April 29, 2012

No Surprises Allowed!

You sit down with an employee for their annual performance review and there are two ways it can go:
  1. The employee is SHOCKED to hear your thoughts on how they are performing. Good or bad, they had no idea and they are either shocked to hear you think they are doing great or they are shocked to hear that they have areas for improvement. Seeing as it has been a very long time since they had any feedback, their shock is understandable.

    OR, perhaps there is a better way...

  2. The review discussion is focused on particular areas of strength and areas for development for the employee.  This is not new information for either of you and the employee has been consciously working on leveraging their strengths and managing their weaknesses. The conversation is picking up from where you left off a few months ago and there is continuity to your feedback. The tone is collegial and focused on approaching the review with an eye to improvement and really listening to each other. There is mutual respect in all that is said.
So, which kind of performance review do you want to be a part of?

Performance management is all about providing employees with a workplace where they can bring their best selves to their work. Good performance management processes are ongoing, supported by open communication, clear goals and regular feedback.  When asked what creates engagement, employees indicate that they what they want most is to be heard, to find ways to contribute and to feel significant. The performance management system is the best way to provide this kind of environment.

Performance management is your gateway to so many valuable discussions.  Examples of things you can discuss include:
  • Training and development needs – are there any upcoming training programs, workshops or seminars that would be of interest?
  • Job design – how is the job itself? Are the tasks in their work accomplishing what was intended? Are there areas of overlap or inefficiencies that need to be address?
  • Job Satisfaction - are they experiencing a level of job satisfaction? What would improve their satisfaction?
  • Career Development – where would they like to go in their career? Is there training that would assist in achieving those goals? 
  • Engagement level – how engaged do they feel on a day to day basis? What would improve that?
  • Goal Setting – personal and professional – what goals do you have for the next 3, 6 and 12 months? What do they need to assist in achieving those goals?
There are many, many different frameworks and formats that can comprise your performance management system. If you are just starting out with your system, my advice is to keep the design simple and to become comfortable with that before you add the bells and whistles of an online performance management tracking system.  Add dates to your calendar every few months to remind yourself to do a performance discussion with someone – doesn’t have to be at their one year review – a conversation can take place anytime when you want to check in, give feedback and listen to your employees on how they are doing.

And a final tip: when you hire someone, the supervisor should immediately set up 3, 6 and12 month follow up meetings into their calendar so that time doesn’t get away from them and suddenly it has been 6 months before the employee was asked how things are going (and the first three months need a weekly check-in but that is for another day!). Keep on top of this and employees will notice and will appreciate the care and concern you are showing!

So, your assignment is to get up from your computer and go talk to an employee, give some feedback and listen to how things are going!

April 15, 2012

Thank You Volunteers!

This week is National Volunteer Week in Canada (April 15 - 21, 2012) and this is an excellent opportunity to thank all of those people in your community who volunteer!  This excellent video from Volunteer Canada provides some fascinating stats on what volunteerism looks like in this country.

This is also an excellent opportunity to provide the employees in your business with either some recognition for the volunteering they currently do or to even implement a volunteer program.  Corporate Volunteer Programs can take all kinds of forms - here are just a few ideas:

  • Do some activities with a team from your company.  Habitat for Humanity provides an opportunity for both team building and giving back when you help build a home!
  • Provide employees with some paid time off to volunteer for the cause of their choice.  Employees who feel that they are supported in their mission to make a difference in their community are more likely to feel loyalty to their employer. Great for retention!
  • Adopt a Local Charity - determine a charity of choice and spend the year finding ways to support that charity - maybe it is a staff food drive at Christmas or a clean-up effort in the Spring.  Talk to your employees and get a sense of what would engage their hearts, minds and energy to give back to their community.  And there is nothing like a little lunchtime Rock, Paper, Scissors championship to generate some dollars - a $5 buy in can generate some good cash for your charity!
Volunteer Victoria, located in Victoria, BC has a great webpage dedicated to Employer Sponsored Volunteerism with a ton of great ideas and information on how to get involved.

And remember, say thanks all year to those who volunteer!  There are some cool best practices out there!  It's a good thing to say "Thank you!".

Call to Action:  What can you do in your organization to promote volunteerism?

April 06, 2012

It Begins with Conception!

Many business leaders ask me how to solve retention problems.  They want a silver bullet of solutions that brings about immediate loyalty and hard work from employees.  I believe it is possible to achieve loyalty and employee commitment, but there is no silver bullet. It takes work and dedication, and that starts from the very first moment you decide to create a position.

Here are 5 steps to retention that start before you even hire the person!

1.  Design an interesting job that matches the work to the skills you are seeking. 

When putting the elements of a job together, be sure to match the type of work to the skills and qualifications required.  If you don’t need a 10+ years of experience to do the task, don’t ask for it.  Do ask yourself the question – is this job interesting for someone who has the kind of skills and qualifications I am looking for?  You can also use the Job Style Indicator to determine the nature of the work and the type of person that would best suit the role.

2.  Get creative with your recruitment

When recruiting for your opening, think about the kind of person you want to hire. Where do they hang out? If you are hiring a marketing person, perhaps you can post your position with the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals.  Or perhaps there is a networking event happening where those people will be gathered? Go to the event and see if you meet someone that you would be the perfect fit for your company.  Don’t be afraid to tell them about your opportunity. They might not be looking for work until they hear about the great position you have created or they might know someone else who is looking and can spread the news.

3.  Get to know your candidates

Once you have received resumes be sure to complete a thorough assessment process.  The more you get to know the candidate before hire, and the more they get to know you, the more likely you are to offer the position to someone who fits the role and the company.

This can include things like:
  • A short screening phone call or meeting (no more than 15 minutes) to determine if they are worth a deeper exploration.
  • An assessment of their Personal Style to see if their personal style matches the style of the job, based on the Job Style Indicator you completed or to determine their fit with the rest of your team
  • A one on one interview with the manager, a group interview with members of the team, a coffee with the owner or a combination of the three.
4.  Make a reasonable offer

Don’t leave candidates with a bad taste in their month from your offer! Many times we end up in a situation where all involved have invested lots of time and energy in the hiring process only to have candidates be disappointed with the offer and either turn down the position, sending you back to square one, or they accept it begrudgingly, often believing they can convince you that they are worth more. There are a number of ways to manage the job offer (which I will deal with in future posts!) however one thing to keep in mind is that if there is a chance that the candidate that you are interested in won’t accept the salary you are willing to pay, then bring that up sooner than later so that everyone knows what the deal is and they can make choices about whether they want to continue with the process.

5.  Be prepared on their first day

The first day of work is a big deal for the new employee!  Make an effort and make a great first impression.  Have their desk area cleaned out and ready for them with their business cards on the desk, a map of the office, a phone list of other staff and their computer set up and ready for their login. Be sure and have a full day of introductions and welcome meetings set up for them, including lunch out with members of their team.  Make them feel welcomed and celebrated and they go home raving about their first day and when all their friends and former co-workers ask, they are enthusiastic about the choice they made to come work for you.  No buyer’s remorse on anyone’s part and you are starting off on the right foot!

So, what can you do to your hiring processes to ensure that you are building employee loyalty, commitment and dedication to hard work from the very day of conception?