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 Day: There's More Work to Be Done

We got a little excited when we learned, leading up to this past Veterans Day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the past year had seen a decline in the unemployment rate of veterans from 7 to 6.5%. Unfortunately, this is still noticeably higher than the national unemployment rate of 5.8%. Therefore, as the holiday season is just on the horizon, sparking in us a generosity to towards humanity, may we not ignore a deep gratitude toward our veterans. What do we mean? Allow the meaning of this past Veterans Day to resonate with you as you're heavily focused on end of the year recruitment. Veterans are the perfect hires for so many more reasons than you may realize.

We've been in the business of distributing jobs for veterans for quite some time now. So, we tend to hear through the grapevine about the success our customers have had. Constantly, we hear how their new veteran recruits:

  • Take initiative: Under high pressure constantly, vets understand the need to start and complete tasks with the least amount of collateral interference.
  • Are excellent contributors: Vets are keenly aware of the concept of teamwork and how important that is to complete tasks at hand.
  • Maintain excellent attendance: Veterans are trained to perform in any condition and circumstance, and excuses for absence or poor performance are unusual for this group.
  • Are technologically savvy: Vets are trusted with some of the most cutting edge technology in the world, with many fields interrelated, training is easier with this group.
  • Learn and adapt quickly: In combat situations, there's no time to waste. Veterans are quick learners, light on their feet, and quite flexible to adjust to their environments.

This feedback provides a glimpse into workforces that hire veterans. Our veterans have been unwaveringly deployed into battle for us, so let’s have some faith and show our gratitude by continuing to lower the veteran unemployment rate, and allowing our vets to show us even more of what they're made of in our workplaces.

Source: TLNT

Hiring for Fit and Your Company Culture

hiring for fit failureAs we mentioned last week, there's a lot of talk on the "right" way to recruit. As we also said, there's always going to be a debate, because nobody is the same and we all have opinions based on subjectivity. This next controversial hiring tip follows the same beat. What if we hired based on pure skill level and leadership potential? That is to say, what if we threw "hiring for the right fit," right out the window? Now that's an interesting concept.

Hiring for Fit: Wrong Approach?

Laurie Ruettimann has been known for her controversial standings on HR issues. Her latest opinion criticizes hiring for fit. Personally, we here at SourceCast find this quite intriguing. For an organization to continue functioning, can we completely throw out the notion of finding an employee that can fit into a well-greased machine of a company? The concept seems somewhat flawed, doesn't it?

If We're Not Hiring for Fit...

Suffice it to say, we're not sure what we believe. On one hand, no leader was ever born as a mere follower, someone acknowledging and accepting ideas and truths without question. There's something to be said with employing the "thinkers," those who are always thinking about new ideas, ways to critique and strengthen current practices, and those who seem to just shake things up. However, hiring an entire workforce with their own unique mentalities could cause friction, allowing nothing to get done without painful amounts of idea gridlocks. In our minds, there has to be a single direction, a line of focus to a goal. That means hiring people who mesh into the organization's culture (i.e., the CEO's vision) but also hiring those that have their own vision, who can enhance the company's goals or vision and take leadership to get you there.

Instead of hiring for fit, HR, as Ms. Ruettimann says, "[has] an obligation to advocate on behalf of the cranky, grouchy, unlikeable employees who question everything and don't go along with the flow." HR also has the obligation to advocate on behalf of those passionate, obedient, and loveable employees who also act like worker bees, coercing together beautifully to accomplish goals. Our workforces need both these types of employees. This calls for a shout out to the surge of non-discrimination laws: we don't discriminate in hiring practices or towards those who do or don't follow a company's "culture or fit."

Source: TLNT

4 Tips to Job Descriptions That Attract the Right Talent

As we sip our morning coffee, scouring our multiple newsfeeds, we see things like "5 tips for landing a job" or maybe "3 ways to set apart your resume," all aiding the jobseeker. However, we don’t see as many tips aiding us employers in areas such as successful job listings, maybe. Why is that? We're people too! So, as we skim through the typical jobseeker-focused tweets and posts, here's a post shouting out to us employers!

4 Simple Job Description No-No's

As you read the tips below, you may think to yourself how simple these are, and sit there idly, waiting for that "ah-ha" moment. Truth is, you may not feel that moment with this post. The reason being, these tips sound so simple and things you've heard before, but we're hoping that posing them from a jobseeker's aspect, you may feel more inclined to turn thought into action with these. Today's tips relate to your job descriptions. This is the first thing a jobseeker is going to see: the portrait of a company they cannot see. Therefore, you need to lure them in given a limited amount of time the potential applicant will give the first few lines of your description.

  1. Avoid confusing job titles: As a jobseeker, they most likely know nothing about you, the company, the products, or anything. So, having a non-universal job title does nothing more than read: "This job title is as confusing and complicated as the work you’ll be doing if hired." Not only does it cause applicants to turn away, but things like SEO suffer, because let's face it, Google is as clueless as we are when it sees job titles such as: "Remedy Engineers," (yes, these are real job titles, people).
  2. Eliminate grammatical errors: This ranking high up there on our list of hates, along with spiders and snakes. As a jobseeker, this job description looks completely unprofessional and sloppy, leading to the applicant believing that's the type of environment to be expected in said organization. Remember, both the employer and applicant are being evaluated.
  3. Please nix jargon or industry buzzwords: Please, please don’t eliminate your chances of a great hire because they read the word "thought-leader, go-getter, robust," and the list goes on in the job description. What do these words even mean? To tell you the truth, they have multiple meanings to different people, and probably not the ones you're intending. So, if you can't clearly define a word without background context, it has no business being in front of an applicant's eyes.
  4. No gimmicks: We mean, give them specifics. We can all relate to being let down by a clever marketing ploy using generics. For example, "Big sale" signs that don’t hint at the staggering fine-print or the want ads that say "Hair apprentice," when really you come to find out that you're signing up to apprentice with everything but hair. We've all fallen victim, so to increase application and retention, be very upfront and specific about the duties your new hire is to perform. Plus, this helps strain the worthwhile applicants from the broad, maybe candidates.

While these items almost seem too simple, they are all-too common mistakes that we see in job descriptions daily. While this won't solve all of your recruiting conundrums, the right job description can get the right people, at least, in the door. Stay tuned as we uncover more tips to increase applications and to retain the right employees for your business.

Bullying in the Workplace: Common Problem?

As we continue to see equal opportunity, especially for applicants, plastered all over our news feeds, we are still reminded to treat our employees with the same non-discrimination after they've joined our teams. Lately, here at SourceCast, we've noticed a trend in reports and news feeds surrounding the topic of bullying. While it is talked about, we notice that it isn't gaining as much steam as we thought. Then we thought, maybe it's because the definition of bullying is so loosely defined or maybe it's because there hasn't been as much momentum surrounding the topic, therefore those affected may feel judged or shy? Whatever the case may be, bullying is trending, and that needs to stop. Now.

Bullying in Real Life

We recently read a story on another blog, detailing an account of an employee who ended up leaving his job due to a female bully. The more we swished the story around our palates, the more we saw the disconnect between such regulations as VEVRAA and how they're implemented in the workplace once the applicant is hired. It's not enough to claim equal opportunity and treatment at your organization if those hired are bullied once on the job! Equality must stem from the recruitment process and cultivate through healthy workplace relationships. Bullying and discrimination both focus on perceived notions, prejudices, and unfair treatment, but let's make it clear, bullies are equal opportunity in who they discriminate against. Isn't that interesting? Discrimination and bullying comes in all shapes and sizes and can happen to anyone.

Preventing Workplace Bullying

To prevent bullying, provide a safe workplace. While we know that's often said, but implementing that is a lot more tactical. This is where HR needs to step up and be the superheroes that we are. Providing team building opportunities, safe channels for discussion, seminars and workshops to explain bullying and prevent against it can ensure your employees feel secure and comfortable reporting something if encountered. There's no way to ensure an applicant won't be a bully, but there are ways to firmly enforce a no-bullying workplace and increase productivity and improve culture along the way.

Maybe the Problem With HR Has Nothing to Do With HR At All

You're probably familiar with Ram Charan's infamous article It's Time to Split HR and if you're not, you've heard of it. You may have also read one or more of the mounting number of articles declaring what's wrong with HR or that we should ditch HR all together. Guess what, this isn't one of those articles. In general, it seems like HR is adapting to the times just like every other department in every other organization. As the title suggests, we're here to talk about the "problem with HR," so we're going to come out and say it: maybe it's you. Perhaps the problem with HR is really that we choose protecting and maintaining over confidence.

The Problem With HR Isn't Unique

As we've mentioned before, HR is about protecting, whether it's protecting the company against legal and compliance issues, or employees' rights. Therefore, it's easy to default to maintaining the status quo, rather than asserting our views or leading initiatives to improve workplace culture. But this problem, while we're talking about HR isn't unique to HR. No, this can be evident in any department, and most likely is to some degree.

The Problem With HR Is Real

It would be naive to say that because the "problem with HR" isn't unique, we can sweep it under the rug. You probably have plenty else to do, but stop. This is important. As the gatekeepers of compliance and culture, where is it most important to tweak when we see a problem. So, ask yourself, "Am I confident in how and what I do?" Are you a "yes" person? Are you at the beck and call of the C-levels? Is every day just another nose to the grindstone kind of day? Stop. Now breathe. And start saying "no."

The Problem With HR Is Not Saying No

Fixing HR starts with you being confident in who you are in the company, knowing your best contributions, and then taking that and being willing to grow. You will have to say "no" because a potential candidate loved by the hiring manager may harm the culture. You will have to say "no" to initiatives that aren't in the best interest of the company. You will even have to say "no" to the executive's disrespectful swipes at HR *gasp*.

No, this little tip isn't meant to fix everything. However, it will go a long way for both the "problem with HR" as well as your own work life. There's nothing intrinsically broken about HR, however the transition toward a better department begins with you being confident and doing what you do best: look out for the company, no matter how unpopular it may be at the time.

Source: Fistful of Talent

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.

Trust and Berkshire Hathaway: Gullible or Brilliant?

Berkshire Hathaway doesn't have an HR department! How can it possibly function?! Honestly, we don't know. We're not here to speculate on what this mega corporation runs without, but rather what it seems to run on and abundantly: trust. What does this have to do with you, who doesn’t have the helm of a company raking in over 150 billion dollars a year? Maybe, just maybe, it’s the fear of getting burned by trusting the wrong people that’s kneecapping both our hiring and engagement strategies.

Trust and the Hiring Process

We each have our own method, our individual mix of desired characteristics, but how often, as we see in the case of Berkshire Hathaway, do we consciously weigh how much we feel we can trust a candidate? If we do not lay this at the foundation of our hiring process, where does that lead our organizations moving forward? We are hiring people whom we cannot necessarily trust, or at least, people we are not certain we trust. Seems dangerous, doesn’t it?

Trust Engages Employees

While it seems irresponsible to just go around trusting people, the Berkshire Hathaway example suggests that employees not only produce, but engage in the workplace. Studies suggest that the power of trust is rather strong, and honestly, say that you’d rather not be trusted. It’s at least worth the argument that employees, we, will be more loyal and steadfast and productive when we feel trusted. And that trust encourages us to interact and engage more openly. Is trust the silver bullet to retaining that top talent? The curious case of Berkshire Hathaway certainly suggests it might be.

Could it be that the only flaw in our hiring and retaining strategies is our own unwillingness to be burnt by trusting the wrong candidates and employees? Could it be that we don’t need a better strategy to snag that top talent, but a better way to frame our strategy? Likewise, maybe we don’t need a better strategy to retain top talent, but a better way to view that strategy? What do you think? Is Berkshire Hathaway crazy? Are we? Or could trust really be a novel idea once again?

Source: New York Times

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.