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January 12, 2016

The Four Employee Engagement Languages

Filed under: Engagement,HRN News,Management Practices10:11 am

 

A popular relationship book first published 20 years ago is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In his book, Chapman describes five primary ways in which we each feel loved. Each of us feels loved and appreciated in different ways and the book tries to improve romantic relationships through learning your partner’s primary love language and demonstrating it regularly. The love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. To borrow from Chapman’s concept a bit, I’d like to introduce The Four Employee Engagement Languages.

 

As managers and colleagues, we know the importance of employee engagement and a primary way we can keep employees engaged is to ensure they feel valued as a member of our organization.

 

1) Words of Affirmation

You have probably noticed that many of your employees or coworkers often find encouragement through recognition. Whether it’s for taking on an extra project or going above and beyond for a customer, simple recognition of that effort can speak volumes to an employee who appreciates words of affirmation. As a manager, find out which of your employees or colleagues appreciates encouraging words and affirm them regularly. Be sure to find out whether that employee prefers this recognition publicly or privately as it can be damaging to provide public recognition to an employee who doesn’t like lots of attention drawn to him or her.

 

2) Acts of Service

Some employees feel appreciated when a coworker or manager steps in to assist with a project or takes care of a problem without being asked. When someone jumps in to help relieve your workload or volunteers to take care of an unwanted project, you’re likely to feel a sense of unity within your team. Consider which employees might most appreciate someone stepping in and sharing the load and seek to meet that need when possible.

 

3) Receiving Gifts

Similar to words of affirmation, some employees enjoy receiving those small notes of encouragement or a box of chocolates to show appreciation. There are many organizations and catalogs at HR’s disposal to find creative ideas for employee recognition through small gifts. Be sure to recognize small achievements as well as the big ones. Don’t just wait for an employee to earn a certification to be given an award, find ways to award employees for the small things, too. And, it’s not always a specific achievement, but sometimes just a simple reminder of how much the organization values that employee.

 

4) Quality Time

You might recognize the employees who need quality time as the ones who often stop to talk with their coworkers or are quick to offer to have a meeting instead of an email or phone call. Employees who most appreciate quality time enjoy the interaction with their manager or colleagues and thrive on the ability to spend time with people, even if it’s just for work. While it can sometimes be viewed as a time-waster, consider employees who seem to enjoy or find a need for that extra meeting and try to meet one-on-one with them when warranted.

 

Getting to know your employees and coworkers at a deeper level and finding out what makes them tick will benefit both you and employees. Find the ways they feel most appreciated and seek to ensure they feel valued and remain engaged team members.

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December 3, 2015

The Seasons of Performance Management

hrseasons

In many regions of the country, folks are enjoying the changing of seasons. Cooler temperatures, colorful leaves (on trees or in piles on the ground), pumpkin carving, cider and donuts, early holiday music (if you’re into that), and other evidence of late autumn abound. At work, there are other markers of fall that may not be so relaxing and enjoyable, including budget planning, open enrollment and benefits review (for HR), and performance appraisals. There may not be much that can be done to make all of these things easier but at least when it comes to performance appraisals, it does not have to be a feared task at the end of the year. Just as regular maintenance to one’s yard, home, or automobile makes the change of seasons less troublesome, ongoing performance management can make the year- end appraisal both simple and more meaningful.

 

As performance management consultants and experts, we have been through every possible challenge associated with performance. Through decades of experience across many industries, we have learned how to coach managers to get the most out of their employees. Performance management should not be something that only occurs at year-end, as a means of planning salary/wage increases. We propose that managers and employees meet monthly or weekly to review performance informally. If such frequency is not practical in your organization, then at least consider checking on performance measurements with the change of seasons. This article provides some suggestions of some actions that can be conducted seasonally as part of a more comprehensive approach to performance management.

Performance Management in Winter

This is the season for most organizations to complete annual performance appraisals for employees. The most impactful thing that can be done during this period is for a manager and his/her employee to sit down for a discussion about performance. It is important that this discussion have a positive tone, which will help keep the employee engaged. Evaluation criteria should be applied consistently and objectively to all employees (ideally, employees with the same role/job should be evaluated on the same criteria). Such criteria should be defined and should have clear distinctions between performance levels, with specific behaviors, characteristics, and measurements in order to avoid bias. New goals should be developed with the employees’ buy-in and should be linked to organizational strategies for alignment.

Performance Management in Spring

As the ground thaws and flowers bloom, it is a good time to renew and revisit the goals that were established as the new year began. Re-calibration may be justified in light of changes to projects and priorities during the first quarter. Managers should meet with employees for a 30-minute discussion about goal progress and about action steps for focus during the coming weeks and months. Even more ideal than a quarterly meeting with the employee would be a monthly or bi-weekly check-in. This should be an informal conversation about goal progress and could focus on quick praise of the employee’s short-term successes.

Performance Management in Summer

As vacations are planned and kids get out of school, this is a good time evaluate budgets and annual initiatives. As should be done whenever the manager and employee meets, goals are reviewed and revised. There should be a plan for addressing PTO/vacation absences to ensure that goals are still

within focus. This is a great time to conduct stay interviews with employees to identify what they like about their jobs and what they need to be more engaged.

Performance Management in Autumn

This a the perfect season for infusing staff with a renewed focus, as normalcy at home is re-established with the kids back in school and eyes turning back to those goals that were aligned with strategies at the beginning of the year. Indeed, this is something that should have been occurring throughout the year. Yet, late third quarter and early fourth quarter are times when there is greater analysis of results in order to effectively plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Managers need to be careful not to give employees the impression that they are a secondary focus, behind that actual planning. As the fourth quarter progresses, plans should include ample time for meaningful discussions about the employees’ performance.

Seasonal performance management is more effective than only an annual appraisal. In fact, the most employee-centric organizations practice employee performance management as something that should occur monthly, weekly, and daily to keep employees engaged. Start where you are and let employees know what you appreciate about them.

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November 5, 2015

Reinventing Performance Management to Drive Business Performance

As the end of the year approaches, HR professionals begin to feel the year end crunch: benefit open enrollment, holiday party planning, and the dreaded performance review season.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, you are not alone. In a recent Gallup survey, more than 58 percent of HR executives said their current performance management system was weak in driving high performance; 58 percent also said their current evaluation process was not an effective use of time.

These are disturbing numbers. They beg the question, “How how can we improve and innovate on our current performance systems?”

Traditionally we have evaluated staff members based on output. But as the economy is shifting and more than 70 percent of all jobs are knowledge or service based, it is no longer enough to evaluate employees strictly by their output; we must also evaluate them on non-tangibles such as adaptability and innovation.

The impact of the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect
The challenge that managers face is, “How do we measure these skills without succumbing to the Idiosyncratic Rater Effect?” That’s the idea that a manager’s rating of an employee is a better reflection of his or her own idiosyncrasies than of the employee’s actual skill set.

This means that when a manager conducts the year-end performance appraisal, the rating actually says more about the rater than about the ratee! There have been several published studies in both Personnel Psychology and the Journal of Applied Psychology documenting this effect in employee performance evaluation.

Managers are disturbingly unreliable raters of other people’s performance, says Founder and Chairman Marcus Buckingham of the Marcus Buckingham Company, a leading performance management and employee engagement consulting firm. If we can’t trust this data to help make good business decisions such as who to promote, where to put training resources and how to compensate staff, what do we use?

A new type of evaluation that works
Consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte attempts to answer the question by posing a new form of evaluation that allows the rater to provide his or her opinion on the things that will matter most in making compensation and promotion decisions.

The system requires the manager not to rate the employee’s skill set, but instead answer questions about the manager’s own future action with respect to the employee. The questions summarize the manager’s intent to provide the highest possible compensation increase, the manager’s willingness to work with the employee on another team, the manager’s perception of the employee’s risk for low performance and the manager’s perception of the employee’s potential for promotion. This type of rating system requires the rater to think through the action he or she will take with an employee, rather than giving an unsupported numerical rating.

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April 27, 2015

Managing Goals through Change

Filed under: Communication,Engagement11:02 am

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by Nancy Norman, HR Product Manager

Even with the most careful and brilliant planning, change is inevitable.  Imagine if a sailor navigating the seas was so set on his selected course that he failed to adjust to the change in the winds or weather.  He may never reach his intended port and may find himself in great peril.  The saying goes, “The only certainties in life are death and taxes,” which means that even the most carefully crafted goals should be subject to change.  While many of us feel that change is for the Byrds, “to everything… there is a season… and a time for every purpose.” It is each manager’s responsibility to be alert to the coming changes in the “seasons” that will impact his/her functional areas and appropriately adjust his/her course based on the company’s strategic plan and organizational goals.  If that’s the case, what can be done to encourage the creation of goals that are effective and properly nimble to ensure success?

Know and Understand the Strategic Plan:
In order to set goals that align with organizational strategy, managers have to first know what that strategy is and have a thorough understanding of how it applies to their departments and individual roles. Managers should be able to effectively communicate this to their employees.  Human Resources should be instrumental in making this information available in a timely fashion and helping management know what to do with when strategy changes direction?

Review the Strategic Plan and Goals Regularly:
When direction changes, it is important they take the time to re-assess the focus and direction of the goals that have been set and make the needed adjustments to stay on target.  We will not know of important changes if we are not keeping in touch with our organizations strategy.  Annual goals should be reviewed at least quarterly to ensure they are still accomplishing an outcome that will be meaningful.

Set Expectations:
Communicate to employees that their goals are significant and an important part of your overall success.  As goals are set with employees, be sure to set the expectation that they will be reviewed often and adjustments will be made if business needs shift.  The knowledge that their goals are a component of a greater purpose should provide the motivation and understanding necessary to weather changes with the proper attitude.

Don’t Confuse Flexible with Non-Specific:
While you want goals to be flexible, this does not mean that they are not defined.  You should not forget the rules of effective goal setting.  Goals need to continue to be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.  Specific details set clear expectations and help the employee understand what it is they are trying to accomplish. They must be easily measured and feasible both in the employees ability to achieve the goal and its relevancy to their current role.  Timelines and due dates are also critical for success.

Human Resources is an important link between key company stake holders and the people on the ground getting things done.  HR can be instrumental in providing the necessary information and training for managers to be successful in setting goals and managing them throughout the year.  Create a culture where each employee thinks strategically and looks for and anticipates change.  It’s inevitable; it may as well be embraced.

 

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March 30, 2015

Measuring the Effect of Training

staff training

 

How effective are your training programs? Do they result in greater productivity, fewer accidents, less expense, lower turnover, increased employee satisfaction or greater customer retention? Do they change people’s attitudes? Do they lower your risk of lawsuits? Answers to questions like these are necessary to determine if your training efforts are producing results … results that can affect your bottom line.

Conducting an ongoing evaluation of your training programs is absolutely necessary. It can help you keep your training programs cost-effective and relevant by revealing when programs should be revised or replaced. You must analyze your training results in several different areas, such as:

  • Training Participant Evaluation
    Getting participant feedback is a vital part of training evaluation. You can do this through surveys, either via paper or computer. Areas to evaluate could include: content, delivery and logistics. Keep in mind that surveys are subjective, but they should help you get an overall feel for how the training is received.
  • Skills/Principles Learned
    Actual learning as a result of training is another important area to measure. If the training teaches certain skills, participants should be tested prior to and after the training so you can see what skills they gained. If the training covers knowledge and theory, testing participants at the end is a simple way to measure learning results.
  • Identify Results
    It’s important to be able to assess how the training impacts the bottom line. Identify specific results that are desired from the training and follow up to see if they occur. It’s also important to assess the behavior of training participants once they return to the job. Did the training impact their behavior?
  • Calculate ROI
    The final step is to calculate the return on investment (ROI) as it relates to the training. Once you identify the results and calculate the costs of the training, decide if the return is worth it. Be sure to factor in ALL costs related to the training: wages of developers and presenters, outside trainer fees, material costs such as paper and pens, downtime during training, facility and equipment charges, administrative costs, travel costs, etc.) The list can be extensive, but needs to be complete for the results to be useful.

Calculating the benefits of your training programs can be a bit time-consuming, but it’s essential if you want to know whether your training efforts are helping you meet your goals.

If your organization needs a hand developing, measuring or improving its training, HR Performance Solutions’ HR consultants can help.

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March 23, 2015

The Gift of Employee Recognition

Filed under: Performance Management,Total Rewards8:32 am

Employee of the Month

by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant

Know anyone that’s thinking of changing jobs in the not too distant future? You’re not alone. A survey from CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive found that 21% of fulltime employees were looking to change jobs last year. That’s up 4% from the year before – and the highest percentage since 2008.

A major reason employees want to flee is lack of recognition in their workplace. Another study, this one from Bersin & Associates, discovered that employers who had recognition programs to promote employee engagement had lower turnover.

When you consider that the average job tenure for U.S. employees is 4.6 years and only 3.2 years for millennial employees, it may be time for your company to rethink its recognition program. And if your organization doesn’t have one, now’s the time to put one in place. Here are four things to consider when rewarding employees:

  1. Rewards Aren’t Always Monetary
    Even though actions speak louder than words, sometimes employees need both in the form of positive feedback. Whether it’s verbal or written, formal or informal, a few kind words can go a long way to making your employee feel valued. And an employee that feels valued will stick around longer and produce better results.
  2. Start Early
    Don’t wait for an employee’s five-year anniversary to shine a light on them. The sooner you recognize an employee, the sooner you set the standards for work quality and fulfill their need to be appreciated. Try a yearly anniversary recognition – this will keep them engaged with their job and your organization.
  3. Give it Meaning
    Who wants a hollow compliment? Definitely not your employees! Personalize your recognition program so it means something to each individual and makes them feel special. Instead of a more blanket form of recognition, perhaps let each department have input in how they’d like to be recognized.
  4. Get Everyone on Board
    From top to bottom, everyone needs to fully buy in to your company’s recognition program. Make sure that your managers actually have the skills and feel comfortable enough in their roles to work with and recognize their employees. Some training may need to happen before your program can be successful and impactful.

However your organization approaches its recognition program, here are the two the main takeaways: 1) You need to have one in place, and 2) Some thought and care need to be taken before unveiling it to your staff. If done correctly, your recognition program can be the gift that keeps on giving.

If your company needs a hand contending with employee recognition or training, our HR Performance Solutions HR consultants can help. Click here to contact us or to learn more.

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March 16, 2015

Why Honesty is the Best Policy with Termination

Filed under: Discipline & Termination3:43 am

fired

by Emily Sternberg, HR Consultant

Most employers have a traditional at-will employment policy that states either the employee or the employer can terminate employment with or without cause at any time with or without notice. This is a great policy … until the moment of execution when the manager wants to terminate an employee with little or no documentation. Conducting a termination by invoking the at-will policy may find your company at the wrong end of a discrimination lawsuit.

Employers who choose to hide behind a reduction in force or position elimination may also be at risk.  This strategy may be effective, unless the position is not eliminated and the “downsized” employee finds an advertisement for her eliminated position posted online two weeks later and sues the employer for discrimination or wrongful termination.

So, what strategies can an employer put in place to reduce the risk of being sued by a disgruntled former employee? Honesty is always the best policy and, in most cases, the reasons for termination should not be a surprise to the employee.

Following are a few steps to help reduce the risk of being accused of unfair employment practices:

  • Clearly communicate to the employee the specific performance issue
  • Establish goals for improvement
  • Identify a timeline for improvement
  • Follow-up and follow through with employee to ensure they understand the importance of improvement
  • Document all follow-up and action steps
  • Terminate employee if objectives are not met

Of course, there may be circumstances that require immediate termination. In these circumstances, best practices still dictate that the reasons for termination be communicated clearly to the employee.

Whether your organization needs help with performance management or any other HR related area, please contact HR Performance Solutions today.

 

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March 9, 2015

Keeping it Simple!

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Performance Management4:46 am

Simple

by Nancy Norman, HR Product Manager

Having worked at HR Performance Solutions for nearly 12 years, I have been “around the block” when it comes to dealing with performance appraisals. After implementing hundreds of performance management systems and training thousands users on performance management best practices, I have one piece of advice that can make all the difference.  Keep it simple!

What do I mean by this? The process should be kept simple enough that it makes it easy for your managers and employees to be successful. Often I hear how difficult it is to get managers to do timely appraisals or to keep track of things throughout the year. Employees often think of appraisals as a bad experience or one that has little or no value.

Here are three tips to keep it simple and find greater success:

  1. Culture: Create a culture that expects both managers and employees to manage performance throughout the year. When managing performance is the expectation and foregone conclusion, it’ll become a natural part of their daily routine. “Everybody’s doing it.”
  2. Tools: Implement tools that are simple and easy to understand. Sometimes the biggest hurdle is an application that’s difficult to understand and use. If the problem is training, you can fix that.  If the problem is the tool, you can fix that as well.
  3. Process: Well meaning, but misguided decision making sometimes results in an over-complicated appraisal process. It can be hard enough to get employees and managers to do one appraisal a year, let alone monthly or quarterly. If the nature of your business is such that it demands this level of feedback, then make sure your employees understand why and help them to buy into the process. If you’re able to meet the needs of your business and your employees with a simpler process, you might want to scale back.

Ultimately, ask yourself why you do appraisals and what do you expect for your return on investment? Does your business culture, its tools you use and the processes you have defined support the “why”? Are you getting the results you need and expect? If not, don’t be afraid to mix it up.

And if you need help, HR Performance Solutions is here to review your system setup and make recommendations. Our HR consultants are here to help get your organization where it needs to be.

 

 

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March 2, 2015

Putting Job Descriptions under the Microscope

Filed under: ADA & Disability,Hiring & Jobs4:41 am

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by Joyce Marsh, SPHR, Sr. HR Consultant

Job descriptions. They’re something every human resource person and manager know are important, but keeping them current and pertinent can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Having the most accurate job descriptions for your employees not only ensures everyone is on the same page on duties and responsibilities, but they can help protect your organization from facing disability discrimination claims.

If your business has at least 15 employees, you need to ensure that your job descriptions correctly identify what all the essential job functions are of each position – and list any specific tools or resources needed. Here are six steps to  help ensure that all of your current and potential employees have the most comprehensive job descriptions:

  1. Collect Information and Analyze
    Why not start at the source? Interview your employees and managers about the various positions. Use questionnaires. You might even want to take some time to casually observe your employees in their positions to confirm that your descriptions are correct.
  2. Use Visual Aids
    If an employee needs specific resources or equipment for their job, include a photo of what they are. Or, depending on the position, you could videotape the individual performing their job.
  3. Identify Hazards
    Include any hazardous exposure disclosures that safety laws require.
  4. Describe the Environment
    Is the position indoors or outdoors? Is there easy access from one floor to the next (stairs and/or elevator)?
  5. Mental and Physical
    Be sure the job description includes employer expectations outlining mental and physical requirements, education and training plus any attendance or schedule requirements.
  6. Making Distinctions
    As with anything, there’s a difference between what’s required and what would be “nice to have.” There’s no place in a job description for the latter. Only include what an employee needs to get the job done.

Writing Those Descriptions

When it comes to sitting down and actually writing the job descriptions, you’ll want to: use simple and concise language with active verbs; try not to include any industry jargon that outsiders may not comprehend; use a consistent format throughout all your job descriptions; and have supervisors and employees verify the information. Combine these and the six steps above and you’ll have comprehensive job descriptions to keep everyone on the same page and the Americans with Disabilities Act satisfied.

 

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February 16, 2015

Internal or External Hires – Which is Best?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs,HR Consulting3:14 am

 

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by Megan Mohr, CCP, Compensation Consultant, HR Performance Solutions

In an ideal world, HR would be able to hire the perfect mix of internal and external candidates to keep their company running smoothly and its staff happy. Unfortunately, none of us work in a perfect world! So, that leaves HR with the internal vs. external quandary for most of their hires. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for when to hire internally or externally, here are some pros and cons of both options:

Internal Hiring 

Pros

  • Increased engagement
  • Quicker onboarding
  • Less expensive
  • Better cultural fit

Cons

  • Potential for less innovation
  • Internal politics
  • Biased hiring
  • Fewer applicants
External Hiring 

Pros

  • Fresh ideas
  • Larger talent pool
  • Increased diversity
  • Avoid internal politics

Cons

  • Less cost-effective
  • Longer onboarding
  • May not fit company culture
  • Possible detriment to staff morale

These lists of pros and cons only skim the surface of the components HR considers when making the decision of internal vs. external hiring. If you look at the numbers, the majority of positions are filled with external candidates. The SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Database shows that in 2013, 66% of positions were filled externally compared to 26% internally.

Decisions, Decisions …

Each company and each position is different and has different needs. HR will usually make its internal/external hiring decision based on whether the position requires collaboration, if the skillset is unique to the company, what the internal supply of talent actually is and any changes within the company or industry. Whichever approach your HR department decides to take, it needs to consider these factors when making a decision:

  • Thoughtful Job Descriptions
    If you find you’re using the same tired, canned job descriptions every time and getting unsatisfactory hires, it might be time to breathe new life into what’s written. Be sure the language you choose is universal and not limited to just what an internal candidate would understand. Take some time to see how the competition is handling job descriptions. Many industries are opting for more fun yet realistic job descriptions versus the old, worn out ones.
  • Beware of Biases
    No one is without bias. But in HR, you can’t let that affect any decision you make. Don’t fall for any pressure to hire from within if that’s not the best decision for the company. Take a hard look at your hiring practices to see if there’s more of an internal or external trend and then determine why it may favor one over the other.
  • Take a Good Look at What Makes You Unique
    Every company and its culture are truly unique. Take a good, objective look at what makes your organization and the positions unique. This will help the HR team better weave its new hires and the company culture into a more tightly-woven and cohesive entity.
  • Think Succession Planning
    Make sure you know the movers and shakers within your company and those that do their best to fly under the radar and take that into consideration when new positions open up. Keep upper management up-to-date on who’s moving up and who is stalled out. This lets you be proactive when it comes to succession planning.
  • Don’t Stop Onboarding

If you think that once the new hires have been shown their desk and gone through orientation that onboarding is done, think again. To the new hires, onboarding can be a long, slow process. Make sure they get to spend quality time with not only the team they’ll be working with but with upper management as well. The more employees feel like they understand and are part of the big picture, the more welcome they’ll feel and the harder they’ll work.

Let HR Performance Solutions and its HR consultants help your organization with its recruiting, hiring or onboarding process. Contact us today for more information.

 

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