Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Improve Employee Efficiency by Updating Your Workplace Practices

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

August Quote blog

Albert Einstein once said, “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Is this quote applicable to your workplace? Is your organization meeting its business goals? Are you making all of your deadlines? Are your employees engaged and is their productivity high? If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, you may need to reconsider some of your workplace practices.

A positive company culture and a helpful set of workplace guidelines will help you reach your business goals. They will also help you create more positive relationships with your employees, which will raise their job satisfaction and morale. There are a number of steps your organization can take to incorporate constructive employer practices. Check out a few examples below:

Give constant feedback

No matter their age or tenure at your company, your employees want to know how their work performance measures up. Regularly informing your employees about their work performance is beneficial for your organization because you’ll learn more about your employees and the workload they can or can’t handle. For five ways to offer feedback to your employees, please visit here: http://blog.capital.org/employees-will-seek-consistent-feedback-in-the-new-year/.

Be clear and transparent with communication

An organization that has issues with clearly communicating to their workforce will have a hard time reaching success. By practicing transparency and good communications, you’ll gain trust from your employees. They’ll likely be motivated to be more productive as well. Find out the most common causes of workplace miscommunication here: http://blog.capital.org/five-common-causes-of-miscommunication-in-the-workplace-and-how-to-avoid-them/ and find solutions that will help you communicate effectively here: http://blog.capital.org/are-you-communicating-effectively/.

Invest in training for your managers

Researchers have found that many times the reason why employees leave or aren’t as productive is because the people leading them aren’t doing a good job. Managers and supervisors have several items on their plate, but one of their most important items is developing and overseeing their direct reports. Before you promote your next manager, make sure you offer them proper training. Here are some ideas: http://blog.capital.org/ongoing-training-helps-managers-reach-success/.

For additional help on increasing workplace productivity and meeting your company goals, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

4 Steps for Building Positive Employer-Employee Relationships

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Aiming to create a strong employer-employee relationship within your organization is commendable.  Many positive results arise when employers and their workers respect and trust each other. But getting to the point of reciprocal trust and respect can be challenging for many companies. Some businesses fear giving their employees too much buy-in or power. Other organizations don’t realize that there are several actions they can take to make their workplace run smoother.

A good employer-employee relationship requires constant nurturing and set expectations and results. Although hard work from both sides of the company is needed, the benefits are worth it. Here are some of the top advantages: increased morale and job satisfaction, high retention rate, less absenteeism, better customer service and higher quality products.

Utilize the following practices in your organization to see your employer-employee relationship flourish:

Communicate Openly

Good communication between an employer and its employees is imperative for building a positive workplace culture. As an employer, don’t hide important information from your staff or only grant the information to a select group of workers. Being aware of how the company is performing and what projects are getting started help employees see how their role fits into the organization; it also makes them more likely to respect and trust their company. Always keep your team members in the loop.

Gratitude and Appreciation

Saying “please” and “thank you” go a long way at an organization. Be empathetic to your workforce and appreciate the efforts that they contribute to your company. When an employee consistently turns in great work yet receives no recognition, you can be sure that his job satisfaction and morale is low. He might even consider finding a company that does appreciate his work. To make this scenario unrealistic at your workplace, be grateful for the work your employees do and show your appreciation through public or private recognition, parties, gift cards or whatever else would appeal to your team.

Consistent Feedback

In order to improve their work performance, an employee must receive feedback, both positive and critical. Employees find it frustrating when their work has been changed or a project isn’t approved but receive no feedback as to why these actions have happened. Help your employees grow by offering them frequent feedback on their work. Set up monthly or weekly meetings to check in with them about their progress and what goals they want to accomplish. When you take these steps, you’ll see your employees more engaged with their work.

Following Through

Nothing makes you lose credibility faster than when you overpromise and don’t deliver expected results. No matter what the scenario is, as an employer, you owe it to your staff to follow through on your commitments. If you told one employee they can attend a training to improve their skills, quickly approve the expense report when they turn it in. If another employee wants to meet with you to discuss her future at the company, don’t blow her off for another meeting or lunch date. Evoke trust and respect from your staff by showing that your commitment to them is important.

For more tips on creating positive work relationships, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Tips to Help Your Employees Succeed Through a Merger or Acquisition

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Several ideas pop into the minds of employees when they learn that their company is planning a merger or acquisition with another organization. Staff members worry about being laid off, not getting salary increases and competing with unknown talent. Their anxiety for the workplace transition reveals itself in their assignments and interactions with their coworkers. Managers often have several battles to deal with as they try to control emotional employees and dispel nonsensical rumors.

Mishandling this sensitive process can affect your business negatively. Absenteeism, loss of key employees, low morale and low productivity are some of the damaging consequences for not addressing a merger or acquisition appropriately.

Preparation is imperative for keeping your organization composed. The following four tips should help your organization navigate through the transition of a merger or acquisition with less difficulty:

1. Make Leadership Present

Forming a strong leadership team with members from both sides of the merger or acquisition will help smooth out the kinks of the transition. When both sides align to share the same vision, mission and strategy, employees have a solid support team to turn to. Before the transition is announced, make sure you indentify the key leadership players and begin to strategize steps to handle the change gracefully.

2. Communicate Often and Through Several Channels

To combat rumors and twisted facts, create a solid communications plan for your employees, leadership and other key stakeholders, such as customers and board members. Remember that your employees will want to know more than the details of the merger. They’ll want to know how their job will be affected, what their benefits will look like and who will manage them. Cascade messages through a variety of channels to ensure your stakeholders receive them. Additionally, practice two-way communication and readily take questions and suggestions from your team members.

3. Align Culture and Business Processes

A merger or acquisition requires the blending of two companies with distinct cultures and ways of completing work. Similar to your communications plan, knowing how you want to cultivate your organization’s environment early on will help you get your workforce on board. Carefully plan your new business processes before the transition takes effect. Educate your staff on the new changes and how they might affect their workflows. Communication is again important when telling employees that aspects of their job could be significantly altered. Always keep them in the loop.

4. Take Care of Employees

Agreeing to merge with or acquire another organization may benefit your company financially, but it could hurt other areas of your business, specifically your talent. News of a merger or acquisition can leave even your star performers feeling nervous about their fate and the new set of employees they’ll have to work with. The period before the official transition is a great time for competitors to pluck your top talent. Prevent this from happening by involving your staff through the transition process and getting them to understand how their role will fit into the changing organization. Develop a retention strategy, such as stay-bonuses or packages, to make sure your stellar staffers don’t become enticed by competition.  For employees you won’t be able to retain, let them leave the organization with dignity. Provide them with services to help them stay on their feet, such as resume reviewing. Additionally, show them that you appreciated their service by offering them a generous severance package.

For additional strategies to assist your workforce through a merger or acquisition, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Souce: Victor1558

Help Employees Deal with Workplace Changes

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

“It can be hard to change, but it is even harder to fail,” CAI’s CEO, Bruce Clarke, says in his most recent News & Observer column, The View from HR.

Bruce says surviving in today’s workplace requires the ability to smoothly adapt and thrive in different business scenarios. He says successful employees embrace change and look forward to the next disruption. They don’t hold onto methods that aren’t beneficial to workflow processes or impede a company’s progress in improving a new system. These resilient workers are flexible, quick thinkers and decisive when needed.

In his Sunday column, Bruce references the days when employees who resisted change were accommodated in the workplace. Those days are over, however. To continue to achieve positive business results, your organization must be able to modify its goals and strategies as different circumstances arise, such as a recession or a shortage of valuable talent. Similar to the organization, your employees must be able to land on their feet no matter the workplace situation they face.

Use the information below to help lead your workforce through a change initiative.

Dealing with Company Change

  1. Explain why the change is necessary for the organization. Include the benefits, potential disadvantages and major adjustments an employee might experience as a result from the change. Allow employees to ask questions about the upcoming changes and voice any concerns that they might have. Try hard to answer their questions and reassure them that you will help them throughout the endeavor.
  2. Frequently communicate when the change will occur and how company processes and employee roles might be transformed. Utilize several forms of communication, including company internet, email, newsletter and staff meetings, to ensure that all staff members understand the change and know when it will happen.
  3. Pay attention to staff members who are having an especially hard time adapting to your company’s new change. Talk them through any difficulties they may be facing. Partner them with a staff member who is handling the changes well. If possible, permit these anxious employees to deal with the change gradually.
  4. Be patient throughout this process. Getting all staff members up to speed with a new initiative or the latest technology takes time. Do not expect your employees to be experts in their new assignments over night. Changes are about learning as well. Allow employees to make mistakes to learn and grow in their positions.

If you would like additional information and tips on helping your employees embrace change at your organization, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Leadership Concepts to Bring Your Company Success

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO, writes a bimonthly newsletter that features advice for a variety of topics affecting high-level executives in the workplace.  In his latest Executive Scan, Bruce discusses leadership styles. He doesn’t believe there is one leadership style that all executives should assume because workplace conditions change and leadership styles should be adapted to an organization’s current needs.

Most business leaders can’t envision, develop and achieve a successful business initiative without help from their team. Because of this reason, Bruce asks employers to not view leadership as their personal style, but as the ability to get the most out of themselves and their workforce. Below are four leadership qualities that will guide you to success:

Big Picture

Strong leaders do not act in their own self interest. They understand that an organization is comprised of many individuals who also want to see their organization succeed. Effective leaders base major decisions on what’s best for the entire company, not what’s best for themselves and their reputation.

Clarity

Great leaders are excellent communicators. The first time they assign a project, they communicate their expectations clearly so all team members are satisfied with the end result. Additionally, strong leaders value transparency and keep their staff updated on important company news and decisions regularly.

Debate

Successful business leaders are not afraid to be challenged. When employees feel that a company process is ineffective or that they can provide a better solution to a problem, effective leaders want them to speak up.  These leaders understand that disagreement can sometimes spark innovation.

Recognition

One of the best qualities of good leaders is their desire to give credit when it’s due.  Praising employees for the hard work they contribute is an action that strong leaders execute frequently. They also know each of their staff members’ names and learn the characteristics that make each employee unique.

Employees who have effective leadership feel valued at their organization, which keeps their levels of engagement and productivity up. Include the concepts above into in your approach to leadership to create a more productive and enjoyable workplace.

For more information and practical strategies on leadership, please call a CAI Account Manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746, and ask about CAI’s multi-series leadership training program, The Management Advantage.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Organizational Culture: In Theory and Practice

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Articles about how your company culture and talent will be the key factors in your organization’s success, or lack thereof, seem to be everywhere.  Some of these articles highlight specific focus areas for building a culture, and others include high-level theories without application.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Diane Adams and Richard Byrd from Allscripts discuss their corporate culture at a Raleigh Chamber of Commerce program.  Diane, who is the executive vice president of culture and talent, and Richard, who is the vice president of internal communications/culture, shared both a high-level theoretical approach and more specific details about how it is applied in practice.

From 20,000 feet, the key takeaways from the presentation were:

Culture is Intentional

It’s important that you have a destination in mind and take ownership of your company culture.  Your culture should then drive measurable behaviors.

Culture First

You can’t afford to lose precious time waiting to get to your culture.  You must start now if you haven’t already.

It’s More Than Great People

You must continue to work deliberately on your culture. Hiring for cultural fit is just the start.

Inside=Outside

When your organization has a strong, positive culture with engaged employees your customers will have a great experience and your business will see the results.

Diane and Richard pointed to four key areas of focus at the application level when it comes to organizational culture:

Empowerment

Let your team members/employees own their job. When people own something, they usually treat it much differently and will go the extra mile to make it better. It’s also important to help them see how they impact the business results.

Communications

Without consistent, repetitive communication, culture is just some words put to paper.  Make sure the lines are open to two-way communication and be aware that the words you use matter.

Respect/Civility

How people treat each other is a big piece of culture.  Team members should interact in a positive manner toward each other, even when in disagreement.

Feedback/Development

Top talent wants to be in an environment where they are learning, challenged and feel like they are continuing to grow.  Recognition is also important for all employees.

Having read many of the articles and heard numerous speakers discuss culture, I think there are two clear points to be taken from the chorus:

1 – You need to focus on culture now.  If you put it off you will be looking back in six months and realize that your culture has taken on a life of its own—one that you may not like.

2 – One size does not fit all.  It’s up to you to find those things that make your organization special and to highlight them, while also determining the aspirational goals for your culture and how you are going to work toward getting there.  Sure, there may be some broad topic areas that need to be included, but the specifics are up to you.

Is your company culture what you want it to be?  What are you doing to get it there?

Photo Source: USACE- Sacremento District

Four Ways to Build and Sustain Trust in Your Workplace

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Are you constantly checking and rechecking the work completed by your employees? Does your boss often say phrases like, “it’s my way or the highway” or “that’s not the way you should do it”? Have you noticed your staff members watching their backs or withholding information from their coworkers? Do people consistently give you instructions that are contradictory? If so, your organization is suffering from a lack of workplace trust.

Building trust in an organization is no easy feat. Time, dedication and care are essential for keeping trust nurtured and sustained. Trust is a fundamental value that all companies should practice because it improves almost every business facet, including retention, morale, communication, customer service and productivity. Employers that focus on trust exhibit confidence in the decisions their workers make, have more collaborative workflows and keep employee motivation high.

Because trust starts at the top, ensure that management is included in your efforts to improve trust at your organization. Employees will quickly follow suit when management is leading the way. Incorporate the tips below into your workplace processes and see the level of trust increase significantly.

1.  Establish Values

Use your company’s mission and values extensively. All employees should be aware of what they are, and they should all strive to uphold them. Revisit your mission and values during staff meetings and post them in different areas in your workplace. Your business changes over time, so make sure to continually review, revise and align your mission and values with the business results you want to produce and the employer brand you want to exude. Ask for input from your staff members when reviewing and revising.

2.  Communicate Openly

Being transparent in your business practices will gain you the trust of your employees. Don’t disseminate information to only a privileged few (unless it’s confidential) because outcries of favoritism will inevitably ensue. Instead, frequently share information with all staff members. Employees don’t like being in the dark, and they will become more engaged the more you communicate openly with them. Additionally, don’t shy away from telling staff members bad news. Even though the news may not be desirable, they will respect the fact that you gave them the truth.

3.  Respect all Employees

Just like trust, respect is earned. You can’t expect your team members to follow your lead if you don’t respect them or the contributions they make to your organization. There are a number of ways in which you can show your employees that you respect them. Don’t micromanage them and obsessively recheck over their projects. Give them clear expectations and autonomy, and they will produce good work. Show them that you are interested in their lives by getting to know them. This can include learning their children’s names or the sports team they follow. Ask for their opinions on business initiatives, and stay informed about their personal short-term and long-term goals. No matter if they are full-time, part-time or temporary employees, recognize the work they perform by thanking and praising them often. Trust is easier to maintain when each of your team members feels valued and supported by the company.

4.  Be Human

Too many managers want to appear perfect, but the ones who resonate best with their employees acknowledge their mistakes and confess when they don’t know an answer. Yes, admitting imperfection will make you more vulnerable, but it will make you more human and that’s a characteristic that employees want in their managers. Let your team members know that mistakes can happen, but they must make a commitment to learn from them. Another way to show empathy is to respect your employees’ work/life balance. Unless they give you a reason to doubt them, trust that they will complete their assignments, and allow them to enjoy their lives outside of work. Be loyal to your employees and they will reciprocate.

You can’t establish workplace trust overnight, but you can destroy it in a matter of seconds. A continuous effort to show employees the importance of trust is necessary to keep it alive at your organization. Integrate trust in your values, performance appraisals, onboarding practices and other workplace activities. Companies that rate trust highly are more successful than companies that don’t. For more information on building trust at your organization, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: korapilatzen

Delegate for Efficiency and Employee Empowerment

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

folderDelegation is a concept that benefits organizations in two specific ways:

  1. Senior leaders and managers experience more time to focus on high-level activities, such as strategic planning and new business exploration, which helps them build a more successful business.
  2. Employees receiving delegated tasks strengthen their skills, obtain diverse experience and demonstrate their capabilities to their supervisors, allowing them to feel empowered and engaged at work.

Although the advantages of delegation help multiple staff members prosper, many leaders do not implement the process for fear that tasks will not be completed adequately, or they have improper knowledge on how to delegate effectively. Leadership requires you to utilize the talents and experiences of the individuals who work at your company. If executed correctly, delegation can help your business and your employees achieve tremendous results. Below are key tactics for initiating a plan for delegation:

  1. Create a Culture for Delegation: Cultivating a workplace that stresses the importance of delegation helps everyone succeed. Employees will feel appreciated and be more productive when they are assigned new projects or receive feedback on their work.
  2. Assess Your Goals: Whether you have one task to delegate or a myriad of them, the end result will be better if you lay out a clear plan of how the project should be handled and what the desired outcome should be.
  3. Identify Workers’ Strengths and Weaknesses: Delegation offers employees the opportunity to flex their skills and take ownership on important tasks outside of their usual assignments. Be sure you know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses to appropriately match projects. This will help reduce unfavorable results.
  4. Establish a Work Plan and Communicate Expectations: Managers who do not delegate often fear that their subordinates will not be able to perform the job like they would. However, if you strategize a workflow plan with your employees, they will understand the overall goal. Communicating clear directions and hard deadlines will also yield a good outcome. Asking your employees to repeat their understanding of the project will help you determine if they grasp what is being asked of them.   
  5. Oversee Progress and Rate Results: Delegation can fail if you do not organize a monitoring method for the projects that you assign.  Periodically requesting updates and providing feedback will help you see if employees are reaching their goals or if additional assistance is needed. When projects are completed, you can review the goals to see if they met their marks.  Praise your employees if they achieved suitable or exceptional results. If your employees failed to produce satisfactory work, use the experience as a learning opportunity. 

It is also imperative to add that there are several tasks that should not be delegated to a subordinate. Some of these duties include: personal requests assigned specifically to you, providing feedback to other employees, high-level tasks for which you have the expertise, disciplinary undertakings and crisis situations.

For more information on how to delegate productively, please contact an account manager at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 and inquire about CAI’s class called Steps to Delegating Effectively.

Photo Source: Ukeig

E-Monitoring in the Workplace: Do’s and Do Not’s

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The e-monitoring of what employees do in the workplace may include the use of video surveillance, keystroke logger software, email filters, phone logs, phone call recordings, Global Positioning Systems, and logs of website visits, among other methods.

Although courts have tended to reject infringement of privacy claims based on employer e-monitoring, the best course of action is to have a company policy that clearly states which communications are subject to monitoring—including when, where and why. Most employees believe that it is okay for their employer to monitor them only if they are made aware of the fact that they are being monitored. The company that monitors employees secretly is only asking for trouble.

Here are the do’s and do not’s of e-monitoring in the workplace.

DO:

  • Create and distribute a company policy that lets employees know what is being monitored, when it is monitored, where it is monitored, and why monitoring is necessary.
  • Be sure to state what benefits monitoring will bring to the company as a whole.
  • Monitor only what is absolutely necessary. Company management should not be perceived as an intrusive or abusive “Big Brother.”
  • Ensure that the personnel who have access to the monitored information have a “need to know.” Access must be limited to only certain highly trusted individuals.
  • Securely store the data collected, particularly when it includes sensitive information, and let employees know that this data is not available for internal or external public disclosure.
  • Address employee use of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or blogging during work hours. Company policy should provide guidelines for blogging or tweeting about the company, its personnel and its products and services.

DO NOT:

  • Do not make employees feel paranoid or uncomfortable.
  • Do not place severe restrictions on employees’ use of cell phone and text message communications. Granted, you do not want drivers sending text messages or being distracted by cell phone calls while on the job, but in most workplaces, the safe and occasional use of personal cell phones rarely disrupts work processes.
  • Do not implement technologies such as webcams, location tracking devices or keyloggers on company laptops or other resources without a thorough understanding of the technology’s capabilities and rigorous legal review.
  • Do not neglect to address employees’ use of their personal Internet-based email accounts using company resources such as computers or company-issued cell phones. Any restrictions should be clearly stated in your company policy on e-monitoring.
  • Do not try to completely restrict employees’ use of the Internet in a prohibitive manner. You will create goodwill when employees are allowed to surf the Web during lunch hours or breaks to quickly look up the address of a restaurant or to order products online.

Breaches of employee privacy can result in litigation or employee retention issues at the very least. Approach e-monitoring with a healthy respect for privacy laws and today’s complex regulatory environment, as well as sensitivity to ordinary human behavior, and you will be successful.

For additional information about e-monitoring in the workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Ed Yourdon

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.