Tag Archives: human resources

Process versus the People

Today’s guest blogger is Linda Sharkey, author of Optimizing Talent. Dr. Sharkey is an HR Executive and Business Strategist with experience coaching and developing leaders and teams in Fortune 10 companies.

Is your Performance Evaluation System Helping or Getting in the Way of a Talent Rich Culture

Process versus the People

Are your year-end performance discussions more painful than they are worth and would most of your managers prefer to throw the system out?  Are you doing them merely to comply with legal requirements or to decide who gets paid what?  If so you are missing the mark on a very powerful system that can build your brand as a talent based culture and market leader.

We need to consider some key human resource systems to make sure that they are aligned with the culture you are creating and not working against it.

As we researched performance management systems in over 500 Fortune 1000 companies and talked with HR leaders in over 60 of them we discovered that the process was often more important than the outcome.  Checking the box once a year to make sure the employee and manager had at least one performance discussion seemed to be the prevailing outcome achieved.  Others focused on compensation alignment.  Few focused on creating a system where employees and their managers truly had a dialogue that actually helped employees understand how they could continue to grow and improve.  To quote several senior HR leaders “we are highly tactical in our approach and we don’t really use it to drive alignment to our culture and to our overall business strategy”.

Getting it Right

Here are ten proven steps that everyone can use to support a talent rich culture.

  1. Be crystal clear on the purpose of your performance management system.  What is the people philosophy that you are trying to promote through this system?
  2. Ensure that the system aligns with your values.   Make sure that these values are discussed so that everyone understands that what you do is as important as how you do it.
  3. Create a working profile of what the values look like in action.  State the values in terms of behaviors that everyone can recognize.  This way everyone in the organization understands the standard of the” best”.
  4. Train all you leaders and managers to recognize great behavior, assess talent and provide specific and actionable feedback.
  5. Teach managers and leaders how to effectively coach.  Agree on a coaching model and consistently apply it throughout the organization.
  6. Create peer coaching circles to help teams support each other in learning new skills and “grooving” new behaviors.  These circles enable employees to learn to ask each other for help when they need it and share suggestions and ideas.
  7. Create a simple form for year-end performance reviews that is 1 page – no more than 2 if you must.  Include specific business achievements, behaviors demonstrated, career goals and aspirations and finally what the employee needs to do to continue to grow in their current role or prepare for the next role.
  8. Don’t just reward for business outcomes; reward for expected behaviors as well.
  9. Measure and track the impact your system is having on the desired culture.  Examine your employee engagement scores to ensure feedback and coaching is happening through the year and measure your alignment to your culture so that you don’t lose sight of keeping your values on track.
  10. Link all your talent and performance discussions together to make sure you are sending consistent messages in the talent discussions as well as in performance calibration discussions.
  11. Communicate, communicate and communicate more about the impact of an effective system and how it is building a great place for shareholder value, customer loyalty and employee engagement!

If you follow these ten steps you will build a system that becomes part of your DNA, where people and leaders regularly help each other to succeed through effective feedback and coaching.  This was you will be providing performance feedback through the year and the end of the year “pain” goes away!  Try it you might like it.

You can learn how to apply these talent principles to transglobal positions in her SoundviewPro course Winning with Transglobal Leadership.

What’s New at SoundviewPro

We’ve been fortunate over the past several weeks to enjoy guest blogs from our course instructors. We’ve heard from Phil Buckley, Morag Barrett, Les McKeown, John Baldoni and many others. I hope you’re enjoying these posts and would love to hear back from you as to what other subjects and instructors you’d like to hear about.

SoundviewPro continues to grow its catalog of courses, including an expanding line of the most popular software. Please take a minute to check out the course selection at SoundviewPro.

Among our most popular courses:
12 Habits to Create Disruptive Success with Bill Jensen
Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley
How to Create a Memorable Presentation with Joel Worden
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010: Fundamentals with Donna Zarbatany
Leading Successfully through Challenges and Obstacles with Paul White
And more . . .

We are also continuing to build out the various disciplines, including Leadership, Management, Personal Development, Communication, Tech Skills and others. I encourage you to stop by our course site often to see what’s new.

What is Customer Service?

This is a guest blog with Steve Curtin, speaker, consultant and the author of Delight Your Customers.

There are as many definitions of “customer service” as there are customer service books and gurus. And, while there is no single correct definition, I would like to submit mine for consideration:
Customer service is a voluntary act that demonstrates a genuine desire to satisfy, if not delight, a customer.

Within this short definition, there are seven elements that I suggest we explore further:

Voluntary: Providing exceptional customer service, unlike executing mandatory job functions for which an employee is paid, is always voluntary. Employees don’t have to deliver it. And most don’t. (This explains why you almost always receive the deli sandwich you ordered but might not always receive it with a smile.)

Act: Service is a verb. As such, it requires action. Without initiative, one’s readiness and ability to initiate action, there is no exceptional customer service.

Demonstrates: Exceptional customer service reflects job essence, an employee’s highest priority at work.

Genuine: Exceptional customer service is not about masking your true feelings. It’s about actualizing them. There’s no place for duplicity or phoniness in the delivery of exceptional customer service.

Desire: Employees must want to provide exceptional customer service. Exceptional customer service doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by choice.

Delight: Employees decide for themselves whether or not to expend the discretionary effort required to elevate a customer service experience from satisfactory (ordinary) to delightful (extraordinary).

Customer: Customers are our highest priority at work and the ultimate basis for our employment.

What’s your definition of customer service? If you don’t have one at your place of business, consider posing this question to the team at your next department meeting. Put everyone at ease by reminding them that there’s no single correct definition of customer service. Whatever you come up with together will be just right for your work group.

Besides tapping into the team’s collective genius, you’ll be raising awareness about the topic of customer service, which, besides actually serving customers, may be the best use of your time at work.

To learn more about customer service, enroll in Steve curtin’s SoundviewPro course, Delivering Exceptional Customer Service.

The Five Best Interview Questions Ever (we think so anyway)

A guest blog from Jen Shirkani, founder and CEO of Penumbra Group.

Our firm specializes in an intensive and advanced interviewing and hiring methodology for interviewing for Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and we are often asked if we could only ask five interview questions, what would they be? We like to do a solid assessment of technical skills and experience first, then focus one or two interviews just on their EQ. There are several skills to zero-in on, including Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Empathy, Flexibility and Optimism. No one question will reveal all these competencies, but often one question will reveal the presence or absence of several of these skills. And one more reminder: we always recommend that organizations use the behavior-based technique when phrasing questions. Simply….instead of hypothetical “What if” or “How would you handle” questions….ask for concrete past realities…“Tell me about a time when…” or “How have you handled a situation in the past when….”
Okay, here we go:

1. “Describe a time when you were unfairly criticized and tell me what the details were.”

This question is designed to uncover two things: the candidate’s Self-Awareness and their definition of criticism. Be sure to get a specific example from them. The word “unfairly” is important to include as you will be assessing how justified the feedback they received was against their actions. Would a reasonable person think it was fair or unfair criticism? You also want to understand how sensitive they are to receiving negative performance information. Does the example they share represent criticism or feedback? What does your company culture provide most often – criticism or feedback?

2. “Think of a time when you had to work with a headstrong co-worker and tell me how you handled it.”

Many candidates are concerned about sharing a weakness or failure. Interpersonal communication and proper conflict management skills are vital for team members and interviewers must do an effective job of validating skill level in these areas. The power of this question is that it asks about someone else, giving the candidate permission to share struggles due to other personalities. It also gives you a chance to glimpse their empathy/understanding of others…do they offer an indication of trying to understand better or help the person or just a superficial judgment based on self-centered reactions? I love to ask this question after a candidate tells me they have “great people skills.”
3. “Share with me the last time you went above and beyond the call of duty. Tell me about the details and why you did it.”

This question is designed to understand what the candidate defines as extra effort. Is the example they share something you consider to be of substantial heroics or actions you would expect on a routine basis? Knowing how recently it occurred will also reveal their level of engagement in the recent or distant past. Lastly, it will be critical to know what motivates this employee to work at peak performance. The hiring manager must ensure that the motivation drivers are present in the current workplace in order to match with the candidate, and not only that but it also reveals what will retain them in your company & whether they would be a fit for your leadership style (a biggy).

4. “When was the last time you had to act when there was no policy or formal procedure to do so? Tell me what you did.”

We always recommend that small companies ask this question, most of who have little in the way of formalized policy and procedure manuals. This question helps you assess the candidate’s comfort in “thinking on their feet” when they have come from a large organization or will be working in an environment with little direction or daily support. Their response may indicate how much they will seek out and need direction from others versus working independently. In highly regulated or high risk environments, the “right” answer may be a candidate who avoids working outside formal standards of conduct.

5. “We have all had times when we unintentionally insulted or offended someone at work. Tell me about a time when this happened to you.”

This is a great roll-up question because is reveals several EQ skills. Do they have the Self-Awareness to know when their behavior has a negative impact on someone else? Do they have the Empathy to see things from someone else’s point of view? Do they have the Social Skill to work through conflict and maintain effective relationships? This question requires interviewer confidence and the tenacity to tough it out through uncomfortable silence or a candidate who tries to sidestep answering, but the benefit in doing so shows what you are made of and proves to the candidate who is really in control.

This intensive interviewing approach is very different from most other interview classes you may have been to. Many of our participants have said that they always thought they knew how to interview but realize that they could be so much more effective and were actually excited to do interviews for the first time.

Asking the right questions and a strategic approach can make hiring fun and no longer a nuisance to be avoided. We tend to enjoy what we’re good at. Hiring is a skill that must be learned, so get out there & get what you need to do your very best and enjoy it along the way.

To learn more about interviewing from Jen Shirkani, check out her SoundviewPro course: Strategic Interviewing for Emotional Intelligence.