Archive for the ‘Employee Training’ Category

The Power of Peer Learning: 5 Reasons to Join a Peer Group

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

CAI’s Peer Learning Recruiter, Jennifer Montalvo, shares the many benefits of peer learning in her post below:

peer learning groupPeer Learning groups create interactive, goal-driven, experienced-based learning environments where issues are brought up for advice and resolution.  Through candid and confidential meetings, group members accelerate their professional growth.  Here are five of the top reasons learning from a group of your peers is beneficial:

BENCHMARKING:  Knowing how you measure up in real time is important.  Every meeting should be confidential; so members can compare actual metrics for analysis within the group.  Members give each other advice on how to improve metrics and offer solutions based upon systems and processes that are imperative when seeking success within their company.

EDUCATION:  Members of peer learning groups comment on the ongoing development of their soft skills, which immediately complement their occupational skills.  This is an opportunity to experience time with local industry leaders and achievers who share insights, trends, challenges and solutions.  Some skills must be learned outside of a classroom.

PERFORMANCE:  Learning from actual experiences of peers instead of guesses and suggestions provides the confidence necessary in decision making and hence, the ability to contribute to an organization at a very high level.

CAMARADERIE:  It’s no longer lonely at the top.  Executives in these groups feel less isolated and create special bonds with their peers that are based on trust and empathy.

BEST PRACTICE SHARING:  There’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel.  There is always someone in the group who has perfected a process or is eager to share their lessons learned along the way.  Discussions are open and candid with the desire to inspire others to create better practices and improved ways of operating.

If you would like more information regarding Peer Learning Groups offered here at CAI, please contact Jennifer Montalvo at 919-431-6093 or Jennifer.montalvo@capital.org.

Photo Source: jedbarbaran

 

Why It’s Important to Help Your Employees Become Leaders

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

In today’s video post, CAI’s Learning and Development Partner, Linda Taylor, explains why organizations should dedicate time and resources for developing strong leaders. She also explores the Leadership Challenge® Workshop.

Because HR departments are running lean, global competition is increasing, and technology continues to advance, Linda says companies need all of their workers at every level to contribute and be leaders. She then explains each of the five exemplary practices of leadership used in the Leadership Challenge® Workshop, which are:

  1. Modeling the Way
  2. Inspiring a Shared Vision
  3. Challenging the Process
  4. Enabling Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

In today’s society we often see elected officials or business executives espouse one set of values but conduct a contradictory lifestyle. Linda shares that this is the reason why Modeling the Way is important in the current business landscape. Organizations need people who will help them build positive reputations, be reliable, and do what they say they are going to do.

For more information on The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and CAI’s various training opportunities, please visit our website at www.capital.org and look under the training tab. You can also call us at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Use Training and Professional Development to Encourage Employee Engagement

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

 June 3 2013 quote blog

If you think the only way to boost employee morale and job satisfaction is increasing salaries or offering large bonuses, you are wrong. Competitive pay rates and earned raises are important to your employees and you should give them. However, if you don’t have the money to increase everyone’s salary, you can offer your employees opportunities for training and professional growth.

Providing employees with education that will be beneficial to their careers is a cost-effective way to increase job satisfaction at your workplace. You don’t have to max out budgets to illustrate to your staff that you want to help them achieve their goals. Help them feel appreciated by investing in their futures.

The list below shares several ways you can help your staff learn more, become engaged and be more productive. Try some of the examples at your workplace:

Encourage employees to join professional groups and associations.

Groups related to their jobs will help your staff members connect with similar professionals, learn best practices from their peers, and even gain new business and clients.

Set up a company mentor program.

Seasoned employees can teach your new additions a lot about the company. Your green employees can also give out important lessons. Organize a program that will be beneficial to most of your staff.  

Buy subscriptions to industry-related literature.

A budget-friendly way to increase the knowledge of your workers is to supply your workplace with magazines, journals and books that teach them valuable information.

Provide employees with professional training

Sign your staffers up for training classes to help them develop into strong leaders and better communicators. Experienced trainers will teach them applicable information to take back to the organization.

Capitalize on the information on the Internet.

Improve your employee’s technology skills while they receive training on the internet. Use webinars and blogs to cut costs or save travel time.

For additional ideas to increase employee morale and productivity at your organization, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Ongoing Training Helps Managers Reach Success

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO, discusses the importance of managerial training in his most recent edition of his News and Observer column, “The View from HR.” In his column, Bruce informs his readers that less than half of the companies he surveyed had no budget for managerial training. Bruce argues that without training, managers are unable to improve their soft skills, which are necessary to lead an organization. Communicating effectively, working well in teams, empathizing with colleagues and keeping calm in stressful situations are examples of soft skills that lead businesses to success.

Making sure your managers are adequately trained to handle their projects and supervise people is important no matter if your budget is large or extremely limited. Considering multiple budgets, here are a few ways to train your managers:

Training Classes

  • Employers’ associations and similar organizations offer companies several training options for their managers. While training programs range in price and length, they offer participants valuable information and leadership practices to take away and use for supervising their staff members.

Webinars

  • In addition to training classes, managers can learn key concepts from webinars. Many times managers want to attend training classes, but their demanding schedules make leaving the office hard. Webinars allow managers to sharpen their skills and improve their leadership without leaving their desks.

Reading

  • An inexpensive way for managers to advance their skills is to invest in managerial literature. Many non-fiction books offer managers solutions for solving people management issues or ensuring the success of a project. These books are often available at public libraries.  In addition, reading blogs like this one that share tips on increasing retention and company morale is an effective way for managers to strengthen their leadership qualities.

Mentors

  • A meticulously organized company mentor plan is another budget-friendly method to train your managers. To make this program successful, match new managers with experienced and high-performing managers. The seasoned managers will have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to help their newer colleagues tackle and conquer tough workplace issues. These employee pairs should meet regularly for an extended period of time to be effective.

Managers juggle many tasks and are responsible for multiple people. For these reasons, it’s important to ensure that they receive proper training. Giving them several opportunities to improve their soft skills will help your company see more success. If you’re interested in CAI’s training courses, please contact a member of CAI’s Learning and Development Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Ryan Holst

Employees Who Display Emotional Intelligence Add Value to the Workplace

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The economy is still down, budgets continue to get cut and staffs remain lean. Producing good work under stressful conditions can be challenging for many employees. The country’s high unemployment rate created a highly competitive job market, which now allows employers to be more selective in their hiring decisions. In order to continue to reach their goals, organizations realize that they need workers who can persevere through tough economic times or strenuous business situations, as well as understand the needs and feelings of their coworkers.  

Surveys indicate that hiring managers place more value on candidates’ emotional intelligence than their ability to fit the job description. Emotional intelligence (EI) describes a person’s capacity for controlling his or her own emotions and recognizing and understanding the emotions of others. EI also reveals how people react to others’ emotions and how they manage their various relationships.

People with a high EI are gems in the workplace. Because they have strong interpersonal skills, they offer many helpful qualities, including mitigating conflict productively, remaining calm when facing pressure and empathizing with their colleagues. Employees with a high EI are also great listeners and take criticism well. These qualities make efficient managers, inspiring motivators and thoughtful decision makers.

The personal attributes found in people with a high EI are coveted in the business world. As an employer this does not necessarily mean that you have to hire new staff members or terminate those who lack consideration, tactfulness, grace, etc. EI can be improved with continuous coaching and frequent feedback.

Help your organization achieve its goals by disseminating the strategies below to encourage your staff to manage how they handle workplace emotions:

Gauge your attitude at the office:

People with a high EI control their emotions instead of having their emotions control them. Make an effort to recognize that your individual emotions affect how you act and how others react to you. Draft a running list of emotions and actions that are appropriate for work and ones that are inappropriate. Revisit this list when you feel your emotions taking over.

Form strong workplace relationships:

Everyone at your organization can potentially provide you with a mutually beneficial work friendship. Establish relationships on being supportive and helpful to each other’s work responsibilities. Friendships based on gossip or fear will not increase EI. Good work relationships help create a more positive work environment for all parties involved.

Strive to be valued instead of right:

Influencing coworkers positively is a common goal among those with a high EI. Being right all the time might boost your ego, but it does not exclusively demonstrate your capabilities. Show that you are valuable and productive by the assistance you offer and the tasks you complete. Your actions will display your worth to your employer more than your desire to always be right will.

For additional information on EI or tips to improve the EI of your staff members, please contact an account manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 and inquire about CAI’s class called Emotional Intelligence at Work.

Photo Source: KaiChanVong

Keep Your Employees off the Playground: Preventing and Dealing with Workplace Bullying

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Today’s news headlines are filled with stories of childhood and teenage bullying with dire consequences, but name calling, intimidation and similar behaviors do not always end in high school.   CAI’s CEO Bruce Clarke recently addressed the topic of workplace bullying in his News & Observer column, The View from HR. In his October 2 edition, he informed readers that 50 to 75 percent of employees have witnessed or experienced workplace bullying.

A company bully can be an associate, a manager or even the chief executive of the entire organization. Workplace bullies can utilize tactics that can be detrimental to a coworker’s health and career. Giving the silent treatment, humiliating others in public and attacking a person’s character or beliefs are shenanigans from a typical bully. Terrors in the office can hold even more power over their victims’ heads by refusing to give coworkers information, implementing impossible deadlines, ignoring achievements and repetitively mentioning mistakes.

Victims of bullies can suffer physically and mentally. Many studies have shown that workers who are frequently bullied report to be more stressed, prone to stomach aches and ulcers, and unhappy and unsatisfied at their jobs. Not only does the victim suffer, but the employee’s organization will also experience negative residual effects. Workplaces that ignore company bullies can lose respect and credibility from their employees. Company morale could lower and absenteeism could rise. Employees who are bullied may struggle to focus on their work, which can decrease productivity. Some staff members might look for new jobs to escape from their bullies, causing turn over to increase.

 As an HR professional, you must do your part to create a bully-free work environment. Here are some tips to help you form a peaceful and productive workplace:bully

  • Never ignore a complaint about bullying. Respect your employees and let them know that you trust and believe the information that they give you. Many times victims are embarrassed or scared to report incidents of bullying. Let your employees know that you care about them and will listen to their grievances. Assure them that you will help them resolve their problems as soon as possible.
  • Create an environment of open communication. Make it okay for employees to feel comfortable talking to their managers about how they are feeling at work. Encourage team members to share factors that make them feel stressed and help them devise a plan to work through tough times.
  • Educate employees on workplace bullies and the effects they can have on their coworkers and their organization.  Providing training on bullying to all staff members, including senior leadership, can help reduce the chances for a company bully to thrive. Advocate that employees report any occurrences of malevolent workplace behavior.
  • Draft a policy that prevents bullying and make it available to all staff members. This policy should include language on how to make a proper complaint, how managers should react and how issues will be handled. Enforce a strategy for dealing with bullies and assign appropriate punishment for misconduct. Counseling for bullies is also suggested, so they understand the errors in their behavior and can work to improve their work performance and keep their jobs.

Additionally, if a bully threatens his victim with violence, waste no time to get to the bottom of the issue. Depending on the severity of the threat, calling the police to report outrageous behavior can be effective. For more information on how to handle bullies, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice & Counsel at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Eddie~S

Addressing Poor Performance in the Workplace

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

sleep at jobEmployees can exhibit poor workplace performance in more than a few ways. Some consistently arrive late and leave early, others are busy updating their social media accounts, and a few frequently struggle with closing their sales. No matter the types of problem performers your business has, continuing to let them under produce will harm your organization’s success.

Acknowledging and confronting poor performers are often challenging tasks for managers to execute. Weak sales, unsatisfactory customer service and decreased employee morale are a few of the consequences of ignoring low achievers.  To strengthen your business’ credibility in hiring top talent, address a poor performance issue immediately.

First identify the underlying cause that is making an employee perform inadequately. Many managers automatically assume that employees are solely responsible for their less than stellar work ethics. When investigating the situation, you might conclude that the employee is overly stressed from his to-do list, one of his immediate family members is seriously ill or he received incorrect information when he was trained. Once you narrow down the reason, you can proceed with a tailored improvement plan.

Incorporate the following actions into your improvement plans to accelerate productivity in low-achieving employees:

  1. Use specific examples when discussing occurrences of poor performance. Do not exaggerate or use the opinions of others when confronting the employee.  Ex:  “Joe, I’d like to address your tardiness. I have witnessed you being late more than five times during the past two weeks.”
  2. Take care to ensure that you know the best communication method for approaching your problem performer. No one handles feedback in the same manner, especially negative feedback. Proper communication can alleviate emotional outbursts or feelings of resentment.
  3. Create an environment of constant feedback and clearly communicated expectations. Waiting around to give feedback can lessen an employee’s sense of urgency to correct a mistake. Feel free to ask employees to repeat their understanding of your feedback, as well as the goals you want them to attain.
  4. Document each conversation and review session that you have with problem personnel. Be exact with dates, goals, deadlines, expectations and feedback. Capture both positive and negative results from the improvement process. This will help you evaluate whether the employee can turn his work efforts around.

If you do not see favorable results after maintaining an employee improvement plan for several weeks, your organization could consider moving the employee to another position that suits his abilities better. If this is not an option and all other efforts to improve productivity have failed, termination could be an effective solution.

To explore additional methods for handling poor performers, please contact an account manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 and inquire about CAI’s class called Managing Problem Performance.

Photo Source: hawken king

Strategies for Creating Highly-Efficient Teams

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

You have worked on teams since grade school. Some of your experiences with teams have been rewarding, leading to success, and some have been unpleasant, leading to unresolved conflicts and missed opportunities. As an HR professional, you know that there are many teams within your organization, which is the largest team. Knowing how to shape teams to benefit the productivity of your company will help employees reach business goals more creatively, collaboratively and efficiently.

Back in grade school, there was always at least one member of the team who did not want to pull his weight. In a company setting, laziness should not be permitted. A well-engineered team can accelerate problem-solving and propel innovation to create unprecedented success for your organization. So, it is important for all staff members to play their parts.

Teamwork

Try implementing some of the techniques below to invoke positive team-building skills at your organization:

  • Create measurable goals. Unattainable goals will take a team nowhere. Base team objectives on prior business performance and the strengths of each member. Aggressiveness for obtaining goals is good, but being unrealistic in aspirations will waste time.

 

  • Establish expectations. Delegation and accountability are essential for maintaining a great team dynamic. Make sure everyone knows their role and what they are responsible for in order to meet deadlines and achieve results.

 

  • Advocate for open communication. One of the greatest benefits of team work is the diversity and creativity that comes from bringing people of various backgrounds and skill sets together. However, this also means that conflict can occur. Encourage each team member to express their opinions and ideas freely while also listening and respecting the views of others.

 

  • Do not settle. It is excellent when teams assemble strong workflows that yield many positive outcomes. Having success is satisfying, but you can always work harder to attain better results or develop a more productive process. Periodically hold discussions with team members to see if there are areas in which the group can improve and grow.

 

For more information on forming effective teams at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Highways Agency

Creating a Successful Mentorship Program

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Mentoring is a tool to grow employees and accelerate their career development. Companies that offer mentorship programs enjoy many benefits, including retaining top talent, increasing company loyalty and keeping employees engaged. Overall company productivity is also improved when mentorship programs exist.

Employees who are mentored gain critical company knowledge, learn new skills and receive feedback on their career growth and goals, which help them to succeed in their positions. Senior staff members who mentor prosper from the experience, too. Researchers found that their work productivity increases, they have less stress and they feel revitalized in their careers.

Benefits are achieved only if the mentorship program has a strong structure and committed participants, so follow these guidelines to create a successful initiative:

Define the Goal and Structure

To make sure the mentorship program flourishes, it is important to have a strong program goal. Whether it is to help new hires acclimate faster or to cultivate potential manager candidates, one focus will help the program triumph.

Establish an end date as well. More people will participate if there is a specific time frame, and an end date gives a new set of employees an opportunity to experience the process.

Facilitating and Participation

A good mentorship program has a designated facilitator, often called the Mentoring Program Manager (MPM). The MPM creates the mentoring program and works to align the initiative with company goals. The point person sets clear expectations for both the mentors and mentees, which include the time commitment and level of engagement needed from all participants.

Ensuring all staff members are involved in some way or are aware of the program will help the initiative obtain good results. High-level executives should partake in the process—either to offer suggestions to the program facilitator or to serve as mentors themselves. Their participation will help others see the program’s value.

Mentees, Mentors and Managers

Specify criteria for those being mentored. Mentee candidates will help define the qualities needed for mentors. In addition to having excellent communications skills and a strong ability to relate with others, experts suggest that mentors should be at least two levels above the mentee. This requirement guarantees that they can offer great company information while understanding their mentees’ roles. This format eliminates competition for jobs or promotions as well.

Managers provide information similar to what mentors offer, but they have different objectives and job requirements when working with their employees. Managers want employees to grow and perform to help company productivity, and unlike mentors, managers can assign projects, conduct performance reviews and recommend raises or promotions.

Companies should avoid staff members mentoring people they directly manage because they act as key decision makers for their employees. Mentees might feel as though they cannot freely talk about their frustrations and weaknesses with their managers. Mentors who are not managers provide employees with a safe environment to discuss various topics.

Follow Up, Evaluation and Results

Facilitators should make a great effort in following up with participants throughout the process. Encouraging open communication and constant feedback will help the MPM get a gauge on the program’s progress.

Because it might take months to years to see direct results, patience is required when launching a mentorship program. Making sure you get feedback from participants is important when measuring its effectiveness. Surveys and interviews help evaluate success, and final results received will help your company determine if the program was a good investment and if there are improvements needed for a future initiative.

For more information or tips on successful mentorship programs, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

2011 Ovation Award Spotlight: Rex Healthcare

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Winner of numerous accolades, including best hospital and best place to work, Rex Healthcare constantly aims to please its clients, patients and employees. Rex has always invested a significant amount of time and effort in long-term facility, service line and operational planning to keep its position as one of the leading health care providers in North Carolina and the country. To stay competitive in the health care industry, the hospital focused its attention on workforce planning.  Rex’s initiative to forecast and identify talent needs to support its long-term strategic goals earned the hospital the 2011 Ovation Award in the large employer category (companies with more than 500 employees).

Several years ago, strategic workforce decisions were made based on instinct instead of data. This approach led to faulty assumptions with little or no consideration for long-term implications of talent decisions. Realizing that proactive workforce planning would be critical in implementing strategies to support the community’s growing health care needs, Rex’s leadership and HR team developed an improvement plan.

The improvement plan included the following components:

  1. The senior leadership team conducted a SWOT analysis and used scenario planning to forecast worst case, best case, and no change scenarios.  The talent implications of each scenario were identified.
  2. The HR team engaged mid-level leaders in assessing Rex’s current labor pool and anticipating talent needs based on their future business plans.
  3. Leaders segmented positions as strategic, key, support and transitional to help better define important focus areas for future workforce planning.
  4. Workforce planning was piloted in one business unit before rolling out to the whole organization to make sure the program was solid.
  5. Special attention was placed on making sure that Rex’s HR team was fully prepared for the impact that the new initiative would have on HR processes, such as compensation, recruiting top talent and managing performance.
  6. The HR team was trained in the workforce planning process, how to hold strategic business conversations with business leaders, workforce data analysis and coaching of business leaders to use data to create a workforce plan.

After two years, one of the key outputs of the process—data integration and mapping into a new workforce planning tool—is nearly complete.   Rex expects to gain many new insights into its workforce once the hospital begins to analyze the data.

Many positive outcomes have resulted from the improvement program already.  Scenario planning revealed talent gaps and assisted in creating three high-priority workforce planning strategies that resulted in innovative solutions for developing and retaining employees in key and strategic roles.

In addition to helping the hospital win CAI’s 2011 Ovation Award, Rex’s initiative helped the hospital identify positions and processes to establish a competitive advantage in the industry. For more information on implementing a workforce planning initiative at your organization, please contact Theresa Brett, Director of Strategic Talent Management, at Theresa.brett@rexhealth.com.

CAI recognizes North Carolina companies for innovative HR/People solutions with Ovation Awards during its annual HR Management Conference in February.  If you’d like to be considered please send a 2-3 paragraph description of your program to doug.blizzard@capital.org.  The description should summarize the business need, describe how the solution was implemented, and highlight the measurable and/or forecasted business results.