Need more signs that it's time to quit your job as you ponder life this Memorial Day weekend? I've expanded on the top ten reasons I shared in my earlier articles, the Top 10 Reasons to Quit Your Job, and 10 Tips That It's Time to Quit Your HR Employment, to add five more signs that it's time to quit your job.
Perhaps these signs will give you the boost you need to strike out in a new direction. If so, here are also the resources you need to maintain economic viability and pursue your job search while maintaining your current job.
You can make a job search or career change feasible if you prepare for the change in advance. Don't wait to get the boot that makes you change direction. Prepare for the future now, while you're still employed.
Here are five more signs that it's time to quit your job; find recommendations on maintaining your economic security and pursuing a job search while you're currently employed, too.
What signs do you look for that it might be time to quit your job. Readers are sharing their opinions about when it was or is time to quit your job.
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Keep the Job You Have - Until You're Ready to Quit Your Job
I frequently feature reader questions that are broadly applicable in any work place. Please add your thoughts in the comment area below. I treasure the ideas of my readers.
"I have an employee who does not trust anyone. She'd just as soon do everything by herself. I have asked her to give one thing for the other ladies in the office to do and write it down, so we know who is accountable for it. She says to me, 'no, then I won't get it back.'
"I said both of the other ladies are getting paid the same as you and they do half the work because you keep taking more and more and they have less and less. Then she becomes upset and overwhelmed because she is so busy and the other two ladies are not.
"I have just started in this HR position a couple of months ago and it is also a new position for the company. The owner of the company wants quantity and quality. He gives more and more to this lady who does everything and does not see what is going on. This lady who does everything, does not say one good word about any of her coworkers. She goes to the point of making them look bad in front of the owner to make herself look good.
"She knows when to say things and when not to. The owner thinks she can do no wrong and all of the others are not very good workers. The owner is not in the office very much. My question is how do I get this lady to trust other workers and let go of some work?"
My Response to the Reader
Unless this lady's coworkers have given her serious reason to distrust them because of their actions in the past, there is a whole lot going on here other than a lack of trust. Although it sometimes feels as if it is our role, we are really not psychologists and learning her real motivations may fall into the therapy category.
You might sit down with her and see if you can identify what is going on and attempt to reach some solutions that will allow her to correct her behavior and share the work with the others. If the coworkers are behaving in ways that reinforce this lady's unwillingness to share the work with them, you can also meet with the coworkers about correcting their performance.
If this approach does not work, inform the employee that you will sit down as a group and together divide the work into divisions that make sense in terms of workload, cross training, efficiency, and serving customers. After the group divides the responsibilities, inform other coworkers about the new divisions, including the owner. You may later want to turn this work into job descriptions that are written by the individuals.
You need to meet individually with the owner to describe the lady's actions and how his handling of assigning work is reinforcing her actions that are not in the best interests of the company. Address everything with him from the successful company perspective and how he can help the office become more effective and use the talents and skills of all the workers.
As a new HR person, this may be a bit scary, but it is a good opportunity to contribute to the effectiveness of your organization and communicate your value to the rest of the company.
More Questions and Answers: Ask Susan
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More Reader Questions
Looking for tips about how to increase your ability to focus on tasks and stay productive at work? One of the problems employees who are multitasking and doing more work face is that they may be, in fact, accomplishing less.
"As professionals are expected to do more on the job, many are actually doing less, less effectively due to an inability to focus on key priorities," according to Joelle K. Jay, PhD. (pictured), noted executive coach and author. She says that neuroscientists have found that people use maximum focus for only about three minutes in an hour. This results in fragmented actions, interrupted thinking, hasty decisions and overall poor quality of work.
For employers, is employee multitasking a problem? Yes. Companies lose an average of 2.1 hours a day on employee productivity because of multitasking and related interruptions.
Solutions exist to counter this multitasking, the lack of focus and concentration by employees. Dr. Jay, the author of The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices for Personal Leadership, says that, "If you don't schedule time to work on important projects and objectives, you can end up bouncing from one task to another, becoming so buried in the minutia of day-to-day operations that you lose sight of the grander vision for your career. Your actions become reactive rather than strategically aligned with achieving your goals."
She recommends these actions.
- "Establish a short list of well-chosen priorities. Remember that having 20 priorities is the same as not having any priorities.
- "Schedule time to work on a project and treat this time as an appointment, meaning no interruptions. Even if it is just for an hour, set aside this golden hour of unitasking to work exclusively on one project.
- "Try to schedule activities that benefit from the same mindset within a block of time. For example, plan to conduct research and write during the morning and reserve the afternoon for more high-energy, interactive pursuits such as sales calls and client meetings. In this way, you can get into a groove and be more productive."
Do you have thoughts about focus, prioritizing, and accomplishing tasks and goals at work? Please share your secrets.
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More Related to Multitasking and Productivity
Need more information about progressive discipline? I've written a lot about disciplinary action including employee reprimands, verbal warnings, and how to take disciplinary action legally and effectively. These are topics that need to be covered in a comprehensive HR site.
But, I am not a fan of disciplinary action. In fact, my goal is to eliminate the need for disciplinary action, nip it in the bud, so to say. Here's why.
- Supervisors have much more interesting and helpful areas to spend their time on.
- Employees would rather do work that garners cheers and thanks.
- Each of us wants to feel and believe that we are contributing to a mission bigger than ourselves at work.
With these goals in mind, I emphasize employee self-discipline as the behavior mode I'd most like to see at work. You can minimize the need for employee disciplinary action. Here's how.
More About Disciplinary Action
- How to Write a Letter of Reprimand
- Communication Following Disciplinary Action
- Sample Letter of Reprimand
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Several teams have requested help with their team work process. They are product development teams that are integrating new members that represent other functions in the company. And, the integration can be rough, especially when the teams are not used to the input and the oversight from the new functions. And, they don't particularly welcome it either.
Plus, the new function doesn't understand that ninety percent of their success will come from successfully building a relationship with the long term team members. They just think they should be accepted because they exist, they have good ideas, and they are a positive, forward thinking innovation. It doesn't work that way.
These are the twelve components of successful team building that must be in place for teams to operate successfully. Absent any of these, focus attention on discussing the issues the teams are experiencing. You can do this through the team norming process.
These are the steps in establishing team norms, the process of establishing how people in groups are going to relate to each other. Done effectively, norms will determine where one function leaves off and the others start. They establish boundaries and determine needed group relationship guidelines. If your team is not functioning effectively, start with these twelve areas and establishing team norms.
Here are sample team norms that were developed by a team. Warning: do not adopt these norms as your own. The most important part of the norming process is the discussion that takes a team to their destination, their own team norms and agreements.
I have a young colleague whose energy amazes me. She's the mom of two and works full time plus is active in professional and civic opportunities. A couple of years ago, she asked me whether I thought she should go on to earn a law degree to supplement the HR masters she was working on at the time.
From earlier conversations, this didn't sound quite right, so I asked her what part of HR she dislikes the most. Employment law, she responded. I asked her what would most likely cause her to get burned out in our field. Employment law and deadbeat employees gaming the laws, she responded.
Hmmm, I said. Have you considered going back to school for your MBA when you finish the HR degree? The MBA would give you broader options in the business. If you stay in HR, the MBA would provide foundation knowledge about the rest of the business including finance. Well, yes, that was her other consideration. I'm glad since the U.S. really doesn't need any more lawyers.
We then moved into a discussion about employee motivation. She is still truly motivated by HR and her interaction with employees, but admits that, after a few years, this work could become old very quickly. How about you? Are you still happy working in your career field, or is it time for a change? Here are the top ten reasons to quit your job, plus five more.
Every person has different reasons for working. The reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because we obtain something that we need from work. The something obtained from work impacts employee morale, employee motivation, and the quality of life.
My young colleague is still motivated by her job and her field and that is grand. And, she has recently decided that pursuing the MBA is the right course of action.
She also works for a company in which employees really matter. To create positive employee motivation, you need to treat employees as if they matter - because employees matter. These top ten employee motivation ideas will help you fulfill what people want from work.
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More About Employee Motivation
You do know, don't you, that there are some things that you should never tell HR? You don't want to make your HR feel as if you are not committed to your career or your company. You also don't want to limit your potential to progress in your job and career at work. You put your HR staff in a legal quandary if you shared that you grow and smoke marijuana, for example.
I frequently encounter employees who think that telling HR about their job search is a positive move on their part. Trust me, it's not. When asked, employees tell me things like, maybe they'll offer me more money to stay or a better job. I just want to let them know that life is not as rosy as they think around here. Trust me, they won't. The time to hold these discussions with HR is before you have one foot out of the door.
When HR thinks you're committed to your job, you can have discussions about improvements, bad bosses, your desired promotion, and more. But hold these conversations while you have the ability to impact the situation.
The minute HR knows that you're job searching, you will not be considered for promotions and lateral moves. You may not be considered for plum assignments. You will definitely hurt your prospects in your current job to influence when your organization thinks of you as short term.
I had fun writing this piece and hope that you enjoy it, too. Here are ten more things that you should never tell HR.
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More About HR
When was the last time that you were offered a doughnut at a morning work meeting? They used to be the breakfast of choice in the workplace. Then came muffins to give employees an even worse alternative. Finally, employers caught on to the idea of employee wellness, and a fruit plate accompanied the bad. Accompanied the bad.
In today's workplace food choices have changed. But, providing nutritional food choices for employees at work is controversial among employees. These nutritional choices may assist with employee wellness but the nutritional food choices should never be forced on employees.
Healthier food and beverage choices may, just may be, becoming more widespread in workplaces. But, as with anything that is in an employee's 18 inches of personal space, healthy food choices must be optional - even when they are encouraged.
Find out more about how an employer can successfully approach providing healthier eating options at work.
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More About Promoting Employee Wellness
Everyone who interviews potential employees has stories to tell.
Stories are a crucial component in shaping your organizational culture, too. But, nothing is better for raising the spirits of managers and HR staff, who have been interviewing numerous potential employees, than candidate stories.
Readers have shared their favorite interview questions and there are some real keepers in the responses. They also share their favorite questions and answers from candidates. These are a hoot, so please take a look.
In addition to your great questions and the remarkable questions and answers that you receive from candidates, I'll bet you have memorable stories about candidates, too. They come late, don't show up at all, answer their cell phones during the interview, and more than I can imagine, you have experienced. Here's your opportunity to share that memorable job interview story. Have a Job Interview Story You'd Love to Tell?
My Nightmare Job Interview Story
I took a candidate to lunch for a client company. She had applied for a sales position and I genuinely liked her and found her qualified for the role. Her potential manager had some concerns about her sales abilities but was comfortable with her experience in business development. The sales role would have taken her on the road with clients quite a bit, so a lunch meeting was scheduled.
Midway through our lunch, the local tornado sirens went off, and amidst thunder, lightning, hail, and a curtain of rain, we were forced to move away from the restaurant window back behind a retaining wall. The next fifteen minutes turned the candidate into a nightmare. She started by taking out her compact and picked her teeth in front of the other customers and me.
Then, she informed me that she wanted to get several coffees for the road and that she'd add them to our bill. Upon her return, I noticed she had ordered a dessert to go, too. These actions in combination with the fact that she talked to me when her mouth was full all during lunch, had convinced me that I didn't want her to be the public face of my client company.
She called the next morning to say she was no longer interested in the job. My suspicion is that she had already decided that when we went to lunch. But, even then, wouldn't you think she'd want our final taste of her professional presence to be positive? (Grin)
Here's your chance to share your nightmare interview story. Have a Job Interview Story You'd Love to Tell?
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More About Interiewing
Not my favorite task, but important, nonetheless, sending a rejection letter to applicants who don't make your short list, is important. Because of the time and energy a candidate invests in applying for your job listings, they deserve a response - one way or the other.
Yes, you reject the majority of your applicants, but even an automated rejection is better than receiving no notice at all. Without a rejection, or at least an acknowledgement, the applicant feels as if their job application has disappeared into a dark hole. This is bad for your reputation as an employer of choice.
It is also thoughtless, rude, and evidence of short term thinking. As the world moves forward, employers who treat applicants with care and consideration, will receive applications from the most desirable employees - the people who have choices about where they work. Your reputation will attract talented employees. Don't underestimate the power of your positive reputation as an employer, going forward.
Scarce skills will be harder and harder to find and recruit. Reputations take years to build - and only minutes to destroy. Doing the small things correctly will ensure that desirable employees want to come to work for you.
This rejection letter template will help you write and customize your applicant rejection letters at each step of your recruitment process. This rejection letter template will help your applicants know where they stand at each step when you are recruiting a new employee. I strongly recommend that you use this rejection letter template to write your own rejection letters.
Here are additional sample rejection letters for each step of your recruitment.
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Rejection Letter Samples
Are you more introverted or extroverted in your workplace behavior? Personally, when I take the Myers-Briggs, in recent years my score tends to be INTJ. In early years, I more often scored ENTJ, but my preferred style is clearly more introverted than extroverted, so I score on the cusp.
It's important to know yourself so that you can play to your strengths and figure out ways in which to accommodate the average workplace which tends to reward extroverted behavior. On the other hand, workplaces need to learn to appreciate the strengths of their more introverted employees.
As always, no best way exists and the most productive workplaces find ways to allow each employee's strengths to shine. Sherrie Haynie (pictured) is an expert in using a variety of psychological assessments to assist in developing and facilitating organizational development initiatives and team-building interventions.
Sherrie recommends how employees with a more introverted behavioral style preference can work most effectively in a more extroverted workplace.
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Related to Flexible Work Styles and Communication
A bad boss is a topic that gets most people who work riled up.
Sometimes, it may seem as if the world just never runs out of them, both the inadvertent bad boss and those who are just plain bad to the bone - and revel in their badness. Most of us have had a bad boss - reader stories are legion (more comments) - so you do know the difference when you find yourself with a good boss.
Good bosses exist and my readers share their good boss stories frequently. But, whether your boss is bad or good, you bear the brunt of developing an effective work relationship with that person you call boss. You are the person whom an unsuccessful boss relationship most impacts.
First of all, consider treating your boss as if he or she is your most important client. Take responsibility for nurturing the positive aspects of the relationship rather than dwelling on all of the negatives. You will find that if you change your view of your boss and your attitude toward your boss, the relationship will improve.
By changing your outlook about your boss, you affect the actions, subtle and not-so-subtle, that he or she experiences from you daily. If you're a bad boss, it's difficult to remain bad in the face of a persistently positive, upbeat, can-do employee who treats you as if you are important. Here are more thoughts on managing up for a positive boss relationship.
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Employers ask a lot about employee satisfaction, employee engagement, employee motivation, employee involvement, employee empowerment, and employee morale. There are differences between each of these concepts, but many people use them interchangeably. I'm on a mission to define them so that they each have a modicum of usefulness in discussions about what employees need and want at work - and what employers need and want from employees.
I want engaged, empowered employees who have positive morale and who are motivated to perform responsibly, effectively and professionally. I also want them to experience deep satisfaction from their work, their involvement in their workplace, their colleagues, and their company's policies and employee engagement programs.
Are you laughing yet? I am. Even smiling? Please. It's not the words; it's the workplace. Let's make them environments in which employees want to work, environments in which employees thrive. And, I'll continue my definitions on this overcast Monday morning.
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Effective relationships and learning are the mainstays of organizational success today. Organizations that find meaningful ways for their employees to connect are more likely to realize greater productivity, enhanced career growth, freely flowing innovation and overall improvement in employee performance. Mentoring serves both purposes.
One-on-one mentoring, with a mentor who exhibits the mentoring characteristics needed by people who become successful mentors, is one of the key methods you can use to develop employees. Group mentoring is a value-added tool for connecting employees and advancing learning within your organization. Whether singly or in groups, employees benefit from learning and exchanges with more experienced employees.
I've had several mentoring experiences over the years. Dave Schmidt, my first senior HR Director boss, helped me figure out the hierarchy and the way the world worked at General Motors. Ron Carr, the skilled tradesman who took me on weekly plant walks so I could learn the manufacturing environment without ever having worked in it, paved my path to acceptance as their training coordinator by the tool and die guys. (Quite a feat at the time...)
A beloved friend who spent many hours with me when I was starting my business, Leslie Charles is especially memorable because she even took the chance of subcontracting training work to a neophyte consultant. And, we're still friends and confidants twenty some years later. I consider myself blessed and lucky. If you seek, you can find mentoring, too.
Organizations can assist employees by developing a culture that supports mentoring. They can provide mentoring training. They can factor mentoring into job descriptions, performance development planning, and their recognition systems. Every new employee should receive mentoring from a current employee. Company stories that employees tell should reinforce the importance of mentoring.
Managers, senior employees, and talented contributors can provide mentoring to others by committing themselves to mentoring, developing a mentoring relationship, meeting regularly, and sharing knowledge.
Believe me, I haven't spent twenty plus years in a successful consulting and writing career without plenty of mentoring and help from others. It's the same in your workplace. The more your organization supports mentoring, the more mentoring help you have from others to help you learn, grow, and practice, the more successful you and your workplace will be.
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More Mentoring Resources
Know what employees need? I speak often about the fact that employees need to understand the overall goals of the company - so they understand the parameters of the ball park that they are playing in for decision making and achieving goals.
Today, I'll highlight another factor that is critical to company success. You need to build a team work environment in which employees have each made the commitment to play well with others. Employees who like each other, work well together, and support each other, serve customers well and deliver market worthy products.
This is why you never want to allow an employee squabble to get out of hand. Employees need conflict resolution skills and managers and coworkers need to know how to moderate conflicts in ways that preserve relationships.
In one of my client settings, two women work in the same office and haven't spoken to each other for twenty years. Fortunately, they don't have to work together, but can you imagine how uncomfortable that work environment must be for coworkers? And, I'd hazard a guess that neither of them remembers the details about what caused the breach in the first place.
So, solving bad employee conflicts is a priority. At the same time, you want to enable healthy conflict over ideas, product features, and direction. Balancing the two kinds of conflict adds up to a healthy work environment.What's your conflict resolution style?
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If you're like many of my readers, you balance your job and career with family responsibilities. This is challenging because not all work places have adopted flexible work schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other practices that help working parents balance their work with their lives.
There are ways to better balance all of your responsibilities. Lynn Taylor (pictured), who is a noted national workplace expert in the HR field and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job (John Wiley & Sons), offers tips. (Compare prices.)
You'll want to take a look at her work-life balance tips for working parents. They focus on providing time and attention for your children while still getting the job done.
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More Related to Work-Life Balance
Delegation can be viewed as dumping by the employee who receives more work to do. A young employee's complaint reminded me. Though she was extremely interested in more responsible work and taking on new challenges, she felt that her manager was just giving her more work to do.
Consequently, some of the delegated work was more challenging; attending meetings during which she helped impact the direction of a developing product was challenging, exciting, and responsible. She believed her manager didn't understand the difference though, so she spent her time doing more work of a mundane, repetitive nature. This workload, that had her working long hours and weekends, interfered with her ability to take on more responsibility.
Admittedly, any job has its share of mundane tasks that have to be completed. I don't like filing and I don't like billing clients. I also don't like doing the wash. But, the manager must carefully balance the delegation of more work with the delegation of work requiring more responsibility, authority, and challenge. Effective delegation is one of the most powerful opportunities organizations have for developing employee capabilities and skills.
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More About Effective Leadership and Delegation
Are you interested in discovering your employees' most serious complaints? Knowing what makes employees unhappy is half the battle when you think about employee work satisfaction, employee morale, positive motivation, and retention.
Listen to employees and provide opportunities for them to communicate with company managers. If employees feel safe, they will tell you what's on their minds. Your work culture must foster trust for successful two-way communication.
You need to provide ways for employees to communicate, air their concerns, and see that their voiced opinions had an impact on your work systems. You need to, not just listen, but be prepared to tell employees what their shared concerns changed about your business.
If an employee's concerns changed nothing, give them that feedback, too. But especially, tell the employee why his or her concern changed nothing. Without this critical feedback, employees feel as if their concern went into a black hole somewhere in space. Despite the fact that you took the time to listen, you need to close the feedback loop for the communication to count.
Readers share their most significant employee complaints. Why not share yours?
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In a client company, a manager had decided that the goal setting components of the performance development planning process were not clearly communicating his goals and expectations to one of his reporting employees.
In the manager's mind, the employee was failing. So, he had decided to write a performance improvement plan (PIP) for him which more clearly documented the expected contribution and dates of expected completion of goals.
As employees use the lingo, the employee was placed on a PIP. (Many employees consider this PIP the death knell of their employment.) In the manager's lingo, the employee needed clearer direction because the normal communication / goal negotiation process was not working. The employee on a PIP, in most cases, has a limited amount of time to demonstrate progress. But, the goal of a correct PIP process is improvement and employee retention. To lose an employee is a failure, in my mind.
The PIP is a powerful communication tool for improvement when employees take it seriously. At the same time, a manager who has multiple employees fail at performing their jobs, is suspect. The vast majority of employees show up for work wanting to contribute and develop their skills.
So, the manager needs to determine whether his management system has failed. And, he needs to answer these questions:
- Is he communicating expectations regularly and reinforcing employees who are doing the right thing?
- Is he fearful of their competency?
- Does he have a documented track record of providing feedback to the employee or does the employee feel blindsided by the PIP?
- Does he develop a supportive relationship with his employees that invites dialog about performance? Or, is he rarely there for them?
- Is he controlling and micromanaging or does he set goals and set the employees free to accomplish them?
In many cases, since employees leave managers, not jobs or companies, I regard a failing employee as the exclusive responsibility of the manager. Yes, employees contribute to their own downfall - frequently and forcefully, but the manager is the most powerful tool in preventing their demise.
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Want to know the cover letter red flags that should capture your attention when you review an applicant's cover letter? The cover letter is an integral component of a job searcher’s job application materials.
Sent with the resume when a job searcher applies for a job, the cover letter enhances the credentials of a qualified applicant - or not. Smart job searchers recognize that the cover letter is an opportunity to point out the connection between their skills and experience and the requirements in your job posting.
How you review a cover letter and what you want to see in an effective cover letter is a topic I've addressed frequently. Cover letters should matter to employers. They are both an opportunity for an applicant to put her professional best foot forward and an elimination tool for the employer.
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More:Staffing Red Flags for Employers | Job Application Review
Employee performance appraisals are a long term popular topic on this website and in HR discussions everywhere. Some people vote to abolish them forever; others find them useful to evaluate employee performance and make pay raise decisions.
I am in the camp that believes organizations need a documented way to keep track of and evaluate employee progress on goals and contributions, but that performance appraisals should not dominate the compensation discussion. I do believe that when managing employees, you get what you request and reward. I also believe that performance appraisals, as they have traditionally been practiced and used, don't work.
Sure, they work for straining relationships and making people angry. They contribute to managers going through the motions when many employees want legitimate, helpful developmental feedback. And, performance appraisals make managers angry and upset when both HR and their reporting employees are harassing them for their performance appraisals because their pay raise depends on their completion.
Sure, I'd like all organizations to move in the direction of performance management and I frequently write about how to do that. But, I also recognize that, for a variety of reasons, some legal and some determined by organizations in their effort to be fair to employees, manage employee performance consistently, and avoid any hint of discrimination, not all organizations agree.
So, I have a newly adopted mission. I'd like to work with those of you who live in an organization that requires performance appraisals. You can make performance appraisals significantly more useful, less destructive to relationships and egos, and turn them into a useful tool for employee development and feedback.
With this in mind, I have begun to create a series of FAQs about performance appraisals that will help you significantly improve their use in your organization. Not all of you have the opportunity to affect the total system for performance appraisals within which you work. But, every manager has the opportunity to take the system you've been dealt and turn the performance appraisal process into a positive, rewarding, beneficial process for both yourself and the employees who report to you. These FAQs will tell you how to maximize success with performance appraisals.
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Performance Appraisal Tips
Martha asks a thoughtful question that I answer and that you may have insights about, too. (In fact, her question prompted so much thought on my part that I have added two new articles to the HR business planning collection on the site.)
Martha's Question: "My boss asked me, 'what is your plan for your HR department?' I'm heading the HR department of a manufacturing plant, with over 500 employees. We have our vision and mission in place, and each department has their own head of department. Other than the commonly established roles of human resources, where can I look for the answer or decide upon an answer to my boss' question?"
My Response: Martha, this is a common question that bosses like to ask HR staff. I find it as difficult to answer as another frequent question I receive which is, "How do I go about starting an HR function or department in my company?"
They're difficult questions because the answer is so company-specific and it depends on your needs analysis of your own workplace. The question you need to ask is, "What does your workplace need from the HR function?"
What are the appropriate goals, organization, and initiatives for a Human Resources department to pursue? Whether your HR function is a department of one or many, basic Human Resources business planning, that includes internal organizational needs assessment and external benchmark comparisons, is needed. This is how you need to approach and accomplish fundamental Human Resources business planning.
Start by asking your boss what he or she wants from you, and then, follow the rest of my recommendations. Then, at last, you can answer your boss's question: What is your business plan for your HR department? But heed this story, too...
Lee Iacocca Business Planning Fable
I'm not sure how true the story is, but it's circulated for years in business seminars. It's as apt today as on the day it supposedly occurred, so I'll share it. It has been said that Lee Iacocca interrupted a business meeting that he was attending when he was Chrysler's President, CEO, and later Chairman, and asked for a particular piece of data. No one in the room, to their embarrassment, could supply the information.
Following the meeting, an employee was assigned to collect the required data from each department. The monthly reports soon filled the shelves of a storage room, but a new employee noticed that no one ever seemed to ask for or use the information that an analyst in each department was now providing monthly.
A brave soul approached Chairman Iacocca and asked when and how he would like the data that the departments had been collecting for several years. As the story goes, Mr. Iacocca looked at his staffer in bewilderment, not remembering that he had ever wanted or asked for the data, and said he was completely perplexed as to why his organization was collecting it.
'Nuff said? Start by asking the boss for more information before you embark on an unnecessary journey...
More Questions and Answers: Ask Susan
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More About HR Business Planning
Because so many people are looking for work right now, cautious resume review and diligent checking of credentials gain significance.
Especially resume review, serious attention to cover letters, and job application review are more important than ever. I don't know about your company, but in mine, we interview with an employee selection team. Consequently, employee time invested in each candidate who comes in for an interview is costly.
Plus, the involved employees spend additional time comparing candidates and providing Human Resources employees with feedback and input. Their input about which candidates to invite back for a second interview, that will involve even more people and staff time, are heeded.
Find out more about an effective selection process: Employee Involvement Is Key to a Successful Employee Selection Process
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More About Your Selection Process
Having a company with many young employees means that an employee or an employee's spouse is almost always pregnant. Indeed, there are usually multiple babies on their way.
We have even hired obviously pregnant applicants, knowing that the new employee would soon take time off for the birth. I think of all of these babies as the next generation talent pool. Occasionally, though, upon completion of the 12 week FMLA leave time, a valued employee decides that work is not a current option and that staying home with the baby is most important.
We support whatever choices our employees make, although we'd like to be in on the decision as soon as possible for planning and work coverage. Lifestyle choices are important to millennial employees (also called Gen Y) in your company. Even many gen-X employees seek flexibility that the Baby Boomer generation never dreamed of demanding.
Here are tips for managing these valued millennial employees and some thoughts about not putting millennial employees in a one-size-fits-all box. Myths abound about millennial employees; don't get sidetracked and miss the best the millennials have to offer in your workplace. It's a lot.
In fact, I ran across a great example of millennial employees successfully contributing to a workplace. Donna Fenn, a respected small business guru, posted on Facebook that the CEO of Tasty Catering in Chicago helped his business grow by handing the reins to millennial employees.
Interesting to me, too, is the company's habit of hiring the best possible employees they can find as interns during high school. Many stay through college and on into their career. Worth your time to hear more, too, about balancing generations in a workplace.
In my company, we hire millennials as interns and offer jobs to the best contributors. It's a real time opportunity to try before you buy, so to say. But, working with Gen Y, as my new article explains, is both a challenge and a joy.
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My husband is the president of our company and lunches fairly regularly with the members of our executive team. When his usual lunch dates are unavailable, he sends out an email looking for "lunch buddies." He has four goals in joining employee groups for lunch:
- seeking out employees who are doing something interesting or exciting to them and learning and sharing about it.
- getting to know our employees better in an informal setting,
- keeping his fingers on the pulse of our organization and nurturing our work culture, and
- lending his support to their efforts.
Recently, he ate with one of our company book clubs. Reading groups or book clubs at work are one of the least expensive, most motivating forms of employee development. For the price of a book, employees learn the concepts in the book to expand their management, team, and coworker skills, out-of-the-box thinking, and pursue personal growth. Book clubs play a central role in your employee development options.
In a book club, employees learn leadership skills by leading book discussion sessions. These sessions are excellent for team building and as an opportunity for employees from different departments to get to know each other. Book clubs are also a way for managers and employees to interact and get to know each other in a relaxed setting.
In company book clubs, employees select books on topics about which they want to learn more. As an example, in a company that sells its products internationally, a group of employees is reading books about globalization. Another group is reading about agile software development. Others are reading management books such as Jim Collins' Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't (compare prices).
Book clubs frequently choose books about teams: interest in building effective teams never seems to wane. But, any topic about which a group of employees share an interest, is fair game and supported for a book club.
Beyond the concepts in the books, people also gain a shared language, a shared terminology for the concepts they are studying. I am a fan of reading groups. Here's information about book clubs and recommended books from two companies that appreciate the contribution of their book clubs to their employee development. Then, try one of these recommended books.
Recommended Book Club Reading
These are mostly older books but still recommended. Classics don't go out of date.
Daniel Pink recommends no carrots to encourage and reward high level performance in higher level cognitive skills and output.
Ideas Worth Spreading is TED's tagline and I find many of their presentations insightful and thought-provoking. In this video, Dan Pink, author and career consultant, looks at what he calls the preponderance of the research on motivation. He concludes that the carrot and the stick approach, that has been used eternally by business to reward performance, only applies when skills rewarded are mechanical, basic skills
He concludes that when a business wants to reward cognitive skills, the higher level thinking and creative skills, rewards may even negatively impact performance. You've heard me say in the past that only when employees have enough money to cover their chosen lifestyle do they move on to motivated behavior via more intrinsic rewards.
Mr. Pink argues that if you give employees enough money, so that money is not an issue, then they will strive for three transcendent purposes: Autonomy (self-direction), Mastery (getting better and better), and Purpose (part of larger, defined issue). He calls these the rewards of the 21st century.
Take a look at the videos, and check out many of the TED speakers who do make me think and sometimes, rethink, what I believe. This one is congruent with my thinking, but the research and examples are worth hearing. So is his story about an Australian company that gives its employees a day periodically to work on anything that they want to work on if they think it will further the company's and customers' best interests.
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More About Motivation and Rewards
Writing recently about developing a code of conduct or code of ethics, as it is sometimes called, I was struck by the importance of an organization having a code to guide employee behavior.
The truth, in cases of an apparent lapse in business ethics by a high level, high profile employee, always lies somewhere between what a company or the individual is willing to publicly disclose and the voraciousness with which the media report the story. And, I am a true believer in an employee's right to privacy when the issue of employee confidentiality is at stake. So, the public rarely knows the whole story - and that is okay with me.
Business Ethics and Managers
The behavior of any individual in a management role, an employee who is trusted to supervise the work of other employees or a function within an organization, must rise above the standard set and expected by a company for all employees. Organizations need to hold managers to a higher standard than is expected from other employees. Managers must model sterling business ethics behavior.
So, business ethics takes center stage this week in my thinking and writing. My article addresses the broad topic of business ethics and provides examples of ways in which business ethics are ignored in workplaces every day.
Some of my examples of lapses in business ethics may surprise you as they range from the catastrophic to the tiny little decisions that employees make when no one is watching and no one will ever know. To spice matters up a bit, I have also supplied an opportunity for you to add your stories and examples business ethics gone awry. Please help expand our set of examples by entering your example here.
More Related to Business Ethics
I have not spent a lot of time developing organizational competencies that specify knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for the fleshing out of each job role and the qualifications of the employee who will best succeed in the role. I have watched some organizations, primarily public sector, spend a fortune in staff time and energy determining competencies for every job.
I am not convinced of the usefulness of this effort and how the results of thousands of hours of effort have been or will be used by the organization. And, that is the key, I believe. How will the organization use the results. I can be convinced that the time and energy are worth it. Convince me. Please.
A reader writes asking for some clarification. I respond. Can you further flesh out the concept and provide more examples? Help appreciated.
Reader Question: I was conducting a job analysis in my organization. During this exercise I was a bit confused in writing skills and abilities for various positions. I wanted your help in clearing my confusion in deciding over the difference between skills and abilities in a KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) assessment. Eagerly waiting for your reply...
My Response: This is how I differentiate. A skill is something the employee can learn or is learning or has learned. An ability is a strength that is innate to the employee. It can be improved but the talent or ability for it exists within the individual to start.
Perhaps a good example is (since my husband was reading a photography book recently) found in taking a photograph. The photographer had the skill to take a photograph that was exposed just perfectly. Another photographer had the ability to find a beautiful scene that she composed in such a way that she turned the scene into a stunning photograph. An employee could develop additional skills and competency in both, but that artistic eye might forever elude the technical expert. I trust this helps.
More Questions and Answers: Ask Susan
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More About Job Requirements
May is Revise Your Work Schedule Month. I imagine that many parents, adult caretakers of parents, and people who just want a bit more leisure time for summer activities, will take note of this celebration.
Flexible work schedules have never been more popular as the current generation, that comprises the younger set in the workplace, values time off from work and work life balance with a passion not pursued, by perhaps, equally interested, older generations. For whatever reasons, and that's a potentially enlightening discussion to hold someday - since that generation of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers raised this generation and their parents, they didn't pursue work life balance options such as flexible work schedules with the passion their children exhibit - and even - demand.
Rules Must Rule in Work Life Balance Policies
I support flexible work schedules and other workplace initiatives to make work a more employee-friendly environment. But, guidelines, policies, employee education, and communication must accompany any relaxing of the traditional 8 to 5 work schedule. Otherwise, you will have a mess on your hands.
Different departments will make their own rules and complaints about what should be a motivational component of your workplace will be rampant. Employees who believe others have more leeway or that their needs were not met, are negative about work. Fairness, inclusiveness, consistency, agreed upon success measurements, and feedback must rule.
Flexible schedule not currently available in your workplace? You can negotiate a flexible work schedule.
What Do You Do for Work Life Balance?
Has your employer done anything out of the ordinary for work life balance for employees? These are work life balance tips and strategies that have been shared by readers. Share your work life balance tips and strategies.
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Anyone who has ever worked in training can identify the trainer's eternal dilemma. How do you help the pumped up, happy trainees, who pass their training session end test with flying colors, apply the new knowledge back on the job?
You can follow my recommendations about what to do before, during, and after the training session to facilitate the transfer of the training to the job. But, even when you do the right things right to foster training transfer, you do not control the environment in which employees must try to apply the new knowledge.
All components of the work environment affect the trainee's application of skills. Work environments are ready to foster change or they are not. Supervisors may resist employees performing in new ways. Employees have varying degrees of motivation to practice new skills. New ways of doing work may require more time. The employee may receive no recognition for applying new skills.
The above training transfer tips develop an environment that supports skill practice. If the trainer can impact the trainee's workplace, training transfer is more likely to occur.
The trainer's dilemma never ends. Your thoughts about training and training transfer? I've become a serious fan of on-the-job training opportunities versus seminars and training classes.
Image Copyright Jacob Wackerhausen
Training Success Tips
At some point in your working career, you will have a difficult boss. It's guaranteed. He or she may not be a nasty or critical boss, but perhaps they don't set clear direction, provide useful feedback, or offer praise and recognition. Difficult bosses come in all shapes and sizes and what's difficult for you may not be difficult for other employees.
Or, the difficult boss may just be unknowing, untrained, and clueless. Each circumstance differs, but one factor remains the same. If you have a difficult boss, you need to know how to most effectively work with the boss. You will benefit from my tips about working successfully with a difficult boss.
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More About Difficult Bosses
The first week of May is Update Your References Week. Since Human Resources job searching is my topic this week, why don't you take a look and make sure that you have your job searching house in order.
Obtaining excellent references is just one of many steps in a professional HR job search. You need to keep your references up-to-date on your plans and activities throughout your HR job search - and after.
Just as you need to approach networking - build your network before you need one - early, the same approach applies to job searching. You never know when you'll be back on the street, but you'll have a much easier time, if you are always prepared. In fact, staying prepared for a job search ranks high on my recommendations about how to prepare for unemployment while employed.
I've created a great new resource for anyone who is looking for an HR job. People who want to transition into an HR career will find lots of transition stories here, too. Even if you're thinking about an HR job in the future, this resource has information for you.Take a look at: Find Jobs in Human Resources - Fast
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On occasion, an employee or a former employee will ask you to write a reference letter to help improve their job searching success. If it's an employee that you valued, you'll want to help him or her out by writing a reference letter.
Here are a couple of tips about writing reference letters. More reference letter writing tips.
- Check with your Human Resources department to see what the company policy is about written references. They may be forbidden and your company policy may require that you send all such requests to HR.
- If reference letters are okay, determine whether you can write an honest, helpful reference letter. For a good employee, it's easy; for a so-so employee, the words become more difficult. If the employee was an underperforming, not-very-successful employee, I'd pass on the opportunity. Tell the individual that you don't feel that you can write a helpful reference letter.
- Because reference letters live forever and develop a life of their own (which is one of the reasons that I don't like them and I'd really rather talk to former supervisors), carefully date them. They will be photocopied for years. I've had applicants give me reference letters that are 20 years old (a practice that I also don't recommend).
- In your reference letter, speak truthfully, give examples, and where possible, provide numeric or verbal descriptions of the employee's achievements.
- Use these sample reference letters as a guide when you write your own. Here's my newest sample reference letter for an employee that you hated to lose. This new reference letter is for a marketing generalist.
More Sample Reference Letters
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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
- How to Interview Potential Employees
- Readers' Best Interview Questions: Add Yours
- Interviewing Tips and Interviewing Techniques
- Sample Interview Questions
Ask Susan: More Questions and Answers
Not everyone will end up in the same career when this economic downturn improves. Perhaps your individual job no longer exists - even your field may undergo vast changes as employers struggle to remain competitive.
To compound matters, few employees stick with their current employer for their entire work life. Employees today, are likely to change jobs - and even, careers - many times.
In addition to keeping your resume constantly updated, pay attention to the hints and clues in your workplace that tell you whether your job is safe. While many employees claim that they never saw a layoff coming, these are actions you can take to stay mindful about the status of your employment. Are you in danger of getting fired or laid off?
Dawn Rosenberg McKay, who writes the career planning site for About.com has pulled together a terrific set of resources about adapting your career to a tough economy. No matter what looms on your horizon - even events you plan and are excited about - these resources will help you adapt your career to the new economy. They're worth your time.
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More About Careers and the Tough Economy