Thursday, July 30, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Managers know that disengaged workers are a problem, but they may not realize the truly big impact such workers have on the bottom line — and how much better engaged workers perform.
For example, disengaged workers cost their organizations an average of $3,400 every year for every $10,000 in annual salary, according to statisticsfrom McLean & Co. On the other hand, companies with highly engaged employees had an average three-year revenue growth of more than 20% compared to the average 9% revenue growth rate.
Further, an AON Hewitt study finds that organizations that actively managed employee engagement as compared to their counterparts during the economic downturn are now seeing dramatic and positive impacts to their revenue growth.
So, it’s clear that ignoring employees who become disengaged — or failing to take action quickly enough — can not only hurt a team, but an entire company. Here’s how to recognize the signs that employees are becoming disengaged and what to do about it.
Puts in Little Effort
This worker doesn't even meet minimal requirements and cares little for the job or the organization. He is likely to watch the clock and take long breaks.
The solution: Sit down with such employees and make sure the basics are being met. Does the employee have the right tools and resources to do the job? Are expectations clear? Gallup research shows that getting the basics right is often critical to engaging workers.
This is someone who isn’t looking for the good in anything or anyone. He sows seeds of discontent wherever he goes and is known to make snarky comments under his breath during meetings.
The solution: Try challenging this worker in a new way by cross-training him in another department or sending him to a learning event (read more here)
Monday, July 27, 2015
When can telling the truth be counter-productive?
During a performance evaluation.
In a recent analysis by Ivan Marinovic of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, it was found that honest appraisals actually boost costs and cut profits because they increase the chances of erratic efforts that people put into their jobs.
Marinovic came to this conclusion after building a model that treats a job as a sort of game tournament, using employee competitiveness to drive results. For example, if a manager was less than honest about how well an employee performs, then he can put the pressure on that person to work harder to beat colleagues. Such fudging of the facts can even spur slackers into putting more effort into their work because they worry they're going to get fired.
However, managers have to be careful with this strategy. If employees think the manager is not being honest about their performance, they brush it off and their performance changes very little. It's only when employees buy into what the manager is telling them during performance reviews that they work harder and try to improve because they're more worried about losing out on raises or promotions.
It's important to note that Marinovic is skeptical about the value of performance reviews, just like others on this blog who have expressed frustration with this pervasive practice. But if managers are going to continue to use them, he thought it was important to look at how they impact the bottom line.
His analysis reveals that the ups and downs of employee performance related to performance evaluations can cost companies more because workers simply don't like volatile workloads and will automatically want more money to make up for it. While employees may not be aware of it, they will eventually link what they see as truthful performance reviews with unpredictable schedules that may include after-hours work.
“We show that the value of a firm decreases when the perceived truthfulness of the feedback is higher,” Marinovic says. “The value of the firm is highest when that communication is perceived as worthless.”
Monday, July 20, 2015
No one likes to be passed over for a promotion or big project, but if you ask even the most successful people if it's happened to them -- they will probably respond "Yes."
But if you're continually passed over for a promotion or denied access to important projects (or people), you may need to look deeper at the root cause.
One thing to consider is that the boss or other senior leaders just don't believe you "get it." To be more specific, they don't believe you truly grasp the company's goals and how to help achieve them on a consistent basis.
What are your organization's three top priorities? Who are its biggest competitors? What is the top challenge your industry faces in the next five years?
If you can't answer all these questions -- and quickly -- then you know that you're missing some key knowledge. Chances are good then, this is why you're also missing out on key opportunities.
Another thing to consider: Do you even care about your organization's goals? Do you care about the goals your boss has been tasked by his or her manager to deliver?
If not, then that's a clue that maybe it's time for you to move on and find something about which you do care. Your lack of enthusiasm is not only detrimental to your career, but to your colleagues and your boss. That's not fair to anyone.
Once you decide that you do care enough to hang onto your job and want to be more successful, here are some things to do:
- Study the boss. It's time to be observant, ask relevant questions and try to understand fully what's important to the boss and why. Chances are good that the boss has aligned his or her goals with that of other senior managers, and that means these goals also are important to the CEO. So, while you may not have access to the CEO, you certainly can glean what is important to him or her -- and that's critical information.
- Strategize. What can you do to help the boss achieve his or her goals? When presenting these ideas, try to use the same language as the boss. That makes it easier for him or her to understand your focus. Often, ideas are shot down simply because you don't use some of the same jargon as the boss, and he or she tunes you out. Once he or she hears familiar key phrases or words, then the boss is much more likely to tune in and think "this person gets it."
- Make it a habit. Once you start to see what really matters to the organization and your boss, don't make it a one-time thing. That's not enough to get you a raise or promotion. You've got to incorporate it into your daily habits so that the boss consistently sees that you "get it." Make sure you document your efforts so that you can clearly demonstrate you're not a one-trick pony.
- Be a trouble-shooter. If you're having trouble coming up with ways to demonstrate your worth -- then be the person who can demonstrate what NOT to do. Sometimes that's just as important as blazing a new trail. For example, become a diligent proofreader of key data being presented to clients, so that there's no chance for errors. Or, be the one who double-double-checks that a key shipment will arrive on time -- and have a backup plan in place in case something goes wrong.
The key is showing the boss that not only are you dependable, but that you're invested in the company's success -- just as if you owned it. Once that becomes clear, then you will start to see more opportunities come your way.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
Look around your workplace right now and chances are you will see one or two interns.
You may observe them making some really stupid mistakes -- and you may observe them making some really smart decisions.
But one thing you're sure to see is those interns asking questions. It may be something as simple as "how do you turn on this coffee machine?" or something more complex such as "can you help me fix this mistake?"
While observing these young interns, it's a good time to think about how you ask for help at work. For example, are you like the intern that fumbles around with a requests, inciting impatience on the part of the listener?
We're often told that there's no such thing as a stupid question, yet many of us DO feel we will look stupid if we ask for help at work. After all, everyone else seems adept at handling the new phone system, for example, while you've disconnected three customers within an hour.
Still, you can't sit in silence and just hope that you'll magically find the answer to a question that is stumping you -- or that you'll miraculously grow another brain so that you don't need to ask for help.
If you find yourself getting getting stomach cramps at the thought of raising your hand for help at work, here are some ideas to help you get past it:
1. Not asking for help is going to cause further headaches. If you don't ask for what you need right away, then you're going to fall behind. Imagine yourself a few months from now, explaining to your boss why you're so far behind and in danger of losing an important contract because you didn't ask for help when you needed it. Worried about looking stupid? Well, now you do.
2. Do your homework. Don't ask for help the minute you hit an obstacle. Bosses like people who are resourceful and show initiative, so try to solve the dilemma for yourself before asking for help. Do you have a network of friends/colleagues who might be able to offer some guidance? Is there someone in another department who has a similar position who might be able to help? By doing your homework, you are able to show others that you tried to answer your own question before seeking answers. This also helps you to be able to eliminate the things that won't work, which saves time for everyone.
3. Use the "but" request. "I've been researching how to get this project online, but I just can't seem to get it to work. I'd really like to learn how and was wondering if you might be able to help or know someone who can," you might say. Admitting you don't know something is not a show of weakness when you acknowledge you're willing to learn.
4. Ask for follow-ups. Once you get the answer you seek, it may be that there will be only more questions down the road. Let the person know that you're going to try -- but could you ask follow-up questions? This prepares the person that you may be calling again, and ensure he or she will see this as a learning experience -- not as a way for you to get someone else to do your work. It's always nice to let him or her know when you're making progress, and express your appreciation for the help you've received. (This also gives your helper a way of telling you if you've gone off track and need to make corrections.)
Remember that diverse workplaces offer such valuable resources that it's a silly waste of time to not ask for help when you've tried to handle an issue on your own and are getting nowhere. Seeking input shows a collaborative spirit, and a willingness to learn. That's never a bad thing for your career.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
When you're out of work or desperate to leave your current job, sometimes you're not thinking clearly about what you need to do to get a new position. You just need a new job. Right. Now.
So you fill out a bunch of online applications and throw together a resume by making a few updates on the one you wrote two years ago. (Or was it three?)
Still, by entering your job search is such a rushed way, you're likely to make mistakes. Those mistakes, of course, could cost you a new job.
First, take a deep breath. A well-planned job search will beat a panicked one any day. Take the time to gather your thoughts so that you will craft a resume that will grab the attention of an employer.
The key is figuring out the areas that most employers -- no matter the job or industry -- are sure to look for on a resume and ask about in an interview, such as:
1. Performance. Think about the experiences that have given you important work habits. How are your successes tied to such competencies? What mistakes have you made that helped you improve and led to performance improvements? Are you adaptable -- able to rebound from setbacks? How do you handle pressure so that you remain respectful and don't take it out on others? How do you ensure your opinions are supportive and not personally critical of others? How would you stand up to someone who asked you to do something illegal or unethical?
2. Interpersonal skills. Do you provide support and encouragement to your team? Do you challenge outdated ideas and present new ones in a persuasive way? Are you a good listener and open to the ideas of others? Are you able to accept negative feedback and channel it toward improving your performance? Do you work well with diverse people, and adopt your work style to accommodate any differences? What steps do you take to help clients or customers reach satisfactory outcomes?
3. Habits. Do you have personal accountability, such as always telling the truth and avoiding gossip? Do you make decisions based on an employer's mission statement? Do you manage your time and complete assignments on time? Are you organized and efficient with your time and resources?
4. Tech skills. What resources, information or systems do you know how to use and implement on a regular basis? How have you improved your technical skills?
This should help you see that shooting off a resume with little thought to these areas will get you quickly tossed in the "reject" pile. These are common areas that employers will ask about -- how will you answer?