Posts Tagged ‘performance management’

‘Twas the Night Before Performance Reviews

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

nightime-holidayTwas the night before performance reviews were due to HR.
Not a positive thought was stirring, as I drove home in my car.
The forms they lay scattered on my desk and floor,
In hopes that some miracle would walk through my door.

I squirmed in my chair as I tried to recall,
but  the visions of greatness did not come to me at all.
Goals and objectives and day to day grind,
We all had worked hard but, oh, never mind.

When all of a sudden I rose from my seat,
Thoughts sprang from my head, as I stood on my feet.
I started to write and I wrote and I wrote,
“The forms were all eaten by my brand new pet goat!”

The look on the face of HR was surprising,
And gave new meaning to all of ‘there’s a storm sure arisin’.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a look from my boss which gave new meaning to fear.

A little old man but sharp as a tack.
I knew in a moment he’s not giving me slack.
More rapid than words flying came out of his mouth,
And shouted and shouted as the meeting went South!

“Now dangit McGoo, all these people work hard!
Connor, and Connie, yes Donald and even Bernhard!
To the top of their game! to the long days they spend!
Now go away! go away! Don’t do this again !

As I sat at my desk and I got my head straight.
I will do the job well though these forms may be late.
So up through the night and into the next day,
I focused on all of the words I must say.

And then, with a twinkle and smile on my face
I headed to work to present my true case.
As I walked by my office and straight past my door,
I read all the words and then read them no more.

I was standing amongst the best team in the place,
And their eyes were a mist as I asked them for grace.
Applause began slowly and then cheers of joy,
As they sounded like children, each girl and each boy.

Their eyes – how they twinkled! Their smiles were a glow!
These reviews were as fresh as a new fallen snow!
Their mouths were dropped open as they read one by one,
I captured each plus, each best job they had done.

But their faces turned tight and they snarled showing teeth.
Confusion like smoke encircled their heads like a wreath.
They had a long face and with a sigh and a jerk,
Said, “hey, this review only covers the last month’s worth of work!”

I was stumped and perplexed, as I fell off of their shelf,
And I laughed when I heard them, in spite of myself!
A wink of my eye and a twist of my head,
Soon let them know I had nothing else to be said.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
I’ll fill out those forms, those misfits, those jerks.
But the clock alarm sounded and it filled me with fear,
It’s my fault, it’s my job to  keep notes through the year!

I sprang from the bed knowing this was a dream,
And away I drove swiftly to my office and team.
I heard in my head a voice whisper good cheer.

Our reviews don’t come once, they come all through the year!

If you need help with your performance review planning, learn more about CAI.

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

 

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.

Making It A Great Day Every Day

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

What does it take to have a GREAT day?  Here are a few simple things you can do to begin your day, practice throughout your day and end your day to make each day a GREAT day:large_give-thanks-title2

Begin Each Day with Positive Thoughts

Start the day by reading or listening to an inspirational story or even a single thought.  Some desk calendars have a positive “thought of the day” which are very helpful.

Complement Work Goals with Life Goals

Almost always, work is tied to something personal in an employee’s life. It may be compensation or benefits, or it could be just personal satisfaction.  Work success affects life success and the reverse is also very true.

Mental Preparation

Most employees have a commute of some kind to work each day.  Instead of using that time to accomplish work-related tasks, use that time to prepare for the workday ahead.  Likewise, use the commute home to decompress so work does not interfere with personal time once you arrive.

Smile

A smile can be contagious.  If there is genuine happiness behind the smile, that is great.  If not, force a smile and spread some happiness anyway.  Spreading happiness contributes to being happy.

Be Positive

Keep a positive attitude around others.  Similar to a smile, a positive attitude will spread and affect the entire group.

Prioritize

Everyone has too much to do, so it is important to prioritize.  Twenty percent (20%) of all activity contributes to 80% of results.  So, hit that 20%  hard to maximize productivity and ensure a successful day.

Ignore Negativity

There is always someone around with a negative attitude who wants to get everyone else feeling negative as well.  Misery loves company!  Do not let them ruin a positive day or take away from significant accomplishments.  Avoid them and focus on the tasks at hand.

Avoid Long Workdays

Extra hours do not always equate to additional productivity. Chances are, most of the productivity will happen early in the day during the completion of those 20% of higher priority tasks. Adding more hours will not increase overall productivity.

Take Time to Relax

After work, take time to enjoy a relaxing activity and use that time to re-charge for the next day. Put the previous workday aside and leave it for tomorrow. This is part of the overall work-life balance.

End The Day With a Grateful Thought

Before turning in for a night’s rest, give some thought to events of the day for which to be grateful.  In other words, any day “could have been worse.”  Be grateful it was not worse, and attribute that to a positive attitude. Your grateful thought could be either professional or personal.

People like being appreciated. Simple efforts of recognition, particularly when made public to their managers and/or co-workers, encourage a supportive and productive working relationship.

Happy Thanksgiving from CAI and remember sometimes, the simplest gestures are the ones that mean the most.

Are You a Micromanager or Macromanager?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Are you a Micromanager?  Do others consider you to be?  Hopefully, the answer to both of these questions is “No.”  The term Micromanager is widely thought to be one of the most unflattering labels you can have if you manage people.  Micromanagers typically involve themselves so deeply into the smallest details of every project they manage it actually inhibits productivity and creates a very unpleasant workplace for the team as a whole.

Granted, not being a Micromanager is better than being a Micromanager. But is there something even better? Yes! A Macromanager.

Macromanagers deal with employees more efficiently, taking advantage of their individuality and contributing strengths to the overall team.  Macromanagers provide a work environment which allows a team to work together and empowers them to not only make decisions, but to also make mistakes and to learn from both.  This creates a bi-directional feeling of trust, while maintaining a sense of employee engagement and generating results.

Julie Giulioni, author of “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want”, explains some of the differences between Micromanagers and Macromanagers:

micromgr.jpg

How can you become a Macromanager?  How can you make the transition all the way from Micromanager to Macromanager?  Try implementing these four traits of a Macromanager:

Focus on The Big Picture – Micromanagers get too deep in the weeds of a project rather than looking at things from a 10,000-foot viewpoint.  To be a good Macromanager, focus more of your energy and attention on the organization’s direction and strategy for the future.  In doing so, you can develop creative ideas on how to get there and trust your team to use their collective strengths to work out the details for success.

Understand Your Audience – Micromanagers tend to micromanage everyone, even those who do not need it. Macromanagers may occasionally need to provide more detailed guidance to a team member who is less experienced. When you see that team member begin to “get it,” step back before entering “Micromanager Mode.”  Have a stronger member of your team work with and mentor the less experienced employees.

Observe – Watch the progress of your team, keeping your distance.  As an experienced manager, you will recognize the cues that tell you when to engage and when to hold back.  Your responsibility is the successful completion of the project overall, so you should always be involved as a manager, mentor, advisor and member of the team.  Successful people surround themselves with successful people.  Give your team room to succeed and let them know you are there if they need you.

Welcome Feedback – Find a way to ask questions regarding progress without coming across as “interfering.”  As the manager responsible for overall success, you have the right and the responsibility to know what is going on.  Make sure your team understands you are not there to judge or to criticize, but to offer help and observations if and when needed. Open communication should be encouraged.

As a manager, you have larger responsibilities to the organization.  If you ever find yourself getting too deep into the weeds of any one project, you should ask yourself, “What should I be doing in my job that I am not doing?”  Chances are there is something else you should be focusing more time on. Your employees will thrive and progress more quickly with your guidance rather than your direct involvement.

renee

 

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

Creating a Performance Culture

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

What is a Performance Culture?

Performance cultures have great focus on results and accountability and have the following traits:employeeperformance

  1. Accountable, results driven
  2. A focus on people
  3. Long-term orientation
  4. Proactive and decisive
  5. Open and transparent

How do you create a Performance Culture?

Changing a culture is really about changing the behaviors of the people in the organization. Changing behavior is not accomplished through a one-time training class or some special incentive. Instead, it requires a long-term view with regular and frequent support from the top of the organization.

Leadership’s Role is to Provide Clarity & Ensure Accountability

Senior leaders have the greatest impact in terms of creating a performance culture. It starts with the creation of a strategic direction, delivered with great clarity. Employees must get a sense that those leaders are taking the company in the right direction. A second element involves leadership’s focus on people. Part of that focus must be that the leaders are seen as being concerned for the well-being of their employees. In addition, they must be viewed by the ‘rank-and-file’ as being accessible and approachable.  Finally, leaders must model the desired behaviors (and values) every day and with every employee interaction. Their most critical behavior is demonstrating accountability.

Many companies struggle to hold their employees, managers, and leaders accountable for performance. Likely a big reason for this is that people struggle to set clear expectations and have difficult performance conversations. The truth is that there must be consequences for failing to meet expectations and commitments. That is the essence of accountability. Without consequences, there is chaos.

A terrific resource for helping to people better understand and deliver accountability is ‘The Oz Principle.’ The book is dedicated to sharing practical methods on how to improve both individual and organizational accountability. The spirit of the book is that both people and organizations have a choice to either act above or below the accountability line. This thin line separates success from failure.

Below the line lies excuse making, blaming others, confusion, and an attitude of helplessness. Conversely, companies and people that act above the line have a sense of reality, ownership, commitments, and are solutions oriented.

Answer these questions to determine if your organization is operating below the line:

  1. Do our employees tend to ignore or deny problems?
  2. When something needs to be done, do our employees say “It’s not my problem”?
  3. Is there finger pointing behavior in which people seek to shift the blame to others?
  4. Do our employees say “I’m confused, tell me what to do to solve the problem”?
  5. Is there a CYA mentality?
  6. Do employees take a “wait and see, maybe things will get better” approach?

The Role of HR

How can you as an HR professional influence the performance culture? Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Train on Accountability
    • Train both leaders and their teams on the crucial relationship between accountability and organizational results
    • CAI has an excellent training program called, Becoming the Totally Responsible Person ® (TPR). This program reinforces the importance of personal accountability.
  2. Coach Accountability
    • Ensure that continuous feedback becomes an everyday part of every manager’s job
    • HR needs to assume that managers will need formal training of how to provide performance feedback
  3. Reward Accountability
    • Recognition programs should spotlight those who consistently are highly accountable
    • Reward project teams that deliver on their commitments
  4. Measure Accountability
    • Train managers on how to have difficult conversations with their team members
    • Use metrics, tools and resources to make the process easier
    • Use success factors (profiles) rather than generic job descriptions to clarify expectations

For further information on this topic 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.

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 Stop Poor Performance From Draining your Company

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

I obviously don’t work for your company, but my experience tells me there is a better than average chance that you have subpar performers that you’re letting work at your company and it is draining your company’s productivity, profit, and growth.  I wish I was wrong but I see it everywhere, every day in every industry.

Think about the poor performers in your life.  At work, at school, at church, at the stores you frequent, maybe even at home. Infuriating isn’t.  Missed deadlines, waiting in line, poor customer service, sloppy or slow processes, etc. Do you feel your blood pressure rising?  Believe me, top performers really appreciate having to do more work to cover for their uninspired co-workers. In fact that’s a leading cause of turnover for top performers – burn out over cleaning up the messes made by their slack co-workers AND frustration that their managers will not clean it up.poorperformance

Bruce Tulgan, noted management author and thought leader and past speaker at CAI’s HR Management Conference believes that “undermanagement” is one of the most detrimental phenomenon affecting business today.  He wrote a best-selling book called “It’s OK To Be The Boss.”  Why are so many managers not “being the boss” and letting poor performance slide?   We hear things like…

  • “Well Sally is better than having no one in the job and it’s hard to find good people.”
  • “At our pay Jim is the best we can afford.”
  • “I’m not dealing with this behavior because I know other managers let it slide.”
  • “I don’t have time to deal with Terry.”
  • “Don has been here forever and he’s always been this way, why should I have to deal with it?”

HR is blamed a lot.

  • “Our HR Department won’t let us fire anyone around here.”
  • “I would address it, but HR won’t let me because Joe is in a protected category.”
  • And on and on.

Poor Performance generally comes in three categories:

  1. Don’t know what to do.  Many employees regularly wander around our workplaces not knowing what is expected of them.  This category of poor performance rests with Managers, who simply need to take the time to provide clearer expectations for their employees.  Most people will perform just fine when they know what to do.
  2. Can’t do what you’re asking.  Sometimes we can salvage this “can’t-do” category with training.  Sometimes, though training will not correct the performance and in those cases the employee should be transferred to an open job they can do or they need to go work for someone else.
  3. Won’t do what you’re asking.  This is the most dangerous category.  Employees who won’t do what you’re asking create tremendous problems in the workplace every day.  Whether they vocalize their refusal or utilize more subtle activities, like slowing down, or overlooking things, there is only one solution for these people – they need to leave, and soon.

I once heard it put, hire slow and fire fast.  Good words to live by.  Yet I frequently find companies actually do the opposite – they hire quickly and impulsively and then take forever to separate the problem employee.  Many performance problems are really hiring problems in disguise.  So my advice, take more time assessing candidates. Most HR professionals know within the first five minutes of orientation if a new hire will make it or not.  Why didn’t they uncover that earlier?  HR professionals sometimes tell me the line managers decided to hire the person against HR’s advice.  So who is at fault?  I advise HR professionals to stand their ground and use turnover data to make your case.  And once you know someone is a poor performer, address it quickly. Fairly and respectfully, yes, but quickly.

The time between losing confidence in someone and them leaving is one of the most expensive in a manager’s life.  So if you’re a manager, start being the boss and quit letting poor performance slide and quit hiring people that should not work for your company because you are desperate. Your employees will thank you, because believe me they know who shouldn’t be there and they talk about it and suffer through it every day.  If you’re in HR do not let a lawsuit that will probably never happen overly impact how you deal with problems.  The EEOC actually dismisses two-thirds of all claims filed and only finds cause in about 3% of the charges it receives each year.  However, letting poor performers remain is a real problem that is draining your company every day.  I’m not advocating for a wild west management style absent of warnings and second chances.  I am suggesting we run our companies in a way that maximizes results versus running it out of fear.  After all a rising tide lifts all boats right!

I know this sounds pretty straightforward.  Who doesn’t get this right?  Ask yourself that question the next time as a consumer you have a bad customer experience at the hands of a problem employee.  You’ll be in that situation sometime this week and you’ll ask yourself why that company lets that person treat its customers that way.  Well, for the same reason it’s allowed at your company.  Think about it.

If you need help dealing with problem performance at your company please reach out to our Advice and Resolution team.  They answer thousands of questions each year that deal with performance management.

 

doug

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

 

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.

Think Beyond Bonuses: Use Low Cost/High Impact Benefits to Maintain a Highly Engaged Workforce

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

As we prepare for the Overtime Rule (effective December 1) and continue to address increasing cost of insurance, we may feel the financial impact and strain on the budget.  It can be hard for companies to provide benefits to maintain employee engagement and stay competitive in the workplace with limited spending available in the budget.

I know that as employers, we recognize that a key motivator, or perhaps the number one motivator for many employees is compensation – the salary that is earned each week.  We work to make money and provide for our families and or achieve other goals.  But don’t underestimate the power of low cost benefits. employee-engagement

When I planned to move to CAI from my previous job in Banking, one of my biggest factors in finding a good employer was one that had a similar family oriented culture and flexible schedule. I have a young child and being able to have time if he is sick, to participate in his events, or work from home when needed was a key decision maker for me. CAI is an very employee-friendly organization that offers many low-cost perks: unlimited personal time, ability to work from home if needed, supplement to a wellness program of my choice, and continuing education classes (so I can maintain my certification).  The new CAI office in Raleigh further establishes CAI’s commitment to creating a great culture for employees. There are free snacks/drinks (including healthy choices like fruit and flavored water), several “We Spaces” that allow employees to move from their traditional desk spaces if they need a break or want to work in a different location for a bit, a lactation/meditation room, and several nice outdoor spaces for breaks and lunch.

Here are some other creative, low-cost ways that you can provide benefits to your employees:

  • Community Service/Volunteer Days: Allow your employees to have a couple of paid days per year to spend giving back to the community. Employees can participate in events such as Habitat for Humanity or Big Brother/Big Sister Program, working at a soup kitchen, or helping with Special Olympics. As an employer you could put requirements on the process for requesting the time away (to ensure coverage and ensure it is a legitimate request) and your participation will help build relationships in the community as a good steward.

 

  • Flexible Schedules/Time Away: Not all companies can provide a flexible workplace due to customer/production needs. If your culture would allow for a flexible schedule or time away, give it a try. You can build in parameters to ensure compliance and avoid abuse while creating an environment that communicates a trusting relationship: you trust that the employee will get the work done and take time as needed without abusing the privilege. Some employers utilize a seasonal “summer schedule” that allows employees to take advantage of the longer day light hours.

 

  • Employee discounts on company products or services. Does your company offer a product or service that they could give employees at a discount? We have companies that manufacture pocket books that allow employees to purchase at a discount, hotels that offer family/friend rates, and food processing companies that allow employees to have a certain number of free products per week worked.

 

  • Education Assistance: Providing a small fund for educational assistance or student loan repayment can go a long way. You can also tie in parameters to ensure that the employees don’t get the assistance and leave – have them sign a reimbursement form acknowledging that they will repay the company at a certain rate if they leave within a predetermined amount of time. Providing educational assistance will allow your employees to grow and become more valuable.

 

  • Wellness Programs: Wellness programs can range from super low cost to expensive. You can run a wellness program on a low budget by doing small walking challenges (have a couple small prizes like gift cards for winner), a newsletter outlining healthy eating/lifestyle tips (ask your employees to contribute) or a small ‘match’ on an employee’s choice of wellness program (Weight Watchers, Yoga, Gym Membership). Contributing to a wellness program will tie directly in to a healthier and happier work staff (and hopefully lower insurance/work injury claims).

 

  • Casual Dress Days: Do you know how much wearing a pair of jeans matters to your employees? Seriously, allowing employees a casual day once a week will be LIFE CHANGING for your staff. Of course you can require that the dress code still meet requirements of the business and maintain the professional image for customers.

 

  • Company Swag: I am sure you have (or can get your hands on) some logo items at a cheap cost. Employees love to have a water bottle, t-shirt, pens or small lunch container with their company logo. Double bonus: free advertising!

 

  • Partnerships with Other Companies: Do you have a local business that you could partner with to offer employee discounts? Maybe there is a tire shop up the road that will offer a 10% discount to employees of your company or a local restaurant that will provide a discounted lunch for specific days during the week.

 

  • Training: Show your employees that you value them and have a plan for their growth in the company. Sending an employee to a training class says that you have plans for them and are willing to invest in their talent and future with the company. As a member of CAI, there are many opportunities for cost-effective training and free webinars.

Overall creating a culture that values employees and puts emphasis on the employee’s work/life balance is a key to maintaining an engaged workforce and staying competitive with applicants.

Learn how CAI can help you improve performance and engagement in your workplace.

hinesley_emilyEmily’s primary area of focus is providing expert advice and support in the areas of employee relations and federal and state employment law compliance as a member of the Advice & Resolution team for CAI. Additionally, Emily advises business and HR leaders in operational and strategic human resources areas such as talent and performance management, employee engagement, and M&A’s. Emily has 10+ years of broad based HR business partnering experience centering around employee relations, compliance & regulatory employment issues, strategic and tactical human resources, and strong process improvement skills.

 

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.