Thursday, May 31, 2012

10 Salary Negotiating Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes time to negotiate salary for a new job, make sure that you don't make these 10 key errors:
1. Being unprepared. At some point, employers are likely to ask what salary range you're looking for, possibly as soon as their first contact with you. If you're caught off-guard, you risk low-balling yourself or otherwise saying something that will harm you in salary negotiations later. It's crucial to do your homework ahead of time so that you're ready when the question comes up.
2. Negotiating before you have an offer. There's no point trying to negotiate before you have a job offer; after all, the employer still hasn't even decided if they want to hire you. Your leverage will be far stronger once someone is certain that you're the one they want.
3. Relying on online salary sites to give accurate information. While salary sites might seem like the most obvious way to figure out what to ask for, these sites are frequently unreliable, in part because the job titles they list often represent wildly different scopes of responsibility. Professional associations in your industry might do more reliable salary surveys, but even then, you're more likely to get the right range by talking to people in your field.
4. Discussing salary in your cover letter. Some candidates announce their salary requirements in their cover letters without being asked, and some even include their salary history on their resumes. There's no reason to talk money at this stage, and doing it unprompted at the application stage can come across as naive.
5. Citing your finances. Salary conversations should be solely about your value to the company, not about your own finances. Employers don't pay people based on financial need, so don't cite your mortgage or your kid's college tuition as a reason you're asking for more money.
6. Asking for too long to respond to an offer. It's normal to request a few days to consider an offer, and sometimes employers will give you a week or so. But if you ask for much time beyond that, you risk signaling that you're not excited about the job, but might settle for it if you don't get any other offers. That's a good way to lessen the hiring manager's enthusiasm and bring into question your own.
7. Not factoring in the benefits package. Salary is only one part of a compensation package; you also need to factor in benefits like healthcare, retirement contributions, and paid leave. After all, if you'll be paying significantly more for healthcare or receiving fewer paid vacation days than you're used to, that might cancel out part of any salary gains you hope to make. On the other hand, being able to work from home or having an on-site day care might be benefits that make it worth it to you to take a slightly lower salary.
8. Underestimating happiness as a factor. A higher salary generally won't make up for a job where you'll be miserable, so think carefully about factors other than money: the work you'll be doing, the people with whom you'll be working, the company culture, and even the length of your commute. It might be worth giving up a bit of extra pay to ensure that you're happy going to work every day.
9. Listening to bad advice. Negotiation advice that worked a few decades ago isn't always effective now. In fact, some of it can hurt your chances. For instance, delaying the salary conversation as long as you can or refusing to name a figure first--common advice in previous generations--can backfire today by turning the employer off and making you look like you're playing games.
10. Not negotiating. Whatever you do, negotiate. If you simply take the first salary you're offered, you'll never know if you could have received more by simply asking.

By Alison Green | U.S.News & World Report LP – Wed 30 May, 2012 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

8 Things you should never do in office

Every office has its set of dos and don’ts, but then there is also a set of general don’ts that you need to keep in mind. We are here to list these general don’ts for you and we are sure they will help you stay clear of getting embarrassed in office.

1. Peep into someone’s laptop/desktop
The most annoying person in office is the one who peeps into his colleagues laptop screen. Make sure you are not this annoying person. No matter the urge to see what other people are up to, you must save yourself the embarrassment of being labelled the office’s peeping tom.
2. Walk around like you own the place
It is great to be confident, but it is a sin to be cocky. So under no circumstances should you walk around like you own the place. It is advisable to keep your smartness in check and not throw your weight around. Keep it easy going and genuine, and everyone in office will like you instead of bitching about you.
3. Be loud
Oh my GOD!Please don’t be that loud person in office. Keep your voice level in check, do not play loud music and stay clear of all things loud. Loud people annoy colleagues like few other people/things do. Train yourself to talk softly yet be audible.
4. Gossip
We are sure you have heard this one before. It is imperative to stay clear of gossip, but we all know that this is not possible. Every nook and corner of office is full of gossip mongers. What you can do however, is keep your tongue in check. Don’t bitch everyone out to everyone, and don’t allow others to christen you the gossip king.

5. Stealing
Every office goer at some point in time is inclined to steal some office stationery: a pen, a paper, a folder, or a print out. Doing so once in a blue moon is okay, but don’t make a habit of it. Stealing is bad and you will be answerable and payable if you are caught.
6. Lie/Blame others
When you find yourself in a soup or in tough situations you will be inclined to lie or shift the blame of your wrong doing on someone else. If you do this, you are putting not only your reputation at stake but your job too. Always stick to the honesty policy and play fair.
7. Share your personal problems
No one lives an easy life. Everyone has their share of personal problems just as you have yours. It would be na├»ve to share your personal problems with your work colleagues. We suggest you leave these issues at home and come to office with a clear mind. Remember, your colleagues aren’t your personal agony aunts.
8. Make out
Irrespective of how hot that colleague of yours is, making out in the office is just unpardonable. Making out is an extremely private affair and an office is the least private of places you know. Besides, if somebody catches you in the act, you can bid your job farewell.
This is our list of general don’ts in work environments. Avoid committing these errors and you are sure to stay in the office good books.

Posted by Gagan Randhawa - The HR Connect

Make the Most of Your Workforce

Asking individuals to share what they know with others is popular. Asking members of Generation Y, for example, to help boomers navigate the latest social media technology can be an effective way to increase your organization's technology savvy. And, of course, there's a lot of know-how among the boomer generation that can be helpful when shared with younger employees. I call this knowledge synergy - one generation sharing its areas of expertise with another.

But there are many other ways to exploit synergy across the generations. Here are six strategies to help you make the most of generational diversity in your workplace.

1. Philosophical synergy:

Members of different generations tend to have different priorities and find different things satisfying or engaging. Many boomers, for example, shaped by the idealistic 1960s, are now beginning to downshift from their high-powered careers, looking for ways to give back. Generation Y's, those in their 20s, care deeply about being challenged and continually learning. Companies are smart to tap into the boomers' desires to make a difference by creating opportunities for them to influence the workplace. One natural synergy is to create mentor relationships designed to let boomers play an active role in shaping future generations.

2. Pragmatic synergy:

Many members of Generation X, those in their 30s and 40s today, are pressed for time, juggling management responsibilities at work and child-rearing demands at home. To many Xers, managing Gen Y's seems to require an unreasonable amount of already-scarce time. Gen Y's like to be coached frequently, in real time, around the specific task at hand. This desire for frequent feedback can often stretch the demands on their Gen X managers' time beyond what's possible. Many boomers, on the other hand, find they have a bit more time. Why not leverage boomers' time as mentors or coaches to offset some time pressure on Gen X line managers?

3. Life stage synergy:

When staffing new assignments, consider each generation's current life stage. Many boomers are now empty-nesters, with greater flexibility than ever before, while many Xers are tightly tied to one geographic area by dual careers and children in school. For assignments that require short-term moves, consider tapping the boomers in your organization, rather than Xers.

4. Operational synergy:

Look for ways to use each generation's work habits to increase your organization's operational effectiveness. Do you have Gen Y's who enjoy working odd hours who might extend your company's ability to serve your customers on an on-call basis around the clock? Or are there opportunities to cycle work products faster by asking Gen Y's to have their drafts complete by 8 a.m. and older generations to have their reviews complete by 5 p.m.?

5. Work practices synergy:

There are some workplace practices that members of all generations tend to value. By investing in these practices, your organization gains advantage across multiple generations. For example, each generation tends to value additional flexibility, whether in workplace or time, although the reasons are often different. Xers often value flexibility to juggle family and work commitments more effectively. Gen Y's may want time to travel and explore other experiences. Boomers may be winding down and spending additional time on commitments they will pursue post-retirement.

6. Strategic synergy:

Bring each generation's perspective into your discussions regarding future business options. Based on their formative experiences, each is likely to look at the possibilities through a slightly different lens. For example, boomers, competitive and driven, typically ask ''How can we win?'' Generation Xers, given their mistrust of institutions and desire for self-reliance, are likely to ask ''What will position us with the most robust future options?'' And Gen Y's, with their sense of immediacy, will look for ways to make the most of the moment.

By combining each generation's perspective and exploiting the synergies they provide, you can find ways to strengthen your overall organization.

By Tamara J. Erickson - author of What's Next, Gen X? Keeping Up, Moving Ahead, and Getting the Career You Want.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Promote Transparency, Performance, Equality to Boost Culture

Transparency, performance-based behavior and egalitarian work culture foster employee development at all levels of an organization.

1. Transparency

Regardless of their level within the company, all employees should have the same access to, and understanding of, HR policies, especially regarding staffing and development. Insight into what is expected of them allows employees to operate more effectively and to reach their professional goals. For example, if employees want to earn higher compensation or to rise through the ranks, having a clear understanding of HR's expectations for each level will enable them to take the appropriate steps to grow within the organization.

Transparency also improves employees' relationships by providing an understanding of how performance is assessed and why certain employees are given opportunities within the company. An effective and easy-to-implement strategy to increase transparency into HR policies is to provide access to an HR portal on the company intranet where policies are clearly defined and employees can find answers to their questions about career options and development.

2. Performance-based Behavior

Another similarity among organizations with healthy corporate cultures is the way they measure performance. Performance should be measured in terms of outcomes - not on effort but on results. For example, the number of hours an employee or a team puts into a project is not as important as the speed with which it was completed and the quality of the final result.

To measure employee performance, organizations need to look at two different types of performance: task performance and contextual performance. Task performance refers to what is explicitly expected from employees. For example, for a programmer, the measure of task performance is how well he or she programs. Contextual performance is more difficult to measure, but understanding it is key to promoting a positive culture. It refers to how employee performance translates into the success of the company as a whole. By focusing on contextual versus task performance, organizations can ensure better end results and more satisfied customers.

3. Egalitarian Work Culture

Some sort of a hierarchy must be in place for organizations to function. However, in terms of performance, all employees should be treated as equals and should feel they are performing a role that is important to the company's overall success. Organizations can implement several policies to promote a sense of equality. For example, organizations should encourage everyone to refer to each other by their first names to cultivate a sense of equality. Further, an open-door policy helps employees at all levels feel they can freely partake in discussions and collaboration, and it creates a sense of empowerment. This egalitarian atmosphere also strengthens the organization as a whole by inspiring an environment where everyone is encouraged to bring new ideas.

If organizations focus on these three areas, they will be able to move toward a healthier, more positive corporate culture in which all employees feel valued and perform to their highest potential.

By Srinivas Kandula - executive vice president and the global head of human resources at iGATE Patni

Monday, May 28, 2012

Employee Satisfaction Grows With Ongoing Feedback, Rewards

According to the winter 2012 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Tracker, which tracks the sentiments of HR leaders and executives, 95 percent of survey respondents reported effective performance management as a top management challenge in 2012. (Editor's note: the author works for Globoforce). Employee sentiments are the same as reported in the Fall 2011 Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker of employee attitudes.

Performance reviews are not an accurate appraisal for the work done, nor do they reward employees according to job performance.

Employee recognition can increase motivation, engagement and productivity. It allows managers and peers to reinforce positive behaviors when they occur, giving new life to the phrase "360-degree employee performance reviews." Further, strategic employee recognition rewards and behaviors that exemplify an organization's core values and goals.

Employees who receive recognition throughout the year are more satisfied in their roles compared to those who only receive it once a year, according to the 2011 Globoforce Workforce Mood Tracker. Of those who receive ongoing feedback and praise throughout the year:

a) 75 percent are satisfied with the level of recognition they receive for doing a good job at work, compared to 42 percent who only receive annual feedback.

b) 91 percent think their manager or supervisor acknowledges and appreciates them at work, versus 60 percent who only get annual reviews.

c) 54 percent think people are rewarded according to their job performance, versus 42 percent of employees who get yearly feedback.

Organizations evaluating how to build a strategic recognition program should consider six hallmarks:

1. Single, clear global strategy:

Companies must have a global vision that defines the program's desired goals and outcomes. Suggested metrics include increased employee engagement scores or higher employee retention.

2. Executive sponsorship with defined goals:

With a recognition program's impact on culture, it's important to secure senior-level support. Managers should be held accountable for participation goals to ensure that culture management is reinforced by all company leaders.

3. Value alignment:

By linking individual recognition moments to company values, employees can see how their behavior impacts culture. Managers can track and monitor recognition moments over time to see employee behavior in action and adjust the program goals as needed.

4. Participation:

A strategic recognition program must be open to all employees to succeed. If only a segment of employees are being recognized, it's impossible to impact the broader company culture.

5. Power of individual choice:

Just as employees differ by age and demographics, so do their tastes. Everyone is motivated differently, and the power of choice goes a long way in recognition programs. By allowing employees to select their rewards, talent leaders are creating a meaningful experience where employees associate that reward with the company.

6. Crowd wisdom:

By incorporating social elements into a recognition program, managers have real-time insight into employee performance. Recognition within an internal corporate social network also provides crowd-sourced opinions on employee behaviors, offering a more frequent assessment of top performers and insight about the influence of leadership within the organization.

By Derek Irvine- vice president of client strategy and consulting for Globoforce

5 Things You Won't Learn in B-School

While many entrepreneurs boast college degrees and MBAs, most will readily admit that the hard knocks received from starting their own businesses were infinitely more valuable. Here are five lessons you won't learn in a classroom:

There is no such thing as failure.

Businesses can go bankrupt and unsold products can pile up in the warehouse, but every venture is a potential learning experience. Investors get skittish and bail at the 11th hour? You'll know how to better choose strategic partners and negotiate deals going forward. Couldn't successfully expand into Europe? Use the insights gained into international distribution to craft a more viable strategy next time. Clients indifferent to your sales pitch? Maybe you're trying to solve the wrong problem.
Such learning may seem expensive, but ignorance is costlier still. Knowledge gained through failure is directly applicable to future ventures. So try, fail, and try again until you get it right. Just remember: Only a fool makes the same mistake twice.

"No" doesn't mean "no"—just "no... for now."

When exploring new market opportunities or pitching potential clients, remember that situations change. Just because your approach or offer doesn't make sense to a potential customer or partner now doesn't mean that it won't later on. Markets and strategies evolve, internal stakeholders come and go, and enterprises' needs constantly change. Never be afraid to pick up the phone for a follow-up, especially if situations have shifted in your firm's favor.

Knock politely on many doors—and don't be afraid to crawl in an open window.

Ask 50 people at the same business the exact same question and you're guaranteed to get just as many different answers. A single corporate division may include numerous executives, so it's important to find the one individual whose sphere of influence directly overlaps with your inquiry. Don't be afraid to go up the chain and call a high-level decision maker: At worst, they'll ignore the query or say no; at best, they'll direct you straight to the proper point of contact.

Optimism is no substitute for customers.

Customer conversion rates can be shockingly low for many new ventures. So plan conservatively. Be cautious with prices. Fight your naturally optimistic outlook.

Cash is king—don't let yourself get crowned.

Big contracts and high-profile deals look good on paper, but when push comes to shove, all that matters is leverage. To get and hold onto leverage, you need money in the bank to comfortably meet payroll and expenses while waging legal battles or self-funding new growth. Despite signing on the dotted line, clients and partners may choose to disrespect agreements or contracts out of need, malice, or simply as a negotiating tactic. Know that if your cash flow dries up, you won't have any room to negotiate.

By Scott Steinberg -CEO of strategic consulting and product testing firm TechSavvy Global

Help Your Employees Be Strategic Thinkers

Ongoing education is a core part of every great business. The investment is small, but the return can be a game changer.

Education is easy to make part of any business. That does not have to mean bringing in outside experts or sending employees away to expensive courses. Drawing on in-house resources can be just as rich. At Metal Mafia, we used to have sales seminars on a regular basis, at which different staffers would present on everything from the pros and cons of new products, to techniques for communicating better with customers. As we got busier, the seminars were scheduled less frequently, and finally, not scheduled at all. 
Two weeks ago, I asked my staff to tell me why a customer would want to spend money on a specific new product we now offer. I thought the answers could have been better, so I decided we all needed a refresher course in how to explain the value of our products in a meaningful way to our customers. I held an in-house tutorial this week, and the investment paid off.
Here's what I think you'll find most useful.
Let your staff know it's OK to ask questions.  
People have a tendency to allow embarrassment over not knowing something trump the need to know it. Even if you think you have clearly shown your staff how to do something or gone over the benefits of a product with them a million times, the concept may not be as firmly in place in their minds as it is in yours. It is important to give your team an opportunity to learn and re-learn key ideas that are core to your business's success. It sends your team a strong message--this information is worth mastering--if you set aside time for a seminar about the concept you want to be sure everyone understands.
I could have typed up a list of the key points I wanted my reps to memorize instead of making time to re-teach the concepts in a class setting, but that would have made the process about dictation instead of education. A workshop rather than a memo encourages your team to ask questions in a low-pressure setting.
Communicate strategies in non-threatening ways. 
The freshest ideas in business come from conversations. If you want your employees to not just understand something, but to really own an idea, you need to give them ways to engage in your strategy on their terms.
Teaching situations are not meant to be lectures, but to invite participation. I had ideas about what I wanted my team to take away from the class we scheduled, but I left the teaching up to everyone who attended. The sales reps came to the class ready to participate--and because they knew their input was both sought and valued, they were willing to teach and learn openly. They each talked about five products they thought could bring value to our customers' businesses, and explained concretely how the products should be talked about to get that value across. They asked each other questions, reviewed talking points, and discussed the customer concerns they had fielded. In the end, we all left as "A" students because we found better ways to help our customers.
Raise awareness and energy levels.
Devoting time and resources to promote continuing education emphasizes to team members that you value not only results, but also development. If you want your team to always examine interactions for deeper meaning, creating time for learning and evaluation is crucial. Employees who are encouraged to learn are the first to spot additional market opportunities, the best at increasing customer satisfaction, and the most effective at trouble-shooting. Learning to ask questions in a class setting hones one's instinct to probe outside of the classroom as well.

By Vanessa Merit Nornberg

8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of "troops" to order about, demonize competitors as "enemies," and treat customers as "territory" to be conquered.
Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers ... and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by "pulling levers" and "steering the ship."
Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they're told. They're hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the "wait and see what the boss says" mentality.
Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can't be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear--of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege--as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.
Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they'll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization's goals, truly enjoy what they're doing and (of course) know they'll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change ... until it's too late.
Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don't value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.
Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.
Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

By Geoffrey James - the world's most-visited sales-oriented blog

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top 7 ways to make your co-workers love you

How to be liked in the workplace
Even if you haven’t just started your job and just want to feel included in the office, it’s a tricky business making the correct impression. So how do you make your co-workers love you? Follow these simple steps – oh and try not to cause any arguments!
Learn the tea orders of your workmates
Although this might seem simple and of no importance whatsoever, learning how your co-workers take their tea is a great way to get involved in the office environment. Ok, so let’s be reasonable, if your office is the size of a football pitch you could possibly side step the tea round, however in smaller offices it is the polite and socially correct thing to do. Not only does this look like you actually take notice of people but it is an easy ice breaker, it’s as simple as that.
Smile in the workplace
No one wants to acquire the nickname thunder face, and smiling is the most obvious signal that you are enjoying your work and the people around you. Smiling can convey a happy emotion; emotions are free and are easy to use. If you never smile the chances are your colleagues probably think that you don’t have a sense of humour, so smile away.
Listen to your work colleagues
If you don’t listen to anyone not only will you feel cut off from the work environment but eventually everyone will stop talking to you. If it’s someone’s birthday soon or they are going shopping at the weekend, just make a note of it. However small the task, go out of your way to ask how it went or simply ask did they have a nice time; people value the smaller things in life and this is one of them.
Don’t be a workplace hermit
If you are invited out by your co-workers always make an effort and go out with them. No one wants to be labelled the boring one, even if you only stay out for a short time you will always be appreciated for making the effort in the first place. If you are having a party and you don’t invite anyone from work but then upload pictures onto a social networking site, it may come across as though you dislike everyone, so put yourself out there and ask them. If everyone says no you know who not to invite next time!
Stick to your personality
Don’t try and be someone else; the chances are your alter ego will be eventually overridden by your true one anyway and you’re more likely to be labelled with split personality disorder if anything. Being fake is not a good look and most people can see right through this, however if you are loud and obnoxious this is hard to cover up, but worth a try.
Don’t be the office flirt
You don’t want to be known as the one who chats to all the boys/girls; save this at least for the Christmas night out. You can’t make another first impression so tone it down and adopt the mantra work is for working. If you’re so desperate to talk to the opposite sex, meet up after work, but inside those walls is for office talk and office talk alone!
Keep strong opinions to yourself
You don’t qualify for gossiping or heated arguments just yet so keep quiet. It is important to voice your opinion if the situation directly applies to you but being the gobby one already is not what we’re aiming for. It is crucial you stand up for yourself but don’t get involved in unnecessary cat fights over trivial things. Just breathe and let it go; being cool and collected under the office stress and pressures is the strategy you need be able to adhere to.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to be a Damn Good Developmental Manager

Have you ever worked for a manager that consistently helped you learn new skills and develop? A manager that took an interest in your career, challenged you to be your best, and believed in your potential to grow?

That’s the kind of manager that most employees want to work for. And if you’re manager, that’s the kind of reputation you should aspire to have.

Why? From a purely selfish perspective, when you develop your employees, they get smarter, more productive, improve their performance, and ultimately, make you look like a genius. It helps with recruiting and retaining the best employees, allows you to delegate so you can focus on what you’re being paid to do, or even take a vacation now and then. 

Most importantly, it’s rewarding. It’s what leadership is all about – making a difference in the lives of others. 

Most managers have good intentions – they want to be known as a developmental manager – but there’s often a huge gap between the “should do” and the “do”. In many cases, managers just don’t know how. 

Here’s how:

1. Start with yourself. 

Before you can credibly and effectively development others, you should develop yourself first. Otherwise, you’ll come across as an arrogant hypocrite who looks at development as being needed for everyone else, but not yourself. Shaping behavior starts with role modeling – and it also helps you learn how to get damn good at development. 

2. Establish a foundation of trust and mutual respect.

OK, so when are we going to get to the pragmatic “hows”? We will, but the rest of the tips won’t work as well if your employees don’t trust that you have their backs or you’re not using development as a hammer. See how to inspire trust and 20 signs you can't be trusted as a leader.

3. Treat every day as a development day.

Development isn’t a once or twice a year event, or something you send your employees to HR or a training class for. Every time an employee comes to you with a problem, decision, or question, it’s an opportunity to develop. How do you do that? You …..

4. Ask questions. 

Lots and lots of really good questions. Open-ended questions that force the employee to think and figure it out for themselves. Questions can also be used after an assignment or event, as a way to reflect back on lessons learned and cement the new knowledge or skills. 

5. Let go.

I was reminded of this recently by Scott Eblin, executive coach and author of the bestseller "The Next Level". Most managers are doing stuff that they are good at and/or like to do, but really shouldn’t be doing. When told they should delegate, they’re willing to dump the mundane stuff they don’t like doing, but unwilling to let go of the good stuff. Letting go of these responsibilities and using them as a way to develop your employees is a win-win. 
Just don’t expect your employee to do things the same way you did them. Remember, chances are, when you learned to do it, no one was holding your hand every step of the way with detailed instructions. Sure, they may fall and skin their knees know and then, but that’s how we learn.

6. Strrrrretch assignments. 

Other than a job change, stretch assignments are hands down the best way to learn and development. As a manager, you’re in a position to look for opportunities to offer to your employees that are aligned with their development needs and career aspirations. It’s not about picking the most qualified person for the assignment – it’s about picking the right developmental assignment for the person. 

7. Make connections.

Wow, it’s all about networking these days, isn't it? Managers are often in a position to make introductions, open doors, and connect employees to role models, subject matter experts, and mentors. What if you’re not already well connected? Then see #1, start with yourself.

8. Feedback.

We all have behavioral blind spots. If you don’t think you do, then you've got a big self-awareness blind spot. (-:
A manager is often the person who can tactfully help an employee see a weakness that’s getting in the way of their effectiveness or advancement. 

9. Help navigate organizational politics and culture.

Help your employees learn that “politics” isn’t a dirty word; it’s the way things get done in organizations. Shadowing and role playing are two ways to teach the ins and outs of being political savvy.

10. Show me the money, Jerry!

Last, but not least, support your employee’s developmental goals with training, conferences, coaches, and other tangible resources. A good training program, while not a substitute for all of the above, can include many of the items above and turbocharge your efforts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Virtual Managers Need Four Skills

1. Delegating:

In 2011, Peter Bregman published 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done to help busy people cut through daily clutter and uncover a way to focus on the most important tasks. Remote managers can heed Bregman's advice to stay organized and productive by transferring projects to their direct reports.

For example, department store managers who oversee a large workforce must be confident in their employees' abilities to efficiently track a constantly evolving inventory, respond to customer complaints and design strategies to increase sales. Across all industries, managers should show they trust their employees to finish the projects they are given. By successfully delegating projects and regularly communicating with direct reports, managers can engage employees more effectively.

2. Offering effective feedback:

Frequent, honest communication is essential between managers and their employees. Managers outside of an office must be cognizant of how, where and when they deliver both positive feedback and constructive criticism to their employees. For example, when a baseball team manager scolds a player in front of teammates and fans for committing an error during an important game, that disdain has a lasting impact on the manager's relationship with that player. The same holds true in any industry when a manager gives negative feedback in front of colleagues and customers. Managers need to be conscious of their word choice and think critically about how their tone and delivery can affect staff morale.

3. Think critically:

Managers in all environments must be critical thinkers skilled at making clear, rational and open-minded decisions. The Society for Human Resource Management, The Conference Board, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Corporate Voices for Working Families partnered in 2006 to survey senior-level HR professionals about the most important skills their employees will need in the next five years. Critical thinking ranked the highest. For example, in the hospitality industry, hotel managers work with employees in a variety of departments. These managers must think critically about how cutting professional development opportunities could negatively impact engagement and the overall guest experience before doing so. Managers should be able to recognize problems before they occur. By considering the big picture before making major decisions, managers will show strong problem-solving skills and a willingness to take ownership for their actions.

4. Hold yourself accountable:

Managers need to set an example by being accountable, especially when social media plays a big role in an organization's reputation. A 2011 study conducted by Parasole Restaurant Holdings and newBrandAnalytics found what customers say online increases staff ownership of the relationship between employees and customers. For instance, if a restaurant customer's meal ends unsatisfactorily, a restaurant manager should immediately take ownership for failing to provide the guest with a quality, memorable experience.

Wherever managers oversee their workforce, they must be effective at delegating projects, offering feedback, thinking critically and taking responsibility for their actions. These managerial skills will positively impact employee engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue.

By Michael P. Savitt | Talent Management [About the Author: Michael P. Savitt is communications manager at Avatar HR Solutions.]

Five ways to deal with a sudden layoff

Managing a sudden layoff is anyone's worst nightmare. It doesn't have to be. Steer clear of the guilt trip, accept the challenge head on and take swift action. 

Accept the reality 

The emotional turmoil of what's next, why me, is bound to disturb you, but acceptance is critical for moving on. 

"Allow yourself to grieve, but move on without wasting too much emotional energy. Be realistic, accept the facts and get on with it," says Raman Munjal chair professor of leadership studies at MDI, Gurgaon Asha Bhandarkar. 

"Just as employees move on for better options, they should be prepared for layoffs. Once this basic expectation is set, preparing for such eventualities becomes easier," she adds. 

Do not badmouth 

Restraining from expressing your displeasure towards colleagues and bosses can be hard but remember you may need their assistance in reference checks and recommendations. 

"One must control the tendency to express these emotions. Negative emotions possibly get disseminated across the grapevine faster than positive emotions and result in loss of social capital," says Bhandarkar. 

Tap your resources 

Leverage your contacts: trustworthy seniors and colleagues, to the best of your ability. For all you know, they might be the ones pointing you to the new job. Founder and CEO of networking portal Apna Circle Yogesh Bansal feels job portals and networking sites provide an excellent opportunity for building one's brand and networking. 

Apply, apply and apply 

"Don't think brand alone, think work profile and learning opportunity. No fancy company and title can give you the kind of accelerated learning which a challenging job can, adding weight to your CV," says Bhandarkar. 

Educate and update yourself 

An exit is a good time to take stock of things you might have missed out on- spending time with family, enrolling for a specialised course or a degree. "Explore the fields that you have always been interested in but never got the chance to try," says Bansal. 

By  Ramakrishna Acharya

Monday, May 21, 2012

Difference between workforce planning and succession planning

The goal of workforce planning and succession planning is the same: putting the right people - across the organization - in the right jobs, doing the right things at the right time. However, the difference between workforce and succession planning is distinct. Workforce planning is typically budget-driven and focused on staff-level jobs, hiring forecasts and internal resource projections.

Workforce planning also focuses on:

a) Understanding trends that will impact clients, customers, products, services, funders, regulators and investors.

b) Developing individual- and team-work plans that align with department goals or organization-wide strategies.

c) Understanding how changes will impact job requirements, internal activities and costs.

d) Understanding labor-market demographics, workforce readiness, training needs and talent resources.

e) Hiring, recruitment-plans processes, orientation and onboarding plans.

Succession planning is a systematic approach to professional development with the express purpose of ensuring that selected (typically senior) staff is trained, experienced and ready to assume future leadership positions. Succession planning also focuses on individual and team transition needs and effectively guides implementation.

Succession planning includes aspects of workforce planning but also requires:

a) Identifying anticipated vacancies and backup resources for management and leadership.

b) Redefining management profiles to include competencies, success criteria and behavior traits.

c) Accurate assessment of the readiness of senior staff and middle managers to assume greater responsibilities: an efficient process for assessing skills, competencies, interests and motivations, organization-wide, for investments in emerging leaders.

d) Assessment of organizational culture and the leaders within: cultural competencies for diversity and inclusion management.

e) Developing individualized training, professional development and mentoring opportunities to reduce gaps in skills and experience: identifying required support to ensure succession plans are workable while in current job.

f) Focus on individual and team transition to ensure a successful transition and performance in the new or expanded roles.

Although many organizations do annual workforce and "headcount" budget planning, fewer than 1 in 10 large organizations proactively integrate management development and succession plans with strategic business objectives, according to a survey of 1,098 senior managers and executives by the American Management Association.

For organizations that do, the results can be transformative. Increasingly, more boards of directors, investors and funders are now demanding documented succession plans for top management of public corporations and nonprofit organizations. Succession planning is a critical component of workforce planning. And it is a trend that experts consider to be a best practice and sound investment for any organization intent on sustainability, beyond the limits of a selected few people.

[Source: Patricia Duarte, Decision Insight Inc., Boston]