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It's time to evaluate your company

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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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.

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?

Rebuilding broken Employee Engagement

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  GDS-Productions  used under Creative Commons License

Image by GDS-Productions used under Creative Commons License

Employee Engagement was incredibly popular in most mid to large organizations, then the recession hit and organizational survival become the modus operandi. It's not that employee engagement isn't important but rather less important than ensuring the survival of the company. 

With business and employee confidence back on the rise and the economy stabilizing, it's no wonder that HR departments and the organizational leadership are now trying to dial back into employee engagement (we are seeing employee engagement discussed at fireside chats during conferences, written about again in management magazines and discussed in HR oriented online forums.)

In the past couple of years, some organizations stopped measuring employee engagement for 2 reasons:

  • cost saving 
  • fearful of the results

The first point is fairly obvious, surveys cost money to prepare, deploy and analyze. In survival mode every penny counted and "superfluous" or "luxurious" items were the first to be cut.

The second point is the sheer fear HR departments and company leadership had about the results. When you cut staff, reduce pays, cut bonuses and otherwise get rid of most perks (from toys to training), you should expect it to hit employee engagement. Whether you measured it or not, the impact of these strict controls are very real on employee engagement and it will take time to fix all the damage.

Communication is often the chief complaint from employees and stressed out leaders tend to communicate less. Reduced communication leads to clouded visibility (by employees) and often feeds the rumour mill. Employees start to question the decisions made by their leaders. They feel ignored and unimportant. Some become extremely vocal about their unhappiness that I nickname them the "prophets of doom". 

It is during these times of difficulty and turbulence that real leadership is discovered. Regardless of the challenges a leader is facing, he must be willing to keep the communication channels open and must be available to his people
— Edward N Kiledjian

As a leader you must "pull up your pants" and keep communicating openly and honestly with your employees. Tell them what you can and don't make promises you can't keep. It's especially important not to hide in your office behind a closed door. The more difficult the situation, the more you must be available. Sure some confrontations will be painful but it's our job as leaders to take the good with the bad.

How to improve employee engagement?

Assuming you fell into the above mold, how can you now fix your employee engagement problem? First step is building the lines of communication. Honestly and sincerely communicate with your people. There is no such thing as over-communication. Be honest and share (within reason of course) the challenges being faced, the decisions being taken, why they are being taken and the opportunities you see. Share as much as you can about Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). Show fortitude of character to take the heat in the tough times not just the glory in the good times.

Employee-employer trust is likely broken because of all the hard decisions most companies have had to take and like situations of infidelity, rebuilding trust takes time. Accept the fact that this is likely something you will have to work hard at for a while. Sincerity and honesty go a long way here. 

Do what you say and say what you do.
— Edward N Kiledjian

Like a 12 step program, be honest of any mistakes you (or the organization) have made and explain how you plan on correcting them. Your people are more resilient than you think and often times they can come up with much better and more creative solutions to your problems. Remember that two heads are better than one.

The rest of the solution is to constantly measure employee engagement and fine tune your plan. 

What should your 2013 raise be?

BusinessEdward KiledjianComment

Most employees over-estimate their value to their company and therefore expect too much of a raise. In 2012, the typical raise was between 1.9 – 2%. Highest performers seem to receive around 4%.

What does this mean? It means you should set realistic raise targets so you’re not disappointed when your boss gives you that raise letter. The best thing you can do is to continually touch base with your boss (over the year) to ensure your evaluation of your performance is in-line with your boss’ evaluation. 

Do more than your boss expects

BusinessEdward KiledjianComment

Many colleagues I have coached overestimate their worth to the company and almost always think they are underpaid. The key message is that your company pays your salary to do your job. You only deserve a raise if you are performing to a higher level than that expected from your boss.

To add value to your boss (and become raise worthy), make your boss’ life easier:

  • Ensure you deliver on all of your commitments on time and to the exact expected quality
  • Keep your boss updates on the items you are working on for him/her
  • Volunteer to take on additional more challenging responsibilities
  • Be attentive to issues experienced by your boss and come up with creative ways to solve them (even if it isn’t your job)

Make yourself indispensable and a raise will usually follow.