Human Capital

Find that missing piece - recruitment

Will your job description help you find that missing piece?

The hiring process can be challenging. There are numerous things to take into consideration when you are looking for a new employee: budget, time frame, essential skills and experience, cultural fit. The list goes on.

However, recruitment should be celebrated. After all, if you are expanding your team your company is growing!

One of the first steps when recruiting is to decide on exactly who you are looking for and to create a compelling job description.

Simple enough right? Not necessarily.

The job advert will represent your company and your hiring needs. A well-written job advert – with a focus on the required behavioural characteristics – will attract the right applicants.

If your advert is not clearly targeted, you may have wasted your time, or it may lead to the wrong hire. Hiring mistakes are costly!

Employee Experience – why you should embrace it

Have you ever considered the employee experience at your company? Most companies are well versed in the world of customer experience, because everyone knows that happy customers come back for more. It’s easy to see why organisations around the world apply similar principles to all functions in their company. The tide has started to turn. Companies no longer put their customers first and their employees last. It is now broadly accepted that if you look after your employees, they will look after your customers for you. A positive employee experience is likely to make your people feel more valued, motivated, and engaged, and they are therefore less likely to leave – another plus point for the overall productivity of your company! …

What does Manager as Coach actually mean?

Maybe your organisation already encourages you as a manager to incorporate coaching your team members into your daily routine? Do you find it difficult to buy into this?

One of the most frequent objections from managers comes from being unsure what coaching really means and what is expected.

Although the story has been told many times before, the origin of the word coach is a good starting point to try and clarify things a little.

Coach in the sense of a closed horse-drawn carriage began to be widely used across Europe in the 16th century.

It originated in a small Hungarian village called Kocs where an unknown carriage maker had designed and built the most comfortable carriage known at that time. This was called koczi szeter (approx. wagon of Kocs) which was shortened to koczi.

As the invention of this new vehicle spread throughout Europe, the name was adapted to Kutsche in German, coche in French, and coach in English.

“That is all very interesting”, I hear you say, “but how does this relate to the term coach used in the business sense today?” …

Manager as Coach Launch

Why do we need ‘Manager as Coach?

An opinion poll conducted by Gallup has found that 87% of employees worldwide are unmotivated, disengaged and under-performing.

In contrast, a highly engaged workforce is said to outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. The economic repercussions of having employees who do not feel committed to supporting a company’s goals are staggering.

Employee engagement – or rather the lack of – remains a key issue for employers. Nurturing your employees is a professional obligation, and not just for financial reasons. …

3 Ways to Keep your Workforce Motivated in Times of Change and Uncertainty

All business have to be flexible to survive the constant flux going on in and around them. We all know that change and uncertainty are inevitable on some level, but what is the best way to handle them?

Some people enjoy a constantly evolving work environment, however not all employees – or leaders – share the same level of enthusiasm.

For some employees uncertainty is their worst nightmare: Routine goes out of the window, jobs can look insecure, familiar faces might be replaced, they might have to work remotely and as a result of countless similar factors, some employees are left feeling lost at sea without a captain.

So, as a business owner, leader or manager, what do you need to do to successfully steer your crew through turbulent times? …

Virtual Teams Part 2: A Workable Approach to Managing Remote Staff

Do you have a strategy for managing virtual teams?

The trends, motivations and statistics behind the rise in remote working in our previous blog highlighted why thinking about remote working is an important business consideration. In addition, we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic.

As a manager, you will therefore be faced with the challenges that come with managing telecommuting workers and teams. Finding a starting point to a workable management strategy in this context can be daunting.

Working from home – even some of the time – is not naturally suited to everyone. It requires discipline and organisation. Employees working remotely have to be happy in their own company, able to use their own initiative, prioritise and be fully aware of their abilities and limitations. Having the right personality is a prerogative to remaining motivated and being successful in those circumstances.

How to hire for remote working

Remote working has vastly expanded the talent pool as geographical considerations can now be bridged more easily with the use of technology. Consequently, you might  have to sift through more applicants than ever to find the right person for the job, and face-to-face interviews might not be possible. A reliable, efficient and robust process for both internal and external recruitment is therefore essential to ensure that what a job candidate can offer matches the required job profile.

Workforce analytics tools can provide objective and reliable insights into whether a candidate’s workplace behaviour and needs will match the requirements of the position that they are applying for. They also give you a better idea on whether this person is likely to struggle with or strive on remote working. Do they really have the right personality to handle the challenges that come with teleworking?

This additional scientifically-based knowledge complements the information gleaned from a traditional CV and the interview process.  It helps you to form a more holistic picture of the person that your are planning to employ and ensures that this person is right for the job. This minimises any performance-related challenges later on.

Trust is key

The relationship between you as a manager and the members of your team has a huge bearing on their motivation and their loyalty to the company. Engagement is a strong contributor to staff retention rates. Some research suggests that 23% of UK employees either disagree or strongly disagree that their management helps to create a positive work environment. That means that nearly one quarter of our workforce might be unhappy with those in charge.

Managing your team successfully at all times can be tricky, but it becomes even more challenging when your team members are spread out geographically. It can feel like you are shouldering a huge responsibility.

So, how do you know whether you can trust your remote team members to prioritise effectively, adhere to long-term goals, to keep you informed of their progress and concerns, and to remain engaged? How can you effectively manage individual remote workers and your team as a whole?

You have to really know your people!

Your team members have to know themselves, their strengths and potential challenges. Above all, you, as their manager, have to know them individually. This is true for all leadership situations, but even more so when there is less opportunity for personal contact.

Again, behavioural assessments can be a good starting point. They provide you with an understanding of your team members’ behavioural characteristics and their motivational needs. This is vital to you being able to support them effectively and to create a well-functioning, connected remote team. Having an objective and solid understanding of the likely workplace behaviours of your remote employees’ removes some of the guesswork.

Where possible, this should be complemented by the trust built on your past experience with that person and their reliability. Are you confident that you have – and follow – common goals, and that your people have the necessary skills and abilities to be successful in their job – wherever they are based.

Equally, teleworkers have to trust that their managers possess the right leadership skills to support them, set achievable goals and create collaborative and high-performing teams. They also have to feel able to rely on their managers to provide constructive and timely back-up if they run into difficulties. Identifying and meeting training and coaching needs also supports building mutual trust.

Data from the State of Remote Work Report suggests that 23% of remote workers are concerned that remote bias could hinder their career progression. 23% also work put in extra hours to meet unrealistic expectation. When assistance for a particular task is needed or a serious issue arises, they need to know that they will receive the necessary support.

Remote workers can quickly feel isolated, and somewhat forgotten. This feeling can negatively impact their attitude towards their work and their employer, and you might risk losing them. Regular check-ins, inclusions in team-meetings and a timely and immediate response for assurance and support is needed. That is if the problem has been communicated to you in the first place of course!

Not surprisingly, effective communication is essential

I have already mentioned the need for a robust recruitment process, trusting and knowing your people to minimise potential problems before enabling employees to telecommute. Once remote working commences, structured communication is essential to prevent your employees from feeling isolated.

As a blog on the Entrepreneur website highlights, targeted investment in technology will help your remote team members feel connected with you and each other. Software and equipment enabling online webcam-based conversations over laptops and mobile phones is a must for all team members. The ability to file share with anyone, anywhere is paramount.

However, it is your responsibility as a manager to facilitate and encourage the effective use of these communication tools. Routine check-ins with you and remote collaboration amongst the rest of the team have to be managed and scheduled. For part-time telecommuters, regular face-to-face updates are equally important to avoid them feeling disconnected and uninformed.

For entirely remote teams, the impact of personal meetings for team-building and to align business goals should not be underestimated. Regular sessions, where all members of the team – remote or office-based – gather in person will help team collaboration and overall engagement.

So, what about a shared strategy?

Both parties, management and team members, have to know exactly what is expected of them and what they expect from each other. Everyone must know what their exact role entails and where the boundaries are.  In order to achieve any goals and to be productive, the team must know which path to follow to get there and be supported appropriately along the way.

It is the managers’ role to provide clearly-defined and unambiguous direction. A clear common strategy including shared values, guidelines for interaction, and some well-communicated ground rules is necessary. Something resembling a team charter which should allow for some input from the team and which should then be adopted by everyone. This might include the following considerations:

  • What are the common goals and how will you get there?
  • How do they fit within the company strategy?
  • Definition of all tasks and roles and how they will be apportioned
  • How to ensure consistency by detailing any processes and procedures that are always to be followed, i.e. a structured workflow
  • Managing deadlines
  • What constitutes acceptable behaviour in relation to
    • Working hours and business days
    • Communication performance such as full and timely replies to emails, voicemails, deadlines and attending team meetings
  • Explanation of channels of communications and their use
  • How decisions are made, how the team can influence them and how consensus is created
  • Contingency planning – what is the process when things go wrong?

With many businesses enabling remote working or moving toward a virtual working environment, attracting and retaining the right talent has become even more complex. Managing remote teams – who can be in different time zones and mainly communicate electronically, but rarely in person – presents unique challenges which require a fresh management strategy.  The above can by no means claim to be an exhaustive list, but it hopefully serves as a useful starting point for your approach to managing your virtual teams.

What are your experiences with managing remote workers? We would love to hear from you.

The Link Between Employee Wellbeing, Engagement and Absence

n 2015, statistics from CIPD told us that employee absence had risen to 6.9 days per employee per year on average in the UK, and only 25% of organisations achieved their absence target for 2014.

Unsurprisingly, the working world is now desperately trying to find out how to address this because of the huge impact that absenteeism has on productivity.

The Labour Force Survey results show that approximately 10 million days were lost to stress, anxiety or depression in 2014/2015,
and statistics show that these figures are worsening year on year. Stress at work, leading to long-term absence, has more than doubled since the 1990s, yet only a third of employees receive any support to manage workplace stress.

This is bad news for business. Many organisations are now turning to wellbeing programs in an attempt to combat the ever worsening stress levels, but it has been suggested that for some companies, this is simply a move to tick a box as opposed to a reaction to genuine concern or understanding. The CIPD suggests that the majority of employers are more reactive than proactive in their approach to wellbeing (61 per cent), responding to
persistent problems rather than predicting what health and wellbeing factors might impact the workforce in future.

It would appear that employers now grasp the concept of engagement, but for some reason don’t fully comprehend the intrinsic link that exists between engagement and wellbeing.  Simply put, the healthier and happier an employee is, the more engaged they are: Paul Devoy, head of IiP, said: “Organisations need to see staff health and well-being as crucial to their business and staff retention.” He added: “Happier staff are less likely to take time off sick.”

It is saddening that in most cases, employee wellbeing only becomes an issue because it affects business. Let’s go back to the Labour Force Survey results, which show approximately 10 million days lost to stress, anxiety or depression in 2014/2015.

Over this period, there were 440, 000 cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety. What on earth are we doing to our employees?
Here’s a one-word glimpse into the reality of the current state of our workforce: Leaveism. The term has only recently been coined, but the phenomenon has existed for quite a while: ‘Leaveism is when employees use allocated time off – such as annual leave entitlements, banked
flexi-hours and re-rostered rest days – when they are in fact unwell.’

Research has found that 76 per cent of employees who have practised leaveism have done so to avoid being labelled as ‘poor performers’, or because they don’t want to be viewed as being unable to cope with their workload. This ultimately means that a large amount of sickness absence is going underreported, and is distorting both the incidence of sickness in the workplace and worryingly, the ability to fully get to grips with employee wellbeing.

You might be asking yourself ‘Why would anyone do that?’…If you’re asking that question, you have probably not worked in an organisation that has a ‘quota of sickness’ which if exceeded supposedly reflects poor performance. Speaking from experience (happily a good few companies ago), taking annual leave rather than sickness leave makes a lot of sense when you are worried about being hauled into an office and grilled about your performance and commitment.

It seems that some companies fail to realise that by creating extra stress around health issues in the workplace, they are only going to create a vicious cycle of illness and absenteeism. “Organisations which fail to implement health and wellbeing policies – despite being aware of their importance – are putting employee and business health at risk” the CIPD has warned.

This is a clear message. While the business impact should of course be taken into account, we need to recognise that this is about a deep-rooted wellbeing problem. As with most issues, one way to address the situation surrounding employee wellbeing is to start with communication. Go to the root of the problem.

We need to find out what individuals in the workforce really need from their roles and employers in order to stay
healthy and motivated, rather than throwing systems at them and asking them why they aren’t happy yet. Unfortunately, there is probably no one-size-fits-all resolution at this point, but understanding individual needs and issues is surely a starting point. Let’s not
forget that our workforces are built from complex human beings.

Positive and Negative: The Power of Mindset in the Workplace

Have you ever considered the incredible effects of mindsets on the ways in which our brains operate? Recent research is quite fascinating; in short, we can apparently change the way our brains work on a physical level, simply by altering the things that we think and talk about! On one level, this is amazing, because simply by practicing gratitude, we can rewire our brains for positivity.

On another, it is quite alarming: We all know how easy it is to slip into a cycle of negative thinking, and according to some researchers complaining could actually be killing you through the stress you generate. Worrying, right?

Even if you think that this sounds a little far-fetched, there are some important things that we can take away from the research. One particular aspect that struck me, and one that psychologists agree on, is that negativity breeds negativity, both in yourself and others. If this is the case, how does it translate to the workplace?

Morale and Engagement

Whilst a whingeing session with colleagues may feel cathartic, it

Diversity and personality in the workplace

Diversity + Personality: The Formula for High Performing Teams?

We live in a global and multifaceted society. A fact that is not only mirrored, but often actively encouraged in a business environment. Undoubtedly, your teams will be made up of people from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Managers generally strive to gain a team with individual thinking, innovative spirit, high productivity and more open-mindedness from this approach. This is based on the recognition that every person is unique. Our points of reference are shaped by external factors such as our demographics, experienced parenting styles and educational opportunities. These in turn influence the way we think and feel; they present the variables in our make-up.

Researchers generally agree that a team pooling a broad scope of perspectives, experiences and attitudes is better equipped to tackle complex problems and successfully meet challenges. In his book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, the social scientist Scott E. Page argues that