“Working with HR Solutions, LLC has been an eye-opening experience. Renee and Carn have helped us to update our policies and procedures to ensure compliance and minimize liabilities. More importantly, I have been amazed at how these changes have affected our staff. Everyone seems to be more focused and energized, and I cannot help but think that this will have a positive effect on our bottomline. My only regret is that we did not start this process with HR Solutions years ago. My advice is to not make the same mistake, but call them today.”
Stephanie Novak Hau
Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc.
Bel Air, MD
Applying a positive psychology approach in the workplace brings a shift in culture. Instead of disciplining employees, human resources professionals support a positive approach that can turn the situation into a more productive scenario. By focusing on the employee’s strengths, the manager can work with the employee on meeting expectations. The employee isn't devastated or angry, and the manager has shown appreciation for the employee’s effort.
Communicating expectations is often one of the most difficult jobs for a manager, both from a time and management style standpoint. Some managers might feel they are micromanaging by describing what they expect every time they delegate. In reality, communicating expectations is setting the employee up for success, not failure. It’s saving time because the job gets done correctly the first time. You are still letting the employee make the decisions on how to get to the end result, but you have been clear in what you want the result to be. By using positive psychology, you have given the employee choices and ways to be successful. If the employee is unsuccessful, then you may want to evaluate whether or not the person is actually capable of that particular task.
Using positive psychology gives a manager the chance to look at the strengths of all of his team members, and to assign tasks at which they can excel because of those strengths. Then, after the job is done, by showing appreciation, the manager has just motivated the employee to try some new skills. Those skills may open doors to new opportunities, keeping employees moving ahead toward their goals.
We have Administrative Assistant Day, Boss’s Day, and Doctors’ Day. There is even an Employee Appreciation Week. We use these days to remind us to appreciate the people with whom we work. A strong manager will appreciate his or her employees every day.
Studies have clearly shown that cash or gift cards are not what motivate employees. Although these may be good incentives for short-term goals, what keeps employees happy in the work place is knowing that their work is appreciated. The relationship they have with their bosses or co-workers is important. One of the handiest books for HR professionals and managers is 1501 Ways to Reward Employees, by Bob Nelson. The author interviewed managers at companies of all sizes throughout the country, and time and time again, the appreciation was expressed in innovative, cost-effective ways by the company or manager. The best-selling book offers suggestions such as a simple, unexpected “thank you,” or thoughtful, personal gestures that the employee will remember. Ford Motor Company uses employees in its commercials, and Home Depot has an Employee of the Month program. Federal Express names its newly built planes after an employee’s child.
It’s important to remember that every person is different and is motivated differently. That’s why your relationship with your employee can help you to know how to motivate him or her toward success in the workplace. Even if your company doesn’t have a formal program, make it your priority to let your employees know you are aware of their hard work and you are thankful for it. Employees miss family gatherings, school activities and children’s sports events in the name of work. Let them know you appreciate their sacrifices. They’ll be more inclined to continue making them.
Among the dictionary definitions of “coach” are the following: (n.) one who instructs or trains; (v.) to train intensively. While we often think of a coach in terms of sports, these definitions allow for much more. Professional coaching or management coaching involves growth through empowerment. It is a collaborative effort empowering the individual to help himself or herself grow, and it can be highly beneficial for all levels of management.
Why would someone hire a coach? Perhaps you want to advance your career but don’t know quite how to do it. Or, you may feel you’re in a “rut” in your current position or stuck in a job with nowhere to go. Maybe you want to enhance your skills so you can be ready for the next level at your job. What’s stopping you from moving forward? An HR professional who is also a career coach can help you identify the obstacles that may be holding you back.
While career coaching is primarily about the professional side of your life, in reality, it’s a mixture of life coaching and management coaching. It has to be about the whole person. The big decisions that affect your career will certainly impact your personal life, and vice versa. A coach can help you to identify the areas that need improvement in order for you to move forward – whether that’s breaking down a wall or mental block you have about your career, or guiding you in obtaining the skills you need to move forward. Together, you will clearly identify your goals and come up with step-by-step solutions to reach them. Just as athletes train for their sports with a coach, you’ll collaborate with your professional coach to grow toward your professional goals. It doesn’t happen through osmosis, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and work.
If you have an employee who disagrees with your constructive feedback in a performance appraisal, what do you do? An effective manager will have already given specific examples as to why performance expectations haven’t been met. An effective manager also will have already flagged the behavior prior to the performance appraisal – it shouldn't come as a surprise to the employee. If it does, that should be a caution to the manager that he or she is not communicating clearly. Human resources consultants will tell you, if an employee disagrees with the review, ask him or her for specific examples that show how the goal was met. Keep an open mind – perhaps you were unaware of these examples or had forgotten about them. It is possible that an employee can be persuasive enough to change your mind.
However, if they do not present sufficient evidence to change your mind, don’t continue to debate the point. But don’t walk away from the review without setting up clear goals and expectations for the next review period. The plan should include scheduling regular meetings to check in and monitor progress. If your company has a human resources consultant or staff member, he or she can work with you to make sure this happens. The manager needs to be positive and find things that the employee is doing right. Take steps to build a relationship with that employee and show appreciation for the effort. If the employee feels very strongly about the manager’s comments in the review, he or she can go on record as disagreeing by writing a letter that goes in the file with the review. Constructive feedback is difficult to give and to receive, but understanding and appreciation for both the work and the other person’s point of view can go a long way.
Performance reviews are not among managers’ favorite activities – especially when the feedback isn’t all positive. Although the annual performance review should not be the first time the employee hears constructive feedback, it’s often a difficult or uncomfortable conversation for both the manager and the employee. The discomfort comes from trying to find the right words that both tell the employee there’s a problem but still communicate that he or she is a valuable part of the organization. Sometimes the employee won’t understand. Sometimes he or she will disagree. Your hope is that the worker will see the light and be open to change to meet your expectations.
But how do you say it? The direct, honest approach is usually best, and it’s what human resources professionals would recommend. Your language is important. You need to avoid misunderstanding and be sure you do not invite a lawsuit – whether there is good cause for it or not. Refer to one of the many books available on the subject, such as Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals. Always give specific examples of why you think the employee is not performing to expectations. Language like, “For example, on project X, you lacked follow-through on three occasions.” Or, “You have good ideas, but you need to find a more effective way to communicate them.” In addition, don’t leave the table until you and the employee have a plan for improving performance – whether it’s goal-setting, additional training, or ways you can help the employee.
If you have to give a difficult performance review, strategize with a human resources consultant first. As experts in this area, they can give you valuable tips to encourage better performance while maintaining both morale and composure. HR consultants can also help you train your managers in giving constructive feedback.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – these social media terms are probably familiar, and you may be using them both personally and professionally. As social media grows, it is being used for job opportunities and candidate searches -- from networking to job posting. The paper resume is going the way of the cassette tape.
The newest social media measurement is a social media measuring tool – Klout. Employers are asking for Klout scores – the representation of a person’s overall social media influence. It’s a number between 1 and 100 that is generated by an algorithm that takes into consideration all your social media accounts, followers, postings and reactions. Klout’s website says it “measures your influence based on your ability to drive action on social networks.” Klout’s mission is “to enable everyone to discover and be recognized for how they influence the world.”
Klout scores are among the top social media trends influencing HR, according to a blogger for Forbes.com. Executives are scrambling to increase their Klout scores. Part of doing that results in another trend: personal branding. According to Forbes.com, personal branding includes marketing oneself on social media sites and creating a persona that hiring employers will want to meet. Rolled in with the Klout score, candidates and employers alike have a whole new way of judging each other.
It’s yet to be seen how all this will impact the human resources mix. It may change the path to hiring, and it may also change how you drive business. Social media should definitely be part of the human resources mix as well as the marketing mix. But only you can determine how much clout a Klout score carries for your business.
Management training seminars are difficult to schedule and challenging to host, but don’t put off doing them. It sends a message to your employees that you care about their development and want to give them the tools to succeed. In fact, that’s the best way to hone the skills of up and coming managers and top performers. If you’re having trouble getting a management training session off the ground, look to a human resources consultant who can both help you schedule it and communicate it to your managers in a way that will make them want to attend.
The Society of Human Resources Management Association predicts that one of the trends in training and development will be transparency from management -- openness from managers about performance review criteria, changes in corporate strategy, advancement opportunities and management succession. These cannot be communicated effectively unless managers are trained and well-informed. Other management training trends include a closer look at coaching programs to make sure there is a fair return on investment, demand for basic skills training for employees and global development of managers. In addition, SHRM says building employee loyalty with high-performing workers will be used as a retention tool. One way to do that is to build closer relationships through training and team-building activities.
Executives can make management training more accessible through a variety of learning approaches, including mobile programs. HR professionals have designed both web-based and social media-based training programs, so now managers don’t need to spend three days sequestered in a hotel ballroom to get the benefits of a good training program.
Don’t put off training your management team. Show them your confidence – in both their ability and your determination to grow your business.
Last month marked the 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. This law has helped employees get up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from their jobs to care for certain family members or newborns, or to recover from a serious illness. There are also various benefits for members of the military. The law guarantees their job or a similar one will still be there for them after a leave. FMLA has also helped employers to be more flexible with workers who need time off.
FMLA, however, only applies to companies with more than 50 employees. It also requires that workers complete 12 months of service at the company before they are eligible for the FMLA benefit. According to a recent article in Working Mother magazine, about 50 percent of workers aren’t eligible for coverage under FMLA because their company is small or they haven’t been at the job long enough.
If you own a small business, or even if your company has more than 50 employees, what are the things you are doing to provide flexibility for workers? Your human resources consultant can suggest some ways to make workers feel like their jobs are stable if they need time off. However, a good HR representative also knows that the policies and procedures for time off because of family obligations or illness need to be spelled out clearly in the employee handbook. Reasons for the leave, length of leave, how paychecks will be handled and all the details of administering the leave are all necessary points that should be covered in the policy. Make sure it’s written by an HR professional who has experience with FMLA and leave policies. You can be both flexible and smart for your employees.
It’s coming…it’s marching forward with a determination that will not turn back. We can embrace it and be prepared, or we can cower in fear until the last minute, scrambling to meet it when it looms above us. It’s health care reform. The next deadline is January 1, 2014. There is much work to be done for employers.
From educating employees to establishing written policies, an investment of time and money will be required to bring everyone in the organization up to speed. Not only do employers need to be well-versed in compliance, they need to explain the plans to employees. The communication must be ongoing, so the creation of employee communication strategies and physical communications materials all need to be created. Supplements to what is provided by insurance carriers are also required, or else penalties apply.
Human resources consultants can be an important part of your team in completing these materials. A professional HR consultant will help you to determine the best communications methods based on your corporate culture, then work with you to implement the strategy – from writing the booklets to planning the meetings. Good HR professionals will make sure you are in compliance with any new requirements and refer you to experts in health care reform, like Carrie Shapiro of Innovative Insurance Solutions, to address any issues. Together, these consultants can help your bottom line by keeping you in compliance and keeping your messages on track. They can do what they specialize in doing, so that you can spend your time specializing in your business. For more information on health care reform consultation, visit www.innovativeinsuranceonline.com.
This year’s HR trend line-up includes on-line hiring. It’s really become the method of choice when searching for job candidates. While Monster.com and CareerBuilder are still good resources for certain jobs, the professional career positions and the people to fill them are found on LinkedIn. Companies today often are not even posting jobs – the hiring managers are scouring the LinkedIn network.
Smart candidates make their profiles complete and noticeable on LinkedIn. Professional human resource consultants advise that the ideal profile should mirror your resume. It should be accurate and detailed, giving a full picture in a snapshot. Both job seekers and hiring managers should accept connections within their field of business as well as anything related to their area of expertise. It stands to reason that the more connections you have, the more likely you are to get job information or be seen by a potential employer.
As a hiring manager, your time to search for candidates online may be limited. A human resources consultant has access to a variety of recruitment tools, including online programs that can filter candidates for your initial feedback. They can help you to hire more quickly by streamlining the process.
If you post comments or participate in discussion groups online, expect that these will be scrutinized. They are a prequel to the face-to-face interview and can give a potential employer or employee a little insight into your personality and work style. The personal interview has certainly not gone by the wayside of technology, but getting to that interview has taken a whole different path.