business is in its life cycle. It is where corporate capacity lives, breathes and grows, and it is where the game of business is won.
In the hotel industry, the housekeeping department is comprised of room attendants (100% female) and housemen (100% male). Management is typically 90-100% female. This predominantly female management team often has difficulty working with the housemen. Housemen are responsible for public areas of the hotel such as the lobby, hallways, restaurant, and lounges. They range in age from 25-62 and ethnicities include Hispanic, African American, Asian and Caucasian. Most have been employed full time for 15 or more years. Housekeeping managers are often young (25-30) and have little experience. Some have been promoted from room attendant positions while others come straight out of hospitality school having spent a year or two as an intern or junior manager.
This dynamic is not easy to manage. A lot of conflict is generated around gender and experience (Who is she to tell me what to do? I’ve been here 10 years longer), and resistance to authority (She can’t change that- for what?). Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts for women to effectively manage an all-male team:
1. DON’T try to be ‘one of the gang.’ You are not one of them, so joining them on break, or inviting them to chat in the office only creates confusion and makes it more difficult to establish boundaries and effectively lead.
DO create an authentic relationship by showing interest in who they are. Notice a haircut, new glasses, logo on a hat or sweatshirt (I see you’re a Yankees fan). This builds a connection- you care about more than just getting the job done.
2. DON’T be defensive. When you are challenged (You’re wrong. Can’t use that chemical) you may automatically attempt to assert your power and position.(Do it my way! I’m in charge) but this will only serve to escalate the conflict.
DO be clear and responsive. You’ll need to make it clear that the worker must show respect even when disagreeing with you (We can discuss this, but no yelling or accusing). Be responsive to the worker’s idea (OK, so if not this chemical, what would you use?). This shows that while you have the final say, you are open to learning from those with more experience and can admit you don’t know it all.
3. DON’T let go of your authority. It is easy to become intimidated and overwhelmed by resistant and angry men. But retreating is not an option. The group needs leadership and structure, so for better or worse, you’re it.
DO lead in your own unique style. Think about what you have to offer: enthusiasm, sense of humor, passion for the work. Whatever you have, USE IT. Be authentic and honest when you don’t know something (I’m not sure what the policy is on X. Let me check it out) and admit your mistakes (Sorry, I was late ordering the supplies you need). Acknowledge the expertise of your staff (You know a lot more about this than I do) and elicit their help and feedback (What do you think and what’s past practice?). All this shows your humanity, which is crucial to building a strong relationship.
Managing an all-male staff as a female has its challenges, but the key is always authenticity. Be clear and direct and work through whatever comes your way. This is not always easy or comfortable, but well worth the effort. Stick with it and you’ll build strong relationships and an effective team.
About the Author: With a background in social work and 2 decades of experience as a union worker, Laura MacLeod created “From The Inside Out Project®,” with all levels of employment in mind to assist in maintaining a harmonious workplace. She is an adjunct professor in graduate studies at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. MacLeod speaks on conflict resolution, problem solving, and listening skills at conferences across the country.
To be an entrepreneur requires a special spark, and the urge to follow your own star rather than hitching on to the wagon train that’s headed towards someone else’s idea of success. As HR people, we’ve all seen entrepreneurs in action, maybe even picked up the pieces after them as they drive the business relentlessly onwards!
Entrepreneurs bring focus, energy, charisma, and creativity. Part of their success comes from breaking the rules and thinking outside the box. That’s great for a solo operator because the only person who suffers when things go wrong is the entrepreneur themselves — they burn their fingers, say ‘ouch’, learn their lesson and move on to the next thing.
But to grow a business of substance, the entrepreneur needs to figure out how to work with other people. She needs to harness others’ creativity and energy rather than just relying on her own. Becoming a business leader is a whole new ball game. Here are my six tips to help those HR entrepreneurs make the transition into a leadership role:
1. Visualize Where You & Your Business Will Be
Where do you visualize you and your business will be a year from now and ten years from now? Create a picture in your mind of your successful self, dominating your market and running an awesome business. Don’t let doubts about juggling home life or anything else come in here — this is your positive vision of success and nothing should mess with it!
2. Set Goals and Stick to Them
Set yourself long-term goals, including business goals, financial targets, and personal development points. Break them down into shorter term goals so you’re always working towards achieving them. While you might be taking care of all aspects of the business in the beginning, as your business grows that will change. Look at where you will need to delegate work.
3. Let Go of Your Ego
Yes, I said it. You needed one to get you this far, but don’t let it get in the way now that you’re bringing other people on board. It’s your business and you love it, but believing that you’re the only one who can run it will simply lead to self-destruction.
To avoid burning out, you’ll need to be comfortable sharing the responsibility of running your business. Invest your time and energy in hiring great people and training them so that they will be able to take on some of the load.
4. Hire a Great Team
Write a list of all the things that need to be done to grow your business. Tick the ones you’re good at and the ones you want to keep doing and make those into your job. Then hire great people to fill the gaps.
When you hire people to go out and represent your business, make sure they share your vision and values so they’re credible ambassadors. If they’re providing services or advice under your brand, they need to do it your way.
You know the theory, now go put it into practice! Create a company culture that you love and find others who love it too, and success will follow.
5. Keep it Flexible
Be open to working with people in different ways to meet the needs of the business. Use contracts creatively to flex the size of your team, so you keep your core costs low and bring in the right people when you need them.
You need a good network, so get out and meet lots of contacts. When you’re exploring working together, be clear about how much you’ll pay, what work you expect them to do, and how they should manage any client relationships.
Offer your associates a cut of the client fee if they bring some business to you. If you create a big enough pool of associates, you’ll always be able to call in a specialist when a project comes up. Best of all, you don’t have to sweat at the end of the month with a huge pay bill and not enough clients.
6. Remember Your Roots
Whether your roots are in HR, or somewhere else, remember what it felt like to be noticed by the top guy for doing a good job. You don’t need to understand Motivation Theory or employee engagement measures to know how good it feels when someone says thank you. Stay meaningfully connected all the way down through your team, so that you notice when people are doing a good job. Tell them personally that you’ve noticed.
About the Author: Sharon Crooks is an HR Consultant and an expert in training business people and leaders to communicate effectively with their employees. Sharon is the co-author of a new book HR for Small Business for Dummies, which provides valuable insights into how to run a small business.
Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of working alongside our educational system coaching (and teaching) leadership principles to the senior leaders in our educational institutions from New York City to the Rio Grande Valley. It has been an amazing experience, which has tremendously enriched my life and fulfilled my professional career. Recently, one of my incredible clients, Uplift Education, published a newsletter highlighting the issue of bullying in their schools, and how to address this reality. I was impressed with their coverage and their staunch stance of a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying in their schools.
While reading their commentary, it was impossible for me not to realize that much of what they were addressing is not limited to children. Bullying is alive and well in our adult circles – professional and personal. Chances are each of us have experienced bullying at least once in our workplace, if not in our social circles. To be clear, let’s identify what we mean by bullying:
- The behavior toward another individual is deliberate. It is pre-meditated with the bully’s intention being to hurt someone – in some way.
- The behavior is repeated – over and over again. It becomes habitual and the ‘accepted’ approach toward the other person. The behavior may change in how it manifests – yet, the behavior is indeed consciously calculated and intentional.
- The power between the individual and the bully is imbalanced – real or imagined. There is perceived difference in power, status, strength, societal or political position, etc. between the bully and the victim – and the bully leverages that to their benefit.
With that as our baseline, how ‘bullying behavior’ shows up as an adult may vary from how it manifested as children. Physical bullying (hitting, pushing, slapping) is far more prevalent when we are younger, than as adults. However, other forms of bullying such as name-calling, divisive gossip, exclusion and deliberately getting others to hurt, exclude or ‘gang up’ on others, and cyber bullying via Facebook, and other social media mechanisms is much more widespread and common than many may realize.
As a team leader and leadership coach, I hear examples of this on a regular basis. Many of my clients have shared that team members are blocking them on Facebook or other social media channels, or withholding critical information they need to do their jobs. This also cripples their ability to become a part of the team and/or to foster spirit de corps. Others have stated how peers and team members have spoken half-truths about them and continue to proliferate these fibs and rumors to that individual’s demise and ongoing exclusion. Still others have ‘voted individuals off the island’ due to a simple difference in opinion, a different choice made, or just to assume a superior position that the bully’s victim.
Bullying in the workplace and in life can be completely disruptive not to mention hurtful. It is typically driven by the perpetrators’ need to control the targeted individual. This can be driven by jealously, insecurity, unbridled ambition, or an imagined sense of superiority. Bullying can show up by a set of acts by commission – actually DOING things to others; yet it can also manifest by acts of omission – which can be someone withholding resources from others or simply not being loyal and standing by the victim, to others. And in the worst of all cases, the bully involves others to gang up on the victim and those that ‘cave’ and do not stand tall to support the victim are in many cases the greatest bullies of all. Over the course of my adult life and career, I have been the victim of both types of bullying. It is no fun and can completely derail your self-confidence, and have you questioning your every thought, word, and deed – which is, of course, what the bully wants.
So what can we do about this reality? Well, there is a website that does an amazing job of highlighting a few steps to take when this happens in the workplace. It consists of shining a bright light on bullies in the workplace and requires nothing short of turning the workplace culture upside down. Bullies must experience negative consequences for harming others. Senior leaders need to call out that negative behavior, and certainly not reward it. Only Senior Leaders can reverse the trend; and if they actually support it – then the team and organization can become toxic. I have actually had a leader support the bully’s behavior, and that can be extremely disheartening. However, what I believe whole heartedly is this: the truth ALWAYS will reveal itself over time.
A few additional thoughts for consideration:
- Always take the high road.As our father has always taught us, ‘if you see it, so does everyone else’. So let the bully reveal their true behaviors – as over time, even if they are the best actors in the world, their passive aggressive, manipulative, and mean behaviors will be revealed.
- We need to try to do our best to LIVE the Golden Rule.Yes, trust me when I say this can be hard when folks have been ugly and divisive relative to you and your work. Yet, again, as my parents would say – at least you can sleep well at night knowing you are living YOUR life in integrity and with purity of intention.
- Take care of your health during these stressful times.When folks are mean to us, if we internalize this, it will most certainly show up in our bodies. Thus, we need to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Eat well. Exercise every day at least 30 minutes. Consider Yoga or medication to help lower your blood pressure.
- Finally, we need keep these ‘evil doers’ in our prayers.It is impossible to harbor ill will against someone when we pray for them – of this I am 100% certain.
What are your thoughts? What suggestions to you have when we face situations like this in life and/or in business?
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken? Random Encounters That Change Your Life, was released on 11/1/11 to national acclaim, and endorsed by Stephen Covey and John Maxwell, among others. Her second book in the series, entitled Is This Seat Taken? It’s Never Too Late to Find the Right Seat was released 1/13/15. It has already been endorsed by notables such as Marshall Goldsmith, Sean Covey, and Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines. This book shines the light on late in life reinvention and encore ‘second half’s’ of diverse individuals. The individuals are in some cases widely known and others are somewhat anonymous to the mass public. The common thread is their ‘post-50’ resurgence in life and in some cases their ‘fork in the road’ is quite serendipitous. Kristin’s third book, a sequel to ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ will follow later in 2015. Kristin is on Twitter as @kristinkaufman.
Workplace surveys have become an integral part of participative management, especially in today’s world of smart business. Some of the most critical questions surveyors or employers want to know from employees is what they think about the employer, their job, and the management. Many corporations are also increasingly looking for ways to further explore the usefulness of surveys, such as those involving employee attitudes to increase productivity, streamline management and increase workforce efficiency. However, just like any other well thought management concept, surveys can also cause serious harm; more so, if it is misconstrued or misused. Below are some of the benefits as well as disadvantages of workplace surveys.
Benefits of workforce surveys
Employee surveys are critical for the well-being a business or organization. Most corporate surveys provide an anonymous system through which critical or sensitive matters in a company can be address without exposing anyone’s identity. Some of the benefits of a survey in the workplace include:
- Get feedback
Employers can provide employees with a satisfaction survey on a regular basis to receive valuable responses about how employees feel about senior executives and their immediate supervisors. This close working relationship can spark new employee recognition ideas and increase employee appreciation, since most top level managers do not work on the floor with their employees. Employers can also use workplace surveys to compare responses, with those obtained from previous years, to gauge if the company is meeting its financial or non-financial goals.
- Encourage accountability
Workplace surveys normally helps keep managers on top of their game. This is the reason why satisfaction surveys are used by senior executives to address leadership inefficiencies or evaluate the performance of managers. Through the surveys, corporations can also learn more about the employee’s working conditions and expectations.
Conducting a workplace survey can easily open the channels of communication; for example, between the management and staff. This is important because employees may not be in a position to face their bosses with straight up questions concerning the choices the management makes.
- Identify problems
Inclusive workforce surveys can help the management identify areas of weakness before they develop into serious problems. For example, a survey about employee workforce environment can help the management identify teething problems and get around them in a subtle or controlled manner.
Disadvantages of workforce surveys
If the results of a well conducted survey are implemented, they can help a business or company move towards attaining its set obligations and goals. For example, a survey can help a company determine the kind of service or products the consumer’s want. The survey participants, on their part, need to find value in the undertaking before them. Some of the shortcomings of workforce surveys include:
- Poor word choices
Compared to most visual surveys, a written survey may confuse the participants, especially on matters that require clarification. The misunderstanding can be overcome by accounting for every word order, punctuation or dialects used. Surveyors can also ask the same question in a different way to gauge the thinking behind the responses.
- Surveyor preconceptions
Although surveys may be conducted in a random or unbiased fashion, it is very important to get the right representative sample. Case in point, you may get an inconclusive response if you ask a group of athletes what they think about a new brand of running shoes, while leaving out the other groups of people.
- Refusal by management
In certain cases, candid responses obtained from employee feedback can be rejected by management. This is especially true if the management takes the responses personally, instead of using the information to improve on their service. On the same vein, pointing fingers as a result of unexpected responses from a survey can impact a business negatively, thus reversing the intended gain.
- Lack of action
When a workplace survey is initially introduced, employees are likely to invest their time and efforts, giving their response as directed. The exercise may then lead to high employee expectations and hope. However, if the management does not act on the collected views, the lack of response can breed cynicism and jeopardize the ability to obtain accurate feedbacks from employees in future.
All and all, when planning a workplace survey, know your audience and environment to gain the appropriate responses. And don’t forget to listen and act on your survey results to further business innovation.
About the Author: JP grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.
Human resources is an exciting field that offers leaders the ability to optimize their professional potential while inspiring employees to do the same. However, attaining profound success as an HR leader necessitates the consistent use of proven strategies and systems that will generate the ongoing growth and optimized operations you seek. With that idea in mind, you should consider the value of implementing some or all of these growth strategies:
- Optimize your meetings
It’s no secret that holding regular meetings is the key to ensuring that everyone understands the company’s vision and goals. However, this does not mean that all HR leaders have developed the great habit of optimizing the meetings they hold. Don’t commit this oversight. Developing and implementing strategies that will make your meetings more effective can have a wide range of desirable outcomes, some of which include enhanced daily operations, elimination of miscommunication, and the development of a company culture conducive to open discussion and debate. Luckily, there are hundreds of ways that you can optimize your meetings. Some of them include:
- using PowerPoint presentations
- holding virtual meetings
- optimizing engagement by asking questions and requesting feedback
- scheduling strategically so all employees are present
- employee appreciation ideas for staff members who have performed exceptionally well
- Establish a vision
If you’re serious about operating effectively as an HR leader, establishing a vision is a must. The vision is important because it provides you with a simple yet thorough understanding of what you are attempting to accomplish. In many cases, HR leaders find it helpful to develop both a personal vision and a company vision. The personal vision involves you defining what you will do for the company as an individual participant within it. The company vision is much more than deciding on administrative items like who will provide your payroll software or cadences for employee appreciation. The company vision states how you and all of the other employees will work together to generate a specified outcome that promotes the organization’s perpetual expansion.
- Be more goal-oriented
In addition to establishing a vision, HR leaders who are ready to excel within the workforce must become goal-oriented people. No matter how internally motivated you are, it won’t matter much if you do not develop objectives and then work towards realizing them. Goal-oriented people are more effective in getting work done because they have a clear understanding of what they’re attempting to do and the steps they must take to get there. This is one of the reasons that the development of SMART goals has become so popular amongst career coaches. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.
- Prioritize for staff development
A company is only as effective as its individual employees are. Since this is true, HR leaders who want their organizations to succeed must focus on optimizing the personal and professional aptitude of their employees. This objective can be accomplished in numerous ways, such as providing staff members with incentives to operate in excellence and expedience. Holding regular “Employee of the Month” contests is a great way to make this happen. Consistently offering employees opportunities to enroll in ongoing education and training courses is another effective strategy you might employ. Also remember that employee recognition is an integral part of the staff development process because public praise motivates people to consistently operate in excellence.
- Update technology
HR leaders who are ready to take their companies to a new level of efficacy and excellence should focus on updating their technology. This strategic approach works for numerous reasons, including the fact that it enables your company to maintain a cutting edge image in the eyes of the general public. Finding great technological updates also makes life easier for your employees by enabling them to get more done, in less time, and in a more convenient manner.
- Take feedback seriously
The most successful HR leaders are so because they are regularly obtaining feedback from trusted counselors, mentors, bosses, and other important individuals in their sphere of influence. Since this is the case, strategize your own success by taking this feedback seriously and learning how to optimize and expedite everything you’re doing for the company. In addition to making the organization more effective, taking feedback seriously improves your efficacy and functions as motivation for employees to operate at a higher level of excellence.
- Think outside the box
Although the phrase “think outside the box” is trite, it’s stated over and over again because the methodology is oftentimes effective in helping people generate results, overcome obstacles, and break through barriers. With this idea in mind, make sure that you’re not operating in a conventional, cookie-cutter manner as you lead your staff. Rather, be open to new ways of thinking and acting that are relevant, effective, and fun.
If you’re an HR leader who wants your company to be a smashing success, you should know that thinking strategically is a great way to make it happen. Since this is so, be sure to consider using some or all of the strategies outlined in this post. Doing so will likely take your company’s level of excellence and efficacy to a new level!
About the Author: A previous guest contributor to Women of HR, JP George grew up in a small town in Washington. After receiving a Master’s degree in Public Relations, she has worked in a variety of positions, from agencies to corporations all across the globe. Experience has made JP an expert in topics relating to leadership, talent management, and organizational business.