What Do Employees Want from Appraisals?

Many people have had bad experiences of appraisals, so many employers don’t enjoy carrying them out. However, for your business and your staff to progress, some form of regular appraisal is essential.

If you put yourself in the shoes of your members of staff, you can both get more from your time together. There are five things that your employees need to know at their appraisal:

  • Tell me what’s expected of me – talk to me about goals and expectations so that I can work towards them.
  • Give me the opportunity to perform – give me the chance to take responsibility and let me show you how good I am.
  • Tell me how I’m getting on – if you like what I’m doing, tell me; if you’re concerned about my progress, I need to know that too.
  • Give me support guidance and development – help me to grow and develop by giving me what I need to reach my goals.
  • Recognise my contribution – say thank you to show that you’re grateful for all the hard work I put in.

When you can meet these five needs, you’ll be able to carry out a much more effective appraisal, both for you and your employees. On 11 September I’m running a short workshop to help you carry them out even more smoothly. To book your place online, click here.

How Happy Are Your Employees? How Do You Know?

I’ve written a lot recently about employee engagement. What is it? It’s a positive attitude held by your employees towards your company and its values. An engaged employee knows where your business is going and works with colleagues to improve performance to benefit your business. But how do you measure engagement? How do you know just how engaged your people are with your business?

To find out how happy your employees are, you could start with a survey. This will give you a quantitative measure, such as a score or the percentage of people saying they are ‘very happy’, ‘quite happy’ and so on. It relies on a quantity of people answering the survey to provide an accurate result that is representative of your staff.

A good survey helps you not only determine the level of engagement (or disengagement) within your company, as well as which elements help drive engagement, are very good or need work. An employee engagement survey can help you find out how your people feel about whether or not they feel listened to, how much they trust their leaders and other emotions, views and experiences.

So why not just ask how engaged your employees feel?

Probably because job satisfaction is not the same as being engaged. Since studies show that 70% of UK workers don?t actually trust their management, can you trust them to give an accurate answer to this question?

The other thing to consider with surveys is that they are not engagement. When the results are in, what happens next? Engagement isn’t something you can tick off.

So what do you really want to measure? Employee engagement is inextricably linked to increased customer satisfaction and subsequent profitability. So rather than trying to measure employee engagement and customer satisfaction separately, you can evaluate the two together. If customer satisfaction improves, then your people are more engaged. If sales are up, customer satisfaction is increased and employee engagement is raised.

So what’s the best way to measure employee engagement? Start by carrying out an employee engagement survey to establish baseline scores. Use the results to decide what improvement initiatives you are going to use. Then resurvey periodically to measure the effectiveness of changes you make.

Just remember that employees feel engaged when they feel listened to. So if you carry out a survey, really listen to what your people say and do something about it. That way everyone will see the benefits – your employees, your business and your clients.

How happy are your clients? How do you know?

Can You Serve an Unfair Dismissal Claim While on ‘Garden Leave’?

‘Garden leave’ is a period of time after you’ve been asked to leave your job or you’ve been made redundant, when your employer carries on paying you, but when they don’t want you to continue coming to work. During this time, you’re still employed so you can’t take another job with a different employer.

So can you serve an unfair dismissal claim while on garden leave? Can you appeal against being asked to leave your job?

To serve an unfair dismissal claim, you need to complete the form ET1 to send to the employment tribunal. You can only submit this form after you have been dismissed and worked your notice. ‘Garden leave’ is notice without having to do the work you’re being paid for. If you’re thinking about a tribunal application then you must do this within three months of your termination date. If you’re on ‘garden leave’ then you are still employed, even though you’re not working. This means that if you want to make a claim for unfair dismissal, you can’t do it during a period of garden leave – you have to wait until you actually finish working for that employer and they are no longer paying you.

Your contract of employment will tell you what else you can and can’t do while on garden leave and what your employer will expect from you during that time.

In addition, if you were employed after 6 April 2012, you need to have worked for the company for two years, to be able to claim unfair dismissal. If you started work before 6 April 2012 you have to have completed one year’s service to be able to claim unfair dismissal. (This means that at the time of writing this blog in March 2013, no one will actually be able to claim that they have been unfairly dismissed until 6 April 2014.)

There is more information on all this, including a short video that explains it all, on my website. Click here to watch the video.

Employee Engagement – How Do You Get the Best from Your Staff?

Employee engagement is about making sure your employees are happy at work, so that you can get the most out of them, while they’re at work.

Managers and employers need to remember that not everyone goes to work just to earn money. They go for lots of other reasons. It may be that they have to work and they just need a job, but you should also look to see if your people want more from their employment than that. If employees are engaged in their jobs we know that they’re much more productive, that they’ll do much more for your business, and they’re much more likely to stay with your company and help to develop your business – including your profitability. Studies have shown this!

What do people value at work? They’re the same things that we value in everyday life, such as:
–    Being treated fairly and with respect
–    Being told when we’ve done well and if necessary, when we’ve done badly
–    Wanting to work with people who are good managers and who are successful.

These are key parts to feeling part of an organisation and are what make people willing and able to go the extra mile. If you’re a business owner, you want your staff to think about your business in the same way that you do. This doesn’t just happen – it needs work.

How do you do it? You need to look hard at what you offer your employees so that you can get the best out of them. They need to understand clearly what part their role plays within the organisation – how they fit in and why they’re important to the success of the business.

Good leadership and guidance will motivate your staff to go the extra mile for you. Give them opportunities to improve and develop. Don’t think that training in too expensive or that someone will leave once they’ve had some training and developed new skills. Look for ways of developing your staff with on the job training to give them as sense of achievement.

How else can you motivate your employees to be better? Find out more at the workshop I’m running on 17 April 2013 in Reading. The half day session costs just £10 +VAT (or £15 +VAT if you’re not an FSB member) and you can book online by clicking here. Buffet lunch included!

Employee Engagement – Or How to Keep Your Staff Happy

Not everyone goes to work for the money they earn. While some people do only work to earn a living, these days, many people are motivated by things other than just money.

I believe that a more engaged workplace is a more successful workplace. What do I mean by ‘engagement’? Employee engagement can be defined as ‘An employee’s drive to use all their ingenuity and resources for the benefit of the company.’

How do you keep your employees engaged?

If you’re a manager, you need to work on four important factors – motivation (inspiring your team), consideration (recognition and support for team members), care (and understanding of their issues) and conversing (informing and listening to them). Improving each area will lead to better engagement; your staff will be happier and will work harder for you.

If you’re a leader, there are four questions that you need to ask yourself. Do people have faith in me as a leader? Are they inspired by me? Are they excited about the future of the business? How do they perceive my morality? The answers to these questions will show how engaged your team is. If you don’t like the answers you get to these questions, these are the areas that you need to work on, in order to have a more engaged workforce.

What do you do to keep your staff happy? Leave a comment here to share you tips with us.

If you’re not sure how to keep your staff engaged and happy, then come along to the half day workshop I’m running in April 2013 in Reading. Email me if you’d like me to send you the details.

What’s the Best Way to Deal with Underperforming Staff?

Heather works in the training department of a large IT organisation. She is responsible for designing and delivering interpersonal skills training, including communication skills, networking, and new management training classes.

Heather has excellent knowledge of how to design a training class. She includes behaviour modelling and practice into all her classes. She has also done research on what good communication consists of, how to network and what new managers need to know to be successful.

Sounds good so far!

However, people who attend Heather’s training classes often give her low ratings, saying that she has a hard time answering specific question. They say that she doesn’t seem approachable after the classes or when individuals want to ask questions.

What do you think may be causing Heather’s under performance?

How do you think a manager should address the problem of poor performance?

We’ll give you our opinion on this blog in a few week’s time. Leave a comment here to give us your suggestions!

How to Be a Great Boss

It can be tough at the top. Here are some top tips to improve your personal success as well as the success of the people working for you.

  • Lead by example. Provide guidance and support and set the benchmark for team cohesiveness and performance.
  • Understand yourself and work on bettering yourself. What are the things you do well and what can you improve? How effective is your management style? By investing time in developing your individual skills you will drive your business forward and reap the rewards in terms of how successfully you lead your team.
  • Be a good all-rounder and play to all your strengths. Technical skills are important but so are soft skills such as people management skills. Do not neglect one in favour of the other.
  • Learn to delegate effectively. You can’t do it all! By relinquishing responsibility to others you are not only ensuring that your efforts are always directed to best effect but also that the people around you feel empowered to make decisions and improve the business.
  • Build a team that can work without you. A team that falls apart when you are on leave or away from the office is not good business.
  • Maintain boundaries: Whilst it is good to develop a good personal relationship with your colleagues, you must establish appropriate boundaries. This will be important during times when you have to make tough decisions that may not always be welcome by others.

What do you do to make sure that you’re a good boss? Share your tips (or mistakes!) with us by leaving a comment here.

5 Tips for Managing Performance with Your Team

As a boss, manager or supervisor, you play an important role in promoting employee commitment, motivation and retention. You are responsible for developing and nurturing your staff.

Here are 5 tips to help you look after your staff and improve their performance, which will lead to improvements in the overall performance of your organisation.

  1. Set meaningful, attainable expectations aligned with the mission and objectives of your business. Be clear about employee expectations and explain any measurements that will be used.
  2. Approach this process as a collaborative effort, engaging staff in the process. Work with your employees to develop appropriate outcomes that support your work and lead to the achievement of organizational goals. Don’t just impose objectives on your staff without first talking to them.
  3. Provide employee access to the necessary tools and resources needed for performance enhancement. Ask about relevant technology, available literature or other materials they need to improve their performance. Provide them with the coaching and mentoring they need and allow time for employees to learn improved methods and procedures.
  4. Continually asses and communicate progress regarding performance. Don’t save all your feedback until the end of the year. Provide employees with mid-year progress reviews and final evaluation feedback. Face-to-face progress reviews and final evaluations should be scheduled in advance. Engage your employees in discussions about the best ways to meet their future goals.
  5. Show appreciation of employee performance through the use of one of the many forms of recognition and reward available to you.

If you need specific help on managing and improving the performance of your staff, to improve the performance of your business, why come to our next free workshop on 22 November? Being held at The Old Post Office in Wargrave, near Henley in Oxfordshire, this is your chance to get some expert advice on your own issues. Click here for more details and to book your place.

How to Boost Profitability in Your Business

Here are 10 ideas to help you improve the profitability of your business through your people.

  1. Build a stimulating and vibrant working environment. A diverse workplace is a profitable workplace. Embrace the many different skills, backgrounds, experiences and attitudes of your staff and direct these to best effect
  2. Focus on training and personal improvement. Make sure every member of you team is given the opportunity to reach their full potential by offering them the training and development they need, in technical and soft skills.
  3. Reward and recognise. By recognising and incentivising staff that reach targets or produce a consistently high quality of work, you will encourage them to strive even harder.
  4. Handle difficult situations quickly. Do not let disciplinary or incapability issues turn into problems. Deal with them in a responsive and positive way to reduce the chances of them happening again.
  5. Have a good recruitment and induction process. Make sure that you always recruit the best person for the job and that they perform to the level you require from day one.
  6. Keep up to date with legislation. This is a key aspect in treating your employees fairly and also a way to constantly building best practice into your people management procedures.
  7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.   Keep your staff informed about how the business is doing. What can they do to help? How does their job fit into the bigger picture of the organisation? This will ensure your employees feel valued, engaged and focussed on the success of the company.
  8. Carry out succession planning. Don’t just rely on the skills and experience of long-standing members of staff but put time and effort into training and mentoring programmes that develop the skills and abilities of younger members of the team. This way you ensure success for the long term and continuity of service for your customers.
  9. Look closely at team dynamics. What teams are working well and how can this be replicated across the business? Look for gaps in team dynamics and skills sets that can affect morale development and work to actively improve them.
  10. Be a good boss. Your behaviour sets the tone for how you expect others to behave. Invest time in working on your own management style and take a top-down approach to improving performance rather than relying on the skills of those around you.

We’ll talk more about how to be a great boss in this blog in a couple of week’s time.

In the meantime, what do you do to improve profitability of your business through your people? Leave a comment here to share your tips.

How Do You Get More From Your Staff? Part Two

In a recent blog we looked at the importance of managing performance as a way of getting more from your staff, without dramatically increasing your costs.

Here are some top tips you can actually put into action, to get more from your people:

  • Provide a stimulating working environment that encourages members of staff to contribute to the progress of your business.
  • Encourage your staff to reach their full potential by providing opportunities to develop their skills through training and development, as well as coaching in the soft skills needed to be an excellent team member.
  • Carry out formal performance reviews on a regular basis, setting clear objectives and achievable targets; don’t wait for annual appraisals.
  • Build good relationships by providing regular informal feedback and guidance; allow your staff to air their concerns within an environment of trust and honesty.
  • Deal with issues as soon as they arise – don’t wait for them to become problems.
  • Offer a clear career path, to encourage employees to be the best they can be and stay with you for the long term.

How do you get more from your people? What have you done that has worked – or not worked? Leave a reply below.

If you still have questions about how to improve the performance of your team, come to our next workshop on 22 November 2012 near Henley. Places are free but limited, so click here for full details.