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Introducing My TeamType

Tomorrow is the first day of March, and I hereby designate March as National Teamwork Month. Yes, I have randomly declared 31 days as my own unofficial holiday. No, I won’t change my mind. Why? Because we all need a good reminder of what the power of teams can accomplish. And what better way to kick that off than with an amazing tool from noted organizational psychologist, Dr. Daniel Crosby.

teamtypeMy TeamType is an assessment that you can administer for teams in your organization to determine where they fall in terms of overall performance. And for the month of March, I have a special bonus for anyone who orders an assessment for their team(s). Read on for more details.

My experience

When I was testing this tool recently, we had a new manager join our organization. I saw that as a prime opportunity to help them understand where their team currently was on the scale as well as some ideas for how to move them even farther down the road toward an ascending team. That is a good option for any team, but for one with a new manager, I knew that it would be a great way to help get a grasp on how the team saw itself as the new person took the reins as the leader of the group.
Keep reading…

How to Measure Team Performance

Last time we talked, we discussed some of the difficulties that affect team performance. Today we’re going to narrow it down to the two key areas that matter most: rapport and results. In the big picture, the relationships within the team and the quality/quantity of work that gets done are the only things that really matter. If you go back to the list at the link above and read through it, a team with an orientation of high rapport and high results will overcome virtually all of the potential roadblocks to solid long term performance. But what exactly do I mean by “rapport” and “results?” Let’s delve into those two categories a little deeper.

Rapport AKA “How you communicate”

rapportWhat is rapport, anyway? In short, it’s the interpersonal interactions that make up the overall communication health of the team. Do they get along? Do they interact well? Do things flow? Are there bottlenecks? What about gossip? Do people go beyond the basic required communication to keep each other in the loop and up to date? Do people hoard information or share freely?
Keep reading…

Team Difficulties-Why is this so hard?

I’ve talked here before about teams and what makes them work (or not). Have you ever stopped to think about why it’s so difficult to get teams working in the right direction?

  1. Different people want different things from their work.
  2. Different personal styles/personalities.
  3. Interpersonal communication preferences.
  4. Power struggles and competing agendas.
  5. Politics.
  6. Lack of participation.
  7. Members who reject new ideas because “we’ve never done it that way before.”
  8. People with a constant sense of negativity.
  9. Team that agrees on everything too quickly just to avoid conflict.
    Keep reading…

Onboarding Process or Onboarding Mess?

Last week I dropped in on a webinar by the Brandon Hall Group and one of the comments floored me.

40% of organizations say their onboarding process is “less than effective.” Wow. @BrandonHallGrp

— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) February 12, 2014

Seriously? 40%? That’s pretty incredible, considering the amount of information available out there to help with this process. In the organizations I’ve worked in, there have been three players involved in an employee’s onboarding:

  • Recruiting brings the person in during the recruiting process, then gives them to HR
  • HR helps with the basics up through day one, then hands them to their manager
  • The manager either does their own internal team welcome/kickoff/assimilation, or they don’t. It’s fairly obvious which one occurs, because the difference is obvious within only a few days on the job.

I’ve written previously on the topic of onboarding, and I feel like those suggestions alone are enough to get the processes up to snuff for many smaller organizations. Whether it’s onboarding tips for managers, the importance of intimate and personal contact, or onboarding remote employees, plenty of information exists to help HR professionals, managers, and organizations DO onboarding better.

The SHRM Foundation put out a solid guide to maximizing success during the onboarding process a few years back, and I’m sure you can find at least one or two tips (or a dozen) to increase the effectiveness of your own internal workings.

The bottom line is this: we hear the numbers like I quoted above, and we feel helpless to act, or we feel like “at least we’re not the only ones,” or we think ours is “good enough.” There’s no shortage of excuses. However, while it’s never going to be perfect, you can always be looking for ways to make it better.

Let me put it this way: if your competitor down the street is getting new hires up to speed in 4 weeks and it takes you 8 weeks to get the person to the same proficiency level, they are going to beat you. When you think about it in that context, it gives the argument considerable weight.

Better people practices lead to better company performance.

Let’s make it happen! How are you going to tweak your onboarding process to make it more effective?

Employee Retention Techniques

Recently I was talking with someone about employee retention techniques and how to get people to stay at your organization. At first I gave a rote answer based on my gut, but after thinking on the topic for a while I realized there were some pretty significant pieces to the puzzle. I would hazard to guess that the multitude of options explains why there isn’t a magic bullet for fixing retention problems overnight.

In the video below I talk through some of the key employee retention techniques and give a reminder that not all turnover is bad. In fact, we measure two separate items there: turnover (any staff leaving over time for any reason) and retention (voluntary turnover). Check it out:

Employee retention techniques video

Employee retention video notes

Here’s the short list of important items:

  • Respect-for the people and their work
  • Fit-culture fit, baby!
  • Basics-pay/benefits are a basic must
  • Challenge-offer a challenging, growth-oriented environment
  • Professional development, or mentoring for higher level-give people something more than a job
  • Connect with mission-have a mission worth buying into
  • When in doubt, ASK  your people what they want from you
  • Not all turnover is bad!
  • Retention vs. Turnover

Also, please don’t forget that I put together a free guide to employee retention that you can download, print, or share. Lots of great content in there from some excellent professionals in the industry.

What are your employee retention techniques? What has worked for you in the past?

HR Certification Training Course

Over the past few years I’ve put significant time and effort into researching, developing, and sharing HR certification training tools. Today I am unveiling a new course I developed over the past few months that I’m excited about. Read on for how you can get it for way cheap (or just go check it out now).

While I had released the very popular SPHR/PHR Self Study Course a while back, I felt like something was missing. I really wanted to incorporate more video content as a way to help students feel more engaged and to help convey some thoughts and ideas that were difficult to translate in a written context.

Then I found the Udemy platform. Udemy is a tool for developing and delivering courses to students around the world. I was itching to try it out, and then I remembered my desire to incorporate more video into a study tool. The HR Certification Study Course was born! A few highlights:

  • This course was designed to be used in conjunction with the HRCP study materials for the PHR/SPHR exams. HRCP offers a money-back guarantee if you do not pass, and I am a big fan of that policy. Plus, it’s much less expensive than the other options!
  • The course includes over five hours of video content.
  • This course is meant to take the place of going to a local study group, sitting there for an hour, and going home for additional studies. Sometimes that isn’t feasible due to geographic restrictions, scheduling issues, lack of local programs, or a multitude of other reasons. Now you can watch the course from the comfort of your home!
  • The promo video for the lecture is below. Check it out!

Get the friend discount!

For the duration of this week, I’m giving blog readers $50 off the price if you use this link. This offer expires Friday the 14th of February, so “get it while the gettin’ is good” as we say in the South. :-) This is for lifetime access, so if you plan to take the exams any time in 2014 or 2015, this is the best price you’ll ever see on this course.

Also, please note that this is my first venture with Udemy, so any input, feedback, or thoughts are appreciated! Thanks, as always, for your support. You guys are the best!

Promo video

Articulate Your Culture

I talk about corporate culture often. Very often, in fact. You can tell what people value by what they talk about most often, so it’s no surprise that I believe a solid culture is one of the key ways to differentiate your organization.

But there’s a problem with that. See, you have to know what it means when you talk about this “culture” thing. If a new hire comes in, how do you explain it to them? If someone is not fitting the culture and needs to move on, how do you explain the invisible requirements they are not satisfying?


It’s time to take a few moments to articulate your culture. Define, in concrete terms, what it really looks like. Whether it’s through legends, core values, or something else. I was recently hiring for an opening, and I wanted to put together my “service philosophy,” but it’s also a good peek at what the culture is like and what we expect from our people. Here are a few of those key pieces:

  • Find ways to say “yes” as often as possible
  • No job is too small or insignificant
  • The better we treat our staff, the better they treat our customers
  • Talk about the “why” of what you do as often as the “what”
  • Everyone should know what winning looks like

Those are just a few of the concepts, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. If more people took the time to explain these sorts of things, there would be fewer poor hires and thus fewer unhappy/disengaged staff.

Have you ever taken the time to articulate your culture in real terms? What sort of information did you share? What would your bullet points look like?

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