Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Turn Your Group into a True Team

Are the people who work for you a real team?
It's easy to extol teamwork, but not every group is a team. In fact, most teams we see, aren't — because their managers focus on building the most effective relationships they can with each individual who works for them. They spend their time managing person by person, paying little attention to collective performance. They rarely use their groups to diagnose or solve problems. And when issues arise that clearly affect the group as a whole, they tend to handle them one on one.
In taking this approach, they're overlooking an important management tool: the powerful influence that social dynamics in a real team can exert on the behavior and performance of its members.
What is a team and what makes it potentially such a valuable instrument of leadership? A team is a group of people who do collective work and are mutually committed to a common team purpose and challenging goals related to that purpose.
Collective work and mutual commitment are the key characteristics. By going beyond mere cooperation and coordination, collective work produces more innovative and productive outcomes that exceed the simple sum of individual efforts. Mutual commitment means members hold themselves and each other jointly accountable for the team's performance. They not only think and act collectively, but the social and emotional bonds among them are compelling. They share a genuine conviction that "we" — the potent concept behind every team — will succeed or fail together, and that no individual can succeed while the team fails.
Read the full story:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HR View of “Horrible Bosses”

How to Handle “Horrible Bosses”

You may have seen the trailer for the upcoming big movie release “Horrible Bosses.” It features quite an all-star cast - Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and the list goes on - for a topic that hits home for many the average Joe. The movie takes things to an extreme – a plot to kill these so-called horrible bosses, but the frustration and dissatisfaction are feelings that all too many people can understand. As HR professionals, isn’t it our dream to live in a world where way less people can relate to this movie?

The “horrible bosses” in the movie engage in all kinds of inappropriate behavior, such a sexual harassment, lying and deceit, cruel manipulation, and blatant prejudice. On the promotional poster for the movie it labels the three horrible bosses as Psycho, Man-Eater, and Tool.

What Is a Horrible Boss?

I think there are two general categories of bad bosses. Those that engage in behaviors and actions that are prohibited by law (and/or reprehensible), and those that never actually cross that line but fail to give you what need or don’t share your same values.
The first case, while much more serious, should have a much clearer course of action. There are clear rules and, if they are broken, offenders should be made known and receive appropriate consequences. In other words, employees in these situations need to report their problems.
The latter category is greyer. There is a difference between a boss that you don’t like and a boss that doesn’t have the necessary management skills to do that part of their job well. Often the two go hand in hand, but not always.

Effect on Employees

The number one reason people leave companies is their relationship with their manager. It’s been proven over and over again in dozens of studies. Yes, compensation is important and usually one of the top five reasons, but it’s not number one. It’s in everyone’s best interests to try to get ahead of this problem and prevent unnecessary turnover.
Read the full story:

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Economics of Re-recruiting

by Jessica Miller-Merrell on June 23, 2011
It seems to me that after a company recruits, wows, and hires an individual, the recruiting and candidate courting process stops. These hard working employees are working for your organization.  They are trained.  They understand the ropes, and they do the job.  And yet we forget to re-recruit our own employees, our internal candidates when we should be re-recruiting them at every opportunity we have.
In my mind the re-recruiting process is simple.  You appreciate them.  You show them respect and you mean it.  You tell them thank you and occasionally you buy them pizza or ice cream to celebrate in the break room.  It sounds simple but for many organizations it’s long forgotten.  Their people just aren’t worth the time, effort, and money to re-recruit.
Maybe that’s not really the case.  I know HR folks, executive leaders, and front line managers are busy.  But who isn’t busy these days?  Our teams been downsized, right-sized, and re-sized.  And still our employees stuck with us through the hard times, putting in the extra hours, effort, and time because they loved the organization or maybe it was the people, or maybe because they had no other option.
Bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter.  They’re here.  They stuck with it, and they have chosen to work for your organization.  It’s a relationship, and for most employees the relationship is all about give, give, give while their partner (the company) takes, takes, takes.
These employees are tired of the one way relationship and some are considering cutting the cord.
Read the full story:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Unhappy Boomers

Baby boomers are more dissatisfied with their employers than workers in other generations, according to a recent survey. They are more likely to lack trust in their companies' leadership and to cite the need for supervisory support and recognition.
By Andrew R. McIlvaine
When it comes to job satisfaction, baby boomers expressed the strongest discontent with their employers and the greatest frustration that their loyalty and hard work has been neither recognized nor rewarded.
One quarter of baby boomers surveyed by Deloitte cited dissatisfaction with their employers as one of the three most significant facts that would cause them to look for new employment during the next 12 months, compared to 18 percent of Gen Xers and 11 percent of millennials.
Part of the reason for the ire of baby boomers may be the intense focus by employers on millennials, says Jeff Schwartz, Deloitte Consulting's global leader for talent, who recently moved from McLean, Va., to India to lead the firm's Human Capital practice for US India and serve as senior adviser to Deloitte India and China.
"There's been a lot of talk about millennials and how they differ from previous generations, but our sense is that in worrying about them, employers may be missing other key segments of the workforce, such as Generation X and boomers," he says.
The most discontent in Deloitte's survey of more than 350 employers worldwide was registered by baby boomers.
Read the full story:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do you work for an Asshole?

We talk endlessly about the importance of recognition and rewards and their relationship to employee engagement, but this morning I came across what I think is one of the most succinct summations of the issue in plain language that I’ve ever read.
It’s on Dan Erwin’s excellent blog on career development and it’s a quote from Robert Sutton’s book The No Asshole Rule.
All this talk about passion, commitment, and identification with an organization is absolutely correct if you are in a good job and are treated with dignity and respect. But it is hypocritical nonsense to the millions of people who are trapped in jobs and companies where they feel oppressed and humiliated--where their goal is to survive with their health and self-esteem intact and provide for their families, not to do things for a company that treats them like dirt.
So yes, in a perfect world it would be great if we all worked for companies that were committed to the idea of treating employees as valuable human beings instead of just expendable human resources. A lot of the time, however, we get stuck working for (and with) managers and executives and coworkers who make our work lives miserable. Erwin’s blog post talks specifically about the hell of working for a narcissist along with some techniques for surviving. Check out the rest of his blog while you are there. It’s like an oasis of sanity in what often feels like a sandstorm of bullshit!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Workplace 'social networks' could boost productivity

When Toronto law firm Hicks Morley started its own internal social network in 2008, it was mainly to ease lawyers' email overload so they could find important data more efficiently.
But the firm found by adopting tools that mimic Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter within the confines of a corporate firewall that collaboration between employees increased dramatically, and productivity soared.
In the case of Hicks Morley, with more than 200 staff located in five offices in Ontario, its intranet -an internal site only employees can access -became a hub not just for corporate information, group projects and important documents, but also for internal social events, and is used to send out invitations and to post pictures of activities.
Read the full story:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Is Your Top Talent Walking Out the Door?

General Electric CEO, Jack Welch once said, “Any company trying to compete must figure out a way to engage the mind of every employee.” A company’s greatest asset is its employees. Without a dedicated workforce of men and women who enjoy their job and take a special interest in its success, a company can’t survive. As the economy slowly recovers, the talent war is becoming fierce. Retention of top employees is a major battle many businesses are currently fighting. Could you afford to lose your top performers?
So, why do talented employees leave?
While it is definitely one of the top contributing factors, most research has shown that money is rarely the only reason an employee chooses to leave a company. It is usually a combination of a variety of other reasons that often has the biggest influence on a talented worker’s decision to seek new opportunities. In order to keep your best and brightest from walking out the door, it’s important to understand some of the non-money related causes of employee turnover.
Read the full story:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turnover at the Workplace is on the Rise

A year ago, Washington marketing associate Tara Miller felt lucky just to have a job in her field.
So while she wanted to work in Baltimore -- where she could be closer to her boyfriend -- Miller stayed put at her job in D.C.
But by March of this year, she was feeling antsy.

"I was poking around and ended up seeing some openings," including an account executive position at Himmelrich PR in Baltimore, Miller said.

"I threw in my resume and ended up getting it," she said. "Now I can say I have a job I always wanted."
As hiring begins to pick up, workers who held onto low-paying, unfulfilling or bad jobs through the recession are starting to test the job market, workplace experts say.
"It's no secret there's a lot of pent-up frustration in the workplace and that many ... employees have been floating their resume," said Ron Sims, head of the talent management practice in the Mid-Atlantic region for Right Management, a division of ManpowerGroup.
As the number of openings increases -- the job-search website said postings in May had jumped 10 percent over the previous year -- surveys show that employers are increasingly worried about losing top talent.
One-third of employers are concerned that top performers will look for new jobs as the economy improves, CareerBuilder reported in its second-quarter forecast. Fourteen percent said top employees had left in the first quarter.

Nearly a third of workers, meanwhile, are planning to look for a new job, CareerBuilder reports.

"We do know from past recessions and post-recessions that as more jobs become more plentiful, there's more movement, and as there is more movement there is more turnover for each individual organization," said Beth N. Carvin, chief executive of Nobscot Corp., which works with employers to retain workers.
Carvin says up to 60 percent of currently employed workers could be waiting for a new opportunity elsewhere.
Read the full story:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Problems with Low Morale Loom as Hiring Heats Up

When the sun finally sets on the second quarter of 2011, a recent survey of thousands of employers suggests hiring increases will be evident in several areas — especially commercial and administrative jobs. But, another survey suggests that problems with low morale will spell trouble for employers as overall hiring heats up.
In a survey conducted by Express Employment Professionals of 19,000 companies regarding hiring plans in the second quarter, 39 percent of respondents plan to hire commercial workers and 29 percent indicated plans to hire administrative workers. The numbers are more modest for higher-level jobs, but 13 percent of respondents anticipate hiring to fill engineering and accounting positions, and 12 percent of respondents plan to hire for information technology and marketing positions.
Of those companies surveyed on second quarter hiring plans, 50 percent find it “very easy” to “somewhat easy” to recruit for and fill positions. Their top three recruiting sources include staffing firms (67 percent), employee referrals (59 percent), and online job boards (39 percent). But 44 percent of respondents indicated that they find it “somewhat difficult” to “very difficult” to recruit new hires at all.
While any indication of job growth is a sight for weary eyes these days, 15,000 employers were surveyed by Express on morale and their responses point to looming problems related to job growth and increased productivity. About 42 percent of respondents indicated that plummeting worker morale could begin to deplete their workforce when hiring becomes more vigorous. In fact, 65 percent of human resources executives are highly to very highly concerned about losing their best workers following the recession.
What’s with all the gloom on the job?
Read the full story:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Generational Differences in Recognition and Rewards

New research finds that Gen Y workers are much less likely than Baby Boomers to believe that working harder and taking more responsibility will get recognized and rewarded by the organization.
By Michael O'Brien
As it turns out, the gap between Generation Y and Baby Boomer workers does not just encompass differing tastes in music, fashion and politics. They also differ in the way each group views the fruits of hard work and extra responsibility.
And the gap is a wide one, according to Inspiring Talent, a global survey of employee attitudes based on responses from more than 4,000 employees in 14 countries by London-based consulting firm Lumesse (formerly StepStone Solutions).
Thirty-eight percent of older workers (ages 56 to 60) said they believe they will always be recognized and rewarded if they work harder or take extra responsibility; only 19 percent of Gen Y workers (ages 18 to 25) feel the same way, according to the survey.
"For HR directors and vice presidents of HR, the lesson here is that there is lots of process stuff that can be improved [with recognition and rewards programs]," says Andrew Rodaway, director of communications for Lumesse.
Read the full story:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Hours: HR Policy Highlight

Summer Hours can be a way for both the company and the employee to enjoy summer while maintaining employee productivity.  An increasing number of companies are offering flexible work arrangements, such as summer hours, to enhance work-life balance, improve employee morale, and increase employee retention.  While summer hours are different from a flexible-work program, in that all employees enjoy the benefit, many of the considerations in implementing summer hours are similar to that of a flexible-work program.
Read the full story:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Who has the best work-life balance?

Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released the Better Life Initiative, examining how various aspects of people's lives affect the general well-being of whole countries. And besides taking into account factors like housing and income, the OECD also looked at the work-life balance of each country.
The OECD's Better Life Index for work-life balance is compiled using three indicators: (1) the amount of time spent on personal activities; (2) the employment rate of women with children between 6 and 14 years of age; and (3) the number of employees working over 50 hours a week.
According to the data, Belgium has the most personal time, with an average of 16.61 hours a day, compared to the combined average of 15.46 hours.  Netherlands and Sweden tied for the least-overworked population, with only 0.01 percent of their respective populations regularly working over 50 hours a week.
See how your country rates here.

Collaboration Is a Team Sport, and You Need to Warm Up

Jimmy Guterman wrote about Nokia's culture of purposefully fostering a collaborative mindset as soon as someone started at the company or moves into a new role. I want to build on this by looking at how collaboration needs to be seen as a process that happens over time, and that the crucial groundwork for successful collaboration needs to be laid before the "actual" collaborative work happens.
First, let's ask why collaboration is so important today. The main reason is that the problems we have to solve — whether deciding company strategy or bringing an innovative offering to market — are more complex than they have ever been. They require a variety of skillsets, perspectives, and approaches to solve them, and need a lot of pieces to come together smoothly to be successful. Bringing an innovation to market especially needs a mix of left- and right-brain people — visionaries and ditch-diggers, stubborn idealists and open-minded pragmatists. All this requires collaboration.
But there are barriers to collaboration, many of which exist even before somebody arrives for their first day of work. In the US, our education system is largely focused on individual efforts, and team work is not actively taught in the classroom even at the graduate level. How students and teachers at the K-12 level are incentivized tends to focus on clear goals met through individual knowledge and expertise, neither of which are realistic for the contemporary workplace.
Read the full story:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Want Creative Workers? Loosen the Reins, Boss


Philip Glass, the contemporary composer, works on his new compositions only between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. That’s the time, he says, when his creative ideas come to him. When filmmaker George Lucas needs to write or edit a script, he sequesters himself in a small cottage behind his house where he gets no calls or visitors.

A lesson in managing creativity can be found in the work discipline of such inventive geniuses: A protected bubble in time and space fosters the imaginative spirit.

That notion challenges some prevailing wisdom -- particularly the assumption that upping the pressure on workers will squeeze more innovative thinking out of them. Many managers assume that just calling people into a high-demand brainstorming session will get everyone’s best ideas out on the table.

That is dead wrong, according to new research on the creative process. In a knowledge economy, where competitive advantage comes from leveraging the most innovative ideas and executing them well, leaders at every level would do well to reflect on these findings.

In a study led by Teresa Amabile, a director of research at the Harvard Business School, researchers asked more than 1,000 knowledge workers -- members of research-and-development, marketing and information-technology teams -- to keep daily diaries. This data trove revealed a disconnect between how managers think they can best support creative efforts, and how those who are actually making the efforts assess what helps them most.

Read the full article on

Linking Reward Systems to Employee Engagement


Max Caldwell of Towers Watson discusses types of
employee engagement, how organizations are measuring
engagement, how it can differentiate high-performing
organizations, linking rewards systems to engagement, and
how engagement can be leveraged to improve organizational

See the video at