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Executive Onboarding

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.

Employee Recognition

As a manager, you’re aware that it’s important to give employees everyday recognition, praise, and feedback. You’ll do a better job of effectively delivering this recognition, however, if you understand the reasons behind it. Here are three primary effects you’ll experience from building employee recognition into your daily workplace culture:

  • Better morale: Acknowledging the hard work and dedication that employees invest in your company is a good way to give them “a sense of ownership and belonging,” according to HR Council. They’re more likely to have the motivation to go above and beyond on the next project if they know their efforts will be noticed.
  • Greater employee retention: As HR.com points out, this isn’t rocket science – employees who are recognized are more likely to be engaged, and engaged employees equal higher retention rates. On the flip side, employee turnover can be a huge expense for your company and can damage your customer’s experience with your brand.
  • Higher productivity: After surveying more than 4 million employees in 10,000 business units, the Gallup Organization states unequivocally that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise increase their individual productivity.

Options for employee recognition

In addition to ongoing recognition and feedback, HR and managers need to develop special ways to celebrate bigger milestones. When your workers meet their goals, achieve a professional accomplishment such as a new certification, earn a promotion, or even hit their annual anniversary, there are a variety of unique ways that you can mark their special occasion. These are a few popular reward and recognition ideas that go beyond everyday praise:

  • Free lunch
  • Gift card or financial bonus
  • “Free” time off
  • New electronics like an upgraded smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • All-expenses-paid vacation
  • Special award or bonus points
  • A public, company-wide ecard

Recognizing your employees will pay off

When you acknowledge the contributions your employees make and create an encouraging workplace culture, you’re laying the foundation for your future business success. Gallup’s Business Journal estimates that “22 million workers (in the United States alone) are extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged.” This disaffection ends up costing the U.S. economy up to $300 billion in lost productivity every year, not including associated absences, injuries, and employee turnover. Take the time to invest in your employees’ sense of meaning, pride, and emotional health – the investment could pay back in the form of better productivity and retention.

Technical Recruiting

Tech employees are a hot commodity in today’s job market. Your company has to compete with a lot of other popular employers if you want to hire the best web designers, IT professionals, software developers, and app builders. In many cases, the hiring managers tasked with technical recruiting have no background in tech themselves, and so they may find it difficult to identify, interview, and assess tech candidates. If this predicament sounds familiar to you, then you’ll benefit from using a few straightforward techniques to find the best person for your team.

Ask your network for help writing your job posting

It may be difficult for you to even compose an effective job posting if you don’t have a command of the necessary language, so you should use your networking skills. Hubspot recommends that non-techie hiring managers make an effort to consult with friends in the tech industry to describe the job. Work with your contacts to determine which programming languages, platforms, software, or specialties your team requires. For instance, do you know the difference between a front-end and a back-end developer? If you don’t, you better get that clarified before you create your job description.

Look for tech talent where they hang out

Find your tech talent in their natural environments. Consider looking around college campuses or “hackathons,” events usually several days long where many people compete or collaborate in computer programming. Talented developers may frequent popular websites such as HackerNews, or if you really want to stretch, you could find them in the parking lot of a big company that’s laying off a lot of workers — one employer found new staff in Yahoo’s parking lot when he brought a free food truck there after Yahoo’s big layoffs.

Present the big picture

Forbes contributor Meghan Biro advises communicating why your company is a great place to work: “Don’t throw around a lot of buzzwords or try to dazzle talent by tossing in references to the latest technologies.” Instead, she urges managers to describe the nature of your workplace culture and the organization’s accomplishments. If you get potential candidates excited about your future goals, they’ll want to be part of those outcomes.

Check out portfolios

Many applicants for tech positions arrive at the interview with a portfolio of finished projects, and these examples can give your entire team a sense of whether the candidate is a good fit. You can also assign a small test project as part of the vetting process; then rely on your in-house experts or outside consultants to judge the quality of the results.

Employee Engagement Ideas

Employee engagement is “the top human resource challenge organizations anticipate facing in the next three to five years,” according to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. If you want to stay ahead of this challenge, you need to keep your employee engagement strategy fresh, relevant, and exciting for all of your employees. Here are a few employee engagement ideas we think you should implement in 2016:

Introduce gamification

One coffee company found that their employees were having trouble retaining detailed information about their products, so it introduced a game-like quiz designed for mobile devices. Top performers on these quizzes were rewarded with gift cards and other perks, while managers gave special attention and mentoring to those who had more difficulty.

Open the door with office hours

Good managers are the “closest thing to a silver bullet” in building employee engagement, according to management consultant Oliver Mincey, and accessibility is key. Holding regular weekly “office hours” is one way for high-level executives to welcome informal conversation with employees from all levels of the company. Encourage all staff members to provide feedback, voice concerns, ask questions, and share new ideas during this time; employees will feel valued, and you’re likely to acquire actionable suggestions.

Align individuals with company vision

The Federal Office of Personnel Management has released a 2016 plan for increasing employee engagement. One of their primary recommendations is that managers demonstrate to employees that their individual job responsibilities are specifically relevant to carrying out the organization’s mission. This will place the employee’s daily tasks in a highly meaningful context, leading to a natural outcome of greater engagement.

Encourage brand ambassadors

In today’s networked landscape, it makes sense to establish a presence in your employees’ social media communications. MarketingLand points out that skillful managers equip their employees with shareable company content. When a worker’s personal branding overlaps with organizational branding, the level of that worker’s engagement stays high.

Gallup poll published in 2016 found that almost 70 percent of workers across the United States feel disengaged and dissatisfied with their jobs, and their alienation ends up costing American businesses between 450 and 550 billion each year. Don’t let your business become part of these negative statistics; whether you use the employee engagement ideas listed here or come up with your own alternatives, it’s important to remember that your company’s health is only as strong as the engagement of your people.

 

kevin_sheridan

by Kevin Sheridan

This time of year, it’s natural to become reflective; to reflect on the last year and on resolutions you have for the New Year.

One of my central messages in my keynote presentations is to encourage more reflection on job engagement. Roughly 60% of the worldwide workforce is not Engaged or Disengaged in their job, otherwise known as the middle category of Ambivalence.  A large reason so many people are stuck in this “blah” middle category is that they have not reflected on whether they are in the right job in the first place, or as Jim Collins said in his best-seller Good to Great, “the right seat on the bus.”

The great news is that we, as managers and employees, are already empowered to do something about it and re-cast ourselves into the right job or seat on the bus.  Ask yourself these types of questions and you may indeed find yourself re-calibrating your job description and job duties, or taking a completely different job in a different industry:

  • Does my job make the best use of my skills and abilities?
  • Am I passionate about my job?
  • Am I prideful about where I work?
  • Do I consistently have fun at work?
  • Am I proud to work with my coworkers?

These are only a few of the most useful questions to reflect upon in order to ensure you are fully engaged in your job.  A more comprehensive list of job reflective questions is available on my website.

Are you in the right seat on the right bus?  Don’t let another year pass by without being engaged.

Kevin Sheridan is an Internationally-recognized Key-Note Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of employee engagement.   He spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, helping some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long- overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement.  His book, “Building a Magnetic Culture,” made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers. 

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior.  He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.

Web page: www.kevinsheridanllc.com

Twitter: @kevinsheridan12

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinsheridan1

Email:  kevin@kevinsheridanllc.com

Talent Management Strategy

The workforce is changing rapidly, and many companies are struggling to update their talent management process to keep pace with new workplace cultures. Companies that can’t keep up with the expectations of today’s employees will see a decline in engagement — and a corresponding decrease in their bottom line.

A 2015 report by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) gives a look into current levels of staff engagement. According to the report, only 39 percent of respondents are “very satisfied” with their job, indicating that there is a lot of work ahead for managers in the upcoming year.

  1. Creating a culture of engagement

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the SHRM survey listed “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” as the No. 1 driver of engagement. Employees also considered “trust between employees and senior management” to be a critically important engagement factor (64 percent), along with “management’s recognition of employee job performance” (55 percent).

In 2016, successful companies will focus on a talent management strategy that takes these new priorities into consideration. Creating a culture of engagement to increase retention will be management’s primary challenge.

  1. Adjusting the frequency of feedback

Employees have indicated that they are dissatisfied with the traditional yearly review process. Instead, they are interested in real-time feedback, both positive and negative, that is delivered at least once a month.

In our North American Workforce survey, we found that 60 percent of employees reported that they don’t receive any on-the-spot feedback, and 53 percent stated that they don’t feel recognized for their achievements at all. It’s no surprise then that a full 41 percent indicated that they’re unhappy with the frequency of the feedback and recognition they do receive.

These numbers tell us that in 2016, management will be challenged to place greater emphasis on providing employees with frequent, high-quality feedback in an effort to increase levels of engagement.

  1. Attracting top talent

The job market has shifted dramatically over the past five years, going from employer-centric to almost entirely candidate-centric. Attracting top talent will be a significant challenge in 2016, as companies struggle to retain current employees, as well as fill any vacancies quickly.

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing for an applicant desert now by building their talent brand. This approach — ensuring that the company has a reputation in the marketplace as an employer of choice — relies primarily on a comprehensive talent management process that translates well to word-of-mouth referrals, company profiles and employee reviews on job boards.

As the employment market changes, organizations must adjust talent management strategies to meet and exceed employee expectations. Those that fall short find themselves with a disengaged workforce, which quickly cripples their ability to remain competitive.

Shot of a group of design professionals celebrating a success in the office

We’re big advocates of everyday recognition, but we agree that there are some employee milestones that deserve extra-special recognition. Whether it’s anniversaries, retirements, or other major accomplishments, observing milestones is a great way to show an employee that you care about their contributions. Here are a few ideas for how you can celebrate milestones with a bigger bang:

  1. Collaborate on a personalized reward

HR can collaborate with team leaders to figure out what type of reward or celebration would be most meaningful to the employee, whether it’s a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant, or a cake in their favorite flavor and color. Going the extra mile to personalize the celebration is a great way to make the employee feel understood and appreciated.

  1. Send a company-wide recognition email or online video

Recognition of career accomplishments is important to all employees, whether it’s a tenure of one year or 10. When a manager sends an email or video to all employees, recognizing a work anniversary and mentioning specific accomplishments, the employee has verification that work contributions are recognized as important to business success.

  1. Give the employee a choice

You can develop a reward system with different items for each year of service and let the employee have fun by choosing. For example, a five-year-anniversary employee might have three options: a gift card, free lunch, or a company-sponsored donation to the charity of their choice. The 20-year employee could choose between a weekend trip with family, a gift of top-of-the-line technology, or paid sabbatical time.

  1. Generate company-wide support with interactive cards

Most managers will pass cards around the office to drum up signatures and well wishes, but we think that electronic “cards” make for more dynamic keepsakes. Our product Celebrations allows employees across an organization to share congratulations, encouragement, and memories whenever an employee celebrates a new milestone.

Achievers Fall Product Release

This card makes it easy and interactive to celebrate the employee through social recognition, but also with certificates, commemorative items, gifts, points, or all of the above. It’s a great way for employees from across the globe to contribute to their coworker’s special day.

Of course, you can still throw the traditional office party, but small parties have a limited and short-term impact. The recognition process must be inspiring as well as consistent, personal, and timely to deliver the biggest bang.

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.

Company Perks

Gone are the days of poor working conditions, grueling hours, and no benefits. In recent years, companies have seen the importance of offering quality perks for their employees. This realization has spawned a steadily building competition among companies as they try to out-perk other employers. But with the myriad of options available, from unlimited vacation time, to office dogs, to free lunch, how can you tell if you’re creating a real impact or just spinning your wheels?

While company perks are not the primary reason candidates join companies, some benefits weigh heavier in a candidate’s decision process than others. Perks and benefits also play a role in improving employee retention rates and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, MetLife’s U.S. Employee Benefit Survey found that “professionals satisfied with their benefits are more than twice as likely to also be satisfied with their work.” For those considering a new position in today’s market, the following company perks are the most compelling:

Paid time off

Paid time off gives your employees a better sense of financial security should an emergency or illness arise. If employees are offered unlimited paid time off, this introduces an element of trust, as management allows employees a high level of control over their workload. When employees feel respected, they often return that respect by managing their work responsibly.

Shared profits

Nothing gives your employees a meaningful sense of ownership like profit-sharing. Regardless of distribution methods, shared profits can transform your employees’ perception of themselves from workhorses or cogs to legitimate members of a team working toward a shared cause.

Frequent breaks

Some companies still cringe at the idea of giving their employees anything more than a quick lunch break during their shift. However, studies have repeatedly shown that working in short bursts can propel productivity, boost employees’ moods, and recharge mental capacities. Now that we’ve learned the traditional 9-5 workday with one break isn’t the most efficient way to work, it’s easier to experiment with different schedules to keep employees fresh and vitalize work flow.

Wellness programs

It goes without saying that a staff of unhealthy employees won’t do much for your productivity — nor will it entice new candidates to hop on board. While you may not have the budget for a luxurious on-site gym, there are plenty of ways to routinely incorporate wellness into your company culture. Some companies have begun offering nutritional counseling and healthy lunch days, or providing more relaxing break rooms so employees can unwind.

As you’re crafting new perks and benefits policies, you should listen carefully to the perks that your job candidates ask about most during interviews. What do they have at their current companies that they really enjoy? What perks have candidates in your area started to expect from employers? Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the most obvious perk is the one most valued by your people.