Category Archives: Performance Management

Jump start employee engagement

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

According to a study by the Quantum Work Place “Employee Engagement” has declined to the lowest point it has been in eight years. Despite the improving economy, employee engagement declined in 2014 across organisations of all sizes and in more than 75 percent of the markets measured through the Best Places to Work program.

Employee engagement among Best Places to Work was on a slow, steady incline, as organisations recovered from the 2008 recession. However, this past year, engagement dipped to only 65.9 percent of employees engaged. Prior to 2014, employee engagement was lowest in 2010 with 66.7 percent of employees engaged.

Although the majority of employees were engaged, these trends indicate a slight shift toward uncertainty and suggest that organisations have more areas for improvement than in previous years.

A number of themes emerged when examining employee uncertainty about the workplace:

Commitment to Valuing Employees
Almost half of the items with the highest uncertainty were related to how employers value their employees, whether through compensation, recognition, or growth opportunities. Employees should not be treated as a means to an end. Engaged workplaces exhibit a commitment to employees in how they are supported, recognized, and developed.

Global Information
One-third of the items with the highest uncertainty were related to global information, or how information is shared throughout an organisation. Whether it’s understanding their personal future or getting feedback regularly from managers, employees lack confidence in their managers’ ability to communicate.

These areas of uncertainty represent areas of opportunity for employers. By offering clarity and improving in these areas, employers can improve employee perceptions and engagement.

One of the easiest ways to improve employee relations and engagement is through the use of a job-specific assessments such as Harrison Assessments. Now you can measure intrinsic behavioral factors that drive individual engagement — employee motivators and attitudes!

  • Identify gaps between employee and employer expectations and motivators
  • Facilitate the essential dialogue between employee and manager
  • Foster a shared responsibility for engagement
  • Create a culture of engagement

Take the next step in engagement initiatives! Align employee intrinsic factors with organisational extrinsic factors to maximise engagement.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to improve your employee engagement contact us here

Ego Almighty

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here

There are typically all sorts of personalities working in an organisation. Do you have a few “ego almighty’s” working in your company?

Ego Almighty Characteristics:

  • Tends to focus on self-justification and excuses for certain actions or inaction.
  • Does not embrace change in routine and styles willingly.
  • Works well and clicks with those who are like-minded.
  • They are also prone to making decisions or choices according to those who fan their ego and dance to their tune.

Traits to look out for:

  • Egotistical, overly self-confident with a very high opinion of their own views and decisions.
  • Low intent and desire for self-improvement.
  • Lacks progressiveness and is inward looking.

Negative impacts:

  • Difficult to convince and can be rebellious towards change and new initiatives.
  • Draws a lot of energy from direct supervisors in their constant efforts of trying to get alignment and engagement for these Ego Almighty individuals.

How to manage:

  • Needs to be given specific performance criteria.
  • Coaching discussions to identify personal values and direction to establish gaps between company direction and the employee’s own interest.
  • If the behaviour becomes too intense to handle, the final option may be to manage the person out of the organisation.

You may have invested a significant amount of time, energy and training dollars in this person. If you choose to manage them, give them a work fit  assessment such as the Harrison. This will guide you to a developmental plan that may harness some of the ego and motivate them to work in the company’s interests and not just their own.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to find the right people and keep them motivated in your business contact us here

Just Do It!

This post originally appeared on the Harrison Assessments blog. For more posts like this, click here.

“I HATE my work!” How successful do you think someone will be at a job who says this? “I don’t care if you hate it, just do it”. How long will this company be operating if this is the most frequent response from the team leader?

The Harrison Assessment’s Paradox Theory predicates that performance and enjoyment are closely linked, because when one enjoys doing something, one tends to do it more willingly and more often. This in turn makes one very competent in that task and thereby more effective in their particular job. Workers who have a great time doing whatever it is that captivates them, will be effective performers and ultimately add to the company’s success!

The key is to find what ‘turns on’ a particular worker and provide an environment where this is readily found and you’ll have a recipe for employee success for sure!

Harrison Assessments’ attraction is that it measures factors such as task preference (for example driving, computers, teaching, researching, manual type of work, physical work, working with numbers), work preference factors (such as outdoors, public contact, repetition), and interest factors (like finance/business, food, science, electronics).

What’s even better is that Harrison Assessments measures an amazing 175 factors which is some five times more than the tests offered by others. Harrison Assessments also boasts an 85% predictive accuracy, able to measure traits that are correlated to successful performance and  measure the presence of negative traits that can be counterproductive to successful performance.

What is the basic difference between “personality tests” and “job suitability tests”? Personality tests may predict that the person is a “nice and pleasant” person but being nice does not guarantee success or great performance on the job.

What are the ‘must haves’ when picking the right kind of assessment ‘tools’ to aid in the hiring process? A comprehensive recruitment tool kit would include a job analysis questionnaire, a profile analysis, a “Traits and Definitions” report, a behavioral impact graph and narrative, a paradox graph and narrative, positive or counterproductive traits of the applicant and probing for weaknesses.

Using a test such as Harrison makes it easier to narrow down the potential capabilities and areas of natural competence on the part of the job applicant.

More specifically it throws the spotlight on four important areas – ability (what he can do now and after training is given), aptitude (ability to gain a skill after training), power (reasoning ability) and performance (relating to one’s experience).

Finding the right candidate for a job is difficult. Using an assessment tool such as the Harrison can help save you time, money and a lot of headaches by helping you find someone who doesn’t say, “I hate this job”. And it will hopefully make it so your team leader does not have to say… “Just DO it”.

To find out more about using Harrison Assessments to find the right people for your business contact us here

Confronting poor performance

feedback

Dealing with an employee that fails to meet your expectations is a difficult but important task. While all managers would love to have staff that consistently meet and exceed expectations of performance, this is simply not the reality for most. A good manager, however, is able to effectively deal with the issue of a poorly performing employee in a way that can have a positive outcome. The best way to approach to confronting performance issues is to come from a place of understanding, whilst maintaining firmness. Below are some tips to make this process run a little smoother for everyone.

Before

In the lead up to the meeting it is important to be well prepared. To do this, ask yourself the following questions.

  • How do I want to deal with this?
  • What outcome do I want?
  • Do I need more information?

Once you have answered these questions you should have a clear idea of the purpose of the meeting and how you think the problem could be resolved.

Be prepared for the person you are confronting to be upset. It is never easy to be told you are not doing well enough. There may well be anger or even tears, so it’s best that you think about how you will respond to these reactions.

During

There are a few things you can do during the meeting to make it a little easier for everyone. Turn off your phone or leave it in another room, and make sure there are no interruptions. Hold the meeting in a private space, somewhere you can close the door and not be interrupted.

While you are in the meeting it is very important that once you have described the issue as you see it that you sit back and listen to the person talk. Let them explain their side of the story. While you are doing this, pay attention to your body language and really listen!

It may be useful to ask some follow up questions to really understand what is going on. Below are some questions that will help you get a clear picture of the underlying issues and potential actions to remedy the poor performance.

  • What more would you like to say?
  • How do you think we got here? Why?
  • What stopped you from take action sooner?
  • How can I help you?
  • Where do you think we can go from here?

These questions should help you get to the bottom of the issues. Be aware that the poor performance may be a result of factors outside the workplace over which you have no control. Your purpose is to determine what can be changed in the workplace.

After

Your actions following the meeting are vital in maintaining amicable relationships. Be clear about what the next step is by putting the agreed actions in writing. Maintain open, friendly communication with the employee. Don’t tell anyone who doesn’t need to know what is happening. Be respectful of the person’s privacy and wishes.

If it is decided that the best course of action is to terminate the employee, be sure to check that it is a fair dismissal. You should check your obligations by thoroughly reading the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code and checklist.

Confronting poor performance is never a pleasant experience for anyone, but these tips can help you manage it effectively whilst maintaining respectfulness and a positive attitude.

The one question you should be asking your staff

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

Gallup has asked this question of more than 1.7 million employees in 100 companies from 65 countries. Rather disappointingly, only 20% felt that their unique strengths were being used every day at work. Even more shockingly, the longer an employee stays in an organisation, the less likely they are to feel they get to apply their strengths. 

What does this mean for you?

Top performers in any organisation are those who get to do more of the things they enjoy and less of the things they don’t. This is so obvious, we sometimes miss the need to be more proactive in making sure all employees have the opportunity to experience more of the joy of using their natural talents at work.

If we are serious about improving productivity and performance, we need to be asking how we can be improving the number of people who can answer ‘yes’ to the question above.

enjoyment-performance

The link between enjoyment and performance

Enjoyment and performance are linked because the level of enjoyment an employee has while performing a particular activity is directly related to the level of their performance in that activity.

When people enjoy a task, they tend to do it more and get better at it. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, good performance creates acknowledgment and positive self-regard which then causes people to enjoy the task even more. And so on…

This elegantly simple concept underlies everything we do with Harrison Assessments. Most behavioural and personality assessments fail to measure work satisfaction and are therefore limited to predicting personality, whereas Harrison Assessments go beyond personality to identify a wide range of traits linked to job fit and performance.

The link between enjoyment and engagement

Engagement survey after engagement survey tell us that employees in many workplaces are feeling they are lacking a connection with their jobs and their organisations. If this is happening in your organisation, go back to this single, simple question:

“At work, do you have an opportunity to do what you do best, every day?”

When you take the time to listen to the answers and understand how you can change your results, you’ve taken a big step to realising the full potential of your business.

Download ‘Engagement is a Shared Responsibility’ Whitepaper

How to make the most of your 360 degree feedback reviews

feedback

In the process of assisting clients with 360 degree feedback surveys, we are often asked ‘What comes next?’. The three videos below explain simply how to get real results from any feedback survey.

The Real Goal of the Feedback Review

Using the ‘5 Whys’

Make Sure Employees Take Action

Have your say…

What has worked well for you? Do you have any other suggestions for making feedback more effective? Let us know in the comments below.

Avoiding Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying can occur in any work environment, from offices to shops, community organisations and government departments. Employers have a legal responsibility under Occupational Health and Safety and anti-discrimination law to provide a safe workplace and one which is free from verbal, physical, social or psychological abuse. Bullying can have serious effects on the health and safety of individuals, which in turn can result in a loss in productivity with legal ramifications for the employer.

So how do we avoid bullying in the workplace?

Every organisation should have policies which outline how people are to treat each other at work. Commonly called a ‘Code of Conduct’, the policy should be easily accessible to all staff and outline what is (and is not) appropriate behaviour. In addition, the actions that will be taken to deal with unacceptable behaviour should also be detailed in workplace policies, as well as internal grievance procedures.

Is there a better way to address bullying?

At the recent 22nd Labour Law Conference in Sydney, Jonathan Hamberger (Senior Deputy President of Fair Work Australia) told the audience he believes “the key to tackling bullying in the workplace lies with line managers”. This will only be effective if the manager has an appropriate level of authority to resolve these issues, combined with superior people management skills and interpersonal skills.

An effective line manager should have the following people management skills:

  • great communication skills
  • the ability to build relationships
  • willingness to take responsibility
  • being open and transparent in their actions

Through the use of external assessment tools in the hiring and/or promotion process, these skills can be identified and assist the decision making procedure. Being able to identify the behaviours you are after, is the first step to ensuring you have the right candidate for the role and who will suit your organisation. There are also many training opportunities for managers to develop anti-bullying strategies to cover obligations, responsibilities and leadership skills.

Managers can be held liable for acts of unlawful discrimination, harassment or bullying even if they were not directly involved in the actual incident. Managers not only need to protect their employees, but also themselves against future lawsuits!

When line managers have the opportunity to deal with bullying issues at a workplace level, the social and psychological costs (to both the victim and organisation) are reduced. Not to mention the financial costs. The formal channels will always exist, supported by the Fair Work Commission, as well as legal processes.

With more effective and skilled line managers, staff making claims of bullying and harassment can be a very rarely used last resort.

What are you doing in your organisation to avoid workplace bullying?

3 steps to creating your own monster

trust

Have you noticed how many businesses seem to have a ‘problem child’ among their staff? Often this toxicity in the office has built up very gradually until one day you find your very own monster is taking up more and more of your time and creating frustration for the rest of the team.

It all seemed fine before, so what went wrong?

We’ve noticed three factors contribute to creating the monster:

1. Hire in a hurry

You wouldn’t have hired this person if you knew they would turn out like this, would you?

So what could you have done differently to ensure you knew more about them, and how they’d fit in, before you made that decision? What was missing in your recruitment process?

What will you do next time?

2. Leave them to it

Whenever you hire, it’s because you need someone to do the work. Once they’re on board, it’s easy to believe that given they met your selection criteria they should be able to just get on with the job, right?

Wrong! If you haven’t told them clearly and consistently what you expect in terms of work performance and behaviour, how can you expect them to know?

Even experienced employees have come from a different environment with different unwritten rules. It’s harder still for younger staff to discern what the rules are in your workplace.

3. Ignore bad behaviour

This would have to be the most common reason we see for monsters at work and many managers delay addressing bad behaviour until damage has already been done. It’s understandable that in the daily pressure of getting things done you find it easier to ignore the problem.

If you wait until other staff complain, it may already be too late.  If you don’t take immediate action when an issue is brought to your attention you risk doing more long-term damage.

We’d all prefer not to have to deal with monsters at work

By hiring well and setting standards you may avoid having to do so.

If a monster does emerge, our advice is don’t ever wait until you’re in a crisis to talk to them about their poor conduct. The pressure could lead to you both behaving in ways you’ll regret later.

 

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…

 

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?

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?

Two surprising reasons for poor performance

Sometimes a person or team just isn’t achieving, even though their skills, knowledge and experience indicate they should be doing well.

What’s going on?

Often, the answer is deceptively simple. By taking time to diagnose the reason, you will be in a better position to fix poor performance – fast!

1. Don’t know

– what’s expected, what’s important, where to start, how to start…

Some possible reasons and solutions:

  • Too short a time in the job – address the ‘don’t know’ factors
  • Too long in the job – consider other options

2. Don’t care

– they know what’s expected, but they’re not motivated to do it…  (this one is harder to fix)

Some possible reasons and solutions:

  • Purpose not articulated – do it now
  • Purpose articulated, but doesn’t excite (the ‘so what’ factor) – move on, recruit more carefully in the future

How do you fix performance problems?  Please let us know below.

 

"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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