Archive | TGIM: Thank Goodness It’s Monday RSS feed for this section

Can You Create Collaborative Individuality?

6 Feb

Collaborative IndividualityToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Much has been said about the burgeoning “knowledge economy.” As markets continue to demand highly skilled workers with extensive training and education, employers will come to value creativity, experience and know-how over anything else.

Especially among companies focused on technology and innovation, creativity is the new golden asset. Of course, ingenuity is notoriously difficult to gauge in a job candidate – let alone foster. The demand for creative minds has also sparked a debate about where workplace innovation comes from. Does is sprout from group brainstorming and collaboration, or is it more of a solitary, introverted endeavor?

Much has been written that suggests people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. The most creative minds, are only extroverted enough to exchange and advance their ideas, but they see themselves as independent and individualistic.

Clearly, this is at odds with the imperatives of an innovation economy, where the internet, social media and mobile technology encourage collaboration and advanced communication to solve problems and address new ones. This also applies to the workplace, which often relies on group directives to tackle projects or develop new ideas.

The challenge for managers is to balance individual habits with team directives, cites Inc. magazine. This means avoiding the collectivist mentality and encouraging cooperation. Collectivists, unite around a single purpose but ignore alternate paths to achieve that purpose. Collaborators, on the other hand, are focused on purpose but they arrive at their goals by including a variety of individual opinions and viewpoints.

In that sense, managers should encourage individuality within the team-based framework. Make each member of a creative project feel as though they have a unique mind that contributes a valued role to the overall venture. Inc. recommends a few ways to facilitate collaborative individuality.

1.) Encourage personal identity - Members of a team should build upon the contributions of others to achieve collective goals. This means embracing and even urging alternative perceptions and personal differences.

2.) Affirm purpose - Managers need to let their team members know why they are valued and how their input leads to organizational success.

3.) Reflect, as a group - Managers should stir the brainstorming process by posing challenging questions to reflect upon silently and then discuss as a group. Open-ended conversations should focus on “how” and “why” rather than established processes.

How else can managers encourage collaborative individuality?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

 

TGIM: Organization and Technology is More Subjective Than You Think

30 Jan

Organization Is Key to Company Success

Today we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Organization is a frequently overlooked component of running a business. Some people are naturally messy or clumsy and the idea of structuring their environment seems unnatural. But however ill-disposed, it’s paramount that employees grasp the value of organization to a company. For managers, this may mean encouraging employees to regulate their habits, or it may be a more personal imperative.

Whatever it is, consider the basics. Yes, “organization” is an ambiguous term that can apply to a variety of business functions and personal concerns – from the administrative to the emotional. Rather than focusing on a vertical perspective of organizations, though, think about on more horizontal terms. Said another way, think about what it means to be “organized.”

A recent IBM study illuminates this point. Researchers observed that individuals who “searched” their email accounts, instead of setting up files and folders for their correspondence, typically found what they were looking for faster and with fewer errors. The time and overhead associated with creating and managing email folders were seen as wastes of time.

The Harvard Business Review points out that technology makes an economic virtue of digital disorganization. The productivity issue workers need to consider is whether habits of efficiency that once improved performance have withered away into mindless ruts that undermine intended outcomes.

Of course, this study is reserved to organization as it relates to email, but the main point rings clear: While technology can help eliminate procedural humdrum, it can also convince us of its objectivity. The fact is technology is more subjective than most assume – the ways we use social media, mobile devices and software reflect our individual productive and organizational tendencies. As new technology emerges, it’s important for users to consider how it will or will not influence their personal habits.

Inc. Magazine states that it’s a manager’s job to get the right technologies that respond to employees’ personal productivity needs. They believe that “it’s not that we’re becoming overly dependent on technology to keep us organized, it’s that we haven’t become dependent enough.”

What are some ways managers can promote greater organizational savvy in the workplace?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

 

TGIM: A Reminder About Employee Contribution

23 Jan

Employee Contribution to GrowthToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Most business owners understand the value of their personnel. Small companies are particularly disposed to acknowledging their employees and ensuring their engagement and satisfaction. But what happens when a small firm begins to undergo rapid expansion?

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to overlook or even take for granted their human capital when experiencing sudden growth. It’s even understandable – fast growth is, after all, a very time-consuming and distracting experience.

However, it’s critical that managers and business owners keep their workers in mind and respect the immense effort they apply toward sustaining your company’s growth. With that in mind, it may help to take some time to consider your various departments and their respective contributions not only to your business, but to your management style as well.

Ask yourself: How does each executive or department leader contributes to the overall success of your company – more importantly, how do these departments sustain company growth? For the sake of deliberation, let’s go over the various departments:

Human resources

Your people are the flesh and blood of your company. In the sense that they represent your company, the degree to which your employees are engaged and productive influences every other aspect of running a business. In many ways, your human capital is an investment. Measure your Return on Employee Investment to gauge its overall impact on your business.

Sales

What could be more important? Whether you’re in retail and business services, the ability to make a transaction directly influences the survival of your company.

Marketing

Sales is critical, but you can’t make a sale if nobody has heard of your company and its services. The sales team relies on marketing to provide it with leads and a pre-existing reputation.

IT/Operations

What keeps your office running? What allows you to communicate with shareholders, partners, employees and clients? Technology. Whether it’s a phone system, your network or other logistical considerations, equipment and operations are behind the scenes making sure everything works.

Finance

Accountants, bookkeepers, financial chiefs – these individuals make the numbers work. Business is, after all, about numbers. Your profits – more importantly, the margin of your profits – depend on the ability of your finance people to monitor and regulate costs.

What are some ways managers can show appreciation for their employees?

 Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: How To Help Employees Cope With Extreme Stress

16 Jan

Employee reacting to stressToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Some employees arrive on the job and are immediately overwhelmed. This is not uncommon and should not be viewed as an indication of a bad hire. Instead, managers should tap into their sense of empathy and work to acclimate the new employee. But that’s not the only source of fear or despondency in the workplace. Personal troubles are inevitable, and managers need to help their workers cope with their troubles while also staying at a comfortable distance.

Organizations should implement strategies for managing each tier of talent, says the Harvard Business Review. This includes making sure that average employees are put in roles that take full advantage of their strengths.

Organized and effective performance reviews are one of the most common ways to gauge employee satisfaction and the relative progress of a new hire. However, such meetings are less effective in determining whether an employee is the right fit for a specific project or position.

If their performance is mediocre, don’t let them trudge along in roles that are not right for them, especially if they involve management of coordination. Poor attitudes or disengagement can be contagious, particularly when it comes from a leadership position.

To preempt such a situation, managers should perform frequent “fit tests” to compare both strengths and interests with current job responsibilities, the HBR adds. Ask yourself: Is someone in product development, for example, but better suited for a research position? Trust your instinct and be honest, as recognizing and dealing with a mismatch may help an otherwise average employee become a star.

As for workers dealing with a distracting personal situation, it’s important to show concern for their dilemma. Listen and sympathize with their situation and offer time to deal with it.

Inc. magazine suggests that people have to be able to hear each other and genuinely listen to their stories. Of course, it can be a challenge encouraging colleagues to share their feelings and personal lives in a work environment – it’s even a cliche, of sorts.

Inc. points out that persistent sleeplessness, loss of appetite, anger, crying, distraction and an inability to deal with pressure are all signs that an employee made need some time off to deal with their personal lives. Keeping them in the office will only drain resources and contaminate workplace morale.

What are some other ways managers can help employees cope?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: Your Retention Strategies May Need an Overhaul

9 Jan

It’s Monday, you know what that means! Here is another installment of our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

As the global economy comes to rely on knowledge and information, as opposed to raw labor and manufacturing, the need for developed markets to adapt becomes paramount. In the United States, the recession and the resulting plague of unemployment has shown this to be true. Although some manufacturing jobs have returned, the skills that are most in-demand are in the fields of business services, healthcare, and education – all of which require considerable training.

Consider a few facts: More than 13 million Americans are currently unemployed, but there are more than 3.3 million open positions. What’s more, a number of economists, including those representing the Federal Reserve, agree that unemployment will hover around its current level of 8.6 percent through 2012.

Meanwhile, student debt is rising as jobless Americans return to school to beef up resumes and improve their job prospects. A recent report by the New York Federal Reserve even found the total volume of student debt is now greater than that of credit card debt.

Analysts generally agree that the job market will not be able to recover until there is a considerable shift in the dynamics of the U.S. workforce – that is, a trend toward greater knowledge and skills. However, an added challenge will arise in the form of employers’ ability to hold on to talent.

According to a recent Deloitte survey, roughly one-third of employed Americans plan to look for a new job once the economy recovers. Businesses need to adopt retention strategies if they intend to hold on to their top performers. Here are a few considerations to make toward that end.

1.) Training programs improve morale and job satisfaction

People like to feel like they belong to an organization and that their contributions make a significant impact on its well-being. Broadening an employee’s range of skills and responsibilities will help enhance their sense of belonging and hopefully further commit them to the organization. Consider offering night courses or on-the-job training programs to boost skills and establish a stronger relationship.

However, new responsibilities need to be met with higher compensation, as workers will only lift so much additional weight before they ask for a raise.

2.) Employee recognition goes a long way

Compensation is, of course, important. But most people also want to be recognized for their work. They want to know that they’re doing a good job – not to the point of superficiality, just enough to feel good about their accomplishments and ensure continued effort. Consider offering top performers a greater role in the decision-making process or set them up with a mentor.

 3.) Transparency can build trust and devotion

Whether its finances, marketing or HR solutions, opening strategy to deliberation among top performers will highlight the owner’s commitment to his or her employees and help establish trust between parties. If staff retention is your company’s long-term goal, you’ll need to earn their trust before any other strategy can be considered. As the economy continues to improve, albeit tepidly, the need for retention tactics will become dire.

What are some other ways HR managers can boost employee retention?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: Does It Pay To Open The Books?

19 Dec

Open Book ManagementIt’s Monday and we’re back with another installment of our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday!  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Open-book management, which refers to the idea of opening the books to employees so they can grasp the financial situation of their company, is a fairly divisive subject. While some progressive human resource professionals argue that such policies help breed trust and broaden the stakes to include lower-tier employees, critics argue that it forces contempt and jealousy over profit allocations and merely adds more voices to the fray of corporate strategy.

While both arguments are true in their own right, the extent to which they are – and the efficacy of such policies – really depends on the company at hand. For that matter, businesses need to weigh the ups and downs of an open-book policy and decide whether or not it is right for them.

Some believe that the beauty of open-book management is that it helps companies compete in an erratic marketplace by getting everybody on the payroll thinking and acting like a businessperson, an owner or an investor – rather than like a traditional hired hand.

This involvement with the direct finances of the organization can also lead to improved retention rates and return on employee investment. When employees are given access to the books, they can observe how the business is succeeding or failing. Ideally, if the company is flourishing, it will offer an incentive for workers to stay, as they may be driven toward achieving equity or some higher compensation package.

The more employees understand about their business and, more importantly, about the consequences of their actions, the more likely they are to align their decisions with the interests of the company.

So what are the downsides?

For one, the dissemination of critical company information can be leveraged for devious purposes by unscrupulous ex-employees. Of course, not every worker leaves in a huff of smoke, but an open-book policy can have a detrimental impact on other aspects of running a business. For instance, at large organizations, lower-tier employees might grow resentful of payroll disparity and end up asking for raises in droves.

Accordingly, open-book policies are often reserved for small companies with less than 20 employees. This way, there is already a performance incentive in the alignment of company success and personal financial well-being.

What are some other ways an open-book policy can benefit or harm an organization?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: How Do You Drive Innovation?

12 Dec

Creative BrainstormingIt’s Monday, you know what that means! Here is another installment of our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

Creative brainstorming is not something managers can just demand from their employees and then expect greatness. It’s much more complicated than that. For one, people work in different ways – what inspires one employee may be worthless to another. But if collective strategy sessions are the way to go, how can managers forge an environment that is conducive to innovative thought?

Inc. magazine contributor Jeff Haden argues that promoting creativity involves reconfiguring the thought process. Instead of viewing a brainstorming session as an attempt at product development or innovation, look at it as a matter of problem-solving. What is the issue at hand, and what can be done to improve it? Furthermore, don’t limit your questions to deductive reasoning. Be imaginative. Ask yourself “What if?” How would a product or market be affected by a sudden change? What if your product or service was altered in this specific way?

Use these questions as a guide in your brainstorming session. As a manager, you should allow creative individuals to drive the conversation and come up with most of the ideas. Your role is to guide the thought process through questions and comments. Remain uninvolved in the conversation, but listen carefully.

In all likelihood, your employees are very smart and very creative. But their true potential will shine only when they are free to think, Haden adds. Yet this is a difficult environment to develop, especially in a workplace with hierarchical structures and managerial responsibilities.

Managers need to encourage a variety of ideas, even bad ones, and to never, under any circumstance, let an employee regret speaking up. There are three reasons for this.

  1. He or she will be discouraged from offering up additional ideas in the future.
  2. They will be less confident in their creative capacity.
  3. Ideas that clearly don’t work may still be a source of inspiration for a better one.

In other words, what one employee offers as a solution may be the spark of true ingenuity from someone else.

Also, when employees glance at you in search for feedback, don’t say anything. Look to others for additional input, and allow the conversation to proceed without authoritative fears or inhibitions to thought.

What are some other ways managers can encourage creative thought in brainstorming sessions?

 Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: Non-Monetary Motivation

5 Dec

Non-Monetary MotivationIt’s Monday, so that means we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.  

The beginning of the week is naturally the most challenging time to engage and motivate employees. Fresh off their weekend freedom, most workers tend to be somewhat dejected on Monday morning. While you may not be able to curb disenchantment altogether, you can incorporate more long-term motivational strategies.

However, like with so many other human resource challenges, managers need to find ways to boost engagement and productivity without dipping into the company’s bottom line. But because so many employees are motivated by money, managers have to find a balance, with financial compensation and employee rewards on one end, and company culture and fiscal durability on the other.

For that matter, consider the ups and downs of financial benefits and motivational tactics. While a bonus may offer a boost to employee happiness, it will only mark a temporary shroud over their personal grievances and insecurities. Instead, employees need to feel like they are a part of something important, and that entails recognition of quality work and leniency in terms of scheduling and job responsibilities – not to mention a general capacity for empathy.

Everyone wants praise and it’s one of the easiest things to give. Furthermore, acknowledgement from the CEO goes a lot farther than you may think. While praise is certainly appreciated, there is something of a strategy to it. If you go around complimenting and applauding every little thing someone does, people will start to recognize the superficiality and emptiness of your praise. But if you reserve such accolades for rare or fleeting moments of exceptionalism, the compliment will go a lot further in instilling confidence.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, managers may themselves be an impediment to productivity. Although they don’t intend to evoke fear or intimidation, a manager’s presence may limit an employee’s brainstorming potential or social involvement. For that reason, it may be a good idea to remove hierarchical titles such as “project manager” or “supervisor.” When launching a project, place team members on an even plane, as this will encourage input and reduce fear of involvement.

When mistakes are made, it’s important to make them known without criticizing or publicly humiliating the culprit. Avoid criticism, play it lightly and discuss how the issue can be avoided in the future.

What are some other ways managers can motivate their employees without the use of monetary rewards?

Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: Rewards vs. Awards

28 Nov

Trophy - A Form of AwardToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.  

Engaging employees is a constant challenge for managers. Factors ranging from the state of the job market to the natural lethargy of a Monday morning have the power to plague energy if not handled properly. Accordingly, managers often equip non-monetary incentives to keep workers confident, productive, and loyal.  It’s the type of incentives they employ though that impacts overall engagement levels. Usually, they boil down to this: rewards and awards. But what’s the difference?

Employee Awards

Employee awards are a fitting topic of discussion given the approach of the year’s end. While the enthusiasm for year-end awards tends to fluctuate from company to company, many organizations rely on them to inject some excitement into company culture. The end of the year is the perfect time to publicly acknowledge the specific accomplishments of individual employees. Organizations may want to create a host of categories and nominate several workers for each.

Some critics of these programs, however, argue that they isolate certain workers and may even breed resentment as a result. Proponents hold that they nurture healthy competition and engage workers by offering recognition. Even employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs may enjoy a spark of enthusiasm if granted an award. Another added benefit, that many of these awards are low to no cost to employers.

If you plan to initiate an awards program, you need to be careful about how it’s implemented. What kinds of traits do you want to address? There are a range of categories, such as most-improved, best salesperson, best attitude, top idea, most productive department, etc. Employers can also take a less serious approach, and offer awards in categories such as “funniest sales mistake” or “coolest office.”

Employee Rewards

Rewards programs are different in that they are ongoing and based on more measurable performance criteria, such as sales figures and growth projections. They are similar to awards programs in that they aim to motivate employees, but they differ in their fundamental strategy.

Rewards may be monetary – such as year-end bonuses and pay raises – or procedural – such as vacation days and scheduling benefits. They also vary in terms of their managerial strategy. Some rewards programs may be aimed at retaining or attracting talent, while others are focused on driving sales figures.

Like awards, rewards programs are usually based on individual performance and recognition. However, rewards tend to be less public, as they are focused on driving the motivation of an individual team member.

What are some other ways managers can engage employees through rewards? Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

TGIM: Leave It To Your Employees

21 Nov

Stylish and Creative OfficeToday we’re back with our TGIM series, or Thank Goodness It’s Monday.  Each Monday our posts will focus on employee engagement and we hope to hear your thoughts on Twitter using the #TGIM hashtag or with a reply to us @SageHRMS.

The atmosphere of a company can indirectly influence almost every corner of the operational landscape. Workplace traditions, employee interactions, management structures and the sense of creative and intellectual freedom all impact company culture and drive both motivation and productivity.

So look around your office and ask yourself: Does this place have a unique “culture” to it? What is fun or unique about your environs? Most importantly, how can you, as a manager, influence this culture?

The truth is you can only do so much – it’s an unfortunate byproduct of your managerial position. You can’t just tell people to do something unique or creative. However, you can develop an environment conducive to such an end. Implement a more “horizontal” management structure, for example. Allow workers to take the initiative on new tasks and incorporate a more democratic administrative process.

Executives have to decide what decision-making method is going to work best and acknowledge that they themselves don’t have all the answers. Sometimes, by virtue of individual hobbies or extracurricular interests, an accountant may have a good idea for human resources, or vice versa. Encourage cross-department cooperation and engagement.

Google, for example, has maintained a flat management structure across its more than 24,000 employees. This strategy has virtually eliminated hierarchy and created a company culture where no task is too small or outside one’s purview. Google’s chief culture officer has even established “culture clubs,” wherein employees get together to talk about issues within their country, community or office and explore ways to improve things, Inc. reports.

Everyone has a weakness, even CEOs. It’s important for HR managers to recognize this if they want to influence a strong company culture. Instead of getting bogged down with individual shortcomings, focus on core strengths and allow flaws to improve themselves over time.

Of course, you can’t talk about a company’s cultural atmosphere without talking about its actual physical environment. Think: What’s better for creative and intellectual thought – a giant soundless room with rows upon rows of bland little cubicles, or a colorful loft with comfortable seating and open interiors?

A workspace’s physical character has a tremendous, albeit subtle, impact on the mood of employees. While not every company needs to adopt the Silicon Valley approach of placing a pool table in the middle of the office, it’s important to consider the conditions in which people are toiling away at a given project – be it creative brainstorming or number crunching.

How else can managers encourage a unique and charasmatic company? Let us know what you think on Twitter by tweeting with the hashtag #TGIM, or reply to us @SageHRMS.

Switch to our mobile site