Posts Tagged ‘employee feedback’

Performance Management is Changing

Thursday, November 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.

Almost no one likes the performance management system at work, including employees, managers and HR.

Employees dislike infrequent feedback, the high-pressure focus on negative comments, ratings under 4 or 5, reviews given by untrained managers and too much subjectivity in ratings or comments.

Managers dread the time required, confronting problem performers, the disconnect with important work, rigid forms and barriers to paying high performers more. performance

HR really gets edgy when managers use the system to manipulate pay, submissions are chronically late, the total time and cost required is excessive and unjustified halo reviews damage legal defenses in terminations.

What to do?

WorldatWork* published an extensive review of performance management trends in its Q2 2016 Journal. HR experts, practitioners and consultants put forth their best current practices and strategies.  Surprisingly, much of the action is with smaller employers (under 500 people) and manufacturers.

The big trends are 1) frequent conversations rather than annual reviews, 2) simplified or eliminated ratings scales, and 3) input from peers and others. In fact, most organizations using these trends have some combination of new techniques plus the best features of their former system.

Frequent Conversations

Ongoing feedback strengthens relationships and promotes clarity. Sometimes these conversations are difficult, but frequency allows timely correction and coaching rather than delayed criticism. When managers talk monthly or quarterly with employees, everyone knows more about expectations, successes and hurdles.  The conversation is less of a review and more of a check-in.  There might be a simplified annual review and a year-end pay discussion as well.

Get Rid of Ratings

In general, top performers are offended by any rating below perfect. A debate over 4.6 versus 5.0 is not useful and may damage retention.  Reviews are not good at delivering precision and repeatability in ratings, anyway.  So, if we are irritating our best people, overrating our average performers and super-overrating poor performers to get them a raise, stop the madness!

Peer Feedback

A less common but interesting option is peer feedback. Usually, peer feedback is ongoing in the form of kudos and applause for work well done.  Software makes this easy to do and is readily available (such as SoundBoard).  Targeted comments on specific dimensions such as company values, results achieved and leadership skills might be sought.  When you seek constructive feedback from peers, everyone needs training in the how and why. The impact of good data is powerful.

So far, the experience with new approaches is good. They still take time, but improved linkage to company values, to the work required and to employee skill growth is significant.  Traditional and annual systems are slightly better at identifying the poorest performers.

HR has driven most of this change.  Successful users say you must get top leadership buy-in. Managers need training to understand the new processes and why the changes were made.

The right performance management system can be a competitive business advantage and retention tool. The wrong one can be, well, like the one you have right now. Contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team to help your goal of the right performance management system.

Bruce Clarke c

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’S President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

How to Develop Your Employees by Providing Feedback

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Part of a manager’s job is to help grow and develop talent for the organization.  And, most employees want to know how they are doing.  When managers take the time and effort to comment on an employee’s work, they are helping shape not only that employee, but the organization as well. But, when managers fail to provide feedback, they actually impoverish the individual as well as the organization. Performance-Evaluation-Form-Feedback

Some managers hesitate to give feedback for a couple of reasons:

1 – They may feel that giving positive reinforcing feedback to employees will “spoil” them or that it is not necessary since the employees are just doing the job for which they are being paid.

2 – They may dread the awkward conversation that sometimes happens when they must give corrective or improvement feedback, so they say nothing and hope the situation will improve.

At CAI, part of our mission is to replace fear with action.  We share with our classroom participants a simple formula for doing so.  It’s called the BIT.  BIT stands for behavior, impact and tomorrow.  It’s a handy way to remember that feedback, regardless of whether it is reinforcing or corrective, should have three elements:

  • Behavior – talk to the employee about exactly what he or she has observed or overheard doing or saying.
  • Impact – let the employee know the impact (again, whether positive or negative) that his/her behavior has on the customer, their colleagues or other stakeholders.
  • Tomorrow – finally, explain that you wish for the employee to continue exhibiting the positive behavior and encourage him/her to do more of it OR let the employee know that a behavior change must take place within a given time period.

Examples:

Positive, reinforcing:

  • Jason, I heard you speaking to an upset customer in the lobby this morning.  He sounded pretty angry.  You kept calm and did not raise your voice.  Instead, you asked him for more details and just listened.
  • The impact of your composure was to not only calm our customer down, but to preserve his business with us.  I feel confident that he intended to close his account when he first came into the lobby.
  • Jason, we appreciate your professionalism immensely.  Next week, we have a new employee starting in Customer Service.  Would you please make some time to let her shadow you on some of your customer service calls?

Corrective, need for improvement:

  • Marcy, yesterday I saw you turn your back on our auditor who was waiting for the key to the conference room. It was clear you saw her standing there, but you ignored her until she had to ask you again for the key.
  • The impact of this behavior is that in addition to being impolite, you have sent a message of indifference to the auditing staff, who is here trying to help us.
  • From tomorrow on, please make it a point to greet the auditors when they arrive and ask them how you can assist them.  Please extend the same courtesy to them as you would to our customers.

The BIT statement is a powerful tool that does not diminish the employee in any way.  It does not judge someone’s character or intent; it merely states the facts and their impact and further clarifies the manager’s expectations.

Let CAI help you optimize your management skills.

lindataylor

Linda L. Taylor, MS, SPHR, CCP, is a Learning & Development Partner at CAI. She brings more than 20 years of human resource and organizational experience to her role as a trainer. Linda is responsible for teaching CAI’s various courses, including The Management Advantage™, to train and educate members and clients. Her extensive experience as manager, consultant, and educator provides her with a unique skill set that allows her to effectively partner with member organizations and work to positively impact their business results.

 

Six Tips to Turn Frustrated Employees into Positive Ones

Thursday, December 10th, 2015
Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins shares helpful tips to transform negative energy into positive action within frustrated employees.

Within any organization, there will always be an opportunity to deal with a frustrated employee.  When employees are frustrated, their productivity often goes down and odds are they are affecting the morale and productivity of those around them.

Some frustrated employees will never speak up regarding their frustrations, be it feelings of being unheard as an employee or mistreated as a team member.  Their feelings eventually turn to anger or resentment until they finally resign.   When an unhappy employee does confide in you, it becomes an opportunity to turn that situation around for an employee who may be a valuable contributor to the organization.

Start by listening to the employee.  Do not try to immediately determine if they have an actual problem. That can sometimes be a first reaction, but it is not what they are looking for when they come to you. The important thing to remember is they perceive there is an issue which needs to be discussed.  Let them talk through it and work with them to really understand their point of view.

Show the employee you genuinely care about their issue and then work to find out why they feel the way they do.  By talking through it, the two of you can get to the underlying cause and hopefully find a solution.  Follow these simple steps to turn a frustrated employee into one with a more positive outlook:

  • Appreciate Feedback – Show your employee how much you value the time, energy and the courage it took for them to come to you with this situation.
  • Empathize – Offer your employee understanding about their situation. Take the time to understand the situation and be genuine in your delivery. Otherwise, you will come off sounding like you are patronizing them.
  • Get the Details – Have the employee outline for you what led up to their becoming frustrated with the situation. Let them know, if appropriate, that you will investigate the issue(s) and therefore the more detail they can provide, the more quickly a solution can be found.
  • Offer an Apology – Providing your employee with a heartfelt, honest apology may be appropriate.  You may not be directly responsible, but you are not apologizing for the issue, you are offering an “I’m sorry” for the way your employee feels as a result of the issue.
  • Take Action – At the end of the discussion, your employee is going to want to know what you intend to do about the situation. They may not ask directly, but you need to convey your plans to take action. Your next steps will be what they remember. This is an opportunity to enhance your employee’s trust.
  • Follow Up – Offer a time frame in which you will follow up with the employee to be sure things are better. By now, you have conveyed what you feel is the solution and have hopefully executed it. Close the loop by making sure the employee is satisfied in how you handled it.

These simple steps will help you take control of a negative situation and make a very positive statement about how your organization cares for its staff. If you have questions about dealing with frustrated employees, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

What has worked best for you when you have dealt with a frustrated employee? What has worked best for you if you were the frustrated employee?  Let us know in the comments below.

Employees Will Seek Consistent Feedback in the New Year

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

employee feedbackGeneration Y is not the only workforce population that relies on frequent feedback to improve their workplace performance.  Each of your workers will benefit from a meeting discussing their current performance and how they’ll fare in future.

Telling your employees how their performance measures up is advantageous to your organization and their career. Maybe you don’t understand what motivates your office manager or that your graphic designer needs an assistant to better manage his workload. Consistently offering staffers feedback and asking them how you can help will explain some of the questions you haven’t thought to ask.

Here are five ways to offer feedback to your workers and improve their job performance:

Notice Their Routine

Be aware of how your employees conduct themselves at your organization. As their manager, you’re responsible for making sure they deliver the results that you hired them to achieve. Your direct reports represent you and your department, so protect your reputation by playing an active role in their development.

Listen to Their Concerns

Part of being a manager or a leader is addressing the concerns of your employees. The only way you’ll find out their concerns is if you ask them questions and listen. Holding individual, weekly or monthly meetings with your team members is a great way to uncover their motivators and the personal goals they’d like to reach.

Offer Encouragement

Listening is just the start of establishing a positive manager/direct report relationship. Once you know what your employees are hoping to achieve, inform them that you’re on their side. Make yourself available to your employees if they need help. Walk them through frustrating situations, and don’t let them quit, even when obstacles become overwhelming.

State the Truth

Be direct with your employees because it will help them and your business in the long run. Sugar coating issues will only prolong the problems at hand. Take action to make your staff members aware that you have concerns about some aspects of their job performance. Work with them to find solutions instead of wasting time.

Recognize Their Work

Anytime your employees execute great work performances, you should take time to recognize them. Whether they prepared well for a presentation, assisted a colleague who was home sick or doubled their sales numbers, rewarding them for their hard work lets them know that you appreciate their contributions. Showing employees that they are integral team members will boost their morale and level of engagement.

For additional information on delivering constant feedback, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: RDECOM

A Tale of Two Cultures

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

The post below is a guest post from Buzz Rooney, a practicing HR professional with more than 10 years of experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, health benefits, compliance and more. Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her website, The Buzz on HR.

Company A had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the positivity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people loved working there and that the company worked hard to make the employees feel valued. The office was brightly decorated, the equipment was state-of-the-art, and the break area was stocked with yummy snacks and fun games. The employees always spoke of the company as “us” and “we.” They could recite the history of the organization. They knew how their work connected to the work of others and how it impacted the bottom line of the organization.

Their pride in their practices made them cocky. Over time, the organization began to think their way was the only way to do business. They criticized and ridiculed organizations that weren’t like them – including clients and vendors.

Company B also had a very strong culture. When you entered their offices, you could feel the negativity exuding from every cubicle. It was clear that people resented working there and didn’t feel valued. The office walls were dingy white and undecorated, the equipment was older, and the break area was tiny and full of not-so-gentle reminders (don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; don’t take people’s stuff out the fridge, etc).  The employees spoke of the company as “they” and “them.” No one knew the history of the organization. They didn’t know how their work connected to the work of others or impacted the bottom line organization.

Their acrimonious attitude made them tense and guarded. Employees were constantly fearful of losing favor with decision-makers. Bullying and passive-aggressive behavior abounded. Every change was met with resistance, reluctance and reticence. When asked to define the culture of their organization, everyone from the owner to the receptionist said “We don’t really have one.”

Wrong! Every organization has culture. It might be a cult or it might be a crock – but it exists and is always there.

Culture is what your employee’s think, feel and express about working there. Most companies actively work to define their culture. Others let it develop organically.

How can you figure out and fix the culture of your organization?

Ask. Employees generally want to give feedback. They want to tell management how they are feeling. Give them the opportunity to do it without fear of retaliation. Also ask your customers and vendors about their experiences working with the employees of your organization and their perceptions of your culture.

Assess. Once you have the feedback from your customers, employees and vendors, examine it against the mission, vision, values, goals, policies and procedures against the organization. See if the feedback matches. Where it doesn’t match up, determine the cause. Watch for patterns and common threads, such as employees from one area being more or less happy than others. Stay open and willing to embrace the feedback, especially the hard truths.

Adjust. Now that you have the information, it’s time to do something with it. That starts by deciding if you are OK with the feedback received. If the organization does not disagree or isn’t disturbed by the perceptions, there is no need to do anything. However, this isn’t usually the case. More often, organizations are horrified to learn what everyone thinks about them. You have to own the shortcomings in your organization that created those perceptions. Then you have to address the issues at every level. For awhile, all of your decisions and business actions will have to be scrutinized for culture alignment. Eventually, if you don’t give up, the culture you want will take root, blossom and grow.

Culture manifests itself either positively or negatively in the effort and attitude of the employees. Regardless of how it develops, we must know what the culture is – and take the steps to change it when it is not what we want it to be.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Goal Setting is Critical for Employee Engagement and Company Success

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Tuesday’s post featured information for conducting productive employee performance reviews. In addition to the four key elements listed in that post, employee goal setting is another important part of the review process. Goal setting is helpful for managers and employees. Managers have multiple opportunities to provide employees with feedback during this process, and they are able to identify their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Employees can see how their individual contributions affect and support their company’s bottom line when they begin making goals. If goal setting is done correctly, managers have measurable results to verify that employees met or did not meet their assigned goals, which is helpful when determining rewards and future career paths.

Appropriate goal setting can motivate employees to produce stellar work. Managers should help their direct reports create suitable goals for their positions. Assisting workers with goal setting keeps managers informed about the personal and professional interests their workers have.

 Successful companies have their employees set goals frequently—quarterly, monthly or even weekly—not just once a year. Here are a few tips to help goal setting run smoothly:

 

1. Know What You Want Accomplished

Employee goals should align with company goals. Managers should inform their staffs that their roles are essential for bringing the company success, and they should help their staffs tailor goals that will bring additional success.

Managers may have several goals that they would like their employees to accomplish, but they also need to consider the goals their employees would like to attain. Simply ask employees what they would like to achieve, and if their objectives are appropriate, help them create action plans. Employees are more likely to be engaged in their work when they see how their efforts benefit them and their company.

Sometimes managers and employees are overzealous with the amount of goals they create for themselves. All goals should support the overall company mission, so strive for quality instead of quantity when establishing them.

2. Can They Reach Them?

Unrealistic goals benefit no one. In order for employees to be happy at their workplace and produce good work for their employers, they need to receive fairness with demands and expectations. Goals that are too high or impossible to reach will leave employees feeling helpless. Keep their morale high and stress low by tailoring goals to their skill set, position and career growth. Goals should be both challenging and attainable.

When employees are satisfied with their specific goals, have them strategize ways to accomplish them. Break large goals into several projects and help employees set deadlines and determine adequate progress for each one.

3. Be Present

Goals are often unmet because of a lack of supervision from managers. This problem is easily avoidable if managers and employees agree to meet and discuss the progress of each goal frequently. Micromanaging is not necessary, but receiving consistent updates will help managers keep their employees on track, as well as help them identify and work through potential obstacles.

Managers should use update meetings to provide employees with constructive criticism and evaluate goal progress. During these meetings, managers also should take time to encourage and praise employees for their efforts. These meetings are helpful for forming stronger manager-employee relationships because of the constant exchange of feedback and shared desire to achieve great results.

 

Employees who consistently meet or exceed their goals should be rewarded because they are showing commitment to their work and their organization. Not offering rewards will result in employee frustration, which has the potential to decrease productivity and increase turnover.

If employees do not meet their marks, managers should schedule time to meet with them to discuss the reasons why they fell short. Employees have to take responsibility for their work. Managers can inform employees of their disappointment if goals were attainable. After acknowledging disappointment, managers should help employees rework their goals or brainstorm strategies to make them more achievable.

Please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional tips on successful employee goal setting.

Photo Source: hanspoldoja, Miiish

Performance Appraisals – Eight Steps to a Better Process

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Performance appraisals have been in use for more than 50 years as a standardized method for evaluating an employee’s job performance.  Most performance appraisals are conducted annually, but if job performance isn’t evaluated throughout the year as it happens, employers miss the opportunity to get the most productivity and best quality efforts from their employees.

Avoid common errors during employee performance appraisals.Below are eight steps to a better performance appraisal process.

#1 – Make Performance Appraisals an Ongoing Process

Employee management is an everyday process.  Rather than wait for an annual performance review, managers should provide both constructive criticism and praise to their employees throughout the year and use the annual performance appraisal to summarize the prior year’s performance.

#2 – Be Prepared

Forms and paperwork should be completed on time, and any solicited feedback from management and peers should be compiled and entered. Take the time to review the employee’s self-assessment prior to the appraisal meeting and be prepared to offer feedback.

#3 – Focus on the Entire Year

In summarizing the employee’s accomplishments throughout the prior year, try not to focus too much on only one or two events, or recent projects. Offer criticisms and praise that are general and that span the entire evaluation period.

#4 – Be Interactive

The performance appraisal must be interactive in order for the employee and the manager to arrive at the same conclusions at the end of the review. Employees may be nervous or apprehensive when entering a meeting about their performance, and the manager should strive to put them at ease.

#5 – Employees are Individuals

Employees should not be compared to other employees in their performance appraisal. Each employee must be evaluated according to his/her job description and performance in his/her job.

#6 – Solicit Feedback from Others

As a manager, you will want to request input from other managers, team members, and stakeholders with whom your employee interacts. The more information you have regarding how others in the organization view an employee, the better your position will be to help him/her be successful.

#7 – Performance Levels Dictate Merit Increase Levels

Giving two different employees very different performance appraisals and awarding them identical increases sends a message that performance does not matter.

#8 – Listen to Your Employees

The performance appraisal is an opportunity to provide feedback to an employee and also to gain valuable insight from the employee’s perspective. It is an important time to listen to your employees – one on one – and get their viewpoints on their performance and the organization as a whole.

For additional information on the performance appraisal process, contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Geograph