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The Science of Engagement: Understanding the Key Drivers of Engagement

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Friday, March 2, 2018
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2018

Contributed by Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix, and HR West 2018 Speaker


You can’t manage employee engagement unless you understand what drives engagement — it’s that simple. Recently I talked with David Youssefnia, Ph.D., about the definition of engagement. He’s president and founder of Critical Metrics, and one of Talmetrix’s advisers. He had some tips on how to understand the drivers of engagement to build a better employee engagement strategy.

THE BIG 5...

Read the post on the HR West Blog.

Tags:  company culture  employee engagement  HR Data  HR West 2018  leadership strategy  science of engagement  Talmetrix 

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Mining Talent Data for Strategic HR Clout

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Contributed by HR West 2018 Speaker, Holly Burkett, Ph.D., SPHR

In a hypercompetitive market for knowledge workers, CEOs are looking to HR for strategic, data-driven solutions around talent challenges. Talent is critical to the execution of strategy, talent investments continue to rise, and human resource professionals face increased pressure from CEOs to make talent investments pay off.

Continue reading on the HR West Blog.

Tags:  HR Data  HR Leadership  HR West 2018  HR West Speaker  Lead Change  leader effectiveness  Leadership Strategy  Talent Data 

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Workplace Words that Wound

Posted By Laurie A. Pehar Borsh, Monday, October 30, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2018
Contributed by Lorie Reichel-Howe
 ** 
Founder, Conversations in the Workplace
** "Transforming Workplace Conversations"
-----

We have all felt the sting of cutting words, the stab of sarcasm and the sickening silence when a coworker is assaulted with a verbal bomb.  When workplace word wars occur, employees become casualties, relationships are strained and morale plummets. When verbal outbursts occur, organizational culture erodes, productivity is held hostage, and attrition skyrockets.

Whether you are a manager or copy clerk, being told to address a behavior without a strategy for doing so, is as helpful as receiving a disturbing medical diagnosis without care instructions, surgery options, or a recovery plan.

Let’s face it, when conflicts escalate and issues arise, managers and staff run to HR.  While individuals with concerns need to own their issues and release any expectation that HR will magically make their problem go away, they also need strategies for safely dialoguing with their “offender.”  Since relational breakdowns are inevitable in every human group, including the work family, HR, management and all employees need first responder training in effectively addressing harmful zingers, jabs and verbal bombs. Let’s explore some ways to respond to these behaviors.

Scenario

Let’s imagine a manager approaches HR uncertain how to have a conversation with a frustrated employee named Kendall.   Kendall, after being informed that her support request to Help Desk was received and, due to complications with the new system software installation, should expect a two-day delay in technical support. Upon reading the Help Desk’s response, Kendall blurted out the following….

“The Help Desk department should be renamed the Helpless Department.”

Request clarification

In a calm and firm manner, ask Kendall to please share the words she said about the Help Desk. Also ask her to explain what she meant by these words. In doing this, Kendall is invited to self-reflect and you avoid accusing, lecturing or judging. The desired outcome of this activity is self-reflection and ownership of behaviors.

Acknowledge the person’s concerns and needs

During conflict, our human tendency is to experience frustration, anger, even fear.  When these feelings exist, it’s difficult for us to listen to someone’s perspective, especially a perspective different from our own. Being understood is an anger diffuser.  Even so, it’s not a fix-all solution. Acknowledging concerns and needs doesn’t mean you approve of a harmful behavior, it simply means you understand what motivated the behavior.

Communicate positive wants or desires for those involved

People are more open to working with you when they believe you care about them and desire a positive outcome for them.  It’s assuring to know someone cares about you especially when you’ve acted impulsively and spoken inappropriately. One way to communicate caring is to verbalize that you’d like Kendall to get technical support in a reasonable time in order to complete her work. In addition, share your positive desire for Help Desk, to have a more manageable case load and not be buried under tech glitches from a new system upgrade.  Lastly, include your desire for a positive work environment for everyone in the department where concerns are addressed respectfully.

Bring awareness of the impact of words and actions

Effective communicators help others understand the impact of their words and actions. Share with Kendall that when you hear a comment that the Help Desk Department should be renamed the Helpless Department, it seems like a department has been attacked. Share the impact of this comment identifying that comments like these can create a negative work environment and divide departments instead of unifying departments within the organization. Share your concern that when people hear comments like this, they feel attacked and disrespected and that, once negativity spreads, it’s hard to stop.

Invite brainstorming a different way to respond

Having shared impact, ask Kendall if there are avenues other than Help Desk where she can obtain support. In asking Kendall to brainstorm, you help her move from attacking others to problem solving. This is what you want Kendall to do the next time she is frustrated.

Request agreement that behavior will not occur moving forward and identify next steps

After discussing what happened and the impact, it’s equally important to get an agreement of behavior in the future from Kendall. Ask her to commit to respectfully verbalizing future concerns (without attacking).  Ask Kendall what (or if a) follow-up action needs to occur. This could be phrased as a question asking Kendall if she believes she needs to do something in order to bring peace back to the department. Ask Kendall what does she believes her co-workers need to hear from her.

If you expect an apology for follow-up action from Kendall, clearly communicate this along with any consequences that will result from her behavior and whether documentation will occur.  Avoid surprising someone in the future during a performance review.

Relational response training needed by all

While first aid kits are available for minor physical injuries and 911 calls can be made for medical emergencies, relational first-aid office kits do not exist. All employees, managers and HR staff need first responder training in effectively addressing harmful workplace zingers, jabs and verbal bombs.

 

About the Author
Lorie Reichel Howe is founder of Conversations in the Workplace. She leverages over 20 years of expertise in communication and relationship management and equips managers and teams to have “safe conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues to foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within the organization.

Lorie has a diverse career experience as an educator, leadership development trainer, mediator and conflict coach. She has supported organizations such as San Jose State University, Northern California Human Resource Association, Association for Dispute Resolution Northern California, Dress for Success, Rimini Street Incorporation and California League of Schools.

Lorie mediates small claims and civil harassment cases at the Santa Clara Superior Court and provides community mediation for the Santa Clara Department of Human Services. Learn more about Lorie’s impact at www.ConversationsIntheWorkplace.com.

Tags:  effective leadership  Employee engagement  HR leadership  HR leadership training  HR Management  HR speaker  humanistic leadership  leadership  Leadership Strategy  NCHRASmallHR  People Management  Small Company HR  workplace communication 

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7 Ways Women Leaders Can Excel at Being Their Authentic Selves

Posted By Editor, Laurie, Thursday, February 2, 2017
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2017

7 Ways Women Leaders Can Excel at Being Their Authentic Selves

Originally published by Entrepreneur Magazine
Contributed by Thuy Sindell
Sindell will present Genderless Leadership: Creating Balanced Leaders in Your Organization
March 6, 10:45 a.m.

Register today

As women rise in the ranks they often receive a lot of bad advice to act like somebody besides who they really are. 

Women in leadership positions are often told to behave in ways that are viewed as more masculine to be successful. But it’s not that simple. Because when women act like men, their peers and employees tend to think that one thing -- that they’re bossy.

In fact, research conducted by our company, Skyline Group International, Inc., found a significantly lower perception of effectiveness when women express the masculine behavior in 57 percent of the 28 leadership competencies studied. What’s more, women were the toughest critics of female leaders. The more detailed, directive and structured women are, the more negatively other women view them.

So, what are women in leadership positions to do? How can they be effective leaders without creating the perception that they are trying too hard and are seen as “bossy”? Here’s a look at seven characteristics employees see as bossy in female leaders and alternative ways for women to be effective:

1. Coaching and mentoring.

The bossy way: Creating a development plan for employees may seem like the most direct way to coach employees, but our research shows that professionals see this as bossy among women in leadership positions.

The better way: Instead of laying out exactly what employees need to work on and setting a specific plan for them to do it, include them in the conversation. Employees react better to women in leadership who approach development through exploration and challenging assumptions.

In other words, don’t just tell employees what they need to do and how to do it. Bring them into the conversation about what they think they need to work on and why. Ask them about their long-term goals, the skills they want to learn and improve and then set a plan together.

2. Executive presence.

The bossy way: Women in leadership are aware that the deck is stacked against them -- they have to work harder and do more to be seen as effective. So to compensate, they adopt an overly-formal presence and they command respect. But this persona doesn’t sit well with employees.

The better way: Women in leadership should be themselves with employees and present themselves with poise and authenticity. Leaders can still be professional without being cold and distant. Earn the respect of employees by being dependable, trustworthy, and honest.

3. Entrepreneurship.

The bossy way: Men in leadership tend to take big risks to hopefully win big. But women in leadership who follow this risk and reward model are seen as less effective.

The better way: Instead of charging forward with the riskiest option, take the time to plan out different scenarios. Don’t bet it all for a big reward. Choose a plan with multiple chances for success.

4. Service.

The bossy way: Helping employees is a huge part of effective leadership. But women in leadership who help their team just to meet an immediate goal are viewed as bossy, not helpful. Employees think the leader is stepping in to put out a fire and micromanage the situation rather than being genuinely helpful.

The better way: Stepping in to help employees meet a deadline or win over clients is a good thing, but leaders should help employees because it’s the right thing for the organization as a whole -- not just because it will get the team through the day.           

Think about long-term goals and help employees to achieve them. Assist employees in developing their overall skills, not just finishing project and checking off to-do lists. Improving the skills of employees helps to advance the organization and prepares them to solve future problems.

5. Planning and organizing.

The bossy way: When making decisions, taking an analytical approach may seem like the best option. Men in leadership tend to take this approach, making many small decisions to yield a larger plan. But women in leadership who do the same are seen as less effective and bossy.

The better way: Instead of dictating a firm plan, be more flexible in the planning process. Involve everyone in the process and consider new ideas before finalizing the plan. Be open to changing plans if new information and feedback are received.

6. Monitoring performance.

The bossy way: More leaders are realizing that employees need feedback more regularly than a yearly performance review, but using systems like dashboards to check on employee progress every day is overkill.

The better way: While numbers and details are important, performance reviews shouldn’t be a competition and leaders, especially women in leadership, shouldn’t put constant pressure on employees.

Instead of looking over employees’ shoulders, check in with them on a regular basis, looking at their progress in the context of the big picture. Are they moving toward end-state goals and milestones? What else can they do to improve or progress faster? 

7. Thoroughness.

The bossy way: While leaders should set high expectations for employees, when women in leadership focus on getting things right the first time, employees don’t take it well.

The better way: Don’t focus on what employees get wrong -- focus on how to help them improve. Instead of optimizing work processes to eliminate mistakes, optimize them for continuous improvement. When employees make mistakes, use it as a teaching moment and explain what they can do better next time.

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Tags:  HR West 2017  Leadership  Leadership Qualities  Leadership Strategy  Women Entrepreneurs  Women Leaders 

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