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You’ve probably apologized many times in your life. When we apologize (and when we actually mean it), it’s important to be direct and own up to our mistakes. However, it’s hard to do this properly because our instinct is to protect our ego. We want to maintain our self-image so much that, when we say sorry, we often end up doing more harm. Poorly stated apologies, at best, have no effect. At worst, they can actually increase hurt, anger, or even escalate the problem.

On the other hand, an effective apology can mend wounds, patch up a relationship, and reduce the tension in a toxic environment. So, what does a good apology sound like? What are the important points to hit?

Luckily, researchers have discovered the elements of a good apology. Next time you screw up, be like Justin Bieber and say sorry more effectively using the following tips:

  1. Clearly state what you are sorry for. No fluff or explanation. For example, “Hi Blake, I’m sorry that I said that you weren’t capable.”
  2. Express regret for what happened. Keep it simple. “I understand that my statement wasn’t warranted” or “I feel awful for having said that”.
  3. Acknowledge the expectation, law, or social norm that you violated. If you were late for a pivotal meeting say, “I know it’s not acceptable to be late to these meetings.” Or, if you get caught talking behind someone’s back say, “Sorry, Blake, I shouldn’t be talking behind your back. It’s wrong and it’s totally unacceptable at the office, or anywhere for that matter.”
  4. Recognize the impact of your mistake, if you know it. If you don’t, leave this portion out as it’s dangerous to share how you think a situation may have affected someone. If you get it wrong, you risk making the situation worse. Continuing our example from point 3, you might say, “I understand that hearing me question your abilities made you feel unfairly criticized, and I’m sure that didn’t feel great.”
  5. Offer to repair the situation. If you were trying to make up with Blake, you could say, “So, all of that said, I was hoping I could take you to lunch and we could spend a bit of time getting to know one another.”

If you really want to step up your apology skills, make sure to avoid these common apology pitfalls:

  1. Making excuses! Don’t say things like “I really didn’t mean it when I said…” or “I did x because Sally did y…”. It lessens the effectiveness of the apology by making you sound insincere.
  2. Shifting blame. Avoid saying things like “I’m sorry you were offended” or “I’m sorry the group felt like I was out of line”. Doing this shifts the blame onto others and can really backfire as most people pick up on this type of weak apology.
  3. Casting doubt on others’ experience of the situation or questioning what transpired. For instance, don’t say, “I’m sorry if that’s what really happened yesterday.” If the apology goes well, then the two parties can discuss how things went down, but not before.
  4. Using past behaviour to justify current behaviour. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “I’m sorry, but it was okay when I was growing up.” That might be the case. It might even be valuable to discuss it after the apology. However, during the apology, refrain from talking about how things used to be or others may question whether you really get it.

Next time you make a mistake, use the guidance above and land your apology.  

Bellrock is a change management firm that specializes in implementation and getting results. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

The post I’m Sorry! The Do’s and Don’ts of a Good Apology appeared first on Bellrock Benchmarking Inc..

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If you are experiencing the mid-career crisis, you are not alone. In 2004, Blanchflower and Oswald (and the Gallup organization in 2008) studied psychological well-being as it relates to age. What they found is a u-curve, with well-being bottoming out around age 50 and then increasing to its peak when people reach their 80’s. A similar study on career satisfaction found a similar curve: career well-being seems to bottom out around age 40.

Reasons for the Curve

Early in one’s career, options are endless. In Grade 12, I distinctly remember deciding to take physics, chemistry, and calculus, even though I hated all of them, just to “keep my options open”. I also remember graduating from university and being told by an omniscient 26-year-old to, “Choose your first job wisely. It will determine your whole career.” I ended up selling pest control door to door. But that’s another story.

The fear of missing out is exacerbated today when we see how many people frequently change jobs and careers over the course of their work life. The temptation is to do the same, but changing too  often can prevent us from achieving the valuable depth of expertise that comes with practice. Inevitably some doors must be closed as a career progresses. Yet, when one makes a choice, there can be a sense of regret or loss about the path not chosen.

The 9-to-5 job where work has an obvious end and children’s school plays are never missed might appear very attractive to the leader or manager working 70 hours a week trying to build a business. This is true even if building a business also means having month-long family vacations that would never be possible on that 9-to-5 salary. We usually look back with rose coloured glasses and imagine the best that would have come from walking through the other door: bags of money, beautiful people, and unlimited trips to the chocolate buffet. In the real world, it’s project after project, meeting after meeting. Our regrets about the past can bleed into the present but they may not be realistic.

But What Do I Do?

Before making a career change, look at what you do have instead of what you are missing out on. Almost everyone experiences a sense of loss about the road not travelled. But focusing on the positive aspects of your current situation may lead to greater satisfaction than dwelling on the alternative paths.

And if it was a mistake? Or a bad situation like a layoff or market downturn was forced upon you? Again, when you think about how your life has progressed since then it is important to focus on what good came from that loss. Would you be producing the work you are now or mentoring the people around you if that event did not occur?

Being a generalist feels safer but being an expert is where the path to excellence lies. Closing doors is a tough, adulting move but one that will eventually lead to greater well-being.

Corporations are generally not helpful in this quest for career satisfaction. In many industries, even the best technical experts are not given the recognition, compensation, or status that a mediocre manager receives. This results in people aspiring to management positions that they are neither suited for, nor interested in, all in pursuit of “career advancement”. This can lead to a plethora of mid-level managers that do not enjoy their jobs and aren’t particularly skilled at managing people, longing for the good old days when they “just worked”.

5 Tips to Get Excited Again
  1. Shift your mindset: Recognize that feeling a sense of loss is not just common to most career-oriented people, but also helpful in recognizing what you do have. There may be a lot you don’t like but how valuable is your work? How are you helping others?
  2. Neutralize bad things: Bad things happen, but they’re rarely all bad. Once you have processed the bad – a terrible boss, a layoff – you can often see some good. The ability to neutralize events can change your perspective, even slightly.
  3. Discover worthwhile activities: So much time in mid-career (and mid-life) is taken up with what we have to do (parents, kids, projects). What about what you want to do? Can you make room for that? Consider how much space you have for the activities that will make a significant positive change in your life.
  4. Focus on the process: Are you too focused on outcomes? This can make the present feel empty – you’re either wanting to finish the project or itching to start the next one. Not all activities need to have that structure. You could seek out some projects that never end – increasing your knowledge, building your company, raising a human. You can have what you want right now by just doing those things. Borrow from mindfulness meditation and focus on being in the moment rather than anxiously waiting for results.  
  5. Build on your strengths: Strengths are not just things you are good at; they are also things that energize you. If your expertise drains you of energy it may not be a strength (and could be a curse). Take a week to examine the activities you perform and identify your strengths. Then structure your work to do more of those things and do them more often.

The work-life crisis is almost inevitable when you’re in the daily grind. Try these practices and if they don’t work, maybe it’s time to change careers. If you do make that change, these strategies will still be useful in the new path you’ve chosen.

And if all else fails remember…the bottom is 40 years old. It’s all up from there!

Bellrock is a change management firm that specializes in implementation and getting results. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

The post 5 Tips to Overcome the Mid-Career Crisis appeared first on Bellrock Benchmarking Inc..

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Have you ever experienced the scenario where a team member is lamenting their colleague’s lack of responsiveness? The email chain has gone back and forth ten times with clarifying questions and still there is no resolution. In your mind, the situation is ridiculous. The people writing the emails are sitting three cubicles away from each other. This happens far too often in daily work life. So, when should we use email vs. face-to-face communication and how can we get the most productive use out of written communication?

Humans have evolved to communicate face to face. We read subtle clues in both body language and tone that help us to interpret intent. These clues are stripped away when we choose to communicate via email. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that we are hard wired to assume the worst. Rare is the misunderstanding where an email is interpreted as more positive than it was intended. More often, the voice in our heads reading the email adds a sarcastic tone, making us question what the sender really meant when they said, “I don’t care where we meet. You choose.” And don’t even get me started on the email chains forwarded with “Thoughts?”.

Should you pick up the phone or try for a face-to-face meeting? While phone is often better than email, even that form of technology strips out some of the subtle tones of our voices, making it more difficult to express and receive the full spectrum of information being sent. Face to face is best. That is, human face to face. Research shows that people on a video conference spend most of their time looking at the small picture of themselves in the corner, rather than the person they are communicating with. Imagine a face-to-face meeting where I pulled out a small mirror and kept looking at myself instead of looking at you. Weird. That’s video conferencing.

The average office worker in 2017 received 90 emails per day and sent 40 according to research from the Radicati Group and the volume was growing at 4.4% annually. This volume of communication has forced our work day into an exercise in triage. So, when you have a message to deliver, follow these rules to ensure it gets through:

  1. Email is an excellent productivity tool best used to confirm a communication, not to instruct.
  2. Face to face > telephone > email to avoid misunderstandings.
  3. Assume the recipient of your email is only going to skim it and use concise subject headers and opening sentences to assist in their triage.
  4. Do what you can (including using emojis) to make the tone of the message clear.

Bellrock is an implementation and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. We get results. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

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Tara on her own path.
Photo credit: Paul Kennedy Directing to Delegating

A planned approach to employee development is the most effective way to get things off your plate and onto your team’s. Yet some managers only think of delegating when their work is spilling off their plate and they see no other option but to hand it off. While a more measured approach to identifying what to delegate is preferable, this article focuses on how to delegate regardless of the task.

Dumping: Just do it

This is the “what not to do” in management lexicon. Assuming the employee will already know how to do the thing and/or assuming they understand what an acceptable outcome is stacks the odds against the manager’s expectations being met. Not that they won’t get the desired result, it’s just a lot less likely than if they had set the expectations in the first place.

Directing: Do it my way

The first step toward delegation is directing. With directing, the manager has an outcome in mind as well as a way of approaching it. This tactic is best used when the employee is new to a task. The manager explains what to do, how to do it, and the expected results.

Ensuring that all details of the directed task are clearly explained is paramount. If the employee only says “yes” when they are asked if they know what to do, additional explanation is likely needed. When the employee can use their own words to explain what is to be done, the manager can be more confident that they expressed themselves clearly and the odds of the desired outcome increase.

Coaching: Tell me how you want to do it (but do it my way)

Once the employee has demonstrated competence in the task, the manager will still direct them. However, they should also be interested in how the employee thinks the task should be completed before telling them how to do it. Explaining the outcome and then asking them what their approach will be and what potential pitfalls exist will develop the critical thinking necessary for future delegation. Then, if they missed the mark, tell them what to do. They still need to do it your way but they’re learning the hidden traps the manager has experienced that the employee might not have foreseen.

Supporting: Tell me how you want to do it and listen to my advice (but do it your way)

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from mistakes. When a manager is in a supporting role, the employee gets to do it their way. The employee has enough experience to provide valuable input and their method might even be better. The discussion is very similar to when the manager is coaching but, at the end of the discussion, the employee has the authority to choose their path.

Delegating: You’ve got this, let me know how it works out

Delegation comes when the manager is confident in the employee’s competence. When things go wrong (as they are always at risk to do) the employee can handle it. The manager is there for discussion if the employee requests it but they are trusted to achieve the outcomes without intervention and have accepted responsibility for the outcomes, whether good or bad.

The path to delegation can take a matter of hours or years and the same person can simultaneously be at many points on the path depending on the duty. Administrative tasks such as writing reports, filling out timecards, and updating the CRM should be delegable relatively quickly. However, dumping those tasks will cause a serious setback if the first attempts don’t achieve the expected results. Employees are at risk of determining that the report, timecards, or software are at fault and that they shouldn’t be required to do the task. After all, it never works out.

Delegating planning, scheduling, and relationship-oriented tasks can take longer but the development path doesn’t change.

Other Considerations

The need to delegate is often propelled by the manager’s time management capability. Of equal or greater consideration should be the employee’s need to develop. Don’t hold onto the opportunities for your staff to grow just because you have the time to do that work. It’s your responsibility as a manager to strive for higher performance, which can only occur when you develop the people below you.

If you’re wondering about your next stage of development, give us a shout. We’d love to talk about it.

Bellrock is a process benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

The post The Employee Development Path appeared first on Bellrock Benchmarking Inc..

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What Position Do You Need?

When starting a business, the leader or a family member often “handles the books” given the sensitive nature of the information and the minimal time required for this task when a company has few transactions to process. While the leader sees this work as mostly administrative, the value of the accounting arm grows as the business matures. They soon realize they need more time to focus on overall company performance but do not have the personal capacity to produce the accurate information needed to do so. They start to wonder:

  • Which product/service lines are more profitable?
  • How do I know the gas cards aren’t being abused?
  • If I buy that equipment, will I have enough to cover payroll in eight weeks? How much more profit will it generate over time?
  • Should I acquire my supplier who is about to retire and integrate their business into mine, or would I be better off just finding another supplier?

If they don’t have someone inside the company they can ask, they usually talk with their outside accountant. The problem with this is that most outside accountants are focused on reporting for tax purposes, not necessarily for managerial purposes. So, the question arises – do you need a Bookkeeper, Controller, or CFO? Let’s dig into these roles to determine what your company needs.

Bookkeeper

It’s time to hire a Bookkeeper when the paperwork of accounting duties gets in the way of higher value activities (e.g. generating sales, managing people, etc.) that only you can do. They can execute general tasks such as entering transactions into the accounting software, managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, processing payroll, and completing monthly reconciliations.

An experienced, financially literate Bookkeeper can often punch above their weight and assist with some of the more strategic elements of the business such as budgeting and cash flow forecasting, though they may need help setting up the systems in the beginning.

Controller

A Controller oversees all accounting processes and is responsible for timely and accurate monitoring and reporting of the company’s overall financial performance. They are a key player in establishing company-wide financial and administrative objectives, policies, programs, and practices which provide a sound financial structure and maintain the efficient operations of the business. For the most part, Controllers look backward. They can tell you what happened (last month, last quarter, last year) and are there to ensure the accuracy of that reporting.

A Controller’s duties include managing the monthly accounting cycle (AR/AP, payroll, bank deposits, etc.), budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and ensuring business policies, accounting standards, and profit objectives are met. Additionally, they will often oversee administrative staff, IT functions, and sometimes HR. The Controller collaborates with other senior managers to determine financial strategy and plan for the company’s success.

The larger a business grows, the more complex it becomes, and the more value a Controller brings. They provide tactical managerial reporting to the management team (such as dashboards) and weigh in on the financial implications of business decisions. Compared to Bookkeepers, Controllers are often CPAs (the professional designation of the accounting profession) which gives them the knowledge to perform deeper financial analysis and even assist with tax strategies.

CFO

A CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is also responsible for timely and accurate monitoring and reporting of the company’s overall financial performance. However, their role has a more strategic and forward-looking focus than that of a Controller. While a Controller can provide financial insights on strategic decisions, the CFO takes a more holistic view and can recognize, for example, that what might immediately save money through efficiency could cost the company long-term in customer satisfaction.

The CFO takes the information the Controller produces and uses it as just one of the inputs in charting the course to the future. They evaluate opportunities such as new business lines or territories and determine the best plan of action to pursue them (e.g. making a strategic acquisition versus building from scratch). They manage financial relationships with banks and investors and steer the company through changes in business structure and operations.

A CFO may be a CPA or have a different designation, and they may also have a Controller reporting to them. It’s the more holistic and strategic focus of a CFO that separates them from the other accounting positions.

Other Considerations

As with any small business, title management can become an issue. Sometimes a person performing the duties of a Bookkeeper is promoted to the title of Controller even though they do not perform that function. If you are struggling to determine which of these positions is right for your business, or how to go about integrating one of these roles into your organization, get in touch. We’re always happy to chat.

Bellrock is a process benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

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One of the first steps in crafting good interview questions is knowing what you are looking for in a candidate and, of course, this is different for every company and every position. To illustrate how to craft great questions, we’ll assume one of the strengths we want to assess is the candidate’s problem-solving ability. Use the following three framing techniques for your questions:

1. Tell me about a time when…

Open-ended questions that ask candidates to describe an experience allows them to reflect on their achievements. Any interviewee worth their salt should have prepared some decent stories to respond to these kinds of questions. These questions should always be followed with a “why” or “tell me more”. For example:

  1. Tell me about an achievement or project in your previous experience, where you were specifically acknowledged for your problem-solving abilities. What did you do that deserved this recognition?
  2. Unfortunately, some solutions don’t always correct problems. Can you think of an interesting solution you generated that did not correct the problem? What was the solution? How did you come up with the idea?
2. Spectrum Questions

Spectrum questions offer a range of possible “right answers” that require candidates to dig a little deeper when responding about themselves. The purpose of spectrum questions is to get to know the person behind the resume. For example:

  1. When it comes to solving problems, some people like to get a working hypothesis going and start testing their solutions, realizing there are diminishing returns to more research. Others prefer to do their due diligence and make sure their solution will work before wasting time on implementation. I’ve noticed very few people fall squarely in the middle of that spectrum. Where do you fall?
  2. There are always a range of approaches to solving problems. Some people play it safe and go with methods they’ve seen work in the past. Others are less risk averse and like to be more innovative in their approach to problem-solving. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 always going with the way you’ve seen work and 10 being the most innovative problem solver imaginable, where do you fall? Why? Why didn’t you pick a lower number? Why not a higher number?
3. Test Questions

Whether a role-playing scenario, a technical test, or just a discussion to crack through the formality of the interview and see how the candidate performs under pressure, test questions allow you to evaluate how the candidate actually performs instead of how they say they will perform.

  1. I’m going to describe a situation we might face in a typical day. I’d like you to walk me through how you’d solve that problem.
  2. How many shoelaces are there in the world? Walk me through how you might figure that out.

Interviewing is a “Christmas Task”. It doesn’t come around very often but it’s important when it does – you don’t want to forget what you learned the last time you did it. Take some time to craft your ideal interview questions and keep them on file to use again and again. That way, even when there is a candidate pool of just one for a specific role, you’ll have your experience interviewing for this position to fall back on to see if there is a fit.

Bellrock is a process benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with your networks.

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The best companies go through an onboarding process that improves company productivity by quickly increasing a new employee’s effectiveness. Onboarding is about ramping up performance, not just tapping into basic abilities, and it lasts until the end of the 90-day probationary period.

Note that onboarding is triggered by the successful completion of the recruitment process, which happens the moment an offer of employment is accepted, not when it is made. Many managers feel that once an offer has been made, the deal is closed. Au contraire. Until the offer is accepted, it is incumbent upon that manager to continue to sell the job by answering questions from the candidate, reinforcing why they were the company’s top choice, and staying in front of any possible concerns that are stopping them from signing. If your gut says that they’re taking too long, you’re probably right and it’s worth investigating.

Once the offer has been accepted, onboarding begins. At this point, the power shifts from the employee to the employer and it becomes the manager’s job to ensure that the onboarding experience improves productivity and leaves a lasting, positive impression.

Before Day One

The employee’s acceptance of the offer signals that it’s time for the company to prepare for their arrival and welcome them into the fold. This includes:

  • Letting them know what to expect on day one via email (e.g. attire, schedule, etc.) and gathering required information such as the name they would like on their business card, their mobile number, emergency contacts, direct deposit details, etc. Also, it’s helpful to let them know what they can do to prepare – books they could read or podcasts they could listen to, clients or competitors they could research, etc. Developing a standard email to be sent upon their acceptance will save time in the long run.
  • Introducing them to the team they will be working with via email. This builds the excitement and anticipation of the first day. Personalize the message by explaining the strengths that caused you to hire them and why you are looking forward to them starting. Also, remind your team to respond to this email to welcome their new colleague.
  • If an office tour was not part of the recruitment process, considering a scheduled visit before the first day.
  • If the new hire has questions, answering them promptly.
  • Organizing staff to greet them on the first day and throughout the first week. Make sure they have someone to have lunch with and a buddy to help them get oriented.

Why Managers are Involved in Onboarding

Administrative onboarding includes setting up computers, assigning access codes, entering payroll info, and ordering business cards. All of these are necessary but are not sufficient for successful onboarding.

Effectiveness onboarding includes activities to improve your new hire’s productivity. This is where IT, HR, and legal melt away, leaving it to the manager to make the new hire as welcome, engaged, and useful as possible as quickly as possible.

An employee is never as excited about their job as the day before they start. They believe all the good that has been promised to them (and even filled in a few shadows with their rose coloured glasses) and have seen none of the bad that makes work, “work”. While HR has a role in getting the new hire set up, the manager is in charge of their motivation and effectiveness.

Day One

“The first day is an opportunity to reinforce the most important messages of the firm and create a lasting impression for the entire tenure of the employee.”

– Patrick Lencioni

Even if this was covered in recruiting, the employee should be introduced to the overall strategy of the firm and how they are expected to contribute to its success. There are six critical questions that need to be answered for the employee to do their best work, and this ideally comes from their manager or the president of the company. Answer questions like:

  1. Why does the organization exist? (Purpose)
  2. What behavioral values were used to select the new hire? (Core Values)
  3. How does the organization plan to succeed? (Brand Promise)
  4. What is the organization’s top priority? (Goals)
  5. Who does what at the executive level? (Organizational Structure)
  6. How will the recruit contribute to the organization’s overall success? (Job Description)

A well-written job description is the most efficient tool a company can use to explain and set the expectations of the role. The manager should use the job description on day one to review these expectations both in terms of what the employee will be expected to do and the expected results of those activities (performance evaluation criteria). The manager should highlight which areas to focus on in the beginning and how training will occur.

Training and Evaluation

The training program for a new hire is highly customized to the role and the company they are working for. Ideally, the manager starts out tightly supervising the employee and gradually loosens control as they demonstrate competence with each of the assigned tasks. The employee should be empowered to work through a training matrix of topics they need to understand, and they should know the criteria that you will use to evaluate competency.

While that training and evaluation are happening on a daily and weekly basis, a more formal 6-week evaluation should take place (which may include HR) based on the job description criteria and can also include some goalsetting to be reviewed at their 6-month evaluation.

What About the 90-Day Probation?

If the above practices are followed, the 90-day mark is simply a formal commitment to what the employee already knows. The end of the 90-day probationary period is a moment to be marked and celebrated, assuming the organization and employee have decided to continue the relationship. HR can lead the administrative side (filling out benefits forms and updating employment records) and the manager should lead the effectiveness side with an acknowledgement of how the employee has already added to the productivity and effectiveness of the team. This could occur in a one-on-one meeting with the employee, publicly at a team meeting or huddle, or via email.

Do Managers Need Onboarding Training?

While HR runs the onboarding process, managers have an important role to play in execution. Many managers are not aware of the specific steps they can take or how to execute on them. Is your management team equipped to handle the onboarding process?

Bellrock is a Process Benchmarking and Change Management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you found value in this article, please share it with your networks.

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Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace. To find a way to measure this, Gallup studied tens of millions of people and determined that just 12 questions (the Gallup Q12) can provide effective metrics on employee engagement. Yes, engagement can be quantified and yes, you can track how your company is doing at it over time. We run engagement surveys that include the Q12 for most of our clients as fodder for their annual strategic planning. After all, what gets measured, gets managed.

But the Q12, while statistically sound and actionable, have always felt lopsided to us. They speak to what the employer could or should do differently, but the phrasing doesn’t empower the employees to engage themselves. What about the employees’ role in increasing their own engagement at work?

For example, one of the questions asks, “At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” This question only empowers the employer, implying that the company should provide the opportunity. Another way to think about that question is, “At work, do you seek the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” This question empowers the employee. They can take action if their score is low. Another question from the Q12 asks, “Is there someone at work who encourages your development?” This question could be reframed to, “Have you sought a mentor and taken ownership of your professional development?” It’s all about the perspective.

This idea was presented in a lecture we heard from Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful! The employee-centered approach to engagement resonated strongly with us.

Do you want to build more engagement in your job for yourself? If so, rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5 for each of the following questions.

Over the past three months, have I done my best to:

  1. Set clear goals?
  2. Make progress toward goal achievement?
  3. Be happy?
  4. Find meaning in my work?
  5. Build positive relationships?
  6. Be fully engaged?

Write down your answers and the date you completed this activity. For any scores less than five, book an hour in your calendar to develop an action plan to improve your score. Then schedule some time three months from now when you will measure your performance again.

A more engaged workforce leads to happier customers, fewer complaints, lower staff turnover, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, increased profit…no wonder the business literature has exploded with information about how a company can increase employee engagement. But, whether you’re the CEO or the mail clerk, wouldn’t you just want to be more engaged without the company forcing it upon you? Ask yourself those six questions and develop your plan. What is there to lose?

Bellrock is a benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you found value in this article, please share it with your networks.

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The recognition gap is the space between the amount supervisors think they meaningfully recognize their employees’ accomplishments and the amount the employees perceive that recognition. Carolyn Wiley’s research reports that “while 80% of supervisors claim they frequently express appreciation to their subordinates, less than 20% of the employees report that their supervisors express appreciation more than occasionally”.

At Bellrock, we’re all about systems, but even we recognize there are good ones and bad ones. Some of the worst recognition systems fall into the “employee of the month” category. This well-intentioned system often quickly devolves into a situation where we all know Judy should receive the award every month (she’s clearly the best), but that would be awkward, and so we cycle through all the other staff until only a few remain, and the eye rolls become increasingly obvious as each award is announced. “Joe has really cleaned up his desk this month. Way to go Joe!” Ugh!

Recognition demonstrates to the person being recognized that it matters to someone else if they succeed. Someone cares about them. They are seen. Motivation comes, in part, from a sense of purpose, and amplifying the greater good that one is a part of can also shrink the recognition gap. As it turns out, gratitude matters.

Even better, when a manager expresses gratitude to an employee for a job well done it doesn’t just benefit the employee – it also benefits the manager. Martin Seligman, the godfather of positive psychology, scientifically proved that experiencing feelings of gratitude on a regular basis increases overall happiness.

What can you do to recognize people’s good performance individually and authentically?

  1. The weekly one-on-one is an excellent system to allow space for this recognition, but the recognition itself must be personal and authentic. Taking five minutes before the meeting to think about a specific strength the person has, how they demonstrated the strength that week, and what they could do to reinforce it further, will be a delightful acknowledgement to the person you are meeting with.
  2. Daily huddles are an opportunity to spontaneously demonstrate that you noticed what someone else did. Practice your gratitude by finding someone to thank for something.
  3. Write a note. Take ten minutes each week to write a short note expressing your appreciation for something to someone. Demonstrate that you see them and what they contribute with specific references and a sincere tone. Show that they matter.

Recognition needs to be individualized, not programmed. Ask people about defining moments in their lives or careers and they will tell you about personalized moments of recognition. Think of your own career. What was that moment that propelled you to where you are today? While the recognition must be custom and personalized, creating the space to provide the recognition can be routinized and scheduled, as the three suggestions demonstrate. If you have an opportunity to recognize someone’s good performance (whether you supervise them or not), take it. The benefits to you and them are irrefutable.

What about recognizing poor performance? How can we point out people’s errors without de-motivating them? The science has investigated this as well. Use these words to get the point across while maintaining motivation:

“I’m giving you this feedback because I have very high standards and I know you can meet them.”

With these words, you set the expectation and demonstrate that you have the confidence that your employee will meet that expectation.

Oh, and if you are dead set on keeping your employee of the month award program, avoid the jaded looks by using objective criteria (highest sales, most calls answered, fewest defects). Even if the same employee wins every month, at least the award itself is honest.

Bellrock is a benchmarking and change management firm based in Vancouver, Canada. If you found value in this article, please share it with your networks.

The post The Recognition Gap: Make Sure Your Team Feels Appreciated appeared first on Bellrock Benchmarking Inc..

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