May 28, 2013 -- 7:30 am
Ready for some alarming statistics? 83% of American workers say they feel stressed out by their jobs (this is up from 73% in 2011). The number 1 cause of stress is what is called “job pressure” – the combination of co-worker and boss relationships, and work overload.
This pressure is taking a toll on the health of the employee as the use of antidepressants has increased 400% over the past 30 years (just about the time when the industrial age ended and the today’s intellectual and service age started). The pressure also shows in the organization’s bottom line as the annual cost of stress-related healthcare and missed work is over $300 billion annually.
Work doesn’t have to be so stressful. The lower the stress, the greater the performance, engagement and ultimately loyalty. Helping employees minimize workplace stress is a sound strategic initiative. Here are three ways to start to decrease employee workplace stress:
The statistics are real – our employees are stressed. What is it you can do to help reduce the stress in your workplace knowing that the stress is both costing you money and challenging the health of your employees?
This is a great topic to bring up to your senior team, particularly your strategic HR partners, to have a meaningful discussion and to build a stress-management strategy. Include in your strategy a more sound talent and fit hiring/role alignment approach, expanded information sharing and coaching your managers into becoming better listeners and communicators.
Contact me to learn about the Fire Up! Process and how its ability to increase employee engagement also reduces employee stress. More information, tools and resources are at www.FireUpYourEmployees.com.
May 15, 2013 -- 5:43 am
Many hiring managers think they have the upper hand when it comes to hiring – that they have the final vote in whether a job candidate comes to work for the company. Actually, job candidates have an equal vote in the process; the job interview is as much about determining whether a job candidate wants you as it is for you to determine if you want him or her.
There was a time, more in our industrial age, when managers truly had the power in the hiring relationship. But in today’s intellectual workplace, the job interview is as much for the candidate to hear what is true about the job and to use that information to determine whether the job fits his abilities, skills, experience, plans for growth, development and future plans. To really understand this, let step back a minute and ask the all-important question – Why do we interview?
The goal of the interview, as I coach my clients, is not to hire. Rather, it is to create an environment that provides enough of the right information to determine whether to hire. And it works in the same way for the job candidate. The interview is the place where today’s job candidates gather enough information to determine whether the potential employer and role are the right fit.
So to be ready for this new shared responsibility for the right outcome, here are 4 critical questions hiring managers should ask themselves in preparation of the interview to be clear enough about what the role does, who fits it, and why it is a great thing to work for their company – in other words, to help a job candidate answer the question, “Why should I work for you?”
Consider these questions as you prepare to host any interview:
Great interviews are information-gathering sessions. Both sides have information the other side needs in order to make both a sound hiring and job decision. Neither side has all the power. In fact, power is not helpful in an environment that is looking for an open and honest commentary about how things really are in the job and workplace, and what the job candidate’s unique abilities are, and how they have added value and made a difference in other workplaces.
Be sure you step into the shoes of the job applicant to see what will matter to someone in this role. Share what makes the role, company and opportunity great. Be honest. Be accurate. This gives the job applicant enough of the right information to assess “fit” from his or her perspective. Then, having created an easy, open and meaningful conversation about the role, ask your talent and behavioral questions and notice more open and honest responses from the candidate.
With a mutual commitment to job fit, the interview takes on an entirely different tone. Information is more openly shared. In my experience, this change in mindset by the hiring manager – one that sees the interview as a mutual sharing event committed to connecting the right job opportunity to the right person – changes how job candidates show up in their interviews. And when both parties have a personal stake in the decisions process, all parties are more honest, more involved and more committed to the right outcome. Before you start the interview be ready to see the role from the employee’s perspective, and have an answer for his or her question, “Why should I work for you?”
Contact me for more information on hosting powerful talent-based interviews, and to learn how to build the talent-profile needed to source people who are a good fit in each of your jobs. Also see the tools on FireUpYourEmployees.com.
April 15, 2013 -- 12:40 pm
If you ask managers what their employees want most from their jobs, many will respond “money.” The general belief is that people will work harder when offered more money, they leave one job for another because of money, the reason why they want the promotion is money.
Though money does play a role in what job a person may select, the more important aspect in selecting and staying in a job is purpose – of making a difference and providing an impact. We all contribute more when we do meaningful work. And the reality is that jobs that add value and make a difference inspire performance and loyalty in the workplace.
In order for managers to inspire performance and loyalty, they must first understand and recognize the three types of employees: A-level, B-level and C-level. A-level employees choose to show up to their work with an intention of bringing their best and making an impact. The Gallup Organization calls this type of employee “engaged” and states only 29 percent of today’s employees are engaged. The B-level employees comprise around 52 percent of the workforce – they are the employees who do just enough not to get fired. The final 19 percent are C-level employees. This group is disengaged and disinterested in their work.
Understanding these three types of employees is critical to know how to sustain the As, and inspire the B and Cs.
Here are four easy-to-implement ways managers can add more meaning to their employees’ jobs:
1. Hire employees who fit their jobs. Employees who have the talents, strengths and passions are the ones who show up capable and interested in their work. Because they are good at what they do, they find ways to bring their best and expand value for the organization in their areas. Contact me to show you how the Fire Up! Process can help you hire the right person for each job.
2. Provide context. Explain to each employee the importance of what they do and why it makes a difference. In many organizations, employees are given their small puzzle piece – without any idea of what the picture will look like when all the pieces come together. Without context, they lack a sense of purpose, value and contribution.
3. Communicate regularly about important things. There should be a clear and open communication between employees and management. By ensuring information moves easily in both directions, employees can consistently be updated from management, while offering their own updates. This approach also encourages new ideas, keeping a company fresh and innovative.
4. Give tasks that make a difference. Employees have jobs that matter. Not only do they understand why their job is important, but the job has intrinsic value. We all want to contribute to something of great value.
As mentioned above, though there are a number of factors in play, the greatest factor is meaningful work. In his 18-minute TED talk, Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, says “Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money [that makes us work]. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.”
We all want to feel that we matter – that what we do has meaning. The more aware we are of our talents, strengths and passions, the more we can align ourselves to work we personally find meaningful. Couple this with improved communication by today’s management to build the bond and provide context about the work, and employees have the ability to know how to connect what they do best to add value, make a difference. Take away their sense of fit and job context and we’ll find the only way to meet monthly performance targets is to bribe with bonuses.
Please share this with someone who can benefit from it. And contact me to learn more about the Fire Up! Process – its programs, tools and seminars – that can help you create and retain a superstar workforce.
April 2, 2013 -- 5:51 am
I get that relatively few managers actually enjoy interviewing multiple candidates for a single job opening. It takes time and significant effort to interview the right way. Because of this, too many interviewers just say what it takes to get the candidate interested and to take the job.The faster the interview process is completed, the sooner everyone involved can get back to their day jobs.
This approach never works.
Interviewing lets you gather information about a candidate, and lets the candidate gather meaningful information from you. Saying whatever it takes to get a candidate to say yes will undoubtedly create an enormous problem down the line. Great hiring is about fit. They fit you, they fit the job, you fit them. To reach this point, you have to be honest about what the job and company is. Employees will quickly find out the truth, and that never ends well if they were lied to about anything during the hiring process. Create an honest and empowering relationship right from the first moment.
Let me give you an example of how the “fast” approach to interviewing and hiring never works. I recently worked with a company to help improve its hiring process. They reached out to me because in the last nine months, nearly every employee they hired had left, most within the first three months of joining the company. After reviewing how they prepare to hire, I found many critical things that needed improving – the most glaring item was that they had no clear definition of the talents and behaviors they needed in each of their employees. This lead to hiring the wrong employee who was unable to succeed in the job they were hired to do. We fixed this right away.
But there was a deeper issue that showed itself when I joined two managers during their interview process for several candidates. Since I was involved in the redefinition of the job – its required talents, skills and experience – I knew the job. But few of the job’s requirements were shared with the candidate. Instead, the managers created a job on the fly to appeal to the candidate. Their problem: they were hiring employees who were told one thing about the job only to find that, after just three months, the real job had little correlation to what was explained in the interview. Short story? Employees felt lied to.
More than 51% of new employees hired in 2013 have “buyers remorse,” and 88% are looking to make a change, reports Garry Kranz in an article in the March 2013 Workforce Management magazine because the job described had little connection to their actual job.
The Gallup supports that 52% of employees are disengaged – they do just enough not to get fired. The reasons for this high percentage are not hiring the right people in the right jobs and not being completely honest about the job’s actual responsibilities with candidates. Many managers feel that once the new employee takes the job, he or she will just do the job and not complain. But statistics show this not to be the case; the engaged employee quickly becomes disengaged.
What to do about it?
1. Clearly define the behaviors, skills and experience required to do the job successfully. Know which attributes you are hiring; share this openly with candidates.
2. Clearly define the tasks and what the tasks “done right” look like. Define the daily, weekly and monthly expectations of the job so that candidates know what true is. Answer all questions.
3. Reconfirm all core expectations in writing at time of the employment offer.
4. Create a regular meeting time with new employees to check in expectations and progress. Maintain open communication.
If some of your employees say, “this isn’t the job I was hired for,” there is likely a dangerous disconnect between what you explained and what they actually do. Clarity matters. Tell the truth. Let candidates decide wisely based on all the facts. This dramatically improves whether new employees stay and thrive, or you get pulled right back into the dreaded hiring process to start again. Employees hate when you lie to them.
Contact me to share how the Fire Up! Process is helping organizations learn how to attract, hire and retain a superstar workforce. And sign up for our free “Your People Are Your Profits” web seminar. It shares how to activate and engage your employees, and introduces the powerful Fire Up! tools and resources.
March 20, 2013 -- 5:09 am
(And What To Do About It)
A recent Workforce Management Magazine article stated 19 million employees, or 13 percent of the workforce, are planning on changing jobs this year. Two thoughts come immediately to mind:
Let’s start with the second question: why now? After the past five years of recession-related working conditions (i.e., reduced staff numbers, employees expected to do more with less, fewer rewards, little or no pay increases, little or no development for job improvement), employees are tired with the way things are. Though they may understand this happens in a recession, there is an innate need to seek out better conditions.
Abraham Maslow illustrates this in his Hierarchy of Needs. When our fundamental needs (physiological, food, safety) are not met, we are fixated on improving them. But this also means we’re distracted, in a way, focused on finding ways to improve our situations before we can advance to self-actualization (great performance). And if we are unable to make any change or improvement, we move. We seek out other places. The slight improvements we’ve seen in the economy has been just enough to empower today’s workforce to think they may find something better out there, and they think it will be worth the effort. After all, the grass is always greener, right?
So this gets to the real reason why employees want to change jobs – beliefs: they no longer believe management is leading effectively. They no longer believe in the mission, or the work, or the people. Employees want to change jobs because they don’t have the confidence that their management can make things right for them.
Before your teams head out to search for greener grass, win them back. Show them your company and you as managers are the best. Here are some suggestions to do this successfully:
1. Increase the communication about everything. When times are difficult, many managers feel that sharing the difficulties will be a sign of weakness or ineffectiveness. But sharing this information lets employees have context on what’s true in their workplace, empowering them to be regularly involved in identifying the solutions that exist. Get their input on how to keep work meaningful, valuable and important. Excluded employees check out, then they leave. Keep them in the know.
2. Focus more on what you can do for your employees (not on what you can’t do for them). The employees that stick around have weathered a tremendously difficult period. You know it, and they know it. And they’re getting tired. So what can you do to show your appreciation for their decision to stay, show up and tough it out? What does this show them about your belief in them? How can you use this moment to show your gratitude, humanity and personal interest in each employee? We are quick to share what we can’t or no longer offer for employees. What if our focus changed to what we can do instead?
3. Give them a reason to stay. One of the reasons our best people leave is that we don’t have a discussion with them on why they should stay. We just imagine that employees will stay and be loyal, but that is a naïve belief. Even before the recession, employees changed jobs every 18-36 months. Despite the recession, the underlying problem still exists: we don’t have career conversations with our employees on where they are going and why they should stay. Start a development discussion with employees once or twice a year that connects what employees do best with high value applications in the company. Help them see a reason to stay that is built around their talents, values and interests. Make it personal.
It is human nature to always think there is something better in some other place. Why not make that “something better” in your place? Reconnect with employees in a meaningful way to encourage them to choose to stay – to rekindle their belief in their company, their work and their management. Not only do you build a more powerful and engaged team, but you also show great continuity and consistency to your customers as they see the same team here today, here tomorrow.
To learn more about creating a greater workplace culture to help retain your best employees, visit FireUpYourEmployees.com or sign up for our free 1-hour teleseminar titled, Your People Are Your Profits. We’ll show you how we guide organizations and their managers in how to engage and inspire a superstar workforce.
March 5, 2013 -- 5:37 am
I was speaking to a CEO group lately and asked them to share something they would do to completely impress a customer in the following scenario: You run a grocery store. You can do whatever you want to get the customer to move from satisfied to loyal – to get the customer to tell his friends about you and commit to coming back. What couldyou do?
Notice I didn’t say what “would” you do – I ask, what couldyou do? I was just asking for possibilities. Possibilities are limitless – they allow for greater thinking, inventing and imagination. I didn’t want a plan, I wanted to see how big they could think. And I wasn’t impressed by the responses.
Virtually every response was something already done, or, something that would not have a profound effect on the customer. So my question was, if CEOs can’t think big, why do we expect it from our employees?
What are the things that an organization can do to help employees learn how to think big, invent possibilities and move from good to great? Here are some thoughts:
1. Have all employees submit 2 “great” ideas a week. Make a requirement of all employees to submit 2 unconventionalideas each week on how the organization can create loyal customers (or operate more efficiently, change more seamlessly, hire the best employees, create a more powerful culture… you decide the issue). By asking for unconventional ideas, you give employees permission to dream, invent and push the limits. If the focus is only on solving instead of inventing, employees play it safe and the ideas remain small.
2. Host a monthly creativity event. Empower employees to define how the monthly event will be run and what it will ask employees to do. The goal is not only to deal with a company challenge or opportunity, but to do it in a think-big way. Create a culture that thrives on creative and innovative thinking in all it does. This encourages greater “go-for-big” ideas anytime ideas are needed.
3. Study what other big-thinking companies do. Choose a company whose approach is big (Zappos in customer service, Google in workplace environment, Southwest Airlines in workplace culture, Sam Adams in employee engagement, etc). What do think-big companies consider? What moves them to think and act this way and how can it be developed in your organization? One of the great things about today’s technology is that we have access to the brilliant things others are doing. Challenge or assign to your team to identify companies who focus on greatness or are think-big companies. Review what they find and look for immediate applications in your organization.
Today, we don’t pay employees to “do” a job. Instead, we pay them to think about the best, most efficient and most profitable responses to each event they encounter in the workplace. In short, we pay them to think. So imagine the impact on the business if they moved from just thinking to “big thinking” – of continually looking for better, more significant and more profound responses.
Challenge your employees to not only pack their brains when they pack their lunches. Challenge to always think big in each event they encounter. This is how the good companies became great – they make it easy and expected for their employees to think big. Imagine what a think big approach and attitude could do for your business.
Need help getting employees out of small thinking to big thinking? Contact me to learn more about the Fire Up! programs and our unusual and effective greatness approach to workplace teaching and coaching, and how it is activating big thinking in our clients. More information atFireUpYourEmployees.com.
February 26, 2013 -- 8:51 am
Today’s intellectual (thinking) workplace has redefined what we need from our employees. Employees rarely do the same task in the same way over and over; today’s service workplace now requires employees to think their way through constantly changing customer situations to provide responses that are customized and personalized.This means today’s employees must think in the ways needed to be successful in each job to inspire customer loyalty, and to drive profitability. And we know, not everyone thinks the same way, so not everyone is a good fit for every job.
An organization’s most significant asset is the intellectual capital of their employees – how they think, invent, create and respond. Therefore, every organization needs employees who are the right fit for the job – employees who have the right talents, skills and experience – they connect to customers and drive results. This makes the sourcing and selection process both more critical and more difficult.
Because fit matters, organizations now need to be more selective in the hiring process. This requires having a larger selection of job canididates to choose from – a fuller pipeline of viable candidates. And one of the greatest ways to fill the talent pipeline is to use your workforce’s connections and sourcing ability.
Consider the following ways to use your workforce to identify, find and recruit A-level (the right fit) employees:
No longer can management be the only party responsible for sourcing talent. Employees see and talk to (talented) people all day. They are connected to personal and professional networks. Be sure they know what attributes (behaviors) encourage a great “fit” in each role and send them out to the world to scout for (the right) talent.
Contact me (Jay.Forte@humanetricsllc.com) to learn how the Fire Up! Process can help you define the required behaviors needed in all jobs to help your team of scouts go out and bring in those who fit. More information at FireUpYourEmployees.com.
February 19, 2013 -- 5:34 am
I ask this question to all of my business audiences, ”Why do you interview?” The answer is always the same – to hire someone. Actually, you interview to gather enough information to be able to hire the right person. And that small difference in definition can change your entire interview process.
Most of the time, managers see the hiring process as an interruption in business, and something that just has to be done to get a new employee. But a well-done interview using the three steps below helps to create an open and safe environment that helps the job candidates share their honest perspectives. This is the way to gather enough of the right information to be able to make a sound hiring decision.
Consider these ways to go from good to great with your job interviews:
1. Develop your interview team. Successful interviewing takes practice. Just asking questions does not make an effective interviewer. My recommendation, depending on the role, is to have a team of 3 people involved in the interview (and never host a group interview). Select people who are effective at listening and connecting with others. Develop a list of questions that each interviewer will be responsible for. Practice asking the questions, and determine what successful answers will sound like. Not everyone is a good fit for interviewing. Determine who is, and practice to develop the skill.
2. Be clear how this job must add value and make a difference in the organization. I find most interviewers haven’t taken the time, or the company has defined, the real value of the job. Review the job’s core responsibilities and impact. The purpose of the interview is to assess the candidate’s ability to add value. Verifying that someone has done the job before, doesn’t mean he will add the right value. Clarity about value building and performance expectations will change the entire approach to interviewing.
3. Ask talent- or behavioral-based questions. This is critical. Today’s workers are paid to think their way through the situations the workplace creates. Since not everyone thinks the same way, the interview questions must look to assess how the candidate thinks (to see if his thinking matches the thinking needed to be successful in the job).Talent-based questions are successful because they are non-standard (this forces the candidate to respond in the moment), they are looking for a particular behavior (one of the behaviors required to be successful in the job), and involve actual workplace events (this is so the interviewer can see how the candidate would respond to a true life situation). The power of the interview is in these questions – these are how enough information can be gathered to make a sound hiring decision. Notice that having a trained team and knowing the value of the role are required to be able to create and ask talent- or behavioral-based questions.
So back to my opening question, “Why do you interview?” To gather enough of the right information to be able to determine whether the candidate will add value and make a difference in your workplace. If at the end of interviewing the candidates, the answer is no, the process must continue. Not all interview processes end with hiring. They may require a revision to the requirements and start again. The goal is to hire the right employee, not to hire just any employee.
Contact me to learn about our program on talent-based interviewing – how to write talent-based questions and to train your employees to be exceptional at determining how (and whether) a job candidate will add value and make a difference in your workplace. More tools at FireUpYourEmployees.com. Be exceptional at interviewing.
February 12, 2013 -- 5:55 am
Many managers believe the end justifies the means. But don’t forget, reputation is forever. And one of the most important parts of reputation development is being true to your word. If you say you will do it, do it.
This is the first of The Four Agreements by Don Angel Ruiz, a must read for all managers (and this week’s recommended read). This starts the process of all successful relationships because if trust and integrity is missing, the other agreements will automatically fail. Here are all four of his Agreements:
Just this week I have had situation after situation where others have not been impeccable to their word; I saw it in my clients, as a customer, and in my personal relationships. I guarantee I don’t always get this right, but it is now posted on my computer to remind myself of how critical it is in work and life to live to one’s word. I am committed to it and to its ability to improve all of my relationships.
This blog is all about managing for big bold results. That kind of result can only happen when managers live the agreements and earn the loyalty of their people. And it is also fair to share these agreements with your employees and hold them to the same standards.
So I thought I would share a couple of situations I have seen lately to share the impact of managers, leaders and people who don’t keep their word. Sometimes we learn best by what not to do. Consider Ruiz’s four agreements as you review these situations and just ask yourself if any of this behaviors sounds like your behavior:
Be impeccable to your word. Live your agreements. Not only does it earn the respect and loyalty of your people, but you create your own moral compass for every aspect of life.
In coaching we regularly ask, “How do you want to show up today?” So, how do you show up and win the respect, loyalty and support of your team? Live the agreements. Be impeccable to your word. Ensure your employees know that what you say you will do, you will do. Have integrity – whether it is easy or difficult. And in the process you inspire others to do the same.
Contact us for more information about the Fire Up! programs, tools and resources we have to help you connect to your employees, and to connect your employees to performance. We provide practical tools to help build a superstar workforce.
February 5, 2013 -- 5:16 am
“Personal energy is the single most valuable asset in business today.” Robin Sharma
Your people are your profits. Your business is successful (or not) because of the energy and engagement level of your employees. And as managers and leaders, you have the ability to influence this. You can’t control your employees’ energy and engagement, but you can inspire both.
Consider that “energy” is the degree of effort, and the attitude and outlook that an employee chooses to bring to work (it is a choice). Consider that “engagement” is the degree of interest, willingness and ability that an employee has in his work. So performance is then equal to the energy times the engagement – or, the effort times the interest.
Notice that we as managers have a greater ability to affect engagement more than energy because we can realign employees into roles to better connect them to their abilities. Employees, however, choose their energy levels. Improving this takes more specific effort than improving engagement.
To see how these attributes impact performance, draw a graph where the horizontal line is labeled “energy” and mark it low on the left, high on the right. Label the vertical line “engagement” and mark low on the bottom, high on the top. This is the engagement and energy grid that can be divided into four quadrants.
Quadrant 1: low energy, low engagement. These employees bring little to the job. They show up with neither effort nor interest – they have low energy about the job and don’t have the right abilities to do the job well. This is generally due to a job and culture that doesn’t fit the employee, and an employee who may be more negative, cynical and complaining – not just about the job. Which of your employees are here?
Quadrant 2: high energy, low engagement. These employees have a positive outlook and bring great energy to the workplace but they don’t succeed because their abilities don’t fit the abilities of the job (right attitude, wrong talents). Employees become disengaged when they don’t feel capable and competent (this can move them back to Quadrant 1 – low energy, low engagement). Realigning this employee to a job that better fits his abilities can make a significant different in performance. Which of your employees are here?
Quadrant 3: low energy, high engagement. These employees still have average performance because their effort level is low, though they connect with the work – they are interested in and likely good at it. These employees fit the job, but don’t have strong powerful personal energy. As in Quadrant 1, these employees are more negative, cynical and complaining – despite the fact that they like their jobs. Coaching is a sound response for these employees as it has the ability to help the employee change his energy level. Which of your employees are here?
Quadrant 4: high energy, high engagement. These are actively engaged employees. These employees have an anabolic and positive attitude, energy and personal standard of excellence, and are a good fit for the job. They show up ready to make a profound difference and should be coached to support their need to constantly learn, improve and add value. Which of your employees are here?
Working with employee energy shortages requires a different response than with an engagement shortage. Because employees choose their energy level (in work and life), many times the primary way to help a low energy employee is through coaching (with the manager or an outside coach). Coaching looks to identify and create responses to blocks to positive energy; an employee must see the need and commit the effort to change.
Engagement, on the other hand, can be addressed by realigning employees to roles that better suit their talents, strengths and passions. Engagement increases when employees feel capable, competent and interested in what they do.
Energy times engagement equals performance. Know how to help your employees increase their energy and their engagement. Increase both and performance rises.