Category Archives: People Management

December? Already? Really? Really!

It’s common at this time of year for us to wonder where the year has gone…

Perhaps you’re also wondering what you’ve actually achieved this year, especially if you didn’t start 2010 with some clear goals in mind.

As we reflect on the past year and prepare for the next, consider starting a ‘done’ list as well as your ‘to do’ list.  You’ve been working hard all year and it’s a good time for you to pause and enjoy some sense of achievement before you dive into another year.

To start you thinking about your own ‘done’  list, I’ve put together a quick sample of things my clients have achieved in the last year.  I hope it will also be a reminder to them to feel proud of their accomplishments.  (You know who you are!)

Have you done any of the following 2010?

1. Raised money for a favourite charity;

2. Successfully implemented new processes;

3. Discovered new ways to approach work and life;

4. Dealt with challenges that were holding them back;

5. Grew in understanding of themselves and their team;

6. Developed strategic and realistic plans for the future of their business;

7. Mastered regulatory compliance and prepared for future changes in their industry;

8. Recruited and retained staff who are integral to effectively running and growing their business.

What are you most proud of doing in 2010?

Why don’t you take a minute now to write down you ‘Top 3’ achievement for the year?  I’d love to know, so please share your success below.

Feeling good about 2010 now?

Great!  Next week’s article will start you thinking about how you can be in an even better position this time next year, when you’re looking back over 2011.

‘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.

Three things you should know about yourself

…and anyone you employ!

Talking to a client yesterday about the potential to promote a staff member, I was reminded (again) of the power of awareness of our strengths and limitations.  Whether you’re hiring new staff or developing existing staff, positive change has to start from a point of knowledge and acknowledgement.

Even if you have a strong intention to improve, unless you know what’s holding you back it’s very hard to move forward.  But how do you find out?

One way is by objective assessment.  Here are three examples of  important leadership competencies we can measure for you: 

1. Strategic Judgement = the tendency to have a balance of traits necessary to discern pertinent information and formulate an effective strategy. 

This competency is made up of essential traits: Analytical, Analyses Pitfalls, Research/Learning, Intuitive, Collaborative, Self-Improvement, Systematic; desirable traits: Experimenting, Persistent, Certain, Pressure Tolerance, Optimistic, Planning, Self-Acceptance, Relaxed, Open/Reflective; and traits to avoid: Blindly Optimistic, Impulsive, Skeptical, Defensive, Dogmatic, Easily Influenced, Fast but Imprecise, Precise but Slow.

2. Interpersonal Skills = the tendency to have a balance of traits that relate to effective interaction with others. 

This competency consists of essential traits: Diplomatic, Helpful, Optimistic, Outgoing, Assertive, Frank, Influencing, Self-Acceptance, Self-Improvement, Warmth/Empathy, Tolerance of Bluntness; desirable traits: Flexible, Collaborative, Open/Reflective, Manages Stress Well, Relaxed; and traits to avoid: Defensive, Blunt, Dogmatic, Harsh, Dominating, Authoritarian, Permissive.

3. Provides Direction = the tendency to manifest the traits necessary for a leadership role. 

This is a combination of essential traits: Want to Lead, Influencing, Takes Initiative, Wants Challenge, Enthusiastic, Self-Improvement, Planning, Persistent, Pressure Tolerance, Public Speaking, Self-Acceptance; and desirable traits: Experimenting, Flexible, Frank, Handles Conflict, Helpful, Precise, Organised, Relaxed, Risking, Systematic, Tolerance of Bluntness, Warmth/Empathy.

Do you already know all this about yourself and your team? 

Would it be useful for you to have this information before making recruitment, coaching and promotion decisions?  What else would you like to know?

It’s surprising, but we can get all that information – and much more! – out of one short online test.  If you haven’t tried the assessment for yourself yet, it may be time to click here to register for a free trial.

Your easy performance management checklist

Viewers of last Wednesday’s webinar were suprised to learn that most performance management processes are a big waste of time.

How do you assess the value of your process?

Here’s an easy checklist:

1. Do you have all the information you need to set meaningful goals ?

2. Do all your employees get to have a high-quality conversation about their performance at least twice a year ?

3. Does your employee survey show that your performance management process is effective ? (If you don’t currently survey staff, consider using our Team Health Check.)

4. Does it take you more that twenty minutes to comlete the performance appraisal form ?

5. Do you have a maximum of 3-5 goals for each review ?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all five questions, congratulations!

If you didn’t, it might be time to view the webinar recording and/or get some help.

‘Performance + Rewards’ webinar recording

Conducting performance appraisals and rewarding performance effectively can be two of the biggest challenges you face when managing staff.

Are performance reviews something you – and your team – dread having to go through, even to the point of serious procrastination?

Ever wondered how to select rewards that will really excite and motivate your staff?  Have you ever succeeded in this sensitive area of management?

Does the whole idea of measuring and rewarding staff performance give you headaches?

What if you had a straightforward strategy that met the needs of both you and your team?

Watch this webinar to find out more!

Performance + Rewards Webinar from Susan Rochester on Vimeo.

The 3 C’s of performance and rewards

There’s not much time for writing today as I’m busily putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s webinar.

If you are planning to reward good performance in your team, here are three things to remember:

1.  Always be clear about what you will reward, when and how.  Let your team know what you will be measuring and why.  Rewards are more effective if people know about them in advance.

2.  Stay consistent both in the rewards that you give and the reasons for them.  This means consistency across time and across individuals.  Note:  Being consistent does not mean you have to reward everyone equally.  See point 1.

3.  Be committed to delivering on the rewards you have specified.  If you have any doubt that you will not be able to pay bonuses, for example, then don’t offer them.  It’s very hard to recover from the damage done by a promise that isn’t kept.

That’s it for today.  There will be lots more great information about performance management and rewards in tomorrow’s webinar, so make sure you click here to register

PS. Even if you don’t think you can attend live, it’s worth registering for early access to the recording.

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.

Turn your ‘better than nothing’ into ‘really something’

A comment by a client yesterday started me thinking about our willingness to settle for less than ideal when we could be seeking the best. 

With a little extra effort when recruiting staff, your business results can be ‘really something’ rather than ‘better than nothing’. 

First, some research on recruitment in small to medium enterprises…

The SME Boardroom White Paper released last week showed that the primary method for recruitment, used by 71.9% of SMEs, is to advertise the position themselves. Other sources of new recruits are business and personal referrals (57.8%) and staff referrals (40.6%).  What’s your method of choice?

Also contained in the White Paper is information about what SMEs look for when recruiting.  The main thing is attitude (78% of respondents).  Cultural fit (39.1%) and technical skills (34.4%) are also important. The survey didn’t ask how SMEs assess these requirements.

If you advertise directly and recruit for attitude, you will need a process that is efficient and effective.  Here’s a short summary of the steps you’ll need to take before you can make an offer to the new recruit you’re looking for:

  1. Define the role – job description, including talks and responsibilities
  2. Define the technical requirements – skills, qualifications, experience
  3. Define the ideal personal attributes –  attitudes, values, work preferences, cultural fit
  4. Advertise appropriately to attract good candidates
  5. Receive applications, read all cover letters and resumes
  6. Screen applications to determine technical requirements are met
  7. Create a shortlist
  8. Conduct behavioural interviews – consistent, relevant questions
  9. Assess job fit and cultural fit
  10. Reference checks, other pre-employment checks

All the same steps should apply, except for advertising, when your candidates come from referrals. 

Are you going through all the steps? 

If you would like a copy of our detailed Recruitment Plan, just let us know.  We are here to help you find and keep your dream team.

And remember, as Jim Collins said in Good to Great (2001), “When in doubt, don’t hire – keep looking”.

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!

Can you deliver on your Client Value Proposition?

When you make a promise to a client, are you confident your staff can – and will – keep it?

Many businesses, especially in financial services, struggle to identify and define their client value proposition (CVP).  The AFA 2010 White Paper provides valuable insights from consumer research. 

One area covered in the research was ‘loyalty drivers’.   The responses to the question “Which of the following are important for choosing and staying with a financial adviser?” were:

  • Your adviser takes time to listen/explain things to you – 82.5%
  • Your adviser is available when you call and/or returns calls promptly – 75.7%
  • Your adviser resolves account issues/questions quickly – 66.9%
  • Your adviser proactively manages your account and/or suggests changes – 65.8%
  • Your adviser is affiliated with a reputable organisation – 43.7%
  • Your adviser is calls you on a regular/ongoing basis – 35.7%

(263 respondents, multiple answers allowed)

The first four are clearly the most important to the financial advice clients surveyed.  All four depend on you having the right people in the right roles.  These services are all time-consuming and unless you can rely on your staff, you are bound to under-deliver and disappoint.

Having staff who can deliver on your promises is a combination of your recruitment, selection, induction, training, performance management and coaching practices.  Any weak points in these practices will carry over into how you’re perceived by your prospects and clients.

Some questions for you:

  1. Are you confident you can deliver these loyalty drivers on a consistent and regular basis? 
  2. How much will you achieve if you don’t have skilled and productive staff to back you up? 
  3. How would you cope with client disappointment?

As you reflect on the answers and how they impact your CVP, we are here to help.  Extensive experience in people management, many year’s coaching financial advisers and cutting-edge tools mean we can identify issues quickly and set you on the path to your CVP goals.  Contact us here.

Postscript:  I recently left my financial planner because they provided only one of the above loyalty drivers.  Can you guess which one?  Hint:  Being affiliated with a reputable organisation is not enough on its own!

 

"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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