Human Resources Today

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Talent Management

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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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Stop Working, Take Vacation and Set an Example

Image When I read this piece on busyness from Meredith Fineman in Harvard Business Review my immediate reaction was guilty as charged.  She's describing me and one of my worst faults. I'm always busy, always working, and always telling people about it. While I like to think of myself as self-aware (I know many of my greatest strengths and deepest weaknesses) sometimes you need a wake-up call.  That can come in the form of reading, listening, asking ("am I missing something") or the ever-valuable-when-done-right upward feedback.

So where does it come from? Sure, I can harbor much of the blame. So can society, the American business landscape, even #startuplife. Entrepreneurs especially feel the need to be busy all of the time and when things slow, feel a sense of laziness.I won't argue with the value of taking a break. But I will remind you leaders out there: it's also your fault. We're terrible at modeling good behavior, especially when it comes to taking a break.  We push for our team to take vacation, but do we check to see who actually does? It's cool for startups to offer unlimited vacation days, but are any actually required?  We might not expect our teams to answer emails nights and weekends, but we send them anyway.

I last wrote about the importance of role models in my Forbes piece about women in the workplace where I lamented my personal lack of role models in my own career. Part of the problem for me was the workload, the badge of honor that seemed to come with long hours and being busy all the time. I didn't want it then and I don't want it now.

So why do I still do it?

Part of it is the entrepreneurial push and part is the role my business plays in my life. It's an important part of me. But saying I'm busy all the time, or feeling the pressure to always be working doesn't make for better work. So it's time to stop.

I took all of Labor Day weekend off (enjoy my view above).  Every single, solitary second. I didn't plan on it, but the outcome was more than I could have imagined. A clearer head. A fresher perspective. A calmer mind. A motivated Tuesday. And I plan to do it again later this year. Several times. I'll take a cue from my own missteps. This isn't just about working when I want or working all the time. It's the portion of my brain that's occupied with work. It's working smarter and better.

This last quarter of the year has to be productive for all of us, but there's also a ton of holiday and vacation time to be had. I wanted a life as an entrepreneur. In fact, I left the corporate world for it. Now it's time to make sure I don't revert to old habits, and, feel the need to tell everyone all the time.

As for you? Are you guilty even in the slightest? Don't tell me you're too busy to make a change. Be a role model. Model the time off for your team and see real results when they follow in your more relaxed and productive footsteps.

 

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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 Recognition: Required for Company Growth

Ever move so fast as a part of a startup or high-growth company that you forget to look up? Yep, us too. But when you forget to look up, or you're moving full-steam ahead, it's easy to ignore one of the things that matters most: your people. Thank you

Leaders are often the worst culprits. They've got so much invested in success they're laser-focused on the finish line instead of who's in the pit changing the tires at warp speed. It's not a fault per se. At startups, employees don't often expect grand recognition -- they're used to moving so fast, their value often comes from the end result: shipping code, launching product or landing a great, new customer or client.  And at high-growth companies, as numbers rise, so does anonymity. But in reality, it matters. Typically only about half of all employees say they receive recognition for doing good work. Do you? And more importantly, are you a giver?

Here's a leadership test--are you good at recognition? 

1) Is thank you in your vocabulary?

Do an email search of your inbox for the words "thank you" and look for patterns. Are you only thanking clients or partners? When was the last time you sent an email with that subject line, or only for the purpose of thanking an employee? Sure, you may assume your employees know you appreciate them. But they need to hear it from you.

2) Have you ever bought a gift for someone on your team?

Every once in awhile, when someone goes out of their way for you, it's worth tangible recognition. It doesn't have to be a Ferrari, but the fact that you took the time to buy something to thank someone is a big deal. Maybe they covered for you while you were on vacation. Or took on an extra project or solved a client problem in the wee hours of the morning. Whatever it is, thank them with something specific that's catered to them. An Amazon gift card is nice, but if you know I love yoga, why not a gift certificate for a free class or two? If you don't know, it's time to get to know your employees.

3) Do you know who is your company is valued by your peers?

Managers are often dead wrong about employee performance. They're either not paying enough attention, documenting performance or have an accurate understanding of how a project really got done. Peer recognition can be a great way to supplement regular feedback so giving peers a public forum to recognize each other not only adds value to the employee but gives leaders insight into where the real talent value is.

4) Do you have a platform to track recognition?

Do you have a formal platform?  An employee recognition platform on steroids, YouEarnedIt allows employees to reward each other points providing public recognition and personal redemption based on a company's redemption options. Companies can decide what goes in the rewards catalog--anything from Apple gift cards to KitchenAid mixers to charitable donations. Company leaders then have insight into who's doing good. A similar tool called Bonus.ly offers a cash option too.  You also can consider tracking recognition and how happy employees are through a tool like TinyPulse, perfect for startups and high-growth companies.

How'd you do? If you answered no almost all of these, it's time to get moving.

Recognition is a fine line--you don't want to do it all the time, every minute of every day. But you do need to make it a regular habit--especially if you're moving fast. Those workers who are changing tires in 30 seconds? They're probably working harder that you and really deserve a thank you.

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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 Recognition: Required for Company Growth

Ever move so fast as a part of a startup or high-growth company that you forget to look up? Yep, us too. But when you forget to look up, or you're moving full-steam ahead, it's easy to ignore one of the things that matters most: your people. Thank you

Leaders are often the worst culprits. They've got so much invested in success they're laser-focused on the finish line instead of who's in the pit changing the tires at warp speed. It's not a fault per se. At startups, employees don't often expect grand recognition -- they're used to moving so fast, their value often comes from the end result: shipping code, launching product or landing a great, new customer or client.  And at high-growth companies, as numbers rise, so does anonymity. But in reality, it matters. Typically only about half of all employees say they receive recognition for doing good work. Do you? And more importantly, are you a giver?

Here's a leadership test--are you good at recognition? 

1) Is thank you in your vocabulary?

Do an email search of your inbox for the words "thank you" and look for patterns. Are you only thanking clients or partners? When was the last time you sent an email with that subject line, or only for the purpose of thanking an employee? Sure, you may assume your employees know you appreciate them. But they need to hear it from you.

2) Have you ever bought a gift for someone on your team?

Every once in awhile, when someone goes out of their way for you, it's worth tangible recognition. It doesn't have to be a Ferrari, but the fact that you took the time to buy something to thank someone is a big deal. Maybe they covered for you while you were on vacation. Or took on an extra project or solved a client problem in the wee hours of the morning. Whatever it is, thank them with something specific that's catered to them. An Amazon gift card is nice, but if you know I love yoga, why not a gift certificate for a free class or two? If you don't know, it's time to get to know your employees.

3) Do you know who is your company is valued by your peers?

Managers are often dead wrong about employee performance. They're either not paying enough attention, documenting performance or have an accurate understanding of how a project really got done. Peer recognition can be a great way to supplement regular feedback so giving peers a public forum to recognize each other not only adds value to the employee but gives leaders insight into where the real talent value is.

4) Do you have a platform to track recognition?

Do you have a formal platform?  An employee recognition platform on steroids, YouEarnedIt allows employees to reward each other points providing public recognition and personal redemption based on a company's redemption options. Companies can decide what goes in the rewards catalog--anything from Apple gift cards to KitchenAid mixers to charitable donations. Company leaders then have insight into who's doing good. A similar tool called Bonus.ly offers a cash option too.  You also can consider tracking recognition and how happy employees are through a tool like TinyPulse, perfect for startups and high-growth companies.

How'd you do? If you answered no almost all of these, it's time to get moving.

Recognition is a fine line--you don't want to do it all the time, every minute of every day. But you do need to make it a regular habit--especially if you're moving fast. Those workers who are changing tires in 30 seconds? They're probably working harder that you and really deserve a thank you.

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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 Recognition: Required for Company Growth

Ever move so fast as a part of a startup or high-growth company that you forget to look up? Yep, us too. But when you forget to look up, or you're moving full-steam ahead, it's easy to ignore one of the things that matters most: your people. Thank you

Leaders are often the worst culprits. They've got so much invested in success they're laser-focused on the finish line instead of who's in the pit changing the tires at warp speed. It's not a fault per se. At startups, employees don't often expect grand recognition -- they're used to moving so fast, their value often comes from the end result: shipping code, launching product or landing a great, new customer or client.  And at high-growth companies, as numbers rise, so does anonymity. But in reality, it matters. Typically only about half of all employees say they receive recognition for doing good work. Do you? And more importantly, are you a giver?

Here's a leadership test--are you good at recognition? 

1) Is thank you in your vocabulary?

Do an email search of your inbox for the words "thank you" and look for patterns. Are you only thanking clients or partners? When was the last time you sent an email with that subject line, or only for the purpose of thanking an employee? Sure, you may assume your employees know you appreciate them. But they need to hear it from you.

2) Have you ever bought a gift for someone on your team?

Every once in awhile, when someone goes out of their way for you, it's worth tangible recognition. It doesn't have to be a Ferrari, but the fact that you took the time to buy something to thank someone is a big deal. Maybe they covered for you while you were on vacation. Or took on an extra project or solved a client problem in the wee hours of the morning. Whatever it is, thank them with something specific that's catered to them. An Amazon gift card is nice, but if you know I love yoga, why not a gift certificate for a free class or two? If you don't know, it's time to get to know your employees.

3) Do you know who is your company is valued by your peers?

Managers are often dead wrong about employee performance. They're either not paying enough attention, documenting performance or have an accurate understanding of how a project really got done. Peer recognition can be a great way to supplement regular feedback so giving peers a public forum to recognize each other not only adds value to the employee but gives leaders insight into where the real talent value is.

4) Do you have a platform to track recognition?

Do you have a formal platform?  An employee recognition platform on steroids, YouEarnedIt allows employees to reward each other points providing public recognition and personal redemption based on a company's redemption options. Companies can decide what goes in the rewards catalog--anything from Apple gift cards to KitchenAid mixers to charitable donations. Company leaders then have insight into who's doing good. A similar tool called Bonus.ly offers a cash option too.  You also can consider tracking recognition and how happy employees are through a tool like TinyPulse, perfect for startups and high-growth companies.

How'd you do? If you answered no almost all of these, it's time to get moving.

Recognition is a fine line--you don't want to do it all the time, every minute of every day. But you do need to make it a regular habit--especially if you're moving fast. Those workers who are changing tires in 30 seconds? They're probably working harder that you and really deserve a thank you.

----

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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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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