Archive for July, 2016

How to Develop Your Employees by Providing Feedback

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Part of a manager’s job is to help grow and develop talent for the organization.  And, most employees want to know how they are doing.  When managers take the time and effort to comment on an employee’s work, they are helping shape not only that employee, but the organization as well. But, when managers fail to provide feedback, they actually impoverish the individual as well as the organization. Performance-Evaluation-Form-Feedback

Some managers hesitate to give feedback for a couple of reasons:

1 – They may feel that giving positive reinforcing feedback to employees will “spoil” them or that it is not necessary since the employees are just doing the job for which they are being paid.

2 – They may dread the awkward conversation that sometimes happens when they must give corrective or improvement feedback, so they say nothing and hope the situation will improve.

At CAI, part of our mission is to replace fear with action.  We share with our classroom participants a simple formula for doing so.  It’s called the BIT.  BIT stands for behavior, impact and tomorrow.  It’s a handy way to remember that feedback, regardless of whether it is reinforcing or corrective, should have three elements:

  • Behavior – talk to the employee about exactly what he or she has observed or overheard doing or saying.
  • Impact – let the employee know the impact (again, whether positive or negative) that his/her behavior has on the customer, their colleagues or other stakeholders.
  • Tomorrow – finally, explain that you wish for the employee to continue exhibiting the positive behavior and encourage him/her to do more of it OR let the employee know that a behavior change must take place within a given time period.

Examples:

Positive, reinforcing:

  • Jason, I heard you speaking to an upset customer in the lobby this morning.  He sounded pretty angry.  You kept calm and did not raise your voice.  Instead, you asked him for more details and just listened.
  • The impact of your composure was to not only calm our customer down, but to preserve his business with us.  I feel confident that he intended to close his account when he first came into the lobby.
  • Jason, we appreciate your professionalism immensely.  Next week, we have a new employee starting in Customer Service.  Would you please make some time to let her shadow you on some of your customer service calls?

Corrective, need for improvement:

  • Marcy, yesterday I saw you turn your back on our auditor who was waiting for the key to the conference room. It was clear you saw her standing there, but you ignored her until she had to ask you again for the key.
  • The impact of this behavior is that in addition to being impolite, you have sent a message of indifference to the auditing staff, who is here trying to help us.
  • From tomorrow on, please make it a point to greet the auditors when they arrive and ask them how you can assist them.  Please extend the same courtesy to them as you would to our customers.

The BIT statement is a powerful tool that does not diminish the employee in any way.  It does not judge someone’s character or intent; it merely states the facts and their impact and further clarifies the manager’s expectations.

Let CAI help you optimize your management skills.

lindataylor

Linda L. Taylor, MS, SPHR, CCP, is a Learning & Development Partner at CAI. She brings more than 20 years of human resource and organizational experience to her role as a trainer. Linda is responsible for teaching CAI’s various courses, including The Management Advantage™, to train and educate members and clients. Her extensive experience as manager, consultant, and educator provides her with a unique skill set that allows her to effectively partner with member organizations and work to positively impact their business results.

 

The Role Social Media Plays in the Job Application Process

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

ICIMS, a software company specializing in applicant tracking systems, has released their “2015 Job Seekers Get Social” report, detailing how social networks are playing a role in the recruiting and hiring process.  Information contained in social networks such as LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook is being used to populate data within online job applications.

socialmedia
Job seekers use their social networks to find job opportunities, research companies, share job openings with friends and get feedback from current and former employees regarding the inside intel on organizations they are considering working for.

According to the survey, 3.3 million applications were submitted online in 2015.  Sixty-one percent (61%) of these applications came via LinkedIn, 22% came through Google+ and 17% were populated using Facebook. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all job seekers surveyed indicated they rely on social media at least once a month to research possible employers.

Of the industry verticals included in the survey, job openings in Information Technology, Construction, and Leisure & Hospitality received the highest number of online applications via social networks.  Public Administration, Financial Services, and Education & Health Services received the smallest number of online job applications fed by social networks.

Employers who do not fully embrace the potential effect of social networks on the recruiting and hiring process in today’s job market run the risk of losing out to their competitors when it comes to attracting top talent.  By allowing job seekers to apply with their LinkedIn, Google+, or Facebook accounts, companies can offer candidates a quick and easy way to express interest in open jobs, protecting recruiting investments, and boosting the candidate experience and talent pipeline.

Need help figuring out how to best use social media for your recruiting purposes? Reach out to our Advice & Resolution team.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Don’t Lose Your New Star on the First Day

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The first day on a new job – Excitement, anticipation, fear, for the new employee AND their family. An employee’s first day can make the difference between them staying and leaving, between them being motivated and engaged or just riding out their time until something better comes along.  I’m going to illustrate my point by tracking the first day experiences of two new star employees: Jane Regret and Tom Happy. Think about which story sounds like your company.

dont
Jane’s first day starts with her husband wishing her luck.   She arrives early, beaming with excitement.  Jane becomes concerned as she learns the receptionist wasn’t expecting her and didn’t know if her boss Joe Smith was even in.  After ten minutes of calls and pages the receptionist finally reaches Joe, who apparently forgot she was starting that day.  Jane is asked to go to HR to fill out paperwork and told that Joe will meet her later.   Jane spends the next two hours in HR signing forms, hearing about benefits, and watching an old company video.   HR takes Jane to her desk, which really isn’t her desk because they haven’t figured out yet where Jane will sit.    HR gives Jane the policy manual to read and sign now, a catalog to order supplies and is told her computer should arrive in a few days.  Joe Smith finally pops in between meetings for a quick hello, telling Jane he’ll see her at Fred’s going away party this afternoon.   After going out to lunch by herself Jane attends the party for Fred, who is moving on after only 5 years.  Joe actually missed the party so Jane will try to find him on Tuesday.  Jane gets home and tells her husband that she may have made a big mistake.

Tom Happy’s wife Linda was surprised to find a rather large package from Tom’s new employer on the porch, especially since he hadn’t even started working there yet.  As Linda opens the box she calls to Tom, “Wow, it’s all kinds of company merchandise, shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc.  There is also a copy of the company handbook for you to read.  And look there are tickets to the local baseball game – how did they know we love baseball?  And a note from your boss Jack Smith – Welcome aboard, can’t wait to start hitting home runs together.  See you in a month!”

happyTom leaves home on day one and Linda kisses him goodbye and wishes him well.  He arrives early and as he approaches the receptionist he sees his picture on the large TV in the lobby that reads “Today is Tom Happy day! Welcome Tom.”  The receptionist tells Tom they are glad to see him and that Jack will be right here.    Jack greets Tom, “I am so glad you are here, look we need you to sign some paperwork but first, let’s meet your teammates.”  As they approach Tom’s work area he sees streamers, balloons, and a gathering of people.

Tom’s teammates have gathered for coffee and bagels to welcome him.  They talk baseball, kids, share funny stories, etc. When Tom enters his office everything is there – supplies, computer, business cards, etc. After a quick visit to HR, Tom and Jack meet for several hours to review Tom’s 90 day plan and success factors. Several co-workers take Tom to lunch and share company history, why they came here, how important Tom’s role is to the team, and answer his questions about what it is really like to work here. Tom arrives home beaming and tells Linda how she won’t believe the day he had. Replies Linda, “I have an idea – look what Jack sent us – a bottle of wine with this note – Welcome aboard Tom and Linda, let’s raise a toast to a great new relationship.   We’re so glad you two have joined our family.”

These stories, while extreme, do teach us some valuable lessons about how we start our new employees. Think about Tom and Jane.  Which one is more motivated?  Which one is already questioning their decision?  Which one is susceptible to being recruited away? What will each person tell their family, their friends?  What might they post on Facebook or glassdoor.com?

Now, think about which story most resembles your company.  Most organizations I’m afraid resemble Jane’s experience.  Everyone’s doing more with less so few have time to go that extra mile for new employees.  At other companies “only the strong survive,” so they intentionally do not pamper newbies.

Feeling unwelcome, having a boss that doesn’t have time, an unclear job plan all increase the odds that you’ll lose that new star.  And once word gets out about your culture you’ll have a harder time attracting new stars.   You’ll also lose the training costs you’ve sunk into new employees as they leave. Depending on the level of position it can take anywhere from 8 to 28 weeks for a new employee to reach full productivity.

With this backdrop, here are some components of the best on-boarding plans.  Notice that these activities don’t require a large budget, just time and attention.

  • Activities that make a new employee feel welcome.  First impressions that people form about your company are extremely hard to overcome. Instead of just throwing parties for people who are leaving, celebrate your new stars.
  • One-on-one time with supervisor and other leadership. Don’t rush someone onto the payroll if you don’t have time to spend with them. Consider having new employee start on a day other than Monday if that’s your busiest.
  • Introduction into the formal and informal culture. Consider activities such as CEO meetings with newhires, “skip level” lunches, lunch-n-learns, and a buddy system to help new employees understand expected behaviors.
  • A carefully chosen mentor or buddy to help them navigate through your culture, processes and operation. A safe place to learn how things really operate.
  • Just-in-time resources that provide answers for the new employee.  Company acronym dictionaries, process diagrams, auto-enrolled into appropriate listserves and forums, phone lists, community information for relocations, etc.
  • Feedback and guidance on job performance.  Make sure your new hires are working a clear 90 day plan versus walking around aimlessly, with regrets.

A successful on-boarding process should cover the entire first year for the new hire and include all activities through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective.  When done right, on-boarding can lead to higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in stress and intent to quit.

So start them off right and watch them soar.  Or, start them off wrong and watch them fly away.  Your choice.

p.s.  And when you lose a long term star from your team, odds are they’ll find themselves in a bad first day questioning their move.  Call them that first day and just tell them you’re thinking about them and hoping they are having a great first day!

Learn more about how our Advice & Resolution team can help you design a great onboarding program for your organization.

doug

Doug Blizzard, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP serves as CAI’s Vice President of Membership, and has been with CAI for more than 15 years. Doug is well-versed in the world of HR from compliance issues to workforce management to aligning business objectives with HR. He strives to constantly improve the member experience and provide employers with the confidence needed to turn fears and opportunities into practical actions and results. If your HR team could benefit from some guidance, you’ll want to learn more about CAI.

 

Marketplace Premiums Will Continue To Trend Upward In 2017

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

marketplaceblogThe post below is a guest blog from Jay Lowe who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Now is the time when insurance carriers will begin determining premium pricing for their individual plans and filing for approval with state departments of insurance.  Undoubtedly, their goal will be to offer plans that meet the needs of most, maintain competitive pricing, and avoid losses associated with not being able to underwrite or deny coverage during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) or Special Enrollment Periods (SEP).  The Kaiser Family Foundation discusses some of the challenges that insurers will continue to face when determining rates for the upcoming calendar year.  One challenge that is of interest continues to be those individuals that remain uninsured.  The Kaiser article indicates that these uninsured individuals are generally healthier and their enrollment would help to offset costs as they are expected to have a fewer health care claims.  The Individual Mandate provision of the ACA requires everyone to have coverage, or else face a penalty.  In 2016, that penalty is $695 or 2.5% of household income, whichever is greater.  In 2017, these penalties will be adjusted upward for inflation.  As these penalties continue to rise it will be interesting to see how many people continue to remain uninsured and if their eventual compliance with the Individual Mandate actually has a positive impact on rates.

In North Carolina, the pricing challenge becomes more difficult in 2017 as one major carrier, United Healthcare, is pulling their individual plans from the Marketplace (where individuals can receive a federal subsidy for insurance premiums) as they have decided to no longer participate in this state. This will leave our state with only 1 major carrier offering subsidy-eligible plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.   This may put additional pricing pressure on BCBSNC and drive their premiums even higher.  They have already been forced to make dramatic network changes in an effort to keep pricing at acceptable levels with both their members as well as the NC Department of Insurance.  Time will tell if these changes create more stability in premium pricing.

As 2017 approaches, those with individual insurance plans will be anxious to see what their premium increases will be for the next year.  Double-digit increases in the 20-30% range would not be a surprise as insurance carriers may still be trying to offset losses from prior years.  State Departments of Insurance will be responsible for approving any increase requests and plan design changes, as the carriers will most likely adjust benefit levels to maximum premium savings.  Regarding the Marketplace departure of United Healthcare in 2017, small group employers need to understand that UHC will continue to offer group-based plans.  With moving away from the Marketplace, UHC is looking 2-3 years to the future to ensure that they will continue to be competitive with individual plans outside of the Marketplace, as well as with their small group plans.  In North Carolina, will BCBSNC follow suit?  Time will tell.

An Effective Recipe for Managing One-on-One Employee Meetings

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

1_1_meetingCoaching and mentoring employees is a critical part of any Manager’s job. Providing feedback to your direct reports can come in many forms and frequencies. Feedback can be either positive or negative and should always be presented as constructive. In fact, candid and constructive feedback, even if negative, is usually very appreciated by the employee. A Harvard Business Review study found that 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback and 72% say their performance would improve with more feedback.

How often should you meet with each employee?  We recommend at a minimum conducting a monthly 1:1 meeting with each of your employees. Now, to be clear, I’m talking about a regular monthly discussion about employee performance and development goals. I am not suggesting that you should only talk to your employees once a month, as good as that might sound to some of you.

What does the meeting look like?  One good technique is called the five by five. Imagine a sheet of paper that at the top has the employees 4-6 performance goals for the year and their development goals. Then below those goals the employee lists out the five activities they plan to work on over the next month towards accomplishing their annual goal. Then when you meet in 30 days, they first report on progress towards their five planned activities last month, and then they set five more activities for the next month. The manager provides feedback and input. This process repeats every month, forever. For this system to work, you must make it clear that the employee owns their performance, not you the manager, which is another tenet of effective performance management.

Here’s a sample meeting flow to get you started:

  • Begin the meeting with some casual conversation which will tend to relax your employee and get them to converse and open up. A simple “How are you?” or “How is the job going this week?” are good ways to start. Listening to their response may provide you with some insight on how you approach this meeting and about shaping the discussion.
  • The employee reviews progress towards last months five activities and / or development plan. Look for obstacles that got in the way and how / if they overcame them. Look to see if certain tasks are continuing to push out each month.
  • The employee then reviews the five activities they need to achieve next month in order to ultimately accomplish their annual goals / plan. Find out what obstacles stand in their way of accomplishing their activities. Are there processes or procedures which are difficult and or frustrating to work with or cause delays? Ask how you can help to remove these barriers.
  • Talk about alignment of priorities and values between the employee, you and the organization. Be candid about where you see where they are, and comparing it to where they think they are.  Work with them to make adjustments so you align more closely with each other’s expectations.
  • Now that you have discussed the current performance, you may want to review a few long-range goals, initiatives or projects. These may be stretch goals or also working on a cross-functional team.  Both sides should have something to gain by meeting these objectives. Establish checkpoints along the way to ensure these longer-range objectives are staying on track as well.

No one has time to waste in a long unproductive meeting.  Getting in to a regular 1:1 meeting rhythm like we suggest above with employees will help ensure the right items are discussed and we remain focused on the right plans.  Regular feedback goes a long way toward making employees feel valued and ultimately improves your overall employee retention.

Need help giving performance feedback? Check out CAI.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI members with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Two Questions HR Must Answer Correctly

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

I once spoke to a large group of HR professionals and I asked them two very important questions.  WARNING: Getting the answers correct may require you to radically shift your perspective and focus.  However, making the shift may be the most important thing you can do as an HR professional to dramatically elevate your value to your organization.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest.  So here goes.

Question number 1.  Look at the pictures below and tell me who the most important group is to your business. This isn’t a trick question. There is only one correct answer.

ee cust inves.JPG

When I asked this question in a speech I once made to over 120 HR professionals, the most common answer was “the employees.”  As one participant confidently articulated, without employees and their contributions and innovations there would be no business.  Good point.

One person sheepishly said “the customers,” but I could tell she didn’t feel comfortable saying that in front of her HR peers.

No one said “the investors.”  Some experts argue that without investors you couldn’t have a business because there would be no capital to buy the equipment and infrastructure needed to deliver the product or service.

So what’s the right answer?  The answer came most succinctly from the late Peter Drucker who many called the Godfather of Modern Management: “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”  All three groups are important, but without a customer there is no business.  You can have investors in search of a business, and you can have employees in search of an employer, but as the customer goes so does the business.  A business will only continue to exist as long as it has products and / or services that satisfy customer needs.

Question number 2: Who is HR’s most important customer?  I asked the same group of HR professionals this question and overwhelmingly and emphatically they said “employees!”  Wrong again .  Now obviously HR spends a lot of it’s time serving employees, and yes the employee group is clearly a customer of HR, as are managers, other departments, executives, retirees, covered family members, etc.  However, HR’s most important customer is the company itself.  In today’s business environment, HR exists, along with other support functions like IT, to help the company create value for it’s customers.  Let that statement sink in for a minute.  When I ask many HR professionals what HR’s primary role is, I hear some version of “HR’s job is to sit in between employees and management…”  “To sit in between” suggests that HR isn’t part of either group.  Others tell me it’s HR’s job to “look out for” the employees.   Other’s say to “hire and fire.”  These views represent traditional notions of HR, or really “Personnel” or “Labor Relations.”

Companies of all sizes need much more from HR today.  Viewing HR”s primary role to support the company (and it’s customers) results in a much different view of what the HR function should be doing.  I’ll illustrate this point with a few examples I borrowed from a CAI conference speaker and noted HR guru David Ulrich.  Dr. Ulrich calls this new customer focused view of HR “Outside-In” HR.

hr outside in_ulrich_hr domain.png

Companies exist to satisfy a customer need.  In doing so they provide jobs and shareholder returns.  A firm’s talent is at the heart of satisfying that customer need and HR should be driving what kind of talent is attracted to and remains at the company.

Where does an HR leader start?  The most important, and difficult step, is to shift your perspective and your team’s perspective to a company – customer focused view. Next, go visit some of your company’s customers.  That’s right, ask sales to attend a few customer meetings.  These experiences will open your eyes to how your company provides value to customers and what attributes attracts them to your company.  The neat thing is that customers and top talent are attracted to similar things.  And when both groups are happy, amazing things can happen!  Think about it!

Let us know if CAI can help you transform your HR focus.

doug

 

Doug Blizzard, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP serves as CAI’s Vice President of Membership, and has been with CAI for more than 15 years.  Doug is well-versed in the world of HR from compliance issues to workforce management to aligning business objectives with HR.  He strives to constantly improve the member experience and provide employers with the confidence needed to turn fears and opportunities into practical actions and results.   If your HR team could benefit from some guidance, you’ll want to learn more about CAI.

 

Fixing a Broken Performance Management System – Part I

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

As a manager, few things are harder than delivering honest performance feedback to an employee.  Of course giving bad news isn’t supposed to be Performance-Review-Chalkboardfun.  Some managers avoid giving bad news altogether hoping performance improves on its own.  Others sugar coat the news to the point that the employee can’t see the problem.  Then there are those managers who just “tell it like it is” with no filters or tact.  They may succeed in getting their point across but at a cost.  

Many managers struggle equally at giving good performance news.  Some pour on the kudos so much or so generically that employees aren’t sure what specific actions are being praised.  And then far too many other managers don’t take the time to give any feedback at all, usually because they are so “busy.”   It’s no wonder why HR professionals and executives alike regularly bemoan the state of their performance management process.  So it seems that the only people that like how performance management is practiced at many companies are those slackers who aren’t being appropriately addressed …

At what cost? Employee underperformance is at epidemic proportions in some companies.  On average, U.S. managers waste 34 days per year dealing with underperformance.  Tolerated underperformance is also a leading reason top performers, who have to work harder to cover the slack, leave for greener pastures.  Eventually this underperformance affects customers and that of course affects the top and bottom line.  Don’t believe me, think of how frustrated you are as a customer when you’re at the hands of an underperforming employee.  How does that employee’s behavior affect your future buying patterns? 

The Cure.  Fortunately the cure for poor performance management is simple to understand and it doesn’t hurt.  And to be clear, the problem isn’t with whatever appraisal form you use. I’ve never seen an appraisal form that makes up for poor hiring, unclear expectations, infrequent or non-existent 1:1 meetings with employees, poor managers, poor execution,  and so on.  More on the form in next week’s article.

First, most employee performance problems are really hiring problems.  We regularly hire people that don’t fit our culture and then we waste valuable time trying to “fix” them.  I heard it put once, you’re hired [too quickly] for what you know and fired [too slowly] for who you are.  The cure: only hire people that fit your culture.   At this point I normally see executive eye rolling when I speak on this subject.  I realize that “defining your culture” seems like another “squishy” HR thing to a busy executive but the process really can be quite simple.  Minimally take your company values and find people that possess those values.  Of course this assumes we have values, and that we live those values daily.  Applicants either possess the values or they don’t.  This isn’t a 1 – 10 rating kind of thing.  If they posses the value, then take Gino Wickman’s advice in his book Traction and ask yourself for each applicant:  Do they Get it [the role], Want it [to work with you], and have the Capacity [knowledge, skill and capability] to do it (GWC).  I could add twenty more steps for defining your culture, and they probably won’t get you any farther than your values and GWC.

Second, there should be no disagreement over what successful performance looks like at your company. Instead of using out dated and/or generic job descriptions, consider setting clear expectations and measures for each employee that are directly or at least indirectly tied to organizational priorities.  So for example, a typical CFO job description might say “Assure optimum utilization of financial resources through sound forecasting and cash management.”  Alternatively, a success profile would say:

  • Reduce costs by 10% across-the-board to achieve EBIT objectives for the next fiscal year. 
  • Establish cross functional cost reduction teams within three months completing work in 12 months.
  • Within nine months, achieve a 15% price reduction in raw materials.
  • Develop a back-up sourcing plan to ensure cost reduction of $700,000 in year one.

Now imagine you’ve taken the time to establish annual performance objectives like that with each of your employees.  I realize it takes time for the manager.  But think how much easier it would be to measure performance, to deliver feedback.  Think of how much ownership the employee would have over the results.  And think of how much better your company performance would be if all employees were working a similar plan.  Unfortunately, without such specificity, the responsibility rests on each manager to subjectively determine if someone’s performance is satisfactory.  And that is a very uncomfortable place to be and is one explanation for why typical performance ratings don’t reflect reality.

So, hire people that fit your culture and provide crystal clear expectations of success for each employee and you’re well on the way to fixing your broken performance management system.  Tune in next week when I cover more secrets to fixing your broken system.

If you have employees in North Carolina and need help implementing or fine-tuning your Performance Management system, CAI can help with advice, information, tools, templates and more.