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Get a better handle on your conflict and relationship management

9 Feb

Failure Leading to GriefWhy does it seem that some people deal with conflict more easily than others? Does it seem to you that there are some people that appear to thrive in high-stress situations? For some folks, it’s very hard to assess and manage conflict, while for others, it seems to come naturally. Learning how to identify sources of conflict and managing expectations requires a lot of patience and is hard work. If you can learn how to identify sources of conflict, recognize the early warning signs of destructive conflict, identify how to deconstruct your thought process, it can help you toward developing positive outcomes during stressful situations. Here are just a few tips on how to get a better handle on managing your conflicts and relationship management more constructively.

Managing conflict may mean you need to learn to manage your expectation of others better. If you repeatedly have the same outcome from an individual you are in conflict with, it may be time to tweak your thought process a little in a way that will help resolve situations and keep your feelings in check. I’m not suggesting that you conform to the person you are in conflict with but, stop thinking you can change people. You can’t. However, you can change certain behaviors. Start changing your behavior first, then you will be able to find other ways that may be leading indicators of others’ behaviors. This may help you to realize ways in which you can help to manage to a more favorable outcome.

Observe others who you feel are successful at handling stressful situations, those who seem to have those positive outcomes you desire. What behaviors do they exhibit that you can emulate? Don’t reinvent the wheel; take something that you see worked for someone else, then adapt it a little and try to make that type of behavior work even better for you.

It also helps to learn what your “hot buttons” are. If you know what negatively escalates your mood, you are already one step ahead of the game and can manage your internal response to others’ behaviors. This will help you facilitate discussions that are open, constructive and less emotional. Sometimes when you take the emotional factors out of the equation, this allows you to process your thoughts in a logical manner and helps to yield a more positive outcome.

Start employing a certain level of empathy toward others, even if or when they’ve pushed your hot buttons. Again, it’ll help you think in a more logical sequence thus, providing you with a clear pathway to resolving your conflict. This takes a lot of practice but, it does work. Try it. You’ll see.

Now, ask yourself how important it is to be right in all situations. Sometimes making simple concessions help diffuse situations quickly and move you a huge step forward in working constructively to resolve conflict. If you are the type that likes to be right all the time, set a personal goal for yourself to be right less of the time. That means something different for everyone however, it’s part of modifying your behavior in a way that others may take notice. Their perceptions of you may change to a certain degree and situations could end up more favorably than you thought they would.

Do you have a positive attitude? Sure you do. Everyone thinks they do. Here’s where you need to take a true self-assessment on it. Make the assumption that you could do some work and retooling on your positive attitude and thought process. Yes, thinking positively will help. While others dwell on negativity, continue with a positive outlook. Continue this positive outlook even in the face of your worst adversity. No one who is truly working toward conflict resolution and relationship management appreciates a negative attitude.

So, in the grand scheme of things, how important is the issue you are working through? Sometimes situations that occur are part of a much bigger process or outcome. Try talking your situation through with the other person and actually trying to see things from his or her perspective. This is one of the hardest things to do but, once you hone that skill, you begin to see things that others don’t. This may prove instrumental to you in problem solving and conflict resolution.

What’s your tolerance level and actual acceptance of others? Not everyone will act or think like you do. People come from diverse backgrounds and will have other perspectives to offer that may differ from your opinions. Take the time to actually appreciate this diversity and let their perspective “marinate” in your thoughts before you act or over-react. Doing this will keep your emotions in check and allow for processing thoughts using a variety of ways, all working toward a more favorable outcome.

Of course you already know to maintain professionalism. But keep a calm tone in your voice. Don’t escalate it if someone else begins to escalate theirs. As a matter of fact, when someone begins to raise his or her voice, bring yours down an octave. Also remember, no one appreciates sarcasm, so keep that out of the equation all together.

Last but not least, I’ve found that simply openly and honestly communicating with the person (in a non-threatening manner) always works the best. Try approaching the person you are having a conflict with in a very sincere manner, talk through your points, take the time to listen to his or her points, then offer a compromise somewhere in the middle. Of course, there will be times where it may come down to saying to that other person “Let’s just agree to disagree,” but at least you’ve agreed to something.

 

 

Are you subtly but certainly killing your credibility?

29 Jan

Recruiting and retaining millennials can be difficult for many companies.Want to know how to build and sustain credibility as an HR professional? Practice your communication so that it delivers the desired results that will allow you to be viewed as a credible resource. Does credibility of your function really even matter? It most certainly does. As a matter of fact, it matters for every function within an organization, regardless of the role you have within it. Here are just a couple of tips for you to establish, maintain, and become the trusted resource for providing credible information.

When someone asks for your assistance, listen to their request. Ascertain if it’s reasonable, and if the request isn’t “up your alley,” then redirect the person making the request accordingly to the accurate person or area. Don’t waste his or her time by providing vague answers or answers that you think are correct. However, if you choose to redirect the request, take that extra step to ensure the requestor has been given a response by doing a quick follow-up with the requestor. Keep in mind that any lack of further response from where the requestor was re-directed may provide the requestor with a negative perception of you. Do this a few times and your credibility perception will quickly, but subtly spread. Take the time to follow up. Appropriate follow-up builds credibility.

Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on. This sounds like a no-brainer but really, think before you speak. Don’t say anything affirmatively to anyone without having all of your facts straight then think you can simply retract it later on because you didn’t do the appropriate fact-finding. Don’t kid yourself. This erodes credibility in a big way as well.

If someone knows more about a certain topic than you do, don’t try to “one up” him with your knowledge. People are looking for you to deliver specialized expertise and advice to your organization for the information that you are most familiar with. If there’s even a hint or illusion that you don’t know what you are talking about, people will stop seeking guidance from you within your specialized area of knowledge or expertise. In some cases, they may even find a way to work around you. Allow others who are viewed as the experts in their field to apply their expertise. This is one of the hardest habits to break.

So what do you do about it? Well, we’ve all heard about 360-degree reviews, right? You’ll need to do this assessment on yourself. Start right away. Don’t ask your friend or your best colleague. They may not give you the honest, open feedback you need in an attempt to spare your feelings. Don’t ask your direct reports either. After all, you sign off on their reviews and hold a key to their future. Do you really think they will tell you what you don’t want to hear when it comes to this? You have a couple of choices here. You can seek the input of someone who others view as credible, not who you view as being credible and ask them for an honest assessment of what their honest perception is of your credibility and hope they give you the honest feedback. It’s advisable to tell them first that in order to become a better leader, there are always ways where one can improve upon themselves. So, since this is one area that you want to improve upon for yourself, you are soliciting their feedback and honest input.  Or, you can just reflect upon yourself, admit you do these things and begin to change your behavior now.

 

 

 

 

 

Why employee self-service matters

18 Nov

HR Trend AnalysisWhat is employee self-service? You hear that term a lot, but if you are a relatively small employer and/or new to the HR role, do you really know? I didn’t until someone explained the concept and informed me that there was actually a product that could tie into my core HRMS to do the things I had been doing manually for years, then disseminate the necessary information to my managers and executives for approval or notification. Wow, talk about a surprise! How many personnel action forms have you completed for address changes, emergency contacts, phone number changes, and so on? You know the drill. A PA form is needed for everything! Plus, as HR, we are taught to “document” everything for use at some later point in time. Imagine … Employees key in their changes to personal information from the comfort of their desks (or even their homes), then, these changes follow some type of logical expression or pathway that you’ve preset in the system to automatically route to the appropriate individual(s) for approval or notification. Employees are able to access other pieces of HR information, which includes skills, job history, and performance reviews. Managers have instant access to employee data for both direct and indirect reports. They can review attendance information, employee performance, salary history, time off requested and much more. Really, the possibilities are endless.  Again … .whoaaaaa, cool! For some companies I’ve worked for, I was the person actually introducing and/or creating the PA form. What I mean by creating the PA form is taking a form and actually crafting it into an MS Word or other application (that is similar to being an artist or graphic designer using the computer), then training everyone on the PA form use, or just offering to complete the PA form for the managers to save them time for whatever change it is they needed to make within the HRMS. Can you say time consuming? Have you ever held that role? If you work in a small company, sure you have!

So, what’s the lesson learned or key takeaway here? Employee self-service products really can and do save you time and money. More importantly, though, they yield a healthy Return on Employee Investment by creating the best circumstances for each individual in the organization to perform at his or her best potential. For some employees within the organization empowerment makes all the difference in the world. By giving your employees ownership of their personal information and enabling them to input their own changes directly into the HRMS when it’s convenient for them to do so, you promote workplace satisfaction, thereby increasing your Return on Employee Investment. In addition, by encouraging your employees to use employee self-service to gain access to the relevant information they need when they need it, you can begin to enhance company communication and improve motivation. Plus, increasing employee engagement correlates directly with a positive impact on key metrics within the business, which will ultimately help the organization reach its goals.

The first step you need to take, though, is actually seeing an employee self-service product in action and then talking to a few people who are similarly situated to you with respect to the size of your organization and your specific role within it. It’s really that simple. I admit I was reluctant to the process at first because I thought I’d been doing a pretty good job of things on my own; however, once I realized (and saw for myself) that I could streamline this process entirely, while empowering my employees in the process, then I could begin to retool the next big labor intensive HR process.

Take the first step and start here … Visit our website: http://www.sagehrms.com/ or call Sage at 866-271-6050 and learn more about how this product will help you.

 

Have you lost your work-life balance or is it already gone?

3 Nov

HR Work Life BalanceAs an HR/Payroll professional, how many times in your career have you heard someone say, “I need to get a life outside of this place?” or “All I do is work, work, work,” or “my kids don’t even know who I am anymore” or “I need a mental health day.” Sound familiar? Sure it does. Maybe you have even joked about it with your friends or said it to yourself. In any case, it looks like your life has gotten a little off balance.

That’s okay. It happens a lot in HR/payroll. Why? Let’s face it. Depending upon your role in the profession, this can literally be a 24/7 proposition. How are you going to say to someone who needs your help with their HR or payroll issue (an issue that really can’t wait like a paycheck that didn’t make it into a direct deposit account, someone’s health deduction was taken out twice on their check, an employee who had the wrong state’s taxes taken from their check, a hospitalized child where the parent is having a problem with his or her medical insurance not being accepted at the hospital, a “tomorrow surgery” with a rejected referral today, or an employee who has just told you that she has been harassed by a coworker)–so do you say to those employees, “yeah . . . hey, I’ll get to that tomorrow morning, promise.”

Okay, we all know that doesn’t fly and for those of you who know you can’t actually do it tomorrow (and are one of those who will think about these issues on your own time), and that means most of us in this profession, this is where too many of these situations can lead to your work- life balance getting thrown off, and burnout is most likely to occur. Aside from seeking the traditional forms of assistance for yourself, you need to start fixing this by trying to simplify your work as much as you can. If the type of person you are doesn’t allow you to “turn off” the 24/7 needs of others, then you need to simplify those parts of your job that have not been allowing you to focus more on the human aspect of the job that you enjoy the most. So, where do you begin?

First, assess how much paper you currently use in your process. Aside from enjoying the freedom of being able to “go green,” is there a process or two that you can bring online? Can you relinquish some of the control and allow the managers and employees in your company to take ownership for some input and entry of process? You can do it! Did you know that there are tools available that are classified as “employee self-service” tools that enable you to streamline some of the more repetitive tasks in your role? For example, instead of calling the HR department with routine inquiries, your employees and managers can be more self-sufficient when they can access information, such as time off, current benefits, and current job details—anytime, anyplace over the Internet or company intranet. These tools can even empower you to dynamically and securely provide on-demand workforce data to executives, managers, and others; all of this can even be done without IT support.

Help yourself the way that you help your employees, managers, and others day in and day out. Check out www.sagehrms.com or call 866-271-6050. Allow Sage to show you really how much can be taken off your plate so you can get the much needed balance back into your life.

 

How was I supposed to know there was a tool out there to help me? The joke was on me.

23 Oct

When Nothing Really is SomethingLet me share another story with you. Once upon a time, I was responsible for handling the entire open enrollment process (while I was the HR person at a previous employer). Really, I was. If you actually know what you are doing (or at least think you have a good handle on the majority of it), are great at process-oriented tasks, pay strict attention to detail, and have the right resources allocated to you to get the job done, it’s a total walk in the park. This sounds easy enough to anyone you tell about how you handle your open enrollment, right? Are you laughing now? Sure you are. I’m laughing too. We all know there a lot of moving parts to this process and so much can go wrong during it but, as we all know, at the end of the process; there is no getting around those open enrollment election forms submitted by the employee. Of course, more process or more employees, means more paper.

You gather and collect your final open enrollment election forms, maybe even keep track of them on a spreadsheet, send it to your benefits broker or insurance carrier, and it’s all a done deal, and everyone has all the benefits they need, right? I’m laughing again; are you? A mistake on a form here; a change from an employee there, wait, was there a form that should have been included but now isn’t? Sure there is. Wait, what happened? Yikes! Does this sound familiar? How manual is your process? Take it from me, mine was a very manual process but, what did I know? Then, there is that aha moment where find out that there are actually tools that can take you away from these manual processes and slide you easily into a streamlined time-saving process that also saves you money. Okay, I found out there is such a process, but way after the fact. I found out so much after the fact that I don’t even handle HR at my current company but now feel compelled to save you time while you may be still struggling to find a better way to handle your open enrollment process.

Sage has two products that can take a lot of the hassle out of your open enrollment process. Sage Benefits Enrollment and Sage Benefits Messenger can totally change the way you feel about handling your open enrollment process. Take the first step and view these two on demand webcasts. You’ll see for yourself how these products can significantly reduce the time you spend dealing with your open enrollment process. And, to give you a personalized frame of reference on this, the voice that narrates these on demand webcasts is mine.

Strategies on how to have tough conversations with your employees

15 Apr

InterviewWhen it comes to strategic human resource management, at some point, every manager or HR professional has to sit down a worker to have a hard conversation. Many leaders hold off speaking with employees about difficult issues because they are unsure of how to handle these types of situations. Should they apologize to show empathy? Is it acceptable to just email the worker? Whether it is a termination or a performance review, HR professionals and company management must walk a fine line. Supervisors who know how to handle tough conversations and employ effective employee management are able to ensure positive outcomes to difficult meetings.

Here are four strategies for having tough conversations with employees:

Hold Conversations in Private to Keep Confidentiality
Every time managers need to have a meeting with workers about sensitive topics, they need to do so in private. This keeps the situation between the supervisor and the employee. Co-workers shouldn’t know if an employee is not doing well unless the manager feels it is in the person’s best interest to let others know, and even then there may be legal consequences for not maintaining confidentiality. Having conversations where other people can listen into the meeting can cause the employee to feel as if he or she is not being respected. Being compassionate and empathetic can go a long way to the worker understanding the points his or her boss or HR professional is making during their meeting.

Stay Brief and to the Point
Managers don’t want to beat around the bush when they enter a difficult meeting. According to a review of an HR management book in Forbes, being truthful right from the get-go can prevent any miscommunication and let the worker know exactly what the issue is. The article suggests leaders follow a simple, three-step process: facts, feelings and identity. Stating the facts right from the beginning gets everyone on the same page.

However, managers need to be careful how they plunge ahead with the conversation. Being overly critical can cause only further issues. According to Forbes, HR consultants advise supervisors should always try to achieve “clean, clear, lucid truth.”

According to an article in Inc. magazine, compassion is a key trait of effective leaders. Professionals who show they are empathetic to their workers’ needs and feelings are more likely to receive loyalty from those employees and enhanced productivity. In an article for Harvard Business Review, leadership consultant Peter Bregman wrote managers need to approach difficult situations from the employees’ point of view.

For example, the Forbes article explained how one manager would use the phrase “I’m not loving that” to get right to the point of an issue without being too harsh.

Seek Guidance of Legal Counsel Where Necessary
Leaders shouldn’t hesitate to receive advice from legal counsel when appropriate. Some types of difficult conversations, like terminating an employee, can have legal consequences if supervisors don’t handle the situation correctly. Speaking to lawyers or legal experts can prevent professionals from inadvertently sticking their feet in their mouths.

Keep HR in the Loop
Perhaps most importantly, managers should take advantage of HR professionals’ knowledge and experience with speaking to workers. HR should role play the conversation so the appropriate adjustments to leaders’ delivery can be made. According to Forbes, everything from body language to tone of voice is important during sensitive meetings. HR professionals can ensure managers understand what they can and cannot say, as well as how to correctly get to the point without sacrificing empathy.

Managers shouldn’t hesitate to speak to workers about issues that need to be addressed, but they need to do so carefully and make sure they are not creating further problems.

The importance of mentorships within the workplace

2 Apr

Man w clipboardMost workplaces provide internships to college or high school students, or they utilize training management software and match young employees with their more experienced colleagues for mentorships. Both types of learning opportunities can benefit workers and their employers, and human resources departments should not discount the advantages of establishing internships or mentorships in the workplace. With the right employee management system, your organization can develop or optimize its internships and mentorships, benefiting the entire company.

Developing workers through these solutions allows them to learn from subject matter experts and provides HR departments with a stronger pool of internal talent. Here are the three biggest advantages your organization can experience by instituting internships and mentorships:

Have the Best Teach the Business
Every company has subject matter experts whose knowledge can greatly benefit the whole workforce. Developing entry-level or mid-level workers’ skill sets through mentorships and providing students with opportunities to experience the professional workplace firsthand gives them access to industry experts at your organization, which can lead to networking opportunities.

Developmental opportunities with industry experts are so coveted that tech giants Google and Apple and multimedia powerhouse The Walt Disney Company grabbed the top spots of ideal employers for business students in the 2014 Universum Student Survey. When asked which companies the 46,000 surveyed undergraduate students would want to work for, most picked companies that had professional training and development opportunities as well as were leaders in their respective fields.

Providing internships to talented students and investing in mentoring within the workplace can help experts pass on their knowledge and encourage innovation within their respective industries. Internal workers who are mentees of company leaders or experienced workers may even be fast tracked for promotion, furthering their companies’ success.

Develop Internal Talent
According to an article in recruitment resource ERE.net, many companies approach internships and mentorships as opportunities to scope out potential talent. Giving students real-world experience in their chosen industry lets companies get ahead in acquiring the best new talent. Hiring workers who have been mentored by the best also means you don’t have to go through a long and tedious recruitment process. As these employees already know how the workplace operates and fit into the company culture, they are great candidates for positions.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, competition for workers with strong potential has heated up over the years. However, without effective mentoring programs, companies can see themselves with low worker retention and employee engagement, the article noted. For example, the HBR story’s author explained one consulting firm saw itself losing talented young professionals because it didn’t have a mentorship program.

Workforce suggested matching mentors with mentees using employee management software to help HR departments develop key performers.

Promote Positive Associate Relations
Positive associate relations is often not a benefit many HR departments consider when looking at the advantages of mentorships and internships. However, these developmental opportunities encourage positive relations between associates. Mentors and mentees, as well as interns and their supervisors, can develop working relationships that strengthen the entire workplace environment. According to new research published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, mentors and internship supervisors’ perceived organizational support (POS) increases when they coach talented workers.

“There is empirical evidence that suggests that employees’ POS helps increase their sense of obligation and desire to reciprocate to the organization, fulfill their socioemotional needs and incorporate organizational membership and role status into their social identity,” the researchers wrote.

Developing talent through either mentorships or internships is crucial for employers. Taking time to train and support workers with leadership potential can strengthen the entire company from the inside out. When mentees and interns do well and are either promoted or hired, they feel loyal to the organization and mentors and supervisors feel accomplished.

Challenges facing HR and Payroll Managers in 2014

24 Mar

Woman Working Using Flex HoursHuman Resources is an ever-changing industry, and HR professionals know they need to remaining constantly alert for new regulations and issues to arise. This year has already shaped up to be a challenging one for many HR departments across the U.S. From keeping key workers at the company to implementing effective payroll management, HR professionals and payroll managers are facing numerous challenges during 2014.

Here are the top three issues HR departments are coming up against this year:

Compliance with the ACA and Its Results
Much has been said about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) within the past few years-especially within the last couple months. This is because the ACA is not only going to impact how companies provide healthcare to employees, but there will be legal compliance standards that will occur as a result. These include employee litigation and audits from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.

According to the ADP Research Institute, the ACA presents one of the most complex HR compliance challenges of all time. The lack of preparations on the part of employers has escalated the impact the ACA is having on the business community as a whole. For example, ADP wrote one-fifth to one-third of companies did not even have a clue how much of an effect the ACA’s health insurance exchanges would have on their businesses this past January. In addition, more ACA regulations are coming, and employers are just as unprepared for potential penalties and the Excise Tax Assessment as they have been for other aspects of the healthcare reform law. Even though the healthcare landscape continues to shift and evolve, HR and payroll professionals need to get on steady ground when it comes to understanding their compliance requirements and mitigating their own legal risks.

Retaining Top Talent
The recession remains in many people’s minds, but employees are beginning to feel more confident about their employment options. As the labor market shows signs of improvement, many employees who have waited on the sidelines for better career opportunities may decide to jump ship before the year is out. While this is a good sign for the job market, HR professionals are looking to lose some of their best performers this year if they don’t implement new employee engagement ideas.

According to a late 2013 poll by Right Management, 83 percent of 871 surveyed U.S. and Canadian employees said they will look for a new job this year. In 2009, only 6 in 10 employees said they intended to “actively seek a new position” in the coming year, but that number jumped to 84 percent the following year and has stayed about the same ever since. More top workers used to network to feel out their employment opportunities, but now the majority are becoming active job seekers instead. Twenty-one percent of employees said they were networking to keep their options open in 2009, but that number remained at 8 or 9 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Being able to provide competitive compensation is going to be an essential employee engagement strategy for not only 2014 but into the long term, as Right Management’s numbers suggests retaining top talent is going to be a struggle for a while. Human resource planning will be a go-to solution for many in the industry because of this, and more HR professionals will need to seek out additional employee engagement techniques if they want to acquire and keep key performers.

According to Human Resource Executive (HRE) Online, employee engagement may be its own challenge throughout 2014. Offering employees growth opportunities through effective talent management, tracking worker satisfaction, and maintaining collaboration in the workplace are all going to be important strategies to keep employees engaged this year, HRE Online suggested. According to Forbes, it is going to take recognizing where dissatisfaction comes from for HR professionals to entice workers to remain at the company.

Complying with the OFCCP Mandate
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) mandate pertaining to the hiring and employment of individuals with disabilities will be another key challenge this year, specifically Section 503. According to Business and Legal Resource, hiring managers must now reference Section 503 rules that require contractors to invite job seekers to voluntarily self-identify as disabled at the preoffer and postoffer phases of the hiring process.

BLR states “OFCCP’s final regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), require that employers invite job applicants and employees to self-identify as being an individual with a disability. On Jan. 22, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the final Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form for use by covered federal contractors, beginning with contractors’ new plan year following the effective date of the final Section 503 regulation on March 24, 2014.”

The OFCCP does have training materials available on its website to help recruiters and HR professionals comply with the mandate.

 


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