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It's time to evaluate your company

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
periodic-week-4420676.jpg

As we pass to the second half of the year, many companies start their annual merit review cycle. It is an opportunity for your leaders to evaluate the corpus of your work and determine how much value you delivered to the company (thus deserving a salary adjustment).

What employees often forget is that they too should use this period as an opportunity to determine if they are doing the right job, in the right company & at the right compensation level.

Read my blog entry The “You” Brand

The 4 power questions

  1. Do you like what you are doing?

  2. Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

  3. Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

  4. Are you fairly compensated

As we walk through each of these questions, it is important to remember that there is no "perfect" life partner and there is no "perfect" company. What we are trying to determine is: "Is this company the right one for your at this moment in time".

It is important to evaluate the questions in the order I have presented them.

Do you like what you are doing?

Ask yourself if you (honestly) are excited about the work you are doing. When Friday comes along, do you turn off “work mode” until Monday morning? If you do then you have a job, not a career. It means you are not passionate about your chosen profession and it may be time to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up”.

Do you like who you are doing it with and where you are doing it?

Many leaders would probably break this question down into 2 separate ones (one for people and one for the company) but I believe they work better together.

You may like your job but do you like the people you are doing it with? There is no perfect environment but overall, do you enjoy collaborating and working with most of your co-workers? Are you surrounded by like-minded people who challenge you and respect you? Do the people you work with care as much about you, as you do for them?

In the same vein, do you like working for your company? Do you share the vision, mission and core values of your company? A 2017 MetLife survey found employees (9/10) would rather work for a company that shared their values than one that offered higher pay. The survey also found that employees were willing to take a 21% pay cut to work for that better-aligned company (jumped to 34% for millennials).

This is also the category I include work-life alignment in. Does the ratio of work-life balance the company expects to, align with what you are looking for?

Obviously, every employee’s requirements are different but the importance of this alignment is undeniable.

If you love your job (question 1) and you love who you work with (where), then work doesn’t feel like work. You can enjoy going to work and living your best life.

Does your company offer a path your desired future job?

Not everyone is looking for career advancement but most of you probably are. Does your company offer a supportive, nurturing environment where you can learn and grow? Are executives willing to take a chance with less experienced employees, allowing them to develop? Are executives willing to coach and guide employees to develop their skills in preparation for future promotion? Last, but not least, does the company promote from within or do they hire most leaders from the outside?

Are you fairly compensated

The question about compensation was purposefully left until the end. Every other question we have examined will feed into this one.

The old 1980's corporate mantra was :

"Employees work just enough not to get fired. Employers pay just enough so employees don't quit".

As stupid as this mantra sounds today, some older leaders still espouse this as a "nugget of wisdom" (do the companies values align with yours?).

The modern strategy of salary management dictates that companies must pay enough so employees aren't stressed about money and spend their mental energy on doing what they do best.

The real-world equation is more complicated and is a subjective evaluation of fair pay within the company (often difficult to judge because the information is not readily available), and compare to other organizations offerings for similar roles.

It is easy to understand why a company that compensates you properly, probably also values your skills and expertise properly.

Remember the MetLife survey, where employees were willing to work for less if the company's values aligned with their own? This is also true about the other 3 questions we previously discussed.

If you feel that the company's values don't align with yours and/or that the company doesn't offer career advancement and/or you dislike the people you work with, you may decide to stay but may demand a higher premium for the extra "suffering".

Conclusion

Ultimately this is a deeply personal introspection and one you must do honestly (regardless if you are a new graduate or a seasoned executive).

Your company evaluates you annually to decide if you are worth keeping, you should do the same and decide if the company is worth staying at.

Google hopes Hire gives it a better stronghold in corporations

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Google sees the corporate world as an excellent cash cow and has been working hard to secure its place. Most recently we have the fruits of its labour with redesigned G-Suite offerings, the Jamboard and more.

Google is the king of data and has decided it can help HR do a better job with recruitment. Google Hire is a purpose built solution that promises to make the entire hiring process easier and more efficient (from finding to managing). 

The target customer is the small or medium organisation that may not be using any of the larger more expensive and complicated tools. 

  • A 2015 report by Bersin (Deloitte) claimed it took on average 52 days to fill a position (up from 48 in 2011) at the cost of $4,000
  • 48% of small businesses report there are few or no qualified applicants for the positions they are trying to fill (NFIB)
  • 27% of respondends believe lengthy hiring timelines are a major impedament to increasing staff headcount (Recruiter Sentiment Study 2015 2nd Half, MRI Network, December 2015)

So all in all, we can safely assume the hiring process is broken in small to medium size companies, which may equate to a nice chunk of change for Google (if it plays its cards right).

Google Hire leverages the G-Suite platform and integrates with email and calendaring. In addition to winning new business by offering innovative cost effective new solutions for the SMB market, it also adds value to G-Suite. 

It is conceivable that a long time Microsoft Office customer may eventually switch to Google's G-Suite if it has enough value added features. 

I have spoken to dozens of medium size start-ups that just don't want or need the big Office 365 offering and are just looking for an excuse to make the jump. It is small but targeted offerings like this that may make the difference.

You can check out the Google Hire website for more details.

Stop using Self-Assessments in performance reviews

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  David Davies  used under Creative Commons License

Image by David Davies used under Creative Commons License

Research has shown that people can rarely self-assessment accurately. If the person self-assessing has low self-confidence, than this will be reflected on his/her self assessment. Also there are cultures where self promotion is negatively viewed and this too may lead someone to completing a less than positive self review. Lots of characteristics may impact how one self-assesses: race, gender, beliefs, religion, etc.

On the other side of the coin are individuals raised in competitive environments where self-promotion is not only welcome but encouraged. In these cases an individual may take credit for group work in an attempt to "win points".

If your company forces you to conduct evaluations based on self-rating then it is important you consciously determine your employees tendencies and use that knowledge to erase over/under self-evaluations in an attempt to be fait, objective and manage with integrity.

I have spoken to some organizational researchers and have read hundreds of reports, I can find no objective research that shows that sharing self-assessments before the formal manager-employee review contributes to a better or more accurate evaluation outcome. 

On the contrary, there seems to be research showing that these self-evaluations may actually bias the reviewing manager and that any bias adjustments made (if at all) are inadequate to compensate for the actual gap. 

Knowing this, I believe these self assessments are a historic relic of days gone by and should be completely abolished as an HR practice. What do you think?

Do honesty and integrity have place in today's workplace?

BusinessEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Marilyn Peddle  used under creative commons license

Image by Marilyn Peddle used under creative commons license

Spend enough time working with board level executives and the question you will see the most often is "what defines a leader?" What are the qualities organizations should look for when choosing a leader or develop in their rising stars?

The simple answer is that a leader must:

  1. Be a visionary
  2. Have integrity, honesty and values in line with the company
  3. Have the ability to motivate employees even when times are though
  4. Be a change agent (and create a culture where constant change is rewarded)

Trust is job one

A leader must quickly and without any doubt be trusted by his/her people. Employees must truly believe that the leader is acting in the best interest of the company, of the team and of its members. 

Trust can only happen in an environment of integrity, honesty and shared values.

In values we trust

Anytime you take over a new team, you should quickly have a discussion with your team about your values. These are your personal values not some mumbo jumbo you read on the internet. Once you share your values, you need to act consistently using them. This act of being congruent with your declared values is the start of integrity and honesty.

It is by understanding your personal values that your employees will understand how you make decisions and why. It is also how your employees can themselves make decisions congruent with your directions and plans. 

It is easy for me to write about values but I have found it is another things for leaders to truly determine their actual values. It takes a lot of honest introspection. The main question is "what is most important to you about..." using this approach will help you to uncover your values. As yourself:

  1. What is most important to you about work ethics
  2. What is most important to you about employees
  3. What is most important to you about success
  4. etc

Think in terms of Key Goal Indicators. What is the desired outcome for each of these values and how do you measure them using SMART. For those hidden under a rock for the last 20 years, SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Don't just tell  your team, colleagues or boss that one of your values is team work. Explain what team work really means and how you will verify it. It could mean that you want people to non play "politics", not gossip, be inclusive of all team members, be honest, not backstab, etc.

The other aspect of the values discussion is explaining how it will impact the organization. How will your value of honesty impact the organization? If you are a manufacturing manager, maybe it means providing accurate production information to supply chain and finance so their predictions are more accurate thus leading to lower costs and better organizational decisions.

You should also explain how your values will be used to make decisions. If your employees know how you will react to different situations, they can often make the right decision before you even get involved. And when you do get involved, your decision shouldn't surprise anyone. 

You should explain how your values will be used to evaluate your employees. You've  talked about your values. You've explained your values and you've given clear understable examples pertinent in your work setting. Now explain how these values will be used to evaluate your employees at performance review time. Here you convey your expectations of the employees and it is a final validation that they understand your values. 

What about honesty and integrity?

I spent a good portion of this article talking about values when it wasn't even in the title of this article. Why? Because it is the criteria against which your integrity and honesty will be evaluated everyday. 

Don't believe me that Integrity, honesty and trust are important? Here's an interesting tidbit:

Ten years ago, we at DDI released a monograph, The Psychological Contract of Trust, on the
trust levels in the workplace for the 1990s. In the monograph, we reviewed how the psychological contract of trust that had existed for years during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s had been decimated by greed, short-term focus, global competition, and, at times, the unethical behavior of leaders; the 1980s brought a rampant “merger mania”; then there was the inflation and subsequent bursting of the Internet-fueled technology bubble over the course of the 1990s and into the new millennium.

As these phenomena unfolded, employee commitment, enthusiasm, and passion declined
precipitously. No longer did employees believe that their current employers represented long-term career options
— https://www.ddiworld.com/DDIWorld/media/white-papers/trustmonograph_mg_ddi.pdf?ext=.pdf

DDI World defines the relationship between integrity and values as:

Integrity means adhering to a code of ethics or a set of values, and it is a vital aspect of every personal and professional endeavor. It means matching our actions with our beliefs across a variety of situations
— DDI World

There are literally hundreds of surveys available discussing the important of trust, integrity and honesty. Here are some stats to wet your palate:

  • 66% of highly engaged employees have no plans to leave their current employer, versus 12% of disengaged employees have no plans to leave their company
  • According to a survey conducted by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in late 2007, 77% of Americans lack confidence in their leaders
  • According to Warwick Business School in the UK, outsourcing contracts that are managed based on trust rather than on stringent Service Level Agreements and penalties are more likely to lead to Trust Dividends for both parties—as much as 40% of the total value of a contract
  • A 2002 study by Watson Wyatt showed that total return to shareholders in high-trust organizations is almost three times higher than the return in low-trust organizations
  • With regard to trust, Gallup’s research shows that 96% of engaged employees, but only 46% of disengaged employees, trust management. Without getting into a chicken or the egg discussion, clearly trust has an impact on employee engagement which has an impact on their on the job performance

Honesty & Integrity..... and of course values

I cannot overstate how important the content of this article is. The impact of leading with honesty and integrity against clearly defined values is huge to employees, customers and suppliers. It impacts every aspect of your business and will directly impact the long term viability of your company.

Replacing employees that quit because they don't trust you costs 2-3 times the annual salary of an employee. How would a client react if they were convinced you lead with honesty and integrity with everything you did? How likely are they to continue shopping around or nickle and diming you.

Amazon.ca is a good example of a company lead by honesty and integrity. In Canada, their pricing isn't always the most competitive but often times I shop there anyway because I know that if I experience any issues, I will be taken care of quickly and fairly. Trust, a novel concept.

 

Build an efficient self managing team

BusinessEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Uitleg & tekst  used under creative commons license

Image by Uitleg & tekst used under creative commons license

Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.
— Mary Tyler Moore
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
— Yogi Berra
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
— Mahatma Gandhi

 

What do these 3 quotes mean? Thinks take practice and every new skill has a learning curve. You don't pick up the violin and instantly become a virtuoso. You don't throw a 3 point shot the very first time you pickup a basketball. 

Like a person developing new skills, a team needs to work on developing its own productivity, Too many managers or executives are upset when a newly formed team of highly skilled and motivated individuals isn't performing immediately at a high performance level. 

You should read a 2010 article I wrote called How to build a top performing team. Remember that a team is made up of people and people  need to figure out their societal role in order to become productive contributors. What is each persons job, what are the responsibilities (individual and shared). Who is the untitled spiritual team leader? 

As a manager you should let the team work through 3 stages of team development until they get to the performing level. But this doesn't mean you just wait on the sidelines and hope. As a leader, you can guide the process to speed up the blossoming of your group.

Storming

In the storming stage, teams learn how to resolve internal conflicts amongst themselves. This chaos control mechanism is a must if the team is to become a high performing team. Disagreements amongst group members should be encouraged (to prevent group think) but it should be done with mutual respect and for the benefit of the organization.

When you are brought into an existing team, these standards and conflict resolution agreements are already in place. The tribe elders will socialize you in the ways of the tribe. 

 

If the team leader doesn't initialize the creation of the tribes conflict resolution process then you may have to step in as an elder statesman (or woman) and gently guide the team towards developing one. 

Although you can digitally create this list and print it, I recommend it becomes a more information generally accepted set of principles that are allowed to live and evolve with the team. 

 

Spend time when creating the team to discuss the roles of each person, how people should interact, how people should treat each other and how the group will work through different opinions or conflicts.

Respect should be at the top of the list. Respecting someone means you allow them to fully express their opinions without fear of attack or reprimand. It means even if opinions are geometrically opposed, members of the team will always be civil and remember that (as a team) they are working towards a common goal.

There should be an agreement that if you disagree with an idea or proposal then you can only publicly state your position if you have a valid workable alternative to propose. Disagreement with someone just to disagree should be frowned upon. 

Nothing burns bridges faster than when someone takes credit for your work. If a colleagues shares an idea with you as a sounding board, he/she should be able to do it without fear that you will rush to take credit for it. Again, respect goes a long way.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Regardless of religious beliefs, the above quote is a powerful one that ensures everyone is moving in the right direction.

Define an arbiter of last resort. This is typically a role played by a senior leader and it is a process called upon only when all other avenues have been unsuccessful. 

Of course this is not an exhaustive list but some general ideas to get you started. 

The leader must step up

The leader must must must ensure these tribe principles are understood by everyone and followed. Controlled conflict can be healthy but like an uncontrolled explosion can get out of hand if not handled with care. 

As a team leader, your communication must be frank, open and fair. 

Down the river we go as a team

The core belief every member of the team must believe in is that the team either succeeds together or fails together. People should understand that this is not a way to advance their personal agendas.

If everyone in the team truly understands this mantra then your life just got a lot easier. If someone can't accept this then they should be replaced. I don't care how "good" they are at their job, if their attitude is not aligned with the tribe, they have to go. 

 

Reward as a team

Understand what your reward model will be and ensure it is team based and fair. If people are feel their personal performance will not impact their (or the teams) reward structure then you may encourage laziness. Explain how each team members work contributes to the teams success and thus results in everyone getting rewarded.