Category Archives: HR Tools

How to Improve Teamwork

Effective collaboration is key to helping organizations achieve their goals.

But creating and maintaining strong teams is easier said than done. There’s just too much work to do on a daily basis—deadlines to meet, reports to file, bosses to satisfy. So how can teams boost their performance?

Research on group dynamics shows that teams perform best when their members agree on rules related to goals, roles and norms. Teams that spend time talking out those three things tend to do better. As soon as people get together in any kind of group, they start putting rules together. The highest-performing teams understand the importance of constructing those rules carefully and deliberately.

The three steps to building better teams are:

Commit to the goals, roles and norms for guiding the team’s direction. Do you have a shared vision? Choose specific goals with clear and measurable targets. Take into account the team members’ values. What will inspire them? What’s in it for them?

Roles should be well-defined and should utilize the skills and interests of each person.

It’s also important to establish norms, which are the rules that help you manage communication, decision-making and conflict. Even when we think we understand, we misinterpret others’ intentions and fail to recognize our own assumptions about the way work should be done, the authors say.

Check alignment between the agreements that the team members made and what they are actually doing. Because your team behaviors become habit, it can be really hard to see when things get out of alignment. You have to be a really good observer of your own culture.

Enlisting the help of an outside onlooker could help you see the gaps between what your team members are saying and what they’re doing. Or appoint a team member to play devil’s advocate and ask the tough questions. But first, you must create a psychologically safe space so that team members feel it’s safe to speak their minds.

Two common biases frequently lead to teams getting off track. When a project is successful, teams seldom bother to investigate processes that might have produced negative results under slightly different circumstances. This is called “overvaluing outcomes.” Another common bias is “motivated blindness,” which occurs when team members don’t look for problems because their paychecks depend on a project’s completion.

The solution? Search for evidence that disproves your beliefs to ensure that you are not letting your own interests cloud your judgment, the authors say.

Close the gap between what team members are saying and doing. To bring the team back into alignment with its goals, determine small, specific steps the team can take to get back on track. Carve out time to work on them, and be realistic about the obstacles you might encounter along the way.  Highlight the positive impact the changes will have.

 

Talent Management – How To Recruit, Retain Your Best Talent?

Have you been assigned the task of directing the human resources of the company? Do you know what are the most important concepts to consider when assessing, recruiting and developing skilled and competent personnel?

Here I will try to describe the core concepts that need to be handled in the development of aTalent Management Strategy.

First, what is talent management ?

It is the the recruitment and development of personnel  that can reach high performance levels , thus  contributing to the overall objectives of the company.

Each company follows its own model of talent management.

Why is talent management important?  In every company there are a number of employees that stand out from the rest , either because they have developed abilities within their assigned tasks or because their overall performance reaches levels higher  than the required standards. It is of utmost importance for a company to assure that these people remain in the company and continue contributing.

Talent management involves the application of a number of strategies used in the management of human resources, these are:

1.  The identification and selection of employees  who have demonstrated a superior performance and are an inspiration to others  for the achievement of superior performance. They also represent  the main competencies required in the organization of the company. The company has to make use of their capacity for organization.

2.  The developing of employees that occupy key positions that require highly qualified personnel and cannot be left vacant for a long period of time.

3.  The allocation of resources for the right compensation, training and help for employees that are occupying these key posts. Thus, these employees that contribute to the company’s excellence must be especially encouraged.

Talent management also implies the use of the following concepts which are the key elements in the human resources management:

Selection :

This concept has to do with the right recruitment

Assessment :

This concept is about assessing competencies. That is, evaluate if the employee can do properly the job he has been assigned.

Organization Competencies :

These are a series of concepts related to the way the employee acts and reacts, the way he overcomes obstacles, how he communicates with people below and above him.

Forecast of Potentials:

This is a prediction of the potential an employee has to move to the upper levels of the organization based on his actual performance, training and other related factors.

Coaching and Mentoring:

These are programs that help the employee in his development of new competencies.

Performance Appraisal:  

This is a measurement of results the employee achieved within those areas for which he is held accountable.

Succession Planning:

The company needs to have a plan in case one or more of the key employees leaves the company. Since the position occupied by that person is key, the company needs to know in advance who could be the possible candidate that will replace the employee that is leaving.

Career Planning:

Employees that are meant to occupy key positions want to know what chances they have for career advancement. These employees think that their efforts must be valued and encouraged.

Compensation:

Compensation packages are an important aspect of the talent management strategies. Compensation promotes incentive. It is a widely known idea among companies that compensating their employees for their efforts increases productivity.

Retention:

A talent management program must include a way to keep its key employees and prevent their leaving the company. We always hear employees leaving a company and moving to another because they are offered better conditions that may include higher salary and promotions. If a company considers an employee to be a key  employer for a position, it cannot let that employee go.

Research conducted revealed that the lack of organization of human resources, and not having an effective talent management program has accounted for the failure of many companies.

Most of these companies had shown that they were either not applying the concepts or were applying them inconsistently,  in a way that did not help to develop a successful Talent Management Program.

We can conclude by saying that a talent management program is one of the key elements in the organization of the workforce that keeps the company moving towards its main goals.

Dealing With A Difficult Coworker

During the course of professional life, one often comes across coworkers who are not so easy to get along with. Some of them can be avoided easily, yet others make it impossible for you to simply ignore them and continue your work. Most of us choose to ignore a difficult employee, even if he is directly interfering with our work, rather than confronting him. While this might be the easier solution, having a difficult coworker affects your work productivity tremendously and makes it hard for you to perform at your maximum potential in the long run.

Is he really being difficult?

The most important thing that you have to figure out is whether the coworkers is actually being difficult on purpose or is it just your perception. It might be that you are having problems with a coworker just because the two of you have different personality types that clash too often. There are a lot of people who just fail to get along well as they have very different personalities. It does not mean that any one of them is being difficult rather the problem is that both of them are failing to find a common ground. If this is what is causing trouble between you and a colleague then it can be easily resolved. The best way is to talk it out with the coworker. Ask him which of your habits are causing him inconvenience and listen to him patiently, as there is no point in being offended by what he has to say. Try to remain objective and figure out what you can do to resolve the situation. Make sure that you also communicate your problems to the coworker, but do it tactfully. It should not appear that you are criticizing the colleague just to spite him. Vocalize your concerns in a friendly and amiable manner so that the other person reacts positively as well.
However, if you are sure that there is nothing untoward in your attitude and the coworker is being difficult on purpose, then you have to take some steps to set the situation right.

Rebuilding Morale-Creating a Happy, Committed Workforce

About Morale

“Morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.”

For your organization to thrive, it’s essential to take the time to develop good morale.

Almost by definition, organizations with high morale experience higher productivity and staff engagement, they show lower employee turnover and absenteeism, and they have a happier workforce. What’s more, they find it easier to attract and retain the best talent. While “raising morale” can seem to be a nebulous goal, many of these other effects are measurable, and directly affect the bottom line.

Last but not least, it feels great to work in an organization where morale is high!

Why Morale Suffers??…..

There are many things that can cause team morale to dip. For example:

  • Layoffs and restructuring.
  • Poor leadership.
  • Poor communication.
  • Lack of empowerment or autonomy.
  • Inflexible working conditions.
  • Cancellation of team benefits.
  • Damage to the organization’s reputation or public image.
  • Losing a big contract or client.
  • Difficult co-workers.
  • Heavy workloads or stress, with no reward or gratitude.
  • No sense of social value to the work being done, or a negative impact on the wider society.

 

Signs of Low Morale

Too often, managers don’t realize that morale is poor. Whether or not your team or organization is facing any of the scenarios above, watch out for the following clues that morale may be slipping:

  • Obvious unhappiness.
  • Increased complaints about work, or other team members.
  • Increased absenteeism.
  • An increase in conflict between team members.
  • Insubordination or unruliness.
  • Disorganized work environments.
  • Increased employee turnover.
  • Decreased productivity.
  • Lack of enthusiasm.

 

Leader Morale

Keep in mind that, if you’re a leader or manager, your team’s morale starts with you. It’s up to you to be a good role model for your team. If your own morale is suffering, then it’s vital that you work on rebuilding your own outlook and attitude first.

Start by identifying why your own morale is low, and then come up with ways to adjust your mental attitude.

Often, this starts with action. For instance, perhaps your morale is down because your boss is pressuring you to do a good job, and is threatening to fire you if you don’t perform. You can make yourself feel more positive and in control of the situation by getting organized, and by achieving measurable goals that will put your boss at ease.

Work on rebuilding your self-confidence. Remember, your team is always watching you: if you’re feeling positive and confident, they will too. Quick wins will also help build confidence – for you, and your team.

You might also want to take our quiz, Are You a Positive or Negative Thinker? This helps you understand and change how you think, so that you can interact with your team in a good way.

Team Morale

If your team’s morale needs rebuilding, there are several strategies that you can use. However, just as you did with your own morale, you need to start by understanding the problem. This helps you choose strategies that best fit your situation, which may include:

1. Reconnecting With Your Team

Morale is higher in situations where team members feel close to their managers. You can create this type of environment by developing good relationships with your team, and by reconnecting whenever possible.

Practice Management by Walking Around so you can “touch base” with team members often. With regular contact and communication, you can reestablish trust and rapport with your team.

It also helps to develop your emotional intelligence: the better you can sense the emotions and needs of those around you, the better you will be as a leader.

Keep in mind that lack of appreciation is often cited as one of the root causes of low morale. So, do whatever you can to show your people that you appreciate them. Reward your team by saying “thank you” for a job well done, or by offering benefits such as extra days off, or flexible scheduling when key goals are met.

You’ll also want to give everyone regular feedback on their work. (See our article on feedback – once a year just isn’t enough!)

2. Developing Your Team

Another way of improving morale, especially after a round of layoffs, is by helping people develop their skills.

So make sure that you’re offering your people opportunities for learning and development, as a way of helping them feel more secure and committed to the organization.

You can do this by understanding their developmental needs, and by using Training Needs Assessments to make sure that everyone is properly trained.

Cross-Training is another great way of building morale, and improving productivity, just as long as you explain why you’re doing it. (Some may see it as a sign that layoffs are on the way!)

Build Your “Creativity Muscle” with Word Associations!

Word  associations is what I consider to be the first creativity building exercise. It’s actually a simple improv comedy drill.

You can do a word association with a partner. First you say a word, and then your partner says the first word that comes to his mind, then you say the first word, then he says the first word, then you say the first word, and so on and so on.

However you can also do this on your own and play this game by yourself. Just say a word, then say the first word that comes to your mind, then say the next word that comes to your mind, then say  the next word, and so on and so on. It sounds simple, but it gets complicated.

What you’ll find when you do this is the first four or five words will come very easy because as soon as you say one word your mind instantly comes up with the next four or five.

Once you get beyond that is when you are tapping into your creativity. You have to open your mouth and talk and see what comes out.

You’ll know you’re using your subconscious if you go fast and it’s word after word after word. If you do this and you pause, or hesitate, or stutter a little bit or stammer, then what you are doing is thinking about things in your conscious mind.

You want to get to a point where you can go for 30 seconds, or a minute, or just keep going without ever having that hesitation, because then you’re really bypassing the conscious mind and tapping into your creativity.

This is just a muscle building exercise. It builds the creativity muscle. You’re not going to use this exercise to solve all of your problems. Just saying one word is not really going to give you a  whole lot in terms of results, but when you apply this mentality, when you build this muscle then apply it to say, generating ideas, you get some very interesting things that come up very quickly.

Creativity is Hard Work-Be persistent

3) Be persistent

Consistency is coming back day after day. Persistence is sticking to a task until it is done.

Because of the romanticized notion of creativity, people believe that ideas should come immediately. If nothing comes in a day or two, there is a great temptation to quit. We believe that we are out of ideas.

This is where persistence becomes paramount. Be willing to stick to it and keep creating when you feel you should quit. You must realize that your creative mind is more powerful and more resourceful than your conscious mind. Your limitations and desire to quit are in your conscious mind.

 The person who comes across as truly creative is the one who persists in these times. Not because they have a great idea, but because they trust that by persisting their creative mind will give them something.

 If you want to be a super creative person, be willing to keep at it, even when you are sure you have exhausted all ideas.

 It is hard work to be consistent. It is hard work to be willing to be bad; to be willing to keep creating when you feel the quality is not there. It is hard work to be persistent. And yet these three things will help you unlock and apply your creativity immediately.

Stop thinking of creativity as a magic tool only a few special people possess. With some hard work and discipline, anyone (including you) can be immensely creative!

Creativity is Hard Work-Be willing to be bad

When someone uses their creative skill to generate a new idea, the only thing the outside world sees is that one brilliant idea. What the world doesn’t see is the dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of bad ideas that led to the one good one. As you develop your creativity, be willing to be bad. Be willing to tap into your resources and keep coming up with bad ideas. The willingness to do that will unlock and increase your creative flow to a point where the good ideas will come.

Use that as a reminder when you feel that your ideas aren’t good enough.

Creativity is Hard Work- Be consistent

Creativity has a mystique about it. People who consider themselves uncreative believe that some people just are creative, and that they have the ability to just go off into a room somewhere and emerge a few hours later with new brilliant ideas.

Here’s the big secret of creativity: Creativity is hard work!

Just like any other endeavor, tapping into and applying your creativity is less a function of natural talent or inspiration and more a function of discipline and effort.

If you want to unlock and apply your creativity, do the following three things:

1) Be consistent:

Creative inspiration is wonderful; it is also rare. Once in a while I will be suddenly struck with an idea for a story, article, or speech. When this happens, it’s great. But if I just waited for these moments, I would accomplish very little.

The problem is that most people wait around for inspiration. They are paralyzed with non-action because nothing comes to them.

This is where consistency becomes important. People who write for a living will tell you that the most important thing is to “get the butt in the seat.” That is, everyday, inspired or not, they need to sit at their desk and write. This type of consistency generates a volume of creative work, regardless of inspiration.

If you are trying to use your creativity for any purpose, then be consistent! Put some work in everyday, even if you feel blocked up. By being consistent, not only will you continue to generate ideas, but you will also be cultivating your creativity so that inspiration is more likely to hit.

This approach can also be applied to cultivating creativity. There are drills and exercises that can unlock and develop your creativity. However, these drills and exercises are useless if not

used. They are also ineffective if not done consistently over a period of time. Just like a physical muscle that needs to be gradually strengthened over time, so too does your creative muscle.

How do you keep going even when you feel blocked up? That’s the next point…

 

Twenty Ways to Stress Less, Achieve More, and Laugh…

  1. Do something that makes you laugh, every day. Watch comedies, listen to a funny radio show, talk to a friend you like to laugh with.Don’t let a day go by without laughing.
  2. Live your professional life by following  the advice: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” No matter how good you are, resolve to get better.
  3. “Flow” is a powerfully productive state where you do your best work and do it faster than you would otherwise. Make it a goal to get into Flow as often as possible.
  4. Meet more people, make more friends. No matter what you want to achieve, chances are you are going to need someone else’s help, advice, mentoring, support, or business. The more people you know, the easier everything becomes.
  5. If you want to understand a person’s true nature, see how they react when things go wrong. Anyone can do well and be nice and put on a happy face when everything goes right. How do they react when things go wrong? Sure, we all have bad days and bad moments. But if someone always responds to setbacks poorly, that says a lot about their character.
  6. Dream big, but not so big . Your dreams should inspire you and pull you forward, not depress you because you think you’ll never achieve them.
  7. Do you wake up in the morning excited (or at least happy) to get out of bed and go to work? The answer doesn’t always have to be “yes,” but if it’s always “no,” then it’s time for a change.
  8. Stop resisting your inner voice. If you ever feel the urge to do something but hold back because you think, “I could never do that,” or, “that’s stupid,” or, “what would so-and-so say if they saw me do this?” then you are just restricting yourself. Sure, if you want to do something illegal, immoral, or that could get you in a lot of trouble, the holding back is just fine. Otherwise, try new stuff, play, and be content to be looked at like a weirdo.
  9. Let go out of what you can’t control. That means stop obsessing about the past, stop freaking out about the future, and stop worrying about what others might think, do, or say. Yes, you can influence those things, but you can’t control them. So stop stressing and start letting go.
  10. Realize that many of your disagreements will come from unstated expectations. Someone violates a “rule” that you have, even though they had no idea that rule existed. Be a little forgiving and open minded when that happens. .
  11. If you know certain things stress you out, develop stress-coping-strategies to deal with them. This could be meditation, deep breathing, journaling, hitting the heavy bag, working out, etc. Whatever works for you. There’s really no excuse to walk into a stress inducing situation without having a plan for dealing with the stress you know is coming.
  12. “Someday,” may never come. If you are holding off on something, saying you’ll do it “someday,” find a way to do it “today,” instead (or schedule a day so it’s a specific date and not just “someday.”).
  13. Understand the difference between leisure time and recharge time. Leisure is when you shut your mind off completely and do nothing. Recharge is where you do something that…well…recharges you. People often use “leisure” as a way of recharging, but it usually never works. Do you feel energized to do more work after watching TV or surfing the internet? Probably not. Make sure you know the difference and have set up a serious of recharge activities for yourself
  14. Go deeper with your study. Don’t just read the books of personal development people you like. Go read the books they reference. Find the studies they mention. Not only will you increase your depth of understanding, but you’ll also find that some of those books don’t quite understand the source material they’re quoting all that well…
  15. Decide right now if it’s more important for you to be happy or to be right. Once you let go of the need to always be “right,” you’ll find yourself much happier. You don’t always have to be wrong (and if the other person demands that, then you have other problems), but focus more on being happy and you will be.
  16. Find a physical activity you really enjoy doing, that you would do even if it burned zero calories, and staying fit gets a whole lot easier.
  17. Not all relationships need to be continued or pursued. Your time is your most precious commodity, so don’t waste it with people who drain you, block you, bring you down, or prevent you from doing and being all you can and want.
  18. Define your relationships (personal, business, family, etc) by what works for you, not by what everyone else is doing. There’s no “universal right way,” so don’t get stresses if other people have set up a different relationship dynamic than you. Half of those people are not doing all that well anyway.
  19. Need motivation? Reduce the size of the task before you. When you try to tackle too much at once, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And that’s a big de-motivator.
  20. Take time to remind yourself just what exactly you are working so hard for. Don’t be so focused on the task that you forget the big picture. If you can’t some up with the reason why, it may be time to rethink your life.

Multi Skilling: Juggling More Balls In The Air

In this fast moving world, people are required to do much more than earlier. Everybody wants to equip himself with a variety of skills. We want to be adept at driving, skiing, managing people, organizing parties, raising children. Time is short, so make hay while the sun shines. This is the new age mantra. Multi skilling has finally arrived.

In organizations, managers are happy to recruit multi talented employees. Can you handle teams? Are you competent to organize events? Can you train and motivate your subordinates? Can you also sell? Well, then walk right in, they say. Multi skilled people seem to be the answer to many of organizational challenges.

All organizations go through a change process. Dynamic environment and changing market scenarios force organizations to be flexible. Meeting competition head on requires companies to always be on the ball. Taller hierarchical structures give way to flatter matrix organizations. Designations have evaporated with the reduction of organization levels.

Some organizations are spread out across various industries. Given the multi dimensioned nature of organizations, people also have to make use of multi dimension skills. And hence the entry of the multi skilled employee.

Organizations which multi skill employees use lateral shifts as a mode of employee training and development. Cross functional skills are adopted. Employees are given cross functional training to increase the talent pool. Knowledge sharing is encouraged and formally acknowledged in these organizations.

Employees have to multi skill themselves to make more talent available to organizations. It is also a refreshing change of environment for employees who have been specializing in certain functions. Very often managers have reported an influx of new ideas, out of box thinking and creative solution generation purely by role reversals and lateral moves. This helps organizations to gear up for any future personnel requirement.

Though the concept of multi skilling seems rosy, the only real drawback is that multi skilling makes the employees stretch to the limits. Sometimes, there is an undercurrent of frustration. New jobs, new environment, and new learning can unnerve employees. They fear about not being able to live up to the expectations. Often, employees are uncomfortable with the changes and can’t deal with the conflict of the role and their personality.

Without proper counseling and training, multi skilling can backfire. Employees need to be guided and supported through the entire process of multi skilling. Training with feedback is of paramount importance. Multi skilling is a developmental process; it needs to be handled with sensitivity.

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