Implementing A Performance Management System (PMS)

A Performance Management System is about building trust, capacity and a respectful partnership between a manager and each of their employees. Some people see performance management as trendy words for the annual performance review. It’s Not… it’s much more! This is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

In a time when employees don’t feel their employers are loyal, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employers to partner with their employees and help them reach their work goals, career goals and personal goals by investing in opportunities, mentoring, encouragement and training.

In a time when employers don’t feel employee loyalty, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employees to understand and respect the organizational values and to do their best to support the organizations strategic plan and improve team / organizational effectiveness.performance-management-plan-for-success

Note: One-Year plans are common for full-time employees. Part-time or seasonal employees still participate in Performance Management, but goals may be measured by project or a shorter time-period.

Step 1: Co-Developing A One-Year Performance Management Plan

Performance Management Systems define how an organization will support its employees as they pursue a set of goals. It also defines how each employee will support a department and/or organization strategic plan.

To set a One-Year Plan, each employee and manager should:

  1. Review the employee’s job description to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects the work the employee is doing and appropriate measurement criteria. This is especially important if the organization is leading change and transformation.
  2. Review how the employee’s work supports the teams and the organization’s goals, objectives and strategic plan.
  3. Identify three to five employee performance objectives for the year. These should be specific and measurable and dependent on:
    • The organization’s strategic plan
    • Key deliverables that are associated with the employee’s responsibilities
    • Employee goals
  4. Recognize that at some point, unexpected opportunities and crisis will happen and will have unexpected (positive and or negative), impact.
  5. Develop a more detailed work plan (tasks / tactics), based on the three to five employee performance objectives.
  6. Specify the consequences for the employee and the organization if they are responsible for the performance objective not being met.

Note: Experienced managers and employees will leave time for unexpected opportunities/crisis (practicing good Time Management).

Step 2. Monitor A Performance Management System / Year Plan

To be effective, performance must be continuously monitored. Therefore, when implementing a performance management system be sure to include an agreed upon way to monitor progress. In today’s work environment where autonomy, relevance and progress are important, monitoring refers to measuring results for both the employees and the organization.

One approach to monitoring I particularly like was introduced to me by one of my previous bosses; it’s what I call ’10-minute laser meetings’. In this case, my boss met with each of his employees once a week for 10-minutes to discuss critical issues on major projects. For each of these meetings, it was each employees responsibility to chair these meetings and be prepared to:

  • Introduce the project and what success looks like (the performance objectives).
  • Share what progress has been made towards meeting the performance objectives.
  • Identify any barriers that may prevent the employee from accomplishing the previously agreed upon performance objectives. (Get management input and support here)
  • Suggest what needs to be done to overcome any barriers. (Get management input and support here)
  • Identify if there has been a shift in organization priorities or if the employee has assumed new / unexpected responsibilities. (Get management input and support here)

Defining the appropriate measurement criteria is one of the most difficult parts of developing the strategic year plan. Remember people often respond better to positive reinforcement vs. punishment. I strongly recommend considering the value of intrinsic motivation to help managers encourage employees.

Step 3. Managing Shortfalls

Sometimes there will be shortfalls. Sometimes those shortfalls are outside of an employees control… and sometimes they are within the employee’s control. In the cases where performance fell short of objectives…

  • Stay positive and cordial – good rarely comes from hostile behavior.
  • Document the challenges/shortfalls encountered:
    • Answer the What, Where, Why questions.
    • Did the challenge fall within or outside of the employee’s control?
  • Are the change management and transformation plans impacting the project?
  • Identify opportunities for coaching… by the manager or professional executive coach.
  • Give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way.
  • Identify areas for training and development.

Throughout the year (perhaps quarterly), managers should formally assess each employee’s performance. The beauty of the laser meetings mentioned above (for example), is that both the manager and employee have up-to date examples of how goals are… or are not being met; there should be no surprises.

Step 4: Continuous Coaching / Having Difficult Conversations

Coaching / mentoring and managing shortfalls can be done by the manager or by bringing in a professional executive coach.

Implementing a performance management also means making sure everyone feel comfortable having difficult conversations. Learning how to give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way helps everyone address performance issues in a productive, supportive way and ensure that even challenging moments lead to a positive contribution.

The role of the coach is to demonstrate good listening skills and to deliver honest feedback. In a coaching role, the manager is not expected to have all the answers… but they do ask questions that help the employee and themselves analyze the situation. Coaching means working with employees to identify opportunities and methods to maximize strengths and improve weak areas.

Mentoring can include providing constructive feedback to address a particular performance issue if an employee is not meeting the agreed upon performance expectations. The beauty (and my belief), importance of weekly 10-minute laser meetings is that challenges or shortfalls are identified early and don’t have time to become critical issues… they are taken care of early when they first arise.

Step 5: Employee Training and Development Plan

A critical part of a Performance Management System is for the manager and each employee to identify areas for further training and development opportunities. These should support the workplace activities that the employee should undertake as well as their career goals and personal goals.

This step should not be taken lightly.  Training and development opportunities must be supported and pursued by the employee, their manager and the HR department. All parties involved must take a leadership role – no matter how high or low on the seniority scale they are.

The main goal here is to find, mentor, train and motivate… and therefore retain top talent all while also leading strategic corporate change. Hiring and training new people is a great expense compared to a modest training and development investment. This is a critical component to the long-term success of a Performance Management System… I cannot emphasis this benefit enough.

Conclusion

A Performance Management System is a much more than recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. As I said above, this is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and leading change.

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A Checklist For Your Performance Management System

Performance management is a much more than correcting negative behavior throughout the year and recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. It is much more.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to align an individuals core-competencies and goals to an organization’s core-competencies and goals. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Performance management refocuses the lens on the individual, ensuring they have all of the knowledge, resources and motivation to exceed their capabilities and expectations… and because the individual does, so does the team and organization.

Checklist For Your Performance Management System

An effective performance management system will:

  1. Support each employee by being job specific, based on well written job descriptions, key performance indicators and job-related activities.
  2. Hire the right people by using a measurable interview / selection process (a BEI).
  3. Align with your organization’s strategic direction, culture and values.
  4. Be practical and easy to understand and use.
  5. Have the manager and employee work together to set personal and professional goals and behaviors… including measurement criteria. This includes why each goal and behavior is (or is not), important. This includes hard and soft skills.
  6. Create opportunities for clear and regular communication between managers and employees.
  7. Provide training and development opportunities for improving performance and helping employees achieve their work and career goals.
  8. Work with each employee to ensure their 3 top priorities (daily), are reflective of the agreed upon goals and Important Work (with exception of interdepartmental Urgent Work).
  9. Agree in advance how challenges will be managed.
  10. Provide ongoing constructive feedback when improvement is needed as well as positive feedback (praise), for work that exceeds agreed upon expectations.
  11. Train managers on how to manage, mentor, coach employees and how to have difficult conversations.
  12. Ensure there is commitment from management to quickly act on situations that are both positive and negative to support the process, the individual and the team.
  13. Periodically review the performance management process to ensure it is being applied consistently.
  14. Ensure each employee keeps a copy of the performance plan (work plan) so that they can refer to it.
  15. Establish an appeals process.
  16. Designing effective compensation and reward systems looking at the benefit of Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivators.
  17. Perform exit interviews to understand the cause of employee discontentment.

Each should refer to their goals regularly and meet to evaluate progress and make many smaller adjustments throughout the year.

Conclusion

If you are looking to create lasting change  look to how you can motivate your employees. When employees – and leaders are motivated they will do more… do it better… and finish earlier.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and More…

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Call us at 416.617.0462.

Coaching Millennials At Work, Choice Magazine Article

Last week an article I wrote about Coaching Millennials At Work had been published in ‘Choice Magazine’ – A Coaching Magazine. http://www.choice-online.com

The article speaks to the importance of being a coach – a mentor and a leader when working with Millennials. Work with them well and you will have a loyal, creative, hard working employee. Don’t… and you will be hiring again soon – likely before their 2-year anniversary with your company.

With little fanfare… here is the article. I hope you enjoy.

coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-2

coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-3coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-4

Please feel free to share – and to contact me with questions.

Bruce

Executive Coach & Trainer  | Difficult Conversation Training  |  Business Email Etiquette   |  Time Management Training   |   Collaboration Skills  |  Generational Differences At Work  |  Motivating Millennials  |  Leadership Training  |  Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)  |  Creating & Using Stories

Imagine confidently communicating with your customers and co-workers.

“Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching  <http://www.choice-online.com&gt; http://www.choice-online.com&#8221;

Body Language / Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication, also known as body language can account for over 90% of your communication. Yup – you are likely saying more with every action you make than you are with every word you speak. Therefore, understanding how people interpret body language will help you share your message – and will also help you ‘read’ what other people may be thinking / feeling.

Lets start looking at how we use body language by starting at the top of our body… or more specifically, your face.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-2-27-34-pm

Benedict Cumberbatch

Your Face:

Making eye contact is usually great and often demonstrates you are engaged and interested in your conversation. But too much eye contact may come across as staring and can be threatening. In addition, it’s generally accepted that if you don’t make ‘good’ eye contact or frequently look away you may be feeling uncomfortable with the person or the subject; in addition you may be feeling the person you are speaking with is lying.

Smiling during a conversation often means you like what you are hearing, saying or doing. But, if you are frowning you may be stressed, uncertain or do not agree. Be careful with your facial expressions; for example, when I’m in deep thought I naturally frown (many people do). Because I know I frown I try to change my behavior – especially when I’m in meetings with clients.

Your Hands:

Your hands deserve their own section. Your hand are a natural part of how you share information and interact with your environment. The added bonus is that when you use your hands you are entertaining your listeners (keeping their attention), and giving them visual cues to help them remember what you are saying.

Steepled fingers (or Steepling), is a non-verbal cue often used by actor Benedict Cumberbatch as he represented the fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes. Steepling is also a favorite of professional speakers and politicians. Steepled fingers (either with fingertips touching and pointed up or fingers crisscrossed), demonstrates you are confident and can give the impression of authority and knowledge. Steepled fingers can also be a sign that demonstrates you are listening and quite interested.

Using one finger to point at someone is often interpreted as offensive – especially if you are communicating with someone you don’t know or who may be ‘sensitive’. For me – using one finger to point at me is like saying “Let me tell you,” which immediately gets my back up. My recommendation is that if you want to point at someone or something then use an open-hand with your palm facing up; that is an accepting gesture. The bonus of an open hand is that when we show our palms, people interpret what we are sharing as being honest.

Use head or hand movements to help express an idea or meaning.

Clenched hands often mean you’re feeling anxious and negative and are holding back your emotions (or you may be freezing and need the air conditioning turned down). Similarly holding your wrists behind your back all about self-control.

Shaking hands (handshaking), is one of the most common ways we share nonverbal communication. When you shake hands I recommend looking the person in the eyes (but don’t stare). Do you have a strong grip (confidence) – or perhaps a soft grip (shyness or a lack of confidence)? When your handshake is vertical with both parties shaking with equal pressure, the mood is set for a positive rapport. If you have ever turned someones hand to face upwards you are demonstrating dominance – forcibly stripping away their power or authority. In a similar way, a crushing handshake can identify dominance – or it might be that you are overcompensating.

Standing & Your Arms:

Most of us know that if you sit with your arms crossed and/or are slightly turned away you may be feeling skeptical, angry, unhappy, bored or closed to new information… or you may simply be sitting that way because it is comfortable or because you are cold. It’s important to note that sitting with your arms crossed is one of the most misinterpreted body language cues. My recommendation is to try to avoid crossing your arms and creating misunderstanding – especially when sharing information with people you don’t know or who are important to your success.

Similar to good eye contact is leaning forward. If you are leaning forward you are likely feeling engaged and interested. If you are in negotiations you may be giving a clue that you are ready to agree or to buy. Alternatively, if you are slouched or leaning back in your chair, your non-verbal communication may be interpreted as closed, bored or unhappy.

Especially when standing many people don’t know what to do with their hands and arms.

Standing in a fig-leaf pose covering your groin strips away your own authority or suggests you are not confident or are afraid. Alternatively, standing with your hands behind your back can demonstrate you are patient, ready and likely waiting. But… because standing with your hands behind your back is also a common military posture some people can interpret this position as threatening. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, the best thing you can do is to get comfortable with your hands resting by your sides.

Standing with your hands in your pockets, thumbs showing or thumbs tucked into your waistband can say, “I’m not moving or negotiating.” It may also say, “I’m better than you / this place.”

Cultures:

While I’m not going to discuss it in detail here, be mindful that different cultures have different non-verbal / body language cues. They may be different but they are equally important to how we and they interpret information. If you are working with people from different cultures (and most of us are), I recommend getting familiar with body language behaviors unique to other cultures.

Conclusion:

Picking up on non-verbal cues can create opportunities for you.

Being able to recognize your – and other peoples body language helps you make an informed decisions or take informed actions. It’s always best to be making the impression you want – willingly – purposefully.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Teach Millennials How To Be Great Leaders

When we think of great leaders we think of people who have leadership qualities like goal setting, inspiration, dedication, honesty, trustworthiness and so many other positive qualities. Millennials on the other hand are often described as lazy, entitled, selfish and many more negativedescriptions. However, when the right Millennial is hired for the right job these descriptions are not valid… especially when they are mentored by a great leader.

If you are a great leader it’s likely you learned it along the way from a combination of opportunities like:Leaders Values Millennials

  • Trial & error.
  • You had great mentors.
  • You studied / read leadership books.
  • You paid attention to good and bad examples of leadership.

Very few people are natural-born leaders. Lets not cast aside Millennials as hopeless. Instead, lets intentionally teach / mentor Millennials how to be great leaders.

When you have the right person in the right job, Millennials (like most people) are self-motivated and full of potential. So it’s up to their parents, professors, HR professionals and managers to make sure they are demonstrating the best leadership qualities for today’s ever-changing business market.

The challenge for them is to not learn poor leadership styles some of us have had to un-learn from that one really bad boss we once had. You know, the boss who had the Top-down / Carrot-Stick leadership style poplar post WWII when jobs were linear, repetitive and boring. The reality is that today most jobs are far from linear, repetitive and boring.

What are some of the lessons we have to make sure we are both
using – and teach Millennials how to be leaders?

Here is a list of 6 important lessons that will help teach Millennials how to be leaders.

1) Help Them Recognize Their Values And Their Importance

Most Millennials have wonderful values like compassion, charity/philanthropy, creativity, collaboration and achievement… and are not usually strong on values like conformity and tradition. Learning to recognize their strengths and values… and the strengths and values of others (and the organization), is critical to them being a great leader. Help your Millennials by teaching them the importance of values when making decisions and communicating.

When the time comes for your organization to review your mission, vision and values, let all of your employees contribute to your mission, vision and value statements. Demonstrate that great leaders make sure everyone have a respectful opportunity to contribute.

2) Be Their Mentor – Not Just Their Boss

The best leaders are effective because they know what they are best at and they lead with those skills. To create effective millennial leaders we must help them first understand their own gifts and talents. Help them identify what these skills are so they can use them to make informed decisions. Help them also see their gaps not as failures – but as opportunities to rely on (and develop), other people.

3) Be Authentic And Transparent

Authenticity and fairness come naturally to most Millennials. They grew up being encouraged to explore their individuality and to accept others for who they are no matter of their differences. As their leader, demonstrate that being authentic and transparent is important in their professional life.

Show Millennials that what they say and what they do matters and will be respected – especially in difficult times or during difficult conversations.

4) Be Trustworthy

Autonomy ranks very high on a Millennials list. Sure they love working in teams and are some of the best / least territorial collaborators… and yet, like most of us, Millennials love some independence. Trusting individuals to control their schedule is important. They will also enjoy when their collaboration team enjoys some project autonomy.

By trusting  Millennials (and other generations), you deepen commitment by demonstrating your respect for them and their opinions / talents.

5) Be Confident… And Flexible

Being confident about goals and objectives is terrific – but being flexible is also advantageous. Great leaders know that other people’s ideas and experiences often bring an approach and creativity that wasn’t previously considered and may make the project even better. This also supports your plan to offer employees more autonomy.

6) Teach Millennials How To Listen

Millennials love to learn – so remind them they can’t learn while they’re talking… only when they’re listening. Great leaders understand how powerful listening is in building relationships and respect.

Teach your Millennials not just to listen, but to demonstrate they are listening and care about what they hear. Like any good news reporter, encourage them to ask powerful questions… and to listen to the response.

Conclusion:

Millennials have the ability to become great leaders. We just need to teach them to recognize and lead from their innate strengths, communicate effectively, listen well and be transparent in what they do. Start today and lets awaken the leaders of tomorrow!

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Organizations Are Finding Stability

Organizations are finding stability – but not stability that rests on lack of change; that stability often leads to organizational distress.

I’m talking about stability that includes a responsibility to your business, your employees, customers, environment and the economy. Stability that is foundational; guiding principals that influence daily activities and encourage employees to collaborate and explore future opportunities with shared purpose. The kind of security that is critical when organizations are changing and the economy is in flux (everyday). Stability that understands that pushing boundaries sometimes means taking one step forward and two steps back… and those steps are all learning opportunities to be celebrated… not failures that compromise job security, trust and therefore creativity / progress.beach stones

Organizational stability is a savior when it’s rooted in values that are honored, celebrated and respected by all employees. Values and guiding principals that drive:

People repeat behaviour that is rewarded. You can’t positively affect the organization’s cultural core without bringing your team along. There has to be trust, communication and fairness.

Some of the hardest work is to address a top performer who isn’t a team player. Why? Because they do undermine corporate values and organizational stability… which is why they can’t be allowed to continue. It’s easy to measure their individual success – but difficult to measure the negative impact / loss they cause throughout your organization by lowering others engagement, productivity and loyalty. They may seem to be star earners, but what about the harm they do undermining everyone else’s progress? They may be costing more than they bring in as they create a work environment that causes talented employees to walk away.

Good employees leave bad cultures and / or bad bosses. Losing strong, dependable, collaborative talent [for whatever reason] disrupts organizational stability and increases hard-costs, as you have to hire and retrain new talent. I see it far too often how lone-wolf employees erode organizational success and the potential within team dynamics.

How your treat your whole team is your culture.

Holding people accountable does not mean you have to be mean or cruel, it means you have to be confident and fair. You have to hold people accountable to the corporate values, success of the business, its customers, any individual you are speaking with AND all of the other employees. Holding people accountable provides organizational stability everyone can trust… during slow times, busy times and even during times of great change.

Organizational stability expands productivity and creative engines exponentially.

Your team is the energy that drives your organization forward. Stability requires dialogue that may not be easy at first (difficult conversations), and often requires training and practice to learn how to move forward – consistently.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Loyal Millennials And Intergenerational Workspaces

Millennials in our intergenerational workspaces are accused of being narcissist, hard to manage, lazy, entitled and not loyal to their employer. And whether these behaviour traits are true or not (and I don’t think they always are), Millennials are changing how we all work and how employees are hired, motivated and rewarded.

There are real generational differences and conflict… as well as opportunities for everyone to step-up and change their behaviour.

When motivated, Millennials are loyal, hard-working and want to have purpose. It’s been drilled into them that if they go to post secondary education they will get a fantastic job with lots of money and ability to make a difference (they want purpose). But that’s not happening. The jobs are not there waiting for them and there are hundreds of other highly educated Millennials applying for the few jobs there are. Let’s face it – people of any generation would be disheartened.

When Millennials Do Get A Job – Expect Change

I believe Millennials bring more +’s to the table than –‘s. That said, I am the fist to say Millennials have to clean up some behaviours – like their writing skills. Sadly, one of the big intergenerational challenges many Millennials face (and the easiest way to ruin their reputation and sideline their success), is sloppy spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.Millennial Survey Results

Millennials are comfortable with quick moving, flat organizations – while Boomers are used to hierarchy. When Millennials were kids, they went to their coach or teacher when they had a question. At work, if their boss isn’t available they will innocently move up the ladder (or sideways), to ask the next best person. In addition, they’ll also likely go to Google, so will already have a second opinion that they’ll want to include in a discussion about their question.

When their supervisor says to do XYZ, Millennials immediately think “Why?” This is not confrontation or questioning authority, experience or leadership skills… it is one of value-add. They simply want to do what is best and learn from the experience. The challenge is that Boomers are not used to explaining every decision (and may see requests as confrontation).

One of the generational differences Boomers and GenXers have to accept is that Millennials are less interested in title and competition and much more interested sharing expertise, responsibilities and success. They were brought up in a collaborative environment and thankfully – they want to keep this structure going.

Boomers and GenXers have to accept Millennials want flexibility. They work to live, not live to work. Since they were children Millennials were learning and engaging from morning to night… that is how they were raised. Most organizations expect (although not formally documented), employees to check and answer email throughout the evenings and on weekends. So, what is the big deal if your employees get to the office at 9:30AM? Chances are, they were answering email all night – and all morning. So, business leaders have to put aside seeing everyone in the office at 8AM and be OK with a 9:30AM… or 10… as long as their work is getting done.

How To Manage Millennials

The one thing that Millennials are good at is change. They come with all of the new age technology and many lived social experience that employers want. They are hard workers, as long as senior management stop being ‘the boss’ and enjoy demonstrating their leadership skills and being their mentor. Leaders and mentors give guidance and direction – they open doors and coach – and that is what Millennials want.

Millennials want to be social at work. This means being friendly with co-workers and checking social media at work.

Leaders have to get used to a smartphone on their desk where they check their social media accounts from time to time. That flexibility helps leaders retain engaged, smart and committed employees. But flexibility and respect go both ways – with the ‘give’ from their leaders, Millennials will be happy to ‘give back’. Your request to turn off their smartphone during meetings and conference calls will be met and respected.

Conclusion

Millennials are loyal, hard-working employees when they are treated well. A recent ‘Millennials in the Workspace’ study we conducted at BMC identified that 65.38% of our Millennial participants would prefer to stay with one company for at least 5 years. Their top needs to be satisfied at work were (after salary):

  • Doing interesting work
  • Being respected and value
  • Their efforts being recognized by their peers and superiors
  • Feeling they were making a difference

Unfortunately, 50% of the participants in that same study expected to change jobs in the next 2 years or less. That tells me leadership skills have to change. Leaders in intergenerational organizations have work to do when it comes to hiring, motivating and retaining hard-working Millennial employees.

Happy communicating.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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Our Expectations Frame Our Experiences

Our expectations frame our experiences – no matter if we believe we:

  • Prefer summer over winter
  • Like light paint colours vs dark
  • Dislike vegetables
  • Expect Millennials to live up to the common negative stereotype

But what if we put aside biases, assumptions and judgements?

What if we approached an experience as new – looking forward to the experience vs. looking forward to a long list of disappointments.  Glass half full vs glass half empty?
Two

It’s important to be aware of our expectations as our workspaces become more diverse, filled with people with many generational differences, social differences and cultural differences. It’s also important as the work we do becomes more complicated. More and more the work we do requires us to and trust specialists. If we don’t stay open to innovation and new approaches to traditional ‘structures’ we get left behind quickly (example: Blackberry/Research In Motion).

Studies demonstrate our expectations frame our experiences and the behaviour of others. Studies with parents and children show that “Parents who believe they are simply being realistic might actually contribute to a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Buchanan discovered that when mothers expected their children to behave badly more often than not… they did. Christy Buchanan, is a psychology professor at Wake Forest University and an author of a study that examined children and their mothers.

We Share Our Expectations In Many Ways

We share our expectations to others in many ways. It may be through our body language, facial expressions, words we use, vocal inflections, or of course even the opportunities we present. We might not realize we are expressing our expectations – and others may not realize they are picking up our expectations… but it does happen all the time.

Studies show that by changing our approach and our expectations we can change our audience’s expectations as well as their behaviour, their creativity, their success… ect.  You get the idea.

Change Your Expectations

There is so much opportunity out there. One of my training specialties is generational differences in the workspace, so, no surprise that is one of the strongest points I’d like to make.

When Boomers expect Millennials to be lazy, self-absorbed and entitled I believe this Millennial stereotyping is hurting corporate culture and success.

Generational differences are an opportunity. I believe Millennials are helping Boomers and Gen Xers see it. Millennials are collaborative and they want to both learn from people with more experience AND add value… and Millennials have lots of value to contribute.

Eliminate any doubts you have about others and replace them with an air of curiosity and opportunity. Change your expectations of others and see how your relationships and business approaches change.

Happy communicating.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Employee Survey? Yes, Just Do It!

Employee surveys used to be complicated and expensive to implement. Not anymore.

Because it was expensive, if a company implemented a survey they would often ask many questions – hoping to gather as much info as they could for their financial investment. With such an investment, writing the questions was often a long, drawn-out and political chore… and responding to them was equally unpleasant.

Times have changed – thankfully.

I just received a 2-question survey from my grocery chain. Did I answer it? Absolutely – without much thought. I didn’t even hesitate at the 10 second commitment.

 PC Plus Survey Final

While my graphic isn’t an employee survey, it is a great example of how surveys can be simplified and encourage participation.

Implementing employee surveys today is much more affordable. And, there are a number of reliable software service providers which provide flexible  branding and result collection options. Thankfully this has made surveys more accessible and organizations are being more targeted with their research.

Today the difficult part remains writing strategic, relevant survey questions. This is where the time and financial investment still needs to be applied which for organizations means getting the assistance of third parties (e.g., BMC). Like with most things, knowing what you want to achieve is your best first step.

What Do You Want To Achieve?

Employee surveys are wonderfully flexible and can be used to measure a variety of things in a workplace. As an example do you want to:

  • Get feedback on a new procedure.
  • Explore creative ideas your sales or front-line employees have.
  • Conduct a management-level 360 review.
  • Help employees be reflective of their behaviour – good and not so good.
  • Get employees ‘in the mood’ for the training you are going to do.
  • Remind employees of the training they’ve had.

While surveys are versatile, be careful to keep your objective simple – and if you can, keep your surveys to one topic.

I recently wrote and launched an pre-training employee survey for a workshop I was hired to design and facilitate. Because the survey results were only seen by me, the employees were very confident to answer honestly.

The results from the pre-training employee survey gave me valuable insight on how to position the professional development training; I was able to customize the training to meet specific needs. During the training workshops I was able to knowingly ‘lean into’ certain areas where I knew they would benefit the most. The results also helped me congratulate them (positive reinforcement works), on behaviour they were doing. It also meant I didn’t bore them by hammering home best practices that they were already doing.

Position Employee Surveys As Save Valuable Opportunities

Employee surveys can have huge benefit.

Be up-front with staff about how important the survey is. When you conduct a survey in the workplace, you are sending a message to employees that you value their suggestions, ideas and creativity. Don’t assume employees know this – be sure you say it. Explain you are genuinely interested in getting their input to improve them and/or the organization. Ask them to be open and honest – and if they might feel at risk in answering (which is normal), make sure the survey is anonymous.

Anonymous surveys often help gain honest feedback.

Employee surveys have the advantage of building employee morale. Employees will see first-hand they have a say in the training they receive, how the business operates, and even some of the policies moving forward; this often leads to increased loyalty and decreased turnover.

For Best Results

Be up-front with staff about how important the survey is to you. If they have one – work with the HR department. Explain to your audience that you are genuinely interested in getting their input. Ask them to be candid in their feedback and assure them that responses are anonymous (suggestion).

Finally, commit to putting the survey results to work. Employees will embrace change that they feel they have contributed to.

Conclusion

Surveys are great. If you are going to use one consider the need for the following three things:

  1. Know what your response deadline is. Whether it is the date you cut-off additional responses or the date you push / encourage your audience to respond by. Manage everyone’s expectations including your own and share your response deadline.
  2. Know who’s responding. If you are doing an employee survey it is often helpful to get a sense of the experience level with the company and/or position of the person responding. Often that can be achieved by adding one question for each.
  3. One advantage of an anonymous survey is that you can get honest and insightful feedback about topics employees might not be comfortable bringing to you in person.

Uncovering challenges employees are experiencing may keep valuable employees from looking work elsewhere – like your competitors – an expensive loss from many different angles.

Happy communicating and survey design.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Good Business Managers Are Also Good HR Managers

In todays fast paced life it’s easy to dismiss anything that is older that a few months or years… especially from 1988. But, I’ve enjoyed reading and thinking about a summary of a 4-year long study that was published in 1988 called “A Descriptive Model of Managerial Effectiveness” by Fred Luthans, Dianne H. B. Welsh, and Lewis A. Taylor III.

I’m not surprised that in 1988, studies showed that HR activities and soft-skills were given low importance. However, I’m happy to say that Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III decided to measure how much ‘time’ the managers spent on these low-priority human resource activities. By doing this Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III identify soft-skill tasks such as socializing/politicking, training and development, staffing (hiring), managing conflict, and motivating/reinforcing employees surprisingly represented over 30% of a managers’ efforts back in the 80’s.

Leadership QualitiesStepping forward to present time, we now know that soft-skills are critical to performance and employee engagement. Current, unrelated studies identify the top 5 leadership qualities can easily be considered soft-skills (assuming technical skill pre-exists). In fact, this slide from one of my leadership training programs demonstrates that of the top 10 qualities, almost all of the most important qualities of great leaders are soft-skills.

I bet that back in the late 80’s the finding of 30% of a managers’ efforts were HR related surprised many people. Unfortunately, I bet that is still a surprised to many leaders / managers… even though I believe that today this number is actually higher than 30%.

My theory is supported by the many leadership scholars including the late Peter Drucker (who continues to be one of the most influential leaders in management philosophy and effectiveness), who clearly identified soft-skills as critical characteristics of top leaders. Also, I think it’s higher because today all of the 4 generations in our workforce expect a more from our professional and personal lives.

Conclusion

Back in the mid-80’s the study authors Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III were pioneers. As with all great ideas the challenge lies in the adoption… or lack of. In the case of embracing soft-skills, adoption has been slow.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s while the Baby Boomers were the largest population in the workforce, soft-skills were not seen to be important – largely because it was easy to anticipate how each other would react and/or wanted. Why? Because in part, even though consumerism was growing rapidly, options were limited. Today that has changed. Organizations have to consider a global economy and a global workforce who are both highly educated and have skills are easily transferable by industry AND geography.

So, great leaders of today use their learned technical skill as well as their learned soft-skills to engage, motivate and retain talent from all four generations in the workspace. Not only do they need to be good technical experts, they also need to be good HR managers.

Happy communicating.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

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