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How to use competency frameworks for business success

Competency frameworks effectively define the skills, behaviors, and soft skills an employee needs to be successful, both in a specific role and within the organization. These frameworks are just one of a number of tools HR can use for people-driven performance management, hiring, and team building, but with their focus on capabilities, they’re also one of the most important.

A competency is the sum of a set of skills, knowledge, abilities, attributes, experience, personality traits, and motivators. Once your organization maps the competencies desirable in a role, you can find stronger hires based on skills assessments, make more informed development choices, and deliver the necessary training to help people fill skills gaps, either in their current role or a future one. Essentially, competency frameworks integrate into hiring, leadership, performance management, and much more.

What is a competency framework?

A competency framework defines abilities and masteries that contribute to an individual’s ability to do their job well. This framework should exist at both an organizational and an individual job level. It should also enable recruiters to identify people who are a strong fit for specific roles, while giving managers the tools to assess behavior and production, set goals, and make organizational decisions. Competency frameworks are most often used in recruitment, for evaluations, and for employee professional development.

How do you define a competency?

Competencies are specific behaviors or traits that contribute to a person’s ability to do their job well. Underlying characteristics can predict behavior in a variety of tasks and skills, such as a person’s ability to analyze situations quickly and perform well under stress. Competencies include characteristics, related knowledge, skills, and attributes, all of which play a role in job performance. For example, competency frameworks typically answer questions like:

  • What are the job’s expected outputs?
  • What behaviors will lead to the expected outputs?
  • What knowledge, skill(s), and ability(ies) will lead to the expected outputs?

A competency framework can be defined at an organizational level with broad competencies, and at a role level with specific competencies.

Organizational competencies

Organizational competencies are core masteries that define what the organization requires of its employees to succeed and how it expects overall goals to be accomplished. Most organizations define 15 to 25 competencies that lay out how employees are expected to act, and common traits everyone needs to succeed. These remain the same across the organization.

Common organizational or core competencies include:

  • Agility
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Integrity
  • Customer centricity
  • Strategic perspective
  • Resilience
  • Innovation
  • Teamwork
  • Personal leadership

These traits define a company culture of behavior and mastery that allows employees to meet the organization’s expectations.

Technical and behavioral competencies

Technical and behavioral competencies, also known as individual competencies, must be defined on a role level and applied to individuals. They map the skills and behavioral traits necessary to succeed in individual roles and so must be defined accordingly.

Technical competencies – Technical competencies are what a person can do, including hard skills and specific know-how. For example, an IT role would need someone with a strong knowledge of system security, specific software or platforms the organization uses, etc. But they would also require certain behaviors to be successful in that role.

Behavioral competencies – Behavioral competencies express how an employee performs in their role. While organizational competencies are broad and high level, these define individual behaviors that apply to the role. For example, an IT person might need attention to detail, empathy, quick thinking, problem-solving, and a good memory to perform well in their position. Some organizations further split these into interpersonal competencies as well. 

Defining competencies and how they apply to both the role and the organization is a crucial part of developing a competency model. Individual competencies must be defined as technical and behavioral, and organizational competencies must apply to every employee across the company.

Why to use a competency framework

The main benefit of implementing a competency framework into an organization is improved performance. A framework outlines the skills and behavioral traits an employee needs to excel at their job, making it easier to identify those who have the correct traits, skills, and behaviors for certain roles.

This allows you to define what “good” work looks like at every level of the organization, highlighting both how the organization works and how employees can meet the needs of their roles. More importantly, a clear competency framework lays out both what an employee should be able to do and how to do it.

A good competency framework enables HR to hire the right person for the job based on core behavior traits, which increases hiring accuracy, reduces job turnover, and boosts performance.

The process of creating and integrating competency frameworks can be intimidating, long, and costly. However, if you’re considering competency-based hiring or performance management, know that it will pay off. While the actual value of competency frameworks depends on their quality and how well they’re integrated, there are numerous benefits for organizations overall. From recruiting and assessments to performance management and succession planning, competency frameworks play a significant role in the businesses that employ them.

Success defined

Competency frameworks allow you to define success in a role and in your organization. If you can highlight the behaviors that are necessary to make strong achievements in your organization, you can streamline hiring. And, if you’ve defined what success looks like in each role and function of your organization, you can improve performance management. In short, you create a map for job expectations, career paths, and performance measurement by which you can measure, reward, and promote workers.

Improved processes

When you know what you’re looking for, the target capabilities and skills you need, and the behaviors that perform well in your role, hiring becomes smoother along with internal processes and even succession planning. Any employee-based program is automatically based on the existing framework, helping you to set targets, establish goals, and better define candidates. This also speeds up processes because, rather than redefining what’s needed from a candidate each time and getting leaders to agree on targets, they’re already set down.

Big-picture mindset

Hiring with a competency-first mindset instead of a drive to fill a position or some other sense of urgency means you’ll hire highly qualified team members who will fit in with the organization. In the long term, these are team members who’ll be useful even as your organization grows and changes. This results in fewer hiring mistakes and helps you create a team that can see the big picture.

Qualified hires

Competency-based HR pays special attention to the people who can do a job well and catalogs their characteristics and behaviors. This leads to more qualified hires, because you know the skills and behaviors that have been proven to do well for a role.

Enjoyable workplace culture

Competency includes workplace professionalism and the ability to remain calm and communicate well. Since attitude is taken into consideration, you’ll find yourself working in a team that’s overall more enjoyable to interact with.

Better problem management

You’ll also build a team that has good problem-solving skills. This includes resolving internal conflicts, issues with a project, and complaints from clients. Competency-based HR actively searches for candidates with the best problem-solving skills compatible with the issues your organization commonly faces. This results in better informed decisions and fewer escalating problems.

Set clear expectations

Using a competency framework allows you to outline employee expectations clearly, which in turn improves communication and performance. By defining competencies, you can:

  • Ensure training and professional development is target based and productive
  • Offer employees a way to measure and improve their competencies while expanding mobility
  • Track employee and competency growth
  • Improve communication between management and the workforce by clarifying job standards and establishing channels for constructive feedback
  • Set clear expectations for employees while producing a mechanism for recognizing high performers

Competency frameworks aid in recruiting and managing the people correctly so they stay where they’re needed, while growing professionally (which they can then measure). These frameworks can tie into every aspect of recruitment and performance management, as well as succession and pipeline planning, because you have the tools to measure, reward, and improve upon the successes of your best employees.

Pros and cons of competency frameworks

Your reasons for adopting a competency framework into your organization influence their success. For example, it can be easy to underutilize a competency framework, or to use them as traditional performance management.

Pros

The pros of using a competency framework include:

  • It’s easy to communicate clearly how employees are expected to perform and behave in their work
  • Appraisal and recruitment are easier and more focused on skills
  • Recruiters can assess and identify skills based on performance
  • HR can work to link specific skills and behaviors to performance over time
  • Assessments become more transparent and therefore more fair
  • HR can standardize processes like leadership and development based on behaviors and competencies
  • You can more clearly distinguish between team performance and individual performance
  • You have a stronger understanding of what to look for when hiring, promoting, and training

Cons

Competency frameworks are not right for every organization. Their cons often relate to poorly developed or poorly utilized frameworks:

  • They can unfairly focus on past competencies and so have to be assessed and updated regularly to be fair
  • It can be difficult to understand and use frameworks
  • Sometimes training is required to make performance improvements
  • Competency frameworks can’t replace performance management, but HR sometimes tries

Streamline recruitment with a competency framework

Hiring new employees is often a balance between opting for the hard skills and knowledge to perform well in a role, and the personality and behavior to fit well into an organization. Traditionally, recruiters create a profile of who they’re looking for and match potential candidates against that profile. Unfortunately, this process heavily focuses on technical skill and formal learning, often overlooking competencies such as attitude and behavioral patterns, which can be equally important.

Competencies show not only what an employee can do, but also how and how well they utilize the resources at their disposal (i.e., tools, skills, knowledge) to complete their jobs. Using a competency framework as part of the recruitment process allows you to streamline this process by identifying those factors and therefore make better hires.

Improve interview accuracy

Competency frameworks allow you to set up a structured interview in which recruiters use standardized, behavior-based questions to determine how candidates handled previous situations or theoretical ones. This allows you to score individual candidates based on how well they respond, rather than using unstructured models.

This identifies role-based competencies for the position you’re hiring for, and improves the accuracy of hires for both current and future roles as well. Creating a competency framework normally involves reviewing existing employees to determine which factors make them successful in a role – including their behavior, decisions, and actions – alongside technical skills and knowledge.

Richer candidate feedback

With competency frameworks, you can create and offer clear, rational responses when refusing candidates. This makes the overall hiring process smoother by communicating with candidates rather than leaving them in the dark. It also helps recruiters better define what they’re looking for according to candidate characteristics not suited for the position.

Reduced turnover

Hiring candidates whose behavior doesn’t fit a specific role often results in high turnover rates. For example, even an experienced person with the right technical skills for a role may not do well if they hold to tradition and prefer to move slowly while the role requires a fast-paced, fast-adapting individual. This friction will produce a negative work environment and inevitably drive the employee away. By identifying the specific behavior competencies that allow candidates to excel in a role, you can improve job satisfaction as well as performance.

Lower costs

Looking for specific behavior parameters on top of technical skills and knowledge improves the accuracy and efficiency of candidate selection, and therefore reduces total costs. Competency-based recruitment is results oriented and measurable, allowing you to create a direct return on investment in the recruitment process.

Stronger candidates

Competency frameworks give recruiters a map of what success looks like in a role so they can match candidates to specific behaviors rather than looking for a generic profile. This, in turn, speeds up the recruitment process, improves personality and behavioral matching, and increases the chances of finding a good fit.

What is competency-based human resources?

The core concept of competency-based human resources (HR) is to hire for roles based on the competencies that have been identified for that role.

When you implement competency-based systems, the employee benefits from a clear blueprint of a role and a definition of success. They receive transparency regarding recruitment, succession planning, expectations, and evaluations. Employers benefit from reduced turnover, a high level of competence among their team, good skill matches, and high efficiency.

Competency-based human resources:

  • Structures internal employee mobility
  • Creates a framework for open, honest feedback
  • Clarifies success in a job for employee reviews
  • Provides direction for needed skills
  • Sets goals and benchmarks for professional development
  • Gives employees the tools they need to take initiative and further their competencies

Combining HR planning with business planning will allow your company to work comprehensively to achieve your mission and vision. It will align your team with your resources and goals, and ensure your personal, team, and departmental strategies all work toward the same purpose. It’ll also reveal any gaps that need to be filled with additional training or planning.

Competency frameworks and performance management

The competency frameworks model is invaluable for the hiring process, as you can vet candidates based on hard skills as well as behavior and responses to determine if they’re capable of filling a role well. However, it’s also incredibly valuable for performance management and end-of-year reviews.

Knowing what makes a role successful, you can more easily judge when and why an existing employee performs well in their role, when they outperform, and how to improve their performance.

Managing performance as a culture

Many organizations manage performance at one or two points throughout the year, but not on a daily basis. Integrating competency frameworks allows you to determine if individual behavior contributes to a role.

For example, if a person in customer service is routinely short, rude, or uncommunicative, they’re obviously not fit for the role and will likely be moved or fired. However, we rarely apply those same behavioral considerations to other roles. A manager must be open, willing to invest in the success of their team over themselves, and act as a teacher and leader. If they fail to demonstrate those behaviors, is the manager truly performing well in their role?

A well-designed competency framework will clearly define organizational values, focus job and career trajectory, assist employees in managing job satisfaction, and encourage personal development.

Competency is not performance

Recognizing that someone is capable and seeing them perform are separate things. A person may have all the required competencies, but still perform poorly in a role. So, performance management must be separate from competency frameworks. Competency relates to performance in that you can see how people work (and how well).

At the same time, motivation, drive, and commitment play a big part, so a person who’s highly competent may become demotivated and underperform, while a less competent individual may outperform. You can gauge how employees work using competency frameworks, but you still have to gauge what they do separately.

Competency-based performance management is a good solution when combined with traditional performance management. Competencies give you more tools to measure how employees work and how they’re contributing. You can look for success according to the metrics you set down, and measure accordingly. But it’s not the only factor: Physical output and production still matter a great deal. You need both, and each is complementary to the other.

How to build a competency framework for your organization

A competency framework comprises a matrix that maps behaviors and skills to roles and tasks inside your organization. As such, building your own requires you to map it to your organization, which takes time and research. Or, you could purchase a competency framework, but you’d want to customize it to your organization’s specific needs and roles.

Defining necessary competencies across your organization allows you to hire and train for those skills, measure them, and determine which other abilities contribute to job success.

Competency frameworks give you the tools to gauge an employee’s ability to perform well in a role based on behavior, personality, and hard skills – allowing you to go beyond what’s on paper to determine how people actually perform. While undeniably valuable, many companies struggle to determine what’s needed and why. What’s more, crafting a competency framework can require months or even years of research to get it right, leading many to outsource the work instead.

Both outsourcing and creating your own competency framework have their pros and cons, so it’s important that you consider more than simply costs when deciding which route to take.

Outsourcing competency framework design

Outsourcing the building of a competency framework requires you to connect with an external organization that already has a significant amount of benchmarked data, an established process, and “fill in the blanks” data that they can quickly and easily tailor to your unique organization. Many have industry-specific solutions, which can be easily updated for your organization at a lower cost. This gives you a competency framework you can establish quickly and at minimal expense.

Developing your own competency framework

Many organizations choose to develop competency frameworks internally, either using existing benchmarked data or starting from scratch. This involves considerable internal research to map competencies to roles, determine objectives, source an organizational and management framework, and ensure ongoing improvement.

You need to align business, sourcing, and strategy to create a single list of objectives, identify competencies, map existing competencies to success across teams and roles, develop a framework for teams and departments to foster collaboration and ensure individuals with certain skill sets and abilities are available where needed, and establish a process for monitoring performance and effectiveness.

Develop internal resources to:

  • Analyze existing job roles and what makes them productive
  • Interview leaders and workers and compile data
  • Structure how competencies contribute to end goals
  • Define how each competency contributes and why

Choosing the best solution for your organization

If you can successfully handle internal research and analysis, building your own competency model from the ground up may be beneficial. However, most organizations benefit considerably more by bringing in not only third-party research, but a third-party perspective as well. Outsourcing allows you to adopt research compiled across your industry, then have it modified to meet your organization’s specific needs. Because the bulk of the work is already finished, you can easily identify what applies to your organization, create management and leadership frameworks around it, and adjust accordingly as time goes, rather than starting with nothing.

Starting with a standardized framework

Most organizations list the same basic skills or competencies as others. Even if you require fairly heavy customization, buying a standardized framework will likely reduce budget strain considerably. Most competency frameworks include skills frameworks and role mapping. You can also choose a skills-only framework that simply maps skills to roles, giving HR a good idea of what they need and what hiring managers across their industry are looking for.

Once you have a basic framework, it’s important to personalize it by making adjustments to fit your organization’s specific roles, and to ensure the framework integrates into performance management, hiring, and training. Popular frameworks include SFIA, OECD, and IAEA. In most cases, it’s a good idea to go over options with your talent or assessment provider to ensure you have a good fit.

Define where and how competencies are employed

Leaders will use competency frameworks to assess candidates for hire, to manage performance, for professional development, and in career planning for their workers. It’s crucial they understand this and how those factors affect them and their own careers before they begin to use it.

For example, a common misunderstanding is that competency frameworks only come into play during end-of-year reviews. However, a good framework integrates into daily behavior, individual task management, and in guiding employees on how they should perform at their job.

Introducing new performance measurement tools will almost always be met with resistance, even from leadership. The clearest path to success is to ensure everyone involved has the information about what it’s for, how it works, and what it will do. Providing adequate training and information also provides everyone with the opportunity to get onboard.

Measure work and performance

Employee assessment and performance management is a crucial role for HR, one that impacts business performance, goal achievement, and leadership development. While performance appraisal and employee assessment has traditionally been tied to factors such as individual output and performance, new models are replacing simple productivity assessments with more complex ones capable of measuring how an individual’s behavior impacts their team and the productivity of their team or those under them.

Competency frameworks are extremely valuable for these determinations, as they measure soft skills, behavior, and factors such as emotional intelligence. A well-implemented framework can positively impact recruitment, talent management, performance management, and leadership development.

Chances are, your organization already conducts yearly or even quarterly performance reviews. In this case, you collect data to see what everyone’s doing. It’s important to look at actual production and output, as well as total team performance in terms of creativity, collaboration, etc.

If you don’t have a performance review in place or only collect limited data, you’ll likely have to start by talking to team leads and managers to collect this information:

  • Identify key performers in each role
  • Identify the lowest performers

This step is more important if you’re working towards a competency framework but is valuable for skills as well. A simple DiSC performance analysis can help you fill gaps if you don’t have work data on hand.

Most competency frameworks include several layers of competencies, which include core competencies for the organization and then layers of competencies applied to employees in different levels of leadership or technical positions. If you want to utilize competencies for employee assessment, whether in hiring or in performance management, you also have to ensure that role-based competencies are in place.

This means working with an employee assessment organization to determine which competencies contribute to success in individual roles or teams. Here, you want to look at how individual performance impacts productivity and team productivity, which factors enable success in the role (such as communication, EQ, etc.) and map competencies to success inside roles based on factors such as actual work being performed, level of collaboration required, external communication required, and so on.

Measuring core competencies

Managers need a competency framework in place to measure employee effectiveness. It must work at an organizational and an individual role level, identifying knowledge, skills, and behaviors that contribute positively to the organization.

The basis of recording competency data is that managers, their managers, and other higher positions must record total behavior and performance during significant incidents, average day-to-day behavior and performance, and total behavior, including both positive and negative reactions. Creating role-based competency frameworks thus allows managers to map individual behavior to ideal targets.

In short, this involves:

  • Observing how people work and what they do to complete the work
  • Interviewing people with competency assessments to see what competencies top performers are displaying
  • Use questionnaires and interviews to see what people think contributes to their job

Observing

Employees must be observed objectively and without bias so only their specific actions and behaviors are recorded. Most competency measurement begins with recording average behavior, then settles on recording behavior during crucial moments such as during large projects, moments of stress, etc., and then any marked deviations from standard behavior. Providing managers with a template or program to record this data is essential.

Measuring significance

It’s important to measure the significance of incidents and behavioral changes. For example, if an employee is performing poorly but has recently been involved in an accident or lost a loved one, the change could be due to trauma and not an actual personality shift. The significance of changes in behavior can also be mapped according to the impact that behavior has on output, on other parts of the organization, and on customers.

Benchmarking

By learning the normal behavior of individual employees over time, you can benchmark their data to establish standards based on these tendencies. This will then allow you to identify over- and underachievers inside the same role, pinpoint personal improvement in individual employees, and mentor and improve others to reach the same standards.

Measuring core competencies allows you to better assess and develop individual performance by defining how successful work is completed. This, in turn, allows you to recognize, develop, and reward that behavior, producing a positive behavioral loop.

Conduct interviews across your organization

The easiest way to see what people need to perform work is to ask them. For most organizations, this means:

  1. Grouping roles into types
  2. Identifying specific roles across the organization
  3. Prioritizing roles (where to start and why; some roles will serve as bases for others, some should be finished sooner for hiring purposes, etc.)

In most cases, the more people you interview for each role, the better your eventual framework will be. Different people see their roles in different lights, explain their roles in various ways, and may even take on more aspects of a role than another person.

  • What skills does the person use in their daily work?
  • Which do they use occasionally?
  • How do they rank those skills?
  • How do managers and team leads rank their skills?

You can also sit down with a team to discuss roles, including what they see as the most important aspects and skills for specific positions. Group perspectives can be just as valuable as input from the person actually in the role, because you learn what tasks others rely on that person to do and why.

You also want to look at:

  • What skills (if any) people in those roles think are missing
  • What skills leadership thinks are missing
  • If skills are in place to meet changing role requirements (even if those haven’t happened yet)
  • If roles are changing and if so, how much
  • Any input the people in those roles have to offer

Eventually, you’ll end up with a general list of skills for the role, which you can prioritize based on importance. Prioritization allows you to improve hiring for skills, because you know what’s necessary and what’s nice to have.

Mapping skills to productivity and performance

Pay attention to people who perform well in performance reviews. It’s also important to interview people who perform badly though. Monitoring poor interviewees allows you to map skills based on performance so you can see if gaps contribute to performance gaps. In many cases, performance gaps relate to stress, mental health, and competencies. You need to take all these factors into account.

  • What skills, or soft skills, are present in high performers that aren’t present in low performers?
  • What skills gaps exist in the organization? Do they affect performance?

Mapping skills to productivity and performance will help you determine which ones are important for the role, which are not, and which actively impede performance when they’re missing.

It’s incredibly helpful to look at people who have been with the organization for a long time, who are in roles that have evolved over time and so may not have the skills needed for it. You also want to look at people who were hired without necessary skills and learned those skills (or didn’t) while on the job.

This kind of research will give you a clear picture of what’s impactful for hiring, what needs to be taught to improve performance, and what your overall strategy should be.

Assembling your framework

Once you’ve completed your research, you have to put it all together. Often, that involves using a competency framework as a base or a competency management tool. However, it should always include the following steps:

  • Group skills into categories such as “manual skills,” “strategy,” “interpersonal,” etc., and use that to prioritize certain skills
  • Organize major skills groups into three to four sub-groups to map sub-groups and broader skills to roles
  • Identify and name competencies in a logical way
  • Link those named skills to specific roles based on assessments, using either broader categories or individual subgroups

Integrating a leadership competency framework

Excellence in an organization often starts from the top down. If your leaders, including managers, board members, CEO, and other top staff, do not behave in a way that benefits the organization, you can’t expect the rest of the workforce to. Leadership competency frameworks allow you to integrate new standards at the top, first integrating and adjusting leadership, then onboarding the workforce.

While leadership competency frameworks should never stand alone or become separate from the overall competency framework, creating competencies for leaders first gives you the ability to introduce and streamline the process where it matters most — with the people guiding the rest of your workforce.

Providing training

A leadership competency framework gives leaders a template for their own behavior, showing what is effective and what isn’t inside of their roles. However, making the switch to new management styles is rarely a smooth transition. However, providing training and learning opportunities gives everyone the ability to adapt and learn new things. This, in turn, gives those who struggle with the new model the chance to recognize where they have to adapt to keep up.

Define how to use competencies

Recruiters and interviewers should know what questions to ask, and what skills and characteristics to look for. They should be able to pick out desirable behaviors on a resume and know what to ask in the interview to prompt candidates to reveal their behaviors.

Management also needs to have the tools to use company competencies. They should know which behaviors foster mastery and high performance, and which do not. Rewarding positive behaviors and taking the initiative to offer training and development to those who show promise are also mandatory abilities.

Foster incorporation and engagement

Hiring and evaluating employees based on a competency framework requires pushing adoption and buy-in from every member of the management and recruiting teams. They should understand why the framework was developed and how to use it, as well as how it’ll be updated and how they can change it to meet individual circumstances:

  • Link competencies to business objectives
  • Connect competencies to personal growth and success, not just to business performance
  • Establish policies that reward the behavior and competencies you want to see
  • Offer coaching and training where needed
  • Communicate the whole process openly and honestly
  • Ensure managers and employees understand how data is collected and why
  • Create a privacy standard for behavioral evaluation

The biggest challenge with competency-based HR is adoption. However, once the framework is accepted throughout the organization, it’ll produce a culture of competence critical to the organization’s success.

Identify skills gaps

Every organization will experience competency gaps. Here are a few ways to identify them before they become a bigger problem:

  • Conduct a performance review on a team and individual level
  • Identify behaviors each person should display in their role
  • Highlight missing competences, and identify which can be taught and which cannot
  • Allocate resources when closing gaps to save costs and time by either restructuring or training employees where necessary

Identifying and closing gaps requires managers to have a clear understanding of organizational and role competencies and why they matter, so you must get management onboard.

Identifying future gaps

Whether due to retirement, moving on to new roles, or even promotion, companies regularly lose highly qualified talent. Unfortunately, with no steady pool of qualified replacements, many of these roles remain vacant for months before new employees fill them, who then have to learn the organization and its culture before they can be effective.

Gap analysis can predict where skills disruptions will appear based on projected departure, retirement, and internal promotion, as well as unexpected losses.

Once you’ve identified where you’ll likely experience gaps, you can take measures to fill them. This involves identifying critical roles inside your organization that can’t be left empty and are therefore prime candidates for succession planning.

Creating a talent pool

Once you’ve identified behaviors and competencies that contribute to success in critical roles, you can begin to develop a talent pool. This means pinpointing employees with high potential, reviewing their strengths and weaknesses, and working to create strategies so they and others can close those gaps and prepare for their potential new role.

This pool of employees should receive leadership development, training, and even organization-sponsored education to prepare them to step into a higher role.

To produce a readily available employee pool, most consider:

  • Behaviors that contribute to success
  • Education level/qualifications
  • Years within the organization
  • Willingness to learn and develop themselves

Many companies also benefit from offering a broader employee development program open to everyone in the organization, which allows self-motivated individuals to pursue learning and transition to new roles. This removes some of the need for advanced evaluation and interviewing to qualify candidates for development programs, but may cost the organization more overall.

Once a talent pool is established, you can score their competencies based on what will be needed for future roles. Mentoring programs, developmental assignments, stretch assignments, formal training, and action learning are extremely valuable in development planning.

A competency framework gives HR the behaviors and competencies to look for in candidates. This helps you put together comprehensive training to develop those with desired qualifications and behaviors so they’re well qualified when a role becomes available. In this way, organizations can ensure employee loyalty, lower total costs, and reduce time lost due to gaps in crucial roles.

Mapping behaviors that contribute to success in new roles

With a competency framework in place, you can identify the factors and behaviors that contribute to success in a role that will soon be empty. This will let you target unlearnable or difficult to learn behaviors (such as honesty, creativity, flexibility, strong problem-solving, people skills, etc.), and then identify candidates inside your organization who already have those skills. But, unlike traditional hand selection and grooming, a competency model allows you to share what success looks like inside a role publicly so each individual knows what they have to learn and master to be promoted.

Clearly communicating what’s expected

Many organizations are ambiguous about what’s expected from competency frameworks simply because information can be translated in many ways. Allowing individuals to interpret competencies according to their situations can be a double-edged sword. Take the time to identify and clarify points of confusion to ensure understanding and adoption. Offer clear examples of good behavior so leaders know what’s expected of them.

Using behavioral statements as well as anecdotes, studies, and even case studies of desirable behavior inside the organizations can be extremely helpful for conveying a point. For example, if you can say “remember when X employee did this and achieved Y? What if X employee had done Z instead, a behavior that many of you do every day. Would Y have still been achieved?” Additionally:

  • Link expected behavior to outcomes and production
  • Make sure leaders understand why competencies exist (what’s the end value?)
  • Provide examples relevant to your work culture and environment
  • Ask leaders to come up with their own examples to ensure understanding

Developing targeted employee training

Training employees delivers value by building internal resources and capabilities, increasing workforce productivity, and improving employee loyalty to reduce turnover. Training programs can also close gaps, prepare existing employees to change roles, and ready candidates for succession.

Competency frameworks refine this process by identifying goals and target behaviors, as well as which learnable behaviors and skills actually impact roles. This process is known as capability building, wherein you introduce and manage employee development as part of workforce planning.

Changing focus from activity to efficacy

Traditional employee training and retraining modes rely on activity. However, these models often fail to evaluate learning and development, as they lack performance targets and data.

A competency framework identifies the behaviors and actions that contribute to success in a role and allows you to track them against success. This way, you know what skills need to be taught, when training is successful, and when training contributes to positive business outcomes.

Targeting learning where it matters

You can also focus learning objectives with competency frameworks by meeting specific learning and development needs, rather than introducing a single broad course. For example, you could target specific employee roles for certain trainings while letting others study something more valuable to their role. Common competency framework-based training includes:

  • Employee development
  • Skills development with systematic exposure to work experiences
  • Orientation activities and training
  • Continuous learning for employees to maintain relevant skills
  • Employing experienced workers in the role of mentor or coach
  • Offering lifestyle development such as stress and time management to improve productivity and behavior
  • Aligning new initiatives with organizational planning to ensure employees are prepared for changes
  • Breaking down cultural barriers to improve cross-organizational communication
  • Building training around business applications rather than the classroom

Target individual training based on current and future competencies desired in specific roles to benefit both the organization and the employee. This could include training an IT team in a new software the organization is integrating before it’s introduced, or educating customer service on customer relationship management. As a result, their skills become more relevant, increasing their value and improving the organization’s total output and productivity.

Creating an environment that encourages learning

A competency framework creates a system that can accurately gauge what employees need to learn. It also allows you to measure the success of training and learning, not through employees passing tests, but through measurable changes in behaviors that actively contribute to the organization.

This means learning should encompass not just hard skills, but also leadership (personal and others), values, attitudes, behaviors, hard skills, and internal systems and processes.

Training based on a competency framework can target goals and desired outcomes for individual roles, which enables you to bring groups of people where they need to be to meet the organization’s needs. This includes delivering specific skills in a brief period of time and slowly developing candidates for larger roles over longer periods of time.

Competency frameworks, employee monitoring, and quality assurance

Competency frameworks are increasingly integrated into organizational performance management to measure not only what employees do, but also how they do it. This same data can be integral in fostering a culture of management and quality assurance by defining what success looks like. This gives managers the tools to shift focus away from procedure and tradition towards efficiency and meeting quality standards.

While this requires a certain level of competency from leaders, it also allows you to take steps to measure and verify the quality of work being completed using information already at your disposal.

Using competency frameworks for monitoring

An organization should develop a competency framework around the skills and knowledge necessary to complete tasks for a role, as well as the behavior and attitudes required to perform well in it. Actual monitoring typically uses a three-part process of watching and observing, benchmarking and actively using data, and offering feedback. More specifically, this looks like the following procedure:

  • Assign managers to monitor worker behavior consistently over time
  • Benchmark data to establish performance norms both for individuals and roles (you can use this to identify high performers, when performance goes up/down, and to target those struggling within the organization)
  • Focus on noting behaviors shown in key situations, such as in decision-making, learning, meeting deadlines, or offering real-time feedback and goal-oriented motivation

Good behavior leads to quality work

The core of any competency framework is to improve either productivity itself or the quality of productivity. While some organizations lose sight of tying competencies to direct output such as organizational goals, production, or performance, you need to lay out those traits and behaviors that directly contribute to organizational goals, including quality, and tie them to behavior. In your definition, be sure to:

  • Tie competencies to performance (otherwise, they won’t help the organization)
  • Establish competencies that directly affect quality control (such as asking for help, focusing on producing quality work, being technically skilled, seeking feedback and constructive criticism, being flexible, establishing clear work processes, etc.)
  • Monitor performance output alongside competencies to verify they line up with the quality of work produced

Create processes to maintain your framework

Once you’ve created your framework, it’s important to establish processes to ensure its ongoing maintenance and validation. Chances are, you hire an external team to handle interviews, craft a framework, and customize results to your organization. This is largely unfeasible internally, unless HR suddenly has an abundance of free time or you’re willing to bring in freelancers.

Whatever the case, you’ll have to either establish an ongoing relationship with those teams to update work as your organization and technology changes, or implement internal processes to ensure work maintenance is ongoing. To determine what you need to do, ask:

  • Who is responsible for maintaining and updating roles and skills?
  • How does HR know when technology used in teams changes? (E.g., if the organization moves from Ruby on Rails to Python, job descriptions have to change with it.)
  • How does HR validate skills? Can skills be mapped to performance during reviews? Can progress be mapped to validate teaching new recruits and existing employees’ skills?
  • Are programs in place to close skills gaps?

If you lack internal processes to maintain and validate your skills framework, it’ll quickly lose value. Most organizations change fairly rapidly with new tools, roles, and teams regularly introducing change. HR must be able to keep track of it all, update the skills framework as needed, and continue to hire and train for the skills the organization needs.

Implementing feedback

Integrating competency frameworks into employee assessments requires a feedback loop where you can continuously improve the framework, scoring methods, and the assessment itself over time.

Consider:

  • Who is handling employee assessment? What are they responsible for?
  • Are roles and responsibilities in assessments clearly documented?
  • How is assessment data used, who collects it, and who interprets it?
  • Is third-party feedback, such as from a manager or colleagues, included in assessing competencies? How is this managed?
  • Are employees involved in the process? Can they offer input? Are they fully aware of what’s being tested?
  • Are relationships between competencies and role performance validated by data? Do you have a program in place to continue this validation?

Roles change over time, which means required competencies can change with them. The easiest way to manage this is to create a feedback loop where competencies are correlated to performance data, employees can give their own input on the validity of the competency, and the quality of competency assessment is managed to prevent bias.

Using competency models to make better hires

Making good hiring decisions is a crucial component of HR and one of the reasons competency and behavioral models exist. Hiring managers should look for behaviors that show alignment with the role, key organization values, and desired engagement and productivity.

Cultural match

Every hire you make will have to adapt to your organization’s culture. This is to prevent clashes that produce friction, dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, higher churn.

For example, if a new hire is accustomed to working with a waterfall method and is hired into an agile organization, they may struggle without the structure of direct managerial guidance.

Defining your cultural values and selecting individuals who can fit in quickly and smoothly will increase the satisfaction and productivity of the new hire.

Core values

Core values can be part of culture, but are often a separate entity. For example, if your organization is dedicated to reducing waste and improving efficiency, but your new hire has little regard for sustainable practices, they’ll clash with the organization’s core values and may bottleneck or reduce efficiency for their team.

While some may adapt to new core values, many don’t or take a long time to do so. Core values can relate to intrinsic work patterns (such as lean waste management or agile self-sufficiency), but can also relate to morals and values like eco-friendly practices.

Motivation and career path

Hire the right people for the right reasons. For example, someone who’s stuck in a job they hate and just wants out will likely have no real personal motivation or investment in your organization.

It’s important to seek out specific motivation for your organization, even if your work is relatively simple. For example, a fashion store hiring a clerk may ask why they applied to that store instead of another (unskilled) labor job such as a fast-food chain worker. This kind of questioning unveils their specific motivation.

Understanding that motivation and desired career path increases in importance as you move into roles where career development and succession planning or organizational growth are more common. But they’re valuable components for nearly any role, because someone without personal motivation for the position is unlikely to perform well or innovate beyond just doing their job.

Pairing personalities with teams

Many times, a company makes a great hire, pairs them with a team, then they quickly lose motivation and disengage or even leave. Why? The issue is often that the individual doesn’t personally agree with the team, its work methods, or even members of the team.

Working with competency models gives you the opportunity to define the key characteristics and traits required to fit into a team, demonstrated by individuals on the team, so you can hire someone who’s more likely to integrate into the team smoothly. While diversity is valuable and important in teams, establishing desirable traits helps you avoid pairing people with teams or individuals who may clash with their personality.

Competency models make it easier to define an ideal fit for a specific role by going beyond responsibilities and into personality characteristics and core behaviors. This, in turn, will reduce churn and increase engagement by bringing on new people who show active engagement and interest in the role.

How to put together an A-team with competency frameworks

Your competency framework will enable you to develop a highly competent team capable of adding measurable value and contributing to organizational performance in a meaningful way.

Create the right framework

For effective team building, a competency framework must be tailored to the organization and to the job role depending on whether your brand uses organizational competencies, role-level competencies, or both. In either case, the framework must reflect the organization currently and as it moves forward.

This means defining:

  • Behaviors that contribute to the success of the role in its current and future incarnations
  • Behaviors that contribute to current and projected organizational goals
  • Hard and soft skills that contribute to success in the current and future environment

If competencies aren’t relevant to the role, the framework won’t be valuable. Most organizations save time by using a predefined, broad list of competencies, but it’s important to customize this to meet specific needs using an outside consultant in combination with internal HR.

Determine how to look for behaviors

Oral interviews, presentations, assignments, and reference checks are the most common methods of settling on competencies. For example, interviews are extremely valuable for this purpose, since candidates are expected to share examples of past work and/or answer behavioral questions.

However, competency frameworks should extend to current employees as well. You need an effective way to assess, maintain, and monitor the competencies of your existing team. By identifying specific behaviors and skills needed for each role, you can make the best hire, but also identify gaps in existing employees and plan for training, which will improve the strength and competency of your team.

Use your competency framework

Once you’ve adopted a competency framework, you must incorporate it, educate recruiters and interviewers on it and why they should use it, and implement it straightforwardly.

For example, in the hiring process, creating a list of words and phrases to look out for that exhibit the behaviors you want is a helpful tactic. Similarly, listing qualities you no longer find important, such as having a degree from a prestigious university, can also be helpful.

Incorporating a competency framework enables you to strengthen your current team, while ensuring new members display the competencies that will enable them to be successful in their role. This, in turn, benefits the organization as a whole.

Promoting corporate entrepreneurship with competency frameworks

The world is increasingly dynamic and flexible, with technology changing at a rapid pace. Increasingly, organizations have to be just as flexible and fast-paced to keep up. This is evident in the success of edgy entrepreneurial corporations like Uber and Bonobos, who went from nothing to major corporations poised to take on the biggest traditional organization. Corporate entrepreneurship is the process of promoting internal entrepreneurship so employees have the freedom and confidence to create efficiencies and new working methods for themselves — therefore improving the organization as a whole.

Competency frameworks allow you to recognize and promote the behavior and freedoms contributing to this behavior.

Identifying and implementing entrepreneurial competencies

Competency frameworks identify specific behaviors that contribute to entrepreneurial thinking. For example, you could highlight where behaviors like risk-taking, trying new things, adaptability, and creative problem-solving come together to generate new solutions and ideas.

By highlighting what contributes to a corporate culture of entrepreneurism, you can encourage and reward it,  and ensure employees have the operational freedom to change how they work. This also requires self-motivation, a willingness to learn, and the ability to adjust and take small steps.

Failing forward

Failing forward is the idea that you have to fail before you can succeed. By allowing employees to fail without severe repercussions, you can foment a culture of constant, small failures leading to big successes. For example, allowing teams to try new things, even when they don’t necessarily succeed, gives everyone the opportunity to take small steps and experiment in a safe space, which reduces risk.

This risk-taking behavior can be extremely beneficial in a controlled environment, because developing new work methods, tools, and processes is increasingly important for organizations to keep up with the competition. This requires an increased level of risk-acceptance behavior on an individual level so employees can try new things without risk of reprisal if they fail (provided they get approval first) and look forward to a reward if they succeed.

Measuring success

While many HR tactics have been used to build corporate entrepreneurship, many of those lack a concrete way to measure success. When you allow failure, what does success look like? Competency frameworks allow you to define the behavior, attitudes, and product that lead to success. How? A person who takes risks and tries new things doesn’t necessarily do so with the benefit of the entire organization in mind.

By identifying the factors that play into success, such as keeping in mind the total impact on the entire organization, focusing on day-to-day work as well as long-term goals (a person spending all their time optimizing a process isn’t performing their job), and self-improvement, which includes the ability to accept and give constructive criticism, you can determine what actually makes this behavior work.

Risk acceptance and encouraging individual contribution are the two primary factors playing into successful corporate entrepreneurship, and competency frameworks give you the tools to encourage, measure, and quantify risk-taking behavior, motivation, self-improvement and development, and the behaviors that add to total employee contributions to the organization.

Using competency frameworks throughout the employee life cycle

Once you implement a competency framework, you can utilize it at nearly every stage of the employee life cycle. That includes competency-based hiring, development, and retention. Understanding employee competencies gives you better insight into where an employee fits and works best. It also reveals how much each employee has grown or changed since entering your organization so you know which employees invest in personal growth and development, and which don’t.

That insight into talent life cycle management can prove invaluable, but it starts with managing competencies, using ongoing assessments, and offering development opportunities.

Perform regular competency assessments

Integrating competency assessments into the yearly performance review can be a great way to ensure that competency profiles stay up to date. Here, you’ll likely want to use a combination of skills assessment, 360-review, and leadership review. Assessments and personality assessments can help but getting actual input from the people others work with is important.

Map competencies to development programs

Mindfully employing competency frameworks can pinpoint and close skills gaps. It’s also invaluable for identifying people with competencies suitable for leadership roles who can be upskilled if necessary. Aligning development with competencies also allows you to measure outcomes from development through regular competency assessments.

Map leadership to competency

Once you’ve defined competencies for roles, including leadership, you can establish clear developmental goals for people who want to move into higher positions. Having a transparent map of required behaviors and skills for growth offers clarity and motivation for people to work towards where they want to be.

Wrapping up — Use competency frameworks to elevate your business

Although a relatively simple concept, competency frameworks map the skills and behaviors your organization needs. They can also improve many aspects of hiring, development, leadership, and long-term role management. At the same time, it’s important to ensure these frameworks are integrated into the organization, introduced to employees, and worked into business outcomes. It’s not enough to develop one; you have to implement it, ensure its adoption, and continuously update it as roles and their associated skills change.


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How to nurture self-motivated employees who boost workplace productivity

A motivated workforce can result in a more productive workforce. If your employees aren’t motivated for the work in front of them, it’s likely that they won’t perform to their full potential. As a manager or employer, it is your duty to help nurture employee motivation.

There are two main types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsically motivated individuals will be motivated by external factors and rewards such as a pay rise, commission or paid time off. Meanwhile, intrinsic motivation comes from within. This type of motivation focuses on the personal desire to overcome challenges.

Intrinsic motivators include producing high quality work, building relationships with colleagues or feeling like an integral part of the organization. 

It has been argued that intrinsic motivation is the only type of motivation that leads to success. However, you cannot create self-motivated employees. You can only create an environment that allows self-motivated individuals to achieve their full potential. So, how can you help nurture self-motivated employees in order to boost workplace productivity?

Who are self-motivated employees?

Self-motivated employees look beyond extrinsic rewards of pay rises or bonuses. Instead, their motivators for career success are more psychological. Due to this internal focus, intrinsically motivated employees are focused on the company goals and strive to achieve those goals. Employees driven by intrinsic motivation are able to undertake work without the need for external input, micromanagement or extrinsic reward.

Self-motivated employees are a strategic asset for your organization. If you want to attract and retain highly productive and high-performing employees, you should focus on intrinsic motivators and nurturing self-motivated employees.

Why is motivation important?

There’s a vast number of benefits to having motivated employees from increased productivity to reduced business costs. By understanding the reasoning behind employees’ behavior and actions, and using those results to motivate them, you can improve business performance. 

According to Gallup, unmotivated employees can cost the U.S. between $450 – 550 billion in lost productivity each year. Therefore, learning how to motivate your employees can be fundamental to reducing your costs. Motivated employees will also be more engaged which will result in higher employee retention, productivity and company sales.

Knowing the importance of motivation in the workplace, here are some of the ways you can help nurture self-motivated employees.

How to nurture self-motivated employees

1) Let them have autonomy over their work

As we know, self-motivated employees are driven by internal factors rather than external rewards. A key way to nurture intrinsically motivated employees is to let them have autonomy over their own work.

Autonomy refers to having ownership or independent choice over your own actions. You can provide your employees with a sense of autonomy by letting them have responsibility over their workload, projects and upcoming tasks. If your employees are doing any company training, you may also want to consider self-led learning to let your self-motivated employees have control over their learning progress. 

In order to provide employees with autonomy over their work and nurture their intrinsic motivation, you should also consider allowing self-motivated employees to be involved in their goal-setting. Gallup found that employees whose managers involved them in goal setting were 3.6x more likely than other employees to be engaged in their work.

Providing employees with autonomy could also make them happier within their jobs and increase productivity. If you don’t already let your self-motivated employees have autonomy over their work, it may be time to hand them the reins and let them take control of their output. 

2) Recognize employee achievements

Although self-motivated employees may not be motivated by external rewards like bonuses, that doesn’t mean their achievements should go unnoticed. In fact, when employers recognize their employees achievements and contributions, engagement levels can increase by 60 percent. 

Recognizing an employee’s contributions to the team can provide them with an incentive to continue working hard to produce high quality results. Recognition has been highlighted as one of the main factors in attracting and maintaining talent within an organization.

3) Focus on communication

Communication is potentially one of the most overlooked ways of successfully motivating your work team. Through effective communication, you can nurture self-motivated employees and boost workplace productivity. 

Along with effective communication, it’s also important to have an honest and transparent communication line with your employees. Research suggests that withholding important information from staff could mean the difference between a motivated workforce and an unmotivated one. Whether the news is good or bad, employees will appreciate being kept in the loop as it will help them feel like a valued member of the company. Transparent communication could also improve business performance in terms of focus, engagement, and growing and recruiting talent.

4) Provide opportunities for success and development

As self-motivated individuals are driven by internal and psychological factors, it’s no surprise that offering the opportunity for further professional development can nurture these types of employees. 

Studies have shown that there is a link between self-motivation and professional development. Helping employees feel valued has been shown to have significant effects on their workplace performance. Employees that complete professional training will feel an increased sense of self-worth. This intrinsic motivator is sure to make self-motivated employees feel more engaged within their role and therefore can boost their productivity levels.

Providing employees with training opportunities will also show them that you are a company that cares about their personal development and may positively influence retention rates. A study by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.

How does your organization nurture self-motivated employees?

Now that you know some key ways to nurture self-motivated employees in order to boost workplace productivity and employee retention rates, take time to consider your own processes. Evaluate whether your company is currently nurturing self-motivated employees and think of new ways to support these employees in performing to the best of their ability.


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How to improve dysfunctional team performance with behavioral assessments

A dysfunctional team is one that consistently loses performance by failing to work and collaborate together in a professional or desirable way. Problems arising in teams and between team members are one of the major problems contributing to loss of performance but solving them can be difficult.

This is especially true because team dysfunction can stem from direct leadership (managers, Scrum leaders, etc.), leaders (business direction, business policy), and from individuals.

Stepping back to assess problems and recognize where things are going wrong is one of the first steps to solving those issues, and in many teams, it will often reveal issues with communication, emotional intelligence, and ego. This may be cultural or local to the team, but should be corrected, and quickly.

One study showed that negative behavior in teams is effective for most dysfunction, although negative behavior may stem from poor soft skills, lack of motivation from leadership, poor leadership, or other issues.

Understanding Teams and Their Leaders

Dysfunctional teams are reflections of a whole. It’s difficult to have healthy leaders or team members if either is unhealthy. But it’s critical to review both independently to look for the source of dysfunction. Chances are, you will find issues with both, but they might both be different and unrelated.

Personality Mapping

Understanding individual personalities that make up a team is important for ensuring teams align in terms of communication style, emotional intelligence, work ethic, work method, and social needs. MBTI shows there are 16 basic personality types and not all of them get along. Team conflicts may stem from simple issues relating to different methods of communication.

For example, a team lead might be communicating in strict, pragmatic instructions to a team made up of mostly creative people who need freedom to do things in their own way, resulting in stifled creativity and dropping morale. In some cases, direct personality clashes can also result in constant or regular conflict, sparking issues throughout the team.

In addition, understanding the personalities of the people on your teams can help with improving performance across the organization. Team composition based on personality is increasingly regarded as important to performance and individual happiness, because a mix of personalities functions better, is more creative, and can collaborate in ways that a silo of similar personalities will not.

Most team frameworks are based on personality assessments like MBTI or The Big 5 but will help you to see where different people complement or clash with each other.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, emotional quotient or EQ is increasingly seen as crucial to how people function together. Emotional intelligence can be defined as a measure of how people recognize their own emotions and those of others, use that information to guide behavior and thoughts, and manage or adjust emotions and thoughts to other people and to achieve goals. EQ dates back to the 1960s, but was popularized by David Goleman, who argues that 67% of leadership and team goals can be met with EQ rather than IQ.

Measuring EQ with assessments like EQ-I 2.0 can help you to understand how well people are communicating. This can be important, especially in instances where some people are emotionally intelligent and others are not.

People who are not emotionally intelligent can come off as rude, impolite, and hurtful. Leaders lacking emotional intelligence can deeply damage morale. Like other soft skills, EQ is a learnable skill and there are workshops, courses, and books on the market to help teams develop those behaviors.

Asking Questions

Sometimes, dysfunctional behavior builds up over time, typically in relation to a few incidents that slowly get worse. What started out as a single toxic person can result in an incredibly dysfunctional team, despite the team otherwise being functional. This type of behavior is difficult to assess without actually going in, asking questions, and seeing how the team works first-hand. Swapping leaders, implementing behavior coaches, and implementing workshops can be a good way to assess this behavior.

Solving Dysfunctional Behavior

It’s difficult to assess a team and immediately recognize where problems are from and why. In some cases, problems stem from processes and bureaucracy. In others, it’s simply teams not working together. And, in others, it’s poor leadership. It’s important to be open minded and unbiased, which potentially means having assessments completed by a third-party.

Problem: Disagreements are not addressed but are problematic

Team members frequently disagree but feel unable to discuss problems or resolve them. This can lead to unhealthy interpersonal conflict and dropping morale. This lack of trust will result in lack of team collaboration because individuals won’t ask for help or feedback, won’t utilize the skills or strengths of others, and, in short, won’t be part of a team.

Solution – Review why teams fail to discuss problems and implement solutions to fix those issues. For example, if teams feel they aren’t listened to, implementing EQ workshops may be a good solution.

Healthy debates should be encouraged, even if encouragement involves creating team-building exercises and working to solve negative behavior such as others calling out individuals in unhealthy ways. Getting over this type of issue may require acknowledging and working on specific instances in personal history.

Problem – People talk about each other behind their backs

This can lead to silos, “cliques” and “us versus them” behavior, and often ripples out from leadership.

Solution – Assess root problems, implement workplace ethics workshops, and stage workshops on having healthy upfront discussions where people feel free to share criticism to each other.

This may also stem from leaders feeling unable to offer criticism to someone who is “emotional”, which likely means the leader needs communication or emotional intelligence training. Feedback should always be given directly to the person, not to anyone else on the team.

Problem – Not everyone contributes

Healthy teams discuss things together. Dysfunctional teams typically rely on one or two people who take up all the time, space, and air. This can stem from people not being listened to, from the leader feeling like they have the only voice, and people simply not feeling as though they can speak up. In a worst-case scenario, people will either pretend to be on board with ideas they don’t agree with or will remain silent, but will end up working on solutions they don’t agree with or like.

Solution – Implement team-building exercises such as role-swapping, create mandatory speaking roles for everyone in the team, and have leaders specifically call out individuals to ensure everyone contributes. Discussion and debate lead to productive creativity and collaboration. Teams have to acknowledge that a certain amount of conflict is productive.

Problem – Teams work aimlessly

Often, this means that communication style doesn’t line up between how projects are communicated and how teams prefer to work. This can result in teams over analyzing and wasting energy or lacking confidence or feeling stifled by too much structure.

Solution – Assess how people communicate and work to match leadership, project, and team styles up as much as possible. Most organizations have space for every type of leader, assessing team types and matching leadership to that team is the best way to solve this issue.

Dysfunctional teams are everywhere, but the causes of dysfunction are often multifaceted. It’s important to assess the full culture including leadership, individual interaction, individuals, and company culture to determine what might be wrong and why. Only then can you implement the right solutions to create teams that stay healthy for the long-term.


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A Guide to Building a Career During Tough Times

This is a guest post from Michael Deane. Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.

The Coronavirus pandemic has flipped our world upside down. In just a couple of weeks, people around the planet have faced social isolation, illness, and even death. The economy took a hit too, and many businesses are struggling to stay afloat.

The changes are taking place fast and hard. Therefore, it is completely natural to feel anxious and scared as you’re watching your career dreams, hopes, and plans coming to a halt.

How does one go about building their career during these tough times? Don’t worry – the following tips should help you get back on the track.

Secure Your Current Job

Network with your coworkers beyond work-related social services. To protect yourself against layoffs and stay visible at work, build strong internal relationships.

Give yourself an edge by investigating your current employer and understanding key company issues. By doing this, you will have a realistic overview of the situation. You may even find opportunities that will help you secure your job, such as key projects that you can support.

Furthermore, try to become a high-potential employee by showing your interest in different things and demonstrating your learning agility.

Providing additional value to the company is something that can make you indispensable.

Network, Network, Network

Networking means connections and opportunities.

Meeting new people allows you to use their skills to your advantage. You will, however, have to give something in return – your money, your knowledge. People with successful careers network a lot. Their goal is to create profitable, long-lasting relationships.

Use the downtime created by the pandemic to reach out to teachers, mentors, college friends, as well as current and previous colleagues. Ask them how they’re holding up during these challenging times, share your situation, and try to help them in any way you can.

Having a web of connections will help you find lots of career choices and opportunities along the way.

Investigate New Industries

Was your industry hit particularly hard by the pandemic? If it was, recovery may take a long time. Consider switching to another industry. Those that grew during the chaos are obviously the best choice.

Start your research by identifying a couple of target companies. Read through their websites. Your ultimate goal should be to learn as much as possible about a particular company. Study their growth plans, financial stability, as well as products and customers.

Thorough research will be of great assistance when it comes to interviews.

Map Your Skills

Besides researching different fields, think about jobs outside your current scope. Jot down the skills you’re using in your current role.

For example public speaking, design, writing, programming, sales, reception, system administration, project management, data analysis, and others.

Once you’ve completed the list, find jobs that overlap with the skills you wrote down. Are excel skills only a small part of your job? Consider moving to a position where they’re more important, such as analyst of Big Data for a marketing company.

Add Remote-Friendly Keywords to Your Resumé

As you already know, telecommuting is at an increase. Many managers expect workers to show that they’re capable of remote working. Therefore, it’s vital to show your experience and aptitude at it.

In your LinkedIn profile, cover letter, and resumé, make sure to mention document-sharing tools you’re familiar with. Moreover, cite your familiarity with video technologies you have used.

Mentioning how you worked remotely is just as important. For example: “I was a leader of a remote team consisting of 10 workers spread across multiple time zones.” 

If you have any relevant soft skills, such as written communication or time management, highlight them too. These will demonstrate that you’re more than capable of being productive as a remote worker.

Brand Yourself

These days, it seems like nothing is as important as branding. Big-name companies spend tons of money to make themselves look like the market’s “big dogs”. Branding creates your image in the marketplace – it’s an ancient business strategy that still works.

To build your career during these challenging times, brand your name and services. Start doing this by creating a social media profile, a blog, or simply by offering awesome services.

Raise Your Standards

Finally, keep in mind that there’s one factor that separates the successful from the non-successful. It’s your standards – they are responsible for how you behave, believe, and think.

In case your standards are high, you will never be pleased with less than you can achieve. Individuals with high standards are typically more successful.

Take a moment to reflect upon your values. Give your best to improve them. By being the best version of yourself, you’ll succeed in building your career even in these trying times.

Building a successful career requires patience, effort, and time even in the best of circumstances. The tips listed above should help you make the best out of the current situation.


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How to use digital learning to increase employee engagement

In today’s society, technology is rapidly shifting. Interactions, experiences and businesses become more digitized with each passing day. Digital technologies have profoundly changed the ways we do business, buy, work and live. As a result, the landscape of education has undergone a digital transformation. You only need to look at the advancements in mobile phones for evidence of the digitization of education. We have access to a whole world of information at our fingertips through mobile applications and desktop platforms.

Digital learning enables you to make learning fun and accessible for your workforce. By embracing digital learning, you can improve employee engagement for your organization. The importance of employee engagement cannot be stressed enough.

Research shows that engaged employees are happier employees. Increasing employee engagement can also lead to increased attendance, performance, service quality, safety and employee retention. So, if you haven’t yet considered digital learning as an employee engagement method for your organization, you may be missing out on a powerful business opportunity.

The importance of employee engagement

In today’s competitive job market, employee retention is increasingly hard. Digital technologies have made it easier for unhappy employees to find new job opportunities. Almost half of employees considered high retention risk used a mobile app or website to find a new job.

The good news is focusing on employee engagement can reduce employee turnover. Employees who are engaged are far less likely to leave their job and, more importantly, will feel a stronger connection with the company. This strong connection could lead them to be more productive and successful within their role.

One way to increase employee engagement is through digital learning. In today’s age, employees value learning and development opportunities. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, an incredible 93% of employees stated that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Developing an ongoing digital learning strategy within your organization can be a great way to boost employee engagement.

What is remote learning?

Remote learning allows your employees to learn new skills and enhance existing knowledge without having to visit a physical location. They can undertake training using an online platform. This virtual format offers employees the flexibility to learn from the comfort of their own home or whilst in the office at work.

From mobile-based learning to live webinars, digital courses and virtual educational activities, there’s a wide range of options available when it comes to finding the most suitable remote learning style for your employees. In the past, all job and development training happened in person.

It was often expected that the entire department would complete the training at the same time, in the same place, as a team. It’s unlikely that the rigidity of traditional learning would be able to accommodate different employee learning styles, capabilities or requirements. Therefore, the increased choice and flexibility provided by digital learning could work wonders for your employee engagement levels.

3 key ways to use digital learning to increase employee engagement

To help you discover the benefits of remote learning, we’ve crafted this list of 3 ways digital learning can increase employee engagement.

1) Gamification of corporate training

Gamification in corporate training isn’t a new concept. The term gamification references the integration of gaming elements in non-game applications. Games have an amazing ability to capture people’s attention for a long time. Moreover, video games have been shown to improve cognition, creativity and sociability. These benefits of gaming are all factors that would be equally beneficial for the workforce. Therefore, it’s plausible to surmise that gamification could benefit corporate learning.

The gamification of online learning helps to create a more engaging learning experience for your employees. Using gamification methods such as scoreboards can make employees feel more ownership and purpose when engaging with tasks. This focus on gamification in the workplace can allow organizations to attract and retain the best talent, build a high performing workforce and reduce the cost of employee turnover.

Large corporations like McDonalds have incorporated gamification into their business model and training processes. McDonalds used gamification for till-training exercises. From this till training game, McDonalds employees reported having a deeper understanding of the new till system, improved performance and they felt increased employee engagement. The implementation of this game also resulted in an increase in business performance and average order value.

In a more digital application, Salesforce used gamification techniques to drive user adoption of their CRM system after customers reported employees were not using the platform as often as desired. Named Trailhead, this gamified approach allowed users to gain Trailhead badge of achievement, compete with colleagues and win prizes as they progressed through various stages of the learning process. By gamifying the learning and usage of their digital system, Salesforce was able to increase this customers total log-in percentage to 84% – a significant increase on the previously reported log-in percentage. Further to this, the users of the Trailhead learning platform reported feeling more engaged and empowered.

2) Interactive video content for employee training

As effective as online tasks may be, sometimes your training simply needs live interaction. With 50% of YouTube users in the U.S. admitting to using YouTube to learn something new, it’s evident that video content can be beneficial for corporate learning. Many organizations have recognized the positive implications of video content usage in business, especially short, engaging and interactive video formats.

According to Forrester Research, employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read documents, emails or articles. Based on these findings, if you want to encourage your employees to engage with your training program, using video format can help make training more interesting for users.

Videos are versatile and can be used for a variety of business training and development purposes. From introducing new services to employee onboarding, demonstrating how to use a new system and assisting employee development, video content can be used across various employee development initiatives.

Providing employee training via video could help increase employee engagement rates for your organization. A recent study found that 94% of employees enjoyed having at least one event live streamed. Live-streamed video content allows for authentic and impactful communication amongst employees.

With screen-sharing and recording capabilities, you can save your video training sessions for attendees to refer back to at a later date. Recording your video training will also provide evergreen training materials as you can use these recordings for future employee learning programs.

3) Self-directed learning for employees

Self-directed learning is when the responsibility of learning is transferred from the instructor to the learner. This transfer of responsibility gives the learner, or employee, the opportunity to make the decisions about their learning. Giving learners choice and control over their learning allows them to adjust the program to suit their needs and provides them with autonomy. This increased autonomy can further increase their interest in and motivation for professional development.

Examples of online self-directed learning for employees includes letting employees set their own completion dates for assessments, allowing them to complete online courses in their own time or having an online training platform where employees can choose the modules that interest them most.

Autonomy is essential for employee engagement. To support this notion, Effectory found that 79% of autonomous employees felt more engaged and thus more accountable for their work and performed better. Therefore, you can boost employee engagement by providing employees with autonomy over their online learning.

Next time you are reviewing your employment training initiatives, it may be worthwhile considering the potential benefits of digital learning. Incorporating online learning into your employee development programs can be a great way to increase employee engagement, as demonstrated by the above examples.


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How to look after your employees’ mental health

This is a guest post from Alicia Christine. Alicia is a human resource professional with expertise in employee experience and wellness. She writes for BestTechie and Techie Doodlers, and shares how businesses can be better to maximize their potential of helping better their communities and society as a whole. Find her on LinkedIn.

The discussion about employee wellness and mental health is becoming more and more important all over Asia. In fact, the Department of Labor and Employment in the Philippines issued guidelines for employers on how to ensure good mental health and well-being in the workplace just last February. This is in line with the spread of the occupational phenomenon known as burnout.

The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. This often results in exhausted workers, reduced productivity, and an increasing apathetic attitude towards one’s job. Now, what do you do if you’ve been noticing the same things with your employees in the workplace?

Don’t fret, you can still turn all of this around. Read on to know more about how to look after your employees’ mental well-being.

Open Up the Discussion on Mental Health in the Workplace

One of the best things you can do to address mental health issues is to provide an environment that is open and receptive to your employees’ struggles. In most cases, employees will never come out and discuss these issues with their employers, as they may be seen as a liability to the company. This will then lead to the problem worsening and negatively affecting both the employee and the company as a whole.

One way you can address this is by opening up the conversation on mental health. This proactive approach to employee wellness will certainly improve the way your workplace handles these issues. A great way to do this would be to educate your managers, team leaders, and supervisors on mental health issues through seminars held by professionals. This way they’ll be able to determine the signs of mental health issues and address them appropriately.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Another thing that’ll go a long way in promoting a healthy workplace is a focus on work-life balance for your employees. The thing we have to remember here is that employees that are physically and mentally healthy tend to work better than those who are not. So while it may seem wise to praise employees that overwork themselves, it may eventually lead to their undoing due to burnout.

So how do you promote work-life balance in the workplace? Well, one thing you can try is a flexible work arrangement. Pain Free Working highlights how flexible work hours allow employees to live more well-rounded lives. They’ll come to work, execute, and then will be free to do whatever they want with their spare time. This will do wonders for their mental health, as they’ll have more time to invest in other things aside from work. In turn, this makes them more productive as they’ll come back to the workplace fresh and recharged making this a true win-win situation.

Bots for Mental Health

Lastly, another way you can push for an overall improvement in your employees’ mental health is through the use of the right technology. Technology has often bridged the gap between society and its needs, and mental health is no exception. Various apps have sprung from the growing mental health crisis that, for the most part, have done an adequate job of curbing the issue.

In the corporate setting, one piece of technology has been surprisingly effective. Fast Company highlights how the use of chatbots make it easier for employees to talk about their issues. This is mainly because the AI is geared towards addressing these issues. Couple this with the fact that the discretion that comes with talking to someone who isn’t a person and you’ll find that you’ve created a safe space for your employees.

Make Use of Assessments

Lastly, one thing that you have to consider when things are going awry is if your employees are in the right roles. While it’s easy to put the blame on the employees or the systems that you’ve put in place, sometimes it’s really just a matter of whether or not something is the right fit. Inc highlights how being in the wrong role often leads to disengaged employees.

One way you can alleviate this problem is through the use of assessment tests. These will give you a good grasp on whether or not someone is in the right role by seeing if their skills and personality are up to par with their current role in your team. Another way to do this would be to just ask your employees whether or not they think their current role is right for them.

If you want to learn more about how to make your workplace one that values mental health and safety, check out this article on 5 Ways to Deal with Workplace Conflict!


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How to Keep Employees Engaged When Working From Home

This is a guest post from Addison Shaw. Addison is a content editor for Better Buys, where she writes about all things software related, ranging from topics on BI, HRMS, LMS, and a few other software categories. When she’s not writing she loves curling up in her papasan chair with a glass of wine and Nintendo Switch in hand.

In the blink of an eye, the world has changed more dramatically than we ever expected it to. The sudden impact of the worldwide pandemic has seen as many offices as possible turn into remote working companies almost overnight. The problem for so many of these businesses is that neither the company nor the employees were particularly prepared for this massive shift in lifestyle and working setup.

It’s highly likely that your company has already experienced many teething issues in the process, most particularly in how to keep your employees engaged and motivated. Without face-to-face contact, it can be hard to stay focused on work projects, especially if you throw pets, housework, children home from school and a myriad of other distractions into the mix. Now, more than ever, a human resource management system is an essential tool for ensuring proper workflow and employee happiness.

With the right tools and processes in place, you can keep your employees engaged in their work and feeling like they are still part of a team – no matter how far apart you are physically. It’s all about setting up new rules for a new way of working.

Schedule Mandatory Morning Check-In Meetings

It’s important to start the day off on the right foot. So many people who are new to working from home think that it’ll be fine to stay in their pajamas and sleep in, rather than sticking to their regular work routine.

By setting up a recurring video conference with your team each morning, every employee will feel the need to get up, get dressed and get ready for work on time. This helps to get people in the right frame of mind to do a full day’s work and can be an excellent motivator.

These morning meetings can do a number of different things for your team. They are a proper way for you as a boss or manager to stay on top of projects and ensure that deadlines are being adhered to.

They are also a way for your employees to get that daily face-to-face interaction with their colleagues, and to maintain a real connection. It can be very lonely working from home, so seeing people (even virtually) each day gives you a little pep that can help you to make it through to clocking off time.

Store Important Data in a Collaborative Cloud-Based Program

When you’re in an office and you need information from someone, it’s a simple case of walking over to their desk and asking for it. In a remote setup, this can be a lot trickier because files need to be requested and then emailed, and this can cause delays. This is why it’s so important to store information that several employees work from on a cloud-based solution. People can then access it whenever they need to.

The other key to this is to look for a collaborative solution. If you don’t have a collaborative storage option, you could end up with a situation like this: if two employees download the same document at the same time, work on it and then upload the new version at different times, the second person to upload the document will override the changes that the first person made.

In a collaborative solution, people will work online on the same document and no individual changes will be lost in the process. You can also check version histories to see what changes were made, when they were made, and by whom.

Show Employees How to Set Up a Proper Work Station at Home

Change and adjusting to new situations work best when it starts from the top down. As a manager or boss, it’s important to show your employees how you are coping with the new setup of working from home. You should make sure that you are always on time and properly prepared for each video conference – especially the morning check-ins. Then there is the setting up of your home workspace. If you can show your employees how it should be done, they’ll be encouraged to do the same in their homes.

Encourage your employees to set up a workstation that is as free from distractions as possible. The area should be just for work – not close to a TV or where you and other people in the house go to relax. Keeping those areas separate will help to keep you focused on work and won’t confuse your brain as much by trying to work in a space you associate with downtime.

Do Something Social at Least Once a Week

If you like to do after-work drinks in the office on a Friday evening, then stick to that. If the whole team has lunch together on a particular day, keep up the tradition. If you don’t have any traditions, now is a good time to start them.

All of these things can be done virtually on a video conferencing setup. It won’t be quite the same, but it will at least allow people to chat about non-work-related topics with their colleagues, and keep everyone feeling like they are in this together.

Take Time to Check in with Each Team Member

As someone in charge, it is your responsibility to make sure that all of your employees feel happy and that their grievances are being heard. It’s just a little trickier to do this remotely because you can’t see people’s faces all day in the office, and spot problems before they become big issues.

Create a roster of all your employees and check in with at least one person a day on a one-on-one basis. Schedule in a video call so you can see their face, as this forges more of a connection too. Through your roster, you can make sure that no one gets left out and you can make notes on any concerns that crop up so you know who to keep closer tabs on if there are any issues.

Wrapping up

While working from home poses many challenges it can be a good opportunity to connect on a new level. This new form of connection can keep employees engaged, and ensure that they perform at their optimum as they feel happy, secure and confident in their roles.


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When to Let Go of Poor Performers in the Workplace

Performance reviews have long been under-fire for practices of ranking individuals into top, middle, and bottom tiers. However, these tiers or other setups showing individuals who consistently perform under set standards can help your organization to improve and succeed. Traditionally, individuals who consistently underperform are simply let go, as they are either fired or do not receive contract renewal.

Modern HR practices typically require a much more human-friendly approach, where you should offer opportunities and tools to improve. Understanding these tools and approaches will help you to understand both how to improve performance and when to give up and let go of someone who simply is not responding to efforts.

Poor Response to Coaching

Coaching and mentoring can greatly improve performance for many. Here, leaders can simply step in to determine what’s gone wrong and why. This may result in the individual being moved to a more suitable team. It may result in their roles changing. It may result in them being pushed into personal development or training to improve specific factors.

Poor performance can result from myriad factors such as stress, poor home-life conditions, poor work-life balance, overwork, a bad manager, a poor fit with team, lack of crucial knowledge or skills, lack of motivation, and other factors. Coaching can help with any of these.

No matter what direction coaching takes, it’s important to monitor results. If someone fails immediately, it may be the fault of the coach. However, if the coach is good, there is a certain point when further investment is likely futile or no longer a good investment. Here, you should set a budget based on the cost of hiring and onboarding a replacement to the same or a higher level of performance and work within that.

No Interest in Development

Individuals who do not respond to or show interest in personal development cannot improve or change. This is important because most remediation efforts for poor performance eventually result in development. Individuals who lack skills for their current role have to be trained. Persons in a role that is changing outside of their ability to perform have to be trained. Individuals who can’t communicate well have to be trained as well.

If someone is not interested in learning and improving themselves, they cannot increase or improve performance. You can typically gauge this before development begins but should do so as it proceeds as well.

Lack of Personal Motivation

Personal motivation is the key to self-improvement and it is one (hard to measure) factor that will make or break the success of any initiative. Without motivation, an individual cannot respond to coaching, cannot push themselves through development, and will not be able to engage with or become passionate about work. You can take on several strategies to boost motivation through empowerment, stress reduction, training, and offering opportunities, but it is up to the individual to respond.

Like with coaching, motivation training should stop at a certain point when it becomes clear that the cost of doing so will exceed the cost of replacing the individual altogether.

Most people will train, develop themselves, and strive to do better when given the opportunity to do so in an understanding environment. People respond well to coaching, are able to make changes to their schedules and work methods and can learn new skills to improve performance. On the rare occasion that individuals do not respond to these methods or the cost of delivering them far outstrips the cost of hiring a new employee, you should let poor performers go.


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3 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement to Improve Productivity and Reduce Turnover

40 years ago, almost no one cared about metrics like “Employee engagement.” Today, most HR departments are painfully aware of the difference engagement can make. With research by the Korn Ferry Group showing that companies with engaged employees are up to 2.5 times more profitable than those without, most of us are right to be concerned.

At the same time, engagement offers room for improvement. Whether your organization already has a relatively engaged workforce or one that focuses on clocking out and going home, you can take steps to improve engagement and business results.

Importantly, employee engagement is never about perks, about specific rewards, or about one-time actions. Engagement only happens with consistent long-term results that drive change.

Link Vision and Strategy to Daily Work

Most people clock into work, perform an allotted number of tasks or work towards specific goals, clock out, and go home, all with no real idea of what they’ve contributed towards or achieved. This can be highly demotivating, especially over the long-term, where individuals often see no real change.

One important way around this type of demotivation is to ensure everyone always knows what they’re working towards. This means linking organizational vision and strategy (or big goals) into smaller goals, broken down into daily work. If everyone can easily see what their work is contributing towards and hopefully how close that goal is, they’ll be more motivated and therefore more engaged.

Empower Individuals and Teams to Own Their Projects

While traditional waterfall organizations don’t often support employee empowerment, doing so can greatly increase engagement. Here, you create cross-functional teams that can handle every aspect of a project they’re working on, assign ownership to that team, and allow people and teams to work towards results in a manner of their choosing. Doing so allows experts who know how to do their own work to optimize, take ownership, and engage with their work in new ways. What does ownership mean? One team will design strategy for, choose how to create, create, launch, and finalize any project. They’ll take full responsibility for its success or failure.

While this can create some risk in that everyone is not following the same standardized processes, you can implement with controls and general guidelines for processes in place to ensure everything is handled to the same (or better) level of quality than before. Why does offering ownership increase engagement? People get to be proud of what they’re working on, to improve it, and to work on it in their own way.

Encourage, Recognize, and Share Creativity and Passion

Not everyone in your organization will be creative, passionate, or engaged. But, when you do see these behaviors, it’s important to stop, recognize, and share them. Doing so can mean something as simple as having Scrum leaders stop to congratulate individuals on a job well done. It can mean improving performance scores. It can mean celebrating teams meeting new targets and goals.

Whatever you choose to do, it should involve specifically offering recognition when you see the traits you want to foster, encouraging them with open workspaces and flatter hierarchies, and creating space for individuals to fail and try again within those goals.

Teams are engaged when they have ownership, room to be creative, and space to communicate and share ideas effectively. If they know what they’re working on, why, and are responsible for the end-outcome, they have that much more motivation to engage with their work. Over time, this will improve productivity and increase employee satisfaction, both of which will cut down turnover and add to real business results.


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How to Follow Up on HR Assessments and Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are a crucial element of most company cultures. At the same time, HR assessments and performance reviews are in the middle of a massive overhaul. Most organizations recognize that old-school performance reviews are more harmful than helpful and many offer little value, only demotivation.

While some of this demotivation surrounds the natural process of being tested and the possibility of being found wanting, most of it relates to what is tested, how, and why. Most organizations don’t have processes in place to actually use performance reviews for positive improvement. At the same time, these processes both add to the value of performance reviews and reduce the negative reactions surrounding them, because employees at every level get something back from their participation.

So here are a few ways to bridge the gap, and follow up on HR assessment discoveries and performance reviews (both good and bad).

Recognize Performance

“Old-school” performance appraisals force HR to categorize a certain percentage of employees into top/middle/bottom categories, with some offering more room for nuance. At the same time, it’s important to step back, look at performance holistically, and recognize where individuals have succeeded and have improved. Doing so will allow you to acknowledge individuals and offer positive feedback.

Understand Failure and Its Reasons

Most people don’t underperform for no reason at all. If individuals are performing poorly, it’s crucial to step back, look at their team, their role, their personality, and, when possible, family and personal life. Here, poor performance often relates to factors such as:

  • Poor role/team fit
  • Poor culture fit
  • High levels of personal or work-related stress
  • Poor management / aggressive management
  • High or low levels of responsibility (boredom/overwork)
  • Poor skill fit (under/over-qualified for a role)
  • Personal disagreements/conflict inside the team or with management
  • Lack of personal motivation

Each of these factors can take an otherwise highly effective and high-performing individual and dramatically reduce their performance. This will result in flagging performance, flagging quality, and changes to the individual’s personality and disposition. If you can identify a reason behind poor performance, especially when it extends to a team or group of people, you can work to improve that performance by correcting the problem.

Improving Role Fit

Some individuals do not fit into certain types of teams, management styles may not fit their work styles, or there may be an excessive amount of interpersonal conflict inside a team. Here, issues may stem from problems such as the individual is over/under-qualified for their role, the individual doesn’t get along with others in the team, or so on. Solving this issue can be complex, but typically relates to moving someone into a better fit, working to improve management styles for that team, or otherwise changing facets of the role or team to improve.

While your actions here can impact just the individual or the team as a whole, those decisions must depend on the performance and behavior of the rest of the team.

Offer Development

Many people struggle to adapt to change, new leadership styles, new tooling, new role responsibilities, and so on. Others are over-qualified for their role but don’t have the necessary skills or behaviors to move up. Recognizing this gives you the opportunity to offer development, so that anyone who is struggling in their role can learn the necessary skills to excel or to move on.

While these types of development initiatives can be costly and require that you conduct behavioral assessments and understand job profiles and individual teams, they will pay off in terms of improved performance, improved motivation, and a happier workforce.

Poor performance in the workplace is rarely as simple as employees who don’t care about their jobs, but it can be. If that is the case, your reaction to a poor performance review should be to increase motivation. In some cases, individuals will show no improvement and should eventually be let go or cut from a team, but the cases where they cannot improve and likely excel in a role where they struggled before is rare. Acting on these motivations and taking steps to improve role and culture fit for an individual will improve performance.


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