It's Performance Review Time!

performance review stressIt's that dreaded time again, and no we're not talking about taxes or anything, we're talking about employee performance reviews! Right about now, we start to see employees fidget, maybe up the productivity ante, or simply drag their feet on hitting that performance “submit” button. Generally, there's a negative aura encapsulating the tried and true performance reviews, but why? There seems to be a lack of transference as to why we do performance reviews and the good that can only come through these exercises.

Performance Review Is Communication

For example, an unbiased and effective performance review should open conversation and communication flow between you and your employees. During the quarter, things can get hectic, time is limited, and communication can be disjointed. Performance reviews are designed to tear down those barriers, allowing honest opinions, suggestions, and comments to increase employee engagement. We all want to feel like our time is valued or that our needs our met on both ends of the table, whether you're an employer or employee. This review gives both sides a chance to openly discuss how to improve this mutual gratification in the workplace.

Performance Review Stirs Competitive Nature

Deep down, we all (maybe secretly or further down than others) crave some competition. We want to feel valuable or successful in whatever we do. In the workplace, the same stands true. Constructive criticism and praise is key to keeping that positive, competitive flame burning. We all strive to better ourselves, but how can we do that without feedback and potential criticism? Performance reviews are the perfect way to ignite your employees' natural competitive nature. Not only are you helping to align your employees' performance with your vision, but you're creating this drive to surpass prior performance.

Encourage your managers and employees to see performance reviews as a mutually beneficial process. Employees get a chance to air out frustrations or to ring praise towards the organization, and employers and managers can better align performance and goals, while strengthening the relational infrastructure. It's not meant to put anyone in the “hot seat” or create tension, but performance reviews should motivate and encourage employees while unifying the goals and initiative between managers and their employees. Perhaps they should rename performance reviews to pep talks, but then the stress relief market would probably sue us for their lack of sales. Oh well, until next time, HR community!

Veterans and the 7 Qualities You're Looking for In a New Hire

A couple days ago, The Muse came out with a list of 7 qualities that struck CEOs as distinguishing characteristics in top-performing employees. After looking at the list, we would have to agree. While being broad characteristics, they seem to hold high value in any corporate setting. However, as we studied the list more closely, we noticed this combination of characteristics immediately drew to mind one specific demographic that HR professionals love to hire: veterans. As we list the top 7 desired employee attributes, sit back and see if you don't agree with us.

  • Flexibility: As an employer, you need to know that if a deadline is approaching, your team has the determination and flexibility to meet the deadline and produce top-quality work. As you know if you’ve hired veterans, flexibility is programmed by nature. A fast-paced environment is what they live by, and transitioning smoothly and quickly is their strong suit. Armed forces training has prepared these employees for any project and to overcome the unexpected barriers that accompany everyday tasks.
  • Creativity: As technology continues to evolve at supersonic speeds, you need employees seeking knowledge to produce innovation and creativity to leave you ahead of the competition. While many people still hold the stereotypical notion that veterans, while amazingly focused, are too conventional and one-track-minded, this is simply not the case. Feeding off of their flexibility, veterans have been trained to incorporate creative solutions to combat barriers. While not only very shrewd, their backgrounds allow them to easily create innovative solutions at the drop of a hat.
  • Hustle: Let's be honest, when you want a project done, you wanted it done yesterday. But, you don't want to sacrifice quality for speed. With veterans, many of you have seen first-hand the precision and attention to detail they produce within tight deadlines.
  • Happiness: Nothing drags down productivity of an entire team more than even one, single negative attitude. Creativity, productivity, and quality stem from positive mindsets. Nothing can be tackled with pessimism, but we're not saying look for an employee who never feels stress or tension because we all know in our line of work, that simply does not exist. Simply, veterans are trained for high-stress situations and finding solace in these times. They are go-getters and problem-solvers, easily the desired candidate to balance high-stress teams and projects.
  • Passion: The kind of work that we generally take pride in is on the projects that we are passionate about. Generally speaking, our armed forces include the most patriotic men and women of America; the people to live and die for their passion. How much more passionate of a person could you find than your veteran employees?
  • Confidence: Speed bumps are par for any project or task in the office, and you employers need an employee who won't be deterred from success due to these challenges. In all branches of the military, our soldiers have no other option than to be confident in their line of work. Otherwise, no task or mission can be completed, jeopardizing themselves, their team, and the mission. Confidence is everything to a veteran.

While we are obviously not saying that only veterans possess these highly desired characteristics, but they are a relatively untapped resource that generally possess key features desired in any corporate setting. Not only do the new VEVRAA regulations require federal contractors to strive towards a 7.2% veteran hiring benchmark, but in support of all our veterans have done for us and their unparalleled work experiences should thrust their resumes into the top of your priority hires.

Mobile Workforce: The 6 Most Effective Apps to Mobilize Your Workforce

mobile workforce woman cafeAs it's been not so gently massaged into our brains, mobile workforce strategies are the here-and-now way to brand your business, recruit, and telecommute. However, let's face it, most companies want their employees on-site to better communicate and collaborate to perform their tasks (a la Yahoo). Unfortunately, there's this thing called life that sometimes get in the way and we can't always occupy our usual fluorescently-lit cubicle each day. Instead of taking a personal day, what if there was a way to convince your boss or staff that working from home or remotely was just as effective as making a physical appearance in the office?

A Study on Mobile Workforce Apps

Hootsuite did a comparison of a large list of different mobile apps, and came up with their top 7 favorites. After doing some independent research and taking into account our own bias due to utilizing most of these products in the office, we decided to just hop on the bandwagon instead of trailblazing this topic. Below is the list of 6 top-rated apps for you busy bees out there in desperate need of organizing your mobile workforce, or just your own work life.

Evernote: Evernote is like the chest at the foot of your bed. It can store everything: from notes, to pictures, voice recordings, and practically any digital memorandum can be saved in Evernote, accessed by multiple users or even offline. Using tags and notebooks, everything is searchable and easily for later usage.

Hootsuite: In layman's terms, it simply manages all of your social media networks, allowing you to post (now, or schedule for later) to all your media sites simultaneously on one platform. While this alone may not sound compelling, their capacity to track your social media efforts is surely a deciding factor.

UberConference: In the past, meetings and conferences required physical presence, but UberConference makes that a thing of the past. UberConference uses your phone's contact list as a way to select attendees, and the software emails, calls, or texts the attendees to accept the meeting. Everyone is displayed onscreen, so you get the physical presence, remotely. Need we say more?

Trello: If you're a fan of Scrum and the Agile methodology, you need Trello. With this organizational software, visually show tasks on a digital board; assign team members, deadlines, and priority levels to specific tasks; show progress and communicate with Trello members to perform tasks more efficiently.

Dropbox: All of your files. In the cloud. And you can access them offline via multiple devices. Your hard drive is literally able to go wherever you go.

Brewster: Think of your smartphone's address book where contact information from your social media merges. Instead of banging your head against the wall after you left your client's contact information at work, rely on Brewster. It merges your contacts onto a single platform, pulling information from social media, email, and your personal address book. Finally, you don't need to drag every device and notepad with you when you want to telecommute.

With these helpful mobile apps, telecommuting can slowly lose the negative connotation that it's been plagued with for so long. Finally, we live in an age where the mobile workforce is attainable. Stay tuned for next week where we continue our “mobile-first focus” and discuss recruiting based on your telecommuting policies.

Disruption: Your Uncomfortable Ally

Let's face it, unless you're in the tech world, disruption nearly always carries with it a negative connotation. It sounds violent, abrupt, and honestly, with constantly reacting to issues within our respective organizations, who has the time for much else? When the secondary objective is planning, which gets shelved more often than not, where do you find the time for luxuries such as personal development?

Disruption and the Difficulty of Vigilance

It's difficult to think about disruption in light of the fact that HR is about staying vigilant in protecting against potential compliance and legal issues. However, in that light, don't you think it's most important for this ever-valuable protector of the company to be challenging what they know to be good and right? Isn't it important for HR to be constantly challenging their own understanding of how they, how you can best do your job?

Disruption of Priorities

Disruption is about not just finding time, but making time by reorienting your priorities. Disruption by definition necessitates discomfort. But if we aren't making disrupting ourselves and the growth that comes with that a priority, how can we expect that of the workplaces we are trying to push forward? If we are not willing to think differently, then how can we hope to affect the culture changes we seek?

It's easy to accept that personal development is a mere closet dream for when the rest of our duties are taken care of, but we are only doing a disservice to our companies and, of course, ourselves. Maybe it's time we prioritized self-disruption using this lens. Maybe it's time each of us allowed ourselves to become a little uncomfortable, enabled us and our organizations to grow a little. Would it really be so bad?

Source: Brandon Hall Group

The Rules of Disengagement

In today's business world, employee engagement is a constant topic that strikes interest in HR professionals, upper management, and even employees themselves everywhere. Sure, everyone wants the magic bullet to fix DES (disgruntled employee syndrome), but as professionals in our respective fields, shouldn't we be asking how employees reach disengagement before diagnosing a cure? Today, there is so much talk about how engaging your employees increases sales, customer retention, and builds word of mouth notoriety, but the reality of the business world is that many employees are in fact, disengaged. According to a Gallup Poll taken in 2013, 70% of the U.S. workforce is "completely disengaged" in their workplace. If employee engagement is such a hot topic, how can the rate of disengagement be so high? The answer: we are not correcting the problem and its attributing factors.

Motivational Disengagement

By way of nature, many employees work for the paycheck and hard enough to stay away from the firing line. As a company, simply speaking, finances take the cake for important factors when it comes to the employees it hires. Bottom line, the company must save its bottom line. With these primitive mindsets, how can businesses and its employees grow when the prize has nothing to do with growth? Simple: company management must take the first step in understanding the intrinsic values of their employees. Money is not the only motivator in the workplace.

Drawing from personal experiences and published studies, below you'll find some contributing factors to employee disengagement many employers are still missing:

  • A lack of communication between the employer and his or her employees. Working in blind-faith isn't exactly a motivator.
  • Over and over again, employers don't create a community environment in the workplace. If any employee doesn't feel like they belong to a group or provide a valued piece of the puzzle, there is no incentive to work past the self-serving bare minimum.
  • Often, organizations don't provide enough or any feedback. Be it positive or negative, an employee needs to know that their actions matter and in what way they're affecting their workplace.
  • Change and the aversion to it can often disengage employees. We all want to know that our voice matters, but employers need to be ready to implicate suggestions if they want to retain employee morale.
  • We all hear this and "know" this, but it is often not implemented: recognition. We all need recognition for positive work ethic, ingenuous ideas, superb project performance, and we need it often. Nothing disengages an employee faster than being constantly overlooked.
  • While employers need to have control to run an organization, too much control can detach an employee. Instead of choosing an appropriate solution, why not give lead way to your employees to be decision makers?
  • Finally, often upper-management is thought to not be involved. The old saying goes, "lead by example." If you're disengaged, you cannot possibly expect your employees to be engaged and perform.

While many of these disengagement attributes are not aha moments, more often than not they are overlooked or forgotten about altogether. If each disengaged employee costs approximately $2,300 dollars a year, you can do the math and realize how much companies are chipping away at their bottom lines by ignoring simple fixes like the ones above. Through change, one minor ripple can have a tidal wave effect that benefits your business for a lifetime.

To Improve Work Environment, Keep It Quick and to the Point

Many employers and HR professionals are starting to beg the question, “How do my employees feel about their current work environment?” Sure, you have the common questionnaires, surveys, and performance reviews, but is that enough? Questionnaires and surveys carry with them a mixed bag of how answers can be interpreted, the process of formulating the right questions, and how to respond to a wide range of data. Performance reviews, while highly beneficial and necessary, cannot possibly occur enough to address all the concerns. Not to mention, there is something to be said about the truthfulness in anonymity. So, how do you get truthful answers that can allow for constant change and upgrade? Direct questions, as believed by David Niu, founder of consulting firm TINYpulse, should be your go-to when encouraging employee engagement.

Keep Work Environment Questions Direct

When we say direct questions, we are talking about asking employees one simple question at a time via any medium, and often. According to TINYpulse, these answers should be kept anonymous. With a simple work environment question, you will often receive common answers, which indicate a common problem, big or small. Who knows, maybe your employees often feel nauseated by your cleaning supplies but have just never spoken up? Simple fixes can mend even the biggest problems once they're brought to your attention. Especially in smaller companies, developing one direct question at a time does not tug nearly as hard at the company’s budget strings.

Work Environment Questions to Ask

So, what kinds of questions should you be asking your employees? According to Niu, questions like:

  • “Name one process that, were it eliminated, would make you more productive.”
  • “How transparent is management?”
  • “Please rate the quality of the snacks in the kitchen.”

Each question, while seemingly ordered by importance, is equally as important as the rest. These kinds of questions can easily set the pace for corporate change and ultimately, a more pleasant work environment for your employees. Not to mention, us employees like seeing our voices heard, even when that voice is penned under Anonymous in the suggestion box!

Source: HR Morning

2 Tips On Helping Multi-Generational Teams Succeed

"How do I make my multi-generational teams mesh and become brilliantly productive?"

While there are certain steps you can take and books you can read divulging the seemingly all-powerful truth to this question, we find it harder now, more than ever, with vastly different generational mindsets. That being said, no, there isn't a simple one-size–fits-all solution to multi-generational teams. Rather, what if we dissect each generation's mentality and strategize about how to communicate with each group, allowing them to communicate internally with one another? If you can lasso the strengths of each generation and enable effective communication between these groups, your multi-generational teams will be unstoppable.

Multi-Generational Teams Broken Down

Essentially, the workforce consists of four different generational groups: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, and the infamous Millennials.

Traditionalists value hard work on top of everything. While seemingly inflexible, Traditionalists base decision on vast experience, often confused with inflexibility. The value of respect for authority is another high priority item.

Boomers feel a deep sense of desired value and need that Boomers derive from work. They are loyal but disengage with the lack of recognition or acknowledgement. Respect is still highly valued in the eyes of Boomers.

Gen X is quite pragmatic and skeptical of authority. Often referred to as the silent generation, they are easily disengaged, pessimistic, and quick to toss in the towel if their contributions are unvalued or they feel gipped. This group desires space and their own terms to trust authority.

Millennials demand immediate gratification. Immediate ladder climbing is almost a birthright. They questions everything and feel a sense of right to be included, looked up to, and heard, regardless of the topic of conversation. Work ethic is often some term not fully comprehended by this generation.

With such radical differences, as employers, how do you reach each group simultaneously?

There is Hope for Multi-Generational Teams

Here are a couple of solutions:

  • Acknowledge the commonalities that we all share. We all desire to be needed, to learn, to grow and move forward, and to receive feedback. We desire these things frequently, so often addressing these needs will go far with each generation.
  • Use each group's strength to bond the team. Use Boomers optimism to rally the support. Use a healthy dose of skepticism from Gen X to question ideas and new products, and so on. Each group has valuable mentalities that should be brought to the table in any brainstorming, strategizing, or planning sessions. In doing this, there is value that each generation feels and appreciates.

We are all different, but as an employer, it's important to recognize the similarities and strengths of each generation in order to fulfill their needs and provide a place where each generation is valued and can work together. This may require time, energy, and a few tries, but the rewards of functioning multi-generational teams is well worth the organizational changes you may have to make. So, will you risk change to achieve optimal performance? I think we know what the answer is…

Source: Forbes Leadership