Category Archives: People Management

Get it done!

Despite being a coach myself and understanding the value of accountability, I am also probably as bad as anyone else at keeping myself accountable.

Despite every tool available to me, sometimes the keeping track just seems to take up too much time – time I want to spend moving on to the next week, project, client…

If this sounds like you, too, here’s a quick checklist to use to keep yourself aligned to your goals. Fill it in every Friday afternoon to keep you focused.

  1. Top 3 tasks to be completed next week to bring me closer to my goals.
  2. Top 3 tasks I completed this week (including the goal(s) they relate to)
  3. Who I met this week (include current, prospective and past clients; centres of influence; staff; alliance partners)

Use a quick ‘check in’ like this and I guarantee you will make progress. Read it and don’t act on it, I guarantee you will find it hard to keep yourself – or anyone else – accountable.

Let me know how you go!

Are you heading in the right direction?

terminating employment

Occasionally, it’s good to know you are on the right path…

This email we received from a consultant using Harrison Assessments Career Navigator System (CNS) demonstrates the power in knowing you are heading in the right direction:

A colleague in her mid-twenties who worked opposite me has for quite a while thought that she would like to be a nurse. All she really knew is that she didn’t enjoy working in this job, behind a computer all day every day because it didn’t give her a sense of doing something meaningful. But she didn’t know what else to do. A few weeks before Christmas she used the Harrison Career Navigator, and surprise, surprise, it listed nursing as something she would be really good at. She moved into high gear, enrolled at university to do a nursing degree, resigned from her job, moved a lot closer to the university, and has already begun preparing for the next three years of study. What’s inspiring is that she was willing to sacrifice her income and live another three years as a poor, struggling student in order to do what she loves.

Another friend suffered a major mental health issue and had to be hospitalised for a month. The crisis was brought on by issues related to work, and on leaving hospital she knew she couldn’t keep working in that area, but had no idea what else she could do. She did the assessment, which amongst other things recommended she work in a post office. It so happens her old job also managed a post office, and so she moved into the new role. She now loves what she does, finds work a lot less stressful and her health has really improved (so much so she’s returned to full time work).

A colleague who is successful in her current career but a little bored has been increasingly wondering, ‘Now what?’ She jumped at the opportunity to do the assessment, which confirmed that she would be well suited to being a doctor, something she had contemplated before. She is now seriously considering whether to give up her current work and pursue a career in the medical field. It would be a very long road for her, but immensely rewarding. I’m betting she’ll go for it!

I guess I can also add my own story to the list. I’ve known for a long while that I really want to work in the areas of counselling, coaching and training, which I love, but have often doubted whether I have what it takes to make it in that area. Doing the Harrison Career Development Assessment gave me a huge boost in confidence, confirming that I would be well suited to all three and that they would give me the sense of doing something meaningful that I’ve lacked in my career so far. And even more than that, it even more specifically identified that I would be particularly suited to career and relationship counselling, and adult education training, which I have really enjoyed in my education. So it was a great confirmation that I am on track and has helped give me the confidence and motivation to push on. Exciting times ahead!

What difference has direction – or lack of direction – made in your life?

Click here to get sample reports.

To find out more about how you can help your clients find their direction with Harrison Assessments’ Career Navigator, click here.

New products from Harrison Assessments

Agile Culture

We are thrilled to announce:

  • The Career Navigator
  • The Succession Planner

Dr Dan Harrison and his team are upgrading the Harrison Assessments HATS system this month to include these new modules.  There will also be updates to the questionnaire and the standard Job Success Formula library of over 6000 templates. Click here to download a summary of the changes: Harrison Assessments New Release Sept 2013

Here is a brief explanation of the new assessment products and talent management tools soon to be available in your HATS system at no extra charge:

CAREER NAVIGATOR

This is an interactive career system that has been added to the current Career Module.  This means that now when you send a questionnaire invitation to a client you have the option of linking their results to their own Career Navigator account.

The client can log into their Career Navigator account to run their own reports and view much more information about careers than previously available in HATS reports.

And you’ll notice that the reports have been updated to be more focused on career satisfaction with an additional 19 ‘interest’ and ‘employment preference’ traits.  HATS administrators will still be able to log into their clients accounts to see the results and run reports for coaching purposes.

The Career Navigator will make it much easier for career professionals, schools, universities, and employment organisations to give their customers access to the accuracy and vast amount of valuable employment information only found in the Career Module in HATS.

SUCCESSION PLANNER

The Succession Planner is an internal job succession tool for employees.  Companies can invite their employees to compare their work preferences (HA questionnaire) against any number of internal jobs included in the Succession Planning module.

Applications are linked to the recruitment campaign module which includes external applicants (if desired) and ensures a transparent, fair and performance based selection process.

The Succession Planner helps companies retain talented and committed employees and is a great resource for HR professionals.  It means employees have the benefit of applying for jobs they know they are already suited to, and may even consider a change in career direction with confidence.  It is also a valuable tool for company restructures and mergers.

For more information on what these changes mean for you, please contact us.  We look forward to answering your questions!

Recruitment cost calculator for small business

hiring

Do you know how much it costs you to fill a vacant role?

Use the steps below to help you calculate the hiring costs for your business.

We hope you find the following guide useful – and if you do, please share it!

Identify your direct costs

The direct costs of replacing a departing employee include:

  • Expenses of advertising the vacancy
  • Fees paid to recruitment agencies
  • Fees paid to consultants for conducting tests, checking references, pre-employment medicals, etc
  • Termination payout amounts, including pro rata long service leave and pay in lieu of notice

Add your indirect costs

The indirect costs are often less obvious and contribute a substantial proportion of the overall expense.  Indirect costs include:

1.       Loss of productivity for other employees filling in for vacant position

Where other employees perform part of the vacant job as well as their own jobs, estimate one-third of each employee’s total daily remuneration, multiplied by the number of days they continue to fill in.

2.       In-house costs of hiring

This includes the hourly rate of each employee involved in the process, multiplied by the number of hours they spend on tasks such as:

  • Drafting position descriptions and advertisements
  • Liaising with advertisement placement and recruitment agencies
  • Fielding enquiries from prospective candidates
  • Reading resumes
  • Screening applications and advising candidates
  • Making appointments for interviews
  • Carrying out interviews and debriefing
  • Verifying qualifications, checking references, conducting pre-employment assessments, etc

 3.       Induction and training

Multiply the hourly rate for each employee involved, by the time spent on training and induction of the new recruit.  Also include the cost of training and induction facilities.

4.       Termination administration

Again, it is possible to calculate the cost based on the hourly rate of the relevant staff members.  This may include:

  • Pay officer time to process termination pay,
  • Exit interviewer time,
  • Employee and line manager time to finish paperwork, return and check employer’s property (such as security tags, vehicles, tools, uniforms, sales resources, etc) and
  • Administration time, for example, on cancelling computer access.

5.       Loss of productivity in early stages of employment

New employees normally take some time before they become sufficiently familiar with their jobs to achieve 100% productivity.  One suggestion is to use an estimate of 50% productivity until the required standard is reached.

Estimate the number of days required to reach 100% productivity and multiply this by 50% of the employee’s daily total remuneration rate. Some estimates will be quantifiable, such as changes in sales income, but many will not.

6.       Loss of productivity in final stages of employment

The productivity of many employees falls while they are serving out their notice period. For example, many are preoccupied with making new arrangements relating to a new job.  Others may want to take unused sick leave or other days off they feel are owed to them.

There will also be time used for exit interviews, client hand over and farewell parties.  You might attempt to estimate percentage loss of productivity based on your observations of past employees who resigned, and multiply the percentage by the employee’s daily total remuneration rate and number of days after resignation.  Again, some estimates will be quantifiable but many will not.

Summary of employee turnover costs

When all the quantifiable expenses are calculated, the total cost of turnover for one employee is as follows:

Total direct costs

+ Loss of productivity for other employees filling in for vacant position

+ In-house hiring costs

+ Termination administrative costs

+ Induction and training costs

+ Loss of productivity in early stages of employment

+ Loss of productivity in final stages of employment

LESS Unpaid remuneration while the job is vacant.

Would you like to reduce your hiring costs?

In association with Peter Dawson of The Dawson Partnership, we have prepared an e-book to help you hire efficiently and effectively. Click here for your copy of Successful Recruitment: Transforming your business through best practice.

As always, please share your comments and queries below…

It’s not all about the money

hiring

The recently released Hay Group Australian Salary Movement Index report has some interesting things to say about the basics of finding good staff – and keeping them:

The research reveals that organisations wishing to have higher engagement among employees and lower turnover should focus on getting these five fundamentals right.

1. Confidence – in the organisation and its leadership, providing clear direction ‐ line of sight ‐ and
support

2. Development – ensuring clear pathways for career development and progression are in place and communicated

3. Selection – ensure you are selecting the right people for the right job in order to maximise employee contribution and minimise turnover costs

4. Reward – fair (internal and external) recognition of both monetary and non‐monetary methods,
ensuring it’s a good fit for the organisation

5. Enabling employees – giving people what they need to do a good job, and an environment that is
positive and one that fosters innovation and creativity

How do you apply these basics in your organisation?

How well do you know your team?

business culture

At Balance at Work, we often get involved in helping our clients hire the best people. We also care about how they retain the best.

To keep key people, you need to know them and their needs.

As an exercise, imagine I’ve asked you to tell me the following about each of your top performers:

  1. Why do they work for you?
  2. What are their highest values?
  3. What could they earn elsewhere?
  4. What frustrates them about their job?
  5. What do they want to do in their career?
  6. How would they most like to be rewarded?
  7. Do they like the culture of your workplace?
  8. What worries them the most in their life right now?
  9. What are they most excited about in their life right now?
  10. How easy would it be for them to get another job if they wanted to?

How would you go?  Would you have all the answers?

If you found some gaps, it might be time to do some research – by which I mean having some conversations. Your interest in the answers to these questions demonstrates your interests in your team as people, not just ‘human resources’.  If you would like some help in retaining your team, please click here for more information.

Don’t you think they’ll feel like sticking around longer if they believe you care?

As always, have your say below…

 

Case study: 360 degree feedback for company culture

accountability

You can download this post as a PDF here: Case Study – 360 for Culture

Late in 2012 we were approached by the HR Director of an SME in manufacturing. The organisation had been through extensive change and renewal. A new strategic plan was in place, as was a set of clearly defined organisational values.

Values
Keen to ensure the values were embedded in the day-to-day running of the business, the executive team decided to use 360 degree feedback. In this case, the members of the executive were to be rated by themselves, the CEO, their peers and their direct reports on how well they demonstrated the company’s seven core values. The values were:

  • Loyalty and transparency
  • Stamina and passion
  • Striving for excellence
  • Responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Unified culture
  • Innovation and initiative

The business had clearly defined and communicated the values to all staff in the organisation. Our task was to put those values and examples of aligned behaviours into an online questionnaire.

Questions
A typical question would look like this:
To what extent does this person demonstrate innovation?
Those who are innovative will –

  • Develop and initiate new approaches, experimenting with different ways of doing things
  • Follow through on their ideas, even when faced with significant obstacles
  • Maintain focus on the desired outcome

In addition to the questions on each core value, two questions allowing for additional comments were added at the end of the survey. These were:

  • What they do well… Please comment on how this person’s behaviour in general demonstrates the core values.
  • How they could be more effective… Please comment on what this person might do to more strongly reflect the core values.

Ratings
For each question, participants are invited to give a rating on the following scale and to add a free form comment.

1    Not at all
2    To a little extent
3    To a moderate extent
4    To a great extent
5    To a very great extent
N/A    Don’t know or not applicable

The N/A option was used to ensure participants were not forced to give a rating if they did not have enough information to do so. Likewise, there was no neutral option. Participants instead chose between options that describe the extent to which the specific behaviour is demonstrated.

Administration
While we were designing the questionnaire, the HR director was:

  • Educating staff on the purpose of the 360 and the process to be followed.
  • Training participants on how to give appropriate feedback.
  • Creating lists of who would be completing the survey. For each manager, there were five peers and five direct reports to give feedback, making a total of twelve responses for each person (including their own response and the CEO).

This pre-implementation phase took about two weeks in total.

Unique codes for each participant, linked to their relationship with the relevant manager, were sent to the HR director for distribution. The HR director knew who had which code, but had no access to the raw data. We knew which codes had been used but didn’t know the names of the participants. By separating these functions, anonymity was ensured.

During the two weeks of the survey, we monitored the responses to track completion. Reminders were sent to all participants a couple of times, to give a 100% completion rate. Responses were also screened for inappropriate language, although none was found.

Results
The survey results were collated and published for initial consultation with the CEO within one week of the survey closing. Following this discussion, copies were supplied to each of the managers, supported by coaching from the CEO and HR director.

Lessons learnt

  • Defining the purpose of the 360 degree feedback survey and how it links to strategy is critical in engaging participants.
  • Good rapport, communication and cooperation between the internal person responsible (in this case the HR director) and the supplier are essential for the smooth running of a 360 degree feedback project.
  • The 360 degree feedback process works on three levels to support company culture building:

1.   Demonstrates to all staff the importance management places on living the values;
2.   Helps individual managers understand how their behaviour in relation to the values is perceived by those around them;
3.   Points to areas for individual and organisational development in line with the desired culture.

More information
The Balance 360 feedback surveys and reports were developed by Balance at Work to complement the Harrison Assessments coaching reports.

UPDATE (November 2014)

Since this case study was written up, we have upgraded to a new software platform so we can now offer you even more flexibility for your 360 degree feedback surveys. If you would like more information, please get in touch.

A (very) simple guide to business productivity

We’re all busy, so here’s some quick advice on how to get the most from your staff!  Of the millions of words written about productivity, there are really just three things you need to remember.

For your employees to work the way you’d like them to, they need:

1.  Something to believe in

  • What are your core values, vision, mission and goals?
  • How have you communicated these to your team?
  • Can they see a connection between your plan and their future?

Your strategic plan describes the game.

2.  Best job fitness
In my experience, productivity and performance issues are often the result of ‘square pegs in round holes’.  This is a perfect time to reassess the fit of key people within their teams.  If you have identified individual strengths, you’ll be able to make the most of them.

Sometimes, this may result in more training or restructuring, or it may simply lead to the shifting of some tasks between people.
With the right people in the right positions, you can be confident you have built a winning team.

3.  Knowledge of what they’re supposed to be doing
Your organisational chart, policies, procedures, job descriptions and employment contracts are the rules of the game.  As with any successful team, training and coaching are ongoing.

Also let employees know how their role fits into the wider picture of the work that is done in your organisation.  Are they fully aware of the consequences for the business of their excellent (or poor) performance?

By putting in a little extra effort on people management, you can make huge productivity gains. If you would like some help with this, please click here.

What have you tried to improve productivity in your business?

Top interview secrets of the experts

Have you ever had the experience of employing someone who you “just loved” when you interviewed them, only to face future disappointment when they turned out not to be the person you thought they were?

This is what I call “interview infatuation” and I coined the term because I’ve seen it happen so often I thought it needed a name.

Interview infatuation often happens because recruitment is not your main job it can be daunting task. Even if you have a robust process for recruitment, interviewing candidates can have you feeling anxious and confused.

Part of the problem is that candidates are often a lot better prepared that you. Dozens of websites provide sample interview questions and recommended responses. Your average candidate may also be more motivated than you are to perform well.

How do you shift the balance back to being in your favour?

By putting into practice just a few things that experienced interviewers do as a matter of course:

  1. Prepare
  2. Ask behavioural questions
  3. Be consistent

Most candidates come into interviews well-prepared and you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not equally well-prepared.

A quick scan of the candidate’s resume and drafting a few questions related to it does not count as preparation. Preparing thoroughly involves:

  • Revisiting the requirements for the role, especially the essential (must have) and desirable (can live without) criteria
  • Writing an interview plan that sets out the steps you will go through in the interview, including introductions, questions and closing
  • Studying the resume, specifically looking for gaps, inflated titles and anything else that doesn’t add up.
  • Reviewing any additional information such as pre-employment assessments
  • Choosing a suitable time and location where you will have privacy and not be interrupted.

As part of your preparation, write behavioural questions that are relevant to being successful in this role. Behavioural questions matter because past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. Anyone can guess the correct answer to questions such as “What are your strengths?”

Examples of all-purpose behavioural questions

  • Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult client or co-worker?
  • Can you give me an example of a project you have managed?
  • Was there a time when you were under pressure to deliver an outcome in a tight time frame?

With each of these questions, follow up with more probing:

  • What did you do?
  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What would you do differently if you did it again?

These questions are looking beyond the standard answers the candidate may have prepared. What you’re seeking to understand is not just the good stuff but how they handle situations when things go “pear shaped”. You will also get an insight into their thought processes as they describe what they learnt (or didn’t) from the experience.

When recruiting, you are often comparing candidates with diverse strengths. To do this effectively, it’s recommended that you consistently ask the same questions to all candidates. Naturally, you will ask some different questions as you explore each candidate’s suitability but your basic structure and behavioural question should be the same for everyone. By doing this you will find it much easier to rank candidates according to the essential and desirable criteria for the role.

A simple table of scores for each can help your final decision

One final point that wasn’t on my original list: Don’t feel like you have to do this alone. I always recommend to my clients that they get someone whose judgement they trust to help them interview. Their insight could prove valuable.

Having someone else at the interview may not be feasible for you. In that case, you can still gain help by accessing the many resources available online.

Preparing, incisive questioning and consistency will improve your “hit-rate” at interviews. You may also find it enhances your reputation as an employer.

Seven key questions to ask about your team

 

Do you have your ‘dream team’ working happily and productively in your business or your department?  Perhaps you feel there’s still room for improvement.  Below are seven questions to help you identify the gaps in your team’s effectiveness, with ‘best practice tips’ for your consideration.

1.       Do we know what we’re trying to achieve?

Does everyone on your team understand the strategic plan and how the team’s successes (and failures) impact the achievement of the organisation’s goals?  How involved were they in setting the goals of your team?  Could they explain the goals to others?

Include the team in planning and clearly communicate how the team’s performance will contribute to the organisational goals.

2.       Is every team member committed to our joint goals?

You will know the answer to this question through observation and questioning.  Having a common goal is not enough in itself to ensure success, commitment is also required.  Sometimes lack of commitment can be due to a clash between the goal and the individual’s expectations.

Check in with your team members that the goals are consistent with their personal values and aspirations.

3.       How likely are we to achieve our goals?

Do you have the best combination of competencies for what you’re trying to achieve?  If not, how will you add these resources – through training, outsourcing or hiring?  Have you set clear expectations for both work performance and behaviour within the team?

Build teams for future as well as current needs.

4.       Do we understand and value our individual strengths?

Do you know in detail the experience, skills and talents of each team member? Are they respected for their specialist knowledge? Do they get an opportunity to use their strengths?

Delegate tasks and responsibilities to individuals in their field of expertise to give them a chance to shine.

5.       Do we communicate well?

Does the team leader effectively and appropriately share relevant information in a timely manner.  Does every team member get to express their opinion in an environment of respect and openness?

Introduce practices, such as meeting agendas, that allow all members of the team to contribute without feeling threatened.

6.       Are we all willing to lend a helping hand?

Is there a spirit of cooperation, with team members going out of their way (and outside their designated roles) to get the work done to achieve your team objectives?  Are team members happy to collaborate and share information and resources?

As with communication, a good team leader will model the behaviour that is expected from the rest of the team.

7.       Are we having fun?

Work is work and it can’t always be a party, but if people genuinely enjoy the work they do and the company of their team, you will achieve a lot more.

Celebrate your successes and when things go wrong, avoid blaming others.

What do you think?

Reflecting on these questions may have prompted some thoughts about how to improve your team.  Don’t let them be lost! 

Your next step is to decide on what actions you can take and plan how you will implement those actions.  Write it down, share your ideas and ask for help from both inside and outside your team.

Even your best friend won’t tell you…

succession

Complain to a colleague about an empoyee and they might tell you to just get rid of the person. You’re less likely to hear that you might get better performance by your staff if you give them more coaching, recognition or opportunities.

In traditional ‘command and control’ management, the assumption was that a staff member should do as they’re told and just get on with the job. If they couldn’t do that, they should be moved on.

The workplace has changed but remnants of this thinking remain.

With a more highly educated, skilled and mobile workforce, old styles of management are no longer viable, no matter how much we might believe life was simpler back then.

Using fear to motivate staff is not sustainable.

Those who continue to apply this model are short-changing their business and their staff. Here’s why:

  • Companies that build a great culture by promoting well-being, treating staff with respect, providing coaching and modelling honesty and integrity have high sustainable staff engagement. These companies had an average operating margin of 27.4%.*
  • Those that rely on traditional motivation, such as bonuses, had an operating margin of 14.3%.*
  • Where staff were not engaged or motivated, the operating margin averaged 9.9%.*
  • Companies with high levels of staff engagement posted returns 22% higher than the stock market average.^
  • Companies with disengaged employees had returns 28% below average.^
  • The top three drivers of engagement were career opportunities, recognition at work and brand alignment.^
  • With only one third of employees, out of 32,000 surveyed, saying they are highly engaged,* finding a way to treat staff better is a huge, hidden source of competitive advantage.

What can you do to increase employee engagement, motivation and retention?

Your friends might not tell you, but we will! Or you could ask your staff…

*Towers Watson 2012, ^AON Hewitt 2010

Where’s all this leadership leading us?

We had leadership programs running constantly, but when a decision had to be made everyone stepped back and waited for someone else to make a move.

Evidence of crises of leadership fill our news feeds daily. Yet leadership development, coaching, books and seminars are a growth industry.

With all this education, why aren’t we getting better decision making from our leaders?

The opening comment was made to me by a former executive of a major bank. I have no doubt the situation is the same in most big institutions.

This is what I think is happening:

  1. Lack of personal direction   Instead of being guided by an internal compass aligned to corporate goals, quasi-leaders’ values are conflicted.
  2. Lack of personal consequences   Apart from a few noticeable exceptions, quasi-leaders get away with bad decisions, or no decisions, many walking away richer.
  3. Fear   When the going gets tough, quasi-leaders look to the past instead of the future.

Instead, we should expect the following from our leaders – and be selecting, training and supporting them accordingly:

  1. Values   – that produce decisions that serve the company and the community.
  2. Accountability   – acceptance of the responsibilities of being a leader.
  3. Courage   – to make the difficult choices.

What do you think?  What would you change?

 

"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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