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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.

No Cost / High Impact Summer Benefits to Keep Employees Engaged

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

During the winter months, when the weather outside is cold, gray and gloomy, employees typically welcome the warm glow of a well-lit and heated Summer_benefits_for_employeesoffice environment.  Your workforce is anxious to get into the office, grab some warm coffee and get to work. They are less likely to leave the warmth of the building for lunch or to take time off from work in order to enjoy outside activities.

As the seasons begin to change and the weather warms, focus begins to shift a little more toward the “life” side of the work-life balance equation.  Employees will tend to arrive at work a little later on a beautiful morning, take longer lunch hours and may leave earlier than usual to get home and get a few things done before the daylight ends.

As an employer, should you do anything about this phenomenon?  Is there anything you can do?  Absolutely.  You can acknowledge this important balance for employees and demonstrate your awareness of the seasonal focus shift by offering some additional benefits for the summer season.  Such benefits will cost you nothing at all.

Start by making a list of possible benefits you could offer during the summer months, making sure you take into account any negative impact to productivity. Every business is different. There will always be things you would like to offer, but simply cannot due to the needs of the business.  Share your list of potential benefits with your workforce to see what your employees are most interested in before making your decision.  Here are a few to start thinking about:

Summer / Flexible Work Hours –

Many organizations are shifting their measurement of productivity away from counting the number of hours an employee works, and looking instead to answer the question “Is the work getting done?” Companies that have adopted this mentality with regards to employee work ethic find it easier to implement a more flexible work schedule.  Such schedules allow employees to stray from the normal 9-5, and work instead an 8-4 or 10-6 schedule.  Some organizations will shift to a 35-hour workweek during the summer months, allowing employees to pick a day of the week to leave at lunch. Some offer 4, 10-hour days allowing some employees to be off on Friday and some on Monday for a longer weekend.

Casual Dress –

In many of the high-end tech companies, casual dress every day is the norm.  However, the majority of large corporations still adhere to a specific, non-casual dress code during normal business hours.  During the summer months, some organizations will implement “casual Friday”, allowing employees to arrive at work in jeans or even shorts, so long as their attire is in good taste and appropriate.

Team Building –

Providing a planned activity for an entire team or department is one way to get everyone outside and still benefit the group as a whole. Morale before the event is high in anticipation.  Morale after the event is high having participated.  Going to a “fun park”, bowling, or even a catered BBQ picnic on the grounds can be used to show employees that you are aware of how difficult it is to stay focused when it is nicer outside than inside while demonstrating appreciation for their work and contribution to the organization.

Employee Garden –

If you have the space for it at your facility, you would be surprised at how many employees enjoy working in an actual garden.  There are many fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be grown during the summer months.  The opportunity for some of your employees to take a few minutes out of their day and tend to a garden can be a huge benefit.  Start small and it will grow to be larger each year as more employees get involved.

Employees desire separating their personal and professional life.  When the employer demonstrates their appreciation for the same, employees feel more appreciated. They are happier, more engaged, more productive and typically more committed to staying with their employer for a longer period of time.

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.

Assessing New Graduates When Hiring

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Interviews typically focus on both the education and the work experience of the candidate. In the case of recent graduates, however, the work experience is often not as much a factor to behiring recent graduates considered.

Below are some ideas that you could integrate into your interview process with new graduates that may provide additional insight into their readiness for entering the workforce and your organization.

What do you plan to contribute to the organization?

Ask your candidate what they feel they can contribute as a new hire, knowing what they know about your organization already and applying their education to this position.

Demonstrate job-specific skills

If the opening is in marketing, ask them to prepare a press release about the organization. If the opening is for a software engineer, provide a short test to assess their skill level.

Temp to perm

Many companies will bring an employee on first as a contractor to assess their skills and performance before making a permanent offer of employment.

Interview outside of the box

Invite a candidate to lunch with a current client or ask them to review a live proposal the company is working on and provide their input. This will give you an idea of how the candidate responds to different, non-standard interview situations and how well they think on their feet.

Focus less on experience, more on trainability

Naturally, most new graduates will not have a lot of experience in the beginning. Focus the interview questions and evaluate their responses around their ability to be trained for the current opening. Can they take direction? Do they appear to be open-minded? Are they eager to learn?

Provide a real world problem to solve

During the interview process, pair the candidate with an employee who is currently working on a problem in their field of study. Get feedback from the employee on how well they responded under pressure and if they were able to contribute to the process. Their ideas do not have to solve the problem, or even be good ideas. The more important thing is that they had ideas and were able to collaborate with others.

Are we a good fit for you?

Most interviews focus on why the candidate is a good fit for the company. Turn it around and ask the candidate why the company would be a good fit for them. This will provide some insight as to what they are expecting from your organization and what interests them about the job.  This insight may also help with retention down the road, should an offer of employment be extended.

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.

Plan Now for Long-Term Staffing Needs

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

When solving a problem, there are usually two positions from which to attack — reactive and proactive.  There was a time when a reactive approach was sufficient to fill open positions in a timely manner.  However, as the competition for top talent continues to increase, Human Resources professionals have to incorporate a more proactive approach to staying on top of recruiting needs.

Today’s HR professionals are normally swamped with responsibilities such as benefits administration, time tracking, regulatory and compliancetemporary employees reporting, payroll management and other reporting projects. These additional tasks leave little time to adequately recruit for an opening before the position must be filled. Therefore, you may not always end up with the best candidate due to a shortage of time.  “Often times companies enlist the help of temporary staff to help free up staff, so they can focus on these types of longer term needs,” states CAI’s Molly Hegeman.  “Assessing your team’s bandwith upfront will be critical to your success.”

Recruiters have begun thinking beyond the immediate needs and are taking steps to identify and plan for the long-term with regard to staffing.  Using data already available, HR professionals are forecasting future job openings months, or even years, in advance to proactively begin recruiting now.  This provides an organization with a recruiting advantage when competing with other companies for top talent.

Here are a few things you can do to help create a proactive recruiting strategy:

Identify Strategic vs Tactical Roles

Every role is important to the organization, but some roles are more important than others.  Take each role within your company, from top to bottom, and define it as strategic or tactical.  Strategic roles incorporate the overall strategy and vision of the company. Tactical roles are responsible for executing the plan by working together on the goals of the company. This distinction will help to assign priorities when recruiting for multiple positions.

Define Ideal Candidate Traits

List the traits of your ideal candidate for a specific position.  In addition to technical skills, education and experience include characteristics that are important for the candidate to fit in with the corporate culture, values and principles.  Look for the ideal soft skills for the best overall fit in a new recruit.

Research Supply and Demand

Some HR professionals with years of experience at a company, and in a specific area, may already have a working knowledge of the availability of candidates for open positions in their industry.  There is no substitute for hard data, however.  Take advantage of surveys and statistics regarding in-demand job skills, which competitors are hiring, compensation figures and other data to understand the level of difficulty required to fill each in-demand role within your organization.

Create Your Pipeline Now

Begin to create your long-range pipeline of candidates now by starting discussions and building relationships with “passive” candidates via social and professional networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Posting information about the types of positions your company routinely recruits for is a good way to attract candidates to your website and open a channel for communication.  Searching these networks for skill sets will lead you to potential candidates who may not be looking for an opportunity, but would like to hear more about your company.  Starting conversations and interaction early will create “warm” leads when you begin to actively recruit.

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.

 

Using Professional Associations as a Recruiting Tool

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Social and professional online networking has quickly become an important tool in the Human Resources arsenal for connecting with a larger pool of passive candidates for future job openings. Often, recruiters can narrow their search within these tools by focusing on specific groups or associations to which these candidates may belong or are following.

Using_Associations_for_Recruiting

There are a number of professional associations that focus either on a specific industry or role common across all industry verticals. Many of these associations are large enough to have a national following, with local chapters having regular discussions and expanding membership. Typically, such associations can be divided into one of two groups, functional and technical. Some examples are:

Functional Associations:

  • AAA (American Accounting Association)
    For Accountants, Finance Specialists, Controllers, etc.
  • AMA (American Marketing Association)
    Dedicated to serving the educational and professional needs of marketing professionals
  • CSCMP (Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals)
    Worldwide professional association dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of research and knowledge on supply chain management
  • CAI (Capital Associated Industries)
    For members of CAI, we offer the opportunity to post to our job boards, through myCAI, our members only online community which reaches 2,700+ HR and business professionals throughout North Carolina.
  • SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management)
    Largest organization for HR professionals including HR Generalists, HR Managers, HR Diversity, HR Business Partners, Compensation, Benefits, Employee Relations, and University Relations

Technical Associations:

  • ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)
    Known for Mechanical Engineering, but also collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, standards, and certifications
  • INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering)
    Dedicated to the advancement of systems engineering
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
    The largest engineering association in the world with a focus in Electrical and IT/Systems Engineering

Professional recruiters can identify such associations by talking with their existing employees to determine which groups exist and, more importantly, to separate the more “serious” groups from those that may be less organized or less followed.

From here, recruiters can use such group memberships to zero in on their top passive candidates and perhaps engage them directly regarding a current job opening. Proactively, recruiters can begin to assemble a pool of passive candidates to approach with future job openings.

For example, you could add to your search criteria the phrasing “cscmp OR Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals”. Add to this the words “bio OR profile” to eliminate job postings and get the equivalent of a resume or CV. Finally, incorporate “manufacturing OR materials” in order to target specific areas of industry.

Proficiency in mining exactly the results you are looking for will allow you to get the jump on your competition, undoubtedly looking for the same type of candidates in much the same way. By narrowing your search the first time, you can make direct contact more quickly and start a rapport that could lead to the hiring of top talent for your organization.

Candidates with similar skill sets tend to hang out with each other and travel in the same circles. This tendency to form tight bonds with each other, promote online discussions and participate in online associations can be used to your advantage as a recruiter.

renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.

Your Top Performers Can Help Attract Good Talent

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

The recruiting process is, in some ways, very similar to the sales process. In the recruiting sense, the product you are selling to the candidate is your organization and what it can do for them and their career.  As with any sale, you want to position your product in the best possible light, showing key differentiators between your product and your competition.

In an extremely competitive market, like North Carolina, there is an overwhelming array of features and options that can be mixed-and-matched with any product sale togoldfish further confuse the buyer (or candidate).  When faced with so many choices, we often turn to others to see what their experience has been.  This is where your top performers come in!

What is it about your organization that motivates your top performers to give 110% each day?  Why did they choose to “buy” your product, and why do they continue to remain a loyal “customer” today?  The answers to these questions will help you to better position your product against your competition during the recruiting process. Below are a few items that typically motivate top performers.  Your current employees will be able to provide you with what specifically motivates them each day.

  • Compensation – No doubt a paycheck is a strong motivator.  However, the total rewards package also includes other benefits and non-tangible perks such as workplace flexibility.
  • Values – Adoption of a positive corporate culture is one of the most powerful  intangible benefits of working for an organization.  If a company shows a corporate responsibility toward the environment, for example, candidates will appreciate that. Or, if an organization practices charity and giving back to the community, their corporate culture is viewed by many as philanthropic.  These ideals are big attractors for candidates who have similar values.
  • Quality – Product quality and support of the customer base is a big motivator.  It goes back to treating people the way you want to be treated.  An organization that cares about its brand will likely care about its employees in the same manner.
  • Goals – Everyone has goals.  They may be long-range goals, or shorter-range goals which are “stepping stones” to a larger goal.  In either case, when an employee or candidate’s goals are aligned with those of the organization, it is a win-win for everyone.
  • Innovation – Knowing that your organization is open to new ideas and willing to listen to your thoughts on a new product or process can go a long way toward attracting and retaining top performers. Companies that embrace their employees as individual contributors and value their input will have no trouble selling their “product” to potential candidates.

As Human Resource managers, knowing what motivates your top employees today will give you the references you need to convince your candidates to “buy” from you instead of your competitors.  Reach out to your top performers and involve them in the recruiting process.  Ask them what would be important to them if they were interviewing with your company today.  Have them spend a few minutes alone with a candidate to talk freely about why they choose to work here.  If you’re recruiting college graduates, take your stars with you during campus recruiting trips.  We have one member that takes newly hired engineers on college recruiting trips.  They tell potential recruits about all the cool projects they get to work on (whereas in many companies new engineers do grunt work).  This practice alone has helped the company become a destination place for top engineers.  There is nothing more convincing than a solid reference from someone who consistently uses your “product” on a daily basis.

And remember, as Jill Feldman, CAI’s HR ON Demand consultant states, “recruiting and hiring is NOT the sole responsibility of Human Resources. Anyone who has people reporting to them is responsible for recruiting and hiring.  Don’t be afraid to get others involved in the process.

Avoid Making Bad Hire Decisions

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

A great hire can inject a spark in your organization that will spread throughout your workforce and drive everyone to raise the bar.  Likewise, a bad hire can deflate your employees, costing time and resources to either train or replace them with a better fit.

The difference between a great hire and a bad hire can often rely on how the interview is conducted.  Below is a list of common mistakes made during the interview process that you will want to avoid.Bad-Employee - Bad Hire

Overlooking Important Skills

Interviewers will sometimes put too much emphasis on the specific skills required for a position while overlooking traits such as critical thinking or initiative, that are often harder to develop or come by naturally.  Organizational fit is at least as important as technical ability.  Many experts argue fit is more important.

Asking Hypothetical Questions

Some interviewers will ask questions such as “How would you handle a problem client?” or “How would you close a difficult sale?”  These hypothetical questions will yield hypothetical answers.  Instead, use “Tell me about how you once handled a problem client?” or “Tell me about the most difficult sale you had to close”.  These answers will relate real experiences for you to evaluate.

No Follow-up Questions

During an interview, some interviewers will ask only one or two questions regarding each job listed on the candidate’s resume.  Instead, dig deeper in order to get more information.  Zero in on a prior job that is closely related to your opening and spend some quality time on that experience.  The details of that job will give you a better idea of how qualified they are for this position.

InterviewingToo Much Talk About Company

Interviews that spend too much time on the company, its history, its product or services, etc., will yield little information on the candidate’s qualifications.  Remember, you are here to find out about this candidate and their experience.  A serious candidate will have already researched your company and would not be at the interview if they were not interested. Spend the limited amount of time you have on what is important – the candidate.  A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be talking more than 20% of the interview time.

 

No Live Testing

As they say, “talk is cheap.”  Questions and answers during an interview worked fine in the past.  If you really want to separate your stars from the pack, simulate real activities the candidate will face.  For example, if interviewing candidates for a sales role, have them prepare a slide presentation of their qualifications and “sell” themselves to your team.  This “live test” cannot be conducted for every role, but use it where applicable.

Intimidation

Likely, there is already enough pressure on the candidate during an interview without deliberately adding more.  Some interviewers, however, will try to see how a candidate responds to high-pressure, intimidating interviews.  High pressure and intimidation is not the norm for the workplace or, at least, it should not be.  Therefore, it makes no sense to put the candidate through that.  It might backfire on you and you may lose a top candidate.

One-sided Viewpoint

A smart interviewer will be very candid and up-front with the candidate about both the positive and negative aspects of the job.  By only focusing on the positive aspects, the candidate will begin to wonder what you are not telling him/her.  This will lead to doubt about the position.  Honestly describing everything about the role, on the other hand, will lead to trust and will help you to avoid surprises down the line.

Inconsiderate or Unprofessional

Never start an interview late or cancel at the last minute without offering an apology.  Do not read your emails or accept phone calls during an interview.  This sends a message to the candidate that they are not important to you or your organization.

Average Attention for Above-average Candidates

Interviewers should remember the candidate is also interviewing the company during an interview session and afterwards.  Top candidates typically have multiple options from which to choose. If you are interested in a specific candidate, let them know by paying special attention to them after the interview. Send a thank-you email and provide them with your positive feedback on how you felt the interview went.  Have a manager or potential employee peer reach out to them and ask if they have any further questions.  Show definite signs of interest on your part in order to keep their interest.

Hire Personalities, Not Skills and Experience

Too often, we tend to want to hire people we like based on their personality or how well they get through an interview.  Do not fall into this trap.  At the end of the day, you want the brightest and most qualified people as a part of your workforce.  Everyone is different and diversity has a way of bringing out new ideas and new forms of collaboration that leads to greater productivity.

Making a bad hire decision wastes everyone’s time and will take some of the energy and momentum away from your company.  Avoiding these common mistakes during the interview process will give you the best potential for making a great hire and building your workforce with strong, qualified employees.
renee

Renee Watkins is on  CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team.   A seasoned HR professional with practical hands-on experience in various human resource functions, Renee provides solutions to retain and motivate outstanding workforces.  She also specializes in counseling and advising management for best practices, processes and strategies to support employee morale and organizational effectiveness.