Even the most well-meaning of leaders can fall into habitual behaviours that can have a negative impact on their people. It’s the same as eating or drinking too much, it’s only when things spiral out of control that you realise you’ve got a problem.
Here are some of the bad HR habits we’ve witnessed over the years. And the good news is they’re easy to fix….
Carrying Out Annual Reviews On An Annual Basis
Hang on a sec – why exactly is this a bad habit?? Shouldn’t you be making sure that performance discussions do take place?? Of course you should. But if they’re only happening once a year, then you’re missing a trick. Managing and improving performance needs to be built into your everyday working practices. If it’s not, then you can’t realistically expect to improve productivity.
Getting Stuck In The Filing Cabinet
You don’t need us to tell you that the world of business is moving faster than ever before. You’re probably using online tactics when it comes to your sales and marketing, for example, but what about HR? It could be time to ditch the notion that HR lives in the filing cabinet, and bring your business up to speed. Online systems with good security are as secure as any filing cabinets and will often save you time and hassle with your HR Admin.
Thinking That Training And Learning Are One And The Same
There’s no denying that training can be expensive. Send a few employees to a conference, book in some places on an external course, or bring in a professional trainer for a couple of days, and your bill will be hefty. Sometimes, formal training is essential and/or advisable: when you’re rolling out new software, when your team require a recognised qualification etc. But what’s arguably much more important is ongoing learning within the workplace. Nurturing your talent isn’t a one-off event – it’s about what happens in your business on a day-to-day basis. So get to it with those lunch and learn sessions, involve all the team in what they can all learn from each other and challenge your team to show what they’ve learnt on an on-going basis.
Hogging All The Decision Making
As the boss you may be thinking: but that’s what I’m here for! Obviously there are some key decisions that only you and your top team should be making, but imagine how much time you would free up in your life if others around you came up with a range of solutions to the things which had been stopping you from sleeping for most of the previous night, gave you ideas for your next product or sorted out problems they had about the office move between themselves…. Allowing and encouraging your team to make decisions (or at least contribute to them by involving them) inspires trust and confidence which can pay you back massive returns in terms of loyalty and engagement, not to mention the innovation which can come from a varied viewpoint.
Being self-aware enough to recognise and correct your own bad habits is a hugely positive example to show your team. Even more so if you’ve had the courage to ask for their opinions first.
For help or advice on any HR issue get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048 to speak to our team direct. We’re offer a free initial review to help you understand how to make the valuable changes to best support your business.
Time flies when you’re running your own business. One minute it’s January and you’re hiring your first few team members, telling yourself you’ll align their progress with the rest of the business, and then the next, you find it’s Summer already and all your good intentions have never not quite translated into any sort of strategy ….
Very Few Startups & SMEs Allocate Time Once A Month To Focus On HR
And whilst it’s likely that you’ve kept a regular eye on your sales and finance tasks in a structured way every month, when it comes to your people, chances are that any structure has been left to happen ‘naturally’. If you’re close to the team, check in regularly as a matter of course and have spent time building relationships with them from the word ‘go’, then this is all good news as you’ve built some really strong foundations already despite no mention of the words ‘HR’. However if you’ve left all checkups and communications aside as you have your head down, there not only may there be a risk that the next “have you got a quick minute?” directed your way, might just be a complaint or – worse still – the dreaded resignation letter, you will also be missing a trick in planning and investing in your biggest asset: your team.
Our Monthly HR Checklist For Startups & SMEs
To help you structure what can sometimes seem a daunting task, we’ve created a monthly HR checklist for you, designed to make sure you keep your business and your people on track. Nothing heavy. And nothing daunting. But a few things that – if you review on a regular monthly basis – will significantly help boost your team’s productivity and your overall leadership, saving you oodles of time and hassle in the long run.
1. Step back and do a quick people overview (as you would your sales or finances): What are its strengths and weaknesses? What does your team look like this year in size, shape, roles and productivity? More importantly, what do you want them to be doing differently in the next 6 – 12 months to meet your own overall goals?
2. With 1) in mind… how you want to develop the team and what are the 1, 2 and 3 priorities you will be looking at for the coming 6 months with them?
3. Set up some simple KPIs to track in relation to your team. Basics ordinarily will include things such as headcount, salary bill, absence rates etc (which track directly to your finances), right through to those which might tell you a little bit more in the long run & will take a bit of time to start yielding the insight you’re after. In this latter category, you need to put your thinking cap on about what you want to measure (employee satisfaction, time you spend with each employee, number of new ideas/ initiatives generated by the team etc) and why it’s important.
4. Clarify to the team what the company goals are and what progress is being made towards them. Too busy for an All Hands/ Town Hall/ Company Meeting? Whilst face to face is often best in this regard, we find that the ‘little and often’ approach works best to get the message across and make people feel involved, so just make sure that there is some communication on this each month, even if via Email/ slack/ video etc
5. Get feedback from the team on how they are finding each project/ progress against the goals. Whilst there are now many different software programmes which can help do this for you in a regular and structured way, at the very least, add on a question to all at the bottom of any team wide communications that make clear that you want to hear from people or walk around the office and ask people face to face.
6. Put together a simple action plan to address any queries which arise. And forecast for the team over how their roles might change, what their risk profile is and how you can support and motivate them
7. Make the team see you as human: take them out to lunch to chat away from the office and stay connected. One former CEO I worked with liked to take afternoon tea with his team & another took each person out for lunch in their first week to find out more about them, both delightful traditions appreciated by all.
8. Review the behaviours of your current team. Look at what the qualities of the team are displaying are and what channel they joined you via. When it comes to recruiting, referrals can be a really good channel & work wonders on those KPIs. Share recognition about great performance: your team will love you for it (even if they’re a bit embarrassed initially…)
9. Take stock of what learning may be needed for individuals/ teams to support your goals. This doesn’t need to be expensive (we have heaps of ideas in a previous blog ‘Learning on a Shoestring’) but as a no.1 area for motivation as well as often being needed to adapt to a changing business, getting a clear idea on where people can develop is key.
10. Talk to the team and bounce ideas off people who don’t have a direct interest in your business to get some objective advice and open your mind to trying out new ways of doing things. But whether you’re are start up with just a couple of employees or hitting the big time and your headcount is getting into triple figures, it’s never the wrong time to focus on getting the most from your team and providing a great environment for them to thrive.
If you’re struggling however with getting the full benefits from your team and finding the time to develop your ideas, help from a switched-on HR professional could be what you need.
For help in getting (and keeping!) your business on track with it’s team please email email@example.com or call 0203 627 7048 and speak to our team. We’re always happy to help and offer a free initial review to help you understand how to make valuable changes to support your business.
TheHRhub: helping restless business owners create and manage good working relationships with their staff in a direct and pragmatic way. #employeemagic
Fractional: [adjective] Relating to only a part of something; Extremely small or insignificant
The fractional workforce is a phrase new to many. But not for long I suspect. A term used to loosely describe those who provide work to one or more businesses, it includes many of the 5 million people in the UK who are classified as ‘self-employed’ – the contractors, the freelancers, the ‘gig’ workers, the temporary staff you have on your books – not to mention those who might be on your payroll on a part time basis. The common denominator of all of these being that they are just not solely dedicated to your business.
But far from these being just the ‘giggers’ who have grabbed the headlines in recent months – those who deliver your food, clean your house or ferry you home at the end of an evening – 60% of these fractional workers are found to be in highly skilled or managerial professions (ONS), and most of whom have turned to fractional work out of choice.
Over half our SME client base are increasing their use these types of workers to supplement their own teams on a regular basis – as accountants, marketeers, designers, data analysts, developers…even HR folks – but a handful have gone one step further by having them as core members of their senior or leadership teams. And anecdotally I know of plenty more highly innovative businesses who use diverse and fractional teams gathered from their wider networks to deliver high profile projects, because they just don’t have the skills they need in their existing employee pool.
But given that many of these highly skilled people turn to fractional work because it supports the things which motivate them most: freedom (in location, work patterns, scope) and ownership of what they do, how do you as a business owner make sure that these broader team members are as ‘engaged’ and ‘onboard’ as your permanent staff members, whilst balancing the risk (and fear associated) that you may lose control over some of the work? From extensive experience on both sides of the fence, here are our pointers on some things you can practically do to rapidly assemble a crack team and get the most out of your working relationships with this group:
- Get the basics right, but recognise that a contract simply cannot cover ‘every eventuality’: It goes without saying that a properly worded contract is a no-brainer to manage your legal risks, however our experience is that a properly worded contract is not one which attempts to try and control every single thought and word a person emits during their time working with you (having had many run-ins from those not willing to sign away their entire thought catalogue in a crudely worded IP clause, this is a route which does not bear well with many!). One which seeks to do this beyond what is necessary for the delivery of the work will no doubt hold up the process for any onboarding as wordsmithing goes back and forth, giving your competitors a chance to steal a march on you!
- People are people, regardless of ‘working status’ & so speak to them as such: ‘The Contractor’ is not an appropriately named designation for most to respond to and is something which should be reserved only for an introduction by Hollywood-voiceover-man to something infinitely more fictional….
- Treat your wider teams as a community: communities support each other and work for the greater good; they embrace differences, thrive when there is co-operation and provide a vast array of talent for you to pull from which you might otherwise not get access to. Communities do not take the pi** with each other, as they know that they may be the one asking for a favour the following week….
- Communicate in a way which is fluid & which builds trust: ask yourself whether you really need different email lists for ‘employees’ and ‘contractors’? Many businesses also exclude non-permanent staff from their communications platforms, however this serves to alienate at best and cause productivity issues at worst. Remember (see point 1) they’ve already signed the same sort of confidentiality clauses as anyone else in the business…
- Don’t ignore wider development needs: from onboarding and beyond, make sure you are inclusive and relevant in providing development opportunities. This doesn’t mean sponsoring someone on the MBA if they are only with you for 2 weeks, but may include including them in your onboarding programme, lunch and learns etc
- Reward is still important (but outside of traditional methods look to recognition and referral as currency to use): You may think that paying the monthly invoice is reward for these team members done and dusted, however (even if you haven’t read oodles of posts about this one – really??) ‘reward’ to most people is more than just a wedge of cash…. Angela Mortimer, a successful recruitment firm specialising in PA and support staff hold an annual event to celebrate and recognise their temporary staff who don’t get to always get to join in on the social side from the organisations they provide service to or be included in their reward practices. A nice touch I think, which in addition plays to point 3 (above).
This post doesn’t (purposefully) address some of the legal ramifications for employing different types of workers that make up this section of the workforce – that’s definitely for another day and is dependant on ever evolving legal challenges being made – however fractional work is on the increase & those who can strategically think of their workforce as beyond those on their payroll, will already be one step ahead.
For more details on integrating your workforce or any other HR challenges you might have, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 627 7048.
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So you’re looking to grow talent from within, have a vacancy and the perfect employee to promote to a management position. They’re eager, they’re passionate, and they’re full of potential. Help them give it their best shot, however excited they might be to step up and demonstrate what they can achieve, there are a few bumps in the road that they’re likely to run into.
No doubt you’ve experienced some of these bumps in your own career, and if you’ve managed a business for any amount of time, you’ll know that leading a team can sometimes be messy and complex. As the business owner though, you’ve got a role to play in supporting your new manager and helping them to navigate the challenges.
The first step is anticipating the struggles that they may well experience. Let’s take a look at what they are…
- Making the shift from co-worker to boss: Your employee no doubt already has working relationships with many of the people they’ll now be managing. They might socialise together at weekends, and have friendships outside of the office. A promotion can disturb what’s become the natural order of things, and this can leave your manager and their team feeling a little unsettled.
- Finding the time for all the new responsibilities: Previously, the individual might have worked in their own bubble. They managed their own workload, had one set of deadlines to adhere to, and mainly worked independently from the wider team. Sometimes, the promotion to manager can leave your employee feeling like they’ve bitten off way more than they can chew. Not only do they have their own work to do, but they now need to fit all their management activities into their diary. This can be overwhelming and stressful.
- Not delegating work: It can be tricky sometimes to feel confident in delegating work to a team. There can be a tendency to try to do everything on your own, but as every manager who has ever made this mistake can attest to, it quickly leads to burn-out, and it’s not a productive or sustainable way to operate. Delegating works best when there’s a clear workflow in place, and the manager communicates effectively with the team.
- Fixing things that aren’t broken: New managers are often bright eyed and bushy tailed. They’re keen to make an impression, and are actively looking for ways to improve the productivity and effectiveness of the business. This can be a very good thing, but there’s a balance to strike. Some improvements might be best left until another time while more pressing matters are handled, or it could be the case that only a small return would be made, meaning that the project isn’t realistically viable.
- Refusing to ask for help: Managing people is tough, even if you have years of experience. There will always be new challenges to deal with, situations that are out of your comfort zone, and issues that seem impossible to handle effectively. If your new managers don’t feel like they can speak up when they’re struggling, or they don’t have an appropriate support network in place, then things can quickly spiral out of control.
Becoming a manager is an exciting time for your employee, and they’ll want to thrive and show you that you made the right decision. But as an employer, you need to take the time to think about how you’ll help them to navigate these challenges. Your approach will largely come down to the individual, existing policies and procedures you have in place in your business, and the development path that you offer to your staff.
Are you confident that you’re fulfilling your responsibility when it comes to managing the career progression of your future leaders? And what changes might you need to make to ensure that the promotion process is as smooth as possible for your employees?
TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs: providing advice, support and tools, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket!
Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at email@example.com for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.
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As an SME one of your key assets are your staff, and time and time again we see talented staff leave, simply because they are not being given the career development opportunities they think they deserve or expect. This is such a easy fix if you just take the time to focus on understanding and exploring your employees career development expectations.
We know finding the time to do this may seem impossible and get pushed down the to do list, but it is absolutely key for engaging and retaining your top talent – so make it a priority, new years resolution even!
As we all know, development is all about making employees feel valued and invested in, but the upshot is by giving them encouragement to progress individually, you will ultimately see them propel your business forward and reward them in the same move as they push into more senior levels of responsibility. Win win.
The uniqueness with SMEs is that during the Startup phase of a business, the rate of personal growth is often enormous: most people are learning nearly 100% of the time and pitch in on areas that they wouldn’t normally associate with. Everyone feels important and integral to the success. It’s as you start to scale and evolve that many of the challenges present themselves. The need for providing learning opportunities continues, but structure and roles are more solid and the informal learning opportunities that once naturally presented themselves, suddenly seem more restricted.
The great Albert Einstein once said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”. Its within our nature to grow, we have been growing since we were little and whilst our physical growth slows over time, that ambition of personal growth never goes away.
If development is disregarded, knowledge becomes out of date, motivation levels stagnate and careers begin to drift and these factors have an obvious impact on hard measures like productivity and staff turnover. Then you run the risk of getting to the point where training and development comes last on the To Do list, with a common reason being “we just don’t have the budget for it”….
Not everything needs to cost the earth though, if you’re prepared to think creatively and invest a little time, you can easily organise all sorts of focused learning activities. And your team will thank you for it by being brilliant.
- Peer to peer learning: Having the respect of our colleagues means a lot to us, so encourage people to speak at conferences, enter competitions, or host meetups with their peers to share knowledge with others. Sometimes it’s going to be necessary to fund employee’s’ attendance at these external events. So to maximise your investment in doing this, make it a condition that staff share their learnings when they are back in the workplace.
- Everyone needs a sense of purpose: It may be that you aren’t setting out to save lives or some other noble cause, but the chances are that your business has a higher purpose than just simply seeking cash. So help staff understand how they fit into this bigger picture by spelling it out in order to capture people’s true potential.
- Allow people to show off what they’ve learnt: Decide on the core skills for your business and each technical function and assign different levels of expertise required for each (competencies) which people can earn credits to show they’ve attained the level.
- Share “best practice”: Bring in a recognised expert for your employees to spend some time with: use your network and contacts to find someone you admire and value and bring them into work with you. Get the more experienced members of your team to share some of their past notable successes.
- Give them wings: give your new employees more responsibility or ask them to undertake a challenging piece of work or project and don’t be surprised when they rise to the challenge and hopefully surpass your expectations! Give a mini group within your company a real business problem and challenge them to come up with the solution.
- Use Skills Already In-House: There are loads of ways you can do this, depending on the circumstances which include asking team members with specific areas of expertise to deliver short training programmes or presentations for other staff, focussing on their specialist areas; Promote inter-departmental sessions, for example by organising ‘brown bag’ lunches, with each hosted and run by a different department in turn.
- Time out to play with new ideas: Encourage your team to pursue their personal goals by allowing flexible work schedules, the freedom to work remotely, and arranging social gatherings outside of work.
- Explore E-Learning: Training courses are no longer just about hotel conference suites and flip charts. These days there’s a whole new world of virtual training on offer, with courses available on almost any topic imaginable. Online training means staff can learn at their own convenience and pace, with costs generally low and many even free. Check out websites like www.learndirect.com, www.e-learningcentre.co.uk, and www.learningtree.co.uk, to find out more.
We naturally want to become bigger and better than we are, there is no right or wrong way to go about it as long as everyone feels like they are moving forward, no one wants to stagnate, but remember we measure that with different views and on our own scales.
TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!
Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.
Alexa and Siri have appeared in our homes, now the workplace looks set to embrace the world of artificial intelligence (AI). With Apple making moves to build up its artificial intelligence talent this week, it’s safe to say that this is now very much on future business radars.
Many have speculated that its increasing popularity and sophistication will replace human workers, and employees should be concerned. In fact, recent research from Bersin by Deloitte found that 33% of workers expect their jobs to be augmented by AI in the near future.
It surely does sound a bit far fetched but it’s certainly true that many businesses could benefit from considering how to better harness AI and use it to support and refine existing processes. But how exactly? And what will the future really look like?
Interestingly, it’s been suggested that AI could rid the recruitment process of human bias. It could screen the characteristics and qualifications of those who exceed in certain roles, and assess candidates through screening and selection activities. Choosing the right member of staff doesn’t get much more scientific than that, although on the flip side how often have you seen the perfect candidate on paper then realised they just wouldn’t fit in with your company culture.
AI could also allow leaders to be just that – leaders. When admin tasks are largely automated, it frees up time to focus on motivating a team of staff. So whilst many are worried about technology replacing people, it could be argued that it will allow individuals to really hone in on their soft skills and their ability to lead.
Of course, much of this is speculation. If one thing’s for sure though, it’s that we’re entering a new frontier in the world of work and employment, and opportunities and challenges will exist that we probably haven’t ever even considered before. According to The World Economic Forum 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in new job types that don’t even exist yet.
Are you excited about what the future holds? And will you be looking at ways to automate more of your operations?
theHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!
Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at email@example.com for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.
Credit: Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash