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How to Give Effective Performance Feedback

May 19, 2014 Leave a comment

How to Give Effective Performance Feedback

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Guidelines for Supervisors

Performance feedback is an essential element of the supervisor/subordinate relationship. The vast majority of people want to make a difference in their place of work. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments and learn how to become even better. They want to know where they stand. People crave feedback that is honest, positive, objective, and fair.

Surprisingly, something as simple and effective as performance feedback is often rare. Even in the United States Air Force, where formal feedback is a mandatory part of the evaluation system, as many as half of the workforce say they rarely get feedback from their supervisors.

I see three main obstacles to giving effective feedback in today’s leadership environment. First is the pace of operations; supervisors often say they are so busy they don’t have the time to devote to giving feedback properly. Second is the collegial atmosphere in many modern workplaces. The good news is that many supervisors have taken time to know their subordinates and their families. Their “door is always open.” The bad news is that this familiarity can make it hard to look someone in the eye and tell him or her they could be more effective.

The third obstacle might be the readiness of the subordinate to receive feedback. Subordinates might have trouble recognizing there are areas in which they can improve. They might be defensive or concerned for their jobs. There might be personality differences or other issues between the supervisor and subordinate that interfere with communication. An effective supervisor must be aware of all the dynamics of the relationship and make appropriate adjustments in the approach to feedback.

A formal feedback process has important advantages for supervisors. It motivates subordinates and helps them become more effective. By establishing a dialogue with subordinates, supervisors can better understand their individual wants and needs, and the climate of the organization. In organizations like the Air Force, where retaining quality people is a high priority, an effective performance feedback system is essential.

Principles for Giving Performance Feedback

Specific – Feedback must be based on observable behavior, not one’s feelings or the conclusions drawn from the behavior. For example, “Last Friday morning I saw you help Mary fix a problem on her computer. Your willingness to share your expertise is a great example of teamwork and makes this a more effective organization.” This specific example, tied to a positive organizational outcome, is more effective than saying “You are a helpful person,” since the subordinate can link the feedback to an actual event.

Timely – Feedback should be given in a timely enough manner so that both parties can recall the specific behavior involved.

Actionable – Feedback should be based on something over which a person has control. When necessary, the supervisor should identify ways to improve performance.

Measurable – Goals and objectives should be stated in terms so that both parties will know if the goals are achieved.

Achievable – Performance measures should be realistic and within the resources that are available to the subordinate.

Positive – Give both positive and critical feedback, but tip the balance in the positive direction. The Center for Creative Leadership suggests a 4:1 ratio of positive to critical feedback.

Non-evaluative – Opinions, perceptions, and reactions should be differentiated from facts. Don’t psychoanalyze; avoid inferences and interpretations. Avoid labels.

Establish a dialogue – The effective feedback session is not a one-way communication. The supervisor should ask the subordinate if he or she fully understands what is being said and then listen carefully to the response. The supervisor should ensure the subordinate understands his or her role in the organization and how that role contributes to the goals and mission of the organization.

Initial Feedback

The supervisor should meet with the subordinate soon after the arrival of the new member. In the Air Force, initial feedback is required within the first 60 days of arrival. The purpose of the initial feedback session is to help establish the relationship between the rater and ratee. It is also about setting expectations for the upcoming rating period. It is not necessary to negotiate objectives with the subordinate, but the supervisor should help the subordinate take ownership of the goals and internalize expectations. Both parties should leave the initial feedback session with a clear understanding of what is expected. The supervisor provides a written record of the feedback session. This written record is held in confidence between the rater and ratee.

Annual Feedback Versus Routine/Daily Feedback

The Air Force requires that supervisors conduct a follow-up feedback session mid-way through the evaluation period. This session should be conducted using the principles above, and should address the extent to which the expectations were met. As before, a confidential, written record is provided.

The annual performance appraisal system is not a substitute for good communication within the workplace or for timely routine feedback. For example, if the subordinate is consistently late for routine meetings, it makes no sense to wait until the annual appraisal cycle to make that person aware of the problem. In the same way, workers who consistently perform above standards should not have to wait months to know that their work is appreciated. Supervisors should not assume that, because certain behaviors are obvious to them, they are equally obvious to the subordinate. Daily or routine feedback needs to remain consistent with the principles above.

Finally, supervisors who routinely give feedback (both positive and corrective) to subordinates may want to follow up with a personal note or memo. It is possible that the feedback is so routine (or the subordinate so unreceptive) that the subordinate misses the message or doesn’t even realize that feedback has taken place.

Giving feedback is a key responsibility of a leader. Work climate surveys strongly suggest that job satisfaction, morale, and retention are closely related to the ability of a leader to provide feedback. Senior leaders must set the example for the organization by giving timely feedback and demanding that leaders at all levels do the same.

REASONS OF FAILURE AND SUCCESS OF PEOPLE

April 25, 2014 Leave a comment

REASONS OF FAILURE

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1. Lack of a specific purpose in life : - You can not hope to succeed in any field of your life if you don’t have a central purpose. If you don’t have a definite goal in your life then you will jump from one activity to another with no success. Almost 97% of people think and act this way. That’s why successful people, who have a clear goal in their life, are very few.
2. Lack of education :- Most of the successful people are “self educated” or “self made” as individuals. You can have five college degrees but if you don’t apply this knowledge it’s a waste. What counts is the applied knowledge with a plan of action and not just knowledge.
3. Lack of self discipline :- Discipline means self-control. You must control yourself and decrease your negative habits and qualities. If you don’t conquer yourself, it will conquer you.
4. Procrastination :- It is one of the major causes of failure. These kind of people are waiting for opportunities come to them instead of seeking for the opportunities. They think that some day the time will be right to act. That “right” time never comes.
5. Lack of persistence:- Most people are good starters but they stop in the run when the first obstacles come. Obstacles are a chance to become better. They are ways to use your mind and improve your self. Quitters can not hope to success of any kind.
6. Being negative :- If you are negative then your whole world is negative. Your subconscious mind tells you that you can’t do it. Your subconscious mind commands your conscious self that you “really” can’t do it.
7. No risk at all :- If you are extremely careful and take no risks then you can’t expect to make the difference .There are many opportunities out there for you to grab. Being over cautious limits you to mediocrity and leads you to failure.
8. Wrong selection of associates :- This is very critical. We can not do everything ourselves. The colleagues we work with are a capital for our business. Successful and intelligent partners are one of the keys for our own success.
9. Divide you actions :- This is a typical mistake. Spreading your energy and efforts on multiple causes and not concentrating on one cause. Sooner or later you will realize that you will not succeed to any of them.

10. Lack of honesty :- This is the master key of success. Without honesty your credibility will vanish in no time and you can not hope to expand and of course retain your business. People are not as stupid as you think. They can understand the fake, maybe not immediately but in the long turn run they will go away and spread around the world negative messages about you.

REASONS OF SUCCESS OF PEOPLE

1. They make decisions and take action :- Right or wrong action, they take it. Either way it’s always better than making no decisions and taking no action at all. As Franklin Roosevelt said:
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
2. They do things even when they don´t feel like it :- This is a pretty huge factor. A lot of us back down when we don´t want to do something, even though it may eventually bring us to a wonderful experience or goal. Successful people may not always like doing some of the things they have to do. But they do them anyway. And in the longer run that makes all the difference.
3. They do the most productive thing right now :- Instead of trapping themselves in doing productive but not so important tasks or projects they realise what’s most important and do that. And after they´re done with that they do what´s most important again. Instead of just doing a lot of things, they think and plan before they act and try to focus as much as possible of their thoughts and actions on those few very important things.
4. They do one thing at a time :- Many of them don´t seem to multi-task. Some reasons for avoiding that may be that it creates internal confusion, wastes time and spreads the multi-tasker too thinly. Instead, they do one thing and focus on that until it is done. Then they do the next thing until it is done. Focusing 100% on one task at a time will get it done quicker and better.
5. They have a positive attitude :- A negative attitude can be very damaging and limiting to one´s life. A positive one can open new doors every day. It can open your mind to new ideas and input and create or sustain great relationships. It helps you through the hard times as a successful person often sees an opportunity within what others would merely see as a problem.
6. They have redefined failure :- While a lot of people see failure as a way to rationalizing the feeling of wanting to giving up or as a sign that it´s actually time to do something else successful people tend to see it more as useful feedback. They may not like to fail, but they don´t fear it – or at least they have little fear of it – and they know that if they fail they´ve been there before and they can start over again and succeed. This is of course a very useful belief and keeps successful people going while the rest have already given up.
7. They don´t let fear hold them back :- They overcome fear and slay that dragon whenever they face it. Or they may have defined or redefined reality so that fear is substantially decreased or even gone in some areas of their life.
8. They have found a purpose in life :- They are internally driven rather than externally driven. They do what they have a burning desire to do rather than conforming to what others think they should do. Even if what the others think may be positive and successful stuff. The Michael Jordans, the Edisons and the Stephen Kings have figured out what they want to do in life and are doing it (or did it). The purpose, I think, is largely why they can keep on going and be motivated while others may tire or just go and do something else that they find more purposeful. The successes love their purpose and when they aligned with it then it seems to push them forward with enthusiasm and energy through life.
9. They don´t get distracted :- When others get too caught up in everyday life to do what they really want to do the successes don´t. They can really focus on actually doing what´s important and what needs to be done. Again, this seems to go back to having a purpose and more clear sense of direction in life.
10.They have got awesome communication-skills :- So very much of what we do in life has to do with other people. So it seems quite obvious that to be successful you´ll probably have to have good or great communication-skills (or hire someone that has such skills).

360 degree performance appraisal

April 25, 2014 Leave a comment

1. Definition of 360 degree performance appraisal

360 Degree Feedback is a system or process in which employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them.

2. Who should conduct 360 degree performance appraisal?

• Subordinates.
• Peers.
• Managers (i.e. superior).
• Team members.
• Customers.
• Suppliers/ vendors.
• Anyone who comes into contact with the employee and can provide valuable insights and information.

3. What’s 360 degree measures?

• 360 degree measures behaviors and competencies.
• 360 degree addresses skills such as listening, planning, and goal-setting.
• 360 degree focuses on subjective areas such as teamwork, character, and leadership effectiveness.
• 360 degree provide feedback on how others perceive an employee.

4. 360 degree appraisal has four components:

• Self appraisal
• Subordinate’s appraisal
• Peer appraisal.
• Superior’s appraisal

360 degree performance appraisal

Business Plan

April 15, 2014 Leave a comment

March 29, 2014 Leave a comment

 

What Are the Benefits of Performance Appraisals to the Organization?
Improving Communication

All too often, employees and managers don’t get along and can’t understand why. Problems that stem from a lack of communication can sometimes be resolved with a performance appraisal. If the appraisal is used as an opportunity to describe the criteria on which performance is judged — using meaningful and relevant examples — then the employee will walk away from the meeting with a better understanding of how to best perform his job. For example, “John, when I say you need to be more customer-focused, what I really want is to see you greet the customers with a smile when they enter the store, and ask how you can help.”

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Providing a Career Path

The performance appraisal is the perfect opportunity to address long-term goals that may not be on the everyday to-do list. Not only does this provide the employee with an opportunity to be of greater use to an organization, the employee feels pleased and valued. Lighting the way toward a successful career path inspires loyalty and stability and can improve the bottom line, especially when the employee’s first concern is the health of the business, and subsequently, her career.

Encouraging Good Work and Improvement

Celebrating a job well-done is the easy part of the performance appraisal. Noting areas of improvement is not so easy. Nevertheless, no one is perfect, and the performance appraisal is an ideal time to diplomatically highlight areas that need improvement. Even the most valuable employee could benefit from additional training, while those who are on the cusp of dismissal need the heads-up. Be specific by providing examples and clearly explain what needs to occur to turn things around. Showing an employee that you care enough about them by taking the time to work with them may make even the most hardened employee feel better.

Improving Decision-Making Ability

When a company has detailed information on employee performance, business decisions become easier. Filling open positions with existing staff strengthens the organization and promotes loyalty. Knowing which employees display what strengths improves the speed with which projects can be assigned. Appraisals also provide a framework when making decisions about compensation — and layoffs. If the organization becomes the unfortunate party to a lawsuit, the performance appraisal can refute or support claims. As a result, the effective use of performance appraisals helps an organization operate efficiently and with focus.

 

 

External or Internal Recruiting: Who Does it Better?

March 28, 2014 1 comment

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It has been debated many times, but the question of whether recruitment is best done with internal or external resources can only be answered at an organizational level, based upon a cost-benefit analysis.

 

When doing this analysis, consider which method of recruitment scores higher on the following metrics:

 

  1. Quality of hire
  2. Time to fill
  3. Culture fit
  4. Candidate experience/impact on EVP
  5. Cost

It’s time to take a close inspection of each of these areas.

Quality of Hire

Most internal recruiters, at least in medium- to large-sized companies, rely on Web-based systems to do the initial screening and culling of applicants. They lack incentives, and also lack penalties, for how well they recruit. With external recruiters, there are often no metrics in place at all, other than time to fill. If metrics for quality of hire are clearly tracked and compared between internal and external recruiters, it can help identify the best recruitment model for your business because you will be able to tell who is providing the highest-quality candidates.

Linking recruiter pay to quality of hire is a critical step in ensuring that recruiters make solid recommendations to line managers, who ultimately make the hiring decision. Agency recruiters can be measured based on client feedback and the number of times roles have to be re-filled at no charge to the client, which can happen if the wrong hire is made and if the client organization does not have a formal way to measure its recruitment suppliers on this metric.

If you use a hybrid model, consider measuring and comparing both your internal and external recruiters on the quality of new hires. After implementing such a metric, measure them upon their first placement, at six and 12 weeks, again at six months, and then at regular intervals.

Time to Fill

Jobs can often be filled faster by using agencies (particularly within specialized industries) because they have large applicant pools. Good recruiters will always have warm candidates they keep in touch with.

Often, when external recruiters are pre-screening and presenting candidates, it’s internal recruiting teams that hold the process up. It’s not necessarily their fault, as priorities sometimes change, putting recruitment on hold, or as role requirements are revised, but it speaks to a core challenge facing the recruitment community today.

One key reason recruitment is delayed is that budget for a role has not been approved prior to beginning the search process. As everyone knows, you shouldn’t go to market until you’re certain you need to fill a role and that money is available to do so. It seems that many companies still retain search firms, spend money on advertising positions, and start seeing candidates without a confirmed internal agreement. This has a decidedly negative impact on both the brand and the relationship with any candidates you have engaged if you withdraw from the process.

A second reason for delaying the process often has to do with how companies operate internally. While a new role may be budgeted, conflicting schedules, agendas, or priorities can mean delays in seeing candidates, or extending the number of interviews or assessments beyond what was originally planned.

Not only does this increase cost and time to fill the role, it also antagonizes candidates and may mean you secure the runner-up instead of your preferred applicant, or worse, you’re left with no suitable candidate at all, forcing you to begin the process anew.

If you’re using agencies that have pre-screened candidates for you, move those candidates through the internal process, make decisions about individual applicants, and follow up quickly. Given the shortage of candidates in the market, this should be a given.

The need for speed in recruitment, to manage costs and to fill roles, especially empty ones, must be balanced with the need to find the best candidate for the role, considering all aspects, including culture fit.

Culture Fit

Internal recruiters will be able to articulate and respond to questions about what it’s really like to work in your company in a way that external parties won’t. External recruiters will never know your business as well as your own staff, try as they may, because they don’t work in the organization on a day-to-day basis, experiencing all its nuances and political challenges. As a result, many organizations think that recruitment can be done better by an in-house team who know and live the corporate culture and understand stakeholders best.

In the model where external recruiters are placed on-site, they work with your teams every day, but they are still removed from the employee experience to a large degree. For them to hire for culture fit is a particularly difficult task.

One way to track success in this area is to measure culture fit, and there are a number of ways to do that. Compare success rates between your internal and external recruiters to see who is making better assessments of culture fit.

Candidate Experience/Impact on EVP

Every time you go to market under your own brand or someone else’s, you send messages about your organization to potential candidates. How you do this could impact the way your firm is perceived by candidates, so understanding the impact of what you do is important.

If you use blind ads through a recruitment firm, you won’t build or add to your own brand recognition. Any external agency efforts to co-brand or represent your business must be handled correctly or the brand can be damaged. For example, if external recruiters don’t respond to candidates, or not quickly enough, people will forever tie that response to your brand, leaving a negative image in their minds about your company.

Pointing would-be employees to agencies through your careers website makes an impression on candidates about your organization, good or bad. Investments in a career website are better realized if you make the effort to engage with candidates directly at some level. This direct communication puts you in control of your candidate pool and is particularly helpful when there are jobs in the pipeline that haven’t been advertised yet.

Cost

An important cost consideration is related to the number of recruits. If you don’t hire a lot of people each year, it’s probably not worth having in-house recruitment staff. If you do, it’s worth measuring the cost effectiveness of outsourcing against the cost of having an in-house team and a well-developed career site with a front- and back-end recruitment system.

Using external recruiters can be expensive if you are a small company and do a large number of hires per year. Invest in some sort of recruitment technology, as well as a good recruiter or two on site who know your business, your brand, and your culture.

Whichever method you choose, or if you use both internal and external recruiters, the most important things to remember are that you need great people for your company, you need them now, and you want to spend as little as possible to get them.

Great candidates don’t need your job. Making the process as smooth as possible will go a long way to building relationships with candidates for the long term. Star candidates often have multiple offers, and will move on if you can’t make decisions quickly enough, even if they would rather have worked for your firm.

By delaying the process, cancelling searches, and not replying at all, you are sure to damage your employer brand and your reputation in the market.

Essential Skills to Become a Manager

February 13, 2014 1 comment

ImageEssential Skills to Become a Manager

1. Communication
There’s a lot of communication when you’re a manager. You have to communicate with each of your employees. You have to communicate “sideways” with your co-workers and customers. And you have to communicate upwards with your own manager or executive. You need some substance in the communication, of course — you need to have something worthy of being communicated. But substance isn’t enough — if you know what you’re doing and can’t properly communicate it to anyone else, then you’ll never be a good manager.

2. Listening Skills
This is a part of communication, but I want to single it out because it’s so important. Some managers get so impressed with themselves that they spend much more of their time telling people things than they spend listening. But no matter how high you go in the management hierarchy, you need to be able to listen. It’s the only way you’re really going to find out what’s going on in your organization, and it’s the only way that you’ll ever learn to be a better manager.

3. A Commitment to the Truth
You’ll find that the higher you are in the management hierarchy, the less likely you are to be in touch with reality. Managers get a lot of brown-nosing, and people tend to sugar-coat the news and tell managers what they want to hear. The only way you’ll get the truth is if you insist on it. Listen to what people tell you, and ask questions to probe for the truth.  Develop information sources outside of the chain of command and regularly listen to those sources as well. Make sure you know the truth — even if it’s not good news.

4. Empathy
This is the softer side of listening and truth. You should be able to understand how people feel, why they feel that way, and what you can do to make them feel differently. Empathy is especially important when you’re dealing with your customers. And whether you think so or not, you’ll always have customers.  Customers are the people who derive benefit from the work you do. If no one derives benefit from your work, then what’s the point of keeping your organization around?

5. Persuasion
Put all four of the preceding skills together, because you’ll need them when you try to persuade someone to do something you want done. You could describe this as “selling” but it’s more general. Whether you’re trying to convince your employees to give you a better effort, your boss to give you a bigger budget, or your customers to agree to something you want to do for them, your persuasion skills will be strained to their limits.

6. Leadership
Leadership is a specialized form of persuasion focused on getting other people to follow you in the direction you want to go. It’s assumed that the leader will march into battle at the head of the army, so be prepared to make the same sacrifices you’re asking your employees to make.

7. Focus
The key to successful leadership is focus. You can’t lead in a hundred different directions at once, so setting an effective leadership direction depends on your decision not to lead in the other directions. Focusing light rays means concentrating the light energy on one spot. Focusing effort means picking the most important thing to do and then concentrating your team’s effort on doing it.

8. Division of Work
This is the ability to break down large tasks into sub-tasks that can be assigned to individual employees. It’s a tricky skill — maybe more an art than a science, almost like cutting a diamond. Ideally you want to figure out how to accomplish a large objective by dividing the work up into manageable chunks. The people working on each chunk should be as autonomous as possible so that the tasks don’t get bogged down in endless discussion and debate. You have to pay careful attention to the interdependencies among the chunks. And you have to carefully assess each employee’s strengths, weaknesses and interests so that you can assign the best set of sub-tasks to each employee.

9. Obstacle Removal
Inevitably, problems will occur. Your ability to solve them is critical to the ongoing success of your organization.  Part of your job is to remove the obstacles that are preventing your employees from doing their best.

10. Heat Absorption
Not all problems can be solved. When upper management complains about certain things that can’t be avoided (e.g., an unavoidable delay in a project deliverable), it’s your job to take the heat. But what’s more important, it’s your job to absorb the heat to keep it from reaching your employees. It’s the manager’s responsibility to meet objectives. If the objectives aren’t being met, then it’s the manager’s responsibility to:

  • Make sure that upper management knows about the problem as early as possible.
  • Take all possible steps to solve the problem with the resources you’ve been given.
  • Suggest alternatives to management that will either solve the problem or minimize it. These other alternatives may propose the use of additional resources beyond the current budget, or they may propose a change in the objective that’s more achievable.
  • Keep the problem from affecting the performance or morale of your employees.

11. Uncertainty Removal
When higher management can’t give you consistent direction in a certain area, it’s up to you to shield your employees from the confusion, remove the apparent uncertainty, and lead your employees in a consistent direction until there’s a good reason to change that direction.

12. Project Management
This is a more advanced skill that formalizes some of attributes 7 – 11. Although both “Management” and “Project Management” contain the word “management,” they aren’t the same thing. Management implies a focus on people, while Project Management implies a focus on the project objective. You can be a Manager and a Project Manager, or you can be a Manager without being a Project Manager. You can also be a Project Manager without being a Manager (in which case you don’t have people reporting to you — you just deal with overseeing the project-specific tasks).

13. Administrative and Financial Skills
Most managers have a budget, and you’ll have to be able to set the budget and then manage to it. You’ll also have to deal with hiring, firing, rewarding good employee performance, dealing with unacceptable performance from some employees, and generally making sure that your employees have the environment and tools they need to do their work.  It’s ironic that this is skill number 13 (an unlucky number in some cultures), because a lot of managers hate this part of the job the most.  But if you’re good at budgeting, you’ll find it much easier to do the things you want to do.  And hiring and dealing with employees on a day-to-day basis is one of the key skills to give you the best, happiest and most productive employees.

Conclusion
This article explains some of the things you’ll need to learn before you become a successful manager.  You can probably become a manager without having all of these skills, but you’ll need all of them to be really successful and to get promoted to higher levels of management.

For every one of these skills, there are various levels of performance. No one expects a new manager to be superior at every one of these skills, but you should be aware of all of them, and you should do everything you can to learn more about each skill. Some of that learning will come through education (like reading the articles on this web site — you might want to subscribe). But much of the learning will come through experience — trial and error.

Just learn as much as you can about each skill, take nothing for granted, and focus on doing the very best that you can do. Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them. And ask for feedback — in many cases you won’t know what you could do better unless someone tells you.

 

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