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