Performing with Purpose

 

When reflecting on my career progression, I recall the early years when I first started working. I relied on delegated orders, would dutifully fulfill them and wait for new assigned tasks. It was an endless cycle of repetitiveness and I often found myself on autopilot. Sometimes I even found myself disengaged when I couldn’t identify the intent of some of my responsibilities. But, being young and not feeling like I was experienced enough to have a voice, I continued performing without ever questioning it…that was a mistake.

As I’ve made my way through my career, obtained a degree and became more involved in understanding business and organizational development, I started to see that never questioning anything has done a disservice to my growth and a disservice to the betterment of the organization I was working at. Asking thought-provoking and well-structured questions won’t make anyone question your competency (as I often feared it would), but it gives you a chance to perform better. At this stage of my career, I make it a point to perform with purpose. And to do this, you have to start with one simple question – Why?

  • Asking questions: Once I started to know why certain tasks relevant, I was able to get a bigger picture. Asking what or how always helped too, but I felt the “why” was the most important thing to know. Questioning this allowed me to gain insight into the overall purpose of each function, what the expected outcome was, etc. Knowing this information not only helps you do your job better, but also sets you up to do MORE.
  • Performing better: knowing key details as to the purpose of your task and what’s the expected outcome can help drive the direction of your performance: It gives you a starting point, a path and a goal that you are aiming to meet or exceed.
  • Continuous innovation: set up time regularly to review the information you gathered from asking questions and critically analyze it. With the fast changes in business, it’s important to constantly reevaluate processes to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. Even if you aren’t in a role to implement change, your analysis and suggestions can help leadership see ways to positively impact the business.

No matter what level employee you are or how swamped you are at work, I urge you to take the time to ask questions, find ways to perform better and look for opportunities to innovate. I’d personally rather take the time to do these things and ensure every function I’m performing has a purpose than keep my head down. To help your professional growth and your organization’s growth, its things like this that can help move everything forward.

Photo Source

Human Resources Technology Made for Management

Some managers believe that micromanagement is needed to be able to verify that their employees are productively performing. Some managers believe that doing “walk-throughs” can help create a presence and also help them manage more effectively. Although these methods may have helped managers get a clear picture of how efficient employees were working, there seems to be new technology emerging that actually helps managers manage more effectively. Additionally, this technology helps document work progress more accurately to help Human Resources during performance reviews. This technology is once again helping HR and the business as a whole.

Companies like 4 Spires and Workday are developing useful software and technology to help HR, management, and subordinates to not only be more social, but also more capable. Work management technology helps managers to easily delegate tasks and project needs to employees. This software helps increase communication, shows status updates, and even shows which employees are contributing to what. This helps managers cut down the time that they do walk-throughs and micromanage and allow them to actually spend their time managing.

A company called Rypple has honed into Gen Y needs and created a social-performance management platform. This platform is used for work goals, feedback, and recognition (all which are highly desired by millennials). In addition to this, employees are able to create their own goals and welcome other employees to help them achieve their goals. This allows management to once again see who is involved in the process, be able to provide feedback during one-on-one meetings, and even offer rewards and recognition (much like you would see in gamification).

Not only does this technology help managers ensure everyone is doing their part and staying on target to reaching their assigned projects/goals, but it also helps the Human Resources department when it comes to performance reviews. This technology helps keep accurate documentation of each employee’s performance and contributions throughout the year. This can help HR make informed decisions about an employee’s performance rather than basing it off of potential biased opinions or questionable information.

Simply stated: technology is once again making a huge impact in business. From a HR standpoint, this can make their jobs so much easier when it comes to being compliant and fair to employees.

More reading on this technology:

Work Management Software

Tech News: Salesforce Debuts Rypple (also, Photo Source)

Managing Gen Y in the Workplace

One of the topics that I’m interested in and passionate about is Gen Y (Millennials) in the workplace. Being a Gen Yer myself, it is interesting to read about some of the qualities that I possess that seem to be the norm. It’s also been interesting to see how my fellow Gen Yers are challenging the current practices and procedures that workplaces have been doing for years. Many companies are starting to realize that Gen Y will be dominating the workplace and have started to restructure in a way that will work well with this generation.  Therefore, today’s post will discuss how to manage Gen Y.

Last month, I wrote a post about what Gen Y wants from an employer. As a refresher, the main points I made were as follows:

  • Gen Y values company culture.
  • Gen Y strives to grow professionally and wants feedback.
  • Gen Y wants workplace options.
  • Gen Y wants an employer that has integrity and makes a social impact.

Although those are only a few off of the long list of qualities that this generation hopes that their employer has, these seem to be the most common. In order for a company to know how to properly manage this generation of workers, they must know and understand these. Additionally, they must find a way to tie them into their restructured management style. Here are some tips on how to manage Gen Y effectively:

  • Show them a connection: Gen Yers know that more often than not, they are bound to leave their employers within the first few years of employment. One of the main reasons they leave is because they do not feel that the company culture (something they value) is aligned with their own personal values. To ensure you are hiring and retaining quality talent, be sure to discuss the culture and what the company has to offer. Ask the candidate what they highly regard and what would be a deal breaker down the line. Determining the connection of company offerings against candidate values can help reduce turn-over in the long run and increase employee engagement if the candidate is hired.
  • Set clear rules and expectations: Gen Yers can be extremely self-sufficient and driven; however, gray areas can hinder some of their performance. The best thing a manager can do is to let the employees know what the rules, expectations, and goals are straight out of the gate. Additionally, they should place this information in an area that is easily accessible for employees’ reference.  Having these clearly defined can help the employees know exactly what they can and cannot do, and go from there without second guessing themselves.
  • Provide useful feedback on a regular-basis: Receiving regular feedback is not just expected by Gen Y, but it is demanded. This generation of workers is focused on finding solutions and making improvements. In order to get valuable insight and discover resources to do so, they rely heavily on the feedback from their peers, clients, and managers. Making this a routine task of management can prove to have significant benefits for the organization.
  • Get your scheduling done ASAP: Gen Y is an expert at multi-tasking. They grew up in the technology era, which makes doing three things simultaneously a breeze. However, they are only able to take on this much work by learning how to schedule things properly. In order to ensure that your employees are keeping up with their abundant workload, be sure to stay on a set schedule for meetings, quotas, goals, and so on. Also, if you need to schedule something that isn’t part of the norm, try to give them a time and date as soon as possible so they can reschedule and plan accordingly.
  • Track their performance: This generation wants to know that their efforts and contributions are making a difference. They want work to be meaningful and feel like they’re doing something for a reason. One way to make them feel that way is by keeping track of their performance and incorporating those details into the regular feedback you provide. Gen Y is also goal-driven so be sure to show them how their performance ties in to their career path and goals. If necessary, give them additional mentoring in areas they need to improve. Showing that you are invested in their professional growth will help gain their commitment and trust.

Gen Y can be tricky to manage if you don’t take the time to understand how they think and why they do the things they do. In order to manage this generation effectively, managers must create an open, two-way communication with employees. Participative leadership style may be key in keeping up with them. This can help managers learn what the employees need from them in order to get the best response and performance. Lastly, please listen and try to follow through with any promises you make. Trust me; they’ll hold you to it.

More links on the subject:

Manage Gen Y and Interns.

Managing Gen Y Infograph.

NBC- Managing Gen Y Effectively.

Leadership Development for Gen Y.

Turning Around Poor Performance

As I’ve mentioned several times before, networking on LinkedIn and Twitter has allowed me to talk to some truly amazing and inspirational people. Today, as I was thinking back on these particular individuals, one stood out in my mind. Over the course of the last few months, he has written so many supportive and encouraging messages to me in regard to my professional competency and my writing. In addition to his motivation, he has also shared some valuable insight in regard to his human resources experience and beliefs. Hearing some of Gio Branco’s whole-hearted values really helped restore my faith for human resource’s future.

As he partook in some of the discussions I had posted in the Linkedin:HR group, I learned he was a Human Resources Consultant. We talked more about his experience and beliefs and I felt that it was a breath of fresh air. I am positive that his clients appreciate his conviction and passion for HR.

As time went on, I saw that Gio also wrote some interesting blogs for his consulting business. Needless to say, I was intrigued to see what he had to say about different human resources topics. Recently,one blog post caught my attention. It discussed some of the reasons why employees perform poorly. Some of the common reasons he mentioned were as follows:

1. Lack of knowledge, skills or abilities.

2. Incorrect role expectations.

3. Lack of motivation.

4. Lack of resources.

5. Poor morale.

I have to agree with the points he made in this posting. A decent amount of times employees don’t perform poorly because they’re incapable of doing the job but because of other factors.

However, there is another thing to consider when it comes to poor performance: management’s role to help fix this situation before it costs the company business or an employee their job. In order to truly assess the situation and determine the best course of action, a manager needs to provide feedback. I feel that one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to only provide feedback in bi-annually or yearly performance reviews. At that point, the damage is already done. It is imperative that managers give regular feedback to employees and create an environment in which employees feel like they can openly express concerns, issues, or suggestions. Managers may fight that they are too busy to take the time to do this, but if they did it from the start then they wouldn’t be busy putting out fires caused by poor performers. Being proactive will help your business and your employees in the long-run.

One of the best experiences I’ve had in my working career is when I worked for a company in which managers gave me feedback on a weekly and/or monthly basis. These one-on-one feedback sessions helped me learn the areas I could work on and also gave me resources to do better. Most importantly, these sessions helped me learn my weak areas immediately and allowed me to fix the problem before it became a habit. Providing regular feedback can help resolve the areas that Gio had mentioned. Additionally, it can do the following:

  • Allow your employees to fix problems before it becomes a regular occurrence.
  • Ensure that senior employees don’t set a bad example for new employees.
  • Increase morale.
  • Reduce the issues that the company would need to spend time, money, and energy to fix.
  • Cut the costs that would incur if the company had to terminate a poor performer.
  • Cut the costs to hire and train someone new to fill the terminated employee’s spot.
  • Empower employees to be proactive, accountable, and responsible.
  • Allow employees feel like the company is invested in their professional growth which could make them want to be more dedicated and committed to doing a good job.
  • Create a better employee and customer experience.
  • Help a company learn that weak points may be in the structure and training, not the employee.

I literally could go on and on about the importance of providing regular feedback. There are so many benefits, both short-term and long-term. What I know is that the feedback sessions I received from my manager allowed me to professionally grow. I soon became one of the most efficient and accurate employees in the department. I was proud of what I did. This also empowered me to have more time and knowledge to spot weak areas in the company’s processes and suggest ways on how to fix them. With that being said, helping me allowed me to help them in return.

You don’t need to have poor performers in your company, but in order to reduce that you must invest time to provide the necessary feedback to help them turn around their performance.

Links:

Gio’s post about poor performance.

Gio Branco Consulting