Sunday December 8, 2013
I've answered hundreds of questions from readers over the years. But, for the most part, they have been on this blog and in email and are hard to track and see by other readers. I've changed that.
Now, all reader questions and answers will be captured in a feature called, Ask Susan. In this way, all readers will benefit from the questions and answers asked by other readers. And, I will have the opportunity to assist more of you in trying to create effective, successful workplaces.
You can access your opportunity to ask questions here. You can see the complete list of questions that I have already answered by visiting my new Ask Susan Questions and Answers page.
I haven't captured all of the reader questions that I've answered over the years, but I have saved those with the most reader relevance. Your feedback is most welcome. Thank you.
Image Copyright Susan Heathfield
Questions Answered During the Past Week
Sunday December 8, 2013
Received a note recently that asked whether we should continue training employees during tougher economic times. My immediate visceral reaction was, "Whaaaaat?" I know. Hardly mature.
But, when will employers figure out that there will never be a time when you cannot afford to continue to train and develop employees. They are your most significant resource. And, there may lay the rub. Maybe you say they are, but, in reality, you think of your employees - and you treat your employees - as an expense. Bad. Bad.
Okay, I'll give you a break. Maybe you have fewer dollars to invest in sending employees to conferences and seminars. In reality, unless you employ methods to share that training with the rest of your employees when the trainee returns, this is not cost effective, and may not even be productive, training.
The exception I would make is for new skill training such as learning concepts that no one has been exposed to yet or training on machines not yet present in your company.
Non-traditional Training Options
Your employee training can encompass so much more than classes and seminars if you think about training broadly and creatively. There has never been a better time to expand your definition of training.
I started out my private sector career in training and the topic has remained near and dear to me because of its potential to transform lives and business results. My article about training for retention and development is worth reading.
In it, I pinpoint numerous opportunities to train employees beyond the traditional seminars and conferences. Many of the methods cost less, provide employees with concrete, on-the-job training and knowledge, and stretch employee skills through such processes as job enrichment.
I am also a big fan of employee book clubs at work. The company purchases a selected book for a group of volunteer employees who meet weekly to discuss the concepts they are learning.
Additionally, done effectively, the second topic in each discussion session, is how to apply the concepts read about in your company. The book club brings knowledge, new ideas, and team building to the group participating. Try one. These employers did.
Finally, the power of coaching and mentoring by peers and colleagues as a method for training and developing staff is an opportunity whose potential has barely been explored in most organizations. But, they have the potential to revolutionize employee development. See the other best on-the-job training methods and opportunities.
Image Copyright Manchan / Getty Images
Saturday December 7, 2013
Talking with managers about employees who are failing in their jobs is part of my consulting practice. No matter what other work I am doing with a company, employee performance - or the need to change or improve employee performance - is always part of the discussion.
Most managers genuinely want to see people succeed at work, but they do reach their understandable limits. My input is always to make sure that managers are treating employees consistently and fairly, but that they are also looking out for their company's best interests. Knowing what employees want from work takes a manager down the path to the intersection of employee motivation and employee performance. Then, he or she can apply these performance improvement strategies.
I am also concerned that the appropriate HR policies are in place so that employees clearly understand the rules and the consequences.
Most frequently, I spend my time helping managers build their skills so they become ever more effective at creating an environment in which employees can and will succeed. These are the steps that I suggest managers follow when they have an employee who is challenged to succeed at work.
Image Copyright Michael Blann / Getty Images
Employee Performance Improvement Ideas
Saturday December 7, 2013
Reader's Question: I have been employed (private sector) by the same private employer for many
years and I applied for a position at a university (public). The
interview was all day and by the entire department (30 or so
employees). It was an interrogation!
I understand that the
university wanted everyone to feel part of the decision making, (shared blame if candidate doesn't work out, etc.) but why put a person through
the gauntlet? Some may not like my skills or personality but I may
not like theirs either.
What are the statistics about success in hiring regarding one-to-one interviews or one-to-many interviews?
My Response: Your group job interview does sound a bit like an interrogation. But, the answer may be as simple as the leader determined that everyone in the department needed a voice in determining whether their candidates fit the department's culture. Or, their group job interview process may red flag you that the position and department might not be a good fit for you. Think about it from both perspectives.
The goal of many interviews is to help the department members "own" the
candidate and help the person succeed when he or she comes onboard.
Approaches to interviewing depend on the organization's culture and what
they are trying to accomplish. At my company, private sector, up to
twenty people might interview a candidate in a first and second
interview, but it depends on the position.
The last time I was interviewed for a university position, fourteen people met with me
around a conference room table for hours. This was a stressful group job interview.
The only stats I have seen on an interview's contribution to a
successful hire are in this article about selecting and hiring employees, but it depends on what they were trying to accomplish with their interviews. Also, approaches to candidates often evolve over time based on what
organizations have found successful in the past. Group job interviews may have produced their most successful employees.
In reality, at the end of the group job interviews, and you can assume in the public sector that all candidates faced a similar grilling, someone was hired. Or, the position was unfilled or any of a number of outcomes occurred. But, you are a more competent interviewee and you have earned bragging rights forever about the day you faced the interview squad of 30.
Please respond in comments if you have additional thoughts for this reader.
Image Copyright Jacob Wackerhausen
More Related to Group Job Interviews
Ask Susan: More Questions and Answers