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  1. How do I successfully hire for attitude?

    March 12, 2017 by scrowe

    Most organisations have a solid understanding of the skills a good employee needs to be successful.  But how many companies really understand the attitudes that are important for success in their organisation?  How many hiring managers or recruiters know how to determine whether a candidate’s true attitudes reflect those required to succeed in your business?

    Mark Murphy, in his book “Hiring for Attitude” describes an approach to discovering the attitudes that matter in your organisation and the methods needed to uncover whether a candidate has those attitudes or not.  And the good news is that it can be replicated by all organisations, large and small.

    Below is a brief summary of Murphy’s method.

     1    Define the attitudes that make a difference in your organisation

    The temptation is to write down a long list of traits we want to see in all employees, including for example honesty, reliability integrity etc.  The problem though is that these traits often exist in both successful and unsuccessful employees (there are plenty of honest reliable but unsuccessful employees out there).  They do not help us separate those people that have the best chance of success in your organisation from the others.  We need to find two distinct groups of attitudes, those that only exist in the successful people in your company and those that only appear in the unsuccessful people in your company (the differential characteristics).

    Murphy suggests uncovering these attitudes by questioning the people in your organisation who will have witnessed them.  But the trick is to get very specific examples of and descriptions of the behaviours.  But don’t get fooled by “fuzzy language”.  Descriptions like ‘maintains the highest level of professionalism’ or ‘leads by example’ are open for interpretation.  What you understand as professionalism can be quite different from my definition.  Murphy’s test is to ask yourself ‘could two strangers have observed those behaviours’?

    The output of this phase is a table with two columns, one listing the positive differentiating attitudes (those that exist in successful employees), the other listing the corresponding negative differentiating attitudes (those that exist in employees that do not succeed).

    2    Create Interview Questions that highlight the difference

    Creating these questions is a four-step process:

    Step 1 – Select one of the Characteristics from your table

    Step 2 – Identify a differential situation to highlight characteristic

    Step 3 – Begin the question by asking “could you tell me about a time you …” and insert the differential situation you have identified

    Step 4 – Leave the question hanging

    Seems simple enough.  But simple doesn’t mean easy, finding the right situation takes some effort and usually need you to look back at the examples you were given when you were surveying your colleagues.

    And what does step 4 mean? Murphy explains that too often good behavioural questions are spoiled by leading the candidate to the solution, e.g. “Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a difficult situation. What did you do?”  Well you have just said that they should adapt to it.  Leave the question hanging means not leading them to the answer.

    3    Creating answer guidelines

    Why do we need answer guidelines?  For two main reasons, to ensure we have a consistent understanding across the organisation and to give interviewers cues to listen for in the interview.

     

    To get the full picture on hiring for attitude please consult Mark Murphy’s 2012 book; Hiring for attitude; a revolutionary approach to recruiting star performers with both tremendous skills and superb attitude.


  2. Resilience: not just bouncing back, but bouncing forward

    November 15, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Nothing could be more important than education, experience and training in determining who succeeds, right? Wrong. It turns out that the quality of resilience – the ability to rise above and bounce forward from adversity – is the biggest factor determining success and failure. 

    Josie Thomson, coach, presenter and change leadership expert, explains that when we are faced with adversity, some of us adapt and transform while others do not. If we are able to bounce forward when we have been challenged, we will grow our resilience and increase our chances of success. We can learn to build resilience by using adverse experiences as stepping stones for the future.

    ‘We determine whether an  experience makes us bitter or better’, says Thomson.

    So how can we build the resilience that will make us successful in work and in life? Thomson drew on her own experience as a two-time cancer survivor and on her masters degree in neuroscience to create a strategy involving two things not to do and five things to do to build resilience.

    HOW TO BOUNCE FORWARD: What not to do

    DON’T immediately express your feelings or react just because you feel something. Allowing ourselves to experience the emotion, but not to ‘vent’, builds resilience. We are unlikely to learn a positive lesson if we react in the moment; in fact, we are likely to make the situation worse.  If a colleague is dragging their heels on completing part of a project or your manager is not explaining a vital part of a piece of work clearly, it’s tempting to express your irritation – but that doesn’t mean you should.

    DON’T suppress the feeling either. Doing so elicits the ‘fight or flight’ response in the brain. If you walk into a meeting feeling angry, and a colleague says, ‘how are you?’, instead of answering ‘fine’ when clearly you are not, and this becomes obvious to everybody in the meeting, it is better to say, ‘not too good thanks, but I’m not going to talk about it now’.  Suppressing feelings can cause us to ‘argue with reality’, explains Thomson, and that leads us to suffer rather than to bounce back.

    HOW TO BOUNCE FORWARD: Five things you should do

    You didn’t get the promotion you really wanted, and you want to crawl under your desk in despair. You were depending on a colleague to give you this month’s figures, and they’re not ready for your meeting in 10 minutes time. What would a resilient person do? How can you learn from these apparent disasters?  Here are Thomson’s five tips for what you should do in a situation that threatens to derail you.

    1. Name the feeling. Thomson explains that the brain finds certainty when you label the feeling: ‘I’m frustrated’, for example. This allows you to move on. She warns against rumination, however, stressing that you should name the feeling and then move on.

    2. Reappraise the threatening situation. How we assess a negative event depends a lot on our ‘hard wiring’, which in turn is based on our experience. But, says Thomson, this is not the complete picture; it is only a version of reality based on what you know. ‘Step back and see the whole picture’, she suggests, ‘and ask how you can see this as an opportunity and not a threat.’ For example, if you didn’t get a position you applied for; rather than seeing this as a failure, reappraise it and see it as a step in the right direction that allowed you to practice your interview skills.

    3. Distance yourself. Take a break and put some distance between you and the trigger, and do something to distract yourself, such as going for a short walk. ‘Do something that is both good to you and good for you’, advises Thomson. ‘If it’s a big trigger, observe the 24-hour rule – sleep on it’, she counsels. This gives the ‘threat response’ in your brain and nervous system time to damp down.

    4. Practice calming techniques and mindfulness. Once the preserve of hemp-clad hippies with a penchant for chanting, mindfulness and meditation are becoming more and more mainstream. With good reason – they are scientifically proven to work in reducing stress and anxiety. There are many apps and websites that offer mindfulness meditation instructions and exercises, including Josie Thomson’s own site and Headspace, which offers a free 10-day trial of its app.

    5. Show gratitude and appreciation. Appreciating what we have trains our brain to look for positive messages in everything, a fundamental ingredient for resilience. This can be hard, as it seem our brains are inherently biased towards the negative and being grateful means we are working against our hard-wiring. When we learn to acknowledge this and move on, Thomson says, we can begin to be grateful. ‘ Happy people are not necessarily grateful’, she explains, ‘but grateful people are certainly happier.’

    Josie Thomson’s final message about resilience is this: ‘Pain in life is inevitable. It’s how we learn and grow. Suffering is optional, while growth is intentional.’

     


  3. What makes a good mentor?

    August 2, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Mentoring is a buzzword in today’s workplace, with over 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies offering their employees professional mentoring programs. The concept is ancient, however – the term ‘mentor’ comes from Homer’s Odyssey, which dates back to the end of the eighth century BC.
    Mentor was left in charge of Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, when Odysseus left for the Trojan war, and later, the goddess Athena disguised herself as Mentor and encouraged Telemachus to stand up to his mother’s suitors and go searching for his father, who had not returned from the Trojan War. (Yes, it’s complicated. Reading the whole work is a deeply rewarding experience and is highly recommended.)
    Mentoring is not the same as coaching, which we wrote about here. It is also not the same as training, which is formal and structured, and designed to teach particular skills and competencies.
    Dr John Kenworthy of Leadership AdvantEdge defines mentoring as: ‘A working relational experience through which one person empowers and enables another by sharing their wisdom and resources’.
    At a recent session at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) mentoring trainer Toni Greenwood said that the best mentors know about the specific company, the industry it operates within and the big-picture issues of strategic importance to both. They have a range of great interpersonal skills, including active listening, the ability to give good feedback and the courage to have difficult conversations – and then let the issue go. They will be good at challenging the person who is being mentored and reframing the issue they are facing to allow them to find their own solution. Emotional intelligence is crucial; they must show empathy, resilience and the ability to read emotions in others.
    Let’s turn again to the Odyssey for some ideas about what a mentor does.
    1. A mentor is a more experienced person who shares their wisdom with a less experienced person.
    As Mentor did for Telemachus, a mentoring relationship provides a safe space for the person who is being mentored to share the issues that are holding them back with somebody whose experience is greater. Creating a long-term relationship over time, so that both people can learn about one another, build trust and feel secure, is a foundation of the mentoring process. While there is no perfect time for the mentoring relationship to last, generally around a year is recommended. In Deloitte’s Emerging Leaders Development Program, mentoring relationships last at least two years.
    A connection with a mentor can help a high-potential employee to learn from a leader, making them ready to take on a leadership position in the organisation more quickly, and with more organisation-specific knowledge than if only skills training or coaching were offered.
    2. A mentor works alongside the person who is being mentored.
    A mentoring relationship may start out with specific goals and set competencies to achieve, but its scope usually grows beyond the initial issues to encompass anything that impacts success, such as dealing with work–life balance or developing self-confidence. Nevertheless, agreeing on areas of focus, adopting a mentoring model and the all-important business of choosing a mentor are vital in setting up the relationship and deciding on its strategic purpose.
    3. A mentor encourages the person being mentored to step outside their comfort level
    Because an important part of the mentoring relationship is directed at the person’s future in the company and not only for the immediate job, it is different to the role of manager. Companies use mentoring programs to develop leaders and to keep star performers engaged, increasing retention rates. The mentoring relationship is most productive when it is separate to the manager–employee relationship (unlike in the coaching relationship where the manager can play a more direct role).
    Just as Mentor became Telemachus’ teacher, coach, counsellor and protector, developing a relationship based on affection and trust, organisations can adopt mentoring programs to build leaders and create organisations that engage and retain top talent.


  4. How the best leaders become coaches: lessons from the field

    July 5, 2016 by Alison Hill

    Being a team player, touching base, big wins, level playing fields – not to mention  dropping the ball and getting it over the line –  are just some of the terms from the sports field that we use at work. So when we decided to address the topic of leadership coaching, we decided to ask a successful sports coach for tips that we could translate to the workplace.

    When Adam took over as coach of a club soccer team, they had come last in the previous season’s competition. They weren’t too discouraged, as they were mates who liked playing together, but they had no expectations of winning. Three months into this season, they have won eight games in a row and stand a good chance of winning the entire competition. So what’s changed? And how did they get there?

    As I spoke to Adam, the parallels between coaching a group of 16-year-old boys in football and leading a team at work became clearer. Last season’s coach/manager has moved on. The team is ready to play but not highly motivated. They lack some skills and resources, and above all they lack belief that they can achieve. These are the steps Adam took to turn the team’s fortunes around.

    1. Observe and learn

    For the first few training sessions, Adam watched the players, assessing their skills and attitudes and observing how they worked together as a team. He didn’t step in or change anything until he had this figured out. Adam then worked out what he needed to learn himself before he could support the team. He realised that he couldn’t teach them hard skills in the time available, but could suggest areas of improvement for each player and an approach to learning new skills.

    Lesson: The best coaches start by truly understanding the team they are working with before they rush in with solutions. They know that self-education has to come before teaching others, and empower their teams to be responsible for their own skills development.

    1. Plan and consult

    Once he had observed the team and was familiar with their strengths and weaknesses and how they worked together, Adam make a plan for tackling improvement. Upgrading skills was to be their individual responsibility, while teamwork and team culture would be his.  He consulted the team about their vision; what they wanted from the season and what they expected to achieve.

    Lesson: Involving the team in their own goal setting and making a concrete plan of action brings results. The best coaches know that setting achievable yet challenging goals motivates people.

    1. Set expectations and parameters

    Adam emailed each team member, outlining what was expected of them and what he would do for the team. This included attending every training session, showing total respect for teammates,  and encouraging team members who made mistakes or struggled with new skills. In turn he committed to 100% positive effort and the intention to win every game.

    Lesson:  Setting clear expectations for everybody in the team – including the coach – builds a respectful culture in which everybody is expected to do their best and support one another in an atmosphere of civility. The best coaches hold their team to high standards of personal conduct as well as professional skill.

    1. Advocate for the team

    The team’s culture of non-performance meant they were under-resourced and rather ignored by the club. Adam’s mission was to get the team the resources it needed to succeed, and he pressured the club to provide new training balls, bibs and cones. This motivated the team and they soon began to win games and catch the attention of the club’s hierarchy. A coach needs to ‘go in to bat’ for the team and get them the resources they need, as well as to be supported by the organisation, to be truly effective.

    Lesson: Whether it is better equipment, more time to complete a project or recruiting a star performer, a good coach tries their utmost to get the team what it needs. Their commitment to advocating on behalf of the team shows the team they are valued as well as providing them with resources  to maximise their chances of success.

    5. Learn from setbacks and failures

    When the team started winning, they were surprised by their success. They won a game, but then had a bad loss, crumbling under pressure. Adam reassured them that this did not confirm their fear that they were a poor team after all. He admitted that he had formed a false sense of their mastery after the previous week’s win, and thought that winning would be easy this time too. He asked the team why they thought they had lost, and how they felt about it, and together they recommitted to a slightly different training routine, moving players to different positions, and working harder at skills. They aimed for improvement, not perfection.

    Lesson: Progress is not always linear and there are bound to be stumbling blocks. Confronting these situations, learning from them and adjusting plans when they are not working makes for a better result. A great coach leads the team through setbacks and is not afraid to talk about the negative aspects of performance as well as the positive.

    1. Review performance and celebrate success

    At the end of each game, the team has a quick chat about what went well and what went badly, but Adam is aware that they would rather get home than talk about the game at length. He plans a longer, more formal feedback session for the next training time, where they can talk honestly among themselves – and when tempers have died down if necessary. He stresses that by this time he has had time to reflect on the game, which is crucial in setting the tone for a review. The players contribute their ideas, the team discusses them, and the coach acts on the good ones. He sets the rules for these discussions: no criticism of anybody in front of others; talk about the team, not individuals.

    In this team, success is not celebrated by singling out individual players for medals and commendations. The biggest celebrations are reserved for when a player who has never scored a goal before gets one, rather than for when the star player scores another one. Adam’s proudest achievement is that a player who has never scored in many years of playing kicked the winning goal last week.

    Lesson: Success belongs to everybody, and so does disappointment. The best coaches do not praise or criticise reactively. They reflect and plan before honest discussions about—–

    The parallels between coaching a sports team and a business team are clear – that’s why the sporting metaphors fit so well. Lead your team to success by being the coach who uses a consultative leadership style, plans before acting, and shows flexibility and a willingness to take considered risks. Then watch your ‘weakest performer’ score the next winning goal.


  5. Five alternatives to the traditional performance review

    June 28, 2016 by Alison Hill

    I asked a millennial a straightforward question: ‘Have you ever had a performance review?’ ‘Yes, and it sucked’, he replied.

    He’s a motivated, engaged worker who routinely exceeds his monthly targets, so I’m sure it wasn’t his rating he was unhappy with; it was the process. We know it needs to change; after all, the workplace has changed profoundly in the last decade. We make decisions more collaboratively, we work in global teams, our work is more data-driven and information overload is a constant stressor.

    This young person described his ideal alternative to a performance review to me and it boiled down to three things:

    • Coaching and mentoring to help him reach his own goals
    • A clear understanding of the organisation’s goals and how he is expected to meet them
    • A fair and balanced assessment of how he is doing, from a range of perspectives

    And while these are all really important to him, he doesn’t want them to be onerous or too time-consuming; not for him, his manger or the people in HR.

    I participated in a webinar hosted by Halogen Software, in which presenters Evelyn Watts and Hawley Kane outlined five alternatives to the annual review. I’m sure my millennial mate, as well as any of the other three or four generations in the workplace, will find an alternative that suits their workplace and their people.

    It’s important. Watts and Kane reported that when organisations began to focus on coaching and feedback in their ongoing performance management they reported:

    • increased revenue (70% of companies)
    • decrease in staff turnover (72% of companies)
    • improved customer satisfaction (54% of companies).

    So here are the five alternatives that Watts and Kane of Halogen Software suggest.

    1. Quarterly goal setting

    Frequent revision and updating of goals leads to better business outcomes. It’s common for executive teams to review their goals as often as five times a year; employees are unlikely to do the same.

    Step one is to align individual goals with strategic goals; and step two is to set concrete goals with a target and a measurement. It is then critical to keep on track and stay engaged, which is accomplished by regular and specific feedback and discussion. As Halogen is a software company, it has clever computer-based ways to manage these processes and keep them front of mind.

    1. Development discussions

    In the contemporary workplace, especially for millennials, the reality is that 18 to 24 months in a job is normal. In this time, employer and employee want to get the most from each other. Holding development discussions that challenge everybody is the manager’s challenge. The process should be honest and open, with the manager acting as coach, not boss.

    It is still important that the process be formal and that a solid development plan results from it. Halogen’s career development plan asks, ‘Where do you want to be in two years?’ The manager is then challenged to identify appropriate development plans to help the team member reach their career goals. They must keep the conversation going, periodically asking, ‘how are we doing?’ and at the end of the year asking, ‘did we get there?’ before creating the next plan.

    1. 360 degree feedback assessments

    One of the things my millennial mentioned in describing how his reviews sucked was that although his manager felt she had the full picture of his achievements, he didn’t believe that she did, as he did some of his best work on a project in another team, some of whom were in another city. Well-conducted 360 degree reviews overcome this as workers are far more accepting of performance feedback when it comes from multiple sources. Halogen reports more accurate, credible and reliable performance appraisal ratings, improved performance and higher functioning teams as well.

    These are their guidelines

    • Have employees choose raters with manager approval
    • Feedback should be aggregated and anonymous
    • Rate on competencies
    • Provide training and follow up

    Teaching people how to give and receive feedback is important for this approach to be successful, and feedback should flow up as well as down the company hierarchy.

    1. Project reviews

    Reviewing the success of a project and the people working on it aligns better with the way many companies work now. This method is not limited to the employee-manger relationship and is flexible in that it can launch any time and team leaders can manage their own project teams and set project goals and measurements. Project reviews should incorporate continuous feedback to work most effectively, say Watts and Kane.

    1. Check-ins

    Watts and Kane refer to frequent, regular one-on-one conversations as the ‘Holy Grail’ of performance management. They link coaching and feedback to goals, development, rewards and ultimately career progression. Because they are so important, we will look at these in detail in our next post about performance reviews.

    Progress, not perfection

    In the webinar’s question time a participant said that they presently had no performance reviews, and asked how to get started.  Training people to understand the benefits, linking goals (the what) and competencies (the how) and changing the mindset of managers all formed part of the answer, but what really resonated was Watts and Kane’s assertion that you can start tomorrow with these five methods.

    We know the performance review has to change, and we can take small steps, aiming for progress rather than perfection. Work is changing so fast that we can’t afford not to – improving conventional approaches is not going to cut it and the annual review is becoming less effective at driving performance every year.


  6. How to hold effective performance discussions that produce better results

    June 21, 2016 by Alison Hill

    When we last looked at performance reviews, we saw that more regular and less structured feedback and conversations are rapidly replacing the annual review. At a recent open day at the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) I listened to Kerrie Yates, Consultant at Catalyst Learning and Development, explain exactly how to go about holding an effective, productive performance conversation. This is what I learned.

    Many managers find conversations about performance the most difficult part of their job. Participants in the AIM session ‘Effective performance discussions’ expressed the opinion that they were not insufficiently coached and trained, particularly when it came to discussions about behavioural issues, rather than measurable KPIs. They agreed that more of their time was spent on poor performers than good performers, as poor performers required more managing, attention and training  – at the expense of good performers, who were often penalised by being piled with more work. Many expressed the fear that star performers would leave the team or the organisation because they did not feel positively acknowledged for their high performance.

    BLOCKS TO EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE CONVERSATIONS

    Yates identified these blocks to effective performance conversations, as felt by managers:

    • Uncertainty about their capability to handle the conversation
    • Lack of time to hold regular conversations with all team members
    • Lack of perceived benefit – a perception there are no measurable outcomes
    • Not wanting to hurt another’s feelings
    • Seeing the conversation as too difficult, and so moving it elsewhere (usually to HR)
    • Having to deal with an organisational culture of non-recognition (Hint: pay everybody enough to take the issue of remuneration off the table.)

    The session then focused on how to have a performance conversation and how to deliver feedback, beginning with thorough preparation.

    BEFORE THE CONVERSATION

    Give the team member notice, and set expectations for the conversation. Nobody will respond well if they feel ambushed. Say something like, ‘I’ve noticed that your last two reports have been late and I’d like to talk to you about that. How about straight after lunch?’ The person is clear what the conversation will be about and can think about their response.

    Be fully prepared and know and discuss the facts. Consider the solutions rather than only focusing on the problem. Describe the impact of the problem at the individual, team and organisational levels. For the late report, for example, you may say, ‘Because the report was a day late, I was unable to review the figures and there was an error in the budgeting. When I presented it to management, they picked up the error and it seemed like our team hadn’t done the research properly. I’m concerned that we might not get the budget to get the project done.’

    Consider how the person might respond, and be prepared for their response. Think about how you feel about having the conversation: What language will you use? Do you have some responses ready? Of course, you can’t control every situation, such as when issues outside the workplace are affecting a team member’s performance and they respond by bursting into tears, for example.

    HOW TO DELIVER FEEDBACK: A QUICK GUIDE

    Positive feedback is aimed at acknowledging good performance and promoting more of it. However, saying something like, ‘Well done on the report’ is not enabling the person to understand what was done well, and to do more of it. Yates offered the following, stressing that it is a guide and not a script:

    1. Give a concrete example of good performance. ‘Your report was well-structured and clear; good job’.
    2. Say what the impact was. ‘That meant I was able to give a really succinct presentation to the board.’
    3. Say what the benefit was. ‘I was able to get across the team’s funding needs and I think we will get what we need to run the project, so well done.’

    Feedback for improvement is more challenging, but the following framework makes it less stressful. At all stages, ask open questions (i.e. ones that cannot be answered yes, or no, or with any other one-word answer).

    1. Identify the problem. ‘Your report was late, and this has happened three times now.’
    2. Say what the impact was – including the impact on others such as the team or customers. ‘I had to go to the management meeting without being able to read through it and so I was unprepared for questions from the CEO and CFO.’
    3. Listen to their reaction and explanation. Really listen, without preconceptions or judgment.
    4. Look for solutions. This depends on their reaction. It might be that the deadline was unreasonable and they need more time in future, or that they need an editor or proofreader at the final stages of report writing in future.
    5. Say what the impact of this will be. ‘If I give you a day longer to get them done, we can get all reports finished in time I can be properly prepared for management meetings’.
    6. Say what the benefit of this will be. ‘I’ll be much more likely to get out budget requests approved and we can then go ahead with the revenue-generating project we want to work on.’

    Performance measurement and holding performance discussions is complex, and people are messy (and I’m not referring to the state of your desk). As Yates stressed, there is no ‘magic formula’ for performance reviews that will work in every case. Take the situation where a talented person is in the wrong job because the company was desperate to fill the position when they hired; or where a high performer’s performance drops, but they still outperform the average employee. These situations can give rise to complex conversations. Hopefully you will find some pointers to holding effective performance discussions. AIM has many events and resources Australia-wide for mangers, leaders and aspiring leaders: see www.aim.com.au/events.

     Take me back to ENews

  7. The annual performance review: agony, ecstasy or just ticking the box?

    June 7, 2016 by Alison Hill

    A year ago, Deloitte announced that they were getting rid of performance reviews. Research had shown, they argued, that a critical assessment was no longer the way to gather information about staff performance. Not only did they waste millions of hours, representing a huge cost, they were demotivating and inaccurate.

    Other organisations, including Accenture, Google, Microsoft and NAB have also ditched the annual review and ranking system. They were convinced by their own research and by that of outside organisations that the system was not driving better performance.

    If you hate performance reviews, either giving them or being on the receiving end, you’re not alone. A poll in the Sydney Morning Herald had 87% of participants agreeing that the ‘whole process is just a waste of time and doesn’t achieve much’, with only 5% agreeing that, ‘They force employees and managers to think beyond the daily grind and see how they are tracking’ and should be kept.

    Kevin Murphy, a scientist at Colorado State University and an expert on performance appraisals, told the New Yorker that there were further issues:

    • Managers have incentives to inflate appraisals of their team members.
    • Feedback can make people less motivated and hurt relationships as it is often perceived as biased and unfair, even when it is accurate.
    • Organisations do a poor job of rewarding good evaluators and sanctioning bad ones.

    ‘As a result, annual appraisals end up as a source of anxiety and annoyance rather than a source of useful information’, Murphy told the New Yorker.

    Other reasons given for scrapping performance reviews include:

    • They focused on the last couple of months and on recent performance, rather than on the full year.
    • More than half of the performance rating reflects the traits of the person conducting the review rather than those of the person being rated, due to the conscious and unconscious biases of the reviewing manager.
    • They tend to reward the most self-promoting employees, who are not necessarily the best employees in the long term.
    • They reflect an outdated way of working, based on the time and motion studies of the early 20th century, seeking efficiency above all else.
    • The performance review process is the single biggest cause of claims for bullying, according to research by reputation management consultants Risk To Business, who write, ‘The link between performance management and workplace bullying is unequivocal.’

    Supporters of the review process argue that it is not the performance review per se that is the problem, but how it is conducted and managed.  Rhonda Brighton-Hall, board member of the Australian Human Resources Institute, has said that it is the quality of the leadership, not the form the performance review takes, which establishes its effectiveness. Handled well, a performance review can increase motivation, reward productive employees by giving them more responsibility, identify training needs and confront problems in an honest way. Staff are able to set career objectives and ask for support in achieving them. Confrontations can be managed in a considered way, and open communication is encouraged.

    Supporters argue that it is important to separate the performance review from a pay review, as employees will perceive a negative review – or even any adverse comments – as a way to avoid giving a raise. Separating the two processes allows the performance review to feel more collaborative.

    In a fast-paced work environment, there is no doubt that slowing down and reflecting on performance is helpful and positive.  Those who have given up the annual performance review have typically replaced it with more regular and less structured feedback and conversations. Next time we will take a look at those alternatives.

     Take me back to ENews

     


  8. Use the onboarding process to build a positive culture in your organisation

    May 10, 2016 by Alison Hill

    If part of your strategy in making the new hire is to change corporate culture, grab the opportunity – and do it right. The first 90 days – that critical period for onboarding a new hire – are crucial in allowing the positive traits of the new employee to take hold in the organisation.

    Stephen Crowe, Managing Director of Challenge Consulting, explains: ‘When a new person joins a team, other team member’s senses are in a heightened state. People are more tuned in to changes. This sensitivity wears off over time, and as it does, so does the opportunity to effect change.’

     Two decisions have a large bearing on how successful you will be.

    1. Choose the right mentor for your new hire

    The right mentor must have more than just a good understanding of the job requirements. Pick somebody who embodies the culture you want to instil. ‘This person will have a large initial influence not just by what they say and do, and what they choose to focus on with the new employee, but also by how they conduct themselves while they do it’, explains Crowe. ‘Their vocabulary, their body language, the respect or otherwise they show for others and the emphasis they put on different aspects of the role will strongly affect the new employees’ understanding of acceptable behaviour.’

    This applies not only while the mentor is working with the new hire. ‘They will be strongly affected by how their mentor deals with co-workers, clients and others in day-to-day situations.  The new employee will be watching – often unconsciously – how their mentor behaves with others when they are not with the new employee’, says Crowe.

    I was told about a friend’s first day at what turned out to be a nightmare workplace. She was being shown around on her first day by her new manager, who talked up the friendly workplace culture with its breakout areas full of beanbags, Friday drinks and casual dress code. She was therefore taken aback when the manager snapped at a co-worker about preparing for a presentation and cut him off mid-sentence when he tried to respond. The manager’s body language, arrogant behaviour and disrespect was totally at odds with her words. It soon became clear this was not a friendly, laid back place to work, and she left after three weeks.

    1. Allow the positive traits of the new hire to take hold

    ‘Pinpoint which desirable new practices, suggestions and behaviours the new employee brings’, says Crowe. ‘Allowing their traits to take hold in the organisation is an opportunity to shift the culture, and has the highest chance of success during the first ninety days of the person’s employment.’

    The change in direction is not achieved by pushing those traits on the others in the team. ‘That will more likely result in resentment, explains Crowe.  ‘It is done by not standing in the way when the person presents something new, or suggests doing something in a new way, or displays behaviour that is different but is in line with the culture you are trying to build.  By allowing the behaviour but not imposing it on others, the organisation gives the signal that this is acceptable. By not forcing it, you are allowing a subtle change of direction’, he says.

    Crowe stresses that using the onboarding process as an opportunity to change workplace culture is a subtle process that comes about by a nuanced mixture of reinforcing the desirable aspects of company culture with the new hire and allowing their new, positive traits to hold sway. ‘It’s not  a game for the heavy handed, as any company culture is a complex and nuanced mixture of practices, beliefs and emotions’, he says.

    Have you had any experience – good or bad – of a new hire influencing company culture in their first 90 days? We welcome your comments.

     

     

     

     


  9. Once the cash is in the bank, what makes the job you do really satisfying?

    September 22, 2015 by Alison Hill

    By Alison Hill

    Research has shown that for most of us, the ideal job combines meaning – the idea that doing our job makes the world a better place – with a decent income. The emphasis on one or the other depends on our values, priority, career stage, and individual factors such as our family situation and spending habits.

    The evidence about the link between money and happiness is confusing and even contradictory. Some studies have shown that more money only brings a certain kind of happiness, others that once our lives are relatively comfortable, more money makes little difference to our level of happiness. The amount of money that brings happiness in the US has even been quantified: US$75,000 per year.

    It’s even been suggested that happiness buys money, as studies have shown that happy people are better at earning more.

    And then there’s the downside: generally, better paid jobs bring with them longer hours, more responsibility, less leisure time and more stress. A marketing executive who moved cities several times with his family in pursuit of the highest-paying job recounts how once he had reached his target income and moved for the fourth time in as many years, his job with a company in the manufacturing sector almost immediately came under threat. The long hours and the daily commute were exhausting him.  It took years of upheaval for him to realise that money can’t buy you job love.

    Job satisfaction, in the sense of your work feeling meaningful to you and making a difference in the world, may well be easier to pursue, and more within your control.

    1. Work for an organisation with values aligned to your own

    First understand your own values: family? Career progression? Spirituality? Health? Then explore the values of any organisation you might work for. Do they offer generous parental leave? Are religious holidays observed and respected? Is there a mentoring program in place? Is going for a run at lunch time facilitated and encouraged? It will increase your satisfaction if not only the role, but also the culture is matched to what you find important in life.

    1. Understand why you work (other than for the money)

    Of course being paid is crucial. But there must be other reasons to drive you out of bed in the morning. Is it the challenge and the opportunity to prove yourself? Do you need to be with other people, cooperating to get things done? Do you need to be creative, or to help others? Look for the motivating forces behind the job itself. If your urge is to be creative but you spend most of your day managing people, you are less likely to be satisfied.

    1. Place value on the work you do

    Almost invariably your work will add value to the lives of others. The trick is to see it. An insurance salesperson reported finding no meaning in her job until a client pointed out to her that the recommendations she had made saved his business and his livelihood when a fire destroyed his takeaway shop.  Take time to seek out the value in your work if you feel it may have little, and you may well be surprised.

    So who are the most satisfied workers? It depends who you ask, but the occupation that most consistently scores the highest in surveys is clergy, with around 98% of clergy members of all faiths reporting that their work makes the world a better place. Farmers and fitness instructors did pretty well too. This is not to suggest that you move to the country or give it all up for a position in your local gym, but it’s well worth looking more closely at what job satisfaction means to you.


  10. Better team building starts with deep understanding of yourself and your team

    August 25, 2015 by Alison Hill

    by Alison Hill

    We’ve all had them – team building sessions that were fun and gave us a day out of the office, but ultimately didn’t accomplish anything. Back in the office, the same two team members refuse to cooperate, everybody seems fuzzy on goals and communication still seems to go wrong.

    Although well-intentioned, team building activities without a clear purpose and strategy are unlikely to address the team’s challenges. But when planned with solid knowledge about the team members and the issues you want to address, team building exercises are a powerful way to unite people, develop their strengths and work their weaknesses.

    Start by considering the challenges your team faces. Is it communication? Or perhaps your team is new and people don’t know each other, leading to lack of trust. When there is significant change, such as when teams merge as a result of downsizing or outsourcing, there can be resistance to change, holding the team back.

    Set objectives for the team building session. This will help you to choose activities that will effectively help you to address the issues and create lasting results. Clear objectives will help you to create measurable outcomes.

    Most importantly, UNDERSTAND before you seek to change. This means getting to know your team members individually as well as understanding the dynamics between you.

    A team-based assessment before you begin planning your team building strategy allows you to build on a solid base of knowledge. There are many tools that help teams to do this. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a powerful way to understand both individuals and groups. A survey of the team before any events are planned will show:

    • The personality types in the group
    • How each person prefers to work in a variety of situations
    • Issues in the team

    Challenge Consulting can create tailored team building sessions to suit your team. The MBTI survey is completed confidentially online by each team member. Our facilitator then develops reports for each team member as well as one for the whole team. Team leaders participate in a debrief session, where we discuss the results and the challenges in the team.

    Challenge Consulting then runs a workshop tailored to your team, exploring individual and team results. This can be run on your own premises as a half day or full day event, and is interactive and practical. You will leave the workshop with:

    • New insight into yourself and your team
    • Ideas about how to solve issues
    • Clear objectives for improving teamwork

    There is then the option for one-on-one coaching and a focus group session, and a future program tailored to your team.

    AND it will be fun!

    Teams need to learn to depend on one another to succeed. Effective team building needs to happen continuously if you want your team to be successful. Why not take the first step by looking at our team building page and contacting our facilitators to see how we can make your team amazing.




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