Innovative HR Solutions, LLC

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What Makes and Effective Team?

We recently completed an employee engagement survey for a hi-tech client and after evaluating the survey results five key findings surfaced.  The respondents indicated that they wanted more transparency from the leadership team along with more timely decisions.  The respondents also indicated that they were looking for more responsibility, an improvement in communication and, finally, a work environment that is more engaging and team oriented.  So. let’s delve deeper into the detailed results.
The survey respondents indicated that the leadership team needed to be more transparent and open with the employees.  A business is a reflection of the leaders of the organization, and if the leaders ensure transparency, the team will mirror this value.  Honesty was determined to be a key value of the company, and if practiced more consistently, the result will be an effective better functioning team that trusts and believes in the executives.
Timely Decisions
Good leaders are creative, innovative, flexible and decisive; however, decisions-makers may be forced at times to deviate from the set course and make a decision without all of the information.  It is during these critical situations that the team will need to look for guidance, evaluate the data and reach a decision that is the best given the available data.  The survey respondents indicated that the decision making process was often too protracted.  The leaders were afraid of making decisions and were risk adverse.  Some risk is acceptable and the respondents, including the leaders of the company, determined that decisions needed to be more timely even if the information was incomplete.
Ability to Delegate
Trusting the team and learning to delegate to subordinates are an important signs of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to department managers and individual contributors is one of the most important skills a leader needs to have.  The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of the team, and capitalizing on those strengths and hold each team member accountable for their decisions.  This will prove to your team that as a leader you trust and believe in them and are fair.  The survey results indicated that the respondents wanted to have more responsibility and management needed to learn to delegate more, provided that decision-making parameters were established and properly communicated.
Being a Good Communicator
Being a good communicator is critical to all leaders in a growing organization.  Knowing what you want accomplished and explaining the company’s vision for the future to the team are extremely important.  The survey results indicated that the leaders lacked the ability to communicate the vision and strategy.  Healthy lines of communication were also determined to be poor.  The respondents requested that management establish an all-hands meeting, newsletters, webinars and state-of-the-company presentations to improve communication.  Communication is also managing by walking around and creating an open door policy.  Making it a point to talk to the employees on a daily basis was determined to build trust and keep the leaders in the loop.  The results also indicated that the company executives need to make themselves available to discuss the strategic as well as tactical issues.
Having a Sense of Humor
Because the respondents spend so much time at work the survey results indicated that they want to be a part of a company that can “work-hard and play-hard”.  Challenges happen all the time in business.  A client may go elsewhere, the company website goes down, the telephone lines to customer service are interrupted or the company’s line of credit is not extended.  Guiding the team through these or any challenges without panicking and with a sense of purpose is as important as tackling the underlining reasons why a particular event occurred. It was determined that having a sense of humor will pay off as it will allow the team to laugh at the mistakes and learn from them.  Good leaders are successful in building a team, encouraging healthy discussions and learning from the daily business challenges.
In Conclusion
The employee survey results were communicated to the employees and action plans were developed and are currently being implemented.  The leaders of the company made a commitment to ensure transparency in the process, be inclusive and maintain on-going communication.  They also agreed to establish accountability measures for improvement by evaluating the progress made over the next survey cycle.  This initiative was truly a team effort regardless of level in the organization.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Is Aligning Your Company Culture with the Employees Important? – Three Tips

The culture of any company is the cement that holds the organization together.  A culture that is effectively integrated into the company, where all employees are held accountable for its adherence, along with a rewards program that supports the agreed upon culture will add value to the company.   A fractured culture erodes confidence in the products and services a company sells and can lead to serious long-term challenges for the HR professional and leadership team.

HR professionals should consider implementing these three recommendations to support the successful implementation of a culture based upon the mission statement of the company, the values of the organization and the strategic vision of the leadership team.

Communicate Your Mission to the Stakeholders

Creating a cohesive organization based upon shared values will allow your employees to be make the transition from just viewing their role as just a job to a career with the organization.  The value of examining your company’s mission statement will ensure that the mission is aligned with reality and current practices.  Communicating the agreed upon mission statement to employees, customers, vendors and shareholders will ensure that all stakeholders subscribe to these principles.   

Hold Managers Accountable for Living the Company Values

An increase in stakeholder loyalty can boost profits and productivity; however, this is predicated upon the managers and the leaders of the organization being held accounting for “living the values” of the company.  Research has shown that ethical managers that communicate these shared values will lead to greater profitability and growth.   According the Gallup Business Journal (June, 2013) work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity

Employers today want to understand how they can secure more support from their employees.  On-going management and accountability based upon the vision, mission and vision will make it easier for the HR professional and the leadership team to determine how to best execute the strategy for the future.
Tie Pay and Performance to the Adherence of the Agreed Upon Values

We all know that what gets measured gets managed with success.  Performance reviews are a great tool to tie the successful communication of the mission with the success of the leaders.  If the executive team has a vested interest in the process and are measured on their success of tying their decisions to the published values; this measurement will add accountability to the process.  While tying pay, accountability and performance is not a guarantee of success the outcome with be more probable.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Is On-going Professional Development Important?

Professional development and the opportunity to learn and grow are very important for the HR professional and business leader.  Learning best practices will allow for managers and individual contributors to understand what is happening not only in their industry but in other industries as well.  The cross-transfer of technology and new management practices and techniques will enable the HR professional to try out new and innovative programs at work.  Professional development and training programs should focus on two key training strategies:

Business, Revenue and Sales Growth Training
Creating a high performance environment will allow your employees to make the transition from selling a product or service to selling a solution.  The value of making this transition will ensure that sales practices and processes are consistent yet meet the needs of the customer.  In HR, while the “sales” component is typically not external, key to attracting external talent is the ability to “sell” the company and the culture.

Employee Satisfaction & Loyalty Training

An increase in employee loyalty can boost profits and productivity.  Research has shown that engaged employees lead to greater profitability and growth.   Allocating training dollars to a manager’s budget can reduce turnover, improve product knowledge and diagnose any performance issues of key employees.  Creating a high performance culture of learning will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the individual.  Allocating the resources to bridge the performance gap will create a culture of loyal employees.
Employers today want to understand how they can secure more creativity and support from their employees.  On-going training will allow for the manager to determine how to execute the best strategy from the employee’s perspective by enriching their jobs and assisting them with fine-tuning their skills.

Over the next several months the Society of HR Management, the NGLCC, The California HR Conference sponsored by PIHRA and Arizona SHRM will be hosting their annual leadership conferences across the nation.  These premier organizations will explore progressive HR programs and new technologies.  Conferences provide an excellent venue for HR professionals to network with other business partners from across the United States and the world.  You are encouraged to attend these professional development learning opportunities to increase your knowledge and skill level.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Is the Performance Management Process Broken?

Each year millions of companies across the county go through the process of reviewing employee performance, ranking their employees against their peers then communicating their strengths, weaknesses in face-to-face discussions as a way to motivate staff and presumably to improve productivity.   The question is should this process continue or is it such a failure that this key management tool should be discarded and a new way of evaluating performance be developed?

Using our employee engagement survey tool as the backdrop to this question the data suggests that the process is not broken but the way the process is administered and communicated needs to be fine-tuned to better reflect the current workforce.

What is a Performance Review?

First of all, let us define what a performance review is and why it is such an important tool in managements toolbox.    The performance review is a mechanism to document an employee skill level based upon a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities of the job and the results expected.  The performance review is a unique way for management to motivate and maximize performance and productivity, as well as outline career goals and expectations.  It also facilitates a ranking mechanism for management and is an excellent way to provide succession planning services.

What is the Manager’s Role in the Process?

The manager’s role in the process is to properly set the stage to ensure the success of the discussion as well as encourage employee motivation and engagement for the future.  The manager must discuss the job, standards and expectation and summarize their subordinate’s strengths and weaknesses by providing specific examples of successes and challenges in their performance.  Highlighting these areas in generalities will not support the specific areas for improvement that the employee faces nor will it support the overall rating.  In our survey data our respondents indicate that they want a timely review, that is layered with specifics and offers them a path to improve.  The respondents also indicate that they want to seek agreement with their manager on the performance improvements desired and work in an environment where the company will support their professional development.  Where managers fail is that they are not prepared for the discussion, do not provide specifics and are unwilling to hold their direct reports accountable.  Successful managers also need to let their employees know that they have a responsibility in the performance process as well.

What is the Employee’s Role in the Process?

The employees need to come prepared with a self-review so that they can provide honest feedback about their performance.  They should also be prepared to express their short term and long term goals and what they expect from their manager over the next performance review cycle.  If there are any ambiguities with respect to the job, standards or expectations they should be addressed during the performance review discussion.  Finally, if improvement is necessary both the manager and the employee should come to a mutual agreement on what is expected in the future.

Where Does the Process Fail?

The process will often fall short when several key principles are not adhered to by the manager and they include the manger not being honest about their employee’s strengths and weaknesses.  It is often easier to just gloss over the employee’s substandard performance than it is to address the challenges and work with the employee to make them successful.  The survey data suggests that it is easier for managers not to hold people accountable.  Also, managers will often not tie pay and performance but rather take the approach that all employees should receive the essentially the same merit increase regardless of performance.  Once again this may be the easiest path; however, it does not recognize contribution and excellence on the job.  The merit increase program administered through an effective compensation strategy can motivate those employees that are high potentials and successful.

Key to a successful performance review process are managers being honest and prepared and recognizing the differences in the performance of their subordinates.  Employees need to have an attitude that is open to improvement and learning in order to further develop their skill-set.
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