Category Archives: Engagement

Three things you should know about every new employee

You’ve read the CV’s, interviewed and done reference checks. Could you have missed something?

Assuming your new employee has the qualifications, experience, skills and attitudes required to do the job, there are three basic things every boss needs to know about their latest hire:

1.  How long are they likely to stick around?

Your needs will vary with the job, but the cost of hiring and training someone new usually means you would like them to stay working for you for a reasonable time.

2.  How well do they respond to feedback?

Some people strive to be the best they can while others are quite happy the way they are. What if you hired someone who sees no reason to change and views feedback as criticism?

3.  Are they motivated to put in effort commensurate with the rewards they expect?

If you are paying someone well, you will be expecting them to work at a certain level. It’s useful to know if they are likely to possess the self-motivation required.

These are just 3 of the 156 work-related traits we measure using Harrison Assessments to help you predict performance. 

We call these traits:

1.  Wants Stable Career

The desire for long-term or permanent employment.

2.  Receives Correction

The tendency to accept guidance intended to improve performance.

3.  Pay Minus Motivation

The tendency to have strong desire for money while lacking the personal drive necessary to earn it.

Would it make a difference to you to know these things before you bring someone on board?  Contact us to find out more.

Critical skill shortage 4: People management

This is the fifth article in a series based on data about skills shortages in the banking and finance sector, collected in the Kelly Skills at Work 2010 study.  See our blog for previous articles in this series.

The ability to lead, motivate and inspire others is another skill that was identified as being critical to success, yet in short supply among local mid to senior level managers.

In the previous article, we looked at the importance and definition of strategic thinking.  A related basic people management skill is to ensure your staff have the right skills and personal attitudes to deliver on your business strategy.

To be successful as a leader, managers need to be willing to explore and use different ways to:

  • Identify and hire top performers,
  • Inspire and motivate people in the business, and
  • Support others to develop and extend their skills.

Plenty of information exists on how to manage people by applying active listening, coaching and delegation techniques, as you will find if you do an internet search on any of these terms.

What is harder to find out is how to negotiate the more  subtle aspects of keeping people engaged and committed.

This is not ‘book learning’ but instead comes down to being self-aware and sensitive to the preferences and needs of others.  The real skill is in knowing when you need to get help and learn more, both about yourself and about others.

‘Employee loyalty, motivation and trust in the organisation all suffer if leaders and managers are careless about the way they treat people.’

Where do you think you stand?  Could the way you treat people be affecting your bottom line?

Hint:  The answer is always  ‘Yes’ – but the impact may be positive or negative in your organisation!

We provide our clients with specialised tools and coaching for both the practical aspects of people management and f0r developing the self-awareness required to be able to manage people well.

Which part of people management could you use some help with right now?

What makes a good manager?

What makes ‘a good manager’?

Leadership Management Australasia (LMA) released a summary of the key findings of the Leadership, Employment and Direction (LEAD) Survey in December 2010.

This list of ’22 Characteristics of Good Managers’ makes interesting reading.

How many can you check off for yourself or your managers?

  1. Is trustworthy and open in approach
  2. Clearly communicates where we are going
  3. Gives me the “space” to do my work, but supports me
  4. Listens to and respects my input into decisions
  5. Gives regular and honest feedback on how I am going
  6. Is fair and even handed/makes reasonable demands
  7. Provides the resources I need to do my job
  8. Recognises me for extra efforts/results
  9. Coaches and develops me
  10. Trusts me with challenging work
  11. Supports me in the decisions I make
  12. Takes responsibility for their actions
  13. Helps me with my career development
  14. Has a sense of humour
  15. Provides guidance on how to meet expectations
  16. Sets a good example of work/family/life balance
  17. Respects what is personally important to me
  18. Sees their own job as different but not more important
  19. Involves me in determining my performance measures
  20. Takes my talents into account when assigning work
  21. Openly helps me to resolve workplace conflicts
  22. Helps me prioritise my work

If you missed anything, we can probably help you.

Contact us to find out how.

Thank you to all those who participated in our survey that closed on Friday.

We really appreciated your input. We’ll be reporting on the results in the next post.

‘Tis the season to be jolly…

It’s the time of the year for the annual Christmas party ‘do and don’t’ list.  You can find our checklist elsewhere on this blog.  We have the kind permission of leadership expert, Stephen Bell of iHR Australia, to share the following article with our readers.

While conceding that it is “tiresome” for HR to send out the regular ‘do and don’t’ statements regarding party behaviour, he says the break-up party “is actually an opportunity for managers to demonstrate their commitment to workplace culture as leaders”.

“This is about state of mind and how we as managers approach the function. Do we approach it simply as a participant or do we see it as an opportunity to increase staff engagement? An opportunity to recognise, reflect and get to know?

“This is without doubt an opportunity to understand more about patterns of team and staff interaction, morale and satisfaction. On the other hand this opens the door for you to ‘muck up’ badly; to embarrass yourself and allow the lines of communication and authority to be blurred; perhaps inflicting long-term pain on you and the organisation.”

Bell, the managing director of iHR Australia and Asia, says managers intellectually and emotionally “sign up” to leadership, “knowing that every now and again [they] risk breaking the contract”.

And he says the Christmas party provides a high-risk environment in which such a break can occur. “We can find ourselves closing up shutters for the year, forgetting that the organisation’s Christmas party is actually the springboard into the next year, and behaving loosely or without consideration for the state of our future relationships.”

He recommends that managers lower their risk and take a leadership mentality into the party.

“Why? Because it provides you with another great opportunity to demonstrate that you are an effective, open, responsible and caring manager – key attributes for building and reinforcing staff engagement.”

Bell offers seven tips for organisations and managers that want to use the Christmas party to demonstrate quality leadership:

1. Understand the guidelines and have a clear mind – leaders should understand the organisation’s expectations of them, Bell says.”Be clear about what the organisation expects in relation to behaviour at any Christmas event.” He recommends “relaxed, jovial and respectful” behaviour instead of just “fun”.

“Also understand the organisation’s position on matters such as drunkenness, cab fares, start and finish times, attendance at events following the Christmas party, and other practical information.” (Bell advises managers not to attend after-party events.) “This all helps for a clear mind so that managers can make any difficult decisions beforehand that might be required on the night.”

2. Set expectations for staff – leaders should set or communicate expectations, and deliver on them.”It’s great to have a relaxed, two-way team discussion before the event about ‘what’s OK and what’s not OK’,” Bell says. “You may well be surprised, if you ask your staff about their own expectations regarding behaviour, how naturally aligned it might be to those of the organisation.

“Furthermore, set expectations in relation to responsible drinking, (if in fact you allow it), cab charges and starting and finishing times. Have a ‘Party Rules’ memo circulated prior to the event.”

3. Turn up – leaders demonstrate interest and commitment to their employees, Bell says.”Many managers tell me they don’t turn up to the annual break-up party because they ‘don’t enjoy being in a room full of drunks’, or ‘it’s too dangerous given modern-day legal risks’. In my view no one should be that drunk at a Christmas party and leaders should understand risk but not be paralysed by it.

“Not turning up out of fear lacks courage and is an abdication of your responsibility as a leader to build a more engaging workplace.”

4. Role model behaviours – leaders should model the behaviours required by the organisation that they commit to.”The capacity and willingness to role model is a key leader attribute. At the Christmas party, the fact that you drink too much, take part in humiliating or belittling behaviours or discussions puts you and the organisation at risk.

“On the other hand if you drink moderately (if indeed you want to drink alcohol), be happy, congenial and respectful you are likely to help set a positive, responsible tone. Self control is a great leadership attribute and a lot easier said than done. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses (especially in social situations) and the triggers that might lead you to behaving in a way that might be regarded as unacceptable by your organisation. For example, if you have a tendency to enjoy drinking with a particular group of males or females with whom you’ve had a long association, ensure that you make a concerted effort to move around the room rather than restricting yourself to this particular group.”

5. Be aware – leaders have awareness of what is happening around them.”Managers need to be aware and coherent. You are ultimately responsible for the safety and welfare of the attendees. Prepare to be an individual respondent in a court case should you fail to observe and act on behaviours that are potentially litigious. For example when ‘tipsy’ Megan and Phil are making publically disparaging comments about Alan because he works ‘too slow’ or Sandra and Kent’s dancing is becoming very ‘dirty’, recognise that this may potentially lead to a harassment claim.”

5. Be prepared to act on bad behaviours and say goodnight – leaders demonstrate courage and are prepared to change the course of events when required.”You should be prepared to respectfully take people aside when you feel their behaviour is a risk to themselves or others. Don’t do it in front of the crowd. Having difficult discussions in front of a team could cause a confrontation that ruins the night or give a ‘smartie’ the opportunity they want to attempt to embarrass you in front of others.

“If people are drunk or behave badly you need to be prepared to say goodnight. Generally a friendly handshake, consoling words about having to leave early and a cab-charge will do the job. If, however, an attendee is obviously at risk to themselves or the community you may need to organise a more ‘door-to-door’ arrangement in relation to getting them home (for example, two managers driving that individual home). If an injury occurs to the individual on the way home and it is deemed that the organisation has contributed to their condition and failed to take reasonable action to ensure the employees safe return home, then the organisation is potentially liable.”

6. Implement the boundaries of the function – leaders do what they say and manage their environment to attain the outcomes they want.”Finally, implement the start and finish times and ensure those attending the party know the boundaries of the party area. You should have agreed these up front. If it’s at a venue where there are a multitude of rooms and parties remember to remind those that constantly leave the designated party area that they are contravening your ‘party rules’ and if they keep leaving your area without good reason they may not be allowed to return.”

For more information on iHR, click here.

Why rewards (often) don’t work

Many managers try very hard to find new and more effective ways to motivate their staff through rewards. Are you one of them?

Could seeking to motivate people with monetary rewards ultimately be a waste of time, effort and money?

Take a look at this video animation (just 11 minutes long) of a talk given by Daniel Pink and please share your thoughts below.

 

For more on Performance + Rewards, please click here to register for our next webinar on Wednesday 10 November.

Ten Top Tips from Savvy CEOs

Last Tuesday, the PricewaterhouseCoopers  Master of Business Series hosted a panel discussion on ‘How can I harness the passion of my people to fuel my business growth?’  This is a topic of interest to all managers, so I’ve provided a summary below.

The panel members were:  Steve McCarthy (CEO, Adshel), Tracey Mitchell (MD, Mitchell Personnel Solutions), Paul Jury (National GM Recruitment, Talent2) and Kirsty Rankin (Joint CEO, Pinpoint).  The discussion was facilitated by Russel Howcroft, CEO Australia and NZ, Y&R (and ‘Gruen Transfer’ panelist).

A number of themes arose in the discussion regarding the expectations of today’s employees, including:  flexibility, community involvement and charity, training and development, a reputable employer, leadership aligned with their values.

Here are my top ten tips from the panel:

  1. Keep your promises, including clarity about what the role entails. 
  2. Know what kind of culture you want.  We don’t tolerate laziness, bullying or politics. 
  3. It’s possible to provide benefits that cost very little, such as flexible hours, but give great returns in loyalty and productivity.
  4. You can’t keep giving ‘trinkets and groovy stuff’ to motivate staff.  What they want is authentic leadership.
  5. Nobody wants to work on their birthday, so give them the day off.  Also, let staff take ‘odd job days’ from their sick leave instead of pretending to be sick and taking ‘sickies’.
  6. We found our problems managing ‘Gen Y’ ended when we stopped calling them ‘Gen Y’ and started treating them as individuals. 
  7. Paid maternity leave, followed by flexible work has been worth 100 times the cost because we were able to keep a valuable employee. 
  8. Interviewing is unreliable in selecting the right people because you will get those who look right but are wrong and those who look wrong but are right for the role.  More information results in better decisions.
  9. For innovation and improved processes, ask your staff “What are ten things you are doing that are time-wasting?”.  Then listen, acknowledge and implement!
  10. We want to be a ‘dickhead-free-zone’ because ‘dickheads are why people leave’. 

What tips would you give other managers in response to the question: ‘How can I harness the passion of my people to fuel my business growth?’  Please share your ideas below.

By the way, Steve McCarthy has agreed to be interviewed for a series we are planning for 2011.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing his many insights on leadership.

The five step skills shortage strategy

One of the constants in running a business is the challenge of attracting and retaining high quality staff.

We have seen businesses opting to improve productivity among existing staff and control their recruitment budgets since the GFC hit Australia.  At the same time, unemployment is staying low and the number of jobs advertised is slowly rising. 

A recent report by Hudson found that around 44% of employers still find it hard to source candidates with appropriate skills.  The war for talent continues!

Add to this the estimated cost of losing an employee at 70-150% of their salary and you can see why it’s vital to get the right person the first time.

What can you do to win in a talent war?

 

1.  Upskill existing staff.

Or hire for attitude and train for skill.

2.  Only use advertising that attracts the best people.

Include role and salary details, company name and location, benefits (including training).  Tell what it’s like to work for your company and why they should want to work for you.

3.  Follow a transparent and structured process. 

Candidates will recognise your level of honesty, fairness, consistency and flexibility in the recruitment process.  Delivering in these areas will help you stand out from your competitors for limited talent.

4.  Use a variety of sources of information. 

Combine different ways of assessing candidates to ensure you get all the information you need to make your decision.  Take the time to introduce them to the team or involve a peer in the interview process to confirm cultural fit.

5.  Get help. 

Unless this is something you do every day consider getting help form a recruitment consultant who knows your industry.  A good consultant can quickly identify ways to inprove your skills shortage strategy.

The one thing you need to know about performance…

…and retention.

Warning:  What you are about to read is so obvious you’ll wonder why you haven’t already used it in selection and performance management!

Enjoyment Performance Theory states that an individual will perform more effectively in a job if that individual:

1. Enjoys the tasks required by that job;

2. Has interests that relate to the position and

3. Has work environment preferences that correspond with the environment of the workplace.

Assuming a person has the skills and experience necessary for the job, enjoyment of the various aspects of the job is a significant predictor of higher performance.

Because we tend to do the things that bring us pleasure and avoid things we don’t enjoy, we tend to do the things we like more often.  As we do those activities more often, we get better at them and our improved performance adds to our enjoyment of the task.  A virtuous cycle, if you like. 

Conversely, because we will be less inclined to do something we don’t enjoy, we fail to improve in that task and the lower performance reinforces our dislike of the activity – a vicious cycle.

Harrison Assessments’ 20 years of research has proven that employees who enjoy at least 75% or more of their job are three times more likely to succeed than employees who enjoy less than 75% of their job. That makes understanding factors related to work satisfaction vitally important for making the right hiring decisions, motivating employees, and retaining top talent. 

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

So how do you apply the theory to your team? 

Surprisingly, very few behavioural assessments or personality assessments measure work satisfaction, even though it is critically important to do so. As a result, assessments are limited in their ability to determine motivation or forecast whether an individual will prosper and stay with the company.

The Harrison Assessment questionnaire is designed to predict performance, work satisfaction and retention. This is critical when selecting new staff and also enables companies to motivate people and increase their performance by assigning the roles and responsibilities that give them the highest degree of work satisfaction.

To find out more about what we can do for you with Harrison Assessments, visit our website or contact us!

Communication failure

If I had to pick one issue that is the most prevalent in my work with teams, it is – without doubt – communication. Experience with our Team Health Check shows that this is the hardest thing for many team leaders to get right, despite their best intentions.

Here are some of the reasons why communication often misses the mark:

1. Lack of awareness about the impact of our communication style.  Unless you ask them, you are not likely to know how your style affects your team’s motivation and effectiveness.  

Solution:  Consider asking your team for feedback.  An effective way to do this quickly and confidentially is by using the Team Health Check.  Our clients are finding they get some surprising responses when their team ranks statements such as these: 

  •  Everyone’s input is listened to and appreciated by the rest of the team.
  •  We openly and constructively resolve differences and conflicts.
  •  Interactions within the team are respectful, open and honest.

(There are 20 questions in total, covering the full range of teamwork criteria.)

2. We communicate with our team the way we like to be communicated to.  For example, if you appreciate frank and straightforward information from others, you are likely to be direct in the way you talk to your team.  

Solution: Recognise that what works for you will not work for everybody.

3. Not understanding team members’ communication preferences. Closely related to the previous point, there is great value in having an insight into the different communication styles on your team. 

Solution:  Use a tool to diagnose the individual preferences. The Harrison Assessment system measures the following communication traits:  Frank, Diplomatic, Blunt, Evasive, Avoids Communication, Wants Frankness and Tolerates Bluntness..

4. Lacking a sufficient range of communication styles to be able to meet the needs of  team.  When you know what’s missing, it’s easy to fill the gaps with knowledge and practice.

Solution:  Coaching is available to help you use your communication strengths to develop more effective ways to communicate with the full range of people you will encounter in business.  For more information on our coaching systems, please contact us.

The final – and perhaps the most important – point is this: 

Just because you don’t think you have a problem, doesn’t mean there’s not an issue there.  Your business can only benefit if you take the time to find out.

To read more about the Team Health Check, click here.

Banking on your reputation

If your chances of being hired or promoted – or winning a new client – depended 20% on your qualifications and 80% on your reputation, would you need to change your behaviour?

I’m sure for most readers, the answer is ‘no’ because you are already aware of how important your reputation is to your success.

In this post we’re going to look at some of the things, beyond honesty, that contribute to a good reputation.  If you’d like to know more about how to get more insights into a person’s reputation, read this post.

These are our top five factors contributing to a high personal approval rating:

1.  Valuing others for the relationships you have with them, not just for what you think they can do for you.

2.  Positive interactions and communication with peers, managers, suppliers, clients and competitors. 

3.  Congruence or acting in ways that are consistent with your values and the values of your organisation.  This is ‘walking the talk’.

4.  Delivery – doing what you said you’d do, even if it will cost you.  Corollary:  Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

5.  Consistency in how you act in the full range of situations you encouner in life and business.  People like to extrapolate from how they’ve seen you behave in one instance to how you will approach other situations and if you’re not consistent you’ll cause confusion, which can be damaging for you.

As an employee, consultant or adviser, be aware of how all these factors contribute to your reputation and the reputation of your organisation.

As a manager, you could use these five factors as a checklist when assessing candidates for employment or promotion, as you go through your interviews, reference checking and staff development processes.  Lack of clarity on any one of these factors is a signal that you may need to do some more research before making your decision.

Remember “You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.”  (Henry Ford)

Looking for some workplace magic?

On my way back from Melbourne last week, I sat near a girl who was reading a book called ‘Workplace Magick’.  This started me thinking about a lot of things, mostly about how bad things must be at work for someone to hope a book like that might help.  
 
 Have you ever felt that desperate?  I know I have!  And I’m also fairly sure no magic was going to fix it!
 
The Gallup organisation recently studied work satisfaction. They found that feeling that you have friends at work was one of the top predictors of job satisfaction.  You can achieve a friendly and productive workplace by creating a positive work environment that motivates people.  

 

How can you bring back the magic for your team? 

1.  Think of yourself as a facilitator and supporter of greatness, for both your team and individual members.  When you know their strengths, you can help them harness and contribute their best efforts.
 
2.  Be willling to share the credit when things go well and avoid playing the blame game when they go wrong. 
 
3.  Be aware of how you talk to – and about – members of your team.  How you communicate, verbally and nonverbally, is being constantly monitored and judged by those around you.
 
4.  Listen to and respect the opinions of team members.  Show them that their suggestions are valued by being prepared to try something new when they offer solutions to problems they’ve identified.
 
5.  Keep your commitments.  If you promised the team that something would happen, it’s up to you to make sure it happens, or have a reasonable explanation when it doesn’t.

Would you like to know what your team’s thinking?

Click here to find out the easy way!

Wondering what your team’s thinking?

Those who attended our webinar ‘How to Make Your Good Team Great’ last week already know about our ‘Team Health Check’.  (And with our special offer to webinar participants, their requests are coming in fast!)   The Team Health Check has been designed to give you a snapshot of how things are in your team.   This is just the beginning of a process that will take your team to greater effectiveness.  You will get: 

  • An anonymous online survey for all your team (click here for a preview);
  • A written analysis of the survey results;
  • One hour debrief with me that will result in
  • An action plan for your team development.

 

 If your team could be more productive, this service is for you!   

Running a small business, communication within the team is just as important as it is within a business of hundreds of staff.  

Whilst we have many mechanisms for communicating on a regular basis, I felt it important to allow some anonymous feedback within the team, even for me. I asked Susan Rochester to co-ordinate the process to ensure that we had an impartial and confidential collation of the results.   

Susan responded quickly with a summary that allowed me to provide meaningful feedback to all of the team. Our Practice Manager was able to provide feedback for the whole team and also further understand the personalities within the team.

 This made the management process easier for myself and the whole team. Each member of the team gained insights into their own behaviours and effectiveness within the team.  The result has been a greater understanding of each other within the team.

I am looking forward to doing it again soon and expect to do so at least once per year. I recommend using Susan to assist you in your business in this way.    

Bernard FehonCFP™ | Principal Financial Planner | Tactical Solutions   

Please call Susan today to set up your survey.

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
By Benoit Ribe, HR Solutions Manager, Polyglot Group
"The leadership team at Insurance Advisernet engaged Susan from Balance at Work to run our leadership development survey and learning sessions. Susan was very professional in delivering the team and individual strengths and opportunities for growth. Susan's approach was very "non corporate" in style which was refreshing to see. I can't recommend Balance at Work more highly to lead employee and team development sessions."
By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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