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Value of Mentorship

Manager and Employee Relationships: The Importance of Mentorship

The title of “manager” makes it sound like your entire responsibility is simply keeping track of your employees and maximizing their performance. Of course you want to elicit high-level productivity from your team, but your fastest route to success is to offer something back to the people who work for you. The most successful managers enter into a mentoring, or “coaching,” relationship with their direct reports. Here’s a look at why mentoring is so important, together with some best practice tips for putting together a mentorship program that really works.

Mentoring Builds Employee Alignment

Your employees have ambitions for where they want their careers to go, and it’s to your company’s benefit if the person doesn’t need to job-hop in order to realize those ambitions. Daimler Trucks has instituted a proactive mentoring plan throughout its entire 4,000 employee U.S. workforce as part of its leadership succession planning. Suz Hahn, Daimler’s Architect of Learning and Development, states that: “Daimler realizes mentoring is key to the health of our organization.” The company finds that employees who gain new skills become more engaged, and are also eager to spread their knowledge and best practices throughout the entire company.

Millennials Expect and Appreciate Mentoring

Today, more than one in three of your workers are millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 34), and this generation makes up the largest percentage of the U.S. workforce. These are the employees with the freshest skills and the keenest awareness of marketplace trends, and it’s clearly in your best interest to meet their needs. There are real differences in what this age group expects from their workplace, however, and 53 percent of managers say that it’s difficult to find and retain millennial employees. Providing mentorship is your most effective tool for attracting and retaining this demographic: A 2016 Deloitte millennial survey notes that of those respondents who plan to stay with their current company for the next five years, 68 percent say they have a mentor. To get down to exact nitty-gritty of these expectations, the millennials surveyed state that in an ideal week, 3.6 hours would be spent receiving coaching and mentoring.

Focus on Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge Transfer (sometimes shortened to KT) mentoring is described by Willis Towers Watson in their cover story for Workspan. The authors of this overview note that KT mentoring arose as a solution to the fact that fewer than half of the nation’s workers feel their employers are doing a good job of retaining a quality workforce. Clearly a new approach to employee retention is needed, and KT mentoring fills that need by introducing new standards of clarity and structure into the transfer of knowledge within a company.

Put Structure in Your Mentoring

Classic workplace mentoring is an informal relationship that’s very open-ended. Even the choice of which two people are paired together is usually made on a casual basis of who likes whom, and sometimes the very best mentee candidates can be overlooked. The mentor provides ad hoc guidance, slipping it in haphazardly when schedules allow. The informal nature of the exchange means that the mentee probably isn’t giving feedback to their mentor on how helpful he or she is, and mentoring techniques are rarely examined. Mentoring is considered to be a personal favor, and is delivered with that tone. While this informality can be appealing, giving the mentee a sense of being taken into the mentor’s confidence, the lack of structure has some obvious downsides. Here’s how KT mentoring is different:

KT mentoring approaches the process from a structured point of view. The topics to be covered are identified ahead of time, with emphasis being placed on those subjects that will be most beneficial to the organization. Selection of mentors and mentees are made on the basis of learning preferences, generational diversity and personality profiles. The number of candidates for mentorship is made as large as it can be throughout the organization. The mentor and mentee agree on time frames and knowledge goals, so that it’s clear what information will be shared and when this sharing will happen. Formal tools for giving feedback are included in the process, enabling the mentorship interaction to be continually fine-tuned. Towers Watson’s overview of their KT mentorship process emphasizes that its purpose is to sustain high levels of employee engagement.

Make Mentoring Part of Your Company Culture

For any mentorship program to be successful, your organization’s leadership has to believe in the idea. High-quality mentorship requires an investment of time and resources, but forward-thinking leaders recognize that it yields a worthwhile return in productivity and employee happiness. A Corporate Executive Board survey shows the growing recognition that structured mentorship programs are worth the effort: 25 percent of U.S. companies now host some type of formal mentorship program, as compared with only 4 or 5 percent a decade ago.

Mentorship Is About Building Relationships

Leadership coach, Luis Velasquez, notes that, “Mentoring is one method that can tip the scales on employee engagement by fostering lasting relationships among employees, promoting career development, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge within a company.” Using mentorship effectively as a tool to strengthen the organization is one of today’s key management skills. Plus, sharing what you’ve learned with an eager young protege can be a highly gratifying process.

For more insights on tools for great team-building in your organization, download our employee recognition eBook covering 3 Ways to Make Recognition an Everyday Event

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Inspiration for Leaders

Words of Inspiration for Leadership: Optimism and Resiliency

When I think of optimism and resiliency in people, I think of our “greatest generation” and people like Louis Zamperini. Zamperini faces extraordinary trauma, as depicted in the book Unbroken, and he has leadership lessons for all of us. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, Unbroken, you must add it to your list.

Zamperini’s story is unbelievable that one person could survive so much and live a healthy life to age 97.  He was born in 1917, and he competed in the 1936 Olympics as a champion distance runner, and then joined the American Air Force at the outbreak of the second world war. In May 1943, his plane was shot down over the South Pacific, killing eight of the eleven crew and leaving Zamperini and two others stranded in a tiny life raft. Enduring the loss of their friend Mac from starvation, machine gun fire from passing Japanese bombers and shark attacks, Zamperini and pilot Russell Phillips held out for 47 days.

Louis Zamperini

When they finally reached the Marshall Islands, both were too weak to stand. Little did they know, that their struggle had only just begun. They were rescued by a Japanese warship and sent to various concentration camps, where they suffered sadistic beatings and threats of death daily until their release in August 1945.

In an interview for CBS, Zamperini said, “They took great joy in telling us we were going to be executed. They would always go through the motions, gesturing with samurai swords and so forth. So every morning we woke up thinking, well this is it.”

The physical and psychological trauma that Zamperini endured was unbearable, and most of us can’t imagine. He did return home and suffer from some depression and nightmares. But he went on to start a new career as a motivational speaker promoting the power of forgiveness.

You may never experience what Zamperini went through, but there are days when you feel like you are being attacked, surrounded by sharks and need someone to help you. In business and life, rapid change is the normal and it comes in waves, hurricanes and now in “bomb cyclones”. Today, leaders and their organizations are forced to address increasingly complex challenges as well as grow with uncertainty.  Speed and agility are not the only edge.  The need for effective leaders that are resilient, optimistic and emotionally intelligent is more important than ever.

The definition of optimism: The hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

The definition of resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Our leaders need to learn and understand better how to be resilient and optimistic especially when they are facing pressure and challenges.

Alvin Toffler

 Alvin Toffler famously said:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Our view of the world and daily attitudes and behaviors are learned patterns to which Toffler’s insight applies with earnestness — the capacity to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” emotional behaviors and psychological patterns will be the edge leaders need to survive and thrive in this ever-changing crazy world.

How do you learn to be resilient and unlearn bad behaviors in this ever-changing world? You take time to be self-aware and understand how to think like an optimist.  Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism,  is an expert on optimism, and he shares his study on how humans and animals become passive when they experience failure and feel like they have no control.  His study reveals that we start to expect failure again and develop “learned helplessness.”

His study goes on to reveal, there was a third of the researched group of animals and people who experienced continuous failures who never become helpless. Seligman attributed this to optimism.  According to Seligman, “Over 15 years of study, my colleagues and I discovered that the answer is optimism. We developed questionnaires and analyzed the content of verbatim speech and writing to assess “explanatory style” as optimistic or pessimistic. We discovered that people who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local, and changeable (“It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.”). That suggested how we might immunize people against learned helplessness, against depression and anxiety, and against giving up after failure: by teaching them to think like optimists.”

It is a good time to have a healthy dose of optimism whether you are struggling with your business, managing and motivating your team, negative politics, economics, finance, relationship setbacks, parenting challenges, health issues or an overall feeling that life is not turning out the way you thought it would.  Sometimes, we need to change the lens that is viewing our present moment and future and ask a few questions about our own level of optimism and how we are managing difficult situations and daily setbacks. How would Louis Zamperini view this problem and what would his attitude be?

Here is how optimists view the world:

  1. Was it me or something outside of me?
    Optimists believe it is something outside of them.
  2. Will it affect everything I do?
    No, optimist believe it will be short-lived not long-lasting.
  3. Will I change my game and adapt and do something different?
    Yes – changing your game is the answer. Optimists don’t give up.

Louis Zamperini never gave up! He continued to be an optimist until the day he died.  We can all learn from his story and from the research of Martin Seligman on optimism. Remind yourself when things are tough and the pressure is on, we have the capacity to be resilient and optimistic and don’t let anyone change your mind or influence you negatively.

To learn more, check out my blog post on Why Self-Esteem is Critical to Successful Leadership.

Are you looking for a great eBook? Check out Achievers newest eBook highlighting 3 ways to make recognition an everyday event.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 5-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

A Culture of Learning

5 Reasons to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

Traditionally, a six-figure salary and 401k options were enough to attract and retain top talent. We no longer live in a traditional world—and the modern workplace has come a long way from what it used to be. While these benefits are still important to employees, they’re not prioritized like they once were. Today, employees are more focused on finding a company that has a positive, strong company culture revolved around learning and growth.

To cater to the “modern” employee and remain competitive in your respective industry, you have to focus on the development of a strong company culture that supports learning and employee growth.

Here are five more great reasons to bring this culture of learning to your organization.

  1. Employees Want to Learn

Today’s employees are eager to develop their skills. According to DevelopIntelligence’s 2017 DI Developer Survey, 55 percent of those surveyed said they seek out training in order to meet current or upcoming needs or to advance their careers. Organization’s that embrace a culture of learning not only encourage learning, but have an opportunity to provide their employees with these opportunities and experiences.

Try it: Start by asking each team what they want to learn about. Perhaps they’ll be interested in attending one big conference, rather than having a series of smaller in-office seminars. The more interested your employees, the more effective the opportunity will be.

  1. Employees Want to Grow

Not only do employees want to learn, they also want a chance to grow professionally and advance their careers. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials said development is important in a job. Learning and development go hand in hand, help employees become the successful employees they want to be.

Try it: Tie learning and promotion opportunities together. Give employees a chance to show they can take on a new position, empowering them to advance themselves both professionally and personally within the workplace.

  1. Learning Reduces Turnover

Did you know that 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their job within five years? On the other hand, a Columbia University study found that that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture is a mere 13.9 percent. Make learning a part of that culture and you may see your turnover rate plummet to zero.

Try it: Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk by providing training that’s actually valuable, actionable and useful for every employee. Liz Alton, contributor to ADP’s Spark blog suggests implementing a Learning Management System (LMS), developing paths for every employee, and creating learning processes, like mentorship, which is found to be more effective than seminar-style opportunities.

  1. Engaged Employees Are Productive

Giving employees the opportunity to learn, develop, and grow will increase employee engagement—and engaged employees produce better results. According to Gallup’s 2017 Employee Engagement report, those companies in the highest quartile experience 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales, and 21 percent higher profitability among many other positive metrics resulting from higher engagement levels.

Try it: Pair learning opportunities with an HR technology platform like Achievers, which allows you to keep employees engaged with recognition, milestones, and rewards. With an effective employee recognition program, you can ensure employees are being frequently recognized and rewarded by both peers and management for their achievements in learning and development.

  1. Learning Fosters Innovation

Companies that emphasize continuous education and development are able to develop the talents of their employees on a regular basis. This focus on talent development is a top priority for 80 percent of top executives, according to the 2017 Workplace Learning Report.

Try it: Use Intrapreneur programs to empower employees to use their new skills to innovate within the organization. As you build your program, keep these four building blocks in mind.

Create a Culture of Learning This Year

Employees want to learn. Learning keeps employees engaged. Engaged employees are productive and happy. Creating a culture of learning benefits everyone involved, and can be brought into any business, big or small. Use these simple reasons as inspiration to help your employees become the people they want to be, while taking your business to the next level.

Take the first step towards improving your culture by accessing the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.
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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Management

12 Traits That Make a Great Manager

Great management is essential to your company’s bottom line, but leadership skills are often considered to be inborn. The fact is, though, that these attributes can all be identified and strengthened. Moreover, a skill set that accounts for over 70 percent of the variations in employee engagement scores should not be left to each manager’s instinctive talents. While you probably rely on your own familiar set of great management skills, it never hurts to itemize what you’re already doing. If you’re still on a learning curve, these 12 traits can supply a roadmap to professional excellence.

1. They Build a Work Culture of Mutual Trust

Harvard Business Review analyzed what goes into leadership excellence, and trust is a major element. If your employees are going to feel safe coming up with possibly risky experiments, they have to be confident that you’ll be receptive to their ideas. Productive teams know that mistakes are just milestones on the road to the next great innovation.

2. They Focus on Employee Strengths

A strengths-based workplace culture offers measurable advantages: Gallup’s 2015 Strengths Meta-Analysis presents the “powerful connections between employee strengths development and business performance.” Their report shows that a strengths-based workplace increases employee retention by up to 72 percent in high-turnover industries, increases profits by 14 to 29 percent and decreases safety incidents by up to 59 percent.

3. They Do Not Micromanage

Recognizing that “Teams with great managers were happier and more productive,” Google notes that successful leaders don’t try to rule over every detail. If you’re invested in your team’s success, you might fall into the trap of feeling that you have to guard every detail. In fact, micromanaging can erode worker initiative and damage employee motivation.

4. They Are Assertive

Naturally, assertiveness must be paired with empathy and diplomacy — but marketing guru Michelle Smith points out that fearlessness is essential in a manager. A leader must be able to overcome resistance, weather social adversity and get out in front to drive employee success.

5. They Help Develop Employees’ Careers

Have you been concerned that supporting your employees’ training and development may only prepare them to move on? HR best practices suggest otherwise: Google’s manager research shows that identifying opportunities for employees to master new skills actually builds your team’s depth and strength. Furthermore, you convey a powerful message that you care about your people’s personal well-being.

6. They Handle Pressure Well

As a manager, you’re held accountable for the performance of others, and there will be days where you feel you’ve got a target pinned to your shirt. A study at the Norwegian School of Economics placed emotional stability at the very top of a list of essential management traits. Your ability to take good care of yourself and withstand work-related pressure will keep you thinking clearly during periods of stress.

7. They Communicate Honestly

Like assertiveness, candidness has to be balanced out by a sensitivity to your workers’ perspectives. However, Harvard Business Review research notes that a great manager gives direct feedback and doesn’t hide truths behind a shield of politeness. The report found that “Subordinates felt they could always count on straight answers from their leader.” Your employees will have trouble improving if they don’t understand exactly which behaviors are problematic.

8. They Are Open to New Ideas

As a manager, you need to keep an agile and open mind so you will notice when an operation can be improved. Yasmina Yousfi, Chief Business Officer at Cloudwave, comments that “Great managers let their team members share new ideas, and leave them room for creativity.”

9. They Have Strong Analytical Abilities

You may be a super-persuasive, charismatic people-person, and be skilled at communicating with your team — but those talents are still only part of the package. You’ll also want to leave yourself enough mental energy to maintain a good overview of your department’s workforce analytics. The Management Study Guide names a strong cognitive and analytic approach as one of their vital leadership traits, because it leads to good decision-making.

10. They Recognize and Reward Good Work

Only one in three U.S. workers “strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days,” according to research published by Gallup. The report points out that offering employee rewards and recognition is a golden opportunity for managers that is often overlooked. Employee recognition “not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention,” the study states.

11. They Are a Role Model

As a leader, you set an example and express the diligence, enthusiasm and other skills that you expect from the people whom you manage. In a recent report by global research firm Universum, the ability to be a role model was one of the top two qualities that executives look for when they’re choosing new managers.

12. They Communicate Employee Appreciation

Using employee rewards to let your team members know their efforts are appreciated has significant benefits throughout your organization. PR coach Kim Harrison points out that “Recognizing people for their good work sends an extremely powerful message to the recipient, their work team and other employees through the grapevine.” When you reward great work, you transform the entire climate of your company.

Each manager brings different strengths to the table, and you can use this checklist to identify those areas where you can up your game. Your organization will benefit: Gallup research shows employee engagement can double when management talent improves, and this results in an average earnings rise of 147 percent per share.

Learn more about what makes employees happy by checking out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” survey.

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Important Pillars of HR

5 Pillars of a Successful HR Strategy

How successful is your current HR strategy? The role of the HR department has evolved over the years, transitioning from the traditional “hire and fire” arm of the business to a strategic position. Today, HR departments are not only responsible for recruiting new talent and onboarding employees, but also establishing a positive workplace culture and environment.

Juggling the traditional tasks with those that come with being an HR professional in the modern workplace can be challenging. When trying to meet the needs of the business and its employees, important details can often be overlooked.

Below are five HR pillars every organization should be aware of when developing or refining their HR strategy.

  1. Legal Requirements 

When onboarding an employee, it’s important that you follow and fulfill all legal requirements to ensure that you protect the business and the employee. For instance, every full-time employee should fill out an IRS W-4 form and I-9 form. Another important legal requirement is workers compensation.

Regardless of the working conditions, workers compensation is required of all businesses:

“If you have any employees—even just one—you are responsible for including workers’ compensation insurance (in most states) in your business insurance policy. This type of coverage exists to protect you, your business, and your employees in case any of them get hurt or sick while working for you.” – Experts at USA Business Insurance.

You may also need directors and officers and general liability insurance to protect employees from potential issues with customers.

  1. Employee Engagement

Did you know that only 33 percent of employees in the United States are engaged in their jobs, according to Gallup’s “2017 State of the American Workplace” report? In fact, employee engagement as a whole increased only 3 percent from 2012 to 2016, according to the aforementioned report.

Employee engagement is critical to a company’s success. After all, an engaged employee is a productive one. To increase employee engagement, bring the following into your culture and HR processes:

  • Gamification: Incorporate gamification into employee activities, such as achievement-tracking and peer competition.
  • Incentives: Financial and non-financial incentives, such as rewards and recognition, give employees something to work toward. In addition, they reinforce attitudes and behaviors that will help the organization succeed.You can make the process of tracking these incentives, and the milestones that designate them, with an employee recognition and engagement platform such as Achievers.
  • Employee Surveys: Conduct surveys on a regular basis to let employees know that their voice is being heard and valued.
  1. Career Advancement Programs

An organization’s biggest and most precious investment is its employees. Yet, many organizations don’t invest enough in the development of their employees. A career advancement program helps sustain employee engagement, as employees are given the opportunity to progress both personally and professionally.

In addition, it helps nurture talent within the organization, reducing the time and costs associated with hiring outside employees.

A successful career advancement program should help employees set achievable goals and offer in-house training sessions. Toastmasters International, for example, is a communication and leadership development program that teaches employees to become more effective communicators.

  1. Corporate Image

Maintaining a strong, positive corporate image is important, helping you attract top talent to a growing team. The HR department plays a critical role in upholding an organization’s image:

“Specifically, you [HR professional] should think about how your branding is reflected in your recruitment efforts, workplace and involvement in social media,” – Tiffany Aller, ADP’s Spark blog.

Aller suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • If your branding revolves around innovation, does your company culture reflect that?
  • Are your branding campaigns focused on technology—and does your staff have access to the newest and latest equipment?
  • How is your company reflected on social media, both formally through company channels and informally through individual employees?”
  1. Performance Management System

To make goal-setting successful, you need to have a tracking system in place. Without an advanced performance management system, it’s difficult for employees to gauge their progress and stay motivated in reaching their goals. Not to mention, keeping track manually can get messy and is less reliable.

If you haven’t yet, invest in a performance management system that makes it easy for employees and managers to track and measure progress throughout the year. If you have trouble getting buy-in from decision makers, ask for a free 30-day trial of the product you like most. When your trial is up, you can show higher-ups the benefits, rather than tell.

Be a Modern HR Professional

Today’s human resource departments are responsible for much more than just hiring and firing employees. They play a strategic role in the day-to-day operations of the business, especially when it comes to employee engagement, necessary insurance, corporate brand and much more. When developing or updating your HR strategy or department, don’t forget these five important pillars.

To learn more about how to improve your HR strategy, check out this webinar recording Using Recognition to Drive Engagement – A Best Practice Guide with Scotiabank.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Employee Happiness

Understanding the Power Behind Employee Happiness

You likely know that people don’t perform as well when they’re feeling disengaged or distracted, but you may not realize how pervasive a problem this is in today’s workplace. How happy are your employees? Is employee happiness at a low or a high? The latest Gallup poll (collected from over 80,000 workers) on employee engagement tells a dismal story. In 2015, only 32 percent of workers say they’re “engaged” at their jobs. Over 50 percent say they’re “not engaged,” while another 17 percent state that they are “actively disengaged.” Furthermore, this data has shown no significant change since Gallup first started this annual poll in 2000, so the problem is persistent.

Why Employee Engagement Matters

When you go to the office each morning, of course you hope that your workers are feeling energized because it makes the office environment a better place for everyone. But how does employee happiness translate into actual performance and productivity? The numbers are clear; companies with engaged workers outperform other companies by 202 percent. Research published by the Academy of Management Perspectives finds that “stronger emotional ties to the organization serve to significantly lessen the likelihood that employees would leave.” Furthermore, the cost of replacing an entry-level worker is 30 to 50 percent of their salary. This expense increases as the position being filled becomes more specialized. Replacing top workers can cost a staggering 400 percent of their annual salary. And these statistics don’t even begin to address the burnout felt by the coworkers shouldering the extra burden after a colleague leaves the company.

Employee Happiness Begins With You

As a manager, you’re not responsible for every emotion your employees feel but your actions have a profound effect on your team. Research by Gallup notes that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee motivation levels. Furthermore, a survey of over 7,000 workers found that one in two had left a job to get away from a specific manager. Given the power you have in improving employee happiness, what can you do to make your company a great place to work?

Be Engaged Yourself

For starters, evaluate your own personal engagement. Gallup’s State of the American Manager report determined that only about 35 percent of supervisors and HR managers are themselves engaged, and this disaffection has expensive outcomes. The cost of managers who report that they’re “not engaged” is estimated to be $77 billion to $96 billion annually, while the cost of the additional 14 percent who are “actively disengaged” is more than $300 billion per year. On a positive note, the fact that you’re reading and thinking about employee recognition suggests that you’re in the minority of managers attempting to make improvements.

Empower Employees

People feel a deeper commitment to their work when they have some power over how things are done. You can affect your workers’ sense of empowerment in a wide variety of ways:

  • Give them control over their schedules, allowing them to shift their start times or work remotely from home for part of the week. If workers have the chance to fulfill their outside obligations, they’ll feel less stressed and distracted  when they’re on the job.
  • Communicate the ways in which each person’s work matters to the company. Employees will make a greater effort if they understand how their daily contribution furthers the ultimate company goals.
  • Offer the opportunity for professional development, including coaching/mentorship programs. Your workers will feel a greater commitment to your organization if they know you have their long-term well-being in mind.
  • Seek suggestions and feedback. Let every worker, regardless of salary level, have a say in how things are done.

Offer Rewards and Recognition

Everyone should have their efforts recognized, regardless of age or the type of work they’re undertaking. Being recognized leads to a greater commitment to the work itself, as well as a deeper sense of personal identification within an organization. Employee rewards and recognition can be expressed in a variety of forms, and often the non-monetary forms can be the most meaningful. A few words of gratitude or appreciation from co-workers can do wonders for the sense of teamwork, and a supervisor’s acknowledgment can help a worker feel that their effort was worthwhile. 48% of employees stated that management’s recognition of employee job performance, whether through feedback, incentives, or rewards, was “very important.” For these reasons, a system used to facilitate employee appreciation is required for any company striving to be successful in today’s marketplace. Besides, giving employee rewards will make your job more enjoyable as well.

How Happy are Your Employees?

As you take steps to foster employee happiness, it’s necessary to be able to measure success. You may be able to sense the overall mood of your workers, but you need something more than your own intuition — something tangible This is where the HR technology known as pulse surveys come in handy. A pulse survey is a one-click response ( using a scale of images that represent sadness to happiness) that employees can submit anonymously each day, giving a quick indicator of how they’re feeling. This daily information provides an immediate snapshot of both your company’s and immediate team’s well-being as well as displaying the trend of happiness levels over time. The anonymity of the survey facilitates honesty, and when a company shares the results of the pulse survey, it creates an environment of transparency and gives rise to important conversations.

The Technology of Happiness

As HR tech becomes more sophisticated, it integrates with some of our basic social needs. Employee recognition best practices and pulse surveys are effective methods for strengthening organizations and building employee success.

For a deeper dive into this topic, download our eBook The Case for Employee Recognition.

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Develop Strong Self-Esteem

Why Self-Esteem Is Critical to Successful Leadership

I was at the ACE conference hosted by Achievers in San Francisco a few years ago, and the keynote speaker was Dan Harris, a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America and author of the book, 10% Happier. I didn’t know much about Dan except for the title of his book, and I had seen him on the news. I thought he was going to share his personal success story and how he became so accomplished in news media and found his 10% of happiness through his work. But then, he started to tell his story and silenced the audience as he revealed a very vulnerable personal experience with panic attacks. He even showed a video of himself having a panic attack on live television. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to replay in front of hundreds of people. He went on to admit that he tried to self-medicate with legal drugs and then illegal drugs and finally discovered the power of meditation. His talk was fascinating to me. This reminded me that many people labeled “workaholics” or “overachievers” might have challenges with self-esteem. And it made me question, “When is their success good enough?”

The answer to that question is subjective, and is often left unanswered for years because of feelings of low self-esteem. The actual definition of self-esteem is confidence and satisfaction in oneself. You may be very successful, and still have low self-esteem because you are comparing yourself to someone else and unsatisfied with your results.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Low self-esteem is a funny thing. It shows up in successful people as much as it does in someone we deem as lazy. It also impacts the celebration of success – did we really earn it or deserve it or was it a bit of luck and good timing? On the other hand, a high level of self-esteem can turn into narcissism. Some people who have an excessively high self-regard may experience challenges in relationships and empathy. They may feel the need to put someone else down so they can feel better about themselves.

Low self-esteem is observed in very boisterous personalities and the timid are rarely heard from individuals. Someone could be covering up or overcompensating for low self-esteem by being the loudest in the room while others have a fear of uttering a single word in a crowd.

Low self-esteem is even seen in sports and physical appearance. A low self-esteem may be an overweight individual who doesn’t spend much time on appearance or style, or it may be a perfectly fit individual who is obsessed with body image and outer appearance. It is an odd thing that is not easily discoverable until you really get to know someone.

High self-esteem is not created by receiving praise all the time or listening to motivational talks, but it is built in having connections with others and realizing that setbacks are opportunities to grow, allowing us to have more empathy for others who are struggling. It is about finding confidence and satisfaction in our lives and our accomplishments and knowing when to silence the negative critic.

Self-esteem is a foundational competency of emotional intelligence (EI) skills. Research reveals a link between positive emotional intelligence with high self-esteem, and lower EI is related to depression and stressful behavior.

How Does High Self-Esteem Show up in a Leader?

High self-esteem is found in someone who is not threatened by other ideas. People with high self-esteem have no problem in empowering others and encouraging them to be their best. A leader with low self-esteem can often be controlling and a micro-manager, and someone who doesn’t act in ways that encourage growth and opportunity for others. They often take credit for other people’s work. A high self-esteem leader is often referred to as a servant leader, someone who puts the organization first and is the most committed to its team. This type of leader is concerned about accomplishing team goals and success and not personal gains.

If you have challenges with low self-esteem or a negative voice in your head – what can you do? Here are some suggestions for improving self-esteem:

  1. Stop listening to a negative inner narrative that says you are not good enough – because you are.
  2. Identify what is the worst-case scenario if you were to move forward and take a risk and do something outside of your comfort zone. For example – speak up or offer a different perspective or question an existing program.  Would someone ridicule you or say you are stupid?  Even if they do, what does that say about that person?  Are they working from a high self-esteem?
  3. Speak confidently – join toast masters or a group that teaches you better speaking skills. The more you do it, the better you will become.
  4. Be open to feedback without becoming defensive. If someone offers you constructive feedback they usually have a good intention, and view it is an opportunity for growth.
  5. Practice your “Power Pose” before presenting to a group and increase your testosterone levels by up to 20 % while decreasing stress hormone cortisol by 25%.
  6. Be compassionate to yourself. Practice appreciation for the good things you have in your life, even if they are small. Be kinder to yourself, and imagine if it was someone else speaking to you the way you are speaking to yourself, would you let them get away with it?

Remember, not everything you think is a true picture of reality. Question the critic and be open to new ways of thinking. Continue to practice EI skills because they really make a difference.

Check out my other guest posts for The Engage Blog here. And make sure to sign up for my 2018 public workshops. My first workshop is February 9, 2018 so don’t miss out and register now.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

 

Improve Your Onboarding

How to Effectively Get New Hires Up to Speed

Employees are the moving gears behind a business. For this reason, employers must be sensitive on how they treat and engage their workforce. And it starts from the very beginning, an employee’s first day at work. A new hire’s first day is important because it is the day that they get a real first impression of what your company is like and is critical to setting them up for future success. Why is proper onboarding so important? Because a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. Avoid waiting two years for a new hire to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member by getting them up to speed faster. Below are a few tips to effectively onboard new hires:

Clearly Define Your Onboarding Goals

It is vital that new employees have a clear understanding of their specific goals and objectives at your company. Recruiting new employees without clearly spelling to them what is required will only lead to confusion and lower productivity. When onboarding new hires, be very clear about your onboarding goals and expectations. Strategize on how you can build transparency in your workplace and onboarding programs.

A fun and easy way to get a new employee up to speed and on target with their onboarding goals is by pairing him or her with a mentor within the organization. This will help them stay engaged in all activities that take place and have someone to turn to when they have questions. It not only helps both parties build a work relationship with another, but adds to a more engaging work culture. Choosing a mentor who is well versed in the same career path or team projects would be an effective way for employees to collaborate closer together early on. New employees and their mentor may meet once or twice a week to discuss the new hire’s progress and how they are adjusting to the new job.

Foster Strong Employee Relationships

How an employee engages and interacts with rest of the team is very crucial. As part of the Human Resources department, you have a role to play in helping to foster strong relationships amongst coworkers. Interworking relationships is a huge part of work culture and leadership’s relationship with employees in particular has a strong impact. Leaders need to lead by example and have the responsibility to live out the company’s values daily and communicate with those around them. When employees and leadership develop a strong relationship, new hires gain an instant new sense of teamwork and employee alignment.

When new employees feel free and comfortable to reach out to co-workers because of the healthy professional relationships presented, especially for the first few weeks, the learning process becomes easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings and team members.

Promote Your HR Programs

New employees should be quickly introduced to your HR programs and HR tech platforms. For example, if your company has an employee recognition and rewards program, make sure new hires are aware of it and know how to use it as soon as they start. Employee recognition programs connects employees and allows them to recognize each other for hard work. Programs like this not only provide something fun for new hires to become accustomed to but also instantly immerses them into the company culture and fosters a positive work environment. Receiving public recognition on a digital, easy-to-access HR tech platform boosts employee happiness and gives employees insight on what others are working on and accomplishing.

It’s HR’s job to not only implement HR tech platforms and programs correctly but also keep promoting them to new hires and existing employees so there is optimal use and employee engagement.

Ask for Feedback

Employees want to feel like they can be honest and heard at their company. Asking for continuous feedback and reviews are a great way to have healthy and honest conversations on how to improve the employee experience, especially the onboarding process. What better way to discover how to improve the onboarding process than by asking new hires about their experience?

Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in well-constructed outcome based reviews. This can be achieved by developing structured reviews that may include specific ratings, rankings, and written reviews on a mandated frequency. Employee surveys are also a great way to give new employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their overall experience and onboarding process. Through real-time feedback and pulse surveys, management is able to make the necessary adjustments and assessments for company initiatives. Getting employee feedback provides HR the insight they need to improve the onboarding process.

Provide the Right Material

New hires should not be left on their own. They should be supported from day one to ensure they feel comfortable in their work environment. Be prepared and stock their working stations with easy-to-digest guideline materials and resources so that they know where to go when they have questions. This includes contact sheets, company guidelines, access information, portal details, time-saving tools, and other onboarding material. New hires should be provided with public administration forms regarding their benefits, taxes, and direct deposits as early as day one. The more useful information, the better. And don’t limit yourself to sharing just health benefits and 401k details, add some fun collateral that represents your company culture and engages employees to want to learn more.

Companies need to invest wisely when it comes to their employees and it starts with putting attention on the onboarding process. The onboarding process is critical when it comes to setting employee up for success. When employees are set up for success, they become more engaged, satisfied, and productive. Don’t fall short with your onboarding initiatives and make sure you get your new hires up to speed quick.

To learn more about how you can enhance the employee experience through a culture of recognition, download this eBook.

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About the Author

Addison Jenning

Addison Jenning is an HR manager and a passionate writer who recruits, motivates and contributes to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company’s internal strategy. Addison runs Job Descriptions Wiki and she can also be found on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Strengthen Leadership

How to Strengthen Your Manager’s Leadership Practices and Why It’s Crucial to Enhance Employee Engagement

You know it, and I know it: The key to improving employee engagement and culture is through strengthening management’s leadership practices and capabilities. Being good at management isn’t enough. Today, more than ever, managers need to practice great leadership to manage change effectively and to seriously help others grow. Doing so results in higher employee engagement and motivation, and higher engagement ultimately improves productivity and the overall health of the organization.

Why You Need Great Leadership

If you ever need to convince others about the need to motivate and engage managers, just show them a copy of Gallup’s State of the American Manager. After years of studying data from millions of managers and employees from just under 200 countries, Gallup reports some insightful data including these highlights from their 2017 report:

  1. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units…just 30% of U.S. workers are engaged, demonstrating a clear link between poor managing and a nation of “checked out” employees.
  2. One in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.
  3. 35% of managers are engaged, 51% are not engaged and 14% are actively disengaged.
  4. Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually.
  5. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.

How to Strengthen Management’s Leadership Practices

Have you ever worked at an organization where HR distributes copies of leadership books and articles to managers? This happened a lot when I worked at Lowe’s. At Ceridian, my VP gave all her managers a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. When I was at Lowe’s, our leadership development team would bring in nationally known speakers such as Ken Blanchard and Liz Wiseman. While giving managers books and bringing in speakers is helpful for raising awareness about leadership, more needs to be done to help managers shift from knowing to practicing leadership.

In my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, I share what I call the 21st Century Leadership Development Roadmap. The roadmap has four stages. At Stage Two, many managers realize that the old ways of managing are ineffective at engaging and building team culture, but managers fall short of putting leadership into practice. Something blocks them from reaching the third stage.

Leadership Is a Skill

To move to the Roadmap’s third stage, managers need to develop leadership the same as with any skill. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine that Player A and Player B want to get better at racquetball. They tried this by spending a week practicing for five-hours per day. During that week, they played against better opponents, and at night, they read articles about how they could improve their game.

Here’s one difference: Player A had a coach. Periodically during that week, the coach stopped the game, gave feedback, showed ways to improve form, and then gave more feedback. After a week, guess who improved more? Player A did.

In The Servant, James Hunter explains that leadership needs to be developed through practice, feedback, and follow-up. When managers just read books or attend leadership talks, their effort isn’t enough. He writes:

“Has anyone ever learned to swim reading a book? Has anyone ever become an accomplished pianist studying piano history? Has anyone ever become a great golfer watching Tiger Woods DVDs?…I have met many people over the years who know all about leadership but don’t know leadership.” (pp. xxiii-xxiv) – James C. Hunter

To get managers to adopt leadership practices sincerely, Hunter recommends a three-phased approach: Foundation, Feedback, and Friction. Foundation is acquiring leadership knowledge. This helps managers advance to the Roadmap’s Stage Two. To advance further, you need feedback and friction.

Without Feedback, You’re Left in the Dark

If you’ve ever administered 360-feedback reviews, you know that managers can act surprised by the feedback’s revelations about their behavior. Sometimes these discoveries hurt and aren’t easy to receive. But without knowing their blind spots, managers won’t know what or how to improve.

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, feedback is how he learns what his clients should focus on. He writes:

“I wish I had the power to snap my fingers and make these people immediately see the need to change…But I can’t and I don’t. Instead, I show these people what their colleagues at work really think of them. It’s called feedback. It’s the only tool I need to show people, “You Are Here.” (p. 8) – Marshall Goldsmith

From feedback, managers might identify several things to improve, and if they’re Type A people, they may want to attempt to resolve all behavioral issues at once. While admirable, that’s not good. If you’re administering the feedback, help managers focus on one or two behaviors that can have the most impact.

Friction: The Process for Making Sustainable Change

Getting managers to accept their feedback is one thing, but it’s another to get them to act upon the feedback effectively. Fortunately, you can guide managers by using a structure that Hunter and Goldsmith advocate. Here are the high-level steps for what you should guide managers to do:

  1. Acknowledge and apologize to those affected by their faulty behavior.
  2. Ask the affected people to help them get better. This could include calling them out when managers revert back to old habits.
  3. Advertise to others that they are trying to get better at a specific behavior. Goldsmith explains that if you don’t, people won’t notice.
  4. Rigorously follow up monthly with people affected and find out how well they’re doing. Employees and others affected by past behaviors need to realize how serious the managers are at trying to improve.

Call to Action: Guide Managers through Feedback and Friction

It’s easy to read books and attend leadership talks, but It’s not easy for managers to receive critical feedback. It’s even harder getting them to commit to the friction phase and doing the steps, especially the follow-up. In Triggers, Goldsmith writes, “People don’t get better without follow-up. So let’s get better at following up with our people.”

Guiding your managers through this process will change the dynamics and health of their teams. Fixing key behaviors could have a chain reaction to improve other behaviors, and managers modeling the drive to change will have a cascading affect upon their people. When managers get better at leadership practices, everyone on the team gets better and healthier!

Two More Things…

In addition to the Foundation/Follow-up/Friction approach, you might want to try Goldsmith’s feedforward process. His free article, Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback, is worth reading and introducing to your managers. Managers who read this will learn a positive way to change future behavior without dwelling on the past.

There are other ways to help managers, especially those in middle management. For several insights and tips, check out the eBook The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success.

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About Gary A. DePaul
Gary DePaul
Gary DePaul is a speaker, author, and leadership curator. He provides performance consulting services to help organizations identify gaps between what executives expect managers to do (in the current and future states) and what managers actually do. He has more than twenty years of professional and scholarly experience and has worked for companies such as Lowe’s, Ceridian, Fidelity Information Services, Johnson Controls, and Arthur Andersen. Gary welcomes inquiries and the sharing of ideas. You can reach him at gary@garyadepaul.com.

 

 

 

 

Develop Employees

How Neglecting Employee Development Affects Your ROI

When businesses need to balance the books, they tend to cut corners in areas where they find it difficult to prove a return on investment. For this reason, employee development is often an aspect that gets hit – if not by outright budget cuts, then by general neglect and a lack of increased investment.

While a ROI on employee development programs can sometimes be difficult to prove, making increased investment tough to justify, it is an area where businesses get out what they put in. Below, we take a look at how neglecting your employee development programs can negatively impact your ROI.

The Value of Employee Development

The primary reason for investing in employee development programs for your employees is to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their tasks. However, there are many ripple effects as well, ranging from improved productivity amongst those who are well-trained, to a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Of course, the value of employee development also extends to the customer as well. Generally speaking, organizations that invest in comprehensive development programs can expect to see a higher number of sales, as well as improvements to customer retention resulting from superior service.

When people think about staff development, they often view it as a synonym for training, but continuous coaching also has a role to play. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that formal and dynamic coaching processes improved sales reps’ quota attainment by as much as 10 percent.

Impact on Employee Retention

One of the biggest effects of neglecting the development of your employees comes in the form of staff turnover. There is a direct link between the amount of time and money you invest in development, and the likelihood of staff members choosing to leave your organization.

For example, businesses on the Fortune 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list provide almost double the number of training hours for full-time employees compared to companies that aren’t on the list. Those Fortune 100 organizations saw their ROI manifested in increased employee retention; they had 65 percent lower staff turnover than other businesses in the same sector.

In the CSO Insights 2015 Sales Compensation & Performance Management Study, it is revealed that turnover is five times higher among sales employees than the US national average. This is problematic, because a single salesperson leaving an organization has the capacity to disrupt that organization for up to a year.

Essentially, what this shows is that neglecting your development programs decreases your overall return on investment, while investing fully in development programs results in a much greater ROI.

The Consequences of Neglect

Crucially, however, it is not simply investment that wins the day. Continuous employee development is a vital part of talent management, meaning that development programs must be in a constant state of evolution, adapting as products, services, business practices and market conditions change.

Neglecting employee development by failing to update procedures, can result in outdated product knowledge, longer ramp up times and a competitive disadvantage when compared to other businesses in the same industry. Worse still, neglecting development by putting it off completely can result in poor morale and unskilled staff.

“Developing employees is the classic example of a management function that’s both highly valued and highly neglected,” says Victor Lipman, writing for Forbes. “For busy managers, generally with too much to do in too little time, it’s a very easy task to put off to some indefinite point in the future.”

Finally, it is crucial that investment in employee development extends beyond new hires, to experienced staff members. According to the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Manager Enablement Report, those who spend more than $5,000 per year on developing sales managers see increased quota and revenue attainment, and improved win rates. Nevertheless, sales managers are three times more likely to receive no training at all than salespeople are.

Important Takeaways

Staff development programs require significant investment, both in terms of time and money, as they must be high in quality and evolve along with business practices and market conditions. However, employee development is also an area where it can be difficult to prove a clear ROI, which is why it is often neglected.

While the most obvious form of neglect is the reduction or removal of development services, it can also manifest as a lack of increased investment when it is needed to meet business demands. Yet, high-quality coaching and training have clear benefits when it comes to improving win rates, as well as revenue and quota attainment.

The consequences of neglecting employee development are numerous and include lower levels of customer retention, out-dated product knowledge and poor quality customer service. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between training provisions and staff turnover, with neglect resulting in more employees leaving a company.

For these reasons, neglecting employee development has a detrimental impact on your ROI. The only way to generate the right level of return from your employee development program is to invest sufficiently, spend ample time on development practices and ensure development is continuous, rather than being targeted exclusively to new hires.

To learn more about employee retention, check out this fun infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention

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About the Author  
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global employee development and sales training firm. It helps organizations develop effective talent management strategies through talent ready assessment. She enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts on talent management strategies and best practices.

 

Identify skilled leaders

5 Leadership Skills to Look for When Promoting In-House

Promoting in-house is a smart way to grow your business and invest in your staff towards leadership development. Companies that promote from within often have higher satisfaction ratings from employees and there’s nothing like the possibility of a promotion to keep your team working hard. According to Adam Foroughi, a co-founder and CEO:

“Outside hires can sap the motivation for mid-level and junior-level talent to work harder and move up the ladder. When you promote from within, your employees know that the sky’s the limit, so they always work hard and deliver more for your company. In my experience, this ‘sky’s the limit’ approach creates an atmosphere of optimism that has a positive effect on everyone.”

As you look to various employees who may be similar in terms of work ethic, company loyalty and passion for the business, look for these leadership traits that set them apart. Employees who exemplify these characteristics will be better suited for a leadership position, allowing you to promote the most qualified and excited employees.

  1. Confidence

Confidence is one of the best indicators of potential success with an in-house hire. Fear of personal failure affects a staggering 31 percent of Americans according to a 2016 survey. The same survey even found that 6.1 percent of respondents had given up a promotion due to fear of failure.

While having these fears is common, employees that are confident in their decision-making skills will be more effective leaders. How do you identify confident employees? Look for the following traits, as outlined by Jeff Haden, of Inc.:

  • They take a stand—not to be right, but because they aren’t afraid to be wrong.
  • They listen more than they speak.
  • They duck the spotlight to shine it on others.
  • They freely ask for help.
  • They think, “Why not me?”
  • They don’t put other people down.
  • They aren’t afraid to look silly.
  • They make their own mistakes.
  • They seek approval from only the people who matter.
  1. Social Skills

One of the best ways to know if your new hire has leadership potential is the ‘beer and barbecue’ test, according to Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands: Would you want to have a beer with this person? Would they have a good time and make connections at a company barbecue?

If so, the person shows leadership potential, because leadership is all about effective communication. You’ve seen this employee in action, and have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. If communication is one of them—they tend to be social at group events, often organize fun shindigs in the office, or are always the first person to answer a group email—then they may be one of the top candidates.

It’s also important for leaders to recognize others and show appreciation for hard work. Only 41% of employees feel recognized at their desired frequency and 60% feel their managers don’t recognize them enough. Recognition goes a long way and understanding the importance of employee recognition can positively impact employee engagement levels.

  1. Vision

The best leaders have a good idea of what they want to bring to the table. Business News Daily says that a good internal hire will already be showing signs of this kind of vision. They’ll be motivated, focused, and already striving to make company practices as streamlined as possible.

Look for employees that are ‘hustling’ and doing their best to make the company better, rather than simply showing up and going through the motions each day. You can trust that employees who share your vision, and maybe even have their own ideas for the growth of the company, will improve the organization when in a leadership role.

  1. Critical Thinking Skills

Managers are required to think critically every day: “One of the most common duties of a manager or supervisor is to make sure that client, customer, and employee obstacles are being removed or lessened. This includes making sure questions are being answered, proper actions are being taken, and problems are being resolved,” says Lindsey Burke of Select International.

Work with the potential candidates’ direct superiors to assess their work on the last few projects. Ask questions like:

  • Have they shown the ability to analyze a situation thoroughly instead of responding to it immediately?
  • Can they find effective solutions, or do they flounder?
  • Do they regularly offer solutions in brainstorming sessions and meetings?
  1. Ownership

If you’re considering an employee for a promotion, start by giving additional responsibility as a trial; even if they don’t know they’re being considered for the promotion or that this is a trial. Then watch closely as the employee(s) inevitably make mistakes and learn through these new tasks.

Employees that show ownership of mistakes they’ve made, and can move past them and see the learning experience that comes out of it, are the employees you want to promote, according to The Muse. The skill of ownership is difficult to teach, but invaluable when it comes to leading a team. Employees that embody this trait will often be the best people for the promotion.

Start Promoting

Use these tips to find the best candidates for an in-house promotion. There are budding and excited leaders among you, it’s just a matter of finding them. Look for confidence, vision, ownership and more to identify the employees who want to help grow your business and their career.

Discover why it’s important to recognize employees and promote in-house by checking out the eBook The Case for Employee Recognition.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

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managerial tips

5 Ways Managers Can Transform Themselves into Leaders

A quick search on Amazon.com indicates that there are more than 187,000 books with “leadership” or related words in the title. That’s a lot of content written on a single topic.

However,  the word “leader” has been applied to so many different areas of activity that it has become meaningless. Apart from political and military leaders, we have business leaders, market leaders, industry leaders, thought leaders, and so on.

The concept has become so overused that we’ve lost a true understanding of exactly what leadership is. As a result, today’s employees don’t trust their leaders like they used to. And because of this, many areas of the business might suffer, like employee engagement and employee retention.

That said, earning the title of “manager” is one of the greatest professional milestones a contributor can achieve. It means you’ve been deemed capable enough in your current job to be directing others to do it.

Even though this is a leadership role, actually being seen as a leader is no easy task. It takes a great deal of devotion, stamina, and determination.

A manager is someone who keeps operations running smoothly and ensures tasks are completed to meet the defined criteria. A leader, on the other hand, pushes the envelope and drives innovation.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King

Make no mistake, both managerial and leadership roles are essential in business. However, leaders are the ones who tend to be remembered and cement their legacies in the history (and self-help) books. Here is what you can do to be one of the crème de la crème…

1. Exhibit Emotional Intelligence

An emotionally intelligent leader can be defined by five major components:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation/passion
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

Plain and simple, business is about people, both internally and externally. A good leader is well-aware of this and uses these components to pick up on the sensitivities of those around them. They can see the big picture and acknowledge opinions in the correct context of how they fit into it. Even more, they can anticipate reactions and proceed appropriately on instinct.

In terms of emotional intelligence, perhaps the most valuable trait of effective leaders is their ability to listen critically and observe neutrally. In addition to understanding what others are saying, they also take mental notes of the emotions behind the words. In many cases, these are much more important than the words themselves.

Leaders are visionaries. They know how to work with what they are given and inspire others to collectively achieve long-term goals. Speaking of vision . . .

2. Commit to Your Vision

Managers are committed to an organization and its goals. Their loyalty is to the company, and they have the reliability and inflexibility typical of the “good soldier” in that commitment. They’ll ask staff to push ahead, chasing the company’s aims. But their primary duty is to the organization.

By contrast, leaders are committed to their vision. We hear a lot about how leadership goes hand-in-hand with disruption, but unless you’ve worked with a true leader you don’t necessarily realize that disruption starts at home – in the leader’s own organization. Managers want to keep the show on the road. Leaders ask if it’s the right road, the right show, the right cast. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams and teamwork, has this to say:

“Every team needs a deviant, someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning.”

While managers want each day and each operation to run smoothly on well-understood lines toward predefined goals, deviants are the ones who stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backwards or turned it inside out?”

When the Hackman deviant is just another team member, not a leader, they can be shouted down or frozen out, especially by over-organizing managers. But when they’re the one in charge, the whole team is moving toward innovation.

If you want to be a great leader, expect – and cause – the ground to shift under your feet in ways no manager would ever want. Change your vision of commitment before you commit to your vision.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty

Most great leaders have a common trait: their subordinates trust them and demonstrate unflinching loyalty to their cause. To achieve this, you must prove that you are willing to put yourself in the trenches and not delegate any task that you wouldn’t do yourself.

In other words, you must practice what you preach and not be afraid to jump into the thick of things. Working side-by-side with your subordinates will give you a better idea of exactly how things run on the ground level as well as working knowledge of the tools and methodologies your team uses to complete their tasks and streamline job management.

At the end of the day, demanding respect won’t give you the results you want. To actually earn it from those around you, one of the best things you can do is exhibit an all-for-one and one-for-all attitude.

4. Build People Up

When looking at the concept of people management, there are two major theories to consider.

The first one is Theory X. Managers who fall under the purview of Theory X are more pessimistic and generally assume subordinates do not like their job, avoid responsibility, and must be constantly controlled. These managers are typically known for stifling ideas and not focusing on the unique value each person offers. When this is the case, employees can easily lose motivation, resulting in a high turnover rate. In fact, a study by Gallup found that the odds of an employee being engaged are only 9% under such circumstances.

On the contrary, Theory Y is the one most often adopted by respected leaders. These managers live under the assumption that their subordinates are self-motivated and can work on their own initiative. When the work environment of an organization assumes and provides for such a culture, employees feel fulfilled both personally and professionally, and are motivated to do their best work.

Ultimately, it’s much harder for an organization to develop when managers tend to hold people back. A good leader encourages others to speak up and be meaningfully involved in completing the mission, rather than just following orders. Essentially, leaders coach and mentor, managers give commands.

The key to becoming a “Theory Y Leader” is by promoting transparency in the workplace. Make it a point to encourage open communication. Ask for honest feedback and value everyone’s opinions. This is how company cultures evolve and employees feel more engaged.

5. Challenge the Status Quo

As previously stated, managers keep operations running per usual. Leaders are known to break the mold and take risks. Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft. Alexander the Great marched a tired but undefeated army on and on. The best leaders are not remembered for playing it safe when opportunity arose.

To establish yourself as a leader, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone, without being intimidated by the idea of failure. While you should always take appropriate precautions and “manage” risk, remember that leaders embrace change, even if there is nothing wrong with the current status quo. Great breakthroughs don’t happen without a significant risk factor.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Leadership is about finding new and innovative ways to improve the norm. When you take risks, you are not judged by the extent of your success or failure. You are defined by the thought process underlying your approach, how you reacted throughout the execution, and what you did with the outcome.

Over to You

It’s important to note that leadership and management are not mutually exclusive roles. Leaders are managers by nature, and vice versa, in many instances. There will always be a need for someone to keep operations going steady. But for a business to see significant growth and development, managers must strive to push boundaries and claim new territory. The impact of a true leader is profound and influences the way people work and live. Ultimately, true leaders are those who make the world a better place.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to see how leaders can effectively engage, align, and set their employees up for success.

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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.

 

become a great leader

Leadership Do’s and Don’ts

Good leadership is the cornerstone of any successful business. You want to ensure that you’re offering useful and helpful leadership to your team, but you’re not sure where to start. In HR, this gets even more tricky as you’re expected to set an example for the entire organization. If you’re looking for some help, here are some do’s and don’ts of leadership that every effective leader should know.

Do: Lead by Example

You’ll be asking your team to maintain a high standard, so make sure that you’re giving the same effort as they are. Make sure you’re in on time, pull your weight, and do your share of the work. It’s much easier to respect someone who will happily pitch in with everyone else. You’ll also have a better idea of what it’s like to work on a project, so you’ll be more realistic in your requests.

Don’t: Ignore your Team’s Feelings

There’s an attitude in some businesses that emotions should be kept out of the workplace. To an extent, this is true, but everyone has feelings about every aspect of their work. It’s a bad idea to dismiss any of your team’s feelings offhand. Make time to listen to them, and act on them if necessary. Remember, the members of your team aren’t robots.

Do: Improve Your Writing Skills

Most of the communication that happens in the workplace is now through the written word. After all, how many more emails do you get now, compared to phone calls? Therefore, your writing skills are very important. Without them, you can’t effectively lead. If you feel you need some help improving your skills, try using a writing tutoring service such as The Business Writing Center, or grammar websites like State Of Writing and Via Writing. If you’re based in the UK, try one of my personal favorites, UK Top Writers. For Australian readers I recommend Best Australian Writers.

Don’t: Blame Others for Mistakes

If things go wrong, bad leaders blame the issue on their team without looking at the bigger picture. This causes resentment, and things can quickly turn sour. Instead, look at what everybody could have done better, including yourself. Ask for feedback from your team and use the lessons learned to improve in the future.

Do: Proofread your Communications

You’ve got to be clear in all the communications that you make. Your team should be able to read an email and know exactly what you need from them. This means that whatever you’re sending, you need to proofread it first. To be a good leader, you should make time to proofread these communications. If time is too tight to do this, you can enlist the help of professionals. Proofreaders at services like EliteAssignmentHelp or BigAssignments can help when you need them to.

Don’t: Talk More Than you Listen

Some leaders are under the impression that what they have to say is more important than anything else. In fact, the opposite is true. A good leader is more of a facilitator, bringing together everyone else’s ideas and making them work in unison. Aim to listen more than you speak, and you’ll get much more done with you team.

Do: Set Sensible Goals

A good leader can balance the needs of a project with what the team can realistically accomplish. If you want to excel as a leader, you need to understand what your team can reasonably accomplish, and track how well they succeed in hitting your targets. That way, you can help them increase their successes and output.

Don’t: Isolate Yourself or Your Team

Some leaders try and keep their team separate from the rest of the organization, as they feel they can do it all. They may also isolate themselves from their own team, out of a sense of self-importance. Doing this means that they’re missing out on help and key information from other workers, and actually weakening their own team.

Do: Be Optimistic and Positive

“Your attitude will rub off on your team. Think about it. Who will make you feel better about coming to work: someone who’s downbeat and pessimistic, or someone who’s upbeat and excited about the job at hand? A good leader knows that they set the tone for work,” says expert Benjamin Davids at Academized. “The more they work to raise their team’s spirits, the better that team will do.”

Don’t: Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

If you’re afraid to make mistakes, your team will be too. This means that they’ll take less risks, get less done, and contribute less than they would have otherwise. It’s much better to work to the best of your ability, and when the mistakes happen, learn from them and move on.

Do: Be Prepared

Good leaders are always thinking about the future, and looking for options that may become available to them. If you’re keeping one foot in the future, you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and be prepared for any issues that come your way. They also take advice from others, including their team, about what they think should be done to plan in advance.

Don’t: Take Credit for Your Team’s Successes

If your team does well, don’t take personal credit for it. Many of your peers will see through it, and your team will resent you. Instead, it’s much better to give credit where credit is due. If you take the time to credit your team, they’ll appreciate it.

Keep this points in mind, and you’ll become a great leader. Motivate your team, and help them succeed to get ahead yourself.

Great leaders have the greatest impact on a workforce. For more information how to leverage their skills, check out this eBook on The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success: Your Managers.

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About the Author
Mary Walton

Mary Walton is a proofreader at UK Custom Essay service. She also creates online courses on business writing and email marketing. Mary helps with content management at Grade On Fire.

 

 

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Implement HR Tech

3 Steps: How to Effectively Implement HR Technologies in the Workplace

It can be challenging and cumbersome to implement new HR technology in the workplace. According to a Brandon Hall Group study, 29% of workforce management solutions have been in place for five years or more and 45% wanted to alleviate the burden of manual tasks from HR. So, how exactly do you effectively implement HR technologies in the workplace? The success of a new HR technology rollout depends on several key aspects being clearly thought out beforehand. If the HR technology touches multiple people internally, it is important that all stakeholders are onboard from the beginning. Your goals should be to make an HR technology rollout as pain-free as possible, and the benefits of the new HR technology easy to understand for employees. Here are three ways to ensure a smooth implementation:

Get Employee Buy-In

First and foremost, you should find an HR app or technology your workers will love. How do you that? Ask them which apps or technologies they are already using on their own. This includes apps outside of work. The more you can understand how your employees interact with technology, the better the adoption curve when looking for a solution that your employees might already be familiar with.  In fact, you might be surprised to find that half of your workers have already banded together to use similar applications on their own.

Ask them which HR apps or technologies they wish they could use at work. They may have heard from a friend that their company is using a particular app.

If you already have an HR app in mind that you would like to implement, you can first ask employees for their thoughts and see what your workers think of it. If that goes well, the next step would be to pilot the HR app with a small group of employees. If they love using the new app, then present the idea of rolling it out to the rest of the team and ask for feedback. If all goes well from there, then plan for a company-wide rollout.

Communicate the Purpose and Benefits of the Technology

When presenting the new HR app or technology to stakeholders, it’s important to communicate why the company is rolling out the new HR app or technology. Equally as important is discussing the benefits the workforce will see from using the new HR app or technology. Tell them how it will make their lives better!

There are many ways to do this. Individual managers can discuss the new HR app or technology with their teams. A special email can be sent out giving specific information about the rollout. Posters can be displayed in break rooms displaying the benefits of the new HR app or technology (like an advertisement). A special event, like a pizza party, can be held to entice workers to attend an informational session about the new rollout.

Clearly, there are many ways to go about communicating to your team why you are rolling out a new HR app or technology and how it will improve their working lives and the company.

Create an Easy System for Onboarding

It’s important to provide a seamless onboarding experience. Onboarding is often laborious when rolling out an HR app or technology. But it doesn’t have to be! If you choose apps and technologies that are easy to find, easy to download, and have a built-in tutorial, it takes some of the pain out of getting your team on board. A dedicated FAQ section or knowledge base with videos and tutorials is also helpful as a quick reference guide that can be viewed at anytime.

It’s up to you to decide how and when an existing employee or new employee finds out that they are to be using the HR app or technology. Offering incentives for employees once they start using the new HR app or technology always helps to get them onboarded faster.

Another important consideration when thinking about onboarding is how upgrades will take place. One way to eliminate this worry is to select HR apps and technologies that have dynamic upgrades. With this feature, when it comes time to upgrade, the process will be done automatically.

Rolling out any new HR program is a costly venture. Even more costly is having to re-rollout a technology. If your organization focuses on the three tips above, the long-term viability of the technology will be adopted earlier and will lessen future training and implementation costs. Once your company comes up with a plan for a technology rollout, you will be able to replicate the plan for future rollouts and make adjustments as needed. This will help make future technology rollouts even faster and less expensively.

 To learn more about HR tech, check out this webinar recording on disrupting HR technology.
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About the Author
Atif Siddiqi is the founder and CEO at Branch Messenger, an employee mobile self-service platform for shift workers. An LA native, Atif relocated the company to Minnesota to participate in the TechStars & Target Retail Accelerator Program. Branch has thousands of employees that rely on the app from companies like Target, McDonald’s, Walgreens, 24 Hour Fitness and more.

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Strengthen Leadership

What Does a Self-Aware Leader Look Like at Your Organization?

Although most organizations spend much of their training budget on technical skills, a large percentage of leaders do not have the necessary skills and emotional competencies to manage the demands of the new economy.

In Dan Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, his research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is twice the indicator of leadership success as IQ and technical skills combined. He further explains that once people leave school and enter the workforce, IQ and technical skills are often equal among those climbing the professional ladder. The differentiator is emotional intelligence (hear Goleman discuss his research in this video on YouTube).

Mr. Goleman has written several books and articles about how stellar career performance requires a leader to have a combination of business strategy knowledge and interpersonal skills. Many leaders don’t have the qualifications to mentor, lead, adapt, inspire, and manage others on their team.

Drawing from decades of analysis of great companies, Mr. Goleman has identified that powerful leaders excel by connecting with others using emotional intelligence (EI) competencies like mindfulness, self-awareness and empathy. These skill sets exist outside the domain of technical skills or IQ.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in psychology and neuroscience. It suggests that when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally.

Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis. Providing tools to leaders on how to self-manage and successfully communicate with others is highly effective in times of tension and complexity. We need more leaders who can deliver a difficult message in an authentic way, creating a trusting environment without hidden agendas.

What can you do to start to build on your own EI skills?

It starts with self-awareness. How do you respond in high-pressure moments? Are you able to understand and recognize your strengths and areas of challenge? Is there a voice in your head that is saying you are not good enough?

To become a self-aware leader, it takes time, guts, vulnerability, and experiencing failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Here are some things you can do to become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Test yourself or take assessments:
    Participate in a 360-Assessment, StrengthFinders, Disk, Myers-Briggs or Color Code. There are several assessments, and each one offers a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Know your strengths and areas of challenge and get to know your peers and team members. Understand what ignites you and what triggers you.
  2. Ask for feedback
    Do you know how your emotions impact behaviors, and can you recognize when you have impacted someone else negatively? Ask your circle of influence how you are doing and what can you do to improve. Sometimes the best advice comes from others on your team. Find a mentor – someone who can offer constructive feedback without you becoming defensive.
  3. Identify patterns in your own decision making and behaviors
    Write down why you made a buying decision or why you hired or fired someone. Did it turn out as you expected? Understand your own emotional needs and what causes you to be triggered. Understand how you respond during pressure moments and move away from bad habits that sabotage your best performance. Identify things that have happened in your past that may not be serving your present or future.
  4. Learn from your setbacks or failures
    Don’t let a failure define you. Optimist view failure as a short-term setback. Are you willing to do something different and have you changed your game? Be willing to take a risk or be vulnerable to grow as a leader. Look at opportunities to balance intuition with reason and logic when taking risks.

Effective self-awareness cannot be thought of as a soft science or new age meditation. It is vital to your leadership growth. As a business coach, I find many leaders are not aware enough to admit they have a problem or opportunity for growth. Often, awareness does not come to them until they experience a significant setback. Don’t wait – work on your self-awareness right now and see the impact on your Emotional Intelligence, and then see how Emotional Intelligence will change the way you work and live.

If you would like to learn more about EI, check out the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence.

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About the Author
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Bobi Seredich is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix, Arizona.  She can be reached at bobi@swiei.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Execute Great Performance Management

Building Blocks of Great Performance Management: 3 Common Goals

Before we hit that reboot button on our performance management programs, let’s be absolutely clear on what performance management actually is, and why we should be doing it. As diverse as organizations are (and as diverse as their PM solutions should be) it is helpful to anchor our thinking within a basic framework. This framework represents the universal outcomes of strong performance programs— outcomes that I’ve come to recognize as indicators of great organizational performance. Think of these three interrelated goals as the essence of all performance programs and the basis from which each organization’s unique differences evolve. More simply, consider them the fundamental building blocks for the design project ahead of you.

In my experience, every high performing organization is ultimately using its performance management program to:

  1. Develop people’s skills and capabilities
  2. Reward all employees equitably
  3. Drive overall organizational performance

How these goals are prioritized or emphasized—what “good” looks like related to each goal—will differ from organization to organization. So too will the way each organization sets about making those goals a reality. But any high-performing organization will have some combination of these three ingredients in its performance management recipe.

Now let’s get familiar with our ingredients.

Goal #1: Develop People

It seems obvious that the development of employees should be a key outcome of any performance solution. After all, isn’t that what performance reviews and career discussions are all about? Well, yes, they should be. But as we discussed earlier, this objective is often the one that loses out. And things get especially muddled when we get hung up on our rewards and ratings processes. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So let’s think about what a strong performance management solution that’s truly focused on developing people might look like. First, it should provide in-the-moment coaching, helping individuals to understand what went well and what could be enhanced the next time around. We all know this intuitively, but many of us are so used to stockpiling this feedback for the annual review that we don’t do this for our employees. Further, in-the-moment coaching provides suggestions to support their growth in an environment that allows them to absorb this feedback without feeling threatened or having something at risk (like their pay raise).

Next, individuals should have information at their disposal that provides insight into what is expected in their current role and any future roles to which they hope to advance. Resources for development might include mentors or coaches who are their advocates within the organization. There should also be self-assessment and training tools that would link to their development plan, providing ideas and resources to support their unique goals.

Goal #2: Reward Equitably

First, let’s be clear on what the word really means. ‘Equitable’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘fair and impartial.’ It’s important to note that ‘equally’ and ‘equitably’ are not the same thing. For example, let’s say you worked for three weeks writing a strategy for a new business unit, and your peer had proofread it and tuned it up for you. I’d sure hope you’d want your peer to receive some recognition for her support, but I doubt you’d be happy if her reward and recognition was equal to yours. Instead, you’d want the recognition to be equitable, meaning each of you would get as much credit as you deserve.

When organizations speak of differentiated pay and rewards, they are looking for those rewards to be distributed in an equitable manner—fairly, unbiased, and consistent with the level of contribution or impact. It’s also important to note that rewarding equitably is not just about pay. We’re talking about total rewards: compensation, formal and informal recognition, benefits, promotions, project assignments, you name it.

It’s also important to remember that, from an employee’s perspective, equity is all about fairness. While extrinsic rewards are rarely a driver of human behavior, the belief that a system is unfair or biased is a significant driver for dissatisfaction. In other words, confidence that the system is equitable makes for happy and engaged employees. In order to achieve that sense of fairness, you need to get a clear view of what reward equitably means to your organization and how you can best achieve that goal in your unique environment.

Goal #3: Drive Organizational Performance

There’s been plenty of research that has demonstrated the correlation between an employee’s connectedness to the mission and vision of his or her company and the measurable performance of that organization. We now understand how important it is to assure that teams and individuals are fully aligned to the goals of the company.

I’m talking about individuals and teams feeling an emotional connection to the purpose of the organization. That means they understand the vision, they believe in it, they want to be a part of it, and they see how their work and roles contribute to the broader goal. Remember, however, that this connection must also translate into a framework that helps each employee make good decisions and focus on the right work, day in and day out.

Driving organizational performance might sound like it has more to do with the organization than the employee, but it doesn’t. Sure, organizations want their teams and employees aligned, doing the right work, and not wasting time on efforts that are off-strategy. But we have to recognize that, as humans, we also crave the feeling of being a part of something. Most people want to feel like the work they are doing is important and purposeful. This connectedness is a vital part of an employee’s career satisfaction and overall performance, and considering that career satisfaction is of value to both the organization and the individual, we must find ways to make sure it happens.

As I’ve said, each organization is unique, with differing levels of maturity, mixtures of employee demographics, and diverse cultures and values. You will—and should—interpret and emphasize the Three Common Goals in a way that makes the most sense for you and your strategic goals. But make sure you think long and hard about each as you’re building your new solution. Ignore these important building blocks at your peril!

For more information on how to accurately measure key business objectives like performance, check out Achievers’ eBook Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

 

ACE 2017 Achievers Customer Experience

ACE 2017: Day One Highlights

Achievers annual mix of festivity and networking is in full swing with the 50 Most Engaged Workplace Awards Gala and day one of Achievers Customer Experience 2017 (ACE 2017) already in the books.

The 7th annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces took place on Monday, September 11th at the historic Saenger Theater in New Orleans. Amidst the finely dressed titans of the HR space, exquisite cuisine, and glamorous ambiance was the highlight of the show, celebrating the companies that go above and beyond in the employee engagement space as determined by a panel of employee engagement experts. After this incredible evening of industry elegance, Achievers announced the crème de la crème, the eight most engaged workplaces. This year, the Elite Eight consists of:

  • Alliance Data for Leadership
  • Electronic Arts for Communication
  • ARI for Culture
  • ATB Financial for Rewards & Recognition
  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco for Professional & Personal Growth
  • Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited for Accountability & Performance
  • Reynolds American, Inc. for Vision & Values
  • Total Quality Logistics for Corporate Social Responsibility

After an unforgettable night of celebration, ACE 2017 kicked-off on a positive vibe. Prominent members of the Achievers Leadership team shared the success story of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. After partnering with Achievers in 2012, CHRISTUS St. Michael saw:

  • a 4,500% increase in recognition given compared to the organization’s prior “home-grown” manual paper solution.
  • a 10% increase in associate engagement specific to leadership recognition from 66% to 77%.
  • a decreased turnover rate to an impressively low 6.4%, significantly below the industry standard annual turnover rate of 19.6%.

In addition to the A-players of Achievers, the opening session featured Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who said of the event, ““This is all about celebrating the success you have with Achievers. One of my favorite topics is about innovation. Achievers’ platform is used to drive not just business results, but also innovation through engagement. It’s about how to use a platform to deeply engage. Engaged employees matter to company success. Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher financial results.”

After the keynote speeches ended, it was onto the fantastic slate of HR thought leaders discussing hot-button HR tech topics like employee engagement, rewards and recognition, and how to gain executive buy-in for engagement initiatives. Among the many memorable sessions was a presentation from Rocky Ozaki of NOW Innovations, who shared culture and operational best practices you should adopt to compete in the NoW. Beginning with a brief glimpse into the history of work, Rocky explained how the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have solidified that the future is NoW.

With the war for talent raging, attracting top talent is harder than ever before. There is a remedy that can alleviate the need for competing for the most talented candidates on the market: retaining the top talent you do have. Cara Silletto, President and Chief Retention Officer of Crescendo Strategies offered insight into how companies can be better aligned with the wants and needs of a constantly evolving workforce, ensuring that the talent you’ve worked so hard to obtain stays with your company for the long haul.

ACE 2017 also featured numerous testimonials from Achievers customers illustrating how an investment in employee engagement can lead to tangible business results such as decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and an improved bottom line. Becky Etsby, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Coborn’s, an employee-owned grocery store with more than 120 locations, stated as much during her presentation, “When employees are engaged, they really do care about the company and can affect a company’s profitability”.

After such an amazing day, it is hard to believe there is more to come. With speakers like Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, day two of ACE 2017 is sure to be equally amazing. Check out all the amazing photos from Day 1 of ACE 2017 here.

Follow the conversation on social media with #AACE17 and follow us on Twitter @ Achievers.

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Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala, always a marquee event

Brie Harvey

Brie Harvey, the face of ACE

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50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala

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A-players with A-plus smiles

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Achievers’ Greg Brown and Chase Dolomont getting their grub on

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“I see in your future a trip to ACE 2018”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

encourage employees

5 Ways to Empower Employees to Do Their Best Work

A business or team can only be as successful as the sum of its parts. There are several companies with effective leaders that struggle with employee turnover or poor performance. According to one Gallup poll, 24 percent of employees who aren’t in a leadership or management role feel disconnected from the company or team.

This can decrease employee satisfaction, which significantly affects performance; if employees no longer care about their job, why would they care about doing it well? Empowering your employees to do their best work and be an integral part of your company can reduce their disengagement, and in turn, boost performance.

Here are a few ways to do exactly that:

1. Challenge Your Employees (Within Reason)

To avoid employees becoming bored or stagnant with their duties or roles, set goals. This helps to push them past their comfort zone and realize their potential. The goal is to set the bar high, but not too high—the goals should be attainable, yet still challenging to reach.

To set goals that empower your employees, keep these seven tips in mind:

  • Align goals with company objectives.
  • Allow employees to identify their own job-specific goals.
  • Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) rule.
  • Make them attainable.
  • Keep goals between employees consistent.
  • Reward those who achieve their goals.
  • Work closely with those who miss the mark.

All of these tips allow you to use goals as a way to empower employees. They’ll just need a little guidance along the way.

2. Define Opportunities for Upward Mobility

No employee wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. If your staff feels there is no opportunity to advance in your company, they’ll seek opportunities to do so elsewhere. Be transparent and communicative about how staff members can earn more money, take on a bigger role, or advance in leadership.

“Even in the best-case scenario where managers are holding regular performance reviews with their employee, employees often don’t understand how to move either horizontally or vertically in an organization,” according to Louis Efron from Forbes. He continues, “But, for any employee that is worth retaining, a manager must make clear to them how and where they can move forward on their career path.”

In many cases, there may not be a clear trajectory for an employee within a company. In this case, uncover employees’ strengths, desires, and interests to see how they can take a larger role within the organization. When they know there’s room for growth, they’re empowered to get to that next level.

3. Encourage Open Communication

Do you have an open-door policy in your office? Do your staff members know that they can talk to you or other managers when they have questions, ideas or concerns? It’s important that your staff members feel their input matters instead of a dividing line between management and lower-level employees.

“When employees feel they can communicate freely with their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to feel valued, satisfied and motivated at work,” according to experts from The Office Club. “Finding a boss who eagerly listens to questions or concerns is harder than you think, so make your company and leadership style stand out with effective communication.

To encourage open communication, give employees the opportunity to share feedback on big, company-wide projects. Don’t forget to include every team whenever possible and use monthly meetings to remind employees about where they fit within the greater scheme of things. When they see how their work is having an impact, they’re empowered to do more.

4. Offer Praise and Recognize Strengths

While employees should be intrinsically motivated to do a good job, there still needs to be an aspect of humanity involved in the workplace. In short, workers need frequent feedback and praise. They want to know their efforts are appreciated and that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

You may think you don’t have the budget for this, but praise and recognition doesn’t necessarily mean monetary rewards. There are countless ways to recognize your employees for a job well done, including:

  • Regular verbal praise
  • “Shout outs” (flyers, cards or emails)
  • Activity-based rewards
  • Small gift cards for coffee, food or other items
  • Half-day at work

Be specific in your praise, this will help employees identify what it is they bring to the table; when they realize they’re good at something, they’re empowered to do more of it because they know they can make a difference.

5. Promote Vacation Time and Work-Life Balance

Even the most dedicated employee gets burnt out if he or she doesn’t have a work-life balance. Happy employees are both career-oriented, and dedicated to their life outside of the office. When you let them have time for the things that are important to them, they’ll have more focus and energy during the time they spend at work.

“Your employees will actually be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well-rested and rejuvenated,” says Peter Daisyme, of Business.com. He continues, “You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated but actively supported.”

When you’re sympathetic to their needs and circumstances, they’ll be more willing to work hard. You show appreciation to employees and in turn, empower them to do the same.

Empowering employees to work harder and better improves the entire company and boosts retention—a win-win for everyone.

For more information on how you can empower employees to survive the most daunting corporate difficulties, such as massive change, check out this blog post on Staying Engaged During Corporate Change.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Performance Management Reboot

It’s a Small (but diverse) World: Performance Management for the Global Organization

I’m not going to lie to you: rebooting your performance management to effectively drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably requires a good deal of serious thought. Managing performance at a global level, however, warrants serious thought on steroids. You must have a solid understanding of the legislative and regulatory issues, demographic trends, and labor laws from every jurisdiction in which you’ve got people. Hard enough. But the most critical global consideration for rebooting your performance management is to understand the cultural differences in your workforce. 

If we were to take a peek at what organizations have historically done to recognize these differences, we’d see that the tactics range dramatically from barely a nod (bad) to localized approaches custom-designed for each unique culture (excellent). Sadly, ‘barely a nod’ tends to prevail. And so many global organizations continue to struggle to optimize their talent management processes in the ever-expanding global market.

What is the right approach for implementing a performance management program for a global workforce? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you agree with me that culture is the most important factor, then you’ll be sure to put a respectable amount of effort into understanding those cultural differences and how they will weigh into your solution design. And you’ll make sure your leadership is aligned with how you plan to manage various global employee groups differently from one another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for what will and won’t work here, I recommend turning to the extensive research conducted by Geert Hofsted on cultures in the workforce. In his research, Hofsted found five fundamental value dimensions that can be used to explain cultural diversity in the world. The “5 Dimensional Model”1 is one of the only models that’s based on rigorous cultural research, rather than opinion (which is why I like it). The five dimensions are:

  1. Power Distance (PDI): The degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society.
  2. Individualism (IDV): The degree to which taking responsibility for oneself is more valued than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty.
  3. Masculinity (MAS): The degree to which people value performance and the status that derives from it, rather than quality of life and caring for others.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI): The degree to which people develop mechanisms to avoid uncertainty.
  5. Long-Term Orientation (LTO): The degree to which people value long-term goals and have a pragmatic approach, rather than being normative and short-term oriented.

What does this all mean for designing performance management systems? Let’s have a look at the traditional review process. The annual review is a widely accepted practice in countries like the US and the UK. In the US (and other countries with similar cultures) we score low on power distance (the degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society) and high in individualism (the degree to which taking responsibility for yourself is valued more highly than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty). With those defining cultural factors, we find it easy to accept the idea that very direct feedback is “the right way” to improve performance. This notion falls flat in high power distance countries, such as Japan. In fact, very direct feedback in these cultures is likely to be seen as dishonorable and disrespectful. This means that we have to take a different approach that fits these cultural norms and expectations.

Another interesting dimension to consider is how your planning horizon may vary from culture to culture. When I was at Hitachi Consulting, I learned to appreciate the very real impact of working within an organization heavily influenced by Japanese leadership. One of the most notable differences was the manner in which the Japanese leaders thought about the short and the long view. In the US we had a much shorter planning horizon in contrast to our Japanese peers. This difference in focus radically influenced how each group defined what ‘good’ looked like in both the short and long terms. At times this created conflict and stress when setting targets and measuring success.

When putting together your team to build your new global performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand cultural differences.

Rewarding equitably can be another tricky area as you navigate from culture to culture. The cash-is-king individual performance bonuses that we default to in countries like the US and UK are not a good fit in cultures that focus on greater responsibility, larger spans of control, and wider territories. Again, this showed up in my experience at Hitachi. The Japanese executives were quite surprised by our vice president’s bonus model, while the US leaders were struck by their Japanese counterparts’ lavish spending allowances. As they say, different strokes for different folks (or in this case, different cultures, different expectations). In some cultures cash rewards may even be perceived as petty. The headline? Tread carefully in this arena. If you’re planning a bonus program, be sure to consider which cultures value and expect bonuses, how you should measure them if you use them, and whether team or individual incentives would work best.

Beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed? Let me reinforce a few ideas that may help keep you grounded. First, when putting together your team to build your new performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand these cultural differences. They can be a voice for what will work and what is likely to fall flat. Get comfortable with allowing for differences across cultures. Your goal should be finding balance between meeting your desire for consistency and creating great experiences for your global team. Also, before you roll out your solution, test it in different geographies and cultures — not just the solution itself, but also the supporting content, since some degree of localization is likely to be needed on that as well.

In the end, keep humanity at the forefront of your design, and never forget that this is about your people, not the process!

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author

Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

Source:
1. Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations (London, UK: Sage Publications, 2003).

STEM Talent

Competing for Tricky STEM Talent and What Performance Management Has to do With It

It seems like nearly every company I’ve worked with is struggling to attract and retain strong technical resources, whether their organization competes in the technology space or not. We can chalk up the demand to the advancement of science and technology’s role in nearly every industry, service, and product out there—combined with a shortage of the necessary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) talent to support those needs. And while there’s a lot of literature available on how to meet the needs and expectations of this audience, it seems worth adding a few words on this tricky employee group, specifically in regards to performance strategies.

Let’s start with the employee’s point of view. While acknowledging that no two people will ever want or care about the exact same things, some macro themes come up again and again that resonate with STEM-oriented personalities. First, this group cares a great deal about their skills, knowledge, and experiences. They want to be current in their field, work with the latest and greatest in technology or science, and rub elbows with the best and brightest. Second, they like to be recognized for that mastery. This recognition can come in many forms, such as awards and certifications, patents, published works, or speaking at conferences—or simply being recognized by their peers as a ‘rock star’ in their space. They also care deeply about having the freedom to invent, build, design, explore, and play in their field. After all, how can you ever be a master if you don’t have the time and space to practice your craft?

Now let’s look at what the organization needs from this group. Clearly, the aforementioned mastery skills are important to organizations. Yet many companies struggle to give STEM talent the tools, training, and experiences needed to stay on the cutting edge of their field of practice. The more the performance solution you build for them can focus on identifying and aligning your best technical talent to the ‘coolest’ work, the better.

Another common tension organizations face is wanting all that STEM brain power aimed at the right work, rather than being distracted by other things. While we definitely want to put more focus on directing that talent to the best work, we also need to balance that with this groups’ desire for time and space to do their own thing. I get it: when you’re short on critical technical talent, it’s hard not to fully dedicate the talent you do have to your priority agenda items. However, you need to be a little more flexible to keep this very agile group happy. Google and other forward-thinking companies have proven that letting your people use some percentage of their time on their own pet projects pays big dividends down the line.

So how should the desires and interests of both employee and employer influence your performance design? I recommend focusing on what both care about – in other words, the win/win. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  1. Keep your approach simple. Why? This group tends to hate formality and bureaucracy, so do you really want to irritate them with the process? Also, this is a valuable resource, so optimizing their time is essential.
  2. Push as much authority and ownership as you can down the ranks. STEM folks don’t like hierarchy any more than they like bureaucracy. The flatter your structure, the better. Create more opportunities that allow them to work in networked teams with control over their own resources. This also means more employee-driven and peer-based approaches. Let them be the rock star in their crowd.
  3. Invest in building clear technical career paths, and in creating the content necessary for enabling and communicating those paths. Share information on how they can build their mastery within your organization, and provide them with resources outside the walls as well.
  4. Build a model where you can assess the technical skills, knowledge, and capabilities that are housed within your organization. A strong technical competency/capability model will do this. It will also help to have the technical career path agenda mentioned above.
  5. Ensure that your talent review processes prioritize mobility. In other words, keep your STEM talent moving across the org to increase collaboration, the sharing of knowledge, and to enhance their growth, experiences, and learnings.
  6. Celebrate their brilliance (often). Find ways to highlight progress, solutions, invention, things of beauty, and innovation. This may be at a team level as much as it is at the individual level. Recognition can be as simple as a toast at the Friday happy hour or as formal and highly visible as company-wide recognition like displaying patents or other awards prominently in the office halls, or granting annual innovation awards internally.

And remember, always connect your investments and their rewards to the things they care about: building their mastery, recognition of that mastery, and the time and freedom to play.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

revamp performance management

Your Performance Management Is Not Fine: Defending Against the Naysayers

One busy Friday, I met with a West Coast client in the morning and then returned to my office to take a call from one of my East Coast clients in the afternoon. In the span of a few scant hours, both of my clients used the exact same phrase to describe their current performance management programs: “Our performance management program is fine.”

All weekend that phrase was stuck in my brain like an annoying popcorn hull wedged between my teeth. I pondered what those words meant to each of them and what ugly truths might lurk beneath an innocuous word like “fine.” I think that phrase spoke loudly to me because I’d heard it so many times before.

So, what do people mean when they tell me that their performance program is fine? Perhaps it’s this:

Performance Management FINE Chart

The low expectations expressed in the phrase “Our performance management is fine” are indicative of how much we’ve lost sight of our people. We seem perfectly happy to settle for “fine” on their behalf. But if our intentions for investing in performance management are to connect our teams to our strategies and goals, to recognize outstanding contributions, and to enhance the development of each individual’s capabilities, how can we possibly continue to tolerate “fine”?

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re someone who is already at least partially on board with the idea of rebooting your performance management. But no matter how comfortable you are with the idea of throwing everything out to start over (or not – after all, I’m advocating a custom approach that’s tailored to the needs of your business, and yours might not need a thorough overhaul), one of the biggest stumbling blocks you’re likely to encounter is doubt, skepticism, and downright antagonism from the old schoolers in your organization.

When I have a debate with someone who is defending the traditional performance management approach or with someone who is fearful of making changes to such a deeply rooted process (and trust me, I have many such debates), I always hear the same counterarguments. So much so, in fact, that it’s worthwhile to prepare you to answer those same objections in your own organization. Do any of the phrases below sound familiar?

“My boss will never buy it.”

It is always wise to pay special attention to “the boss.” Engage, educate, and bring him or her with you. Of course, you can’t expect this to happen overnight, especially if the boss in question leans more toward the PM traditionalist mind-set. Meet leaders where they are, build a plan, pace your progress, and maintain your resolve. Find out what they really care about, then connect your case to that theme. Be diplomatic and creative, and make sure they understand the real costs (both soft and hard costs) to your business of continuing with the old way — in terms they understand.

“We can’t trust our managers.”

Other than getting leaders on board, this is the second most common concern I hear from people, and it’s a legitimate one. Since I’m advocating implementing a design that relies heavily on good, or preferably great, managers, this problem often stops teams in their tracks. It’s not a simple issue, either. It’s cluttered with questions of structure, role definition, and manager expectations. Many organizations suffer from being over-managed and under-led. This happens because we often promote managers for technical or functional expertise and not for their people or managerial skills, and because most organizations have historically underinvested in building great leaders.

If this resonates with you, I’d encourage you to use it as motivation to address the bigger problem (i.e., the fact that you don’t trust your managers). Start by peeling your own onion to get at the root of your manager concern. Do you have too many managers or too many levels? Are they not the right people? Are their goals out of alignment with what’s valued by your organization as a whole? I’m not saying that these issues can be fixed quickly or easily; in fact, this may create a completely new agenda item for you. But the fact that you don’t trust the capability of your managers has much more far-reaching consequences than its impact on your performance management. It’s something that you’re going to need to address, no matter what.

“Legal will have a fit!”

We know we need a paper trail to document behavior and performance problems, and we think our annual review cycle does that for us. Too often, though, it doesn’t. We’re human: we tend to rate people too leniently, and to downplay or completely gloss over potentially awkward issues. This is one reason why the reviews of underperformers and good performers often read very much the same. The problem then is that if a legal issue does arise, or we simply want to take action in response to an employee’s behavior or performance, we’re caught in a bind between what we really know about that employee’s history and a series of reviews that don’t appear all that bad. This can lead to a messy situation. It’s better to avoid this potential pitfall by documenting issues as they arise. Then the issues will be fresh and more accurately recorded—giving you better legal footing and a more actionable position overall.

“Why change? Everyone else does it this way!”

While the majority of organizations still use a traditional system, the tide is definitely turning. Today we’re seeing respected and forward-thinking organizations trying to drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably in new and innovative ways. These pioneers have received significant positive exposure for their innovative programs. And that attention certainly doesn’t hurt their employer brand (a measure of how positively prospective employees view you compared with your competitors). You have a decision to make here: Are you ready to be out front, or would you prefer to wait until your competition has passed you by before you take action?

Maybe you have to wait because you feel you have bigger issues to tackle. Or maybe you’re simply going to procrastinate until you’re finally dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of performance management at some point in the future. But like it or not, the world is changing, and our old accepted practices will eventually crumble under the weight of the research and the evolving expectations of our employees.

Lead or follow—the choice is yours.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
M. Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

Common Traits of Top Talent

8 Habits of Highly Successful Employees

An employee’s success at a job can’t be predicted by his or her resume and experience. That piece of paper doesn’t tell you the full story. Sometimes, an individual’s soft skills or personal habits are a better indication of their aptitude and potential to succeed. If you can identify these common traits that successful employees share, you can find high-quality employees who will help your company thrive. Here are eight habits to be on the lookout for during your next round of hires.

  1. They are Respectful

Between co-workers, supervisors, customers and/or clients, there are many different personalities in a professional organization, so it’s unlikely that you will like everyone you encounter. Despite this, the most successful employees treat everyone with respect, regardless of personal feelings. They treat their peers and employees they manage with the same level of respect, which makes everyone feel valued and appreciated.

This mutual respect in the workplace creates a positive work environment. “When people work with one another with peace and harmony, they don’t have the time to focus on other shallow and petty ideas,” according to experts at Wisestep. “People will be more interested in finishing their assignments and boosting the levels of productivity at work.” Successful employees understand that respect is a two-way street. If they respect others, they will receive respect in return.

Question to ask: How did you handle a disagreement with another employee in the past?

  1. They Take Initiative

Individuals who truly make a difference on a team or in an organization are the ones that go above and beyond the call of duty. They don’t just do what’s asked of them, they look for opportunities to take the lead or solve problems. Managers love these types of employees because they can work independently and don’t need to be micromanaged.

Question to ask: What is one instance where you took initiative, either at work or at home? What did you do and why?

  1. They are Professional

Professionalism isn’t determined by an individual’s experience. Instead you see it in their intangible personality traits; the way employees carry themselves in the workplace.

Are they punctual or do they frequently show up late? Are they dressed appropriately and look put together or do they look like they just rolled out of bed? Do they take pride in their work and produce a product they’re proud of? Do they raise their hand and contribute insight during meetings or do they speak out of turn and interrupt other employees?

“Demonstrating professionalism is important at all levels in a company,” according to Kelsey Granowski, a Career Services Advisor from Rasmussen College. “Professionalism can benefit the company’s reputation, morale and success. It is not only the individuals in leadership roles that need to show professionalism.”

Question to ask: Give me an example of how you bring professionalism to your work.

  1. Successful Employees Are Selfless and Authentic

It’s easy for job candidates to “talk themselves up” in an interview, but can the candidate talk about their successes within teams or the greater organization? Of course, everybody wants to achieve some level of personal success, but successful employees know how to be selfless. They understand when to put the company first and why it’s important.

This is especially important for managers and executives  that will be representing your organization at client dinners, when networking, during sales calls and more. Making sure these types of employees can frame success within the greater organization is especially crucial as these interactions can inform how non-employees perceive your company.

“Authenticity is important for establishing reciprocal relationships with others in the executive arena. Long-term, rewarding professional partnerships don’t begin with a selfish attitude,” says Ted Rollins, global entrepreneur, Co-Chairman and Founding Principal of Valeo Groupe. When your employees show selflessness, they’re able to establish better relationships that ultimately improve your company and its reputation.

Question to ask: Share an example of when you were selfless at work. Why did you do that and why do you consider it selfless?

  1. They Have a Desire to Improve

Whether they’re managers, mid-level employees or entry-level workers, successful people constantly strive to improve. They’re not satisfied with the status quo and look for opportunities to get more from themselves and their team. These individuals appreciate constructive criticism and feedback because it gives them a chance to learn and improve.

If you can find employees with this desire and cultivate it within the workplace, you can be confident they will work hard to improve themselves and push the company forward.

Question to ask: Do you have any side projects or skills you’re trying to improve right now? If so, tell me about one of them.

  1. They Take Responsibility

Successful employees are honest and take responsibility for their actions. This means that if something goes wrong—they miss a deadline or produce subpar results—they own up to their mistakes rather than looking to blame others.

Suha Abughosh, a bank Regional Manager has another way of looking at this, suggesting that responsibility is the same as accountability: “For example, instead of following up with other teammates to ensure the project is completed timely, the unaccountable worker forgets about the project the minute it leaves her desk,” she says.

How do you pick this person out of the crowd? Abughosh explains, “If the project’s deadline is missed, she’ll be sure to let everyone know that she did her part.” Pinpointing this during hiring is critical to avoiding resentful feelings among co-workers later.

Question to ask: Tell me about a time when you messed something up, at work or home, and owned up to it.

  1. Successful Employees Stay Positive

Long hours, multiple projects and demanding deadlines can cause stress in an office. While it’s natural for workers to feel stressed, successful employees are able to stay positive.

“People who are negative bring down morale and demotivate,” writes Kevin Daum from Inc. “Employees create value when they help create a positive environment that others can’t wait to join.”

Question to ask: How do you stay positive when work or a project is stressful? What are your tactics?

  1. They Know When to Say No and Ask for Help

Successful people understand their limitations. While they’re eager to take on projects, challenge themselves and take initiative, they’re also realistic about what they can do. This means they’re not afraid to say “no” if they have too much on their plate, because they always want to do their best work.

Question to ask: Have you ever said no to a project because you had too much on your plate? Tell me about that experience.

When interviewing potential employees, try focusing on identifying employees that exhibit the traits and habits listed above.  Employees that exhibit some or all the qualities as described above are more likely to positively impact your company.

For more advice on how to effectively use your interview process to identify top performing employees, check out Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews.

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About the Author
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

Reduce Unneeded Stress

7 Ways to De-Stress Your Workplace

Stress is the single worst enemy of productivity. A stressed-out worker is usually not an efficient worker. Furthermore, high employee stress levels can lead to higher rates of employee turnover and absenteeism; who wants to work at a job with constant stress?

Not only is stress an obstacle to productivity, it can work against a business’ attempts to attain key business objectives. We all know that a business must be profitable to survive, but without recognizing the danger of pushing workers too hard, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary to counter mistakes made by tired, depressed, and stressed-out individuals.

Follow my 7 tips below to help your employees bounce back and minimize unneeded stress:

  1. Get Creative

Stress on the brain will squash creativity. It’s harder to “think outside the box” and be at your best when you’re chronically stressed. If you’re in a role that emphasizes mental nimbleness and dexterity, the consequences of stress can be a major roadblock to your (and your company’s) success.

Consider implementing a few creative strategies to lighten your employee’s mental load. Daydreaming is typically seen as a bad thing, however a few moments of structured mind-wandering every hour can help your workers recalibrate and better stay on task. Breathing exercises and “mindfulness” activities can also lessen workplace stress. Encourage workers to green up the office and bring in plants, which have a soothing effect on the soul. And if conditions allow, furry friends are also a wonderful addition to the workplace. According to WebMD, taking even a few minutes to play with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

  1. SuggestScreenFreeTime.

The modern workforce spends most of its time glued to a computer screen. The problem with sitting in a cubicle and staring at a glowing rectangle all day is that it is a highly unnatural and inert way to spend one’s time. Interaction with other people, and with one’s environment, is needed to stay mentally healthy and engaged.

Hopefully, your employees already understand that they should step away from their screens several times throughout the day. You can take this further by suggesting the use of software tools, like F.lux, that make the light emanating from a computer monitor more natural and less straining on the eyes. This program makes the monitor show more typical “daylight” colors, which can help reduce computer screen fatigue.

  1. Offer Financial Counseling Services

Many people find that financial issues cause them the most stress. Promoting financial wellness and addressing the negative effects of money-related stress on employees is often overlooked by companies when they seek to lessen the stress level of their workforce. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted in its 2016 Employee Benefits survey report that 61 percent of HR professionals polled last year described their employees’ financial health as no better than “fair” and 17 percent reported their employees were “not at all financially literate.”

Given the statistics above, there is much you can do to help your employees meet their financial goals. Consider bringing on a financial counseling professional that can assist your employees in determining their financial health and offer personalized, actionable advice. If adding staff isn’t an option, try designing a financial wellness program that motivates employees to be more proactive in saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or paying back student loans. You will find that as your employees gain clarity about their financial situation, they will not only be less stressed, but possibly inspire them to improve other aspects of their lives – including their productivity at work.

  1. Engage and Recognize Your Employees at Work

Higher employee engagement leads to higher employee productivity and happiness, so it’s critical to find ways to engage your workforce. One method used by many companies is establishing a recognition and rewards program. Recognition has been found to be the number one driver of employee engagement, so by building a culture of recognition, and having employees feel appreciated for what they do, you’ll see more positive social engagement and better performance. Encourage your employees to take time out of their day to de-stress by recognizing others for their hard work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way!

  1. Involve Your Employees in Exercise

There is nothing that gets people moving and motivated like a physical wellness program. Exercise is healthy and stimulating for both body and mind. There are various ways that you can get your employees involved in daily exercise habits that help them fight off illness, obesity, and other physical manifestations of stress. Could your company partner with a local gym, or give membership discounts to employees? Is there a yoga teacher willing to offer in-office sessions? Options such as these require minimal financial and time commitments for your company, so instituting at least one of them seems like a no-brainer.

  1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Many studies have shown that flexible work arrangements can benefit employers as much as they do employees. Remote work and other flexible options can be a huge boost to many worker’s mental well-being, which in turn boosts your company’s bottom line.

Most people make money to support their families, but the long work hours needed to earn it mean a constant tension between work and familial responsibilities. Flexible work options, such as telecommuting, part-time roles, and flexible scheduling, can have a major impact on an employee’s quality of life. In fact, just the idea of a flexible work arrangement helped some companies improve their employee retention rates – before workers even started taking part. That’s right, simply by suggesting the concept of more flexible work, you can indirectly encourage employees to work harder and stay with your company longer.

  1. Promote Healthy Living Habits at Work

Remember that your employees’ health and welfare is key to increasing productivity and fulfilling the goals of your company. By offering free healthy snacks and encouraging your employees to maintain healthy habits at work, you are helping establishing the groundwork of a healthy lifestyle that could transfer over to the rest of their lives. As they say, you are what you eat – so by making sure there are healthy (even organic) options in the break room or at company meetings, you’re doing everyone’s bodies and minds a huge service.

Banishing stress from your workplace is an ongoing battle, but learning how to identify the symptoms of burn out and fatigue is a step in the right direction. Help your employees stay mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally healthy, and you’ll see your efforts reflected in a better bottom the company back in dividends.

To learn more about how employee wellness can lessen tension in the workplace, check out 5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.

 

workplace communication tips

6 Techniques: Improve The Way Your Employees Communicate

When your team works in the same building, it’s easy to get to know one another. Since you see each other every day, you’ll likely develop a deeper than surface level relationship based on proximity alone. You might come to know how your colleagues take their coffee, and maybe even buddy up with them when the company heads out on a retreat or outing. However, if the majority of your team works remotely, it can be difficult to maintain a culture of free-flowing communication. Here are six ways to ensure your colleagues have the means to effectively communicate.

  1. Stay up to Date

If your team is geographically dispersed, you might find yourself waking up in the morning to an inbox overflowing with new messages. This could contribute to missing out on important information as a crucial call to action might be buried beneath the newest messages in your inbox. Instead of relying on email as the sole source of communication, try using a good chat program to connect with your team in real time. This will help ensure that conversations are focused on the most important initiatives and allow any disconnection amongst the team to be addressed immediately.

  1. Use Emoji

It might sound unprofessional, but emoji can help improve communication. This is because the written word does not effectively communicate tone and emotion. However, using emoji in conjunction with a well-thought-out statement can inform the reader of intent, helping to avoid misunderstandings.

  1. Know When to Step Back

Try implementing a culture in which “doing” is as important as “brainstorming”. By allowing your team the opportunity to assess the necessity of their personal involvement amongst the larger group, you are allowing members of your team to step back from meetings and focus on tangible deliverables as needed. By instituting this team-wide, colleagues can work offline knowing another member of their team will fill them in if anything important arises in the meeting they missed. 

  1. Use Online Meetings

Using online conferencing tools can help get to the root of an issue much more expediently than a flurry of emails. They’re easy to use and your entire team can get together in the same (virtual) room. It’s very effective for communication, as you can see each other’s body language (which helps inform the tone and emotion behind a statement in the same way emoji do).

  1. Use the Right Form of Communication

Email is not always the best way to discuss an important subject with your team. Try giving them a call, inviting them to a chat room, or organizing an online meeting. Before reaching out, ask yourself, what is the best communication method for what I need to tell them? Are you kicking-off a major department initiative? Perhaps an all-hands conference call is in order. Are you checking in with a solitary employee about an overdue deliverable? A brief IM might suffice. Whatever it is you might be discussing, make sure the form matches the intent.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

While having multiple channels of communication to unite a workforce spread out across multiple time zones has allowed for a greater sense of corporate interconnectivity, these advancements have made it somewhat difficult for your team to know how and when you prefer to work. If you’re the type of person that limits email correspondence to working hours, say so. If you’d like finished work uploaded to the team Dropbox rather than sent as an attachment, tell your team.  By being clear about your expectations as to how and when you prefer to work, it makes everyone’s jobs easier.

Online Tools to Improve Communication

A portion of your team might already be working remotely, so you might be familiar with some of the online tools listed below. However, technological advancements addressing the gamut of communication issues are being developed every day, so there might be some tools you may not have seen:

  • Flow Dock: This tool gives your team one place for both casual and work chats. There’s a search feature that helps you find the specific task you were discussing, and a one-on-one chat for when you need to contact just one member of your team. The best part is you can try it free for 30 days.
  • Boom Essays: Your outgoing messages should be proofread, but you might not have time to do it yourself. This service could be the answer. Send them your messages and they’ll proofread any correspondence before you send it.
  • Uber Conference: Online conferencing can be a pain, but this tool makes it easy. You can track attendees, share your screen and easily share documents—all from an extremely intuitive interface.
  • Write My Essay: The primary form of your departmental communications will likely be email, so good email writing skills are essential. However, you might feel that yours aren’t up to scratch. Get in touch with an expert writer from this service. They’ll help you refine your email skills to better articulate exactly what it is you need.
  • Word Counter: If a message is too long, the recipient might tune out before you’ve made your main point. This tool makes it easy to keep things short and sweet. All you have to do is paste your writing in, and you’ll get a quick and accurate word count.
  • MikoGo: This screen sharing app is perfect if you want to share information, quickly. There’s no need to download a program; everything is done through the web app. You can even join for free, making it as cost effective as you can get.
  • Assignment Help: If you’re having trouble articulating specific needs within written communication, then it might make sense for you to get in touch with this writing service. They can help you with your business writing skills. Work with them, and you’ll see vast improvement in your writing skills.
  • Paper Fellows: Good grammar is the cornerstone of all good writing. Without it, your messages will be incomprehensible. This writing community can help you improve your grammar, making your communications much easier to understand.
  • Calendly: This is the easiest way to arrange meetings. You simply give the site your schedule, then email a link to the person you’re meeting. They pick a time they can meet you, and then the meeting is arranged. That’s it!

Give these tips and tools a try. You’ll find it’s much easier to communicate with your team, and you’ll get a lot more done.

To learn more about how Achievers builds alignment across its entire organization for both onsite and remote employees, check out the blog post To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization.

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About the Author
Mary WaltonMary Walton is an editor at Australian assignment writing service. She also helps online businesses to find passionate remote workers; and creates awesome resumes at Resumention. Mary has an educational blog Simple Grad, there you can find useful info on college life and college tips.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Stay Connected During Change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 2)

Change is practically a given in today’s competitive work environment. But how is an individual employee supposed to thrive in an environment of constant uncertainty? To successfully navigate this near-constant change, research suggests that it’s critical to stay engaged.

In the first post of this 3-part series (click here if you missed it), I shared strategies from my book The Successful Struggle, that help you stay engaged and in tune with the purpose of corporate change.

In addition to connecting with the reasons behind the change, there are other things you can connect with that make corporate evolution easier to swallow. One of the most helpful? People. Connecting with colleagues helps us feel better emotionally when we’re facing change, and increases the likelihood that the outcome of the change will be successful.

In a study of employees in large-sized companies facing major changes, those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction after a change were also the most engaged employees. This makes sense on several levels. Actively engaged employees are more likely to be participating in the change or at minimum feel as if their voice is being heard. Engaged employees also reap the benefits of having relationships with colleagues they can lean on when transitioning becomes stressful or confusing.

In The Successful Struggle, I tell the story of David, whose role at work was changing because of a new strategic direction. David was off-balance because of the change, and worried he couldn’t deliver on his new goals. Because he didn’t want to be perceived as negative about the alteration to his role, he was reluctant to speak up in meetings. Withholding his thoughts in this setting became so innate to David that he pulled away from his colleagues during the work day, too.

David convinced himself that disconnecting from his colleagues was natural. He told himself that he was just putting his head down and focusing. It made sense to him that he would hunker down in his office, not emerging until he had a successful action plan completed. But pulling away from his colleagues was only making David more isolated. His ideas had been created in a vacuum, they lacked the fine-tuning they usually received when David shared his ideas with the group. As a result, David was not only miserable, but also less successful.

Employees who stay connected during change – to their peers, their managers, and even their personal social circle – navigate change in a much healthier way than those who pull away from others. Studies show that maintaining personal connections is a predictor of a well-handled change.

If you feel yourself pulling away from colleagues and friends during change, that’s a red flag. To connect with the people around you, try these three things:

  1. Speak Up – It can be intimidating to verbalize your concerns about change, because we’re often taught to wait and evaluate a situation before we speak. But if we don’t speak up and ask questions, we run the risk of not getting the information we need so that we CAN effectively evaluate a situation. What a Catch-22! But don’t let it silence you. Ask clarifying questions as needed, just try to do so in a constructive way. By asking questions with a positive slant, you are demonstrating that you are engaged as well as exhibiting a positive attitude about the change.
  2. Build a Work Support Network – If you’ve avoided having a work support network, change can be a great catalyst for creating one. Identify a mentor and at least one or two peers you can lean on for support. Be sure that your conversation topics don’t center on “venting,” which is an unhealthy dialogue style that keeps you feeling agitated and ignores problem-solving.
  3. Lean on Your Personal Support Network – You may not feel like talking about work problems outside of work. But having the support of your friends outside of work has been shown to be helpful. Even if you only spend a few minutes catching them up on the issue, you’ll feel like you have the moral support that will keep you going the rest of the work week; then you can lay those issues aside and go out and have a fun evening.

It’s natural to want to crawl into your cubicle and disconnect from the world when you’re facing the uncertainty of change, but you’ll be significantly more successful if you make it a priority to stay connected to your workplace and the people in it. When you stay engaged, ask questions, and lean on your support network, you’ll be surprised – and relieved! – to find how much easier it is to handle change.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my three-part series. And for those of you that need to catch up, you can find the first installment of my blog series here.

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyClark.com

 

the value of coaching

Why Millennials Want Coaches, Not Managers

Your workforce is increasingly made up of millennials; this is unsurprising – they’re the ones with the most contemporary skills, and with each passing year they become a larger percentage of the working world. With close to 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, millennials now represent the largest subset of America’s workforce. Approaching these younger workers with the attitude and expectations of a coach, rather than the antiquated characteristics of a traditional “boss,” is key to maintaining their engagement. Here’s how a coaching style differs from the approach of a traditional manager, along with a few insights about why this shift in managerial style is so important.

Coaching responds to failure with empowerment

A manager who behaves in the classic “boss” tradition is likely to take a disciplinary tone after an employee fails or does a poor job on a project. Getting “chewed out” by the boss is a familiar trope in the stereotypical work environment. Coaching, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. If a player on a sports team does badly, the coach may feel frustrated, but he or she is well aware that scolding and criticizing the player is not likely to yield better results in the future. Instead, a coach views failure as a sign that the player needs more training, support, and encouragement.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes the behavior of award-winning college coach Mike Krzyzewski after a player’s carelessness caused his team to lose. He took the whole team out for an ice cream sundae party, emphasizing encouragement and team-building, and then he held an extra practice to help everyone come together again.

Millennials want more frequent feedback

When you picture a coach guiding a team to victory, you probably imagine lots of feedback was involved. The coach is on the sidelines, shaping the choices that the players make and shouting encouragement or suggestions. After the event, the coach probably holds a video session and works together with players to identify areas that need improvement. It’s all very hands-on.

Now, contrast that leadership style with the annual employment evaluation that typifies an old-school manager’s pattern. An employee is called in to the boss’s office and given an evaluation containing praise and criticism that might be outdated, perhaps even a year old. A coach wouldn’t have a successful team if he or she only gave feedback once a year.

Furthermore, millennials want the high-touch guidance of a coaching culture. A global survey finds that overall, millennials want feedback 50 percent more often than older employees, with most of them preferring feedback on a weekly or monthly basis.

Employee success depends on rewards and recognition

While frequent feedback is a proven method for increasing employee engagement, the quality of that feedback is equally important. An effective coaching approach is based on recognizing each person’s individual strengths. Best practices include creating a company culture that emphasizes positive feedback and employee appreciation. Positivity is necessary in every workplace, but it’s especially crucial when you’re leading a team of millennials.

A recent Gallup report noted, “Only 19 percent of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17 percent) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful.” This same report states that fewer than 15 percent of millennials ask for the feedback they really want; so it’s up to leadership to establish these employee recognition best practices.

Managers are an important source of professional learning and development

Forbes states that most millennials identify their manager as their main source for learning and developing skills, but only 46 percent of those surveyed believe their deliver on this hope. These numbers are helpful because they indicate a direction you can take with your management style. One millennial worker quoted in the HBR article states, “It’s very important to be in touch with my manager, constantly getting coaching and feedback from him so that I can be more efficient and proficient.” And to further illustrate how much millennials crave learning and development, it’s been reported that 62 percent of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs because of a lack of learning and development opportunities.

Coaching takes the whole person into account

Though today’s cutting-edge companies invest serious effort into making sure their employees have a good work-life balance, they also realize that this new approach looks at employees as whole people, not just a drone carrying out a task with little to no thought. A great deal of research has gone into the psychology of coaching and the need to consider the “inner game,” but this mindset is still very new to the corporate world.

As more managers realize that helping their employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance will result in more highly engaged employee, they will likely change their style of supervision to emphasize encouragement. It’s all part of a more holistic approach to talent management; a recognition of workers’ inherent humanity and a step away from viewing them only as cogs in the wheel of a production assembly line.

It’s all about performance

Of course you want to treat your employees well for their own sake, but you also want to be an effective business person. You want to manage your team in such a way that productivity increases, both now and in the future. This often means understanding the unique needs of your millennial workers.

A coaching approach, versus a top-down “I’m-the-boss” approach gives you an incredibly powerful tool for increasing employee engagement among your younger team members. These workers will respond with higher performance and greater loyalty, bringing sustainable growth to your bottom line.

To learn more about how you can effectively introduce employee recognition to your millennial team, download our white paper, “Sink or Swim: How to Engage Millennials to Ensure the Future of your Business.”

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Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Are you one of those bosses who feels their employees should simply be happy to have a job at all? Unfortunately, some supervisors really do feel this way, particularly when the job market is tight. However, it’s an expensive point of view to maintain, especially in an economy that is nearing full employment: Discouraged employees are 87 percent more likely to quit, and you’ll spend a minimum of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary on a replacement. To avoid this unnecessary expense, follow these five simple tips on keeping employee morale high:

1. Ask for input on special events

Have you ever had a bright idea for a company party or celebration, only to find that no one seems to share your enthusiasm? To avoid lackluster celebrations that don’t do anything to boost morale, encourage your staff to anonymously submit suggestions for the venues and types of employee appreciation events they’d like to see, and then encourage everyone to vote on their favorites. Employee retention depends on giving workers the sense you care about their priorities and that you seek their input on matters that impact them.

2. Encourage honest feedback

Seek genuine opinions from your workers, and don’t be afraid to  apply changes based on their feedback. Employee engagement will increase when you’re perceived as caring and confident enough to hear negative feedback. Winning your employees’ trust not only boosts employee morale, but it improves business results as well. The Harvard Business Review revealed that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. Your staff will also more readily buy-in to any changes that you make. Google uses this strategy with great results, creating “Google Cafes” in which all staff members share creative new approaches.

3. Hold yourself to the highest standard

Leadership is all about modeling hard work and dedication. Show your team that even though you have the right to leave early or delegate all the hard work to subordinates, you stay in the trenches and get the job done. Employees will feel supported and inspired by your example. Great leadership is key to employee happiness and success. Gallup’s leadership research shared, “When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.”

4. Promote from your own talent pool

According to Forbes, external hires made 18% more than internally promoted employees  in the same jobs. Be fair and examine your internal talent pool before jumping the gun on bringing in an external hire. Give your employees opportunities for growth and advancement so that they will want to stick around and give you their all. If you make the effort to discover the unique skills and talents of each worker, you’ll be in a better position to know whom to promote when the opportunity arises.

5. Build employee motivation with rewards and recognition

Employee recognition is key to making your staff feel that it’s worthwhile to go the extra mile. Celebrating accomplishments through rewards and recognition lets your team know that you truly appreciate their efforts. It also builds a strong sense of teamwork when you encourage workers to offer each other public statements of appreciation. It’s a strong, positive motivator knowing your hard work isn’t going unnoticed and that you’re appreciated by your coworkers and leadership.

Snack Nation’s infographic revealed 36% of employees would give $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. Start boosting employee morale and happiness by following employee recognition best practices. With the right recognition program, your workplace culture and company’s bottom line will strengthen. Learn more about encouraging employee success by downloading our white paper: “The Total Package: Including Recognition in the Compensation Toolkit.”

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How to Identify and Retain Top Performers with Rewards and Recognition

Employee retention is a key goal for every company, but it’s important to drill down into this metric and make sure you’re doing a good job of identifying and keeping your top performers. These employees deliver 400 percent more productivity than the average worker, according to statistics published in Harvard Business Review (HBR). The researchers state, “Our workforce strategy goal should be to double down on retention tactics for high performers,” and further explain that, in many cases, managers aren’t meeting the needs of their top talent. The first step to nurturing your best workers is to make sure you know who they are; and a simple way to discover top performers is through rewards and recognition programs.

Look for active recognizers

The right rewards and recognition program can help determine top performers – but you may be surprised by which statistics you should look at. As to be expected, the hardest working and most talented people are likely to receive the highest amount of recognition from their supervisors. They are also likely to be recognized by their peers, since the ability to work well within a team is another important component of productivity. However, when you’re seeking out the truly top performers in your workforce, it’s also important to identify those who are most often recognizing others.

According to a recent Achievers study, employees who were promoted turned out to have a track record of actively recognizing their peers. In fact, before being promoted, these high performers sent an average of 3.8 times more peer recognition than the average employee. In this way, employee rewards and recognition programs provide two separate metrics for  identifying top talent: those who receive the most recognition, as well as those who give the most acknowledgments to others.

Tie recognitions to company values

Your organization probably took significant time and effort to craft a mission and values statement.  This statement is more than mere words residing on a wall, a website, or welcome pamphlet; it can serve as a dynamic tool for shaping your employee recognition program. By tying recognitions to your company’s core values, you can see which performers are embodying those values most authentically. This approach is sometimes termed “Management by Objectives,” and it feeds employee motivation by helping every member of the organization feel that their contribution is truly meaningful.

High performers have unique needs

The workplace factors that keep your super-skilled employees motivated are somewhat different from commonplace worker needs, and it’s necessary to be aware of these differences. While competitive salaries are important, HBR research points out that using regular compensation as a method of delivering employee rewards can potentially backfire and cause resentment among coworkers. On the other hand, high performers care significantly more than average about having their efforts noticed, recognized and rewarded. These rewards can be in the form of social or financial recognition, but in either case, your top talent is especially eager to receive praise, financial incentives and frequent feedback. This is another reason that if you’re in the habit of only providing annual or semi-annual evaluation sessions, the employee engagement levels of your top performers is likely to suffer.

Why you need to focus on high achievers

While highly skilled employees are slightly more satisfied with their jobs than the average worker, one in five say they’re likely to leave their current position within the next six months. Furthermore, if and when your top employees do decide to move on, their skills will lead them to easily find new opportunities. Given the high levels of productivity and the contributions these extra-competent workers make to the workplace environment, losing even one of them can be a blow to your company.

Help your top performers fulfill their potential

Employee retention is only one of many reasons that HR professionals and managers should invest in the effort to nurture high achievers. Equally important is  assisting in their career growth and providing them with development opportunities to help them reach their full potential. A major component of nurturing employee success is to  ensure tasks remain challenging and varied. High achievers “live for the challenge,” and seek to overcome obstacles and solve problems as a source of personal accomplishment. So make sure to provide them opportunities to stretch themselves through varied and challenging assignments.

Employee recognition best practices dictate that recognitions will be most meaningful to these talented workers if they reflect on an achievement that was truly praise-worthy. High achievers are tireless, curious, full of passion, and internal drive. If they’re recognized they want it to be for something substantial and worthwhile. In other words, don’t praise them for minutiae such as arriving on-time or keeping a clean work area. Instead, provide detailed and specific feedback that focuses on the positive impact they are making through their diligence and pursuit of excellence.

The right HR technology can be your ally

Identifying top performers can help your organization discover who your most engaged employees are (and vice versa), allowing you to effectively leverage their skills and enthusiasm as a positive force in the workplace. HR tech is steadily evolving, and data gleaned from a cutting edge rewards and recognition platform can now provide you with valuable insights to help you identify and retain your top performing employees.

To learn more about how employee recognition can help you identify and retain your top talent, as well as having a positive impact on your entire workforce, download our eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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Celebrate Employee Appreciation Week Achievers

Employee Appreciation Week: Achievers’ Employees, We Appreciate You!

It’s our favorite time of the year here at Achievers: Employee Appreciation Week! During this week the amount of love being sent throughout our organization gets cranked up to 11. We know that a simple “Thank you!” goes a long way – whether it’s a social recognition, monetary reward, or just a friendly high five – so we’d like to take this opportunity to say a very public “Thank you” to every Achievers employee for all their hard work, dedication, and passion. We are so proud to have such a great team pulling together towards achieving our stated mission – to Change the Way the World Works.

In honor of Employee Appreciation Week, we’re highlighting our A-mazing employees by spotlighting one of our favorite employee recognitions delivered via Achievers’ own ASPIRE recognition program. While we don’t have the space to feature all of our employees in one blog post (wish we could!), every member of the Achievers family deserves massive recognition for all the great work they do. So thank you A-players for staying engaged, recognizing your peers, and helping our customers boost employee engagement in their own workplaces.

Employee Appreciation Week Recognition Card

We hope you spend this fun week recognizing your employees too. After all, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more! Recognizing others is infectious and spreads positivity throughout an organization. So why not take the first step and recognize someone today for a job well done. But don’t limit employee appreciation to just one week. It’s important to appreciate employees frequently to foster employee happiness and continuously boost engagement and motivation. Recognize someone right now with our free and fun personalized online recognition card.

Looking for fresh ideas on how to show employee appreciation? Check out our blog post Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week.

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About the Author
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Senior Editorial and Social Media Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 35+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

4 Easy Tips to Instantly Engage your Employees

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement” refers to, “An employee’s job satisfaction, loyalty and inclination to expend discretionary effort toward organizational goals.” The more engaged employees you have, the more positive results you will see – from both a bottom line and a corporate culture standpoint. It’s as simple as that. But as Gallup recently reported, a mere 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work! And it’s not that much better here in the U.S., where only one in three employees are engaged at work.

Is employee engagement something your company struggles with? Start shifting the numbers in your favor with these four easy tips to instantly engage your employees:

Throw out the job description

We aren’t suggesting you should abandon your entire functional structure, but when thinking about roles, titles and capabilities it’s important to keep individual employees in mind. Management expert Glen Llopis encourages supervisors to build each job around the capabilities and interests of the person who currently holds that position. He points out that people stay more focused and perform much better when they enjoy the work they’re doing, and a good manager should be able to expand their leadership lens to consider an employee’s strengths when assigning any projects.

Praise co-workers

Managers aren’t the only ones who can commend a job well done. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition within the workplace can be invaluable in increasing employee engagement. A simple “great job” from a co-worker goes a long way in encouraging employees to embrace teamwork and celebrate accomplishments. When co-workers celebrate shared wins and encourage one another to succeed, they are motivated to perform at their best and gain a sense of camaraderie around achieving one common goal. Spreading praise throughout the office is contagious and serves the dual purpose of instantly engaging employees and building a supportive work culture around shared goals and values.

Make every employee an “insider”

If you trust your employees enough to tell them about your company’s challenges – as well as its victories – you’ll find that they place a high value on your honesty. When employees feel like they’ve been brought in on the real, inside story, they are better able to understand the reasoning behind their company’s policies and actions. As an additional benefit, greater transparency and democratization often lead to innovation, as employees feel inspired and empowered to offer creative solutions to shared problems, which they will likely want to implement themselves. This approach may require a shift in perspective, especially if your company is accustomed to placing multiple filters between the C-suite and line workers. But it’s been proven that in companies with a flat organizational structure transparency can have some very tangible positive results.

Give immediate rewards and recognition

“Congratulate” is one of the “10 C’s” of employee engagement listed by Ivey Business Journal, and there’s a good reason for this. Their research finds that most employees feel that they receive immediate feedback (otherwise known as criticism) when they do something wrong, but that recognition for their positive contributions is usually slow in coming. The most effective leaders make sure to deliver immediate recognition and tangible rewards for a job well done. Rewards and recognition are most impactful when given frequently and tied back to specific desired behaviors or actions, as opposed to generally positive feedback provided quarterly or even yearly.

Employee engagement is not something to take lightly. Industry research shows why employee engagement matters: Just a 1% increase in employee engagement leads directly to an additional .6% growth in sales (according to Aon Hewitt) and companies with highly engaged workplaces have been shown to outperform their peers by 147%. So don’t pass up these simple solutions to help address a complex issue.

Learn more about milestones along the route to employee engagement from our Getting to Greatness Infographic.

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High Performance Employer

Designing a High-Performance Work Environment

In our previous posts, we focused on Pivotal Habits (ones that prepare us to perform by making us healthy, happy and secure) and Work Habits (the ones that make up our jobs).

We discussed the critical role these habits play in creating superior performance for employees and competitive advantage for companies. We explored why habits are frequently missed by businesses as the fundamental driver of performance, and recognized that adopting new habits is in some sense hard for people to achieve, and challenging for employers to create.

In this final post, we will explore how employers can approach the design of their businesses to ensure high employee performance, while also making sure that employees are engaged in and loyal to the business.

Understanding the foundational role of habits, we can frame the employee performance challenge for employers as a design problem:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with you as an employer?

In solving this design challenge, the first thing to notice is that there are many things that make up the “workplace.”  It is the sum of all things that “surround” employees while they work, and these things are highly influential over how they think, feel and act. We can bucket all the things that make up the surrounding elements into four categories that we call Contexts, and they are vitally important to solving the design problem. Why is this?

A fish swimming in water (the Context for the fish’s life) is completely influenced by that water in everything that it does. So too are humans highly influenced by the Contexts of their life, and just like the fish we tend not to notice the influence of Contexts until they’re not there.

Perhaps this explains why most employers focus on employees when trying to solve productivity problems. We see the lack of performance and we typically associate the issue with the people.

We don’t notice, and therefore don’t act on, the surrounding Contexts that influence people in their daily work. In fact, the nature of Contexts (that they are unnoticed by most people, yet highly influential over our actions) is precisely what makes them so important to business designers.

The Contexts for workplace design

There are four Contexts we need to understand:

Physical Spaces: The physical environment in which employees conduct their work, which increasingly includes the home office as well as the more traditional office and factory floor environments. Designing high-performance spaces is more than just ensuring employees have the tools to do their jobs and requires us to understand the ways that physical design choices affect us psychologically.

Workplace Systems: The policies, procedures, business processes or, more simply, the rules (written and unwritten) that employees are expected to follow make up this context. Some of these rules leak into the workplace (like the laws of the land or the fact that we drive on the right side of the road) and can influence how we behave as well. So, it’s important to not only design our own rules but to understand how they will interact with rules that exist in the wider world.

Social Influence: The people that we work with every day. The day-to-day interactions with work colleagues and customers via live conversations, emails, shared experiences, and at events all strongly influence how we work, and what we achieve. We like to think we make all our own decisions, but at least 60% of the actions we take are highly or completely influenced by the people around us.

Individual Self: Our individual experiences, opinions, beliefs, knowledge and other filters through which we interpret the world. The stories we tell ourselves about the experiences we’ve had in the past hold the power to influence us in the present, which is why storytelling is such an effective influence method for employers. It can help employees to rewrite their personal stories in a way that helps to align their actions with the vision and mission of the business.

Each of these Contexts can be designed by an employer seeking to influence the experience employees have while at work. These experiences in turn affect the actions we take, the habits we form, and the way we feel about where we work.

Creating new habits by design

Understanding that designing Contexts is the most effective approach to establishing new habits still does not explain HOW to proceed.

To guide our thinking, we need to ask: What does it take to create a new habit? Or rather, is there a formula for creating new habits?

It turns out there is. Contexts influence us by creating forces that nudge us towards or away from certain actions. Just like the Contexts, there are four forces that influence habit creation.

Two forces that help us adopt a new habit are Compulsion and Capability. Compulsion is the urge to do something and it is a stronger feeling that mere motivation. For example, simply being motivated, or desiring something (like losing weight) never gets the job done. It’s the actions we take that make the difference, therefore we need to be compelled into action.

However, without the Confidence that we can succeed, we’re unlikely to take the first step and without Competence (knowledge and skills) we’re likely to fail even if we are confident. Competence and Confidence together make up Capability and, combined with Compulsion, help us to take new actions and adopt new habits.

Of course, life gets in the way sometimes. We run out of time, we get distracted, or we are derailed by last minute requests or family emergencies. These life events represent the two forces acting against us, either as static impediments to change (Barriers) or as active antagonists that draw us away from the actions to which we’re committed (Temptation).

The formula for new habit creation

The formula for creating habits says that if we’re Compelled and Competent enough to overcome Barriers and to resist Temptation, we’ll take new actions. If the forces stay in our favor over time, those actions will turn into habits. Thus, our habit change formula can be written as:

If (Compulsion + Capability) > (Barriers + Temptation) over time, new habits emerge.

The catch is that the formula needs to be true in ALL FOUR Contexts at the same time, and this explains why creating new habits can be such hard work.

We can use a series of Influence Methods, which are the many and varied ways in which an employer can ensure that the habit creation formula holds true, when designing all four Contexts. Applying these Influence Methods is the art and science of designing workplace Contexts and, when focused on the right habits, the well-spring of higher performance.

Achieving sustainable competitive advantage

In our Behavior Research Lab, BRATLAB, we’ve researched, discovered and applied over 80 distinct Influence Methods that not only support employees in practicing new habits of performance, but do so in a way that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support provided by their company and highly engaged with their work and their employer.

Going to work on employee habits is a strategy that will remain hidden from competitors, but one that is massively powerful in producing results.

Employers that wish not only to future-proof their businesses, but to create a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage, must learn the value of designing Contexts, and the many ways in which the array of Influence Methods can be integrated into those Contexts to ensure that employees perform at their best, and love working where they do.

This is how, at Habits at Work, we’re reinventing the world of work so employees thrive and companies flourish.

Professional speaker and founder of Habits at Work and BRATLAB, Andrew Sykes will talk about How to become a High-Performance Employer.

During Andrew’s webinar he will:

  • Explore why employee habits are the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage and why they’re often overlooked by leaders and managers.
  • Share research from the Behavioral Research Applied Technology Laboratory (BRATLAB) on which habits really matter, and how to design a business that makes it easy and natural for employees to sustain high performance over time.
  • Tell stories about the work of Habits at Work helping employers from a variety of industries to put their money where their mouth is when they say “People are our most important asset.”The stories of challenge and failure serve as cautionary tales of what not to do. The stories of success provide guidance on why design thinking is the key to future-proofing your business from competition and the pathway to becoming a high-performance employer.

Andrew’s webinar represents a brief summary of his upcoming book: Habits at Work: How to Create a High-Performance Employer, due for publication Fall 2017.

The webinar will cover a lot of ground in a fast-paced, lively and entertaining 1-hour session. Prepare to learn a lot, leave with food for thought and a new view on the future of the world of work.

https://www.achievers.com/blog/2017/02/designing-high-performance-work-environment/

 

 

About Andrew Sykes
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? We frequently resist it, yet progress is impossible without it. In fact, we can’t really move through life without it. The desired approach for most of us is to experience change in small, bite-size chunks. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc on us when there’s too much at once and we’re not prepared for it.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with the process of change? How can we best position ourselves to lead and at the same time guide employees to think more rationally about change? After all, employee resistance is one of the leading causes for the failure of change initiatives (Bovey & Hede, 2001b; Waldersee & Griffiths, 1996). According to Cynthia Wittig, “Such findings indicate that change agents focusing on employee reactions—including resistance and acceptance—during organizational change is of utmost importance to the success of the initiative.”

How do we help eliminate the resistance? Where should your change-agent-leaders focus their efforts? Start with these three tips.

1) Address the emotions first by answering the hard questions upfront, including addressing, why?

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion.  Acknowledge what employees may be feeling. You don’t necessarily have to answer for it, but you can acknowledge it and lead from the front by demonstrating authenticity and optimism in response. Acknowledging and naming the feelings helps create distance between a person and a situation. It creates a moment of objectivity. Instead of, “I am afraid,” they can at last get to, “I feel afraid about what Mr. Jones shared during town hall and how it might affect my department.” It also helps those of us who may have a hard time defining how we’re feeling, to make sense of why our hearts start racing, or we get sweaty palms, or feel unsettled in response to certain news.  If you have a tough change coming up – call it what it is and help employees understand why the organization needs to head in that particular direction. Our brains don’t like incomplete stories and in the absence of information, we can come to all sorts of crazy conclusions. These concocted conclusions can spin FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out of control into a danger tornado that is likely to pick up your change initiative and spit it out in the Land of Oz.

2) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Oh, did I mention? Communicate.

The amount and quality of information that is communicated to employees can influence how those employees will react (Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Running today’s ever-evolving organizations takes a lot of heavy lifting. It requires people-leaders and executives to be clear on the changes that are occurring and why those changes are taking place. AND it requires intentional multi-touch communications about said changes with all employees. Cynthia Witting shares, “There are several communication processes that impact employees’ reactions, including frequency, mode, content, and flow of communication. Gray and Laidlaw (2002) argued that the more embedded these processes are within management, the more effective the outcomes are because they enhance the quality of working relationships, harmony, and trust.” Sending out 1-2 emails about a change really isn’t enough. Ideally, there is a real-time, always-on, cross-functional, organization-wide conversation about these topics so that everyone can weigh-in equally and ask questions with transparency and without fear. This method should also provide communication scalability. In the absence of such a system, there needs to be on-going fireside chats or other means for employees to submit questions and expect real, authentic answers.

3) Employee participation in decision making.

According to an Aon Hewitt research study, the number one driver of employee engagement during times of change is the ability to be involved in decision making.  However, you might be thinking – if I ask them what they want or what their thoughts are, am I opening a proverbial can of worms? The reality is yes, initially it will require more work, but the outcomes of increased success and higher engagement are well worth the trouble. In fact, there’s a whole body of research available with a documented approach to making wide-spread change while engaging the whole team. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. As opposed to the typical deficit-based mindset where everything is a problem to solve, the approach focuses on inquiries into the organization based upon what is working and what we want to do more of so that the team naturally moves in that direction. When folks have a voice – they feel heard and acknowledged. This is fundamental to creating and maintaining highly engaged employees. Particularly, in times of change.

The ongoing need for change presents a tricky situation when it comes to employee engagement. While leading organizational change, you must be able to rally the troops’ ongoing support and understanding. Too much top down change at once can result in disengaged employees, which equates to a loss in productivity. When your next major change happens across your organization, consider my top three tips to help eliminate resistance and gain support.

Perhaps Buckminster Fuller said it best. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

How has your organization effectively navigated change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About the Author
Leigh BurgerLeigh joined the Achievers Professional Services team in June 2014 She serves as a trusted advisor to HR executives, professionals and business partners for the Achievers Fortune 500 global brands in rolling out their Employee Engagement platform. She holds a Masters, Positive Organizational Development & Change from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as well as several relevant certifications. You can check out her full profile here.

 

 

Connect to the purpose of change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1)

When change sweeps through an organization, it often causes confusion, frustration, and fear. Even when dressed up with fancy words like “transformation” and “innovation,” employees know the end result is one thing: change.

One reason corporate change is uncomfortable is that it requires disconnecting. All change is, in disregard, disconnecting. Change forces us to let go of our old ways of being and our old measures of success.

To successfully navigate a changing workplace, studies show you must stay engaged. In my book The Successful Struggle, I examine several workplace studies on corporate transformation. The studies suggest that remaining engaged during corporate transformation is a key indicator of employee success and happiness.

In this 3-part blog series, I’ll share strategies for staying engaged in your changing workplace, so you can come out on top at the end of the transformation. All of these strategies involve connecting with something, to help fight the disconnection brought on by change.

The first strategy is to connect with the purpose of the change. Human beings are meaning-making machines: we are always asking “why?” We want to know why the change is happening, why it’s important, what it means for our future, and what the outcome might mean for us.

When change occurs in the workplace, however, getting the answers to those questions isn’t always easy. In one of my jobs as a director at a nonprofit organization, we had lost some employees and were shifting around responsibilities. Some departments were taking on new roles, and I was given control of a new income stream. No one told me if the new responsibilities were permanent or temporary, or even trained me on how to accomplish them. I didn’t know what was expected of me, or even why the tasks had shifted in the first place. This left me feeling disconnected from my purpose and challenged my ability to give my new duties proper meaning.

Leaders sometimes discuss the “why” of change around the management table, yet by the time they roll out the change to everyone else, they’ve moved on to talking about “when” and “how.” But for those of us just hearing about the change for the first time, we need to hear the “why” or we’ll never get on board. We won’t understand the purpose of the change, or what the payoff might be.

If you’re stuck in a corporate change and don’t understand the purpose behind the change, you’re bound to feel disconnected. To connect to the purpose of change, try these three things:

  1. Start a Dialogue about the Future. At a staff meeting, ask the leadership team about what the change means. To keep things positive and productive, frame your questions around the company’s future and how the change impacts the future outlook. Asking smart questions and staying positively engaged in the change will make you shine in your manager’s eyes.
  2. List your Opportunities. This change likely brings with it the possibility of growth for you, personally, and not just growth for your company. As you begin to understand where the company is headed in the future, write down ways the change can open up new doors for you.
  3. Make Change Less Personal. Because change is disconnecting, it can sometimes feel like it’s a personal affront to us. But letting the voice in your head tell you that change is personal keeps you from adapting gracefully. Change is bigger than you, so don’t let your mind dwell on how much you’re personally suffering.

Using these three strategies helps you understand the potential payoff of the change, and get behind it. When you reframe change as a challenge with a purpose, you’ll have a much easier time coming out on top!

Check out the second piece of my three-part series on staying engaged during corporate change here.

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyLClark.com

 

Most Valuable Work Habits

Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

In our previous blog, we explored how a company’s destiny is intimately linked to the Pivotal and Work Habits that its employees practice.

Employers have traditionally been inattentive to the design of employee habits, focusing instead on results produced. While this is a reasonable approach, employers have missed the opportunity to create environments that makes it easy for employees to practice both Pivotal and Work habits, which provide a difficult-to-see (and therefore difficult-to-copy) competitive advantage.

Pivotal Habits are the sets of health, happiness and financial security behaviors that prepare us to perform. They are the largest untapped source of increased human performance at work.

Practicing Pivotal Habits maximizes the probability that we show up to work each day full of energy, mental clarity and focus. If these habits are well supported by employers, they leave employees highly engaged with their work and their customers, and inspired to make a difference.

Practicing Pivotal Habits creates performance improvements in all people, irrespective of their roles in the business.

BRATLAB Habit Prescriptions: Which habits matter?

In our research at BRATLAB, we have found 9 collections of Pivotal Habits that consistently produce superior performance results.

Pivotal Habit Collections

Health

Move (exercise, stand and move more)

Nourish (eat for optimal performance, remove toxins like tobacco, moderate consumption of risky substances like caffeine and sugar, supplement as required)

Restore (sleep 7-9 hours, limit device usage, manage stress and adhere to drug regimens whenever required)

Happiness

Savor (savor positive experiences, practice optimism, express gratitude)

Focus (create positive relationships, perform acts of kindness and generosity, practice mindfulness)

Foster (use character strengths, show self-compassion, live purposefully)

Financial Security

Protect (purchase sufficient insurance, protect against identity theft and fraud)

Manage (learn and apply money management skills, reduce debt, create a budget and track spending regularly)

Save (save for retirement, create a short-term savings plan)

You’re probably not surprised by most of the items on this list, however the crucial details of the most effective version or prescription for each Pivotal Habit varies based on the outcomes we desire.

For example, if you’re interested in achieving improved cognitive function, then the current research says the detailed Move Prescription for producing that outcome is to do six minutes of high intensity exercise (like jumping jacks, burpees, high knees and a variety of other exercises that get your heart rate pumping) just before you need your brain to work best, and the effect lasts for the next two hours.

Alternatively, if the outcome you desire is reduced healthcare costs as an employer, then the detailed Move Prescription is doing medium intensity cardiovascular training, mixed with weight training, four to five times per week for 30 minutes at a time.

The devil is in the detail and the details matter to the kind of performance gains employers will see.

For most people and companies, the outcomes we want are “all of the above” and so we have to very carefully design the “lowest common denominator” versions of each Habit Prescription.

This is the work we do at Habits at Work, helping each employer find the Pivotal Habit Prescriptions that optimize employee performance AND that are a fit for those people and that company.

Which Work Habits matter most?

Pivotal Habits prepare every human being to perform better in their roles in life and at work. But this habits thinking extends to the details of our actual jobs as well.

We can ask, “Which behaviors, practiced again and again, will result in us performing our roles optimally, achieving the best possible outcomes in that role and for the customers and businesses we serve?,”

In the previous blog we labeled these our Work Habits and showed how they, together with Pivotal Habits, are the fundamental building blocks of corporate competitive advantage.

Unlike Pivotal Habits, these Work Habits are unique to every distinct role in a company. Defining what these habits are for each role should be a fundamental act of job design.

For salespeople, high performing Work Habits include making cold calls, holding effective sales meeting, making compelling presentations, sending thank you notes, updating sales management software, sending quality proposals, asking for the deal and ensuring contracts get signed.

For accountants, effective Work Habits include balancing the company accounts each month, issuing invoices, collecting outstanding money, paying creditors, producing monthly financial statements and answering emails only in the morning and late afternoon (to ensure uninterrupted times of focus during the day). A very different set of habits than those prescribed for effective selling.

Why do the details of Pivotal AND Work Habits matter?

Simply knowing that you should exercise every day is almost trite and somewhat useless. But knowing that the OPTIMAL type of exercise for performance in your role is short bouts of high intensity exercise, done at your desk regularly throughout the day, consuming even less time than you’d normally spend at the gym and requiring no special clothes, time off, or special facilities, makes a world of difference to:

  • the actual outcomes you get, and
  • your chances of practicing the habit at all.

The art of ensuring that people do what makes a difference to their performance, starts by designing “Habit Prescriptions” that are clear to understand, that are optimized to increase performance (based on research), and that are easy to fit into their already busy lives.

At Habits at Work, we help employers to define these Pivotal and Work Habits, and to optimize them both for ease of completion by employees as well as for their performance impact.

Now, with these insights in mind, let’s define the “design problem” for employers who wish to become High Performance Employers:

How do you effectively design your workplace to make it easy, natural and enjoyable for employees to practice their Pivotal and Work Habits, in a way that not only has them perform optimally, but that leaves them thrilled with the experience, grateful for the support and highly engaged with us as an employer?

That’s the question we’ll answer in the last of this series of three blogs.

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About the Author
Andrew Sykes
For more information, contact Andrew Sykes at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

Trending HR Topics

Engage Blog: Top 10 HR Blogs of 2016

How fast time flies! Can you believe it’s already 2017? Every time a new year rolls around, I like to reflect on the previous year. For Achievers and the Engage Blog, 2016 was extremely eventful. For starters, Achievers’ Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 was a huge hit, with amazing keynote speakers, including famous journalist Joan Lunden and CNN commentator Mel Robbins. From the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala to a stellar lineup of speaking sessions, ACE 2016 brought together a Who’s Who of top performers and thought leaders in the HR and employee engagement space. If you weren’t able to make our biggest event of the year last year, no worries. We have the sizzle reel right here for you to watch! Stay tuned, registration for ACE 2017 in New Orleans opens in just a few short months.

Here on the Engage Blog, readers enjoyed a wide variety of HR topics in 2016. Trending topics ranged from employee turnover and talent management challenges to top company perks and thought leadership on the hot topic of employee engagement. To recap the hottest HR themes from last year, we’ve compiled our top 10 blogs of 2016. A must-read for HR pros – and employee-focused management of all stripes.

  1. 30 Fun, Fresh Ideas for Employee Appreciation Day – Or Week!
    Do you know when Employee Appreciation Day is? Officially, it’s the first Friday in March. But because we love employees so much, we celebrate them that whole week! Regardless of whether you celebrate it for a day or a week, it’s the perfect time to show your employees some love. To help you celebrate in style, we shared a list of fun ideas to help spread employee appreciation across your entire organization – including how to enhance wellness perks and boost employee recognition. Read more >
  1. 4 Ideas For Celebrating Employee Anniversaries
    Show your employees how much you value their work and dedication by celebrating employee anniversaries. By observing major milestones, you are demonstrating employee appreciation and encouraging employee recognition. Yearly work anniversaries are no longer limited to just a mug with a “Congrats on Your 1-Year!” sticker on it. Discover new and refreshing ideas for celebrating employee anniversaries. Read more >
  1. Top 5 Best Company Mission Statements
    Does your company mission statement resonate with you? Company mission statements are meant to align an organization’s employees to a clear, primary purpose. If your company mission statement lacks luster, your organization as a whole might suffer.  Find inspiration for your company mission statement by checking out our top five list. Read more >
  1. 3 Biggest Talent Management Challenges for 2016
    Did you know only 39 percent of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs? Why is this and what can you do about it? Sometimes employee dissatisfaction starts with management. It goes back to that famous saying, “Employees leave managers, not companies.” It’s a manager’s responsibility to help employees love their jobs. Discover three major talent management challenges and how to address each. Read more >
  1. 4 Signs An Employee Is About to Quit
    Employee retention is vital to maintaining company morale and reducing high turnover costs. It’s been estimated that employee attrition can cost six to nine months’ worth of a departing worker’s salary. Learn how to retain great talent by understanding why employees quit and monitoring for signs that they may be planning to leave. Read more >
  1. 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader
    Don’t settle for average leadership. Learn how to motivate your team and become an inspirational leader. Marci Peters, Achievers’ Director of Customer Service, shares insight from her 20+ year career in customer experience and reveals five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within. Read more >
  2.  Top 3 HR Trends for 2016
    What were the top three HR trends from 2016? At the start of 2016, we said it would be the increased use of data analysis, revamped performance management processes, and a shift in employee learning and development opportunities. Were we right? Rediscover the top HR trends we believed would carry forward into 2017. Read more >
  1. Characteristics of a Good Manager: What Can and Can’t Be Taught
    Good managers can make all the difference for a business and its employees. Can someone be taught to become a good manager, or is it something you’re born with? We share what we believe are some of the inherent qualities that contribute to making a great leader, along with characteristics that can be taught. Read more >
  1. The Best New Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016
    Engaged employees perform 20 percent better than others. Start boosting employee engagement with new approaches in the workplace, including gamification, weekly open “office hours” for employee feedback, and tools to empower brand ambassadors. Access our list of employee engagement ideas to help motivate employees to reach their highest potential. Read more >       
  1. Which Company Perks Attract the Best Talent?
    Who doesn’t like a list of the best company perks? Top notch benefits and perks can be an essential hiring tool and serve as your company’s competitive edge to stand out from the rest. From paid time off to wellness programs, we reveal which company perks attract the best talent. Read more >

As we enter the New Year, let’s remember that great customer experiences start with a great employee experience. And it shows up in the bottom line too! According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Start by focusing on employee happiness, and you’ll soon see a positive ripple effect across your entire business.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Stronger Business Results

Here at Achievers, we want to take this opportunity to say “Thank you!” to our readers. We appreciate you taking the time to read and share the articles we put a lot of thought and love into creating, and we look forward to bringing you more great HR content on the Engage Blog in 2017. Keep a lookout for new guest blogs from top HR influencers and powerful insights surrounding employee engagement, leadership, work culture, rewards and recognition, recruiting and hiring, employee retention, HR technology, and more. Cheers to 2017!

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About the Author
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media & Blog Manager for Achievers. She manages Achievers’ social media presence and The Engage Blog, including the editorial calendars for both. In addition to writing blog content for The Engage Blog, she also manages and maintains relationships with 25+ guest blog contributors. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

The Role of Work Habits

Employee Habits Are Your Company’s Destiny

High-performance employers enjoy higher than industry average levels of productivity per employee. Measures of this success include revenue generated per head, return on capital employed, speed to market with new products and customer delight. These measures point to what a business and CEO get by BEING a high-performance employer, but they don’t explain what it takes to BECOME one.

The Role of Pivotal Habits

An underappreciated source of employee performance is their health, happiness and financial security – what we collectively describe as thriving.

Many people think that health is a matter of luck or good genes more than lifestyle, that happiness is a right or is related to how many things or experiences they have and that financial security depends almost entirely on how well they are paid.

The reality is quite different: the largest part (well over 50%) of our health, happiness and security is achieved by practicing a relatively small set of habits.

But how does employee health, happiness and security drive employee and company performance?

When employees thrive in life and at work, they can focus their time, minds and energy on building new products, being innovative and agile in their approach, and working with greater clarity and stamina (not necessarily longer hours, but “fuller” hours).

If you’re the kind of employer that supports employees in achieving their most important life goals, your reward is their loyalty, engagement and commitment. This is what shines through when they do their jobs and delight your customers, driving higher growth and return on capital employed. In turn, this creates new opportunities for their career growth, which is an important driver of employee happiness, especially for a younger workforce. This is truly a virtuous cycle that, once turning, plays a role in the enormous success of some of the world’s highest performing employers.

Do employees view thriving as their most important life goal?

It may sound presumptuous for an employer to claim that they understand what it means for each employee to thrive at work, let alone in life. Yet, when we’ve asked thousands of employees the simple question “what does success look like for you and what do you want for your life?,” they universally give answers that fall into the three broadly-defined buckets of health, happiness and security.

The habits that create health, happiness and security are so important in preparing us to perform and sustaining our performance over time that we call them the “Pivotal Habits.”

The Role of Work Habits

Then, there are habits that make up work. They are unique to each person or at least to their role. We prefer to think of our roles in terms of outcomes, but the quality of our performance is really a matter of doing the same or similar things, really well, over and over again. We can, therefore, think about each person’s job as a collection of habits, and we can think of the purpose of our job as a set of outcomes to be achieved by practicing those habits.

We call these habits our “Work Habits.”

Pivotal Habits PREPARE US TO PERFORM by giving us the mental clarity, focus, energy and stamina, and removing stress, financial concerns and health challenges. They allow us to perform our Work Habits with high fidelity, quality and consistency.

Together, they ensure we achieve the outcomes our roles ask of us and more. The beauty of focusing on both types of habits is that we drive higher performance for our companies in a way that leaves employees more engaged. This is what delivers the competitive advantage for high performance employers.

But wait, surely competitive advantage comes from something other than employee habits?

What about strategy, execution, new products, corporate agility, innovation, market timing, and a long list of candidates for the “IT” factor that explains high performance?

Searching online for “corporate competitive advantage” produces nearly four million hits and there are shelves of books and a wealth of high quality research in favor of the importance of strategy (e.g. Porter), capital funding, execution (e.g. Bossidy and Charan), culture (e.g. Drucker), visionary leadership and competent managers as drivers of competitive advantage.

Although each of these factors is important, on closer examination it becomes clear that there is a fundamental or atomic view of what each of these drivers has in common.

The building blocks of developing an effective company strategy are a set of Work Habits for those in strategic development roles. Execution is clearly about the whole workforce doing what they need to do, consistently over time (Work Habits).

Well-funded startups are routinely outperformed by two people in a garage, absent funding but with just the right Work Habits to produce the next big thing. Great leaders are not born; they spend each day doing pretty much the same things: telling stories to people to inspire them to build their vision (storytelling as a Work Habit) and great managers have their own set of high-performance Work Habits.

Therefore, the future of your company, and whether it will be a high performing business or not, depends entirely on the effectiveness of the different Work Habits practiced by your employees (as well as the Pivotal Habits that prepare them for sustained action).

Again, the fundamental unit of corporate competitive advantage is the habits practiced by your employees.

In fact, so strong is the link that we say, for employees and for your company, HABITS ARE YOUR DESTINY.

What makes high performance companies different?

High performance employers recognize the link between employee Pivotal and Work Habits and performance at work. They design their workplaces (the physical space, business processes, social networks and how they tell stories about their business to employees) in such a way that it becomes easy and natural for employees to practice these important habits. Pivotal and Work Habits are like the motor that turns the wheel of corporate performance.

Wheel of Corporate Performance

Why should CEOs care?

Most CEOs and other business leaders miss that:

  • Employee health, happiness and security are strong, yet underappreciated drivers of performance. At our Behavioral Research Laboratory (BRATLAB), we’ve spent the last decade researching just how strongly Pivotal Habits drive performance. Bottom line: Their impact is significant, perhaps greater than any other opportunity for improving employee productivity available to business managers today.
  • It is employee habits (both Pivotal and Work Habits) that are the fundamental unit of competitive advantage for companies, and becoming a master at designing for these habits will provide you with a difficult-to-copy, sustainable competitive advantage. Difficult to copy because few other CEOs recognize the fundamental role of habits, and sustainable because employees will thrive, rather than burn out.

This leaves two big questions: exactly which habits matter most to performance (both Pivotal and Work Habits) and how do we design our companies to make it easy and natural for employees to practice these habits?

These questions will be answered in my next two guest blogs. Check out my second guest blog: Which Habits Drive Superior Employee Performance?

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About the Author

Andrew SykesFor more information contact Andrew Sykes at Andrew@habitsatwork.com or read more online at www.habitsatwork.com or www.BRATLAB.com

 

 

 

 

Reasons to welcome the millennial influence

The Demands of Millennials Make Our Workplaces Better

For all the complaining about Millennials and their approach to the modern workplace, they are actually responsible for much of the change happening in the modern workforce. Their entry into the workforce, was accompanied by a slew of stereotypes, followed recently by a round of myth-busting, with statistics and all, aimed at debunking those stereotypes. As an “ancient Millennial” myself (a term I borrow from journalist Jessica Grose), I can attest that at least some of the stereotypes come from kernels of truth, but like most stereotypes , they must be taken with a grain of salt. More importantly, many of the changes Millennials bring to the workplace are actually good for everyone. Change is always hard, so it’s natural to initially oppose or question the forces of change. However, most of the changes that Millennials have brought about have actually made for a better workplace.

The influence of the Millennial generation is not to be underestimated, if for no other reason than its size. According to a recent report from SHRM, (“Millennials: Misunderstood in the workplace?”) as  Baby Boomers exit the workforce, an even greater number of Millennials will continue to enter the workforce to take their place. In fact, it is estimated that Millennial workers (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than  half of the workforce by 2020. And, according to Pew, they already make up the largest overall share of workforce, having surpassed Gen X’ers in 2015. With those facts established, here are four reasons to welcome the Millennial influence:

Generalization #1: They need constant feedback: Millennials grew up in a feedback culture. Some say that Millennials are obsessed with getting positive feedback (you’ve likely heard of the “trophy generation”, but put simply, it is the belief that we are doing our youth a disservice by lauding them for mere participation rather than awarding success.). But even if that’s true, it likely contributed to an encouraging new trend – the phasing out of annual performance reviews. An annual performance review simply doesn’t tell us enough in today’s fast-paced business culture. If HR hears a complaint about an employee but their 8-month old performance review shows high marks, that documentation does little to advise any action. In 2017, we will likely see employers implement more regular feedback conversations along with frequent “pulse” surveys to help identify and address employee concerns in a more timely, actionable fashion.

When employers engage employees in regular, smaller-scale conversations, both management and employees are better equipped to deal with issues as they come up. This in turn helps employees to feel more engaged because they know their suggestions and concerns are being listened to. Furthermore, by combining these mini performance management conversations with real-time feedback tools for employees, management can help facilitate a culture of transparency in which both positive and negative business outcomes can be celebrated or addressed openly.

Generalization #2: They demand more work life balance: One of my favorite Millennial trends is that men are beginning to demand more time with their families. They ask for paternity leave more than their fathers did, for example. And because married Millennials overwhelmingly co-lead a dual-income household, they can’t buy into the 80-hour work week like their fathers did before them. As a recent article in The New York Times put it: “Millennial men—ages 18 to early 30s—have much more egalitarian attitudes about family, career and gender roles inside marriage than generations before them, according to a variety of research by social scientists. Yet… workplace policies have not caught up to changing expectations at home.”

Likewise, a Department of Labor report also highlighted the growing importance of paternity leave as men consider whether to accept a job, noting: “Paid paternity leave may be a key workplace benefit for retaining high-skilled workers. In a 2014 study of highly educated professional fathers in the U.S., nine of out ten reported that it would be important when looking for a new job that the employer offered paid parental leave, and six out of ten considered it very or extremely important. These numbers were even higher for millennial workers.”

Millennials came of age watching their parents work long hours and aren’t convinced it translates to a happier existence, or even a fatter nest-egg for themselves. With this in mind, employers would be wise to encourage work-life balance in the name of productivity and worker satisfaction. Even the U.S. Commissioner of Labor Statistics agrees that hours with your butt in a seat does not equate to more productivity, “Only if we increase our efficiency—by producing more goods and services without increasing the number of hours we work—can we be sure to increase our standard of living.”

Generalization #3: They need hand-holding. It’s true that most managers don’t have time for hand-holding. However, research published in the Journal of Workplace Learning shows that companies who have a “culture of learning” rely not just on managers to disseminate information. Not only does their training help them perform their job functions better, but employees who are able to embrace learning and growth opportunities also feel more valued and engaged, doubling the value for the company. Learning can happen anytime, often facilitated by a co-worker (“Contextual factors influencing the facilitation of others’ learning through everyday work experiences” by Andrea D. Ellinger Maria Cseh), so managers don’t have to feel the exclusive burden of teaching their staff everything.

Generalization #4: They feel entitled to career advancement: Climbing the corporate ladder just isn’t as important to Millennials as it was to their parents (see Generalization #2: they value more work-life balance.) When they see their managers put in long hours at the cost of their personal lives, it doesn’t look appealing. In addition, Millennials learned the difference between “management” and “leadership” before they even entered the workforce, and the 80 hour week management job that only serves to maintain the status quo is not their idea of having an impact. Millennials might feel entitled to advancement in a different sense. They want to keep learning and keep contributing. If other generations in the workplace adopted this sense of motivation, you might not see a scramble to fill the senior manager job, but you’d have leaders everywhere.

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About the Author
Anna PetersAnna Peters is Content Manager for College Recruiter. She manages all content, supervises a team of content writers and is part of College Recruiter’s senior management team. 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.

 

 

Who’s Your OGO?

A paradigm shift is happening in today’s workforce with the balance of power shifting from the employer to the employee. In response to this shifting playing field, employers are starting to register the power of recognition to boost engagement levels and increase productivity among their employees. But we still have a ways to go. According to a recent survey by KRC Research, workers say that an average of 50 days (nearly two months) pass between moments of recognition, while nearly 9 in 10 (87%) middle management employees feel unrecognized by their supervisors. 88% also feel unrecognized by their coworkers. With the shift to an employee-centric workplace, these recognition “droughts” should be a thing of the past. But although a greater emphasis on engagement and recognition has been underway for some time, it still feels as though we’re at the dawning of a new day.

As an Account Executive for an industry leader in the employee engagement space, getting to play a role in helping to bring about this shift is personally rewarding. But let me take a step back and tell you a little about how I ended up here and why the idea of recognition is so personally significant to me.

It’s Fall of 2009, and my soon to be wife, Anne, and I are sitting down for pre-marital counseling before we seal the deal (I know this is a Human Resources blog; but bear with me, I have a point, I promise). Something that has stuck with me since those counseling sessions, besides my wildly understanding, compassionate, and beautiful wife of seven years, is the topic of love languages. I had never given any thought as to what my “love language” might be until I was challenged to do so in those counseling sessions. Lo and behold, mine is “Words of Affirmation”. According to the assessment: Give me a little appreciation and recognition for a job well done and I’m good to go. How delightfully ironic (or perhaps not!) that I now work for a company whose mission it is to enable recognition and employee appreciation to happen anytime, anywhere in the world; and in so doing, change the way the world works.

Given my penchant for learning and a desire to know as much about the field of employee recognition as possible, it’s no surprise I was drawn to a book titled O Great One!, A Little Story About the Awesome Power of Recognition. “O Great One,” or OGO for short, was a nickname coined by the book’s author, David Novak, who: “Thought being called Grandpa, Poppy (or any similar title by his grandchildren) made him feel old before his time. Taking a cue from his father-in-law ‘Great Jack,’ he decreed his grandchildren should address him by his new moniker “O Great One” or “OGO” for short.” O Great One! (http://www.ogothebook.com/) is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit.

In the book, Mr. Novak tells how his interest in the idea of recognition grew from a personal experience of his – specifically, a birthday. On this particular birthday, his family gave him a gift in the form of a jar filled with strips of paper with moments of appreciation and expressions of love inscribed on them. This act had such a powerful effect on Novak that it provided the impetus for him to start a movement to attack “the global recognition deficit” – and to write a book, OGO, about the awesome power of recognition.

The importance of timely, frequent recognition is further emphasized within OGO as Novak recounts the experience of “Jeff,” who recognized a problem within his grandfather’s company after taking over as CEO.  The problem was a critical lack of employee recognition. With a few reluctant leaders on his team and skeptical board members, Jeff embarked on a mission to change the way his company works.

Being the former CEO of YUM! Brands (you know… KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut), Mr. Novak has a ton a of experience with employee recognition and the importance of making employees feel valued for their work. In leadership roles for many years, he witnessed first hand the tremendous success that comes with aligning employees to company values and business goals. Syntehsizing all of this experience into actionable insights, Novak lays out 10 guiding principles of recognition for employers and individuals alike:

  1. People won’t care about you if you don’t care about them
    You need to show people you care about them before you can expect anything from them.
  1. The best way to show people you care is to listen to them
    We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to remember that there’s always someone who knows something we don’t.
  1. A great idea can come from anywhere
    Great ideas are essential to a company’s success, so view everyone as a potential source of inspiration.
  1. Recognize great work and great ideas whenever and wherever you see them
    It is the visibility and velocity of recognition that drives engagement results.
  1. Make recognition a catalyst for results
    What gets recognized gets repeated. Tie recognition to company goals and values.
  1. Make it fun
    Make the recognition moments fun and enjoyable. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously!
  1. Make it personal
    Recognition should be meaningful and should resonate on a personal level.
  1. Recognition is universal
    The power of recognition does not discriminate, and all of us, no matter who we are, love to be recognized and should feel included.
  1. Giving recognition is a privilege
    And the act of giving recognition is its own reward.
  1. Say thank you every chance you get
    Saying “thank you” is free, so let’s start saying it lot more.

This book is about the awesome power of recognition and how we can all play a part in attacking the world’s recognition deficit. It feels great to be recognized and to give recognition. If more organizations focused their efforts on fostering cultures of recognition, both employees and employers stand to benefit in the form of incrased engagement, reduced attrition, and improved customer satisfaction. What I’ve realized after reading this book and working with Achievers and its customers, is that we truly can change the way the world works, one OGO at a time.

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About the Author
Chris Jacobsen
Chris Jacobsen’s passion for sales and HR software began in Southern California where he worked with ADP. He and his wife of seven years moved to Montreal in 2010 and now reside in New York’s Hudson Valley with their 5 yr old daughter and 3 yr old son. Having worked in large and small corporations Chris is keenly aware of the power of recognition and showing appreciation for great work. Outside of helping organizations reimagine how they recognize their employees, Chris enjoys cooking, building couch forts with his kids, and running. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.

 

Desire for Social Recognition

Why Employees Love Social Recognition

A business isn’t anything without its employees. So in order for your business to be successful in the long term, you have to ensure your employees are consistently performing at their best. How do you do that? By focusing on employee engagement. According to Gallup, “Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202 percent.”

But how can you move the needle on employee engagement? One of the best and most effective ways is through employee recognition programs. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Achievers, 44% of employees cited lack of recognition and engagement at their current employer as their reason to switch jobs in 2018, and 69% stated recognition and reward as a motivating factor to stay. Social recognition, in particular, is a fun and easy way to quickly show employee appreciation and boost employee engagement.

More recognitions = higher employee engagement

Employees experience an increase in job satisfaction from rewards and recognition, and it’s important they come from peers as well as supervisors. As noted in our recently published eBook, The Case for Employee Recognition, 71% of employees rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and 72% rank recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. Furthermore, the report shows there is a negative correlation between the effectiveness of a recognition program and employee turnover rates – meaning employee recognition not only boosts employee engagement but reduces turnover rates as well.

Rewards and recognition create a positive workplace culture

A recent SHRM study noted that employees consider “culture and connection” to be a major contributing factor to employee job satisfaction. In recent years it has become widely accepted that implementing a robust rewards and recognition program is one of the top means of fostering a positive workplace culture, and one that promotes mutual respect and employee appreciation. In fact, a 2015 Cornell University research review noted that, “41 percent of the variation in employee engagement is attributable to the strength of recognition an employee receives,” and that 42 percent of companies with recognition programs include a social peer-to-peer component. In the conclusion of the study, the author states: “Recognition programs are becoming powerful avenues for exerting positive change in the workplace. What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement and a host of other factors that impact the bottom line, when properly executed. By making the programs strategic, leveraging peer-to-peer recognition, and garnering top executive buy-in, companies can maximize their return on investment on these programs.”

Social media is second nature

By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce, and they are accustomed to spending a big chunk of their time on social media. Giving and receiving positive reinforcement by way of social recognition is fun and natural to them. Social recognitions are not viewed as tasks or something they need to check off the “to-do” list, but an instinctive way to communicate with their peers and to showcase each other’s accomplishments. Social recognition has become an invaluable piece of the puzzle when it comes to initiating and sustaining an effective rewards and recognition program.

With 70 percent of U.S. workers not engaged at work, it is imperative for businesses to focus on employee engagement; and kicking off an employee recognition program is the logical first step. Through recognition, employees will feel more appreciated and, in return, be more productive. 77 percent of employees even stated they would work harder if they felt better recognized. As the Cornell report states, “What was once a nice-to-have practice is becoming a driver for improving employee engagement.”

To learn more about how your human resources department can establish a successful employee recognition program, download our employee recognition eBook.

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New Hires Engaged Employees

Turning New Hires into Engaged Employees – 3 Quick Tips for Success

Studies on turnover estimate that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For an employee making $40,000 a year, that’s $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses. Providing a competitive compensation and benefits package is important, but in today’s market, retention also requires making new hires feel engaged, aligned and connected from Day 1.

With this in mind, we offer three quick tips to think about when bringing people onboard your organization.

1. Promote affiliation with people from the start

SHRM shared the reasons new hires leave so soon included the expected, like lacking in clear guidelines on responsibilities and wanting better training, as well as some less intuitive factors. For instance, 17% said a friendly smile or a helpful co-worker would have made the difference between staying and going, and 12% wanted to be “recognized for their unique contributions.” Employees today, especially millennials, like to connect and collaborate, and that is especially true of millennials, yet the Aberdeen Group found that only 32% of organizations provide opportunities for peer networking. This represents a clear missed opportunity and one that can be easily remedied with a mentoring or “buddy” program.

Conclusion: Providing early opportunities for peer networking and social recognition are critical to retention.

2. Look beyond money to drive desired behaviors

According to a frequently cited Kepner Tregoe study, 40% of employees felt that that increased salaries and financial rewards were ineffective in reducing turnover. Employee behaviors today are driven less by financial incentive and more by aligning their personal values with company goals in order to endow their work with a greater sense of meaning. Meeting these seemingly less-tangible needs can be accomplished through a formal recognition and rewards program, along with frequent manager feedback and opportunities to connect with new team members.

Conclusion: Aligning employees’ personal values with company goals through recognition programs and frequent feedback is more likely to drive successful behavior.

3. Develop an onboarding system that engages quickly

Do you think of employee recognition as something only for employees who have been with the company for some time? More and more leading organizations are realizing that optimizing the workplace for employee retention requires integrating new employees into their recognition programs right from the start. By encouraging participation in an organization’s recognition program from the outset, employers can insure that new hires embrace and contribute to the company’s culture of recognition. To do this, employers can build training on the company’s rewards and recognition platform into employee onboarding programs and by not waiting until the employee has been with the company for an extended period before recognizing desired behaviors.

Ideas for early recognitions include recognizing new hires for how quickly they get up to speed on their new job responsibilities, how well they are connecting with their new co-workers, or how frequently they participate in culture-building activities. In order to reinforce a culture of recognition and achieve ongoing employee engagement as a result, recognitions should be frequent, meaningful and tied to company values. In fact, Gallup recommends at least every seven days.

Conclusion: Engage employees and integrate them into the company’s culture of recognition from day one through recognitions given early and often.

New hires are more likely to decide to stay with your organization when they feel appreciated and welcomed by their peers. Millennials especially, projected to make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, embrace peer networking and social recognition. Setting up new hires for success through early participation in a company’s culture of recognition is good for employees and good for the organization.

Learn how to build a culture of recognition by downloading our eBook: Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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Emotion and Employee Engagement

Intention vs. Action: Love Human Beings Not Human Doings

We judge ourselves based on our good intentions, and we judge others based on their actions. The holiday season is full of good intentions – but also many emotional pitfalls and opportunities to feel let down, put down, or shut down. We feel more pressure to be positive and present with family and friends, on top of accomplishing everything else on our normal end-of-year ‘To Do’ list.

So what gets in the way of us fulfilling our good intentions? Most of the time, it’s our emotions. According to research by Dr. Rachel Jack with Glasgow University there are four driving emotions that impact our ability to have the desired outcome we want. These four emotions are: fear, anger, happiness, and sadness. The challenge is that three out of four of these are negative. So how do we overcome negative emotions in order to achieve the positive outcome or results we desire?

In thinking about this question I was reminded of a client who was preparing for an important customer pitch. He had spent two weeks researching and putting together the best proposal possible with his team. But ten minutes before going into the meeting with his client, he received an email from his manager stating that one of his peers had been fired. He immediately wished he hadn’t read the email before his presentation because it caught him by surprise and left him with mixed emotions. He couldn’t understand why his peer was being let go and it led him to think negative thoughts: “Am I next?” “Why didn’t I see this coming?” “Should I be looking for another job?” Because of this negative emotional response he felt like he had been completely derailed.

But despite the shock he was in, he still had a presentation to give. When he walked into his client meeting he found he couldn’t focus – his energy was low and he couldn’t stop thinking about why his peer had been fired. Midway through the presentation he realized that his emotions were taking over his ability to deliver to the client. So much so that his other team members noticed something was off and began to wonder what had happened to him.

After the meeting was over, he felt the presentation had gone well enough, but was not as great as it could have. He wished he had the chance to re-do the presentation the way he envisioned. The meeting still went well and he was able to make the best of it, but his client and team members had no idea why he was distracted. They were judging him on his actions and how he was presenting himself in the moment – they didn’t know the emotional cause of his uncharacteristic performance.

This type of situation can, and does, happen to all of us. We are cruising along, focused on the day-to-day, when something unexpected happens that instantly derails us – whether it’s a co-worker saying something negative, or reading a difficult email. During these tough moments, it’s important that we bring ourselves back to present-moment thinking.

How do you bring yourself back to present-moment thinking? Start with asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does this feeling need to impact my actions, communication, and relationships right now?
  • Can I separate my thoughts and feelings from one another?
  • Can I take a few deep breathes to engage in the present moment and not be overtaken by what could be?

By asking yourself these questions calmly, you can slowly bring yourself back to present-moment thinking and overcome negative emotions.

The key Emotional Intelligence (EI) tool is to remember we are hardwired as human beings to feel before we think for our human survival, but this does not always serve us in our day-to-day living. Can you move away from the negative self-talk and feelings in order to achieve the results and have the impact you desire? Breathe. Ask yourself a few questions. And then get back to delivering on the good intentions you had set out to achieve that day. Most importantly, when you are interacting with friends and family this holiday season and you feel let down, remember to love human beings and not human doings. You can be pretty confident their intentions were worthy, it may just have been that their emotions got the better of them.

Want to learn more about EI? Check out our blog post How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Drive Employee Engagement.

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About the Author

Bobi Seredich HeadshotBobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Measuring Employee Performance

5 Performance Measurement Myths

The question of how to measure employee performance represents one of the last vestiges of old-school HR methodology. Today’s workforce is digitally transformed, highly social and mobile, made up of multiple generations, and collaborating across virtual and global locations. There has been a profound shift in the workforce away from hierarchical, top-down organizations towards teams and collaboration, where having a culture of recognition can drive engagement and results far more effectively than infrequent reviews handed down from on high by management.

We all want the best hires and to lure the top talent. But once on board, they’re part of the organization, and now making sure that they’re fully engaged becomes the challenge. But how do we know if they are working up to their potential? Old-school approaches to performance management, which view a single employee outside of the context of today’s team-based, networked workplace, no longer ring true. Indeed some would argue that many of these approaches were myths to begin with – and I’d have to agree.

Here are five assumptions about measuring employee performance that need to be retired:

Myth #1 – Individuals should be judged solely on their own performance.

The idea that we perform as an island may apply to an isolated few, but it doesn’t fit the majority of workplaces — either today or yesterday. The investment made in working out how to evaluate individuals may be better spent evaluating the quality of their team or business unit’s output. What targets have been hit? What goals have been reached?

Perhaps we should be evaluating employees not only on their performance, but on their level of engagement and on their ability to thrive in team-based environment. Highly engaged employees are more likely to give the kind of discretionary effort that all bosses are looking for, and that have a tangible effect on a company’s bottom line. In fact, Aon Hewitt has reported that for every incremental one-point increase in employee engagement organizations saw a 0.6% increase in sales. For a company with sales of $100 million, this translates to a $6 million windfall! And in companies with the most engaged employees, revenue growth was 2.5 times greater than competitors with lower levels of engagement.

Myth #2 – Good employees just do the job, they don’t need a reason or added meaning.

Is the better employee really the one that doesn’t need to understand how their work aligns with company’s mission and values? Performance stems from engagement. And being engaged stems, in large part, from feeling aligned to — and invested in — the company purpose. Motivation and meaning go hand in hand.

Even if a task is performed well, accomplishing it inside a vacuum is going to create a gap somewhere along the line. Employees deserve to know why they’re there. They’ll participate more fully, and are more likely to push to reach targets and goals if they are invested in the rationale behind the effort.

Myth #3 – An employee that’s good this year will be good next year.

When a team of researchers dove into six years of performance review data from a large U.S. corporation, they found that only a third of high-scoring employees scored as high in subsequent years. And they found no evidence that high-performing employees always perform highly, or that poor performing employees perform poorly. Today’s workforce is continually being met with innovations that require new learning and new skills, so what’s “good” today may not be an accurate measure of what’s desirable tomorrow.

When a company uses trackable learning platforms, they have a means of measuring growth and development. To drive engagement and retention they can extend from onboarding programs, demonstrating a commitment to an employee’s growth from the moment of hire. 84% of employees want to learn, and keep learning. When you align an employee’s learning with the company’s business goals, that’s a win for all.

Myth #4 – Past performance is indicative of future results.

In 2015, a number of Fortune 500 companies announced that they were doing away with old school performance reviews. Accenture, the Gap, Adobe and General Electric all veered away from the annual or quarterly review ritual in favor of building a stronger culture based on continuous feedback and frequent recognition.

What’s happening instead is that many companies are moving to a system where employees and managers can give and receive social feedback and track the history of recognitions given and received. This new approach – measuring the frequency of peer-to-peer, intra-team and team recognitions within a powerful digital and social recognition program – provides better quality insights and has the potential to foster a far more positive, and productive, work culture.

Myth #5 – The best way to measure performance is when no one’s expecting it.

Spot checks, random and unexpected, are still recommended by some HR stalwarts, who assert that it’s a way to motivate employees to give a consistent performance. But it conveys an atmosphere of mistrust that may be more of a de-motivator.

Trust is critical to employee engagement, but it’s still in short supply: a recent survey of nearly 10,000 workers from India to Germany to the U.S. found that only 49% had “a great deal of trust” in those working above and alongside them. Contrast that with study findings showing that organizations are extremely concerned with driving engagement and promoting a workplace culture that is based on transparency and meaningful work. You can’t have both.

That we’re still having this conversation is in part because we may lack the imagination to see our way to a new starting point. But the real drive to perform comes from within.  We are motivated by purpose, and by being appreciated for what we do.

Employees today want to be engaged, we want to know what higher purpose our efforts are contributing to, we want to excel and to grow. Employers should start with that knowledge and measure their employees accordingly.

Make sure to check out the other series of guest blogs from Meghan Biro, starting with her first guest blog post For Recognition To Have An Impact, Make It Strategic.

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About the Author
meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.

 

How to Empower Leaders to Become Engagement Champions

Creating an engaged workforce is critical to business success. Engaged employees positively impact retention, absenteeism, productivity, customer ratings, profitability, and many other business outcomes – as outlined by Gallup. Sadly, only 32% of U.S. employees are engaged – meaning they are “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” And the numbers are even worse beyond our borders, with engagement standing at a mere 13% worldwide! While leading organizations are aware of the problem and are actively seeking solutions, many are not seeing a good return on their engagement investments. As customer training manager at Achievers, I often work with organizations who are excited and committed to improving employee engagement, but they don’t really know where to start. I think part of the problem can be solved by clarifying who’s responsible for improving day-to-day employee engagement.

While I completely agree that HR is responsible for managing many of the programs and practices that impact and measure engagement, we can’t stop there. So who exactly has the greatest potential to influence day-to-day employee engagement in our organizations? Leaders. Leaders at all levels, especially at a senior level, have an obligation and a responsibility to drive employee and business success by becoming engagement champions. It is a commonly accepted business truism that people leave managers, not companies. Managers are the people that employees must interface with on a daily basis and with whom they have their most meaningful and impactful interactions with (both positive and negative). Because of the outsized impact they have on employee engagement, leaders and managers must learn what levers to pull in order to foster engagement on their teams.

It has been found that one of the most effective ways to drive engagement is through recognition. In fact, when asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents to a recent survey replied “give recognition.” But employee recognition is just one piece of the employee engagement puzzle, albeit an extremely important one. What else can leaders do to help them become an engagement champion? Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model highlights five elements that drive employee engagement, and I believe leaders should use this as a guide in their role as engagement champions.

Josh Bersin's Simply Irresistible Organization model

Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model

Employing Josh Bersin’s Simply Irresistible Organization model and embracing employee recognition is a great place to start for leaders hoping to become engagement champions. [Josh presented the Simply Irresistible Organization model at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) conference back in 2014. You can watch his full presentation here if you’d like to learn more.] But how can organizations help accelerate their leadership’s path to becoming engagement champions? To begin with, they can use the following strategies to coach, develop, and support them on their journey.

Train leaders

Leaders need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to drive employee engagement. Training should focus on why it’s important, how it can benefit them in their roles, and what they can do to improve engagement. This could take the form of short videos, bite-sized eLearning courses, formalized training sessions, intuitive reference materials, or other ways you train leaders. Leverage the expertise of your L&D team and align any training with their initiatives and programs.

Communicate frequently

Since leaders are often busy people, they need to be reminded on a regular basis of practical tips for engaging their team. The model above provides a starting point, but regular communications can help to reinforce what you expect of leaders and the ways in which you are supporting them, including: training, technology and mentorship.

Enable them with simple tools

As Deloitte points out, “people are overwhelmed with the volume and always-on nature of messages, email, information, and work related activities,” so it’s important that engagement tools are easy to use for employees and leaders alike. Leaders need tools to frequently measure engagement, provide actionable insights, and support their engagement efforts.

When considering who to partner with to support your engagement initiatives, there are many to things to consider. First, you need to identify your needs. Many current software solutions focus on only one aspect of employee engagement, such as recognition or pulse surveys. Others, like Achievers, offer a more complete engagement solution. One that enables social and points-based recognition, results-based incentive campaigns, wellness initiatives, innovation programs, pulse surveys, actionable insights, and more.

Next, you should consider what you want the employee, leader, and administrator experience to be with your software solution. The Achievers platform is designed to be an intuitive experience for all users, regardless of what device it’s accessed on. Finally, you should consider only those providers who will be a true partner on your engagement journey. Since its founding in 2002, Achievers has partnered with hundreds of organizations to improve employee engagement and positively impact business results.

By clarifying who’s ultimately responsible for day-to-day employee engagement and empowering leaders to become engagement champions, organizations can create an engaged workforce and see business success. To learn more about how to become an engagement champion, download Engage or Die: How Companies That Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.

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About the Author
Mike VickersMike Vickers joined Achievers in January 2014 to lead customer training and education. He has spent over six years designing and implementing learning and performance strategies for organizations of all sizes. Mike is passionate about transforming organizations through effective learning solutions, innovative technology platforms, and modern HR practices. Connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeVickers) or LinkedIn.

 

 

employee recognition culture

It Takes a Recognition Culture To Spark Engagement

Today’s workplace is evolving rapidly. The recent focus on employee engagement has taught us plenty, including how closely tied employee engagement is to an organization’s success, and what happens in this disrupted, transformed workforce without engagement: our top talent moves on. We also know that one of the primary drivers of engagement is recognition. So where do those understandings lead? If we want to be successful in this changing landscape they lead to a workplace culture built on recognition, rewards, feedback and transparency.

But to spark the kind of engagement that spurs organizational success, recognition has to be ingrained in the culture – a central and fundamental part of an organization’s DNA. When this is achieved there are countless examples of tangible results. Here are just a few:

  • Ericsson’s North American operations boosted its employee engagement scores 14% higher than the industry average;
  • When M Resort organization instituted a trackable recognition program, it elevated employee engagement by 12% within the first 8 months. It also saw a continuing rise in customer satisfaction ratings;
  • Leading health information network, Availity has aligned its corporate values with its employee rewards and recognition program, supporting a fun and engaging work environment, and ultimately solidifying its culture of transparency and respect.

Culture First, Then Engagement: 3 Must-Dos

When we look at employee recognition and ask where to start and what to focus on, most of the answers we’re getting point to culture. Culture is not just another word in the special-sauce lexicon of talent management: culture, done right, is the glue that holds a workplace together. But if it goes awry, bad workplace culture can be the source of endless friction that keeps a workplace apart. In fact, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a new SHRM study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of employees say their engagement at work hinges on having good relationships with their co-workers.

An effective culture of recognition has three prongs:

Transparency and Democratization

Positive relationships at work are built on daily interactions between employees and through opportunities for productive, creative collaboration, not occasional projects or isolated moments. Another common expectation that has come to the fore as millennials have entered the workplace in greater numbers, is transparency. Recognition programs limited to “top down” performance incentives handed down by leaders who don’t bother to consult employees on their needs and preferences can shift culture in the wrong way. Instead of inspiring greater buy-in and cultural unity, these misguided efforts may instead inspire a job search. In a workforce that values transparency, a one-directional, hierarchical approach can look like thinly veiled condescension.

What does work: opportunities for recognition and rewards that build cultural synergies demographically, structurally, and geographically. These are the stitches in a quilt of recognition that includes everyone on all levels, entry level to C-suite, by enabling participation in all directions: uphill, lateral (peer-to-peer, team to team and across teams and departments), and top-down. Recognition in this form can navigate global divides, connecting multiple hubs and geographically dispersed locations. It can’t be left to a manager to know which of his or her people want the chance to cheer their teammates on, nor should it. And they shouldn’t need to approve recognitions either. To manage recognition instead of enabling it it goes right back to the problem of top-down relationships — it simply gets in the way. On top of that, managers have enough to do, as we all know.

Integration

In the latest Global Human Capital Trends report by Deloitte, 85% of executives named engagement a key priority, but understanding how to improve it is another story. Only 34% said they felt ready to deal with issues of engagement, though 46% of companies are tackling it head-on. In terms of recognition, integration means cross-platform, frequency and flexibility. It means offering varying forms of recognition and rewards from social to monetary, from informal “Thank You’s” to big ticket rewards and incentives. Integration also means enabling recognition across any platform: via smartphones, tablets, PCs, or even an on-site kiosk.

Integrated recognition programs are already evolving: some feature open APIs that connect to other important drivers of engagement, such as health & wellness and learning & development. This also speaks to the importance of culture and another expectation that has its roots in the millennial mindset: that employees should be valued not just as talent, or “human capital” but as real humans with real lives. Workplace flexibility remains a high priority for today’s workforce, but the digital transformation also means that health & wellness, learning & development, and performance management — can all exist online or in app. It’s an easy enhancement with great payback. Moreover, it’s another stream of trackable data.

Measurability

A culture of recognition that exists across multiple platforms and embraces a wide range of functions also provides a continuous stream of data – not just for a CHRO or an HR team to measure and gain insights from, but for managers and leaders throughout the organization. Tracking program ROI and managing rewards budgets is only one part the equation. Again, this is one of the most profound ways to drive and support transparency: by sharing and democratizing the data. Consider the possibilities of a team that can look at its own performance and behaviors; of managers tracking recognition patterns as they relate to engagement and performance. In terms of retention, skills gaps, identifying front-runners and planning successions, it’s an invaluable resource.

The right reporting and analytics tools provide another source of in-the-moment feedback as well, part of that reciprocal interaction between human talent and digital tools. It also makes reporting and ROI part of the very functionality of that recognition culture. In terms of feeling invested in business outcomes, and aligned with business goals, data and graphs speak volumes.

Endless Opportunity

A recognition culture supported by a robust digital platform provides endless opportunities for positive reinforcement, all tying back to tangible benefits and results. Developed with an organization’s mission and values in mind, a recognition culture should leverage technology to humanize the workplace and provide additional meaning for every task and interaction. In this current environment that values transparency, trust and flexibility, but is more scattered across locations, devices and platforms than ever, this is what it takes.

Check out Meghan M. Biro’s third guest blog post 5 Performance Measurement Myths.

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About the Author

meghan biroMeghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.