Category Archives: People Management

Timely feedback leads to better performance

Many high-performing companies, especially in the startup and tech sectors, are happily dropping the traditional performance review.

Instead, they favour giving and requesting feedback when it can have the most impact on performance — both at the individual and business level.

(If you have children or a dog, you have no doubt already discovered this!)

The business benefits of more timely feedback

As external markets, including the labour market, change rapidly, the one sustainable competitive advantage a business can rely on is its staff.

To unlock value, employers need to engage their employees. We are fortunate today to have employees who are more educated, more mobile and who expect to apply their skills. They want to be involved, recognised and developed at work.

Implementing timely feedback builds engagement, grows skills and enhances productivity, which leads to better overall business performance.

What about your business?

Even if your business is not a fast-growing startup, in some instances you’d probably like to raise certain issues or topics well before the next round of performance reviews or staff surveys.

For example:

  • There’s something in your systems and processes that is frustrating for clients and staff.
  • One of your staff has an idea that could revolutionise your business.
  • You have a manager who is acting as a bottleneck for their team.

In situations, a timely feedback approach could pick up early signs so you can take appropriate action. At the same time, the organisation is showing employees that someone is listening. Both outcomes allow your business to become more agile and productive while engaging employees.

How can a business have timely feedback with minimal effort and maximum effect?

In the past five years, a completely new category of apps and online programs has emerged for this purpose.

If you already use a software package for performance appraisals or staff engagement surveys, it’s possible your provider also has a simplified feedback tool in their catalogue.

With more options coming onto the market all the time, you can find one that precisely suits your needs – if you know what you’re after. A few points to consider are:

  • What’s your purpose?
    If you are looking for a continuous feedback tool to replace your traditional performance appraisals, you might look at WIRL and similar apps. On the other hand, if you are looking for a replacement for a suggestion box or staff survey, you might investigate 15Five. If the primary motivation is to increase engagement, look at hppy or Tap My Back and similar tools. Most of the apps mentioned here perform multiple tasks, so it’s possible to find a good match to your needs.
  • Simple questions or a survey?
    Some systems allow you to customise and schedule specific questions on a weekly basis, while others may provide a set of questions that you can distribute as a survey and less frequently. Think about how much control you would like to have and how much data you want to collect. Keep in mind that more information usually means more work, at least in the short term.
  • Anonymous or identified?
    This depends on your current culture and levels of trust in the organisation. If answers are anonymous, people may be more open but you will likely get more noise in your system. When feedback is not anonymous, employees need to know they will not be penalised in any way for a controversial opinion. The advantage to having respondents identified is that you will be able to show your appreciation for their individual contributions, seek further clarification if needed, and work with them on ideas and solutions.
  • Frequency and timing
    Quality feedback is more likely if your app is easy to use, doesn’t take more than a few minutes to complete and will work on mobile devices. The most efficient and effective will simply become a regular part of your workflows, just like a weekly staff meeting — only shorter and more productive!
  • What happens to the data?
    This point should be both first and last, because it is so important. Just as you wouldn’t introduce a new CRM without knowing its features and how you plan to use it, starting to use a feedback app without a plan for how you’ll treat the results would be a waste of time. Don’t start until you can articulate why you’re doing this and how you’ll use the data. The same applies if you’re not ready to acknowledge and act on the feedback.

A word of caution

Time spent with your staff setting ground rules and training at all levels will make your feedback system much more meaningful and productive.

To feel confident using the new feedback process, every user must be clear about the expected feedback standards. They also need to believe someone will appreciate their opinions and ideas and take action based on them. With the most advanced — or most simple — feedback process, covering the basics first is the key to uncovering better performance through timely feedback.

Now’s a good time to consider what you could gain through timely feedback. Would you want to risk losing people because they feel their input is rarely required and mostly ignored, but will be valued by one of your competitors? Alternatively, would you prefer to tap into the knowledge, skills, experience and creativity of your staff through timely feedback?

The choice is yours.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

What’s going to happen when you lift that rock?

Have you ever lifted a rock and found an ants’ nest underneath? How did the ants react?

I bet they ran around like crazy!

A conversation I had today reminded me of this experience. I was talking to someone who is managing a team where the previous manager micro-managed everything the team members did. They had no authority to make even minor decisions on their own and being corrected, coerced and cajoled was part of their everyday working life.

The previous manager was the rock, sitting hard on top of the team. Keeping them in check and letting them know exactly where they stood – and where they couldn’t go.

Enter the new manager. A manager who expects the team to take responsibility for their own work. A manager who is not interested in the minutiae of what that work entails. A manager who won’t give direction on every task. A manager who expects them to think for themselves.

The rock has been lifted and the team has gone a little off the rails…

When they’re not used to having any freedom or responsibility, it’s not hard to imagine how that might happen. It may even be frightening for them. They may be feeling as if things are spiralling out of control.

How do you remove the rock without creating chaos?

  • Be clear about the expectations
  • Let the team know they have your support
  • Be there for them as they adjust to the new world they live in (the air, the light!)

There may be one or two who get lost along the way but be assured an ant colony can rebuild at a remarkable rate. Human teams can be equally surprising in how quickly they reform and perform.

Hiring for customer relationship success

Relate to your boss

Customer relationships are so important — no matter what the role or organisation. 

When selecting staff, we may think that the technical skills they possess, their experience and their qualifications are most important in our decision-making process. We may pay less attention to the so-called ‘soft’ skills, and often this is where we see it all fall apart further down the track.

What should we look for when we’re hiring?

‘Nice’ is the enemy of excellence when it comes to choosing staff with the right traits to deliver the highest expected standards of service to your customers and their own peers and managers.

Excellent customer service in any role requires:

  • Empathy
    The ability to identify with another person and to express that empathy when dealing with customers and co-workers.
  • Optimism
    A positive outlook and an expectation that there can be a favourable outcome to any customer interaction, including complaints.
  • Self-motivation
    A natural tendency to take the initiative to help a client and to be enthusiastic about helping them — and a willingness to take on new challenges.
  • Helpfulness
    A natural inclination to put others’ needs first, so that the customer will always feel that they and their needs are important.
  • Diplomacy
    The ability to be tactful and communicate effectively in even the most stressful situations.
  • Outgoing
    Happy and comfortable to meet new people. Even a naturally reserved person may be able to be outgoing when required, provided this is not their main job.
  • Learning
    A willingness to learn from mistakes will lead to continuous improvement with benefits for your organisation.

How do we identify employees with these traits? 

At every stage of the recruitment and selection process, you can be on the lookout for signs of the characteristics above.

  • Application letter
    Do they demonstrate an enthusiasm for the role and the challenges it represents? Have they shown that they understand the role and your requirements?
  • Resume
    Does their work and study history show that they have a customer service orientation? Even if they haven’t worked in customer service, there will be indicators in the way they describe previous roles and in other aspects of their resume, such as voluntary work.
  • Interview
    While enthusiasm, politeness and a positive attitude are easily noticed, they are also sometimes easily faked. Make sure you dig deeper to get real examples of how the candidate has acted in the past to provide excellent customer service. When you do, be listening for evidence that they possess the traits we have listed above.
  • Work preference testing
    There are multiple psychometric assessments that are available which will give you detailed information about a person’s natural tendencies with regard to customer service success. Some will also flag any unhelpful behaviours that may appear when the person is feeling stressed.
  • Reference checking
    Make sure you ask about how the prospective employee usually interacted with customers and other staff. Have there been any instances where they have failed to provide the best service? What was the situation and how did they handle it? Did they learn from the experience?

It will never be possible to predict customer service success with 100 percent accuracy, but taking the steps above can help you identify and hire staff who have the best chances of delivering the levels of customer service you and your customers expect.

Remember, these steps are important for any person in any role that interacts with others.

What will you change next time you’re hiring?

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Project Manager Job Template

workplace training

Here is Dr Dan Harrison’s explanation for why Harrison Assessments doesn’t have a Project Manager template.

One of the most common JSF requests I receive is Project Manager. It’s a logical request because it is a very common role. Project Managers can be found in almost every organization within every industry; and this is why Project Manager cannot be a JSF. It is too generic.

Project Managers can be found within engineering companies and software companies. The same title can be found on construction sites and within manufacturing plants. Strategic consulting firms and landscaping companies all have Project Managers.

About the only thing Project Managers within engineering, software, construction, manufacturing, consulting, and lawn care have in common is their title. The traits that make a Project Manager successful in engineering are not the same for Project Managers in other industries.

Making matters more challenging, Project Manager is often an individual’s functional role and not a job title.

Directors of Engineering are often times assigned the role of Project Manager; however, their official title is Director of Engineering. What does this mean?

It means the Director of Engineering JSF includes the traits necessary to effectively project manage engineering initiatives since it is critical for this JSF.

This is true for all the job titles that need to lead and manage projects. The specific project management traits are already included within the JSF.

There are other things to consider that have a great impact of the content of the JSF – for example interpersonal interactions, number of people supervised, etc.

So, in conclusion…

Although, we cannot create a catch all Project Management JSF we have already captured the project management traits within the Job Titles that incur the responsibilities of a Project Manager.

If you have other JSFs or would like to discuss how to address other generic cross-functional roles, please share.

Discussions like these help us all learn and better serve our clients.

5 steps to crafting a business

If you have started a business, chances are part of what got you started and keeps you going is the joy of creating something new — something the world wouldn’t have without your inspiration and hard work.

It’s not only the traditionally titled ‘creatives’ who create, and starting a successful business has much in common with more artistic pursuits. The critical, practical, steps you need to follow are the same, whether you’re building something handmade or crafting a business.

1. Inspiration

You know what you want to create, and the clearer you are about your finished product or business, the easier it will be to proceed.

On the other hand, a creative mind is an open mind, so it’s important always to be aware of information that will impact your project or business. By doing so, you may find a better way to achieve your desired goal.

Tip: Give yourself space and time to dream and to capture new ideas.

2. Design

Once your vision is clear, map out how you’ll achieve it.

In business, this is your strategic plan. The more detailed the plan, the easier it will be to follow – for you and others — and to know what comes next.

Tip: Translate what’s in your head into a format that makes it easy to check progress and share with others.

3. Tools

Now that you have your design mapped out, what skills, materials and tools do you need to bring it to life?

In the excitement of starting a new project, it can be easy to discount the importance of this step. It can be tempting to dive right in and get started, only to find out later that you’ve missed something essential to the project’s successful completion.

Avoid this frustration by identifying any gaps before you begin.

Tip: Find what’s missing and do what you can to be prepared before you start so your project (or business) can run smoothly.

4. Implement – and adapt

Nothing gets created until you take action to implement your plan. Without this step, you are just daydreaming. Time for imagination and reflection is vital, but constantly putting off starting something until you find the perfect way to create something can stop you from doing anything.

Tip: Make a start! If it turns out your plan isn’t working, change course. In the process, you’ve just learnt one method that won’t work to achieve your desired outcome.

5. Celebrate

Whether you’ve created a piece of furniture, a work of art, or achieved a business goal, it’s a wonderful feeling to sit back and admire your handiwork. Most business people don’t do this enough. All too often, we move quickly on to the next project and forget this step completely.

Tip: You made it! Enjoy the moment and appreciate what you’ve done. And remember to thank all those who helped you with your wonderful creation.

Starting and running a business is one of the most creative activities you can engage in. By applying the same simple steps you would follow in your leisure time to create a handmade piece, make a special dish, or build a garage or a garden, you can also create structure, process and discipline in your business.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

How to delegate effectively

hire for culture

Delegation is one of the top three people-management challenges for business owners and managers. The other top challenges are hiring the right people and managing poor performance. All three require us to step outside our comfort zone.

Why is delegating so challenging? How can we do it better?

Most things you’ve achieved in your business career have involved some element of control, be it control over money, your environment, or yourself.

Eventually your career reaches a point where to achieve more you have to let go and hand over at least some control to other people. No wonder this is a bit frightening! Instead of feeling a sense of relief, often you are instead feeling quite anxious and uncertain.

How do successful delegators achieve so much? They excel at getting things done through others because they know how to do five things, and — given time and patience — you can do them too.

1. Know your staff

You are comfortable doing certain tasks yourself because you have a deep understanding of what you can and can’t do, what challenges you’re willing to take on and what support you might need. Make it your goal to find out these things about your staff to make delegation easier.

When you know more about their capabilities, task preferences, goals and limitations, it will help you to trust them to get the work done. You may also avoid some potential pitfalls in assigning work because you’ll be more likely to achieve a good fit between the person and the task.

2. Be clear about why

You know the reason for the task — and for passing it on to someone else. Make sure they also understand your intentions when you ask them to do something.

3. Be clear on outcomes — the what and when

What result are you expecting and when? How will they know when they’ve done what’s required?

4. Don’t try to control the how

Micromanaging is not delegation. If you have enough confidence in someone to delegate a task to them, then take the next step and trust them to get it done.

Their methods may not be identical to yours, but if they reach the desired outcome while adhering to company quality standards and policies, does that matter?

Instead of looking over their shoulder, you can relax and get on with whatever it was that you were going to do now you’ve delegated that task. Who knows, they might also find a better way to get it done.

5. Stay approachable and available

The biggest delegation ‘fails’ happen when a manager dumps work on a team member but is too busy to explain, answer questions or monitor progress. It’s the fastest way to ensure you won’t get the outcome you expected.

Distance is a difficult thing to navigate when delegating, especially in the early days, but aiming to be consistent in your approach will help you and be less confusing for your team.

Effective delegation is a skill based on a set of practices you can learn and expand. The tips above apply whether you are delegating work to your staff, colleagues, contractors or freelancers.

Making the effort to delegate well is worth it.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

Using assessments to recruit staff

assessments for recruiting

Assessments are being used more extensively by SMEs for selection, team building and staff development.

Here’s a quick rundown on the basics to help you choose an assessment with confidence.

What are assessments?

An assessment is any process that gives you a quantitative means of understanding how an individual thinks and behaves. They are typically used to measure the suitability of a candidate to a proposed or current role against predetermined characteristics deemed important for success by an employer, but they can also have wider application in any business.

Assessments can come in two forms: aptitude and ability tests, or personality and interest tests.

Aptitude and ability tests are aimed at determining if an individual is capable of performing a certain task. I think of these as the ‘Can they do it?’ type of test.

Personality and interest tests measure how a person would perform these tasks, as well as provide broader insights about how they interact with other people and their environment. To me, these are the ‘Will they do it?’ tests. For most employers, this is where an assessment can be very valuable because it gives you information, in advance, that is otherwise very difficult to uncover.

The outcome of the second type of assessment is usually a report that describes a person’s most likely behaviour in relation to certain criteria. The results will show whether or not a person meets your set criteria, as well as provide an insight into how they are likely to respond to certain situations.

Depending on the particular test, they can be used for recruitment, team building, succession planning and many other purposes.

Some people say they rely on assessments while others reject them outright.

Here are some of the reasons people feel the way they do:

Why use assessments?

  • Long-term payoff: While there may be an initial outlay for administering the test, it can save you in the long run by supporting better decisions.
  • Real deal: An assessment can give you a more accurate picture of a candidate than an interview.
  • Fairness: Because the tests are based on statistics, they treat each candidate equally and provide objective comparisons.
  • Beyond the test: Once the test is completed, the results can be a useful framework for further interview questions, reference-checking and onboarding.

Things to watch out for

  • Doubts about the methodology: There are many tests out there, but only a few can give you specific and relevant information, backed by benchmarked data.
  • Poor Training: If test administrators have been incorrectly or insufficiently trained, results can be easily misinterpreted.
  • Manipulation: All tests are not the same in terms of consistency checking, so it may be possible for candidates to cheat some of them.

How do you choose?

There are many assessments available.

Rather than being overwhelmed by all the details and comparisons, my advice is to choose a reputable provider with a test that has strong science behind it.

Make sure the assessment is easy to use and will give you the flexibility you need for a range of uses in your business.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

Should You Allow Remote Work At Your Company?

This article by David Hassell first appeared on the 15Five leadership blog, reproduced with permission. Balance at Work partners with 15Five in Australia to deliver employee engagement software to businesses of all sizes. Contact us for more information and a free trial – advice@balanceatwork.com.au 

See Full Infographic Below

It’s no secret that remote work arrangements have become more prevalent over the last decade. These scenarios range from employees working from home once or twice a week, to nationally or globally distributed teams, or even companies who have no offices and operate exclusively from the cloud.

Just how prevalent is remote work becoming, and what unique challenges do remote teams present for managers? According to the US Department of Labor, over the past five years there has been a 50% increase in companies that have the majority of their teams working remotely.

We were so curious about this phenomenon and its impact on business, that we surveyed hundreds of managers, supervisors, and executives about their experiences. This included participants working in large and small businesses, in every major department, and in just about every vertical. Here’s what we discovered:

– 53% of companies continue to have standard workplaces, with nearly every employee coming into the office 4 or more days each week.

– 37% have a main office with some people working remotely.

– 10% have no office space at all.

Many people believe that this shift is being driven by millennials, who desire flexible work arrangements to optimize work-life balance. 24% of respondents agreed, saying that remote work improves the quality of life for their employees. Others like remote work because it saves on overhead and allows them to access a global talent pool.

But remote work can also be a scary prospect for managers who may feel that employees will shirk their duties or that relationships with managers and other employees will suffer. So we asked how flexible work arrangements really impact employee performance and communication.

63% of respondents said that communication with remote employees was the same or better than with in-house employees, and 21% of our respondents found that productivity and performance improved on remote teams.

The shift from clocking-in at a desk to working from home is being made possible by advances in technology. Communication and collaboration toolshelp keep teams connected and productive no matter how far apart they are geographically. Many of these tools are available on mobile devices, which have also become far more prevalent. In fact over two-thirds of respondents answered our survey on a mobile phone or tablet.

No matter what tech you use to stay in-touch, ask your remote team these weekly questions to keep relationships strong and to ensure alignment with team and company objectives:

1) How have you improved your remote working skills this month? Have you identified any challenges?

2) What has communication been like with team leaders, managers, and directors?

3) What are your primary goals this week/month/quarter?

Check out the infographic below for the latest remote work trends, and for techniques that managers can use to keep their distributed teams connected and on-task.

15Five-Workplace-infographic

 

What’s your story? #11: Paula Ford

What's your story?

As the next installment in this popular series, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to the latest addition to our team, Paula Ford. Our clients will get to meet Paula as she starts to work on a variety of consulting projects at Balance at Work. Here’s what she told us about her career to date:

Paula Ford

What’s your current position and what do you do?

I am just starting work with Balance at Work and am very excited with this new chapter in my life.  I will be working closely with Susan to deliver a range of HR projects.  In addition, I also work part-time with a small and very committed Organisation Development Team.  In this position, I work mainly on developing, delivering and measuring a range of HR/OD projects to enhance organisational performance.

What other activities are you involved in?

I have two daughters so along with work their hectic timetable keeps me fairly busy.  Over the last few years I have been involved in managing their sporting teams and volunteering at their preschool/school.  I love to get out and mountain bike ride with girlfriends when I can and living in the Blue Mountains is ideal as we have so many great rides.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at school.  I started my working life in finance in a large private sector organisation but then decided that I really wanted to work closely with employees.  From there I did a secondment in HR and loved it.  I went back to study and moved into the HR field.  The more experience I got the more I realised that the psychology side of HR was what really interested me. Since then I have focused more in this area and completed further studies in management psychology.

What was your first job?

When I was 13 I was horse mad like most girls my age.  My parents were not horsey and thought this was just a phase I was going through.  They decided that if I wanted a horse I would have to save for it and work to help pay to keep it.  I think they thought this would put me off the idea.  Well dad got me a job of washing 50 cars at the local car yard.  I washed cars every Saturday morning for 2 years with frozen fingers in winter until I got a job at Kmart.  I think this was a valuable experience that contributed to my work ethic.  The horse wasn’t such a phase I kept him for about 8 years.

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career/life?

Having children has been the most significant change in my life.  It made me reprioritise and become a more balanced person.  It has made me realise that not everything has to be 100% perfect or you’d never get anything done.  You just have to have the courage to admit that we are all human and be willing to learn and grown from experiences.

Who do you admire? Who has inspired you?

Dr Maya Angelou a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker and civil rights activist.  An amazing African American woman born in 1928 who faced many closed doors in her life and not only survived but thrived with passion and compassion. I think one of her most powerful quotes is “I’ve learnt that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how they made you feel”.

If there were no limitations, what would be in the future for you?

I’d spend a year or two with my family travelling, living and volunteering overseas.  Whilst my husband and I have travelled I would like to share my girls’ experience of not only seeing the world but being a part of other communities and contributing to those less fortunate than ours.

Finally, what would you tell your younger self about work and careers?

Have the courage to try different things and take on opportunities.  If they seem daunting, know that you will never fail as success is not about achieving the highest level of performance or getting things right but it is about the experiences along the way that will help you grow as a person.

Calculating the costs of hiring the wrong person

hiring

How much does it cost you to fill a vacant role by hiring someone who’s not right for the job?

Without due consideration, the expense of recruitment will be wasted.

To make matters worse, you will have the added costs of time and money to go through the process again.

Here are the things to take into consideration when considering the costs of hiring the wrong person.

Identify your direct costs

The direct costs of replacing a departing employee include recruitment costs for advertising and recruiters, plus any termination payouts.

These costs will be incurred every time you hire somebody, whether they turn out to be the right fit for your business or not. The trick is to best invest your money to make sure you can get the right person.

Recognise your indirect costs

The indirect costs are less obvious but contribute a substantial proportion of the overall expense of hiring. They are also much harder to calculate.

Loss of productivity

It is highly likely that you will lose productivity while you have a vacant position, while someone is getting used to the workplace, and when someone has decided to leave his or her job.

While you have a vacant position the tasks previously assigned to the vacant role are abandoned, or taken on by another employee whose own productivity may suffer. A new employee will take time before they become sufficiently familiar with their job to achieve full productivity. In addition, the productivity of many employees falls while they are serving out their notice period.

When you have hired the wrong person, they will likely never reach what you consider to be full productivity in their time as an employee.

In-house costs of hiring

The tasks involved in recruitment that occur in-house are numerous and varied.

The steps for hiring the right person include:

  • drafting position descriptions
  • reading resumes
  • screening applications and advising candidate
  • carrying out interviews and debriefing
  • verifying qualifications, checking references and conducting pre-employment assessments.

In addition to hiring, you will need to account for the cost of induction and training a new employee.

The cost of all these tasks can be calculated by the hourly rate of each employee involved in the process, multiplied by the number of hours they spend on recruitment, induction or training.

Termination administration

The administration involved with the termination of an employee who proved to be wrong for the business is an important but costly process.

The cost of termination administration involves:

  • pay officer time to process termination pay
  • exit interviewer time
  • employee and line manager time to finish paperwork and return and check employer’s property
  • administration time for actions such as cancelling computer access.

Hiring is a costly exercise that will be a much more expensive when you hire the wrong person. Combining the direct costs of recruitment with the indirect costs of lost productivity, in-house costs of hiring, and termination administration shows you what you’ll waste by choosing the wrong person.

It makes sense (and cents!) to invest time and money up front to ensure you attract and select people who are right for your business.

This article was originally published on MYOB’s blog, The Pulse. For more business news and tips, visit www.myob.com/blog.

 

7 Fascinating Employee Engagement Trends for 2016

This article by David Mizne first appeared on the 15Five leadership blog, reproduced with permission. Balance at Work partners with 15Five in Australia to deliver employee engagement software. Contact us for more information advice@balanceatwork.com.au 

According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement has become the top issue on the minds of business leaders, directing us to an entirely new model of management”. But what does employee engagement even mean?

Few business buzzwords are more ubiquitous, yet the exact definition of employee engagement remains elusive. This becomes even more problematic when you consider Gallup’s seemingly ambiguous subcategories of not engaged, and actively disengaged.

I like to define employee engagement as proactively and passionately adding value while aligning with the company mission. This can be hard to quantify, but an engaged employee wears it on their face, demonstrates it in their work and in their workplace communication. Kind of like how former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart defined obscenity: “I know it when i see it”.

Once we know what we are looking for, we need to be able to measure it, and more importantly create more of it. Here are 7 engagement trends for the coming year, and advice for you to create a more engaged workforce in 2016:

1. Engagement will go up (but just a little).

According to Gallup’s latest poll: employee engagement has been pretty stagnant. Only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2015, compared to 31.5% the previous year. Given the other trends below, and the fact that engagement has risen from 29% in 2011, we can expect to see the needle move in 2016. But probably not more than a point or two.

2. Millennials will (still) provide a challenge.

In 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the US workforce. That number is expected to rise dramatically as more boomers retire and more graduates start their careers. Some predictions are as high as 75% of the workforce by 2030! (Although that myth was debunked in this Wall Street Journal post. It’s actually more like 44%).

Whatever the specific number, Generation Y is now the majority. Businesses seeking to engage employees in their work will now have to tailor their approaches to this group. Research suggests that they are driven by open communication, a great company culture, involvement with causes, and achieving purpose and fulfillment.

3. More compassionate leadership.

People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. It turns out that the opposite is true too. An inspiring manager creates more engaged teams.According to research by leadership development experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, “higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for a compassionate leader—one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy”.

4. More employee feedback more often.

We conducted an employee engagement study in 2014 and found that the vast majority of employees who received little or no feedback were actively disengaged. Engagement went up dramatically when employees received feedback about their weaknesses, and even more so when they received feedback about strengths.

Data is always nice to have, but the feedback/engagement connection is also intuitive. How much more engaged are you in any relationship, when you are having open and honest conversation about what matters most?

5. Work/Life Balance will become Work/Life Blend.

The Society for Human Resource Management, found that the best companies are embracing flexibility. For many job-functions there is no longer any good reason to require people to come into the office every day, or for work to be done between the hours of 9am and 5pm. (I am writing this from my kitchen table at 7:30 at night). More companies will continue on this path as long as the numbers prove it’s working.

6. People analytics will grow.

In his article published in Harvard Business Review last month, Sean Graber argues that it’s important to look at employees’ perceptions and behaviors and their impact on performance. Managers can then decide how to shift things to increase engagement. In Sean’s consulting, he melds analytics with qualitative feedback by looking at aggregated data from surveys as well as self-reported behaviors:

Over time, organizations can track how their employees’ engagement changes and how it relates to key performance indicators (KPIs), such as sales, customer satisfaction, and attrition.

Josh Bersin also chimes in with his article, The Geeks Arrive In HR: People Analytics Is Here. According to Bersin the shift towards “big data in HR” began in 2011 and exploded rapidly. He predicts that people analytics will be its own department that will look at productivity, turnover, and the people-issues that drive customer retention and satisfaction. In the coming years businesses will rely on hard data to pre-empt disaster by determining when engagement will suffer or when people are considering leaving.

7. Technology will focus on the employee.

Bersin (I love this guy!) explains that the HR technology market moves in 5-7 year cycles of rolling-out, implementing, and replacing tech. We are now in a transitional phase between two cycles.

One of the biggest trends we are seeing is the arrival of a “new breed of pulse tools, feedback apps, and anonymous social networking tools”. These advanced methods for having regular check-ins with employees to understand where they are being challenged will eventually replace annual performance reviews.

Business is a living, breathing entity. It undergoes change, grows and recedes, gets broken and heals. The people are the individual cells that work together to ensure that the entity is healthy, productive, and thriving. In 2016, the brain (leadership) will have more tools at its disposal to predict and improve employee engagement. Maybe in 2017 Gallup’s survey will report a positive radical shift in how people show up to work.

David is not a fan of the terms “thought leadership” or “content marketing”, but he’ll keep using them…for now. Follow him on twitter @davidmizne.

 

What’s your story? #10: Trevor Lloyd

What's your story?

Our latest career path story is from Trevor Lloyd who was recently awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the community. This achievement is simply the latest in a long list, as you’ll appreciate when you read his story.

No time to read this now? Download it!

Trevor LloydWhat’s your current position and what do you do?

I am the Managing Director of a small property valuation company based in Blaxland, NSW. Lloyds Property Valuations employs eight people, four of whom are property valuers, the remainder being office and support staff. Our work is primarily mortgage work for bank lending purpose in both the residential and commercial sectors. In addition, we carry out family law work, compensation, investor analysis, court representation and much more.

As a leader of a team of very professional people, it is my job to ensure harmony within the team, provide professional back up where required, facilitate ongoing valuer training and ensure that clients are receiving the service they require.

We look on our employees as being members of a family.  There is no length to which we will not go to ensure that staff are being cared for. This includes generous family leave provisions, flexible working hours and conditions, and even pay in advance if necessary. Such provisions come back to the business with loyalty, honesty and output.

What other activities you are involved in?

For the past 22 years, I have been heavily involved with the Rotary Club of the Blue Mountains. I have also been involved with the Red Cross where I served for 4 years as the Blue Mountains Coordinator for Tele Cross, which is a daily in-touch telephone call to people living alone.

I was the inaugural President of the Glenbrook Toastmasters Club which trains people in public speaking. We also helped train students at local high schools to develop strong speaking skills.

Finally my involvement with the local Chamber of Commerce has enabled me to see clearly the challenges and obstacles that are faced by small businesses.

Is this what you expected to be doing when you were at school?

Most certainly not. I was keen to be a green keeper so that I could feed my fetish for the look and the smell of a freshly mown lawn. I still have the fetish but my lawn at home is smaller than I had envisaged and now I have a gardener who mows the lawn for me.

What was your first job?

I started work in 1968 at the Munitions Filling Factory at St Marys, NSW as an apprentice carpenter. It was ironic because, in my last year of school in Year 10, I had told my woodworking teacher that I no longer had an interest in woodwork and wanted to skip to a more useful subject to get m through the School Certificate.  I got through the School Certificate but only just. I ended up completing my apprenticeship with the PMG as a Trainee Technical Officer (Building).

Can you tell us about a significant turning point in your career?

On 18th January 1977, I was in the front carriage of my regular train on my way to work.  I had just completed my Building Certificate Course in 1976 but had to go back in early February to sit a post exam in quantity survey, which I had just failed to pass. I was such a lazy student.

At 8.10 am, the diesel engine left the rails and hit the stanchion of the Bold Street Bridge at Granville and bent it at almost 90⁰. As a result, it cut through my carriage leaving only a platform on wheels and killing ten people, including one lady who died in my arms. I still wonder how I survived.

At that point I realised that life had a purpose and that I should work harder to achieve the goals that I had and, with my first child on the way, to be in a better position to provide for my family.

This is not the best way to have a life changing experience. Ultimately 83 people died and 210 people were injured at Granville.

I completed the Associate Diploma of Business (Valuation) with flying colours back in 1990 and never looked back.

Who has inspired you?

There are many people in all of our lives who say something that may change your life or may be a role model we admire.

My father once said to me “if you aim for the stars, you’ll reach the clouds”. I remember I was never happy with the clouds.

One of my fellow commuters, when I told him that I was about to embark on a four-year Valuation Course – and would be 40 by the time I completed it! – simply said “What age will you be in four years if you don’t do the course?”

An old sage tradesman who was close to retirement when I started work once said to me “You will spend more time at work and see more of your workmates than you will spend at home with your family, so make the best of it and enjoy the ride”.

Lastly, my mother-in-law who grew up in the Jewish sector of Amsterdam during the Second World War said “Look what I have become in spite of my past and because of it”.

What would you tell your younger self about life and careers?

Turn your labours into challenges. When you are stuck at school and can’t understand, instead of heading for the no-hopers, turn to someone who did understand and ask them for help.

Always support and encourage those around you who appear to be square pegs. They usually become the successful ones in our society because they concentrate on what is important, which sets them up for long-term success and not short term gratification.

Everyone is capable of being a millionaire. It just requires goal setting, focus and work and it is within all of us.

Do you know someone whose career story should reach a wider audience?  Please drop us a line to let us know!

 

"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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