Category Archives: Teams

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.

Empathy – Soft Skill of the Courageous

succession

One of the traits we measure with Harrison Assessments is empathy. It’s a major contributor to success in life, at work and elsewhere.

In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown explains empathy and reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own vulnerability.

Would you like to know if others think you are empathetic?

We can show you with Harrison Assessments and 360 degree feedback. Get in touch!

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?

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?

Seven key questions to ask about your team

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.       How likely are we to achieve our goals?

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

Build teams for future as well as current needs.

4.       Do we understand and value our individual strengths?

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

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

5.       Do we communicate well?

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

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

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

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

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

7.       Are we having fun?

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

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

What do you think?

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

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

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.

Three management mistakes you don’t even know you’re making

trust

In our work with business owners, we have observed three beliefs that can hold them back from managing better, often without them being aware of their impact. 

Next time you are feeling frustrated with your staff, it might be time to check your thinking for any of the following…

1. Assuming your team should care as much about your business as you do

Have they taken the risk to build the business, invested their personal funds, time, energy and emotion?  Why would they care like you do?

Their money will be in the bank next pay day, regardless of whether they buy into your dreams.

2. Believing you can change people

We’re all only capable of change if we have the will to change. Why would you expect your staff to change their behaviour through the power of your will?

You can inspire and encourage change in others’ behaviour, but you can’t control it.

3. Thinking you are ‘in command’

You can enlist others’ cooperation and collaboration, but there are not many people in civilian life who like to be ordered around.

Business owners tell us consistently that they want staff who are self-starters and take initiative.  Isn’t it a bit unrealistic to then expect the people you’ve recruited – because they have these traits – to suddenly want to follow a directive without question?

Have you noticed how your beliefs affect your management style?  Please share your thoughts below.

Succession: Your people plan

People are the key to a successful business succession plan, but do we always pay enough attention to the human side of this critical business process?

For example, planning for a transition period should include knowing in advance:

  • How well will you get on with your successor(s)?
  • What are their beliefs and attitudes around money?
  • How are they likely to treat your clients and your staff?
  • What will be their role in your business before you depart?
  • What are their strengths and how will these benefit them in your business?
  • Ultimately, would you trust them to run a business well without you?

If you find yourself in a succession planning phase without satisfactory answers to these questions, my advice would be to get the answers you want or don’t proceed. Going ahead regardless will invite unecessary stress into your life and limit the chances of your business surviving.

We help our clients work their way through the human factors.

You’ve heard the horror stories about business succession. Don’t add yours to the list!

The 2 main reasons you don’t delegate

In my years of coaching and observing managers, one of the main obstacles I see the majority of them face is delegation of their work.

If I was to nominate one characteristic that would make the biggest difference to their chances of success (or stress) it would be the degree to which they are able to enlist the cooperation of others to get things done.

For most, the inability to delegate comes from one or both of these two main core beliefs:

1.  Nobody else can do it as well as I can.

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Here are some signs that delegation is not working:

  • Customer calls are not returned because of reliance on one person to know what’s going on;
  • Employees feel uncertain about what to do and keep escalating issues;
  • Important tasks get missed or forgotten because the team’s relying on the manager to make it happen.

The lack of delegation poses the biggest threat to a business in times of stress so pre-emptive action should be taken to avoid it getting to that point.  You can start by taking a closer look at those beliefs above:

1.  Nobody else can do it as well as I can

Is that really true?  If it is, I recommend you review your hiring and training practices.  More than likely, you do have staff who can do the job – so give them the opportunity to show you how well they can do it.

Until the work you do can be done by robots, accept that all humans are fallible (even you).  In most businesses, mistakes aren’t life-threatening and the sooner you learn to live with them the better!

Other people might do things differently from how you’d do them.  Isn’t that exactly what a business needs in order to adapt, grow and thrive?

2.  Asking for help is a sign of weakness

If this was really true, there would be no need for service industries to exist.  We’d all do what needed doing for ourselves, from installing antennas to running our own court cases.

Clearly that’s ridiculous, so why be so selective in getting things done that need to be done?  It doesn’t have to all be up to you!

Of course, you can choose to struggle along doing work to which you’re not really suited but how much better for you, your staff and the ‘Gross National Happiness’ if you’re mostly doing what you love and your team are given opportunities to excel at tasks they enjoy?

If I’ve achieved one thing with this article, I hope it’s that the next time you think “It’ll be quicker/easier if I just do it myself” you take time to challenge your beliefs and think about delegating instead.  Will you?

 

 

"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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