Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Evaluate Your Company's Policies

Quick Tip: Evaluate your written policies to see if they reinforce or contradict your department or company's objectives. Do you say you believe in innovation and risk-taking but then hobble employees by requiring multilevel approvals for even the tiniest decision?

Create rules that support - not thwart - your goals.

- Adapted from "180 Ways to Build a Magnetic Culture," Eric Harvey

Reap Community Service Rewards

Shoemaker Timberland's full-time employees can take off up to 40 hours a year to volunteer in the community; part-timers are eligible for pro-rated service hours.

The New Hampshire based company has reaped many benefits from its community service program. Here are a few:
  • Increased Employee Loyalty. Employees report they feel proud of the community service opportunities that Timberland provides, and it's one of the benefits that keeps them with the company.
  • Heightened Public Awareness of the Company. The program acts as a "candidate magnet" for those who share Timberland's values, which reduces the company's overall recruitment costs. People who value the spirit of volunteerism select Timberland as an employer of choice.
  • Enhanced training Opportunities. The community service experience has been a surprisingly effective development tool. Employees get to try new skills, work with teams and manage projects. Example: One employee gained great hands-on experience managing a project team of 30 people to build a set of docks for the local YMCA campground.
- Adapted from "Indispensable Employees," Martha R.A. Fields

How to Detect an Employee Leaving

Do you know whether any of your staff members are thinking about leaving the organization? Find out by watching for these early warning signs of dissatisfaction and withdrawal:
  • A change in behavior, such as coming in later or leaving earlier.
  • A decline in performance that's unrelated to external factors.
  • Sudden complaints from a person who hasn't previously been a complainer
  • Wistful references to other companies. Example: "I heard that so and so got a huge signing bonus at XYZ Corp."
  • Reclusive behavior. Example: An employee who previously participated in meetings or volunteered for projects suddenly stays in the background or does just enough to get by.
If you recognize these warning signs, arrange to meet with the employee as soon as possible. Use probing questions to identify the source of the problem. Indicate that you value him/her as an employee, and ask how you can work with him to create a better work experience.

Suggestion: Some companies periodically conduct what they call "stay interviews": They ask people how they feel about their assignments, company policies and the working environment.

At Hartford Life Insurance, the process starts within six months after an employee starts work. Managers hold formal sessions with each individual and ask for evaluation of the company.

- Adapted from "Hiring and Keeping the Best People," Harvard Business School Press

Take an Employee Under Your Wing

An employee has asked you to be his mentor. You're flattered, but you don't know where to begin. Use these tips to help you guide your protege:

  • Take time to get to know the person. Resist the temptation to turn your mentoring relationship into a monologue rather than a dialogue. It may boost your ego to bombard your protege with stories from your past, but your relationship will be more productive if you get to know what the other person's values are, where he'd like to go with his career, and what struggles he's currently having.
  • Learn how to teach effectively. Think back on the various teachers and bosses you've had in your lifetime. Draw on the best examples as you guide them. Also, remember what techniques were not helpful and steer clear of those techniques.
  • Learn how to give negative feedback. It's tough to criticize people in person, but that's what's necessary in many mentoring relationships. Learn how to present your points tactfully and always keep your criticism as constructive as possible.
  • Celebrate each victory. Since your role as a mentor involves offering criticism, it's also important to seek out every victory and celebrate it.
- Adapted from "Be a Better Mentor," Bob Rosner

Get feedback on Your Feedback

You give your employees feedback about their performance, and you expect them to improve as a result. But many managers don't realize how their feedback is received by the employees they are trying to help. It may be time for a reality check.

Here's how to evaluate the effectiveness of your feedback:
  • Review the three most recent times you offered feedback to one of your employees. Answer these questions about those sessions: What prompted you to give feedback on that matter at the time? Did you check your facts first? What was the substance of the feedback? Did any concrete action result?
  • Ask employees to answer the same questions. The comparisons make for interesting reading. You may find that your feedback isn't having the effect you anticipated. It may even be having the opposite effect of what you intended.
  • Think of the people who work for you as "customers" for your feedback. Determine whether the feedback you're providing is working for them
- Adapted from "How to Give Good Feedback," Gina Imperato

What do employees want from you?

To find out what your employees need from you, have them complete a "want" list. Knowing what people want will help you align their goals with the organization's goals. Have staff members complete the following statements:
  1. I want straight feedback on _______________________ because _____________________________________________.
  2. I want to learn specific skills such as ______________________
    because __________________________________________.
  3. I want to receive information about ______________________
    because __________________________________________.
  4. I want to have some help with __________________________
    because __________________________________________.
  5. I want to take on responsibilities such as ___________________
    because __________________________________________.
  6. I want to change the way we ___________________________
    because __________________________________________.
Adapt and expand this list. Encourage employees to come up with their own additions.

- Adapted from "Up is Not the Only Way", Beverly L. Kaye

How to Assess What Training Your Employees Need

This training needs assessment works best in small to mid-sized organizations. It will give you a quick assessment of the training needs of an employee group. It helps find common training needs for a group of employees.

Difficulty: Average Time Required: Approximately 1-2 hours
Here's How:
  1. Gather all employees who have the same job in a conference room with a white board or flip charts and markers.
  2. Before the meeting ask each employee to write down their ten most important training needs. Write specifics, like disciplining an employee when late or communication with other management.
  3. Then during the meeting, ask each person to list their ten training needs. As they list the training needs, you capture the needs on the white board or flip chart. Make a tick mark when there is a duplicate need, some may seem a little different, but may be the same underneath the surface.
  4. When all training needs have been listed, use a weighted voting process to prioritize the training needs across the group. In a weighted voting process, you use sticky dots or numbers written in magic marker to vote on and prioritize the list of training needs. Assign a large dot 25 points and smaller dots five points each. Distribute as many dots as you like. Tell needs assessment participants to place their dots on the chart to vote on their priorities.
  5. List the training needs in order of importance, with the number of points assigned as votes determining priority, as determined by the sticky dot voting process. Make sure you have notes (best taken by someone on their laptop while the process is underway) or the flip chart pages to maintain a record of the training needs assessment session.
  6. Take time, or schedule another session, to brainstorm the needed outcomes or goals from the first 3-5 training sessions identified in the needs assessment process. This will help as you seek and schedule training to meet the employees' needs.

Note the number one or two needs of each employee, that may not have become the priorities for the group. Try to build that training opportunity into the employee's performance development plan.

Tips: Training Needs Assessment can be, and often needs to be, much more complicated than this. But, this is a terrific process for a simple training needs assessment.
Make sure you keep the commitments generated by the training needs assessment process. Employees will expect to receive their key identified training needs met.

To discuss your employees needs call Innovative Leadership at 609-390-2830 or email us at info@innovativeleadershipdv.com

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Motivate Employees

How will you motivate employees, improve staff retention, increase productivity, and boost morale this year? All of this can be and should be summed up into one word: TRAINING.

Take for example Derek Christian's business, My Maid Service. He had extremely high turnover, two out of three new employees were leaving, which meant a less experienced and productive staff. The quality of work also lacked and it was having a huge impact on his business.

Once training was introduced, there is now virtually no turnover, his employees and customers are happier, which all translates into loyal customers and a bigger bottom line. Read His Full Story

So, what are you going to do this year? You can still give them a box of candy, but we highly suggest you take a serious look at the coming year and how training can help your company tremendously.

Innovative Leadership is a performance improvement company that provides solutions for today's business, small or large, challenges. Unique programs, products and processes all of which can be customized to fit specific needs of your company is what sets us apart.