Recently one of our departments initiated an anonymous review to determine how the staff perceived its performance. There were questions on processes and people, and it generally revolved around the employees’ satisfaction with the performance of the department. It made me wonder a few things:
- Would HR be bold enough to initiate an anonymous review?
- What would the results be?
- How would HR respond to the results?
Initiating the review
When the department lead came to me asking for help in developing the short survey, I asked what their goal was. Simply put, it was to find out from the user’s point of view what gaps they had in their products/services and fill those needs as quickly and effectively as possible.
Think about it–for many people, they are not interested in learning their weaknesses and don’t really want to hear from anyone about what they could do better. It takes an open mind and sincere dedication to getting the job done properly to step out and ask for that criticism.
As far as the anonymous element, they understood that when you attribute responses to individual people, you sometimes get skewed results. Allowing respondents to be free and unfettered in their responses will provide a better picture of the situation and the needs of the user base.
Finding the pulse
Think for a moment. If I walked around with a stack of survey forms and a pen and interviewed the staff at your company, how would they respond to these questions?
- How important does the HR Department at our company make you feel?
- How well do you think the HR Department understands what you need to be successful in your position or project?
- Overall, how responsive has the HR Department been to your questions or concerns?
- How clear was the information provided to you regarding benefits, policies, and processes.?
- How user friendly are the HR Processes?
- Overall, are you satisfied with the HR Department at our company?
- What do you like most about the HR Department?
- What would you like the Procurement Department to do better?
Are you confident in how they would respond? Are you a little shaky in some areas? Surely you’re not a 100% “extremely satisfied” across the board…
The hard part about surveys is not delivering them. It’s analyzing the data and determining what follow up (if any) is required. So let’s just assume that you’re normal and you get a negative response on one question. It’s probably not a complete surprise, but now the pressure is on to actually work to solve the problem. When someone has the opportunity to respond to a survey with their concerns, they expect those concerns to be addressed now that they are a known factor.
For instance, if #5 didn’t get great responses, then you need to do some research on what specifically in the processes are bothering people. Are they too cumbersome? Too slow? Too process-oriented when it needs to have more of a personal touch? First determine the exact problem, and then work to resolve it.
One final note on the solution side–don’t be afraid to use employees as guinea pigs. One of my friends always used to say, “Treat your employees like guinea pigs.” It meant that you should test new ideas, try pilot programs, and evaluate big changes against a small sample size before rolling out to the entire organization. Feel free to do that here. It’s less risky for you, it allows employees to have some say in the final direction, and generally everyone is happier than if you had thrown out yet another blanket policy that didn’t address the needs of the staff properly.
What are your thoughts? Any chance of you doing an anonymous survey of your department/team any time soon?
Yesterday I was speaking with a good friend about the work ethic of a mutual acquaintance. He said the person was usually good to pull an all-nighter when necessary to get the job done, but at the same time wasn’t really committed on a daily basis to the required work. Then he said a great quote that I’ll never forget:
How about pulling an all-dayer once in a while? How about working while you’re actually here at the office, all day, and getting done what needs to be done? That would be a nice change.
It was a good reminder for me that although we like to focus on those who will work hard when the pressure’s on, we don’t need to forget that the vast majority of the work is done in an unglamorous, ongoing daily shuffle. Hmmm, there might be a discussion of A vs B players in there somewhere…
Do you have a few people in your workplace who could stand to pull an “all dayer” for a change? How do you help to make that a reality?
I was reading through this piece by Kris Dunn and it made me start thinking about something we all face at work. Here’s the quote:
So anyway, you’ve got a merit matrix in play at your company for one of those reasons. With that in mind, your managers deliver an above average review to multiple employees, at which point they are forced to have to tell the employees that equates into a 3.2% raise.
The employee appears unimpressed, and the smart as #### ones get vocal.
At which point your manager utters the words, “I’d like to give you more, but I can’t. This is all they’ll let me give you.”
“They” means “You” – the HR pro or the company. It’s called the “manager pass-through”, and it erodes trust and confidence from the employees towards all parties involved. The manager. The company. The HR pro.
Those conversations are happening every day. Find another way soon – because it’s killing you, whether you know it or not.
Most of the time I’d like to think my managers would have my back and take ownership of the process. That’s one thing I tell all of our supervisors: you have leeway in pay, performance, etc. of your people. That’s what we pay you for!
Get managers to take ownership!
There are two basic ways to respond to the top performers mentioned in the quote above:
- Right: We get x% to spread around, and you’re worth about y% of that. Here’s how you get to be worth more than that…
- Wrong: Well, HR only gave me this much so I can’t give you any more. If you have a problem, talk with them.
When employees come to me, I almost always go back to their manager to circle back on the issue, check for a satisfactory conclusion, etc. I partner with the managers to ensure that together we are serving our staff well.
However, I know there are probably some out there that are of the mindset that Kris mentions in his article (statistically, it’s bound to show up sooner or later). They are eager to throw the “blame” back on HR, management, the owners, or whoever else happens to be an easy target–as long as it’s not them. Why? Because the manager has to see and work with that employee on a daily basis, and if the employee realized the actual level of involvement and discretion on the part of the manager, that buddy-buddy thing would be out the window.
Anyone have ideas for how to resolve this? I know how I handle it internally, but I’m always open to ideas that might help with these recurring issues…
My personal laptop is on its last legs. I have been thinking a lot about the tool, what I’ve learned from using it, etc. That led to this post. Enjoy!
A few years ago, I signed up for the Google CR-48 prototype Chromebook pilot program. And then I promptly forgot about it. Then, one morning a few weeks after signing up, I walked out the back door and noticed a box that I had received in the mail. I ran through my purchases recently and couldn’t remember anything requiring shipping, but it had my name on it so I popped open the box. To my amazement I found a new Google CR-48 laptop!
The geeky stuff
What makes the CR-48 computer different from the one you’re using right now? Well, the whole operating system is built on the Google Chrome web browser. There’s no desktop. There’s no file system. It’s all on the web. While that has some limitations (mostly due to “how we’ve always done it” syndrome), it’s amazingly freeing to not be tied to a massive, slow-moving operating system. And those limitations are shrinking every single day.
What this means for HR pros
You know that big, heavy HRIS you are tied to? It’s not going to be around forever. Or maybe you’re clinging to a massive Excel file to manage all of your HR data (been there, done that!). In case you haven’t been paying attention in recent years, HR technology folks like talking about SaaS (software as a service) tools that are delivered through the web. Those sorts of applications are the future for HR and recruiting technologies. Systems like the one I’m using to write this post will revolutionize the way computing is done, and that can only help to speed up the move to web-based HR and recruiting platforms.
I don’t expect you to be a technology wizard. Not everyone’s a geek or a nerd, but it helps to know some of the basic ideas and trends that drive the industry. You might not be using any tech yet. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone in the “paper only” brigade. But I will say that it can’t last. Paper doesn’t scale. It’s a totally different thing to say you are handling 50 employees with processes built on paper than saying you could do the same with 100 or 10,000 employees.
The instructions I received with this computer were simple. Play with it. Try to break it. If something breaks, tell us so we can fix it.
Pretty simple, right? Do the same with your own tools, especially if you are in the selection process. Try things. Run through the most difficult, confusing process you have with the application. Do everything you can to break it, because you’d hate to know that it was incapable of performing X task after you buy it, right?
What HR technology are you evaluating? If you could wave a magic wand and change how you’re doing something currently by incorporating technology, what would it be? Why?
Today we’re going to look at leadership, how it can fail, and how it can succeed. When we look at the leaders at the top of the organizational chart, we usually don’t think of them as the worst leadership examples in the organization. However, recent data has shown that to be the case.
The research, taken from a meta-analysis of DDI’s assessment data from close to 4,000 leaders worldwide, finds most front-line leaders lack the fundamental interaction skills and behaviors required to be effective leaders. And senior leaders are even worse… Indeed, the research shows, 90 percent of executives act before checking their understanding of an issue and are ineffective at inviting ideas from others. And only 11 percent successfully preserve their colleagues’ self-esteem and display empathy that would demonstrate interpersonal diplomacy. Front-line leaders fared only slightly better in these areas than their seniors. Source
The authors of the article point back to the simple practice of conversations to help differentiate good leaders from bad. Good ones will talk with their people. Even if the person ultimately disregards the advice from the other sources, it’s validating to know that you have the opportunity to provide input. Let’s look at a few ways leaders can do better by serving their people well.
Leadership at its best
Last week I had the opportunity to see Dr. Ken Blanchard speak. He’s written more books than most people have ever read, and his core message is about servant leadership. I picked up some great comments from the presentation and want to share three of those with you today that tie in directly with the story above. Your leaders need to hear these, so feel free to share a few as appropriate with your leaders at all levels.
- Leaders should ask themselves this question on a daily basis: “Am I here to serve or be served?” If you’re there to be served, then forget everything you know about effective leadership and just do whatever feels good. You’ll get what you deserve. If you’re there to serve others, then make the time and effort for that purpose a priority. Be humble. Humility isn’t about thinking less of yourself, it’s about thinking of yourself less!
- As a leader, it’s your job to help define values, goals, and a vision. In the absence of some or all of those elements, there is one driving need: take care of yourself at all costs. That is not the workplace that you are trying to create, so be sure to develop some shared goals to help your team understand where you are going and how they fit into that puzzle. Again–if you don’t give them someone to serve, they will serve themselves, and the same goes for you!
- There may be a culture change that is needed within your organization. If people spend more time clinging to policies and saying “That’s against policy” or “We don’t allow that” more often than not, then you need to look at how you can say “Yes” more often. Companies with amazing customer service train their people with this mindset: “we’re a customer service company that provides xyz product/service.” Focus more on taking care of the customer than on abiding by policies, and you’ll have happier customers in short order.
With your help we can make senior leaders the best example of leadership in our organizations. That sort of change flows down to all levels and permeates the organization, so don’t wait around to start some big “leadership development” program or anything else. This needs to begin today.
How are you serving others in the workplace? Is the example you’re setting one that you would be proud of? Do others follow your example?
Last week Google unveiled Google Helpouts, a new service that allows users to pay for a Google Hangout video chat sessi0n. One of the applications that was most intriguing? Telemedicine.For those of you unfamiliar with the term, here’s what it means:
tel·e·med·i·cine noun 1.the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology
Telemedicine is basically a way for people to get treatment for basic illnesses without ever having to go to the doctor’s office. It’s faster, more efficient, and cheaper, too. Now, what if instead of using the telephone, you used your computer? That’s where Google Helpouts come in.
To start, Google Hangouts has categories for art and music, computer and electronics, cooking, education, fashion and beauty, fitness and nutrition and home and garden. For now, Google is screening people and companies that want to offer their services through Helpouts. Users review will help control the quality of providers.
The category with the most intriguing potential is health services. People can have a counseling session, consult with a dietitian or get advice from a registered lactation support consultant over the video chats. There are partners doing basic triage through registered nurses, and pet care experts available to talk about why Mr. Fluffersons has lost his appetite.
Google Helpouts are HIPPA compliant to address privacy concerns, and Google is checking credentials for any providers in the medical field. There is no framework for getting a Helpout session covered by insurance, but Google thinks the category has potential to become a regular part of modern health care.
Telemedicine is not a new idea. Companies already offer therapy sessions and one-on-one physician appointments over video. It’s great for people who are far from proper medical facilities or who are homebound because of illness.
I’ve just started to seriously consider telemedicine options for our staff, and this is yet another avenue to help make that option more viable. The “teledoc” options in our local area are normally 100% company paid, but there is no copay, no insurance reporting, and no limit to the number of times an employee can call in.
Anyone else using or considering telemedicine in their employee benefits? Would something like this appeal to your staff? Why or why not?
Less than a week ago we wrapped up the interviewing process for a new hire at our local office. After reviewing dozens of candidates, talking with half a dozen, and bringing a few back for another round, we settled on the one who we thought was the best fit for the position.
We work hard to provide a solid first round interview to verify skills/abilities and general fit. It’s very much a “standard” interview.
The second interview has a very different feel. We bring the person in, let them talk with their potential future coworkers, and leave them alone. Before the second round, I tell both parties (the peers and the candidate) that it’s their chance to interview their future teammate. I want both parties to be invested in the success of the interview, and I also want them to honestly ask themselves the question, “Would I really want to work with this person?”
Recently I had the opportunity to do a short podcast interview with Tim Muma of LocalJobNetwork. I talked a lot about asking good interview questions, how to research culture as a candidate, etc. I think there’s some good stuff in there, especially for the job seekers out there. If you know someone looking for work, feel free to share the link with them!
Click here to listen to the podcast