Posts Tagged ‘Employee Performance’

Time to Break the Link?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Conventional wisdom often creates a strong linkage between performance evaluation ratings and compensation. On its face, this link seems completely appropriate. After all, it is only natural for people to think that stronger performance deserves more pay, weaker performance less.

However, a performance / compensation model with this direct link has a number of inherent downsides. First, many managers “force fit” employee rankings into desired compensation distributions in order maintain budget.  This practice discredits the performance system, breeds cynicism, and demotivates employees.performance-ratings

Another unwanted side effect of a direct linkage between performance rating and compensation is that many employees worry excessively about the pay implications related to the differences in ratings. As a consequence, they become fixated on their rating and drown out any discussion about developmental needs.

Focusing less on the link itself between performance and compensation allows companies to worry less about tracking and rating, and the consequences thereof, and more about building capabilities and inspiring employees to stretch their skills and aptitudes.  Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that compensation has no linkage with performance. I simply believe that the focus on the immediate linkage, at the time of the review, has several drawbacks that take away from the intended outcome of the performance review process and discussion.

Here is the rub: Since only a relatively few employees are truly standouts, (5-10%, perhaps 15%) why risk demotivating the broad majority of your employee base by focusing almost exclusively on the linkage between pay and performance.

Even General Electric, a long time proponent of the performance – pay linkage model and all the related processes and templates that go with it, is currently reinventing itself in this arena.  They are considering options ranging from dispensing with the entire model to a more gradual shift over time. They also understand that they must equip their managers with new tools and methods to motivate and reward employees.

The growing need for companies to inspire and motivate performance makes it critical to create managers and supervisors who are better coaches. Without great and frequent coaching, it’s difficult to set goals flexibly and often, to help employees stretch their jobs, or to give people greater responsibility and autonomy while demanding more expertise and judgment from them.

If you’re rethinking your organization’s performance management process, you don’t have to go it alone. Contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team to help you and your leadership team evaluate alternative models and coach you through making a change.

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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.

Can We Talk…? How to Have a Difficult Conversation

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Every manager at one time or another has been faced with this awkward situation. The need arises for them to have a difficult performance conversation with one of their direct reports. In most cases, it has become clearly evident that the employee’s performance has dropped below the acceptable standard, and the issue must be addressed.thx7vghl8u

Yet, it is generally at this point that they begin to question how to best approach the matter. Because of a strong desire to be liked (a.k.a. high need for affiliation), many managers bury their heads in the sand and hope that the matter will fade away. The reality is that this is seldom the case.

Still other managers just feel too uncomfortable to give constructive feedback. To assist them, here are several practical tips that you can share with your management team:

Tip # 1: Don’t procrastinate

When you see performance issues, address them as quickly as possible. Putting them on the back burner will only delay the inevitable. If you allow the matter to pass, you may inadvertently send a signal that the performance is acceptable.

Tip # 2: Don’t dance around the subject

When they are about to have a difficult conversation, managers tend to try to ‘break the ice’ with some small talk. Fight that urge. The best approach is to avoid the small talk and get to the point. A good starting point is to immediately state… ‘This is going to be a difficult conversation.’

Tip # 3: Provide examples

Being too general when addressing a performance issue doesn’t give the employee enough to work with. In order for them to fully grasp the issues, give specific examples of their performance lapses. You don’t have to beat them over the head with every instance, but you do need to make it clear.

The use of ‘talking points’ allows you to keep focused on the issues at hand. By sticking to the script, talking points also help to reduce the likelihood that emotions will hinder your ability to deliver a clear message.

Tip # 4: Listen to the employee

This is a frequently overlooked aspect of the difficult conversation process. In their zeal to get their point across, many managers turn this into a one-sided monologue. It is critical that you give the employee the opportunity to share their thoughts. Sometimes all you will hear are lame excuses. Other times, there are valid points that mitigate the performance deficit.

However, if the employee becomes defensive, politely interrupt them, and return to your talking points.

Tip # 5: Clarify expectations

This is the ideal time to reinforce what the expectations are. If the matter is part of an ongoing performance issue, you would be best served to create a performance improvement plan. Either way, you’ll need to restate what the expectations are, and gain employee commitment to those expectations.

Another best practice is to keep a real-time log of such discussions (date, time, issues etc.).

Tip # 6: Set a follow-up meeting

The best way to ensure that the employee fully understands that this matter will not be ignored, is to keep it on their radar. During your discussion, arrange for a follow-up meeting in a couple of weeks. At that meeting, make certain to get a progress update from the employee and provide them with your observations.

Nearly all of us avoid having difficult conversations. To start providing important and necessary constructive performance feedback, contact CAI’s 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.

Keys to an Effective Performance Incentive Program

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

When it comes to increasing the return on your investment in your company, many business owners think of getting increased value through investments in new computer systems, or more sophisticated warehousing equipment, or a larger facility.  Yet, in today’s business climate, it is the company’s employees more than anything else that represent the single biggest investment that a business owner will make.incentive

That’s why effective performance incentive programs are so important.  Properly designed performance incentive programs not only help to ensure that you achieve your business objectives, but they can actually help employees develop or enhance job skills, thereby improving employee performance and productivity.  And, more productive employees become even more committed to achieving company goals, leading to repeat success and reduced staff turnover.

While the variety and complexity of a performance incentive program will vary from company to company, here are a few ingredients that are critical to the success of all such programs, regardless of your business:

Has High Visibility Among Employees: An effectively-designed performance incentive program will really get the attention of the employees.  But managers must also ensure that they create a continual “buzz” to keep the program objectives foremost in the minds of employees.  Regular progress reports and updates, as well as interim celebrations will go a long way to keep people focused and motivated.

Provides A Variety Of Incentives: Not all employees have the same responsibilities, and not everyone is motivated in the same way.  Successful performance incentive programs include opportunities for all employees to “win,” regardless of the type of work that they perform.  And including different types of rewards (a choice of either “cash” bonus, gift card, or a day off, for example) ensures that there’s something for everyone in achieving the goal(s).

Delivers Rewards In A Timely Fashion: The greatest satisfaction in achieving a goal occurs when the goal is realized, not a month after the fact.  And timely acknowledgment more directly connects the achievement itself with the reward, providing additional incentive to win another time.  Make sure that your performance incentive program provides for prompt recognition of achievement.

Includes Employee Involvement: Incentive programs developed by top managers only without the involvement of employees are likely to be not as effective as when there is employee involvement.   The people performing the job are often best positioned to know what is an appropriate range is for actual and stretch goals. Also seek employees’ opinions regarding types of incentives that will truly motivate them.

Reflects Business Goals And Company Values:  Remember that performance incentives are a very effective way to reinforce the goals and objectives you have for your business, as well as to remind people of the company’s overriding values.  Get the greatest impact from your performance incentive program by ensuring that it rewards performance consistent with that vision.

Should you need help thinking through an approach that will work best for your organization contact CAI’s Advice & Resolution team today.

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Rick Washburn leads the Advice & Resolution team at CAI. In his role, he advises executives and HR professionals on strategic and organizational issues, tackling subjects ranging from employee engagement to talent management. With his 25 years experience in HR management, Rick is uniquely poised to advice and lead businesses to successful HR strategies.

The Best Metric for HR Effectiveness: Revenue per Employee

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

I recently did a quick Google search on the number of different HR metrics out there to “help” HR professionals better measure their effectiveness, their return on human capital, etc. I found 441 on one list. Holy cow! No wonder many HR Pros struggle with metrics…

The problem with many HR metrics is they are just that, HR metrics (versus business metrics). We struggle to explain their relevance and bottom line impact to our C-Suite executives. If you could only pick one metric, or perhaps more appropriately only had time to measure one metric, I would submit that Revenue per Employee (RPE) would be it. It’s been around forever and is well understood in B-schools. Just take the revenue produced by your company or business unit and divide it by your total number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees.

Many HR activities impact both sides of the equation and it’s our job as HR Pro’s to show our executive teams how. Employee Performance, Innovation, Sales, Culture, Employee Engagement, headcount, turnover, recruiting effectiveness, supervisory skills, training programs, etc. They all impact RPE.

How to use it… Just compare your number over time – is the number going up or down. Go online and find out what your industry averages look like. How do you stack up? You can also use RPE to help justify your next HR initiative. RPE thinking can help you determine if your department is focused on the right priorities. Try it out!

I’d love to hear from companies using RPE in their HR strategic planning. Please share!!

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Benefits of Succession Planning for Your Workforce

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

How would your business perform if your top three employees left your organization tomorrow to join a competitor? What if members of your senior management team parted ways to begin their own businesses? If your CEO became terribly ill and couldn’t perform his duties, would your business continue to run smoothly?

Succession planning is essential for keeping your organization moving in the right direction even when several key members of your staff jump ship, retire or move on for other reasons.  As important as succession planning is, many companies forgo strategizing a plan to retain their best people to eventually take over different roles. Succession planning isn’t a rigorous assignment, but because the efforts of the process aren’t often revealed until a team member leaves, many businesses don’t take the time to start planning.

Deciding the key employees who will ultimately step into leadership and senior management roles is imperative for maintaining business success during any economic climate or business situation. Succession planning is also an office morale and engagement booster. Grooming employees for their future roles by giving them more complex tasks and investing in their growth keeps them focused, motivated and loyal to the company.

Here are four additional reasons to start drafting your organization’s succession plan:

Preparedness

Whether your employees leave to start retirement  life or plan to begin their own businesses, having a succession plan in place will help you more quickly identify which employees will take over your company’s open positions so your business can continue to run as normal.

Less Time and Money

Dedicating time to plan the future of your organization will save your company time and money. Plans to promote and train people within your company means less time spent recruiting for external candidates, interviewing them and checking their references. Money allotted to those efforts will also decrease with a solid succession plan in place.

Weakness is Uncovered

Finding future leaders reveals the strengths within your workforce, but it also uncovers the weaknesses that your organization must work on to secure business and financial growth. Help areas of your company that you discover to be weaker than others by offering training and resources that will help improve performance.

Get a Bird’s Eye View

Evaluating your workforce in preparation for succession planning gives you a great perspective of the talent in your organization. Ascertaining who should fill the shoes of another will help your team better understand the day-to-day happenings of your business. So as you’re planning don’t solely include roles for higher level executives. Incorporate middle managers and their direct reports to create a comprehensive succession plan.

For additional information on the benefits of succession planning or how to develop your company’s plan, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

Employees Who Display Emotional Intelligence Add Value to the Workplace

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Gauge your attitude at the office:

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

Form strong workplace relationships:

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

Strive to be valued instead of right:

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

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

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Ways to Monitor and Manage Declining Employee Performance

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Do you have a problem employee whose productivity and attitude have noticeably soured?

Donald Trump would just yell, “You’re fired!” But there are other ways to handle the situation.

Confronting an employee whose performance is declining is not something you can put off until tomorrow, because poor performance in the workplace can be contagious and negatively affect the morale and productivity of other employees. No matter how unpleasant or difficult it is, you must talk with the problem employee right away.  Find out what’s impacting his or her personal and/or workplace life.

The personal reasons for an employee’s declining performance can run the gamut, and may include:

  • employee is dealing with a health issue
  • marital or family problems
  • alcohol or drug dependency

Workplace-related reasons for declining employee performance can be just as varied. A few examples are:

  • employee is overworked
  • problems with a manager or coworkers
  • boredom

If the reasons are personal, you must not attempt to counsel the employee unless you are certified in that area as a counselor. You can help the employee gain access to a psychologist or other professional counselor, however.

Have Written, Explicitly Defined Performance Standards

As the typical manager or HR professional, you are qualified to counsel the employee strictly about work-related performance. But before you can establish the fact of poor performance, you must have written, explicitly defined performance standards against which you can effectively measure an employee’s work history. Once both employer and the employee agree that there has indeed been recently unsatisfactory job performance, you can begin to monitor and manage the situation.

Be Ready To Change Your Management Approach To the Problem Employee

A troubled employee may require a different management approach from you than he or she required previously. For instance, an employee who previously exhibited a confident, self-reliant work ethic may need closer supervision and direction for a while, until his or her performance issues become resolved. You will find that problem employees will require more of your support, time and attention.

In an emotionally charged situation with an angry, frustrated employee, you will have to listen carefully, display empathy or at least unbiased understanding, and be ready to help the employee seek a solution to the problem.

If the employee has a true grievance, such as sexual harassment, you must be prepared to take immediate steps to protect the individual and address the legal issues.

It is important to obtain a commitment from the problem employee to agree to partner with you (and others) to correct his or her poor performance. Establish a written plan of action, and set up a series of meetings that will occur regularly until the problem is resolved.

Many good employees may go through periods of poor performance due to a number of factors beyond either your control or theirs. Dealing with declining productivity and poor morale is among the biggest challenges a manager or HR pro will ever face, but if you meet the challenge squarely, objectively and with compassion, it can turn into a win-win-win situation for the employee, you and the company.

For additional information about how you can manage an employee’s declining performance, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: frozenchipmunk

Five Tips for Employee Motivation

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

One of the many discussion points brought up by the recent actions of JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater was this: when treated poorly, employees will not be motivated to do their best at work. They will have no connection to the organization, and will feel that their employer takes them for granted. That results in an unhappy workplace that can lead to poor performance by a company.

If you really want to make sure your employees have reasons to be committed to your organization, here are five tips we recommend:

  1. Make clear to employees that they play a key role in fulfilling your company’s mission and goals. Workers must make a connection as to how what they are doing every day will pave the way to what will be better for them, as well as the company in the future. Otherwise, they have no incentive to stay with you, they seek and find other jobs, and you have a turnover problem.
  2. Understand what motivates your employees to perform better. The answer is not always just a wage hike – many top workers have left companies for other lower-paying positions for a variety of reasons, such as a better work environment or to have more time to spend with their families. Knowing what each of your employees want and then trying to accommodate those desires individually takes time in the short term but should pay off in the long run.
  3. Find ways to promote ideas from your employees and encourage collaboration among them. When people feel that their opinions about what should be done to improve the business are being heard, they will be much more loyal to the organization and its leaders.
  4. Discuss with each of your employees individually how he or she feels about his or her current position and see if job duties need to be adjusted. The worker may well be “burned out” over performing certain tasks repeatedly and no longer feel challenged to work up to his or her potential as a result.
  5. Recognize your employees publicly for good work. This does not have to be anything elaborate. For some basic ideas, read our previous blog on “Five Free Ways to Show Appreciation in the Workplace.”

For more details on how you can assess and improve employee engagement, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo Source: alvar.a-blast.org