INSIGHTS

follow us here and on twitter @ukhrhub to get all the latest HR hints, tips, advice and news

Performance Issues? Commit To Long-Term Change Today….

Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004, was an extraordinary man. An actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author and activist. He successfully managed each career track despite his many on and off-screen roles and the life-changing injury that led to quadriplegia. He developed and funded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center to help people with spinal-cord injuries benefit from stem cell research – work which  has led to breakthroughs for 1 in 50 patients  through the use of epidural stimulation.

I love this quote from him, on how to get things every day. “I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us… If we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.”

But listening to that voice is only half the battle…

Committing To Consistent Habitual Change To Drive Performance Is Where The Hard Work Starts

The business of running a business is no small feat. There are multiple stakeholders: customers, suppliers, regulatory bodies, investors and shareholders – if you’re lucky. All of these groups want something from you and your business. And you need performance from your people, your suppliers and partners in order to satisfy and delight your current and would-be customers. But how can you drive it further?.

Routine Is Your Friend For Day-To-Day Success

In Alan Brache’s book “How Organizations Work” he shows how the key to achieving performance every day is to routinise the critical tasks that make your business successful.

Here are his five steps to ensuring performance is talked and walked every day:

Step 1. Creating strategic alignment allows you and the team focus on what IS the most important priorities.

Step 2. Refining business processes ensures that the important things get done in the way they are intended to work.

Step 3. Setting goals and measuring performance helps the whole team understand the speed and quality that work needs to be done. This allows each performer to give (and receive) accurate feedback on performance to every person in a meaningful way.

Step 4. Reframing culture will equip every person to see and model what happens when mistakes occur, the financial impact of what their actions leads to (or not?) in pursuit of the strategy, and how innovation gets embedded into every day activities.

Step 5. Managing the capabilities – your team, your partners and your own. This is where Christopher Reeve’s advice comes to bear. If you clearly understand the knowledge, skills and values/beliefs of each person as well as you know your own then it becomes possible to plan for and develop any gaps that the team possesses.

So if every person knows what to do, how they can make a positive difference in the business, then good performance will follow, right? Well, yes and no. Securing lasting commitment to any new routine needs something more to oil the wheels…..

Engagement Galvanises the Team Behind New Initiatives And Is The Key To Long Term Performance Improvement

The 10 drivers of engagement are:

  1. Management interested in employee wellbeing
  2. Skills and capabilities improved over the last year
  3. Reputation of organisation as a good employer
  4. Input into decision making in my team/department
  5. Compensation and benefit programmes generally met my needs
  6. Organisation focus on customer satisfaction
  7. My manager inspires enthusiasm for work
  8. Salary criteria are fair and consistent
  9. Opportunities to learn and develop new skills
  10. Employees understand how to satisfy customers

According to David Macleod and Chris Brady in “The Extra Mile: How to Engage Your People to Win” approximately 23% of the UK workforce is disengaged. If this a fair reflection of your business then your first port of call is to ensure all of these drivers are in place before you can expect the team to make any significant improvements to performance.

TheHRhub team are standing by to help on this. For expert HR help on demand, sign up today.

Photo Credit: hard-ly at work by FrogStarB

The True Cost of Underperformance in SMEs…. And How To Fix it

The hallmark of many a great SME is a nimble, lean and cost-effective team. There’s little time or money for carrying ‘dead wood’. But sometimes underperformance can be as difficult to recognise as it is to remedy. And have you ever wondered how to translate underperformance into a real value? This article reviews the 4 most common types of performance found in SMEs and their true costs. But don’t fret – there’s some pointers in here too on how to fix them. And the answer might be closer to home than you think….  

Type 1: No-Show Performance

Earlier this year a business I know hired a ‘new-found great employee’ or NFGE. As a software developer, her skills were valuable and she seemed like the perfect new hire. But after agreeing the job offer, she tried to re-negotiate and ended up blowing them out and taking a job somewhere else.

This type of person is just irritating. They thought they had have done everything to satisfy their own business needs, addressed her questions throughout the interview and offer negotiation phase and then she went and did that! In this instance with the NFGE, it was actually the company at fault.  The job description that was used had’t been updated. It was friendly and upbeat but had not painted a realistic picture of what was needed. NFGE’s job offer package (£50k is a good salary but benchmarking local competition would have shown that the job needed special treatment) was not carefully designed to motivate long-term trust and loyalty.

The true cost of no-show underperformance is the money spent and time taken in advertising, promoting, sorting CVs, interviewing and negotiating which all impacts your time in generating income for the business. So anything you can do to reduce this (including, not having to re-hire because the person let you down at the final stage) is immensely beneficial. If the boss’s hourly “work” rate is £40, and the average hiring process for a senior position takes 3 days of time, the minimum cost of no-show underperformance in the region of nearly £1000 and this is excluding advertising or recruiter fees.

Type 2: Low Performance

It is often hard to completely decide that a person is not right for the job (or the business?) and this is quite a painful type of conversation that managers have to face from time to time. But the worst thing to do is avoid the conversation. Bad habits can take root and as time goes by they become embedded into the way things get done. Have regular chats. Finding out what they are doing well at and the areas they find more challenging gives valuable perspective on how both parties could work better together.

The true cost of letting this type of underperformance go unchallenged, can be huge: customers and clients receiving poor service can cost sales and your reputation; recruitment costs can be upwards of (on average) 20% for a replacement; and your internal reputation suffers as colleagues feel the pinch of having to cover for others’ mistakes.

But low performance can sometimes be down to perception. Arriving at a clear picture of what great performance looks like should be determined by the manager. Complex or ‘unknown’ roles need to be carefully assessed. Think carefully about what defines ‘unacceptable’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘exceptional’ performance for the jobholder and how to assess it.

Type 3: Luke Warm Performance

This is when a full-time employee is not being efficient. You’re getting some work from them, sure. And they seem to be putting in the hours. But you’ve just got this niggling feeling that with some improvements, they could be twice as effective in the same amount of time.

Culture drift and lack of engagement can be common culprits here: are the team inspired by your vision? Do they have the autonomy and sense of purpose to motivate themselves to perform at their best? Checking regularly to see how the prevailing culture is working is an important part of the business leader’s role. The type of culture does not really matter. It could have family feel, a bureaucratic structure, or be resource-oriented. You can make any type of culture work if it’s right for your business but you need to be clear on what it is within your organisation.

The cost of culture drift and lack of engagement is significant and it is estimated that those who are disengaged produce at least 25% less revenue in a sales role than their colleagues who were engaged.

The road to improving productivity? A well planned workforce/ team coupled with clear direction and a shared understanding of who is doing what and when will help remove inefficiencies as well as re-igniting the interest in the road ahead.

Type 4: Poor Customer-Oriented Performance

Focusing on the customer is the fastest way to unify the actions from each person in the business. Obviously, the cost of a lost sale depends on what you’re selling. But in this increasingly competitive, global marketplace, what business can’t afford to have the customer at the heart of everything they do?

 

Do you know how much underperformance is costing your business? Would you like to explore the potential for rapidly raising performance levels across your team? We’d love to help. Sign up to theHRhub today or get in touch direct here.

 

Photo Credit: A pile of 50 pound notes by Images Money

Happy? Grumpy? Sleepy? What Conflict Style Are You? And Is It Holding You Back…?

According to an article by The Guardian last week, doctors are so expensive to train and hire, they are ripe for replacement by machines. The benefits for not employing humans abound. No gripes about long hours, career blocks, trouble with consultants, conflict and local dramas  – and as for patient care… Business leadership books are littered with strategies to deal with battles and conflicts fought. Understanding your approach to conflict and how it helps, or not (!) can help you reduce the negative impact significantly. Mike Myatt has sound advice for business leaders “Don’t fear conflict; embrace it – it’s your job.” 

Successful leaders, who cultivate high performance from every team member, consistently do this, using effective conflict management as a critical skill. Knowing your conflict style raises your game. Practicing conflict management will guide you and your team’s success through to honest and better collaboration. There are five conflict styles. Choose which style best describes you. Then see how to get the best out of each conflict without losing your mind.

AVOIDANCE

“I prefer it if others take the lead when solving a problem. I do not like unnecessary tension and will do what I can to avoid these types of situations.”

COLLABORATION

“I will solicit the advice of my peers to help solve a problem. I often try to find solutions to my counterpart’s problems, as well as my own. I like to address all concerns immediately in order to promptly resolve them.”

COMPETITIVE

“I take a strong stance when conveying my views. I then support my position with clear logic and benefits in hopes to change my opponent’s perspective.”

ACCOMMODATING

“I try to focus on what we both agree on as opposed to our disagreements. At times, I will concede some of my viewpoints if it will help maintain a beneficial relationship with the other party and not hurt the person’s feelings.”

COMPROMISING

“I like to find a solution somewhere in the middle. I realize that I might have to sacrifice some of my points in order to gain others.”

The good news; everyone can be better prepared to handle conflict constructively by understanding their own approach and identifying the approach of the others involved in a conflict. The bad news; no one style is good for every situation. Sometimes conflicts need to surface so that communication can become more real and less superficial.

So here’s some guidance on how and when to use each conflict management style, brought to life with examples from Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs as depicted  by Dr.S. Livingston.

An Avoider dislikes conflict or confrontation. With this approach you may seek to thwart the other party through passive-aggressive tactics.

The “Bashful” personality appears shy, blushes often, and looks down frequently. Bashful avoids eye contact with the leader, hoping not to be called upon, and wants to hear everyone else’s opinion before speaking.

Perfect to use Potential pitfalls
  • If an issue is inconsequential
  • When you have limited power or influence
  • If the cons of confrontation outweigh the pros
  • When a higher level of perspective is needed before taking action
  • Limits communication and information gathering
  • Taking no action may lead to unintended consequences or undesirable outcome
  • Tensions may be aggravated

Top Tip: Bashful is highly observant, sensitive to the feelings of others, and hard-working. Leaders can draw Bashful out by asking an easy, neutral question first, pairing Bashful with someone else, and encouraging/allowing him to write down his answers first before speaking. The leader knows that Bashful succeeds best in a structured environment.

A Collaborator likes to work together to get as many needs met as possible on both sides, which solves conflicts in the short term and can also build a foundation of trust for the future.

The “Happy” person smiles a lot at the leader, tries to make eye contact with the leader. Happy is warm, energetic, and very responsive to the leader’s requests. He promptly does anything he is asked to do. Happy may try so hard to please and provide the “right answer” that he can be inauthentic in his input.

Perfect to use Potential pitfalls
  • To improve a difficult relationship by working through issues
  • When both parties have issues that they feel are too vital to compromise on
  • To create a win/win solution that incorporates ideas and perspectives from all sides
  • To gain consensus on an issue involving different perspectives of the problem
  • Wasting time on unimportant issues
  • One party taking advantage of the other

Top Tip: Leaders can help Happy thrive by creating a fun, whimsical environment and by offering recognition and support. The leader can call on Happy first (he’ll be anxious to speak up), which will help convince less cooperative participants to become involved.

A Competitor is not afraid to take an aggressive approach. You use power and advantages to pursue your goals, even when it negatively impacts others. Winning in the short term may be valued more highly than long-term gains.

You can spot “Grumpy” because he says “no” a lot and may sit opposite the leader. His arms are often crossed, and he’s pushed back from the table. He looks annoyed and is critical. Grumpy values competence, efficiency, and quick results, is assertive and self-confident. He strives to meet and exceed expectations.

Perfect to use Potential pitfalls
  • When you have to move quickly
  • As a method of defense in competitive situations
  • When the best interests of your business are at stake
  • A lack of give-and-take
  • Limited opportunities to learn or get different perspectives from the other party

Top Tip: Leaders can best leverage Grumpy by giving him specific assignments that require logical steps and by enlisting his help where a particular sales pitch or argument is required.

An Accommodator values their relationships with other parties. You seek to gain favour by giving in to demands in the hopes of getting what you want later.

It’s easy to spot “Sleepy” staring out the window, hiding in the middle of the group, and probably yawning. Sleepy is rational, logical, and comfortable with hands-on learning.

Perfect to use Potential pitfalls
  • To give ground on an issue that is more important to the other side, as a positive gesture
  • Build goodwill you can use to get other concessions that are more important to you
  • When you realize that your position is inferior or that you are going to lose
  • Losing power to influence outcomes
  • Others may ignore your ideas and contributions

Top Tip: Leaders can draw Sleepy out by encouraging him to share personal reveries as possible unconscious approaches to solving the problem at hand, asking him about logical and practical implications, and encouraging partnering and the sharing of ideas about technical applications.

A Compromiser likes to meet in the middle. You can resolve a conflict quickly but can disproportionately reward the party with the more extreme position.

Dopey is far from being “dopey,” these people are flexible, using humour to defuse group tension. They are good at finding practical applications and take life very seriously, even though they may appear light-hearted. Dopey sits in the middle of the group and speaks only when spoken to. He parrots anything the group expert says.

Perfect to use Potential pitfalls
  • When parties have to come to an agreement quickly
  • Achieve aims whose importance is not a top priority
  • When two equally strong parties have mutually exclusive objectives
  • Using it as a temporary solution to put off the resolution of major disputes and issues
  • A perception of betraying values, which can lead to a lack of trust

Top Tip: Leaders manage Dopey by pointing out practical applications and benefits to others and by reassuring Dopey that “all responses are good responses.” Dopey needs to put ideas first to paper and will respond favourably when leaders laugh at his or her jokes.

The Best Preparation For Handling Conflict Is To Manage Your Own Emotions

  • Be clear, direct and unemotional
  • Put yourself in the right frame of mind and have empathy
  • Stop procrastinating – Initiate the conversation yourself
  • Get to the point, but don’t rush
  • Begin by describing the conflict in neutral terms
  • Do not blame
  • Be curious about the other person
  • Be curious about yourself
  • Acknowledge the other person’s feelings

More suggestions for handling difficult conversations can be found by our team at TheHRhub, so sign up today for expert advice and support.  

 

Photo Credit: Meeting the Seven Dwarfs At The Character Fan Weekend by Loren Javier

Coach Your Way To A Better Team Dynamic

It’s early Monday morning…. There are a thousand tasks to do before 9am and you’re rushing to get to work. And for what… yet another weekly team update. If this meeting is one you dread because conversations get derailed, questions get raised but not resolved, or team members seem to be carrying thinly masked resentment then you may be suffering from a lack of team work!

But some issues can’t be resolved by a team ‘jolly’ whilst a workshop might feel too much

Getting to know each team member is often improved with a trip to the pub – great for socializing but sometimes misses the mark regarding important work practices. And having a workshop to discuss teamwork can often feel like a big waste of time. To be clear, I am not against having a workshop – workshops can really help. Especially if tensions have been rising or there is a lack of honest communications. But for the less serious team matters, there is an alternative….

Coaching is often a really effective way to prevent minor problems coming to a head

According to research by VitalSmarts Inc., the cost of avoidance (or not having a ‘crucial conversation’) is estimated at $1500 and an 8-hour day for every conflict that is avoided rather than resolved. Sometimes conflicts that may be bubbling under the surface need to erupt to get resolution. But this can be messy and potentially very damaging. Instead of letting issues build up, the smart way is to nip them in the bud before they become a big issue. As the old saying goes…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of remedy. And this is where where coaching comes in.

Coaching will help you with many situations that you and your team members may face including:

  • Time Management
  • Delegation
  • Learning & Development (of themselves and others)
  • Team Relations
  • Stress (work or life)

Start first by putting yourself in their shoes

Understanding why people don’t give their best is worth thinking about. Each of us has different motivations for working, working hard and kicking back. Dan Pink has identified the surprising factors that influence motivation in this video. Also, ask yourself if problem team members were set up for success to begin with? Was their job description a true reflection of the job in hand? Were they recruited against a sound person specification? Did they receive an adequate orientation to the business? And/or allocated a buddy to help them find their feet and feel a sense of belonging early on? Sometimes the root cause of an issue might be closer to home then you think….

Managing v Coaching – A Quick Recap

There are more books, courses and specialist advice on this topic than we can do justice to here. But here is brief comparison of the two approaches to help you get started:

 

Manager Approach Coach Approach
Answers questions when asked Asks questions to help team member better understand options and strategies
Describes excellence to the team Models excellence by mentoring team members’ achievement
Evaluates results and provides feedback Observes behaviours and gives feedback
Coaches when necessary Coaches as an ongoing priority
Gives team members action steps to follow and then goes back to other duties Guides team members through steps as they implement action plan
Gives feedback at appraisal and/or between evaluations Gives timely, consistent feedback during the daily flow of work
Treats obstacles with team members as real issues Probes issues with team members to discover the root cause behind the obstacles
Outlines challenges for team members Guides and supports team members as they uncover their own challenges

And coaching is not just about you and each team member. The more you can encourage a coaching culture, the easier it will be for others to jump in and help when their team member is off track.

Here are my top 5 tips to help you and the team get the best out of working together by using coaching as an ongoing tool for success:

  1. Introduce a coaching agenda as part of the orientation/onboarding into the company. Refer to the job description to discuss areas of the job that are easy, difficult and where coaching might be helpful.
  2. Help team members get to know a new team member, either informally or before the first day in the new job. Invite people to discuss what their strengths are and the areas that they would like to get help and encouragement to develop.
  3. Schedule weekly or if strapped for time, fortnightly coaching catch ups and give time to discuss what the team member thinks is important
  4. Help the team members to coach each other. Show then how you coach one on one and then how it can work in a team setting.
  5. Create a culture where coaching conversations are growth focused and help team members see how they are progressing in the role and the organization.

There is a range of activities and agendas to help you introduce coaching practice to your business. To help get the coaching conversations started, it is sometimes helpful to have a team coach kick off the conversation.

TheHRhub team can help you develop your coaching skills further. Contact us here  for more details.

 

Photo Credit: Chambers Coaches Up The Bench by Ben Stanfield