Manager and team

Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Manager

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Gallup also discovered that great managers tend to share the following traits: motivational, assertive, accountable, transparent, and makes decisions based on productivity, not politics. As a manager, your success depends on both your and other people’s efforts. To get the optimal performance from your team members and be the best manager you can be, follow these 7 tips:

1. Focus on team building

While you’ll be relating to each of your employees as individuals, you also need to be aware of the fine art of team building. Your staff will be most productive when they mesh well together and have a strong identity as being part of the same team.

2. Work on your communication skills

Clear messaging is a fundamental piece of your management skill set. Focus on what you want your direct reports to hear, and keep in mind that people have varying styles of processing information.

3. Ask for feedback

The best managers are always in conversation with the people they’re supervising. Asking for feedback helps you avoid becoming isolated, makes you aware of problems before they become critical, and opens the door for innovative new ideas.

4. Set high standards

The best way to elicit great performance from your team is to be clear about your high expectations. Of course, expecting excellence must always go hand-in-hand with providing your staff with all the resources and support they need while holding yourself to the same high standards.

5. Delegate effectively

One hallmark of inexperienced leadership is a reluctance to delegate crucial tasks. You can’t produce optimum results if you micromanage or maintain control of every single function. Prepare your team well for a project and then let them run with it; you’ll be more relaxed and you’ll achieve more in the end.

6. Avoid inter-department conflicts

The agility that characterizes today’s most effective organizations often requires improvisation and free-form cooperation between different departments. You can facilitate this flexibility by maintaining good relationships with your colleagues in different departments while clearly articulating areas of accountability.

7. Recognize and appreciate your employees

Employee engagement, productivity and retention all depend to a high degree on the human sense of being appreciated. Make sure that your direct reports are not included in the 53% of employees who don’t feel recognized for their achievements at work. Monetary and social approaches can both be part of an effective system of rewards and recognition.

Management excellence is learned, not innate. When you integrate these time-tested tips into your management tool kit, you’ll not only reach your productivity goals sooner, but you’ll also nurture a positive workplace culture. By focusing on becoming a better manager, you will build better work relationships, boost employee happiness, and produce stronger business results.

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Manager and Employees

10 Things a Good Manager Never Does

According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, 3 out of 4 employees report that their manager is the worst and most stressful part of their job, and 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for another job in the next year. Don’t lose top talent because of poor management. We’ve compiled the top 10 things that leadership should never do if they want to keep their employees happy and engaged in the workplace.

  1. Pit generations of workers against each other
    In a multi-generational workforce, each generation has something to offer your organization. A good manager connects more experienced older workers with the younger employees to encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.
  1. Rely only on financial motivators
    Employees want more than money. They want opportunities to learn and grow, to feel like a valuable member of a successful team, and get social recognition as well as financial rewards.
  1. Under-appreciate employees
    Under-appreciated employees are usually unmotivated employees. A good manager uses a variety of techniques to demonstrate employee appreciation, including giving rewards and recognition.
  1. Discourage enthusiastic new hires by neglecting a formal onboarding program
    Recent Aberdeen Group research found that only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding program, with the remaining two-thirds neglecting new hire socialization and acculturation. Implementing a formal onboarding process, including new hire socialization or a “buddy system,” speeds the pace of integration of new employees into a positive organizational culture. According to Aberdeen, “When onboarding goes ‘right’ new hires feel engaged, motivated to perform, and eager to contribute to overall business objectives.”
  1. Ignore employee turnover rates
    CompData surveys for 2015 show a total turnover rate of 16.7% for all industries. If your turnover rate is higher than this, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed. A good manager determines the reasons for a high turnover rate and takes steps to increase employee engagement in order to reduce attrition.
  1. Take credit for their employees’ efforts
    Some managers never share the limelight of success. The many benefits of an organization-wide employee recognition platform include the fact that effort and results are made public and employees get the credit they deserve. A good manager should recognize achievements and take shared responsibility for failures.
  1. Expect people to do the impossible
    A Stanford study found that productivity declines sharply when someone works more than 50 hours per week. Giving someone an unreasonable deadline is a setup for failure.
  1. Micromanage employees
    Micromanaging is an outward sign of distrust and a relationship issue. It discourages teamwork and open communication. Good managers challenge employees to be innovative and gives them the right tools to succeed.
  1. Make non-transparent decisions
    Making decisions with a lack of transparency damages the employer-employee relationship by implying a hidden agenda and discouraging collaboration. It reeks of the outdated command-and-control management style. Good managers encourage employee input into decision-making.
  1. Ignore employee career goals
    Most people take a job with the expectation they will have career development opportunities in the form of conversations with peers, formal training, stretch assignments and management feedback. The manager is the link between the employee and opportunities that can build a career. Good managers ensure that link is strong for employee success.

The common thread linking all ten poor managerial practices is the failure to recognize the importance of employee socialization, engagement and recognition. To better understand what it takes to be a best-in-class manager and provide your employees with the support they need to succeed, download the report “The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.”

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rewards and recognition

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Need Rewards and Recognition Programs

How do you handle rewards and recognition within your workforce? Has your company kept pace with current trends in HR and the widely recognized need for employee engagement programs? Most importantly, are you aware that 51% of employees are not happy at work and that, according to Gallup, fully 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged? It has been proven that engagement is crucial for business growth. Business2Community recently reported that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. And the Harvard Business Review reported that recognition for high performers was the top driver of employee engagement. With all that in mind, we humbly present the top 5 reasons your business needs a rewards and recognition program.

  1. Recognition is the top driver of engagement

    Harvard Business Review reports that “the most impactful driver of employee engagement is recognition.” In today’s world, recognizing employees is very different from the recognitions of the old days; no longer are we restricted to giving out watches, pins and coffee mugs on yearly work anniversaries. While these types of gifts are still in the picture, today’s workforce is better engaged in the moment than in the future.

  2. Employee recognition is meaningful from peers

    As workplaces flatten and allow for lateral partnerships, the opportunity for peers to nominate others for awards or give recognitions directly has increased. HR Today notes that 42% of companies have peer recognitions in place, the third most common award. Peer recognition can especially boost engagement in companies with a remote workforce.

  3. Recognitions can reward effort, not just success

    Leigh Buchanan, writer for Inc.com, shares the funny story about how SurePayroll offers a periodic award for “Best New Mistake.” Seem odd? It’s actually a way to reward innovative thinking, even if the result was less than desirable. Can you think outside of the box and offer less-than-traditional awards and recognitions? It might just give your business the edge it needs to improve company culture and employee engagement.

  4. Recognitions engage employees outside the workplace

    Employee engagement efforts shouldn’t end when employees walk out the door. Go beyond the standard rewards program and start recognizing employees for wellness achievements, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, lowering cholesterol and more. By giving employee rewards for positive behaviors, you not only support your employees’ improved lifestyle but also help to create a workplace that is healthier overall.

  5. Happy employees = happy customers

    Forbes shared, “Creating a happier work environment starts with a company that is willing to listen to what employees want and value.” We couldn’t agree more. Success starts with your employees, and the positivity ripples to your customers. Forbes also shared that most publicly traded companies named as ‘Best Companies to Work For’ saw their stocks significantly uptake in performance. It’s a win-win. Focus on employee happiness – the happier the employee, the more motivation they will have to put forth their best effort and make your customers happy.

Curious as to what the state of employee disengagement looks like? Check out our Greatness Report and see. The report analyzes the gap between how often awards are actually given versus how often employees would like to be recognized. In particular, the gap between actual and preferred widens at the monthly, weekly and daily level. Think frequent recognitions seem unsustainable? Take a look at how some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, such as Ericsson, are using rewards and recognition to successfully engage their workplace and you’ll feel even more motivated to kick off an impactful rewards and recognition program of your own.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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Successful Performance Reviews

6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees

Employee performance reviews are often awkward and uncomfortable. Feedback, whether positive or critical, can be difficult to deliver or accept. Yet providing feedback to employees is an important way for a company’s leadership to guide the organization. Employees also want feedback; employee engagement increases when employees get more feedback, more frequently; and, they’re less likely to quit.

Tips for Managers

  1. Review expectations. Take a look at the feedback employees received last year, along with their self-appraisals and development plans.
  2. Evaluate performance. Think about how well they’ve done that work. Use your own opinion of work you’ve seen, plus updates from the employee, comments from their coworkers and input from other managers and other departments. Take note of any awards or recognitions the employee received.
  3. Plan for next year. Identify successes as well as opportunities for improvement, and set objectives for the next year. Outline a development plan that will help achieve employee success.
  4. Conduct the review. Set aside enough time for a thorough conversation. Allow the employee to respond and react to your feedback. Make sure the employee agrees with the goals you set for the next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Check in with employees throughout the year to make sure they’re making progress on their development plan. Take the opportunity to offer employee recognition and rewards for improvements and achievements throughout the year.
  6. Consider continuous feedback. A new approach taking root in forward-looking organizations like GE and throughout silicon valley is known as “continuous feedback”. Continuous feedback favors frequent check-ins throughout the year over stressful annual reviews and allows you to identify potential problems and address sources of dissatisfaction or disengagement quickly, so they don’t linger and affect performance.

Tips for Employees

  1. Review expectations. Look over the expectations that were established last year, based on your job description, review and development plan. Review the work you achieved as well as the difficulties experienced along the way; this is important because managers often see only the finished work product and don’t understand the challenges that had to be overcome to produce it.
  2. Evaluate performance. Consider what you did well during the year and where you fell short, as well as what you liked working on and what you didn’t enjoy.
  3. Plan for next year. Consider your long-term career goals and what skills you would like to develop over the next year to help move you along that path.
  4. Participate in the review. Take advantage of this time with your managers. If you disagree with their assessment, share your opinion respectfully. Make sure you agree with the development plan and goals for next year.
  5. Follow up. Don’t file the review away until next year’s annual review. Take action on the development plan, and let your manager know how things are going throughout the year. Treat your manager’s time as a resource that can help you achieve career success.
  6. Embrace and encourage continuous feedback. If your manager and HR department are open to it, encourage and embrace continuous feedback and foster open lines of communication between you and your manager all throughout the year.

Because reviews feel uncomfortable, both managers and employees often simply hurry through them, just to get them over with. Taking that approach technically meets corporate requirements to conduct a review, but it loses all the benefits. When managers and employees take time to prepare before the review, have an open and honest discussion, and then use the feedback to make real changes, performance reviews become a key factor in increasing employee motivation and driving employee and business success.

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Promotion Criteria

7 signals that your employee is ready for a promotion

Filling an open position with an outside hire takes time. According to Indeed, if a position isn’t filled within one month, there’s a 57 percent chance it will take three months or longer to find the right hire. Promoting an inside candidate is a great solution, as long as the employee is up to the new job. Here are seven promotion criteria to use when deciding whether your employees are ready to move to the next level:

  1. They’ve asked for one

Asking for a promotion doesn’t guarantee ability or employee success, but it’s a sign that they want the new position. They’ll be motivated and eager to take on the new challenges.

  1. They exceed their responsibilities

Promotion candidates should excel in their current responsibilities, but they should also stretch beyond the tasks assigned to them — without being asked. They view the success of the project as their responsibility and step up to make sure that happens.

  1. They’re recognized as leaders

Just because employees don’t have direct reports doesn’t mean they can’t act like leaders. If others on the team turn to a particular employee for insight and guidance, he or she has already taken on a leadership role.

  1. They’re curious

Employees who demonstrate interest in the big picture beyond their projects and task assignments are ready to start thinking about the bigger questions involved in running a project or business.

  1. They create solutions

Some employees report problems up the management chain. Employees with leadership ability report the problem as well as the solution they created to address it.

  1. They ask for feedback

Most people dread performance reviews, and many take offense at even constructive criticism. If an employee asks for feedback and applies it to improving his or her performance, that person has the motivation to develop new skills.

  1. They manage themselves

If your employee understands the purpose of the business and project so well that he or she doesn’t need to wait for instructions on what to do next, that person can take more responsibility and use that insight to manage and guide others.

Promoting from within can boost employee morale, not only for the promoted employees but also for peers who know that career advancement is real. They’ll be motivated to strive for promotions of their own. That’s good for your business as well as for your employee engagement levels.

 

HR skills

3 HR skills you need to be successful

The business landscape is evolving rapidly, and HR skills that were once highly prized are becoming obsolete. HR professionals no longer spend their time keeping records, and new technology has transformed how employees engage with their work. The best HR leaders have traded in paper pushing and business-as-usual management methods and have instead become strategic business partners, actively contributing to company growth. In order to keep their seat at the table, HR professionals have had to take advantage of the rich employee data that’s at their disposal. They’re having to become experts in data analysis and a wide variety of HR information systems so that they can improve employee success, forecast changes in human capital, and make informed recommendations for policy and process changes. If you want to be an incredible HR leader, these are the skills you’ll need to adopt moving forward:

Tech-savvy vs. traditional methods

The days of an exclusively on-site workforce are a thing of the past. Mobile technology and changing workforce demographics have transformed where and how employees work. Some research predicts that 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018, and HR leaders are embracing this change. Instead of insisting on traditional methods for getting the job done – eight hours in the office in front of a computer – forward-thinking HR professionals are getting comfortable with new technology and incorporating it into business processes.

Strategic partner vs. record keeper

In the early days of the HR function, primary responsibilities included processing basic transactions. Changes in employee status, modifications to benefits, and corrections to personal information were all handled by hand. New technology has made it possible for staff members and their managers to handle these adjustments independently, which mean HR professionals can explore new ways to add value.

The best HR leaders concentrate their efforts on strategic partnership, using evidence gathered through data analysis to provide strategic recommendations to the business. Incredible HR leaders design proactive initiatives to make the workforce stronger, rather than simply reacting to events that have already occurred in the workplace. These efforts are being recognized by executive leadership. In fact, a KPMG study found that 85 percent of business leaders agree: HR plays a strong role in meeting strategic goals.

Analytical vs. business as usual

Of course, adding value through strategic partnership only works when HR leaders develop their skills in data analysis. As new technology permits the gathering of detailed business and employee performance, smart HR professionals are spending their time looking for connections that will strengthen the business. Research has determined that 62 percent of organizations are already using advanced analytics to find people/profit connections, and 70 percent of survey participants plan to expand their use of data analysis tools over the next three years.

Today’s truly exceptional HR leaders are prepared to act as tech-savvy strategic partners, with a focus on developing outstanding data analysis skills. The transformation of HR promises opportunities for employee success in every HR specialty.