Tag Archives: Management

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Getting Back to Work After the Holidays

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The holidays and New Year countdown are exciting times; there are lights and decorations, presents, vacation days and, for some, new and unfamiliar places. In lieu of that, January may seem a little dull to employees who are dragging their feet about getting back to work. Remedy the lingering “vacation mode” by engaging employees at the workplace. Managers and HR can do this a number of ways, such as…

  • Have your holiday party after the holidays. December is a busy month, especially in retail, so it’s perfectly acceptable to tell employees to push the party to January when they return. It won’t necessarily remove the feeling of being on vacation, but it’s a clear indication that vacation is over and work is resuming after the party.
  • Hold a strategy meeting with your key employees and get them thinking about how to improve the company this year. Plan out the coming year’s events and have them each disperse the information among their own departments, so everyone has strategy on their minds.
  • Use employee training to prepare them with key skills needed for their jobs and the coming year. Discuss how the next year will be different from the last, and what to focus on when training for the job.
  • Have teamwork training that encourages healthy teamwork and cooperation. The activities are typically engaging and hands on to inspire cooperation, and will actively get your employees’ focus back on the office and their peers.
  • Teach your employees something new to start off the new year. Emphasize learning and development in your company, and keep minds sharp to tackle anything the new year could bring.
  • Switch up the previous “norm.” The beginning of a new year is a great time to shake things up. Rearrange the office for productivity, paint it a new color, or start a new exercise program for employees. Have you been considering a “casual Friday” dress code for a while now? Start it this year!
  • Last but not least, continue to be a good leader and motivator. It’s a simple task that should go without saying, but it will be your greatest tool in keeping employees engaged, loyal, and ready to do their jobs.
  • P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to offer free coffee in the mornings, at least for the first few weeks back.

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Looking Forward to a New Year

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As the year comes to an end, it’s a great time to take a retrospective look at how your business performed in the last 12 months. Below are a few quick questions to ponder before your holiday vacation begins.

  • What were your biggest challenges?
  • Where were your greatest areas of growth?
  • What aspect of your business has the most potential?
  • How did your revenue compare to the previous year?
  • Which clients should you focus on next year?
  • Which marketing method worked the best this year?
  • What technology improvements can you make next year?
  • What are your biggest goals for next year?
  • What risks did you take this year? Which were the most rewarding?
  • What alliances should you make next year?

Have a wonderful 2015!

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4 Holiday Mistakes for Employers to Avoid

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Getting excited for the holiday season? So are your employees! Avoid stepping on any toes and keep the holidays a happy time by avoiding a few common mistakes.

Expecting too much

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and demanding employees work during their days off just because it’s the “busy season” is going to be detrimental to employee loyalty and morale. Don’t expect your employees to put their work above their families and personal lives, especially if you haven’t shown any respect for their time.

Requiring attendance for non-work related activities

Attending that end-of-year Christmas party wasn’t in the job description they signed up for. It’s a perk that the company offers, but your employees shouldn’t be forced to accept it. It could be compared to asking your employees to work overtime on a project from another department. Whether it’s a holiday party or an event where you’re giving out free gold bars, if it’s after office hours and unrelated to work, your employees should always be given a choice on whether or not to attend.

Getting too personal with your employees

While it is a good idea to treat your employees like human beings, keep in mind that they are your colleagues, not your best friends. Don’t ask to spend Christmas dinner together, and don’t pry into their private lives. Although making a few inquiries is only polite, there is a difference between asking where they plan to spend their holidays and asking how drunk someone plans to get on their holiday vacation.

Not showing enough appreciation

“During the holidays, it’s more important than ever to show your employees you appreciate them and all that they do. Your appreciation is the best gift you can give your team.” – Rick Bell, Keeping Harmony Around the Holidays

Even if your company can’t afford big bonuses or a lavish holiday party, it’s still important to show employees that you care in some way. Send out handwritten cards, get small gifts, give them an extra day off, and so on.

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How to Manage Productive Teams

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Image from “The Office”

There is no magic key to unlocking team productivity. Great team cohesiveness comes from hard work, communication, and a dedicated leader. According to the Harvard Business Review, Gallup has found good managers motivate employees with a compelling mission and vision, drive outcomes despite of adversity and resistance, “create a culture of clear accountability,” and make decisions based on “productivity, not politics.” Managers play pivotal roles in a team’s success, and below are some traits of successful leaders with productive teams.

They know their team members. Managers who know their team members’ strengths and weaknesses understand how to assign the best role for each member. Always play to a team member’s strengths, and help them improve their weaknesses. They may also have hobbies or special skills that could apply to their job.

They encourage continual growth. The best managers care about the growth of their teams, and encourage the development of strengths and management of weaknesses. Team members value managers who are concerned with their self-improvement, and teams get better as a unit as each member grows.

They keep learning. Managers are leaders, and should lead their teams to becoming better and more skilled. The continuous learning of team members is important, and a role model in the endeavor will help guide and refine the process. Managers have to be one-step ahead of their teams; if your employees are taking an intro to statistics class, you should be taking the advanced statistics class.

They think about their employees’ futures. Great managers plan for the futures of their teams as a whole, and for team members as individuals. Train your dedicated, talented employees for advancement within the company. Having a pool of skilled individuals to draw from within your company will safeguard against havoc when someone leaves unexpectedly, and creates opportunities for advancement within a company.

To summarize, in order to manage productive teams, you must understand the strengths, weaknesses, futures and potential of your team members and encourage continual learning and development.

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Office Dress Codes: Where to Draw the Line

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How casual is too casual?

The Philippines is a tropical country; it gets hot, humid and sticky every day unless it rains. With such temperamental weather, it makes sense for residents to dress in shorts, flip-flops and tank tops. However, depending on what kind of business you run, this may not be appropriate attire for employees. Setting a dress code can be useful for reigning in the inappropriate attire, but you must be careful not to breach any laws or alienate your employees.

All offices need some sort of dress code, even if it is as basic as “no visible underwear or private parts.” Below are a few guidelines on how to implement a dress code without pushing your employees too far.

  • Give employees dress code regulations in writing so they have something to refer to. If employees are in violation, management has something to refer to.
  • Clarify with measurable guidelines so there is no room for misunderstanding. For example, instead of saying “no short skirts,” say “hems must be kept at knee length.”
  • Implement regulations that make sense. If an employee has to remain on his or her feet all day, don’t require uncomfortable shoes. If a regulation is for safety purposes, such as closed-toe shoes in a lab, specify the reasons.
  • Never discriminate. Whether it is for gender, race, religion or otherwise, office dress codes must be extremely cautious about discrimination. Do not say “no bra-straps,” but “no visible underwear.” Likewise, steer clear of gender-exclusive requirements. Instead of demanding heels (unless you will require them of the males as well), request formal footwear.
  • Enforce equally. In addition to steering clear of discrimination in setting the rules, the enforcement of dress codes must also be equal. For example, if there are strictly no piercings are allowed, yet earrings on women are often overlooked, it could count as gender discrimination against men when they are prevented from wearing earrings as well.

Whether your company enforces a business professional or casual dress code, make sure it is fair, makes sense, and there is solid thought behind it. If you have a current dress code in place, it may be time to reevaluate based on how your company and workforce has evolved.

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Coaching: A Leadership Skill

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Coach, Role Model, Counselor, Supporter, Guide…do these words ring a bell? Being a coach involves being a role model, sometimes a counselor or supporter, and always a guide. Coaching is based on a partnership that involves giving both support and challenging opportunities to employees. Knowing how and when to coach is an essential skill that can benefit both you and your organization. This one-day workshop will help you become a better coach in all senses of the word. The seminar will be held on October 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at unit 502 OMM Citra Bldg., San Miguel Ave.,
Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

In Coaching: A Leadership Skill, participants will learn how to use coaching to develop their team, develop coaching skills that help improve individual performance, demonstrate the behaviors and practices of an effective coach, recognize employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and learn to give valuable feedback.

Course Outline

  1. Defining Coaching: The first part of the morning will be spent exploring what coaching means (in general and to participants), reviewing coaching skills, and evaluating the pre-assignment.
  2. Interpersonal Communication Skills: Communicating well is a key aspect of successful coaching. During this session, participants will explore different communication skills and create an action plan.
  3. Self-Disclosure: Joe Luft and Harry Ingraham developed the Johari windows concept, a way of looking at our self-awareness and our ability to ask feedback of others. This session will look at the window and examine how we can use it when coaching.
  4. Critical Coaching Skills: Participants will examine important coaching skills in small groups, including helping, mentoring, teaching, and challenging skills.
  5. More on Communication: This lecturette will examine two powerful, simple coaching tools: asking questions and listening.
  6. Learning Styles and Principles: We learn in three different ways: by seeing, by hearing, and by doing. In a large group discussion, participants will identify ways to incorporate these methods into coaching.
  7. Benefits/Consequences: During this session, we will examine a tool that coaches can use to help gain buy-in for change from employees.
  8. Skills Involved in Coaching: Participants will work in small groups to complete a mix-and-match exercise that will familiarize them with key coaching skills.
  9. The Coaching Model: This session will explore a four-step coaching model that can be applied to any situation.
  10. Feedback: An essential component of coaching. You will discuss types of feedback and offer some tips in lecture format during this session.
  11. Coaching Problems: To wrap up the workshop, participants will examine case studies and offer solutions.
  12. Workshop Wrap-Up: At the end of the day, students will have an opportunity to ask questions and fill out an action plan.

The course fee is PHP3,500 + VAT, and includes instruction by an expert facilitator, snacks and lunch, a specialized student workbook, and a personalized certificate of participation.

Register online and view other classes!

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Encourage Your Way to Motivated Employees

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Most managers have methods of dealing with poor employees, but the best managers should also have strategies to encourage their top performers, in order to guide their workforce. Ignoring employees may confuse them; your best employees won’t know they are doing well and your poor employees won’t know they need to change. Punishing or criticizing poor employees may also ineffective because although employees know they did something wrong, they may not have been told how to improve. Praising your best performers offers guidance for all employees, because they see what they should be doing, and what standard of work is rewarded in your company.

In 1925, Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock measured different types of feedback given to fourth- and sixth-grade students in a math class. She divided the classes into four groups; one was praised, another was criticized, the third was ignored, and the fourth was used as the control group.

At the end of only five days, the group that was praised for their work showed a 71 percent improvement in their work. The group that was criticized showed a 19 percent improvement, and the group that was ignored only a 5 percent improvement. The experiment showed that praise works better than criticism, and ignoring wasn’t as effective as either praise or criticism.

Generally, it isn’t advisable to give false praise, but managers should learn to give praise when an employee does well. Managers should also prioritize praise over criticism, and always give some form of feedback to avoid confusion and offer guidance. They may start to see the results pretty quickly!

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HR Planning in Times of Uncertainty

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By Matylda Rabczenko
Guest Writer, Warwick Business School


In current times of uncertainty, HR planning is commonly associated with bureaucratic rigidity that is inapplicable to the rapidly changing modern world, where reliance on past statistics gives us little scope to make future forecasts.

But contrary to this widely shared dogma, today’s fast-paced firms need a degree of HR planning if they want their workforces to keep up with the unstable market demands. This has been supported by research from the past decade, which confirms that HR planning continues to make important contributions to the better monitoring of staffing costs and employee numbers, as well as to the maintenance of a workforce profile, which allows for better-informed resourcing decisions.

Broadly speaking, once implemented, HR planning can result in one of 2 forecasts: labor shortages, or labor surpluses. A majority of Western companies will endure the latter due to the recession. However, unlike the Western world, the Philippines have not experienced the effects of the recent financial slump. Instead, the economy is undergoing incredible growth, largely due to heavy foreign direct investment, which has been fuelling cohorts of new ventures. Consequentially, there is a high demand for labor, which is widely available, however rarely skilled. On occasion, this may result in skilled-labor shortages, in which case the employers must resort to: employee overtime, employee outsourcing, or employee retention schemes.

In order to prevent such desperate measures, companies employ HR planning to predict both internal and external labor demand on a constant basis. This way, strategies to tackle employee shortage or surplus can be planned before the problem even arises, thus preventing the labor shortage or surplus from happening, or at least ameliorating the company’s approach.

When analyzing internal demand, there are 5 questions that need to be asked:

1. Is employee turnover high or low? High employee turnover can be an indicator of upcoming labor shortages. On the other hand, low employee turnover may imply the success of retention strategies, meaning that the company will not experience labor shortages.
2. What do the ‘employee movements’ say? How many employees have changed positions to ones within or outside of the company, and why? Employers often use replacement charts, succession plans, or transition matrices in order to track this.
3. How high is employee productivity? If employee productivity is not high enough to fulfill quotas, then this implies labor shortages.
4. Is the organizational performance on the rise or fall? When organizational performance is falling, then the company is likely to experience labor surpluses, as profits fall short of wages.
5. What is the company’s strategic direction? In cases where the company intends on broadening its scope of activities, the expected outcome would be labor shortages.

Analyzing external demand is much more tricky, as this may involve an endless number of factors. The questions below highlight some of the most important issues that should be considered:

– Are there enough unemployed and qualified individuals to satisfy the company’s resourcing needs?
– What are the general levels of unemployment and within relevant occupations?
– What types of skills are available in the area? As mentioned earlier, the question of skills is especially pertinent to the Philippines, where skilled-labor shortages are more likely to occur than in the Western world.
– What are the industry trends?
– What are the government’s legal frameworks?

These questions alone should give you a better idea of your business’s future recruitment challenges. They should also give you an idea of the importance of properly applied HR planning. Perhaps, it’s time to give it a shot!

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