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How to write a performance improvement plan (PIP)

If an employee is consistently underperforming or breaching code of conduct or performance requirements in some other way, a performance improvement plan or “PIP” is one alternative to terminating their contract. Here, you create a sort of probationary phase, during which expectations of change are clearly communicated to the employee, a deadline is set, and change is monitored and managed. Performance improvement plans are usually designed to help employees reach their full potential, especially if they’ve performed at a higher level in the past, if they’re a new hire, or if they’ve moved from one position to another.

In short, a performance improvement plan is an alternative to immediately firing an employee – which gives them the chance to improve. If they succeed and stay with the company, you’ll have reduced costs over making a new hire, have invested in making an employee more loyal, and invested in the morally preferable action of helping someone to succeed first rather than looking for someone else.

When to use a performance improvement plan (PIP)

Performance improvement plans should be a last effort and an alternative to firing or letting someone go. That means they should be a response to a pattern of problematic behavior – which has been replicated over time. In addition, a PIP should never be the first response to poor behavior. If you haven’t given an employee verbal and written warnings that their behavior or performance isn’t meeting standards, you should do so before implementing a PIP.

In addition, Performance Improvement Plans are a good fit when:

  • Employees are feeling unfulfilled in their role
  • Employees have transitioned from one role to a new one that no longer suits them as well
  • When employees want to be more upwardly mobile than they show performance for
  • When sales or customer service people miss quotas several quarters in a row but show promise
  • Employees engage in behavior that might not meet desired goals for preparation, planning, communication, etc.
  • Work keeps failing to meet desired standards of quality
  • Employees don’t track work or deliverables despite process requiring they do so
  • Employees don’t follow process
  • People leave early or arrive late (consistently)
  • Responsibilities are being missed, ignored, or consistently turned in late (without the employee being overloaded/overworked)

In each of these scenarios, people can and do improve if given the chance. Not everyone will. However, giving the option to improve rather than firing them can help you to create a more positive employee relationship – while turning around performance for that person.

How to write a PIP?

A good performance improvement plan uses SMART Guidelines. That means:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Writing a PIP means:

  • Sharing why the employee is receiving the PIP, E.g., “You are receiving this plan based on (concerns about your performance), (your expressed desire for a promotion),(the recent/upcoming removal of your old role), etc.
  • What has to be remediated. In most cases, this will be concerns about performance.  Be specific and link problems to business results. E.g., “we have received 12 complains about your communication from clients, which decreases our client relationship, actively hurting the business” or “you are unable to properly navigate SAP S/4HANA,” etc.
  • What does the employee have to achieve to “improve”. List this in measurable and specific goals. E.g., “Come into work on time and leave on time every day for 6 months”, or “complete a course in email communication and pass an assessment, followed by no more than 1 complaint about communication over the next 6 months”. “Complete our sales training course, even if you’ve already completed it, and then increase sales to meet minimum quota over the next two quarters”.
  • A timeline for improvements. Make this specific. In some cases, it makes sense to set hard lines. E.g., “failure to meet these expectations over the next 60 days will result in immediate termination”. In other cases, it’s important to ensure the employee has time and resources to change the behavior, learn a skill, or improve performance. For longer-term goals, you might also want to set steps, such as a small amount of improvement per quarter. You can then have clear goalposts with which to check up on progress.
  • You also want to ensure that the PIP includes specific penalties for failure, where applicable. E.g., no paid vacation, no benefits, or termination of employment.

How to introduce a PIP

Once you’ve written a performance improvement plan, the next step is to introduce it to the employee. If you’ve given verbal and written warnings, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. At the same time, it’s important to introduce the PIP in a clear and honest fashion.

It’s also important to be kind, to be empathetic, and to discuss reasons for performance and what the person might need to raise performance when putting the PIP into motion. Try to start a discussion about performance. Try to create a discussion where the employee can share where they are struggling, offer insight into why, and hopefully get guidance and help in resolving that. Over the long-term, that’s a lot more realistic than simply handing an employee expectation to change. After all, if they could just do it, they often would.

When writing the PIP, it’s also important to ensure that the employee and their manager sign the form on every page. If they refuse to sign or refuse to follow the plan, the next step is usually to terminate the contract.

Following up on progress

It’s important to monitor the employee to ensure they are following through on the goals. However, it’s important that they have some part in this. Sitting down with your employee to discuss goals, how they will be achieved, and when you should check up on those targets is important. That also puts the employee more in control of themselves.

  • Schedule check-ins, where the employee can self-report progress, discuss goals, and ask for help. Once a month is reasonable.
  • Have honest talks. Some employees will start looking for a new job when they receive a PIP.
  • Make the employee do the work to show their progress and present results once the PIP concludes.

What’s Next?

Performance improvement plans don’t’ always work. In fact, there’s a 70-40% chance that it won’t. Monitoring employee performance is important. You want to be able to react when they succeed or fail. And, you shouldn’t’ be blindsided if your employee fails to meet targets. You also shouldn’t fail to react. If the employee meets set targets, recognizing that is important. If they fail to meet targets, it’s also important to follow up based on the expectations set in the PIP. If that means terminating their contract, you can do so. If they’ve made some progress but not enough, it may be harder to make that call. However, you can always try to give them another chance but with more help.

Eventually, a PIP is a last effort to help a struggling employee. It might also be an attempt to improve someone into leadership. Or, it might be about retraining your workforce after changing roles. In any case, it usually means the employee is not meeting the standards of performance they want to meet your or their goals. And a PIP can help them to recognize and achieve that, with specific and measurable goals.


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Should HR be Responsible for Internal Communications? 4 Tips to Find Out

Human resources often walks a fine line of sharing responsibilities between other departments like communications and operations. HR is responsible for human management across the organization, and that naturally overlaps with aspects of communication, team building, and finance.

Internal communication might seem like a communications team problem. And on a surface level, it is. It also contributes to employee engagement and performance.

One McKinsey study shows that organizations improving communication actually improve engagement by 20-25%. That’s critical considering Gallup shows that 70% of employees are not engaged at work.

Essentially, HR needs to be engaged in internal communications. However, the extent to which that responsibility should fall on HR depends on several other key factors.

Is internal communications in crisis?

For many organizations, organized internal communications doesn’t exist. In fact, one study by the Internal Association of Business Communications shows that 34% of organizations don’t even measure internal communications. Those that do show abysmal engagement rates, with many having email open rates as low as 17%.

If your organization’s internal communications are in this state, someone needs to step in and solve it. Some instances where internal communications might need correcting include:

  • Lack of cohesive strategy across all departments and branches
  • No company-wide strategy
  • No company-wide distribution
  • Lack of cohesive message or branding
  • Lack of alignment with goals and business strategy
  • Poor engagement or lack of engagement

While assessing this data requires a review of internal messaging operations across the organization, that data is likely easy to come by. You may even already have it if you’re reading this article. At the end of the day, internal communications should positively contribute to employee engagement, productivity, and happiness. If it’s not, it needs to be changed.

Are the right people responsible for internal communications?

Internal communications should normally fall on the communications team. Many large organizations even have custom Internal Communications teams. Therefore, if there is a communications team in place that can take on extra work, that team is likely a much better fit to do the actual work than HR.

Here, you should consider:

  • Is a communications team in place to take on internal communications work?
  • Does it have the capacity to take on that work?
  • Would it make sense to hire new people or build a team to take on internal communications?

This is important because while much of internal communications should be aligned with HR, it doesn’t necessarily have to come from HR.

For example, the communications team can send out periodic updates regarding company events, positive developments, etc.

The team would want to heavily align with HR for events such as mergers, downsizing, performance review, salary changes, etc. However, some messaging doesn’t need HR input at all.

Solutions for your internal communications

Most organizations eventually have four distinct options for internal communications:

HR

Here, HR takes on the full burden of internal communications. An HR person is responsible for creating strategy, building campaigns, writing content, and distributing it. Most small organizations with limited communications departments choose this solution.

However, it does mean ensuring that HR staff are able to write and use graphical media in a professional way. The largest risk is that you might send out low-quality content to employees, which might reduce engagement despite the messaging being correct. Internal communications might also detract from more value-added work. 

Marketing

Some organizations shift internal communications completely to the marketing team because communications are often seen as a marketing function. However, marketing needs to focus on your external audience, not internal.

Marketing with HR alignment

In this setup, HR personnel are responsible for building strategy, setting goals, and aligning content with its own efforts. Marketing does the actual writing and distribution of the content. This means that most organizations get the best of both worlds, without unduly overburdening either team.

Most also want to align this with top management to create truly cohesive messaging. A good internal communications strategy also means that marketing has a rough idea of when and why things are happening.

This means they can better plan less-essential communication around that, so that, for example, they don’t send an unnecessary email on the same day as an important update.

Cross-functional team

Some larger companies opt to build cross-functional teams for internal communication. This might include one or two people from HR plus a few people from marketing, product, and sales who can ensure updates from their departments.

This solution is only ideal for larger organizations. However, it means that all internal messaging is handled by the same people in a dedicated environment. It allows for the most consistency across messaging while still benefiting from input from HR on strategy and alignment.

What happens if HR takes on internal communications?

If internal communications are eventually delegated to HR, it’s important to set guidelines and processes to maintain quality and consistency.

  • Build a strategy aligned with business strategy and goals
  • Test and select communication tools that meet your needs and budget
  • Implement tracking tools to test engagement, open rate, click-through rate (for email), etc.
  • Carefully consider channels and how many can be maintained. It’s nice to be able to push data to as many channels as possible, but if employees are already managing other work, it might be too much.
  • Set a process for review to ensure consistent quality. If possible, have someone from communications do a final edit on content
  • Reward employee engagement to encourage better communication across the organization
  • Make feedback and two-way communication part of the process
  • Avoid sending too much messaging. If employees are getting too many messages, they’ll stop opening them
  • Focus on transparency and maintaining trust
  • Set a specific style guide and format for each type of communication, so that email, social media, videos, etc., all look relatively the same

Building an internal communication strategy means aligning communication with organizational goals and objectives. That might include communicating key business data at specific parts of the year, reminding people that performance review is coming up, introducing new hires, or congratulating everyone on a great year.

Internal communication is about passing on information, inspiring and motivating employees, and asking for action. HR teams are best equipped to know this information, which means that building strategy should almost always fall on HR.

Internal communication is ideally a cross-department or cross-team endeavor, with input and strategy from HR and content from marketing. If not, you can still use good processes and strategies to create quality internal communications for your organization.


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4 Crucial personality traits for cross-functional teams

While the functions of each of your departments may be inherently distinct, their ultimate goal should be the same. If your company departments do not have consistent goals, you may find your organization struggling to stay afloat as it’s stretched thin across various resources with conflicting aims. The solution? Implement cross-functional teams within your organization.

Cross-functional teams are groups consisting of people with different functional expertise (for example: marketing, sales, supply-chain and finance) working together to achieve the same goal. By bringing people from different departments together your organization can pursue your company goals more effectively. 

In order for you to get the best results out of your cross-functional teams, it is worthwhile considering the impact personality has on team performance. By understanding which personality traits are crucial for the success of cross-functional teams you can set your organization up for a future of success.

What are the advantages of a cross-functional team?

Building a cross-functional team may seem daunting at first. However, the potential advantages make it worthwhile. 

One advantage is that cross-functional teams can result in increased innovation for your business. As individuals with different perspectives and expertise are brought together as one team, their shared knowledge and insights bring new levels of innovation.

Further to this, cross-functional teams can help to improve team relationships which in turn can positively influence employee engagement and job satisfaction levels.The process of cross-functional teamwork will also give your employees the chance to learn new skills from their teammates, build positive team spirit, benefit from diversity and to develop effective leadership skills.

What are crucial personality traits for a cross-functional team?

Good team players will often be described by their personality traits. To help you get the most out of your cross-functional teams, we’ve devised this list of 4 of the most important personality traits needed in order for your cross-functional team to be successful.

Using the Big Five personality model, various researchers have identified key personality traits that are imperative for cross-functional team performance.

The Big Five personality framework consists of 5 overarching personality traits: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience.

When developing a cross-functional team, you should look to include individuals who hold various traits within these personality factors.

Building a group of individuals with different yet complementing personality traits will allow you to create a well-rounded team.

Openness to experience

Within your cross-functional team, it is beneficial to have an individual who scores highly on the “Openness to Experience” factor within the Big Five personality framework. This individual that has a high level of openness to experience could be considered to be the analytic person within your team. 

Team members with high levels of openness to experience are likely to be solutions-oriented, multi-directional and explorative. These factors are beneficial for encouraging team members to be willing to learn and try new things in order to achieve your company goals.

Further to this, research states that teams that are diverse in openness to experience are most likely to have high levels of creativity.  This highlights the importance of having a mix of individuals who have low and moderate levels of openness. 

Agreeableness

An agreeable team is going to be far more successful at working together than a team who doesn’t cooperate with each other. An individual with agreeableness can be described as cooperative, unselfish, reliable and friendly.

The person in your team who is agreeable will likely be the one who helps bring your cross-functional team together by encouraging others to contribute and supporting the unique perspectives of other members in the group.

Research has found that agreeableness is one of the strongest personality predictors of team performance with high agreeableness being indicative of increased team performance.

When building a cross-functional team it would be beneficial to choose individuals who have similar levels of agreeableness. Studies have shown that diversity in agreeableness among teams can increase task and relationship conflict. As a result, this increased conflict could negatively impact team performance and satisfaction levels.

Conscientiousness

When bringing individuals from different departments together, it’s important to be organized. Having someone with high levels of conscientiousness in your cross-functional team could help bring order and organization to the group.

Having high levels of conscientiousness implies an individual is committed to doing a task well. Conscientious people take their responsibilities seriously. Moreover, conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized. 

When compared to the other Big Five personality factors, conscientious employees tend to have higher reported levels of job satisfaction. Therefore, if you want to create a cross-functional team that is happy, it would be advantageous to make sure your team features conscientious individuals.

Extroversion

High levels of extroversion may not be suitable for all departments within your organization. For instance, Sales employees may need a high level of extroversion as their job means they will spend a lot of time in social situations. Meanwhile, your finance employees may not necessarily need to have high levels of extroversion as their job performance doesn’t rely on them being sociable.  

However, having an extroverted individual within your cross-functional team is important for raising team spirit and encouraging the team to achieve their goals. Extroversion can be characterized as being ambitious, sociable, outgoing, high energy, talkative and loud-spoken.

If all of your cross-functional team members are extroverts, it could cause conflicts within the team. On the other hand, research has also found that cross functional team members with low levels of extroversion were less likely to perceive themselves as having a distinctive skill or uniqueness. With this in mind, it may be beneficial for all of your team members to hold a moderate level of extroversion to ensure they are aware of the skills they bring to the team whilst also making sure that they are able to cooperate without conflict.

Other important personality traits for cross-functional teams

These Big Five personality factors were initially developed to understand the relationship between personality dimensions and performance on the job making them a useful metric for analyzing your employee performance.

However, the Big Five personality framework isn’t the only model used to identify different personality types. Outside of the Big Five personality model, there are many other personality frameworks which can be used to identify personality traits that are harmonious with team performance and effectiveness. 

If your team consists of highly-motivated individuals with strong communication and listening skills your team will be far more likely to achieve their goals than a team without these traits. Furthermore, engaging team members who are supportive of one another and do not have conflicting personal goals will also be beneficial to your team performance.


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How to Use Job Matching to Optimize Interviewing & Make Better Hires

Job matching is increasingly popular in HR, especially as modern technology makes AI and computer algorithms cost-effective and readily available. It’s well known that recruiters have to sort through 250+ resumes for every job, but the days of doing so are quickly leaving.

Job matching software automatically scans prospective candidates, whittling selections down to a few tailored and targeted options. This means recruiters can spend more than that famous “7.4 seconds per resume” when making initial selections, improving the overall quality of the available talent pool

While job matching software is not perfect, it can greatly improve talent, talent retention, and free recruiter time from scanning resumes towards actually reading them. And, with job matching existing at levels ranging from simple keyword matching to in-depth personality assessment and competency scaling, job matching is available for the needs of every organization.

What is Job Matching?

Job matching typically includes software to 1) create a talent pool, 2) narrow that talent pool down, and 3) verify the skills and proficiencies of selected candidates.

Software ranges from simple keyword matching algorithms used on job boards and websites to advanced AI algorithms designed to use personality and skill assessments to match individuals to roles and careers. With options available at every level in between, most organizations can choose a solution that meets their needs, existing technology and infrastructure, and HR capabilities.

Keyword Matching

Keyword matching tools are the simplest job matching option available. Most job boards come with them built in. These algorithms essentially filter resumes, automatically removing anything that doesn’t include the necessary skills or competencies.

This is, naturally, the poorest form of job matching and will largely do nothing but cut down the number of incoming applicants. Keyword matchers can be valuable for reducing the number of non-qualified applicants per role, but otherwise hold little to no value.

Keyword matching algorithms can also crawl databases to highlight likely candidates for recruiters to invite. This can add value but offers little over performing a manual search on the site, except candidates are likely to be ranked by number of matching keywords on their page/resume.

Personality Matching

Personality matching assessments require that candidates be in a system, such as for an agency, or that they are willing to take personality assessments as part of the recruitment process. Personality assessments require two primary aspects to succeed:

  1. An existing personality matrix of employees and teams
  2. The candidate taking a personality test

From there, the algorithm can match the candidate’s personality, such as communication, personality type, empathy, EQ, etc., to teams and to the people they might be working with.

This is especially useful if you utilize team-building matrixes relying on personality types, want to balance and build good teams, or otherwise already manage personality and assignments.

Competency Scoring

Competency frameworks are quickly becoming one of the most-relied upon methods of hiring and performance management. These frameworks align success in an organization with competencies (hard and soft skills) such as communication, leadership, attention, etc.

Again, competency scoring requires internal and external aspects:

  1. The organization must have a competency framework in place
  2. The candidate must take a competency assessment

Most competency assessments review roughly 20 basic competencies or performance indicators. Some frameworks also offer role-based testing, where individuals can take assessments tailored for their specific role inside the organization. Following the test, it’s relatively simple to match the candidate(s) with the profile to see if there is a good fit.

Barriers to Good Job Matching

While many organizations would adopt job matching immediately if it were guaranteed to be 100% successful, there are many obstacles to good performance. Some of those obstacles are outside the organization’s control.

  • People lie on assessment tests
  • People lie on their resumes
  • People use buzzwords to attract recruiters, even if they don’t meet those needs
  • Most candidates are only willing to complete assessments for high-skill and high-wage jobs or with a reward for doing so
  • Profiling success is heavily dependent on your organization having validated and high-quality job profiles and competency frameworks in place

Getting Started with Job Matching

Most organizations can benefit from job matching. However, adopting tooling isn’t as simple as buying software and using it.

Instead, organizations should invest in internal job profiling, building competency frameworks, and creating long-term proficiency management. If your organization already utilizes these HR tools, setting up job matching will be that much easier.

Building or Adopting Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks are the cornerstone of matching jobs.  Depending on your organization, this can include a broad reference of what success is in your organization, or a breakdown of needed skills, competencies, and personality per role or per team.

Updating Job Profiles

Job profiles must be linked to the appropriate competencies, skills, and teams. Algorithms rely on having a significant quantity of data to properly match candidates to roles and that means updating profiles with that information. If your profile is incomplete or out of date, the algorithm will fail.

Incentivizing Candidates

Taking assessments as part of recruiting is time-consuming. Most candidates are well-aware they are up against 200+ other candidates and must apply to 20+ jobs to get one. Offering incentives or waiting to perform assessments until a later stage in the recruitment process will ensure that you don’t waste candidate time.

It’s also critical to offer valuable feedback and information the candidate can use for their next application.

Following Up

No AI is perfect. Automated job matching can only do so much. It’s critical to ensure that every job match is followed up with a manual review, manual assessment, and face-to-face meeting.

Tool Spotlight: Profile XT®

Profile XT is one of the largest job-matching and assessment frameworks on the market. The tool integrates into assessment, pre-screening, and performance management. Here, candidates are asked to take a 60-80-minute assessment which builds a profile detailing performance on 20+ traits including hard and soft skills, behavior, thinking and reasoning, aptitude, and interests. This data is then used to match candidates to the role (or not).

Talent management is increasingly essential for organizations as digital applications mean every role is flooded with resumes. Job matching can remove the work of sorting out unwanted candidates, can improve talent matching, and can improve personality matching to teams and environments to increase employee happiness and retention. While any result heavily depends on quality assessment and existing internal frameworks, they can greatly improve the quality of hires for many types of roles.


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Remote Personality Testing Tips for Recruiters

Personality testing is a standardized element of recruitment for most organizations. With 80% of all Fortune 500 companies adopting assessments like Meyers Briggs personality tests, it’s also consistently used by some of the world’s most successful companies. It makes sense for many organizations to adopt personality testing and skills assessment as part of the recruitment process – both to narrow the pool of potentials and to reduce churn after hiring.

At the same time, many organizations are shifting work to remote environments. That tracks to changing work norms and increases in flex work, remote work, and outsourcing. It also tracks to safety measures, which are further pushing work norms. Remote interviewing is already normalized. You likely already use video calls and email or a portal to exchange data.

Remote personality testing can further add value to this process, helping recruiters to fill in the blanks around skills, personality traits, competencies, and how well that person will fit into a team they may never meet in person.

Can You Run HR Assessment Tests Remotely?

Most personality assessments are delivered over a computer. Yet, many are traditionally taken in office settings, where recruiters can monitor responses and monitor attempts to cheat by looking up answers, can gauge the individual’s personality and match it with answers, and otherwise use tools to determine if the individual is being honest.

Optimizing personality and competency testing for remote environments means delivering testing without expectations. Users cannot know what you might want or expect to get as answers or results. And, in many cases, you have to tweak assessments to require pressure testing and therefore to avoid intuitive thinking – where users are able to simply guess which answer you might “want”.

Portals

Digital testing is easiest to support through online portals, hosted on your own or the developer’s site. Developing your own portal allows you to reduce cheating by implementing time-pressure, integrating testing into larger projects, and using tactics like forcing full-screen to reduce simultaneous look-up.

Testing for the Right Traits

It’s impossible to test for a full panel of personality traits and competencies without any sort of face-to-face interaction. However, you can easily test for specific traits to determine if the individual is a good fit for the role. Here, core competencies, big 5 personality, and team mapping work quite well in remote settings.

Personality Testing

Personality testing means trying to map an individual to personality traits or a personality type so you can fit them into a team or role. This type of testing is intended to show general traits, how this person will interact with other team members, and what their strengths and weaknesses might be. It does not show whether they are qualified for or suited for one role or not. Communicate this. It’s also a good idea to map what success has looked like in this role in the past. Map incoming personality traits to others in your organization holding the same role and assess whether personality factors play any part in success in the role.

Competency Testing

Competency mapping allows you to build a framework around competencies mapped to individual roles. Testing for these competencies in remote situations means delivering tests as skills or project tests and as personality tests. For example, if you can map out the 6 core competencies required for a role, you can create a personality assessment around them and then a follow-up skills assessment. How can you see soft skills in an assessment? If you need someone who’s good under pressure, simply putting time pressure on the assignment will give you a good idea of how the individual performs and reacts under pressure. For example, deliver the assignment alongside the message that you need it several days sooner than communicated because of someone going on vacation.

Assignments

Assignments don’t work with every type of role, but for many they do. Here, even small assignments of 20-60 minutes can help you map competencies from a test to real work. Assignments also show hard skills, which can be useful especially in creative roles. These are traditionally handed out remotely, so there’s a very high chance you’re already accustomed to doing so. The difference here is putting in processes to map assignment results to skills and personality tests.

Of course, you can still involve teams. Zoom, Discord, and Microsoft Teams allow you to conduct “meet the team” exercises to validate how well people get along (in a first meeting), to see how people interact, and to track responses. While everyone will be in their own environment, you still get discussion, see how that individual fits into the team, and potentially introduce them to the “work floor” to gauge reactions. That can add a lot of value, in that you’ll have opportunities to map reactions to assessment results to attempt to validate them. For example, following the team meetup, you can discuss the individual with team leads, share personality traits and results, and decide how and if the candidate is a good fit.

How to Minimize “Cheating”

Cheating will always happen. It’s a very measured and measurable phenomenon in any type of job testing. Applicants will lie on personality and competency tests as much or more as they lie on resumes. Your goal should be to collect the data you need anyway.

  • Don’t make outcomes obvious in any question. If there’s a clear “best answer” for work, you probably need a different question
  • Conduct personality testing during live video calls to increase pressure and reduce intuition. Performing in high-pressure environments also means individuals are more likely to quickly choose an answer, much like they would under pressure at work.
  • Share explicit messages regarding the fact that testing is used to match candidates to roles and teams – there is no best answer
  • Validate tests by using double tests, asking the same questions in multiple ways, and validating through assignments

DISC assessments and Myers-Briggs indicators work for both personality and competency assessments, but it’s important to incorporate them with skills assessments and projects. If you can’t validate the data from more than one source, you have no way of ensuring you’re getting the right answers, instead of the answers the candidate thinks you want to see.

Personality testing can offer a lot of value in helping you to choose talent from pools, match candidates to teams, and choose candidates based on competencies shown to contribute to long-term success. Doing so can help you to improve the quality of hires, to reduce churn, and to improve communication in teams once the new hire settles in. Remotely, you primarily have to consider validating and verifying results, because it’s significantly easier to change input and much harder to tell what someone is actually like. Therefore, supplementing pre-hiring assessments with calls, live reviews, and work assignments will help a great deal.


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Why More and More Organizations Rely on Psychometric Testing for Hiring

Digitization has made it easier than ever for recruiters to collect and compare candidates for roles. That’s why the average recruiter now looks at 200+ resumes per role.

Additionally, organizations increasingly screen for not just hard skills (like C++) but also for behaviors, personality, and how that individual might fit into a team. Short of asking candidates to come in to work for a trial day (or week), there’s historically been very little way to do that.

Psychometric testing is an increasingly popular way to screen for factors like behavior, personality, work ethic, and communication style. In theory, it allows recruiters to see data about how an individual works, how they might fit into employee culture or team culture, and what they might lack for the role in the scope of a competency matrix defining success in that role. That’s why 75% of Fortune 500 companies use psychometric testing and 18% of all companies do, too.

If you’re considering adopting psychometric testing as part of the hiring process, this article covers why you should do it.

A Better Culture Fit

Organizations are more and more often focusing on building a culture. This might include “company” culture, “branch culture” or even “team culture”, but most recognize that it’s important to hire people who have the same values and priorities.

If you work in an Agile environment and everyone largely has ownership of their own work and responsibilities, a person accustomed to waterfall management and direct delegation would function poorly and might not be willing to adapt.

Similarly, someone accustomed to an Agile environment might feel stifled by a waterfall environment. Understanding personality and competency traits allows recruiters to better match the individual to the company and team.

This also applies to basic team building, where systems like DISC use different types of personalities to build fully functional teams. Understanding personality upfront allows recruiters and HR to get an idea of how that person might fit into the team and if they can fill existing roles, or if they would result in an imbalanced team.

Of course, personality tests cannot be the end-all final say in this, since interviews, interaction, and one-on-one time with the team can result in new dynamics being created with positive results.

Matching Hires to Competency Frameworks

Many organizations are adopting competency frameworks to better understand how and why work is completed across the organization. Here, HR or an external company matches hard and soft skills such as “Excel skills” and “time management” to succeed in a role.

Over time, the organization using that competency framework has a strong understanding of which “competencies” result in high performance or poor performance.

Psychometric testing can essentially function as a filter to check which competencies the employee has. This is significantly better than relying on the resume, which quite often is based on simple self-assessment and is therefore often wrong. The psychometric test must include both an aptitude test and a personality test to fully map the candidate’s soft and hard skills to the framework.

Unfortunately, with most psychometric testing requiring one or more hours, most organizations cannot ask candidates to take part until at least the second stage of interviewing. However, once completed, you can very easily narrow down the final selection based on competency framework mapping.

Switching Focus to Aptitude

HireRight’s 2019 Employment Screening Benchmark Report shows that as many as 85% of candidates lie or stretch the truth on their resume. This may be accidental and a poor choice of wording, or simply phrasing to make themselves look good for new employers.

Studies like these mean that recruiters cannot fully rely on self-assessment on resumes. And, while candidates can provide references, following up and interviewing those references in-depth is expensive and hardly feasible for all but the most important of roles.

Instead, most reference interviews result in a few minutes of casual questioning regarding moral standing, performance, etc., without touching on roles, responsibilities, or active projects.

Aptitude testing switches the focus away from resume listed skills and simply asks the individual to show off what they can do. These tests range from simple multi-question examinations to in-depth projects requiring 1-4 hours of investment.

While you obviously have to match investment time to the level of the role (most people won’t spend hours on an application for an entry-level role) these assessments show you what skills the person has, at what level they can perform, and how they perform in new environments.

Eventually, this gives the recruiter a much better idea of how well the candidate can actually do the job they’re being hired for.

Improving Candidate Quality

The cost of recruitment hovers around $4,000 across all jobs and all industries. While that’s obviously lower for entry-level and unskilled work, it ranges up into the tens of thousands of dollars for CEOs and C-suite hires. The cost of hiring the wrong person for leadership can more than double that individual’s yearly salary.

Psychometric testing allows you to better align the candidate with the role, to see aptitude and skills upfront, and to assess personality as part of the process. This can help you determine if the candidate is a good culture fit, what they want and need as motivation, how they develop themselves, and whether they’re likely to remain with the company.

A better candidate fit means improved quality of hire, improved quality of work, and reduced employee turnover over the long-term. However, achieving these results does mean ensuring that your psychometric testing is mapped to benchmarks and a competency framework and that you are making selections for validated reasons. No test is valuable without being linked to desired outcomes.

Setting up psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process can help you to make better hires. At the same time, it requires significant investment in the process, performance management, and job matrixes. Simply collecting and ranking competency data across the job matrix is a significant investment, even with a base framework.

Importantly, most testing offers little value without those frameworks because you have to understand why you want one trait over another or why one aptitude is more important than another. Therefore, psychometric testing can add significant value, providing you have an established basis with which to deliver value. And, of course, some tests, like DISC, include their own frameworks for teambuilding and roles, which you can adapt to your own organization’s needs.


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5 Tips to Build Good Teams in Remote Environments

As remote work becomes more and more common, recruiters are faced with the prospect of building teams that might seldom or even never meet each other in person.

Data from Stanford University suggests that 42% of Americans worked from home in 2020 and that number is likely to remain static for some time. Building teams in this environment means paying extra attention to recruitment, team engagement, and how individuals work together, because they won’t have the benefit of face-to-face contact.

These 5 tips to build good teams in remote environments focus on shifting hiring away from looking at individual strengths and towards building a team structure and processes that facilitate team strength.

Start with Team Structure

Remote team structure is essential to creating a solid team with clear goals and responsibilities. While structure is a standard part of team building, it’s more important when you need it to hold the team together.

Structure ensures that everyone works towards a single goal, rather than disparately doing tasks assigned to them from a higher up. Team structure defines how, what, and why a team exists. It should highlight the following.

Mission

Why does the team exist? What is the work the team was made to do? What does team success look like? What does successful work do for the organization? How will the team measure that success in an ongoing way?

Missions should always apply to ongoing work, never to specific projects. E.g., (good) “To develop new features and contribute to the value of the product for the customer” versus (bad), “Building the new invoicing feature in the application”.

Goals

Goals take the mission and break it down into real targets they can work for. Team goals constantly change. In most cases, goals shouldn’t extend out over more than a 6–12-month period.

You can use any goal system you want but S.M.A.R.T. is a popular one. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

In the context of the above-stated mission, that might look like: 

  • Specific – Build the new invoicing feature 
  • Measurable – Satisfy customer requests for invoicing in the tool 
  • Achievable – (The team would have to contribute to this) 
  • Relevant – Building the invoicing feature adds to value for customers because they’ve been requesting it 
  • Time-Bound – Within 6 months 

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities have something of a “chicken and egg” issue, in that you need roles to assign responsibilities, but you need responsibilities to assign roles. If the functions in your team are completely new, you can consider using a pre-built responsibility matrix for the field and tweaking it over time to better suit your needs. If you already have similar roles in the organization, check those to ensure they are relevant and copy them over.

Increasingly, teams are using team responsibilities rather than role responsibilities, so that they can delegate those responsibilities out among themselves. However, it’s still crucial to have a final signoff on items such as quality, direction, etc., so that the team moves forward even if they cannot agree on specifics. The important thing is that you can hand a set of responsibilities to the team and allow them to delegate and remain responsible.

Use a Team Building Matrix

Different personalities can clash a great deal. That’s easy enough to resolve in person, where people have to see each other every day, but much harder in an online environment. Here, communication is often hampered by the fact that text loses the inflection the writer might have intended, leading to more miscommunication.

Building teams around communication means creating a balanced team with different types of team players so that everyone can seamlessly communicate with at least one other person.

DISC is one very popular team building matrix. Here, you use personality assessments to determine how individuals work, communicate, and interact together. DISC then offers recommendations for matching different types of personalities into teams, so that they communicate and work well together.

Why is this important? If one person wants to be left largely alone to do their own thing while someone else is very outgoing and wants to spend work time in calls to ensure ongoing validation, both team members will suffer. If you know how each individual communicates, you could better put person A into their own team with other loners and person B into a team built around quick response times and communication.

Establish a Communication Process

Lack of clear processes around communication can be detrimental to a remote team. This is especially true if your team works in different time zones. It’s crucial to define how work should be completed when it should be completed, how work is carried out, what is good communication, and when communication is allowed.

Most teams already have at least some communication worked into their processes. Remote teams should further work out details like:

  • When are team members allowed to talk to each other?
  • What does delegation and hierarchy look like?
  • What times are teams allowed to message each other?
  • What channels should teams use/not use to talk to each other
  • Are interruptions allowed? Are side conversations? Are chats allowed during calls?
  • How and how often video and voice calls should be used and why
  • How long do team members have to respond to email and chat?
  • What constitutes respectful behavior towards other team members?
  • How should you resolve conflicts?
  • Who makes the final call on each responsibility?
  • What does good communication look like? Is communication training, like emotional intelligence, provided as part of the team?
  • What does documentation look like? How do team members keep other team members informed of progress, tasks, and current responsibilities?

The shorter team communication processes are, the more likely the team will actually use them. Still, it’s important to answer basic questions and create ground rules so that individuals have a structure to work inside of without alienating each other or risking basically working on their own.

Integrate Team Engagement as Part of Work

Maintaining team engagement has remained a top priority for organizations over the last decade. At the same time, it becomes more challenging for remote teams. Individuals who cannot see each other and have fewer mechanisms to collaborate and interact will be less engaged. It’s critical to work engagement in to the work process. This can take many forms.

For example, some organizations leverage a combination of tools to engage teams in their work and with each other:

  • Integrate goalposts and tracking into work, so teams have goals to work towards and to motivate themselves with
  • Directly link work to output and results so that teams understand their work is meaningful
  • Link quality of work to performance bonuses and make bonuses team-based rather than individual-based
  • Use tools like 360-feedback to put individual performance review in the hands of the team
  • Use Agile work methods, so teams have ownership of their own work
  • Use Agile budgeting, rather than “use it or lose it” methods
  • Integrate regular video calls into the work process, so that people frequently see and talk to each other.
  • Offer paid team-building exercises. An hour of paid digital game night a month will go a long way towards ensuring that your teams can have fun together.

Essentially, teams need to have ownership of work, they need to know where they are at in that work, and they need to know how it contributes to goals.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to shift performance review away from individual production and towards team performance as a whole, with mechanisms like 360-feedback to ensure that teams can mention when someone isn’t performing.

Integrate Processes into Tooling

Good processes allow teams to function well without relying on good communication. However, processes have to be visible and usable to be effective.

Here, the most effective thing you can do is to integrate processes into tooling. This might take the form of delineating work processes and communication into Kanban boards. It might also mean using software that integrates into Jira or Slack, so users can share work as part of the tool. If processes aren’t part of daily work, no one will use them.

Remote work complicates team building. At the same time, integrating strong processes, good structure, and building teams around their ability to communicate and work together gets over many of these issues.

If you follow up by ensuring that teams stay motivated with clear goals and team purpose, by linking work to value, and by giving teams ownership of work, there’s no reason why remote teams cannot be every bit as engaged and productive as those in an office together.


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8 Ways Emotional Intelligence Impacts Quality of Leadership

Emotional intelligence is one of the most talked-about soft skills in HR today. While originally coined in 1964, Emotional Intelligence or EQ became popular in the 1994 business book of the same name by Daniel Goleman.

Today, EQ is offered as part of business development, leadership development, and communications in organizations and universities across the world. While it overlaps with IQ and other personality testing, EQ gives businesses a defined way to measure and train specific soft skills to improve interpersonal communication between individuals and groups.

That’s crucial for leaders, especially as more and more people move to remote work conditions, and establishing good communication becomes critical to not just high performance but good performance.

The following article covers 8 ways emotional intelligence impacts the quality of leadership.

Interpersonal Communication

Emotional intelligence was first fully defined in 1990 in an article; Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the collection of abilities used to identify, understand, control, and assess the emotions of the self and others

This definition was further refined by Daniel Goleman in his book, where he broke “EI or EQ” into 5 measurable parts.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-motivation
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management

Essentially, emotionally intelligent leaders are able to recognize and assess the emotions and wellbeing of their team. They can further regulate their own communication to meet the needs of the individuals they are communicating with and for.

Over time, this improves the communication of the whole team, as the leader is able to facilitate and to create channels for effective communication.

Conflict Resolution

Emotional intelligence impacts conflict resolution in much the same way as it affects interpersonal communication. An emotionally intelligent leader is able to recognize underlying problems, handle existing emotions with care, and to ask the individuals involved to do so as well.

This might involve recognizing why someone is actually upset (or thinking to ask) and creating a resolution process that leaves both parties feeling recognized.

For example, an emotionally intelligent response to conflict would be to:

  • Stay calm
  • Ask questions
  • Make every party feel heard
  • React to how others are feeling, not just what they are saying
  • Working with both parties to create a long-term solution

Conflict resolution can vary a lot in organizations. Some have a simple policy of “don’t”, others have well-planned methodology for dealing with when teams disagree, or conflicts happen. Adding emotional intelligence, at any level, only smooths that process further.

Employee Loyalty

Emotionally intelligent leaders respond to their teams and people as people. Rather than simply going off business needs, the emotionally intelligent leader responds to the needs of the individual at the moment to create the best outcome.

For example, if we take an example of someone being late for work…

Option A: Josh is 2 hours late for work. He rushes in and explains that his wife, who has been expecting, went into labor that morning and in the chaos, he forgot to call it in. David, his manager, is livid. The entire team was hung up on Josh, who was supposed to give a presentation that morning. He reprimands Josh and informs him it will go into his performance review coming up later that month. Josh goes back to work with negative feelings about his boss, his work, and his future with the company.

Option B: Josh is 2 hours late for work. When he explains, David, who has recently followed an Emotional Intelligence course, recognizes that Josh is excited, distracted, and had little control over the sudden turn in his life that morning. Guessing that Josh will be little able to focus or achieve much at work with his wife in labor, he tells Josh to take the rest of the day off to spend it with his wife at the hospital. Josh comes back the next day a proud father, grateful to his employer for giving him the opportunity to be part of the birth. He’s motivated to contribute to his team and take part in a workplace that allows him to be human.

In this scenario, the emotional intelligence of the person in a position of power results in a completely different emotional reaction from the employee. You can apply similar processes to everything from requesting vacation time to planning and scheduling, to asking to switch roles.

An emotionally intelligent leader will respond with what’s best for the individual’s happiness and personal comfort (and therefore productivity and long-term loyalty).

Personal Development

Emotional intelligence entails self-awareness and regulation as well as social awareness. This means the individual is highly likely to be self-critical and analytical, to strive to improve, and to work to improve the soft skills that contribute to communication, emotional regulation, and management.

This means an emotionally intelligent person is more likely to recognize and want to work on their own flaws and weaknesses, to take those flaws into account when making decisions, and to actively seek out personal development to improve.

Employee Development

An emotionally intelligent leader will actively work to recognize, reward, and improve the people under them. This often works out to coaching, development, and skills-building across the team or teams.

For example, an emotionally intelligent leader is more likely to recognize when some members are struggling. They’re also more able to sit down with those people to talk about why, to discuss options, and to deliver solutions.

Eventually, this results in a team where people who are having difficulty are able to work on those problems or find resolutions rather than simply falling behind.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily work in all traditional performance management systems, where leaders are rewarded for being able to fire poor performers. However, it does work in modern 360-degree feedback systems, where everyone is given feedback throughout the year and asked to improve and progress.

Delegation

Good leadership is about delegation, not technical skill. But good delegation means understanding which people are best capable of what, why, and how much they can take.

A good leader can properly delegate tasks so that everyone remains challenged, fulfilled, and feels that they are treated fairly. This might involve sitting down with teams to ask questions about tasks, capability, speed, and preferences.

It might also mean giving high-potential individuals more complex responsibilities so they can grow into leadership roles. And, it always involves managing work in ways that meet the emotional and mental ability and needs of the individuals in the team.

Team Building

Good relationship management means facilitating how people work together, communicate, and collaborate. Applying that skill to a team allows you to build stronger teams. This starts with recruitment, where an emotionally intelligent leader could better gauge if a candidate will fit into their team. It also includes understanding the needs of a new hire and what they need to get to know everyone and start building trust.

Over the long-term, emotionally intelligent leaders are better able to understand the emotional interactions of their team. This allows them to facilitate better communication, to coach anyone having issues, and to offer solutions and processes to conflicts and problems.

Setting an Example

People have a very strong tendency to follow the example of their leaders. This is true in change management and it’s true in employee culture. If you want to create a culture of emotionally intelligent communication, it starts with good leadership.

Simple aspects of emotional intelligence like staying calm, approaching conflict with rationality rather than emotion, and seeking to understand what people actually mean or want will transfer to their employees over time. While you should still eventually deliver emotional intelligence training to your teams if you want this behavior, it’s important to establish it in leadership first.

Emotional intelligence is a set of skills, mostly made up of personal and interpersonal regulation, awareness, and management. This means that most people can be trained to be more emotionally intelligent, although some will always be better than others.

For example, anyone with autism on your team will likely struggle in comparison with someone without a social disability.

However, using emotional intelligence as a primary aspect of leadership development can greatly improve the quality of leadership as a whole. Hopefully, these 8 factors have helped you understand how EQ impacts leaders and their teams.


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5 Examples of Workplace Violations Employers Do

5 Examples of Workplace Violations Employers Do

This is a guest post from Steven. Steven is the Senior Partner and co-founder of Miracle Mile Law Group. Steven always knew his calling involved helping ordinary people, not corporations, so he started Miracle Mile Law Group, where he exclusively represents employees in claims against their employers.

Employees often believe that their employers understand and follow all applicable wage and labor laws. In practice, however, thousands of large and small companies in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere in the world commit workplace violations every day.

Employment laws in effect in most countries are complicated. Most employees have little to no idea of their rights regarding minimum wages, the maximum number of working hours, vacation time, privacy, commissions, and more. Most workers don’t even know when their employers violate workplace laws.

Laws and regulations in place to protect the rights of workers vary across countries. At times, there may be some variations within the states or provinces located in one country. But, there are some common types of workplace violations that employees encounter nearly everywhere.

Prior information on the subject can help you guess if people violate your rights. You will, however, need to consult an experienced employment law attorney in your city to find out if you have a valid claim and whether you should pursue the case.

Here in this post, we will shed light on the five most common examples of employee workplace violations.

 

Minimum Wage Violations

Many employers steal workers’ paychecks every day or month by giving wages that infringe on applicable minimum wage laws. Unfortunately, such breaches affect the lowest-wage workers—those who can’t afford to lose earnings.

Minimum wage rates in the Asia-Pacific countries are different. Keep in mind that some states and cities within one country may have higher minimum wages. So, it’s a good idea to learn about the minimum wage rates applicable in your location.

Some countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Pakistan, Singapore, and the Philippines have defined monthly minimum wages. India and Myanmar have daily minimum wages. Other countries, such as Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Taiwan, have labor laws that mandate hourly minimum wages.

 

Whistleblower Retaliation

A whistleblower is someone who reports an illegal activity to the authorities. They can be anyone from an employee to a stakeholder who witnessed unlawful activity in an organization.

A whistleblower may voice their concerns publicly or report the matter to law enforcement agencies. And many employers retaliate against such whistleblowers. The company may even dismiss or deny them employee benefits.

Not all countries in the APAC region have whistleblower protection laws in place. For instance, while Malaysia and Indonesia have enacted whistleblower protection acts, the Philippines is still debating such an act. Thailand has no specific laws aside from the Labor Protection Act and the Labor Relations Act that may deal with whistleblowing in the workplace. Singapore also does not have a dedicated law, but protecting whistleblowers can be done through other statutes such as the penal code and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

If your employer does retaliate against you for whistleblowing, consult an employment attorney to discover laws applicable to offer you protection.

 

Worker Misclassification

How employees are classified determines the kind of their entitled benefits. Contrary to popular belief, job title and description do not determine how you can categorize an employee.

Companies often hire independent contractors or onboard workers for ongoing projects via a third-party recruitment agency but continue to treat these workers as full-time employees. It may be among the workplace violations committed by your employer. Businesses resort to such illicit activity to avoid offering worker benefits, including minimum wage, overtime pay, paid leaves, health insurance, and more.

Singapore reported 300 cases of employee misclassification in 2019. This practice is more common in sectors like construction and mining, but companies operating in nearly any industry can resort to such tactics.

In case your company directly controls where, how, and when you work, it is possible that labor laws applicable in your state or country classify you as an employee and not as a contractor. So, you may be entitled to standard employee benefits.

Many small and medium-scale employers are simply in the dark about exemption rules. So, if you are in doubt if your employer is violating your employee rights due to misclassification, consider bringing the matter to your supervisor’s attention. If necessary, seek legal counsel.

 

Not Paying for Work Breaks

Are you a full-time employee? Does your company pay you for scheduled breaks? If your company attempts to withhold wages for recesses, you may have a valid claim under labor laws in place at your location.

In the case of employees needing to work through scheduled break time, such as lunch breaks, they need compensation. But, many employers would skip compensating team members for their extra work.

It is also a good idea to understand how your monthly salary package is structured. Find out if your employer is making the correct deductions. There are times when employers illegally deduct a significant amount of money from employees’ salaries.

 

Discrimination

Harassment or unequal treatment based on one’s nationality, religion, race, age, or gender in the workplace may be illegal in your country—with laws in place to prevent such behavior in the workplace. Employers too may take steps to eliminate such biases.

However, according to the International Labor Office (ILO), women continue to be the largest group receiving workplace discrimination. Migrant workers in the Asia Pacific region also face intolerance, xenophobia, and racial discrimination at work.

 

Final Words

In the absence of expert legal advice, it may be challenging to get suitably compensated for a violation in the workplace. So, it is a good idea to consult a trusted attorney specializing in employment laws applicable in your country.


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How to Drive More Value with Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are incredibly popular. In fact, some 91% of organizations used them in 2019. While that’s down from a reported 96% in 2012, it’s still a significant portion, especially considering data shows that modern, merit-based appraisal is toxic.

A Gartner study found that in 82% of organizations performance reviews either did not contribute to goals or directly negated them. Modern performance reviews, which involve collecting data and delivering a single performance review at the end of the year, do little but show that a manager is able to lead some people better than others. Essentially, they offer very little value.

While more and more organizations are dropping them altogether, others are shifting focus to use performance reviews for positive organizational change. Making those changes is likely essential to the ongoing value of performance reviews. The same Gartner study listed above suggested that 20% of C-suite leaders wanted changes to performance programs in 2020. What should those changes look like?

Make Performance Reviews Ongoing

One of the largest flaws in performance management is that it means managers cannot give real live feedback. Instead, they are reduced to delivering threats like, “That will go in your performance review”. Employees who are certain they are already losing the “game” have no incentive to improve or better their performance because they’re already at the bottom and they will stay there.

Yet, management best practices, ranging from the much-read “1-Minute Manager” to Emotional Intelligence and many other tactics all recommend avoiding this. New management techniques ask managers to offer feedback in real-time.

For the popular “One Minute Manager” that feedback looks like:

  • Clarify and agree on goals
  • Confirm what happened/describe the mistake
  • Mention why this is concerning
  • Highlight that the person can do better than this and help the person find solutions (do not make the solutions for them)
  • Offer praise for good behavior this person has shown

This approach means that employees immediately know when they’ve done something wrong. This gives them the opportunity to resolve it and replace the behavior with something else. This sort of hands-on approach also means that managers directly play a role in what their employees do by offering feedback on whether something is working, whether something is acceptable team behavior, etc.

For example, if someone is spending 60% of the time in meetings and is not meeting other goals, a review here could include a quick meeting about why this is not great and what is going wrong because of it. The manager would ask the employee to come up with solutions.

S/he might say they often have to delegate content for another team to avoid bottlenecks, which would shift the performance issue to another person entirely. Resolving that would free up the first person to do their job well, completely avoiding a negative rating and potential lost employee.

Integrate 360 Feedback

360-feedback involves collecting feedback from managers, employees, and underlings. This means that HR gets a much stronger overview of a person, their performance, and their contributions. It also avoids potential issues in terms of tracking metric inefficiency.

If HR is measuring performance in terms of output in a development team, but this person has been assigned the role of proofing his or her colleagues’ work to reduce total bugs, their production would look low.

360-degree feedback allows you to get a better picture of the total performance and interaction of the individual in the team.

However, 360-feedback also has flaws. For example, people are significantly more likely to rate someone with a positive review, regardless of the actual quality of work or contribution, if they have known that person for 5+ years.

This means that you must account for how well colleagues know each other when gauging the accuracy of a performance review. Combining 360-degree data with traditional data can help to overcome this.

Stop Highlighting Failure

Most of us would react very badly if someone walked up to us and went, “You’re the worst person on earth, here’s the data to prove it”. Yet, organizations do that every year to the bottom 2% of employees.

These employees are ranked, sometimes publicly, with percentile ratings and informed they are in the bottom “low performance” section. Sometimes their team and the entire organization are informed as well. That’s incredibly demoralizing for most.

Shifting away from negative feedback and towards positive feedback designed to highlight what you did well and what you can improve can greatly change that.

For example, if you avoid ranking employees in any system they can see, you remove the interpersonal competition which leads some employees to work outside the best interest of their team. You also remove demoralizing and demotivating messaging from performance reviews. And, by directly linking negative feedback to “improvement opportunities”, you could encourage employees to make an active change.

Develop 2-Way Dialogue to Share Responsibility for Results

Many employees are resistant to performance reviews because they feel they aren’t’ given the tools to succeed properly anyway. Opening dialogue for employees to share what they do need to succeed can change this. This is especially critical if long-term hires are suddenly not performing, if entire teams aren’t performing, or if performance drops following a change in leadership.

For example, personality clashes with leadership can result in poor performance from an otherwise stellar employee. Similarly, changes in process or tooling can reduce productivity. And, if employees don’t have the tooling they need to properly do their job, it’s unfair to rate them accordingly.

Link Performance Reviews to Personal Development and Coaching

Some of the most common traits linked to poor performance are simple behavioral issues. These soft skills or (negative) competencies are trainable. This means you can deliver personal development and coaching to poor performers to help them excel.

For example, some of the most common traits linked to poor performance include:

  • Clock Watching – these people are the last to arrive and the first to leave, they aren’t engaged in their work, just in doing the job and going home. Time management, motivation training, and better employee engagement all help with the time-wasting and lost hours that result from this behavior. 
  • Resistance to Change – Changes to the company, to software, or to the employee’s job result in resistance and lack of performance. Implementing coaching and training to show the individual they are still valued and can still provide value in the new system can help 
  • Complaints – Everyone complains, but constant complaining is demoralizing and hurtful to those that have it worse. Coaching can help. For example, introducing a meeting protocol where problems are brought up in meetings and discussed in a resolution scenario before being aired outside of meetings can reduce much of this. Of course, that employee has to feel listened to for this to work. 
  • Poor Collaboration – Collaboration and teamwork skills can be resolved with training, coaching, and interpersonal skills development. You should undertake any training of this sort as a team, but some individuals may need extra coaching or help to get through it. 

Performance reviews can add a lot of value. However, many organizations use them in ways that add little to productivity, performance, or ongoing development.

Shifting the current performance review to an ongoing process, with reviews focused on future development and improvement, plus room for discussion with HR, can greatly improve this.

And, if you take the time to offer development or coaching to struggling employees, to discover why they’re failing, and to communicate what needs changing when problems occur, even the worst employee can improve.


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