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Does your job feel like torture? Probably not, but the Spanish word for job is trabajo, which is derived from the vulgar Latin word for “torture.” The truth is that most jobs are simply too small for us.

As human beings we desire more. In short, we want to have meaning and purpose in what we do because we want to make a difference that matters. One of the least tapped engines of engagement and performance at work is purpose, something we explore in depth in our new book, The Purpose Revolution-How Leaders Create Engagement and Competitive Advantage in an Age of Social Good.

Purpose is the best way to boost employee engagement among your people as well as for yourself. When people have purpose at work and see their job as a true calling instead of just a career or a means to an end, they are more engaged, satisfied, and committed to the organization. They also are less inclined to leave their employer and they even call in sick less often.

Purpose Boosts Employee Engagement

Why is purpose the key? We feel deeply satisfied when our work creates purpose and becomes more than just a job. And for many, having purpose is the greatest job perk there is.

Take zookeepers, who love their work despite being typically well-educated but notoriously underpaid, and spend many hours scrubbing enclosures and picking up waste. On the surface, it can be a tough job to be exposed to the elements and responsible for dirty work, but researchers have found that zookeepers love their work.

Many have a sense they are “born to do this job” and that their role has a deeper meaning because it serves a greater purpose: improving the health and wellbeing of animals, creating educational opportunities for the public about the conservation of endangered species, and the importance of biodiversity in natural habitats.

When people have purpose at work, they are more satisfied, and committed to the organization.
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Not every organization needs a zookeeper, but each one could certainly benefit from employees who are purpose focused, engaged and motivated to do their best. The best way to drive purpose and boost employee engagement is to separate job function from purpose.

Job function is what you do–the set of tasks a person performs–whereas job purpose is what results: the greater impact on customers or society.

For example, consider a person who issues building permits in a municipality. Their job function is to process the permits, but their job purpose is to ensure public safety by requiring contractors and homeowners to meet specific building standards, which results in injuries prevented and lives saved. Saving lives feels like something to celebrate more than stamping paper. It’s not hard to imagine how this mindset helps bring more purpose to jobs that might otherwise seem less meaningful.

Drive purpose and boost engagement by explaining the greater value behind an employee’s work.
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The way connect employees with their job purpose over their job function is to directly explain the greater value behind their tasks. The employees need to understand the difference they actually make in the lives of the customers.

For example, a customer service representative at a large hardware retailer has the job function of answering questions and stocking the shelves, but their purpose might be to help customers find cost-effective solutions to their problems and to empower them to learn new skills.

It may be necessary to reiterate this point during group or one on one meetings, but once employees internalize it, they’re likely to view their job in a different, more positive way. When employees understand that they are contributing to a larger overall effort, they feel a sense of connection to their work, their colleagues, and the organization’s purpose.

Create Line of Sight to Purpose

One of the key leadership roles is to consistently create what we call “line of sight” to purpose. We spoke with the largest Molly Maid franchise owner in Canada, who attributes his success as much to higher purpose as to a thorough cleaning of a home.

During our discussion he talked about the fact that many of his clients are older people who may not get many visitors. He therefore encourages his employees to take a few extra minutes to chat with clients when they arrive on-site or before they leave. He challenges his team to reframe their work toward a higher purpose: helping alleviate loneliness. Both the employees and the clients appreciate these conversations, which result in stronger relationships, loyal customers, and happier employees.

Employees with purpose are extremely valuable to companies. For example, we were working with a large retail bank that was trying to encourage its customer service representatives to up-sell clients on more of the bank’s services. From a business perspective, the function of this is to “get a larger share of wallet” by selling financial products— loans, credit cards, investment accounts, and the like.

We discovered that when leaders focused the employees on the purpose behind this upselling, rather than merely the function, sales increased. That’s because the leaders were able to demonstrate how “helping clients simplify their financial lives and get the best products to meet their needs” was important.

Articulated in this way, many of the service reps felt more charged to help their clients better their lives and plan their futures through financial management. In the end, customers were supported, sales increased and employees were able to make a measurable difference in people’s lives.

The Big Shift Purpose Exercise

So, let’s get started with the shift from job function to purpose. You can creatively brainstorm this simple purpose exercise with your staff. The results will be enlightening as people think differently about their roles in the organization and their greater impact on society.

1) Ask staff how their job provides them with personal meaning, and how it makes a difference to others

2) Have them make a list of the main job functions in their area of responsibility, with brief descriptions of the role and tasks

3) Brainstorm a big list of ways the job makes a difference: How does it make someone’s life, society, or the planet better?

4) Craft simple “higher-calling” or purpose statements

The following are a few examples to get you thinking:

When you can help people connect with their job purpose—so that they see it as separate from their job function—they discover how their position can be a calling and not merely a job. Their engagement and performance will naturally increase, and they will be more fulfilled at work and in their personal lives. Explaining purpose to others and driving purpose in an organization take practice, but once mastered these skills can make a big difference to the success of a team or company.

John Izzo is co-author of The Purpose Revolution and president of Izzo Associates. He has spoken to over one million people and advised over 500 companies, including IBM, Qantas, the Mayo Clinic, Verizon, RBC, TELUS, Walmart, DuPont, Humana, Microsoft, and IBM. He is the author or coauthor of six books, including Awakening Corporate Soul.

Jeff Vanderwielen is co-author of The Purpose Revolution and vice president of consulting at Izzo Associates and a former senior change consultant at Ernst & Young with 20-plus years of experience helping organizations manage large-scale change and articulate a compelling purpose – their core good – as the organizing center for their vision, strategy, and culture.

Image Credit: James Pond on Unsplash

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It all began with an article published in Harvard Business Review in March of 2016 entitled, “Two-Thirds of Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Employees”. When we delve into this a bit deeper we’ll see that it’s not a matter of comfort, it’s a matter of fear. People often avoid confrontation because they are afraid of rejection, have had negative past experiences, or are unsure of their needs, values, or beliefs.

An Interact survey of 500+ employees and over 600 managers found that 69% of managers are often uncomfortable communicating with employees. A smaller (yet still alarming) percentage of managers are not comfortable with recognizing employee achievements, giving clear directions, and being vulnerable. Over one-third of managers (37%) are uncomfortable with giving crtical employee feedback that may trigger a negative response from the employee.

In January of 2018, The Ladders and Quartz both ran follow-ups to the survey as if the results were not almost two years old. Clearly a deficit in quality feedback from managers is still a concern. In the aforementioned article, Quartz author Corinne Purtill references Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace Report:

Organizations are realizing that more frequent, ongoing conversations may be the missing link in performance management, but there is a huge caveat: Managers have to understand how to have effective performance conversations with employees…Unfortunately, Gallup research suggests that many managers struggle in this area.

Want to understand how to have more frequent and effective performance conversations with employees? Give 15Five a try!

A couple of years ago, we surveyed 1,000 full-time employees across the US and found that over 80% of them would rather join a company that values “open communication” than one that offers great perks such as top health plans, free food, and gym memberships.

Today’s employees crave feedback. They want to learn and grow personally and professionally. But many managers who are charged with facilitating that growth and development shy away from providing a constant stream of positive and critical employee feedback, recognition, or even clear performance expectations. So why do so many managers struggle with communication?

Employee feedback can seem scary

According to “mental strength” expert Amy Morin, fear of confrontation is often based on false assumptions. We can fear confrontation because it triggers painful experiences from our past. Perhaps a parent or other authority figure from our formative years was overly confrontational, angry, or even violent.

But there is a risk inherent in withholding critical employee feedback. When managers fear confrontation for too long, they stew on things instead of resolving them. Everything an employee then does fits into a story about who they are, and over time it becomes impossible for managers to divorce the story from the person.

People have habits and patterns sure, but they are also dynamic and malleable, especially after they are gently made aware of the impact they are having on others. The trouble is, if we are annoyed by someone’s behavior or disappointed by their performance and we are too afraid to confront them at the outset, we often blow up at them for a relatively minor mistake or undesirable behavior down the road. It can be exceedingly difficult to repair a relationship after such an interaction.

According to Amy, we need to check our assumptions :

In reality, confrontation is healthy. There are many kind—and assertive—ways to speak up and express your opinion, and doing so might improve the situation more than you ever even imagined.

Employees can smell fear

Another recent Quartz piece entitled, “You Will Never Be a Great Leader Until You Conquer This Fear” draws a line in the sand. According to the author, Melody Wilding, a manager is required to provide critical employee feedback. They must do so to avoid becoming the office pushover which erodes their self-esteem. And workplaces where employees don’t receive feedback have issues with poor employee engagement and lack of trust.

This problem may be bigger than just your personal experiences. In a highly competitive workplace where mistakes are not tolerated, employees are unlikely to speak up. Even sitting down with an employee to discuss an issue will have them on edge. So set the tone that you are there to coach and support them, not to punish and chastise.

According to Melody, language is important. She suggests talking about how something made you feel or what your impression was. Don’t use the second person voice as in, “You failed to complete that report for the last two weeks in a row!” Try using first person: “I received an email from our client that they haven’t received an update on their account for some time.”

Better yet, frame comments as questions with a supportive tone: “I want you to consider me as a resource for you to do your best work and grow in your role. Is there anything you are stuck on? How can I help?” Now an employee can feel safe to share a perceived failure because you have framed your relationship as a partnership.

Be direct with people

It may seem at times like beating around the bush is the easiest way to relate to an employee. Perhaps that’s to avoid a negative reaction, or to have your message more easily received.

Being indirect is a disservice to you and to the employee. People want assertive leadership and want a manager who has their back. Being confident emboldens them to be their best. But most of all, being direct sends the message that you trust them and that you are trustworthy.

According to Gallup, you can maintain trust by ensuring that employees feel a sense of belonging to you.  This begins by addressing basic workplace needs like clarifying expectations:

As the manager, you must provide your … workers the right work to do, the appropriate amount of work to do and performance expectations for their work. Setting these clear expectations indicates your attention to, understanding of and respect for their job role, helping employees succeed.

A great way to clarify expectations is by setting quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with every member of your team. When employees understand the top priorities from the top to the bottom of the organization, they can work confidently. They know that they are contributing to big picture goals. This also makes it easier to give critical feedback later on, because instead of discussing your perspective on their performance you have hard data to back up the conversation.

It takes some internal work to dispel our fears, even the fear of confronting an employee about their performance. So when taking that first step to provide feedback, start by entering the right frame of mind.

Your state of being is important, even if the interaction does not take place in person. Consider the outcome you are trying to create. (Note that it should be to achieve a greater connection between you and the employee even if the feedback you are about to give is highly critical.) Then go confidently forth knowing that your people crave your feedback and your leadership.

David Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles have appeared on The Next Web & TalentCulture. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

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I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to technology and am guilty of irresponsibly multitasking nearly every day.

What’s amusing is that I probably use less technology than most people. I use a handful of mobile apps (including messaging and the actual phone app), I haven’t owned a television in a decade, and I love my 2001 truck because it doesn’t talk to me or try to help me park.

I proudly consider myself a Neo-Luddite, someone who resists modern technologies and dictates a return of some or all technologies to a more primitive level.

Can you blame me, when humanity is so irresponsible with the use of technology? Albert Einstein, referring to the atom bomb allegedly said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Today’s atom bomb — besides the actual atom bomb — is Artificial Intelligence, which we insist on creating despite the facts that it has the potential to eventually wipe us out and we don’t even know how it works!

Ok Miz, but you use tech too!

Yes, I’ll admit that there’s some hypocrisy at play here, since I am voice-typing this post in a Google Doc on my MacBook Pro, via my noise cancelling headphones. Being a Neo-Luddite doesn’t mean that one doesn’t use any modern technology. It means using only as much technology as is absolutely necessary, and forging healthy relationship with the tech that you do use. (And also writing snide Facebook posts.)

Lately I have failed at maintaining a healthy relationship with tech. The apps I mentioned using above are overtaking my life. I’m constantly cycling through Slack, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail (work and personal, which I strongly advise keeping separate), and my calendar.  This behavior causes physical discomfort that I can only describe as a cloud in my brain, and leads to periodic creative burnout.

I would think that I’m alone in this always-on dilemma, except that based on the rapid responses I receive others seem to be just as enslaved by their inboxes and Slack feeds as I am. Perhaps they just deal with it better than I do, or they’re more acclimated to technology and multitasking. Am I the weirdo here?

Maybe, but it turns out that even if it feels perfectly normal to lovingly tuck your phone and apple watch under your pillow at night, or to have 742 tabs open in your browser all day, science says that these behaviors are destroying your brain.

The Science of Multitasking & Technology Addiction

Volumes have been written about the dangers of multitasking, yet we still do it. Multitasking is the tobacco smoking of our age. Everyone knows it’s harmful, and everyone does it anyway. Multitasking saps our energy and frequently checking social media or other communication apps, creates a pinball effect on our concentration.

Multitasking is the smoking of our age. Everyone knows it’s harmful, but they do it anyway.
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According to a study conducted at Stanford University, multitasking increases stress levels and negatively affects our mood, motivation and productivity:

People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found.

And in 2011, the University of California, San Francisco published a research study that showed how multitasking has a negative impact on short term memory that becomes increasingly apparent as we age. These behaviors may not bother you today, but the clock is ticking.

Another major issue is that hopping back and forth between tasks and different apps causes anxiety, which is bad for your health and negatively impacts creativity at work. When we are anxious our bodies start accessing more primitive brain structures that are designed to keep us safe from danger. We stop accessing other areas like the frontal lobe that have adapted for critical thinking and creativity.

It also turns out that staying tethered to your inbox is harmful to your health. Researchers at UC Irvine measured the heart rates of two groups of employees. Those who could access their emails were tense and exhibited high heart rates. The group who did not have access to email performed their jobs relatively stress-free.

Why Do We Habitually Check Email and Social Media?

According to Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How To Build Habit Forming Products, we are internally triggered to impulsively use certain software:

Internal triggers are cues informed by mental associations and memories. Certain places, situations, routines, and most frequently, uncomfortable emotions all act as internal triggers. When we’re lonely, we check Facebook. When we’re uncertain, we Google. And when we’re bored, we check YouTube, sports scores, Pinterest, or any number of other digital distractions.

I personally experience this with nearly every communication app I use. Did someone email me? Is there something on my calendar that I need to prepare for? How many likes did I receive on my latest witty anti-technology Facebook post?

Of course, things are made worse by what Nir calls external triggers. Those little red badges on our apps, and the incessant pop up notifications from our phones answer these internal questions. Yes! Yes, someone did email you! They probably want to validate your existence in some way or offer you some exciting new opportunity. Quick, before it’s too late, tap the icon!

5 Ways To Improve Health and Productivity

All is not lost. There are steps you can take to have a healthier relationship to technology and work.

1. Take some time to look at the wall

There’s a famous story about a dairy owner who visits the dairy one day and observes a group of his cows grazing. The man who manages the dairy walks over and greets the owner.

“Look at these lazy cows”, says the owner. “They’re just standing around eating my grass.”

The manager looks the owner dead in the face and spits a bit of tobacco onto the grass. “They ain’t lazy, they’re turning grass into milk. ‘Round here we call that magic. Can you do that?”

There’s a sense in business and in life that we always have to be productive. What nonsense. Research shows that more mental downtime like walking in nature, taking naps, and meditating is beneficial for the world’s greatest artists and athletes. They are able to replenish attention, solidify memories, be more creative and yes… even be more productive.

More mental downtime helps us replenish our attention, and improves productivity and innovation.
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This process is not just for “creatives” like designers, writers, and artists. Every employee is a “creative”, because every job description explicitly or implicitly includes problem solving as a skill.

2. Train others how to communicate with you

Every day our behaviors create expectations in others that we will be immediately available. My problem with communication technology is that I don’t set adequate boundaries and communicate expectations. My heart is in the right place, because people often need me to edit a document or respond to questions. Even in our culture that embraces taking time away from online communication to perform deep work, I don’t always take advantage of that freedom because I don’t want to be the bottleneck.

Don’t respond right away when you receive these communications. That sets a new expectation that you may or may not be available. You’re basically training people to stop interfering with your work day.

By not answering emails right away, you are training people to stop interfering with your workday.
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Start each day with the most high leverage tasks and things that require your creativity. Stay off email and Slack initially, and carve out windows when you are available for communication. Be vocal about this so that people know when is the best time to interact with you and when they should leave you alone.

3. Consider taking a break from work while you are on vacation

Vacating, leaving. That’s the point of a vacation. But research shows that few people actually honor their time away from the desk. Even when people are encouraged to use all of their vacation time, 70% choose to work rather than taking time off. 

We are concerned that emails and other work will pile-up so we check in briefly and take tiny bites here and there. We’ve spent money and PTO, and haven’t really vacated or rejuvenated. We come back way less refreshed than we could be, which doesn’t serve us or the company. I say take it a step further. Don’t just check out from work, take a vacation from technology altogether. 

4. Retain your attention

When Pokemon arrived back on the scene and distracted millions of Americans with augmented reality, I decided to interview Nir Eyal. To avoid getting lost in habit forming product, he advises the use of what he calls attention retention devices – technologies specifically designed to block out the triggers and distractions from other technologies. 

For example, Nir uses Pocket instead of reading articles on his desktop. The app removes all of the ads and links to other articles so a five minute distraction doesn’t turn into an hours long wormhole through online content. 

5. Choose your tech wisely

Choose apps that allow you to streamline your life and get things done efficiently so that you can stop using the app after a short time. For example, I can check in with my manager in 15Five by answering a handful of questions each week.

That brief use of tech saves me from filling out multiple spreadsheets or sending fifty emails back and forth to update the status of key objectives. My manager and I can later have a genuine human interaction in a one on one meeting, with a clearly defined agenda based on my 15Five answers.

While this may seem like a shameless plug for 15Five (and it is), it’s also a genuine sentiment. I am periodically asked to use some new software application at work, and I repeatedly put it off until I am dragged into it kicking and screaming, baby tantrum style. But I’m overjoyed when asked to use an app that is intuitive and doesn’t demand more than a few minutes of my time every now and then.

Neo-Luddite Wisdom

How many times a day do you read or write status updates on your phone? If your thumb is permanently locked in scroll mode reading news stories on the web the entire day, the rest of you isn’t really living. Only connecting with your immediate surroundings or interacting fully with other human beings can give you that sense of deep fulfillment.

We can’t stop the wheel of tech automation, which is creating more efficiency and increasing the velocity of life and business. But when tech creates space, don’t just rush to fill it with more tasks or more distractions. Breathe. Remember that you are indeed still human and need to take space just to think every now and again.

We also crave connection. Real connection, not a barrage of truncated, relatively meaningless posts and comments on Facebook or Instagram. Building deep personal and professional relationships with other people takes time and effort. Be willing to put all the tech on pause periodically and give the people that matter most in your life your undivided attention. 

David Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles have appeared on The Next Web & TalentCulture. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: US Army

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Over the last year, we’ve seen the employee performance management landscape evolve like never before. That’s evidenced by the fact that performance management is becoming a ubiquitous term, but what does it even mean? Is it the next in a long line of business buzzwords, joining the likes of employee engagement and workplace culture?

Employee Engagement Trends. Those were the topics of our top performing posts in 2016 and 2017, proving that the term still resonates with throngs of managers, company leaders, and HR professionals. While various technologies have helped drive the evolution of employee engagement, there’s so much more to the relationship between managers and employees besides that one outcome.

Performance Management is how we’re working together as teams and managing people. We can let the term slip into the meaningless buzzwords bucket, or we can rally around it and commit to building authentic work relationships and nurturing employee growth — not merely to produce positive business outcomes, but because that’s the impact we want to have on the world.

Global employee engagement remains ridiculously low, and productivity is at a standstill. So more and more organizations are adopting best HR practices of ongoing conversations, employee recognition, and reforming their annual performance review process. If for no other reason than to improve business outcomes.

But fret not progressive business leaders! The movement to foster genuine relationships between managers and employees and to rehumanize business is gaining steam, and we can expect more in 2018. Here are some trends to look out for this year that will be redefining the future of People Operations roles and how business gets done:

1) Finding The Leverage & Developing Trust

Companies are always looking for ways to improve employee productivity, and they can learn from high-performing organizations. Companies like Apple, Google, and Netflix are 40% more productive than the average company by using a mix of strategies that focus on organizational structure and trust-building.

According to research by Bain & Company, the way companies construct their teams has a major impact on productivity. Apple and Google for example, dedicate 95 percent of their top talent to key business functions, as opposed to spreading top talent across many areas.

“It took 600 Apple engineers fewer than two years to develop, debug, and deploy iOS 10,” Bain’s Michael Mankins told Fast Company. “Contrast that with 10,000 engineers at Microsoft that took more than five years to develop, debut, and ultimately retract Vista. The difference is in the way these companies chose to construct their teams.”

Mankins also pointed out that extending trust to employees improved productivity at top companies. He said organizational rules and processes often prevent people from getting things done. Netflix avoids a common process issue, expense management, by trusting its employees. The company has no expense policy. Instead, it trusts employees to act responsibly.

“The company is telling employees, ‘We assume you are not here to rip off the company, and we’re not going to put in place processes that consume human capital, waste time, and zap energy,’” Mankins explains.

Extending trust to employees improves productivity at top companies.
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Look for more companies to mimic the leaders in productivity by organizing teams to improve output in critical areas, as well as eliminating some bureaucracy by trusting their employees more.

2) Continuous Performance Management Will Catch On

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, 70% of companies are in the process of reinventing their performance management process. Organizations are realizing the old way of performance management no longer fits the way of business today (something we frequently cover on this blog).

Today’s workforce desires authentic relationships between employees and managers, as well as opportunities for development and advancement. This generation has ushered in the disruptive age of continuous performance management.

Today’s employees desire authentic relationships with managers and opportunities for development.
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In 2018, expect more organizations to embrace continuous performance management. As Josh Bersin notes in his article, HR Technology in 2018:

Continuous performance management is possible, it works, and it can transform your company. We’re not talking about doing away with ratings, rather we are talking about building a new, ongoing process for goal setting, coaching, evaluation, and feedback.

Very few software solutions integrate all of the HR Technology tools that companies need to develop and advance their employees by checking-in continually throughout the year. Look for continuous performance management solutions that incorporate objective (OKR) setting and management, weekly feedback, 1-on-1 meetings, and quarterly reviews.

Continuous performance management software will make it easier for managers and employees to collaboratively map out career trajectories, and to provide the coaching and mentoring that people need to become their best selves.

Continuous Performance Management Software is here! Give your employees the clarity, feedback & coaching they crave. Give 15Five a try!
3) Employee Experience Becomes A Thing

While much attention has been focused on improving employee engagement, organizations will also shift focus to improve employee experience. This involves a more holistic approach that follows the entire employee journey, much like companies map the entire customer journey.

Employee experience aims to provide positive touch points in work culture, technology, and physical environment. This includes equipping people to meet their goals, develop new skills, and helping them to feel more passionate and creative about their work. Organizations will design the employee experience around data on how people work, make decisions, and organize their day.

The concept is gaining traction and has shown to improve employee involvement and employer brand commitment. Organizations such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Ralph Lauren, Adobe, and Airbnb have made employee experience a key part of their strategy. Look for more companies to do the same.

4) People Analytics Will Become Essential

People analytics will no longer be a nice-to-have part of the HR toolkit. It will be an indispensable aspect of running a business.

According to a Bersin by Deloitte report, more than two-thirds of companies are now using an analytics platform, and organizations are investing in this data in a major way. As Bersin explains, “Employee-related data is just as important or more important than customer data, because it tells you the secrets of how to manage your business better.”

As companies can collect data on turnover, performance rating, team interaction, wellbeing, and employee feedback, managers can make more informed decisions and improve the employee experience.

5) Increased Focus On Individualized Employee Support

Personalization has become a key part of creating a delightful customer experience, and organizations will use the same approach in their performance management efforts. A one-size-fits-all management approach can’t bring out the best in employees because every employee is different.

Workforces are more diverse than ever, with teams consisting of people from various generations, backgrounds, cultures and locations–with the increasing prevalence of remote work arrangements. (About 43% of Americans spend some time working remotely, a four percentage point increase from four years earlier.)

Relying on individual data as well as feedback conversations provides managers the tools for tailoring performance management, development and other aspects of work for each individual employee. For example, Eric Lesser and Maria-Paz Barrientos of IBM write about how personalizing the work environment can make a difference in their article in Workforce:

Some employees are fine working in open, collaborative spaces; others are distracted. Giving employees options where they work, depending on the task, can affect short-term productivity and longer-term engagement.

In the coming year, more managers will take a personalized approach to motivating individuals to help them meet their performance goals, which in turn will boosts team performance.

6) A Streamlined Approach To Learning And Development

According to Gallup, 87% of Millennials cite access to professional development and career growth opportunities as the most important factor in a job.

Look for companies to respond to this need by providing more training opportunities, but not the traditional kind. Organizations are moving toward micro-learning, which are short, informal, self-directed and mobile-optimized content on single topics. These can be brief videos, webinars, podcasts, or even games that provide learning materials in an easy-to-absorb format.

When you allow employees to do what they do best, it makes your team more innovative and productive.
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These training methods put employees in control of their development so that they can add to their skillset with on-demand content. It makes learning more continuous and engaging.

There will also be a social aspect to this type of training, with the growth of platforms such as Slack, which allow employees to quickly share ideas. Learning and development content will continue to spread organically through these employee networks.

7) Rethinking Job Roles

When you allow employees to do what they do best, it makes your team more innovative and productive. Research shows that 60% of employees want the ability do what they do best, regardless of their role. They are driven by purpose and managers who actively promote their development.

What does this mean? The end of traditional job roles.

Companies will move to what’s called “job crafting,” which are job roles built around an employee’s strengths and interests. Tom Haak, founder and director of The HR Trend Institute, describes how it works in his article, The End of Static Jobs:

When there is an assignment, there is a process to look at the capabilities (qualitative and quantitative) required for this specific assignment. The wishes, needs and capabilities of people connected to the organization are known, or captured as part of the process… Teams are not built of people with specific fixed jobs, but of people who have specific skills that are needed to deliver the assignment.

Of course, this shift will rely on organizations using two of the employee performance management trends mentioned earlier—(#4) people analytics and (#5) individualized support—to understand the specific capabilities and desires of employees.

Performance management has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years, and organizations are starting to get a hold of what works best for them. Or rather, what helps their employee become their best, for themselves and the company. And as new tools enter the market, they’re helping to reinvent global HR initiatives every year.

Continuous performance management will be the focus of 2018. People analytics tools and other HR Tech will allow managers to be present every week, month and year of the employee lifecycle. This will lead to increased business growth, recruitment, and onboarding, and less of the employee lifecycle that everyone hates… terminations and exit interviews.

David Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles have appeared on The Next Web & TalentCulture. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

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Curiosity. Introspection. Integrity.

These are some of the most sought after traits in both company leaders and employees at any level. So whether they are inspiring self-reflection or soliciting information, good questions (and people who are willing to answer them honestly) are vital to a thriving workplace.

Questions are not only core to the 15Five product but also core to our workplace culture. It’s no wonder that our first eBook of Employee Questions remains one of our most popular pieces of content, proving that asking questions is an incredibly valuable skill sought after in the business world.

Good questions and honest answers are vital to a thriving workplace culture.
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I have assembled a follow-up eBook with over sixty new questions, along with detailed information about why they are valuable or when they should be asked.

The book is broken up into ten different chapters for managers to ask feedback questions that impact workplace culture, employee development, and customer delight. There are also questions that help employees become more successful in completing their quarterly key objectives.

Here are some examples from the chapter on cross-team collaboration:

1) Who on a different team would you like to include in a brainstorming session?
Sometimes the best people to help with ideation are not as close to the design/problem/initiative as you are. Fresh eyes from others at the organization, or people whose top strengths lie in the creative realm can be just what you need.

2) If you could shadow anyone at the company for a day, who would it be?
Winning today is not as simple as it used to be. Technological advancement means that new products and services (including those of your competitors) can penetrate the market in years, not decades. Innovation must occur far more rapidly these days for businesses to stay competitive. Part of that competitive edge can be to see another aspect of the business through the eyes of a co-worker. Then take what you learn back to your work and get creative.

3) Have you honored your commitment to other team-members? Where are you out of integrity
This question is more about team dynamics than getting a project completed, but trust is vital for building a collaborative workplace culture. When people reach out for a collaborative effort, this question reframes the issue as one dealing with trust, honesty, and empowerment.

Brainstorming collaboratively or finishing a project that is outside the scope of your goals may seem like a favor to a colleague, but everyone’s job at the company is to ensure that the business succeeds. Take the opportunity to follow-through, restore trust, and get things done together.

Below, you will find the entire Great eBook of Employee Questions, Part 2: Return of the Question Master. Included are several Genius Questions from our favorite business leaders and People Ops experts.

There are practically infinite questions out there, and asking them can help you as a leader to maintain visibility, strengthen relationships, and gather information to help you lead better. And who knows? With a little time and a bit of practice, you may even become The Question Master…

Shane Metcalf is cofounder and VP of Customer Success at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. Shane has spent his career studying organizational & human development and the power of asking the right question.

Image Credit: Edu Lauton on Unsplash

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Have you just completed the latest round of annual performance evaluations? Or are you gearing up for the next time you have to be reviewed/review others?

Word on the street is that employee performance reviews are a thing of the past. But they’re not really dead for most organizations, because reviews are not devoid of all merit. Progressive companies are fitting reviews into continuous performance management philosophies that includes regular communication, employee feedback, and a process to clearly define and track priorities.

Nobody Likes Performance Reviews

It comes as no surprise that employees hate performance reviews. Who likes being put on the hot seat to be scrutinized? While reviews are supposed to reflect on the arc of employee performance over the preceding 12 months, they tend to only address the last few weeks of work. Consequently, they tend to be inaccurate and subject to all sorts of biases.

Employee fears and concerns are significant, since in many cases a poor review can mean denial of advancement or increased compensation, or in some cases can lead to termination. But employees are not alone in their loathing of this archaic business practice:

According to Deloitte, 58% of executives believe their current performance process does not drive employee engagement and high performance.

Only 4% of HR managers think their system of assessing employees is effective at measuring performance.

62% of managers agree that performance reviews are outdated ways of managing performance.

66% of employees say the annual performance evaluation process interferes with their productivity.

The Answer: Continuous Performance Management

For a performance review practice between managers and employees to be effective, it can not stand alone. Reviews must complement other practices that fit an overall management philosophy, like regular employee feedback.

For example, when GE killed its performance review after 3 decades, they implemented an application called PD@GE (Performance Development at GE). Employees focus on near-term priorities and have frequent conversations with managers regarding progress.

GE Managers provide positive coaching throughout the year, which culminates in the “annual summary conversation”. This includes a retrospective and future goal-setting, but doesn’t involve pay or advancement discussions. It’s a conversation that lacks the awe-inspiring formalities of a traditional annual review.

For more examples of companies who are ahead of the curve, and the details of a proven continuous performance management strategy, check out the infographic below:

Share this Infographic On Your Site:

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<p><a href=’https://www.15five.com/blog/annual-performance-evaluation-infographic/’><img src=’https://www.15five.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/15Five_Best_Self_Review_Infographic-1.png’ alt=’15Five Best-Self Review Infographic’ width=’1080′ border=’0′ /></a><strong>Source: www.15Five.com</strong></p><br /><br /><br /><br />

David Mizne is Marketing Communications Manager at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, objectives (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles have appeared on The Next Web & TalentCulture. Follow him @davidmizne.

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How do you look at The Employee Lifecycle? Are you detached like a seasoned clinician who views patients in terms of mechanics, or are you involved like the newly graduated nurse who is focused on the experience of the person and the wellbeing of their body? Both have the best interests of the patient in mind, but there is a difference.

Of course we are not talking about birth, adolescence and adulthood. We are talking about hiring, development, employee satisfaction and retention. Do you consider your workforce in terms of what you can “get” out of employees and their ELTV, or are you interested in team-building and employee development to find business success through supporting people to achieve greatness?

To delve into this distinction, I sought the wisdom of Colleen McCreary, a people ops thought leader who was one of the first to terminate the annual review process in lieu of career focused development conversations. (You can read that interview here.)

Colleen is currently Chief People Officer at Vevo, the world’s leading all-premium music video and entertainment platform. Below, she offers advice for handling the different stages of the employee lifecycle via the lens of making people feel valued instead of merely extracting value from them.

DM: In Silicon Valley, there’s a concern about being able to hire and retain the best people. How does one win the “war on talent” in terms of both recruiting and retention?

CM: Going back over twenty years, I’ve never worked in the tech industry when the war for top talent wasn’t considered “on”. Even during the downturn or the dot com implosions, top talent is still considered top talent. People are always looking for it.

My biggest advice around recruiting employees involves two things: customization and hygiene. They are pretty boring, but they are the most important.

Customization is all about spending time taking the positions in your company and deliberately mapping them to the candidate you’re reaching out to. You want people to clearly visualize being in that work environment and doing the work that you have to offer them. People want to feel valued and important, yet many companies skip over this step.

Recruiting is a lot like dating. You want to put your best foot forward and make that other person feel like you’re that special match.

The hygiene side is about valuing people’s time. Show up when you say you will and get back to people as promised. Make them feel like you are the right person who’s going to take care of them over time.

I see that, especially with startups that are trying to make a name for themselves. One of the ways that they can prove they are a legitimate company is through the recruiting process, and showing that they have invested a great deal of time and effort, including all of the details around the hiring process.

To take the dating metaphor even further, now you’ve decided to get married (hire the person). There are many things you have to do that are similar to having a longer term romantic commitment with someone. That includes making them feel appreciated on a regular basis, meeting that need to feel valued and to have the other person notice what you are doing.

If you are in a relationship like that, you don’t want to be forgotten. You want that other person to put effort into continuing to recruit you over time.

Not only is employee recognition important, but employers must realize that people will change over time. Set the ground rules so that people know as they change, what the expectations are for a successful relationship to continue.

People forget that it’s a balancing act that goes beyond HR. The majority of this relational work happens between a manager and employee. HR’s role is to help facilitate the conversation and remind the manager to show employee recognition, value great efforts, and understand how to motivate their employees. If you can facilitate those conversations along the way, you will be much more successful.

Are you looking for a simple yet powerful employee recognition tool? Give High Fives a Try!

DM: What are the top 3 factors that influence employee satisfaction and retention? Is it about the culture, compensation, perks, employee recognition…etc…?

CM: Employees want to feel valued. Right off the bat, they want to know if their manager cares if they show up for work or not and that the work they do matters. So few companies consider the different ways to express that to employees. Not everyone is motivated by the same things or feel valued in the same way.

You can certainly give someone a raise (and I have yet to hear about someone who turned that down) but everyone reacts in a different way. There are people who, if you show their work to the CEO or are allowed to speak externally on panels, or open-source their projects… that has a ton of value for them.

The #1 factor is still to tie the work that they do every day to the big goals that the company is trying to deliver. That means that the work you show up and perform every day genuinely matters to the company.

It’s important for people to have a say in what they are doing but also how they get it done.
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The #2 factor: Does my employer really want to invest in me or not? “Invest” is a vague term that could be around benefits, but it’s usually around career growth and taking on new things. That’s why you hear about training a lot. I frame the conversation with my own team that a specific training is not just about their current role, but provides longer term benefits at other companies in the future.

The #3 factor: Giving people the flexibility and freedom within their jobs, and giving them some autonomy and control over when and how they get to work on projects. The work/life balance question is a bad question to ask people. The question really should be about perceived control of time. It’s important for people to have a say in what they are doing but also how they get it done.

There is an assumption that people are paid commensurate to the market they are in and the level of responsibility that they have. I say compensation doesn’t matter until someone feels stupid. That’s when they feel like the company is taking advantage of them, paying them unfairly, or the amount of money they are giving up for a job significantly impacts their lifestyle and family. But I don’t usually see compensation or perks in the top 3.

DM: Absolutely! What I have seen in surveys by The Society for Human Resource Management and elsewhere, involves clearly communicating goals, employee recognition…etc…

CM: Yes, those aspects are important too. 15Five is great for setting up the conversation to be able to understand what’s behind employee motivation. So many managers don’t think to ask, What would make you feel most valued? What can I do for you that would make you feel like you have more control over your work?

Compensation doesn’t really matter until your employee feels stupid.
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There are some companies whose products only ship at Christmas. There’s a huge amount of pressure because everything is dependent on these external forces and deadlines over which the employees have zero control. Being able to facilitate these conversations about control can make a huge difference.

When we first rolled out 15Five here at Vevo, I heard people say that it was the first time their manager knew all the things they were working on. That was universal and continuous. There was never a forum to talk about it. There were many week to week tasks that weren’t big enough to make the list for the purpose of demonstrating performance. Or there were tasks that were not strategic or important enough to bring up in a one on one meeting. But people spend time on those things that don’t ever get recognized.

DM: We agree with the thought of helping people succeed not just at their current job, but even for when they move on. Some believe that is setting up for turnover, others say that level of support increases retention rates. What have you found?

CM: I am transparent with people about their path at the company and the skills that they need to move forward, and I am willing to invest in that development. That always pays dividends.

My job as a direct manager is to get somebody to their next job. I take that very seriously and I build up the trust and honesty with my team so that they trust me enough to share that their next step isn’t necessarily at the current company. My job is still to set them up to do well, and ideally the trainings will still be adding value at the company. People then tend to be loyal to their manager and the organization far beyond how they would have been.

Getting comfortable with the fact that an employee will leave just takes time. Many managers haven’t built the muscles to understand that providing support beyond the current company will help the organization.

Maybe it’s the Silicon Valley in me, but I just don’t worry about it. People are going to leave and our job is to put them in a position where they are giving the most they can to your organization in the time that you have them.

David Mizne is Content Manager at 15Five, lightweight performance management software that includes continuous feedback, objective (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles on talent management have appeared in The Next Web, TalentCulture, and Startups.co. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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Life as I once knew it is now over.

Oh it’s not as terrible as it sounds. Veteran parents will scare the newly initiated with horror stories of dirty diapers and sleepless nights (all of which are true). But those challenges are coupled with a renewed sense of purpose and a whole lot of love and cuteness.

Despite the new constraints on my time, I am still far more productive than I have ever been. How did I do this? I have restructured my life by setting daily goals that include time for self care, rejuvenation, and personal development (and bath time, baby massage…etc…)

Set goals that include time for self care, rejuvenation, and development.
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Below is my formula for not only making it through the next 365 days, but for thriving through (almost) every one of them. Even if you don’t have young children, these principles are incredibly valuable for accomplishing your goals and finding balance this next year.

Start by going within…

Set an intention (the resolution part comes later)

If you look up the etymology of the word intention, it has roots in Old French, Latin, and Middle English. Intention was birthed from concepts like mind, will, desire, heart, and purpose.

What does your heart desire most this year? Your emotional connection to your future best self and the motivations behind the transformation you are undertaking are the necessary foundations of successful action. Several weeks from now when you start to make excuses for keeping your commitments, reconnecting with the outcome you deeply desire can renew your determination.

Want everyone on your team to become their best selves in 2018? Check out Best-Self Reviews

Consider the phrase, his heart just wasn’t in it, a comment that is likely a reaction to person who performed mediocre work, or gave up on their commitments. Those individuals who consistently contribute something valuable and live up to their commitments do so because they feel inspired, open-hearted, and on purpose.

It turns out that following your heart and your will towards purpose has measurable impacts. According to renowned financial advisor Oliver Pursche, purpose-driven companies are smart investments. He cited this research from the EY Bacon Institute: “Purpose-led brands are more successful in acquiring and retaining customers. This may make intuitive sense, but it is also backed up by behavioral science: people buy things that make them feel good about themselves. And people do business with those they trust.”

Trust. That takes us to the next part of the formula..

Develop your personal integrity

Personal integrity is based on one principle – do what you say you will do. All too often in business we say yes to things because we feel pressured by others or because we feel that we need to contribute to the team’s efforts. We want to be seen as “dependable”, but it’s importance to learn how to say no.

Practice saying no to choices that deplete you or are a waste of time, and practice  saying yes to choices that are in service to you becoming your highest self. Now here’s the catch. Once you say yes, breaking that commitment can quickly deteriorate your character.

“Without being a man or woman of integrity you can forget about being a leader. And, being a person of integrity is a never‑ending endeavor. Being a person of integrity is a mountain with no top – you have to learn to love the climb.”

~ Werner Erhard

The easy path is to lie to yourself and others, but that is the path to failure. Learn to be impeccable with your word. That necessarily comes with speaking many more no‘s.

According to 15Five CEO, David Hassell, “a lukewarm ‘yes’ can hurt more than a polite, but firm ‘no’ — saying it and hearing it. A hurried acceptance of a project will likely lead to a hurried execution. A refusal of a project or task allows for a reevaluation of priorities.”

The easy path is to lie to yourself and others, but that is the path to failure.
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As a new father, for the first time in my life, I have responsibility that I can’t walk away from. That has helped me to refine what I say “yes” to and what I say “no” to. I can now count my priorities on one hand; 1) my family, 2) my work, 3) my health, 4) my novel, and 5) my community. Those are the things I say “yes” to, and everything else is a firm but polite, “no”.

Now it’s time for new year’s resolutions

In contrast to setting new year’s intentions, the heart of transformation, new year’s resolutions are more about the science. The etymology of resolution is Old French for “breaking into parts” which comes from the Latin for “process of reducing things into simpler forms”. Alright then, let’s break this down.

1) Set realistic goals. I would love for this to be the year I finally learn carpentry, but I don’t have any of the equipment, no room for a shop, I work full time, and have a 2 month old.  Unless my desire is incredibly powerful here, I should probably consider a different goal.

This also includes being realistic with your schedule. There are ways to find more time in your day, which involves trimming the fat and setting priorities. But if you aren’t honest about what you can accomplish in a day, you are setting your self up to fail.

2) Break up your goals into smaller ones. Author and entrepreneur James Clear advocates for starting with incredibly small actions and building consistency. James advises using the 2-Minute Rule to get started and following the Seinfeld Strategy to maintain consistency.

According to James, these small actions are small votes for the identity you are adopting. Are you the type of person who never misses a workout? Prove it!

3) Find an accountability buddy.  It can be hard to hold yourself accountable. Even those of us who try to honor our word at all costs, can fail. That’s why integrity is a mountain with no top. According to Werner Erhard, everyone fails to keep their word at one time or another. It’s how we take responsibility and clean up our messes that matters.

Don’t underestimate the leverage of social pressure to keep us responsible and accountable. (Note: Social pressure is not the same as shame, which is to be avoided. See #4 below.) Start an email thread with 1-3 people and have everyone check in every day or every week about their progress. Encourage successes and failures with equal fervor.

4) Plan your recovery plan. We all drop the ball on our new year’s resolutions. What happened afterwards? How did you feel?

It’s often the shame or guilt we feel that creates a downward spiral and we soon give up altogether. Don’t beat yourself up, but don’t let yourself off the hook either. If you really need a cheat day on your diet, take it. It’s alright to skip a class because of overwhelm or unexpected circumstance. Take it easy on the self-judgment, return to the deep desire, remember your word, and get back to it!

5) Start today. Whether you are reading this post at the end of December or in early March, it’s never too late or too early to begin the process of transformation. January 1 seems like the best time but that date is as arbitrary as any other. We imbue it with the power to create transformation because it’s technically Day One, but day one doesn’t even have to have any 1’s in it.

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago (if you’re into that sort of thing). The second best time is right now… or as soon as I finish changing this diaper.

David Mizne is Content Manager at 15Five, lightweight performance management software that includes continuous feedback, objective (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David’s articles on talent management have appeared in The Next Web, TalentCulture, and Startups.co. Follow him @davidmizne.

Image Credit: Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash

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Creating core values is an exceptionally powerful exercise that allows companies to codify their company culture by purposefully distinguishing the elements that are unique, strong and positive. Core values act as touchstones to be used in the ongoing conversations designed to continuously reinforce that culture.

But as your company grows and evolves, it may sometimes outgrow the core values that were at its foundation. What are the best practices here; start from scratch, make some changes, or stay the course?

Some people think core values are set in stone and should never change because they are the DNA of the organization. There is some truth in that, but your company is a living breathing entity that changes over time. Your culture will shift as you make new hires, expand or contract different organizations, pivot, reorganize, rebrand…etc…

How people interact with each other and the way they go about doing their work is the culture, regardless of what’s written down. When the actual lived values deviate from what’s stated, it may be time to re-evaluate.

Ubiquity is the perfect example of a business that shifted its model and brand, and was then confronted by what to do about their core values. The retirement and savings company started as Online401K in 1999. As its business model became outdated, it realized it needed to rebrand itself. Along with the reorganization came the need to re-imagine its core values.

I recently produced a webinar with Andrew Meadows, Senior VP of HR, Brand, and Culture at Ubiquity, to discuss this topic. Check out the webinar below and read on for some key insights into creating and evolving your core values:

Ubiquity: How to Create Core Values That Grow With Your Company

Being Values-Driven

For many companies, core values are just a section of their website or page in the employee handbook to let people know their ideals, but unfortunately, it’s not something they follow, and it comes through in their company culture.

While some businesses focus solely on the revenue side of things, they fail to realize that people are the bottom line. A great product or business model will only get you so far. Sustainable success requires people who are fully invested in the company’s success.

When a company has a strong culture, its employees are happier, more productive, efficient, and committed. Companies with better employee engagement are 22% more profitable than companies with low engagement.

Having a strong culture, established on a clear set of values, is the difference between surviving and thriving. Core values create a filter for your company to make decisions and help you stay on track as the business environment changes and your company grows.

For example, one of our core values at 15Five is “Embrace Freedom and Flexibility”. This is based on the belief that rigid rules are unnecessary with a team of highly engaged, passionate and committed people. But as we have grown, we have recognized the impact of physical presence on the energy at each office. So while we will continue to encourage employees to be self-directed, I can foresee a shift in this value as our headcount grows to maintain team cohesion and accountability.

Creating and Evolving Your Core Values

Company culture is a natural byproduct of people working together, so your company will develop a culture organically—or that culture can change organically as your organization grows. To ensure you develop the type of culture you want, establish core values and keep them relevant as part of the regular conversation.

When Ubiquity was still known as Online401K, it noticed its work culture wasn’t positive, so it decided it needed to change that by creating core values. Ten years after the company’s inception, they involved the entire organization in the process of codifying their values.

The key principle in their process was including many voices instead of a top-down mandate where leadership forced values on employees. The employees created the values themselves, so it was something they were willing to buy into.

I’m not saying you need to review and change your core values on an annual basis. That just creates confusion and an identity crisis for your organization. You should be committed to your values for at least three to five years, then examine whether those values still represent your organization.

Facilitating the Shift

Once you’ve changed your core values, it’s important to reinforce them with organization-wide rituals. There are various programs and tools you can use to support your values and regularly remind employees of them:

Cultural Rituals: Ubiquity literally posts their values on their Graffiti Wall to remind employees of them every day. Others have taken the values a step further. For example, the value Cultivate Joy was further strengthened when an employee developed RAWKs or Random Act of Workplace Kindness.

Every work culture has rituals that represent their values. The same applies to your company. 15Five has Gratitude Monday, where every Monday morning at the company meeting, the person leading the meeting shares something they are grateful for, and everyone else reflects for a quiet minute on that gratitude.

At Ubiquity, they have Vital Factors every Tuesday, where they take 10 minutes to touch base on how they’re progressing, and What’s Up Wednesday, where they send out a newsletter infographic of fun stuff, news, and birthday announcements. These rituals are simple ways to instill your values about the business and give shout outs for a job well done. But there is no replacement for face time…

Company Retreats: Retreats aren’t just about getting away to have fun (though that should be occurring too). They’re also about plucking people out of the normal environment to develop the business, instill values, and improve team relationships.

That’s why Ubiquity holds their annual Reimagine Event. Since half  their company works remotely, they bring people together once per year which builds camaraderie. People who have sometimes never met in person before might say, “Oh, I heard your name on Vital Factors last month”. Clearly, there is an aggregate effect of these rituals to reinforce the culture.

These retreats are business oriented but with a twist. Ubiquity creates exercises in things they want to improve, but it feels more like a field trip than work and financials. The Ubiquity team find ways to hack the business to be happier or to increase revenue. And just imagine the magic that can come from putting together people from different teams with differing perspectives to analyze various problems and opportunities.

Employee Recognition: Recognizing employees when they embody a core value is an easy way to reinforce your values throughout your organization and reward employees for their efforts. One of Ubiquity’s core values is to “be a spork”— in reference to the utensil which is a combination of a spoon and fork. The idea is to be versatile and willing to stretch outside your specific role to help other teams. The company presents a spork award each quarter to the employee who best exemplifies that value.

It’s important to remember your company values aren’t just about how you do your best work together, but also how everyone will be as human beings. Values aren’t just a mask you put on in the office, they are the core of who you are as people. Some of those values will never change, but others will. As your company grows, make sure your values align with who you are and where you’re going.

Image Credit: Bobby Johnson on Unsplash

David Hassell is the cofounder and CEO of 15Five, lightweight performance management software that includes continuous feedback, objective (OKR) tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and reviews. David is a speaker and prolific writer and was named “The Most Connected Man You Don’t Know in Silicon Valley” by Forbes Magazine. 

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Companies both big and small want to steer management decisions away from dangerous half-truths and recycled best practices. Stanford professors, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton brought data-based decision making to the world of business through evidence-based management to help these companies make better people decisions. Here’s how you can do the same…

What’s Evidence-Based Management?

Evidence-based management, decisions that are made on data rather than intuition, provides organizations with the tools they need to make better judgements. Google also kicked off the trend towards data based decision making in HR through their use of People Analytics. At its heart, the core of both People Analytics and Evidence Based Management is to bring data where data hasn’t been used before.

A data driven approach can help HR teams make better people decisions.
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In a conversation about the rise of People Analytics, Wharton Professors Cade Massey and Adam Grant share their insights about how a data driven approach can help HR teams make better people decisions. Massey explains how Google has pushed people analytics forward through science. Instead of relying on conventional wisdom, Google makes decisions by collecting data and running internal experiments. Established companies like Google have big enough sample sizes to run experiments that are statistically relevant.

Companies, both big and small, can be more systematic and scientific in their approach to people. Evidence based management doesn’t have to be confined to large organizations and startups don’t have to wait until they’re large to make evidence based decisions.

There’s a gap between what social science research shows and how businesses operate.
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Grant makes an important point and notes that there’s still a lot of academic research that hasn’t been leveraged yet. There’s still a gap between what social science research shows and how a lot of businesses operate.

Startups that design leading workplaces from the ground up can leverage organizational psychology research that scholars have known about for decades. Using social science research, People Teams can bring data where data hasn’t been used before – to early stage companies that build programs from scratch.

The Benefits of Doing Things Right, From the Start

People Teams in startups invest time and money into designing people programs like onboarding, recognition, and performance management. These programs impact every part of the employee lifecycle, from an employee’s first day to their last. The quality of these programs are important because they influence key people metrics including employee engagement, retention, and productivity, as well as customer satisfaction.

Startups that design effective programs early on will save money in the long run.
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When designing these programs, People Teams that work in early stage startups have a unique opportunity. They’re starting with a blank slate and designing from scratch. Whether a company employs 10, 100 or 400 employees, however the company operates at the start, will provide the foundation as the company scales and matures. People Teams that design effective programs early can benefit the most. Startups that design effective programs early on will save money in the long run and won’t have to course correct later once their programs are fully baked.

Looking for an evidence based alternative to the annual performance review? Check out 15Five’s Best-Self Review
Why Aren’t People Teams Leveraging Research?

Unfortunately, social science research can be both hard to find and also to digest. Research is hidden in academic journals and behind paywalls that only students and professors at academic institutions have free access to. Fortunately, sites like google scholar and academia.edu are challenging the status quo by providing a platform for academics to share their work more broadly.

However, once a study is found, the research itself can be both complex and theoretical. No wonder people teams don’t go near the research. In early stage companies, where the pressure is always high and the primary focus is execution, it can be near impossible to find the time and energy to dig deeper.

New Tools People Teams Can Use

Resources that provide relief through evidence-based and actionable answers are rare and invaluable. Researchers, PhDs, and practitioners from The Center For Evidence Based Management, The Deep Feedback Movement, Science For Work, and Google’s re:Work are making relevant and trustworthy academic research easy to digest and act on.

People Teams in startups can stand on the shoulders of academic giants.
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The Center For Evidence Based Management (CEBMa) provides support and resources to people interested in learning the foundations of evidence based management. CEBMa teaches practitioners how to find the most trustworthy articles themselves and offers an app called CAT Manager to quickly and easily gauge the integrity of the research.

The Deep Feedback Movement distills and deconstructs leading social science research related to HR programs (feedback, onboarding, recognition, and more) and pulls out the actionable insights people teams can use. When it comes to finding the right actionable research for the right program, The Deep Feedback Movement takes the intellectual sweat equity out of the equation.

Science for Work provides rich, detailed articles on evidence based practices. They cover topics related to teamwork, recruiting, and learning and development to name a few. They also bust the most pervasive myths that guide people teams to make the wrong decisions.

→ Google highlights research, ideas and practices they’ve used to design programs at Google through their site, re:Work. Google offers guides and case studies on a range of topics, from teams and goal setting to hiring and unbiasing.

People Teams in startups can stand on the shoulders of academic giants and act on research that increases employee engagement, retention, and productivity, as well as customer satisfaction. For researchers, their work can extend beyond the confines of peer review journals and impact the lives of real, breathing humans. The gap between the ivory towers and main street is starting to close, creating a win-win for both academics and organizations.

Courtney Bigony (@CourtneyBigony) is Director of People Science at 15Five, the leading performance management platform, and founder of The Deep Feedback Movement, where she provides actionable insights for People Teams based on the latest social science research. She is also a Fellow at the Center for Evidence Based Management.

This post was originally published on Huffington Post

Image Credit: Caleb Ralston on Unsplash

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