People Management

Are you playing the recruitment lottery?

Wouldn’t you like to know exactly who you are employing?

Using reliable people data can help you take the guesswork out of your recruitment process and enable you to:

  • Recruit faster, more efficiently and with
    greater predictability
  • Attract top talent
  • Safeguard the company against hiring mistakes
  • Reduce staff turnover
  • Hire with confidence and integrity

If you are working as a Recruiter or in HR, your company will most likely rely on you to attract top talent, and to then onboard the new hires swiftly and smoothly.

Do you sometimes wish you had a crystal ball?

Building talent assessments into the candidate pre-screening, interviewing and reviewing phase of your recruitment process comes close.

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!

How to take the sting out of holding your employees accountable?

Ensuring that your employees fulfil their responsibilities and meet expectations may feel like a daunting prospect. However, a lack of policy around employee accountability can cause a wide variety of issues for your business.

Each member of your team has responsibilities that you, as their manager, will have assigned to them. The smooth running of the business relies on these tasks being performed satisfactorily.

Any gap caused by an employee not completing their tasks as expected has a knock-on effect on their team members who are left to pick up the pieces. This can lead to colleagues becoming disaffected and disengaged, which will negatively impact the overall performance of your business.

A company with a solid accountability policy will make it easier for their leadership team to encourage their employees to take responsibility and feel accountable for their duties.

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! …

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. …

Why being able to coach employees makes you a better manager

The findings of the CIPD Learning and Development Survey from 2015 show that three quarters of organisations currently offer a degree of coaching or mentoring to their employees. 13% were planning to introduce this in 2016, with most expecting that their use of coaching will increase by 2017.

But why?

Changing any aspect of your life, be it professionally or privately, does not only require a huge amount of energy and resolution but often a good advisor too – someone who is able to help you to judge things objectively, who has experience with comparable situations and problems, and is nevertheless able to suggest individual solutions.

In our private lives, we would naturally turn to a trusted friend or a close member of our family to help us work through these issues and arrive at a solution.

It is therefore not surprising to learn that more and more people who find themselves professionally stuck in a rut or at a crossroads turn to a coach. As a manager, you should expect to be – or become – the first port of contact for any developmental issues or when guidance is needed. …

Making teams work like legendary Basketball Coach Pat Summitt

Sadly, Pat Summitt passed away in June 2016 after a courageous battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. After 38 years as a successful basketball coach, she leaves behind a legacy of creating winning teams.

Under her leadership, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team never had a losing season. Pat Summitt accrued over 1098 career wins, the most in the history of National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball. Sporting News placed her at number 11 on a list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time in all sports. Pat was the only woman on the list.

Pat Summitt elicited a consistently high performance from her team under pressure, the kind that all leaders – in sports or business – crave. She created success in a sport where teamwork is paramount, and her team had the greatest respect for her.

So, what lessons in leadership and team building can managers take from this winning coach? …

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.

Do You Have a Strategy for Managing Virtual Teams? Part 1

Part 1: Why is thinking about remote working important?

This first section of this two-part blog highlights reasons why it is useful for your business to think about your approach to remote working now.  Next week’s blog will ponder some considerations that might serve as a starting point for your management strategy for remote working.

Are you a small company and feel that the scenario of employees working remotely doesn’t really apply? Do discussions on finding suitable technology or strategies for this context never quite get to the top of your agenda? Do you have a strategy in place, but it is not quite working? The following statistics, trends and motivations behind remote working might help to focus your mind…

An analysis of the survey issued by the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reveals that the number of people working from home increased to more than four million employees. This equates to 13.7% of the entire workforce of the UK. Put more simply, the number of people working from home has increased to almost one in seven over the past decade. The survey also estimates that, given the opportunity, a further 1.8 million people would prefer to work from home.

These figures and trends are increasing steadily. They signify huge changes in the composition and attitudes of any workforce and are bound to ask probing questions of traditional management strategies.

Your workforce is your biggest asset and also likely to be your biggest expense. So, is your business ready? Do you have a strategy for managing remote teams?

Cisco conducted research amongst around 1400 professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 and 1500 professionals aged 31 to 50. The findings make interesting reading for employers.

Roughly two thirds of these professionals, believe that an organisation offering flexible working hours – as well as mobile and remote working practices – has a competitive advantage over a company that expects employees to work regular hours Monday to Friday. This is certainly something to bear in mind when you’re building your employer brand.

Where to start with devising a successful strategy to manage virtual teams? A good starting point is to try and understand the motivations and trends behind this rise in popularity of remote working.

So, how can this changing mindset among employees and companies be explained?

Here are a few thoughts:

The development and changing status of technology

A few facts: A third of the professionals in the Cisco study would give up electricity in their homes for a week before giving up their mobile phones. Half of the younger group of professionals look at their mobile phones immediately when waking up to catch up with social media and their emails. We do expect to be able to do our shopping online at any time of day, wherever we are. The largest proportion of the respondents believe that by 2020 the most important connected device for any worker will be their smartphone.

This need for – and expectation of – round-the-clock connectivity is becoming deeply engrained in our mindsets. It is therefore not surprising that this need also translates into how we approach our working lives. We have become technology savvy and dependent.

Technological change has taken huge leaps and is the greatest enabler for employees to work remotely. This has also vastly expanded the talent pool as geographical differences now have less bearing. Email is now a universally acceptable replacement for communication in person via phone or physical meetings.

In addition, the development of communication tools such as online meeting and presentation software make it possible to retain a personal touch without the need to meet in person. These tools are instant ways for you to communicate remotely with your clients, but also with your colleagues and team members.

Cloud-storage solutions that are both cost-effective and readily-available make it possible for information to be shared and accessed anywhere with anyone at any time. The need for office-based infrastructure or technical support is likely to decline proportionally.

Productivity and efficiency

Companies and employees working from home generally agree that productivity improves through remote working. Data from SurePayroll suggests that two-thirds of managers acknowledge that the overall productivity of employees increased once they started working from home.

This is put down to there being fewer distractions from chatting with colleagues, impromptu meetings and telephone calls. A work schedule with fewer interruptions can have a positive impact on efficiency. A considerable proportion of telecommuters say that they are able to accomplish more in less time.

Less stress and more engagement

The journey to work by car, train or bus can be a stressful and time-consuming affair. The freedom to devise your own work schedule can be liberating. A large proportion of remote workers report a drop in their stress levels. This has a direct and positive impact on staff turnover and thereby staff expenditure.

It might seem illogical, but a study by Harvard Business Review has shown that remote workers often feel more engaged with their colleagues and line managers; in spite of a lack of actual personal contact. This can largely be attributed to the vast number of technological tools at their disposal to stay connected.

In addition, we can all relate to a busy workday in the office when planned sessions to check-in with colleagues and supervisors are postponed because there just never seems to be the time. Working from home, the contact with your team and managers is simply essential – a lifeline. Scheduled catch-up session are therefore more likely to happen and are often more focused.

Lower overheads and carbon footprint

It is easy to see that the cost of overheads is likely to decrease with an increase in remote working. The bill for operating costs such as the rent for office space should reduce considerably.

A further incentive to facilitate remote working is the positive impact on the carbon footprint. Social responsibility is an important consideration for many companies. A reduction of the annual fuel consumption and the need for travel helps companies to become greener.

The list goes on, but hopefully, this section provided you with useful insights into the developing trends, motivation and statistic behind remote working.

These trends and considerations make a positive case for remote working – at least for disciplined workers. There are undoubtedly challenges that come with allowing employees to work remotely, even part-time, or outsourcing work to remote workers. It creates a new virtual work environment that requires a new approach to team management. This can be a scary prospect!

Next week’s sequel will offer some ideas and considerations for finding effective ways to manage virtual teams.