Saturday, July 14, 2012

Enablement & Energy: 2 Key Factors to Sustainable Employee Engagement

Abhishek Mittal, a Towers Watson management consultant based in Singapore, is one of my go-to sources for on-point research and thinking on employee engagement and, critically, how to apply that research and thinking in practice in the organization. A recent post in his Mumblr blog linked to an article he published in Indian Management magazine.
I was most taken with the Towers Watson research he reported showing the difference between Engagement and Sustainable Engagement, which relies on two additional factors of enablement and energy.
We are now learning that employee engagement takes a company only so far. Other critical factors in the work environment also play a critical role.
Firstly, organizations should look at providing support to employees in achieving their work objectives. Secondly, organizations should focus on creating a work environment that fosters employees’ physical, social and emotional well-being. We call these factors Enablement and Energy respectively. Taken together, these can help organizations sustainably engage their employees and boost business performance further. This new framework called “Sustainable Engagement” is a combination of Engagement, Enablement and Energy. A recent validation research done by Towers Watson looked at companies with high levels of Engagement and those with high levels of Sustainable Engagement. We examined their financial performance in terms of operating margins and found that Sustainably Engaged companies on operating margins by a factor of 2-1.”(emphasis mine)
Considering earlier Towers Watson research found that organizations that increase engagement by 15 percent improve operating margins by 2 percent, such an additional increase from Sustainable Engagement is something to take quite seriously, indeed.
I’ve written about enablement elsewhere several times, but this topic of energy is just as important.

Energy in the workplace

Energy and energizing the workforce is a passion of mine and my CEO, Eric Mosley. But precisely how do you energize a workforce?
In his article, Abhishek suggests:
Companies need to focus on building a work environment that can sustain high energy levels. For example –respectful treatment of colleagues, effective teamwork and a fair balance between performance expectations and job pressures.”
“Respectful treatment of colleagues” – we all think we know that looks like. I’m sure we all know how we would each want to be treated respectfully ourselves. But how do you measure that? How do you know that respectful treatment is actually happening? Because if you can’t measure it, you can’t intervene to fix it in underperforming areas.

Measuring energy

We’ve addressed this internally at Globoforce by making “Respect” one of our four core values as an organization. Indeed, respect is a unique value for us in that it is the only one directly focused on behaviors. (The three others – imagination, determination, and innovation – we consider to be aspirational.)
Within our own employee recognition program, Globostars, employees must select a reason for recognition from these four values. We believe so powerfully in the importance of respect that we’ve broken it into several factors such as “respect for teamwork” and “respect for urgency.”
It’s quite powerful to look at our Social Recognition news feed and see the flow of respect throughout Globoforce, across teams and departments. Even better, we can measure it. We can look deeply into our metrics to see where, perhaps, teams or individuals have never been recognized for respect and determine if that’s an anomaly or an area needing intervention and training.

By Derek Irvine -Vice President, Client Strategy & Consulting Service at Globoforce

The Keys to Building and Sustaining a Culture of Trust

If there is one thing movies about the workplace tell us is that Hollywood believes bosses come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all pretty terrible people.
Why the bad rep for leaders?
Well, it’s no secret most employees have been disappointed and let down at some point in their careers by a manager or leader. Thanks to those negative relationships, employees are pretty cautious with how much they trust their bosses.
The reality is trust is hard to establish and easy to lose.

Would you want to work for someone you don’t trust?

This is why nine out of 10 leaders are in “negative trust territory” before they make their first request of an employee to do something, according to John Hamm, author of Unusually Excellent: The Necessary Nine Skills Required for the Practice of Great Leadership. That’s right – even before you say one word, your employees may already be questioning your honesty.
This puts leaders in a difficult situation because your success in inspiring others largely depends upon whether or not you are a perceived as a person with high integrity. When it comes down to it, you simply can’t afford to lose your employees’ trust. When trust is lacking, performance and productivity will suffer.
Think about it: would you want to work for someone you don’t trust?
Look, inevitably you will suffer mishaps as a leader; but keep in mind that small deviations from complete honesty and integrity are often magnified and remembered for a long time. While no one wants to believe they are considered untrustworthy, sometimes an individual’s actions have unintended consequences that can cause people to doubt their integrity. They might have been guilty of being inconsistent, not speaking frankly and honestly, or having ignored or even violated one or more of the organization’s values.

Development tips to remember

It’s pretty difficult to immediately convince people you are a trustworthy individual, so you need to work hard at being consistent and operating with acceptable ethics at all times. No pressure or anything.
Here are some development tips to remember:
  • Do not promise or commit (including committing to deadlines) unless you will be able to honor the commitment. And be sure to consistently follow through on your commitments.
  • If you have lost trust and do not know what you did, ask. Listen carefully to what is said, without arguing or getting defensive. I know, it’s easier said than done. After you fully understand what you did that came across in a way you did not intend, you can begin to develop a strategy to make it right.
  • Don’t give tough messages or express negative emotions via email or voice mail.
  • Make sure your message is consistent. Avoid saying different things to different audiences.
  • Don’t promise confidentiality if you aren’t certain you can or should keep the information private.
By Derek Murphy is CEO of The Booth Company

How to Treat Employees Who Flag Problems

The chief aim of corporate compliance is to prevent, detect and correct problems before they lead to the stiff penalties the law imposes when the public is harmed, careers are ruined and the impact of illegal acts lingers.
In fact, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines reward firms whose compliance programs take defined steps to find out and fix problems before they cause damage. Newly proposed amendments will provide additional incentives to firms that act aggressively to maintain legal and ethical workplaces.
As I’ve written elsewhere, we would have been better off if we’d been able to stop the practices before they occurred rather than addressing their resulting chaos. Instead, they brought us financial chicanery, systemic disaster, recalls of dangerous pharmaceuticals and automotive products, and oil spewing through the Gulf.

A reluctance to “blow the whistle”

There are laws in place to prevent retaliation. Organizations also devote massive resources to hotlines, compliance training, corporate policies and structures. Yet these efforts have often been less than successful in effectively encouraging individuals to come forward before bad practices turn into outright catastrophes. If they had been successful, retaliation claims would not be on the rise and the whole issue of compliance would be a stagnant rather than growing problem.
Recently, when I was interviewed for a New York Times article on the practical issues that employees face when they bring ethical issues forward, I offered several tips for identifying signals to discover illegal or unethical conduct.
It’s usually easy for us to recognize the obvious signs of a potentially serious violation. What’s really hard is to know what, if anything, to do about it. This is not because of a lack of systems, processes, or policies. Instead, it is the lack of organizational credibility: people usually know where to go to complain but often don’t believe their organization really wants to know about problems.
It doesn’t help that we call these people who step forward and identify issues “whistleblowers.” The word calls to mind a traffic cop blowing a whistle, stopping you from jaywalking.
Over the years, I’ve noticed most people across many industries are reluctant to “blow the whistle” because they don’t want to be labeled as troublemakers. Many believe that they would be better off just focusing on what they can accomplish rather than problems that no one wants to think about, much less fix. Others rightly feel that their organizations would prefer to rid themselves of whistleblowers rather than the problems they uncover.

5 tips to help employees who flag problems

Organizations that really want to root out problems need to turn around this perception. Fair warning – this is not easy, especially if the organization’s culture includes examples of individuals who were ignored, ostracized or released for speaking up.
Here are five tips to help you create a welcoming environment for people who step forward and speak up about problems.
  • This is a leadership issue first and a compliance issue second. Hot lines and complaint systems are part of a commitment to find out about issues but not the commitment itself.
  • Leaders have to regularly talk about and demonstrate their willingness to hear about problems, no matter how serious. If leaders don’t deliver the message themselves, it won’t take hold in the organization. Remember, the natural instinct we all have is to keep quiet rather than to speak up, especially in a challenging economy where jobs are scarce, the risk of job loss is high, and employees are already wary about speaking up.
  • Employees and leaders need to understand why finding and fixing problems benefits everyone. If they don’t see how revealing problems will benefit them, their organization or the public, there’s less motivation for them to do so and more motivation for leaders to ignore or stifle complaints. Leaders should make it clear that they won’t tolerate actions that prevent them from finding out about problems. They must also clearly state, “If we find out about problems, it helps our organization.” The following are concrete examples of what discovering and resolving problems can do for your organization:
    • Reduce costs
    • Protect its reputation
    • Minimize burdens of later fixes
    • Demonstrate a commitment to values
    • Prove the organization is committed to operating legally
  • Leaders at all levels must understand retaliation and the behavioral steps which encourage employees to talk to them about all problems. This involves not only what they say when they are told about issues, but how they react in terms of body language, tone of voice and follow through in responding to concerns. This is a specific behavioral model that, in years of practice, we have learned helps employees know that their organization and direct managers are serious about uncovering issues.
  • Finally, let’s get rid of the term “whistleblowers” with all of the negative associations it produces. How about calling people who come forward organizational guardians, protectors or friends. Surely we can think of something more welcoming in tone than company cops, stoolies or tattlers
BY Stephen M. Paskoff, Esq.- founder, president and CEO of ELI®, an Atlanta-based training company

How Can You Get the Best People on Your Team, and Keep Them?

In today’s post-recession environment, businesses are operating with pared-back workforces.
Picked to the bone, the burden is placed more than ever on the best-of-the-best people who remain. A focus on results in the best cases — or simply survival in other cases — has burned out many leaders.
In places that have misidentified their leadership talent and thus have an inordinate amount of mediocre performers leading that lean workforce, the burden on the elite few is even greater. These leaders are swimming upstream against a rapid and rising current.
At the same time, compensation and rewards have become commoditized when attempting to retain or attract talent. Early into the recession, companies learned that offering competitive salaries, titles, and rewards for results in the form of bonuses and options could help retain and attract the best.
Yes, these enticements are important and necessary, but they are no longer sufficient. As a human resources executive with the good fortune of having worked in companies with great people and extraordinary leaders, I can tell you that it is imperative that the components of compensation are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization.

The 3 common denominators of recruitment & retention

Today, recruiting and retaining the best talent result is an enormous competitive advantage for those who do both well. My experience clearly indicates there are three common denominators to the companies and their cultures that excel at attracting and retaining top leadership talent. These are:
  1. A leader who seeks input from the team and knows how to inspire and motivate through communication.
  2. A team of extraordinary executive leaders who share similar values.
  3. A high-performance culture that wins.
In their book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, & Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based ManagementJeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton highlight the vital importance of seeking out disciples deeper in your organization.
We can’t find a shred of evidence that it is better to have just a few alpha dogs at the top and to treat everyone else as inferior. Rather, the best performance comes in organizations where as many people as possible are treated as top dogs. If you want people to keep working together and learning together, it is better to grant prestige to many rather than few, and to avoid big gaps between who gets the most and least rewards and kudos.”
They go on to conclude that “rigorous studies DO imply that great people make great organizations.”

The 4 types of employees

In his model of situational leadership, Ken Blanchard categorizes four basic types of employees:
  • Enthusiastic beginners, who are low in competence but high in commitment.
  • Disillusioned learners, who are still relatively low in competence and also low in commitment.
  • Reluctant contributors, who are relatively high in competence but low in commitment,
  • Peak performers, who are high in competence and commitment. These are your potential disciples.
Continually diagnosing where your people are in the development cycle and flexing your leadership style to meet their specific needs are steps that are paramount to your ability as a leader to develop your peak performers, those self-reliant achievers.
Ironically, though, these folks often remain below the radar precisely because they are so reliable! You can delegate to them and forget about them. These self-sufficient employees allow you to focus your scarce time on other important issues, knowing that they will take good care of the projects, tasks, and areas of your business for which they are responsible. However, these are the very people who deserve your attention most! They yearn to be recognized and challenged further. Seek them out.
Using these principles, businesses can attract and keep the best talent, even through tough times. Show your employees that you are invested in them and in their growth, and make your business a place that people are excited to work at.

BY David Casullo is president at Bates Communications

From Start-up to Small Business: 5 HR Must-Haves to Get to the Next Level

Here are five must-haves they identified to take your business to the next level:

1. A culture that supports your purpose

You need to decide what kind of culture you want your company to have. That depends, somewhat, on what you want your company to look like down the road. Start with the end in mind. For many entrepreneurs on the cusp of growth, it’s still go-go-go (and likely will be for a while). But stop working for a second and reflect on what aspirations you have for your company.
According to Roitman, “Your long-term game plan should be supported by a culture that will take you there.” For Stroll, the goal was to be a high-growth company. “We defined what values people need to embrace to make sure our employees are accelerating the business.”
Values like strategy mindedness, ownership thinking, and being the best have made the company one of the fastest growing in the U.S. – growing an average of 73 percent per year since 2002 and 135 percent last year.

2. A sustainable operation

Can your business survive a week without you? How about four weeks a year, as Roitman suggests? For Turo, “The greatest obstacle has been scaling–to go from actually doing the work myself to training and managing others to do so.”
Of course, it’s hard to loosen the reins. Before you cede control, you need a team you can trust. But if you’re self-funded, getting the best people in the door isn’t easy.
As a stop-gap, hiring a few temporary contractors can free up some of your time – which you can then spend on finding your rockstars.
Also, invest time in codifying some standard operating procedures. Even with a small team, a little structure will go a long way. Develop some guidelines for how work should get done to empower your new hires to hit the ground running, and to keep them aligned with your culture and desired work style.

3. A refined people process

Once you can afford to take a breath, devote some time to developing people processes. The first step, as Roitman sees it, is developing a great hiring process, “so you can begin cherry-picking your team.”
Before you hire anyone, decide how you will define success–for your company, your employees, and your managers – and how you’ll measure it. Apply this to how you score candidates and gauge cultural fit. Recruiting inevitably takes longer than you expect, and you’ve got a business to run.
So whether you hire an in-house recruiter (as Roitman suggests) or contract this out, get someone to help you build your team.
People processes don’t end with hiring. Open, two-way communication is key as you build your organization. Be transparent. Share your vision, and openly discuss how things are going. Implement a process for tracking employee goals and performance, and meet with your team regularly to give – and receive – feedback. Make sure everyone is set up to succeed at what you hired them to do.

4. A network of support

It’s lonely in the driver’s seat. Establishing a network of mentors and non-competing CEOs is pivotal to your personal development and that of your organization. “Get some accountability. Develop a broad network of entrepreneurs so you can learn from them,” says Roitman. There are endless resources available for honing your leadership skills (for instance, Roitman was a member of the peer advisory group Vistage for seven years). Don’t go it alone.

5. Keep an eye open for improvement

Don’t get too comfortable just because you have things cranking a bit. Even if you’ve built a sustainable organization, your work is far from done. As Turo points out: “Be prepared to work harder (and enjoy working harder) than you ever have in your life.”
You’ll make some mistakes (everyone does), which is why process improvement is always iterative. Learn from them, adjust, and consider how you can optimize for success.

BY Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice 

The Many Ways You Can Spot a Liar in the Workplace

If you have spent any time in management or HR, you know this to be true: dealing with liars is simply part of what you do.
It’s not a pleasant part of the job, mind you, because no one likes to deal with deception, but just about everyone who supervises people in the workplace deals with a litany of lies, both large and small, every single day.
People concoct all sorts of deceptions in the office, from fibbing when they haven’t even started (much less finished) that pending report, to co-workers lying to cover up an inappropriate office romance.
Problem is, it’s not always easy to separate honesty from deception, and that’s why this Forbes story titled (appropriately enough) 12 Ways to Spot a Liar at Work jumped out at me, because who doesn’t want a handy-dandy formula for figuring out those in your office who aren’t giving it to you straight?
Here’s the key to all this, as author Carol Kinsey Gorman puts it:
In business dealings, the best way to understand someone’s baseline behavior is to observe her over an extended period of time. Note her speech tone, gestures, blinking patterns, etc. Once you’ve assessed what is “normal” for a co-worker, you will be able to detect shifts, when her body language is “out of character.” Just remember (and this is key), that the atypical signals you detect may be signs of lying — or a state of heightened anxiety caused by many other factors.”
I won’t go into the entire list of the 12 things she identifies here (you need to read the full post to get all of that), but some of them may sound familiar:
  • A fake smile;
  • An unusual response time;
  • Foot movements;
  • Face touching; and,
  • Changes in gestures.
Reading these tell-tale indicators of lying that she lists, it reminds me of  that great scene from the Quentin Tarantino-scripted movie True Romancewhere Christopher Walken, playing a Mafia Don, tells Dennis Hopper’s character that he can tell he’s lying because he can recognize “the 17 different things a guy can can do when they lie to give themselves away.”
"If a person really believes the lie, there is no way that can detect that falsehood. But, unless you are dealing with a pathological liar or a superb actor, I know you can become better at spotting those who try to deceive you!”

BY John Hollon is Vice President for Editorial of

4 Steps to Make Sure You Aren’t Making Engagement Optional

Employee engagement is big business.
In fact, the recent research done by the Society for Human Resources Management and reported on here at TLNTrevealed that employee engagement is the number one concern among HR professionals. Clearly, we have become convinced that employee engagement should be a primary outcome of our management and leadership practices at our organizations.
When you ask most of the experts to define employee engagement, some part of the definition will include the application of discretionary effort by the employee. Translated to normal language, that means that employees are so into their jobs that they are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.

Improvement or entitlement?

That sounds great, doesn’t it? Having a whole company of people who are willingly giving more than is expected of them is very appealing, hence our attraction to the idea of employee engagement.
The problem when it comes to engagement is in how we are approaching its measurement and management.
If you’ve worked in mid to large-sized companies, you are familiar with the practice of employee engagement surveys and you’ve seen the fire drill that often accompanies these efforts. While surveying employees is a good thing and desiring engagement is also a good thing, the problem underlying these engagement surveys is that they are assuming that it’s a company’s responsibilityto engage each employee.
The practice of surveying for employee engagement walks a fine line between improvement effort and creation of entitlement. The fundamental question that marks the difference between the two is this: when did being engaged in your job become optional?

Isn’t this what we pay people for?

When you step back for a moment and think about it, isn’t engagement what we are paying for when we bring someone onto our payroll as an employee? Shouldn’t employee engagement be a requirement of any job? Of course it should. And, at one time in our history, I think engagement may have been expected.  That appears to have changed.
Employee engagement is an individual choice that each employee makes on a daily basis (either consciously or subconsciously). They choose to give their all, to slack off or something in between. It’s their choice. Managers can’t create engagement any more than they can create happiness or turn lead into gold.
What they can do is make engagement a requirement of the job. Great managers and leaders recognize that a disengaged employee is making a choice to be that way.
In order for that same employee to become engaged, they have to make a different choice (or series of choices). The leader’s responsibility is to help each individual make that choice and hold them accountable to it. If an employee won’t make the choice to engage, then they are making the choice to move on. There can be no third choice where an employee hangs around, waiting to see if the company will give them enough stuff or make enough changes for them to decide to give over the gift of their engagement. That’s called emotional blackmail and it shouldn’t be tolerated.

Warning signs you’re making it optional

Engagement can’t be optional, at least not if you intend to have a high performing company that attracts the best talent. If you are on board, you are all in. That’s a reasonable expectation for someone to whom you are paying a salary.
Next time your organization is about to head down the path of conducting an employee engagement survey, consider whether your process is making engagement optional for your employees. Look for these warning signs:
  • You talk about using the results of the survey to “drive higher engagement”rather than to drive better performance.
  • You have a process where a leader can create an after-survey action plan without extensive input from their team thus implying that engagement is the manager’s sole responsibility.
  • You train managers on how to action plan, but not on how to coach employeesfor their commitment to their work and their results.
  • After receiving the results of your survey, you spend more time focusing on what environmental changes you can make to “improve engagement” and little or no time talking about how to work directly with your disengaged employees on how to help them decide to either be fully on board or out the door.

4 steps you can take

If you really want to have an impact on your organization through engagement, It may require that you undo some damage that you’ve inadvertently done already. If you discover that you have indeed made engagement optional at your company, you aren’t alone. And, it’s not too late to do something about it.
Here’s how where to start:
  1. Decide to make engagement a mandatory requirement of working at your company.
  2. To do this, you must get very clear on what engagement is for your company. This means having a clear definition and helping leaders and employees understand what it looks like.
  3. Then, teach your managers how to coach employees on their decision to be fully engaged and what to do if they are not.
  4. Finally, when you conduct your engagement survey, make it less about measuring engagement and more about discovering how to help your best employees to be more effective at driving the company forward.

BY Jason Lauritsen is a former human resources executive turned consultant and keynote speaker. His company with partner Cy Wakeman, Bulletproof Talent

The Four Rules of Effective Feedback

There are four simple rules for giving effective feedback.
  1. Be specific versus general.
  2. Describe versus evaluate.
  3. Focus on the behavior versus the person.
  4. Maintain the relationship versus indulge in self-serving behavior.
The first rule, that feedback should be specific and not general, ties in with what we will talk about in the imagery section. There we explain that coaches need to paint clear pictures so that people can self-adjust their performances.

Why you need to be specific

Even positive feedback needs to be very specific if we are going to increase the performer’s competence. General feedback like, “You were terrific, Muhammad,” or “That was a great speech to the Rotary Club last night, Ashley,” may make the person feel good, but it does little to improve his or her competence. How can Muhammad stay terrific if he has no idea what he did, specifically, that you thought was terrific?
The third rule reminds you to focus on the behaviors you wish to improve, change, or reinforce in the other person. I recently asked a group of leaders in a seminar I was teaching if they thought their children were bad. Except for one jokester parent, all concurred that their children were not rotten-to-the-core bad. They also acknowledged, however, that they often were not thrilled with their children’s behavior.
I suggested that perhaps a more accurate form of feedback to their children might be something like this: “I love you, but I don’t like the way you are treating your younger brother” (or the mess of your room or whatever behavior you’re dealing with). The message then is that they aren’t bad, but that you sure don’t like the behavior.
In the same way, I may have an excellent employee with a bad habit I would like him to change. Let’s say, for example, that one has a tendency to interrupt people in mid-sentence in meetings. It’s the interrupting that I choose to focus on. “Adam, you interrupted Jacques three times during his presentation this morning. A rule of thumb in those situations is to let people finish talking before you comment or ask questions.” If I think he needs to be made aware of the impact he had on at least one person, I might add a comment on my feelings: “I must admit I felt a bit frustrated by the interruptions.”
In the above example I chose to take a teaching approach and did not assume competence on Adam’s part — I did not ­assume he knew not to interrupt — and so fed back to him a picture of the appropriate behavior. Had I chosen to use a more consultative style I would have asked, “Adam, are you aware that you interrupted Jacques three times during his prepared presentation in the meeting this morning?”

Using the mentoring style

You will recall that the consulting style — asking questions and actively listening — is focused on developing self-awareness and self-responsibility in the other person. If he answers casually,“Yeah, so what?” then clearly he does not have enough awareness yet, so I might move to a second question: “Well, I know how I feel when I have prepared something I want people to hear in its entirety and I get interrupted. How do you feel when that happens 
to you?”
A third possibility is to use a mentoring style. Mentoring is simply coaching that focuses on a career path or survival in the organization. In this instance my feedback would sound more like this:“Adam, as you know, one of the things that is really valued in this organization is that we treat each other with respect and dignity. Interrupting Jacques three times during his prepared statement in the meeting this morning might be interpreted by some as disrespectful. I am sure that wasn’t your intention, but I must admit I felt a little frustrated by it.”
The fourth rule reminds us to give feedback for one reason and one reason only: to help the other person get better. Feedback is not meant to be self-serving to the person giving it. This is not where you get even or show them you’re smarter. Whatever approach you take, you should be able to give feedback — all feedback — in a way that maintains the relationship.
If your feedback is to have maximum impact in bringing about increased competence on the part of the performer, then it should also be timely, varied, and frequent. It was Paul Allaire, the retired CEO of Xerox, who once said that we undercommunicate “to the power of 10.”
Just because we said it once doesn’t mean people got it. For them to get the message clearly, you need to communicate it over and over again, as often as you can, in as many ways as possible. As for timeliness, research tells us that the effectiveness of feedback starts to decline 0.4 seconds after the act. The best time to tell someone? Now!

Good feedback comes from disciplined leaders

A few important final thoughts on feedback.
Leaders who are good at the skill of feedback are highly disciplined; they think ­carefully about what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it. Few of us can spontaneously offer up exceptionally good, competent, relevant feedback. This simply doesn’t come naturally.
All of us are capable of giving general, nonspecific, ­focus-on-the-person feedback such as “Great job on that report, Bruce.” Giving exceptional feedback is a different matter altogether. “I read the McDougal report, Bruce, and it’s extremely thorough and well targeted. It focuses on efficiencies, succession planning, and return on investment (ROI), which are the customer’s key concerns. I feel confident in forwarding it to the client. Excellent job!”
Who spontaneously speaks like this? Perhaps only your golf pro or someone who is trying to make you better. Most of us need to spend a few moments capturing the key points and getting back in touch with the guidelines for effective feedback before we’re able to give such comprehensive, meaningful feedback.
Here’s what University of Illinois track coach Gary Winckler had to say about the role of asking questions and listening in coaching:
Ask them, almost on a daily basis, how they’re doing, and I’m always telling them, ‘Don’t just tell me you’re doing okay. How are you really doing, how’s school, how’s your family, how are you adjusting to homesickness?’ It’s not so easy, especially in the school environment, where you only see your athletes an hour or two a day and we jump on the field and do our routine and then go our separate ways again.”
Gary is right. We do have limited time. But these constraints signal that it’s even more important to make asking and listening priorities.
If you want to make the most of the time you have with your people, take advantage of the opportunities you do have by using the most effective communication skills available to you.

By Peter Jensen, Ph.D, is founder of Performance Coaching Inc

4 Elements That Better Be Part of a HR Strategy

In HR we have to have a strategy for everything.
What’s your employment brand strategy? What’s your orientation strategy? What’s your open enrollment strategy? It’s not really strategies for most of these – they’re processes – but we get hit over the head so many times in HR we stopped calling our processes “processes” — and started calling our “processes” “strategies.”
It makes us feel strategic when we have strategies!

A plan of action isn’t a strategy

Unfortunately, it’s rare that I see a real strategy for an organization’s talent – their people. We strategically have many strategies in HR: our strategic benefits strategy, our compensation strategy, our recruitment strategy, etc. These really aren’t strategies, either. These are more what I call HR operational initiatives, or the crap we do on a daily basis.
It’s our job. It’s not strategy.
We do really well on the plan of action! We usually fail on the last part – achieving a vision – because usually we really don’t have a vision, unless you consider doing the job a vision!
It’s not. The vision part of your strategy is by far the most important part. It needs to connect to the hearts and minds of your HR group. They need to truly believe in it, because it will shape decision making at all levels in your department – or at least it should!

Elements that should be in your strategy

Your HR strategy needs to speak to what you truly believe on the people side of your business. It’s all right if your strategy and your current reality are not yet at the same point, because you need to have a vision to be able to reach it.
Very few organizations design their strategy based on their current state – unless they’ve already reached that pinnacle of excellence they desire. Too often, I see HR departments go to design an HR strategy, and it breaks down because people try and throw reality into the mix. “Wait, this isn’t who “we” are – we aren’t what you are saying…”
I love realists, but they usually aren’t the best ones to draft your HR strategy! You obviously need reality in your strategy,  but not so much that you just regurgitate your current state.
I can’t tell you what your HR strategy should be, but I can tell you some elements that better be a part of it:
  • The level of talent you need to achieve your organizational strategy;
  • The type of talent you need to achieve your organizational strategy;
  • The personality traits your talent will need to be successful in your organization.

Fact: we all need great talent

Not every organization needs high energy, go-getter, experienced individuals to be successful, but some do. Others need calm, mild-mannered, entry level people to be successful. Many organizations need a large mix of talent, traits and experiences (heck, most of us do!). In the end, we all need great talent that cares about their personal outcomes, cares about organizational outcomes, and believes that both of those things can be accomplished under our roof.
Lastly, make your HR strategy simple – so simple everyone in the building can spout it off in under five (5) seconds. That will be hard to do, but that will make your strategy lasting and effective.

By Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is Executive Vice President of HRU Technical Resources