Recognize Employee Achievements: 5 Ways how to give Positive Feedback | Featured Image

Recognize Employee Achievements: 5 Ways how to give Positive Feedback

Recognize Employee Achievements: 5 Ways how to give Positive Feedback | Main Image

Feedback shouldn’t only be given when there’s a problem. It’s also important to let your employees know they’re on the right track and that they’re valued within the company. Recognizing achievements can signal to other employees the types of skills that should be enhanced and behavior that should be replicated. For those of you who are uncomfortable giving positive feedback, following the right steps will help you to deliver honest recognition that doesn’t feel forced or insincere.

Putting positive feedback to the test

In his insightful Ted Talk “What makes us feel good about our work?”, behavioral economist Dan Ariely describes an experiment he conducted on the correlation between recognition and motivation. In the experiment people were offered declining amounts of money to circle pairs of identical letters on a sheet of paper. In the first scenario, people had to write their name on the paper. When they were finished, they handed it to an experimenter who quickly scanned the paper, said “aha” and placed it on a pile. In the second scenario, the participants did not write their name on the paper. When they were finished, the experimenter placed the paper on the pile without looking at it. In the final scenario, the experimenter put the sheets directly into a shredder.

The results showed that people in the first scenario ended up working for half as much money as the people in the third scenario. Watching their work being destroyed immediately was extremely demotivating, despite being offered money to do an easy task over and over again. Surprisingly, it turns out that the average stopping point for people in the second scenario was almost the same as those in the third. As Mr. Ariely explained, “Ignoring people’s performance was almost as bad as shredding it in front of their eyes.” Even just a simple acknowledgment from the experimenter had a marked impact on the subjects’ motivation.

Why is positive feedback important?

A common misconception is that motivation in the workplace is primarily based on monetary rewards. It’s not always possible to give your employees a raise every time they do well, and surprisingly it might not be the strongest incentive either. A 2013 study by Make Their Day and Badgeville revealed that 83% of employees surveyed found recognition for contributions to be more fulfilling than rewards and gifts. Another 88% believed praise from managers in particular was either very or extremely motivating.

Positive feedback lets your employees know that they’re valued by the company and is especially important for building confidence in newer employees. It’s also helpful to give positive feedback when an employee improves in an area they had previously had difficulty with, making it very useful as a follow up to constructive feedback.

Don’t forget that your top performers also need positive feedback. Many managers tend to neglect their top performers when it comes to feedback because they see it more as a tool for helping improve the performance of employees who are struggling. Recognizing them for their efforts and showing appreciation are important steps to retaining your top talent.

While creating a positive feedback culture starts with managers, encouraging your employees to give positive feedback to each other is the step that will diffuse and institutionalize the practice within the office. The Make Their Day/Badgeville study reported that 76% of respondents saw praise from peers as very or extremely motivating. Peer-to-peer feedback can inspire better interpersonal relationships between employees and boost team spirit.

How to give positive feedback:

  1. Be specific

Avoid generic comments like “good job!” Explain what your employee did in particular so they can learn what type of behavior they should keep up in future. Instead of saying “you’re a great team player” describe what they did and why you appreciated it. “The extra coaching you gave to the new recruits on the last project helped them to learn the appropriate procedures, and helped our department to reach our deadline on time.” This will also help managers who are uncomfortable giving positive feedback. If you stick with stating the facts and why you thought their performance deserved recognition you can avoid clichés.

  1. Timing

Timing is an important aspect of giving positive feedback. If you wait too long both you and the receiver might forget the details of their performance. This will undermine one of the main reasons for giving positive feedback: pointing out positive behavior so it can be encouraged and replicated. If you put it off for too long, when the employee finally receives appreciation for their work, so much time may have passed that it could feel more like an afterthought. If you don’t have time to speak with them straight away, send them a message or email. Letting the opportunity to give praise go by in some instances and not others can unintentionally create double standards.

  1. Get into the habit of giving feedback more frequently

Failing to recognize when your team has gone above and beyond can demotivate them. Not recognizing their efforts will tell them they simply met expectations. Getting into the habit of giving positive feedback more often will motivate your employees to achieve more.

Be careful not to base positive feedback exclusively on results. Sometimes even if an employee puts forth their best effort, a project could fall through due to funding, a client may decide to go in a different direction, etc. It’s at these times that positive feedback can be most effective in counteracting the demotivating feeling your employee may be experiencing after not seeing their efforts materialize.

  1. Set goals and new challenges

Even if you only have positive feedback to give, you should encourage your employees to continue improving by helping them set goals and new challenges. This is especially important for top performers who may become demotivated if they don’t feel they’re developing or being challenged.

Start by asking them if they have any professional goals or objectives they’d like to accomplish in the next few months, or in the next few years. Consider how these short and long term goals could fit with the company’s objectives. Then offer support finding ways they could achieve these goals, for example, taking on a stretch assignment or participating in a training course. Keep in mind that the goals you’re setting together should be challenging but achievable, and won’t cut into your employee’s work-life balance.

  1. Encourage a positive feedback culture

A 2009 Mckinsey Quarterly survey found that respondents saw praise from their managers, leadership attention and a chance to lead projects or task forces as no less or even more effective motivators than cash based incentives. Aside from giving praise, you can also recognize your employees’ achievements by suggesting they give feedback and coaching to peers who are having difficulties in that particular area. This can help top employees develop leadership skills, and at the same time boost the performance levels of other employees.

Alternatively, you could suggest they give a presentation on this project, skill, etc. to the team. This will demonstrate an example of what you’re looking for to other employees and reinforce your recognition of their success. If employees share their successes with the rest of the team more often it will help foster a sense of community. Encouraging your employees to give more feedback and empowering them with new leadership skills is one of the best ways to keep them challenged and motivated.

Summary and take-aways:

An effective manager consistently recognizes their employees’ strengths and achievements with positive feedback. Employees who feel their work is appreciated by their manager and peers are highly motivated and more likely to stick with their current job. Giving more positive feedback can be a great way to encourage team spirit and a positive work culture.

  • Give examples and be specific
  • Don’t wait too long
  • Give feedback more frequently
  • Don’t base feedback on results
  • Set goals and new challenges
  • Encourage peer-to-peer feedback and sharing of achievements

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People Science: Why Your Employees Are Your Most Important Asset

Written by Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail.

People Science

We are in the midst of a global skills crisis that is forcing companies to rethink how they attract and retain the right talent. Imagine being able to know why the top salesperson at a business has quit, and then how to ensure it doesn’t happen again. What if businesses could use the profiles of their top performers to identify the candidates most likely to be high performers in the future.

Business leaders are looking for more, data-driven people decisions enabling business goals. I’m not talking about simplistic HR metrics and KPIs; I’m talking about People Science. This means being able to know why one of the firm’s top performers has quit, or what experiences new hires need to get up to speed quickly. It means the ability to hire and develop the right people today while building the skills needed for tomorrow.

What’s more – today’s people insights can prevent tomorrow’s problems. For example, the capability to know the reason why a top performer has quit can help to ensure that the business builds the right work environment, offers the right compensation packages, and creates consistently great workforce experiences to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future. By looking at the profiles of the best business leaders today, and the skills likely to be needed in the future, tomorrow’s leaders can be identified and developed so they are ready with the right skills at the right time.

It’s not just about what the business wants though; employees have high expectations too. They want achievable targets based on metrics, specific reasons why they haven’t been promoted, and insight which can help them to develop. For example, it may be possible to let a sales consultant know they don’t perform as well when pitching to prospective clients in teams, which could enable them to improve the way they collaborate with their colleagues.

There’s a growing theme here. These examples of insight gleaned from data aren’t just about HR; they’re about people and the overall business. Put simply, a new approach is required to the HR function. Automating existing HR processes is not enough. HR leaders need to become Chief People Officers – thinking differently about how they engage with employees and design better ways of working to drive productivity and retain your best people. The power of People Science is real, and it could make a huge difference in being able to outwit rivals, ensure the business has a competitive edge and be able to retain and recruit top talent.

About the Author:

Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail

Adam Hale, CEO at Fairsail, previously acted as Executive Chairman and Non Executive Director having spent over 30 years in the technology industry. He was formerly Head of Software and European Technology at Russell Reynolds Associates, the leading executive search firm and before that ran large system implementation projects at Accenture. Adam is also a committee member of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.


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NCC Home Learning | The HR Tech Weekly®

Simple Steps to Subside Stress

Performed by NCC Home Learning.

What Is Stress?

Stress is something we have all heard of and may have also experienced at home or at work. We assume that stress is a bad thing but it can also be an important factor in driving us forward.

What is stress?

Without stress, humankind would not have survived. Cavemen and women needed stress to alert them to possible danger.

Stress is a physical response. When the body is under attack it switches to fight or flight mode. This causes a mixture of hormones and chemicals to be released, preparing the body for physical action. This causes several reactions, including blood being diverted to muscles and shutting down unnecessary bodily functions, such as digestion.

In other words, we gain a rush of energy, preparing us to either fight the danger or run from it. The heart pounds, breathing quickens and we focus our immediate attention on the situation.

In the modern world, we may no longer be pursued by predators like our cave-dwelling ancestors but there are still plenty of times when a stressful situation needs dealing with, such as a pedestrian stepping out in front of your car.

The challenge with stress is when our body goes into stress at inappropriate times. When blood surges to our muscles preparing for fight or flight, brain function is minimised, leading to the inability to ‘think straight’.

This hinders us at work and at home. If we stay in this stressed state for long periods, it will eventually be detrimental to our health. And this is when stress turns bad.

What causes stress?

Triggers differ from one person to another, although there are commonalities. Many people name money – usually lack of – as the main source of stress in their lives, followed by worries over health and relationships.

For many people, stress is linked closely with work, with the feeling of being overloaded and overburdened as being the main source of their stress.

How many people suffer from stress?

It is difficult to get a complete and accurate picture of how many people in the UK suffer from long-term, negative stress.

This is because there is still a stigma attached to stress. At one time, it was commonplace that anyone seen to be suffering from stress was perceived as weak. Slowly, attitudes are changing but many employees are still not ‘admitting’ to their employers when they take time off due to stress, telling them that it was a physical illness instead.

Surveys and research findings however, all point to long term stress as having a significant impact. 1 in 4 people admit to feeling stressed, with a quarter of those surveyed admitting that they had been feeling this way for a year or more.

What effects does stress have on your health?

Long-term, negative stress can impact on your health in many ways;

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Raised blood pressure, sometimes to dangerous levels
  • Chest pains
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Depression

What is the impact of stress on personal and work life?

Stress doesn’t only affect someone physically and emotionally – it affects personal relationships too.

Many people who are stressed present a negative attitude. They can be irritable which places relationships under stress. Many people take time off work, unable to face another day of stress at work.

How does stress affect business?

For employers, stress is a hidden issue and one that they are concerned to deal with. This includes ensuring that employees have opportunities to discuss issues that may be causing them concern or stress at work.

Stress is the cause of millions of lost working days every year which has a detrimental effect on a business. Many employers are keen to take steps to reduce the impact of stress on their staff and thus their business.

What are the techniques to relieve stress?

There are many techniques that you can use to release stress at work and at home. As stress is a very personal issue, the methods and techniques that work for one person, may not work for another.

However, experts agree that the first step is identify what stress is that person, and to identify the cause or triggers to a stress reaction.

The ‘Managing Stress Programme’ from NCC Home Learning is for those students who wish to understand the principles of stress management and how to include these at work, or any situation that causes stress.

Like all our courses, this can be studied from home or at work, giving you the freedom to complete your studies in your own time and at your own pace.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Simple Steps to Subside Stress | by NCC Home Learning

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Brexit, Trump, and the Future of Work | The HR Tech Weekly®

Brexit, Trump, and the Future of Work

Written by Alex Cooper, on behalf of HR Tech World.

trump-brexit-and-the-future-of-work-blue

There’s no doubt the world is going through a huge shift in paradigms when it comes to conceptualizing work. While technology rapidly advances, companies are trying their best to adapt. Tech is changing how we understand what we do, how we work, and even how we see the world around us. The disruption that technology is having in the world of work, however, is not the only disruption entering our lives. With the Brexit referendum passing in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, disruption seems to have gone ballistic.

As Josh Bersin notes, understanding the future of work is more than just simply comprehending technological innovation. The political events occurring in some of the world’s leading economic powers are drastically changing our approaches to society, the workplace, and how we view each other. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, the fact remains that these two events have drastically changed HR and work, not only in the respective countries, but globally.

Brexit, which has dominated the news channels in the U.K. and the E.U, has already had a huge impact on people and work. At the core is the unresolved question as to what this means for those living in the U.K. who are able to work and live there due to the E.U.’s free movement of labor policy. As soon as the results were in, businesses and their HR departments had to immediately confront the problems of how to deal with future recruitment plans and how to manage the implications for staffing and profitability if the U.K. were to leave the European single-market.

The U.K. government, led by Prime Minister Theresa May, currently appears to have set the controls for a hard break with the E.U., and as of yet there is no released plan for the road ahead; in spite of this, somehow companies must reevaluate their talent acquisition plans and employer branding. Although PM May insisted this week that E.U. citizens would maintain their right to live in the U.K. Without a concrete legal guarantee, there is little to stem the tide of fear and uncertainty this creates for people and organisations. The Financial Times recently reported that 58 percent of senior executives in major U.K. companies believe the Brexit referendum has negatively affected business:

“In terms of their priorities for the forthcoming negotiations, the business leaders said movement of labour and access to skilled labour came the highest, followed by securing free trade or retaining the single market with the EU and passporting rights. The interviewees said that to be successful in a post-Brexit UK, they wanted the level and complexity of regulation to be reduced and for it to still be easy to recruit EU staff.”

The other obvious shockwave is the rise of Donald Trump in the United States. President Trump relied heavily on his business experience during the campaign and used it to his advantage with the electorate. Yet, in his two weeks in office, Trump has received a backlash from within the business community due to a recent executive order on immigration.

Business leaders came out strongly against the ban because it directly conflicts with their operations. Bloomberg reported that Google CEO Sunar Pichai sent a note to employees after the order was issued condemning the ban and informing the company that the executive order affected 100 Google employees. Google also recalled staff from abroad because of the roll out of the ban, which temporarily barred even employees with work visas and permanent resident status in the U.S. from re-entering the country.

The order barring individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—has since been temporarily stopped by federal court.

At the end of the day, Article 50 still hasn’t been triggered and Trump is only 2 weeks into his presidency with the ban being frozen. However, these situations have caused alarm and posed questions about employees positions within the organizations in which they work, whether they are non-U.K. EU citizens in the U.K. or workers in the U.S. from one of the countries included in Trump’s immigration ban. There are at time of writing no clear paths as to what is next; negotiations between the UK and the E.U. have yet to begin, and in the US states and rights groups are pushing back against the immigration ban through the legal system.

As we move through the first few months of 2017 Brexit and the Trump Presidency leave companies and their HR departments no hiding place; they must begin planning for a wide variety of disruptive scenarios. Businesses are already developing ways to counteract any negative effect and those that are the most agile are often better able to cope with disruption. On the subject of Brexit, for example a Financial Times report states, “A large majority [of business leaders] — 96 per cent — was confident their business could adapt to the consequences of leaving the EU, and more than two-thirds had already taken action in response to the referendum result. A tenth were moving business outside the UK.”

In an interview with HRN about Brexit for the upcoming HR Tech World London show, economist Daniel Thorniley told Peter Russell, Director of Research and Development at HRN, “companies and HR departments will need to show a lot of consideration for staff in how the want to retain staff and motivate them over the next 2-3 years… This time of elevated uncertainty will show which companies can produce Best Practice in HR.”

With socio-economic and political disruption coming in on top of all the media noise on artificial intelligence and robotics it’s no small wonder there is fear and confusion about where the future of work is headed. Precarity does not seem to be dissolving anytime soon; a calm breath, alongside a compassionate and proactive stance should be pushed to the fore. Being preemptive in this regard could save businesses from impaired employee performance, future talent and recruitment headaches, and do much to inject a massive boost of trust and confidence into both worried employees, and those hard-earned employer brands.

About the Author:

Alex Cooper is the Content Specialist of HRN, organizer of HR Tech World shows, and curates the HRN Blog. You can follow him on Twitter @wgacooper.


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Recruiting and Retention in a Gig Economy: What to Expect in 2017 and Beyond

Entrepreneur Working on His MacBook

Independent workers, or freelancers, have always been part of most industries. For years, professional writers and coders have thrived off temporary positions with multiple organizations. It was simply a game of leveraging an ever-expanding network to find new opportunities.

But in recent years it has caught on like wildfire.

A 2015 Intuit study predicts that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers, or an estimated 7.6 million, “will be regularly working as providers in the on-demand economy.”

While most of the country enjoys low unemployment figures, some questions linger: what will the workforce look like when more employees decide to work independently?

How will Human Resources technology adapt to as more workers turn freelance?

Most employers aren’t concerned with communication, expectation, and deliverables of freelancers. Recruiting and retaining top talent is, as always, at the top of their to-do list.

However, a recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that “Workers who possess strong technical, management, leadership, or creative abilities are best positioned to take advantage of the opportunity to create a working life that incorporates flexibility, autonomy, and meaning.”

In other words, the same top talent organizations are investing in securing.

From an Organization’s Perspective

Since its inception, independent contractors have been widely viewed as dispensable employees who work on one campaign and are then left to find new work. It had become an accepted form of management and, when needed, utilized to temporarily fill a gap in hiring or meet a deadline.

It was an agreement both parties had come to accept, if not begrudgingly on part of the contractor.

With steady-building numbers and a resounding voice, independent contractors are beginning to find themselves in a position to make more demands than ever before. The Wall Street Journal reports that “contractors and consultants… demand to be treated with dignity and almost as if they’re your employee,” vigorously shaking themselves of the former “disposable” identity they had come to loathe.

As more top talent takes the leap into independent work, organizations must reframe their perception of a contractor’s role within the organization—an interesting evolution to watch for in coming years.

An Overdue Evolution for Top Talent

Take the alarmist nature above with a grain of salt.

Employees who excel at their work are simply finding more opportunities; their energies focused on more challenging and interesting work benefits them—and it should.

Positioning themselves towards better financial tides, great talent receives the income, schedule, flexibility, and benefits they seek. In short: they’ve become entrepreneurs within their respected industries.

It may seem uncertain how organizations will grapple with the growing trend, however those who see the opportunities will benefit.

What Becomes of the Workforce?

There is still room for uncertainty, of course. The idea of a gig economy instills thoughts of empty offices, those left performing menial tasks while their contemporaries increase their personal value.

The simplest way to regard the consulting revolution is in terms of career advancement. The consultant has reached a new stage in their career and is flourishing.

Organizations will “expand [the] talent pool to incorporate gig economy workers on vital roles,” according to a recent HR Tech Weekly post.

This, of course, raises questions about benefits, employee relations, training, and more. Questions that HCM software will undoubtedly come to address as the gig economy continues its expansion.

Existing full-time employees will see benefits as well. As recruitment strategies begin to loosen, organizations will focus attention on retaining full-time employees they’ve already invested in. A recent Forbes article offers that “companies that invest as much time and resources in the development of their talent will be the real winners in the coming years.”

Likewise, candidates once overlooked by organizations will be reconsidered as their peers turn to consultant work. The gig economy can benefit every party involved, so long as organizations understand how to leverage the new workforce.

Let the Internal Talent Search Begin!

If the gig economy teaches us one thing, it’s that niche skills are sought by multiple organizations. Employees should (if they have not already) harness unique skillsets to gain from the new order—especially if they are full-time employees.

By harnessing known and new skill-sets, current employees may find themselves trained and nurtured to higher positions within an organization—especially as more and more explore independent work.

2017 inches us closer to before-mentioned Intuit predictions, and they are not likely to be off my much. Start the year off by refining crafted skills and exploring new ones.

Leadership is watching and determined to retain as many employees as possible.


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Enhancing Your Workplace Performance with 360-Degree Feedback

Written by Steffen Maier. Originally published at Impraise Blog.

Startup Stock Photos

By now, you’re probably familiar with the term 360-degree feedback (If not, check out our handy guide here for an outline and some perks of introducing it into your workplace.)

If you want a feedback process that gets the best from your team and allows them to grow, 360-feedback is the way forward. It’s a collaborative process which eliminates issues that arise when only managers provide insight, instead allowing people to gain a more well-rounded view of their strengths, weaknesses and how they are able to develop within their team.

Self-Awareness & Accountability

Feedback culture can also lead to higher levels of self-awareness. In reviewing their colleagues, people will have an increased awareness of how they perceive others’ workplace behaviours and performance, likely making them more self-aware and therefore better at evaluating and improving their own performance.

People’s motivation comes from knowing that their work is being acknowledged. If there is a consistent culture of constant real-time feedback in place, employees are likely to up their game at work in order to be viewed favorably, making them both more self-aware and more accountable for their performance.

Peers

Although as a manager you have a valuable insight into your employees’ work, their peers will undoubtedly offer a different perspective.

Peer reviews are effective in the sense that people’s colleagues hold a different awareness of their colleagues working styles, interactions and how they’re using their time. This is why 360-degree feedback works. It allows for input to come from a perspective that managers alone may be unable to provide. Gaining performance feedback from someone in another department that you’re currently working closely on a project with is actually likely to be more beneficial than that of your manager who may know little to nothing about the project and the work involved.

When peer evaluation is used alongside managerial feedback, an all-round view can be established; something which is highly useful for team members as they look to improve their performance.

A recent study from Globoforce found that 85% of those who already have peer feedback implemented as part of their performance review feel that they are more appreciated, with 88% also expressing more job satisfaction than those only reviewed by a single supervisor. Feeling such levels of satisfaction can lead to those who are happy and feel appreciated: these are the people that have more reason to exert themselves at work than those who feel undervalued regardless of their efforts.

Research has also found that peer relationships have a huge impact on people’s work lives. Peer camaraderie is the number one reason that people go the extra mile at work: people are more likely to exert themselves if there is a sense that it also benefits their colleagues. Employees that have good relationships with their co-workers, and value them as part of a team, are also likely to value their input and want to improve their performance based on their colleagues’ feedback in order to achieve a better working environment for everyone.

Managers and 360-feedback

It’s also important to acknowledge the ways in which 360- feedback can assist managerial performance. Receiving both positive and constructive feedback from your team members can have hugely beneficial impacts. 360-feedback encourages employees to provide upward feedback on areas that they perhaps wouldn’t have felt able to express without such practices set in place. It’s a unique opportunity to gain new insight into your working style, skill-set, and the way you interact with your team.

Research has found 360-feedback to be incredibly beneficial for managers. Those who were originally rated low or moderately during upward feedback reviews showed improvements over time. In order for it to actually improve performance, however, 360-degree feedback must be met with follow-ups: the same research also established that managers who followed up and discussed their feedback improved more than those who did not.

Alongside 1-on-1 meetings to discuss manager-employee feedback for example, such follow ups could be implemented in the form of quarterly company-wide reviews to establish whether issues that arose have been resolved. This article from APA highlights the importance of following up feedback and the difference it can make.

Real-time, 360-degree feedback is a sure-fire way to improve performance in the workplace. It’s beneficial, whether from having the process implemented to improve people’s work ethic and sense of recognition or the specific feedback received providing people with insights and all-important goals to work towards. The argument for ditching the old-school process of simple manager to employee feedback in favor of the 360 is indisputable.

Using Impraise, you can ensure that feedback is shared amongst all team members, ensuring an open and ongoing conversation about progress and development, all without interrupting your daily work-flow. This is not, of course, to say that performance reviews and digital feedback should replace face-to-face interaction and conversations about progress. Instead, using tools like Impraise to support your current system with real-time, 360-degree feedback helps to create a more communicative, constantly developing and high-achieving team.

About the Author:

steffen-maier

Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise a web-based and mobile solution for actionable, timely feedback at work. Based in New York and Amsterdam, Impraise turns tedious annual performance reviews into an easy process by enabling users to give and receive valuable feedback in real-time and when it’s most helpful. The tool includes an extensive analytics platform to analyze key strengths and predict talent gaps and coaching needs.


Source: Advantages of 360-degree feedback to Improve Employee Performance — Impraise Blog – Employee performance management, reviews and 360 feedback

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Are Soft Skills Winning?

hard-skills-vs-soft-skills

The whole debate about soft skills versus hard skills sounds like a relatively modern debate, right? Not at all. The debate has been raging for many years – as far back as last century even. In 1918, Charles Riborg Mann, a physicist, engineer and civilian adviser in the US War Department, published research that discussed the importance of soft skills versus hard skills in engineering disciplines.

Within the study he asserted that: “personal qualities such as common sense, integrity, resourcefulness, initiative, tact, thoroughness, accuracy, efficiency and understanding of men are universally recognised as being no less necessary to a professional engineer than are technical knowledge and skills”.

Research by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center built on that 1918 study, leading them to conclude that only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge. What does the other 85% come from? Good, well-developed soft skills of course.

So the debate about soft skills versus hard skills is nothing new. However, thinking tends to fluctuate over which skills – soft or hard – are most important when hiring. At the moment, the swing is definitely towards soft skills and it has been going that way for some time.

Why? For starters, there is the undeniable fact that hard skills date very quickly now. What was relevant and required five or even two years ago is soon redundant. Skills and knowledge regeneration is constant and employees need to have the right mindset that enables them to keep learning, keep developing and keep moving forward.

As a result, employers place less importance on what employees already know. They want to know what employees are capable of in the future, what their aptitudes are and how well placed they are to apply the skills needed today and the skills needed tomorrow.

It’s all about agility. It’s a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world that we live and work in and if organisations are to be agile, as they need to be, then they need agile employees. And being agile requires employees to have a whole host of personal attributes that fall into the soft skills category – flexibility, adaptability, creativity, dynamism, connectiveness, emotional intelligence and so it goes on.

There is lots of research that says that these are the skills that employers want now and will want even more in the future. A survey by Talent Q, part of Hay Group, for example found that nine in 10 employers think graduates with soft skills will be increasingly important as globalisation continues to gather pace. But those graduates are already in high demand – 81% of employers say they face strong competition for graduates with people skills.

A report carried out by Grant Thornton, a professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms, shows just how much value is placed on soft skills in the modern workplace, even in a profession that is all about numbers. The report, called ‘The Evolving Accounting Talent Profile’, said this in its executive summary: ‘Today’s CFOs find that technical skills are a necessary, but not sufficient, competency among accounting professionals. As they and their staff become more engaged in organisational decision-making, soft skills such as critical thinking and communication are increasingly important”.

Another report, this one carried out last year on behalf of McDonald’s UK, called ‘The Value of Soft Skills to the UK Economy’, states that soft skills are worth over £88 billion in gross value added to the UK economy each year, underpinning roughly 6.5% of the whole economy. That figure is expected to rise considerably over the next five years. The report predicts that by 2020, the annual contribution of soft skills to the economy will have grown in real terms to £109 billion and to just over £127 billion by 2025. Soft skills are worth a lot.


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Building CSR into the Culture of Your Company Pays Dividends

Written by Burt Cummings, President and CEO at Versaic. Originally published at Versaic Blog

Quicken Loans Community Relations

Seventy nine percent of today’s graduates consider a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments when deciding where to work, according to a recent Cone Communications study.

Burt Cummings, CEO at Versaic for HRTW
Burt Cummings, President and CEO at Versaic

Once they arrive on the job, they want to be involved in doing good from the start. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) 2016 Giving in Numbers study states, “Employee volunteer participation rate with their company’s community efforts continued to rise to 33% in 2015 from 28% in 2013.”

Businesses know that investing in good is crucial to attract and retain top talent, and most business leaders expect this trend to increase. Brands of all shapes and sizes are embedding CSR into their operations, aligning business with purpose.

Mark Shamley, CEO of the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP), highlighted the growing role of CSR as an integral part of business: “I expect that CSR will become even more entrenched throughout companies. Rather than having CSR sit off to the side, more and more companies are weaving CSR into their operations.”

There’s a difference between paying lip service to corporate citizenship and really walking the walk — and employees catch on quickly when efforts aren’t authentic or geared to their needs. How can you embed CSR in ways that are empowering and personalized to your employees? Here are some examples we found working with Corporate Philanthropy programs of all shapes and sizes:

Volunteer on the Clock

If you give employees the opportunity to volunteer during work hours, you show that you respect their time and are willing to invest in doing good in the communities your company serves.

Quicken Loans gives all of their team members eight hours of paid volunteer time each year which they can use to explore non-profits in their cities and find ways to make a difference in the community. This commitment to CSR pays dividends for Quicken, where over half of the lender’s employees are millennials. Fortune named Quicken on its list of 100 best places to work for Millennials and 98 percent of young employees say “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.”

Pick Your Cause

People want the ability to make a difference in the causes closest to their hearts. Having a single company wide cause does not meet the needs and preferences of all employees. Giving employees the opportunity to choose makes all the difference.

JetBlue decided to honor their crew members’ commitment to giving back by launching Community Connection – a crew member volunteer program designed to align corporate giving with individual crew member passions. To date, JetBlue crew members have volunteered over 400,000 hours of service, resulting in more than $1.5 million of in-kind donations impacting their local communities.

Consider Your Skill-Set

Nielsen’s Wendy Salomon, VP, Reputation & Public Affairs sees an increase in companies moving from old-school philanthropy to “skillanthropy” or skills-based contributions. Examples include a consumer packaged goods company addressing access to healthy food, a bank educating vulnerable populations on financial literacy, or a shipping company getting supplies to storm-battled regions.

“There is a particular “stickiness” when skill-based programs are part of a CSR portfolio, as they allow the company to shine a light on the good it does in the world and the expertise it brings to the marketplace day in and day out,” said Salomon.

PositiveNRG, NRG Energy’s Philanthropy Program, shows the benefits of skills based philanthropy. In their work with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a robotics and STEM education program. NRG employees use their real-world expertise to mentor FIRST teams. This multi-faceted approach to giving-back brings everyone together as valuable contributors and allows NRG to make more significant advances for those they serve.

Get Feedback

If you’re not sure how your program stacks up, ask! Survey employees to get feedback on what they like and don’t like about the way your programs are run now. Find out what you can do to get them more engaged. Be prepared to adapt as you go because even with the best plan in place your programs will continually evolve, just as the needs of your business and community change. When you really meet the needs of your employees and the community at large, you’ll reap significant benefits.

Versaic’s program management system is behind many of the best-known corporate philanthropy programs from some of the biggest brands around. You can schedule a free demo here.

Source: Building CSR into the Culture of Your Company Pays Dividends

Great Companies Are Built Around Great People

Written by Annie Jordan, VP, Global Head of HR at Finstar Financial Group. Specially for The HR Tech Weekly®.

Annie Jordan, VP, Global Head of HR at Finstar Financial Group

There is a lot of truth in the saying that great companies are built upon great people. However, the reality is, of course, more complicated than that. The world’s leading companies are a powerful blend of people, vision, capability and culture. These things work together like the mechanics of a rocket, generating and maintaining irresistible momentum.

But how do you ignite the rocket?

It starts with the fuel, exceptional people. Without exceptional people, you will struggle to build departments that smash through goals or spark entrepreneurial commitment.

Yet how is it possible to attract top people to an environment that has not already been built into the kind of engaging, highly professional workplace that world class candidates come from and demand?

This chicken and egg scenario ranks as one of the most difficult strategic challenges in HR, and it is especially pertinent to the fast-moving world of HR in the tech industry, where workplace expectations are always growing.

The first thing to understand is that top performers do not avoid challenges. In fact, they seek them, and being open about the challenges that await them is something that will help attract the very best.

Finstar Financial Group is a private equity firm focused on the future of financial services, founded by Oleg Boyko. We believe in our businesses and that we are building the foundational elements of a modern, digitally adept, high-speed world. We have lofty ambitions, and we make these ambitions clear to the people we hope to attract. In fact, our ambitions do not end with revenue and profit targets: they are driven by a vision for the future of financial services.

We aim high when targeting the people we want to join our team, casting our net worldwide in our search for the best possible candidates. This sense of purpose and ambition has allowed us to attract first-rate minds from top tier companies.

We have now built a virtuous circle: by attracting top managerial talent, then constantly challenging them – insisting on the highest standards when doing so – and freeing them to achieve their goals in their own way, we have stoked their entrepreneurial spirit, and they tend to energetically and rigorously attack their targets. This has created a positive, exciting and goal–focused environment for all employees. It also, of course, makes Finstar Financial Group and its portfolio companies evermore attractive places to work, helping us draw in more great talent from around the world. 

“The greatest adrenaline hit for any Marketeer is to make a difference through their contribution. Bringing together knowledge from a past life’s conquest to unifying and motivating the wonderful and enthusiastic minds of a new organization is all part and parcel of that contribution. However, the contribution itself has to have a focus from which it draws its energy. In this case, we look to the Brand in question Finstar. A global titan within its own right, but with the prowess and agility of any new start up. With the help, assistance and guidance from the HR team you begin to understand the organization better, its ambitions and the almost blank canvass with which to mark out your approach. Most well-seasoned individuals and newcomers alike begin scanning the paperwork to find out where they sign! Though only at the initial stage of my journey with the organisation, I foresee it being a long and fruitful one, as well as becoming a key contributor to the well-oiled machine that is Finstar.” – Arun Varma, Chief Marketing Officer.

“I found a unique multi-cultural combination of talents in Finstar Financial Group. The company offers you a challenge of combining the skills and disciplines learned in large international corporations with the high flexibility and agility needed to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and customer expectations, so as to keep our competitive edge.” – Gauthier Van Weddingen, VP, Deputy CEO Operations.

“Creativity and ingenuity in all the aspects aligned with robust and conservative corporate standards and best practices, the possibility to combine the non-combinable while exploring the most elegant and very often, unique recipes in this “fusion cuisine” of innovative IT developments, financial retail services and business effectiveness, all these multiplied by the global scale and multicultural nature of our company – this impresses indeed. The kaleidoscope of different jurisdictions, approaches and mentalities, the possibility to work with extremely qualified professionals from all over the world create the unique experience and knowledge base, together with a desire to use it for the company’s growth and to confirm again and again that we all are real FinSTARs!” – Dmitry Kobzar, Head of Legal Department DFI.

Ultimately, this process of embracing lofty goals, setting our talented hires exacting challenges and stoking their entrepreneurial instincts has allowed Finstar to solve the HR conundrum of attracting the type of executives who create the attractive working environment which such exceptional people are attracted to. We now have a virtuous circle in place that has sparked the stellar growth that sets Finstar Financial Group apart as a high-flyer in the FinTech world, delivers value to our stakeholders, and makes each of our offices a cutting edge, innovative and challenging place to work.


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The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures

The Five Elements of Great Organizational Cultures on The HR Tech Weekly®

I believe we are living through one of the best times in the history of work. Thanks to the advancement in technology and instant access to information, our generation has a greater sense of empathy, ethics, and values. In the past, job seekers would be looking for a place that would pay them well and give them good benefits. Now, job seekers are looking for organizations that have great cultures. Companies need to offer individuals a sense of belonging and a mission to accomplish something remarkable. With no culture, an organization, is not sustainable in the 21st century. I have come up with five elements that are essential to building and sustaining great organizational cultures. Those elements are: purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership.

Purpose: Going back to the premise that we have a greater sense of ethics and empathy. We are less selfish, and we want to be a part of solving a problem greater than ourselves. We need to understand the why of what we do. Companies now need to have a strong mission statement where they can share the why with their team members. A great example that comes to mind is SpaceX, a company that builds rockets for space exploration. This is their mission statement: “SpaceX was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.” Now… that’s a mission statement! That’s something bigger than anybody.

Ownership: The second element in building a great organizational culture is ownership. Ownership is about giving people the opportunity to be accountable for their results without being micromanaged. Giving people the autonomy over their time to accomplish their goals. Basecamp is a company that builds software for project management. They are a great example of a company that promotes ownership. They have an office in Chicago, but everyone has the chance to work from wherever they want. The CEO doesn’t know how many hours his employees work. They just set expectations and give people the opportunity to build their own schedules around their projects. But how do you keep people engaged with a sense of purpose? Well, you do that through the third element, community.

Community: Community is that sense of belonging to a group of people that shares the same or similar principles, goals, and values. Community is a place where there is camaraderie. Focus Lab is a branding and design agency that understands community. They have company standards instead of values. Their argument is that you can’t change a person’s values when they walk into your company, but you can uphold everyone to specific standards. Some of their standards are: work to live, ask more questions, and never stop learning. The culture of their company breaths these standards through their work. Building community is something as simple as having lunch and learns, hangout times on Fridays, and company trips. It varies from company to company. Community, is unique to each organization.

Effective Communication: The fourth element in building a great organizational culture is effective communication. Effective communication sounds like common sense, but through my work I have realized it is not common practice. It means consistency in processes and investing time learning the personalities and communication dynamics of team members. Google created a research project called Project Aristotle, where they found that the most collaborative teams are the ones where everyone speaks equally. In many of their engineering teams they have a list with checkmarks to make sure everyone is speaking the same number of times during their meetings.

Good Leadership: I would say this is the backbone of the cultural dynamics of any organization. The leader has to be constantly be pushing the mission, standards, community, and processes of the company. Without effective leadership the other four elements cannot thrive. People want leadership with integrity and compassion. People want authenticity. People want a leader who is clear on expectations. People want to know they have a leader who cares about them.

The elements I just mentioned are not new to people. People have always liked purpose, ownership, community, effective communication, and good leadership. It’s in our own human nature. But now we found words to describe those things to build high performing cultures. I would like to encourage each of you to be intentional about applying these elements, and building great cultures in your organizations.

About the Author:

Andy Cabistan, Co-Founder at Watson WorksAndy Cabistan is one of the Co-Founders of Watson Works, a culture development company helping teams communicate and collaborate better. Andy is passionate about helping companies with diverse groups of people build high performing teams. Andy is a Business Economics graduate from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, and a master’s student in the Professional Communication and Leadership program at Armstrong. In his spare time, Andy travels around the country developing leadership programs with children of military families in partnership with the Department of Defense. Andy is also active in Savannah building the entrepreneurial ecosystem. He believes that entrepreneurship, technology, and a sense of community are key factors to make economies thrive.

Andy’s TwitterWatson Works’ TwitterWatson Works’ Website


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