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Matching People – Why, How and To What?

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By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific

Sooner or later, every executive faces a similar people problem: as part of a large corporation, you may oversee, say, ten regional vice presidents, store managers, or unit heads and must assign them effectively. You know that the management of small variations in their preferences and skills can make a marked difference in their productivity—and in your company’s earnings. Sorting out the possibilities for those ten managers confronts you with 3.6 million permutations.

Faced with so many possibilities, most companies abandon the attempt to make rational choices and instead merely guess how best to assign employees to jobs. By treating people with diverse skills as an undifferentiated resource, these companies forfeit the chance to make substantial gains in productivity, profitability, and personnel development.

But deploying employees more effectively is only the start. A manager who wants the best people to do their best work must anticipate the company’s workforce requirements, provide training tailored to individual goals, and reward employees for hard-to-measure contributions such as coaching. It is thus no surprise that a systematic and continuous approach to fitting the right person to the right job at the right time has long been the Holy Grail of workforce organization. But most managers, search as they might, come up empty-handed. Few companies understand which employees are essential or how best to structure their workforce. As a result, human capital—the skills and knowledge of employees—too often remains an untapped performance lever.

Identify your superstars. The crucial first step is to identify your pivotal workers. In most businesses, not all employees are created equal—a subset, which can vary across business units and may change as a company evolves, always plays a disproportionate role in creating value.

Our experience suggests that workforces fall into six segments: top executives, knowledge workers, middle management, skilled workers, less-skilled workers, and bureaucrats. Depending on the industry, any of these groups can emerge as the most pivotal.

Continually improve productivity. Once a company has identified its pivotal workers, it can start to think about improving their productivity. The trick is to map the biggest productivity challenges that occur as workers move through the stages of their life cycle at the company, but few businesses bother to do so.

Systematically scanning the employee life cycle is the only way to uncover the most intense productivity pressure points that a company and its employees face. The process starts well before people are taken on. To know what kind of prospects to hire, how many, and when, for instance, managers should turn to workforce planning, which is essential to reduce labor shortages or surpluses and to boost utilization (something that can be complicated if demand varies by season or attrition rates fluctuate).

A company should then break down skill levels and retention rates by candidate to find out where to hire people with the necessary skills and how to develop them via training and on-the-job experience. Deployment, the next stage, can be a vexing problem, particularly for professional-services firms that require employees to work on several projects at once. Finally, if high attrition rates threaten overall productivity, companies can reduce them by offering workers varied incentives and continual development opportunities.

The above article is an edited extract from the following source:
Agrawal, V. et al. (2003) “Matching People and Jobs”, The McKinsey Quarterly, issue n. 2

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Keep Your Superheroes! 6 Steps to Reducing Turnover

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Article by Jaylyn Schumpert, from Profiles International

Do you know what is important to your prospective and current employees? Do you work hard to meet those needs? If you answered yes to both questions, then you probably have a low employee turnover rate. However, this is not the case for all employers and many companies struggle with the issue of employee turnover.

The average employee tenure at a company is approximately 4 years.  This is barely enough, or not enough, time for a company to fully recoup hiring and training costs. Companies cannot eliminate turnover; however, there are some items to consider when trying to retain quality people.

The following are 6 steps that an employer can take to attract and retain top talent:

1. Evaluate Your Managers
Measure employee turnover by manager; this pinpoints the real problem. Poor managers cancel out all the good things that employers do to attract and retain the right people. Once the problem managers have been identified, help them! Use assessments or other tools to discover what these managers are doing to drive employees away and then provide training to develop them into better leaders. Good management is crucial to employee retention.

2. Create a Recognition Culture
Give your managers the responsibility for seeking out ways that employees go above and beyond. Create awards for excellent performance; this gives everyone an opportunity to be in the spotlight for doing a good job. Great examples of employee recognition include: thank you notes, employee of the month awards, newsletter recognition, service awards, etc. Positive recognition will lead to a more productive work environment.

3. Create a Healthy Work Environment
Create an environment where positive recognition seems normal. In order to achieve this there must be open communication, an attitude of cooperation, and an atmosphere of trust. Communicate with your employees; let the them know where the company is going, how it plans to get there, how their jobs play a part in the grand scheme of things, and why they are the key to your success. Look for ways to show that you are willing to meet them halfway in balancing their personal and professional lives- flexible hours, childcare facilities, birthday leave, etc. Last, but definitely not least, trust your employees. If you want people to trust you, then you have to trust them. Give people a good reputation to live up to and they won’t let you down.

4. Create an Atmosphere of Continual Self-Improvement
Today’s job candidates want the opportunity to develop themselves and to continually polish their skills, abilities, and experience. Invest heavily in training and employee development and encourage employees to take advantage of the programs offered. Give everyone access to training that will enhance their self-esteem, their value, and their skills. Prove to your employees that there is no reason to leave when they can receive training and development from within the organization.

5. Put Your Best Foot Forward
This next statement may definitely throw some employers for a loop; pay employees as much salary and provide as many benefits as you can afford from day one. The goal is to reduce turnover and retain the right people, so if you scale back the initial offer by 15%, will the savings be enough to retain the employee when another company offers more money? Probably not. Put your best foot forward from the start and let everyone know that you are paying as much as you can afford for each position. As a person moves up the ladder, their pay should be adjusted accordingly. Know what each job is worth, and pay it early.

6. Match People to Jobs
Ensure people are matched to their jobs in terms of their abilities, interests, and personalities. When people are placed in positions where job demand and abilities match, where job stimulation and interest match, and where cultural demands and personalities match, turnover decreases and productivity increases. Employers can use assessments to determine the requirements of each position in terms of abilities, interests, and personalities and then use the information to match people to jobs where they will excel.

In most cases we want the quick, easy, and inexpensive fix, but unfortunately that is not always possible. Attracting and retaining the highest quality people may take time, effort, and money. By applying the 6 steps from above, companies can eliminate a large percentage of why people leave and keep the people that are essential to their success.

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Why Are They Leaving Us? – Turnover

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By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific

The most important point to start with here is that talent shortages do exist.

When unemployment rates are high, the mindset and expectations of companies are often that there will be plenty of talent waiting to be hired should the need ever occur. But this is not true for all jobs as the available skilled people are not necessarily the ones you will need. The problem also presents itself in situations of growth, as is in the Philippines. Turnover can be an even bigger threat in situations of growth because it is expected that there will be a job surplus as well as numerous new competitors. These two combined will potentially lead to your employees leaving you for better offers. For example, the Philippine hotel industry is growing exponentially, and this can potentially result in serious talent shortage for both old and new hotels as competitors search for the best employees in the sector.

So what are biggest causes for voluntary turnover?

Limited career advancement. People need to feel that there is a potential for personal growth within the company or eventually they will lose their motivation.

Lack of fit to job. This is caused by bad hiring practices. Ensure your hiring process is at its best so as to avoid hiring people who turn out to be unfit for the job.

Unsatisfied with pay and benefits. When people are worrying about their health or paying off their bills, they are unable to focus on their job. This will lead them to either perform poorly within the company, or to seek employment with a company that allows them to be more financially comfortable. Ensure that your employees are earning enough for the job they are doing.

Management/general work environment. People need to fit the company culture and management style. If they do not, they will be unable to pleasantly stay and work every day.

Lack of flexibility/scheduling. Nowadays people’s lives have become a lot more hectic and unpredictable, and families aren’t run the way they used to be. This means that most people will have a need for flexibility in their working hours. When you hire new employees or plan scheduling, keep this in mind and make sure you fit the people with the right needs to the right jobs.

Lack of job security. Employees who do not feel secure in their job will always look outside for employment opportunities that might be more stable.

One of the keys to reducing turnover is reducing your hiring mistakes. Profiles Asia Pacific offers the StepOne Survey which helps organizations reduce risk in a quick, cost-effective manner by evaluating various work-related values including, but not limited to, personal integrity, reliability, and work ethic.

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Organizational Success Does NOT Mean Engagement!

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By Matylda Rabczenko
Guest Writer, Warwick Business School

Whether your business is at the peak of success or on the brink of failure, it is likely that in both cases you are underutilizing your most valuable asset – people.

An overwhelming body of research has consistently demonstrated a link between people and performance (please, don’t fall asleep just yet!), which is mediated by the enigmatic concept of employee engagement (told you it was worth staying awake!).
Sibson defines it for you in two simple points. Engaged employees:

1. Know how to do the work
2. Want to do the work

Yes, it’s as simple as that, and there’s a lot to gain! Engaged employees are more productive and happier. This translates into reduced employee turnover and enhanced financial performance. More interestingly to those of you who are already doing well, it often results in the exposure of unrealized gains.

Before abandoning the topic, have a glance at the quick survey proposed by Elis and Sorensen (2006). If you checked even one of the boxes, there’s a chance that your organization has an employee engagement problem.

Did I hear an ‘uh-oh’? Unfortunately, there are no generic how-to guides; every organization has different needs! There are, however, four areas that you can focus on, which a long-term study has pinpointed as exceptionally relevant to employee engagement (MacLeod, Clarke, 2009):

1. LEADERSHIP determines the organization’s purpose, which ultimately shapes why the employee wants to do the job. Can you make your organization’s vision more inspiring than it already is?

2. ENGAGING MANAGERS are key to implementing the vision. They are directly in control of employee empowerment, which may contribute to both why the employee wants to do the job, and the employee’s knowledge on how to do the job (empowerment is associated with autonomy which requires higher-quality training). Are your managers empowering or restricting your employees?

3. EMPLOYEE VOICE is fundamental to creating employee engagement. An employee will not be committed to a job where he or she cannot make a difference and is treated as an opinion-less machine. How can you take action to listen and respond to your employees?

4. INTEGRITY is the building block of trust amongst the employees. It can be achieved through consistent behavior in line with the stated vision. Do you ensure that your employees act in accordance with the organizational vision?

Don’t overlook what’s right in front of you. Have a think and perhaps you too will be able to uncover some unrealized gains – the true potential of your people!

Find ideas and tools here.

Also, have a look at Profiles Asia Pacific’s Employee Engagement Survey! The top way to figure out the engagement level in your organization!

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Diamonds in the Rough – How to Find Undervalued Talent

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By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific

More or less all of us can spot talent when it’s clearly exceptional from the start. But this is not all there is to talent search – you don’t need to just snatch the obvious diamonds, you also need to find the rough but equally precious diamonds and help them refine. Unfortunately this is difficult to achieve, and most of the time we look for the wrong signs, or we simply overlook people who aren’t already shining. “At most companies” says Richard Fairbank, CEO of Capital One, “people spend 2% of their time recruiting, and 75% of their time managing their recruiting mistakes.”

Danish Talent and Performance Development Coach Rasmus Ankersen spoke at a TED event where he talked about his research and findings, which he published in The Goldmine Effect. During the talk, he explains the best ways of finding undervalued talent. “Mastering the art of talent identification is an extremely tough discipline” he says, but “by understanding three simple lessons, everyone can dramatically improve.”

There are actually quite a few people in various fields who were once overlooked and then turned out to be superstars. Asafa Powell, an unknown Jamaican sprinter, smashed the world record. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team when he was 16, but he turned out to be the most famous basketball player of his time. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, was categorized as a low performer because of his dyslexia, and he dropped out of school. Paul McCartney’s musical talent was never noticed by anyone throughout his education, and yet he was part of one of the most famous bands of all time. There could be many more similar stories to list here, but the common denominator in all of them is that someone failed to see their potential.

Ankersen says that the first step to understanding this phenomenon is to separate performance from potential. Some people have high performance and high potential, and these are the people he calls “shouting talents”, while others, such as Asafa Powell, or Paul McCartney, have high potential but low initial performance – these he calls “whispering talents”.

The pressing question is: how do we learn to see potential in something that looks ordinary?

The key is in the three lessons outlined by Ankersen.

Great talent is not necessarily right talent
If you’re not clear on the critical competencies that drive success in the jobs you’re looking to fill, you will be employing the wrong talent and missing out on the people with real potential. So, are you testing the right characteristics?

What you see is not necessarily what you get
Lower performers may have greater potential. Oftentimes obviously high performers are professionally trained, while average performers have been left to themselves. Raw lower performance might be better than a trained higher performance. This means that you shouldn’t just judge by the numbers because there are external factors that can affect results – luck, market conditions, good vs. bad bosses, even pure randomness.

Never overrate certificates, never underrate character
Sure, being trained in a top-class environment is a valuable addition, but character should always be taken into account. Individuals who haven’t had the opportunity to reach those stellar training environments could still be very much worth your time. In fact, they could be even better, because rougher beginnings can often lead to stronger characters. Regardless of certificates, it is worth looking at the right motivators for both types of individuals. Ankersen mentions factors such as “why are you here?” and “what drives you?” and “how much do you really care?” because the most important thing an individual has to tell you is what he or she isn’t telling you.

In conclusion, companies need to make sure they’re not missing out on all these diamonds in the rough. That college graduate that isn’t so great at communicating his or her skills at first impact might actually have a sea of potential ready to grow. By keeping Rasmussen’s research in mind, you can learn to identify these diamonds in the rough, and then help them channel their talent to straight to superstardom.

For some diverse tips on how to attract young talent, have a look at this article by our affiliate company–Profiles International.

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Six Keys to Great Customer Service!

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By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific

The lifetime value of one single customer is much greater than the added value of numerous single transactions. This is especially true in times when business is going badly, because loyal customers are more likely to heed a call for help or be patient through imperfect service. It is also true in our digitized era, where a bad online comment from a customer can go viral within minutes.

If you try and think of it from the customer’s perspective, you can see why it doesn’t take much for him or her to decide that your company isn’t worth their time and money. One bad experience is enough.

Profiles International, the affiliate of Profiles Asia Pacific, found that assessing core personality traits and a standardized set of skill measures provides clear indicators of probably success in a customer-facing role. In 1997, Profiles developed the Customer Service Knowledge Scale, and it has been refining its research ever since.

There are six behaviors that we finally identified in customer-facing employees that will make the biggest difference for your business.

1. Trust. Trusting individuals tend to believe that the motives of others are honorable. Find a good balance of trust that works for your business, you don’t want untrusting and unhelpful employees, but you don’t want naïve employees either!

2. Tact. How you say something to a customer can be just as important as what you say. If customers make mistakes or do not understand something, employees should take extra care to be patient and make them feel at ease.

3. Empathy. Customers need to feel that someone cares about their experience. Even if there is nothing the employees can do to solve an issue, it is important for them to show that they understand how important it is to the customer, and to still try their best to find ways to ease the situation. Frequent and honest communication is a good method to start with.

4. Conformity. The optimal degree of conformity for your customer-facing people depends on your business. The first thing to do is identifying your customer’s objectives and expectations, and then aligning your people with them. For a luxury hotel, for example, it is best to have low-conformity frontline staff that can make quick inventive decisions. But for a company that has to follow strict health and safety guidelines at all costs, it is best to have more conformed staff.

5. Focus. Customer service is about relentless focus. Your customer service employees should always stay focused and thus be quick and attentive, but they should also be able to identify when a customer does not want all of the information you are capable of giving them.

6. Flexibility. Companies that provide the best service think in terms of the customer, and this requires employee willingness and flexibility. However, highly flexible people can become bored of routine decisions, while inflexible people may appreciate routine decisions more than being exposed to important open-ended questions. It is important for you to identify what kind of people your company needs in selected areas, and then match the right people to the right jobs.

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10 Leadership Tips for First Time Managers

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By Yvonne Manzi
Social Media Officer, Profiles Asia Pacific

Our affiliates at Profiles International US have put together a great infographic. It is aimed at first time managers, but you can give these tips to your more seasoned managers as well. Over time habits become ingrained and a fresh reminder of the most important aspects of leadership can only bring positivity!

Let us know if there are any other tips you would add yourself. Or if you’ve had personal experiences with these!
You can Tweet us @ProfilesAsiaP or write us on Facebook.

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In Search of a Quick Fix – Teamworking and Why It Doesn’t Always Work

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By Matylda Rabczenko
Guest Writer, Warwick Business School

Over the past 30 years, teamworking has become a widespread phenomenon, which has since been renowned as the panacea for organizational ailments. Still, recent studies show that teamworking does not guarantee improved performance and managers continue to struggle with creating successful teams.

Oftentimes, this is due to the fact that when searching for a quick fix, supervisors overlook the crucial factors that are largely responsible for forming viable teams– the first one being team type.

The two most popular types of teams include shopfloor teams, which are responsible for producing goods or providing services, and project teams, which produce one-time outputs like a new product or service to be marketed by the company.

When designing a team, the team type should be used as a starting point, whilst other factors such as task design, supervisory behavior, group characteristics, and organizational context should be adjusted accordingly.

To give you a better idea, below you have a couple of examples illustrating how team factors may affect shopfloor and project teams differently.

Contrary to common belief, implementing teamworking is never as simple as putting two or more people together and asking them to complete a task. It requires careful planning and constant monitoring to ensure success. The above should provide you with a basis for what to consider, the rest is up to you!

Have a look at the Profiles Performance Indicator as well, which includes a group report called Team Analysis.

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Hiring Great Sales Employees – Bite Into the Apple Approach!

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Article by Christine Krenek, from Profiles International.

Whether you’re a small retailer or the world’s largest technology company, you need the best-fit sales employees to succeed.
Recruiting and selecting effective sales reps is critical for any sales organization! Take Apple Inc. for example, when you go into Apple stores across the country, you’ll find exceptional customer service.

An article from Forbes discusses how the tech company successfully hires their retail employees and what specific qualities they look for. The article cites that “Apple doesn’t look for exceptional intelligence or technical mastery,” instead here are seven characteristics the company’s hiring managers look for during their extensive interview process:

  • Smile and be friendly
  • Demonstrate passion
  • Don’t worry about not initially knowing the products
  • Speak up and demonstrate confidence
  • Interact with the group and ask for help
  • Show a commitment to the customer
  • Talk with humility

Looking at these qualities, Apple clearly focuses on hiring great “sales attitudes” that fit their organization and values.

All sales organizations and positions are different. For example, over the counter sales positions are very different from on-the-road, door to door sales reps. Different sales positions call for different types of employees. As Philip Shuler, a Senior Strategic Account Manager at Profiles International, says, “It takes a different type of sales person to sell a Bentley than it would to sell a Kia.”

So how do you know if a new sales representative will fit your organization’s needs? The answer is simple: assessments! Sales assessments make sure you hire the right person for the right job position. Pre-screening and skills tests, like the Profiles Sales Assessment™, ensure you hire the best-fit reps for specific sales positions and reduce common problems such as turnover and not meeting revenue goals.

Similar to Apple’s hiring criteria, the Profiles Sales Assessment™ measures seven critical sales behaviors. These behaviors paint a picture of each sales candidate or employee and ensure you select the one who is most likely to be successful for a specific position. These behaviors include: prospecting, call reluctance, closing the sale, self-starting, working with a team, building and maintaining relationships, and compensation preference.

Learn even more by watching a video of Philip Shuler discussing how to “Enhance Sales Recruiting and Staffing”

Do you have any tips on Sales recruitment? Tweet us @ProfilesAsiaP or reach us on Facebook!

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The Jeepney Syndrome – Succession Planning

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By Matylda Rabczenko
Guest Writer, Warwick Business School

If you are heading a company, you are guaranteed, sooner or later, to have to find a replacement for an employee. In one word: succession. According to the encyclopedia of management, succession planning involves “using the supply of labor within the organization for future staffing needs.”

One of the greater issues in this area is… not planning at all! Let’s call this phenomenon ‘the Jeepney Syndrome’. The process spurs thoughts as to what would happen if a Jeepney hit a strategic employee. How would this affect the company? Would there be someone to replace him or her? How efficiently would the role be reassigned to someone new?

Unsurprisingly, this creates feelings of unease and perhaps for this reason many companies fail to identify their most talented employees, who could take up senior roles in cases of unexpected dismissals.

Alternatively, it may be that many are not aware of the fact that succession planning is one of the most important human capital investments for companies operating in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly challenging business environment. The process develops a sustainable ‘strategic-talent pipeline’, which creates a pool of readily available leadership talent that then contributes to the company’s chances of future success and survival.

Here, I will familiarize you with the 4 very basic steps involved in succession planning to create some food for thought, particularly aimed at those considering its application.

Conduct a talent review!

– Identify ‘high risk roles’
– Determine who is likely to leave within the next year
– Decide on whether or not you can fill in their role from within the organization
– If so, support the development of these individuals
– If not, begin to seek candidates form external sources

Define ‘position requirements’!

Seeing as strategic positions require significantly more skills and experience than less senior roles, it is important to create elaborate position requirements. This can be accomplished using competency profiles.

Create appropriate ‘people data’ requirements!

Aside from providing simplistic performance appraisals, as would be the case for regular employees, those considered for strategic positions should be appraised in much more detail. For instance, aside from simplistic performance ratings, you could also require an explanation for the rating, as well as a description of the context.

Last but not least, plan suitable development activities!

Again, considering the specific requirements for the position, it will require unique training and development for the candidates. These are likely to be tailored to the individual candidates’ particular weaknesses in relation to the position requirements, as opposed to general training provided for all employees.

Don’t fall prey to the Jeepney Syndrome. Now you know the basic steps to prepare your succession plans!

Tell us about your experiences of the effectiveness of succession planning. How did YOU implement this practice? Tweet us @ProfilesAsiaP or contact us on Facebook!

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