Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace?!

No this post isn’t about weddings or marriage, but nobody’s perfect right? Least of all me. There have been moments in the past, and I’m thinking workplace here as outside of that could achieve a seriously long list where I’ve both put things off and done things wrong. Prime example of both would be aged 18, when the New Zealand legal alcohol consumption age limit was reduced from 21 to 18 on a Wednesday night and I was in my first job. Over excited by being able to legally drink in pubs and clubs my friends and I took to town. So over excited we were that we put off heading home until 5:30am, at which point my best friend and I who happened to work together at the time, concluded the best option was to get changed and head straight to work under the illusion that a blue Powerade would be all we needed to see ourselves right for the day. Not the best decision we’ve ever made.

The owner of the company found the whole thing hilarious and had a ball laughing at the pair of us; our direct manager however didn’t quite see things that way and even called my mother in to the office to discuss the situation, the working relationship was understandably strained and soured from that point on. Neither of these are model examples of how the situation should or could have been dealt with.

My point in divulging this misspent story of my past is that time and again I see managers who either chose not to deal with performance issues with staff or are ill-equipped to appropriately deal with the situation. The early addressing of staffing issues whether performance or behaviour based can ensure a much more satisfactory outcome for all parties.

Regular WIPs (Work In Progress) and/or coaching sessions with staff are essential for managers to keep on the pulse of their staff, gauging how staff are progressing and identifying where they may not be meeting performance and development expectations. They are also the perfect opportunity to give feedback to staff on where they may not be achieving key result areas. Similarly these sessions are also ideal for addressing behavioural issues such as repeated lateness or attitude problems. Catching issues early usually enables both parties to make amendments and adjustments for a swift resolution.

The flip side, leaving poor performance or behavioural issues with staff and allowing them to continue to a point where many managers want to terminate the employee’s employment reflects badly on all parties. Employees are often unaware of the problem at this point as this is the way they have always done things and are entrenched in bad habits, managers are at the end of their tether and want a fast resolution to the situation, other staff members are dismayed as they are often picking up the slack from said employee and there are bad precedents set and inequalities among employees affecting engagement and culture in the organisation. At this point situations become long winded and process needs to be adhered to to properly address the situation, meaning it sometimes takes months to get a resolution and they are rarely satisfactory to all parties.

As HR we need to encourage open communication between ourselves and people managers within the organisation and ensure either that they are equipped to deal with staffing situation or that if not, they consult with us on them. Have regular catch ups with them about their staff and their teams, make yourself available and keep abreast of staffing situations. Better still get out of HR and onto the shop floor where possible. We need to ensure people performance and behaviours are addressed early and that managers feel able to come to us for help and advice.

I probably should have entitled this post “The Sooner the Better” as it’s a more accurate description as something can always be done and it is possible in many instances to get a positive result, however much easier if done straight away. Though, whilst dramatic “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” probably creates more urgency!

Thinking on Engagement

This really is thinking on engagement and something of a brain dump – I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Much has been written on the topic of Employee Engagement and rather than being a fad of sorts or the thing to do of the moment it appears this facet of “HR” is here to stay. I put marks around “HR” as I think engagement is so much bigger than a facet of HR and something the business as a whole should be concerned with and should be top of mind for organisational leaders.

According to Gallup’s 2014 research only 13% of all employees are “highly engaged” and a staggering 26% are “actively disengaged” (http://www.gallup.com/services/176735/state-global-workplace.aspx). From this research we also know the following to be true:
·        Engagement makes a difference to the bottom line; Work units in the top 25% of Gallup’s Q12 Client Database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%
·        Poor hiring and management practices hinder companies’ growth and engagement levels
·        Worldwide, engaged employees regard their lives more highly and experience more positive emotions

So with all we know about engagement and the countless suggestions for improving it from “The 10 C’s of Employment Engagement” (http://iveybusinessjournal.com/topics/the-workplace/what-engages-employees-the-most-or-the-ten-cs-of-employee-engagement#.VNLRd2jLe3A) to the “Four Enablers of Engagement” (http://www.engageforsuccess.org/about/the-four-enablers-of-engagement/) and thereby resolving the disengagement issues in organisations – why are we still seeing such poor results?

I think the solution may be somewhat simpler than the likes of above and other similar other methodologies may suggest.

How about simply? 
·        Hire for role and fit
·        Invest in people
·        Communicate
·        Inspire, include, recognise
·        Be flexible

After putting together the above I found this article (http://www.tlnt.com/2015/02/03/5-ways-to-embed-your-organization-with-a-culture-of-happiness/) “5 Ways to Embed your Organisation with a Culture of Happiness”, these were: Connect, Be Fair, Empower, Challenge & Inspire, and I like this also.

Or perhaps it could get even simpler: People Matter. There’s been a lot of talk lately in HR circles that I follow through blogs and social media about simplifying many facets of HR, largely centred around archaic policies, position descriptions and the use of jargon or “HR speak” in documentation. But how about simplifying something less tangible such as Employee Engagement. How about simply treating all employees as you yourself would wish to be treated? Should we really need an employee engagement strategy – maybe I’m thinking too ‘ideal world’?!

Like I say this is a brain dump and a work in progress – would love your thoughts and comments.

Get On Your Bike!

I’ve never been one for cycling, more of a walker / runner type myself. Even as a kid – I learnt to ride and even obtained a badge for it from school aged 11, but growing up where I did on Auckland’s North Shore there’s very few if any even mildly flat areas anywhere near where our house was. Not living far from there now I still have a serious uphill battle to get anywhere.

But these summer holidays I decided it was time to take the training wheels off Miss Four’s bike. And in doing so bought bikes for the other half and I to ride along with her. My reasoning for this was threefold; a fun form of exercise for the three of us as Miss Four can ride a lot further than she can walk, a way for us to spend more time together as a family unit and thirdly so Miss Four could watch and learn from us once the training wheels came off.

It struck me as we were riding around Auckland’s waterfront together recently the analogy between this and running a team. Teams run best when they are in alignment, working together cohesively, pushing each other to go harder, faster, further than ever before.   Teams with a culture of collaboration and innovation, riding in sync will achieve much greater productivity through increased intrinsic motivation.

Putting time and effort into relationships within teams, working to build trust and open forums for communication where individuals are working towards a common goal are essential elements for success in teams.  Much like us on our bike rides, taking stock now and then and checking to ensure all are on the same path – or at least that their paths are in alignment, and that all are free to express their thoughts.

Creating a coaching culture within teams whereby members feel empowered to remove their training wheels, watching and learning – developing themselves through growth in others will further develop trust among group members. This in turn ensures individuals carry their own weight as well as supporting that of others when required.

Working as a team also ensures you can support each other when the likes of Miss Four has a spill, or the other half gets speed wobbles, and doing it together keeps it light hearted, relaxed and fun.

I can’t wait for my next ride. Get on your bike!