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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

    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

    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

    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

    5 Ways to Build Respect and Find Success on the Job

    Posted on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 @ 16:06 PM

    Jocelyn GiangrandeRemember “back in the day?” You know, a few years ago when unemployment swaggered boldly around four percent? Maybe you wanted a career change or “things weren’t working out.” If this sounds familiar, then you probably remember slipping into your elastic sweatpants, blithely uploading your resume to CareerBuilder or Monster.com and kicking back for a day or two until someone called and you began work the next week. Those days are history.

    If you are lucky enough to have a job, you want to keep it—and the same goes for your work reputation. Reputation is a far-reaching and subversive asset that impacts everything we do. Being respected is essential to your success on the job. Often it means the difference between success and failure, or the difference between exceptional and mediocre employees.

    This week, we are pleased to feature career development expert and former Marygrove College graduate, Jocelyn Giangrande. Giangrande 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.

    When it comes to jobs, businesses or relationships, rarely are decisions based on how good you are. Often, your success on the job is based on what others think of you and your reputation. Here are 5 ways to boost your reputation.

    1. Find a Way to the Money:

    Companies like employees who make or save money. Therefore, think of creative ways, solutions or ideas to generate revenue or decrease costs. Also consider analyzing whether the work you currently do makes or saves money and quantify it. You will be surprised by the respect you get when leaders connect the work you do to money.

    2. Be Honest and Trustworthy:

    Nothing hinders success on the job or ruins a reputation faster than dishonesty. Trust is the foundation to every relationship. When others cannot trust you, your reputation plummets. So adopt the “honesty is the best policy” motto and live by it.

    3. Stay Away From The Gossip:

    I once heard that “A secret is best kept between two people and one of them is dead.” I know that sounds harsh, but there is some truth to it. Here is some office protocol and etiquette you might consider adopting: No matter how trusting the relationship is, refrain from bad mouthing others as the information always leaks. 

    4. Increase Your Likability:

    Many people believe that as long as they do their job, being liked is not that important, but that is far from the truth. Even the best workers get a bad reputation if no one likes them. In fact, whenever their names are mentioned, it is their unlikable personality that gets all the press—not their good work.

    5. Keep Your Promises:

    Making promises that you can’t keep will impact your success on the job, so be careful about what you say you’ll do. Keeping a promise will boost your reputation tremendously because people know that you mean what you say.

    Reputations are critical to career and business success. Although the quality of your work is important, what others think about you carries a lot of weight. Therefore, be sure to build and maintain your reputation so that others think highly of you when your name comes up.

    For more career advice and guidance, videos, articles and a schedule of conferences and events, you can visit Jocelyn Giangrande’s website.

    Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business, 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! 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

    “Per Our Conversation”: Let’s Talk About Management Speak

    Posted on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 @ 16:06 PM

    Office Space: The BobsRemember this morning: You walked into your office, turned on your computer, sipped demurely on your 31-oz Trenti Starbucks latte and logged into your email where you were greeted with an email that began with “per our conversation” and was followed with something like this:

    We provide operational support and strategic direction; we do this by providing high quality, comprehensive training resources, direct hands-on assistance via our main office, 24-hour direct phone support [Feel free to skip to the next paragraph] via our anonymous call-center; we also provide business process analysis and innovative problem solving by leveraging experienced and technical resources available in the main office…(53 words)

    On a good day, Mark Twain would have called this “fluff and flowers and verbosity.” Had he lived to see 2012, surely he would have called it “management speak” or “corporate jargon,” or something much less genteel. Call management phrases what you want, but you stopped reading after the second line, didn’t you? 

    Were we to humble, to strip the fatty tissue from the above “sentence,” it would probably say something like this:

    Our staff is available 24-hours a day to support the diverse needs and schedules of our employees. (17 words)

    If you said, “Yeah, but the first paragraph just sounds so much better,” remember how you felt when you opened a similar email or heard your colleagues say, “per our conversation,” or talk about “tabling” a meeting or “touching base” with some “idea showers” as they “hit the ground running.” Once you’ve done that, go back and reread the first paragraph.

    Why Do We Use It Then?
    Google “office speak”; you’ll find no shortage of tongue-in-cheek articles, “management speak” translators and compilations of “The Top 10 Management Phrases You Love to Hate.” But let’s get serious for a minute, people. Why do we use it? Here are a few of our guesses, but feel free to chime in and offer your own.

    1. Let’s face it, we all use one form of discourse (way of speaking) when we speak to our boss and another when we speak to our friends. Like other discourses, office speak is a legitimate and meaningful form of communication; it just has to be used in the appropriate context and with people who speak the language.
    2. It fills space and allows us to hide behind buzzword-laden language and makes us sound like we’ve got everything under control.
    3. Saying what we mean can make us feel vulnerable, our ideas disheveled and silly. Office speak = office armor.  
    4. Being direct means that we’ve committed, that we have to get behind what we say and will follow through.
       

    Are you interested in enhancing your knowledge in the fields of business, 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! 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, Office Etiquette, Positive Work Environment, management speak

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