Category: Staffing (page 1 of 2)

Is it so Hard to Like our Employees?

I know, employees are difficult.

Employees can be unreasonable, childish, difficult, selfish, short-sighted, and stubborn. But without them, your employer wouldn’t need you. The same adjectives could also be used to describe managers and supervisors.

Human beings, in general, are difficult and unreasonable. We all want what is best for us, not necessarily what is best for others. So we need to look past the negatives that other people bring to an organization and start to focus on what we can do to have a positive impact on these fellow human beings in order to benefit the overall team.

Nobody says you have to love everybody. That is reserved for a select group of people within your circle of influence. You don’t even have to hang out with them after work. But you do need to find the positive in each person you deal with so that you can get the best out of each team member.

What keeps you from seeing the positive and finding a way to like the most difficult of people? You. Because the only thing that you have any control over is yourself. When leading a diverse group of people it is important to put your own ego aside. A focus on self will never inspire others. It will never allow you to see the good in others.

Everybody has some good characteristics. It can be difficult to see when our emotions are running hot, but it is out there. You just need to dig deep sometimes and get past your own feelings to see the truth.

Managers and supervisor, if they are going to be successful leaders, need to master their own emotions and see past their own limitations.

In order to master your emotions and see the best in others you need to understand one truth – the only thing in this world you have control over are your own thoughts and actions. That is it. You control nothing else.

And in relation to only having control of self is the fact that the only place we are able to act is in the present. It is the only time that people can implement change. The past is dead and the future in unknown. We cannot affect the past and we can only plan for an uncertain future. So stop dwelling on what has happened or what will be. Live in the now and engage people in the now.

Don’t hold on to the past or make assumptions about a person’s ability to change. Everybody is able to change it is just a matter of whether or not they want to. Sometimes all it takes is the right motivation to get them to change.

Yelling, screaming, and intimidation is not a good strategy to inspire people to embrace change.

The more you push people and back them into a corner, the more they will resist change. This is just part of human nature. When we feel threatened we turn to a defensive mode. This means we justify our position and dig into that position. Once this happens there is no hope to get buy in.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, in his Welch Way leadership program brings up the idea of WIFM – what’s in it for me – as a consideration for getting buy-in to changes. This is what motivates your employees. And it is what you have to figure out if you’re going to get them to buy into your plans.

Understanding employee motivation from a neutral, non-judgemental standpoint is essential to getting the best out of people. You have to free yourself from your own prejudices and ideas of what is right and wrong. Instead, focus on seeing things through the lens of the employees you manage. Then you can structure a plan that will meet their needs, gaining their buy-in, so you can meet the organization’s needs.

So instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your people, the elements of human nature that you can’t control, focus on finding out what their strengths are and what motivates them. Try liking your people. You might just find that there is more good than bad in them.

Managing Generational Differences

We hear so much these days about how the millennial generation is affecting change in the workplace. It is said as if this is something new or unique. But are the generational difference between Millennials and other generations that different and do we need to reinvent the workplace to conform to their values or should they conform to meet the organization’s values?

I come from Generation X. We are the group that came after the baby boomers. Born from 1965-1984 (source: The Atlantic Magazine).We were known as being disaffected, spoiled, and moody.

Shaped by the post-Vietnam environment where nothing was to be trusted. The government was defined by Nixon and the 1970’s. Our views of marriage were formed by the high rates of divorce we all lived through. We saw our parents as having given up on their values and beliefs in exchange for a comfortable, mundane suburban existence.

Existential angst became our stock in trade. We were rebelling against everything and nothing. And in the end, we became more like our parents. The revolution was without substance.

It is popular for my generation to dismiss Millennials as lazy, spoiled, and lacking a sense of what the real world is about.The truth is Millennials want the same thing we wanted – a sense of purpose and place in this world. After all isn’t that what we all want. And while my generation sacrificed our values for comfort, and ultimately created the generation we now despise, they really aren’t so much different from us.

So how do we manage differences between the generations in the workplace?

First, we have to start by remembering what it was like being young and idealistic. If we can remember back that far we will probably realize that we weren’t so much different.

Put yourself in the younger person’s shoes. Try to empathize with them and understand what it is that motivates them. Give them credit for having something valuable to offer.

If you’re dealing with an older workforce the story is the same. Understand that where they are at in their life is different from where you are at, and because of this, you are going to have different values and different expectations. But because they have different values doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything of substance to offer.You need to find places of common ground where you can come together no matter the generational milieu that each person inhabits.

Find what motivates and then use that to engage and get the best out of that person. This isn’t about manipulating people. It is about taking a genuine interest in learning about a person and then tailoring your management style to meet their needs.

There is no one style that works for all people or all generations. You need to keep an open mind and be willing to change your style to suit the need of your employees.

So that begs the next question – should the workplace conform to meet the needs of the individual or should the individual conform to meet the values of the organization? The answer is yes – both.

An organization, like an individual, must define its values and then set an expectation that each member of the organization should conform to. There needs to be a recognition that part of what an individual is getting paid for is to support organizational values. This does not mean they need to compromise their personal values, they just need to adapt to the values of the workplace. If they can’t then they need to seek employment with a business that more closely aligns with their own personal values.

At the same time, the organization needs to be adaptable to understanding the needs of its employees and make accommodations that remain in line with organization values. Managers should be open to, and respectful of, the individual’s values.What does that mean for you as a manager? First, you need to support the company and promote its values. Second, you need to understand your people’s needs, and where you have the ability, be flexible with them to meet their needs.

There is no need to be stubborn and put up barriers to people because you don’t agree with all their values.

Instead, we must use our empathy, the skill of understanding other people’s needs, and consider their point of view. Sometimes just taking the time to understand, even if you can’t give them what they want, will win their motivation and dedication.

There will always be generational differences in the workplace and each generation will always see the others as somehow inferior to their own. This is human nature. As managers, we need to engage and understand all the different generations within our workplace and find ways to motivate and get them all to work together in a harmonious manner.

Staffing in an Age of Scarcity and What you can do About it

Staffing – Where have all the workers gone?

It has become increasingly difficult for employers in most industries to maintain adequate staffing. Businesses are having to do more with fewer people. In some cases, businesses are choosing to close their doors due to not being able to find the help they need to keep their business running.

Why is it so difficult to find employees? There are multiple reasons. The baby boomer generation is well into their retirement ages. Gen Xers and Gen Yers don’t have the numbers to make up the difference. Millennials have either decided to run their own businesses, work part-time, or have opted to not enter the workforce and live in their parents basements.

Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that there are fewer people looking for work.

Good Employees? I am happy with just a heartbeat.

It used to be that you could put out an ad, get a number of qualified candidate, and hire the best one. Nowadays I don’t even worry if they are a good candidate, as long as they show up to work everyday I am happy.

Even when you can find a good candidate, you should feel fortunate if they stick around. Today, people have far more employment choices and therefore are far less dedicated to any one employer. Maintaining staffing levels in the age of the worker nomad can be frustrating.

Gone are the days of people staying at one job their entire career. The new norm is people who have multiple employers and frequently change jobs throughout their working career.

What do we do?

So, what do we do about our staffing when fewer people are looking for jobs and those that are will be less dedicated and more likely to leave?

Here are some tips for managing people under these new, more difficult circumstances:

  1. Treat all employees with dignity and respect. This may seem like a no-brainier but it’s not. It is easy to treat the good employees well, but not so easy with the marginal or down right bad employees. Regardless of what kind of worker they are you need to be even handed and respectful with all your employees. Word gets around quickly if an employer treats its people fairly or not. You can’t afford to treat anyone poorly and get a reputation as a lousy boss or a bad employer.
  2. Coach up your marginal employees. Whether you like it or not you need everybody. It is more important than ever to try to find ways to coach up marginal employees. Have one or two of your high performers become mentors to marginal employees. Hold them accountable but always encourage them. Help them to see the short and long term benefits of improved performance. Let them know that you are genuinely interested in their success.
  3. Show gratitude and understanding to employees when they find a new job. I know its hard to loose anybody, especially really good employees, but that doesn’t mean you need to treat them poorly on their way out. Always wish them well, and if they did a good job and gave you plenty of notice, let them know that the door is always open. In today’s work environment people tend to boomerang. If you treat them well when they are leaving they will be more likely to return if things don’t work out with their new employer.
  4. Treat the employees you have well. It is to difficult and costly to hire new employees. It is far easier to keep the ones you have. While managers don’t always have the ability to change compensation and benefits, it doesn’t mean we are without the ability to influence weather people stay or leave our companies. Show gratitude for the work your employees do. Let them know they are appreciated and their contributions make a difference. If you have the ability to allow flex scheduling be generous with your employees. Say thank you and take advantage of opportunities to reward everyone on your team that does a good job. Go out of your way to recognize employees efforts.
  5. Focus on the positive. As tough as it is to manage people these days you need to do your best to remain positive. Not just for your own well being, but also the well-being of your team. If you come to work frustrated and grumpy every day it will not inspire others. Maintain a positive outlook and keep focused on the things that are going right. Allow our attitude to make others want to do their best and feel good about working with you.

Today’s workforce can be unpredictable, entitled, and fickle. Employees are no longer dedicated to a single employer throughout their career. The workforce has shrunk and will continue to be very competitive. These are the new realities we face and they aren’t going to change anytime soon. So instead of digging in your healing and feeling sorry for yourself you need to adjust and adapt. By focusing on ways that you can create a positive work place, focused on the success of each team member, you will have a better chance of maintaining staffing and attracting new talent.


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Performance Review Should be about Facts not Emotions

Performance Reviews Should be about Facts not Emotions

Performance reviews are one of the most unpleasant activities for a manager. And they are also unpleasant for the employee. Too often managers make the performance review about their opinion. Too many managers get hung up on how they feel about the employee and their performance rather than on the facts. When this happens it creates a tense situation where each side becomes embedded in their own emotionally charged beliefs.

Facts Not Feelings

When evaluating an employee’s performance you should always focus on facts and not on feelings. When speaking about things that need to improve avoid phrases like: “I think…”, “I feel…”, “I believe…”. While you may think, feel, and believe these things use facts to support the improvements you would like to see and to demonstrate where the employee has fallen short.

When we use subjective terms based on feelings it puts the employee into an emotionally defensive position. They may very justly feel that they are being picked on; that your valuation of them is based on feelings instead of facts.

As an example: you have an employee who is not meeting performance expectations. They do not consistently meet productivity numbers, they have too much down time, and they leave a piece of equipment set up poorly.

If you did your homework you have tracked the incidences where expectations were not met. You have dates and numbers to back up your beliefs so that they aren’t beliefs, but are actual facts. It is hard to argue with facts. Also, facts are not based on emotions. Just be careful that your fact gathering isn’t emotionally charged. You need to be gathering facts for all employees not just ones you don’t like.

Clear Expectations

As a result of unclear expectations performance review become confrontational. When a manager fails to set clear expectations and identify successful outcomes an employee becomes confused as to what they need to do to be successful. The result is that the review becomes the managers personal judgement of the employee from a subjective point of view. The manager might have known what they expected, but if they did a poor job of communicating it then there will be a lot of stress and anxiety on the part of the employee when it comes to the review of their performance.

Make sure that you have metrics to judge performance and that they have been clearly communicated and are reasonable in order to keep expectations clear. Do not make expectations so tough that there is no hope of meeting them, but at the same time do not make them so easy that they do not challenge your people.

Check in with employees on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to let them know how they are doing. Failure to communicate with your people in regard to how they are doing throughout the year will create anxiety when it comes to the performance review. Frequent check ins also allow employees a chance to correct problem performance before the annual performance review.

It’s not Personal

A performance review shouldn’t be about egos. It isn’t about whether or not you personally like the person. Let’s face it there are going to be employees who have personalities that don’t sync with our own. Your personality may rub some of your employees wrong. This is just human nature. We aren’t going to like every person we manage and not every person we manage is going to like us.

Don’t take things personally. You need to do your best to remove your own personal biases from the process and focus on objective measures to give a fair and accurate performance appraisal.

The objective of the performance review is to give the employee facts to improve their performance; to let them know what they are doing well and where they need to improve. The purpose is to help the employee improve and to help the company as a whole improve.

Another important aspect to consider is counterfactual thinking which is defined as “thinking focused on how the past might have been, or the present could be, different. These thoughts are usually triggered by negative events that block one’s goals and desires” (Psychology).

Conclusion

Managers and employees should not see performance reviews as an uncomfortable and necessary evil. It should be a time to give positive praise as well as constructive criticism. The focus should be aimed at improving employee performance and helping the employee understand how they can best support the company in meeting goals.

If you are communicating expectations clearly and having frequent discussion with your employees throughout the year there should be minimal anxiety when going into the annual performance review process. If employees know where they stand, and have received frequent feedback, it decreases anxiety as they know what to expect when it comes to performance review time.

Good record keeping and frequent tracking of performance will give you the facts you need to give a fair, unbiased assessment of performance. Avoid emotional based valuations. Stick to facts – what are the expectations, where has the employee fallen short (clear examples), and what needs to be done to meet expectations.

It is never easy to judge other people and tell them the truth, but it is absolutely essential to the success of any business. It is not just about the needs of the business but also those of the employee. Giving fair, honest, and unemotional performance reviews will help employees perform their jobs to a higher level. If you show genuine concern for the employees, and their personal improvement, it will help to diffuse the emotional nature of performance appraisals.

Some Bosses are Just Jerks

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Let’s face it some bosses are just jerks. I don’t understand this. It is much harder to be nasty to people, and less productive, than to treat people with respect.

I was recently talking to some people I know that work for a company that treats their people poorly. The bosses use rigid point systems to penalized employees. They hold grudges when employees don’t do what they want and use vendetta’s to get back at them.

Treating people poorly makes absolutely no sense from an individual or a business perspective. It takes so little energy to treat people fairly and with respect. And the pay offs are much greater.

When people are treated poorly they tend to perform poorly and it makes it much harder to retain good people.

Smart manager’s and businesses realize that it is much less expensive, and more profitable, to treat their people well. Dumb manager’s and businesses treat people poorly and spend a lot on hiring and training.

This isn’t that hard to figure out. Yet, there are businesses who still don’t get it.

Our employees can make or break us. We can’t get anything done without their cooperation and buy-in. And who wants to do their best for a manager who disrespect and abuses others?

Coming to work everyday must be a real chore for managers who view their people in a negative light. Everyday is a battle between the manager and the people they manage.

I would rather look forward to working with my people everyday. I enjoy people. This job would not be worth doing if I saw  the employees I am responsible for as an obstacle.

That is the key to management – realizing that you are responsible for others. As a manager I am not only responsible for the business success of my area, but also the success of the people I am entrusted in leading. Being a manger is 50% managing process and 50% managing people – i.e. helping them be successful.

If people are engaged in a positive manner, made to feel they have a voice in the process, and are respected then you have a great chance at having a successful team. And in turn you will succeed as a manager.

If on the other hand you dictate to your people, treat them as cogs in the machine, and disrespect them, then you will have a low performing team and high turn over.

So remember – don’t be a jerk. Not everybody has to like you, but a little respect goes a long way. Just treat your people like human beings. Have compassion and empathy. Show that your concerned about their personal success and well-being as well as the organizations. Do this and your much more likely to have success as a manager, and organization, and as a human being.

 

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