The Art of Feedback – Ask For It! Part 2

Yes, giving feedback is key to creating a dialogue with your team; however, it’s equally as important to ask for feedback… All of the time!  The best leaders, most productive teams and savviest individuals beg for feedback.  They want to know where they are, so that they can improve and avoid future mistakes.

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I recently had an interaction with a leader, and he provided immediate feedback about a situation.  It was quick, to the point and very positive.  After he mentioned the positives, I said, “I need to know more.  What can I do better next time?”  He had great insight that made me want to improve and utilize my strengths in order to overcome a few barriers.  We now have open communication and regularly provide feedback to one another after one quick conversation.

Feedback truly is this easy, productive and positive. There are several reason why feedback is so important, but the first one should be obvious: most people want to do better.  The only way anyone knows they are lacking is if some one tells them.  We have several filters in our day-to-day lives that hold us back from seeing the full truth or the entire situation, so we have to rely on each other in order to improve.

If you don’t feel extremely comfortable asking for feedback, here’s a few questions you can start with.  Also, make sure your reaction to the feedback (no matter how critical), is calm, cool and collected.  If you ask for feedback, and then reprimand the provider, good luck on ever being able to get feedback from anyone else on your team, especially if you’re the leader.  Equally as important is to make relevant changes based on the information.

Once we feel comfortable giving this level of open, genuine feedback to one another, the better we will get at receiving truly critical, constructive comments about ourselves.  While this is not always easy, if the people on our teams are providing the feedback in an authentic, purpose driven way, teams will reap the benefits.

Make sure to stop back for Part 3 of The Art of Feedback – Do It Right!  Also, let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.  Thanks for reading.

 

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The Art of Feedback – Give it! Part 1

Growth, development, learning, improvement… I find these words on every review, every job description and every candidates response.  They slide easily throughout conversations about goals and outcomes, but they can only be accomplished by providing feedback.

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Feedback is a gift.  I hear this all the time as well; however, there is also a cautious line set between team members, departments and even some leaders where it feels impolite, abrasive or challenging to give honest feedback.  In order to step over this boundary, an organization’s culture has to invite and create opportunities to provide feedback.

A company must focus on the positives of giving feedback and remember that learning is crucial to the success of team members.  An easy place to start is at the top.  If your leader is giving you regular feedback, you will feel more comfortable providing that same advantage to your team members, which can then spread to peer-to-peer communication as well.

Developing one another should come easy and naturally, and that’s all that feedback is!  Most people want to grow and understand their failures, so providing feedback should be the next step in helping one another.  As long as the feedback given comes from a place of genuine interest and consideration for the other person, the conversation should end on a positive note.  In fact, most people actually feel better about themselves and situations once feedback is provided.  Here are a few great stats about feedback in the workplace.

Equally as important to remember, feedback doesn’t only need to be negative.  Leaders and team members should be showering each other with positivity and appreciation any chance they get.

While it may make some uncomfortable, the good thing about giving feedback is that the more the art is practiced, the easier it will come.  Leaders owe it to their team to provide honest, open communication about performance in order to create a successful team, retain top talent and instill a culture of feedback.

Have thoughts about feedback in the workplace?  Please let me know what you think in the comment section below.

 

Profits Begin with Employees

Everyone has worked for a frustrating company or leader.  The only silver lining that awaits the employee is a solid paycheck every two weeks.  Other than that it’s the same irritating job day in and day out.

However, companies that only strive to give their employees a paycheck are missing out on the true value of employees and potentially falling behind their competitors who are giving so much more in order to get more in return.

Employees have the ability to make or break a company. Employees are the people who are creating customer relationships, who are helping guests when they most need it, who are figuring out the answers to complex questions and who are recruiting for the next level of talent to bring to an organization.

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The service profit chain is a great example of why employees matter the most. A lot of companies are overly focused on profits. Being money hungry doesn’t mean a company will make money.

However, by taking care of and impressing employees, it gives businesses a promising advantage of customer loyalty. When an organization treats employees well, whether that’s through culture, benefits, perks, or great leaders, they are more willing to treat customers well, which in turn will create brand loyalty or encourage customers to stay, spend or experience a little longer.  This then allows the company to give back to its employees, which starts the process all over again.

Of course, a company could force or coerce its employees to treat its customers right, but how long can that really be sustained? Organizations need create an employee-focused culture, set high expectations and hold people accountable in order to drive profits.

It could be argued that a company must have customers to be in business, but I believe that it starts with the employees because, realistically, if the company did not have employee expenditures they would not be able to open a door, answer a phone or send an email to find a customer.

While some companies do this very well, a lot of companies are missing out on the best investment they can make. Simply by creating great “internal service” for employees while shifting away from a focus on generating profits, can in fact provide a much more profitable business strategy.

Give to employees, so they can give to customers and customers can give to the bottom line. I really believe it can be this easy for companies, if they are willing to change their culture and mindset and prove to employees everyday that they’re the most important part of the organization.  If employees are engaged, the ROI will be quite rewarding.

Does your company utilize The Service Profit Chain? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Employee Opinion Survey

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Employee opinion surveys come in all shapes, sizes and lengths, and if used correctly, they can directly affect employee engagement and the culture of the organization.

There are few things a company and HR team can do right in order to collect influential information from their employees:

  1. Think about the questions you really want answered. Questions can be centered on benefits, company culture, senior leadership and job satisfaction. Organizations should steer clear of asking questions that they can’t formulate an answer to. For example, I have great friends at work.
  2. Ensure participation through incentives. While not all employees will want, or even be willing, to take the employee survey, it’s a good idea to incentivize participation. This makes it fun and shows the employees that the company is so committed to the feedback that they will shell out a gift card, early out or sweet treat. This site has great ways to boost participation including having the option of anonymity or having pulse surveys.
  3. Do What You Say You Will Do. If the company promises real action based on the results, managers have to follow-through. All of this genuine information has just been collected; don’t just let it sit there until the next survey. Each manager should be tasked with the responsibility to improve their departments throughout the next year and to write down the goals, strategies and tactics on how to get there. If employees feel like their feedback doesn’t matter, they definitely won’t take the survey again.
  4. Remember, all feedback is good feedback. Read a comment or see a score that makes you cringe? That is a GOOD thing! Organizations should be begging for honest, open feedback, as this will only improve the culture as long as number 3 is followed. If all answers come back positive, I would be extremely suspicious of what was actually happening in the departments and throughout the organization. No company is perfect (not even the best), so remember to take the good with the bad and then make a difference.
  5. It’s just one of many tools. Organizations need to remember that the survey is not a catchall, with the hopes that it will cure the company of any cultural issues it may have. It’s simply one way to ask for feedback that should be used in conjunction with a number of other options.

Employee opinion surveys can really help leaders and companies create the culture and level of employee engagement they want, but the survey results have to be reviewed and used in order to better the organization.

Does your company have an employee opinion survey? How does it impact its workers? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Introvert or Extrovert – The Workplace Needs Both

Quite frequently I hear the question, “Are you an extrovert or an introvert?”.  While I think this is an important question to know the answer to, I don’t think it should force a person to be a certain way.  Being a person who can easily switch from one descriptor to the other, I find myself slightly cringe when one is seen as more positive than the other because, quite simply, the workplace needs both.

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Let’s start with introverts, only because I was ranked as an introvert based on the MBTI (just barely) and it’s what I consider myself more often than not.  Based on this article, introverts choose words more carefully, are extremely focused and can process a lot of information.  On the other hand, they may make bad first impressions, have limited networking skills and lack verbal communication.

Extroverts obviously bring the opposite and that’s a great thing… Even for introverts.  A few pros of being an extrovert include increased individual growth, being socially active and having the ability to be expressive.  The downside includes being unknowingly annoying, having a lack of self-awareness and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Both types of personalities can be great leaders, excel in teams and be creative thinkers, which is why the workplace needs both. When these labels are used to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do or be, I think that’s when we let them do more harm than good. If businesses used only these two attributes during recruiting or promoting, the outcome would be a nightmare because these two descriptors only tell us so much about a person.

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Being a trainer, most people think I am a natural extrovert, but this is where assumptions can lead us in the wrong direction and can cause friction on teams. Introversion simply means you get your energy from being alone where as extroverts recharge by being with people. When someone’s personality is assumed based on a few interactions, the whole story is shortened to a few limiting descriptors that can dramatically limit a team and department.

With the increase in personality tests, employers and employees need to be increasingly cautious when using labels. While some jobs may fit certain personalities better, it’s important that we look at and listen to the whole person because most people can be successful and comfortable in all sorts of roles.

While it’s nice to have information about personalities, let’s not jump to conclusions and let something as small as introvert or extrovert dictate our roles, our relationships or our successes. We are always more than the labels that define us especially when it comes to a personality profile.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?  How does that impact you in the workplace? Let me know in the comment section below.

Positive and Negative Turnover… What’s the Difference?

While turnover can be costly and affect employee engagement, it can be both positive and negative. Each company has to find its own sweet spot. If you’re so inclined, you can figure out what your current, annual turnover rate is by using this formula. Regardless of a decided turnover benchmark, here are my top 3 reasons for when turnover is bad and when it’s good.

 

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Turnover is BAD if an employee leaves because:

Poor Pay and Benefits – If an employee is solely leaving for a slight pay increase or small additional benefits, it could be a red flag. Both should be regularly monitored to ensure your company is staying competitive. A quarterly or annual statement showing a monetary value beyond employees’ pay may be helpful.

Ineffective Onboarding – When an employee does not feel welcomed or when they don’t understand their job, bad turnover increases. Companies essentially don’t give a new employee the chance to be successful because they don’t put in the effort to onboard, which is a huge waste of time and money.

Lackluster Leadership – Training is a must for all leaders to ensure they can support the needs of a team. Equally as pivotal is reminding a hiring manager of the importance of picking the right fit for their team and hiring for personality. Employees will leave a bad boss even if they love the company.

Turnover is GOOD if an employee leaves because:

Disconnect with Culture – Employees who refuse to follow the company’s determined culture can be a setback to the organization. If an employee leaves that is not the right fit, it will be a positive experience for that employee and the team.

Lack of Performance – When someone under performs, it drags down the whole team. By providing honest feedback and having tough conversations, this type of turnover will be positive for the entire company, and someone more qualified can fill the spot.

A Drama Starter – If your employee complains about everything or resists every new change, it might not be such a bad thing to see them go.

AND one in between: Highly Tenured EmployeesTeam members who have been with your company for a while provide expertise in the field, are a testament to a great company, and can impact others in times of change. Alternatively, team members who have been with your company for a while can be resistant to change, stuck in their ways and completely disengaged.   While you have to gauge your own employees based on performance, tenure can provide a gray area for turnover.

Losing a solid employee is tough, but it’s harder to keep a poor performer who drags down your team. By determining a healthy turnover rate and really looking into the reasons why someone leaves, a business can fully determine whether the exit was good or bad and what they need to do moving forward to keep the best talent.

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Employee-Focused Company Culture

Nowadays, company culture is basically an employee benefit. The best employees want a culture that is employee focused, flexible and contemporary. The best are only applying for jobs that tie a challenging, rewarding position to a great place to work.

Culture can be defined as the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.

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Investopedia.com continues to say that while not always explicitly outlined, companies live their culture by being consistent with things like dress code, office setup, treatment of clients and all other daily operations.  Culture also allows employees to know if they will be a good fit within an organization. Culture can be a huge selling point for companies to ensure they are not just hiring a talented individual but retaining their top performers.

This is important because employees search for the best companies to work for and that is typically tied to culture. On fortune.com, the following companies are considered the top 5 best companies to work for:

  1. Google
  2. Acuity Insurance
  3. The Boston Consulting Group
  4. Wegmans Food Markets
  5. Quicken Loans

So, what do these companies have in common? Of course, there are fantastic perks and benefits that come along with the job like health insurance, tuition reimbursement, volunteer opportunities and 401k. However, when describing the companies, the following words were used:

  1. Google: Valued, Respected, Human Being
  2. Acuity: Fun
  3. The Boston Consulting Group: Cares, Work-Life Balance, Communication
  4. Wegmans: Wellness, Family
  5. Quicken: Renewal

Not only were the companies positively described, but they were also rated by their employees on if the company was a great place to work. The lowest score was 94% with the highest being 97% of employees saying the company was great. Incredible!

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Other companies can create cultures to get to this level of engagement and happiness as well. Companies should strive to provide an employees-first culture. A great example of this is The Container Store. They were rated 14th on the fortune.com list, and have really strong ideas on how they got there. The Chairman and CEO, Kip Tindell says, “We start by putting our employees first in everything we do… And don’t forget FUN! Fun is part of the job at The Container Store.”

Culture is a great asset that companies can use to encourage new, talented employees to join their team and also engage their current employee base. Tindell boasts nearly a 10% annual turnover rate, which in the retail arena is extremely impressive. By taking a deep look at what the company has to offer and how it treats its employees, culture is a benefit that a company can create in order to prove its priorities and values to employees.

What’s your company culture?  Let me know in the comment section below.