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Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

Is there a magic pill to fix behavioral issues at work?

Posted by Anadi Upadhyaya on October 21, 2011

Increasing sales numbers of best selling management books and the presence of visionary leadership still fail to influence some areas of behavior at the workplace.  You can decide whether you really want the status-quo or you want to be a change agent; to make some difference in behavioral issues. Some examples of those behavioral issues at workplace are:

  • You need to send multiple reminders to the people so that they can complete their performance appraisal on time.
  • You know the people who are eating others’ time by asking irrelevant or obvious questions in business meetings.
  • You witness unethical behavior at workplace but are silent about it.
  • You are a victim of a flood of forwarded work emails.
  • You have people who are always working, or at the workplace, but they are not really productive.
  • Your process inspectors are too rigid and a drain on productivity.

Of course, I don’t have a magic pill which will fix these issues, but I do have a very simple prescription that will help:

  • Practice effective communication. It will help you address most of the issues. Establish direct communication channels wherever appropriate.
  • Never reward, ignore, or otherwise encourage wrong behavior, as it will help it to grow.
  • Attack the problem behavior, not the people. Coach them to unlearn the wrong behavior and learn the correct behavior.
  • Establish a proper feedback collection mechanism. Don’t try to change the people, but the conditions, as it will persuade them to change their behavior.

It is likely that you might have similar prescription,  but at the same time, do you still have these issues?  Just having a right prescription is not enough until you put it into action. Have you implemented anything better to remedy the behavioral issues at your workplace? Please share if you would like others to try out the same.

Posted in communication, leadership, management | 3 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 »

Feb 21, 2012 – Are you ready?

Posted by Anders Northeved on January 26, 2011

According to phonecount.com on Feb 21, 2012 (give or take a couple of days I guess…) the number of connected phones will surpass the number of people living on Earth. For everyone that doesn’t have a phone, someone will have two.
Just think about what people would have said if you predicted this 10 or 20 years ago!
I’m sure this already has a profound impact on most people’s life in many ways, but let me just focus on the possibilities for corporate HR programs.

Self Service
Lots of organizations have ripped the benefits of Self Service in their HCM program.
The administrative work has gone down; the HR data are more accurate; it’s easier for the users to get access to information; the user acceptance has gone up and the cost has come down – all well and good if the employees have access to a computer…
But with more and more people having a mobile, we will see the benefits of Self Service come to a lot of areas where people do not have access to computers like retail, production and transport.

With the widespread availability of phones the management has got a new direct communication line to all of their employees.
Want your employees to know about a new product; a new initiative; reward someone; tell everyone how it’s going… a message on the mobile is the answer. 

It’s now possible to get feedback from your entire workforce whether they have access to a computer or not.

Using mobiles for education for people who would otherwise not have access to education has enormous potential.
I would even go so far as to say that the right use of mobiles for education for organizations with employees without access to a computer could be THE competitive advantage that would define whether an organization would be successful or not!

Even if I find these possibilities very exciting, I’m sure there are other areas that could be added to this list.
I would love to see your comments on what other topics within HCM that could be helped or advanced using mobile devices!

 (Photo by Brandon Hall)

Posted in communication, global, hr, HR Technology, learning, predictions | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Mobile Learning

Posted by Anders Northeved on November 18, 2010

(photo by Gary Woodill)

Some time ago I participated in a webinar by Dr. Gary Woodill from Brandon Hall on the topic Mobile Learning.

Mobile Learning is something we have all been talking about for a long time, but now it seems something is really happening in this field.

He defined a set of categories that will be important to the future of Mobile Learning.

Here is a list of the ones I find most interesting and relevant:

  1. User controlled learning apps – think Apple or Android Apps
  2. Micro-blogging and text messaging – Facebook, Twitter etc.
  3. Mobile research tools and data collection – geotag a picture of a rare flower taken with your mobile
  4. Trend tracking and analysis – HealthMap, Google etc.
  5. Just-in-time Information – your baker twitting when the bread is ready or the manual for your car build into the infotainment system
  6. Augmented reality – Learn about the architect when you point your GPS enabled and direction sensitive phone at an old building
  7. Contextual learning – personalized and location sensitive. Point your phone at a subway station and see when your train leaves
  8. User controlled media production – most phones and even an iPod have a build-in camera these days
  9. Performance support – a doctor operating a patient in a remote area guided by text messages from a colleague
  10. Social networking and communities – Facebook, Wikipedia
  11. Collaboration – made possible by the easy availability of communication devices
  12. Haptic feedback – think Nintendo Wii
  13. Self-organized collective behavior – think smart mobs e.g. recent demonstrations in Iran

To me they paint a very exciting new way of learning in the future – and they point to some interesting trends and truths in learning.

Often it is not technology that is limiting our possibilities but our minds
– only #6, #7 and #12 have been held back by technology – the rest is our minds catching up 

Learning gets embedded in our everyday life
– #2, #3, #5, #6, #7 and #10 are good examples 

The teacher is no longer always the focal point in future learning
– look at #1, #2, #8 and #12 

The old line between gathering information and learning becomes even more blurred in the future
– #2, #5, #6; #10 and #13 are examples of this 

Welcome to the new world of learning!

Posted in communication, learning, web2.0 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Keep blogging!

Posted by Anders Northeved on October 27, 2010

There are many good reasons why people blog.

If it is an internal blog it will promote knowledge sharing within your organization and help your organization perform better.

If it is an external blog you will promote your own organization and help other people understand and appreciate what you do.

It is one of the pieces in the puzzle of building your own brand as described in Ravi’s posting.

You get feedback from people on a topic you find interesting. So you are not only giving information but also receiving new perspectives on a topic that interest you.

It gives you a good feeling in your stomach and a boost for your self confidence knowing that you write something others are interested in reading.

And in general: If you have some piece of information you think others could benefit from – why not share it?

All these reasons – and probably a couple I’ve forgot – was what got me starting posting to different blogs in the first place.
Having done this for some time now I have found all of the above to be true, but I have also found that blogging brings one benefit I didn’t expect…

I have experienced that blogging makes you think longer – and harder – about the topics you blog on.
Whenever you think about something new or see things in a new light you might say to yourself: “This might be a topic for a posting” and then something interesting happens:
You start organizing things in your head, you start thinking about headlines and keywords and all of a sudden you have organized and articulated the topic in a much better way than if you had not wanted to create a blog on the topic.
Knowing other people are going to read, think and respond to what you write makes you think longer, harder – and better – and that can never be a bad thing!

So don’t despair if you only have one reader for your posting – you will still benefit from creating it.

Just realized that if I had not been posting on this blog the brainwave I got the other day while I was out running: “why do people blog?” would have stayed just that  – a brainwave.

Posted in collaboration, communication, community, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Our Role As Leaders During Times Of Change

Posted by Vivian Wong on August 18, 2009

I recently attended a webinar titled “Remarkable Leaders Create Team Alignment” from the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. The seminar content resonated with me really well.

ducks crossing after the storm

I especially liked what Kevin said about our role as leaders during times of change:

Leaders need to focus the team on something positive, uplifting and productive. We don’t deny feelings of past staff cut, it’s our job to have a dialogue with people so they know we do understand them, use them as a jumping off point to get to the goal, re-energize them to give them something to focus on.”

One attendee asked: “How do you keep people calm in the midst of economic crisis?”

Kevin’s response was spot on: “Keeping people focused on the goal is key. We need to re-focus people on the organizational goal to help the organization be more successful and thus improve their chance of keeping their jobs.  The ONLY thing in one’s personal control is to do a great job.

Don’t you find it much more energizing to focus on goals rather than the alligators at your feet?

Working with “what is IN our control” rather than getting paralyzed by “what is OUT of our control” just makes perfect sense to me.

How do you navigate and lead your teams through times of change?

Posted in communication, goals, leadership, management, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Simple, but not Simplistic

Posted by Mark Bennett on July 20, 2009

AS11-40-5903HRToday marks the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Whatever one’s feelings are about the expenditure involved in that endeavor, it stands as one of the most incredible feats accomplished in modern history. As we reflect on it, JFK’s speech to Congress on May 25, 1961 setting forth the challenge always comes to mind:

“…I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

As “Made to Stick” and several other books have pointed out, that sentence is an excellent example of expressing a compelling vision in a very simple way that can be easily remembered for both what it is setting out to accomplish as well as how. In fact, it conveys a little story in just a few words in a concrete way. Those attributes have made it a long enduring message and well-remembered speech, albeit more just a fragment of a speech.

It also helped that the goal was achieved, which was not a foregone conclusion by any means. Through the lens of history and hindsight, it’s easy to get carried away by the events that actually occurred and think that it was all inevitable. The speech and the landing make fine bookends to an amazing story in our minds because our minds are attuned to stories; we like to find meaning and reason for why things happen, particularly when it resonates with our emotions such as fear, tragedy, bravery, joy, and hope, which all played significant roles in the history of the moon landing. But the history as we know it was not a foregone conclusion.

1658JFK’s full speech reflects that. Yes, he captured the vision quite well in a way that would serve to help keep a huge number of people, agencies, companies, and a whole nation at least somewhat connected to a unified purpose. But if you look over the rest of the speech, you see that unlike the snippet we see, where it sounds like a leader is saying, “This is what we should do – now make it so!” it’s a leader basically saying, “Here’s what’s been going on lately. We’ve had some shocks to our confidence with the Soviets’ accomplishments. Well, we’ve shown we can put a man in space too, and if we are willing to put our energies wholeheartedly into it, I think we can accomplish this pretty amazing feat and it will show the world what a free nation can do. However, it will be hard and it will cost a huge amount of money and if this nation isn’t willing to commit itself completely, then we shouldn’t waste our time or resources on half-measures.”

Yes, there was a simple message there, but it in no way was simplistic. In a world awash as it were in, to use the cliché, “sound bites” and easy answers, it’s important to remember that.

Photos: Aldrin Apollo 11 Original, JFK Speech

Posted in communication, leadership, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The secret code of a charismatic leader

Posted by Vivian Wong on June 10, 2009


Did you ever work for a leader and thought s/he was more powerful and credible because s/he was charismatic?

So what is charisma anyway? How do you become “charismatic”?

According to research, “Those who were charismatic were simply more animated than others. They smiled more, spoke faster, pronounced words more clearly, and moved their heads and bodies more often. They were also more likely to touch others during greetings. What we call charisma can better be understood as human expressiveness”.  (The leadership Challenge – Kouzes James M and Barry Z Posner)

There you have it!

Posted in communication, leadership, management, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

A dose of truth – what does your non-verbal language say about you?

Posted by Vivian Wong on June 10, 2009

This is not the blog author

No... This is not the blog author

I took a personal development class last night as part of my ongoing effort to upgrade myself.

The instructor got us to do a fun exercise to get to know each other, and more importantly, ourselves.

The first part of the exercise was for each student to stand in front of the class and do a quick self-introduction. Piece of cake.

The second part of the exercise was way more fun. Each of us had to stand in front of the class again, and tell the class what first impressions we think we had left on others, and then we had to stand there and hear the brutal and honest truth from everyone in the class. (We were not allowed to justify ourselves or argue with the feedback – we just had to listen.)

Words that were used to describe individuals were: confident, attractive, engaging, arrogant, shy, fun, funny, sweet, friendly, aggressive, smart, nice, professional, comfortable, stylish, good looking, snobbish, present (live-in-the-moment), pretty, open, carefree, fashionable, self-conscious, nervous, well dressed, nerdy, honest and… bitchy.

Impressions were clearly formed by examining a speaker’s overall appearance and non-verbal language that includes style, expression, physical attributes in addition to hearing what the speaker had to say.

When it was my turn to stand up in front of 15 new faces, I was nervous and hoped that they’d use words like open and friendly.

I got way more than I had bargained for: friendly, confident, smiles a lot, smart, mature, interesting accent, stylish, accomplished, driven etc. (Boss, I think these guys need to be included in my next 360 review 😉 ).  My head started to swell until someone said: “You remind me of my aunt!” (I sure hope her aunt isn’t too mean or too old for what it’s worth.)

It turns out that the first impression I left on my fellow classmates was NOT based on my self-introduction in front of the class – it was mostly formed when others saw me walking into the lobby to talk with the receptionist (as it turns out, she was actually our instructor).

The first impression is often long lasting and you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The first impression isn’t always formed when you stand in front of your audience, it happens much earlier than that.

So… what impressions do you THINK you leave on your interviewers, interviewees, employees, managers, colleagues, employers, customers, suppliers, friends and strangers?

What impressions do you WANT to leave on people?

Is there a difference? If so, can you or would you do something about it?

Posted in Career Development, communication, leadership, personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Are you tough enough? Am I?

Posted by Meg Bear on May 12, 2009


I attended an excellent conference last week from the Professional BusinessWomen of California.  As with all good conferences, I found myself both challenged and inspired across personal and professional dimensions. 

My moment of introspection, was around the concept that it is often the simple things that hold us back

I found myself wondering if I am really as tough as I think I am.   Tough enough to succeed? 

Not just tough enough to hold up under a lot of stress, or tough enough to meet the demands of the role, against the odds.  Sure, against that yardstick, sometimes I win and sometimes I lose but, in general, I pick myself up and try again when that becomes necessary.   

At this conference, I was presented with two questions that I had to stop and think before I answered (never a good sign frankly).

  1. Am I tough enough to ask for what I want?  Am I brave enough to put what I need out there clearly and directly?  Of course, in asking, I have to be willing to be told no.  But without ever asking isn’t the answer also no?  Seems that we are often bad at math when it comes to this idea doesn’t it?
  2. Am I tough enough to receive a compliment?  Oh my, this one is even more complex.  Why is it we think it more polite to brush off a compliment than to acknowledge it?  “It was nothing” seems to come out before we even hear the compliment, or worse we attempt to change the subject.   Why do we miss the opportunity to say “Thank you, we worked very hard on that” when someone recognizes a job well done. 

I honestly am not sure I am tough enough for this.  Getting the courage to ask for what I want for myself and my team is tough.  Especially if it is something that challenges the way things are currently done.  But I do think, that the act of not asking and the act of not acknowledging compliments, get in the way of progress (both personally and professionally) so I realize I must learn.

Which leads me to my next big topic, and that is authenticity.  I’m still working out my thoughts on that one but I do believe that there is a correlation between authenticity and effectiveness that should not be underestimated. 

I am very interested in your thoughts on these topics.  Hit me in the comments and share your tricks to being more authentic and effective.  How have you learned to ask for what you want and what has been the result?

Posted in Career Development, communication, leadership, performance, personal, top talent, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »