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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Let’s Kill The HR Stereotype

HR is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Employees see it as a place where peers go and never return while leaders see it as a checklist chasing, rule follower.   There are several reasons why people hate HR. However, HR can be such a pivotal strategy for any business.

When employees and leaders overcome the stereotype of HR, they really can benefit from having a great HR team that they can rely on every day. HR can be fun and it should be! HR can drive the culture throughout an organization and should be supported by all business members instead of dreaded or feared. HR is important, here’s ten reasons that prove it.

Employees should rely on HR to provide information about benefits, create useful, necessary trainings and create a fun culture throughout the organization. HR has all the perks, discount, and, most of time, all of the information on fun new things for employees to get excited about. They are also there to help when an employee needs to take a leave, gets the wrong medical bill, is paid incorrectly or wants a promotion.

Also, employees should see HR as a sounding board when things aren’t going right. Whether it’s through a one-on-one conversation or an anonymous feedback method, employees should use HR as a neutral party in the workplace.  HR should be pro-employee and pro-company (isn’t that one in the same?) by listening, sharing information and taking feedback into consideration.

HR is also a savior for leaders. When it’s time to complete reviews, have a difficult conversation with an employee or create formal documentation, HR should be the first contact because it provides an outsiders perspective to the daily challenges in a department.   Also, if a team is struggling with morale or needs a new incentive program, the HR team can share best practices. Leaders should also use HR as a safe-place sounding board to vent frustrations.

human-resources-management-masters-degree-programI think the view of HR is getting better, but in order for it to change, HR teams need to take accountability for this as well.  They need to be knowledgeable, follow-through on action items and work extremely hard for the organization.  They need to own their department and prove that they provide value to the organization.

HR teams also need to take their jobs of protecting employees and leaders seriously and really focus on their neutral stance within an organization, which isn’t always easy. All decisions should be fair, consistent and based on a reliable, thorough a handbook. Since HR doesn’t typically generate revenue in the formal sense, it has to show how resourceful and beneficial its tools are on a daily basis.

I truly believe that employees need to be supported and protected, and that leadership needs the influence of a third party to effectively lead their teams and ensure compliance.  HR has the power to support both leaders and employees in mutually beneficial means while ensuring a positive culture is spread throughout the organization.  By encouraging leaders, employees and HR to take an active role in changing the culture, all sides will benefit.

Stop by and get to know your HR team members this week, they may be more resourceful than you think.

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Not Another HR Training

Knock, Knock? Who’s there? Another amazing HR training that you are dying to attend! *Person slowly closes the door and turns out the lights! Why does this happen more often than not? When an organization sends out communication and sign-up sheets for required trainings, there is a collective groan from every department.

1458135452141It doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to improve our training programs and make them more informative, more engaging and more useful. Being a trainer for more than four years now, I have found a love for trainings. I love to see different facilitators, different methods and different styles. I also enjoy seeing what not to do because that makes me a better trainer as well.

Everyone has been to the failed training program. Where nothing goes right, no one is bought into the course material, and nothing is really accomplished. But there are ways to overcome this. Here are my top five things that can help any training:

  1. Practice, practice, practice – If you are lucky enough to have a facilitators guide, practice your material until you know it completely and then add more material to ensure you can answer questions. All great trainers know the material to avoid embarrassment.
  2. Get senior leaders excited – If the boss is interested in it, you should be in love with it. If you can get managers on board with why a training is important, they will be more likely to speak positively about the class and the opportunity to learn something new.
  3. Listen to the participants – The whole reason the training even exists is to teach an employee something new, so listening to their feedback is key. Ask numerous questions to see if participants understand the concepts or, if they are already knowledgeable in the field, to get realistic examples that you may not be able to provide yourself.
  4. Have fun – Participants don’t want to be bored to tears sitting for hours on end waiting for the torture to end. The more participation you can get and the activities you can do, the more engaged the participants will be. For example, role-playing may not be everyone’s thing, but at the end of it people are smiling, it’s not scripted and it gets people out of their seats. The same with ice breakers, which are great ways to start a day or to come back from a break.
  5. Don’t tell them what time lunch is – Once you give people a definitive timeline, their minds go to the clock. It’s great to give an agenda and let people know what topics will be covered, but leave off the timeline.

Here is also a checklist to ensure you are set-up to provide an outstanding course. Trainings can be fun, engaging and most importantly productive if the proactive steps are taken to ensure it’s a great experience for everyone.

Have you ever facilitated a training? Tell me your best practices in the comment section below.

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The Flat Organization… Not Flatter Just Flat

A manager leaves a role and the organization doesn’t fill the position. Responsibilities and tasks are distributed and business continues as normal. Initially, the employees feel the strain of being responsible for more, but eventually, it’s work as usual. Does this sound familiar? Well, this organization is now one level flatter.

Businesses are increasingly adopting or creating a flat organizational structure. The business decides to eliminate management and allow employees to be self-sufficient decisions makers who have access to either a CEO or a few high-level leaders. However, is it possible to completely eliminate leadership at all levels, even the c-suite?

After reading Flat: The New Black? chapter 8 of A World Gone Social by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, I think this could become a reality for many businesses and the norm for new organizations. A flat organization takes pride in establishing a culture so rich and expectations so precise that empowered employees can make well-informed decisions, which increases employee engagement and collaboration.

While new companies can simply make this their culture, existing companies will struggle with the political and operational changes this forces on all employees. It will not be a great fit for all companies; however, if competitors switch to this type of structure, it may not be an option, it may be a requirement.  As Coiné and Babbitt note, “Change happens only as the result of insurmountable market pressure” and we are on the cusp (92).

teamwork3When an organization has absolutely zero bosses, like Morning Star, Valve and even the Israeli Army, it has trusts employees to make the right decisions and hire employees who have the motivation and dedication to self-supervise. A flat organization can also have some great benefits, like cost savings with no outrageous salaries and increased innovation due to increased teamwork. Employees will be more involved because it’s their business too.

While I think flatter organizations are more prepared for the future business world, a completely flat organization does’t seem probable for all. Employees are going to want promotions, and if they can’t get them, it may be a dissatisfying.   Organizations will need to have a plan in place to ensure employees are improving and moving forward in their roles. Also, if an industry gets too big, they may need to “behave like a small firm” like W.L. Gore & Associates does as discussed in A World Gone Social (99).

While flat seems promising, organizations have a tendency for natural leaders to surface. Whether it’s the organization’s creator or a CEO, a leader usually influences how the business is ran.  However, I think organizations can get better at encouraging employees to make decisions. Too often business operations are stagnant, managers are spread too thin and employees are frustrated because easy decisions can’t be made by the line-level.  If organizations want to remain competitive, a flatter organization structure will reduce costs while increasing employee engagement.

Would you want to work for a completely flat organization? Do you think your organization could make the transition? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Succession Planning – Who’s Taking Your Place?

Every department has those few employees who really want to promote and move forward in an organization. If a business doesn’t recognize this drive in its employees, then top talent will eventually leave. That’s why leaders need to make succession planning a priority on a regular basis and not just when a leader leaves an organization.

Leaders need to be fully committed to developing their team members and looking for those employees who want to become and do more. Once a leader decides to move on, it’s critical he or she has molded at least one if not two employees to take that position. Leaders should want to set-up and prepare their employees, so the successor can be successful, but how?

I think a leader needs to plan, share and promote to create a strong succession plan.

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Plan:  Succession planning is not something that happens over night. Leaders really need to get to know their teams in order to figure out who can rightfully and willingly take on more responsibility. They also need to tell that person their plan, in order to figure out if this person is ready for a promotion and wants to take the time to learn the new position and duties. Finally, there should be a written plan that flags high potential employees that will be able to operate a company when managers begin to leave or retire. Here is a well-designed outline of requirements.

Share:  In order for succession planning to work, leaders have to be willing to share as much information as possible with their high performing employee. This takes a lot of trust, dedication and communication, but the more an employee gets to see into the world of a leader, the more prepared they’ll be to promote one day. Also, cross training allows the potential successor the opportunity to have a more diverse understanding of a business and may increase their level of success in a leadership role.

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Promote:  Even if a leader isn’t planning on leaving their position, talented employees must be given the opportunity to grow and promote. If a person is on the succession planning list and has learned an immense amount about the business, then they need to be considered for the next available position. Of course, there are many talented people outside of an organization that can bring value, but if an employee is ready and has committed their time, then they deserve it or they may not be on the team much longer.

Businesses can’t wait until a leader leaves to think about filling a position. While the investment in succession plan may take time, filling the position with a trusted, well-informed employee will take away a great deal of stress and save a lot of time and money.  Being committed to a plan filled with development and communication will make the transition easier and will ensure the best talent doesn’t walk out the door.

Does your company have a succession plan? Let me know how it works in the comment section below.

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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