Employee Experience & 3 More Reasons Why the Future Requires HR

Employee Experience & 3 More Reasons Why the Future Requires HR

HR

HR departments are the last thing fast growing companies pay attention to. In the race to become lean hypergrowth machines, many executives in the tech industry see HR simply as a nice to have, if not a symbol of the corporate culture they want to avoid. While it’s become common to start off without an HR department, now we’re seeing fast growing companies reach past the 50 person mark without any formal HR in sight.

With the onslaught of HR tech tools many companies are opting instead to buy solutions that will take care of everything from recruitment & onboarding to payroll and L&D. This is not only a trend affecting startups, bigger companies are now beginning to use HR tools to decentralize many processes placing them into the hands of managers and even the users themselves.

Unfortunately, HR has been relegated to the equivalent of the office hall monitor for way too long. Is this the end of the HR profession? Are we moving towards an age when HR can be completely replaced by tech?

What Tools Can Do:

People want choices. They want to be able to have some sort of control over the processes that affect them and not have to deal with paperwork or waiting. In this fast moving digital age there is an app for everything, including traditional HR functions such as: recruitment, onboarding, payroll, perks and vacation tracking, performance management and L&D. Self-service is becoming a trend, not only in our personal lives but also in the workplace.

Is HR Still Needed?

The answer is, more than ever. The millennial workforce is much more demanding than any other generation. What’s more, they’re much less likely to stick around if their demands aren’t met. A recent article by Gallup demonstrated that millennials are the generation that’s least engaged in the workplace and most likely to switch jobs, with six in ten saying they would be open to new job opportunities. Today with new tech tools that help your competitors recruit, even passive candidates, there’s no time to lose.

This means that employers need to create a more hands on unique experience to keep young talent engaged starting the day they come in the door. This includes curating and integrating tools into customized processes to make them more efficient, employee focused and reflect a company’s unique employer brand. Ultimately, tech tools are facilitators, not solutions. It’s now HR’s job to design a new type of organization that caters to the needs of its employees. Here are four ways the role of HR will change due to the rise of HR tech:

Creating the Employee Experience

Creating the ultimate employee experience has been recognized in Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Report for the past few years as the key to attracting, retaining and engaging talent. No employee experience program should be the same. To not only attract talent but to attract the right talent, it’s essential to create a unique employer brand. With the rise of websites like Glassdoor, the more time HR spends creating a great experience for current employees, the more likely they’ll become brand ambassadors for the company.

Likewise, your people are different, give them options… but not too many. One of the most important roles Deloitte foresaw in its 2016 report was the need for HR to become a curator for this overly connected generation. With so many options for eLearning tools, communication channels and perks available, sometimes what this generation needs is a guide who can select and whittle down the vast array of distractions and choices presented on a daily basis.

While traditional HR functions may be moving more towards user oriented self-service, it’s HR’s job to choose tools that meet their people’s needs and work best within the organizational framework they’ve designed.

Organizational Architect

Another key aspect of creating the ultimate employee experience is to reinvent and rehabilitate decades old processes that employees distrust or even hate. Performance appraisals are one such process that have often gotten a bad rap. In traditional stack ranking style, they were unabashedly used to decide who would stay and who would be shown the door.

Today many HR departments are starting the process of rehabilitating performance management by getting rid of or reinventing the process to make it more focused on employee growth and development. Cementing the change they’re replacing reviews with employee driven feedback interactions, more frequent coaching conversations and even the opportunity to give upward feedback – a major departure from the so called ‘rank and yank’ system.

Culture

Each company has its own unique culture, whether it reflects what executives envisioned is another question. It’s not necessarily the job of HR to create their company’s culture but to take its values and mission and infuse them throughout all processes within the organization. A company’s core values are often described as its moral compass. As many recent cases show, this should not be taken lightly.

After fast growing tech company Zenefits was charged with taking short cuts on online broker license certifications they came out with a statement announcing that, “Zenefits now is focused on developing business practices that will ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements, and making certain that Zenefits operates with integrity as its No. 1 value.”

However, what must be remembered is that words and reality can be two different things. Your top leadership can profess a company’s values but you need a constant reinforcement of those values at every level of the organization to ensure they’ll really be followed. As the architect behind all people processes, putting HR in charge of strengthening and infusing values (with full support from top leadership) is the best way to ensure they’re fully integrated into your culture.

Translating People Data

Employee experience is not something that can be designed and put in place for life. Just like companies that aren’t constantly innovating their product, those which are not innovating their employee experience will lose out in the talent market. That’s why HR must create an always on engagement culture by frequently measuring and analyzing. People data can tell you when engagement levels are low but it can’t tell you what the root of the problem is. This is where HR must learn to identify the triggers through processes like employee journey mapping and then effectively communicate to executives the changes which need to be made through storytelling.

Conclusion

The great thing about the rise of HR tech is that it takes away more of the administrative tasks HR has had to deal with in the past and leaves professionals with more time to transform their organizations into great places to work. The challenge HR will face is adopting a new way of thinking about their profession and arming themselves with the tools they’ll need to bring their department and company forward in the future. For more info join our free employee experience email course.


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4 Common Mistakes Uber Made & How Companies Can Overcome Them

Smith Rock

The recent news that Uber Founder Travis Kalanick will be stepping down as CEO hasn’t come as much of a shock to the public. A number of scandals rocked the hypergrowth company this year, revealing the toxic organizational culture that has grown internally. The scandal that began Uber’s spiral downward came on February 19 when Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote about her Kafkaesque experience at the company.

Sadly, this is not an isolated story. The most common reasons cited by women who leave the tech industry are a lack of opportunities for advancement, a hostile work environment and dissatisfaction with senior leadership. In fact, studies show that 40% of women with engineering degrees quit or never enter the profession, with the vast majority leaving due to hostile work environments. But how do so many young tech companies, like Uber, develop these types of toxic atmospheres and what can we learn from cases like these? Here are 4 common mistakes Uber made and how companies can overcome them:

  1. Toxic people

It’s not only technical skills that are needed in a manager, the ability to coach, empower and help employees develop are essential. It goes without saying that there are certain behaviors, including sexual harassment, which are never acceptable. So many tech companies are focused on holding onto their star employees but if you allow toxic people to remain and wreak havoc on your team (especially in management positions) you’ll create an environment in which your workforce will not be able to grow, innovate, share their ideas and ultimately will leave.

Don’t sacrifice your future top performers for current ones who are keeping others down. As Fowler explained, Uber had become a competitive “Game of Thrones” style environment in which people were undermining their superiors, peers and reports to get ahead. When a highly competitive and unethical work environment emerges, it’s even more likely that toxic behaviors will be overlooked or ignored. The fact is that these behaviors start somewhere.

Indeed, according to an article in Harvard Business Review, “It’s better to avoid a toxic employee than hire a superstar”, 46% of employees who have worked with toxic workers had a higher chance of being fired for misconduct. If this kind of behavior is silently accepted, especially when displayed by managers, it can lead others to emulate toxic and unethical practices resulting in the very common instances of “boy’s clubs” we see in the tech world.

This means that not only are toxic managers creating a hostile environment for female employees, they also implicitly encourage toxic norms to develop within the rest of the team.

Keeping on toxic employees can result in $12,500 in turnover costs. When taking into account litigation fees, fines, low employee morale and unhappy customers the resulting cost could be up to $25,000 or even $50,000. Though the study found that toxic workers are often high performers, with star employees only adding an extra $5,300 to a company’s bottom line, the long term consequences of keeping them on seriously outweigh the extra revenue they can bring in.

  1. Checks and balances

In her blog post, Fowler explained that she was given the choice to either be moved to a different team or possibly face receiving a negative performance review from her manager. As we also saw in the case brought by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins in 2015, when women report an incident about their manager they’ll often face backlash in their performance review. If their manager (or managers) is the only one reviewing their performance, speaking out can easily result in the victim being blocked from any future opportunities.

Rather than simply having one top down review, allow each person to receive feedback from multiple perspectives including peers and reports. Having 360 degree reviews allows for checks and balances enabling people to receive a wider range of perspectives on their performance. Upward feedback is another essential and something that should also be taken into account. As Fowler mentioned in her blog post, her’s had not been the first complaint against the manager in question.

  1. Transparency

Another incident Fowler mentioned in her post was the denial of her request for a transfer, despite having two excellent past performance reviews. The first time her request was denied she was told first that there were “undocumented performance problems” blocking her transfer.  After waiting for the next round of performance reviews, she was informed that her review and score had been changed without her knowledge. For the review process to be fair and effective it must be completely transparent. Changing a performance review or including “undocumented performance problems” only creates mistrust and the potential for it to be used as a tool against, rather than for employees.

A number of studies have shown that bias and inequality can often become entrenched through vague feedback and intransparent performance review practices. A number of studies have shown that while men are described as confident and assertive, when women display the same behavior, they are more often described as abrasive, irrational and aggressive. What’s more, women are more likely to receive critical feedback without any suggestions of ways they could improve or develop.

Managers must be trained to give feedback that is truly constructive and objective. This includes basing comments on specific examples and facts, rather than vague character assessments. One way to do this is to focus on verbs rather than adjectives. Furthermore, it must always be actionable. If feedback doesn’t include some way the person could improve, it’s a sign that it could be based on subjective conclusions.

Employees should always be allowed to respond to feedback and be given complete information about the reasons why they were given a particular score. If a manager is genuinely giving their employee feedback that is meant for improvement this will be followed up by regular 1-on-1 coaching conversations.

Each individual’s past feedback and performance reviews should be kept in a documented report that is accessible to both the manager and the employee. This should stand as the official report which HR can reference in the event of an incident.

  1. HR

There should always be a direct way for employees to contact and speak freely with HR, without fearing potential backlash. This case clearly shows the power of the Glassdoor Age, with CEO Travis Kalanick now coming out to say he had no idea of what was going on in his company and calling on the Chief of Human Resources to investigate the claims.

Today employees have the power to bring everything from sexual harassment to unequal pay to the public view via personal blogs, Glassdoor and other platforms. In one day the case was already picked up by the New York Times, Fortune and Bloomberg. Rather than working against individuals, HR should be genuinely helping to stamp out negative practices and create a positive work atmosphere.

Sweeping this kind of behavior under the rug can impact a company in multiple ways: increase turnover (especially of female employees), deter talented female hires, lower engagement and morale, push back talented employees from advancing within the company, and ultimately impact a company’s bottom line with customers becoming disenchanted with the scandal which will sooner or later hit the headlines. Taking these points into account and learning from cases like Susan Fowler’s will help companies create a positive work culture that encourages, rather than undermines diversity.


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5 successful leaders' advice: I wish I knew this as a young manager

5 successful leaders’ advice: I wish I knew this as a young manager

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Good leadership is an essential for any successful company, but it’s not always easy for junior or first-time managers to adapt to their role. Many times, leaders look back on their career and have a whole host of new insights and knowledge they wish they’d known all along.

When we started Impraise 3 years ago, the focus was on the product. As the company grew and we brought more people on board, we faced the challenges of also becoming first time leaders. Managing people for the first time, whilst challenging, was also rewarding, but it was always helpful hearing from people with more experience, and understanding what helped them progress and become the best leaders possible.

With recent failures at Uber showing many young leaders were neither trained or equipped for their roles, we wanted to find out just what people wish they’d known when they began on their leadership path. We talked to five top leaders to find out what they wish they’d known when they started their management careers, and collected their most valuable insights…

Harry WestFrog Design

“In an organization that’s fast moving, with lots of young people… we need to be proactive. We shouldn’t expect people to know how to manage without any training.”

CEO Harry West shares with us the things he’s learnt whilst managing the rapidly growing design company.

Historically, he shares, during the company’s earlier days, when potential future leaders were trained, there was a lack of knowledge and structure in place concerning the skills required and how they should be developed. The company now have in place a management training program to ensure these things are addressed before young leaders are put in charge of teams. Reflecting on earlier practices, he muses that this less than thought out approach to systematic training was not good enough for such a fast moving, young tech company. West soon learnt that this wasn’t working, and began reshaping their training process to be more systematic, now ensuring young leaders go into their positions equipped and confident.

Martin Jellema, Werkspot

“One of the most important elements is the people themselves.”

Martin Jellema, Werkspot & Instapro’s Chief Commercial Officer, responsible for a 70+ team, shares the top three lessons he’s learnt since he began managing.

Jellema maintains that, after all his years of managing people, one of the most important elements is the people themselves. Finding and recruiting candidates that fit the company and can handle every aspect of the role remains one of the most important aspects of managing.

Besides this, he maintains, asking for help where needed remains the second most important thing. He now values collaboration over feeling the pressure to perform flawlessly and prove yourself as manager, saying it’s more useful to discuss issues, allowing people to help you come up with solutions you wouldn’t necessarily think of. In Jellema’s experience, both your boss and your team will see you reaching out for help as a strength not a weakness: understanding that something needs to be done or changed and using the resources you have to make that positive change won’t be frowned upon. You have a great team around you for a reason: use their knowledge and skills! He also outlines the importance of keeping focus on ‘high leverage’ activities: rather than taking time on minor activities, delegate, and dedicate the time to things like team training which ups productivity.

Bob Kastner, Meeting Tomorrow

“If you have great team members, and you get them energized by a great scoreboard, then you’ll be unstoppable.”

Bob Kastner, Director of Marketing at Meeting Tomorrow shares the one thing he wishes he knew as a junior manager: how useful scoreboards are when it comes to keeping the team engaged, energized and on track.

Kaster says things should be easy to read at a glance. People should be able to tell what’s going on by looking at a few, important metrics: only use the ones that are essential to productivity. Kaster’s next must-do for these metrics is keep things constant: update the board as often as possible; keep information relevant and updated in real-time, and have it on display, keeping things in the forefronts of people’s minds, and discussing them regularly in team meetings or daily stand ups.

You can decide whether to create a competitive friendly vibe, seeing who tops the scoreboard, or create a collective vibe: how close is the team to hitting goals? Kaster has learnt to put this focus on striving for more motivating ‘best’ results rather than encouraging people to beat averages, always ensuring most importantly, to celebrate these successes as a team when they occur!

Brett Remington, Wisconsin Centre for Performance Excellence

“Trust holds everything together. It takes huge amounts of time to accumulate… As a manager, your success depends on the preservation and enhancement of trust.”

We spoke to Brett Remington, of the Wisconsin Centre for Performance Excellence,  and he outlined the things he’s learnt: his experience based ‘truths of management’.

Remington’s first learning was the importance of trust and fostering good relationships with those around you. He shares he’s also learnt to see managers as administrative functions, believing that “if you’re going into management because you want to change the face of what’s possible in your organization, you are applying for the wrong job.” The second, he says, is it’s essential to have a curiosity about the processes your team use: you could have a great team, but, if the processes being followed are ineffective, they’re going to be disengaged and unsuccessful.

He also sets a lot of store by keeping metrics simple and useful, and learnt to focus on 3-5 key performance metrics. He says attempting to stay on top of more than 5 performance measures at once makes for accomplishing less, whilst having focus on fewer than 3 at any time means you’ll likely miss opportunities for continuous improvement and innovation.

His next learning? Humility and the need to embrace change.

“You are only about 2/3rds as good at your job as you think. The 1/3rd you don’t know about, don’t believe, or don’t pay attention to is going to determine how long you’ve got left in this job. Find ways of eliminating blind spots and practice humility. Eventually, you may find that your role as manager is vastly different than when you started. People, processes, policies, and potential change. Know when the accumulated changes no longer fit with your skills, aspirations, or interests. When that time comes, be ready to change out of your manager role and reflect on what you have accomplished as you pursue a better future for yourself.” 

Barry Curry, Systeme

“Most importantly learning how to react and behave when you are out of your comfort zone will better prepare you for being out of it.”

Barry Curry, Technical Director at Systeme, also brings back the key point of positive feedback, recognition, and acknowledging your team for their accomplishments: it’s always key to ensure people know they’re valued.

He shared his biggest learnings with us, beginning with the importance of keeping sight of the big picture. It can be easy to get drawn into the small details: stay focused on key details, and don’t take things personally. If things become heated during stressful projects or periods, it’s okay to let people vent. Acknowledge people’s perspectives, never make responses personal and keep things respectful, with co-workers and clients alike.

He also suggests using goals to ensure what you’re doing has direction. This ensures that problem solving for others doesn’t totally overtake your other responsibilities. Another learning is resist the temptation to always check your emails first thing: first complete one of the daily tasks you’ve set yourself, without distraction or prioritising other’s needs.

He also says that although sometimes sharing problems is difficult, having thought about solutions before sharing the problem will show you’ve thought things through and instill confidence in you. Similarly, having a process in place for when unplanned or unexpected things arise is key: have a consistent process in place to help you deal with things more efficiently.

For more information and expert advice on becoming a great leader, check out our free eBook and white paper.


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4 Ways Managers Can Promote Self-Motivation Amongst Their Team

I Love My Job

We are in an age when employers are waking up to the fact that pay and bonuses, while necessary, are only the basics that are needed to retain your workforce. To really inspire motivation, it is widely agreed by psychologists and experts (not to mention popularized in numerous TEDTalks) that the best way is to give employees more autonomy and ownership over their work, provide opportunities to grow and develop and inspire them with purpose.

This creates a much more challenging task for management. Aside from creating the right conditions, how can managers help inspire their team towards self-motivation?

Set goals but also milestones

Ever since Edwin Locke first revealed his 1960s research into goal setting and motivation, it has become clear that effective goal setting is a key to great leadership. Even with purpose, we all need something to work towards to boost our motivation and know we’re making progress. Aside from making your goals SMART, it’s important to recognize the value of setting milestones for each goal. Goals should be larger benchmarks which will take time (a month or quarter) to achieve. While having goals in place can boost motivation, sometimes your reports can become overwhelmed if the goal is too big. That’s where milestones come into play.

For each goal, encourage your reports to come up with the smaller milestones that will need to be completed to reach their goals. This can be as simple as:

Goal: Get 100 people to participate in our quarterly webinar

Milestones:

#1 Confirm speaker by …

#2 Create email list, invites and reminders by …

#3 Create banners for social media campaign by …

Breaking goals down into smaller steps will help your team members stay focused and give them direction if they become lost or overwhelmed. This will also facilitate the move towards greater autonomy.

Create regular learning opportunities

Constantly helping your employees develop is not only a priority for HR and managers, but also one of the main things top candidates are looking for in an employer. However, this doesn’t have to result in expensive external training.

Consider holding regular voluntary learning sessions during which you share tips and tricks on how you organize yourself, balance priorities, set goals, give feedback, or any advice you think could help your team optimize their work experience. Open it up for your team members to also share their own insights. Inviting inspirational speakers is great but, if you lack the budget or space, joining conferences and meetups or even sharing powerful TEDTalks can boost motivation and creativity amongst your workforce.

It’s ok to break the bad news, but provide a solution

While you should never avoid talking when things aren’t going well, you should always keep up the motivation to overcome these challenges by leveraging your team’s strengths. This shouldn’t be a generic “I believe we can do anything” talk, it should be honest. How do you do this? It’s essential that managers know the strengths of each of their teammates and are able to strategize about how each of these strengths can be put to use to overcome challenges as a team.

For example, if you’re not set to bring in your target number of leads by the end of the month, propose a new campaign that could utilize your PR team’s strength in event planning and your sales lead’s great oratory skills. Bonus points: Research by Gallup shows that recognizing your employee’s strengths boosts engagement and thereby also productivity, profitability and quality of work.

Allow employees to create their own purpose

Finding purpose in one’s work is one of the biggest drivers of motivation. If you really believe in what you’re doing and the impact it could have on society, you’re going to have the motivation to go the extra mile. Deloitte’s 2017 report on millennials emphasized a strong connection between employee loyalty and purpose and asserted that, “It is well documented that businesses with a genuine sense of purpose tend to demonstrate stronger long-term growth, and employees can usefully tap into this.”

For example, after experiencing a lack of development advice while working in the corporate sector, my manager, and one of the co-founders of our company, was motivated to create a solution that would enable managers and peers to provide more frequent and real-time performance feedback. Meanwhile, I joined the company with an interest in how our tool could be used to create more equitable workplaces.

Rather than encouraging me to focus only on the original purpose of our solution, my manager has encouraged my interest in this aspect of our product by supporting my proposals for research and projects on this topic. While both of us are motivated by the same purpose: providing greater access to performance feedback and growth, we are able to find motivation from different angles of the same purpose. Remember that a major benefit of diversity is the ability to see your solution from different angles. Taking each team member’s perspective into account and letting it take off has enriched our purpose and product.


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How to Effectively Support Young Leaders | Featured Image

How to Effectively Support Young Leaders

How to Effectively Support Young Leaders | Main Image

Whilst there are many factors which can influence the success of your team, a great manager is a key factor when it comes to keeping people motivated and on the road to success, either as individuals, a team, or an organisation. An effective manager can make all the difference between a successful team and one that falls short: management accounts for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, which hugely impacts all aspects of workplace performance.

As such an important influence, it’s key that managers, especially those in their first management role, feel they have all the resources and knowledge available to them to help drive their team towards success. New, first-time managers need to go into their role feeling able and equipped to undertake all their duties. We share with you our three tips for developing first time managers and making sure the transition is as smooth as can be.

Mentoring

It’s key to make sure first-time managers aren’t just thrown into the deep end and made to go from their previous role with no transitional period. The transition should be as smooth and practical as possible. Providing mentors can be a great way to ease people into their new responsibilities and practices. Allowing your first-time managers to spend a few days shadowing the person currently in their future role, or in a similar one, and giving them the opportunity to openly share concerns, gaps in their knowledge, or issues they’re having is a great way to ease people in and ensure that they have the support they need in the form of a consistent mentor. Having a more experienced manager to guide people through their new leadership responsibilities means the difference between a new manager who struggles with the transition and one who comes into the team confident and ready to take the reigns.

Collaboration is key

Whilst having those with more experience provide support, advice or help building skills can be great, it can also be incredibly useful to speak to those on the same level. Providing open management sessions on a regular basis can be a hugely helpful way for both first-time and more experienced managers to share their knowledge, tips and issues alike in an open and constructive environment where the only aim is to improve. In larger organisations it’s a great practice to group together newer or first-time managers from various departments for meetings with open discussion. This can be a great way not only to see people’s personal development in their roles, and have them get the help they need, but also an opportunity to become aware of the issues that frequently arise with first-time leaders. Allowing for these things to be focus topics for the future means people can develop together and have all their addresses concerned.

Focus on building the right skills

It’s one thing ensuring first-time managers feel personally ready to take on their role, but it’s also key to ensure that people have the skill sets required of them. Setting goals that involve developing specific skills gives people something concrete to aim towards and ensure the right things are being focused on.

Providing people with a focus on developing their management and leadership skills means that they’ll be able to focus on developing these key aspects of management alongside the skills they already possess. Managing people requires new skill sets, and being aware of exactly how to develop those skills is key not only for first-time managers who have recently started their role, but also for those with potential who could be soon-to-be leaders. Don’t just have these processes be short-lived though: really developing skills takes time, and will be most effective if the process begins prior to beginning the role, and continues throughout the manager’s career path as they grow.

If you found this article useful, check out our white paper for more information on how to develop your managers here.


If you want to share this article the reference to Steffen Maier and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

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

If you want to share this article the reference to Steffen Maier and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

How Managers Can Use Feedback to Become Great Leaders

How Managers Can Use Feedback to Become Great Leaders

Written by Steffen Maier, Co-Founder of Impraise.

Electric Light

360-degree feedback can bring up a whole host of areas for improvement and help establish goals to be worked towards. Developing based on feedback is important for anyone, regardless of their position, experience level or objectives: managers are no exception.

We explain how the feedback managers receive can establish specific leadership training plans to help improve skills, performance and daily practices. This can help both inexperienced or first-time managers and those just looking to take their leadership skills to the next level and improve how they lead their team.

Upward feedback & where to go with it

Gaining feedback on daily practices, performance and skill sets can be an incredibly useful process. 360-feedback encompasses upward feedback from your team members, helping you to gain perspective from those who work closely with you. Hearing the views of those who work with you every day and have an acute awareness of your leadership style is a great chance to take a step back and re-evaluate. But, of course, once the feedback has been given, the process doesn’t end there. Using feedback for leadership training means that managers are able to work on the specific things that would improve both their leadership qualities and general interactions with their team on both a daily and a long-term basis.

Keep your team!

It’s often said that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. If there are multiple issues within a work environment but people generally like their manager, and are satisfied with how they’re being led, they’re less likely to leave their position. Ensuring that managers are not only listening to but acting on the feedback which they receive from their team makes it clear that the team’s views are valued, and means that managers will be able to use the feedback given to communicate with and work more effectively with their team. Managers will be on the road to improvement, and team members will feel both valued and more satisfied, be less likely to leave their position and begin to work more effectively with their managers.

Engagement & team spirit

After the leadership training has taken place, it’s likely that team morale will increase, communication will improve and employee engagement will be on the rise. It’s not just managers that will improve from leadership training either. Research from the Journal of Business Strategies found that leaders who were able to impact the long-term cohesion of their teams could account for more than 25% of the team’s overall performance. Effective leaders will keep their team communicating well and keep engagement levels up by giving them useful and motivating feedback, and making the organization a positive and impactful place to work.

Using Impraise, it’s never been easier for managers to develop. Feedback comes in the form of both real-time updates and reviews where questions can be tailored to find out exactly what skills or traits can be improved. Once feedback is received, it’s collated into an automatic report identifying exactly which skills and practices require focus. Now it’s time for improvement: continuous feedback that carries on long after the review process gives team members the opportunity to continue the conversation and provide real-time feedback on their manager’s ongoing development.

Summary:

  • Using upward feedback for manager training means team members know their input is valued
  • Successful leaders interact with employees in a way that significantly increases employee engagement and performance
  • Employees communicate better as a team as a result of more effective management
  • Good leadership training based on team feedback will lowers turnover rates

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.


If you want to share this article the reference to Steffen Maier and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

 

Dealing with Toxic Feedback in the Virtual Workplace

Written by Steffen Maier, Co-Founder of Impraise.

Dealing with Toxic Feedback in the Virtual Workplace

Toxic Feedback in the Virtual Workplace – What Gamers Have to Say

Today 37% of US workers have worked virtually. In a survey by SHRM, 83% of HR professionals predicted this number would increase in the next five years. While this option brings a lot of opportunities to both employers and employees (a bigger talent pool to choose from, better work/life balance, etc), the virtual workplace also holds new challenges for managers, including rethinking the way they encourage collaboration and resolve office conflicts.

Few realize that gaming presents a wealth of knowledge to better understand how collaboration and feedback work in virtual teams. Games provide continuous, real-time feedback. You win, you lose, you level up and feel a sense of satisfaction when you’ve improved. In a thought provoking TEDTalk, game designer Jane McGonigal explains that gamers create strong social relationships because many games, such as World of Warcraft, encourage collaboration to complete a mission. However, much like in the physical workplace, toxic feedback can also discourage teamwork.

Lessons from Gamers

In Fortune’s top fifteen best places to work, Riot Games is a leader in the industry for employee satisfaction. Riot uses annual 360-degree reviews, along with regular one-on-ones to engage and develop employees. They haven’t only encouraged a strong feedback culture in the workplace, but also in their games. When the company found that players were exchanging a high amount of toxic feedback in their hit game, League of Legends, they began conducting innovative new experiments into the impact of positive and negative feedback within teams. This virtual world created the perfect opportunity for psychologists to experiment with ways of influencing positive behaviors and norms.

In the gaming world, toxicity is the term used for poorly constructed and highly offensive feedback. According to Jeffrey Lin, Riot saw this as a major problem. Although only 3% of players regularly use toxic language, everyone has their bad days. In a game with ten people, there’s bound to be someone in a bad mood, increasing the likelihood of toxicity in each game. It was found that 81.7% of games had negative feedback in cross team chats. When players vented their emotions using toxic language, performance across the team diminished significantly.

Riot began using three methods to rehabilitate players. The first was to turn off a player’s chat logs when they were using toxic language and send them a notification. Toxic language decreased by 32.7% in one week. Second, it held online tribunals in which gamers were able to read chats by those reported for toxic behavior and vote on appropriate punishments (banning for x days). This gave the community more ownership in the process of creating positive norms.

Interestingly, the biggest impact was when they sent these players ‘reform cards’. Some players were surprised when they reread their own comments and the reactions they received from other players. Not realizing the impact of their words on the rest of the team, 70% took steps to reform their behavior.

The third strategy they experimented with was to prime players to behave in certain ways by giving them tips in different colors (red, blue or white). The biggest impact was seen when using a combination of tips on negatives outcomes (such as “Teammates perform worse if you harass them after a mistake”) in red and providing positive outcome tips (such as “Players who cooperate with their teammates win 31% more games”) in blue.

Applying these lessons to the workplace

In an interview with Alexander Brazie, former game designer at Riot Games and Blizzard, we discussed why feedback is so important. Even in the game industry, he explained that people working in different areas have different ways of speaking. A programer and a designer might use completely different argumentation skills, often creating misunderstandings. When not addressed, misunderstandings can fuel deeper conflicts.

On League of Legends, Brazie explained, “Games get you emotionally hooked. People in emotionally charged states are generally not the best people to be giving feedback.” Similarly, when emotionally charged conflicts occur in the workplace, employees may use toxic language without realizing the damaging consequences. In a virtual workplace these conflicts can be magnified as people cannot use facial expressions or body language to gauge emotions. If you’re planning on moving towards telecommuting, it’s important that employees first learn how to give feedback constructively.

One-on-ones can have a major impact. Brazie explained, “If you really want to solve a problem you first need to give your employees the tools and experience they need to communicate on less stressful topics.” His manager at Blizzard took time to work with him on reforming his communication style and this knowledge has stayed with him throughout his career. At Riot, one-on-ones occur on a weekly basis and are, in Brazie’s opinion, the most helpful aspect of its performance management strategy today. With the insights from their experiments, Riot is now considering making real time feedback a more continuous process beyond their one-on-ones to help develop positive workplace behaviors.

Brazie is now a game design consultant for Xelnath Enterprises, specializing in game design analysis and cross-disciplinary conflict resolution. When a conflict occurs, he suggests that, “the best way to approach the situation is to start off with establishing goals you have in common. You will find you actually agree with someone 80% of the way, so having this structure can actually help you to overcome challenges.”

Solutions for your company

In League of Legends, a strong motivating factor in behavioral change was when toxic players understood the negative impact their comments had on the team’s success rate. On the flip side, players who collaborated with their teammates won 31% more games.

Focusing on the positive side of online feedback, Riot implemented an ‘Honor Initiative’ allowing players to award points to teammates and opponents who demonstrate helpful or friendly behavior. This addition has become wildly popular and is expected to incentivize players to follow the new social norms created online. Riot is even giving badges and other awards to increase the visibility of these players.

Similarly, some companies encourage collaboration by separating performance reviews from promotions, instead linking them to the quality of feedback employees give each other. Separating bonuses from individual performance also takes the pressure off receiving feedback. Others have brought the real time feedback experienced in games to the workplace through new mobile apps aimed at increasing timely and continuous micro feedback. While it’s impossible to put people on mute when they’re having a bad day, this approach emphasizes that it’s not only about giving more feedback, but learning to give feedback the right way.

About the Author:

Steffen Maier, Co-Founder of Impraise

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.


If you want to share this article the reference to Steffen Maier and The HR Tech Weekly® is obligatory.

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