Posts Tagged ‘effective communications’

Two Basic Things Employees Need From Their Boss

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

1. RELIABLE AND MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION communication1

Communication is a hallmark of any healthy relationship. A recent study from Gallup, ‘State of the American Manager,’ found that consistent communication is strongly connected to higher engagement.  Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them.

The frequency of meetings is less important to employees than the fact that they happen at all. The Gallup study also found that engagement is highest among employees who have some form (face-to-face, phone or electronic) of daily communication with their manager. And while all forms of communication are effective, managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone and electronic communication are the most successful at engaging employees.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their role and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their life outside of work. The Gallup study revealed that employees who feel as though their manager is invested in them as people are more likely to be engaged.

Approachability is a key attribute of a good manager. Employees who feel that they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues are much more likely to be engaged.

2. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT BEYOND ANNUAL REVIEWS

Performance management is often a source of great frustration for employees and managers alike. Employees often do not clearly understand their goals or what is expected of them at work. They feel uncertainty about their duties and disconnected from the bigger picture. For these employees, annual reviews and developmental conversations frequently feel forced and superficial.  It is difficult for them to think about next year’s goals when they are not even sure what tomorrow will throw at them.

Yet, when performance management is done well, employees become more productive, profitable and creative contributors. The same Gallup study found that employees whose managers excel at performance management activities are more engaged than employees whose managers struggle with these same tasks. Finally, when managers help their employees set work priorities and performance goals they are much more likely to be engaged.

Not sure where to start with performance management or have a specific question? Contact our Advice & Resolution team today!

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Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

The Important Messages of Body Language and Leadership Style

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When leading a team, body language as simple as eye contact or the crossing of the arms can convey a significant positive — or negative — message to employees.  There are two sets of signals a business leader can communicate using just their body language.  The first type of signal translates the leader’s status and authority.  The second type of signal can convey warmth and empathy to the team members. body_language_gesture

Status and authority can be seen in how a leader carries themselves.  For example, a person’s posture when entering a room or sitting at a meeting can give off a signal of power and authority. Open hand signals, nodding one’s head, and making eye contact can promote feelings of warmth within a leader to the rest of the team.  Stand or sitting up straight, making expansive gestures, and hold your shoulders back exudes a confidence in your leadership skills and what you are saying. When feeling less confident or uncertain people tend to shrink, minimize the space they take up.  Legs and arms crossed, pulled in tight or slouching is a way to send a message of lack of confidence or even discomfort in the situation or discussion.

For the most part these gestures are unconscious.  Recognizing and being aware, paying attention to what your body is saying is important if you want to be seen as a leader. Awareness of your body language, projecting a positive and even powerful body language can actually transform how you see yourself.

There is no good or bad body signal per se, but these signals can be used to either unknowingly or deliberately support or sabotage a message when relating to the team as a leader.  As an experiment, a very gifted speaker delivered an incredible speech and concluded by asking if there were any questions and then crossing his arms. Not a single question was asked. The audience, without realizing it, saw this gesture as a complete contradiction to his request for questions.

Similarly, if a leader or speaker is less than 100% confident and certain of the message they are delivering to their audience, it will show in their speech, their body language, and even in their choice of words.  In order to appear confident, leaders have to believe in what they are saying and assure their non-verbal is congruent.

Signals of warmth and empathy are equally important qualities of a good leader. Communication during one-on-one time with an employee, or when delivering a difficult message to a group of employees is crucial to gaining support and trust.  Showing emotion through eye contact and facial expressions will tend to level the field of authority with your employees, and give them the confidence and feeling of trust they need to be honest and open with their leaders. You want to be a trusted leader with your employees and by projecting true empathy and approachability, your team responds accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding communications as a leader, please contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team. We know that providing excellent direction in effective leadership is the very core of effective management.

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

5 Tips for Better HR Communications

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

One way to streamline HR processes is to improve your HR communication.

Leadership and communication

Below are 5 practical tips that should help you more effectively communicate with the workforce:

Tip # 1: Communication from HR must be authentic and hyper-relevant

Generally speaking, employees have lost some degree of trust in the authenticity of the company communications they receive. In particular, HR communications are often viewed by the workforce as being less than straightforward, with some sort of hidden agenda. To further complicate matters, employees often feel the communication they receive is not important to them directly.

Tip # 2: Create simple, timely communications that focus on what employees need to know and do

In the spirit of trying to create full disclosure, HR tends to ‘over-communicate.’ In doing so we cloud the message. We don’t need to share every detail.

Tip # 3: Tag actionable communications in the subject line with ‘Action required’

E-mails from HR are often too generic and lack a “What’s in it for me?” or “What am I supposed to do about this?” message for employees.

Here is a good example of how to communicate when action is required:

  1. Issue: All employees must re-enroll for benefits.
  2. Action you must take: Log onto xyz website, and complete enrollment by xyz date.
  3. What happens if you don’t act: Your benefits will not be renewed.

Tip # 4: Don’t hide behind e-mails

It is also important to realize that your communications cannot be solely in the form of e-mails and memos sent to the masses. Follow up important company-wide communications with face-to-face interaction. This might include such things as town-hall meetings or stand-up department meetings to highlight key points. Make certain to open these meetings up for questions.

This type of interaction fosters a culture that shows the company cares about employees and wants their voices to be heard. Smaller companies can be more personal in their communications, using in-person meetings followed up by next-step e-mails.

Other ways HR can help set the tone for effective communications:

  • Establish training and clear guidelines on the proper use of emails (including cc’s, volume, respond times)
  • Create a consistent, clear format for company-wide communications
  • Establish a ‘gate-keeper’ for large-scale communications to the workforce
  • Encourage the better use of virtual technology—i.e. Live Meeting, WebEx, Skype, and MS Lync

Tip # 5: Hold ‘All Hands’ Meetings

In terms of communicating the company strategy, the use of quarterly ‘all-hands’ company meetings are frequently helpful. These meetings are typically facilitated by an HR leader and run by a member of the senior leadership team. During the meetings, leaders discuss the progress being made relative to the company goals and strategies. These meetings are also used as a means to proactively address employee concerns that may be gaining momentum.

If you need help thinking through your HR/Employee communications learn how CAI can help you create the best workplace for your employees.

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Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

Don’t Let Behavioral Issues Hamper Strong Performance

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

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

Employees succeed with the right combination of aptitude and attitude. Technical skills are insufficient if poor behaviors dominate. Great behaviors cannot overcome basic technical failures.

Most managers are effective when discussing a hard-skills gap with employees. “Liz, when you seal a sterile container, make sure this checklist is followed, including a label with the seal date.” Easy. The discussion is all business, not personal. The skills can be trained. There is often a right way and a wrong way.

Behavior and attitude issues are different. Employees (and managers) bring their own versions to work. Our genetics and years of living formed patterns. No training class or checklist can cure behavioral problems quickly. There are fewer rights and wrongs. It seems too personal.

Because it is hard, many managers avoid conversations about behaviors until something blows up. “You make me crazy when you act like that!” “You are hard to work with, everybody says so!” “You’re fired!”

When we train managers in communications skills, tools and acronyms help them transfer new knowledge to the workplace. One of my favorites is B.I.T. Instead of getting angry and ranting, have a “Behavior-Impact-Tomorrow fit” the next time behavioral problems cause work problems.

Behavior

Focus on the observable behavior, not your guess at intent. For example, if you tell an employee “you are rude to team members during our project reviews and shut them down,” you are assuming the intent to shut people down. The employee will become defensive and never agree they meant to be rude or to stifle debate.

Instead, describe the observable behavior: “Several times during our last team meeting, you interrupted before the other person finished their thought. This has happened in other meetings as well.”

Impact

Next, describe the impact of this behavior. “When you interrupt someone who is trying to explain their idea, several things happen. It can prevent us all from learning something valuable. It can chill others from challenging your ideas. It also hurts your ability to receive a fair shot for your own ideas. For example, I saw Mary back off her idea yesterday when you interrupted before she finished a sentence.

Tomorrow

“Tomorrow, I expect you to listen well to teammates and work hard to understand what they are saying. Ask them questions to understand their ideas. Hear them out before you ask them to hear you. Tomorrow, spend time listening to the speaker to understand, rather than inserting your response. Sit on your hands if you need that reminder. It will benefit you and the team.”

“Stop interrupting people!” is better than ignoring the problem, but providing a tool or technique to improve behavior works better. Describing the future state and giving more feedback after the next meeting make your expectations concrete.

Getting the very best from every employee is a manager’s main purpose. Motivation, rewards, clarity, engagement and recognition all play a part. Coaching and corrective discussions can be just as important, especially when behavioral problems prevent excellent performance.

If you have any further suggestions as to how managers can improve behavior and attitude issues, please let us know in the comments! For questions, please contact our Advice & Resolution team at at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 if you encounter any further challenges with the growth of your small business.

Stop Poor Employee Behavior from Damaging Your Workplace

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

“No one has ever been fired for a bad attitude. Sure, attitude may be the reason given, but the real reason was poor behavior. We cannot know another person’s attitude (whatever that is) but you can observe and act on behaviors,” Bruce Clarke, CAI’s president and CEO, says in the latest edition of his News & Observer column, “The View from HR.”

Some managers are quick to say that their poor performing employees have bad attitudes. However, if they observe the actions of their poor performers and offer suggestions for improvement, managers can turn employees with perceived bad attitudes into productive workers who positively affect the company’s bottom line.

Knowing how to correctly handle an employee with a behavior problem is invaluable for employers.  Threatening to fire or demote an employee the next time she displays poor behavior will do little to help improve her work performance. Use the information below to help resolve behavioral issues at your company:

Explain

Use specific examples of poor performance that you have witnessed when addressing these employees. Exaggeration and hearsay from others is not helpful and may cause employees to hold resentment or perform even worse. Communicate effectively by telling your poor performer what you expect from him and what the consequences are for not meeting expectations. Doing this gives him an opportunity to improve and also allows you to check his progress to see if further action is needed.

Retrain

Inadequate training can be the culprit of problem performance at your organization. Talk with your employees to make sure they are informed about the skills and experience needed for their positions. If poor training is the reason, retrain them correctly and give them time to adjust to their updated roles. Sometimes analyzing training reveals that an employee is actually not the best fit for her job. If this occurs, see if she has tasks that you can give to another employee or if you can reassign her to a new position.

Monitor

Employees with unsuitable workplace behavior should have increased supervision. Micromanaging is not necessary, but checking in with them frequently will help you determine if they can improve or if you need to let them go. Once you and your poor performer agree on an improvement plan, set up a weekly meeting to assess his progress and uncover any obstacles that he may be facing. Reward employees or take further disciplinary action based on the information you learn from these meetings. Keep these meetings documented so you and the employee have a record of his workplace behavior. Documenting these meetings also will be legally helpful if terminating an employee becomes an option.

Be swift when dealing with employees who display poor workplace behavior. Addressing the issue quickly will show your intolerance for unsatisfactory performance. Failing to do so will lower your team’s morale because productive staff members will be responsible for carrying the weight of their less productive colleagues. You are also in danger of wasting time, energy, resources and money when you accept poor employee performance. Call CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional guidance on performance management issues.

Photo Source: National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru’s photostream

Don’t Forget HR Basics When Connecting with Your Workplace

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

“If we worked much harder on the time-tested foundational needs of employees and employers, we would create benefits more powerful than the latest trends in ‘employee engagement’ or ’human capital management,’” CAI’s CEO and President, Bruce Clarke, says in his latest News & Observer column—“The View from HR.”

Bruce stresses the importance of employers using fundamental HR practices to keep employees engaged and workplaces productive. Leaders in every industry, including HR, often search for the most innovative programs or complex strategies to improve their business. Sometimes, however, sticking to the basics can prove to be more rewarding.

Make sure your company practices these HR essentials:

1. Communicate Effectively

Poor workplace communications is a common reason why employees leave their jobs. Assessing your office’s current communication style with an anonymous employee opinion survey can reveal areas that need improving. All employees should feel comfortable asking questions, discussing concerns or making suggestions with each other. Reaching your employees through multiple communications channels, including the office intranet, break room message board or staff meetings, can help you avoid workplace confusion or miscommunication. 

2. Provide Feedback and Reward Accomplishments

Establish clear expectations for each employee at your workplace. Creating action plans with specific timelines, final due dates and desired results will help you gauge their progress. Do not wait until their annual review to tell them how they are doing. Offer them positive feedback and constructive criticism throughout the year to keep them motivated and working to make improvements. If your employees are continually achieving great results or finishing projects before deadline, reward them for their efforts. Whether it is with a raise or paid lunch, employees will appreciate the recognition.

3. Listen Carefully

Listening to your employees is vital for maintaining a positive and productive work environment. Get their feedback on new workplace initiatives and business endeavors. Regularly ask them how they are feeling and if they have suggestions on how to make their work life more enjoyable and productive. Respect the opinions of all colleagues, and before passing judgment on an idea or concern, take time to understand why they are addressing the issue.

4. Make Employees Feel Important

A successful employer-employee relationship is a two-way commitment. In order for staff members to produce their best work, employers need to offer them their best resources. Giving employees the tools to perform their job is only part of showing them that they are valuable. Workers want to know that they are important to their organization, so frequently tell them that their efforts are appreciated and support the company’s survival. Show your employees that your respect them, their time and their work by keeping commitments with them and trusting them to complete their work in a professional and timely manner. This will help increase the amount of respect they give to you as well.

Simple solutions can often conquer complicated problems. For additional tips on keeping your workforce engaged and productive, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: AGmakonts