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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

    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

            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

            “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

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