Social, Branding and Recruiting: HR Happy Hour

hr happy hourIn my last post, I mention things you can do while driving to spend your time productively learning.  One of the recommendations I made was to listen to the HR Happy Hour podcast.  If you’ve never listened, HR Happy Hour is a radio show that Steve Boese and I co-host every other week.  We talk about human resources, technology, recruiting, business and culture.

Last Thursday night, Steve and I interviewed friend of the show Jessica Lee; Director of Digital Talent Strategy for Marriott International. Jessica shared how Marriott is using digital strategy to move boldly in the global recruiting space.  Additionally, she shared her insights and experience on building both a corporate and personal brand.  

We covered topics such as:

  • Big trends and themes in the intersection of social, brand, legal and HR
  • Mobile strategy
  • Video technology


Be sure to check out the show and share with your colleagues.  In addition to listening, you can read the show backchannel on Twitter – hashtag #HRHappyHour.

Catch us March 21st  at 8:00 pm EST when we’ll be talking about the upcoming Health and Benefits Conference with guests Jen Benz, Fran Melmed and Mark Stelzner.

5 Strategies To Coach “Institutionalized” Employees

~ He’s just institutionalized…The man’s been in here fifty years, Heywood, fifty years. This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man, he’s an educated man. Outside he’s nothin’ – just a used-up con with arthritis in both hands. Probably couldn’t get a library card if he tried…these walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on ’em. That’s ‘institutionalized’…They send you here for life and that’s exactly what they take, the part that counts anyway.~ Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding

Gold Watch for RetirementI was watching the Shawshank Redemption this morning.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth your time.  It’s one of those stories that has so many poignant lessons about relationships, trust, fear, motivation, and well, life in general.  Even though I’ve seen the movie numerous times, one part really hit me this morning.  There is an older gentleman, Brooks, who has spent his whole life in the prison.  When it comes time for him to be paroled, he breaks down and wants to commit a crime in prison so that they’ll be forced to keep him.  His friends prevent him from committing the crime and Brooks is paroled.  Brooks tries to fit in out in the real world, but having been in prison so long, he just cannot adjust.  He eventually commits suicide.

Institutionalized in the Workplace

The movie made me think about the workplace and employees who have worked their whole career at one organization.  As I was growing up, my dad taught me that it was an honorable thing to choose a career and then stay with that employer for the entire time.  Think about it, many people born in the 1930’s- 1950’s have been able to accomplish this.

There are certainly employees who fit this description and who stay engaged and are the best representatives of  the organizational culture.  But, most workplaces have those employees who are just there and going through the motions.  They do this year after year.  They continue to come to work and just do the minimum to get by.  They might as well be carving a hash mark into the desk to represent each passing day.

So, what can a manager do with these employees to turn being “institutionalized” into a positive?

Coaching Strategies for Managers

  • Be Direct- Don’t ignore the situation.  Even if your organization has a “contribute and stay” mentality, a lesser engaged long-term employee can cause real morale issues in your department.  Often, these employees have been there many more years than you have as the manager.  The only approach is to be direct.  Have that tough discussion and find out why they stay, what would make them more challenged at work, what makes them feel valued, etc.  Then, act on what you learn.
  • Find their strengths–  When you get to know your staff on a more personal level, you may learn that they use skills outside of work that will benefit the organization.  For example, if you have someone who is a deacon at church or who is very involved in planning and organizing at functions for their children’s school, capitalize on those skills and use them in that capacity on the job.  When you recognize someone’s skills and praise them for is, they will be more engaged at work when they get to use the skills.
  • Loan them out– With the economy the state it’s in, we’re all working to do more with less.  This includes staff.  But, if you can find opportunities to give up a long-term staff even for a couple days a month, you can improve their engagement.  Loan them to another department to help expose them to another type of work.  This will also spread the good will and demonstrate your willingness as a leader to look out for the organization as a whole.   Each time the employee returns, have them tell about the experience at the next staff meeting.  Other people on your staff will see the enthusiasm and may learn something as well.
  • Job Shadow–  I recommend using this strategically.  For example, if you have an employee who could use a specific type of coaching, pair them up with someone from another department who does really well in that area.  This will be a non-threatening way to coach the employee.  I also use this technique when I need to assess how a particular employee is doing in their role.
  • Capture their knowledge–  One of the things that managers struggle with is losing the long-term employee’s knowledge when they retire or resign.  A way to address this is to find ways to capture that knowledge before they leave.  Start a private collaborative site online and teach your staff how to use it. Ask them to write about everything from processes to ideas on how to handle issues.  Not everyone is a writer, so provide training on how to write and edit.  Make sure they feel comfortable sharing their knowledge, then recognize and praise them when they do.

By focusing on ways to improve engagement of long-term employees, you may actually turn them into your greatest asset. What techniques have you used as a manager in order to coach your staff?  Share them in the comments.

Using The 5 Love Languages for Business

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d share a little resource for work that has a touch of LOVE in it:

I’m a believer that our personal lives and professional lives are intertwined and that it’s nearly impossible to separate or compartmentalize them.  So, when a manager or employee comes to me for advice, I try to look for clues to the big picture instead of just that situation.

5-love-languagesOften when I’m assessing a situation, whether it is in my personal or professional life, I think back to a book I read ten years ago.  The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.   Dr. Chapman is a well-known and respected pastor, author, and speaker.  And, while this book was written to assess and address the language of love that is meaning to someone on an individual level, I”ve found that there are many business uses for the book.

The basic premise Dr. Chapman asserts is that there are five “languages” of love and that each one of us has a primary language.  If your partner speaks a different “language”, there is a good chance you will not feel loved.  So, the idea is to identify your primary love language and your partner’s, then work to use the language the other person responds to best.

The five love languages

  • Words of Affirmation- This person identifies most with compliments and other words that say you value them.  If you insult this person, it will affect them more deeply than other people.
  • Quality Time–  This person values your undivided attention.  If you miss a meeting or appointment  with this person, they will truly be hurt.
  • Receiving Gifts–  It’s not just the gift that is important to this person, but the thought behind it.  If you miss this person’s birthday or anniversary, they may be crushed.
  • Acts of Service- This person feels happiest when you are showing your love by helping them.  Whether it’s pitching in on a chore at home or helping with a big project at work, this person will feel valued and cared for.
  • Physical Touch- This is not a language just about sexual contact.  The person that speaks this language feels important when they are hugged, get a pat on the back, or your hand on the shoulder.  This one is harder to demonstrate at work due to sexual harassment laws, however, it can still be demonstrated in moderation.  The pat on the back, fist bump, shaking hands, or high five can fill in and still show this person they are valued by using physical contact.

If you think about the people you work with; your team members, colleagues and peers, subordinates, try to figure out which language seems to apply most to each person.

Let’s imagine you’re the type of leader who is very busy and recognizes performance only with money (pay increases, spot bonuses, etc.).   You are speaking the Receiving Gifts language.  But if I am the person who works for you and my primary language is Quality Time, I will not feel valued or cared for.  The one thing that would make my day is to have you show up for a meeting on time or meet with me one-on-one.  Or, if I feel valued when you notice that I’m carrying a heavy workload and you offer to pitch in and help me meet a big deadline, you’re speaking my language of Acts of Service.

There are many benefits of learning your own love language and how you can use the love languages model to communicate more effectively with people in your personal and professional life.  You will build stronger relationships and have more engagement with the people in your life.  To take a quiz to find out your own love language, click HERE.  Then, tell me what your love language is in the comments. For anyone who has met me or knows me from reading my blog, there will be no surprise to my results.

Mine is physical touch and words of affirmation almost equally.  Must explain why I’m a hugger who likes compliments!  :-)

What’s yours?

The Chemistry of Employee Retention and Engagement

chemistryIn the January 2013 issue of Go Magazine, I read an article by Helen Fisher that caught my attention.  Ms. Fisher, author of The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love stated, “Your partner might not look so great at the breakfast table for the tenth year in a row, but if you see her on a seat in Mexico City, she’ll look amazing.”  The point is, that if you see a person in a different, more exotic locale, it can increase dopamine levels in the brain which cause you to feel happier and more satisfied with that person.

While the workplace is not about romance, it absolutely needs chemistry to keep employees engaged and on the job.  For companies or departments with low turnover over many years, you may begin to experience loss of creativity or engagement with the job, resulting in loss in revenue.  I wonder if we’ve run into a similar situation as the married couple that no longer finds each other as attractive.

Now, think back to those first few weeks or months on a new job, or of someone new joining your team.  Remember the feelings of:

  • excitement of meeting and working with new people
  • having your senses piqued by a new office or cubicle and new work “neighbors”
  • A jolt of energy from using your skills in a new and exciting way or having a team member who is ready to take on any challenge

See, much like romance, some of the same sensory perceptions are surely tapped with a new job.  The dopamine levels likely skyrocket during this time.  So, what happens over time?  Well, what is the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt?  If my line of thinking is correct, then the solution to employee engagement and  retention is variety and finding ways to keep creating opportunities to raise dopamine levels.

Variety and wellness?

Yes.  Chew on that.  Roll it around in your head a bit.  Are you, or your leaders, doing all you can to add those components?  Whether employee or leader driven, it seems that a major overhaul in location, job duties, or colleagues could be the variety and dopamine generator needed to drive higher creativity, optimism and yes, engagement.  Have team members switch desks.  Change up the job duties once a year.

But what if you can’t make a major change?  This brings me to your challenge.  What small efforts can a leader make to drive small dopamine increases?

  • Provide foods rich in dopamine like fruit.  A weekly fruit basket would be an inexpensive approach and fruit like bananas, blueberries and strawberries increase dopamine levels naturally.
  • Protein has an amino acid needed to stimulate dopamine production.  This means that having healthy, high-protein snacks available for employees can help the positive effects.
  • Encourage time to have physical activity.  Provide a wii, encourage employees to hit the gym before work or during lunch, or create a walking or workout challenge.

What if you can’t make all those changes in the workplace?  Well, start with you.  Start making the changes in your own lifestyle and gradually spread the good habits at work.

 

An Apology Letter To Your Staff

Crimson Studios 2007It’s a new year, 2013, and as you look in the rear-view mirror on last year, what does it reflect?  What kind of leader were you?  Were you one who appreciated your team?  Did you challenge each of them?  Inspire each of them?  Did you do your best to meet the needs of the organization while still being a patient teacher?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

IF you didn’t, it’s ok.  It’s not too late to set the right tone for the new year.  It will take a bit of an attitude adjustment and a conscious choice to think about the “work” you put in front of the team each day.  The good news is that you can turn this around and get the team on track to have even better performance than last year.  It can also help you with your retention efforts.

As with anyone you have not openly appreciated enough, the best way to clear the air and have a fresh start is with an apology.  Now, I know what you’re thinking…..”Trish, I’m a pretty good boss.  I try to be nice to people.  I just can’t give personalized attention to everyone on my team because I’m BUSY.”  I’m sure you are busy, but I call BS.  People don’t need you to hold their hands every day, they just need to know that you care and that the work that they produce for you, for your department, is valued.  So, I’ll give you a head start on an apology to your staff.  Feel free to use it; email it, post it in the department, or say it in your next meeting.

Dear Team, 

I want to thank you for your effort in 2012.  It was a good/bad year for the company, but a good one for us as a direct result of the ____________ you were able to achieve.  Your results from the _____________ project exceeded all expectations and I’m proud to be a part of this team.  

I also want to apologize to each of you.  As your team leader, there were times where you may have seen me distracted or appearing unappreciative of your work and effort.  I sincerely apologize.  My goal is to make this year one where I actively spend more time giving you feedback and using your ideas to make our department better.  I will also commit to ensure each of you further develops your skills because of the way we’ll approach learning.  I will teach and each of you will teach.  

2013 will be a year where our team faces some challenges too.  I am proud to be part of such a fine group of people and I know we’ll pull together and make this year our best yet!  Thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

_______________

Now, go out there and start showing some appreciation-

I guarantee you’ll find that the positive results you see, hear and feel will come back to you ten-fold!

Pinterest and Employee Communication

So how is employee communication working for you?  Does your organization have it all figured out?  My guess is that answer is no. 

As we continue to focus on improving communication with employees in our organizations, we seek out resources and information on the topic.  Today I want to share some new infographics I found on Pinterest this week.  As the popularity of Pinterest continues to grow, there are more and more business resources found there.  If you haven’t signed up, give it a try.  For now, here are several interesting Pins:

Employee Communication Breakdown

The Story of Employee Engagement at Work

Why Communication Conflicts Occur

Halloween: To Dress Up Or Not To Dress Up

To dress up or not to dress up, that is the question…

Today is Halloween and thousands of employees are dressing up in costume across this great country.  They don their scariest, most political or cutest costumes in hopes of winning the office costume contest.  But just how many people actually participate in this ritual?

Well, from the looks of my FaceBook sream, I’d say that a ton of my friends work at companies that celebrate the holiday. After all, it’s fairly non-controversial, save for the occasional employee that shows up in a not-so-work-appropriate getup.  So, why do companies participate and why do some avoid it?  I found a fun survey on GlassDoor that gives us the scoop.  Consider the facts:

  • The survey shows that two out of five companies (40%) celebrate Halloween in the office.  The downside is that 48% of HR professionals, office managers or administrative assistants are likely to be on point for planning any celebrations.
  • More than half (52%) of employees say they are likely or very likely to participate in employer-hosted Halloween fun.
  • Nearly half (46%) of employees aren’t sure if their employer has a policy around work-appropriate Halloween attire.  So here we are, back to the HR policy creation.
  • Nearly one in three (29%) hope their boss will dress up for Halloween at work.

So, what say you?  Do you work in an office or company that celebrates the ghouls?  Does it lead to some HR horror stories?  Be sure to share it all in the comments and for more fun Halloween survey results, check out the GlassDoor blog.

Managing others is about…..YOU

Too often in my career I have the discussion with a manager that starts off, “Trish, my employee won’t listen to me.  He is disrespectful and undermines my authority.  He doesn’t do his job.  Tell me what I can do to get him to comply.”  To this, I explain to the manager that the approach should not be how to change that person.  Managing others is about YOU:

  • You have to give a critical look at how you interact with this employee.
  • You have to take ownership for what is working as well as what is not.
  • You have to figure out when and how to modify your behavior to elicit different responses from your staff or colleagues.
  • You have to tell the employee what the expectations are in a clear and concise manner.

You cannot change others, so don’t focus your time there.  If you rethink your approach to the person and try another way, it will elicit a different reaction.  It still may be a negative one, however, a majority of the time it throws that person off enough that they are more likely to actually show more respect or at least listen to advice on how to perform better at their job.

Managing others is not about how we get someone else to change.  It’s about how we change and adapt our approach for maximum success with many different personalities.  They ultimately have to take personal ownership for their behavior.  And, if they are not able to improve performance and respond positively to your approach as the leader, they will face the consequences of their own behavior.