Want to increase productivity? An Employee Engagement Strategy is a good place to start.

Businesses with an effective employee engagement strategy will be rewarded with greater levels of innovation; increased commitment from employees and, ultimately, better productivity that will impact directly on business performance.

Examples of positive employee engagement practices include:

  • Shared decision-making
  • The opportunity for all people to influence the planning process
  • A robust approach to communicating
  • An open flow of information
  • The development of effective leaders and managers

For this article we thought we would focus a bit more on the people aspect and look at how workplace behaviours and relationships impact on employee engagement levels, which in turn affect the productivity of your team. Here are some of our thoughts on the fundamentals that lie behind a great employee engagement strategy.

Reciprocity

At the heart of the employment relationship is reciprocity. If employees believe that they are supported by their employer (and their line manager) in getting what they want out of work beyond just money, they will respond with positive behaviour.

The right person for the right job

Creating a fit between the needs of the role and the needs of the individual person will help to build a culture which is driven by supportive behaviours that are good for performance and productivity.

Competence & Capability

Make sure that managers have a good understanding of what their team members’ individual competencies and capabilities are. Giving individuals the opportunity to use their skills to the best of their ability will give them great satisfaction whilst the business will gain value by making the lost of them.

Encourage Self-determination

Enable your people to make decisions for themselves at a level appropriate to their role and responsibilities.  Allow individuals to initiate and regulate their own actions whilst ensuring line managers step up to their role of supporting their team members.  It’s about creating a good level of trust within your business, i.e. does the manager trust the team member to do the job?  Does the team member feel trusted?

Impact

Make sure that your people understand the impact they have on business performance as a whole.  At all levels they should be able to describe the contribution they make and the important part they play in the success of the organisation.

 

If you’ve recently started to develop your employee engagement strategy or are looking to revive your existing one the main thing to remember is that it doesn’t need to involve expensive investment or developing a whole new set of policies and procedures. It does however need wholehearted support from your Leadership Team through their leadership and strategic vision, and the active buy-in of effective line managers.

At INSPIRING, we’ve helped thousands of organisations with Employee Engagement issues over the last 15 years and we’d be happy to share our experience with you.

Call us on 0800 612 3098 to find out more or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form.

Could 360 degree feedback help rejuvenate your workforce?

If you’re thinking about running a 360 degree feedback exercise, you may find our objective look at the pitfalls and advantages of 360 degree feedback useful in deciding if it could help rejuvenate your workforce.

Three Common Pitfalls of 360 Degree Feedback

1. 360 degree feedback is a very sensitive activity that touches people to the very core of their personality and it should be completed sensitively and empathically. If the purpose, methodology or understanding of multi-source assessment is misunderstood, it can result in a destructive situation from which it can take years to recover.

2. 360 degree feedback should never be linked to merit, pay or reward. Under ideal circumstances multi-source feedback is used as an assessment for personal development rather than evaluation. Certainly, the results should never be used as a way to punish the individual in any way.

3. Some would agree that 360 degree feedback can take people outside of their comfort zones and result in some difficult conversations. People may be afraid to give honest answers, perhaps in fear of lack of anonymity or they’ve been encouraged to collude with others respondents to give false opinions.

 

Three Advantages of 360 Degree Feedback 

1. In some cases, 360 degree feedback can be used to reduce tension, for example, if an employee is having difficulties with their manager or there is a perceived ‘personality clash’, the end results averaged and weighted by feedback from others could offset or diminish potential personal misjudgements.

2. The 360 degree feedback process is a good way of improving communication within your organisation and can be a useful tool in the run up to a company restructure and to help implement change. The process can help break down barriers between areas in the company and create a culture of openness and trust.

3. Different people often have vastly different views of who we are. To know what we look like in another’s eyes provides a strong enabler for personal development and growth. Being able to gather and analyse the perceptions of colleagues, not just those we report to, can be extremely powerful in helping us understand how our actions play out from many points of view, other than our own.

 

Tips for success

  • Have a clear communication strategy for disseminating the purpose aims and intentions of the assessment
  • Develop an unambiguous questionnaire which includes open ended comments
  • Have a properly constructed competency framework and link this to your organisational goals and values
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • View criticism positively and as an opportunity of personal development
  • Have a plan of support and development in place for candidates following the assessment.
  • Provide clear, consistent and easily understood results reports.

 

If you would like to speak to one of the team at Inspiring about 360 degree feedback, call us on 0800 612 3098 or email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the form. You can also visit our 360 Degree page for more information.

4 key ways to increase personal productivity

In both your professional and personal life, productivity has its place. But why is productivity important?

From a business perspective, productivity is the efficiency in which a company runs. However, while productivity is imperative from a company’s standpoint, personal productivity is just as crucial. By maximising your own productivity you are reprogramming your mentality towards tasks, which can then be applied to your professional work life.

Decide how long to work for

It can be very easy to begin a task, or even a work day, with the notion that you will work for as long as you can force yourself to concentrate, or for as long as you can. But by resigning yourself to work in this state of mind, you’ll find yourself often looking at the clock and willing the time to go faster. Once you decide how long to work for, commit to it. As a result of this you’ll find that the first few hours of the day go by much faster – and you’re spending much less time clock watching.

For example, if your work day is 8 hours long – commit to producing a worthwhile work output for 8 hours. Not only will time go a lot faster because you’re focusing on your work but you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment. Once you know how much time you’ve assigned yourself to complete tasks in, plan what tasks you’re going to focus on and provide time allocation for each piece of work. Assigning one hour for a task to be completed in a high standard means that you can complete 8 similar tasks by the end of the day.

If you need help, ask

Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness; this is why typically we avoid asking for assistance when we are struggling with a task. Rather than putting yourself under pressure to try and complete a task that you don’t understand, finding someone to help you is much more effective. It presents you as willing to visit various options in order to produce worthwhile results. Asking for advice or assistance can save you time and resources. Plus, it reduces the chances of having to begin the work again.

Know when to take a break

Breaks are important for your brain, as well as your wellbeing. Productivity is about working to your best capability to produce a high-quality work output. However, by not giving your body and mind the rest that they deserve, you ultimately end up reducing your productivity. Working continuously for hours at maximum productivity is a fail-safe way to exhaust yourself. Alternatively, try working in shorter bursts to ensure that you are not tiring yourself out, and to help you achieve maximum amounts of efficiency. Giving yourself a ten minute break every few hours is sure to help clear your mind, making you ready to work productively once more.

Prepare for the next day

At the end of your work day, or after completing your tasks, try to spend half an hour planning the next day. Be realistic about what you want to achieve, and do any research or organising that you may need to do. By preparing yourself in advance for the next day, you ensure that the time you spend working is entirely on the tasks you have set yourself, rather than on unnecessary efforts. By providing yourself with an agenda you also leave your brain free to think about more important things that need your attention.

 

How do you make yourself more productive?

 

10 Alternatives to Training Courses for SMEs

With the business world being as competitive as it is, employers are discovering that the main thing that can help differentiate them is their people. Developing, or ‘up-skilling’, employees is now more important than ever. Gone are the days where training courses focused upon just the necessities and regulations of the job role; we are now seeing more forward-thinking employers who are looking to uncover talent within their people which, in time, will give them the advantage over their competitors.

We know that making sure your employees are up to speed with what is required of them is vital, so training in that respect will always be a necessity. However, with some training courses coming in at a high cost, SMEs could find it hard to find the budget for broader training and development, often having to weigh up the cost of training courses against other necessities in their annual budget.

With this in mind, we’ve put together some alternatives to training courses that SMEs could investigate that might help implement learning and development and nurture talent at a lower cost.

Coaching

This is effective if the employee has a specific objective or area of development that they need to target.

Mentoring

An effective technique when there is already an individual within the organisation with the expertise to develop potential. This enables transfer of knowledge and ways of working.

Shadowing

A great way of helping an employee explore different aspects of the business. It is beneficial to watch someone else demonstrating what is required of them, then reflecting on what they have learned. They can then discover the effectiveness of their ways of working and even make suggestions for improvements, which could be mutually beneficial. This could be a reciprocal arrangement whereby one colleague shadows another in turn, allowing for feedback on both.

Expanding Roles

By expanding an employee’s current role, they are likely to develop longer term aspirations and invest more into the organisation. Also, they will come to realise what areas they need to improve in and, given the opportunity and with support, can start to address these.

Project Roles

Putting an individual forward for different project roles helps to broaden their perspective, whilst encouraging interaction with new areas of the business can aid their development. It may even result in hidden skills being identified.

Practical Learning

If an individual has been given a new task or responsibility, they may be able to learn on the job providing they are properly supported. It is important however that they have the confidence to ask managers and colleagues for support and advice whilst they are learning.

Distance and E-Learning

There are specific college and online courses, some of which are free, where the individual learns in their own time and at their own pace. These can include accredited courses, which build towards a qualification.

Volunteering

Giving employees the opportunity and time off to volunteer may help to develop existing skills and learn new ones. Volunteering could help people build their confidence, as it is a less pressurised environment. It may also lead to networking opportunities.

Blended Learning

This is where the focus is not on one development area but a variety. By using Blended Learning, it gives the employee a mixture of different activities to develop many skills over a short space of time.

Media

There is a wealth of information available on platforms such as YouTube and watching specific programmes can help gain useful knowledge.

Books and publications

In the modern world there is a neglect of written texts. These books and other resources hold a valuable knowledge and theories that can help employees develop. However, for convenience and accessibility, there are often PDF copies of these resources available.

Other Notables

Membership of professional bodies, work placements, sabbaticals, sideways moves and job swaps.

 

People development will always be needed if SMEs are to stay ahead of their competition. But we also know that funding for all these development activities is often limited, therefore thinking outside the box and using alternative methods of learning and development are definitely worth looking into.

Reward and recognition of employees without breaking your budget

Rewarding staff is a great way of motivating them and maintaining employee satisfaction. But how can you do so without spending money? We understand that as a business you can’t throw bonuses their way every time you want to say ‘well done’ or ‘thanks for the good work’. We’ve created this article to share some top tips for showing your employees appreciation for a job well done without putting pressure on already stretched budgets.

Keep hold of your talent

Employee satisfaction is absolutely vital in any workplace, but that doesn’t mean salary reviews and end of year bonuses have to be the ‘be all and end all’. To motivate and retain talented employees for the year ahead, employers need to develop more innovative recognition and reward strategies that don’t rely on money alone. Doing so will protect against misalignment between company goals and individual activities and keep everyone on track. You will maintain and improve employee happiness without damaging the company’s budget.

Honesty is the best policy

Speculation and gossip surrounding pay increases and bonuses can be dangerous. It’s impossible to eliminate this completely but you can make sure that you’re delivering a consistent and honest message about opportunities for financial reward in the coming months and years. Employee wellness is important, so it’s important they know how things like pay increases work because, if for example, an employee had false information, and was hoping for a bonus/increase in the nearby future it could lead to constant disappointment and the employee might start doubting their work and lose motivation and interest. That’s why it’s important you provide accurate information. This will give your employees a sense of control over their futures and help to create an open, honest workplace.

Offer opportunities

A good way to recognise high performance is to offer opportunities to broaden your employees’ experience. For example, ask them to lead an internal knowledge sharing session or offer a day’s job shadowing. This could lead to creating a new role for them in another area of the business. Engaging with the aspirations of your employees and creating personal development plans that help them realise their ambitions is crucial to retaining talent.

Regular feedback

Taking the time to evaluate your communication and feedback processes sends a strong message that you care about employees’ development and that good work will be recognised. Without structured feedback employees can feel like the quality of their work, good or bad, goes unnoticed. Staff surveys and focus groups are a good way of achieving this.

Say ‘thanks’!

It’s common knowledge that  a lack of recognition from management is one of the most demotivating factors for employees. Taking the time to highlight good work will boost employees’ job satisfaction and put any constructive criticism in context. Drawing attention to achievements across teams can be a powerful motivation to other team members.

Things to consider when restructuring your business

Expanding or restructuring your business could mean that you find yourself having to manage some difficult changes. We've put together some of the key points to consider when you’re planning and implementing a restructure from a people aspect.

Restructuring your business inevitably results in having to implement changes within your organisation, which will in turn test the skills of your leaders and managers.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to stay positive, upbeat and focused on the future. You will need to utilise all those coaching and interpersonal skills you’ve learnt along the way to allay any concerns people may have whilst maintaining a grip on the day to day business. In addition, having a management team who possess good people skills and display positive behaviour is crucial to managing change effectively.

John Telfer, Managing Director of Inspiring says “In my experience of working with businesses undergoing change, the thing they often have in common is the problem of Accidental Managers. They are the people that get promoted to management positions because they have the technical skills to do their job brilliantly, but they don’t have the people skills to manage a team effectively.”

Here are some other key points to consider when you’re planning and implementing a restructure from a people aspect:

1. Why is a re-structure being planned? Being clear on the purpose of the exercise is vital as this will be the starting point for of all other planning and implementation activities.

2. Enable clear communications to all those involved and use the purpose to describe what the end result will look like and how associated benefits will help the organisation.

3. Essential to success when re-structuring is to identify any areas of resistance. People get attached to structures just like all other familiar aspects of their organisation – some people may be reluctant to give these up unless the reasons make sense.

4. Inviting people to ask questions and get involved are important elements which if ignored may result in bad compromises and ineffective arrangements as the restructuring unfolds.

5. Ask line managers to keep an eye on their team to spot early signs as to how people are reacting to the changes and whether this is having an impact on their performance.

 

Do your leaders and managers have the right the skills and behaviours and are they working effectively together as a team?

INSPIRING helps develop Inspiring leaders and managers. Our 3-phase approach diagnoses development needs, designs and delivers appropriate training and evaluates the outcomes, allowing you to measure the impact on your business. Our Leadership Development Programmes include an option to work towards a formal management qualification accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Successful Strategic Planning

For a small business, the strategic planning process doesn’t have to be complicated and to prove this, we’ve put together some of our best tips for developing an effective plan.

Developing a strategic plan will allow you to determine your goals for the future of your business and then decide how you’ll go about achieving them. In a small business, it’s often difficult to find ‘thinking time’ and put time aside for strategic planning when you’re constantly caught up in the running of day to day operations. However, this is an important exercise, especially if you want to grow your business. Things may be ticking over nicely, or not as the case may be, but either way setting out your expectations and aspirations and deciding what’s realistic over the next year or so will prevent you from falling into the trap of keeping things as they are because that’s the easy option.

John Telfer, Managing Director of INSPIRING, comments: “Setting the strategic direction of the business is only part of the job. Clarity and clear line of sight for all staff is just as important to ensure cohesion”.

For a small business, the strategic planning process doesn’t have to be complicated and to prove this, we’ve put together some of our best tips for developing an effective plan.

Start with your mission, vision and values

You’ve probably already determined these, but if you haven’t here are some pointers. A vision statement should challenge and inspire both your organisation and individual team members to achieve your business goals. A mission statement describes the “what” and “why” of your business and identifies your organisation to its customers and the outside world. If you have these already, revisit and redefine them because as your business changes so should your mission and vision. Your values are the only thing that should be constant, as they define how you conduct your business and how you expect your people to interact with others.

Make sure you get the right people involved in the strategic planning process

You should have input from team members across all areas of your business, which may include finance, customer services, human resources, quality management, sales and marketing. As a leader, you’ll have in mind your own overall business goals, but listen to your team and remain open to their ideas and suggestions as they’ll each bring valuable operational knowledge to the table.

Give your strategic plan the time and attention it deserves

What’s worked well for own business, and many of the organisations we’ve worked with over the years, is taking time away from the usual workplace and spending a few hours or a day in a room somewhere, away from distractions of phones and emails. In fact, you could even switch your mobiles off for a while and revert back to a good old flipchart!

Time is valuable so plan your meeting effectively

Brainstorming is great and gives us a chance to explore different ideas, but make sure you don’t all go off on a tangent. Put together an outline of all the aspects of your business that you want your plan to cover and appoint a chairperson to keep time and to make sure you address them all within the meeting. You could ask your team to consider a number of questions before the meeting and come prepared, for example: ‘What’s working and what’s not?’; ‘Are our customers getting the best service?’ or ‘Are our employees engaged and productive?’

Make sure your plan is achievable and visible

When you’ve discussed and agreed your goals, spend time developing them into SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely in case you’d forgotten!).  Place an agreed level of importance to each of your goals and objectives so that you can set deadlines and plan how and when you’re going focus on them throughout the year (or whatever period you’re plan is for). Include monthly initiatives which will help keep your plan active and moving in the right direction. Don’t let all your time and effort go to waste by letting it fall by the wayside when you get back to your daily business.

TEAM UP WITH INSPIRING…

INSPIRING Business Performance provides practical advice, business information tools and training programmes for organisations who want to improve employee engagement, develop their leaders and managers or look at organisational development. If you would like to speak to us about strategic planning or any other area of business development, call us on 0800 612 3098 or get in touch using the enquiry form on the left. We would be happy arrange for one of our consultants to meet up with you for an informal chat.

5 New Years Resolutions that will have a positive impact on your business

Most of us will have been thinking about personal new year resolutions in the last week or two, but now we’re all back at work and making plans for 2016, we’ve suggested five new years resolutions for employers that if kept, will have a positive impact on your business this year.

Limit out of hours communications

Just about everyone is contactable all of the time these days. Often it’s hard to ignore those emails and messages when they come in, even if it can wait until Monday morning. As an employer or manager, think about how sending emails out of hours might affect the recipient. If you don’t require an immediate response but just want to tick it off your ‘things to do’ list, consider setting up a time delay or create a draft to send early the next working day instead. Employers who make a point of limiting intrusions into employees’ personal time will have a greater chance of attracting and retaining good employees who want to be able to leave their jobs at the office.

Encourage your people to take time off

Many employees don’t use up all their annual leave entitlement. This may be because a heavy workload makes it difficult for them to take time off, or because their manager or workplace culture implies that taking leave is a problem. Having a positive culture of work-life balance together with happy, refreshed employees is more productive and will prevent stress, so you’ll be more likely to have a stronger, motivated staff in the long run.

Increase your training and development budget

When budgets are cut, it’s often training and development that takes a hit. If this applies to your organisation, it will inevitably impact on the ability of your employees to produce results and stay up to date with industry and business progress if they’re not getting the training and professional development they need. Make 2016 a year in which you invest in your employees and you will receive return on that investment in the long-term.

Look at your reward and recognition policies

If your reward and recognition policy is not perceived to be transparent and/or fair, it won’t attract, retain and engage employees. In particular, research shows that bonus and salary rewards are strongly related to employee attitudes including job satisfaction and intention to move jobs as well as impacting on behaviour such as absenteeism and individual performance. Make a point of examining how perks and benefits are distributed and consider separating pay and performance rewards in peoples’ minds by communicating to your team throughout the year for their good performance and recognising and rewarding them appropriately in the moment.

Tackle performance issues effectively

Leaders and Managers are often tempted to take credit for what their top performers achieve, but the real measure is how they handle people who aren’t performing so well. As a manager, you should measure your own performance by the lowest performer on your team. Many managers are scared of having tough conversations with their team, often through lack of proper management training. Developing people through coaching and creating accountability within your team is crucial to managing a high-performing team.

TEAM UP WITH INSPIRING…

INSPIRING Business Performance provides practical advice, business information tools and training programmes for organisations who want to improve employee engagement, develop their leaders and managers or look at organisational development. For more information or to arrange a free consultation, call us on 0800 612 3098 or get in touch using the enquiry form on the left.

 

Successful recruitment – what to look out for

There is a growing demand for workers within the private sector. As more organisations look to recruit, the competition is hotting up to attract candidates with the best qualifications and skills. It’s not just about who’s got the best CV – its about being able to spot potential in a candidate.

The CIPD’s 2015 Resourcing and Talent Planning survey (in partnership with Hays) found that half of CEOs have talent management as a key priority. The survey also found that skill shortages are escalating, with over four-fifths of respondents believing that competition for talent has increased over the past two years.

John Telfer, Managing Director of Inspiring comments: “Recruitment can be an expensive business, not just financially, but also in regards to time. The right talent management system will help you understand which skills you need to look out for, and reduce the costs involved with staff turnover.”

Using a tool such as Inspiring Leadership Index can highlight skill gaps in up and coming managers, help to identify suitable mentors and spot employees with the potential for internal promotion.

You could also choose to create your own Talent Bank. For large organisations this could help manage internal vacancies and contract placements, whilst smaller companies benefit from recruiting and sharing talent across groups of organisations with similar business needs.

Emotional intelligence also factors greatly in spotting and managing talent and much research has been conducted around how it links to performance in the workplace. Findings suggest that high levels of emotional intelligence are particularly useful for managing interpersonal relationships and leading teams.

Mariah DeLeon, Vice-President of People at workplace ratings and review site Glassdoor, recently wrote for Entreprenuer “While different companies embody various values and cultures, success in the workplace is strongly influenced by a person’s emotional intelligence, a quality that should be a non-negotiable when vetting job candidates”. Entrepreneur’s recent article on this subject gives examples of 7 Interview Questions That Determine Emotional Intelligence which could result in some interesting responses from interviewees and help spot those with potential.

TEAM UP WITH INSPIRING!

Read more about Inspiring Leadership Index and Talent Bank. The people within your organisation are what makes your business. Choosing to focus on your workforce and ensuring you can attract the talent you need will help your business to achieve its goals and drive success. Call us on 0800 612 3098, email info@inspiring.uk.com or get in touch using the enquiry form on the left.