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Posts Tagged ‘management’

What does your attrition rate tell you?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on July 18, 2012

Do you believe that you are doing great job just because your attrition rate is as per industry benchmark or lower than your competitors?

If you reward your entire workforce in almost same fashion, who do you think will stay with you between your performers and non-performers? If you don’t want your workplace to be a resting place for non-performers, you not only need to investigate reasons behind your employee’s decision to leave you but also to stay with you. You need to ensure that workforce holidaying at work is not the main reason for your lower attrition rate.

Knowing performer’s contribution to your attrition rate helps you to understand this number better and helps you to make required changes in your efforts towards addressing employee turnover. One-size-fits-all solution seldom works. You have to diagnose your people’s concerns in-depth before arriving on corrective actions. You need to verify early and verify often that your diagnosis is not only correct but also relevant.

It will be disastrous to depend only on the reasons recorded during exit feedback as truth may never prevail from there. It’s a mistake to expect correct feedback on your exit door at the time when “Do-not-burn-the-bridges” is the main mantra.

Neither the problem of employee turnover is new nor do the various claims to address it. Same age-old tactics to solve employee turnover problem will not give you new results. You should not dream to stop employee turnover altogether nevertheless you must try hard to save you performers. You need to understand why your performers are (or will be) leaving you. And try to address their concerns keeping in mind that:

  • No magic pill exists; you need to understand the problem before searching for a solution.
  • Conversation is the key; keep all forms of communication open.
  • Acting on employee’s feedback-data on time will save time and money for you.
  • Copying solutions blindly is a stale idea instead work on a solution tailored or designed for your need.
  • You must develop a culture of trust; nothing will ever work without it.

Posted in leadership, management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Do you wear your stripes with pride?

Posted by Louise Barnfield on April 30, 2009

school-uniformMy UK school days have receded into the far too dim-and-distant past, but I still remember our uniform.

Through 9th grade, the winter uniform at our all-girls school (junior high and high combined) was a traditional gray pinafore (skirt and bib), with striped shirt. 10th graders, however, were allowed to ditch the bib and wear a plain gray skirt. (The ultimate was in the final two years at senior and prefect level, when dress-code was further extended to any style of black skirt and solid color shirt.)

A typical ruse of the 9th graders (and later even 8th graders) was to unstitch the bib from the skirt, and replace with some kind of temporary fastening (velcro, poppers, or even just safety pins)! During the day, the bib was dutifully attached, with no outward signs of tampering. However, as soon as they left school premises in the afternoon, to head off into town or meet a group of boyfriends, they ripped off the bibs thereby achieving the appearance and status of those a year senior.

Of course, if they got caught by a teacher ‘sans bib’ there was hell to pay, but that just added to their sense of bravado – sounds pretty tame in comparison to what many teens get up to these days, doesn’t it! :-)

On the other hand, 10th graders were not amused. They felt they’d earned the right to wear their senior uniform with pride, and that that right was undermined and devalued by the rules not being observed. (…and ‘they’, of course, included those who had themselves played the popper-game a year previously!)

In the military, uniform and rank are strictly observed. Each rank is immediately recognized for exactly what it signifies, by anyone with knowledge of the hierarchy. Officers wear their insignia proudly on their sleeves. There’s no opportunity to hide or misrepresent one’s position.

Not so in the corporate world.

Decades ago, the title of Secretary was a respected position. A true secretary had excellent typing and shorthand skills, as well as a great deal of responsibility for the smooth running of their bosses’ calendars and lives. Then, mere typists started calling themselves secretaries to inflate their resumes. Firms started advertising for personal secretaries, hoping to attract the cream of the crop, then personal secretaries became executive secretaries, until the word fell into such disrepute that the alternative terms Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant were spawned.

In 2007, Wharton School’s Knowledge@Wharton published an excellent article: Chief Receptionist Officer? Title Inflation Hits the C-Suite, discussing the cheapening of titles, and the reasons behind inflation infatuation! But it’s not just C-level; the same issue pervades every level of the corporate chain.

While companies have figured out that “many times it is cheaper to give people a title increase than a raise increase”, I believe they have created a rod for their own backs, not only by devaluing the titles, but more significantly by demeaning and alienating the employees who have genuinely earned their ‘stripes’.

As the article above notes: “Firms should be deliberate about how they give these title awards out to employees, because each additional person who gets a C-level title dilutes the currency of the title structure.”

How meaningful are titles where you work, and does your HR department care? Have you earned your stripes, or are you one of the unjustifiably bib-less? Do you see over-inflated titles as a necessity to represent your company effectively, or just an ego-trip at the expense of others?

Yours sincerely,

Chief Senior Principal Vice Managing Dogsbody and Bottlewasher

Posted in hr, management, teams, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

The leadership cop-out, the employee hot potato

Posted by Meg Bear on December 3, 2008

mrpotato

Dan was talking this week about how real leaders do the right thing, even (or especially) when it means that you have to let a poor performer go.   You all know that I’m a big believer in job fit.  Finding a role that leverages your strengths is critical for success.  For some, finding the right role can be a process of trial and error, using our failures to course correct is a part of personal growth.  Sometimes coaching and role adjustment can turn a lack-luster performer into a star.   But we all know that there are times when the problem is not just job fit, it is job attitude.

When an individual has a negative attitude you are dealing with a cancer that impacts the whole team.  It is the job of the manager to resolve the situation quickly and fairly.  Too often, weak managers resolve their situation by creating an employee hot potato.  These disgruntled employees find themselves sharing (and often compounding) their negative attitudes across multiple groups as they bounce from manager to manager, each too weak to take action.

Moving performance problems around the organization is one of the worse kinds of management cop-outs. It is not honest for the individual and it is not good for the company.  It is not leadership, it’s cowardly.

I am well aware that the process of resolving performance problems takes considered thought and diligence.  Even when attempting to do the right thing, it is often not black and white.   We all want to make sure we have given enough chances to the employee and have done our best to coach them to improvement.  I would not want anyone to take this process lightly.  I would just like to encourage you all to make sure you are honest with yourselves that you are not perpetuating performance problems in other groups, because you are too lazy to deal with them yourself.

If you are not sure, get help from your HR team.  HR professionals can support you through the tough job of coaching the team member to acceptable performance or terminating.  It is the role of HR to make sure that the process is fair for the employee, the impacted team and the company.

Repeat after me, no more employee hot potatoes!

Posted in hr, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

The ultimate gift to an employee

Posted by Vivian Wong on September 3, 2008

We all have talents and our job as managers is to bring out individual’s strengths and help them develop additional skills to be more successful at their jobs. This has a direct impact on employee engagement, retention, job satisfaction and of course the bottom line of the business. In order to do this, we need to create a safe and collaborative environment for team members to ask for help, give them resources to help themselves, as well as looking out for opportunities to challenge them to perform to the next level.
 
Easy said than done.
 
As managers we need to understand what motivates our team members to begin with (beyond money and stock), define and enforce core values with them as a team, and provide both constructive and positive feedback REGULARLY. It’s easy to give positive feedback (although we probably should do it more often) but giving constructive feedback is often the hard part of management – but it really is also the most critical aspect in helping someone with his or her professional growth.
 
On the giving front, we need to have the “right” intent. We give constructive feedback because we want someone to be more successful, not because we have an ill intent of busting him or her for doing something wrong. We need to be sensitive to the recipients and how they would react to the feedback. On the receiving end, it is important to have an open mindset and understand that constructive feedback really is something coming from someone who wants you to do better– no matter what career level you are at. I think the biggest impediment to improvement in most people is that they tend to tie their egos to problems and therefore are reluctant to identify and talk openly about improvement areas without becoming defensive. Mistakes are good – if we learn from them! It’d be wonderful if we are perfect, but to err is human. Just last week I made the mistake of spelling “Principal Developer” as Principle Developer” in a chat room. Someone kindly pointed out in a fun way and asked if the “Principle Developer” would develop principles? Instead of becoming defensive (which would have been a natural instinct), his correction actually helped me made a mental note to be more careful with my spelling. I am grateful that he didn’t want me to look silly in the future. Having the right (open) mindset in receiving constructive feedback is key to self-improvement. While some of us take time to self-reflect, we all have blind spots and we should always be thankful to those for taking the time to point out things we can improve upon so we can continue to grow! (BTW – Ken has an interesting post called Mistakes are just the icing on the cake, check it out if you haven’t read it yet!)
 
Fortunately my manager, peers and directs are very good at both giving and receiving constructive feedback. We have really helped each other grow over time. I truly believe that the ultimate gift to an individual is giving him/her honest and sincere constructive feedback to help with each other’s continued growth – the sky is the limit!

Posted in engagement, leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

One for all, and all for one

Posted by Ken Klaus on July 1, 2008

I’m sure many of you will recognize the blog title as the rallying call in Alexandre Dumas’ story, The Three Musketeers.  One of the most memorable scenes for me occurs at the end of the story, at least in the movie version, when d’Artagnan is finally confronted by a man (and his posse) who has been pursuing him throughout the movie.  When the newly commissioned musketeer steps forward to face his enemy, the other musketeers Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 also advance and remind d’Artagnan, “we don’t just protect the king; we protect each other as well.”  At which point the four musketeers are joined by the entire regiment and d’Artagnan’s enemy drops his sword and runs for his life.

I’m fortunate to work on a team which has embraced the “one for all, and all for one” mind-set.  We have a shared set of values that define and guide our team: respect, honesty, collaboration, accountability, integrity, and sincerity.  We’ve learned the best way to ensure success is to cooperate with rather than to compete against one another.  We celebrate the accomplishments of individual team members and we support one another professionally as well as personally.  Most of the challenges we face as a team are project related – short deadlines, unexpected fire drills, software and hardware meltdowns, etc.  We rarely have people related problems, mainly because our management team takes quick and decisive action to address these issues, either by educating the worker on our shared values or, on rare occasions, managing them out of the organization.  Sadly, I know not all teams are as fortunate and interpersonal conflict can be a serious problem, especially when the team must deal with a bully.

Bullies are easy to spot.  They’re egocentric; they value their own ideas above the ideas of others; they take no pleasure in seeing others succeed; and they never say they’re sorry – even on those rare occasions when they admit to being wrong.  Dealing with a bully can be tough.  When confronted most bullies immediately assume the role of the victim.  They become defensive and often resort to empty threats, like quitting, or calling in a higher authority.  It takes courage to confront a bully and a manager must be prepared for the worst, because many bullies can’t be rehabilitated and must be managed out.

It’s difficult to understand why any manager would tolerate a bully for very long; but I think there may be a couple of reasons.  First, an inexperienced manager may not recognize or know how to address bully behavior when they see it.  Another possible explanation is that the manager wishes to avoid conflict at any cost and will often ask the employee who is being bullied to simply ignore the problem. They may even go as far as to ask the worker to censor themselves so as not to further aggravate the situation; but a manager who is unwilling to confront a bully only validates the bad behavior and undermines their role as team leader.

If you find yourself confronted by a bully, the best advice I can give you is to not play by their rules and to not go it alone. Bullies thrive on confrontation and expect a negative response. They want to see you get angry and frustrated. So do your best not to show them how you’re feeling. In the mean time, do talk with your manager and if necessary your HR rep. Also share your story with other team members in your organization, because the best defense against a bully is to maintain strong, supportive relationships: one for all, and all for one.

Posted in leadership, management, teams | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Mistakes Are Just the Icing on the Cake

Posted by Ken Klaus on June 16, 2008

I have friend who is a total foodie. He has no problem spending Sunday mornings sprawled on the couch watching a full week of recordings from the Food Network. One of my his favorite shows is Ace of Cakes, which follows the adventures of master pastry chef Duff Goldman and his posse of extreme cake makers at Charm City Cakes. My friend thinks the employees at this company have achieved career nirvana: the perfect blend of fun, imagination, inspiration, and sugar. For the uninitiated, each week Duff and his crack team of decorators create edible works of art. From corvettes and roller skates to bulldogs and baseball stadiums, no challenge is too big. Their motto: You dream it, we’ll bake it, you eat it! Unfortunately, even with good planning and near perfect execution accidents happen. Some mistakes are made by the staff, like spilling food dye on a finished cake; while other problems are completely out of their control, like traffic jams, potholes and the weather. Fortunately Duff, ever the master of cool, is rarely phased by these mishaps. In fact he expects things will go wrong from time to time and tells his staff not to dwell on the problem, but to concentrate on how to make things right. Not surprisingly, some of the most creative moments on the show happen when things do not go as planned.

Over the years I’ve made some pretty spectacular blunders myself – from sending out emails in a moment of anger, to deleting a semester’s worth of grades a week before graduation when I worked as the Assistant Registrar at a small graduate school outside of Boston. A mistake our IT department spent the better part of their weekend fixing. I’ve also had to deal with problems that were out of my control, things like shifting project priorities, organizational upheaval, technological meltdowns, and psychotic co-workers – but that’s a topic for another post.

When things go wrong often our first impulse is to fix the blame before we fix the problem; when our primary focus should always be to make things right. Once the problem is resolved we should also take time and reflect on the how and why of our mistake. Though this process can sometimes be a painful exercise, I believe our most profound learning experiences happen not when we succeed, but when we fail – and very few individuals, if any, have ever succeeded without making mistakes along the way. Perseverance, not perfection, leads to success. So if success is the cake we enjoy when things go right, then let the icing on the cake be the lessons we learn when we fail.

Posted in leadership, learning, management | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Is Employee Engagement a managers job?

Posted by Meg Bear on December 5, 2007

We’ve been talking about Employee Engagement for some time.  How do we engage people, why do we need to engage people – all that touchy/feely stuff that causes some of us to feel warm and fuzzy and others of us to hold back a gag reflex.

I’ve also been thinking about a Manager’s role in the overall Talent story for some time.  I think that to really do innovative things in Talent you not only need software and a HR vision but you really need solid line managers.  Initiatives like building, sharing and retaining talent fall down quickly with bad managers.  As the saying goes people join a company but they quit their manager.

I’ve read a few things lately that are food for thought for those of us who are managers.  Now I do not intend to suggest that we as individuals yield our own responsibility to define, nurture and grow our own careers but for those of us who are managers it can’t hurt to check in and see if we could be doing more.

Here is a quick article that talks about employee engagement and how “managing with a human touch” is a necessary ingredient for that to happen. 

I also recently read Three signs of a miserable job and found an interesting assertion on the responsibility of a manager.  This book focuses on how a manager is responsible to make the job of their employees something that they can feel positive about.  The most interesting thing that he points out is that the work is not really the most significant factor.  In other words, a movie star, a super model, a professional athlete can be less engaged in their job then a cashier a janitor or a factory worker.   His core points were that

  1. People need to be recognized – he used the word Anonymity as the problem.  Managers need to engage with their teams as people first and employees second.  Yes, here is where the touchy/feely part comes in – if it makes you squirm as a manager then guess what?  Maybe you shouldn’t be in management.  People often confuse what is not legal to ask in an interview process with what they should not ask an employee.  So the question is: do you like your team?  Do you know them?  Do you care about them as people? Do you send them birthday gifts on Facebook? (ok that last part was a joke but you get the idea)
  2. People need to be able to measure their work (Immeasurement)– If you can’t measure what you do or worse if you are measured on something that has no clear connection with what you do then you are probably less satisfied with your job.
  3. People need to see a value in their contribution (Irrelevance)– People want/need to know that they make a difference in the lives of others with their contributions.  One very interesting point he raised is that managers are often not comfortable being clear to their teams that they need them. => So in case there is any doubt for my team – ohmygod do I need you guys ;-)

Posted in engagement, management | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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