Posts Tagged ‘job performance’

Don’t Lose Your New Star on the First Day

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The first day on a new job – Excitement, anticipation, fear, for the new employee AND their family. An employee’s first day can make the difference between them staying and leaving, between them being motivated and engaged or just riding out their time until something better comes along.  I’m going to illustrate my point by tracking the first day experiences of two new star employees: Jane Regret and Tom Happy. Think about which story sounds like your company.

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Jane’s first day starts with her husband wishing her luck.   She arrives early, beaming with excitement.  Jane becomes concerned as she learns the receptionist wasn’t expecting her and didn’t know if her boss Joe Smith was even in.  After ten minutes of calls and pages the receptionist finally reaches Joe, who apparently forgot she was starting that day.  Jane is asked to go to HR to fill out paperwork and told that Joe will meet her later.   Jane spends the next two hours in HR signing forms, hearing about benefits, and watching an old company video.   HR takes Jane to her desk, which really isn’t her desk because they haven’t figured out yet where Jane will sit.    HR gives Jane the policy manual to read and sign now, a catalog to order supplies and is told her computer should arrive in a few days.  Joe Smith finally pops in between meetings for a quick hello, telling Jane he’ll see her at Fred’s going away party this afternoon.   After going out to lunch by herself Jane attends the party for Fred, who is moving on after only 5 years.  Joe actually missed the party so Jane will try to find him on Tuesday.  Jane gets home and tells her husband that she may have made a big mistake.

Tom Happy’s wife Linda was surprised to find a rather large package from Tom’s new employer on the porch, especially since he hadn’t even started working there yet.  As Linda opens the box she calls to Tom, “Wow, it’s all kinds of company merchandise, shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc.  There is also a copy of the company handbook for you to read.  And look there are tickets to the local baseball game – how did they know we love baseball?  And a note from your boss Jack Smith – Welcome aboard, can’t wait to start hitting home runs together.  See you in a month!”

happyTom leaves home on day one and Linda kisses him goodbye and wishes him well.  He arrives early and as he approaches the receptionist he sees his picture on the large TV in the lobby that reads “Today is Tom Happy day! Welcome Tom.”  The receptionist tells Tom they are glad to see him and that Jack will be right here.    Jack greets Tom, “I am so glad you are here, look we need you to sign some paperwork but first, let’s meet your teammates.”  As they approach Tom’s work area he sees streamers, balloons, and a gathering of people.

Tom’s teammates have gathered for coffee and bagels to welcome him.  They talk baseball, kids, share funny stories, etc. When Tom enters his office everything is there – supplies, computer, business cards, etc. After a quick visit to HR, Tom and Jack meet for several hours to review Tom’s 90 day plan and success factors. Several co-workers take Tom to lunch and share company history, why they came here, how important Tom’s role is to the team, and answer his questions about what it is really like to work here. Tom arrives home beaming and tells Linda how she won’t believe the day he had. Replies Linda, “I have an idea – look what Jack sent us – a bottle of wine with this note – Welcome aboard Tom and Linda, let’s raise a toast to a great new relationship.   We’re so glad you two have joined our family.”

These stories, while extreme, do teach us some valuable lessons about how we start our new employees. Think about Tom and Jane.  Which one is more motivated?  Which one is already questioning their decision?  Which one is susceptible to being recruited away? What will each person tell their family, their friends?  What might they post on Facebook or glassdoor.com?

Now, think about which story most resembles your company.  Most organizations I’m afraid resemble Jane’s experience.  Everyone’s doing more with less so few have time to go that extra mile for new employees.  At other companies “only the strong survive,” so they intentionally do not pamper newbies.

Feeling unwelcome, having a boss that doesn’t have time, an unclear job plan all increase the odds that you’ll lose that new star.  And once word gets out about your culture you’ll have a harder time attracting new stars.   You’ll also lose the training costs you’ve sunk into new employees as they leave. Depending on the level of position it can take anywhere from 8 to 28 weeks for a new employee to reach full productivity.

With this backdrop, here are some components of the best on-boarding plans.  Notice that these activities don’t require a large budget, just time and attention.

  • Activities that make a new employee feel welcome.  First impressions that people form about your company are extremely hard to overcome. Instead of just throwing parties for people who are leaving, celebrate your new stars.
  • One-on-one time with supervisor and other leadership. Don’t rush someone onto the payroll if you don’t have time to spend with them. Consider having new employee start on a day other than Monday if that’s your busiest.
  • Introduction into the formal and informal culture. Consider activities such as CEO meetings with newhires, “skip level” lunches, lunch-n-learns, and a buddy system to help new employees understand expected behaviors.
  • A carefully chosen mentor or buddy to help them navigate through your culture, processes and operation. A safe place to learn how things really operate.
  • Just-in-time resources that provide answers for the new employee.  Company acronym dictionaries, process diagrams, auto-enrolled into appropriate listserves and forums, phone lists, community information for relocations, etc.
  • Feedback and guidance on job performance.  Make sure your new hires are working a clear 90 day plan versus walking around aimlessly, with regrets.

A successful on-boarding process should cover the entire first year for the new hire and include all activities through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective.  When done right, on-boarding can lead to higher job satisfaction, better job performance, greater organizational commitment, and reduction in stress and intent to quit.

So start them off right and watch them soar.  Or, start them off wrong and watch them fly away.  Your choice.

p.s.  And when you lose a long term star from your team, odds are they’ll find themselves in a bad first day questioning their move.  Call them that first day and just tell them you’re thinking about them and hoping they are having a great first day!

Learn more about how our Advice & Resolution team can help you design a great onboarding program for your organization.

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Doug Blizzard, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP serves as CAI’s Vice President of Membership, and has been with CAI for more than 15 years. Doug is well-versed in the world of HR from compliance issues to workforce management to aligning business objectives with HR. He strives to constantly improve the member experience and provide employers with the confidence needed to turn fears and opportunities into practical actions and results. If your HR team could benefit from some guidance, you’ll want to learn more about CAI.

 

4 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Vacation Days

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend—free from work and even email! Taking vacation is underutilized by many employees, and the reasons why vary. Some workers believe that they must always be in work mode to get a promotion or even keep their jobs. Others plan poorly and realize at the end of the year that they didn’t take enough vacation and that their allotted days have expired.

Forgoing your vacation days isn’t advantageous. Taking time to unplug from work is helpful for both employees and employers because several benefits emerge from taking regular time off. Here are some of the top reasons why you should use your vacation days and encourage your staff to do the same:

Maintain Health

    • Leaving the office for several days reenergizes your mind and body. Worry and tension is released when you’re not focused on your responsibilities at the office, allowing you to sleep better, concentrate longer and be happier. Studies reveal that vacations can also reduce feelings of depression.

Prevent Stress

    • Always pushing yourself and working past your limits without breaks causes stress. The high-anxiety atmosphere you create for yourself will ultimately catch up with you, whether the result is business failure or poor health. Take your vacation throughout the year to decrease workplace stress and keep it at a manageable level.

Inspire Creativity

    • Vacations are great for inspiring creativity because your brain isn’t focused on the long list of tasks and projects you left at the office. Time off allows your brain to recharge from your busy workweek. A good recharge is especially beneficial to employees who have positions requiring creative and innovative thinking

Improve Job Performance

    • Taking your vacation time helps you return to the office fresh and motivated to take on your goals and workplace challenges. With your stress levels down and your brain fully charged, your productivity and job satisfaction will increase. Additionally, you will have a more positive outlook, which will help you nurture and maintain better relationships with your coworkers.

Cut the number of long days you spend at the office and raise your number of requests for time off this year. For any questions regarding vacation time and its many benefits, please call CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Nicolas Mamberti

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

Do Your Managers and Supervisors Have the Skills They Need to Succeed?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The skills that make an employee an excellent individual contributor or practitioner do not often translate to success as a supervisor or manager.  Being responsible for the motivation and performance of a person or team requires a whole new skill set.

The resulting skill gap is highlighted in a survey conducted by the Tracom Group in 2007.  That survey of 166 executives, 337 managers and 377 staff focused on how managerial responsibilities, specifically communication and conflict management, affect company performance.  In the study, 84.8 percent of executives said communication skills were deficient among first-level managers, while 81.9 percent of managers and 85 percent of staff pegged poor communication as a cause of poor productivity in the workplace.  In addition, 69.4 percent of the managers surveyed said their ability to better handle conflict would improve their team’s performance.

Of course, management development training is one of the most effective ways to enhance the communication and conflict resolution skills of managers.  Unfortunately, one of the areas companies cut to minimize expenses during the recent recession was employee training.  As a result, many supervisors and managers do not have the skills necessary to properly drive business performance and lead their teams to success.  In a late 2009 survey conducted by the American Society for Training & Development of 1,179 companies, 31 percent of those companies cited managerial/supervisory skills as one of their greatest skill needs.

A March 2010 study done by Rainmaker Thinking further demonstrates the impact supervisors and managers have on overall performance.  In the research, those companies that focused their efforts on increasing supervision and management, and creating a performance-based culture driven by supervisors and managers, had better results throughout the recession than companies that pursued other strategies such as cost cutting or innovation.

It’s clear that without the proper training, supervisors and managers will not be set up to succeed in their role.  Many will become frustrated with their inability to produce results.  Even worse, their techniques may leave the company liable to lawsuits.

As the economic recovery takes hold, organizations will be relying heavily on their managers to meet new customer demand and to keep their employees engaged so that they will stay with the company.  To meet that challenge, employers must evaluate their supervisors and managers and invest now in the skills they need to excel in their role.

Photo Source: DSR