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HR Connection blog

Employee Engagement: Now More Important Than Ever

on Nov 4, 2020 9:30:00 AM By | Baili Bigham | 0 Comments | Employee Engagement Management
As the world moves into the “new normal” and a new frontier emerges in the state of work, HR departments across the world are being asked to ramp up their employee engagement efforts. The pandemic and its effects on the economy have shaken many organizations to their core,  revealing incredible humanity and resiliency—as well as deep fissures that require attention. No one has a roadmap for what comes next, yet the longstanding correlation between employee engagement and organizational health is a clear sign that focusing on engagement can help companies navigate the uncertainly ahead.
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Four Ways Leaders Can Temper and Overly Critical Approach

on Oct 14, 2020 10:15:00 AM By | Terri Klass | 0 Comments | Management Empathy Criticism
Spending an enormous amount of time out of the office over the past several months has given many people the opportunity to do some thinking. For some leaders, that reflection may result in excessive analysis of their team members or assignments to the point of focusing on the negative. These days "nagging" employees about their work probably says more about a leader's need for more control during these unpredictable times than it says about the actual work itself. Leaders are feeling a lack of control, which manifests as overly critical feedback. They may also be feeling insecure about adding value and turning out the highest level of deliverables. Right now, many leaders are in the same boat, each trying to navigate this uncertain time period. In order to lead more completely, though, leaders need to be aware of this context and examine their actions and motivations closely. By combining deep analysis with empathy, they can find ways to temper their excessive criticism.   Be Honest About Current Feelings Before a leader responds to a less-than-favorable situation, they should take stock of their feelings about it. Self-aware leaders are better able to respond thoughtfully (rather than simply react immediately). To understand their current state of mind, they should ask themselves the following questions: Do I have any particular biases about the person who is sharing this information? Am I able to listen to the entire message without jumping in with my ideas? Is my rush to comment affecting this interaction? How do I feel right now? (Angry? Frustrated? Defensive? Open-minded?) Would it be better to have this conversation at a later date when I am in a different state of mind? Analyze, Don't Criticize Leaders who want to avoid being overly critical should stick to facts and observations and avoid negative belittling. When faced with a team member or colleague who holds a different point of view, leaders should try to address the divide by backing up their own opinions with specific data. Similarly, presenting descriptive, detailed suggestions - and steering clear of nebulous language - can help a leader ensure a more positive reception of their analysis.   Use Respectful Words and Body Language Excessive criticism often involves attacking others with disrespect. Even in disagreement, leaders should be respectful of differences and mindful of how others perceive their words and body language. Nonverbal communication can speak louder than actual words, particularly if the speaker is seen as being too critical. Some simple strategies can help leaders maintain a respectful approach: Consider the positives before sharing the negatives. (Leaders don't need to sugarcoat the truth. They just need to look at all sides of a situation.) Rather than be "judgy" and jump to conclusions, leaders should use words that honor the other person's intentions. Smile and strive to be approachable. Even when offering negative feedback, leaders want others to listen with the openness that results from a personal connection. Never point fingers (literally) at someone. That hand gesture is aggressive and unfriendly, and often reminds adults of being reprimanded by their parents or teachers. Include Empathy and Kindness When employees sense that their leaders are genuinely invested in how they may be feeling, those leaders will be able to share honest feedback successfully. Leaders who get in the habit of trying to look at situations through the perspectives of others will create meaningful connections with them. As these respectful relationships flourish, the need for overly critical feedback diminishes. The result will be a valuable conversation build on mutual trust, respect, and kindness.
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What HR Will Look LIke After COVID-19

on Oct 7, 2020 10:09:00 AM By | Danielle Cronquist | 0 Comments | Company Culture Management Remote Coronavirus
Over the past several months, many organizations have transitioned to fully remote work, weddings and graduations have been canceled, and destination vacations have been put on indefinite hold. Across the USA, COVID-19 numbers continue to vary wildly, with some states seeing dropoffs in their cases while others experiencing resurgences as they make attempts to reopen. Everyone is desperate for normalcy to return, but what that will look like after the pandemic isn't completely clear yet. Even though this isn't the world's (or even the nation's) first pandemic, it's hard to know exactly how - and when - it will end. Business operations will certainly be different in the post-COVID-19 world. HR departments in particular should start looking now at predictions for what "normal" life will be like in the future so they be prepared when employees return to their offices and business can operate as usual.   More Remote Work At the beginning of the pandemic, many offices transitioned as quickly as possible to being fully remote. (Even now, as states are opening back up, many businesses continue to encourage working from home where feasible.) Many of these newly remote employees have found that they enjoy working from home and are more productive there. In-office work isn't going to disappear, but now that employers have seen that workers can be just as productive from home as in the office and some employees have found they prefer working in the solitude of their homes, more companies will offer remote work options after the pandemic. In addition, because many companies have taken financial hits during COVID-19 and will be interested to reduce costs by cutting back on the amount of expensive office space they need.   Increased Wellness Programs COVID-19 has taken a heavy mental, physical, and financial toll on many people. When the lockdowns and quarantines finally end, employees may need help getting back on track and destressing. By providing employees with resources and support in key wellness areas such as finances and mental health, companies can help those workers (and their organizations) adjust to the new normal.   Adjusted Sick Leave With a new emphasis on staying healthy and everyone feeling a bit germaphobic, many companies may choose to adjust their sick-leave policies. This could mean allowing for more sick days so employees don't feel the need to come to work if they're unsure about their health. Or it might mean encouraging employees to perform symptom checks every morning and to work from home if they show any signs of illness, even if they are feeling well enough to work.   Mask Wearing Whether or not working from home is possible, it seems likely that most employers will require or strongly encourage employees to wear face masks until COVID-19 is completely eradicated. If companies choose to have their employees follow this practice, they may wish to provide them with reusable or disposable masks.   Greater Emphasis on Company Culture Well before COVID-19, HR departments have championed company culture. But the pandemic has helped workers and executives recognize the importance of having a strong company culture in place to raise employee engagement and company performance. Culture is easier to build and maintain in an office, where coworkers can model it for each other. But when the workforce is dispersed, a company's culture is more likely to fracture - or even cease to exist completely. HR will need to work hard to counter that effect.   Altered Hiring and Budget Plans COVID-19 has had a strong negative impact on the economy, with many businesses experiencing layoffs and expense cuts. Moving forward, HR departments must work with hiring and budget plans that look extremely different from the ones they had at the start of the year. With fewer funds available for hiring and recruitment, many HR departments will choose to look internally for candidates. It's more cost effective to train a current employee to step into a bigger role than it is to seek out a new hire from outside. Not only will hiring internally save on costs, but offering promotions can help boost employee engagement and morale. Because the pandemic has affected every business in different ways, it's impossible to say exactly what the post-COVID-19 world will look like for any one organization. It is safe, however, to say that things will change. To help smooth the transition, companies should start planning now for their return to the office and eventual return to normal business.
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Coaching From Afar

on Sep 23, 2020 9:55:00 AM By | Valerie Grubb | 0 Comments | Management Coaching
Coaching tops the list of skills that many executives look for in their frontline managers, and for good reason: effective coaching can dramatically increase employee engagement and intrinsic motivation. Considering that only about one-third of U.S. workers are engaged and managers have a huge influence on employee engagement (they "account for at least 70 percent of the variance" in those metrics!), it's clear that managers need to ramp up their coaching skills.   What is Effective Coaching? As a developmental and inquiry-oriented tool focused on future behavior, coaching helps employees move ahead by releasing their potential (even if they don't know they have it in them!). Good coaching can yield benefits for employees, for their managers, and for their organizations. It enables employees to take on more responsibility and become more accomplished, for example. Other potential benefits include greater employee retention and higher quality work. To be an effective coach who helps employees develop greater intrinsic motivation, a manager should use the following strategies: Support employees - and challenge them, too. Listen. Ask challenging questions, but don't hand out answers. Provide a new lens. Offer a wider range of options. Emphasize ownership and accountability. How Does Coaching Change When Everyone Is Working From Home?  Coaching is defined by interpersonal interactions. The continually evolving nature of the coaching relationship is further complicated today by the fact that managers and employees are no longer working together onsite. During these times of widespread work-from-home arrangements, managers have to be even more intentional in their efforts to motivate and engage employees. Coaching from afar is possible during these challenging times. It just requires a slight shift in approach, intentionality, and mindset. First, keep in mind that good coaching is good coaching. That holds true whether a manager and an employee are seated on opposite sides of the same desk or are looking at each other in a virtual meeting. Regardless of the setting, the foundations of effective coaching remain the same: intentionality and consistency. Even when everyone has the best of intentions to communicate regularly, "out of sight, out of mind" can still rear its ugly head. And even when everyone is in the office, it's easy for managers to focus on the tasks on their own plates and not spend enough time checking in on - and developing - their direct reports. When everyone's in a shared physical workplace, at least there's the possibility of having ad-hoc meetings ("Hey, glad I caught you! Let's go grab a quick coffee and chat!"). But those aren't even an option when everyone is geographically scattered. That's why when everyone is working remotely and not seeing each other regularly in the office, it's more critical than ever to schedule - and follow through on - weekly check-ins. At the start of each week, managers need to block out time on their calendars for employee coaching, then treat that time as sacred (because frequent rescheduling sends a "you're not a priority" message to employees). Because they need to be fully present (and free of distractions) to provide good coaching, managers should be sure to choose times when they can truly focus their energies on being the coaches they wish they had had. These meetings aren't just for making sure that projects are on schedule. Even though the concept of an "office" has changed recently, that doesn't mean that employees, companies, and managers have stopped pursuing growth opportunities and working toward goals. Coaching is still essential. In fact, it may even be more essential than ever now, as employees increasingly look to their leaders for guidance during these uncertain times.
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Is Your Organization Fit for the Future?

on Sep 9, 2020 10:00:00 AM By | Ron Thomas | 0 Comments | Management Growth Mindset
We have all heard the talk of mindsets, whether it is fixed or growth. However, as you have probably read, it always centered around the individual. It is described as a belief that your qualities are carved in stone and lead to a host of thoughts and actions. At the same time, a belief that your qualities can be cultivated and lead to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road. Each mindset takes you to a different path or level of development.
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Six Ways Front End Work Assures Productive Success

on Sep 2, 2020 9:30:00 AM By | Laura Stack | 0 Comments | Productivity Management Time Management Planning
While a journey of a thousand miles really does begin with a single step (whether you’re hiking, driving, or flying), what you do before taking that step is crucial. There are always at least a few things you’ll need to prepare before you head out. For example: you wouldn’t go camping without packing a tent, sleeping bags, food, and a lighter, would you? So why go off half-cocked on a work project?
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How to Develop and Hire Leaders That People Want to Follow

on Aug 5, 2020 10:00:00 AM By | Whitney Johnson | 0 Comments | Leadership Management Professionalism
Some people are born leaders–naturally charismatic and able to attract and motivate followers to high achievement–seemingly without effort. But most are made.
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Making Midyear Check-ins More Meaningful

on Jul 29, 2020 8:30:00 AM By | Kevin Eikenberry | 0 Comments | Management Accountability
If you are coaching others in the workplace, you probably have some sort of performance management process. While these typically culminate in the annual meeting, many suggest or require at least a midyear check-in too. Even if your process doesn’t suggest that, I believe you benefit everyone by having midyear check-ins. The question is, how to have them, or how to get the most from them?
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How to Encourage a Culture of Open Communication

on Jul 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM By | Greg Smith | 0 Comments | communication Employee Engagement Management Accessibility
Positive employee sentiment has a significant influence on the productivity of your business. The first step to achieving this is to hire the right people for the job. The next step is to cultivate a culture that your employees never want to leave–meaning a culture where your employees’ thoughts and opinions are valued.
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Leaders vs. Managers: What Is In Your Toolkit?

on May 27, 2020 10:15:00 AM By | Ron Thomas | 0 Comments | Leadership Management
Which one are you? Maybe you are a hybrid or a little of both with other ingredients added in for flavor.
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