Tag Archives: people

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

What do you want?

Last week, our single question survey asked readers “What is the one people management issue that is causing you the most pain right now?”

The response was fantastic!  Thanks for all your contributions.

Didn’t see it?  It’s not too late to give us your answer and have it added to our list of topics for future webinars and articles. 

The first webinar is scheduled for 12 noon on Wednesday, 7 July 2010.  Topic and registration details will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

Here is a summary of the suggestions so far:

Team

  • establishing teamwork – working together on to meet organisational goals
  • culture
  • understanding what each person does and how roles work together

Motivation

  • rewards –  ideas on non-monetary rewards
  • getting staff to work in new ways in an industry that has been more reactive than proactive in the past

Delegation

  • effectively communicating what needs to be done
  • having tasks completed to your requirements
  • ensuring staff are productive when you’re not there

Training

  • developing teams to meet future needs
  • helping staff indentify skill gaps
  • making time for training

Recruitment

  • attracting the people with the right attitude
  • matching the right people to the role
  • having the right people in the right seats

Performance

  • meaningful annual reviews
  • addressing weaknesses without causing offence
  • managing underperformance

Why not take a minute to add your own or support one of these suggestions?

Click here to have your say or leave a comment below.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Why I Dropped Kathy and Picked Up Dan*

This article was prompted by questions from readers…

Many people within financial services are familiar with the Kolbe system of measuring ‘Action Modes’.  An individual’s Kolbe profile is a good tool for coaching and team development and I’ve used it in these ways, before I started using Harrison Assessments (HA).

There are similarities between the two approaches (online, accessible to any sized organisation, multiple uses) and I won’t explore the theory behind them in this article.  There are three differences that prompted my decision:

1. Level of detail

If I tell you my Kolbe is 8652 (Strategic Planner), experienced Kolbe users will know quite a lot about me.  It will be a generalisation, of course, as each number is a score out of 10 for each of the four different modes (Fact Find, Follow Through, Quick Start and Implementor).

I admit I can’t give you a quick summary, in numbers or words, of my HA profile, although you’ll find some of the details on our website.  This is because HA measures 156 different traits on a 1-10 scale, resulting in reports that are unique to the individual, rather than classifying them as an ‘Innovator’ or ‘Mediator’ for example.  The 156 traits are made up of personality, task preferences, interests, work environment preferences and motivations.

The reports themselves provide detailed interpretation for the end user.  For example, for a job candidate who has a low score on ‘Analyses Pitfalls’:  “Joe usually does not enjoy analysing the potential difficulties of plans or strategies and may sometimes neglect to do so.  Therefore, it would be best if he were to receive other input before making important strategic decisions.  Joe’s lack of enjoyment of analysing potential problems will probably have a somewhat negative impact on job satisfaction and/or performance.”  How good would it be to know this information before you appoint a new manager?

This is focussed, practical information you can use right away, either in a second interview or to coach the new employee.

2. Data utilisation

One set of data from one 20-30 minute online questionnaire is used to produce all the reports below, listed by application: 

  • Candidate Screening – Job Success Analysis, Group Screening Report
  • Candidate Interviewing and Selection – Interview Guide, How to Attract this Candidate, Paradox Graph and Narrative, Traits and Definitions Report, Summary and Keywords Report
  • Retention and Development – How to Manage, Develop and Retain, Development for Position, Development by Trait, Paradox Graph and Narrative
  • Team Development – Team Paradox Graph, Trait Export
  • Career Guidance and Development – Career Options, Career Development, Career Comparison

To see samples of these reports, please visit our website.

3. Customisability

Because HA is based on work performance research, there is the facility to compare employees and/or candidates to job templates for a specific role.  There are over 200 generic templates in the system and each one can be customised to the requirements of the job and the employer.  We’ve even adjusted templates to check for a good match with the manager.

For our clients in financial services, we have developed a set of templates which we then modify to their specific business requirements.  For example, it they’re hiring a paraplannner and want them to have significant client contact, we would ensure traits such as ‘Outgoing’ and ‘Diplomatic’ are included in the template.

This flexibility can also be applied to staff and team development.  If, for example, a broker is just not brining in the new business they were hire to achieve, we could assess their scores on a range of relevant traits, including traits such as ‘Persistent’ and ‘Optimistic’ and coach them to better performance by building on their areas of strength.  Of course – ideally – you would have known these scores before you hired them!

The detailed reports, as you can imagine, are invaluable for both team and individual coaching.  For teams, we are also able to plot all team members on the same chart, to give an easy to read overview of the team’s strengths and challenges.

The reason I chose to train and gain certification with Harrison Assessments:  So I can provide my clients with the best available information for people management decisions and coaching.

*Kathy Kolbe and Dan Harrison

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Paradox and the one little word you can’t ignore

A client in Western Australia recently called regarding a profile we had just provided for a candidate.  When shown the report, the candidate had questioned its validity because some of the traits listed appeared to be contradictory.

We notice contradictions because we are conditioned to thinking in terms of opposites:  good and evil, right and wrong, black and white.  The reaction to Tiger Woods in recent months is an example of this at work.  Our conditioning leads us to want an explanation of how, for instance, someone so brilliant and talented (at golf) could be so stupid.

The elusive ‘and’

A more realistic approach is to view individual characteristics in terms of complementarity rather than contrast.

Let’s explore what the paradox means in the real world

When you look at the people you already know well, are they always one thing or the other?  Or are they more complex, able to show a range of behaviours in different situations?

What about yourself?  Have you ever been told that you are, for example, an introvert when you know you can also be an extrovert?  Was there any value to you in being labelled this way?

You are an infinitely complex being.  We all are!  Imagine how boring and predictable life would be otherwise.

The power of paradox

So what was going on with our candidate mentioned above?  Why did his profile show he possessed some traits that we expect to be opposites of each other?

One of the unique strengths of Harrison Assessments is that, unlike other tools, it takes the apparent paradoxes in our makeup and uses them to predict behaviour.

Most behavioural assessments fail to provide this insight because they rely on a traditional bipolar approach of measurement, which assumes an either/or relationship between traits by placing two related positive qualities on either end of a scale.

Communication, for example, typically looks at Diplomatic and Frank as traits. By placing Diplomatic and Frank on either end of the same scale, the bipolar approach assumes that the more Diplomatic you are, the less Frank you are and vice versa.

This assumption is false.

paradox-technology2paradox-technology1

Paradox: You can be both Frank and Diplomatic or neither

When you want insights into employee behaviour, will measuring communication in one dimension give you all the information you need?

What is important is not whether a person is Frank or Diplomatic, but the extent of their frankness and diplomacy to understand how these traits compliment each other.

 paradox-technology-communicators paradox-technology-blunt-evansive

To learn more about Paradox technology, click here or give us a call.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

‘Fresh Ideas for Work and Family’ Grants Start Now

Grants to make your business family friendly

The “Fresh Ideas for Work and Family” Grants Program helps small businesses set up family friendly work practices.

If you have a small business with between 1 and 14 employees then funding of up to $15,000 is available to help you with your work/life balance initiatives. These initiatives may include home-based work programs, flexible work practices such as job sharing and part-time work, flexible workplace policies and guidelines, family rooms and more. The focus of the program is to help employees better balance their work and family obligations by making the workplace more flexible.

The funding round opens on 25 February and closes on 31 March 2010. Eligible small businesses must have a least one employee and can include companies, partnerships, not-for-profit, non-government, sole traders and a consortium of up to three small businesses.

With the workplace flexibility requirements under the new National Employment Standards and the grant being provided by DEEWR to set up flexible work practices, it is important that small businesses take advantage of this opportunity now! Flexible work arrangements also benefit both employees and the business bottom-line.

For more information and help with applying for the grant contact Kerry Fallon Horgan at Flexibility At Work on (02) 9402 4741 or email kerry@flexibility.com.au  Further details are also available at www.flexibility.com.au

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Excuse me, your bias is showing

Do you think you’re good at judging people?  You are, but probably not in the way you think…

We all live complicated lives and nature has given us neurological shortcuts so we don’t have to relearn everything as we go.  For example, when we encounter a closed door, we don’t need to consciously think:  What is this?  What is it for?  Why is it here?  or How does it work? Instead, we grab the handle and walk through (perhaps with a little push/pull confusion on the way!)

Similar shortcuts are in operations when we interact with other people.  We are able to quickly assess a person based on our past experiences and conditioning.  This usually goes on beyond our awareness.  Efficient but not always accurate!

For more than a decade Project Implicit, based at Harvard University, has been tracking a whole range of our hidden prejudicial associations.  Curious about my own, I decided to try one of their Implicit Association Tests (IATs).  Being a feminist, mother of two girls, business woman and teacher, I thought I’d be pretty safe trying a test called ‘Gender-Career’.  Imagine my surprise (horror!) when I found my results showed that I strongly associated men with careers and women with family life.

Implicit biases are shown in the majority of the population.  At least I’m not alone.  And most of us don’t even know we are biased against certain groups.

How is this significant in business?

Our hidden prejudices predict how we respond to others.  They may impact on:

  • deciding on the best applicant for a role
  • evaluating others’ work performance
  • how friendly and inclusive we are towards team members

Tip:  Job interviews are a notoriously inaccurate way to predict workplace behaviour, even when conducted by experts.  Project Implicit shows that without using objective measures of job fit, we are often relying on judgements we aren’t aware of and can’t control.

Curious about your own biases?  You can visit Project Implicit online and take a test of your choice.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

The rules of employment have changed…

Use this checklist – provided by Steve Champion of ER Strategies – to update yourself on the Fair Work changes that came into effect on 1 January 2010.  Steve has included links to more information on each item.

Commencement of the operation of NES (National Employment Standards)

Modern Awards commence operation

State System Employers enter Federal System

Need to know more? Call ER Strategies on 1300 55 66 37.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Overcoming ‘interview infatuation’

When I met Matthew Farrell, Principal of Five Pillars Financial Planning, he was in the process of selecting a new financial planner to support the growth of his business.

Matthew was impressed with a candidate but confided that one of the traps he’d fallen into in the past was loving someone at the interview, only to find they didn’t live up to expectations on the job.  This is a familiar scenario, especially when faced with a charming and enthusiastic interviewee.  

To ensure he didn’t make the same mistake this time, Matthew decided to use Harrison Assessments to determine the candidate’s suitability for the role.

1.  After the first meeting, we sent the candidate a ‘questionnaire invitation’ so that he could complete the online assessment overnight.
2.   We sent Matthew a draft job template for him to consider.
3.   Next morning, Matthew and I discussed the template and I made adjustments to the
template online.
4.   The candidate had completed the assessment so we were able to immediately run the
reports, comparing him to the customised template.
5.   Matthew and I discussed the reports and the candidate’s suitability straight away.

We asked Matthew to comment on his experience of using the Harrison Assessments:

“I was looking for an objective assessment tool that took away the temptation of me being swayed by the candidate’s pleasing personality and charm. I wanted to know if the candidate possessed the internal qualities required to perform in the position.

TIP:  Don’t let your heart rule your head!  Get some objective advice before you make decisions on the people in your business.


BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Christmas Party Checklist

It’s that time of year again!  Here is our quick guide to your responsibilities as a manager organising a staff Christmas party.

Just because you’re not at work, it doesn’t mean you’re not at work!
Any function organised by you and attended by your employees is work related and the same rules that apply in the workplace apply to your party.  There are certain steps you can take to ensure risks are minimised and everyone has a good time.

Before the event
Make sure you have implemented policies covering occupational health and safety, harassment, bullying and discrimination.  Remind staff that these policies also apply to work social functions.  Let them know that unacceptable behaviour could result in disciplinary action.

You can be liable for sexual harassment, bullying and unsafe behaviour engaged in by employees or agents at the Christmas party unless you can show that you took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful behaviour.

Plan the event to take into account the age range of your staff and their access to transport.   For example, you may have employees who are under 18.  Serving them alcohol is against the law.

If you have staff with food allergies or preferences, these need to be considered in planning your catering.  Also, be aware of the food poisoning risks with buffet-style food service and take steps to avoid them.

Employees who are injured at the Christmas party or on their journey home may lodge workers compensation claims or common law claims for personal injury.

During the event
Provide the option of low alcohol and plenty of alcohol free drinks, accompanied by substantial food.  Don’t rely on venue staff for responsible service of alcohol. Managers also need to keep an eye on drinkers and take action if needed.  This may include sending an intoxicated employee home in a taxi.

As a manager, you can model appropriate behaviour.  A work Christmas party that you have organised is probably not the best situation for you to really let your hair down!

It sounds trivial, but avoid having mistletoe.  That ‘innocent’ kiss could bring problems later.

After the event
Ensure staff have appropriate travel arrangements in place to get home safely.  Consider arranging a mini-bus or cabcharge vouchers for your staff, particularly those who have been drinking.

In the event that a staff member has had too much to drink, or too late a night, and needs to drive or operate machinery the next day, give them time off or alternative work until they are fit to resume their normal tasks.

And a good time was had by all!
Follow these guidelines for a work Christmas party that’s memorable for the right reasons.

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Download sample reports here:

Recruitment Package Reports

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   How To Attract

Key points that will help convince a top candidate to accept a job offer

•   Interview Guide

Worksheet with behaviorally-based interviewing questions

Development Reports

•   Development For Position

A development plan for each of two traits that would most improve performance for a specific person related to a specified job

•   Manage, Develop, Retain

Key points to effectively manage, develop and retain selected employee

•   Job Success Analysis

Compares a person to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Main Graph Report

Overview of trait relationships. Requires expert training to interpret (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Paradox Report

Analysis of paradoxical behaviors (optionally highlights traits related to a job)

•   Summary Keywords

A summary and key word descriptions of the individual’s job-related behavior

•   Traits Definitions

An individual’s scores on all the primary traits listed in order of the highest score and optionally highlights the traits related to the job

Team Reports

•   Group Screening

Compares a group of people to the behavioral requirements of a job

•   Team Main Graph

A graphical overview of the relationship between traits for a group of people

•   Team Paradox Graph

A graph showing a group of people plotted against each of the twelve paradoxes

•   Trait Export

An export of all the scores from all the traits for a selected group of people (used for analyzing performance factors or organizational culture)

Career Reports

•   Career Comparison

Compares an individual to the specific requirements of a particular career

•   Career Development

Personalized guidance for an individual’s career development

•   Career Options

A list of careers that would provide the greatest job satisfaction for a specified individual

BALANCE AT WORK BLOG

Measuring a sufficient number traits in behavioural assessment

The following information is an excerpt from the whitepaper ‘Best Practices in Talent Assessment’ by Dan Harrison, PhD, of Harrison Assessments International ©2008 Harrison Assessments International.  For a copy of the full report, please email us.

It is not practical to develop a separate behavioural assessment for each job or even each job type. Therefore, nearly all job behaviour assessments assess people using one questionnaire and then try to evaluate the answers for different jobs. However, our research has shown that less than 25% of the traits measured in a behavioural questionnaire relate to job success for any one job. Therefore, to be effective, a job behaviour assessment needs to measure many different traits in order to have a sufficient number of traits that relate to job success for any one given job. Most behavioural assessments measure only 10 to 30 traits. They try to overcome this problem by measuring norms of different types of jobs. For example, they do research that identifies managers as having certain traits, like “energy” for example. This is merely a distraction from the real purpose, which is to identify the traits that relate to performance. 

There is no benefit to hiring people who fit the profile of an average manager, especially when more than 75% of the traits are completely irrelevant to job performance. I have helped thousands of companies assess employees and I have never had a single customer that aims to hire average employees. They would be very unhappy if they knew that an assessment at best would them to hire average managers and three quarters of what was being considered in the assessment was completely unrelated to job success.

In order to effectively measure job success, job behaviour assessments must measure at least 100 different traits and each job needs to have a formula or template of at least 20 traits that relate to performance. In addition, each trait must have its own formula regarding how different amounts of that trait impact performance. Finally, each trait must be weighted against the other traits according to its impact on performance. That is why the Harrison Assessments system measures 156 traits and is built on a body of research that relates to job performance.

The need to measure more than 100 traits creates a great challenge for job behaviour assessments. Measuring more than 100 traits would normally require more than a full day of testing. However, in this age of talent competition, few qualified applicants are willing to spend a full day for one job application. Harrison Assessments has overcome this problem by creating a high tech questionnaire in which there are 16 groups of 8 statements. In each group, the 8 statements are ranked against each other. In addition, each statement appears in 2 different groups, enabling the computer to cross-reference all of the answers against each other.

By comparing each statement to every other statement on the questionnaire, a total of 8103 comparisons are obtained. This is equivalent to 2,701 multiple choice questions and more than a full day of multiple choice testing!