Work Ruts

How to Get Out of a Work Funk and Find Inspiration

It’s not uncommon for both individual contributors and entire companies to sometimes feel stuck in a work rut. Even for business owners such as myself, there are still down days or perhaps even down weeks in which inspiration is tough to come by.

I’ve been running Proven, a small job board, for seven years; the longest I’ve worked for any one company or on any specific project. Even though I love my job, there’s certainly times when things have felt bleak or I have felt less enthusiastic about my work.

For example, it’s always exciting to launch new projects; there is an inherent enthusiasm in undertaking what could be the next big initiative for a company. Furthermore, knowing how much effort went into building something from scratch can make riding the wave of success resulting from your hard work that much more enjoyable. But not every day is like this with most companies. There are days when things slow down and inspiration is fleeting. This is the narrow part of the proverbial hourglass, in which innovation is lacking and there is no new project to rally the workforce around. It is these phases that often kill companies and founders, companies do not close up shop when everything is going well.

Despite these lulls, I’ve always come out of them. Having a supportive business partner has certainly helped at times, but I’ve also learned a few tricks along the way that help me refocus when I feel like I need some inspiration.

In this article, I’m going to share these tips with you. Hopefully they work as well for you as they have for me. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

Attend a Conference

A conference is a great way to find new inspiration or rekindle the ambition that inspired you to found the company. You get to interact and network with other entrepreneurs as well as learn from their experiences.

One of the other added benefits of a conference is it gets you away from the office and out of your daily routine. Simply freeing yourself from a monotonous work environment can be enough to get your creative juices going. I often find myself inundated with new ideas during conferences because my mind is free to roam; I’m not solely focused on the next thing I need to do.

Learn Something New

Attending conferences can be a great way to learn a new skill, but there are other opportunities for learning outside of events. There’s a ton of great business podcasts from which you can learn from marketing experts, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and many more—all for free.

Another option is to carve out some time in your calendar each week, even just 30 minutes, to read and learn something new related to your company. This can pay off in the long run and open your eyes to previously overlooked development opportunities.

You can also try starting a new passion project using a technique that you haven’t tried before. Developing new skills is essential to work satisfaction.

Change Up Your Routine

Of all the techniques I provide in this blog, altering my daily routine is the simplest thing I do to create some new energy. Humans get lazy with routine. We get bored. Our perception of time changes when we follow the same routine day in and day out. Anything you can do to vary this is a good thing.

Variation can be achieved with little effort. Just having a slightly different work environment can have a big impact. I sometimes relocate my work space, knowing a new environment can often prompt renewed energy and inspiration.

You can also try changing the time of day you work, or move your schedule of meetings to the afternoon instead of your standard morning sessions. Anything to create some change is good.

Remove Distractions

Distractions can be a real soul killer. Boisterous colleagues or noisy office construction can be enough to take even the most focused employee out of their rhythm. Coupling this lack of flow with feeling a little less inspired than usual can make for a disastrously unproductive day.

If distractions are too great to overcome in your current environment, you can try working in a conference room or working from home if your company allows it. A coffee shop is also an option for people that don’t need absolute silence to concentrate. Depending on how you choose to remove distractions, you can add some of the variety that I refer to above to your life.

Work as a Team

Coming together with colleagues on a project can boost your energy. By collaborating with your co-workers you’ll receive valuable feedback as to the usefulness of your ideas. You’ll also be to glean new ideas or ways of thinking from your co-workers that depart from your standard approach, which is not only a benefit to the work you’re currently undertaking, but also a great way to learn new things.

If your work doesn’t completely involve your team, a team brainstorming session can be a great way to reinvigorate not only yourself, but all parties involved. It doesn’t have to take long, and a lot of great ideas that not only pertain to the task at hand but also inform other business objectives can come out of it. It not only helps break up your routine, but does so for your colleagues as well.

Self-Awareness is Key

It’s natural to sometimes feel off your game, it happens to the best of us. However, if you are self-aware enough to recognize when and why this is happening, you can take steps to bring yourself out of a work funk before the problem is too great to overcome.

I’ve provided a few simple tips about things that have helped get me out of a rut, but there are plenty of other ideas out there that might work better for you. If you have a great tip for re-energizing yourself, please share it in the comments.

For more ideas on how to avoid the dreaded “rut” and keep employee morale high, check out the blog post Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale.

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About the Author
Sean Falconer is Founder and CTO of Proven. He is a proud Canadian and reformed academic. He is passionate about making hiring for small businesses simple, streamlined and frictionless. Follow Sean on Twitter @seanfalconer.

 

Do What You Love

Finding Your Career Passion

Richard Branson said, “If you find what you are truly passionate about, then finding your career will not be too far away. It’s a lesson I have learned from my years creating businesses. I’ve never had what I would call a job, but I’ve worked every day for five decades.”

What Branson describes above encapsulates why doing what you love is so important. If you’re impassioned by your career, the odds of you being successful increase exponentially. So many people work solely for a paycheck with little to no thought about whether they truly enjoy their job. These people haven’t found their career passion; their purpose. And their work can suffer from lack of joy. I see it all too often within my personal and business networks. But how does one go about discovering the passion(s) that drive them?

Defining “passion” is a good place to start. According to Merriam-Webster, “passion” can be defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Applying Webster’s definition to the greater world, I take “passion” to mean the things that you do without concern for monetary compensation.

This could be anything from interior design to blogging about concerts, from restoring classic cars to coaching your child’s athletic team. Whichever activity you tackle with continued eagerness and enjoyment, regardless of compensation, will likely be your passion. Here are some questions to ask yourself to try and determine what you are passionate about:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning? (other than the alarm)
  2. Are you energized and happy when you get to work most days? If no, why not?
  3. Are you excited about the next 12-24 months? If no, why not?
  4. What or who inspires you to want to be a better person? Why?
  5. What brings you joy? Whether it’s gardening, helping people or technology – you are limited only by your imagination and resources.

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked in customer service for 30+ years. My first job was working for a well-known burger chain (no, the other one) when I was 14.  My parents told me that if I wanted anything extra, beyond what they were willing to provide, I had to pay for it myself.

Though I was reluctant to join the workforce, looking back on it, perhaps this was the best thing my parents ever did for me. It taught me the value of earning money as opposed to having it given to me. It taught me about responsibility, teamwork, and dedication. I carry many of the lessons I learned during that job with me today, so much so that I will encourage my daughter to do the same when the time comes.

Over the years, as I worked for various retailers and restaurants (including the best fish and chip restaurant in my hometown), I discovered customer service was something I was passionate about and could eventually make a career out of. And if not for the privilege of working for two extremely strong and passionate women who inspired my inner passion for leadership and customer service, Nancy Tichbon and Rhonda Bosch, the spark of passion I felt for customer service might never have become the flame that burns brightly today.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you already have a career you are passionate about.  Though you might not kick your heels up in the air every day, you probably feel that your career has meaning and that you are making a difference.

As Rhonda and Nancy did for me, it sometimes takes words of encouragement from highly respected individuals that have already discovered their career passion to point someone in the right direction. However, inspiration needs constant refreshing. My inspiration was renewed by career advice given by business tycoon Robert Herjavec, which applies to anyone looking to break into a new career. During his TV interview (you can find more information here), he offered two pieces of advice that resonated with me:

Robert’s Advice for New Grads:

“The first thing you have to do is get a job to prepare you for your next job. You should embrace internships and offer to work for free. If you don’t gain any experience the world will continue to roll right over you, especially in the marketing field where everyone wants to get in the door. Try making a deal by suggesting that you will work for free for three months and if things are going well, your employer will hire you as if you had that experience. The worst that can happen is that they say no, and in that case, you will still have gained three months of experience!”

Robert’s Advice on Retraining for a Career:

“Get into a field that statistically gives you the opportunity to have a career. A big mistake people make is choosing a job that’s difficult to make a good living in. Next, get some hardcore training from a college or other hands on program. I look for people who have hard technical skills when getting into a field. I think there is a time and place for university education and for technical experience. A two-year technical program is a great option for you as you’ll get to network and still gain many skills. The greatest value of a post-secondary program is often the chance to expand your network. Never be afraid to ask someone for an introduction, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial your network could be.”

As a people leader, I am inspired every day by the drive and energy of my team. This pushes me even harder to be the best I can be, for them and for our customers. I am fortunate to work for a company that by way of our software, inspires passion through employee engagement and recognition.

Don’t put off today what could be your passion and purpose tomorrow. Life is short; we deserve fulfillment and happiness at work as well as home.

If you have found your “passion” and want to inspire others, check out my blog post 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

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About the Author

Marci PetersMarci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

 

retain employees

4 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded High-Turnover Rate

The cost of employee turnover is outrageously high. When a company loses a salaried employee, it can cost anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of the departed employee’s salary to hire a replacement. This means that if an employee is being paid $40,000 a year, the cost of everything from recruiting to training expenses will be around $20,000 to $30,000. In addition to costing your company a fortune, it can discourage talented employees from joining your organization. High turnover is one of the major red flags job seekers look for when considering a new employment opportunity.

Here are four ways companies can step up their game and hold on to the talented employees they worked hard to acquire:

  1. Get Rid of Top-Down Management

Everything in the business world is evolving and the concept of management is not immune. Many of the old rules and practices no longer apply, and the lack of a modern workplace philosophy is forcing skilled workers to leave their current company and take their talent elsewhere. The top-down approach to leadership and ruling with an iron fist is no longer a popular way to run a business.

In today’s workplace, the term “collaborative leadership” is commonly cited as a strong approach to employee management. This concept emphasizes leading by example and focusing on both corporate and individual benefit. For instance, Jacob Morgan, author of The Future Of Work, explained in a Forbes article how AMP Bank in Sydney, Australia makes it a point to sit down with each employee to explain how new technologies and strategies can benefit both parties.

It’s important to realize the vital role management plays in the development of a company. Gallup estimates that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Great leadership is a crucial factor in retaining employees; it goes back to the famous saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

  1. Learn What Millennials Want

By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly half of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of millennials. Therefore, it is crucial to determine what these younger employees want out of a company. Ask yourself the following questions:

Millennials are looking for more than just a job with a steady paycheck, they want careers in which they are engaged with their company’s goals, and can develop their professional skills. A 2014 survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project found that employees are most engaged when these four core needs are being met:

  • Value – Being cared for by their supervisor
  • Purpose – Finding significance in their work
  • Focus – Prioritizing
  • Renewal – Ability to take needed breaks

Regardless of the age of the employee, there is nothing worse than being stuck at a job that isn’t motivating. Fostering employee engagement can be difficult. However, emphasizing honesty and transparency for both company and employee alike can be integral in obtaining uninhibited employee feedback to gauge the direction of your workforce and what motivates them.

  1. Promote a Culture of Innovation

Everyone wants to be involved in a cutting-edge organization. Companies that want to remain ahead of their competitors must do their best to promote this mindset both internally and externally. For starters, when you’re advertising a job opening, take a step back and examine what your company is doing differently than similar organizations. Once you have a firm answer, drive this idea home and showcase what your business is collectively bringing to the big picture compared to your competitors.

Based on your business, this can be a daunting task. But, regardless of what product or service you provide, there is always room for innovation. Take Michelin for example. Tires might not seem like an innovative product but the science behind how rubber interacts with the road is complex. To promote a company-wide innovative mindset, Michelin sponsors cross-functional hackathons and internal incubators where employees are free to take risks and come up with new ideas for the good of the company.

Making sure that innovation is a strong aspect of your culture can play an enormous role in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

  1. Recognize and Reward Employees

While this one might seem obvious, it is still accurate: everyone likes to know their hard work is being noticed. Great employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. So when you notice colleagues going above and beyond the call of duty, it’s important to provide plenty of recognition and rewards to encourage repetition. Recognition is essential to employee engagement and The Corporate Leadership Council shared in a recent report that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Events like company-sponsored happy hours or weekend getaways celebrating a strong quarter can go a long way in demonstrating to employees how much their work means to an organization. Going beyond these types of “job well done” gestures, making sure top performing employees are appropriately compensated is the most important factor in employee retention.

To address this, you can try setting up recognition and rewards programs that encourages daily praises and constant appreciation. Or consider implementing programs within the workplace that are transparent when it comes to pay raising goals, such as merit-based pay structures. Just be sure to set goals at a level in which employees will need to put their best foot forward, while remaining reasonably attainable.

Talented workers tend to know their worth. If you are not paying them appropriately, they will have no problem finding an organization that will.

Over to You

Retaining high performing employees in the current business climate is very challenging, and with the many detrimental costs of employee turnover, your company’s bottom line could be adversely affected. If your turnover rate is higher than you would like, it might be time to take a close look at day-to-day operations and find the root cause as to why people are so willing to leave your organization. Sometimes, it is a simple fix. Other times, a complete organizational reinvention is needed to ensure the external perception of your organization matches the internal. At the end of the day, a company that focuses on engaging their employees, whether through strong leadership, culture, recognition, or rewards is on the right track to reducing turnover.

To learn more about employee turnover, check out the blog post How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.

 

Recognition: The MVP of Employee Engagement

No longer a specialist relief pitcher called in to face a tough hitter, or a rarely used bench player padding stats in garbage time, employee recognition has become a widely recognized superstar when it comes to driving employee engagement. And with only 41% of employees recognized at their desired frequency, and 60% feeling their managers don’t recognize them in the moment, a huge opportunity exists for your business to leverage recognition to engage your employees.

While there are a variety of ways to help create an engaged workforce, many experts, including AON Hewitt and the Harvard Business Review, believe that recognition is the most important pillar of any employee engagement program. As Meghan M. Biro states in her new eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience, “Be it bonuses, awards, rewards, a virtual gold star, or a simple shout out on social media, fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results.”

With the shifting dynamics and demographics in the contemporary workplace (millennials now outnumber baby boomers and the economy is reaching “full employment”) there is a greater emphasis on the individual. Accordingly, employee recognition should follow suit and be relevant to the person receiving it.

Gone are the days of the monolithic approach to recognition, in which employees were only recognized once a year during a performance review, with little news of their accomplishments reaching the greater organization or even worse, once every five or ten years with a “Years of Service” award. Replacing this approach with one focused on recognizing and rewarding people frequently with meaning and specificity has become critical in creating a true culture of employee recognition. And it follows that the more frequent the recognition the higher the employee engagement.

The Impact of Recognition: Is It Real?

Recognition as a philosophy is one thing, but does it have quantifiable value when put into practice? Horizon Blue Shield Blue Cross of New Jersey thinks so. In 2013, they implemented their Step It Up employee recognition program (hosted on Achievers recognition and engagement platform) across their four business locations in the hopes of increasing employee engagement. By year’s end, 90% of employees had joined the platform, with executives leading the way by being amongst the most active users. All of this activity contributed to:

  • 6 percent increase in its overall engagement scores
  • 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to recognition
  • 97 percent activation rate for its Step It Up Employee Recognition Program

The Step It Up program is still in frequent use today, with executives continuing to lead the recognition charge.

What You’ll Learn

Instituting a company-wide recognition program that encourages frequent peer-to-peer recognition regardless of title or department can be a game changer. In her new eBook, Meghan M. Biro provides the reasons why employee recognition is the most valuable tool for creating a culture of engagement and explains how tying recognition to core company values can ensure repetition through reinforcement – and have a positive impact on key business metrics including productivity, innovation, retention, and customer satisfaction.

If any of these business objectives mentioned are important to you, then it is time to consider implementing a strategic recognition program. But what should you look for when deciding on the best platform for it? To find out the answer to that question and more, download Meghan M. Biro’s latest eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Engagement.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.

 

 

 

 

Employee Evaluations

5 Elements of a Healthy Performance Review Process

Before you start defining the elements of a healthy performance review process, it’s worth investigating how or where your process went wrong. Historically, performance reviews were created with the best of intentions and remained unchanged for centuries.

The idea that people are motivated by knowing where they stand within an organization gave birth to the “rank and yank” method of ranking employees into top, average, and poor performing tiers (and eliminating those at the bottom). This was popularized by Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric (1980-2001).

As with many common business practices, the millennial generation is challenging the way performance reviews work. Not only have forced ranking and merit-based raises been found ineffective, leaders and human resources professionals have reported performance reviews to be a significant waste of time.

While performance management is sometimes a necessary evil, thankfully, the delivery system and the value it provides is trending in a healthier direction. Let’s have a look at five elements of a healthy performance review process.

1. Regularity

The traditional performance review that takes place once or twice a year tends to be an anxiety-inducing event in which employees are sometimes blindsided by their supervisor’s perception of their performance. To be effective, performance feedback should be delivered on a regularly scheduled basis so it becomes less stressful and includes more than an overview of how they have performed over the last twelve months.

Employees will have a better chance to grow, improve, and possibly change their approach to work if they’re receiving timely, specific feedback rather than waiting several months to a year after the fact to hear about their performance.

2. A Strong Focus on Goals

A healthy performance review process includes more than just feedback, it’s a great opportunity to establish goals and expectations. This is another reason the review process should be done more regularly. As soon as current goals are met or exceeded, you can put new ones in place, rather than waiting until a formal review to adjust strategy. This will help keep your team members from growing bored or frustrated and keep them focused on imperative business objectives.

Meeting to discuss an employee’s performance, as well as their goals, helps you as a leader understand the direction they’re heading and how you can guide them, as well as how you can align their strengths and interests toward the shared goals of your team. If you have a learning management system in place, you can also pair some of these performance goals with specific learning or training objectives and track progress in real time.

3. Two-Way Conversations

“Talking at,” your employees can make them feel intimidated, or worse, annoyed. The lack of two-way communication is one of the many reasons the traditional performance review is ineffective — more than anything, the employee just wants it to end as they might be feeling belittled, unimportant, or unheard.

Instead, use the designated review time to have a two-way conversation. Spend time discussing how your employee feels about their own performance and how they feel about your performance as a leader. Ask for their thoughts on the company’s current mission and goals. Encourage them to be decisive, and solicit their ideas. Where possible, put what they tell you into action, so they know that your interest in their opinion isn’t perfunctory. This method of communication is more aligned with the modern workforce; today’s employees, especially the millennial generation, prefer coaches to managers.

4. Balanced Feedback

You already know that going into a performance review with only negative feedback can discourage an employee from making the corrective behavior necessary to get on track. A poor performer still needs to understand how their skills are valuable to the organization, the areas they are making strides in, and where you see potential for improvement.

Similarly, providing only positive feedback (even to an outstanding performer) isn’t helpful either. A healthy review should balance both positive and negative feedback. Growth only comes from pushing people past what they thought they were capable of, and an ambitious employee will look for a manager willing to do just that. Your job as a leader is to do the pushing; by acknowledging areas of improvement, and establishing new goals.

5. Performance-Based Incentives

A system of goals and evaluation criteria is a step in the right direction if you’re hoping to boost performance. But your employees will never feel intrinsically motivated to improve unless there is some benefit or reward tied to success. If they know the only reward for above-average work is the approval of their manager, you won’t see much growth.

Make sure your performance reviews are connected to a tangible reward or incentive for each employee. How you reward the employee should be individualized, and is dependent on available budget, but it could be anything from a restaurant gift card to a quarterly bonus, or even a permanent raise for the highest performing employees. Don’t let your most valuable employees feel unappreciated, demonstrate their value to them with tangible assets–verbal affirmation is nice, but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

When you do away with forced rankings and outdated goals and start having meaningful conversations with your team, you can soften the cutthroat atmosphere at work and engage your employees as individuals. This in turn will create a culture of trust, allowing for constructive criticism and healthy performance reviews that include regular, balanced feedback, goal-setting, and an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Furthermore, a healthy review process tied to measurable incentives will not only result in higher performance, but happier employees as well.

To learn more, check out 6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees.

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About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

Mindfulness at Work

4 Tips: How to Cultivate Mindfulness at Work

Mindfulness by definition is, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Seems simple enough, right?

However, achieving a state of mindfulness as defined above, while balancing the busy schedule of a working professional seems like another impossible task on the grand to-do list. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and wellness industry hit a record high of $3.4 trillion dollars in 2014, and that number continues to grow as more and more businesses seek to launch health and wellness initiatives of their own.

While mindfulness is a highly personal state of being, to me, it is the feeling of being more aware of myself and what’s happening around me. This takes dedication and a willingness to be fully aware of even the most-minute aspects of my daily life, both at home and at work. Mindfulness can give you the tools to handle the ups and downs of office culture. No matter how you achieve it, once you experience the effects of having a mindfulness practice, it can help you to successfully navigate all areas of your life.

To get started, here are four areas of focus that will help cultivate a mindfulness practice within the office:

  1. Awareness and Breath

Despite the ubiquity of health and wellness programs in contemporary office culture, it feels as though our society is more stressed than ever. Most of us work at least 40 to 50 hours a week, and then juggle personal tasks like looking after kids/pets, rushing to the gym, staying in touch with friends, a monthly book (read: wine) club, etc.

Our lives get so jammed packed, we need multiple calendars just to keep up with it all. The American Psychological Association found that “…money and work are the top two sources of very or somewhat significant stress (67 percent and 65 percent in 2015.)”

Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control, take a few minutes to simply take some deep breaths. By completing the easy task of breathing, you are already more mindful because you acknowledged how stressed you felt before reacting. From there, take it one step further by aiming for balanced breath; equal lengths of inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

While continuing this breathing exercise, observe how the signs of stress in your body reveal themselves. Were your shoulders up to your ears? Was your jaw clenched? Is your breath short and chest tight?

After you’ve identified the symptoms of stress, try to relax that specific area of tension by at least 20%. As little as 2-5 minutes of controlled breathing will bring you to a greater state of control over your feelings and help take your physical being out of fight or flight mode. By increasing circulation to the brain and slowing your heart rate, you’ll have greater clarity, allowing you to better assess the situation at hand. If you would like to go one step further and give meditation a try, Headspace is a great app for beginners.

  1. Forgive Yourself

Gary Hamel, one of the world’s most influential business thinkers said, “You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people.” To me, the essence of this quote is understanding that none of us are superheroes; it can be very difficult to finish everything within the work day and still live a balanced, healthy personal life.  This is why it is crucial to let go of any emotional baggage you might carry with you, in both your personal and professional life.

Forgiving yourself when things are not going as planned is critical in accepting the way things truly are and gives us the ability to move forward toward a more productive mindset. Feeling guilty, mad or frustrated can render us unwilling to be open-minded.

Instead, use this as a learning experience to reflect on what you can do better next time these feelings of frustration emerge, focusing on understanding why the end goal is important and then letting go of whatever is out of your control. Flexibility within the workplace is key to success, regardless of the environment in which you work. Behind every great person, company or business success, there was probably a moment where the prospect of failure was faced and overcome. The difference between losing and victory was likely a reinvention or evolution of an approach that turned failure into triumph. So make a conscious effort to learn from difficult situations in the moment and then, let go.

  1. Lighten Up

If you’re a “Yes Person” like me, your workload can rapidly become overwhelming. One way to counteract the weight of a stressful week at work is to lighten up and laugh more often. If you’re laughing while reading this, you’re off to a great start.

We’ve all had moments when things took a wrong turn and it feels like the WORST has happened. In these situations, it’s hard to remove the typical ‘should have, could have, would have’ narrative that is on constant loop in your mind. Next time, break the habit of being hard on yourself by focusing on a positive aspect. Ask yourself: what is it that is making me so upset? Why do I feel like this is so important?

Once you have answered the questions above, approach this situation with gratitude for what you DO have, it will likely help illuminate the problem and help reshape your frame of mind from “this is what I need to do… [Fill in what you are dreading]” to “this is what I want to do because… [Fill in what you are grateful for.]”

If you still need a lift, reach out to your colleagues; the people around you are there for support and will offer much needed perceptive on some of the challenges you’re facing.

  1. Recognize Others

The average American spends over 2,000 hours a year in the office, which means aside from sleep, we are spending more time with co-workers than anyone else in our lives. This is why ‘working with great people’ is such an important core value for many working professionals.

Recognizing the fact that your team plays a major part in creating a positive office environment is crucial for work happiness. Treating work relationships with mindfulness will open your eyes to the great things people are doing around you every day.

In, The Neuroscience of Trust, published by The Harvard Business Review, the author states, “Neuroscience experiments by my lab show that when people intentionally build social ties at work, their performance improves.”

A Google study similarly found that managers who, “express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being outperform others in the quality and quantity of their work.”

In the daily flow of work, a simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way to boost morale. A company that fosters a culture of mindful employees leads to a team that is recognizing, communicating and celebrating the accomplishments that make the organization successful. Increased employee mindfulness will also contribute to reduced stress, increased productivity and a better bottom line for the company; a win-win for all.

For more information on creating a culture of recognition, check out this ebook on Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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About the Author
Phoebe Licata
Phoebe Licata is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards and recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement and Performance

Why Recognition Is Essential to Employee Engagement

When I entered the workforce in 1997, I wanted to find an employer that would offer me a long and fruitful career; a goal I shared with the Baby Boomer generation before me.

While this has been the experience of my wife, who has enjoyed 17+ years of employment with the company that recruited her out of college, I’ve worked for six companies in the almost 20 years since I graduated. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed? The social contract between employer and employee has changed.

Currently, the tenure of a knowledge worker is less than three years at a single company, and with the steady emergence of the “gig-economy,” I fully expect that number to continue decreasing over the next 10 years.

The rising cost of recruiting and retention accentuates the need, now more than ever before, for employers to do all they can to attract and retain high-performing individuals.

Tap into discretionary effort for maximum performance

I’ve had the good fortune of managing teams for the past 10 years. In that time, I’ve learned a great deal about how to get the most out of people.

To me, the goal of any good leader should be achieving maximum performance by tapping into the discretionary effort of their team members. By discretionary effort, I mean the level of effort people could give if they wanted; above and beyond the call of duty.

I always tell potential candidates that by hiring them, I’m purchasing 40 hours of their time per week, but my underlying intent is to tap into any discretionary effort they’re willing to exert by aligning their objectives to the success of their team, and the greater organization. To accomplish this, a clear understanding of the link between an employee’s efforts and business success is key.

Recognition for improved employee engagement

Employee recognition should be a tool that all leaders have at their disposal to elicit maximum effort from the individuals that value it (keeping in mind that not everyone does). Almost 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.

Often, when employees feel valued, engaged, and emotionally committed to their work, they’re willing to go the extra mile for their company. The Corporate Leadership Council studied the engagement level of 50,000 employees around the world to determine its impact on both employee performance and retention. Two of the many important findings from this report were:

  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as 3X faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

In the past, employee recognition was sporadic, often focused on tenure instead of performance. Sometimes it happened in public forums where leaders celebrated an individual’s accomplishments in a top-down fashion. Most of the time, recognition was given at the individual level in private conversations or correspondence (such as a performance review), likely not often enough to have a meaningful impact on employee engagement.

With the advent of the digital workplace, recognition can and should be given with more visibility and frequency; the end goal being a workforce made up of engaged employees.

Creating an engaging digital experience

Having tools that promote engagement and recognition is becoming essential to HR and IT initiatives in the evolving digital workplace. According to Aon Hewitt’s 2017 “Trends in Global Employee Engagement,” study, Rewards and Recognition ranked as the strongest engagement opportunity this year. But you need to find the right technology partner to help you provide an experience that your employees love to use in order for it to pay dividends.

I speak with companies daily that are faced with the challenge of replicating their “brick and mortar” culture in a digital environment. With their workforce spread out across offices, geographies, and time zones, they need to provide an employee experience that allows individuals to meaningfully connect to the company and their colleagues.

While many tools exist, those that focus on interoperability are the ones that are having the most impact. With the overwhelming quantity of tools and applications that exist inside an organization today, it’s critical to offer an integrated experience that plays to the strengths of each individual solution, resulting in a more efficient use of the entire technology portfolio.

To learn more about the impact employee recognition can have on engagement and performance, check out Achievers’ “Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition”.

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About the Author
Chris Myers Igloo
Chris Myers is VP Partnerships & Alliances for Igloo Software, a leading provider of digital workplace solutions that help companies build inspiring digital destinations for a more productive and engaged workforce. Chris owns overall partner strategy for Igloo and is responsible for three programs – Technology Alliances, Channel Partners and Developers. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

Benefit of Using Structured Interviews

Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews

Your interviews are probably more unstructured than they should be.

Too many recruiters and hiring managers ask interview questions that reflect their biases, increasing the likelihood that they don’t fairly compare candidates.  Even worse, many recruiters just “wing it” when conducting interviews because they claim that’s the best way to, “get a real feel for the candidate.” However, when discussing why Google turned to structured interviews, Google’s VP of People Operations Laszlo Bock made clear his thoughts on “winging it,” stating, “Typical, unstructured job interviews were pretty bad at predicting how someone would perform once hired.”

You may not be so unstructured as to totally wing it in an interview, but think of all the small talk you probably make over the course of interviewing someone. An unstructured interview might lead you into a 10-minute conversation about a shared interest with the candidate, like fishing or the movie you both saw recently, instead of working toward determining the viability of the candidate in fulfilling the duties of the vacant position.

According to internationally known talent management thought leader Dr. John Sullivan, “The selection and hiring of people is fraught with bias and subjectivity… Recruiters need to do everything they can to make objective and unbiased decisions – even though perfect objectivity is never going to be possible.”

Biases prevent employers from hiring people who actually fit the job. Allowing your biases to influence your hiring decision can result in hiring a bunch of people you just, well, like. Structured interviews help keep you from basing your hiring decision on how you “feel” about a candidate, or just because you have something in common with a candidate. It doesn’t matter that you both like fishing or both cried when you saw the movie “Lion.” A structured interview lets you rely on empirical data that you collect from each interview and helps reduce unhelpful biases.

Dr. Sullivan points out that “structured interviews reduce bias by focusing on relevant, job-specific factors and past performance rather than on personal characteristics. Questions focusing on what you expect for accomplishments and on evidence of past performance will reduce bias.” One common example is what psychologists call confirmation bias: we judge the candidate in the first five minutes (or maybe 30 seconds), and spend the rest of the interview selectively hearing only what confirms our preconceived judgement.

A structured interview format is one in which all candidates (no cheating–this means ALL) receive the same questions in the same order, and are evaluated using the same metrics.

Think of it as a science, not an art. You need clear criteria with which you’ll assess each candidate’s responses. Start by identifying or reviewing the competencies of the particular job. What is actually required to succeed in this role? Base your metrics entirely on this question. Be wary of traditional metrics like GPA and school attended.

Dr. Sullivan encourages recruiters to “make sure that your questions are not aimed at bringing out a bias of some sort.  Keep them job-specific and relevant to the work you want the candidate to do.”

Use a rubric that helps interviewers assess each response that candidates give. In addition to avoiding the unstructured whims and common biases, the rubric helps avoid the impact of your team’s varying moods. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can rely on the structured interview to function the same way every time. See? A science.

An additional benefit of using structured interviews is that they are also significantly more defensible in legal situations, largely because they provide more detailed, objective hiring criteria.

A structured interview doesn’t have to be dry or disengaging.

Your hiring team may resist a structured interview, claiming they are boring or overly rigid. These tips can help to get the team on board.

  1. Most importantly, the candidate should have a positive experience during a structured interview. In fact, you will decrease the likelihood that candidates walk away feeling judged unfairly. In the opposite scenario, candidates who don’t seem to relate to their interviewers on a personal level (because they don’t like fishing, for example) will feel disengaged and less impressed with your organization.
  2. If you want the hiring team’s buy-in, you need to involve them from the beginning. Prepare them for the change by explaining the reasoning and science behind structured interviews. Invite them to help create the interview questions. Provide them with the job criteria and prompt them with, “What would be a good question that would allow a candidate to demonstrate that they can perform this function?”
  3. Remind them that the point of the exercise is not in asking cool questions, but in hearing how the candidate answers. It might seem fun to ask someone what they did over the weekend or which famous actor they most resemble, but remind your team that this is not the best way to find a candidate with the right skills for the job.
  4. The hard part is making sure the hiring team sticks to the questions. You might have a rogue interviewer who resists the questions and continues to go off on tangents with the candidate. Show this person the hiring rubric you’ve created with the team, and demonstrate how those unstructured questions cannot be evaluated within the rubric, and thus bring subjectivity into the process.
  5. Here are a couple good interview questions from Google’s Laszlo Bock:
    • Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team. (Follow-ups: What was your primary goal and why? How did your teammates respond? Moving forward, what’s your plan?)
    • Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with someone (can be a coworker, classmate, client). What made this person difficult to work with for you?

While there is no one way of ensuring your interview process is completely free of bias, determining a universal set of criteria, based on job functions, can help minimize the impact of preconceived notions.

To learn more about how to hire top talent, check out Achievers’ blog post on harnessing culture as a recruitment tool.

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About the Author
Anna Peters
Anna is the Content Manager for College Recruiter, which believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. College Recruiter features thousands of articles, blogs, videos, and other content as well as 300,000 internship and entry-level postings for open jobs. Anna and her team of writers produce content for talent acquisition professionals, as well as entry-level job seekers. Her prior experience at nonprofits has made her an expert in directing volunteer recruitment and a champion for diversity and inclusion efforts. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.