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King Consulting HR &R publish various articles and video content about employee issues and human resources management, recruitment, and employment law under the Fair Work Act and how to avoid an unfair dismissal claim. Therefore, if you own, manage, or are thinking about starting a business in Australia this HRM Blog is a great place to start. Also, you can learn how to drive high performance and increase profits through your employees. Moreover, understand how to comply with employment law under the Fair Work Act and National Employment Standards. 

Top tips on getting an interview. Start by paying attention to the details.

Getting an interview today in Sydney, Australia can be as difficult as landing a job. There are a lot of people applying for the same jobs. Therefore, you have to make sure you stand out from the crowd by paying attention to the details in the advertised role. (more…)

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are a waste of time and energy if they are not right and demotivate employees.

If the KPI’s only produce statistical information and trends and are not directly related the employee’s ability to impact profitability, they are a waste of time. Further, the view on performance is too narrow, if only hard KPI’s (such as the number of calls answered) are the only item used to measure individual performance.

Therefore, KPI’s need to be in a broader context along with other factors such as:

  • Does the employee have proactive ability to affect the outcome?
  • Are there any economic conditions effecting the outcomes?
  • Have the employees got all the tools, skills and training to positively affect the KPI’s?
  • If an employee is reaching a target, are they doing so the right/desired way?

Here is an example of a performance review process we were involved with:

Our team asked to analyse the statics of a high-volume telecommunications contact centre team. We were there to independently assess who were the best performing contact centre staff and who needed performance improvement. There had been several complaints from employees stating the results were unfair.

Sample of the results comparing two individuals:

We reviewed the statics and Leah (fake name) was on surface the outstanding performer. She answered 100 calls per day. James (fake name) was the poorest performer. He only answered half the number of calls per day.

The management team chose Leah as the star performer of the month and was to be awarded a prize. James was to be performance managed based on these statistics.

Further analysis and the findings:

We asked for a little more time to investigate these variables. We also wanted to come up with a solution for achieving higher performance across the whole team, not just James. What we uncovered will not surprise anyone who has experienced calling a telco.

Due to not having their call resolved Leah’s callers invariably had to ring more than once. They also, requested to speak to a team leader or manager and we wanted to know why. On further investigation we found, her callers complained that she was very rude and unhelpful. A few also claimed she had disconnected the call before resolving their issue.

A more sophisticated call cue analysis system would have identified this trend. Alternatively, a supervisor paying close attention to Leah and how she interacted with the callers would have identified this issue.

We had been present in the contact centre and heard Leah’s manner with customers. How she spoke about the callers to her nearby associates was also interesting. It was not with any degree of courtesy or respect for the callers. With comments along the lines of: “oh man, some of these people are so stupid they can’t even operate a simple mobile phone.”

On the other hand, in investigating James’ calls, we found that he in fact resolved each call first time. James’ received compliments from callers. He never escalated a call to a team leader or manager to resolve. We heard James speak to the customers in a courteous, patience and respectful manner. Further, he demonstrated a real eagerness to resolve the caller’s problem as efficiently as possible.

Learning outcome for the contact centre manager as well as ourselves in this deeper analysis:

The statistics only give part of the picture. It is equally important to look at the soft KPI’s such as the behaviour. For example, the way each contact centre officer behaved towards callers. Individuals attitudes come across, even over the phone. James attitude towards solving callers’ problems made him the real star. Whereas, Leah was a real problem.

Imagine if the contact centre manager had acted on performance and management of the team, solely on the hard KPI’s, the statistics. Leah would have been the star the one whose behaviour others should follow. They might have promoted her to a leadership position teaching other staff how to behave as she did.

James may have been performance managed and potentially even asked to leave the contact centre. Alternatively, if one call resolution and customer centric KPI’s were also part of the performance measurements, James would have been the clear winner. Further, if supervisors were ‘listening in’ more often on calls these issues would have been identified sooner. Thereby, Leah’s attitude would have been apparent to the supervisors. They would have been able to identify the issues with her calls. This would have resulted in less angry customers. Consequently, reducing the number of repeat calls.

By identifying issues earlier, the call centre may have resolved their overburdened team much sooner. They may have been able to train and redirect Leah and chosen James as her coach to improve her attitude.

The resulting changes:

The company had a mission to have one call resolution and customer satisfaction. Because of looking deeper into the performance metrics, they added in the desired behaviours as soft KPI’s.

They managed these changes by doing the following:

  • Supervisors conducted random call monitoring of their team. This is known as: ‘double jacking’, where the supervisor listens in on the call.
  • Supervisors use a checklist with weightings on the preferred outcome and communication which they use to assist staff to improve.
  • Included in the regular training schedule to focus on soft KPI’s as well where the following items:
    • providing excellent customers service
    • skills in dealing with difficult customers
    • how to pacify angry customers
    • empathising and solution finding

Leah and James:

  • To redirect Leah’s attitude and approach to customers she was placed on a performance management program.
  • The program aimed to realign her to the company values of treating all customers with respect and resolving each call first time.
  • On the other hand, James received the ‘star performer award’ and became a mentor for new team members.
  • Because, he performed/behaved according to the company philosophy and values where Leah did not.

Conclusion

Make sure you are measuring the right things that make sense to the employees as well as the business bottom line. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART).

Measures need to make sense to both the business and the employee/s. They need to be future based as well as adaptable for changing circumstances. KPI’s need to cover behaviours as well as numbers.

Other items related to this article you may find of interest:

 KPI’s in the spotlight on ABC radio

 Do your measures make employees mad or motivate them

Audi Australia unfair dismissal over KPI’s

Communicate with Emotional Intelligence for business improvement

How does emotional intelligence work in communication?

See: “Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman

Definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) or (EI)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a term created by two researchers – Peter Salavoy and John Mayer – and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name. EI defined as the ability to: Recognize, understand and manage our own emotions. Recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

Improving communication with EQ

The number one question I am often asked as a human resources management consultant, is: “How do I say this best?”  “This”, is usually a complaint about some aspect of an employee’s performance. Such as: “Why didn’t she visit top tier clients while she was in the area?” or “Why does it seem like he has just slacked off?” and “Why is he having so many sick days?”

These questions are spoken in the negative. They have a negative filter on them from the person asking the questions. A negative filter is the thought process that is driving these questions. That is; the person asking the questions is thinking negative thoughts about the individual. Such as: “She is not on top of her game and is not visiting the right clients” and “He is just slacking off” etc. This message (or thought process) comes through in the questions.

Holding negative thoughts when speaking to employees about their performance, is a primary reason that these discussions become very awkward and unproductive.

What we are thinking comes across in the way we present. It appears on our face and in our energy. We have to examine what we are thinking and why. We need to understand if there is any real evidence to support it.

Often it is our mindset that is causing the issues. It is the result of having a “fixed mindset” rather than a “growth mindset”. If we have a belief that things can improve, our mind is open to possibilities and growth.

How does our mindset influence our communication?

See: Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dwek

People with a fixed mindset believe that you have fixed qualities. Your intelligence, character, and personality are what they are, because that’s how you were born. They’re unchangeable. People with a growth mindset believe that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your own efforts.

It is vital to check-in to our thought processes before sitting down to have an important conversation with anyone. There is so much more being communicated than the words being spoken. We can sense what another person is generally thinking when they are using negative words and demonstrating their thoughts by their body language.

What we are thinking comes across in the way we speak and interact. If we are thinking in a positive way and having an open mind or “growth mindset” it is quite apparent to others, not only in the words we use, also in the energy come from us. Of course, the opposite is equally true.

Just think about conversations you have had that caused you to feel irritated and you were not quite sure why. Also, think of the conversations you have had that led you to feel happy and productive. If you could examine each of those conversations from the point of view of the “mindset” both you and the other party were in, you would learn a lot about emotional intelligence and the importance it plays in communication.

What we think, gives us an emotional state or reaction to those thoughts. The emotional state then governs how we feel and the words we use. It impacts the way we hold ourselves, and is demonstrated by our body language and the energy coming from us.

We need to become mindful:

See: The Mindful Workplace by Michael Chaskalson

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Bringing our complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.

How do we become more aware of what we are thinking? We can become more mindful. We can check in to our thoughts and emotions in the moment and by being more aware, we can choose to change our mindset. In understanding our mindset and our thought processes we can also become aware of the emotions of others and the impact our words might have on them.

This is part of becoming emotionally aware. From a state of emotional awareness, we can begin to communicate in a manner that is emotionally intelligent.

Application In the workplace:

“Fixed mindset” and highly emotional; an example:

A manager of a team of 30 people within a medium size business had the following issue: “One of my junior team is not performing, is unproductive and disruptive.”

Another “fixed mindset” and highly emotional; example:

Another manager stated the following: “One of my team has a bad attitude, is aggressive and shouts, is intimidating to manage and fellow team members find them difficult to work with.”

The mindset and negative emotional state these managers would be in when discussing these issues with their employee is obvious. No matter what words they chose and how much they tried to mask their thoughts it would come across to the employee as negative, in the discussion. The underlined words being used and thought about by the managers are likely to bring about a negative emotional state.

In each case a simple re framing of the issues with a “growth mindset” would bring about a change in the manager’s emotional state when addressing the problem with the employee.

A “growth mindset” re-framing of the first example:

Different questions by the manager create a “growth mindset” and allow for a much deeper analysis and therefore more positive discussion. Questions such as: “What do we need to do to encourage productivity, high performance and focused work from each team member?” “Is everyone engaged, clear about their role and responsibilities and fully utilised, valued and recognised?”

The same can be done with the second example by looking at the question from a different point of view with less judgement and more open thoughts about what is possible.

Changing the mindset and emotional state creates a change in the discussion:

“Does everyone in my team understand and share our core values and what we expect in behaviours during interactions?” “How can we go about ensuring everyone knows, understands and agrees to our core values and behaviours as a team?”

Conclusion

To create a more productive work place and engaged team put your managers through some Emotional Intelligence and mindset training. Regularly practice mindfulness and encourage emotional intelligence by rewarding demonstrations of it in the management team. Typical human resources management practices today, often seem to lack a good and thorough understanding of emotional intelligence in action.

If you liked this article you might also enjoy

 Can you Just Relax

 Stress Less

2000 Year old origins of EQ

King Consulting HR are trained professionals in Emotional Intelligence (EQ) training. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about how you can learn and use EQ in your business.

Employee Engagement results in high performance which equals profits!

If you think the Human Resources department is about pay role, rules and regulations your living in the past! Viva the Revolution it is about a whole lot more. High on our radar is employee engagement.

Today’s business leaders, directors and Human Resources people need to make staff engagement a number one priority to achieve a better bottom line.

Managers must ensure everyone is embracing the company mission or purpose.  That they also share and embrace the company values. They feel they are a valued contributor to the whole team and business success.

Part of being engaged is feeling that what we do is worthwhile. Being safe and cared about, appreciated and recognised.

Gallop Inc wrote an excellent article on employee engagement and its effects on business performance

The Gallup Inc article explains the measure-ability and quantifiable evidence to support the significance of employee engagement. The statistical analysis and number of companies, industries and individuals that went into this white paper speak volumes to back up this point of view.

The Gallup group have the credentials and history to be a group worth listening to.

Their paper demonstrates a very thorough, detailed and historical analysis of many companies and individuals. In places, the analysis is very detailed, but well worth the read. If you have any doubts about the relationship between staff engagement, business profitability and overall performance read their article.

This is the white paper which can be downloaded from the Gallup website: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ENGAGEMENT AT WORK AND ORGANIZATIONAL OUTCOMES

2012 Q12® META-ANALYSIS

On Page 4 there is this very neat equation:

Per-person productivity = Talent x (Relationship + Right Expectation + Recognition/Reward)

The how of employee engagement

If employee engagement is the key, then how do you achieve it? There is no one thing there are multiple factors involved.

The company culture and employee engagement are comprised of:

  • values
  • purpose
  • attitude
  • environmental conditions
  • mate-ship
  • leadership
  • safety
  • quality
  • communication
  • reward and recognition
  • genuine care for its people

The items listed above are measurable and quantifiable as Gallup demonstrates in their article. There are specific steps an organisation/business can take to ensure they engage their employees. Businesses/Organisations must ask their employees to what degree they believe each of these items is present.

Obviously, it is in a business’ best interests to improve employee engagement

To increase a company’s results, that is profitability and overall performance, review the culture and staff engagement levels. There is a significant and measurable correlation between results and engagement. For example: if you have an engaged sales person paid $50,000 you can expect at least 2.5 x the salary in results. Likewise, if you have a disengaged sales person you can have half those results.

Here is what Google does to incorporate ideas and engage their team:

Google provides 20 % time for their employees to be creative, to explore ideas and come up with solutions. That is one of the reasons they are so innovative. They encourage it from all their employees.

You may have a small team, however, there is no reason you cannot listen to the team’s ideas. You may be pleasantly surprised at the ideas and solutions they come up with. Reward the ones that come up with outstanding solutions that provide remarkable results for the business.

Become a leader the team trust to increase employee engagement

Create and environment where the employees feel they can trust you as their leader. This means you need to listen to them and value their input. You need to demonstrate you have listened by implementing some of their suggestions.

Collaborate with the team on setting goals and direction that they also have input to. Setting goals and direction for the team without their agreement and understanding is not likely to produce the best results.

Communicate to increase employee engagement

Share the vision, mission purpose and values with the employees. Get some feedback on the level of agreement and engagement from them. Listen and really hear the feedback without judgement. Embrace any suggestions for improvement with a willingness to hear and acknowledge.

Create opportunities for input from the employees on improvements. Ask for input and listen to all ideas no matter how seemingly impractical. Whiteboard, brainstorm and give the employees a voice. They are often the foundations of innovation if you give them half a chance.

Criticism from your employees is a valuable tool to innovate and find ways to do things better. Listen to their criticism and ask them for their ideas on how to improve. Encourage conversations on improvements and ideas.

Provide feedback on performance to improve it and gain employee engagement

Reward and recognise success and a job well done. Provide opportunities for employees to sharein their success with the team so they can also learn from it. When an employee is not doing so well talk to them about it. Make it clear what the goal is and where they fall short and what they need to do to rectify it. Discuss how you will support them. Follow up on the discussion at a prearranged, reasonable time for the improvements to take effect. Recognise them for their efforts and reward them for any improvements.

Remove road blocks to improve performance and employee engagement

If an employee tells you something is getting in their way remove the obstacle or give them the tools to get over, under or around it. Allow them to feel safe to tell you if they do not know how to do something. This will also build more trust. They may just need further training and support. Some things that seem simple to one are a huge challenge to another, be careful of making a judgment just because others find things easy.

Do not talk to an under performing employee when you are feeling frustrated and emotional. Talk to someone outside of work to let off steam with someone you can trust to keep it to themselves.

Conclusion

These are just some, simple ways to create and encourage an engaged workforce. There are so many, more. All you need to do is be open, be patient, listen without judgement and allow the employees to have a voice.

If you liked this article you might also like:

 Culture is the Key to success

Hiring strategies

 Emotional intelligence

√ Workplace procedures for hazard identification

King Consulting HR supports small to medium enterprises with products and services in human resources management and employee engagement plays a big part. Please get in touch if you would like to know how we can support your business.

How to develop hiring strategies that work for best fit. Some tips and suggestions from a Human Resources Management Consultant in Sydney.

Hiring strategies for best fit is about taking a few important things into account. Hiring for the current role requirements is not just about the skills and experience required. It needs to include fit to existing team, culture, environment, operations and future direction. Consider applicants for the contribution they can make.

Hiring for cultural fit

Cultural fit is imperative in hiring for your business. However, the person must also have the right skills and experience. Especially if you don’t have the ability to train.

It is important to get this balance right. Skills and experience are as important as cultural fit. Do not hire one over the other. It is likely to cause problems.

If there is limited ability to train and supervise you need to hire based on their existing skills and experience to do the job.  This cannot be at the lack of cultural fit though. If you are having issues finding the right mix, try a different approach.

If you can find someone with the right cultural fit, but limited knowledge, could they be a quick learner?

The damage caused by hiring based solely on cultural fit can be just as bad as hiring a bad cultural fit

Hiring a person based on cultural fit, but little experience to do the job and no one to train them can equally produce a bad result. The person can end up feeling like a failure, especially if they left another job to join this company. The business also suffers as do existing team members.

What to consider before beginning the hiring process:

Is there ability to train?

Regardless of experience there will be nuances such as how things are done in this organisation. If you have got the ability to train and mentor, it can pay huge rewards.

Of course, there is a risk with putting in time on training and mentoring. The person may leave for a higher paying job. It is a risk, worth taking. There is also a very real possibility they will stay on and add greater value to the business.

Poaching a superstar

Trying to hire someone who is already a star in a similar role to yours working at another company, has some issues to consider. For example, the differences between your company and the one they currently work for.

Employing a very high performing sales person who is blitzing their key performance indicators (KPI’s) in their current company does not mean they will do the same in a new company. Not if the cultural fit is wrong.

Don’t forget the numbers are only part of the picture. How the person behaved to achieve the numbers is equally important.

Consider both soft and hard KPI’s

They may show behaviours that were acceptable in the old company, that are not in yours. They may not interact well with your team. That makes them a far less attractive hire.

A person hired based on their performance elsewhere has the potential to fail. Especially if it is only based on previous performance and not on cultural fit.

Hire base on overall fit now and in the future

Employing people in business needs to be a considered effort. Consider all factors and weigh them up before making an offer.

There is an excellent article in Forbes on the issues of hiring without considering cultural fit. This is particularly important in considering approaching a competitor’s superstar.

Here is a bit of a Interview Check List to consider:

  1. Are their skills and experience right for the role?
  2. Do they have the right motivations?
  3. Did they interview well and come prepared?
  4. If they did not need money, what would they be doing?
  5. In their work experience what do they most and least enjoy and why?
  6. Do they seem to be a good fit the existing team?
  7. What are their values?
  8. Where do they want to go in the future in their career?
  9. What do they want people to say about them when their time is up?
  10. Do they know and understand and more importantly, share your company values?
  11. What value will they bring to the business?
  12. Are they manageable?
  13. Can they add value?
  14. Will they bring ideas and fresh approaches?

Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways to create a robust hiring strategy. The most important thing is to check in with yourself. Has your business got the ability to take this person on? Will they work well within your existing team? Will they be manageable?0

There are no 100% guaranteed perfect hiring strategies. Do not believe the hype. These tips will help though as well as being well prepared. Consider the interview process as an important project. Create a set of questions and ideal answers. Put a weighting on the answers. Score each candidate based on how close they are to the ideal answer. At the end of the interviews you will have a more objective view of the candidates.

To learn more about checking in with yourself read our article on emotional intelligence.

Other article you might like:

√ Do Not Dismiss and

√ HR Strategy

√ Interview questions tips and suggestions

Written by Sonia King a HR Adviser and small business consultant in Sydney.

Contact Us if you would like help hiring your next team member

Why is Job search the same as building a business? In this article we will explore why you should treat job search the same as building a business.

Because of many factors, such as the global financial crisis, immigration and offshoring of some areas of business there are less vacancies. So job search has to be done differently now. Doing job search the same way we did 10 years ago is not likely to successfully land a job.

Applying for advertised jobs does not produce positive results for many, anymore! Thus a new approach to job search is called. Therefore, looking for a job needs to be done in the same way as a business looks for new clients or customers. As a HR Consultant in Sydney we hire quite often for our clients. So, we can tell you first hand a different approach to job search is the way to go. (more…)

How to create and implement a HR Strategy in a small business

First, why you must have a HR strategy in a business that employs people:

  1. If you don’t have a HR strategy you run the risk of running into an issue with employment law
  2. You put your hard-earned business reputation at the mercy of a poor hire and negative publicity
  3. Your business is run by the people working there not just by you, so be very careful who you employ and how you manage them

HR Strategy for small business:

One = Vision and Values or “This is the way we behave around here.”

  1. Be very clear about what your business is and how you want everyone to behave. What is your vision and what are your values? Document this first and keep reviewing it to adjust where needed. The core values remain the same, and you will learn along the way the details that will need revision. If you need help with defining your business values, vision and purpose you can request our free guide
  2. Share the vision and values with everyone in the existing team and any potential new hires to make sure everyone is aligned.
  3. Think about where you are going in the future. What is the direction you are heading towards?
  4. What is your why? Why do you own this business? Why do you want this business to succeed?

Two = Put it in writing

  1. Get signed agreement from existing team members to the vision and values by making it into a company policy.
  2. Give a copy of the Company policy to all new hires and potentials before you sign on the dotted line. This will be your insurance that they understand what behaviours are expected. It will also serve you well in any employment law matter if you follow your own policy and procedure.

Three = The “devil is in the details”

  1. Before you hire someone make sure you have very detailed position description’s so you both know exactly what is involved in a job.
  2. In the process of documenting the position you might find some areas that are not essential and you will also realise those that are, so make sure you hire based on the essential criteria.
  3. Make sure you hire based on both skills required to fill the essentials of the role and a fit and alignment to your company policy regarding behaviour.

Four = Reward appropriately

  1. Do your research and make sure you are paying the right amount of money for the skill level required.
  2. Look up the modern award for the role and your industry on the Fair Work Australia site
  3. Compare the award with job ads for similar roles
  4. If you want to attract the right person you may want to do some research through other sources like LinkedIn
  5. Here is where a good accountant can be of assistance because they usually know the correct amount of pay and conditions for a role in your industry.

Five = Get professional help

  1. If you are running a business chances are you don’t have time to create and implement and manage a HR strategy all by yourself, so hire a professional to assist you.
  2. Make sure the consultant you hire is actually up to date and focused on Human Resources not just your accountant.
  3. The law and employment landscape is constantly changing so it is important that you ensure you are getting professional help from an expert in the field.
  4. Lawyers and accountants are very good and provide expertise in their relevant fields, however, they are not human resources professionals. They also tend to be a lot more expensive to hire for the one of employment contract or position description.

Six = Treat your hiring process with the highest of priorities

  1. Don’t just hire base on a friend of a friend’s recommendations.
  2. Make sure you check references and spend more than just one hour interviewing a person.
  3. Get another person in the team or a trusted business associate to also interview a potential hire.
  4. Get help from a professional in this process as well. If you are going to use a recruitment consultant make sure they have you and your business best interests in mind. There are many great recruitment agents and there are some not so. Be careful that they are interested in forming a long-term relationship with your business and you.

Seven = Define and document an induction process

  1. This does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as writing yourself a checklist for such things as orientation to the staff amenities (toilets, tea and coffee, nearest cafes etc).
  2. Make sure you introduce a new hire to the rest of the team especially on the first day or as soon as possible.
  3. Leave your diary open on the first day and be a bit flexible in the first week to make sure you are available fully to bring a new hire on board properly.
  4. At the end of the first week check in with the new person to make sure all is going well.
  5. Once you have someone new on board make sure you keep across how they are fitting in and meet with them regularly before their probation period is through.

Conclusion:

If you follow the 7 steps above, you will have the makings of a legally compliant and useful HR Strategy:

  1. Company Culture Policy
  2. Hiring strategy
  3. Position Description
  4. Correct payment or reward
  5. Induction process

There are many more activities involved for larger businesses such as other policy and procedures, and conducting performance reviews. However, the ones outlined will get your business the basics of a HR strategy. There are other helpful tips for small business available such as the following:

 5 mistakes Small Businesses can avoid

 Drive Profits in business

 Download Free (HRM) Checklist 

By Sonia King of King Consulting HR, We specialise in business growth, driving profits through your existing employees.

If you would like support in your Human Resources Management please get in touch.

Here are 10 ways to stress less about your employees:

If you run a small business, you probably stress a bit about your employees. There are ways to minimise this stress. The following are my top 10 ways to stress less about your employees.

Step 1. Share your vision for the business with your employees and look after yourself

To begin with, be very clear to yourself about what is your vision for the business!  Imagine arriving into work each day, full of purpose and conviction. You know where your business is going (vision), you have a plan to get there (mission) and the standards (values) on how to operate your business.

Similarly, imagine how powerful having that same vision, mission and values understood and shared by your employees would be. Thereby, driving energy, commitment and desire to succeed through the whole team. Moreover, write it out as a mantra and make it visible to all including your customers.

Furthermore, talk to your team and make sure they understand, share and are on board. Hold a breakfast meeting and invite all your team to discuss and share your vision, mission and values. Look for input from the team and listen to their opinions. Consequently, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Accordingly, your team can be part of your support network and effect the profitability of your business. Moreover, people love to be part of something worthwhile and meaningful. Especially if they feel they are valued member of it. Therefore, let them know they are valued members of your team by asking for their input.

In addition, if you are feeling stressed, they will notice. Therefore, ask for their ideas to help. Above all, you need to look after yourself, not just your business, by doing some of these great tips each day in this article by Health Ambition.

Step 2. Check that all your employees share and embrace the vision you have

After you have shared your vision, arrange some way to get feedback from each employee. If you have a big team you can use survey monkey.

Ask if they are happy to be part of the journey. Also ask for any constructive feedback and suggestions.

If they are not happy, find out why? Ask them, what else they would like to do. Conversely, if they want to work somewhere else and do something else, thank them for their honesty.

Be gracious and let them know it is OK with you and offer to give them time off to find something else. It is far better to release an unhappy employee who has not got the passion, energy or desire to work well in your business than to try and drag them along to save on the expense and time to find someone who would be a better fit. Besides, they may even know someone who could be a good replacement for themselves, in your business.

Furthermore, wherever possible keep good relations with all your employees including ones that leave. Any that move on will remember you and your business. It would pay to have them saying good things and remembering you fondly. They can often be great sources of referral for customers and new employees.

Step 3. Ask if they have any suggestions to improve the business and its growth

Inviting employee suggestions can provide incredibly valuable insights that can result in increased productivity and profitability. Therefore, ask your employees for their suggestions in multiple areas of your business. Such as, can they suggest any better, more efficient ways to do their own jobs or any aspect of your business.

Create ways for employees to make suggestions as a regular part of their employment. As an example, you could put up a suggestions white board, sticky note area, on line survey or even a good old-fashioned suggestion box.

Encourage suggestions by providing incentives to get good feedback. Generally, people love to have their ideas implemented. Therefore, simply acknowledging any good ideas that result in better outcomes for your business can have huge rewards.

Step 4. Ask and listen to your employees’ opinions. Ask them what could make their roles and their work more enjoyable.

Remember, you don’t have to accommodate all suggestions, but you might be able to compromise and find some solutions. They may have some great ideas about making things more efficient.

Even a whinge can turn out to be constructive feedback. As an example, I recently had an employee at one of my clients complaining about a sales rep. The complaint was the phone was ringing and unanswered. The sales rep was not busy and could have answered it.

Great feedback to put to the sales rep. When you are in the office and not busy, if the phone is ringing please answer it. Simple! He does not have to try and resolve the caller’s matter. He can just take a message.

The sales rep also had a great suggestion. When a particularly large quote comes in, let him know so he can follow up with a visit. It may help close the deal. If they have a competitor with better pricing, he can adjust to meet it. In short, by communicating they are demonstrating their level of commitment and service and improvements are being made all round.

You don’t have to run the business alone. You hired them for a reason, so remember that, and listen to their suggestions.

Step 5. Make sure you are measuring the right things

Make sure you are measuring productivity in terms of what generates growth and drives profits in your business. It must be realistic and measurable not just fluffy pie in the sky or random. Look at your most profitable components of your business and the bread and butter cash flow.

Ensure your team have realistic measures for achieving results in their roles. There is no point giving an order taker a target to achieve sales when they have no ability to drive sales.

Likewise, a sales person has a role related to achieving sales so measuring them on reaching sales targets is good, but the targets must be achievable.

If your sales rep is achieving their targets be happy. Look at how they are achieving them to learn and make sure they are doing the right thing. That is, make sure they are also behaving in the desired way.

Don’t complain about the number of calls or visits they make. If they are achieving their target, they may be making less calls or visits, because they are taking longer with each call or visit.

If the Sales rep is not meeting the sales target, then look at the number of calls or visits. That will provide a bit more information on why they might not be meeting their sales target.

It is not the only reason though. It could be several factors, so check them all before getting stressed. Ask them why they think they are not meeting their target.

You may have a competitor tracking your movements. They may be undercutting your business to obtain the clients. There are many factors to consider. Make sure you look at all of them.

Step 6. Find out what your employees enjoy most about their roles and your company

This should provide you with some valuable insights. Keep a record of what they are telling you to see if there is anything you did not know. See if there is anything you can do more of to keep your team happy and motivated to achieve high performance.

Create opportunities for more of the fun stuff at work. Acknowledge high performance. Have an end of week pizza from time to time. Take the team out to dinner when a big win occurs.

Never leave acknowledgement of your team out. Be prompt in thanking anyone for doing something terrific. If someone had gone the extra mile and does not get acknowledge for it, why would they do it again. It also sends a message to everyone else when you do acknowledge high performance. Others will notice and perhaps strive a little harder to receive acknowledgement.

Step 7. Provide non-monetary rewards to your employees for doing a great job

Ask your team what they would enjoy in terms of non-monetary rewards. Each person is different, and for some people money is not a motivator. A thank you or acknowledgement is perfect for some. Other options are staff celebrations. These can be as small as a morning tea provided by you.

As said above, celebrate success and reward high performance. It is important, because most people love to feel their efforts are appreciated, so a hand-written card for a few dollars can result in thousands of dollars in productivity and/or sales.

Consequently, the results of paying a little bit of attention and rewarding high performance are many folds. As an example, one of my clients bought his team tickets to the movies to say thank you for working on the weekend off to resolve one of their customers issues. Both really appreciated receiving an extra reward in addition to receiving overtime pay as an acknowledgement of their having given up their weekend. Resulting in, them both being more inclined to accept a request to work on the weekend in the future.

Step 8. Recognise your employees when they do something great

A free movie pass or an early finish are all great options for rewards and acknowledgement. Even a simple thank you card can make a person feel valued.

Remember, everyone is different so making a big fuss and public announcement might be great for one person but not so for another.

As mentioned previously, very simple gestures can go a long way. It makes people feel cared about. It also provides an incentive to keep up the good work. Furthermore, it encourages others to do the same.

In addition, the benefit of noticing the good things, is people realise you are watching. Thereby encouraging people to do more good things and less of the wrong things. If they know you are watching, it is less likely they will try anything not desirable.

It also tends to encourage others to speak up when they see someone do something good. The opposite is also true.

Step 9. Stop telling and start asking and listening

Regularly make time to meet with individual employees to discuss how they are going in their role. Share with them how the business is doing and any areas that need improvement.

This is not a one-way conversation. You need to make a point of listening to their feedback. They will probably have some great suggestions as previously stated.

Remember you are a team, not just a solo affair. Ask for input on issues, ideas on improvements. Get suggestions from the team. Many will have ideas and offer up suggestions for better ways to do things.

If something will make a person’s job easier, they are going to want to suggest it. As an example, a warehouse manager at one of my clients, came up with a terrific idea to save time. He suggested pre-packaging some items that he noticed customers regularly order together. Consequently, the sales team now uses these to win over new customers. It is saving a lot of time and bringing in new sales.

In conclusion:

Be observant! Don’t keep looking for what is wrong. Notice what is right and comment on the good and great more often than the problems.

Practice a bit of mindfulness in your role as the leader. Observe people for what they do well more often than what they don’t do well.

Therefore, let people know when you see them doing something well. Be mindful of the things you say and the words you choose.

Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. If you want to encourage growth in your business, you won’t do it by complaining about what is wrong all the time.

If you like this article you might also like:

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If you would like to know how we can support you to stress less about your employees please contact us.

To dismiss or not to dismiss, an employee, that is the question. In this article, I look at why you should not dismiss.

Do not dismiss an employee before you read this article. It could save you thousands of $’s and a lot of pain and time, in mediation, with the Fair Work Ombudsmen (FWO).

Unfortunately, as a human resources consultant, I am often brought in to consult on employee matters after things have deteriorated!

Employee engagement is not unlike a marriage. It can break down and end in a messy separation. If you do not address issues as they arise. Therefore, you must address the issues as they arise and in a procedurally fair manner.

Watch this video of how not to fire someone:

Things you can do to avoid a relationship breakdown:

Relationships can often be improved and/or ended amicably. First, the two parties need to have an agreement of what is a satisfactory and/or excellent relationship.

Often in marriage, this is not a well-covered area. The marriage relationship is often based on romantic ideas. Whereas, the work relationship of employee and employer is a more formalised agreement.

All relationships take work. Therefore, the best way to keep them on track is to have agreed expectations.

Having clarity and agreement is the key to good relationships:

Marriage and working relationships differ in a few key ways. A working relationship has documented agreements. They must have documentation and agreements outlined in them.

There are stringent rules for employment relationships in Australia. We have the Fair Work Act (FWA) since 2009. There is also, the National Employment Standards (NES). Any employer that does not pay attention to those two pieces of legislation is flirting with heavy penalties.

Under this legislation, before an employer can take any action towards an employee they must have unambiguous evidence to support the action.  Therefore, an employer cannot just end a relationship with an employee or dismiss them.

There are multiple steps an employer must take. It is no longer three strikes and you’re out.

Stick to the facts and have evidence:

In my experience as a consultant, issues with employees are based more on opinion rather than fact. Make sure there is reliable or verifiable fact, or evidence, to support the opinion and any actions taken.

Risks of unfair dismissal findings with FWA are high without facts backed up with evidence.  Therefore, it is important to follow a Fair Work compliant procedure.

Clarity of expectations:

Clearly defined expectations are necessary. Position descriptions, Performance measurements, training and documentation are all important. These documents are necessary to create clarity. In a Fair Work matter, documentation is a key element in their findings.

Must have documentation for employing people are:

  • Position Description accurately reflected the employee’s tasks and responsibilities
  • Employment Terms and Conditions
  • Pay roll
  • Accurate Payment Advice or Wage Slips
  • Tax file records
  • Evidence of Superannuation payments
  • A set of Company Policies and Procedures covering at least these:
    • Performance and Misconduct
    • Equal Employment Opportunities
    • Anti-Discrimination
    • Bullying and Harassment
    • Company Code of Conduct

Key Performance Indicators or performance measures

Setting unrealistic and difficult to measure performance criteria causes stress and lost productivity. Therefore, they need to be considered carefully. Specifically, using a system such as; SMART which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.

Using vague or unmeasurable data is a waste of everyone’s time.  If a person has no influence or control over performance criteria, it is unrealistic. It is also, likely to cause undue stress. Some things are difficult to measure. However, there are ways to track performance. It just might need a bit of research and thorough consideration. Using tools such as survey monkey to obtain feedback from customers is an excellent and low-cost solution.

Gallup group are well known for finding ways to measure data on all sorts of things. Measure what is important in your business. Make sure it is something this employee has influence over and/or can control. Read this article on key performance indicators for further insights.

Case in point in consideration to dismiss: “A business owner said to me that he had some problems with one of his managers” as follows:

  • Not meeting Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI’s)
  • Inadequate delegating to of staff
  • Insufficient training of others
  • Slacking off
  • Unreliable
  • Being a bit of a bully to other staff

Vitally important questions to ask about this case:

Not meeting KPI’s:

  • Are the KPI’s in question known to the Manager and documented
  • Are they realistic and measurable?
  • How are they measured and are the measures reliable and evidence-based (such as a report which is independent and reliable)?
  • Are they part of the Manager’s job description and in writing?
  • Are they part of the employment contract and is it signed off by the Manager?

Delegation:

  • Is delegation part of the Manager’s position description and agreed to or signed off by the Manager
  • Do the other employees know this Manager has the right to delegate
  • Do they listen to the Manager and do as directed?

Training:

  • Is training of staff, part of this Manager’s position description, does it form part of the employment contract, has the manager signed off.
  • Do they know how to train?

Slacking off:

  • What do you mean by slacking off?
  • Can you give evidence of it?
  • Have you brought this issue to the Manager to improve it?

Unreliable:

  • What do you mean by unreliable and can you give evidence of this?
  • Have you discussed it with the Manager, documented it and have you agreed on a course of action and by when?

Bullying:

  • Bullying is a serious accusation; can you give evidence of bullying?
  • Have you discussed and documented with the Manager and have you agreed on a course of action and by when?
  • Do you have a harassment and bullying policy and is the procedure documented and have you followed it?
  • Is the Manager aware of this policy?
  • Can you prove the Manager is aware of the policy?

Other things to consider:

  • Is there any pattern to these complaints or have they just started?
  • What might be happening in the Manager’s life outside of work that may be having an impact on their ability to perform their job?
  • Have you discussed any of these issues with the Manager in question and what was the outcome?
  • Is the Manager aware that you have any issues with them in their performance of their duties?
  • Are any of these areas of responsibility new to the Manager?
  • How long has this person held this position?
  • How long have these issues been occurring?
  • Are the issues possible to independently verify?

The key test:

  • If this person were to be dismissed and took the matter to the FWO would you be able to prove, beyond doubt, that you have not acted in a harsh or unreasonable manner
  • That you have taken all reasonable steps to help the person to rectify the problems

Decision to dismiss, or discipline, based on the answers to these questions:

Whether you have good grounds for dismissing an employee or not, are based on answers to the above questions.

The answers provided to me by the employer in this example were insufficient grounds for a dismissal. They did show, a need for a lot more clarity in the employment relationship.

Further questions to consider, do you have:

Evidence:

  1. Evidence (fact based and in writing)
  2. Signed agreement

Independent Witnesses:

  1. Independent witnesses that can confirm behaviour
  2. Another employee who can confirm the actions is good but be cautious of asking leading questions. Therefore, the questioning technique must not be leading rather, it must be open. For example, “where were you sitting on Friday?” is open. Whereas asking: “were you sitting near Sue and Michael on Friday” is leading, because it draws attention to Sue and Michael.

Documentation:

  1. Does the employee have a position description they understand?
  2. Also, is there a clear and unambiguous employment contract detailing the procedure you will follow in a case of inferior performance, signed off, and agreed to, by the employee
  3. Do you have company policies and procedures and is everyone familiar with them?

Proof:

  1. Can you prove that your employees know about these policies?
  2. Has there been discussions any of the issues with the employee, so they are aware of them and have you reached an agreed course of action
  3. Was a specific and detailed time stamp set on actions to rectify the problem, stating by when the actions need to be complete?
  4. What have you done to help the employee to improve or rectify the issue/s
  5. Was training, counselling or mentoring offered? Can you prove it?

Only when you can say yes to all these questions and prove it, do you have grounds to take it further. Smart Company wrote an article about cases where the employer won you can read it here. They invariably won on documentation and evidence.

In Conclusion:

This article should give you some good guidance on whether you can dismiss or not. You may need to take some more time and have disciplinary discussions before you can confidently dismiss an employee.

Be objective, be clear, be fact and evidence based. Make sure you have done all that you can to help the employee to rectify issues, to stay risk-free.

Contact us before you take any action.