Human Resources Today

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performance management

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Talent and HR News Roundup: How to Be Better Edition

Ever have one of those weeks where you got some great feedback on how to be better from multiple people?  They are rare, but fantastic. Most of us know what we're good at, but we're not always aware of how we can be better. And unfortunately one of those things most of us aren't good is giving developmental feedback. So this week, we've pulled together some really relevant pieces on how you can be better. You know, in case no one will tell you. 1) The Best Kind of Entrepreneur to Be from Inc.

"Maybe you're afraid to start a business because you feel you could never compare to the brightest stars in the entrepreneurial firmament. Or maybe you shrink from the thought of having to work and sacrifice and struggle towards a goal you may never accomplish. Or maybe you think other people have some intangible entrepreneurial something--ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc.--you just don't have. If that's the way you think, you're wrong."

2) How Your Team Can Stay Nimble While Growing from OpenForum

"When your team is small, your biggest barriers tend to be external in nature: needing more funding, press or market traction. Internally, though, you can turn on a dime. Yet as you grow, keeping your team aligned and coordinated becomes increasingly challenging. The single best tool you have in keeping your growing team agile is building a culture of effective communication."

3) Dealing With Difficult Employees When You Don't Have the Time from exaqueo

"As founders or leaders, we’re always on the fly. I’m writing this blog post from an airport lounge! But that doesn’t mean I should text an employee if there’s a problem, or shoot off an email, hit send, and shut down the computer. Feedback has to be a two-way street real-time. A ten-minute phone call now will save you five emails later and an employee so frustrated, stewing about the feedback that he doesn’t focus for the rest of the day. Always direct, always in-person (or on the phone)–the only way to give feedback."

4) Staying Calm is Important from SmartBlogs

"Yelling, screaming and berating others is not acceptable behavior from a leader. If you have a tendency to “go off” on others, you set a bad example (people are watching you and copying your poor behavior) and make the objects of your rage feel terrible. Motivation is killed. More importantly, your employees will avoid and abandon you when you need them most to knuckle under and get the work done or to go the extra mile."

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exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Dealing With Difficult Employees When You Don't Have Time

There's a great scene in Shrek when Lord Farquaad breaks off the legs of the Gingerbread Man, basically torturing him for information. Gingy refuses to divulge anything until Lord Farquaad goes for the jugular reaching for his candy buttons. "NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!," Gingy cries and gives in. This is how leaders of growing companies deal with talent problems. You wait until it's going to cause you real pain. Fundraising or new hire? Client problem or co-worker disagreement? Valuation or toxic employee? When you're focusing on getting investment, customers, attention and Board approval, there's no time for talent. Until there has to be.

But you don't have to wait until it's gumdrop buttons serious. You can manage talent while you're running a business.  And you can handle difficult employees before you get to the point where you're ready to break their legs off. Or where your other employees just want to run.

Deal With It Now

If there's a problem, deal with it in 24 hours. Don't cancel an investment pitch for a difficult employee, but don't ignore the problem for days or weeks either. That demonstrates to other employees that the behavior is tolerated. It also means you forget what exactly happened and move on to putting out other fires. No matter how busy you are, ask the employee for time to talk in the next 24 hours and make it happen.

Give Regular Feedback From Day One

If you bring employees on board, focus on execution and never give them feedback on what's working and what's not, the first time you tell them there's a problem, it's defensive city. They're surprised, you're annoyed and the chasm of communication breakdown gets wider and wider.

From day one, tell new employees when they'll get feedback and how it will be delivered. Share things they are doing well and things they need to improve on. And then actually do it. Regularly. It makes it easier when things get tough, for the tough messages to be delivered. Employees will be used to the conversations -- even if they're on the fly -- and be prepared to ask questions and won't be caught off guard.

Use Your Culture to Make Your Case

Without values modeled by the leadership team, culture is just a collection of silly perks and CEO sound bytes. If you have a set of values and what exaqueo calls work rules, you can always point back to them as a guidepost of how business gets done in your organization.

For example, let's say transparency is one of your core values and you have an associated work rule that describes how and when employees need to be transparent. Then, when an employee hides something or doesn't want to admit there's a problem, you point back to the work rule. If they can't adapt, they're out. Otherwise your trading commitment to culture for one person.

Don't Hide Behind Technology

As founders or leaders, we're always on the fly. I'm writing this blog post from an airport lounge! But that doesn't mean I should text an employee if there's a problem, or shoot off an email, hit send, and shut down the computer. Feedback has to be a two-way street real-time. A ten-minute phone call now will save you five emails later and an employee so frustrated, stewing about the feedback that he doesn't focus for the rest of the day. Always direct, always in-person (or on the phone)--the only way to give feedback.

Give Employees a Chance, But Not More Than One

An employee who makes a mistake can learn and change. A toxic employee can't. That's why multiple chances don't work. Don't count to three or give start-up employees long leashes. You don't have time for that. Instead, be clear about the problem, connect it back to your culture and be honest that you don't have time for it to happen again. Encourage communication--if they aren't sure what to do, ask! But don't give out chances like candy.

You may be able to ignore or de-prioritize difficult employees until they cause a major problem. But waiting means the problem is now big enough to really impact your business.  Do you have time for that? Don't cut off your legs to spite your face. And by all means, don't wait until it gets this serious.

http://youtu.be/FpBJih02aYU

 

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exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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You're Not As Good of A Manager As You Think

Ask any leader if they think they’re good at managing people. Most will respond “yes” or “I try to be” or “I think so.” No one ever flat-out says no. It could be we’re too afraid to admit what we don’t know. More likely it’s that we really never learned. Unlike the skills it takes to ship code, create a sales plan, or do a financial valuation, people management isn’t a specific, teachable skill. You can shadow a young developer and correct code errors in real-time. There’s often a clear right and wrong. Managing people – not so much.

Sure, if you’ve been working for a few years and managing people for a few more, you’ve learned some tricks along the way. But how do you know they’re the right ones? And how do you know you’re making an impact?

1. Start Talking to Your Employees

We’re so focused on launches, planning, and meeting deadlines, it’s sometimes easy to forget we’re working with human beings. No one takes a job at a startup or high-growth company for the hell of it. We all have some sort of personal growth goals. Make a conscious effort to ask your employees about theirs. Even if you don’t have a formal performance process, you’re still responsible for helping them grow and develop no matter how small or busy you are. Make an effort to do it.

2. Ask Your Team for Feedback

If you ask your team casually “how are things?” or “how am I doing?” you’ll get canned responses. Instead, ask them regularly what you can do better as a leader and encourage them as a team to work together to give you some specifics. Sure, you’re swamped, and small, growing companies don’t have time for coddling. But if your behaviors are getting in the way of getting work done, and you’re not making a conscious effort to develop your team, what happens when the company grows? You need talent you’ve developed whom you can trust to pass it on. You don’t grow a company through an “I’m in charge so I can behave how I want” mentality.

3. Set Performance Goals That Aren't Skills-Based

As you think about what you want to accomplish as a leader in the coming year, are all your goals performance-based? Probably...read more of the post over on Tech Cocktail.

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This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A workforce consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

 

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Big Data Employee Style: The 4 Kinds of Workforce Data You Really Need

Big Data Employee Style: The 4 Kinds of Workforce Data You Really NeedIn my experience, HR is usually a year and a half behind the curve for many business trends. From TQM in the 1980's, balanced scorecard in the 1990's -- we're usually behind the curve. When I was in HR for a F500 company in 2007 and first started talking about using social media in HR, people thought I was nuts. It took a two years to bring it to life.

Enter Big Data. Sure, HR prognosticators like John Sumser get it. He's been writing about Big Data for awhile and was the only HR representation on a Forbes list of the top 20 influencers in Big Data last year. But in true HR fashion, the idea of using Big Data to look at workforce data is only picking up steam as of late with conferences, skeptics, and predictions that Big Data will be, well, a predictive tool for HR.

But while The New York Times focused earlier this year on the power of all of this collective data, I care more about what this means for you, for your startup or your high-growth company. Whether you have five employees or 500, what kind of workforce data do you need on your employees and why?

1) Demographics

There's no doubt you need to know plenty about your workforce, including the range of ages, percentage of each gender, time in position and tenure with the company. But this data is so simple to collect we often forget we have it or what we can do with it.

Gender and age data can help manage recruiting and discrimination risks (especially if you have federal contracts). Age data can also help you better manage the workforce. If you're a Gen X founder, its helpful to get a sense of where the Gen Y pockets are and where challenges exist.

Tenure demographics help you pinpoint where turnover is happening and where progression is happening. You may think you know (especially if your team has fewer than 30 people), but are you tracking these trends over time? They can have huge implications on your workforce.

2) Performance

Even if you're a team of five, hopefully you have some sort of performance management system in place. You don't have to use a stodgy, corporate form, but you do need to set goals for employees and measure performance against those goals.

What you can do with that data is powerful. As you grow, correlate that data with demographics. Again, it will help you avoid risk and also isolate where there are management issues on your team and with certain pockets of employees.

3) Climate

I know, the employee opinion survey is dead. In its traditional form, sure. But it is important to get a pulse on how your employees feel at any given moment. What's working for them? What isn't? How are they reacting to a recent pivot, news, departure of a key leader?

Don't rely on the grapevine or what you think you hear. Gather more formal data on a regular basis and compare over time how employees really feel. Then use the data to help better your communications and your decision-making.

4) Culture

Finally, the holy grail of  internal workforce data is doing a deep dive on culture. The qualitative perspective is hugely important -- especially if you can bring in an unbiased partner to get the real skinny from employees.

How leaders define the culture and describe its existence is never exactly how employees describe it. And it's important for leaders to understand who their employees are -- what they are passionate about, what their lives are like and how work fits in.

This kind of data helps to evolve your workforce and your business to be the place you want it to be. Culture data is anthropological -- marketers go to a great extent to learn who their customers are. Imagine the value of doing this for your employees.

Big Data and Your Workforce Data

Sure, the trend of the collective data is compelling -- and you shouldn't ignore the implications for your business. For example, if you're in marketing, you can't ignore Leslie Bradshaw's presentation on engagement through Big Data. If you're an HR Technology companay collecting data, you can't ignore John Sumser's primer on Big Data as you explore the future of your product.

But for you, for your company, for your people, your workforce look inward first. The value of Big Data to your workforce is how you can use data on your own people to drive culture, engagement and productivity.

Note: there are a ton of technologies to help you here. Check out our weekly roundup highlighting a few.

exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Work Rules: What They Are and Why You Need Them

Work Rules: What They Are and Why You Need ThemEvery company wants to be cool in some way -- more specifically, be known for something: a great place to work, a cool thing to be part of, a place people brag about joining. That's where the values come in. Whether valuable or not (pun intended), core values are the hot topic when it comes to culture. You have to have them. And whether you're Toms Shoes, Whole Foods or Teach for America, your values set the stage for your business.

While values and culture creation is the first step, it's not the most important. Enter work rules.

What Are Work Rules?

"Work rules" is a term we've developed here at exaqueo. Work rules are a way to make what a company values real and hold employees accountable. You can have the best list of core values ever, but if you don't hold employees accountable and align the way you do business to them, they don't mean anything.

Here's how it works:

Take one of Whole Foods' core values: "supporting team member excellence and happiness." Sounds good, right? But what exactly does that mean? How is that manifested in the day to day operations of a Whole Foods store?

It could mean personal support -- doing right by each other when it comes to learning and development, lots of time off, special dispensation for family needs, stipends for personal interests. Or, it could be about the business -- supporting team members who need help stocking shelves or find themselves overwhelmed with a line of customers at customer service.

You Have to Define Your Values

Specifically, what do they look like in practice? And at Whole Foods, this particular value is focused more on workplace happiness than happiness outside of work.

Nothing wrong with that -- in fact, their clarity is commendable. As an current or future employee it's clear what they mean by happiness. I can expect very fair wages. I shouldn't expect extra time off.

Another example of a value many companies might have is "customer service." But what kind of customer service is valued?

That's where work rules come in.  Maybe the focus is on deep customer relationships and problem solving. Or it could be about fast service, getting customers served efficiently and correctly. Either way, work rules help you better define what great performance looks like in your organization, and that makes hiring and performance management better. And it helps your company stay focused.

If you're wondering if it's worth it, if there's real, monetary value in this, let me know. I'll send you a real-world example from one of our clients.

If you need the motivation to get started, ask yourself how important talent is to growth.

There's your answer.

exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Employee Engagement: Can Data Save Your Organization?

As the economy continued to tank in 2011 and 2012, employee engagement dropped with it. Down economies often impact organizational loyalty in a negative way and Mercer’s 2012 report confirms that. According to the report, 24% of organizations are reporting lowered engagement up from 13% just two years ago. And while organizations continue to invest in employee engagement, or some form of loyalty strengthening activities, popular HR analysts and bloggers are challenging the notion of engagement score value. Companies do care about employee feedback: 96% of Fortune 100 companies and 65% of mid-sized companies use some sort of employee survey. But is fighting for increased engagement scores a good use of executive time and attention? And are increased scores really that valuable to your business?

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