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Archive for the ‘engagement’ Category

Getting it Right: 100KM, Team of 4 and 48 Hours

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on March 15, 2013

It’s about an endeavor undertaken by our team of four people to raise funds for charity and to walk 100KM within 48 hours to meet the challenge set by Oxfam Trailwalker.  This post highlights our journey, the outcome and re-emphasizes some well-known facts.

We started with goal setting; success was the obvious goal so success criteria were defined at the start in consultation with all stakeholders. Key Success Indicators (KSIs) were to raise funds to qualify for the event (i.e. 50K INR) and to complete 100KM walk within 48 hours with all four members. We did identify stretch goals at the initiation phase itself and those were to raise funds of 150K+ INR for charity and to complete 100KM walk within 40 hours with all four members.

Getting it RightPlanning for the event went through a progressive elaboration process. As a team, we had to cross nine check points to register the entry and exit of the full team. Being a team building exercise, it was required that the team of four, walk together, supporting each other, fastest member walking with the slowest member of the team and completing the event as a team. As activities (aka check points) were already identified and sequenced, we had estimated duration for each activity to develop time management schedule in accordance with our team goal.

Communication among team members was planned thoroughly. Similarly, we planned how to communicate with stakeholders (family members, well-wishers, friends who donated for the cause etc) before and during the event. We performed SWOT analysis for the risks and prepared risk response strategy accordingly. We planned and conducted procurement as per the team needs for the event.

Finally on the D-Day, we first timers were at the event venue with almost a month of preparation. We started almost 10 minutes late from the starting point for 100KM walk of energy, determination and courage. We arrived at finish point exactly 39 hours and 38 seconds after the event starting time. It might not be an exceptional achievement from an outsider’s point of view but as our team could achieve predefined KSIs; this endeavor was a success for us.

It was a fun-filled memorable walk where confrontation was used as a technique to overcome difference of opinions and group decision-making was practiced for team decisions.

Four takeaway from this endeavor which are also keys for a successful project management are:

  • Success criteria must be defined at the beginning in consultation with all stakeholders.
  • Communication breeds success. A well-planned communication strategy is vital for project’s success.
  • Change is inevitable. You need to foresee challenges, risks and always need to have a change management plan in place.
  • Working together works. Remember the best team doesn’t win as often as the team that gets along best.

Posted in engagement, leadership, management | 7 Comments »

Management by “Fear”…

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on September 18, 2012

Managing workforce by playing with their fear factor is frequently used but rarely acknowledged management practice. Strong Belief in formal power, frequent use of forcing as a conflict resolution technique and use of penalty as a motivational factor give birth to a manipulative organization culture where practice of management by fear nurture and maintained.

Employee’s fear of failure, fear of not receiving reward or recognition, fear of losing job or similar; many managers identify it quickly and use it as a tool to rule over the people. Manager’s own insecurity and short sightedness fuels it further as they promote culture of uncertainty and ambiguity to make sure that fear-factor not only exist in the system but also prosper.

When you work in a team, it’s natural that you will discover fears or shortcomings of your teammates, how you utilize this information, depends on your value system. Either you can exploit it by maximizing their fear factor for your benefit or you can help them to conquer fear. Either you can empower your team so that they can fight back or you can assure that they gradually lose their self-esteem and become more vulnerable.

Management by fear is a perfect recipe for business failure and a proof of broken employee engagement. It’s a responsibility of every leader to ensure that an organization treats its people with dignity, trust and respect.

 

If you are a victim of such a culture and it’s going beyond your tolerance limit, you may need to take help from your HR department. You may also count on a feedback mechanism which can help you to get your voice heard and answered.

Posted in engagement, fear, management | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

In conversation with “Silence”!

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on May 18, 2012

Reet comes out of a business meeting. She is surprised, as otherwise lively part of the meeting, question and answer session, did not receive expected participation. What worries Reet more is, workforce somehow preferring to remain silent and it’s gradually becoming a trend.

Are you also experiencing the same? What is causing this transformation?

Possible reasons for this change are:

  1. You are managing business extremely well, which gives no reason to complain about and it’s resulted in building a satisfied workforce.
  2. You have become predictable and participants can predict your response.
  3. Your workforce is not empowered to participate and voice their opinion.

You can ignore this non-engagement provided your meetings are not meant for attendees’ participation or if one way communication is a preferred method for your business.

Nevertheless, corrective actions are unavoidable, if you are pursuing an active involvement from workforce, as this behavior depicts lack of proper training and workforce empowerment efforts.

You might have mastered the art and economics of conducting successful meetings with no or planned participation but workforce’s withdrawal from discussion is a negative sign. You need to train, empower and motivate your employees to not only voice their opinions and issues but also for seeking solutions via constructive conversations.

It does not really matter if silence is forced upon workforce or they opted for it. As a leader, it’s your duty to listen sound of the silence and help your workforce to come out of it so that they can contribute towards the success of your business.

Posted in conversation, engagement, leadership | 1 Comment »

The art of appreciation at workplace

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on March 11, 2012

Achievers believe in pushing the boundaries, setting the stretched goals and delivering the sustainable results. If you have these achievers in your team, they must be making you shine, but don’t forget to appreciate them in a meaningful way to keep their spirits alive.

You need to practice effective communication to convey the appreciation message without any ambiguity. Just saying that you appreciate their efforts is not enough till you show same by your actions too.

Appreciation can be anything which matches the degree of achievement, e.g. an award, a formal email, a certificate, a bonus, or a promotion. Don’t forget to taste your own pill before you give it to workforce. You can predict their reaction by placing yourself in their shoes and it will help you to choose the correct form of appreciation too.

Appreciation should be on time, every time. If you have a system, which forces achievers to pass through a queue before receiving any appreciation, you need to make sure that people don’t get stuck in that queue.

It’s human nature to expect an appreciation. And as a leader, it is your job to make sure that you know and practice the art of appreciation. An appreciation, which comes late or lacks in the value, is as good as no-appreciation.

 

Posted in engagement, leadership, management | Leave a Comment »

Are you well equipped to combat discrimination at workplace?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on February 19, 2012

Many employers claim to be an equal opportunity employer and theoretically no one supports discrimination, but there are still lots of reported cases of discrimination. A press release from EEOC reports that private sector bias charges hit all-time high in fiscal year 2011.

Do you have a well established system to combat discrimination at workplace?

Agree that we have come a long way, but not far enough.

You need to respect, protect and accomplish the right of equality and non-discrimination at workplace. Some tips to combat discrimination are:

  • Publicize your commitment for non discrimination.
  • Adopt effective measures through training, promotion and regular adherence check.
  • Awareness raising measures should target all the employees without any exception.
  • Have a system in place which can alert you for potential discrimination cases in a timely manner. Mine the data to expose the hidden facts.
  • Keep an ear out for “noise”. Provide a platform to report the incident or for seeking help.

Fairness in treating people without prejudice is not optional, every discrimination incident may not result in a lawsuit but it surely results in a broken employee engagement.

Posted in engagement, management | Leave a Comment »

Seven keys to a robust compensation system

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on September 12, 2011


Keys

The seven keys to a robust compensation system that will help you in attracting, retaining, and motivating the workforce are:

  1. You should have a fair compensation policy in place and it should be easily accessible to your workforce.
  2. Your compensation policy should be context sensitive. Market data should be used wherever appropriate to keep it fresh and competitive.
  3. Your compensation revision schedule (e.g. salary revision cycle) should be communicated to the workforce in a planned manner and in advance. Open communication will help your workforce to focus on their duties instead of wasting energy and time in waiting and guessing about it.
  4. Compensation should be linked to the performance. It will keep performers motivated and will help you to retain them.
  5. Policy execution should be monitored regularly to make sure policy has “Buy in” at all the levels and execution is not diverting from the planned objectives.
  6. Your compensation policy should be open for feedback. Proper and industry accepted channels should be established to achieve this.
  7. You should have a built-in audit capability to detect and correct any compensation discrimination. It will save your brand and increase employee engagement.

Posted in Compensation, engagement, management | 5 Comments »

Love yourself: love your self-assessment

Posted by Justin Field on June 27, 2011

Hey, it’s performance review time, and your manager has asked you to complete your self-assessment.  Are you filled with dread?  Don’t know where tostart?  Don’t know what to write?  Well, here are my personal tips to help you out.

As HR practitioners, we often assume that employees simply know how to do a performance review and how to go about completing their self-assessment.  But, my informal research tells me that people don’t really know what to do, unless they’ve seen a good model performance review, or, they’ve had the benefit of coaching in the art of performance reviews.

Step 1:  Start the hunt
Review your performance dimensions so you know what you need to hunt for.  What are your job competencies embedded in your performance review?  What were your performance objectives?  Are there any other elements that you would like to highlight?

Step 2:  Hunt for the good, the bad and the ugly
There are three elements that I find personally useful here.

  1. Scan your sent email from the last year and see if you can remind yourself of the big projects that you worked on over the past 12 months.  The cognitive bias of recency means that you’ll only remember recent achievements (in the past three to six months) so take some time to remind yourself of the good stuff you did right at the beginning of the performance year.  Pay particular attention to congratulatory emails from others — they have high value in the performance review cycle.
  2. Your performance system may have a journal or notes feature, or, you may have been super-organised and collected little nuggets of achievements and accomplishments in a Word document or a paper file.  Open up your performance notes and remind yourself of all the good (and sometimes the stupid or bad) things that you did.
  3. Use your workplace systems to get good numeric or quantitative evidence that will support your achievements.  For example, I often teach webcasts, and I send out an online evaluation survey after each event.  So I can easily review all the events that I produced, and work out the average satisfaction score for each event.  Another example:  one of my roles is to answer questions from the HR group about the performance cycle and our performance management system.  I centralised all these questions into an online forum, so I can count how many questions were posted, and how long it took me to reply to questions.

Step 3:  Write up your results
If you managed to find plenty of evidence during your hunt, then you’ll find it easy to write up your comments for each performance dimension.  For your competencies, you’ll need to use evidence to call out the behaviours that demonstrate proficiency in that competency.  For example, for a competency such as Presentation Skills, you may write something like:

I presented twice at our staff meeting on the use of social networking tools for learning within our division.  I also posted several blog posts on this topic on our internal team blog.  Four comments on the blog showed that my peers in China and Hong Kong valued this information.  For the last presentation I did, I scored 86% satisfaction from participants.

For your performance objectives, you need to include a blend of qualitative and quantitative evidence.  For example, for a performance objective around building relationships with customers, you may write something like:

For the Carlton Company, I arranged a visit to the CVC in California.  I clarified the purpose and target outcomes with the customer’s Vice President, and shaped the agenda in California to address this, collaborating with Product Development and Marketing.  Later, I arranged four visits to existing customers in Australia and New Zealand (Westpac, Qantas, Air New Zealand, NBN Company).  As an outcome, Carlton signed a new deal worth $1.2 million.

In essence, you need to be as specific as you can, and give good evidence to support your achievements.  Sometimes employees tell me that they feel that they are running out of achievements, so they end up repeating themselves.  A little bit of repetition is okay, but don’t use the same example for every single competency and performance objective — you’ll end up sounding one-dimensional, and one achievement does not illustrate a trend, which is what we are trying to illustrate in our performance reviews.

So, best wishes for your self-assessment.  Do leave me a comment if you find these tips useful (or, useless!).

Posted in cognitive bias, communication, development, engagement, performance, productivity | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Choosing To Choose

Posted by Ken Klaus on January 18, 2011

As a rule I don’t make New Year resolutions.  Not because I have anything against making resolutions or because I don’t see the beginning of a new year as a good time to make a fresh start.  It’s just that I’ve come to see genuine, sustained change as something that requires a level of resolve that we renew, not with each New Year, but with every new day. The kind where you roll out of bed in the morning and remind yourself of the changes you want to make and the choices that will need to made in order to meet your long-term goals.  So when I made the decision to, um, resolve to make 2011 a “year of decisions” the irony of my high-minded thinking on New Year resolutions was not lost on me; but I’ve decided to hang on to what remains of my intellectual integrity and simply call this my 2011 goal rather than a resolu . . . well you get the point.

The goal in its entirety is as follows:

I’ve decided 2011 is going to be about making decisions. So I’m already off to a good start. Decision #1 – I’m going to stop complaining about the things I can change and work to make some changes. Decision # 2 – I’m also going stop complaining about the things I can’t change, since this is mostly annoying, entirely unhelpful, and generally takes away from the time I should be spending on Decision #1.

Though the point of the goal is to do less complaining – something about me that really annoys me – I felt the outcomes needed to be more tangible.  Hence the “making some changes” portion of the goal, which I anticipate will be the hardest part of the goal, because the ability to achieve genuine and sustained change almost always requires tough choices.  Choices I’ve probably known for some time needed to be made but was unwilling or afraid to make before now.  I’ve also come to see that by choosing not to choose, I’ve actually made my choice and it’s probably the wrong one.  James Hollis in his book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally Really Grow Up, makes the following observation:

“We all suffer from the lingering message of childhood: that the world is big and powerful, and that we are vulnerable and dependent.  Stepping forth into larger shoes, more spacious psychologies, remains intimidating throughout our lives.  Moreover, virtually all of us lack a deep sense of permission to lead our own lives.  We learned very early that the world exacted conditions that, if not met, could result in punishment or abandonment.  That message, overlearned and internalized, remains a formidable block to the ego’s capacity to elect its own path.  Yet it is clear that we cannot choose not to choose, for not choosing is a choice from which consequences flow . . .”

If the first part of my goal is the more challenging of the two, the second will likely prove to be more frustrating.  Coming to understand and accept what we cannot change is more a function of experience than willpower.  Moreover, while the intellectual and moral courage required when making a choice generally speaks to the integrity of our individuality; the ability to accept what is beyond our power to change speaks more to our maturity and understanding of our place in this world.  Though this understanding often gives us pause in our personal lives, in our vocational lives it can leave us feeling demoralized, angry, cagey, and unproductive.  The injustice or unfairness, real or perceived, of a bad situation at work can leave us feeling like little more than corporate capital – to be used as our “masters” see fit.  This can be especially true in Western economies, where our political ideologies strongly inform our corporate identities and where democracy and freedom of choice are sacrosanct.  But the truth is, unless we are self-employed most of us will never have the final say at work.  There will always be someone above us steering the ship or at the very least someone with the power to veto our decisions.  Understanding and accepting this situation, I expect, will significantly improve our level of engagement at work and may help us feel a deeper sense of contentment within our vocational and personal lives.

Which brings me back to the final part of Decision #2.  After committing to not focus on what I cannot change (actually I’ve only really committed to not complaining about it, ‘cause I’m all about setting reasonable expectations) I can rightfully return my attention and energy to making some important and possibly big decisions this year – choices that may lead me in a completely new direction or maybe even to a brand new vocation.  But more likely – and more importantly – making these decisions should lead to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in both my personal and my vocational life, which now, in hindsight, may in fact be the goal I was trying to set in the first place.  I hope the same will be true for you.

Posted in engagement | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Have you done your performance review yet?

Posted by Justin Field on June 21, 2010

Well, folks, we are in the midst of our annual performance review season.  You won’t guess the Number 1 question I get asked (well, maybe you’re smart and you will guess it):  why should I do a performance appraisal?  What’s in it for me?

Sadly, most people take a selfish and purely financial view of the corporate world.  If the performance review doesn’t result an any salary increment, then why do it?  What’s the point?  And that is one possible view of the world.  To those people, I ask:  aren’t you interested in getting any feedback about how well you’ve done over the past year?  Don’t you want to know if you’ve done anything badly?  Or something that you could learn to do better in the year ahead? 

Don’t you want to grow your own skills and competencies?  Or would you rather just sit, like a lump of coal, and do nothing with your career and with your life. 

Since you’re spending at least 40 hours a week at work, and perhaps significantly more, wouldn’t you want to be happy and motivated and fulfilled and flooded with energy every morning as you wake up?  Or would you rather sit around and moan about your manager and your co-workers and let the world wash over you? 

Now, some folks might like to let the world wash over them.  They’re not interested in feedback.  They’re not interested in developing themselves and their careers.  And I say:  good luck to them.  Because it’s pure luck that they have managed to keep their jobs during the GFC and it’s pure luck that their manager still thinks that the employee should stay on.  In fact, what do those employees know anyway?  They’ve never bothered to wonder; they’ve never bothered to ask.

So, look around you, take stock of your world, and get stuck into your performance review.  Don’t make it tedious and boring — make it your chance to shine and your chance to get some realistic feedback about where you are and where you want to go.  Put lots of detailed, specific evidence in about your achievements during the year (you’ve saved all those laudatory emails, remember?).  And ask your manager about how you can go further and take it to the next level.  I bet they’ll be happy that you’ve shown the interest, that you want to be successful and that you want the best for yourself and your career.

Posted in Career Development, development, engagement, performance | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Try bagging spuds to increase employee engagement

Posted by Louise Barnfield on February 20, 2010

For me, one of the most meaningful and satisfying goals that Meg sets her team each year is that of Community Service.

As a team, we’ve participated in a number of local events each year, helping at various food banks, and local shelter housing projects. I am always blown away by how much we can achieve in a very short time when we work together as a team.

This week we returned to Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), this time bagging spuds! Working together for just a couple of hours, we bagged 14,000lbs of potatoes, the equivalent of 11,000 meals’-worth. That felt pretty good…until we realized that through their various programs, ACCFB now distribute enough food for 300,000 meals weekly. This put our contribution in perspective, and showed us how much the community needs help from groups such as ours, in order to meet the demand – a demand that has almost doubled in the past 18 months as a direct result of the current economic climate.

This week’s event had an added bonus, since a number of colleagues were visiting HQ, some for the first time, from a variety of states and countries. With such a dispersed global team, we rarely have the opportunity to meet in person, and particularly to get to know new faces as our team grows. Several mentioned how much they appreciated participating in this event during their visit.

Many of us had been cooped up in a conference room for three very full days, and were feeling the effects of brain-overload. So, a complete diversion for a couple of hours, performing a manual task, conversing with friends and colleagues while at the same time doing something meaningful and helpful for others, did us all a power of good.

After each event, we gather somewhere locally for a ‘happy hour’ – another chance to chat with colleagues, and also to acknowledge our gratitude for our own more fortunate circumstances. The camaraderie that this instills benefits the whole organization, as the team spirit that it fosters spills over into our day-to-day collaboration at work.

I feel fortunate that Meg recognizes the value of giving our time and effort for the good of the community, and the beneficial effect it has on our team. Earlier this year, she blogged about her experience with colleagues as guests on Compassionate HR Blog Radio, discussing the various volunteer projects we have taken on in the past year, and in particular how we have been supported by Oracle to do so.

As they pointed out, the volunteering projects that we undertake are as much a benefit to us as individuals, and to our organization, as they are to the community. It is true that we have the satisfaction of accomplishing something meaningful together as a team, which increases employee engagement and encourages closer working relationships.

So, instead of trudging into the office in ‘Friday mode’, brain-dead from a week of meetings, I spent today catching up on tasks with more enthusiasm and with a far lighter frame-of-mind, thanks to our rewarding team ‘down-time’.

A big shout-out to two other TalentedApps contributors, Vivian and Keshav – I am so thankful that you guys never tire of organizing our crowd for these events! :-)

Photo: Anupma Sud

Posted in collaboration, engagement, goals, teams, Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

 
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