By implementing some best practices, you may be able to turn departing employees into business ambassadors who help you grow.
If you manage it correctly, relationships with former employees can be a valuable source of networking, enabling you to find great job candidates, new customers and suppliers and promising opportunities to develop business relationships with other companies. Sydney Finkelstein’s bestselling book “Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent” explains how the best organisations and leaders deal with employee turnover.
Instead of getting mad at departing employees and burning bridges, Finkelstein recommends that smart business leaders treat departing employees well and seek to add “leavers” to their network of contacts. Who knows — that departing employee may even come back to you as a boomerang employee, as Steve Jobs famously did with Apple.
Turning lemons into lemonade
Departing employees can be your best business ambassadors, sharing ideas and contacts with you and helping your business thrive down the road. Big global consulting firms like McKinsey & Company and Deloitte even have formalised employee alumni networks. So when a McKinsey employee leaves to join another company, McKinsey stays in touch and uses the situation as an opportunity to leverage its ex-employee’s new relationship to gain new business for the consulting firm with the ex-employee’s new employer.
After all, these “leavers” already know you well. And yes, it can be painful to see your talented employees go, but leaving is ultimately up to them. As a business owner, you should seek to gain value from this important existing relationship. Make lemonade out of lemons by staying in touch with former employees to create ongoing business value and build key business relationships. Networking with former employees can help you grow, if you manage it well.
You can’t always control when and why employees choose to leave you. “Sometimes you won’t grow fast enough or the outside opportunity is just too attractive,” Finkelstein writes. But what you can control is your ability to maintain a good relationship and set up a strong foundation for the future. “If you’ve helped an employee develop and that’s led them to their next career opportunity,” Finkelstein notes, “they’ll keep looking for opportunities to work with you and help you in the future.”
Creating alumni networks of talent
The biggest benefit you gain from staying positive and keeping in touch with departing employees is simple: “You create a network of talent outside your company” — a network you can tap into for hiring other candidates, finding suppliers and customers and maybe even developing business relationships with your ex-employee’s new company.
Just as college graduates maintain strong positive feelings for their alma maters, often donating money and volunteering to help their old colleges, your business can tap into these same positive associations to create an “alumni network” of former employees who can help your business grow.
3 steps to success
Here’s how to have your employees depart on good terms and continue to create value with them to help your business:
Have a one-on-one conversation in the days before the employee’s last work day. Thank the employee for their contributions and explain that you’d like to continue the relationship to help both you and the employee keep developing together.
Ask for the employee’s contact information and share yours. Add the employee’s contact info to your “employee alumni” spreadsheet or other contact group. Ask the employee if they are receptive to an occasional follow-up conversation to gauge how they’re doing and share news and opportunities. You can use this opportunity to understand why the talent is leaving and, if possible, use that feedback to help strengthen the company.
Schedule regular follow-ups with your alumni network. Update them on how the company is doing, invite them to any events you’re organising, suggest the occasional get-together over coffee to catch up and learn how they’re doing in their new role. Seek to help each other and share value.
Remember that the work of building a network of ex-employee ambassadors starts now, not when employees decide to leave. Cultivating a supportive and positive employment experience is a crucial part of parting with employees on mutual good terms. This way, when an employee does decide to leave, you can take a deep breath and manage it as an opportunity rather than a loss.
Playing to your strengths is less about your long-term career path and more about how you approach your everyday life.
Focusing on strengths vs. weaknesses can give you a helpful perspective on improving HR performance. In “Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home),” author Morra Aarons-Mele provides insights on her experiences navigating the entrepreneurial world as an introvert. Instead of struggling with networking, she found success by leveraging her strengths. In this series on must-read books for HR leaders, we’re taking a closer look at how business leaders can learn from her example, both in their own careers and for mentoring their teams.
Here are four strategies that can help you build unique advantages based on your strengths:
1. Focusing on Your Strengths vs. Improving on Your Weaknesses
As a leader, you may be better served by focusing on your strengths than by trying to improve on your weaknesses. Aarons-Mele writes, “According to leadership guru Marcus Buckingham, data show that working on weaknesses is far less effective than working from strengths.” She shares the example of LinkedIn’s CEO, who gets anxious when having to network. His advice: Accept your perceived strengths and weaknesses, and treat things that make you uncomfortable like skills you need to learn.
He also suggests reframing your expectations of yourself as a leader: “Networking is a skill we learn just like we learn how to do Excel. At some level, you have to master the basics. But you’re better off playing to your strengths.” In other words, if networking or public speaking sends you into a tailspin, minimise how much you have to do it. Understanding the basics is a smart strategy for overcoming challenges, but it’s often possible to network online, sell business through written proposals and use other methods that leverage your most important skills.
2. Get to Know Your Strengths and Be Realistic About Your Weaknesses
We often know ourselves pretty well when it comes to our professional strengths vs. weaknesses. However, leaders can conduct a systematic audit to better understand where they fall.
Four questions to ask include:
Historically, which aspects of my career and roles have I enjoyed — and which have I dreaded?
In my current role, what do I look forward to? Which activities do I procrastinate on or try to avoid?
In envisioning future roles, which activities and skills would make me happiest to focus on? What areas would I prefer to eliminate?
Which strengths and weaknesses would my colleagues, direct reports, boss, friends and/or partners point out?
Combine the insights from these inventories to get a more objective view of your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Focus on Your Everyday Experiences
Playing to your strengths is less about your long-term career path and more about how you approach your everyday life. Aarons-Mele writes, “I learned to play to my strengths and nourish my introversion, focusing less on the long-term outcome of ‘success’ and more on the everyday.” Today, she’s organised her business to allow her plenty of time alone, to minimise networking and to recharge. Ask yourself what day-to-day changes you could make to better align your work and personal needs.
4. Adapt Your Vision of Success
If you focus on your strengths, it may mean redefining your vision of success. As Aarons-Mele notes, “The ‘aha’ moment came when I learned to redefine my vision of success. The old vision was media mogul. My new version was less focused on some far-off notion of success attained. I traded ‘someday’ for today.” Is your long-term vision compatible with your strengths and weaknesses? For example, if you don’t like managing large teams, then working as a CEO may not be the best path for you. However, a career as a high-powered consultant would allow you to wield influence at the highest levels of large organisations without having to spend time on the areas you dislike. Consider how your strengths and weaknesses will shape your long-term career path.
HR leaders and business leaders will thrive when they understand the context of their own strengths rather than focusing endlessly on improving their perceived weaknesses. The same insights can help your team optimise their performance in unexpected ways and ultimately contribute to a more productive and engaged workplace.
Did you know that adjusting your management style could increase employee engagement?
No one likes to be micromanaged by their managers. We’re all aware of “bad” management styles but even the best HR leaders should know when adjusting their management style is the right thing to do.
Adjusting your management style shouldn’t be a problem for good managers who take pride in motivating employees to explore careers options and push themselves further than they ever thought they could go. But does that style work for every employee? Could there be an employee who is totally engaged at work but simply wants to come in and do the specific duties outlined in their job description?
A real-world example
Imagine your organisation has hired a person to manage the social media accounts and that person does a wonderful job. The manager sees what a great job the person is doing and wants to add marketing to their duties. The social media person says to the manager that they are not interested in doing marketing work yet. But, the manager feels that it’s important for them to try it and truly believes once the employee tries it they will like it, so the manager insists.
The employee tries it and the more they learn about marketing, the more they hate it. The employee tells the manager that marketing duties are not exciting or interesting to them, and in fact it’s affecting their morale. The manager encourages them to continue on, noting that the work is valuable to the organisation. So, the social media person pushes forward until it gets to the point where they resent coming to work and no longer look forward to interacting with their manager at all. This does not stop until the social media person is fed up and threatens to quit if the marketing duties are now a permanent part of their job.
This employee has gone from being engaged to disengaged and is potentially looking for other opportunities. The employee’s relationship with their manager has been compromised. The manager didn’t mean to damage the relationship with the employee. After all, they were simply trying to further develop the employee, but they didn’t take into account that this particular employee did not want further career development (at least not in that area).
Adjust your management style
By simply adjusting your management style this entire problem could have been avoided. For instance, the manager could have had a conversation to gauge the employees interest in marketing. Another thing the manager could have done is not only listen to the employee when they expressed dislike for the additional duties, but the manager could have stopped the experiment altogether. Managers must understand that not all employees want additional duties and career development opportunities, and that even when they do, it may not be what the manager had in mind.
There’s a well-documented management concept known as the “Hedgehog Concept.” The fox, an attractive, sleek, quick and smart creature, is compared to a hedgehog, a slow and lumbering animal. If given a choice, most people would choose to be a fox over a hedgehog. Yet, in head-to-head encounters the hedgehog always defeats the fox because of its sharp needles that protect it from predators. The lesson in management is this: The hedgehog succeeds because it knows what it does well, and it sticks to it (no pun intended).
Managers should know what their employees do well, what excites them and what doesn’t. They can accomplish this by listening and having simple conversations with employees throughout the year. The reality is that some employees are foxes and some are hedgehogs, and it’s up to managers to understand which type of employee they’re managing and adjust their management style accordingly.
Highly engaged employees may be more likely to face the risk of burnout. Here’s what you need to know.
The risk of burnout hovers over us all, but are your company’s star players at greater risk than others?
Employee Engagement and the Risk of Burnout
Gallup‘s 2016 report found that only 13 percent of employees worldwide feel engaged. Many companies took great pains to ensure that their best employees felt satisfied and motivated to keep doing great work. But the problem with employees who fall into the engaged category is that they may be more likely to dive into their work without taking steps to ensure a healthy work-life balance. Companies can unintentionally encourage burnout by praising behaviours that test the boundary between engagement and overwork — for example working long hours and taking on multiple big projects.
Although higher engagement can certainly lead to greater productivity and creativity, companies must recognise and address the fine line between engagement and burnout risk.
How to Help Employees Avoid Burn Out
So what can you do to ensure that your star players achieve greatness without running aground? The Harvard Business Review notes that employers can take the following steps to encourage healthy forms of engagement:
Providing optimal resources, including personnel and materials to complete projects
Offering supervisor support and encouragement to high achievers, who thrive on positive recognition
Allowing for periods of distraction-free work, which reduces stress
Watching the demands placed on engaged employees and avoiding overburdening them with projects
Increasing not only tangible resources like materials and budgets but also intangible ones like a fun, supportive and friendly work environment
Maintaining boundaries between work and personal time to give engaged employees downtime away from work
Knowing the warning signs of employee burnout, for example working too many hours, not taking lunch breaks and working through vacations, among others — and intervening before employees succumb to exhaustion
Keeping Engaged Employees Happy
What about stretch goals, those projects intended to challenge and motivate high achievers to fulfill their potential? The results of the study covered in the Harvard Business Review are mixed. While there’s no doubt that stretch goals encourage strong team members to achieve beyond their current levels, they also raise stress and anxiety levels, neither of which are good for anyone’s health or peace of mind. The trick, then, is to balance the need for achievement and success with the resources and support required to achieve that success. Although wellness initiatives have their place, the real support for health and wellness comes from a solid balance between demands on a worker’s time and the tools they have to meet those demands.
To make sure you’re getting this balance right, communicate with your employees regularly, inviting them to be candid about their workloads and engagement levels. This lets them know that you have their best interests in mind and helps ensure that they stay on the safe side of burnout.
Most security incidents are caused by human error. So what human error prevention steps can your business take?
Is it average cloud uptime? The compound annual growth rate of mobile devices? Nope — it’s the number of security incidents that involve human error, according to technology giant IBM. For many businesses, this comes as a surprise. Surely external threats outpace internal issues, right? Not even close.
It makes sense once you dig down: Advanced security controls and emerging artificial intelligence tools make it more difficult for hackers to slip in unnoticed, but by leveraging technology’s natural weak spot — people — malicious actors can easily breach networks and compromise critical systems. Here’s how you can boost human error prevention at your organisation and solve the 95 percent problem.
The bad news? Human error is inevitable. As the Harvard Business Review notes, “We’re only human, and at exactly the wrong time.” In many cases this error isn’t malicious but instead borne of simple ignorance, lack of training or lack of attention — typical human traits that can have serious consequences.
But there’s good news, too. Better security policies can help eliminate the bulk of human-driven threats. Start with the obvious one: Passwords. Opt for long-string passwords (eight characters or more) that must include symbols and numbers. Or, have staff create passphrases that aren’t easily guessed by attacker-controlled bots trying for brute-force access. Then make sure that employees change passwords regularly. Lock users out if they don’t create a new password after a specified amount of time, and implement controls that flag weak passwords. Seems excessive, right? Not when the top passwords out there are still “123456” and “password.” Yikes.
In some cases, staff don’t know they’re making errors which could lead to serious data breaches. In 2016/17, the ACSC reported 7,283 cyber security incidents affecting major Australian businesses. Cybercriminals are using more complex methods to target businesses, both large and small. In particular, they are using increasingly personalised techniques to trick their victims. Staff may click on what seem to be innocuous links or download supposedly “necessary” updates loaded with malware. Here, simple rules go a long way:
Never open attachments unless you are confident of the sender’s identity.
Never follow in-email links.
Never activate macros if a downloaded document is open (or better still, have IT disable macros altogether).
According to research firm Gartner, mobile device adoption in the workplace is “not yet mature,” but that doesn’t stop staff from expecting business-level access on personal devices. The result is that these devices become common points of compromise. So businesses need software tools capable of tracking all devices on their network, all the time — including phones, tablets and laptops — along with the ability to lock or remotely wipe devices as needed. Make it clear that this is the price of admission: If employees want full access, they must allow basic security measures. A written and clearly communicated policy is essential.
The IBM study notes that simple misconfigurations by network admins can result in data breaches, while CSO Online points out that system admins can also be the root of malicious insider threats. That’s why it’s critical to find staff, vendors and/or contractors you trust to handle IT security management. This includes managing new devices, removing old devices from the network and ensuring that users are following current policy. Better still, leverage automation along with human oversight to limit the risk of data entry or analysis error, in turn giving IT staff more time and space to manage users.
Hackers want in, and the 95 percent problem is their best bet. Boost human error prevention to limit attacker opportunities.
The secret sauce to getting work done is focus on the work that matters most, give that work visibility to the people that can help you most, and keep it simple.
If goals aren’t the answer, what is? The super simple secret sauce to getting work done.
In my last post I talked about why goals were created – and more importantly, why goals aren’t doing what we wish they would. Creating alignment, getting the right work done and measuring performance is tricky when we acknowledge that so much of our work is in the right now, is ever changing and even somewhat undefined. It’s no wonder that goals, SMART or otherwise, aren’t the be-all end-all to getting work done. This, of course, begs the big giant question, what is the secret sauce to productivity in the real world?
The secret sauce to getting work done is focus on the work that matters most, give that work visibility to the people that can help you most, and keep it simple. The intent of every HR tool ever created is spot on, but when the work planning method is so complicated you need a book to learn it, it’s probably not going to be the long-term answer in today’s increasingly fast and complicated world of work. The solve? A consistent framework to focus on near-term priorities with a strengths-based twist.
The term “priorities” is very intentional. It implies urgency and today, our world of work is all about urgency. You could call it fast moving but it’s really about what’s my next fire drill. While tasks tend to pile up, priorities get done, because they have to. Let’s lean into that, the real world – and what actually gets done.
Of course, now that we identified the “what” it’s equally important to discuss the “who.” While individuals do work, most individuals don’t do their work alone sitting in a bubble. There are others they need to work with and most importantly, others that need to support and guide their work. If we look at how work today is structured, the most important person to help get the right work completed are team leader(s).
The team leader’s job is to help team members get more extraordinary work done. If team leaders are going to help team members do more of their own best work in the context of their jobs, there are 3 critical things they need to know. These 3 critical things are distilled from years of studying what the world’s best leader do to achieve outstanding results – and ultimately serve in focusing conversations around near-term priorities mentioned above.
To effectively create a framework focused on strengths-based conversation about near-term future work, team leaders need to know, focus and engage their team members. This starts by being able to answers the following questions:
Know: What an individual’s unique best work is. What are their strengths? What is that work that they can do that no one else can do quite like them?
Focus: What are their priorities right now? Work happens in sprints and changes frequently. This means priorities update frequently, at least once a week. And priorities aren’t some made up list, they are the short list of the difference-making work that they actually need to get done now.
Engage: What help do they need to get their priorities done? They are not asking for feedback; they are asking for real help, guidance and support. The person who’s got the best shot at making sure they have what they need is their team leader.
When you put this simple approach together it looks like this: at least once a week, have team members pause to write down their priorities and what help they might need to accomplish those priorities. Share those priorities with their team leader, every week, and have a quick conversation about the most important work, right now. And do it through the lens of an individual’s own unique best work. What you’ll find, is that when you look at the world through the way work actually happens, you can get a lot done. But you can’t try to neatly organise or package work. Work has to be accepted for how work happened.
The way to focus on priorities, on big chunks of work, on actual alignment requires doing the right think with the right people. These “rights” are summed up by uber frequent light touch conversations between team leaders and team members about near-term priorities through the lens of the team member’s strengths. While “goals” try to do this, the simple, consistent agility of “check-ins” takes goals to the next level, so work gets aligned, the right work gets done and people move towards doing more of their best more of the time. Real-world, real work, real results.
Amy Leschke-Kahle, VP of Performance Acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, discusses the myth of goals.
Have you ever asked yourself why the goals we set last year somehow became virtually irrelevant by about March? Aren’t goals supposed to be impermeable in helping us align, get the right work done, and create a means for measuring performance? Wouldn’t it be great if goals made all those things happen?
It’s not that goals in and of themselves are bad; it’s just that we use them badly.
Here are a few things to consider that will reveal how your organisation is thinking about goals – and if they are truly achieving what you set out for them to do.
Myth #1: SMART goals are smart
While SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely) goals were designed to standardise the goal development process, most SMART goals are actually not so smart. Do you have a valid, countable metric that determines success or did you make up a metric so you could check your “M” box? Are you confident that the work can be done in the specified time frame so you have a “T” or did you just guess? SMART often forces us to smoosh our work into a confining framework that often doesn’t fit the actual work to be done. Sure, sometimes our work is SMART-worthy in which case we should absolutely use SMART. But let’s not make everyone force fit their big chunks of work into a model that only works some of the time.
Myth #2: Everyone should have goals
If something is good for someone – it should be good for everyone, right? If only humans were that simple. Most people perform cycle work. Even highly skilled knowledge workers such as nurses, mechanics, and software engineers often do the same type of work every day. The context may change, but the work itself is doesn’t really vary most of the time. So, goals really may not serve them. Why then should people whose work doesn’t merit unique projects be forced to make goals?
The reason many organisations require employees to have goals is because they don’t consider what else they could measure. At least goals give us something. But how much of your employee’s time at work is spent working on the work outlined in “goals”? And does having more goals really mean more productivity? It’s rare an employee’s entire job is spent working on super specific, well planned out work. We have three big chunks of our jobs:
Job responsibilities – when was the last time you looked at your job description?
Projects – the real “job responsibilities,” which we try to use goals to capture
“Other duties as assigned” – the catch all for everything left off the original description to cover everything else that comes up
Track your time for a week and see how much time you spend on your “goals.” I bet it’s not much, if at all. You are no different than your employees.
That leaves us in a pickle. In an ideal form, goals are a great way of setting an objective and keeping score. If we don’t mandate that everyone has goals, what do we do? Start by thinking about goals this way:
If someone has SMART goal worthy work, then by all means create a SMART goal. But be wary of mandating that everyone has SMART goals, especially if the model starts to behave less smartly when applied.
Don’t make goals mandatory if goals don’t apply to the role. If employees have truly countable work, then count. Don’t make up something to do the job of counting that is not needed.
Work isn’t always super specific and perfectly mapped out. Things come up. Projects change. Fires need putting out. If you want to be real about the real world of work, measuring employee performance isn’t a job for goals.
All that talk of goals and we still haven’t dug into how to create alignment, get the right work done nor measure performance. Never fear, in my next post I’ll tell you what to do instead of goals. Stay tuned!
A recruitment agency may be able to find better candidates. But ask these three questions before outsourcing this crucial task.
If you’re having trouble finding the right candidates for your open positions, a recruitment agency could be the answer. But before you begin outsourcing the recruiting function, it’s important to make sure you understand your organisation’s needs and what you can expect from an outside agency.
Accessing recruiters’ skills
Any time you outsource a task or process that’s beyond your core skill set, you’re probably saving yourself time and headaches — not to mention money, in many cases. But when you outsource recruiting, it’s usually about more than saving time. A successful recruiter, particularly one who specialises in your industry, maintains a network of top-notch workers in your field and can tap that network for referrals or to see if anyone is interested in a new opportunity. They will also have developed effective methods of locating other potential hires, perhaps through contacts at universities and colleges, networking at conferences or through social media.
When you need to make a few new hires, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the time it takes to create these kinds of robust networks and recruitment strategies. But partnering with a recruiting agency gives you access to those skills and resources without having to create them yourself.
Choosing the right recruitment agency
If you decide to work with an outside agency to help manage recruitment, make sure to hire a firm that can meet your specific needs. To do that, your recruiting partner needs to be willing to understand your particular business — there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your partner should understand the type of employees you’re looking for, know where to find them and have the skill to sell them on the value of coming to work with you. To make sure you’re working with a recruitment agency that can truly be a valuable partner, ask these three questions before you get started.
1. How do you find candidates? You want an agency that has unique strategies for sourcing job candidates, including its own wide network. Posting open positions online may be part of the strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only strategy. You could easily do that yourself.
2. How do you ensure cultural fit? Many business owners prefer to handle their own recruiting and hiring because they want to make sure new hires will fit well into their current team and will mesh with their firm’s culture. But a good recruiter should be willing and able to spend enough time with you and your team to develop an understanding of your culture and the types of people who will best fit in: Fun-loving? Serious? Community-minded? Find out how your recruiting partner plans to make sure that candidates will fit into your organisation.
3. How deeply involved will you be in the process? By outsourcing the work of recruiting, you may want to be completely hands-off. But some recruiters will want their clients’ help in vetting and ranking various candidates. Find out up front what will be expected of you, keeping in mind that by being available to help with the process, you may increase your chances of finding better hires that will fit with your organisation. And with better hires, you won’t have to go through the expense of replacing them soon.
While finding the right employees can be a challenge, finding the right recruitment agency isn’t always a breeze, either. Don’t forget to leverage your own network to ask those who know you and your business for outsourcing recommendations.
If it seems like “games at work” is a bad idea, you may not understand what gamification in the workplace really means. Of course, no business leader wants employees to spend their working hours playing Candy Crush — but the right type of gaming can be an office asset.
“Gamification” means applying the essence of games to organizational processes, such as incorporating fun, competition and rewards into training, development, customer service or other business processes. And with technology’s power to make work fun and mimic the essence of play, it’s no wonder that growing numbers of companies are implementing gaming into the workplace. So it’s worth considering how games could help benefit productivity, engagement and your bottom line.
1. Unite a Far-Flung Workforce
Growing numbers of businesses are using gaming to help foster unity and camaraderie among employees who may work across town — or around the world — from each other. For instance, with virtual or augmented reality, teams that may have once seemed disconnected can now hold meetings that feel face-to-face, complete with a 3-D conference room, chairs, table and coffee. The use of virtual reality is growing quickly: Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2025, the virtual and augmented reality market will reach $80 billion, about the size of today’s PC market.
2. Sharpening Skills Through Gamification
Participating in a video game with specific objectives can help improve workers’ skills, including memory, reaction time and quick thinking. Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, for instance, recently showed that a well-designed video game could drastically improve the mental processes (memory, accuracy and response times) of older adults, giving 60-year-olds the mental skills of someone two decades younger. In addition, the cognitive effects lasted for six months after playing the game for several hours over a few weeks.
3. Boost Engagement
Just as video games like Minecraft and Candy Crush can have you constantly coming back for more, incorporating gamification into business processes can help increase employee engagement. For instance, Deloitte integrated gamification into its online training modules, incorporating “missions” for each user and the opportunity to earn “badges” and unexpected rewards. Within three months, the number of users returning to the training site on a daily basis increased almost 47 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review.
How can you incorporate gaming at your workplace?
While a number of technology vendors offer business gamification tools and solutions, you can implement gaming techniques without even using technology. For instance, you can create a point system for your sales team, your customer service team or any other goal-oriented department. When an employee accumulates a certain number of points, reward them with a unique badge that represents their accomplishment.
Be sure the terms of the game are clearly communicated to employees, with a note as to what performance indicators, if any, may be made available to other workers. It’s important to get employee consent before they participate.
If you want to involve technology or virtual reality, look into affordable tools like Officevibe, Perkville and Kudos, which make it easy to incorporate gaming techniques into your own business processes. With gamification in the workplace, getting into the game has never been easier — and winning has never been more rewarding.
It’s time to help employees get better at goal setting. Here’s how.
The beginning of the year (either calendar or fiscal) inevitably leads to conversations about goals. But the reality is that we create, monitor, adjust, accomplish and even fail at our goals all the time. Goal setting is an important activity for organisations, which makes it an important activity for employees.
Often, our goal processes have a direct impact on whether or not we accomplish the goal. In part one of a three-part series about goals, we’re going to talk about five ways to help employees create individual goals. Feel free to bookmark these posts as a guide you can use to train employees during one-on-one or department meetings.
1. Share organisational and department goals
This might seem obvious, but there are many organisations that simply don’t do it. Even if you have some super-secret goals and it’s too early to share, organisations typically attach some goals to their budgeting process. They might involve increasing revenue, decreasing expenses or putting a program in place. Create a cascading goal process where the organisation’s goals are the department’s goals, and the department’s goals are the employee’s goals. This means sharing goals with employees.
2. Give employees time to think
Once employees know organisational and department goals, give them some space. It took weeks (or months!) to come up with those goals. Asking employees to create good goals on demand isn’t realistic. Build a week or 10 days into the process for employees to think about the goals and how they can contribute to them. Word of caution here — don’t give too much time because you don’t want to send the message that this isn’t an important activity or create a situation where employees procrastinate putting their thoughts together.
3. Don’t overwhelm employees with too many goals
Employees might come to a follow-up meeting with lots of ideas. In fact, they might come with too many goals and ideas! It’s part of our role as HR or management to help employees commit to a reasonable number of goals. Additional goals can always be added later. Employees will enjoy the goal setting process more when they accomplish their goals. That doesn’t mean goals need to be easy, but they do need to be realistic in terms of the time it takes to accomplish them.
4. Structure the goal
Not all goals are created equal. Relevant goals have structure. That means they’re actionable, accountable and measurable. Two popular ways to structure a goal include the “ABCD” and “SMART” methods. ABCD is an acronym that represents audience, behaviour, condition and degree. The SMART acronym represents specific, measurable, actionable, responsible and time-bound. Both are practical ways to ensure everyone buys into the goal, success metrics are established and a realistic time frame is set.
5. Consider a “stop doing” goal
We talk all the time about goals being things we need to start doing, but what about goals for things we need to stop doing? It’s possible — as part of the organisational and departmental goals — that employees need to stop doing some things. That change can be challenging. Don’t simply say, “Stop doing this.” Give the task the respect it deserves and turn it into a goal. It places importance on the need to stop doing an activity and allows for conversation between the manager and employee about ways to break normal habits or routines.
Ultimately, organisations want employees to be excited about their goals. This is an opportunity for them to learn something new. Push their knowledge, skills and abilities. Maybe they can add a new experience to their resume — all things that make the employee a better performer and connect them to the organisation’s bottom line.