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 An employee is called in to the boss’s office and given an evaluation containing praise and criticism that might be outdated, perhaps even a year old.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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unbeatable workshop ideas

5 Fun Employee Workshops to Host in the Office

By: Jessica Thiefels
Small Business Freelancer, Content Marketing and Strategy Consultant

Office workshops break up the day, boost employee loyalty, and reduce turnover because they communicate the message that each individual contributor is more than a number. The key is in choosing the right workshops; the less they feel like a chore for employees, the more effective they’ll be. According to management training and leadership experts at Mind Tools, ineffective workshops can bring more problems than they actually solve: “Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving,”

Consider the following five workshop ideas and how they might fit with your company culture. Choose a few to sprinkle into the company calendar, adding variety and fun to the usual brainstorming sessions and project-focused meetings.

Lunch and Learn Workshop

Choose a day each month when all the members of your department converge for an hour to “network” internally. Cater lunch from a local restaurant or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish to make it more of a special event. Each month, one team or employee will share an important project they’re working on. The rest of the team can then provide constructive feedback and fresh ideas.

This open dialogue strengthens both the sense of camaraderie and level of collaboration between teams. It’s easy to operate in a siloed organization, but that’s not good for business, or your employees. Use your monthly “Lunch and Learn” to remind employees that their co-workers are valuable resources that they can and should turn to.

Self-Defense Workshop

Not all workshops need to be work related—in fact, to keep employees interested, it’s better if some aren’t. Workshops such as this one for self-defense show employees that you care about their well being, both in and out of the office:

“For companies who care about their employees, especially those whose employees regularly walk to their cars at night or alone, it would behoove employers to offer self-defense training courses for workers,” says Jeremy Pollack, self defense expert for Home Security Super Store.

The most important part of this workshop is choosing the correct instructor. Pollack suggests the following tips for vetting:

  • Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
  • Has an HR rep or a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
  • How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
  • Does he or she fit with the culture of your workplace?

Vision Board Workshop

Transform a conference room into a creative space for employees to make their own vision boards. Vision boards are a visual representation of how you want to feel or something you want to accomplish – a way to bring things inside you to life. Giving your employees the opportunity to create their own vision boards is an exercise in abstract thinking and serves as a way to help them explore avenues and inspiration for personal growth, both within the organization and as individuals.

A few key materials for this includes:

  • White boards and markers
  • Pens/pencils
  • Sticky notes
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

Host this workshop each month, allowing  a maximum of five participants each time. At the end of the workshop, have the participants share their favorite piece of the completed vision board with fellow employees. This should be inspirational and eye opening for everyone, even employees who didn’t participate that month.

Take it up a notch by inviting a life coach into the office. The five participants can talk with the life coach for 30 minutes as a group to start thinking creatively about their profession and growth. They can use this conversation to spur their ideas.

Mindfulness Workshop

Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley has found that practicing moment-to-moment awareness can reinforce an employees’ confidence, satisfaction, focus and productivity. Help them funnel these positives into their job performance by offering mindfulness workshops.

A few mindfulness workshops you can host include:

  • Meditation, guided with a focus on productivity
  • Yoga for reduced stress
  • Awareness and relaxation training
  • Work-life balance training

If employees love this workshop, you could make meditation and mindfulness a daily part of their routine. For example, schedule one conference room as “open” from 8-10am for quiet meditation every morning. People can choose to use it as they desire, boosting efficiency and well-being at the same time.

Financial Tools Workshop

Facilitating a money management seminar will help your employees understand the nuances of investment, budgeting, diversification and other financial concepts. Equipping people with the knowledge and resources to allocate their income wisely is both a source of empowerment for them and a reflection of your leadership expertise and concern for their overall well-being.

According to experts at Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, “Companies providing financial education show improvement in the workplace including increased productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty and decreased healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk across the company.”

As the Jumpstart experts explain, a workshop like this is also beneficial to your bottom line, “Financial education programs have the effect of contributing to the company’s bottom line between $3 and $4 for every dollar spent.”

Financial workshop ideas include:

  • Financial tracking: Creating and maintaining a budget; setting goals.
  • Smart investing: How and where to invest; how to get the most for your money.
  • Credit cards: Smart use of credit; best ways to maintain good credit; what to look for in credit card rewards.
  • Retirement: How to prepare; what the company does to help; different types of accounts, along with benefits and drawbacks of each.

Regardless of your business’ overall size or scope, company growth is dependent on an engaged, cohesive and dynamic workforce. Therefore, offering workshops that benefit your employees, both professionally and personally, can mean the difference between attracting and maintaining top-tier talent versus mediocre space-fillers. Make your team feel appreciated, and their performance will speak for itself.

Are you looking for more ideas on how to improve your office culture? Check out my blog post 5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture.

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About Jessica Thiefels
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 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

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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Customer Service: Do it Right the First Time!

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

We have all experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of customer service. Often, customer service tends to fall into the bad and ugly categories. We have all gritted our teeth before calling a company for service or walking into a store to return an item, fearful of a confrontation because of a rigid policy, or simply because of the bad attitude (usually attributable to ineffective training!) of the person serving us. But whatever the cause, poor customer service can have a lasting effect on both the business offering it and the person on the receiving end.

In my 20+ years as a customer service professional, I have learned a lot about how to accentuate the good and minimize the bad and ugly. Whether I am checking out at the grocery store or out to dinner with friends, I find myself observing the level of service being provided. The one constant I find missing, is a lack of personalized service being provided. Many service representatives don’t make eye contact, let alone smile or engage in small talk. Instead, they focus more on the task at hand rather than the customer – the person – in front of them. This is because many service representatives and call center employees are trained for efficiency and are expected to check several boxes, such as validating callers first, rather than acknowledging the customer and their concern. This impersonal approach does little to demonstrate to the customer that they are a priority and that their issue is of importance to the customer service team.

With all that in mind, here are a few helpful hints to help ensure your customers are receiving The Good: Unparalleled, personalized customer service:

Do:

  1. Develop a personalized customer service philosophy and ensure your employee training clearly conveys this philosophy. What kind of experience do you envision for your customers every time they interact with your company?
  2. Make your main measure of success Customer Satisfaction instead of Average Handle Time. If your customers are happy, they will tell you. And if they are not, they will tell their friends and family, or even worse Yelp or Glassdoor.
  3. This one never gets old: hire people who are passionate about helping people. Many skills can be learned, but helpfulness tends to be part of the fundamental nature of a person.
  4. Treat your employees well; they are your most valuable resource. If your employees are happy (measure their happiness frequently), your customers will be happy as well.
  5. Empower and support your employees to deliver brilliant customer experiences. Employees who feel supported, recognized and empowered will be engaged. Employees should also be trusted to override certain policies to make customers happy (be it a slight alteration to a return policy, or applying goodwill credits or perhaps extending a recently expired promotion to a loyal customer).
  6. Have FUN at work!

Don’t:

  1. Utilize Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – Don’t do it! Live answer is the way to go. IVR’s are frustrating for your customers and are a barrier to providing personal, effective customer service. I was recently shopping for new call center software and one vendor kept pushing their self-service IVR functionality. They couldn’t understand why we weren’t interested. By avoiding the use of IVRs, it is far more likely that your customers will be satisfied by the personalized, specific assistance they received.
  2. Outsource – Unless you have full control over hiring, training and firing, then I strongly recommend against outsourcing. Sure, it might save you money, however it could cost you customers. Outsourced employees are usually underpaid and lack loyalty, resulting in a lack of commitment to your customers and your brand. When I managed the quality program for a large Canadian telecommunications company, my team would often recommend the removal of outsourced employees from our campaign and what would the outsourcer do? Turn around and put that employee on another company’s campaign.

Here at Achievers, our in-house Member Experience Team delivers a superior and personalized customer experience to more than 1 million eligible users in over 150 countries. We are committed to the highest level of quality and excellence, derived from our in-house staff and we recognize our Member Experience employees for providing the kind of personalized interactions that make for good experiences. Customer Satisfaction is our most important metric because we know if our members are delighted then it will drive the overall success of the program. Our mantra is simple:

Our Vision: To deliver a World-Class Customer Experience

Our Mission: To create Raving Fans by delighting members with our commitment to Service Excellence.

Dare to be different, and do what is right for your customer!

Check out another blog by Marci Peters on 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

About Marci Peters

Marci Peters

Marci 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.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Employees Who Are Relocating

By: Phoebe Licata
Employee Engagement Consultant, Achievers

Relocating for your career is the perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life, meet new people, and get to know yourself that much better as you step outside of your comfort zone. A new study shows nearly 85 percent of millennial workers surveyed said they are willing to move to a new city for a job. Despite all this, let’s admit it, moving is rarely enjoyable. However, the idea of a shiny new opportunity awaiting you in your new home should help alleviate some of the stress caused by moving. So ride that wave of positivity all the way to your new location and embrace the opportunities brought on by change. Here are five tips that will help your move be virtually seamless:

  1. The right “fit”
    Employee engagement at work is very much determined by the type of environment and the people that populate said environment, so making sure your personal values align with those of your future employer, in both a cultural and business context is essential. Even if you are being relocated within the same company, different offices almost always have different cultures, traditions and demographics, so maintaining flexibility and an open mind will serve you well during your transition. For those joining a new organization, before you sign the offer letter, make sure to confirm the opportunity is the right choice for you. Visiting your new office location at least once before you commit, reaching out to new coworkers via email or LinkedIn, or inquiring about the different types of culture-building activities offered to employees (or lack thereof) are just some examples of ways to vet a new opportunity. My fellow Achiever, Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, speaks about the power of Fit here: TEDxMileHigh –  Natalie BAumgartner – Fit
  1. Get Familiar
    According to the US Census Bureau, almost 61 percent of relocations in 2015 were to another state. But just because interstate relocation is common, doesn’t make it easy. Getting to know the lay of the land in a new city or state can seem overwhelming, but when you approach it with an open mind, unencumbered urban exploration can be exciting. Start by taking practice trips from your new home to your new office. With apps like Google Maps, Waze, or HopStop, it is easy to find your way, but the last thing you want is to be late on your first day, so identifying any potential delays is crucial. Time yourself during the appropriate hours to take away the commute anxiety in a big way. After that, finding your new coffee shop route (a must have!), the best Thai place for lunch, or a cool spot for after-work drinks with coworkers, will all fall into place.
  1. Reach out
    The six degrees of separation theory in which everyone is connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances has never seemed more true. Whether this new opportunity is your first job or you’re already well-along in your career, it’s a great idea to reach out to your current network and build a group of friends and colleagues to support your change. Utilize tools such as LinkedIn to connect with your future co-workers and get a sense of what they are. Alert your friends on Facebook as to your impending change and connect with old friends, and friends of friends, that live near your new home to ease the uncertainty of entering a new social scene. Finally, no matter how long it has been since you last connected, call or email old co-workers, family, or other people you may have crossed paths with before; as even the most distant contacts might enrich your experience in your new home. As long as it is done in a friendly and courteous matter, you have nothing to lose!
  1. Save more
    Accounting for an adjusted cost of living when moving often gets overlooked among the myriad of other activities needed to ensure a smooth relocation. But it’s vitally important to know that $20 doesn’t go as far in San Francisco as it might in San Antonio. First, make sure your salary is well over the cost of living with websites such as Numbeo or Living Wage Calculator. These sites can help you get a feel of how much you’ll be spending per month. Next, find out about relocation costs and if your employer is willing to cover any part of the expenses. A clearly outlined budget of specific moving action items will provide a baseline to your employer and make it easy for them to reimburse you. Make sure to double check your estimates by calling movers, looking at flight costs, and calculating the appropriate costs to move your pets. Keeping accurate records of moving costs will also streamline filing taxes at the end of the year. Lastly, you can never have enough savings for unplanned incidents and oversights. It would be wise to try and save the equivalent of 1 to 2 months of salary to cover the basics, just in case. You never know when your car will be towed while rushing to an appointment, or you get a leak in your brand new apartment! Eek!
  1. What you love
    Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” This tip is the most important by far! Whether you think of your career as a marker of personal success or not, if this change brings you one step closer to a community you identify with, better accessibility to an activity that you love or a lifestyle that makes you truly happy, then you are one step closer to success. Remember that everything takes time and if you’re attracted to the idea of this relocation and willing to make the change, you’ll gain more knowledge and insight as to what is important to you regardless of the anticipated outcome. By engaging in what you love, inside and outside of the workplace, you’ll attract like-minded people and future opportunities that will ensure seamless and positive transitions for years to come.

To learn more about how culture can be the right “fit” for you, download our white paper All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.

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 About Phoebe Licata

Phoebe LicataPhoebe Licata is an Employee Engagement Consultant by day and inspirational yogi by night. Her endless positivity propels her along her journey of consulting with companies on their employee engagement and rewards & recognition strategies. Connect with her on LinkedIn to talk about how to make your employees happy, engaged, and more productive at work!

 

 

 

 

ideas for employee appreciation week

Out of the Box Ideas for Employee Appreciation Week

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Promoting a consistent culture of recognition is an essential component to employee engagement, but who says you can’t step up your appreciation game every once in a while? A good celebration tends to incite a positive atmosphere that is almost tangible to the touch – and the positivity is infectious. People’s smiles get a little bigger, the laughs a little louder and the residual feel-good attitude can be felt for days after. What’s not to love about that?

In the world of employee recognition, Employee Appreciation Day is the be-all and end-all of celebrations. In fact, some people (ourselves included) take it so seriously that we celebrate it for a whole week! If you’re keen on the idea of doing something extra special for your people to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day (or week), we’ve got some fantastic suggestions for you:

Fun and Games

My local gym (actually, it’s more like an adult playground) has a great little message on a wall that reads, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  There are numerous gratifying aspects of working, from building your career to meeting some amazing people, but I am a firm believer that everyone has an inner child who is just waiting to be let out to play. Here are some ways to indulge the inner child in all of your employees:

  1. Craft Room
    Fill a room with different art supplies and encourage your team to let their imaginations run free. If you have especially artistic employees, ask if they would like to share their skills through an art class.
  1. Games Room
    Puzzles, board games, cards – there are an infinite number of games out there. Games have come back in a big way in 2017, and they are the perfect way to facilitate some team bonding and to let off some steam in the process.
  1. Jumbo Games
    If you want to go big on the game front, rent a bigger game, like a ping pong or foosball table, for your employees to enjoy during the week.
  1. Trivia
    Have a condensed jeopardy type competition at lunch or put out random trivia questions throughout the day. To spice things up, add prizes.
  1. Throw Back Thursday: baby photo edition
    This one requires some prep, but is well worth the effort. Ask your team to bring in their baby photos in the days leading up to EAD/EAW, then compile the photos on a poster board and let the guessing begin. For added difficultly, sprinkle in some celebrity baby photos.
  1. Photo Booth
    Rent a photo booth (or get a Polaroid camera) for the office so your team can document the employee appreciation moments and get some new pictures to put up at their desks – or to share on social media. This has the added benefit of showing the outside world (think perspective employees) how cool and fun your workplace is.
  1. Comedy
    I have yet to meet someone who is not a fan of a good laugh. Reach out to a local comedy group and get someone in to get the chuckles going in the office. Who knows, maybe you even have a few comedians on your own employee roster.
  1. Scavenger Hunt
    There are SO many options with how to approach this. From items in the office to incorporating the surrounding neighborhood or having an ‘employee scavenger hunt’ (e.g. find someone who has completed a triathlon), there is huge potential to be creative here. Scavenger hunts are also a great way to promote inter-departmental collaboration and bonding.

Snacks and Treats

Snacks are fantastic, and I do not think it would be untrue to say that free snacks are an almost guaranteed slam dunk. Ever pay attention to what happens when the après meeting ‘leftover sandwiches are in the kitchen’ email goes out?  Mass kitchen migration.

  1. Hire a food truck to park outside the office (on the company’s dime) for lunch
    Food trucks are all the rage these days. They offer new twists on old classics, have unique menus and can provide more good fodder for social media posts.
  1. Ice Cream Sundae Bar
    Delicious ice cream. Creative toppings. Need I say more?
  1. Smoothie Bar
    Same idea as the Sundae Bar, but a healthier option (and could be more appropriate if you’ve been making wellness a priority at your company this year)
  1. Team Picnic
    The outdoors and food are two pretty awesome things, so when you pair them together it’s a pretty excellent outcome. Have a nice patio? Get your team outside and into the fresh air for a bit.
    **This is more applicable for those working in warm environments. If you’re located in an area where average temperatures in March are below zero this could be perceived as a perverse form of punishment.
  1. Top Chef Competition
    I would be willing to bet that every office has a few aspiring chefs in their midst. Put out feelers in the time leading up to your Employee Appreciation celebrations and see if anyone wants to put their culinary prowess on display for an entertaining, and tasty, competition.

Personal Development

  1. Ted Talks
    Screen Ted Talks throughout the celebrations – bonus points for committing to the ‘theatre vibe’ with comfy seats and treats (popcorn machine anyone?). You can put out feelers leading up to the event and ask people to submit topics or speakers of interest.
  1. Leader Q&A
    Transparency is king. It provides people with a sense of inclusion and breaks down some of the typical hierarchical barriers. Create a comfortable environment where Leaders answer employee’s questions and hear their ideas. It’s a good idea to include a moderator and a question submission box, in case employees wish to ask sensitive questions anonymously.
  1. Celebrate Personal Accomplishments
    People in your organization are capable of, and may have already done, amazing things. Take some time to celebrate your team member’s accomplishments outside of work – this is also a great way to get to know them as individuals, beyond the office.

These are just some ideas to get the ball rolling, the key to a successful Employee Appreciation Celebration is incorporating aspects that matter to your employees.

Start celebrating Employee Appreciation Week by giving thanks and appreciating your employees today. Recognize their great work with a personalized recognition card. Get started here. 

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

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.

http://blog.achievers.com/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

 

 

 

 

Top employee desires

What Rewards Do Employees Want Most?

The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted in recent years, especially in tech-related fields. As a human resources professional or manager, you’re probably all-too familiar with the job-hopping ways of highly skilled employees who feel they can pick and choose the job they want. And that’s reflected in the fact that more than half of all business owners feel that competition for talent is stronger than it’s ever been. But there are a number of ways to attract and keep top talent, and to keep them happy and engaged while they’re with you. Offering an employee recognition and rewards program has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain highly skilled workers and to build your company’s financial strength at the same time. Here’s a look at why a rewards and recognition system is important, and how to choose the kinds of rewards that your workers really want.

Employee happiness is essential

Even if your business is centered on sophisticated equipment or software, human beings are still the essential engine that makes everything run – and a sense of emotional well-being is the primary fuel that keeps those human beings working at their peak performance level. Research shows that workers who are recognized and rewarded for their efforts feel happier in general, have better relationships with co-workers and are more open to constructive feedback. Financially, you’ll see measurable returns as well: According to an Aberdeen Group study, companies with some type of formal employee engagement program see a 25-percent increase in year-over-year revenue, along with nearly triple the sales team success. And the difference in annual customer service cost was equally eye-popping: companies with formal methods for employee appreciation saw a 12.7-percent savings in customer service expenditures, whereas companies that don’t have any employee recognition system in place spent 1.2 percent more for their customer service.

Why employee incentives have become more important

It’s always been true that recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions results in better performance and less employee churn, but now that millennials are flooding the workplace thee levers have become more important than ever. Younger workers are often the ones with the most desirable skill-set, but in return for their services they expect employers to be appreciative of their efforts. Investopedia lays out the basic facts for managers: One-third of every U.S. worker belongs to this generation, along with half of all new immigrants who come here. The article goes on to advise, “This drastic shift in the workforce requires companies to change how they manage and reward talent. The policies and incentives that worked for past generations are no longer effective, and companies that fail to adapt may find themselves facing a shortage of talented and motivated workers.”

What kind of rewards should you offer?

Once you’ve made the decision to establish a formal system for recognizing and rewarding your workers, the next step is to figure out what kind of rewards will most effectively motivate and delight your employees. Here’s a quick review of the benefits and perks that are recommended by employee recognition best practices:

Social recognition

Especially for the growing population of millennial employees, a social recognition platform should be your first focus. This popular type of HR technology is perfectly suited for workers who have come of age in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and so on. They’re accustomed to immediate feedback, “likes,” status updates and more, and if they’re praised, they want to be able to share the event with friends. You’ll build loyalty among this group of workers with shareable social acknowledgements because these rewards are magnified when posted on personal and professional networks.

Career coaching and professional development

Your employees work for many reasons besides merely earning a paycheck, and the best way to nurture their non-monetary motivations is to offer them a chance to advance in their careers. By providing the opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new challenges, you are fueling each worker’s passion for their job and helping them feel more engaged in your organization’s overall business success.

Additional flexibility

Everyone who works for you is also balancing a wide array of outside commitments and obligations. A study of employee wants found that 35 percent of workers say they would benefit from more flexible work schedules, and 46 percent say that having more control over their time is one of the most important factors when they’re looking for a new job. Rewarding your top performers with greater control over when and where they work is a cost-effective method of increasing employee happiness and building loyalty.

Gift cards and trendy items

Although pay and compensation must be competitive in order to ensure a sense of well-being among your workforce, employees today often expect more than just their baseline pay to feel truly appreciated. That’s why being able to offer a wide array of rewards in the form of gift cards, travel and leisure, and other hot items like tablet computers or VR goggles is complimentary to any fully-fledged social recognition program. The unique benefit of offering gift cards and a full selection of items from a catalog is that each employee can choose his or her own uniquely meaningful reward, and which will make them feel more satisfied than if they just received an insignia coffee mug, plaque, or some standardized gift that you purchased for them.

Your company’s financial strength depends on making sure that your employees stay engaged. Understanding some basics in human motivation can help you to be creative in finding ways to recognize your workers. New developments in HR tech also offer holistic systems for boosting worker happiness, increasing engagement and improving overall performance.

We all want to make our employees happy, so why not start by giving them what they want: an unbeatable rewards and recognition program in place. Learn how to kick off the right rewards and recognition program for your business by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Recognition.

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Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

By: Leigh Burger
Senior Implementation Manager, Achievers

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.

The same goes for organizational change. Arguably though, organizations need to be in a continual state of change in order to move forward. Whether we call it “transformation,” “growth,” or just the natural evolution of the business – companies must continue to evolve in order to stay competitive and relevant, to employees and customers alike. In other words, organizations cannot afford to stay static for any length of time in today’s environment.

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. Employees begin to feel as though they don’t have a voice or a sense of control. The weight of the loss of familiarity and certainty can bear down on employees until they start to fatigue, and slowly but surely, begin to check out. They might still perform their jobs, but they certainly won’t be putting forth their discretionary time and effort towards realizing the shared vision of the organization.

What may surprise you is this behavior should be considered normal. Our brains are wired to resist change. The oldest part of our brain – the reptilian brain – auto-responds to change with the fight or flight response. It takes practice to bypass that part of our brain and access the rational brain where we can use logic to overcome our innate, initial reaction.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with that process? 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?

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.

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 Leigh Burger
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)

By: Courtney Clark

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 Courtney Clark
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?

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

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 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

 

 

 

Trending HR Topics

Engage Blog: Top 10 HR Blogs of 2016

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media & Blog Manager, Achievers

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 Kellie Wong
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

By: Andrew Sykes
Founder & President, Habits at Work

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 Andrew Sykes

Andrew SykesFor more information contact Andrew 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

By: Anna Peters
Content Manager at College Recruiter

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 Anna Peters
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.

 

 

Recruit and retain top talent

7 Creative Ways to Attract Top Talent

By: Sara Sayegh-Moccand
Digital Marketing Specialist, SalesWings

The goal of every recruiter is to find a candidate that perfectly fits the open position. In fact, perfectly aligning a candidate with a company is the most rewarding experience a recruiter can have. When you hire the right person your company likely will not incur costs such as time lost in further recruitment efforts or in training somebody that might not be a perfect fit. To avoid extra costs, companies large and small alike need to find better ways to identify, attract, and subsequently retain top talent. The million-dollar question is: how?

1. Present good fringe benefits

The most attractive companies take all of the great benefits they offer and then adapt them to the position they are seeking to fill. For example, a senior engineer is likely older and more established compared to a candidate just entering the job market, perhaps emphasizing childcare assistance rather than the Friday night team outing would be more enticing .For an example of how offering great fringe benefits can help attract top talent, look no further than Google.

2. Share your talent transformation plan

Show candidates that you not only have a plan for their immediate future, but also how you plan to provide growth opportunities. Demonstrate knowledge of their current skills to ensure that they are in the right position, then show them the way forward through a clear training and development track.

3. Leverage LinkedIn

Engaging with potential candidates on social networks such as LinkedIn can be useful, even if the candidate isn’t currently interested in the position you’re offering. A good way to approach this is by sending a message to the candidate with a link to your company website. You can also use a tool like SalesWings LinkedIn message tracking to score the level of interest of the lead. Perhaps the lead clicks on the link but doesn’t show any interest at the moment. With message tracking you at least know that they clicked on the link, so you can follow up by providing more information if necessary, hoping that the same lead will one day turn hot. Remember that 75% of professionals are passive candidates – meaning they’re not actively engaged in a job search – so it pays to have any edge in order to grab top talent before your competition does.

 4. Sell the work environment and profile

Showing candidates the great opportunities that come with working for your company can be a fantastic recruitment tool. For instance, giving examples of succession plans or the career progression plan of already hired talent recruited into a similar position can instill a level of confidence in the candidate that their employer will work to further their career.

A company should be up front about what is needed in order to be successful in a new role. If a candidate needs to develop new skills, the company should accordingly have a plan for how to help them develop those skills. Be open about internal and external training, any smart candidate will immediately see the benefits of developing their skills as they will have something to add to their CV.

Finally, talk about your company’s embrace of employee recognition. Employees crave employee recognition, with 93% of employees hoping to be recognized quarterly, if not more frequently. Share your company’s enthusiasm for recognizing great work and how employees are rewarded, whether through monetary rewards or social recognition.

5.  Seek to be acknowledged in a “Best Places to Work” ranking

Top candidates usually target high ranking “Best Places to Work” companies. Everybody loves to work for a company that treats employees well, so it is a good idea to exhibit the qualities the aforementioned high ranking companies do. Even if you don’t get acknowledged for your efforts immediately, you will still have taken important steps to make improvements in this area.

6. Focus on marketing

Integrate every digital marketing tactics into your recruitment efforts so that your talent acquisition team can identify, attract and engage with talent more easily. With this strategy, you can also target potential candidates before they begin their job search in earnest. The day they make their decision to leave their current company, candidates will send applications to a large number of other companies or agencies. With this method you can beat them to the punch, and be the company all other recruiters are competing against.

7. Employer branding

Demonstrating why your company is a great place to work is becoming a critical part of recruitment strategy. The LinkedIn report MENA recruiting trends 2017 reveals that over 81% of leaders in MENA countries need to invest more in employer branding. This is because employer branding has a significant impact on hiring top talent.

Your corporate website and LinkedIn page are great places to build your employer branding. A poor user experience on the career section of your website can negatively impact your brand, meaning you will receive fewer applications in general, let alone those from the top talent in your industry.

A great example of an employer branding strategy comes from Starbucks. In 2015, they used Twitter and Instagram to promote their brand. Potential hires had the opportunity to communicate with current employees by using the hashtag #sbuxjobschat. This allowed them to learn what inspired people in their jobs and what people look for in a company.

To sum up, communication is key to attracting top talents – if you don’t explain why your company is a great place to work, you will not attract the best candidates. Good luck and best wishes for a fruitful and rewarding new year!

If you’re looking to lure top talent, check out the blog post 12 Tips for Writing the Perfect Job Description.

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About Sara Sayegh-Moccand

Sara Sayegh-Moccand The author Sara is a digital marketing specialist at SalesWings, a website tracking and lead scoring add-on. The software identifies your most sales-ready leads based on their website activity. It analyzes your leads’ past and future visits and scores their level of engagement/interest.

 

 

 

 

New Hires Engaged Employees

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

Studies on turnover estimate that when an employee leaves a company it can cost the organization between 30 to 250 percent of that person’s annual salary due to factors like loss of productivity and other associated replacement costs. BambooHR shared its research on turnover with the Society for Human Resource Management, saying the average company is losing one-sixth of its new hires in the first six months. 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

The BambooHR study found 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 The Case for Employee Recognition Ebook.

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Emotion and Employee Engagement

Intention vs. Action: Love Human Beings Not Human Doings

By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

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 Bobi Seredich

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

By: Meghan M. Biro

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 Meghan M. Biro
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

By: Mike Vickers
Customer Training Manager, Achievers

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 The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Mike Vickers
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 HR Stats

5 Eye-Opening HR Stats: Why Employee Recognition Matters

By: Sarah Clayton
Communications and Campaigns Specialist, Achievers

Employees are arguably the most important component of a successful business.  Employees put a human face on the product, build relationships with customers, and define the work culture that feeds business performance – yet 32% of companies struggle to retain top talent. What defines an effective retention strategy varies from business to business, but there is one common element that has been found to work across most business types and sectors: employee recognition. In fact, a recent Achievers’ study found that employees have a deep desire for recognition, with 93% hoping to be recognized at least once a quarter. In addition, 75% of employees who received at least monthly recognition (even if informal) reported being satisfied with their jobs. And finally, in a recent Harvard Business Review study, 72% of respondents ranked recognition given for high performers as having a significant impact on employee engagement. With these kinds of numbers, it is clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit from a well-executed employee recognition program.

As we approach the end of 2016, this is the perfect opportunity to define the tone for the New Year and reflect on the importance of employee recognition for businesses. To help set the groundwork for a successful 2017, we present to you five revealing HR stats that prove the value of employee recognition.

  1. Employees are loyal to careers, not jobsWorkplace loyalty is not derived from a job; it is nurtured through a fulfilling career.  78% of employees would stay with their current employer if they knew they had a career path instead of just a job. With employee recognition, you can motivate and identify core competencies to help develop career paths for employees in a positive and organic way.
  1. Understanding progress mattersGoals can be daunting: understanding the progress made towards attaining them makes them seem more manageable, and 32% of employees agree. Employee recognition isn’t just for the big wins; it’s an excellent way to support progress and provide encouragement by giving employees feedback every time they move one step closer to completing their goals.
  1. Respect knowledge and experiencePeople work hard to cultivate their skills, and 53% of employees say respect for their knowledge and experience is their top expectation of leadership. An employee recognition platform allows both leaders and peers to publicly praise employees for their expertise, providing the employee with further motivation to develop it further.
  1. Recognized employees are happy employeesEmployee recognition doesn’t require a huge commitment. In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.-based, full-time employees 75% of employees who were recognized by their manager once a month – which is a good cadence to check in on progress to long-term goals – reported being satisfied with their job. While 85% of those that were recognized weekly reported being satisfied. The more satisfied your employee is, the more engaged they will be, and the more likely they will stay with your company for the long-term while producing stronger results.
  1. A mission statement is meant to guide employeesUnnervingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of employees don’t know what their company mission statement is. An employee recognition program, clearly linked to a company’s mission and values, is a great way to align employees around those values. By praising and reinforcing behaviors and outcomes that line up with and support the company’s mission and values, employees are inspired to live and breathe those values every day. This in turn helps to build a unified corporate culture and makes clear to individuals how their work helps the company to achieve its goals.

Retaining employees is about establishing reciprocal loyalty, making their jobs feel meaningful, and supporting and encouraging their professional development – one of the best ways to do all of these things is through employee recognition. When a company demonstrates its commitment to supporting and recognizing its employees, they will be rewarded with engaged employees who are dedicated to contributing to the company’s mission and bottom-line.

To discover more eye-opening HR stats and learn more about the correlation between recognition and retention, check out our white paper: The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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Also, don’t forget to check out our cool infographic highlighting these 5 eye-opening HR stats.

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About Sarah Clayton

Sarah ClaytonSarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

Employee Appreciation

Spreading Employee Appreciation Across Achievers

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

It’s that time of year again, time to give thanks! And what better way to give thanks than to thank our very own employees here at Achievers. A business is nothing without its employees, which is why we encourage frequent employee appreciation. Today, we’d like to highlight some of the top employee recognitions sent across our ASPIRE platform, powered by Achievers’ HR technology. We’re proud of our employees and everything they accomplish day-to-day. Check out some of our favorite recent employee recognitions and get inspired to thank someone in your organization for a job well-done!

ASPIRE recognition for embrace real-time communication ASPIRE recognition for care, share and be fair ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for live passionately ASPIRE recognition for act with sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for thank you ASPIRE recognition for act with a sense of ownership ASPIRE recognition for build a positive team spirit

Huge shout-out to Achievers’ employees for everything that they do. If you want to know what it’s like to work at Achievers, check out the Achievers Careers Page. We’re always looking for top talent to be a part of the A-Team! Apply today.

And don’t let employee appreciation be limited to the holiday season. Start encouraging employee appreciation throughout the entire year with an unbeatable employee recognition and rewards program! Take the first step by downloading The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong
Kellie Wong is the Social Media and 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 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

 

Learning and Development Programs

How to Leverage Learning and Development to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Are your employees reaching their full potential at work? According to a Middlesex University study cited in a recent Sh!ft infographic, of almost 4,300 workers polled, a whopping 74% felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work. So how does a business engage its employees to make them feel empowered and more productive? One answer is by providing the right learning and development opportunities.

But how do you determine which learning and development opportunities are right for your employees? Getting the answer wrong could be costly. According to Sh!ft, the total loss to a business from ineffective training can add up to $13.5 million per year per 1,000 employees. The key is to stop wasting money on ineffective training programs and start approaching learning and development initiatives with a new, creative outlook designed to boost employee engagement.

Training Magazine recently featured an article providing a behind-the-scenes look at leading tech companies that are stepping up their learning and development opportunities to successfully engage employees. Following, we have pulled a few highlights from the article to help you gain some inspiration for your business:

Adobe’s focus on quality content

Adobe focuses on learning and development opportunities through its Learning@Adobe program. With the use of their own product, Adobe Connect, and other resources, they are able to offer a wide portfolio of e-learning tools. For Adobe, it’s all about the quality of content, and we can understand why:

“Adobe gets the content right—its 60-minute virtual Adobe Connect labs consistently receive net promoter scores above 90 percent.” – Training Magazine

Facebook’s learning and development package

Mike Welsh, Learning and Development Partner and People Engineer at Facebook, shared, “Facebook’s key learning and development objectives are to promote respect and foster a culture of continual learning.” So how does Facebook accomplish this? Through a number of innovative programs. First, the company focuses on personalizing the experience for employees with various specified tracks and on-demand classes. Next, Facebook provides an Engage Coaching Program that enables new managers to have one-on-one time with an executive as a mentor. Together, they work on their people management skills. Finally, Facebook’s FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice) program is built for peers and executive team members to provide rising leaders honest feedback.

Salesforce centers its attention on employee success

Salesforce focuses on employee success to drive customer success. In order to do this, Salesforce developed Trailhead, an interactive customer learning platform for in-house employee training. Trailhead also opens up one-on-one learning opportunities for managers and employees to discuss and track the progress of personal goals.

But Adobe, Facebook, and Salesforce are just three of many tech leaders that are effectively using and learning and development to drive employee engagement. Don’t lose sight of what’s important to your employees. According to Oxford Economics, 62% of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs due to lack of learning and development. Learn how to create an unbeatable learning and development program to retain your employees and keep them motivated.

What other ways can your business kick off an impactful learning and development program? Training Magazine shares five affordable ways for companies of any size to run a successful learning and development initiative:

  1. In-house mentorship and coaching
  2. Online education courses
  3. Gather employee feedback and test new ideas
  4. Train new managers to become inspirational leaders
  5. Value your employees like you value your customers

It’s been reported that three-fourths of employees that work for companies with financial performance that is significantly above average are moderately or highly engaged. Start engaging your employees with the right learning and development opportunities. By connecting employees to new learning and development resources, they can reach their full potential at work, feel driven to produce stronger results, and trust that their company cares about its employees’ success.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and 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 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

Inspirational Leadership

5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader

By: Marci Peters
Director of Customer Service, Achievers

How important is it to have inspirational leadership versus average leadership? The answer: Very important. According to Great Leadership, organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Which is why it should be mission-critical for businesses to focus on developing inspirational leaders to improve company culture, teamwork, performance and bottom-line results.

CEOs are focusing on leadership development opportunities for their workforce more than ever to maximize business performance and encourage their employees to reach their full potential. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. The same study found that managers with high talent are more likely to be engaged than their peers: According to Gallup: “More than half (54%) of managers with high talent are engaged, compared with 39% of managers with functioning talent and 27% of managers with limited talent.” With numbers like these it’s clear to see why it’s so important to foster proper leadership development, so those leaders can in turn inspire their employees, driving engagement and leading to better business outcomes.

So what exactly does it take to become an talented and inspirational leader? There have been countless books written on the subject of leadership, but the secret to being a strong leader is not in a chapter of any book, it is having a passion for leadership. Having the passion for leadership isn’t something you can just learn or pick up over time – it is built within your DNA and motivates you to get up every morning and make an impact. But there are some proven ways to bring out the leader in you.

After more than 20 years in leadership roles, I have identified what I believe are the five keys to unlocking the inspirational leader within:

  1. Find your inspiration
    Identify a role-model. For example, Bill Gates or Richard Branson, to name a couple current examples that instantly leap to mind. But they don’t necessarily have to be famous – think of any successful leader in your life who inspires you daily and aligns with the type of leader you want to be. Start exemplifying their leadership behaviors, whether it’s being more supportive, positive, fair, consistent, transparent, appreciative, or all of the above. It’s important to look up to someone – every leader had another leader to look up to at one point in their life.
  2. Lead by example
    This step sounds cliché, but is absolutely true. You should always lead by example and practice what you preach. No leader is effective or taken seriously if they can’t act on their own beliefs or practices. Leaders need to actually lead the way, versus just talking the talk (and not walking the walk).
  3. Nurture others
    Take care of your people, from hiring to training, support and development and career pathing. Your team needs to feel the love when it comes to the full employee experience. It’s not always just about getting work done – it’s about feeling valued, appreciated and taken care of.
  4. Empower your team
    First and foremost, hire the right people with the right attitude and who are passionate about what they do. You want to build a team that meshes well together and shares the same values as the company, then train them well, starting with a strong, structured onboarding program. And of course, always provide a supportive, empowering environment for your team to thrive. Allow employees to learn from failures and celebrate their successes with frequent recognition and rewards.
  5. Have fun
    It’s as simple as that! Business is business, but you have to make time to play and have fun. It makes all the difference when you enjoy what you do – people can see when someone loves what they do and your positive energy will only benefit the workplace. Also, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, 70 percent of successful executives learn their most important leadership lessons through challenging assignments. Consider taking an out-of-the-box approach with challenging assignments to make them more fun.

Not only do these five keys result in better leadership, but they also have the side benefit of increasing employee engagement. Inspirational leaders take the time to inspire, support, listen and identify opportunities for their team. According to The Harvard Business Review, developing strengths of others can lead to 10-19 percent increase in sales and 14-29 percent increase in profit.

As an inspirational leader, you can effectively engage your employees and develop their strengths for more successful business results. If you act upon these five keys with genuine interest, honesty and sincerity, you will become a more inspirational leader, foster strong and meaningful relationships and improve your bottom-line.

With 51 percent of employees reporting that they are not happy at work (see our latest infographic), companies clearly need more inspirational leaders to boost employee engagement and retain top talent. Want to learn more about the current state of employee disengagement? Download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement White Paper.

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About Marci Peters

Marci Peters

Marci 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.

 

High Employee Turnover

How to Protect Your Company from High Employee Turnover

Every manager and HR professional views employee turnover as a headache, but do you actually know how expensive and damaging it can be to your organization? Here’s a look at the dimensions of this complex problem and some tested managerial practices to alleviate it with long-term solutions.

The dimensions of the problem

Current statistics from Catalyst show that it costs an average of one-fifth of an employee’s salary to replace that person, which means that for a position paying $50,000 a year, your replacement costs will generally run over $10,000. Furthermore, this cost estimate is only an average; replacing more specialized employees can often run into six figures! One Catalyst estimate states that turnover-related costs amount to 12 percent of pre-tax income for a typical company; and these figures don’t begin to describe the internal stress created when someone quits, or the hit your brand can take if a disgruntled departing worker shares their displeasure on social media.

From the employee point of view, it’s important to realize that in 2015, almost 25 percent of American workers left their jobs voluntarily. Moreover, nearly 37 percent stated that they were currently thinking of quitting, even though they hadn’t made the move yet. The root of employee attrition originates in a lack of engagement, so the best approach to protect your company from high employee turnover is to focus on employee engagement. However, despite these alarming figures, nearly 1 in 5 executives still don’t measure their employees’ engagement in any way.

Start at the beginning

Creating a sense of engagement and belonging in your staff begins on the very first day. One-third of all employees know within the first week at a new job whether they will stay with the company for the long term. With this in mind, it is important to focus on the quality and structure of your onboarding process. Your onboarding process should be built with employee retention as one of its primary objectives. The mission and purpose of your organization should be clearly communicated from day one so that your new hires can envision your company as the right fit for their career in the long run.

Build team relationships

Assigning a mentor to new employees helps them integrate into the work culture and feel more welcomed by other team members. The mentor will naturally take an interest in the person to whom they are assigned, and should feel invested in making sure the new employee transitions into their role smoothly. An important thing to remember is that formal mentoring is only a part of the senior employee’s job. They also need to make introductions, share practical knowledge, and help the new employee to feel welcomed as a valued part of the team.

Make room for personal work styles

Providing enough flexibility to allow for various work styles and schedules is also becoming increasingly important to organizations’ employee retention efforts. If you have employees who have expressed an interest in working a slightly adjusted schedule, allowing them to shift their start time a few hours earlier or later builds loyalty and goodwill by letting them know you trust them to enough to be flexible. Harvard Business Review cites an experiment in which half the workers at a travel website were allowed to choose whether they’d like to work from home. After a nine-month trial period, the company found that workers in the at-home group quit at half the rate of those who remained at the office. Furthermore, productivity in the at-home contingent had increased by 13.5 percent. Not every employee prefers to work remotely, but facilitating that opportunity will build your brand’s reputation as being a responsive, caring employer.

Help your employees reach toward the future

Providing your staff with training and development opportunities is also an essential part of any retention strategy. This may seem counter-intuitive if you think that you’re just spending money training your staff for their next career move. But as a matter of fact, training has been statistically linked to retention, and HR consultants point out that their experience bears out these figures. Offering your staff the chance to increase their skills is a form of succession planning: By nurturing your company’s top performers you ensure a home-grown stable of future leaders. It also broadens the extent of your own in-house expertise, potentially saving you money by filling existing gaps in skills. Finally, the challenge of and rewards of learning new skills increase employees satisfaction and actually slows employee turnover.

Engage employees through recognition

Recognizing your employees for the contributions they make is another essential element in any program to increase retention. This basic management truism is all too easy to set aside when the pressure is turned up for higher productivity — but the price of ignoring employee recognition is far too high to pay. In a SHRM survey of workers who had quit in the first six months of a job, 38 percent said that they might have stayed if they were “recognized for my unique contributions,” or if they received more attention from coworkers and managers, or if they had simply been offered a friendly smile.

The solutions to employee turnover are some of the same actions that will strengthen every aspect of your business. When you make internal changes that bring your staff a greater sense of well-being and a feeling of being supported, you’ll not only retain them but also attract top talent and deliver better products and services as a result. To learn more, download our white paper on uniting your workforce with a positive company culture.

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HR Nightmares

10 Scary HR Stats That’ll Make You Howl This Halloween

Skeletons in closets, magic disappearing acts, and people masquerading as someone else: Is Halloween coming or is it just the normal everyday stuff of HR nightmares? This year, avoid spooky business in the office by brushing up on these important HR trends.

#1: Unsuccessful New Hires Haunting Your Halls

A recent survey by Leadership IQ reported that, “46 percent of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.” Forty-six percent! And it isn’t that you read their resumes wrong or they falsified their background and experience — it’s that those new hires simply are not a good fit for your company. When recruiting, ensure you’re hiring for both fit and skill.

#2 and #3: Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde: Whose Resume Do You Have?

CareerBuilder reports that a whopping 58 percent of hiring managers or recruiters have dealt with resume falsifications, a number that grew during the recent recession. When you add that to SHRM’s HR analysts findings that most resumes are read for five minutes or less, you have a dastardly potion brewing. Spend time getting to know your candidates personally and thoroughly vet their backgrounds to ensure you’re getting the brilliant Dr. Jekyll — not the despicable Mr. Hyde.

#4: The Global Market Beckons, But Your Office May Be a Ghost Town

In 2014, a Deloitte HR analysis found that 48 percent of executives lacked confidence that their human resources department was capable of meeting global workforce demands. What are you doing in the face of globalization? Depending on the location of your employees and offices, you may have a lot of education and retraining to invest in.

#5: On Again, Off Again

Industry statistics and HR data shows that one in three new hires quits within the first six months. Why? Lack of training, failing to fit in, not enough teamwork. Remember that recruiting is only half the battle — ensure your structure is also set up to effectively retain new and old employees alike.

#6: Take Off the Mask: First Impressions Matter

Did you know that one-third of new employees decided within their first week of work whether they’ll be staying with an organization long-term? How do you welcome and onboard new employees? Ensure the first impressions you give are accurate and positive.

#7 and #8: Engaged and Happy Workforce or Disengaged Automatons?

Employee engagement has long been a key issue in workplace success, and recent data and analytics show that hasn’t changed. Nearly two-thirds of all employees are disengaged, and 70 percent are unhappy with their job — and that will show in their work and in your company’s success. You can never overestimate the value of a well-designed engagement strategy.

#9: Pulling a Disappearing Act

Are you ready for as many as two-thirds of your workforce to leave your organization within the next year? That’s how many employees the Kelly Global Workforce Index says will actively engage in a job hunt in a year or less. Again, preventing this requires a strong employee engagement strategy paired with an attractive total rewards package.

#10: The Changing Face of Your Workforce

About 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day – and millennials now represent the largest subset of America’s workforce. Are you ready – really ready for the shift your business will undergo as a result? Insight and data show that millennials expect to be compensated differently, engage differently and work differently. It’s time to brush up on your emojis and get down with Snapchat. Don’t be scared, but do prepared!

As we approach the end of the year, take these 10 scary HR stats into consideration when re-strategizing your employee engagement strategy. Don’t be kept in the dark by downloading The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement White Paper.

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Also, make sure to check out our cool infographic highlighting these 10 scary HR stats!

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Employee engagement

To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization

By: Justin Rutherford
National Account Executive, Achievers

The role of a leader is to empower, engage, enable, and develop those around them in the workplace. It’s not an easy task and requires daily tending. So, how does one become a great leader? Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and management expert, spoke at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference last fall on what makes a great leader. He shared two questions that exceptional leaders consistently ask their team: “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” Buckingham’s argument is that these two questions should be at the core of every leader. By asking these two simple questions, leaders are able to provide guidance and help break down barriers. How an organization leads and supports its employees draws several parallels. If a business could ask its employees daily, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” what would that look like?

At Achievers, we use a daily 9-minute company-wide meeting known as TTP (aka “To the Point”) to facilitate this conversation. The goal of TTP is to drive alignment, visibility and give a quick break to re-energize the organization around common goals. Buzzwords aside, TTP offers a unique opportunity for the entire organization to ask, “What are you working on?” and “How can I help?” The purpose of sharing TTP in a blog post is two-fold:

  1. To demonstrate how you can apply TTP to your organization
    TTP has worked for Achievers throughout the years as a way to build alignment across the organization. If our methodology behind TTP resonates with you and your business, please feel free to duplicate TTP and apply it to your own company culture.
  2. To suggest how you can customize TTP meetings according to your own business needs
    Achievers’ TTP meetings have evolved over the years. For example, there were times when TTP would go on for over 15 minutes and we realized adjustments had to be made; and now they only run for 9 minutes. Also, as a global organization with 200+ employees, there are other factors to take into consideration when setting up a company-wide daily meeting, such as suitable time slots that work across different time zones.

By sharing why and how we conduct TTP meetings at Achievers, I hope other businesses can draw value and better align their organizations.

Below is the current breakdown of Achievers’ TTP meeting structure slide by slide. As you’ll see, the purpose of TTP meetings is to give employees the opportunity to share with the entire organization what they’re working on and ask for help if needed. Achievers’ TTP meetings are structured as follows:

Slide 1: Introductions

“Introductions” is a good time to announce any new hires that have just joined the company. This is also the right time to share if any customers, prospective customers, or potential job candidates are coming to visit the office to learn more about your business.

Slide 2: L.O.V.E Moment

Here at Achievers, L.O.V.E. stands for “Living Our Values Every day”. The most powerful way we do this is through the daily sharing of recognition moments. The host selects a recognition moment from our employee engagement platform – whether peer-to-peer or manager-to-team – and highlights it in front of the organization for a quick celebration. Moments like these show support and appreciation for hard work and provide added encouragement for employees to recognize another.

Slide 3: Good News

The “Good News” portion of TTP is used to celebrate milestones, announce closed business deals, or just  catch-up on some of the great things happening across the entire business. This part of TTP is the chance to boost spirits around company performance and give employees additional cause for celebration.

Slide 4: Department Spotlight

For the “Spotlight,” one department is given 2-minutes to highlight any projects that have been a main focus or successes they have achieved within the last two weeks. They can also speak about what is coming down the pipeline for their department. Also, every department gets equal attention by having each department rotate for this portion of TTP.

Slide 5: New Meetings

“New Meetings” is the chance to highlight new opportunities the sales team is working on. Does anyone at the company know someone in their network that works at one of these companies? If so, this is the chance for employees to help make the connection and support any new opportunities.

Slide 6: Pause Minutes

“Pause Minutes” allows for anyone in the company to share any important announcements. This can be anything from an upcoming event they want employees to attend, or an opportunity to ask for help/advice on a topic.

TTP meetings provide multiple opportunities for the Achievers team to find alignment across the organization. Because of the level of transparency and open participation, countless ideas and additional opportunities have been generated from department spotlights, prospect announcements and new meeting highlights.

One final thing to note: TTP meetings have always been very bottoms-up. Leadership steps in occasionally to share what they have been working on, but each week the host of the meeting rotates and it can be anyone in the company. This gives everyone an opportunity to stand in front of the organization and actively participate.

As someone who has worked both remotely as well as in the office for Achievers, TTP has been an invaluable part of my day-to-day these last four years at the company. As organizations strive for flatter, more transparent structures, these types of daily huddles mirror what best-in-class leaders and organizations are doing to shake up their organizational structure and build toward what Josh Bersin calls, “a network of teams.”  If you’re looking to implement something similar, feel free to reach out and let us know how Achievers can help. We’d love to be a part of helping to build the foundation for your culture, engagement, and communication strategies.

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About Justin Rutherford
Justin Rutherford HeadshotJustin has been working for Achievers for 4 years and loves being a part of the company’s journey. “Try and create more value than you consume” is a mantra that continuously inspires him when he has writer’s block. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @JustinBuud.

 

Executive Buy-In

How to Get Executives On Board with Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs

By: Kellie Wong
Social Media and Blog Manager, Achievers

Dr. Donald Clifton’s book How Full Is Your Bucket revealed the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. But there’s a proven way to address this problem: focus on employee engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success and recognition happens to be the #1 driver of employee engagement.

It’s clear businesses need to focus more on employee engagement and recognition strategies. Not only does engaging and recognizing employees make them feel valued, but they are more productive in return. By focusing on employee engagement and happiness, your bottom line results will improve as a result. In fact, the Harvard Business Review recently shared that developing employees’ strengths can increase sales up to 19% and profits up to 29%. And if you’re still skeptical, just listen to our customers. Taken together, it’s pretty clear that both employees and employers stand to benefit when they have the right rewards and recognition programs in place

If this is the case, why do some businesses find it hard to get a successful rewards and recognition program off the ground? It’s not due to a lack of desire from employees, or support from their managers. According to our latest infographic on the state of employee disengagement, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, while WorldatWork reported that 46% of senior managers view recognition programs as an investment rather than an expense. So where is the roadblock? Oftentimes, we’ve found, it comes down to a lack of executive buy-in and support. Gaining executive buy-in is one of the most critical factors for initiating and maintaining a successful employee rewards and recognition program; it is also one of the toughest hurdles for HR to overcome.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled some tips and strategies to help HR professionals get executives on board with employee rewards and recognition programs.

Get their attention with numbers

Numbers don’t lie, so why not show your executives some numbers that’ll be sure to grab their attention. According to the Hay Group, a global consulting firm, “Our research into employee engagement has shown that companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement.” Still not convinced? How about some powerful numbers provided by best-selling author and leading authority on employee recognition, Dr. Bob Nelson. Nelson shares that organizations which have a ‘culture of recognition’ have employees that are:

  • 5X times more likely to feel valued
  • 7X more likely to stay with their company
  • 6X more likely to invest in their company
  • 11X more likely to feel completely committed to their jobs

And if you’re targeting the C-suite, make sure to share this little tidbit: The financial return of Fortune’s Best Places to Work has been shown to be 233% higher over a 6-year period as compared with overall market returns and companies with higher employee satisfaction scores have been shown to have a 700% higher shareholder return.

Win them over with the right program

But getting executive buy-in for your rewards and recognition program isn’t just about convincing them of the potential ROI or how it will lead to bottom line growth. At it’s core, it should be about taking care of your most valuable asset — your employees. With that in mind, you also need to sell them on your vision of an employee rewards and recognition program that reflects your company’s culture and values and keeps employees needs at the forefront. What makes it unique? Why will your employees love it? How is this particular program the perfect fit for your business?

To help guide your pitch, start with the following key points:

  • Reinforces core values. Inc. recently shared why defining company values is important, stating, “Promoting your values throughout your organization can help your employees focus on their goals.” With the right employee rewards and recognition program you can easily tie in your company values with every recognition, reinforcing core values across the organization daily. With such strong reinforcement your employees can better focus on goals and, in turn, be more productive.
  • Results-driven. Recognitions can be tied to specific business objectives, such as rewarding employees for hitting a certain sales target, as well as to broader objectives like a focus on customer satisfaction. Employee recognition is particularly powerful because it can infuse each and every action and interaction in your company with inspiration. Points-based employee recognition underscores the value employees are creating when they contribute to success and do the right things.
  • Data and analytics. Key metrics can be accessed for real-time analytics and reporting. A good recognition and rewards program can give you the ability to track every recognition and reward given or received, allowing you to identify top performers and empowering managers to take action accordingly.
  • Cost-savings. It’s a no-brainer — online, social recognition solutions require less time, effort and cost when compared to trying to create a do-it-yourself solution or continuing to invest in outdated years of service programs.

A critical factor for any business and executive is to draw in and keep top talent. The best way to do so is by focusing on employee engagement and how to make employees happy through the right rewards and recognition program. Remember, companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest level of engagement. Employee engagement can quickly become top of mind for any executive once they understand how much it directly impacts business revenue.

To learn more, download the Obtaining Executive Buy-In for Employee Rewards and Recognition Programs White Paper.

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About Kellie Wong
Kellie WongKellie Wong is the Social Media and 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 20+ guest blog contributors and edits every piece of content that gets published. Connect with Kellie on LinkedIn.

 

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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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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boomerang employees

3 benefits of boomerang employees

“Boomerang” employees are workers who leave an organization and then come back a few months (or even years) later. Depending on their reasons for leaving and what they’ve been doing in the meantime, these returning employees can bring major benefits to your company. Here are three big benefits to re-hiring employees, and a few cautionary notes:

  1. Improved morale

Talented employees are constantly being recruited and headhunted by your competitors, and it can be painful to watch these workers jump ship for a more tempting situation. When they return, it sends the validating message that your organization is actually the best thing going right now. According to Winston Binch, chief digital officer and partner at Deutsch LA, “Our boomerangs prove to us all that we’re on to something, that what we’re doing is noteworthy, and it’s worth sticking around for.”

  1. Cost savings

It requires fewer resources to source, recruit, and onboard a former employee than someone who’s entirely unfamiliar with your company. You may not even need to use a recruiter, and a boomerang employee can save you time and money by being ready to hit the ground running.

  1. Fresh skills and energy

If your employee left their position with your company in order to pursue a passion, gain new skills, or try their hand at building a startup, they will have grown and changed during their absence. When they return, they are likely to bring fresh talent, knowledge, and networking contacts to your company.

Warning signs

While hiring boomerang employees is usually a net plus, it’s important to be aware of potential pitfalls in this practice. If an employee left due to personality conflicts, and the problems stopped as soon as they were gone, it’s not worth taking a chance on reintroducing a source of disruption. Likewise, if the employee was not performing exceptionally well at the time of departure, they need to have a clear explanation regarding what factors interfered with their previous performance, and why things are different this time.

As companies recognize the benefits that boomerang employees bring with them, these returning workers are being welcomed back in far greater numbers than they once were. Seventy-six percent of HR professionals note that they have become more open to re-hiring previous employees than they used to be, while 56 percent say they now give high priority to former employees who left in good standing, according to a Kronos survey. Judicious rehiring of good workers is increasingly recognized as a way to bring fresh energy and value to your organization.

Characteristics of a good manager

Characteristics of a good manager: what can and can’t be taught

You’ve heard the expression “born leader” before. Is there such a thing? And if being a good manager is due to inborn traits, is there value in all the leadership training programs currently available? The truth, as you probably suspected, is a combination of both. Here’s a look at some of the inherent qualities that contribute to effective leadership, together with an exploration of the ones that can be taught:

Inherent leadership qualities

According to Psychology Today, about one third of leadership ability springs from a person’s innate tendencies. These include the following:

  • Extraversion: A good leader often has to deal with other people all day long, so it’s better to be energized rather than drained by the experience.
  • Social intelligence: Managers don’t necessarily need the kind of intelligence that allows people to solve calculus problems, but they need a quick understanding of the structure of social interactions.
  • Assertiveness: Obviously a leader must be willing to put their message out in clear terms.
  • Willingness to take risks: Leaders must be capable of taking calculated risks without being timid or foolhardy.
  • Empathy: Good leaders have the capacity to see the world through the eyes of those whom they direct.

Leadership qualities that are teachable

In one study, managers who took a leadership course saw improvement in many of the characteristics of a good manager as long as they started with one key quality: employee motivation. University of Notre Dame, which offers leadership training, identifies business course topics that contribute to the development of skilled leaders. These topics include:

  • Good communication skills: A person’s extroversion is only beneficial if it is backed up by skillful speaking and writing abilities.
  • Team building ability: Leading depends on building effective working groups and bringing stakeholders together. This is the learned skill that extends social intelligence into measurable progress.
  • Recognition of the need for change: Taking bold steps to enact change when it’s necessary can feel risky, but a good manager is ready to step outside their safety zone and try something completely different.
  • Vision and goal setting: A persuasive manager develops visions and goals interactively through an empathetic understanding of subordinates’ needs.

Tips on training your managers

Leadership author Erika Anderson points out that the central leadership quality of self-awareness can be developed by inviting feedback from direct reports and encouraging managers to listen carefully. Instituting organizational channels for two-way communication between managers and their teams is good way to nurture self-awareness.

Rudy Giuliani is quoted as having said, “Leadership does not simply happen. It can be taught, learned, developed.” With training opportunities available to develop their innate abilities, your managers can prove his point.

Managing Remote Teams

Managing remote teams: how to lead from a distance

Now that technology has made it easier than ever to telecommute, companies are relying more and more on teams of remote employees. However, these long-distance workers can pose unique challenges for the managers who supervise them. Without the traditional trappings of an office, coffee breaks, and face-to-face communication, managers need to find new ways to coach and connect. Here are three best-practice tips that are proving successful in managing remote teams:

  1. Focus on outcomes

Are you accustomed to judging your employees’ productivity according to whether they show up on time and look like they’re busy? If so, managing a team of people you can’t see will force you to find other evaluation methods and rely more on employee accountability. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, points out that, “It’s much harder to fake productivity when you work remotely, as long as managers are focusing on goals and outcomes for their employees and teams.” She notes that successful managers set “granular tasks,” with weekly and possibly even daily milestones. If your employee is hitting all their productivity marks, you don’t need to worry about how many hours they’re actually at their desk, or whether they take a break to move their laundry.

  1. Encourage multi-function communication

Staying in touch with your remote workforce means using a range of communication channels. Regular phone conversations are important, as are emails and texting. Collaboration platforms allow remote team members to share projects at a distance, and teleconferencing software lets you gather your team together in one virtual location. In addition to these formal communication channels, Harvard Business Review recommends the use of technology to “create water cooler moments.” Impromptu conversations between colleagues are one of the most valuable aspects of in-person work, and setting up an open video link between offices is the best way to reproduce this casual team-building friendliness.

  1. Develop a strong onboarding process

Traditional onboarding involves setting up an employee’s workspace and showing them around, so it may seem less relevant to your remote workers. In fact, a carefully thought-out onboarding process is essential for building your remote team. The underlying purpose of onboarding isn’t merely to introduce logistical details; its real value lies in aligning new hires with company culture and helping them feel like part of the team. Eric Siu, CEO of San Francisco marketing company Single Grain, has set up an internal wiki using Hackpad for sharing logistical information, but he also reminds managers “Don’t skimp on face time.” Personal connections, especially at the beginning of employment, are vital to laying the foundation for employee loyalty.

Managing remote teams effectively doesn’t mean you have to develop an entirely new set of skills. If you rely on your professional instincts and simply adjust a few of your methods, you’ll find yourself leading a productive, engaged team.

 

Bad Bosses

Repairing the damage done by bad bosses

If you’re entering a leadership role after your team has suffered the ill effects of a bad boss, you’ve got a list of important tasks ahead of you to repair the damage. You may find your employees discouraged and unproductive in the wake of poor management, and you will need to introduce an entirely new climate for team operations. While this is a tricky task, it’s an important one, because you’ll be making the workplace a much more pleasant and productive place for everyone.

Encourage employee feedback

There are different kinds of bad bosses, from the micromanagers to the inept, to the disconnected and the downright mean. Find out what kind of damage control you need to do by asking employees to submit anonymous, written responses to a few questions. The anonymity will provide a sense of safety and encourage people to be honest, and open-ended questions such as, “What changes would you like to see in our operations?” allow the real problems to surface. Follow up this input with face-to-face meetings dedicated to creating a new team atmosphere. On an ongoing basis, make clear that feedback in your organization goes in both directions: Explain that supervisors and managers will continue to seek feedback from direct reports.

Build positive team relationships

You and your direct reports can set the tone for a productive workplace environment by using a multi-pronged approach:

  • Transparency: Share department goals and strategy openly with all members of your staff so that everyone feels that they have a share in working toward those goals.
  • Employee Wellness: Encourage workers to take their vacation days and get plenty of exercise, so they can recharge their energy.
  • Better Work-Life Balance: Introduce options for flexible scheduling and working from home, to ease pressure on employees with family caregiving responsibilities.
  • Employee Recognition: Give workers a boost by recognizing them when they put in extra effort on a project. Noticing and rewarding individuals who show dedication is an essential part of building employee loyalty.

“Chase the vision, not the money.” This quote, from Zappo’s uber-successful CEO Tony Hsieh, points out that the most important element to long-term success is building an organization where people love to work. It’s not easy to alleviate the disruption and disillusionment that bad bosses create within a team, but with focused effort, it’s very possible. The outcome is happier workers in the short term and a stronger department in the years to come.

Performance Improvement Plans

How to handle performance improvement plans without causing disengagement

If employees have been underperforming, performance improvement plans are sometimes the best option. This process can be awkward for managers as well as employees, but the right approach can reduce everyone’s discomfort and contribute to better employee alignment. Here are four tips for increasing the chances that your employees will react constructively when you have to put them on a PIP:

Provide specific factual documentation

To keep the discussion focused and avoid sidetracking into argument, it’s important to cite exact dates and descriptions of problem episodes. The most concise format for documentation includes a description of the behavior or product that was expected, an outline of what the employee actually did, and a list of the consequences of the employee’s actions. In addition, if any earlier remedy or consequences were put in place as a consequence of that episode, it is important to include a notation of those.

Schedule face-to-face meetings

No good manager relies only on written communication for such a sensitive interaction. You should speak to your employee in person to inform them about the fact that you will be putting them on a PIP and then send them initial written documentation. After they receive the documentation, it is imperative that you schedule a face-to-face meeting in which you can have a two-way conversation about the issue. Following your conversation, you can confirm what you agreed on in a document that you both sign.

Ask employees what they need

In some cases, an employee’s sub-par performance is the result of insufficient resources, training, tools, or other support. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s helpful to come into the PIP meeting with an open mind rather than with an assumption that the employee is entirely culpable. A productive PIP meeting should be based on the attitude that you and the employee are collaborating on finding solutions for a problem.

Develop an action plan together

While you may enter the discussion with some clear requirements in mind, it’s important that the employee have a voice in developing the action plan. If additional training is one of the items on your action plan it may be beneficial to ask the employee exactly what skills they would most like to improve. The key to a successful PIP is having employee alignment and buy-in.

Handled properly, a performance improvement plan can turn out to be a positive experience for a struggling worker. If you seek input from your employee and approach them with the sense of solving a problem together, the PIP can be a bridge to a more productive working relationship.

Tuition Reimbursement Policy

Do companies really benefit from giving tuition reimbursement?

Have you considered paying some of your workers’ tuition to continue their education? In an era where employee engagement is a top priority for businesses, tuition assistance is a much-sought-after company benefit. But it also has the potential to be a burden on your bottom line, so you must determine whether it ultimately provides a good return on your investment. The following points will help when developing a tuition reimbursement policy for your company.

Business investment or just another perk?

The opportunity to subsidize your employees to further their education requires careful decision-making. If your only reason for this offer is simply to increase employee engagement, you may want to consider other popular options such as flex-time or remote work opportunities. These options tend to improve employees’ work-life balance while being less expensive to implement.

On the other hand, if you do want to support your employees’ careers by helping them acquire specific skills, your organization has the chance to benefit from their improved knowledge and abilities. Furthermore, you will also build a strong employer brand and benefit from attracting top talent in a competitive marketplace. Remember that you may be able to offer up to $5,250 tuition assistance per year per employee and deduct it as a business expense on your taxes. Be sure to read the fine print on the IRS instructions regarding this tax break before you proceed.

ROI may be diffuse

Training Magazine highlights the 125 companies each year that excel in employee training. This eminent list includes some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious companies, and 99 percent of them offer tuition reimbursement. These businesses have determined that employee education is a worthwhile investment, however the true return might come in the form of lower employee turnover, greater productivity, better job candidates, and greater worker loyalty.

Roll out tuition benefits thoughtfully

If you do decide to offer a tuition program, you may wish to limit it to workers who have been with your company for a specific length of time. You can also specify the GPA that the employee has to maintain, and you can limit the areas of study to those that will directly pertain to the skills your company needs. Further, you may want to spend time talking with a worker who expresses interest in enrolling in school to learn how he or she will balance the commitments of job, class time, and homework.

By offering a well-considered tuition reimbursement policy, you will be partnering with your employees to build their success. At the same time, your company can benefit from their improved expertise and develop strong employee loyalty.

 

Employee Coaching

How to improve your 1:1 manager meetings

Holding regular one-on-one meetings with your employees is a major component of employee alignment, coaching, and good management. Not only are they a great way to build individual relationships with your employees, but there is often information that’s not appropriate to cover in a group setting. Handled correctly, these meetings offer abundant benefits for you, your staff, and your entire company. Here’s a quick look at how you can optimize the benefits of your individual meetings with employees:

How you benefit from 1:1 meetings with your direct reports

Meeting with your individual employee allows you to see beyond their output, giving you insight into their essential wellbeing. You will know ahead of time if the person is anticipating difficulties accomplishing their work, and you’re also likely to learn about any conflicts occurring between employees. Effective management depends on your awareness of what underlies high productivity, as well as the nature of existing and future obstacles. Furthermore, you will become a better manager as you absorb and learn from your employees’ feedback.

How your employees benefit from 1:1 meetings with you

Your direct reports rely on you to help them clear any work-related roadblocks they are experiencing. When you provide employee coaching and constructive feedback, you’re showing that you value each individual worker, enhancing your relationship and enabling them to work at their highest capability.

How your company benefits from your 1:1 meetings

Employee wellbeing has a direct effect on productivity. When you take the time to have regular one-on-one meetings, you are creating an environment in which personnel problems are solved before they become acute. Your organization saves money when employee turnover is reduced, and employee loyalty is strengthened when workers understand how their tasks align with the mission and goals of the company as a whole.

5 best-practice tips for one-on-one meetings

Follow these 5 tips to maximize the benefit of your one-on-one meetings:

  • Hold them in a private, non-distracting environment.
  • Don’t use the meeting time to deal with disciplinary issues.
  • Prepare your agenda and share it ahead of time with your employee.
  • Ask open questions and encourage your employee to initiate new topics.
  • Send a short set of “minutes” to the employee afterward to strengthen and formalize the points you discussed.

When handled correctly, individual meetings enable you and your employees to effectively navigate the sometimes complex web of managerial relationships.

Employee Turnover

How to weatherproof your company against job-hopping employees

Every business experiences turnover. Even engaged employees will move on from jobs they’ve loved for new opportunities, personal or professional. Millennials are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to rapid turnover. Forbes reports that most employees stay in their jobs about 4.4 years, but millennials expect to change jobs in fewer than three years.

Much of the reason for this is economics; millennials graduated in a tough economy and many take short-term internships and jobs that don’t use all their skills in order to earn an income. They hop to new jobs in an effort to move up the career ladder and in search of career fulfillment.

Companies need to protect themselves from the inevitability of employee turnover. Without a strategy in place, keeping operations running smoothly can be a struggle. There may be gaps in the knowledge needed to complete a project, and remaining employees often have to pick up extra work to cover for the departed employee, which can lead to lower morale. Make sure your plan covers knowledge transfer, staffing issues, and administrative tasks.

Knowledge transfer

Don’t allow one employee to be the only person who knows how to perform a crucial business function. Instead, make cross-training a part of your normal business process. The plan and associated documentation for every project should be online in a shared folder so others can access it.

No matter how much you’ve documented during normal operations, make sure knowledge transfer is a major part of departing employees’ final weeks on the job. Review the projects they’re currently working on, and schedule sessions to train other employees to pick up those responsibilities.

Staffing issues

Begin thinking about how to replace departing employees as soon as possible. Prepare standard job descriptions in advance, but remember that it’s sometimes quickest and cheapest to replace an employee with an internal transfer, so spread the word about any openings among colleagues in other departments.

Administrative tasks

Don’t forget to perform administrative tasks that are important for security. Make sure the employee returns all company-issued devices, such as laptops and cell phones. If you allow access to corporate systems from personal devices, you should be able to remotely wipe company files. Have a process for disabling the employee’s access to email and other business applications.

Exit interviews

Human resources should conduct an exit interview with employees before their last day. Departing employees can offer valuable insight that helps you improve the environment for employees who remain. If you handle this well, a departing employee can actually benefit your business.

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.

 

Executive Onboarding

3 high-powered onboarding tips for new executives

The cost of losing an employee at any level is significant. Losing an entry-level employee can cost you up to half their salary, but losing a senior level executive can cost more than 400 percent of their salary.

Those are just the direct turnover costs. When you lose executives, there are other costs to the company, including loss of momentum and sometimes damage to the company’s reputation. That’s why companies invest so much time in the executive search process. Despite all that effort, 40 percent of executives who take a new position fail during their first 18 months in the job.

A strong executive onboarding program can help reduce that risk of failure. Many companies have a standard onboarding program for employees that focuses on administrative matters, such as providing information about healthcare, 401K programs, and computer passwords. While those tasks need to be handled, they don’t meet the special needs of executives, whose work relies on relationships moreso than software.

An effective executive onboarding program needs to establish the new executive’s authority, provide an understanding of the organization’s culture, establish key stakeholder relationships, and clarify expectations and priorities. This requires an onboarding process that extends over weeks or months and provides the executive with the following:

  1. A customized overview of the organization

Onboarding should provide the executive a customized, in-depth review of the teams they’ll need to work with and the challenges they’ll need to address. This should be tailored to the department the executive will be responsible for and the issues they will be tackling.

  1. A detailed review of stakeholders

Stakeholders aren’t always obvious from an official organization chart. New executives need to understand exactly who has input into decision-making and the informal processes through which policies are discussed and consensus reached. Because management’s decisions succeed or fail based on how well lower-level employees carry them out, the new executive also needs insight into how those workers feel about the organization, their work, and the current processes.

  1. A statement of expectations

No executives can succeed when it isn’t clear what they are expected to do. Organizations should provide new executives with clear priorities, along with the metrics that will be used to measure success. Those guidelines let the new executive know where to focus his or her efforts and how to track progress.

Along with that information, new executives need a defined process that provides ongoing support for success. There should be a partnership between the new executive, management, and HR to make sure he or she gets the information needed to succeed, whether it’s day one or day 100 on the job.

HR Trends for 2016

Top 3 HR trends for 2016

In 2016, look for organizations to tighten their focus on people management, from building an inclusive company culture to increasing employee engagement. HR trends to watch for 2016 include these three hot topics:

1. Increased use of data analysis

Analyzing data to gather consumer information has been a staple of marketing strategy for decades, but data analytics is only now starting to catch on for HR professionals. One study indicates that the use of big data for people management is gathering momentum, with the current industry average at 42 percent. Smart HR professionals will be honing their data analysis skills so they can make meaningful contributions to strategic conversations in 2016.

2. Revamped performance management processes

Research shows that traditional performance management processes are falling by the wayside. A 2014 Deloitte study determined that only 8 percent of HR professionals considered their performance management process to be a key driver in adding value to business operations. However, that number jumped to 75 percent in the 2015 survey. In fact, 89 percent of respondents stated that they plan to change their performance evaluation process in the next 18 months.

This overhaul is overdue. In our 2015 North American Workforce survey, we discovered that 60 percent of respondents don’t receive on-the-spot feedback. The traditional annual and semi-annual reviews do little to remedy systemic issues with timely feedback and performance management, and fortunately many HR professionals are beginning to agree.

3. Updated employee development

The final HR trend for 2016 is a shift in the approach to employee training and development. Gone are the days in which staff can expect only enough training to perform their job functions. Today’s workers want continuous improvement of their skills in order to prepare for promotions or pursue passion projects.

In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 42 percent of workers considered their employer’s commitment to professional development to be very important to their engagement, but 46 percent were dissatisfied with their employer’s commitment to building skills. Business leaders are becoming aware of the changing emphasis on development, as the issue moved from the eighth most critical challenge for employers in Deloitte’s 2014 survey to the third most critical challenge in the 2015 report.

With the job market transitioning from employer-driven to candidate-driven, retaining top talent stands to be a challenge in 2016. Increased employee engagement is critical to staying competitive, and forward-thinking managers will ensure that they lead the way when it comes to increased data analysis, improved performance management processes, and enhanced employee development.

Micromanager

How to reform a micromanager

Simply by position alone, managers have a major impact on employee productivity. This is good when the manager has the skills and experience to get the best work out of their direct reports. It’s not so good when managing slides into micromanaging. As anyone who has ever worked under a micromanager can tell you, it’s a surefire method of making employees feel stressed and disengaged. Here are a few tips on how you can recognize when supervisors are veering into micromanagement terrain and guide them back to supporting their staff members in a healthy way.

Identify your micromanagers

Harvard Business Review provides a handy checklist for identifying micromanaging behavior. It finds that micromanagers:

  • Are never quite satisfied with deliverables
  • Often feel frustrated because they would have gone about the task differently
  • Laser in on the details and take great pride and/or pain in making corrections
  • Constantly want to know where all their team members are and what they’re working on
  • Ask for frequent updates on where things stand and prefer to be cc’d on all emails

Productively reform your micromanager

First, it’s essential to realize that people with a tendency to micromanage are usually passionately dedicated to their work and deeply invested in good outcomes. As you assist them in taking a step back from the jungle of details they’re wading through, you can express your appreciation for their commitment to organizational goals.

Next, help your micromanagers articulate why they feel they must take responsibility for everything. Their reasons are often based in fear that too much is at stake or that the work won’t get completed correctly. Once they clearly identify their concerns, you’ll be in a position to help them logically examine these issues. In some cases, you may uncover actual personnel problems that need to be addressed, but usually you can ease their worries by presenting the benefits of stepping back a bit.

It’s also beneficial to encourage micromanagers to ask for feedback from their teams. In many instances, overly involved supervisors sincerely believe they’re being helpful by shouldering responsibilities, and they may try to change their habits if they hear from direct reports that their approach is actually counterproductive.

Strengthen productivity by improving management practices

Managing the managers is one of the trickier interpersonal challenges facing HR directors and executives, but it’s a crucial element of organizational success. Employee engagement and productivity throughout your company are nurtured when workers feel trusted to carry out tasks on their own.

The Peter Principle

Promotions & the Peter Principle: how to find the sweet spot where employees succeed

How do you choose which employees to promote? If you’re like most managers, your answer is straightforward: You move up the workers who perform their duties most competently. Unfortunately, relying on strong performance as your only criterion for promotion may cause your organization to suffer from the Peter Principle. This principle was identified over four decades ago by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. They observed that as workers were steadily moved upward in a hierarchy, they eventually reached a position where their competence could no longer warrant further promotion. As a manager, it’s crucial that you understand and guard against the Peter Principle operating in your organization. Here are some insights to help you build an effective promotion strategy and make sure each employee is positioned at the level of his or her greatest strength.

Maintain a fluid organizational structure

Steve Jobs encouraged innovation at Apple by moving workers around from one project to another, taking advantage of individual skills and combating stagnation. Likewise, Zappos fueled its vigorous profit margin by eliminating the classic management hierarchy in favor of a model made up of team “circles.” By sidestepping the traditional hierarchies, these successful companies enable workers to display a wider range of abilities. People skilled at a particular function receive pay raises rather than promotions, thus rewarding them while maintaining them where they excel. Individuals with leadership skills are able to put their talents to use in an organic way, emerging over time as natural leaders.

Identify the unique skills each position requires

Each successive level of responsibility doesn’t necessarily require more the same skills as the previous position. Proctor and Gamble chairman A.G. Lafley observes in Harvard Business Review that promotions can be a “jump shift,” especially at the executive level. Humana Board Member William J. McDonald adds, “I think one of the biggest mistakes boards make is to assess people only in the context of their current jobs.” If you clarify the precise skill set of the new position, you can objectively decide which candidate is best equipped for the job.

Test out and nurture leadership ability

There is no magic formula for recognizing intrinsic leadership talent among the ranks of your employees. But if you make a practice of giving everyone occasional responsibilities outside of their usual duties, you can discover unexpected abilities. Switching up the standard task allotment has the additional benefit of breaking up boredom and increasing worker motivation. Management development expert Jeanette Suflita advises, “Provide your potential leaders with temporary leadership opportunities. It’s an excellent way for them to try out their skills and to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.” Those with standout management talent can be offered mentoring, coaching and formal leadership development training so that they’ll be ready when a new position becomes available.

Understanding the Peter Principle is essential for the health of your business, because an incompetent manager will drive your best employees to look for more satisfying positions. A recent Gallup study found that 50 percent of employees who left their jobs cited bad managers as their primary reason. If you promote your natural leaders to management roles, and leave the talented line workers in place to apply their unique competence, you can build a robust, productive organization.

STEM Careers

5 ways to make your company stand out to STEM candidates

Job candidates with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills are some of today’s most coveted professionals, and it’s a buyer’s market for people with this technical talent. In order to compete with other employers for STEM job candidates, employers need to go the extra mile. Here are 5 things your company can do to attract STEM candidates, from the initial inquiry all the way through to an accepted offer.

Start an apprenticeship program

One way to turn up the flow of STEM job applicants is to establish a presence in high schools and colleges. New apprenticeship programs are appearing across the technology sector, according to the Wall Street Journal. When you position your brand as an advocate for improving STEM education, you develop an early loyalty among tomorrow’s top talent.

Present opportunities for career growth

STEM candidates want to use their skills to have an impact on the world, and they picture themselves on a rising career trajectory. Your company needs to publicize a policy of facilitating professional development, so that you are seen by skilled job candidates as an ally in building their careers. Encouraging personal ownership over the life cycle of a project is an important method of supporting professional growth.

Define job responsibilities clearly

The data analysts at Qubole point out that people skilled in quantitative areas tend to be linear thinkers, and they gravitate towards well-structured responsibilities. Job postings and interviews should be clear about your organization’s vision, your methods of providing a good work environment, and your approach to personal achievement and group collaboration.

Train and promote from within

Don’t overlook your existing human capital — fresh graduates are not necessarily better than the people who are already committed to your organization. Providing advanced training opportunities can build your talent pool for tomorrow’s needs, while also strengthening your employer brand. “A commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company,” according to CIO.

Invest in technology

Keeping your technology at the industry’s leading edge is fundamental to attracting top talent in the STEM fields. Any hint of reluctance to invest in tools and training will discourage STEM specialists right from the beginning. The appearance of staying current extends to using the most effective digital tools for hiring and employee recognition.

You will attract top-tier STEM talent by simply being open about the value that these candidates bring to your company. When you send a clear message that you recognize and nurture your employees, you will build your company’s human capital for the long term.

Managing Millennials

3 reasons you should let Millennials manage

Are you hesitant to put Millennials in managerial roles because of their youth and lack of experience? This hesitancy is certainly understandable. As an experienced professional manager, you’re well aware that years in the industry provide insights that no newcomer can automatically acquire. However, it turns out that your company can still benefit from the unique skills younger staff members can bring to leadership roles. Here are three reasons you should look for Millennials with characteristics of a good leader and give them a chance to shine.

Millennials are big on transparency

Younger managers can command loyalty from their direct reports by creating an atmosphere of transparency throughout the work environment. This openness extends from compensation to strategy and company process. With this outlook, Millennial managers will expect productivity to rely on the shared efforts of the group. When problems arise, they can sidestep resentment of their authority, drawing on the collective mind for solutions.

Millennials seek networks, not hierarchy

Training Magazine points out that young adults grew up in a networked social media environment, where they’re related to a web of connections rather than a chain of command. Freed from a preoccupation with preserving authority, they can easily solicit and accept feedback. This willingness to put mutual goals ahead of personal aggrandizement can foster an open exchange of ideas, increasing company-wide trust and leading to valuable innovation.

Millennials give more frequent feedback

Millennials don’t measure productivity in terms of hours at a desk, and they’re not usually fans of formal, scheduled performance reviews. Instead, they’ll use their emotional intelligence to stay connected with their staff, rewarding effort and productivity with frequent, informal expressions of appreciation.

Fast Company reports that Millennials are ready and eager to lead: 82 percent of workers in this age group express an interest in managing, compared with only 57 percent of employees of other ages. Chief Executive Magazine advises that up-and-coming young leaders can be groomed by whetting their curiosity and exposing them to new ideas, then personalizing their contribution and activating their inherent desire to do good in the world.

When you give your most talented young leaders a chance to step forward, and balance their innovative style with the insights of more experienced staff, you’re taking steps toward establishing a robust basis for transitioning your company well into the coming decades.

Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

Seismic shift #3: From theoretical models to real-world behaviors

The third of the seismic shifts that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work is the move from theoretical models to real-world behaviors, according to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham.

As he explained at Achievers Customer Experience 2015, the seismic shifts will force organizations to zoom in from current broad, depersonalized views to localized, team-based approaches to talent management. Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, shared that today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people.

One area for change is with competency models. As an employee moves up in a company, the competency model grows to “require” more skills and traits for the job. Buckingham says there is no real data to support competency models, and – very importantly – no one person will have all of the traits, qualities, and competencies in the model. Instead, companies need to get away from models as a way to define positions, people, and promotions and move toward tools for real managers and teams.

For instance, look at this 40-point competency model created by NASA for Systems Engineering leaders. It seems impossible to be able to accurately measure employees based on this overwhelming set of attributes.

NASA Competency Model

Buckingham said that when you study the best teams in an organization, ask the right questions, and compare the answers you get from the best teams to the answers you get from the worst teams, you can see the difference. The questions are in four key areas – Purpose, Excellence, Support, and Future – and are designed to probe how the employee feels about the team and about himself/herself in relation to the organization. Here are some examples:

  1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
  2. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values.
  3. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  4. I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work.

The manager – the team lead – is responsible for making employees feel connected to something larger and ensuring they feel they have a stake in it. Organizations must hold team leaders accountable not only for their team’s performance, but also for how team members feel about the organization.

The challenge for today’s enterprise is to move the organization’s view and workforce analytics to the local level while balancing the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Marcus Buckingham Performance Ratings

Seismic shift #2: From big data to real-time, reliable data

Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and founder of TMBC, outlined the three seismic shifts in talent management that will take an organization’s focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.  During his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, Buckingham explained that organizations will need to move from big data to real-time, reliable data.

According to him, performance ratings data is typically “garbage” because it is generated only once or twice per year, and it’s based on the fallacy that human beings can be reliable of raters of other human beings. In fact, he says that humans are horribly unreliable and have been recognized as unreliable for years.

Enterprises invest billions in the traditional performance reviews that take place each year. After the reviews are completed, data has to be compiled, reviewed, and analyzed by human resources and then packaged up and sent back to leaders before anyone can get a raise, promotion, or learning development plan (or termination). But these workforce analytics are based on obsolete data. It would be better, as noted in the previous post, to upend the process and make performance reviews an ongoing activity in which managers ask real questions about their employees.

In traditional performance reviews, more than half of the rating is based on the patterns of how the manager rates. For instance, if a manager has given a 4 to two employees in a row, they’ll likely be more inclined to give a 3 or a 5 to the next person in the line. According to the study Understanding the Latent Structure of Job Performance Ratings, “Our results show that a greater proportion of variance in ratings is associated with biases of the rater than with the performance of the ratee.”

Companies have known about – and have been trying to remove – these idiosyncratic rater effects (IRE) for decades. Recently, some companies have decided to stop doing performance reviews altogether. But Buckingham says that reviewing isn’t the problem; it’s the ratings and the IRE that are leading to bad data.

Companies actually need a range of data and a differential between people in order to determine how to pay and promote them. He says companies should be asking: How do we capture good data about our employees?

This takes us back to the team lead. Buckingham says instead of asking the leader to rate his or her employees objectively (which is rarely possible), you should turn the questions around so that the rater is asked to record their own feelings and actions:

  • I always go to Jane when I need extraordinary results. (1-5)
  • I choose to work with Jane as much as I possibly can. (1-5)
  • Would I promote him/her today if I could? (Y/N)
  • Does he/she have a performance problem that I need to address immediately? (Y/N)

Taking those answers and comparing them to data about the team leaders’ intentions for the team, noting how long he/she has worked with each employee, and understanding that each leader has innate rating tendencies (more critical or more ____, for example), creates natural, real performance ranges that can be used to make solid decisions about pay, promotions, and training.

Marcus Buckingham Talent Management

Seismic shift #1: From serving the organization to serving the team leader

The three seismic shifts that will affect human beings, human capital, and human resources, according to Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and chair and founder of TMBC, will change organizations’ focus down to the local level, upset the traditional performance review process, and up-end traditional competency models.

At Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2015, he elaborated on the first of three: the shift from serving the organization to serving the team leader. As he noted, in any given company, with policies, procedures, culture, and environment being equal, the success of teams can still vary wildly. The only difference? The way the team leader manages the team.

Buckingham says that no matter where you work, as the team leader goes, so goes the organization. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are made to serve the organization rather than the team. Most HR departments launch initiatives centrally and push them down to the employees. Buckingham suggests shifting the focus to the local level by borrowing the processes of successful teams and pushing those practices back up.

One way to do this is to change the performance review process. Instead of a once-a-year snapshot (that requires managers to rate employees on a scale) that is fed back to the central HR department for compilation, review, and analysis before being cascaded back to the manager, he said the process should be frequent, local, and personalized. He emphasized that HR should never be the first department to get their hands on performance review data and workforce analytics – everything should go to the team leaders first, so that they can act quickly on the findings.

This can be accomplished by moving the focus away from a traditional rating scale to questions that allow the manager to asses less subjective information:

  • What are the strengths of the people on the team – what can each person do?
  • What are the teams doing now – where is the work?
  • How are the team members feeling – right now?

We need to have managers start asking and answering these three questions right now and on a regular basis. By moving the focus from ratings, which Buckingham notes are subject to interpretation by each manager (some managers never give a “3,” for example), to real questions about real people, an organization can truly measure where each team members’ strengths lie and – importantly for engagement – how they feel about their work.

By  serving the  manager rather than the organization and focusing on real-time results and dynamic teams, Buckingham says a company can model success from the bottom up.

Our next post will focus on the 2nd seismic shift: from big data to real-time, reliable data.

Marcus Buckingham at ACE 2015

3 seismic shifts that will reshape organizational behavior

There are three seismic shifts underfoot that will affect human capital, human resources, and the human experience at work.

These shifts will force organizations to zoom in from their broad, depersonalized view and instead take a localized, team-based approach to talent management. According to best-selling author and management expert Marcus Buckingham, organizations need to overhaul the traditional performance review process and upend existing competency models.

Buckingham, who also is the founder and chairman of TMBC, has dedicated his career to exploring and addressing the complex issues of strengths, management, and leadership in the workplace. He described the three following shifts during his keynote at Achievers Customer Experience 2015:

  • From serving the organization to serving the team leader – Today’s workforce tools are made to serve the organization, but no matter where you work, the team leader affects how successful their employees will be. Despite the fact that every organization knows this, HR tools are not built to serve the team leader. Performance management, employee engagement, etc., are built to serve the organization.
  • From big data to real-time, reliable data – Predictive data is ubiquitous in today’s organizations, but no matter how great the algorithm, if you put in bad data, you’ll get bad data in return. In fact, the way most organizations gather performance ratings data results in faulty workforce analytics.
  • From theoretical models to real-world behaviors – Today’s HR development tools are based on models, not people, and measure against a set of competencies and skills that are expanded upon as an employee moves up in an organization. This isn’t realistic for two reasons: a) no one person possesses all of the competencies and skills “required” by any given workforce model; and b) there is no data to support competency models, so organizations should not promote against them.

The challenge for HR and business leaders in making these shifts will be finding and deploying tools – many of which exist already – to take the organization’s view from “we” to “me.”

In the following posts, we will explore how Buckingham says organizations can take the focus from a central to a local approach, and how they can balance the needs of employees to feel at once unique and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Bobi Seredich at ACE 2015

Day 1 at ACE 2015: EI is the X factor that creates engaging and inspiring leaders

The threshold competencies for a successful leader are IQ, technical skills, and emotional intelligence (EI). While most of us would think that IQ and technical skills are most important, in reality EI is twice as important as a predictor of leadership success.

In her Achievers Customer Experience 2015 (ACE) session, Bobi Seredich, co-founder of Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, explains how EI is not only important for leaders, but also organizations as a whole. According to Seredich, EI and the ability to connect with your colleagues becomes even more important as one moves into senior leadership positions.

Why? Because a company with great leaders who understand and practice EI can make business teams more productive, engaged, empowered, and committed to the organization, and it can increase the retention of those teams.

Seredich said that practicing EI is like playing golf or practicing yoga. Some days you play great, and other days you falter. She encouraged ACE attendees to explore EI and why it is so important in the workplace for leaders and employees, saying:

  • If two people are in a room, and a person with a negative emotion walks in, it only takes 3 seconds for that negative emotion to permeate the room. Influencers need to realize how their behaviors and demeanors affect the room.
  • Ninety percent of communications are non-verbal, so leaders should be highly aware of how they are communicating with their posture and demeanor as well as their words.
  • People decide if you are competent in less than 100 milliseconds, so you need to be very mindful of your body language and facial expressions when you meet new people in order to make the best impression.

Of course, because of the way human’s brains work, emotions often come before thoughts, so humans feel before we think. This can lead to misunderstandings, disconnections, and stress overload. Learning EI includes understanding how to manage emotions and knowing that being a great leader of a highly successful organization includes the balance of “heart and edge.”

Top performers who are most likely to be promoted are those who approach with heart by demonstrating humility, listening without bias, and building connections. They also have an “edge,” and set high expectations, hold themselves to account, and stand with conviction.

Practicing a balanced EI approach with a mind to connecting with employees, increasing engagement, and creating success, according to Seredich, can help keep everyone’s minds on task by avoiding emotional overload in the workplace.

Feedback Techniques

How to give feedback your employees will listen to

As a manager, you need to be able to shape the performance of your staff and offer guidance and course corrections as needed. Giving feedback to your team can be tricky, however, since sounding too negative or critical may cause your listener to simply shut down. Here are a few feedback techniques you can use to guide your employees in a manner that encourages them to perform at their peak.

Center feedback on business outcomes

Harvard Business Review recommends approaching your employee in a spirit of collaboration. If you identify specific business outcomes (more sales, better service, etc.) as goals that both of you are interested in achieving, your feedback takes on a quality of teamwork. The entire atmosphere of the interaction is transformed into one of mutuality, as your input assists the two of you in succeeding in a shared effort.

Consider performance management as a holistic system

Employers should view feedback as part of an encompassing performance management system that’s initiated on the hire date, according to HR Daily Advisor. From the first days of orientation through the training, counseling, and coaching you provide your employees, you’re establishing a system to elicit and recognize peak performance.

Establish two-way feedback channels

If you tell a staff member that he or she needs to complete a process more rapidly, you also need to ask that person if there are any obstacles preventing greater efficiency. All too often, managers are unaware of bottlenecks and obstructions that their employees contend with every day. Forbes encourages managers to keep an open door and take a friendly interest in all aspects of their staff’s working life.

Plan on learning something

The traditional view of giving feedback about employees’ performance puts the manager in the role of already knowing everything. If you go into the conversation ready to ask questions and gain insight from your staff, you’ll end up with more buy-in for any proposed changes. Harvard Business Review suggests posing open-ended questions, such as, “How do you feel about how things are going?” and then letting the answer guide the course of your feedback.

The underlying principle of operating a business is that your fortunes are tied to those of your workers. If they feel defensive and alienated, your company’s bottom line will suffer. Feedback that clearly conveys the message that you and your employees are on the same team is the best way to ensure your company’s future resilience.

 

Onboarding new employees

2 things that set new hires up for failure

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, employers lose an average of 23 percent of all new hires within their first year. Among those who stay, one third of employees don’t meet expected levels of productivity.

These are alarming statistics. They indicate that new hires are not receiving the quality guidance and onboarding they need when starting a new position. It also means that you, the employer, are probably spending far more in hiring costs than you need to.

Onboarding new employees should be a priority initiative for your HR team, because it can have a dramatic impact on retention, productivity, and future hiring success. While there’s no single magic formula for successful programs, there are a couple of fundamental ways to get it wrong.

Unidirectional information

Experienced candidates might hit the ground running on their job’s technical aspects. However, they’ll still have plenty of basic questions they need answered: “Can I help myself to a stapler, or do I need to fill out a requisition form?” “Is this organization’s culture built around email communication, or should I speak to people face-to-face?” “Where’s the bathroom?”

Most onboarding programs are designed to give information that the organization prioritizes, like the company history, executive bios, and corporate mission statements. While this information is important, your programs should also incorporate the needs of the employee. If you want new hires to feel more welcome, make sure they have an “office buddy” — someone who can set up their workspace and show them the lay of land. The earlier you can integrate the new hire into your company’s culture, the more productive they’ll be.

Not setting clear goals and milestones

Believe it or not, only 39 percent of companies set clear goals and establish milestones for new hires. Yet without clear performance criteria, employees may end up with too much or too little work, or perform tasks in a way that upsets the apple cart. So take the time to show them how you do things, and be open to suggestions if they know how to make a process cheaper, faster, or better.

Preparing the team is critical in this process, especially if another team member was overlooked for promotion. Managers can smooth away lingering resentment by explaining why the new hire was selected for the job. It helps if you can establish a set of team goals and objectives to help the new hire — and the team as a whole — succeed.

Successful onboarding requires viewing your organization through the new hire’s eyes. Quickly integrating them into company culture, and preparing the troops for the new arrival, allows the team to gel — and that can lead to higher-level functioning, greater collaboration, and increased productivity.

How to run a meeting that engages employees

5 ways to make meetings more engaging

All too often, business meetings are unproductive, unfocused, and just plain boring. While meetings may have a bad reputation, that doesn’t mean your team can’t work together to create a positive experience for everyone involved. When employees feel engaged in a meeting, it can generate an environment where ideas flow, team collaboration improves, and social bonds are strengthened. Here are five tips for how to run a meeting that increases employee engagement:

  1. Stand up and get the blood flowing

While many people have anecdotal evidence that standing meetings improve attention and engagement, there’s now research to support this claim. The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis found that people in their study had increased levels of engagement when they stood up during a meeting compared to a control group. If you feel that the level of participation isn’t as high as you would like, or if you’re losing your audience, have team members get out of their chairs.

  1. Be sure to get people involved

If you want people engaged, you have to be sure to include them. Think about implementing different strategies to get people sharing ideas, collaborating, and speaking with one another. To do this, try routinely hosting a round at different points in a meeting where participants can contribute, share opinions, and even voice complaints. Think about breaking people up into groups or partners, or even using “speed dating,” where everyone switches partners quickly to bounce ideas off one another. Also be sure to ask for feedback on meetings and query participants about how meetings can be improved in the future.

  1. Have clear goals and objectives

Meetings that go off on tangents or don’t have a clear goal can often leave attendees frustrated and disinterested. There should be a set framework in advance of your meetings, with key points outlined and a good idea of what the meeting needs to accomplish. This can help make brainstorming sessions more focused, help you stay on point, and keep your team going in the right creative direction.

  1. Get visual

Visuals are an excellent way to increase engagement in a meeting. But just adding some pie charts to a presentation isn’t going to cut it. Think about using a white board or pin boards, mixing up colorful markers, and distributing post-its throughout your meeting room. Encourage people to write their own ideas down, express themselves visually, and even vote on ideas by placing a sticker with their name next to the proposals they like best.

  1. Try to make a meeting special

People tend to like a bit of variety in life, and meetings are no different. Think about inviting leaders and educators to speak to meeting participants. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be entirely related to the meeting topic or objective. As long as the speaker is innovative and challenges orthodoxy, there is an opportunity that he or she will educate and inspire meeting participants. You can also think about introducing a novel environment to help jump start creativity. It could be as simple as bringing people out to a park or hosting a meeting on a patio, but a change of scenery can go a long way to getting the engagement you want.

Mentorship Programs

How to improve employee onboarding with mentorship programs

Few things are more nerve-wracking than starting a new job. New hires are often apprehensive when they walk through the door on their first day, and their long-term engagement and success can be affected by how well you onboard them during the first few weeks. One great way to transition your new employees is through mentorship programs. By connecting rookie employees with seasoned mentors, you can improve morale, training quality, and even retention.   Tweet: By connecting rookie employees with seasoned mentors, you can improve morale, training quality, and even retention. http://ctt.ec/UYlu2+

Mentoring offers a host of perks for the entire workplace, such as a friendlier work atmosphere and enhanced job training. Workplace veterans can provide newbies with tips for internal processes, cultural norms, and even job-specific skills. For instance, at Achievers, all new hires are paired with a “buddy” who takes them out to lunch during their first week, introduces them to other employees, and helps them access all the resources they need to complete their onboarding paperwork and checklist.

This relationship can create an increased sense of belonging for new hires as well as a feeling of purpose for long-term employees. Instead of creating a competitive atmosphere in the workplace, you’re encouraging collaboration and peer-to-peer support.

Ideally, mentorship programs should be well-planned and thoughtfully executed to ensure that the process runs smoothly. HR should start off by talking with long-term, respected employees to gauge their interest in becoming mentors. Offering a reward for participation is a great way to entice mentors who might worry about time management and availability. At Achievers, both the new hire and the “buddy” receive reward points when the new hire successfully completes their onboarding checklist. This incentivizes both parties to work together to get everything done.

When building a mentorship program, it’s important to outline specifics like the pairing approach, program length, and collaboration frequency. Mentors will be more likely to participate if they understand exactly what their time commitment needs to be.

You’ll also need to decide how mentorships will be assigned and how outcomes will be measured. What’s the appropriate ratio of new hires to mentors? For smaller companies, a 1:1 ratio is ideal, but many large businesses prefer small groups.

Will new hires be paired with a peer or with a senior team member? Will they be paired with someone on their team or in a different department?

Before you roll out a mentorship program across your organization, consider recruiting a small test group of mentors and new hires that you work with closely to monitor their activities and get feedback. Take your learnings from the test group to create a carefully documented set of expectations and responsibilities for future mentors. Think strategically about how you can set incentives, and then publicize those incentives, to attract the best set of mentor volunteers. Mentoring will be one of the first impressions your company makes on new employees, so you want it to be easy, streamlined, and genuinely helpful.

Intern with Coffee

5 Ways to make life easier for your temps and interns

Many businesses follow specific procedures when they welcome new employees aboard. Typical activities include tours of the workplace, meeting fellow employees, and completing paperwork. These types of activities can improve employee engagement within the first few weeks, and they help employees understand what is expected of them. However, some businesses skimp on those welcome procedures with temps and interns, thinking: “Well, they won’t be here long, so we don’t need to invest in them.”

Thinking like this is a mistake. First, it leads to wasted time and wasted money as interns and temps struggle to acclimate and become productive. Second, interns and temps represent a recruiting pool from which companies can find employees who already understand and care about the business. You can help your temps and interns be more productive faster by making their lives easier right from the start. Most of these techniques you should already be using for your full-time employees, as well!

1. Eliminate guesswork during onboarding
Explain the situation that requires that a temp or intern be brought on instead of a regular employee. With interns, one possible reason (of several) is that the business values a fresh set of eyes and the recent knowledge in the field that a student brings. With temps, one reason could be that a temp can quickly and efficiently bring in a particular skill set. Doing this gets rid of any guesswork and feelings interns and temps have that they are expendable, and it increases their engagement. They’re aware that your business recognizes and values them.

2. Outline expectations and priorities
Define how you plan to measure success and what you need to see from the intern or temp. For example, you could write in the welcome packet and explain in an in-person meeting that the intern or temp should finish X project by X date, and work with ABC team. Explain priorities, possible challenges and how to address them, as well as the importance of the project. And don’t forget — employee recognition has a big impact on your employees’ happiness, so be sure to acknowledge when they do quality work and accomplish their goals.

3. Assign a mentor or buddy
You could have a handful of designated employees who always serve as “buddies” for your interns and temps, or you could solicit relevant staff to volunteer for this role depending on their department. In any case, the mentor should help the new person feel welcome by going to lunch with him or her, introducing them to other employees, giving them a tour of the office, and serving as secondary resource (along with the manager) for questions about the workplace.

4. Provide a dedicated workspace
Get newbies invested and engaged by giving them a sense of ownership. Ensure they have a dedicated space to work with all the supplies they need. If they have to struggle and scrimp for materials and a place to work from day to day, they won’t have the easiest work experience, nor will they be as eager to work for you in the future.

5. Involve your employees
The day before the intern or temp arrives, send a company-wide email explaining that X person is arriving and why, and what everyone can do to welcome him or her. Explain where he or she will be working, what projects they’ll be working on, and who they’ll be reporting to.

Employee Onboarding, Training, and Development

All aboard! How employee onboarding can affect the rest of their tenure

Employee onboarding is an essential part of the hiring process, and when it’s done effectively, it can set the foundation for long-term success in the employee’s new role. Too often, however, managers don’t realize the importance of onboarding and the long-term benefits of training and development, so they end up providing a poor-quality employee experience. This has very real effects: according to SHRM, “Half of all senior hires fail within 18 months in a new position, and half of all hourly workers leave new jobs within the first 120 days.”
Do you know the best practices for effectively onboarding your new hires? See if you identify with either of the scenarios below.

Scenario 1
On your new employee’s first day of work, you sit him or her down at a workstation and give them a large file of HR forms to fill out. After these documents have been submitted, you present the new hire with their first set of tasks and tell them to get started. You assume if they have questions, they will ask. Coworkers mostly leave the new employee alone, because they assume the person has a lot to figure out and doesn’t have time for small talk. You see onboarding as a practical to-do list: setting up a new log-in and work area and making sure the new hire is briefed on logistics such as exit, entry, schedules, and timesheets. Once the logistics are covered, you feel that onboarding is complete.
If the scenario above sounds familiar, you may be losing good employees because you’re not effectively integrating them into your organization right from the start. Scenario 2, below, demonstrates an approach that’s informed by the best onboarding practices:

Scenario 2
You gather together a set of new employees for a multi-day onboarding session, and you encourage them to think like a team. Enthusiastic brand ambassadors provide a personal welcome and company orientation, with form-filling as an interim activity that all new hires do in the same physical space. After the initial session, a peer mentor is assigned to each new hire to introduce them to co-workers and orient them to the expectations for their role. Co-workers invite the new hire to join them for a team lunch and stop by their work station frequently to offer a greeting or helpful tip and check in with how they’re doing. On several occasions after hiring, you seek feedback from your new employee about their onboarding process, and ask whether they have any suggestions for improving it.
The faster your new hires feel comfortable and confident with their new coworkers and new responsibilities, the sooner they will begin contributing to your organization’s mission in a meaningful way. The benefits of appropriate onboarding, training, and development will pay off well in building staff loyalty and strengthening your employer brand reputation for future hires.

Employee Training and Development

Make employee training a perk, not a chore

Many companies tout their employee training and development programs as major perks of employment, but their staff doesn’t always agree. Any professional education program will come with a price tag, so it’s crucial that your employees truly benefit from these offerings. If you offer programs that don’t meet the needs of your employees, you’ll pull them away from their work and add unnecessary commitments to their plate: a lose-lose situation for both the company and employees. Before you put a program in place, but sure that you’re establishing activities or courses that will genuinely contribute to your employees’ growth.

Do your homework

If you’re a program administrator, you have some essential homework to do before you convene your very first session. You need to find out each staff member’s attitude and experience about being in the role of a student. The right training approach for someone fresh out of graduate school will be very different from that for someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a classroom for decades. It’s also a good idea to ask each staff member how they learn best: Listening to explanations? Watching demonstrations? Role-playing and hands-on experimentation? A well-designed employee survey can give you valuable background information with which to design or select your education program.

Match training to needs

The ideal training programs will advance the interests of your entire business as well as that of individual staff members. Your choice of subject matter for employee development courses should be guided by the actual skill sets needed to meet current on-the-job demands. For instance, are your developers and engineers trained on the most cutting-edge tools and technology?

If you’re providing career advancement opportunities, your training needs to keep pace with your employees. Do you have leadership training in place for new managers? Do you have program or protocol training for employees who move cross functionally?

Set goals and measure achievement

Before starting the program, trainers must develop a list of competencies that students will achieve by the end of the program. These goals usually take the form of sentences stating, “After completing the training, students will be able to _______.” The blank is filled in with a specific skill or element of knowledge. Once these goals are set down, they provide a template for measuring the effectiveness of the training program after it has been completed. In addition to checking on how much your employees have learned, it is also important to ask them to evaluate the overall training experience. Anonymous survey tools allow participants to give constructive criticism of your program and trainer, providing valuable feedback for improving future sessions.

When they are well-designed, employee training and development programs constitute a significant on-the-job perk. Once you’ve committed the resources to making such education available to your staff, it’s important to go the extra mile and ensure the training is delivered in a way that employees will embrace and appreciate.

Hiring Millennials with Graduate Recruitment

4 things you need to understand before hiring a new college grad

These days, many companies are clamoring for college grads; each year brings a fresh pool of talent for you to tap. The great news about graduates is that if they’re intelligent and adaptable, they can work in almost any sector of your business. But what’s the best way to compete against all the other organizations trying to recruit the same candidates?

Keep in mind that new graduate recruitment and hiring millennials requires a different approach than recruiting seasoned professionals.

Demonstrate your company’s mission and meaning

Most college students want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful and something that has a positive impact on the world. If you want to attract this growth-oriented group, you need to demonstrate how your company makes a difference in your industry, your community, or the world.

If your company offers unique values, culture, or growth opportunities, don’t be afraid to highlight them. Are you performing work that has a big impact on society? Do you have a creative and innovative atmosphere in your workplace? Do you emphasize a collaborative team-based environment? Illustrate why your company is unique and innovative, and you’ll attract innovative young employees.

Understand where grads are coming from

Candidates that have just graduated present a much different recruiting challenge than other candidates. Most of them don’t have experience with the interview process, contract negotiations, and other professional norms.

Understand that recent grads are still a work in progress and that training and guidance are necessary at the start to build on the talents your candidates naturally possess. This will ensure your investment in a recent grad pays off with big dividends down the road.

Use the right recruiting tactics

Millennials have grown up almost entirely in the digital age, which means they are used to constant communication, using digital tools to achieve their goals, and plenty of flexibility. You can showcase your company’s strengths in these areas by using the following tactics:

  • Set up a peer interview to allow a recent grad to connect with other young employees in your organization who can answer their questions.
  • Explain how a grad’s skills will help a company or organization succeed. This will help a millennial candidate gain a clear vision of how they will gel with your company’s culture.
  • Consider offering flexible job hours or the future opportunity for remote work for certain grads that can complete the required tasks on their own schedules.

Retain employees the right way

After you recruit a millennial, it’s important to keep them engaged and satisfied with their job. Providing millennials with regular feedback on their job performance and recognizing them for the work they put in is key. That means routine employee engagement surveys are vital to keeping millennials happy.

It’s also necessary for you to reward millennials that are performing well. Recent grads aren’t the types who will put in years of work to gain seniority, and they will often change companies in pursuit of their ambitions. If you can demonstrate that advancement is based on results, you’ll be in a much better position to retain millennial employees.

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire leadership during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-03

A good leader can make all the difference in a team’s success—and longevity. And one key to encouraging a culture of recognition lies within your leaders. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, too—they’re not just managers.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, and in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on leadership to inspire recognition—and leadership—today!

Between Venus and Mars: 7 traits of true leadersInc.

Become a better leader by thinking like Swiss cheeseLifehacker

You don’t have to be a CEO to develop leadership qualitiesEntreprenuer

5 Ways to transform yourself into a leaderThe Daily Muse

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

 

Employee Appreciation Week

4 Links to inspire innovation during employee appreciation week—and all year long

2015_EAW-01Innovation is all around us, yet it’s not always so easy to uncover. Organizations have the opportunity every day to promote a culture of recognition and inspire innovation from employees.

Appreciating employees is an everyday thing here at Achievers, so in honor of Employee Appreciation Week 2015, we thought we’d share some of our favorite links on innovation to inspire recognition—and innovation—today!

 

 

 

 

How are you recognizing your colleagues for Employee Appreciation Week?

How not to engage your employees

How Not to Engage Your Employees

This week, Canadian ad agency, Union Advertising, shows us how they reward their employees for their hard work. While obviously a spoof, the hint of truth to the ad will strike a nerve with most of us, and is a great example of how not to treat your employees.

Are there really employers like this out there? I hope not.

Instead, we’d love to hear what your organization does that actually puts a smile on your face and makes you feel recognized and rewarded.

Share your experience in the comments!

 

Open Door Policy: 4 Links to Help Embrace Transparency at Work

The “open door” policy is ubiquitous in the business world, but following through on that practice can be a challenge. Many of us set out with the best intentions, but when we’re at the point of crossing the proverbial threshold, we chicken out.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. This week we’re sharing some of our favorite insights on infusing transparency, and creating a culture of constructive, consistent feedback in the office.

Whether your door is physical or virtual, creating a feedback-friendly environment doesn’t have to be scary. Keep these links handy for the next time you’re feeling squeamish about testing out that open door policy, and you’ll find transparency in the office opens the door to a collaborative, successful, workplace environment.

Best Companies in the World

Learn from the Best: The Most Amazing Companies in the World

Are you ready to feel inspired and motivated by some of the top companies worldwide?

With new businesses popping up everywhere, “fun and hip” companies are pretty widespread. Businesses claim bragging rights based on all sorts of measures, like great benefits, cool products, flexible work hours, and free lunches. So how can we differentiate these surface-level trendy workplaces from truly amazing companies?

One way is to ask the company’s building blocks – its employees. Unfortunately, based on measures of employee engagement, amazing workplaces are not quite as widespread as they appear. According to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged (17% in the UK, 29% in North America and 14% & 11% in Western Europe and Central & Eastern Europe respectively). The workforce is rapidly changing, and organizations need to find ways to recruit, retain and inspire top talent that go beyond a slightly above average 401K plan.

The Achievers Webinar Series is pleased to invite you to an exciting [webinar] that will share with you best practices based on two years of extensive research into a few of the world’s most Amazing companies. These are companies that break through traditional business models to inspire and engage their employees – every day.

REGISTER TODAY to learn what great companies are doing to help engage their employees and drive tremendous business results across the globe.

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Millennials and Baby Boomers in the Workplace

3 Ways to Better Manage Boomers and Millennials and Ensure Mentoring

As more and more Millennials graduate and enter the workforce – while Boomers begin to retire – HR professionals and employers seek to understand how to effectively manage both generations while ensuring a smooth knowledge transition. But with generational stereotypes, a modern workplace and a potential skills gap, effective management and mentorship can be a challenge.

Craig Malloy, Cofounder and CEO of Lifesize Communications, recently guest wrote for Forbes and discussed the challenges and opportunities that come with managing Millennials and Boomers in the workplace. Three stand-out pieces of advice closely relate to Millennial findings that ConnectEDU and Achievers found in their recent study, Class of 2014. Learn how these three pieces of advice that Malloy recommends for better management and mentorship in the place can be applied. Read more →

Future of Organization

Are You Willfully Ignoring the Future of Your Organization?

Are You Willfully Ignoring the Future of Your Organization? Guest blog post by Rebecca Rodskog, a workforce crusader and the Founder of FutureLeaderNow, LLC

“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”

― Seth Godin, Linchpin:  Are You Indispensable?

One of my mentors, Seth Godin, who I was fortunate enough to work with through his FeMBA program in 2010, speaks a lot about organizations’ (and individuals’) propensity to do what’s “safe,” or at least perceived safe, to avoid risk and potential failure. The problem with this approach is if you spend so much of your time trying to do what will surely not fail, you’ll never create anything innovative, and most likely, your organization will slowly be replaced by others who are willing to Poke the Box and create something unique. Read more →

Gallup says managers from hell are costing you billions

employee_engagementManagers from hell are the reason your top employees hate their job. Recent Gallup research shows that these managers are responsible for actively disengaging employees, costing the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion annually. You read that right—bad managers are catastrophic for businesses.

 

Only 30 percent of Americans with full-time jobs are engaged. This means the remaining 70 percent of the working population is disengaged, with 20 percent of that group who are actively disengaged.

Read more →

Ask Amelia: Tips for HR to be viewed as strategic power players

ask_achieversHR is always fighting to get into the business discussion – we have all heard it.  So what’s the best way to add value and show the organization that you are a business leader? 

First things first:  learn your business.  Understand how you make, move, and sell your product.  Grasp what key business initiatives must be delivered, then fold in the people agenda to that strategy.  Read more →

The annual review is dead; long live continuous feedback

performance_managementIn a recent article for Forbes, “Time to Scrap Performance Appraisals?,” Josh Bersin sounds the death knell of the annual review. He lists several good reasons why it’s time to say goodbye: the feedback is often too far removed from the behavior to be of use, it’s nearly impossible to remember a year’s worth of activity, course corrections should happen as soon as possible, etc. They’re all excellent points, and yet for 15 years, Bersin says, companies fought back when he advised eliminating the process. Mostly, their concerns boiled down to a need to capture the data collected in the reviews.

Well, of course you need data. So why aren’t you having these meetings every week?

Read more →

Maybe employees don’t leave managers, after all

hr_trends_and_analyst_findingsFor years, it’s been common knowledge that employees leave managers, not companies. But a new infographic from Glassdoor disagrees: according to their research, only 8 percent of employees attribute their departure to their managers. Far more common reasons were lack of career growth (33 percent), salary and compensation (27 percent), company culture (15 percent), work/life balance (14 percent), work environment (12 percent), and overall company performance (11 percent).

So why does conventional wisdom maintain that managers are the cause? The most-cited study on manager-driven turnover is the 1999 book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, which is based on 25 years of research by the Gallup Organization. But that report is 14 years old now; surely there’s more recent information than that?

Read more →

March Madness: 6 lessons from NCAA coaches to lead your team to success

coachingMarch Madness comes around once a year, often leading to office pools, water cooler discussions of colleges you may not have heard of, and long and oddly timed lunch breaks. With the championship game coming up, harness some of the lessons of NCAA basketball’s unsung all-stars: the coaches.

Your team may not be made up of 20 college athletes, but the best leaders in any arena share a few common elements to achieving success.

Read more →

Harvard Business Review reveals the bright side to negative feedback

industry_headlinesPositive feedback and recognition clearly amplify key behaviors that drive results. But what happens when you are faced with employee behavior that misses the mark? With talent scarcity on the rise, your organization cannot afford to replace all the underperformers and rehire, retrain, and recover from loss of revenue. Instead, you should help these employees reach their full potential and maximize your investment.

Read more →

[Webinar recap] How to unlock the key to your employees’ success

webinarsToday’s fast-paced business world is challenging to navigate, but we can all agree on one thing: employee turnover is unfavorable. Rehiring, retraining, and recovering from loss of revenue is not optimal for HR or your company’s bottom line.

First of all, employees don’t leave companies—they leave managers. In fact, 40 percent of disengaged employees said they were likely to leave their employer in the next two years, compared to only 18 percent of highly engaged respondents.

Most importantly, highly engaged employees are less likely to leave their employer than disengaged employees because leadership is the primary driver of engagement. Best-in-class companies require strong talent, but high-performing leaders are the catalysts to driving engagement and inspiring brilliant employee performance.

Read more →

The flexibility trap: Jody Thompson tackles the telecommuting controversy in her recent webinar

webinarsJody Thompson has a message: managing sucks.

At least, managing people sucks, which is what most managers end up doing when they should be managing work. If you’re not sure what the difference is, you’re not alone. “Most managers don’t even realize they’re managing the wrong thing,” Thompson said during her recent webinar for Achievers.

Read more →

5 must-reads for the in-the-know HR Professional: Week of February 15th, 2013

hr_trends_and_analyst_findingsEach week there is a fire hose of HR articles and stories. With this volume, how can one find the quality over the quantity? Solution: we handpicked a selection of must reads that will help you get the most out of your of time and walk away feeling informed and knowledgeable.

So grab yourself your beverage of choice, settle in, and take a few moments to enjoy these tidbits of HR wisdom. Leave us a comment and tell us which ones you find most valuable!

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Cultivating leaders for a global market

“As firms reach across borders, global leadership capacity is surfacing more and more often as a binding constraint. According to one survey of senior executives in  McKinsey Quarterly, 76 percent believe their organizations need to develop global-leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so effectively.” Implementing an online rewards and recognition program into your business will allow your leaders to give feedback in real time no matter where they are in the world. Having a consolidated ‘one-stop shop’ platform for your company will minimize the pains of cross-border leadership.

Trying to fit in: Tips for hiring leaders

Dear A Advisor,

Many of the teams in my company are expanding and I’m looking for new managers to lead them. I’m looking for candidates that will fit in well with my teams’ cultures, but who will pinpoint improvements to be made in the teams. Since my teams already have a strong culture, I think it’s particularly important to protect it. How do I determine whether a candidate is able to balance these competing demands?

Thanks!

Looking for Leaders

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3 ways to talk to your employees and learn something

It’s common knowledge that businesses need to understand their customers in order to be successful. Companies that have a thorough knowledge of their target market are better equipped to produce and deliver superior products and services to their customers. The way companies gain this knowledge is to listen to their customers. Listening to your customers helps you learn about their pains and struggles so you can create the innovative solutions that they will want to purchase.

In Janine Popick’s article, “Talk to Your Customers; You Might Learn Something,” she discusses how CEO’s need to make themselves available to see what customers are saying and communicate with them directly. We want to take this concept one step further and talk about how important it is to talk to your employees too. Listening to employees’ ideas and challenges provides a similar opportunity to improve processes and spark new, innovative ideas. Seeing and listening firsthand what your employees think is crucial to your business, just as much as knowing what your customers think.

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Successful CEOs talk recognition

Fast Company recently launched a series of videos asking successful Presidents, CEO’s and Executives how they acknowledged individual achievement in a collaborative environment. They interviewed a wide variety of professionals including  Diane Scott, President of West Union, Padmasaree Warrier, CTO of Cisco, David Lieb, CEO of Bump and Pasha Sadri CEO of Poylvore to name a few, the overriding response? Recognizing individual performance is key to creating a successful business and team. In todays fast paced and competitive environment, recognition will help motivate and encourage employees. Make sure you’ve equipped your organization with the right tools to recognize and reward your employees today!

10 qualities of a “magnetic manager”

Like many people across the globe, I was glued to my TV for two weeks watching the Summer Olympics. Not only am I impressed by the Olympic talent, I’m also impressed by the coaches that trained them. It takes years to prepare for the games, and it’s admirable how these coaches inspire and challenge athletes to reach their greatest potential. They are the best coaches in the world because they are brilliant at leading their teams to success.

In the workplace, this type of leadership is displayed through great management. They inspire, motivate and lead employees to drive results, in addition to boosting employee retention. As I wrote in a previous post, when employees have a great relationship with their manager, there is a social cost to leaving.  Employees who are emotionally tied to their manager and company are less likely to be poached or coaxed with more money.

So what makes a great or “magnetic” manager?

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All aboard! 5 tips for effective onboarding

Dear A Advisor,

I’m a brand-new employee in an HR department, and I already know what I’d like my first contribution to the business to be: to re-vamp our on-boarding process. I’m very enthusiastic about my new company, but I feel like my first weeks could have run more smoothly. I know this is a much-needed area of improvement—I just don’t know where to start! How can I improve my company’s on-boarding process so that people hired after me aren’t distracted or frustrated by the disorganization and can focus on their new position?

Thanks for your help!

Setting Sail

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Six strategic-thinking secrets to make you a better leader

Are great leaders born or made?

While there is sufficient evidence for both sides of this debate, the key take-away is for leaders to constantly focus on improvements and raise the bar. At Achievers, we foster a fast-paced and dynamic workplace where processes evolve based on business opportunities and our organization’s vision to be the global leader in rewards and recognition. The best leaders are able to adapt to constant changes, and strategic thinking is one of their most powerful tools.

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Effective ways to improve employee engagement by “cross training”

What do a graphic designer, an account executive, and a social media specialist have in common? The answer lies within the employee’s desire to heighten their development and acquire new skills, which may or may not relate to their job title.

In order to set up employees for success and foster an engaged workforce, consider offering opportunities to “cross-train,” or develop new skills in a specific field, to reaffirm that the organization supports professional and personal growth.

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The top 3 improvements managers need to perfect the employee manager relationship

Picture this: you drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for exercise boot camp. You’re barely awake but have already committed to the challenge; you just need a little guidance. The boot camp leader blows his whistle for warm up, yet remains seated and offers zero feedback during the session. Your workout falls flat and demotivation ensues.

There is nothing more demotivating than a poor leader. We’ve all experienced this trend and have suffered from the results. But it’s time to Change the Way the World Works, and send the poor managers of the world to leadership boot camp.

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5 foolproof tips to HR onboarding with ease

Good news – your top tier candidate signed an offer to work at your company! You have recruited a strong new hire and deserve a pat on the back – however, efforts to impress should continue long after the offer is accepted.

If you’re looking to onboard new hires with ease, then one thing to perfect is your company’s first impression. For your new hires, arriving on their first day is like a food critic evaluating the hottest new restaurant in town. You’ve earned the coveted spot, but now you’ve got to show this person why. From the minute they sit at their table the first impression clock starts ticking, and determines the success of the meal. Even if the person leaves the restaurant with happy taste buds, they will never forget a poor first impression.

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Keep your head in the game: The best managers are coaches

Leading a team to success is no easy feat.  When you look at successful sports teams and dissect their elements of achievement, it certainly has something to do with having the right people in the right place at the right time.  But it also extends beyond talent to having a strategic and effective coaching that prepares and leads the team to win.  There are three benefits that coaches have that translate to the workplace.  Managers can utilize these coaching best practices to help in closing the loop in the Effective Management Cycle.

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Performance reviews are like bad high school movies

Guest post written by: Kevin W. Grossman

It’s like a bad high school movie — where one clique picks on another less popular clique. But in this movie, it’s not the popular kids who taunt the geeky ones. No, in this movie the still popular kids are traditional Annual Performance Reviews and the geeky aberrations are the pundits pushing to change the system. But like the perennial popular kids of lore, these not-so-bright knuckleheads have a C average.

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Infuse your team with a sense of mission

“Effective management is critical to driving motivation.  Historically, successful management was defined as the ability to obtain compliance from employees.  Today the science of motivation overrules this notion by illustrating a significant gap between compliance and engagement.   The key to successfully building employee engagement is by instilling autonomy in employees.”