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Don’t let yourself off the hook: 5 reasons to write job descriptions

Posted on Fri, Apr 19, 2013 @ 15:04 PM

job descriptionsIf you don’t enjoy writing or updating job descriptions, we’ve got news for you: We’ve yet to meet someone who does.  But just because you don’t like writing them doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook! In fact, we would go so far as to say that we consider job descriptions to be the cornerstone of all managerial actions. Why? They help ensure that you’re hiring effectively; they also protect your businesses by saving it time and money.  If you’ve approached writing job descriptions with tepid enthusiasm, we’ve got a few motivators.

Don’t let yourself off the hook: 5 reasons to write job descriptions

Writing job descriptions saves you time and money
Writing a job description is tedious and time-consuming work—so how do they save you time? Clearly defining a position in writing makes it much easier to weed out candidates that don’t fit your needs; and you’ll avoid making a hiring blunder that’ll cost you both time and money. You’ll also be much less likely to base your hiring decisions on factors that aren’t related to the position: the candidate’s personal beliefs, for example, or your own likes and dislikes.

Writing job descriptions lays the groundwork for a successful interview
Carefully constructed job descriptions also make the interview process simpler. Since the job has already been outlined, all you have to do is build a series of interview questions around it. This keeps the interview focused; it also helps you avoid subjects that have legal ramifications.  

Writing job descriptions help new hires hit the ground running
You may have hired a brilliant and perfectly capable new employee—but if s/he only has a vague sense of what the job entails, expect the productivity and satisfaction of the new employee to suffer. Give them the direction they need right off the bat.

Writing job descriptions helps set the agenda for the next performance review
At least once a year your company should revisit your job description. We suggest aligning these updates with annual performance reviews. Here’s why: During a performance review, you set goals and objectives for employees. Updating that employee’s job description is an easy way to set the agenda for the next performance review.

Writing and updating job descriptions reflects well on your company image
Your company may not have made any drastic changes in the last year. Nonetheless, you’d be surprised at how quickly language (HR buzz phrases included) evolves in a short amount of time.  Outdated job descriptions are painfully obvious to prospective employees and can reflect poorly on the company.  

Writing a job description is only one way to avoid making a hiring blunder. For more tips, check out one of our recent blogs where we cover 5 of the most overlooked recruiting strategies.

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Topics: Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Engaging Employees, job descriptions

5 Tips for Facilitating Effective Performance Reviews

Posted on Sat, Sep 08, 2012 @ 08:09 AM

Performance ReviewUtter “performance review” and watch the faces sour. The reaction is not without good reason either. The stereotypical performance review often feels like a top-down, mechanically delivered assessment: The employer does the talking while the silent employee is picked apart…which is precisely why they have such a bad reputation.

But performance reviews don’t have to be painful; in fact, they can even be something that both employee and employer look forward to. Here are 5 tips to make your performance review not only painless, but productive.

5 Tips for Facilitating Effective Performance Reviews

1. Look at performance reviews as an opportunity to enter into a partnership
When you skip the antiquated, top-down model and instead address your employees’ feelings and frustrations, you’ll see more buy in. And more often than not, you’ll also see changes in their behavior and productivity which is ultimately the point of a performance review in the first place, isn’t it? People respond to tactless criticism in kind. However, if your employee senses that you understand her point of view—even if you do not agree with it—you will more easily be able to coach her and offer suggestions for how she might do things differently.

2. Base your review on specific and documented observations
You’re busy, but running a performance review off the cuff is unproductive. It can also be disastrous. All employers essentially want the same thing: Happy, productive workers and a profitable business. But a carelessly run review undermines these goals; it can also cause one of your most valuable employees to rethink their devotion to the company and you.

    Keep a working file and include a list of every employee’s significant accomplishments (and shortcomings). Also include a detailed description of the employee’s job and what it would look like if it was performed exactly right. Doing this will provide you with a rubric for evaluating each employee; you’ll also be able to use it as a coaching device to model how your employee could improve.

    3. Schedule interim performance reviews
    Like all relationships, the ones you have with employees need to be maintained and nurtured. If we all share a common goal (to have happy, productive employees), why would we evaluate their happiness and productivity only once a year? Instead, try scheduling informal monthly reviews to establish and assess goals. If you think of these as collaborative, give-and-take conversations, there’s little to dread.

    4. Set the right tone
    Before you begin the performance review, ease into it with some small talk. It’s true, small talk often lacks substance or meaning—but it doesn’t have to.

    Skip talking about the weather or sports. Unless you are both weatherman and sportscaster, it’s unlikely that beginning a meeting by talking about either relates to your shared experiences. Instead, start with questions like this:

    • How does it feel to have completed the __________ project? I imagine that was quite an undertaking.
    • Last week, you mentioned you were going to be vacationing in Florida this October. That will be a great trip. Have you ever been there before?
    5. Focus on an agenda and encourage employee feedback
    No one likes surprises in a performance review, so preface your conversation with an agenda and solicit feedback as you do this. You might say something like this:

    “Here’s what I was thinking we’d do: First, I’d like to give you a summary of the review; then we can cover the details of your strongest points. After that, we can talk about areas where you might improve. Lastly, based on your feedback and on some of my ideas, I’d like to collaborate on setting some future goals and work together to figure out the best way to achieve them. As I’m going through some of this, I want you to feel free to comment and ask questions if you think of any.”

    Effective performance reviews often have as much to do with what happens before “the conversation” as it does during “the conversation.” It’s going to be difficult to solicit feedback and openness if you haven’t been open or established a relationship with your employees before the review.

    If you're looking for affordable human resource masters programs, learn more about Marygrove College's online Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management (HRM)

    You might also be interested in knowing that we have reduced tuition by 19 percent for the 2012-2013 academic year! 

     

    Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

    Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success, soft skills and etiquette, Office Etiquette, Positive Work Environment

    5 Ways to Step Up Your Employee Communication Skills

    Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 @ 11:08 AM

    Arguing EmployeesIf you’re a manager or work in Human Resources, you know that mediating disputes between employees, addressing inappropriate attire, even handling an issue as seemingly benign as an employee who applies perfume with a hose, is not easy—not for anyone. And these conversations certainly aren’t pleasant, no matter how silver-tongued and judicious you are.

    Every tough conversation has its own set of intricacies you’ll have to negotiate, but being armed with your softest pair of kid gloves and the right attitude is where it all begins.

    5 Ways to Step Up Your Employee Communication Skills

    1. Begin with Empathy and Respect
    Life is complicated, so let’s get back to basics. Effective employee communication begins with the “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The adage seems lightweight, but that doesn’t make it any less true. It’s a simple fact that people respond in kind. The Golden Rule, though, goes beyond what we say.

      Consider linguist Henry Calero’s suggestion that 55 percent of the messages we transmit to each other come from body movements and 38 percent from the voice—inflection, intonation, volume. Here’s the kicker: A mere 7 percent of the messages we transmit come from words. What this seems to suggest, then, is that effective employee communication has little to do with what you say and a lot to do with how you say it.

        2. Pierce the Heart with Guilt—Not Aggression
        In his book One Hundred and One Tough Conversations to Have with Employees, Paul Falcone suggests that guilt not aggression is your greatest asset when having a tough conversation. There’s something to this, I think.  

        One of the worst ways to begin a difficult conversation is by embarrassing the other party. Not only will employees respond aggressively, but they will, as Falcone suggests, “resist the change that’s being forced on them.” It is always best practice to give others the courtesy of an explanation, but also the opportunity to assume responsibility. Aim to pierce hearts through guilt—not aggression.

          3. You Can’t Demand What You Don’t Give
          This one has just as much to do with what happens before “the conversation” as it does during “the conversation.” You can’t suddenly demand respect and open employee communication if you’ve never effectively engaged in these practices yourself.

          If, however, you’ve cultivated relationships with your employees, “tough conversations” won’t come with pent up resentment or underlying issues completely unrelated to the one at hand.

          4. Always Be Honest  
          If you keep in mind Henry Calero’s suggestion that a mere 7 percent of the messages we transmit come from words, being honest isn’t really as hard as it sounds.

          In his book, Falcone gives us an example of a termination email that addresses the employee in an empathetic way—but without having to sacrifice honesty. Here is a brief excerpt from it:

          Janet:

          I appreciate all of your hard work and effort over the past three months, but we’re at the end of your probation period, and I’m sorry to say that this just isn’t working out for us. I know how hard you’ve tried to improve in light of the discussions we’ve had, and it is my guess that it’s not a “love connection” on your end either, but I don’t believe this was a good match of your strengths to our needs.”

          Notice that the sender of the email made two subtle, but wise decisions: She acknowledges that Janet did work hard to improve her performance; she also acknowledges that that Janet did have talents and strengths, even if they didn’t happen to be the ones that the company could properly utilize. In addition to this, the author frames the email in such a way—“it’s not a ‘love connection’ on your end either”—that Janet’s termination seems mutual rather than exclusive.

          Sure, the email may contain slight euphemisms, but it doesn’t sacrifice honesty to save face.

          5. Preface Yourself With Subjective (Not Objective) Language
          Consider the difference between these two words:

            Subjective: statements pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.

            Objective: not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.

            Prefacing difficult conversations with subjective language—“I feel, I understand, it is my belief—suggests that what you are about to say is open to interpretation and that you are interested in hearing your employees’ perspective and will keep him or her from feeling defensive.

            Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business and human resource solutions? If you're looking for affordable human resource masters programs, learn more about Marygrove College's online Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) program

            You might also be interested in knowing that we have reduced tuition by 19 percent for the 2012 academic year! 

             

            Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Engaging Employees, career success, soft skills and etiquette, Office Etiquette

            4 onboarding strategies to help you create a positive work environment

            Posted on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

            Onboarding_Success_Road_SignAccording to recent data, more that 25 percent of the U.S. population changes careers every year—yet the same study suggests that half of all hourly workers leave their new job within the first four months, and half of senior outside hires “fail” within 18 months.

            These are rather daunting—not to mention costly—figures, aren’t they? So what’s the seemingly ubiquitous problem with companies all across the U.S.?

            If you’re losing new hires, or disappointed with their performance, make sure you are developing sound onboarding strategies and avoiding these four common blunders:

            1. Using the “firehose approach”
            This is a phrase succession consultant Doris Sims uses to describe dumping information on new employees and seeing if they “sink or swim” under its weight.

            2. Providing only “tactical information”
            In other words, are you only providing micro or hyper-focused information that lacks context to the employee? Does the employee have a larger sense of purpose and understand why s/he is doing what s/he is doing?

            3. Failing to have the team member’s work space prepared
            Does the new employee have a desk, phone, computer, printer? Do all of them work properly? Does she have to spend the first week spinning around in her chair, waiting for the IT person to show up?

            4. Having a blase attitude towards orientation
            Telling the employee that the orientation “might not be very helpful to you,”—or worse, not even having a new employee onboarding program is a surefire way to begin on the wrong foot.

            If your employee onboarding strategy could use a facelift, here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

            • Why do we celebrate when employees leave the company and not when they join it?

            How many of us will happily take a valued colleague out to lunch or meet at a pub after work to celebrate her promotion or retirement? This is certainly a fine gesture, but why don’t we introduce new employees to the company in the same way we say “farewell” to our veterans?

            • You’ve made the written rules clear—how about the unwritten ones?

            The day the new employee signs the contract, he is given a three-ring binder containing a 100-page handbook. It explains the company’s policy on diversity, the open-door policy and counseling, safety procedures, the company’s mission statement, and all the other perfunctory (but no less necessary) details.

            But what about the unique and unwritten nuances each company has like, say, the company’s confusing chain of command? Is the employee aware of the “normal” hours of operation? Does she know that she can take two 15-minute breaks or skip them and leave early? What sort of “fun” is socially acceptable in the office? Should the new hire take risks and assert herself? Through intuition, your new employee will learn to read these unwritten codes—or not. But why not identify these codes from the get-go and give her a head start?

            • Are you giving your new employees a head start?

            Successful onboarding strategies begin before the new hire’s first day of work. It’s universal: The first day of any new job is intimidating for anyone. Try quelling those initial fears by giving the employee any initial paperwork before she shows up on the first day.

            Here’s another idea: give the employee a phone call the day before they start and tell her where to park, who she will be meeting with and what the day’s agenda will look like? And while you’re at it, why not assign the new employee to a specific colleague who can act as a resource?

            Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business and human resource solutions? If you're looking for affordable human resource masters programs, learn more about Marygrove College's online Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management (HRM).

            You might also be interested in knowing that we have reduced tuition by 19 percent for the 2012 academic year! 

            Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

            *This list has been adapted from Doris Sims’ book, Creative Onboarding Programs: Tools for Energizing Your Orientation Program.

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Engaging Employees, Office Etiquette, Positive Work Environment, management speak

            Succession Planning & Developing Employees Before the Chaos Ensues

            Posted on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

            Passing the BatonSuccession planning. It’s an HR buzz phrase, but what does it mean, exactly? Author Christee Gabour Atwood describes it simply as “having the right people in the right place at the right time.” Let’s be more specific: Succession planning is the ongoing process of identifying and training future leaders to transition into those roles so they’re ready when the shoe drops.

            Let’s begin with an analogy:

            Jeb, the vice president of sales, was unhappy in his position and just gave his two-week notice. He’ll work five of those days; on the second week, he’ll decide to stay home and watch seasons 1-8 of The Cosby Show. After that, he’ll return to his former employer, but not without taking Serge (your company’s silver-tongued salesman) with him. In the meantime, quiet desperation in the human resource office ensues.

            This is a common scenario, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of us know that the system of placing ads and making calls—particularly during the two-week scramble before Jeb and Serge make their exit—is not the most efficient way of finding the ideal candidate for the position. This is why you should be developing employees you already have to take on Jeb and Serge’s job.

            Without further ado, here are five succession planning tips to help you in developing employees:

            Succession Planning Tip #1 – The Team Must be Diverse
            A successful succession development planning project team must include people throughout the organization who are familiar with the key positions and the skills and experience required for them.

            Succession Planning Tip #2 – The Team Must Have Support
            The team needs the support of upper management. They must understand the organization’s strategic plan, and must know how to develop a written succession plan. The team must establish clear objectives, define key competencies, identify candidate sources, establish and implement actions and measures for goals, and monitor and evaluate the plan regularly.

            This team may benefit from outside assistance from a business consultant or a small business administration training session.

            Succession Planning Tip #3 – The Team Must Have a Strong Lead
            Team members may be assigned or may be volunteers, but a strong project team lead is required to focus the team’s efforts. Once the succession team has been assembled, a regular meeting schedule should be established, roles should be defined, and areas of the organization assigned. Project team members may work independently or in pairs on specific key positions, reviewing job descriptions, learning about qualifications, and sourcing candidates.

            Succession Planning Tip #4 - A Succession Plan is a Dynamic Document
            A succession plan is not a static document. It is a dynamic, living document; thus, the team must be a dynamic, responsive group when developing and implementing it. Circumstances in your company or industry may change while the succession planning team is forming, while they are establishing objectives, or after they have almost completed the plan and implementation. They must be able to stay flexible and open to the needs of the business and in tune to the company’s strategic plan.

            Re-evaluating key positions regularly with upper management and front-line supervisors is essential. The succession plan may even need to be a part of the company strategic plan to be closely aligned with business goals.

            Succession Planning Tip #5 – Succession Planning Requires Monitoring
            Continuously monitor the team’s activities and results. Collect data on  

            • the number and frequency of vacant positions filled over time
            • the quality of candidates’ performance during their first year
            • a comparison of talent sources
            •  turnover statistics
            • how long it takes to fill open positions.

            Although it is best practice for succession planning to happen in a team, this is not always possible and can still be accomplished in other ways.  

            Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business and human resource solutions? If you're looking for affordable human resource masters programs, learn more about Marygrove College's online Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) program

            You might also be interested in knowing that we have reduced tuition by 19 percent for the 2012 academic year! 

             


            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success

            5 Successful Interview Techniques to Remedy Your Wrongdoings

            Posted on Thu, Aug 02, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

            Job InterviewThe success of any company or institution depends on the quality, competency and commitment of the people it hires to represent it. Authors Sandra Hochel and Charmaine Wilson have put it aptly in their book, Hiring Right: Conducting Successful Searches in Higher Education: “Hiring good people is axiomatic: No one questions its importance.”

            If it’s “axiomatic” as Hochel and Wilson suggest, why is it then that so many of us continue to fumble our way through the hiring process by talking about ourselves, asking closed-ended questions and coming to the interview unprepared?

            5 successful interview techniques to remedy your wrongdoings

            1. Write up an interview scorecard—BEFORE the interview
            This little piece of paper should outline all of the characteristics you want in a "perfect" candidate. You owe it to yourself to hold prospective employees to a set of high standards. We do wish to emphasize that if you are going to maintain high standards, do the same for yourself: Spend time with this list; don’t dash it off on the way from the elevator to the conference room.

            2. Ask open-ended questions
            Another indispensable edict of successful interview techniques is to stop asking simple yes-or-no questions; we call these closed-ended questions. Notice the difference between asking an interviewee these two questions:

             Open-Ended Question: "So can you tell me about a conflict you had at work and how you resolved that conflict?"

            Closed-Ended Question: "Do you typically get along with your coworkers?"

            Take a look at the closed-ended question; notice how you’ve not only encouraged a one-word answer, but you’ve also prompted the interviewee to agree with you?

            3. Follow up your questions
            Just because you're not using closed-ended questions doesn't mean you've honed a successful interview technique. Even open-ended questions often yield alluring and prepackaged answers. Don't settle for the first response, even if it is well articulated and convincing. Dig for more info and always follow up with at least one more question.

            4. Be Quiet. Be an interviewer. Don’t Be a Coach
            One upon a time, there was a lower-tier manager—let's call him Bud. Bud was habitually irritated because his bosses always seemed to be charmed by unqualified, prospective employees.

            Here's what would happen: Bud, who asked open-ended questions, would conduct the first interview. His manager would run a follow-up interview without Bud present. Finally, the president (who always seemed to be impressed with everyone) would interview the candidate and declare that he had found the perfect fit.

            How did the candidate continue to pass through the ranks and charm each manager?

            The hiring managers spent their time selling their company and airing their own list of accomplishments instead of interviewing the candidate. The interviewee, seeing this, grinned away and continued to hone his sales pitch for the rest of the day.

            5. Include a Partner Who Shares the Same Set of Goals
            It's crucial for interviewers and hiring managers to partner with others who share the same objective, but approach things differently. Let's say that one interviewer is more susceptible to making hiring decisions based on personality alone; he or she should be teamed up with a more systematic associate: someone who can target facts instead of personality types.

            Interviewing with a partner allows you the breathing room to reflect on the candidates answers before formulating your own questions. It also allows you to collaborate with your interview partner by asking connected questions that interrogate the applicant's real successes.

            Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business and human resource solutions? If you're looking for affordable human resource masters programs, learn more about Marygrove College's online Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) program. 

            You might also be interested in knowing that we have reduced tuition by 19 percent for the 2012 academic year! 

            Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet                                                                                       

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, soft skills and etiquette, Office Etiquette

            An UNcommon Sense Employee Retention and Engagement Strategy: Just Ask.

            Posted on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

            Human Resource Management Comic“Employee retention and engagement is important to us. We want to know what makes you stay with the company? Is there anything that would entice you to leave our company?”

            Have you ever been bold enough to ask your all-star (or even your marginally-performing) employees these two questions? If you haven’t, we can probably guess what you’d say if we asked you why?

            • I didn’t want to put her on the spot; I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.
            • I don’t want him to quit; I didn’t want to put the idea of leaving into his head either.
            • She is always upbeat and consistently produces great work; I didn’t think I needed to ask.

            (Don’t Just) Show Me the Money
            Monetary rewards or bonuses are nice. Have you ever heard of an employee so unabashedly red-cheeked and modest to turn down a raise? Honestly, have you ever had an employee say, “You know, I think I’m actually making too much money?” These are rhetorical questions, of course.  

            The point is, sure, cash will please them; it may even help boost short-term employee retention and engagement, but it won’t provide you with insight about what makes your rock-star (or low-performing) employee “tick.” If you’re doing something right, you want to know about it, right? And if you’re doing something wrong, you should still want to know—even if it hurts. How else are you going to fix it?

            The next steps to boost employee retention and engagement
            Here’s a simple plan. Type up an email that says something like this:

            So and so:
            You make a difference to our department and I appreciate your contributions. I’d like to find 15-20 minutes on such and such day to have an informal conversation about some of these questions I’ve listen below.

            • Employee retention and engagement is important to me, so I want to know what makes you stay with the company?
            • Is there anything that would entice you to leave our company?
            • Am I making good use of all of your talents?
            • How might I help you succeed better?
            • Is there anything I could be doing to help you accomplish these things?

            Sending an email a few days before the informal chat will give your employee time to reflect and fully digest the questions. These are not questions either of you should shy away from. More often than not, you’ll find that warm gestures like this (rather than detached cash bonuses) will not only show your employees that you care about them, it will also help boost employee retention and engagement.

            This blog has been adapted from Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans’ book, Love 'Em Or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

                             Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success, Positive Work Environment

            Success On the Job? First, Let's Demythologize The Myth of Hard Work

            Posted on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

            Rosie the RiveterMany professionals believe that hard work alone will lead to success on the job. It’s true, hard work helps. The problem with this philosophy—or what we might call the “myth of hard work”—is that many valuable employees accomplish great things, but accomplish them while lingering in the shadows of the workspace.

            Hard work means nothing if no one knows how well you’re doing, what you’re accomplishing and and how successful you’ve been. I often tell my clients,

            “There’s nothing worse than being successful and no one knows but you.”

            Although we work hard, hoping to find success on the job, most of our superiors, networks and business contacts may be completely unaware of our achievements. Your hard work will not pay off until you learn how to wrench your accomplishments from out of the shadows.

            If you find success on the job, there are many ways to let others know. Here are three steps to help you do just that:

            1.  Take credit for your successes:

            Many of us downplay our accomplishments when someone pays us a compliment.  You would be surprised how many times I have heard people say, “it was nothing,” or “it’s no big deal,” when someone compliments their achievement.  If you don’t think it is a big deal, no one else will either. Success on the job means learning to say “Thank You,” something that is difficult for most. When you have a success, learn how to take credit for it by saying “thank you.”

            2.  Make yourself and your hard work known.

            I bet you’re accomplishing many things but the world doesn’t know. You don’t have to scream from the rooftop, but you should come close if you want to ensure success on the job. At a minimum, provide simple project updates that can be presented to your supervisor, department leaders or peers. This is a great way to let others know what you are accomplishing.  Just got a promotion? Ask your PR department to write a release for you or at least put it in the company newsletter. Have a best practice? Ask to have a write-up in the company newsletter about your new process. This will get you recognition within your organization.

            3. Ask for feedback.

            If you are a bit modest, but still want to find success on the job, this may work for you. When you are working on an important project, ask for feedback from others in your network, mentors or potential clients.  This is an indirect way to let them know what you’re doing and your level of expertise. 

            Don’t fall victim to the myth of hard work. Remember, it means nothing if no one knows but you.  Success on the job means getting out there and telling them what you are working with. You’ll see how this gets you better results.

            Jocelyn Giangrande Photo

            Our monthly guest blogger, Jocelyn Giangrande, is a Marygrove Human Resource Management alumna who not only owns her own company, SASHE, LLC, but has over 15 years of corporate experience. Her career advice and guidance have been featured in Women’s Day, HR Magazine; she is also the author of What’s In Your Sandwich? 10 Surefire Ingredients for Career Success.

                 Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success

            10 Ways You Can Start Creating a Positive Work Environment

            Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

            Employee Team BuildingThe work space is not a homogenized one. Any group is going to have a broad range of needs and personalities. And despite the fact that each group is made up of unique—and sometimes conflicting—personality types, it is essential for that group to function in a way that works towards a common goal. Sure, employees contribute to and help maintain a positive work environment. Ultimately though, management sets the tone, raises the bar and brands the demeanor of the group—at least that’s how it should be. If you want to start creating a positive work environment, here are 10 steps to get you on your way:

            1. Encourage Trust  
            If you want to nurture a positive work environment then trust should be the foundation of your workspace. Never discuss an employee with another employee unless you are highlighting his or her accomplishments. Here’s something else to consider: Employees who know they can trust their supervisor or manager to be discreet will be loyal. More than likely, they will thrive in their environment as a result, too.

            2. Demonstrate Positive Communication
            This may seem obvious, but it’s not: Listening to what coworkers have to say shows them that you respect them. Being open with staff and asking them to share ideas can assist you in creating a positive work environment. Managers should not only contribute their own ideas, but also ask employees for feedback. This will ensure that employees know that the company not only welcomes, but encourages open communication.

            3. Encourage Staff to Be their Best
            Maintaining high expectations and extending constructive criticism (or positive reinforcement) will encourage employees to rise to the occasion. This, too, should go without saying, but micromanagement, hyper-criticism or apathy only damage self-esteem and productivity.

            4.  Find ways to Create Team Spirit
            Unity amongst coworkers allows everyone in the team to feel as if they belong and are valued. Staff will want to come to work each day and tardiness and absenteeism, generally speaking, will become issues of the past. We’re not asking you to do the “trust fall” or anything, but team spirit and creating a positive work environment does begin with reinforcing to each staff member that the role they play at work is significant.

            5. Offer Recognition and Appreciation
            Whenever you witness staff doing great things for the company, make sure others are aware of it. Recognition doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as a thank you will go a long way.

            6. Offer Credit and Be Responsible 
            When things go well at your organization, always extend credit to your staff. And when things don’t go well, assume responsibility. It is unproductive, not to mention a morale killer, when employees are not given proper acknowledgment. Worse than that, though, is scapegoating your employees when things go wrong. Do this and be prepared for a mutiny or insidious sabotage.  

            7. Be Accessible  
            Creating a positive work environment begins by having an “open-door” policy. This will ensure that employees from all levels of the organization understand that they can come to you with any work issue. Closed office doors create barriers and reinforce hierarchy. Here’s something else you might try: When you arrive at work, stop by each employee’s space to say hello or good morning. Small things—positive body language and eye contact—go a long way.  

            8.Present an Encouraging Physical Environment
            Keep the workplace setting clean and nice looking to promote a cheerful attitude. Little things such as natural light and personal space for each employee will help in creating a positive work environment.

            9.Make Evaluations an Encouraging Experience. 
            Staff evaluations are a great opportunity to offer praise to employees for doing an excellent job. When going over where the employee may need further development, the meeting can still be made positive by focusing on what they are doing right instead of only what they are doing wrong.

            10. Don’t Leave Out Fun!
            Creating a positive work environment can begin by welcoming celebrations. Acknowledging an employee’s birthday is a great example of this. While you don’t have to have a cake, balloons and a catered buffet, a small token or just singing happy birthday or putting up a sign in the office is a sure way to make staff feel appreciated.

            Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

             

             

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success, Office Etiquette, Positive Work Environment

            “Good” Business Etiquette: 5 Uncommon, Commonsense Charms

            Posted on Thu, Jul 05, 2012 @ 09:07 AM

            Michael Scott from the television show, The OfficeShow Jacqueline Whitmore a candidate with raw talent, a terminal degree from a prestigious institution and the professional experience to match it, she’d still say, “So what? Can s/he communicate? How is he or she at showing good business etiquette?”

            Whitmore is an author, and soft skills expert who has, for the last decade, made her living showing good business etiquette to Fortune 500 companies, universities and associations. If you doubt the legitimacy of Whitmore’s expertise, consider that research, too, suggests that etiquette and soft skill savvy are crucial to business success: The results of a survey of 200 members of the American Marketing Association revealed that 91.1 percent of respondents rated that showing good business etiquette was either very important or important to business success regardless of age, gender, education, income or marital status.

            It’s Not What You Say…It’s How You Say It
            55 percent of the messages we transmit to each other come from body movements, 38 percent from the voice—inflection, intonation, volume—and 7 percent from words. In other words, it’s not necessarily what we say, but how we say it that counts. Considering this, it is rather astounding that soft skills evaluation, attentive listening and nonverbal communication are not taught to children—and according to corporate trainers, the lack of training in showing good business etiquette shows.

            Here are some steps you should consider taking on your journey towards soft skills improvement:

            Eliminate Distractions
            Nothing screams disengagement, even apathy, like looking around the room, glancing periodically at the list of unopened emails on the screen, or silencing a ringing (or even vibrating) cell phone. If you’re meeting with someone, show them that you are fully engaged by turning off your computer screen and your cell phone. If you are in the middle of a project, schedule a time when you are able to give them your undivided attention. Likewise, if you are speaking to someone who seems preoccupied, ask them, “Are you free another time? Maybe we can catch up later this afternoon.”

            Practice Empathetic Listening
            Showing good business etiquette means that you must maintain a clean mental slate. If you are formulating a response while someone is talking to you, you are most likely pantomiming the act of listening. According to Whitmore, “Whenever you begin to craft a response before someone has finished their thought or argument, then you are not fully digesting the words and the meaning behind them.” For Whitmore, empathetic listening involves visualizing and actively imagining yourself in the other person’s situation.

            Paint a visual picture
            While you are listening, create a visual image of what is being said. This will help you follow the story; it will also impress your colleagues “that you hung on to every word and made them feel like the most important person in the room.”

            Listen with your entire body
            Many professionals are under the false impression that interjecting or (even worse) filling in the blanks of the other person’s sentence suggests that they are being attentive. Don’t assume that you already understand the speaker’s idea or that you know where his or her sentence will end. Instead, nod occasionally, make eye contact, eye the speakers hand gestures or facial expressions.

            Pause before you reply
            Silence
            is, according to Whitmore, one of the most important, yet most commonly neglected—and feared—tenants of conversation. Don’t gloss over this “white space of conversation.” Silence will allow you to carefully reflect on what you are going to say; it will also keep you from pantomiming the act of listening while the other person is speaking.

            Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business, soft skills evaluation, organization behavior, and human resources? Do you want to become a human resources expert—a leader capable of transforming a business, government, or not-for-profit organization? If so, learn more about Marygrove College’s Master of Arts Degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) program!

            You should also know that as of March 26, Marygrove College has reduced tuition rates for several online graduate programs by 19 percent! The decision was made in an effort to address students’ concerns across the U.S. about the rising cost of higher education. This is one step—amongst a few others—the college is taking to ensure that a Marygrove education is an achievable, financially-sustainable investment.

            Download our Human Resource  Management Factsheet

            Topics: Certificate in HR Management, Graduate Programs for Human Resources, Human Resource Management, Human Resources Master Programs, Online Courses for Human Resources Management, Engaging Employees, career success, soft skills and etiquette, Office Etiquette, Positive Work Environment

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