Posts Tagged ‘Workplace culture’

4 Ways to Build Trust with Employees

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, almost one in three people don’t trust their employer. That’s bad news for businesses, because employees who perceive their leadership as trustworthy are more engaged, more satisfied, and more productive. Employees need to know that the person in charge won’t take advantage of his or her position – that they won’t lie, steal, play favorites or betray subordinates. Once subordinates lose trust in their leaders, the relationship is not likely to be repaired.

The trust issue is made even worse by the notion that many employees dislike their jobs. Some estimates suggest that 70% of the workforce consists of passive job seekers. These are people that while they are not actively looking for jobs, are more than willing to listen and explore other opportunities. Having a trusting relationship with the boss clearly improves both engagement and retention.

Let’s look at the four basic ways a leader can improve the trust factor:

  1. Be More Predictable– while it may not be very sexy, predictability is a major ingredient of trustworthiness. In fact, people who are very creative and spontaneous may have trouble getting others to trust them simply because it is often much harder to predict what they’ll do next.
  2. Be More Empathetic – employees want a boss who takes the time to understand them a bit. Take some time to understand the interests of the people on your team. Those could include personal, as well as, professional developmental interests.
  3. Be More Resilient – the ability to remain calm and resilient under pressure depends on high emotional intelligence. It’s difficult to trust a boss that freaks out in the course of stressful situations. In doing so, they unwittingly send a signal that when the going gets tough, they can be counted on to ‘lose it.’
  4. Be More Humble – Where self-promotion is one of the keys to making it to the corner office, humility may be the key to staying there. Humble managers engender trust and help build a better sense of team.

CAI helps employers build an engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplace. Let us help you tap into your employees potential to become effective leaders. For more information on developing your leaders, take a look at one of our upcoming courses, The Five Leadership Practices Certificate Program. 

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. 

“Go Ahead, Make My Day”

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

You may have thought of the look in Clint Eastwood’s eyes when he delivered his famous line as Harry Callahan in “Sudden Impact.” Interesting he was getting ready to have a morning cup of coffee when he discovers a robbery in the diner. When harm is threatened to one of the employees, instead of backing off, Harry steps up and confronts the situation. Through clenched teeth with a rough grumble he delivers the now infamous line “Go ahead, make my day.” Harry is trying to clean things up, make the bad better and help those who need him.goahead

Though Harry was able to make a huge impact alone, we know it takes contributing efforts from everyone to result in success. So what does this stroll down cinematic lane have to do with your organization?  Employees often feel out of control of situations at work and want to have someone step up and make their day, with lasting positive impact.  The leaders of the organization can make their day or break their day.  Managers and supervisors have an immeasurable impact on employee motivation and morale. Words, body language and facial expressions as the manager or leader, telegraph their opinion of the employees’ value to the organization.

If employees feel valued – they like their work – their morale goes up – productivity increases – the business becomes more successful – the employer can offer competitive pay and opportunities for growth – employees engage and motivation becomes catching – thus they feel valued and the cycle gains momentum and flourishes.

Building employee motivation and morale is challenging and yet can be simple.  Focusing on the needs of employees and understanding a leader’s impact on life at work can not only make their day, but it can make yours!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Start the Day Right .  Smile. Walk with confidence.  Greet employees in their work areas.  Share information over a cup of coffee.  Listen to ideas and concerns.  Let employees know it is going to be a good day.  You set the tone.
  • Show Appreciation with Powerful but Simple Words.  Please. Thank You. You are doing a great job. I appreciate your working over the weekend.  Thanks for always being on time. Success begins with how you approach people. Motivational words leave people feeling valued.  Spend positive interaction time with employees.
  • Set Expectations and Provide Feedback.  Communicate your expectations.  Let employees know how they are performing.  Timely feedback is critical.  Acknowledge positive outcomes.  Work with employees to understand what expectations were not met and how they can produce a positive outcome the next time.  Use encouragement and reassurance when appropriate.  Follow up.
  • Reward the Behavior.  Reward and recognize positive contributions, both publicly and privately.  Treat employees fairly.  When performance goals are not met, administer progressive discipline. Address problems.  Highly motivated and top-contributing employee morale counts on management’s consistency.
  • End the Day Right.  Be visible. Tell them to have a good evening.  If you ask how the day progressed, be prepared to listen and take action if needed.  Check with the supervisor.  What actions could help make his/her shift better.  Go home with reflection.  Return positive.

When organizations ask their employees about what they need and want from work they are often surprised to find out how inexpensive it can be to fulfill those needs and wants, and to create an environment of committed employees working toward a common goal. If you have any questions about motivating employees, contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team to help you solve real-life workplace problems.

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

 

The Employee Incentive That Works Like No Other

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

The one reward that most employees crave, but few get, doesn’t cost anything to provide.

When employers brainstorm ways to reward employees, it’s logical to put compensation, incentives, and bonuses at the top of the list. After all, few people are able to work for free.

But is there a “best” reward—a reward that every employee craves but few receive? Many management teams are in search of just such a reward. CAI is frequently asked to provide managers and HR professionals with low cost, or no cost, ways to reward employees. The blogosphere also is full of lists of ways to reward employees. In fact, past CAI HR Management Conference speaker Dr. Bob Nelson has a book called 1,501 Ways to Reward Employees.  Photo of business partners hands applauding at meeting

These resources suggest everything from pizza parties to extra time off to premium parking spaces. There is nothing wrong with any of these ideas, and the more creative you can be the better. However, there is still a much higher reward that won’t cost you anything and will produce positive employee motivation. Have I piqued your interest?

OK, here it is: The one reward that most employees crave—but few get—and that is almost guaranteed to motivate employees to do good work is quite simply … praise. Praise is a very powerful idea that managers often forget about. Bosses usually are good about recognizing and pointing out bad behavior, but they often forget to recognize good behavior.

Think this sounds like a bunch of “touchy feely” HR stuff? Don’t be so quick to judge. As it turns out, receiving praise actually stimulates a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine, something we all need. Shortages of dopamine can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and difficulty in learning, all traits we definitely don’t want in employees. But receiving more of the chemical boosts feelings of pleasure and pride, according to a report from Gallup. Once you get that rush, the brain wants more of it, needs it regularly, and instinctively figures out what behaviors result in more praise and thus more dopamine.

So we have a relatively simple concept that produces quick increases in employee motivation that doesn’t cost anything. The workplace must be awash with employee praise, right? In fact, research conducted several years ago by Gallup found that less than one-third of American workers strongly agreed that they had received any praise from a supervisor in the last week. That’s a sad statement about the quality of supervision that many employees receive each day. Employees who think that nobody cares about their work will be less motivated. Some leave the company. Others remain on the payroll but essentially quit working.

There are many reasons for this lack of praise. Some managers don’t regularly praise because they are too busy and just forget about it. Others don’t praise because they don’t receive any praise from their boss either. Some managers worry that recognizing one employee and not another will make it look as if the manager is playing favorites.

To compensate for these problems, some companies institute regular events to recognize employees: “Per company policy, employees will be praised on the second Friday of each month in the cafeteria.” While there’s nothing wrong with company events, they shouldn’t be the only source of praise that employees receive.

How can employers do a better job? First, it’s important to differentiate between appreciation and recognition. Appreciation is the act of expressing gratitude to employees for their positive actions. It is best accomplished through simple expressions or statements: a simple thank you, a card, a pat on the back. Recognition means acknowledging workers in front of their peers for specific accomplishments, actions, or behaviors. It’s important to tailor both of these strategies to each employee’s personality. Some people just don’t like to be called out in public.

Where managers really miss the mark is with frequency. To be most effective, employees need the dopamine rush at least once a week. Noted leadership author Mark Murphy found in a study of more than 500,000 employees that 72% said they were not giving 100% at work. No doubt many were suffering from a lack of dopamine. So make it a goal to show appreciation for each of your employees at least twice each week. And for those employees you feel don’t deserve appreciation? That’s a subject for a future article.

If you just don’t have time to recognize or appreciate your employees on a regular basis, you should take stock of your daily activities to make the time. Remember, genuine praise produces quick increases in employee motivation, and it doesn’t cost you anything. Before you start handing out gift cards, make appreciation and recognition a priority—then watch how morale, motivation, and productivity improve.

Let CAI’s Advice & Resolution team talk you through ways you can build a positive culture.

dougDoug 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.

Understanding Your Younger Employees

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Company leaders often complain about the unrealistic expectations of their millennial workers. Today’s youth, a.k.a. ‘millennials’— are said to be:Multiethnic Group of People Social Networking at Cafe

  1. difficult to manage
  2. likely to quit at a moment’s notice
  3. careless (i.e. they make needless mistakes as they forge ahead blindly without permission)

The youngest generation does differ from the older ones. But this has always been true.

Leaders within the organization should see how questions and challenges (i.e. Why does it have to be this way?) from their youngest employees can spark action to help their companies change for the better. In the process of listening, leaders will soon realize that young people want the same things we all do. Remember, millennials are vitally important to fill the void left by aging baby boomers and Gen Xers.

Keep in mind that many millennials continue to bear the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in student-loan debt. The debt has understandably influenced their decisions to join or leave companies.

Actions HR leaders can take to help create a better employer-employee relationship with millennials:

  1. Build bridges with data. Utilize people analytics to understand your youngest employees better. Gather data to track tenure, movement, performance evaluations, and attrition, as well as qualitative data to gauge engagement and find ways of increasing it. Share the results with middle managers so that they can connect the dots and tailor their management approach accordingly.
  2. Over communicate clarity. All employees are eager to hear from top management. However, younger employees expect this to happen at hyper speed. They are looking for real-time, two-way communication that allows input from everyone, followed by fairly immediate action. HR can help address this need by creating feedback platforms which allow employees to ask questions about specific topics and to engage on follow-up feedback requested by supervisors or senior management. This approach provides unprecedented visibility into issues and solutions and facilitates continuous improvement.
  3. Develop a culture of mentorship. Most young people thrive on collaborative work and support from colleagues. Meaningful personal relationships are crucial to help employers to hang on to their young workers.  Best practice is to partner new employees with an assigned sponsor who helps them to navigate the culture. Also encourage your new employees to reach out and form other mentoring relationships.
  4. Focus on professional growth. The ‘younger generation’ has grown up watching entrepreneurs reach the height of success before age 30, taking on responsibilities usually reserved for older executives. Many young professionals want a chance to flex their entrepreneurial muscles. They can quickly become frustrated by the lack of advancement opportunity in today’s flat organizational structures. Any kind of movement that promotes professional development is a plus (i.e. temporary projects over and above the day job). Additionally, young workers are typically energized by rotational programs. Other opportunities may include exposure to senior leaders, cross-functional work, and community service—elements that millennials value highly.

Every workplace has questions that need to be answered, and the sooner the better. Reach out to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team to get your questions answered 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.

Study Finds Workplace Rudeness is Highly Contagious

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Sick woman at work drinking coffee

In today’s post, CAI’s Vice President of Membership Doug Blizzard shares the uncomfortable truth regarding the spread of negativity in the office. 

Peak flu season is still a few months away, but there’s another type of bug flying around the office that is just as contagious—and perhaps more harmful  – workplace rudeness.

Remember the old adage that if you give a smile chances are you’ll get one back?  Well, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, rudeness is just as contagious – and in it can be more harmful because it won’t just run its course and go away on its own. The damage it does is longer lasting, even permanent if you do not do something about it.

Researchers from the University of Florida did a study of behaviors among graduate business students about behaviors that came out as they practiced their negotiating skills with classmates.  Each student practiced with several other students over a period of weeks and then the students rated each others’ behaviors. A key finding was that those who judged their partners as rude were more likely to be judged as rude themselves. In other words, rudeness was contagious.

The study showed that rudeness activates a network of closely-related concepts in individuals’ minds. This activation influences individual’s hostile behaviors.  Another interesting finding of the study is that you don’t need to be the victim of a rude act to catch the bug. Employees who simply witness a rude act are likely to be rude to other employees.

“What we found in this study is that the contagious effect is based on an automatic cognitive mechanism — automatic means it happens somewhere in the subconscious part of your brain, so you don’t know its happening and can’t do much to stop it,” explained the study’s lead author, Trevor Foulk.  “Anything from simple insults to ignoring a co-worker, to purposely dis-including someone or withholding information,” can create the toxic environment, he added.  “It doesn’t just hurt your feelings,” says Mr. Foulk. “Experiencing or witnessing rudeness hurts your performance.”

A whopping 98% of workers say they have experienced workplace rudeness, with 50% percent of people experiencing these behaviors at least weekly, according to the study.  Any and all kinds of rudeness, from simple insults, to ignoring a co-worker, to purposely dis-including or withholding information from someone, can create the toxic environment.

Not only does rudeness negatively affect the workplace; it has also been linked to more stress at home.

Organizations’ cultures, like those of entire societies and nationalities, are the sum total of learned behaviors and the social and business values they reflect. People in the organization observe these behaviors in its key leaders and each other. Intuitively they associate the behaviors with success, they adopt them themselves and they pass them on to new members. It is an intuitive process that nurtures and sustains itself unless and until the key leaders change the key behaviors to new ones that reflect different values.  Rudeness is a behavior. As such it can be changed, and the toxic culture it creates will change along with it. But the leaders are the ones who have to start the process and sustain it.

Keep smiling and be respectful to one another. That is not just a happy-face platitude; it is a real-world strategy that helps build a winning culture and improve performance in organizations.  For more information about how you can build a more positive environment at your workplace, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Does Your Work Culture Attract or Repel Customers?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, tackles the topic of workplace culture in today’s video blog. He often hears from HR professionals that they wish their company leaders were more focused on employee engagement. Doug says that many leaders understand employee engagement. However, the challenge is showing a clear return on investment when starting initiatives to improve employee motivation and satisfaction.

Doug then turns his attention to customers and explains that businesses exist to satisfy a customer need in the market place. If you remove that need, you remove customers, and your employees directly interact with your customers. Doug then asks what kind of employees would customers prefer to interact with? Employees who are engaged and motivated—or the opposite?

Employers should consider how their culture affects their customers. Doug says if your employees are happy, your customers will be too.  He encourages company leaders to try walking in the shoes of their customers for a minute to gain a new perspective on the value of having an engaged workforce.

If you need help with employee engagement and culture at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.