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3 Lessons Companies Can Learn From Kindergarteners

by Jeanne Knutzen | October 23, 2014

0 Uncategorized Darcy Jacobsen, Globoforce, Shout Out Friday, work friendships, Workforce Mood Tracker report

By Darcy Jacobsen Last week, my daughter completed her first month of kindergarten. It was an overwhelming and incredibly exciting experience for her. (And let's face it, for me, too.) I'm sure a lot of you have been there. During the first week of school, parents are invited to hang out for morning assembly. I spent a lot of time waiting around and observing, and thinking about how, minus all the shouting and tears, the first week of school is a lot like starting a new job. Though obviously employees are not children, in a lot of ways kids are simply a more expressive, honest version of the adults around them. With this microcosm in mind I wanted to share three things I noticed that I think also apply in the adult work world: 1. Shout Outs Inspire Everyone Every Friday at my daughter's school is "Shout-out Friday"–when the presenting class chooses a person who best displayed the school's values of Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind. Last week the second grade class chose Finneas. "Finneas," they said, "you always include everyone and you are so very kind and nice to the new kids. We're going to miss you so much when you move away." Finneas' jaw (quite literally) dropped. He turned pink and absolutely beamed. But what struck me was the way the rest of the class also lit up. The delight on their faces as they grinned at him. The way they all moved a little closer to him. The evident pride and excitement when they handed him the oversized card they'd all written notes on. The moment was about Finneas. But it inspired every child on that stage, because they were able to share it with him and because they had created it for him. When we miss the opportunity to include an entire community in a moment of appreciation, to invite them to participate and to invite them to witness it, we rob that moment of its potential. 2. Values Are Not Just Words The first month of school is all about getting the routine down. I was struck by how grounded my daughter and her classmates became by something as simple as the school values. Values are a very important thing at her school, and the teachers are in the habit of referring to them often and actively pointing out when they see the kids do something in support of them. "Awesome way to be respectful, Charlie!" "That was very kind, Fiona." My daughter is a rules kid, and she went to kindergarten after three years in the same program, so the adjustment of learning new rules and setting new and entirely different goals was daunting for her. But in just five days I noticed a difference as she not only learned the new routine, but she began to really internalize those values as a guiding light. "Be Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind" has become part of her vocabulary. The words matter to her–not just as words but as guiding principles and as something she can do and be. When we offer people a chance to really understand and practice our values, we offer them a sense of security and alignment that is invaluable in helping them thrive. 3. Emotions Are Contagious The fact that emotions are contagious can cut both ways. Anyone who has worked in a toxic company or department can attest to that. But a lot of times at work, we express the negative emotions and keep the positive ones to ourselves. Yet the positive emotions have the most incredible power. As my daughter and I were leaving the playground the other day to come home, a little girl she'd been playing with ran up to me. "She's my friend," she announced, pointing to my daughter. "Bye friend." "Goodbye," Nell said, beaming a little. The little girl started to get misty-eyed. "Will you come back tomorrow? I will miss you. I like having you as a friend." Nell reassured her saying, "I'll be back." But now my daughter's smile was huge, and she left the playground skipping. "She really likes me, Mommy," she grinned. "I really like school." It's the people who make our work experience. And it is the undercurrent of emotional connection and a shared journey that keep us committed to our co-workers and companies. When people express to us how important we are to them, it makes them more important to us, and therefore makes our experience infinitely more rich. That's one of the reasons that social recognition and social service anniversaries work so well. Last week Globoforce launched our latest Workforce Mood Tracker report, which has some really interesting findings about the power of work friendships and the sharing of emotions. But for me, the simple observation of children expressing themselves and the incredible power of being appreciated is enough to keep me going. Darcy Jacobsen is a content marketing manager at Globoforce, the world's leading provider of SaaS (software-as-a-service)–based employee recognition solutions. Through its social, mobile, and global technology, Globoforce helps HR and business leaders elevate employee engagement, increase employee retention, manage company culture, and discover the power of real-time performance management. Contact her or follow her writing at www.globoforce.com/gfblog.

7 Ways to Use Learning Opptys to Engage Employees

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 22, 2014

0 Uncategorized Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD), Engaging employees, Lunch and Learn, Nurturing Employees, Office Perks, Training Ideas, workplace policies and employee engagement

By Charles Coy Most companies know that employees need more than health insurance and a 401K to stick around these days, so they're offering everything from unlimited vacation to acupuncture at corporate headquarters to lure top talent. Nurturing employees goes beyond office freebies, though, and employers don't have to mirror flashy tech start-up perks to offer meaningful opportunities. In a recent study of the relationship between workplace policies and employee engagement and wellbeing, Gallup found that "indulging employees is no substitute for engaging them." Here are seven unconventional office perks that go beyond free lunch and encourage employees to engage with their company – and each other – through learning. 1. Imagination boosters To inspire creativity among employees, Discovery Communications offers a variety of whacky classes. The nonfiction media company hosts everything from improv seminars to African dance classes and fly-fishing lessons. Employees also enjoy free in-house premiers of the network's educational shows, which sometimes include live interviews with the cast. 2. Lunch and learn The World Wildlife Foundation offers free classes during lunch everyday on topics connected to its mission of protecting nature. Lectures cover topics from biodiversity to Amazonian wildlife. 3. Financial know-how Research shows that financial stress negatively impacts employee productivity. Both American Express and Quicken Loans offer free personal finance courses to help employees better understand their benefits and budgets. 4. Knowledge sharing Google takes advantage of the knowledge that employees already have. Its "Googler-to-Googler" program places employees in teaching roles for both its core curriculum and “extracurricular” classes. The former includes career-building education in topics like management and public education, while the latter covers diverse subjects, from kickboxing to parenting. At Cornerstone, we have monthly "Development Days" at every office around the world. Employees teach classes in areas of expertise, and recent lessons have included "How to Make Work-Life Balance Work" and "Wine Tasting 101." 5. Healthy inspiration Many companies encourage employees to bike to work and some make the option more accessible through education. Facebook and Kimberly-Clarke offer safe cycling and maintenance workshops to help employees become comfortable with bike commutes. 6. Multicultural connections Although mobile gaming company Ngmoco is based in San Francisco, it's owned by a Japanese business. Ngmoco holds Japanese cooking and language classes to expose employees to its multicultural roots. 7. Fitness focus Nearly 90 percent of companies offer wellness incentives to help employees stay healthy. These incentives can include stipends for gym membership or free biometric screenings, but some companies take it a step further. NFL employees attend free fitness classes at NFL facilities, and Yahoo workers have access to on-site pilates and yoga classes, for example. While ping-pong tables and bottomless snack bowls can boost employee morale, creating meaningful experiences that help workers grow will improve their engagement with employers of all sizes and industries. Charles Coy is the senior director of analyst and community relations at Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD), a leader in cloud-based applications for talent management that helps organizations recruit, train, manage, and connect their employees. He thinks a lot about how technology can influence how businesses evaluate, motivate, and value their employees–especially in light of the rapid changes happening in today's workplace. Coy can be contacted at ccoy@csod.com.

Getting the Most Out of Performance Reviews

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 22, 2014

0 Uncategorized Cisco Performance Connection (CPC), HR Performance Reviews, Job Performance Review Programs, Job Performance Reviews, Performance Feedback, Tips for People Management

By Jessica Rohman Incorporating Development, Alignment, and Check-Ins Performance reviews: Let's face it–they're not the most enjoyable part of the employer/employee contract. If you're an employee, the review process is when you must painstakingly wade backwards in time, through copious emails and calendar items, trying to piece together some coherent semblance of a year's worth of work to present to your manager. If you're a manager, not only must you do the same for yourself, but you also have a pile of reviews to complete and deliver to each of your direct reports. The result? Typically, a one-hour-per-year conversation between employees and their managers about whether expectations were met, whether a pay raise is in order, and possibly an insightful reflection or two. With the addition of a few signatures, the report is then filed with HR—where it may or may not ever be seen again. How to Leverage the Process What if the process was different? At many of the "Best Companies to Work For," the performance review process is treated as much more than a compulsory HR procedure. These companies treat employees' performance as an integral part of the functioning of the business. To that end, they leverage the review process to not only assess performance, but also to serve as a platform for employee development and to ensure the efforts of the workforce are closely aligned with company goals. Now that's something worth spending your time on. Consider some of these approaches to the performance review from recognized Best Companies. Cisco's performance management and development program, called the Cisco Performance Connection (CPC), offers year-round feedback to employees. The year starts with goal setting, where employees can align their goals to those of the organization. An important mid-year discussion takes place focusing on career development, and the year-end performance review gauges performance based on accomplishments and provides an opportunity for managers to reinforce the linkage between business results and rewards. Throughout the year, employees and managers are able to request feedback about themselves as well as provide feedback to others (via a CPC tool) that is shared on a regular basis. At American Express, the "performance management process" (PMP) is designed for clear goal alignment throughout the company. Employees design their own development plan, and their direct supervisors are their "development partners," responsible for monitoring progress, success, and learnings through regular one-on-one conversations and formal mid-year and year-end assessments. In another example, Adobe recently decided to reinvent their performance review process in favor of a "check in" system. Here, the emphasis is on setting clear expectations, providing feedback, and attending to employee growth and development. A key lesson we can learn from these and other great workplaces is that keeping up with people's performance is something that should be attended to year-round. The process can be leveraged to ensure that companies are getting the most out of their most precious resource–their people–while helping employees see that their efforts are integral to the company's success. Jessica Rohman develops content for Great Place to Work® programs and materials. In her long tenure with Great Place to Work, she has also worked as a consultant, facilitator, list evaluator, and conference program director, bringing a depth of understanding of "Great Place to Work" concepts to her work. Jessica holds an MA in industrial/organizational psychology, and has conducted doctoral studies in human and organizational systems at the Fielding Institute and the National Training Laboratory. She can be reached via email at editor@mamumediallc.com.

Is a 360 Performance Feedback Program Right for Your Organization?

by Jeanne Knutzen | July 22, 2014

0 Uncategorized 360 performance review process, 360 Performance Reviews, Gravett and Associates, Job Performance Feedback, Job Performance Reviews, Multi Rater Feedback

By Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SPHR, CEQC Every Human Resources practitioner I talk with agrees with me on one point: there is no such thing as a perfect generic feedback instrument and process. However, a customized 360, or multi-rater process, when planned and executed well, can provide excellent feedback for recipients and foster a motivating environment for employees. I've worked with organizations using this process for 24 years and observed some positive advantages to the 360 process, as well as some pitfalls. HR can guide the process to ensure that the advantages are leveraged and pitfalls minimized. First, I want to clarify what I mean when I refer to the term 360 feedback. This is a process in which a person receives feedback about his or her competencies from peers, supervisors, direct reports, and internal and external customers. It's a complete picture of the impact one has on those with whom he or she interacts on a frequent basis. Many companies use a "180" feedback process instead, which allows for feedback from peers, the supervisor, and sometimes direct reports (if applicable). Advantages to the 360 Process Let's face it: a supervisor can't be there to observe all the interactions, strengths, and opportunities for improvement for direct reports, especially if the span of control is wide. So why should we expect the supervisor to be the only person to provide performance feedback? We shouldn't. A major advantage to the 360 process is that it provides an opportunity for all those people with whom a person comes into frequent contact to offer feedback. A caveat here is that the raters should be people that truly have observed an employee or manager on a frequent basis. It's not fair to ask people for input that haven't had a chance to observe someone's skills, talents, and abilities on a regular basis. It's also not balanced feedback if the recipient selectively chooses people that will only provide superficial and positive comments. When feedback comes from many sources, it's more difficult for a person to brush aside constructive criticism and rationalize that "the boss just has it in for me." If several people suggest that a manager needs to improve verbal communication skills, for example, chances are high that this is indeed a necessary area for improvement. Another advantage of the 360 process is that it is designed with a customer focus in mind. The customers can be internal or external. Unfortunately, it's difficult for some employees to understand the impact their daily activities have on other individuals or departments within the company. However, if they receive direct and frequent feedback on how their actions affect others, people are more likely to be attentive to deadlines and quality requirements. They learn how to make their organization look good, not just themselves. I recommend that 360 performance evaluations are coupled with competency-based job descriptions. When this occurs, an employee or manager is recruited based on core competencies for his or her position and evaluated on those same competencies. When coaching leaders, I often hear this complaint: "My performance evaluation is not even remotely connected to my job description." There should be a direct connection, and the 360 process can have a strong impact here. The core competencies should of course be supportive of the company's strategic objectives. In deriving these competencies, the company's leadership must ask, "What skills, knowledge, and behaviors do we need across the organization to meet the challenges of our mission and vision?" The 360 evaluation is particularly strong when coupled with an action plan developed by the person receiving feedback and shared with those who provided the feedback. This action plan demonstrates that the feedback was heard and that, assuming suggestions are reasonable, will be put to use as soon as possible. Pitfalls in the 360 Process If you've tried the 360 process in your organization without success, it may be for some of the following reasons: If allowed to do so, employees may be tempted to ask only their friends in the company to be the ones who receive feedback instruments. This would definitely tip the scales in the employees' favor and help ensure that no negative comments are made. The process must be carefully designed to minimize the possibility that this "handpicking" doesn't occur. I recommend that each person receiving feedback send the instrument to at least 10 people, and these people must be those with whom they interact on a frequent basis—even if some of those people could possibly offer negative comments. One significant pitfall I've observed is when companies send out 360 evaluations to raters without advance notice or information about how to use the instrument. When an organization decides to implement a 360 review process, two sets of participants must be educated on how to effectively use the process: those receiving feedback and those offering feedback. Communication should also include objectives of the process and the expected impact on the organization. I strongly recommend that each person receiving feedback, especially for the first time in this process, has a coach to help assess the comments and ratings and to develop an action plan. The coach can be the same person who compiles the results–the key is that he or she is viewed as an objective person. By the way, I also recommend that the instruments are anonymous and are sent directly to the person compiling the results. The person receiving the feedback should not see the actual completed instruments. A Few Closing Thoughts The 360 performance review process can be comprehensive, positive, and effective if time is devoted on the front end to design the process for maximum impact. The time is well worth taking. Regardless of the type of performance management process your organization employs, I hope you'll give serious consideration to developing companion competency-based job descriptions and evaluations. When competencies (or behaviors) are used, employees have a more concrete understanding of exactly why they aren't meeting job requirements and what areas they need to improve upon to be successful in their work. Dr. Linda Gravett, after 16 years as a human resource management practitioner, founded Gravett and Associates in 1991. Gravett and Associates offers a full range of human resource management consulting and training services, including human resource audits, development of performance management systems, establishing human resource metrics, helping organizations leverage a diverse workforce, and executive coaching. Linda can be reached at Linda@gravett.com.