Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

HR Lessons From the Garden

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

I enjoy gardening, beautiful flowers, and being in the fresh air outdoors.  As I was weeding my flower bed this weekend, I thought about how the principles relate to HR.  At the time I planted the flowers I bought, they looked beautiful (although they were small and just beginning to bloom).  Over time, instead of growing and prospering, they began to look weak and like they were struggling to survive.  Weeds had crept in the garden, and were draining the nutrients from the flowers.  That is when I thought about the analogy to what can happen in business.  Take a look at what happens from a different perspective.

Recruitment and Selection

Talent_ManagmentWhen you go to the garden shop or farmers market, there are so many beautiful flowers that it is hard to decide which to buy.  What should be considered?   At garden shops, plants have tags that identify what environment they need to thrive: amount of sun, amount of water, heat or cold tolerance.  If you don’t consider the needs of the plant and the environment you will put it in, you won’t get the results you desire.  The same for employees.  It is important in recruitment and selection to understand the needs of the person and what environment works best for them, and to share honestly what your expectations and culture are for optimal results.

Culture

Just as you need to determine the conditions that will help a plant to thrive, applicants need to understand the culture of your company, the management style, opportunities for growth, and communication flow within the company.  Culture fit is very important, and many argue it is most important.  You can teach employees many things but you can’t teach fit.  You can take a thriving plant and put it in a toxic environment and it will wilt and falter.  Interviews should include questions about the position/company/manager thus far that the employee has considered the best and why.  Assessments can also help in determining culture fit.  Someone who is an idea person and wants to contribute and share ideas for process/product improvement will not be happy in a company that is top down management unreceptive to employee input.

Orientation

Once you know the needs of the plant and have purchased it, place it where it can bloom best.  That means providing proper orientation.  It needs proper soil, water, plant food and more attention as it gets oriented to the new surroundings.  Likewise with new employees.  It may be helpful to have an employee assigned to help orient them to where things are, who to go to for various issues, and just to orient them to the day-to-day.  We sometimes forget that things we take for granted everyday will be new and strange and take time to absorb for new employees.  Identify expectations early on.  Employees, like plants, that get off to a good start are more likely to thrive.

Coaching/Training

The work doesn’t end after orientation.  Plants need ongoing attention.  Sometimes plants may need pruning to help them grow better.  Others may flourish and need a trellis to support their growth. Each is unique, just like employees. Supervisors need to be trained to recognize that one size doesn’t fit all.  Some employees may need more guidance in their development.  We need to help supervisors understand the important role they have in recognizing the uniqueness of each employee and giving appropriate feedback, coaching, training, development and pruning.  Sometimes, employee failure can be attributed to supervisor failure; and in those cases, the supervisor should be held accountable as well.

Diversity

Have you noticed that gardens that have different types of plants– various sizes, shapes, textures, and a variety of colors and leaf structure, are more pleasing to the eye than those that are all the same?  Diversity can inspire new ideas.  And since our customers and our world are diverse, we need diversity to thrive.

Life Cycle

Some plants (perennials) come back year after year.  Annuals only last one season, even with the best of care.  Hopefully you have more perennials in your workplace than annuals. But we all have some annuals (sometimes quarters).  Sometimes they just don’t thrive in the environment.  Sometimes we only hire them for a season for projects and then they move on.  In other cases, they grow stronger, develop new branches and flowers and someone else admires the attributes and wants to acquire them.  There is a life cycle for employees.  For some, you may make the decision that despite your best efforts, they are not a fit for your company.  Sometimes, even with your best efforts at describing the job and your culture, and trying to ascertain what the employee has to offer, what they need, and under what conditions they thrive; you determine it was a bad decision.  It happens. Sometimes the beautiful plant that looks healthy and has the most blooms can have underlying aphids (pests) that you can’t see that will eventually destroy the plant.

Keep in mind that even perennials that come back every year need attention: fresh soil, weeding, water, mulch.  Don’t take your perennial employees for granted.  They still need nurturing and opportunities for growth, as well as recognition for jobs well done.

Weeding

And lastly, we all know that a garden will not flourish if is overrun by weeds.  As hard as I try to prevent weeds from even starting, they eventually creep in to the garden starting small.  If I don’t deal with the weeds, or wait too long to start dealing with them, I will have lost many beautiful flowers.  The same holds true at work.  Whether your “weeds” are bad fits, or can’t do the jobs you’re asking them to do, or have lousy attitudes, they will slowly take over and drive out your good employees, much like kudzu.  Don’t let the kudzu take over your thriving workplace.  Avoid the many reasons we find to not deal with weeds at work…lack of time, fear of a suit, trying to be “too consistent,” poor managers, etc.

I hope taking a look from a fresh perspective gives you some inspiration to work in your garden…at home and at work.  For over 50 years North Carolina employers have trusted CAI to be their #1 HR partner.  Learn how we can help you too!

What Employers Should Know About Section 1411 Certifications

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

The 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.

The Employer Mandate is perhaps one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for large employers: those employing morehcw than 50 full-time equivalent employees, or FTEs. (What’s an FTE? Find out here!) Many large employers understand that they can be fined with a tax penalty if they don’t provide coverage that meets the minimum requirements or is deemed unaffordable for their employees. In the event that coverage does not meet these requirements and is not affordable, employees may be eligible for a premium subsidy when purchasing individual coverage through the government’s healthcare marketplace (the Exchange). This subsidy eligibility is what triggers the penalty back to the employer.

Section 1411 of the ACA establishes the procedures for determining an individual’s eligibility for subsidies from the Exchange. A Section 1411 Certification is the notice to an employer that an employee has enrolled in a qualified health plan through the Exchange and been provided a subsidy. If you are an Applicable Large Employer (more than 50 full-time equivalent employees) that receives one or more of these notices, this could mean that you are facing a penalty from the IRS as part of the Employer Mandate provision of the ACA.

Employers should be prepared to see these certifications and have a plan of action in place once they do. For more details on the Section 1411 Certification, see here.

Dealing, Appealing, and Other Important Things to Know About 1411 Certifications

First, remember that these certifications are not penalty notifications from the IRS. They are simply informational, letting you know that an employee has received a tax credit and named you as the employer as part of their application process. You can expect a formal penalty notice from the IRS to follow; however, the notice will give you the ability to appeal if your health plan does meet all of the Employer Mandate requirements. By appealing, you can potentially stop the penalty process from the IRS.

It is important to educate the employees who will be handling these notices within your organization. This is a new form and something that most will not be familiar with. They need to know what to look out for and be prepared for what to do. If your health plan does meet minimum essential ACA requirements, make sure the employees in question understand that they will need to act quickly to appeal these notices; you will only have 90 days from the date of the notice to file your appeal.

In the event that your plan is not meeting all of the requirements of the Employer Mandate, look out! You’ll probably have to pay a fine. The Section 1411 Certification will alert you to your penalty liability. Only employees who receive a subsidy in the Exchange can trigger a penalty for you, and these notices will tell you exactly who those people are. As a best practice, employers should keep track of what their total exposure could be prior to receiving the notices. Their final liability could be less than what they are expecting.

With the delay of the Employer Mandate reporting requirements, it is likely that employers will not begin to see Section 1411 Certifications until late 3rd quarter or 4th quarter of 2016. That gives you plenty of time to educate your people, prepare an action plan, and learn all about 1411 Certifications!

New Location for CAI Raleigh Office

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

After 32 years, we have moved our Raleigh office to 3150 Spring Forest Road, Suite 116.  This is 1.2 miles south of I-540, just off Capital Blvd., and cai raleigh office movenear Triangle Town Center.

This move is exciting for us and for you!  We will have plenty of parking for class participants, expanded modern training facilities, and a collegial open floor plan for our staff.  I-540 provides easier access for our guests from the west and east.  The interior layout was designed to meet our growing member service needs and to improve your experience.

We welcome your visit to get a sense how we will serve your class participants.  They will enjoy better break and lunch service options, including outdoor patio areas.  We plan an open house event later this summer.  Watch for details!

Call us at 919-878-9222, should you have any questions.  We look forward to showing you our new headquarters and introducing you to staff!

If you’re not yet a member of CAI, now is a great time!  Find out more about how we can help you at CAI Membership Benefits.

 

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What North Carolina Employers Need to Know About the Proposed Overtime Rule

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

The Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule would expand overtime pay and raise the standard salary threshold for exempt employees toOvertime Rule $50,440 a year.  Recently, however, there have been rumors that the figure may be even less than that.  When the rule goes into effect, any exempt employee who makes below that threshold (or whatever amount is in the final rule) will no longer qualify as an exempt employee. Retail, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, hospitality, healthcare and banking:  no industry is untouched. The budgetary impact of converting all these managers to overtime eligible, or meeting the anticipated doubled salary threshold, is enormous.

CAI and the Employers Coalition of North Carolina (ECNC) are formally supporting efforts in Congress to halt the planned federal overtime rules changes.  Most recently, we signed on to a letter sent to congress urging it to block the Department of Labor’s proposed rule expanding overtime pay.  In all, 340 organizations signed the letter in support of the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act. The bill would force the Department of Labor to conduct a comprehensive analysis on how its proposed changes to overtime rules would affect small businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments.

While we are hoping our actions in delaying the rule are successful, we still believe the new rule will be in effect before summer’s end.  The course of action for a prudent company to take will be to fully understand what is being proposed and to prepare in advance.   CAI members will be continuously updated on the most current information regarding the Overtime Rule on myCAI in “Overtime Central.”  Read more about how this may impact your company.

Find, Develop and Keep the Best Employees

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

When the economy crashes, a blindfolded rhinoceros could find good people to fill open jobs. When labor markets tighten, great hires are in short supply again. It is a cycle as predictable as the tides. Finding, developing and keeping great talent is not complex. It is hard, expensive and time consuming. It means you know what the role requires, what your culture rewards and what your tolerance is for variations. Tight labor markets mean it is time to think differently. Our organization teaches best and next practices to HR professionals and managers. Here are some tips for small and mid-size employers.

People are Human

Every employee eventually reveals their humanity. The key to great hiring is learning what makes this applicant human before you make the hire.  Internal hires, promotions, employee referrals, social networks and live networking give you free previews. References will lie and interviews are usually terrible predictors of future success.  Certain assessment tools will help, if you understand which tool suits your specific needs. Maximize your funnel of applicants that you know something about! Fill that funnel in advance of a need.

Be Specific and Demanding

Spend as much time screening out as you do screening IN. How will you find the best fit if you cave on your criteria early? Look for legitimate job-related reasons to eliminate applicants:  not typos on resumes, but a true lack of skills, experience, desire, capacity and fit. You may have time to purposefully modify your requirements later. For now, stick to your guns.

Interview for Successful Experience

If the role requires experience or judgment, spend interview time on these things. This is not the time to explain your company culture or role requirements. This is the time to test for them. If an applicant cannot describe their solid sales process, it is unlikely they will be an immediate contributor on your sales team. Resist the temptation to overlook serious gaps with the hope energy and effort will prevail.

Get it

Successful, growing businesses are unique. Their best employees “get it,” embracing that uniqueness. Short of a hostile or illegal environment, each employer still has the right to select people who “get” their uniqueness and their customers. A tech start up has a very different “it” than a drywall contractor. Know the “it” and hire people who get “it.”

Developing People
Your best people want development, on the job experiences, rotations and new assignments. The best employees deserve mentoring and coaching.
Training is another great way to introduce new skills.  The point is, development is important for employers to get the most from employees but is also an important retention tool. Good people leave workplaces that offer no growth.

Keep the Best

Great people quit for many reasons, both preventable and unavoidable. Managers are surprised to learn these reasons:

  1. Unrealistic pre-hire expectations
  2. People will exchange some pay for some flexibility, but it must be real flexibility
  3. Employees who feel ignored by their manager may look elsewhere

Stop allowing the economy to guide your commitment to talent acquisition and retention. Grab the reins!

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.

How to Create and Sustain a More Diverse Workforce

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

diversity

In today’s post, CAI’s HR Manager Melissa Short and Marketing Intern Andy Bradshaw discuss the strategies HR professionals should take in order to foster a diverse and inclusive organizational culture.

In 2013, Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of 1800 professionals that found a striking correlation between diversity and innovation in the workplace. The study examined what it terms “two-dimensional diversity”- which encompasses both inherent diversity, or traits you are born with such as gender and ethnicity, as well as acquired diversity, involving traits you gain from experience. The study referred to companies whose leaders exhibit at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits as having two-dimensional diversity, and found that that companies with 2-D diversity out-innovate and out-perform others.

In fact, employees at these companies are 45% likelier to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.

Though it may sound intuitive, the evidence for the business case for workplace diversity is significant. Along with carrying the obvious social value of creating a more inclusive, tolerant workplace, diversity in the office really can improve profits and your bottom line, as evidenced above.

Of course, most HR professionals don’t need to be told that diversity is important to the workplace, as they are most likely aware of its many benefits. Where many in HR may struggle with the process, however, is how to get started on tackling diversity initiatives with limited time and money. That’s where we’re here to help. By dividing the process into these easily digestible phases, you’ll not only be able to quickly lay the groundwork for a more diverse workplace, but also put your office on a path to sustaining this diversity going forward.

Selection and Hiring

To create a truly diverse workplace, you have to start at the beginning. Hiring people with different backgrounds may be an obvious way to improve diversity, but it takes a conscious effort to broaden recruiting efforts to reach those candidates. Here are a few ideas as to where to start this process:

  • Think about where you look for candidates. Are you looking in markets or roles that seek out membership associations, clubs, and publications with minority or underrepresented community audiences? Right here in the Triangle, you could be looking at reaching out to minority publications such as Que Pasa and The Triangle Tribune in order to place job postings.
  • But go beyond just posting a job to engaging and networking with the owners and employees in order to build longer term-genuine relationships.
  • Train and educate hiring managers on the importance of organizational diversity, particularly the business benefits. By ensuring the hiring team is aware of both the social and financial need for diversity in the office, HR can lead the charge to finding more qualified and diverse minority candidates.

Enhancing Organizational Inclusion

Once you’ve moved past the selection and hiring of a diverse pool of candidates, how will you ensure they want to stay at your organization? It takes a company-wide commitment to cultivate a culture of organizational inclusion. Employees want to work in an environment where they feel supported and valued for their differences and Human Resources plays a large role in driving this culture. Here’s how HR can permeate inclusion throughout their organization’s culture:

  • Go beyond handbook policies that cover anti-discrimination laws and consider including an organizational statement that addresses the company’s commitment to an environment of support and inclusion.
  • Revisit your dress guidelines to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently excluding items that are cultural or religious in nature.
  • Demonstrate a company commitment to utilizing minority-owned or managed businesses for key vendor relationships.
  • Regularly review your pay system to identify and correct any pay inequities.

Sustaining diversity going forward

Now that you’ve planted the seeds of diversity within your organization, HR must do its part to ensure it continues to grow and prosper moving forward. Creating a diverse workplace is one thing, but what about keeping it that way? Here are a few tips to ensure your diverse workplace is here to stay:

  • Ensure your minority employees have equal access to opportunities through the use of a minority mentorship program. This will not only give minority employees a space for engagement and advancement but also breaks down barriers between generations and other boundaries at work
  • Train managers and all employees on cultural awareness and inclusion – this can be as simple as an online training course or even sharing an article or case study around this subject.
  • Educate your front line managers around the business and social benefits of diversity and teach them to recognize any signs that point otherwise.
  • Be transparent around your intent to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive work environment and the company practices that support it. By openly showcasing your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, you will continue to create a culture that fosters these ideals and attract employees who are dedicated to fulfilling them.

Though the process may seem overwhelming, it is imperative that HR leads the charge for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. By following these phases, you can foster a sense of inclusion that will transform your business for the better, both culturally and financially. For any other helpful tips about how to create a more diverse workplace, please let us know in the comments!

Did You Miss the 2016 HRMC? Here’s What You Need to Know…

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

hrmc picCAI’s 2016 HR Management Conference was a blast! We had over 400 attendees come to the McKimmon Center, who each got to hear expert speakers discuss topics ranging from Employee Engagement to Values to Millennials to Succession Planning to HR Metrics to Diversity and much more!

Our attendees left with a unique perspective on how to navigate the ever-shifting business arena and Find Their Way With Talent.

But if you missed the event, fear not! Here are a few takeaways from the Conference’s keynote speakers:

Putting the Human Back in Human Resources

“Every company that invests in people succeeds”

“HR doesn’t need to make a big declaration, just start humanizing the workplace”

“You can’t policy your way to greatness, but you can trust your way there”

-Liz Ryan, Human Workplace

With stacks and stacks of paperwork littering the desks of HR professionals, it can be easy to lose sight of the most important aspect of the workplace: the people who work there. HR must look beyond simply fulfilling its administrative duties and focus more on creating a culture that fosters healthy and inclusive relationships between employees. By becoming a Minister of Culture at the office, HR will be leading the Humanist Revolution at work and paving the way for a more trusting and collaborative workforce.

For HR to accomplish this, it must build trust in its organization through the creation of sincere relationships. By building a foundation of trust and respect among your employees, HR will find a more human way to hire and lead, thereby reinventing work for people.

Define – and Live – Through Your Values

 “Values are the collective beliefs that drive our behaviors, informing us what is good, bad, or important”

“You have values, your employees have values. If you don’t know them, you can’t reward them for their values”

“Act in line with your values and people will respect you for living within them”

-Scott Carbonara, Spiritus Communications

For HR to sustain an organization that will not only survive, but also thrive, in the midst of an ever-changing business market, it must be intentional. So how can your business do this? By defining and living through its values. This begins and ends with HR, who must first discover what values are most important to their employees, and then model those values throughout every aspect of the organization.

To discover these values, HR must follow The Three A’s: Building Awareness of the important values within their organization, focusing on the Alignment of these values into the company culture, and taking Action to embed these values into the heart of each and every employee. By engaging and uniting employees under a shared set of values, HR can lead the charge to creating a more purposeful, productive workforce.

Moving Beyond Complacency

“Focused attention beats brains and brute strength every time”

“Leaders know what really matters and make it matter to others” 

“The leadership question – Who and what is better because of you?”

– Mark Sanborn, Sanborn & Associates

How can your company continue to get better, when it’s already the best? As HR knows well, complacency is the enemy of growth, and the best way to combat it is to create a shared focus that will continue to engage your employees. In order to achieve this shared focus, HR must ask what ideas and what people need to be disrupted. Letting go of old habits and ineffective employees may be tough, but it’s essential to eliminate the “tub stoppers” that could prevent your business from continuing to improve.

By creating a shared focus and ridding your organization of any distractions that take away from this vision, HR will be leading its employees down a path to continuous growth rather than running into the brick wall of complacency.

The Power of ONE

 “It’s not about us. It’s about becoming a better version of ourselves so we can better serve those around us”

 “We have to tackle our challenges, so we don’t have to live with them”

“There are two things that motivate us in life: fear and love. Fear is short-term, but love is sustainable”

– John O’Leary, Rising Above, LLC

Picture this: You’re a young kid playing around with matches in your home when an accidental explosion engulfs you in flames, leaving you with burns on 100% of your body and a one percent chance of survival. The odds aren’t in your favor, but miraculously, you survive the horror and emerge stronger than ever. That was the case for John O’Leary, and his inspirational tale serves as a testimonial to HR professionals everywhere on the importance of choices and actions in facing adversity

Whether big or small, HR is always putting out fires at work. Though it can be an exhausting process, it’s imperative for HR to tackle its daily challenges with intensity and constantly ask itself “What more can I do?”. Leadership starts with HR, and employees will take its lead. Just like John, HR too must rise above its daily challenges to ignite its organization and overcome the obstacles stacked against them.

If you missed the HR Management Conference, make sure to not miss out on our next Conference! Register today for our 2016 Employment and Labor Law Update on May 18 and 19 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh!

Helping Managers Overcome Performance Review Anxiety

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

performancereview

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips for managers looking to escape that dreaded performance review anxiety. 

Conducting performance reviews and discussions on a regular basis is a key part of a manager’s responsibility.  Conducting a performance review also carries a certain amount of anxiety, as any manager tasked with providing one can attest. There is always the potential of a dispute over the facts, a difference in perspective, or even an unplanned, unexpected, or premature discussion regarding compensation.

In order to effectively have performance discussions that identify employee accomplishments, address areas for improvement, and generate individual development plans, managers must get past any anxious feelings and move through the process confidently and deliberately. Below are some tips which will help managers overcome some of their apprehension:

Expect Some Negotiating 

Approximately one out of every five employees will work to negotiate some part of the performance review process.  It may be around the rating itself, the wording of the review pertaining to “areas for improvement” or even the compensation aspect of the review – even though this typically occurs in a subsequent discussion.   Expect it and be prepared for it.  Anticipating issues, understanding what latitude you have within your organization’s guidelines, and knowing your response(s) will go a long way towards you  being  successful in this part of the meeting.

Keep it Conversational 

Performance reviews should be conversational. Remember, this is also your employees’ opportunity to provide their input and feedback on the performance period under review.  By keeping it conversational, you will remain at ease as will your employee.

Know the Details 

Some performance reviews are conducted only once a year.  This makes it not only difficult, but imperative that details are provided during the review.  Recalling the specifics of something that happened ten months ago can be a challenge for both you and your employee.  Having accurate details can make things easier to discuss and avoid disputes. Moving forward consider meeting once a month to discuss progress towards goals and objectives. These discussions will benefit both you and the employee for the annual review meeting – which would now be more of a “year in review” format.

Take Time to Consider 

There may be questions or considerations which arise during a review that need some additional thought.  This may include an employee request about a different job assignment or perhaps a promotion.   If the answer is not obvious or if you are not prepared to have that conversation at the moment, advise the employee that you need additional time to consider his/her request.  This is reasonable, but make sure you get back the employee within the stated time allotted.

Time to Re-evaluate Process/Approach? 

If you have reviewed tips above and your managers still feel somewhat anxious about conducting a performance review, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your approach or the process in general.  Maybe the reason they are so uncomfortable is because something about the process leaves them with a lack of conviction in some area of either evaluating the employee’s performance, measuring improvement, ability to have a “critical conversation”, or some other aspect of the review details.

Maybe it’s time for a critical review of your process.  CAI can help – give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746!

Please be sure to share below any tips you have about overcoming the pressure and anxiety of performance reviews.

Why Meetings Fail

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

boringmeetingIn today’s post, CAI’s HR Business Partner Tom Sheehan shares the reasons why many meetings are so ineffective, and what HR professionals can do to change that.

As a leader you play a critical role in maximizing the effectiveness of your organization’s workforce. One thing that robs us of our time is poorly-run, inefficient meetings. Such meetings serve as an organizational ‘drag’ and are viewed by many employees as an incredible waste of time and resources.

Let’s examine why meetings are often so ineffective:

People don’t take meetings seriously

They arrive late, leave early, and spend most of their time thinking about what else they could be doing. Disciplined meetings are about mind-set that meetings are ‘real work’.  Intel, the semiconductor manufacturer, is famous for its crisp meeting execution. Walk into any conference room at any Intel factory or office anywhere in the world and you will see on the wall a poster with a series of simple questions about the meetings that take place there.

  1. Do you know the purpose of this meeting?
  2. Do you have an agenda?
  3. Do you know your role?
  4. Do you follow the rules for good minutes?

Meetings are too long

Meetings should accomplish twice as much in half the time. Most meetings should last no longer than 60 minutes. One reason meetings drag on is that people don’t appreciate how expensive they are. If the meeting organizer were forced to calculate and justify the meeting cost (the meeting length times all of the participants’ wage rates) you would begin to see fewer, shorter, and more productive meetings.

No meeting agenda

When there is no agenda participants spend too much time digressing and wandering off topic. Get serious about requiring meeting agendas. It’s the starting point for all advice on productive meetings…stick to the agenda. But it’s hard to stick to an agenda that doesn’t exist.

HR can help by creating an agenda template. Request that meeting organizers circulate the agenda several days before a meeting to let participants react to and modify it. The agenda should list the meeting’s key topics, who will lead which parts of the discussion, how long each segment will take, and what the expected outcomes are.

Of course, even the best agendas can’t guard against digressions, debates, and distractions. The challenge is to keep meetings focused without stifling creativity or insulting participants who stray. Encourage meeting leaders use a ‘parking lot’ to maintain that focus. When comments come up that aren’t related to the issue at hand, record them on a flip chart labeled the parking lot. Track the issue and the person responsible for it.

Nothing happens once the meeting ends

The end result of most meetings is a lot of talk, and little action. The problem is that people leave meetings with different views of what happened and what’s supposed to happen next. The best way to avoid that type of misunderstanding is the creation of a shared document that leads to action. In addition to meeting minutes, require the meeting organizer (or designee) to document ‘Actions and Decisions’.

Actions are those accountabilities that were assigned as a result of the meeting. For example, Jim has agreed to research time and attendance software options prior to our next meeting. He will report his findings back to the group at our next meeting.

Decisions are those items that the meeting group has made a clear decision on. The decision will now become part of the ‘going forward’ strategy and will eliminate second-guessing such as …’We talked about it, but I don’t think anything was actually decided’.

‘Actions and Decisions’ should always be the last topic on the agenda. For recurring meetings, start the agenda with the ‘Actions and Decisions’ that were carried over from the previous meeting.

Meetings are always missing important information, so critical decisions are postponed

This is why it is so important to have a clear, documented agenda outlining the topics to be discussed and decisions to be made. Without an agenda, participants arrive to the meeting unprepared. In essence, the result of the meeting becomes a de facto ‘pre-meeting’ in which everyone’s valuable time was wasted.

For additional guidance on how you can make your organization’s meetings more effective, please give our Advice & Resolution team a ring at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. If you have any further suggestions, we’d love to hear them in the comments section!