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Melany Gallant

Daniel Pink - Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates usHave you seen that terrific Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) video Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us?

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If you haven’t, take a few minutes and watch it now. It’s really thought provoking.

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RSA Animate — Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

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The research Pink references shows that, once basic financial needs are met, autonomy, mastery and purpose – not money – are better motivators of performance.

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Pink points out that engagement and motivation come from a sense of self-direction – of trust, and of ownership. The message for managers here is that it’s time to get out of the way.

Fostering Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

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Let your employees take on projects that interest them, that will develop their skills and challenge them to be their best. By providing employees this freedom, you give them a sense of purpose, and ultimately the outcome can be extremely beneficial to your organization.

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Getting Managers to Write Meaningful Performance ReviewsThis is our second post in a 5-part series on ‘Getting Your Managers on Board with Talent Management’.

In our last post, we discussed how to get your managers to deliver effective feedback.  Today we discuss how to get your managers to write meaningful performance reviews.

Have Performance Appraisals Lost Their Meaning?

Tips to Getting those Meaningful Performance Reviews

As HR pros, we know the importance of employee performance appraisals. We understand that they’re the linchpin for compensation, employee development, succession planning, employee engagement, and even organizational performance.

So why don’t managers always get this? Why are they inconsistent or indiscriminate with their ratings? Why do they so often complete them late? And why do some ignore the process altogether? But more importantly, what can you as an HR pro do about it?

Here are tips to address 5 common challenges HR pros face when trying to get managers to write meaningful performance reviews.

Challenge: Performance ratings given are too uniform or are inconsistent.

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“I have 10 years of experience, I have strong references, excellent connections, but I can’t find a job because I’m overqualified.”

This is the story that many newly unemployed, ‘overqualified’ job applicants know all too well. Though there is often concern that hiring someone with too much experience could be risky (the main worry being that they’ll use the job as a stepping stone until something better comes along), studies have consistently shown that the benefits of hiring an overqualified candidate far outweigh the risks!

As the American economy slowly tries to recover from its devastating financial collapse, managers face a common challenge: how to handle all the eligible candidates that come through their doors.

Let’s debunk the myth of the alleged risks in hiring overqualified candidates and look at the actual benefits of taking a chance on an overqualified contender.

But first…

What Is Overqualified?

Too educated, too experienced, we call a person overqualified when their skills and/or level of education are beyond what is necessary for a certain position.

Some of the initial concerns managers have about hiring people with too much experience include:

  • Boredom. Lack of challenges may cause the overqualified worker to get bored with work and leave the company.

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Know any managers who need a little help giving feedback?While I’m sure that most of your organization’s managers act with the best of intentions, you’ll probably agree that when it comes to being the frontline stewards of your talent management strategy, they often fall short.

So how do you help them be better at things like giving effective feedback, writing valuable performance appraisals, aligning and managing their employees’ goals, developing bench strength in the organization, and effectively rewarding performance?

We’ve put together a 5-part series of practical resources you can use and even share with your managers to help sharpen their skills and get them on board with your talent management initiatives.

Here’s Tip 1, as it relates to the classic ‘feedback problem’…

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Organizational negativity can take on many forms and happen for many reasons. Improper or unreasonable working conditions, lack of career advancement opportunities, or badly implemented corporate and policy changes are all reasons employees’ morale and the organization’s productivity decrease and negativity spreads.

However, the organization is not always to blame for a negative environment.

Sometimes…it’s the people.

At some point, we’ve all worked with a “Debbie Downer”, a “Lemon-Sour”, or the guy who never has anything nice to say. They are what we call negativists. Negativism, in case you didn’t know, is the habitual attitude of skepticism or resistance to the suggestions, orders, or instructions of others.

It’s a real challenge to work with people who are frequently like this, because their negativity rubs off on us. The human brain is wired to have a “negative bias“, and it reacts more strongly to stimuli it deems negative. Think about how profoundly a tragic event affects you, how long it stays imprinted in your mind. Witnessing a horrible car accident creates a surge in the brain’s electrical activity, whereas a picture of pretty flowers elicits much more neutral feelings.

In the spirit of one of our previous posts on how to handle egos in the workplace, let’s look at how to handle negativity in a work setting.

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Remote Employee

In today’s wired world, information can reach many places at once, in real-time, and this has had a radical effect on the way business is conducted today. Given the proper resources, a computer, an Internet connection and access to the company’s internal network, many people can and are opting to work from home or other remote locations.

In fact, a Microsoft 2010 U.S. Remote Working Research Summary showed that 62 percent of people surveyed believed they could fill their job duties at a remote location.

And, according to the Telework Research Network:

  • 20 to 30 million Americans currently work from home at least one day a week
  • 15 to 20 million are road warriors / mobile workers (work at least 10 hours per week away from home and from their main place of work, e.g. on business trips, in the field and use online computer connections when doing so)
  • 10 to 15 million run home businesses
  • 15 to 20 million work at home part-time (with about half doing so 1-2 days a week; and about 3 million are based at home full-time (including self-employed)

Working remotely offers many benefits for employers, employees and even the environment. Fewer commuters on the roads means reduced fuel consumption, traffic congestion and air pollution. According to a report released by the American Electronics Association, an estimated 1.35 billion gallons of gasoline could be conserved annually if every U.S. worker with the ability to telecommute did so 1.6 days per week.

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As an HR professional, you collect a wealth of talent data. And no matter how that data is stored – in filing cabinets, spreadsheets or through an automated system – you need to measure and analyze the right data to effectively assess how employees are performing against corporate objectives.

To do that, you need to first determine which talent metrics are most important to your business.

In February, I had the pleasure of co-hosting an webinar on making talent management metrics matter with Cathy Martin-Missildine, Principal and Co-Founder of Intellectual Capital Consulting.

Cathy is a sought-out speaker and expert in strategic Human Resources Management and we’re pleased to have her keynote Halogen Software’s Sixth Annual User Conference this September.

In this post, I chat with Cathy about six common questions related to establishing and using HR metrics strategically.

Sean (S): What are some common mistakes people make when trying to establish HR Metrics?

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The following is a guest post by Greg McGuire, editor of food services blog The Back Burner. In this post Greg discusses how restaurants can maximize employee performance by creating a corporate culture that reduces turnover and encourages excellence in service.

Restaurants face some unique challenges when it comes to achieving high employee performance. The average employee is younger and more likely to be receiving an education for something besides a career in food service than most other industries. The work can also be physically uncomfortable and much more stressful than many other jobs.

These factors mean turnover tends to be much higher in the restaurant business, and high turnover makes the job of keeping employees motivated and performing at a high level much more difficult.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Restaurants that have weathered the recession of the last few years the most successfully, have done so in part because they have taken the time to get the most out of their employees.

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decisions-Lafair-article-Halogen-SoftwareThe following is a guest post by leadership consultant and award-winning author Sylvia Lafair. In this post, Sylvia discusses leadership development and the qualities and characteristics of effective leaders.

Investing in leadership development is critical for today’s climate of constant change, continued complexity, crises, and challenges.

The big question is how to prioritize and underline the characteristics most important for an effective 21st Century leader to take charge and lead his or her organization.

Leadership Skills – What really needs to be developed?

In simpler times we could say that to bring out the best in the brightest and to enhance natural talent, there would be a yearlong immersion into personal as well as professional development. Now, the speed of change makes that a luxury no longer appropriate.

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Praise can be a funny thing. When we’re kids – as a study published in Psychology Today shows – we can respond negatively to praise. The article provides examples of a 5-year-old who “burst into tears” when her grandmother looked at her school workbook and proclaimed, “It’s brilliant!”, and a 15-year-old boy who “blushed with fury” when his teacher said his English homework was “intelligent and sensitive.”

As author, Dr. Terri Apter, discovered while conducting this research study, praise is a highly personal interaction. From a child’s point of view, the praise received for achievements may fall short of expectations or seem highly exaggerated; it may cause confusion or be construed as veiled disappointment, or may cause embarrassment for being acknowledged at all.

Interestingly, as we get older, we crave praise more than any other reward. But we’re still very fussy about how and when it is given. Praise causes the brain to release some of its own natural opiates. Once we’ve had a taste, we seek these mood-changing chemicals in many of our everyday encounters. In the workplace, praise from a manager for doing a good job is one of the most motivating incentives. As best-selling author and motivational speaker Bob Nelson says, “Praise is priceless, yet it costs nothing.”

But just because the best things in life are free, doesn’t mean they aren’t challenging to do right. It’s far simpler to hand out a bonus than it is to create a business culture in which sincere “thank yous” are a regular occurrence.

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An increasing number of healthcare organizations are looking for new and innovative ways to support competency assessment programs. The traditional paper and pen tracking systems are becoming more burdensome to manage especially with the growing number of regulatory requirements healthcare organizations must comply with, such as Joint Commission and MAGNET®.

In a recent webinar, leading competency assessment expert Donna Wright discussed the challenges of competency assessments.

In particular, Donna cites there are too many competencies, too many checklists, and too much of a tendency to use education as the answer to every performance-related problem.

New approaches to competency assessment, such as those advocated by Wright, help healthcare organizations to effectively monitor and document employee performance and competency proficiency to drive results beyond meeting regulatory requirements.

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In our first article of a three-part series on performance appraisals, we discussed HR’s three wishes this holiday season when it comes to performance reviews. In this second article, we provide insight and tips to help managers prepare for performance appraisal meetings with employees.

Whether you are a manager now or in your past life, you’ve probably seen performance appraisal season coming and dreaded it. The process is time-consuming, you have to squish the appraisal meetings in between an already heavy workload, and well, sometimes you need to give feedback that can be hard to deliver.

Here’s the thing.

Performance reviews shouldn’t be used to give your employees feedback.

I know – sounds crazy right?

Here’s why:

Feedback, especially constructive feedback, on areas where employees need to improve will never be effective if you save it up for the end of the year. The feedback – both positive and negative – needs to given at the time a success or issue occurs; it is counterproductive to give feedback weeks or months after the event.

A common pitfall to waiting to deliver feedback all at once at the end of the year is that we tend to either focus too much on recent performance, or we paint the entire year’s performance with too positive or too negative of a brush based on one significant event.

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Motivation is the force that converts intention into action. In a work setting, it is the drive that helps maintain goal-directed performance. For over 40 years, scientists and business researchers have conducted numerous studies to determine what incentives help motivate employees. So many companies spend thousands of dollars hiring outside firms to give motivation seminars, realizing that by nurturing the talent of individuals and building stronger teams, they can help cultivate a happy work environment.

What’s happiness got to do with business?

A lot.

Have you ever gone above and beyond to perform a task you were given no incentive to do and that you saw little to no value in? An unhappy worker does only the minimum to avoid being fired. A happy worker on the other hand, finds value in the work they do and feels fulfilled doing it.

Even more incredible, a happy worker isn’t necessarily driven by money! Well, not just by money…

In this article I will outline the different types of motivation, some important studies pertaining to the nature of human motivation, as well as the common organizational and managerial practices that can kill it. Finally, I will suggest some simple but effective ways to help motivate your employees and create a happier more productive workforce.

Types of Motivation

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Today I’m kicking off a three-part series on performance appraisals from the perspective of HR, managers and employees. It’s the perfect time of year for all of these groups to give some thought to their role in the appraisal process as they complete 2010 reviews, and to think ahead on how to change things up in 2011.

I speak with HR professionals every day about their talent management processes, and I hear a lot about their “pains” when it comes to managing the appraisal process within their organizations.

Too often, HR is stuck playing traffic cop on talent management tasks and isn’t able to be a strategic partner. In these scenarios there is no real effective way to know where things are at in the appraisal process, how many employee evaluations have been completed – by and for whom.

In these circumstances HR is relegated to being reactive rather than proactive, and the organization as a whole lacks the insight needed to make informed business decisions about their talent. Managers, employees and executives aren’t really engaged in the talent management process beyond viewing performance appraisals as another task to get done…

‘Tis the season for HR to eschew the personnel policing role and make a fresh start with talent management in 2011!

To that end, we’ve put together three wishes we know many HR professionals have on their list this season when it comes to making the performance review process easier for everyone within the organization.

Wish #1 – Motivated Managers & Employees

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Two weeks ago, the UK held it’s 4th annual National Anti-Bullying Week, which aims to raise awareness about the growing problem of bullying among youth. But bullying doesn’t only take place in schoolyards. It happens in the workplace and it can be extremely harmful to victims – even more so, new research suggests, than sexual harassment. Business researchers have discovered that victims of bullying report feeling angrier and more stressed at work and are more likely to quit their job than employees who have experienced sexual harassment.

But in a turbulent economy, where there is lack of job security, many employees feel they have little choice but to endure mistreatment. In what’s considered the largest scientific study conducted in the United States on bullying in the workplace, 37 percent of American workers said they have experienced workplace bullying. That’s nearly 54 million people who have been bullied on the job!

What is Workplace Bullying?

Workplace bullying is the repeated mistreatment of individuals or groups using persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior. It includes tactics like verbal, nonverbal, psychological and physical abuse, as well as intimidation and humiliation.

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