Archive | February, 2013

Meet Tanveer Naseer

15 Feb

Tanveer NaseerTanveer Naseer is the principal and founder of Tanveer Naseer Leadership, a leadership coaching firm that works with managers and executives to help them develop leadership and team-building competencies to guide organizational growth and development while ensuring they remain focused on what creates a fulfilling sense of purpose in what they do. Tanveer also writes for his own blog as well as contributes articles to such organizations and publications as The Globe and Mail, Human Capital Institute (HCI), American Management Association (AMA), and Hallmark Business Connections, and he also shares his thoughts on Twitter with the username @TanveerNaseer.

Joey Baird, Sage HRMS: You are one of the top recognized bloggers and thought leaders on leadership in today’s workplace. What do you feel are the biggest issues facing leadership in the workplace today?

Tanveer Naseer: The biggest issue in the workplace today is the lack of communication. The key to communication involves engagement, recognition, innovation, and the ability to tie all of these aspects together. I’ve never heard of someone complaining that his manager communicated too much. Today’s business leaders have lost the art of active listening, which is a building block of clear communication.

The team members on the front lines of the business are the ones who receive feedback from customers and clients, and by engaging these employees, leaders can gain key insights about customer needs and wants. This does not happen enough, and as a result leaders are somewhat out of touch. By giving employees recognition for these insights, they feel empowered and inspired. Empowered people think outside the box and become more innovative.

Can you take a moment to explain the difference between a leader and a manager?

I agree with much of the work John Kotter has done in this area. Like him, I believe management is process and task oriented. Management focuses on things like budgeting, staffing, goal setting, strategizing and developing metrics. Management is a position, and managers need that role in order to carry out their tasks.

Leadership is about working with people. Leaders develop the message, the vision for the organization; they help people answer the question “Why is this important, and why does it matter beyond a paycheck?” Additionally, leadership is not positional. Leaders can drive ideas forward and influence others while they occupy many different positions.

Can a person be both a leader and manager?

You have to have a good understanding of management processes to become a good leader. A good leader understands how the business is run and relates that into goals for their team. A good manager understands what matters to the employees and how to relate the processes to them in a way that makes them become invested in the processes. The best manager understands how to lead, and the best leader understands how to run the business.

A number of business leaders say it is important to have a mentor. What are your thoughts on mentorship? What should one keep in mind when looking for a mentor?

Mentorship is only as valuable as what you put into it. The real challenge is how you select a mentor. When looking for a mentor, you should look for someone who has the life experiences, organizational culture, and values similar to yours. A proper mentorship allows you to learn from their experiences (accomplishments and mistakes) and then implement them into your own style.

Many executives say they are focusing on trying to speed up the leadership development process at their organization. Why is leadership development so important for the future of business?

Things in today’s business world change rapidly. What we know today may not be relevant six years or even six months from now. A good leader stays on top of these changes and can adapt and then relate them to their team. Leadership development is a never-ending process that takes commitment. A good leader sees this and understands that his or her leadership development is not a finite term and continues to adapt and change with the needs of the business world. Without good leadership employees are less willing to buy into the company vision; thus, they become complacent and less productive.

How does good leadership affect the company’s bottom line?

Fundamentally good leadership means you help employees succeed. When employees succeed, the organization succeeds, and the outcomes are usually things like increased profitability and improved market share. Effective leadership is the key to the enduring success of a company because great leaders communicate to stakeholders that short-term sacrifices will lead to long-run improvements.

What are the top traits of a good leader?

Communication, engagement, respect, and trust. These traits create a willingness from their team to follow and gather around a common cause.

A good leader is also inquisitive. Good leaders know they do not have all answers but are willing to ask and find those answers from those whom they lead. They encourage their teams to challenge themselves and to continuously look for ways to improve. Good leaders trust that their employees have the right answers and empower their team to not only come up with solutions but to implement them.

We know that you have a background in science. How does your background in science help you today with coaching business in leadership?

You have to have the ability to observe what causes outcomes to happen and experiment with them. With science we experiment, observe, and study the outcomes. If an experiment fails, we try to learn why it failed and then communicate our findings to others. Nothing is relevant or correct unless others can see that they can replicate your results. These steps are also skills we see demonstrated in good leaders in today’s businesses.

You often tweet about gamification. What are your thoughts on gamification in the workplace, and how does it relate to leadership?

The term gamification elicits interesting feelings from people. Many people see it as something that is underhanded or scheming, because it sounds like someone is trying to “play” a person or trick them. I don’t look at gamification like that. I have a fascination with stripping away the notion of the game and look at the psychological issues behind the activity. I think we can learn a lot from how people make decisions and how they learn by viewing their activity with games.

I believe that moving forward, gamfication is going to become a tool leaders employ to assist in developing team skills, teach leadership techniques, and how teams and individuals can share those skill sets to empower other to succeed.

Can you give us your list of the most influential leaders of today and what we can learn from them?

For sure: I read and pay attention to the work of many leaders; here are a few I enjoy:

  • Doug Conant, ex-CEO of Campbell Soup Company and author of The Action is in the Interaction.
  • Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge.
  • Bob Sutton, Stanford professor and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss and the blog “Work Matters.”

It is important that we gather our information from many sources and relate the experiences of others to our own story. This helps us frame ideas in a proper context.

Thanks for allowing us to interview you and learn more about your views on leadership in the workplace today!

No problem; I enjoyed it and am happy that you selected me for the interview.

Telltale Signs You Have Lost Work Life Balance

13 Feb

HR Work Life BalanceHave you lost work/life balance? Maybe you never had it in the first place. Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that you’ve teetered over the edge. Review the following list and make a mental tally on how many of these apply to you. Hint: If you say “YES” to 5 or more you are probably out of balance whether you realize it or not.

Work Signs You’ve Lost Balance

  • You work more hours than your boss
  • You always get the best parking spot at work because you are the first one there
  • You know the members of the night cleaning crew by name
  • You consistently get recognized for your “rigor” and /or others have referred to you as a “machine”
  • You have been asked by co-workers “when do you sleep?” and you realize they aren’t kidding
  • You talk to your friends and family in work-speak
  • You are known by name at the airport and / or the hotels you stay at (extra points if you consider those nice folks who work at the airport and hotels your “friends”)
  • You schedule appointments to talk to your friends and family on Outlook, etc… (extra points if you schedule appointments to speak with your spouse)

Family Signs You’ve Lost Balance

  • You often greet your children with “you’ve gotten so big since the last time I saw you” (just be sure not to say that to your spouse)
  • You’ve worked on holidays during the past year
  • You get visibly nervous when you have no cell phone reception
  • You didn’t take a vacation over the past year (extra points if you are proud of that)
  • It’s been over a year since you’ve seen any of your best friends
  • You’ve forgotten at least one important birthday over the last year
  • It’s been over 6 months since you were on a date (or had a date-night with your spouse)

Health Signs You’ve Lost Balance

  • You typically eat your meals while you work (extra points if you have forgotten to eat a meal at least once over the past month)
  • You are at or near your heaviest weight
  • You can’t remember the last time you exercised
  • You have eaten lunch from a vending machine more than once over the past month (extra points if you bragged about it)
  • You sleep less than 6 hours each night on average (extra points if you sleep less than 5 hours a night on average)
  • You feel either anxious or depressed more than 50% of the time
  • You feel apathetic about most things in your life

There you have it. Signs you’ve lost work/life balance. If you still aren’t sure, when in doubt just ask those closest to you. They’ll tell you the truth if you have the courage to hear the answer. Sometimes, it takes that slap in the face to wake us up to the reality that this isn’t the life we wanted after all.

Have I missed any signs? Let me know your score on Twitter by mentioning @TheWPTherapist and @SageHRMS.

How a Stay Interview Keeps People From Going

8 Feb

Man w clipboardIt’s typically HR policy to conduct probationary interviews after a new hire has been working for 30, 60, or 90 days, provide employees with a yearly review and conduct exit interviews as employees leave the company. One interview tool that HR managers don’t utilize enough in the workplace is the stay interview. This may be the most important type of interview employers can conduct in order to retain their best staff members.

What is a stay interview?
Unlike a job performance review, during which the employer gives the employee feedback, or exit interviews, where companies look to find answers as before a worker walks out the door, the stay interview is an opportunity for managers to ask their top talent: what can we do to make you stay? This one-on-one interview allows employees to discuss what is working for them and what changes need to be made to keep them happy and productive in the job.

Overcoming Trust Issues
It’s best if direct managers conduct stay interviews after proper training. These leaders have a working relationship with the employee, so they already know how that worker performs on a daily basis. As a result, they can more efficiently direct the questions asked during the interview. The biggest issue with stay interviews is trust between a worker and his or her manager. If there is a lack of trust, employees are likely to answer untruthfully, making the whole stay interview process pointless.

Managers need to be trained to phrase questions appropriately so employees don’t feel as if they are getting backed into a corner, or worry that their answer may affect their position. HR managers need to train leaders to ask questions that help drive understanding on employee feelings about the key areas of engagement. This includes company culture, communication, growth and recognition. Managers need to relay the message to employees during this specific interview that the purpose is to find out an employee’s feelings in general towards the workplace at that time.

Companies that wish to implement stay interviews into their HR practices should consider investing in trust-building initiatives and training. These tools show employees that the company is investing in maintaining a good working relationship with them.

The actual stay interview practice can create trust between the employee and employer if the organization clearly communicates the intent of the interviewee. Explaining the purpose of the interview and how the answers will better serve the development of the company can help alleviate employee anxieties about discussing what is working and where they see a need for improvement.

Developing Stay Interview Questions
Like we mentioned above, good interview questions should directly correlate with company culture, communication, growth and recognition. Focusing on employee understanding and feelings regarding these areas in the company are topics that will lead to good discussion. When framing a question, it’s best to stay away from blunt questions that could lead to generic answers and instead, phrase questions so the employee has to specifically identify a problem within the workplace and ways to fix it.

Some examples of bad stay interview questions might include:

  • Do you think communication is going well here? – this question give the employees the option to answer yes or no answer and doesn’t prompt them to go into details as to why something may or may not be working.
  • What could we do to make you stay? – Employees might respond with answers such as better pay, or more PTO time, which may not be financially possible on the business end. Answers to this question could also derail the stay interview, turning it into more of an employee performance review, which doesn’t give any insight about the company culture and day-today practices.

Some examples of good stay interview questions might include: 

  • If you quit today, what would you miss the most about the job? What would you least miss? This type of question asks the interviewee to identify at least one pro and con about the current work place, which may lead to further discussion about the need for positive changes.
  • How can we help you achieve your goals? An employer that invests in its employees’ career development helps keep staff happy and motivated, which breeds loyalty.
  • Are there issues in the workplace that may cause you to leave? This open-ended question sheds light on problems that may need to be addressed within a department or with a specific group of workers. It may also explain why the interviewee has seemed unhappy or distracted at work. Follow-up questions can help managers come up with a solution if the problem still exists, which can ultimately increase their chances of keeping employees from leaving.

During and after the stay interview, it’s important for the manager to be honest and admit that they may not be able to provide everything the interviewee wants, but that their feedback is valuable. Emphasize that as the manager, you can listen to them, hear their concerns, validate their feelings, and assure them that you will do what you can to explore options to solve any issues within the workplace. It’s important that you follow through with issues and concerns discussed during the stay interview and keep the said employee up to date with any progress being made.

Are You Prepared to Manage the Next Generation of Workers?

6 Feb

recruiting-employee-management-generation-yThe baby boomer generation has been slowly retiring, leaving many organizations with vacant positions within their companies. HR professionals are now dealing with a new generation of workers during the recruiting process. These job seekers have high expectations entering the workforce. Since they also have demands different from older generations, it’s important to make sure your organization is prepared to at least meet them halfway.

Generation Y
A recent survey conducted by Knoll of 15,000 employees in 40 countries, across four generations, reported that within the next decade, the workplace will reverse its balance of employees. Rather than a workforce breakdown of 50 percent baby boomer employees and 25 percent Generation Y employees, it will transition to 25 percent baby boomers and 50 percent Generation Y workers.

A number of generational differences were uncovered by the survey, including the business structure of the workforce. Many other companies have conducted similar surveys, all concluding that Gen Y workers feel that being part of a workforce that makes them feel engaged, allows for social interaction and in some way benefits society are among the most important factors when looking for a job.

On the opposite end, Gen Y doesn’t feel that having meeting rooms in the workplace is especially important for them to get their work done. Instead, they are looking for an employer culture that blends personal and private life. This is completely opposite of baby boomers, who ranked office space as the No. 1 priority and view office space as a status marker. The baby boomer workplace was built on face-to-face interaction rather than social media and technology.

Changing the Workplace
It’s important for business leaders and managers to realize that they have control over the employer culture and how they run the company. So what can you and your organization do to appeal to the new generation of workers? Emergency Market blogger Eric Holdeman suggests implementing the following changes in the workplace in order to attract and retain talent:

  1. Don’t be ruled by the clock – Providing flexible work schedules, including the option to work from home and on the go is becoming the new trend among employers. Gen Y doesn’t see an office as a top priority in the workplace, so limiting them to a 9-to-5 desk job isn’t going to attract them or keep them in the job for long.
  2. Bring in mobile devices – Going along with the flexible workplace, businesses need to create policies regarding BYOD practices. Gen Y members do not want to work in a place that heavily restricts their personal and social interactions.
  3. Conduct routine evaluations – Although they won’t necessarily turn down a pay raise, Gen Y-ers aren’t as concerned with money as a reward for their efforts, unlike older generations. Instead, they are looking for employers to give continuous feedback. It’s important for them to know that their efforts aren’t going unnoticed and that their work is in some way, shape or form aligning with business goals.

As businesses continue to compete within national and international markets, they need to remember that virtual recruitment isn’t the only strategy to finding candidates. In order to perfect the job offer, HR professionals should be prepared to invest the time in developing an employer culture that new job seekers find attractive. Focusing on the above suggestions are only a few of the many ways organizations should expect to adapt their business to meet the demands of the new Generation Y workers.

The Times They Are A Changing

1 Feb

hr-change-tips-2013The global nature of employment, coupled with the ever-changing labor regulatory environment, makes the role of human resources management a study in evolution. With the new year come updates to HR laws, best practices and employee development demands on organizations. This may prompt some businesses to revisit how they can develop their workforce, cope with global business pressure, incorporate technology into employee growth and training, and prepare for future organization transformation. We know that the best way to handle change is to be prepared for it, so here are a few tips from the human resource community to survive the transformations of the coming year. Forbes predicts: 

1. There will be a shift away from top-down HR management styles
2. HR will be transformed into a team of skilled professionals
3. Companies will make global leadership a top priority
4. Training will focus on career development
5. HR may change titles

Title Makeover
At the annual Employee Development Roundtable, organizational development and HR professionals discussed the fact that the future of employee and organization development will no longer be classified under human resources, but rather talent management, be sure to make the most of it. The reason for this? “Organizational development is successful when it is seen as a business necessity and not just another department within an organization. It is most effective when it is offered and embraced at all levels of an organization,” said panelist Catherine Halen, vice president of human resources at Beebe Medical Center. Panelists anticipate that this change of direction will lead to:

  • A need to focus on business organization, not just individual employee goals.
  • A drive to inspire employees to brainstorm ideas that will bring innovation and empowerment to the business.
  • Creation of strategy within the company to ensure the business ranks highly among competitors.

Skilled Managers Instead of Top-down HR
Human resource experts want businesses to focus on the overall development, which they believe will change significantly if the human resource department changes its name to talent management. How does this name change affect the way a company manages its employees? That’s where the shift from top-down management comes in. Instead of having a group of people who manage the entire company’s employees, the future outlook is to develop a group of high-performing managers who have expertise in the department they manage. That way, companies can:

  • Focus on training managers to better mentor employees in their division.
  • Emphasize the importance of employee development by offering training sessions to improve different skill sets relating to job performance and tasks.

New Focus on Training
There is a high demand for “doers” rather than managers. Organizations need to focus on on-demand training, coaching and simulation through blended learning systems. Training and career development will be heavily reliant on technology and cloud services to help employers build more formal career development programs. Panelists discussed that many companies need to:

  • Encourage hands on experience rather than text book training.
  • Stay on top of relevant technology to help workers get the job done.

Companies are going to shift away from traditional human resource management, which generally focuses on ways to roll out from the original business location, because this type of management doesn’t favor businesses with many locations. Individual workplaces have dynamic differences that make a standard practice, governed by HR, hard to manage based on culture and level of skills in the workplace. To combat single practices, participants at the Employee Development Roundtable suggested businesses:

  • Focus on local organization with a globalization plan on the back burner. 
  • Encourage employees to bring new ideas to the table to help build the business.
  • Utilize talent inside and outside of the organization to build relationships that will have a positive effect on business.

This will help better manage individual enterprises to achieve overall company goals.

We want to know how your HR team feels about the changes discussed above. Is your company going to embrace the new management trends, or stick to more traditional business management? Let us know on Twitter by mentioning @SageHRMS in your tweet or drop a note on our LinkedIn forum, Human Resources & Payroll Challenges for Midsized Businesses.