Category Archives: performance

Corporate Training

Managing People – Is Your Performance Review Really Necessary?

Corporate TrainingManaging People – Is Your Performance Review Really Necessary?

Lots of organizations carry out “performance appraisals.” Most people consider them a “good thing!” And there is lots of information around to help you do them well.

But there is more to encouraging and managing good performance than carrying out the annual performance review. Some people even question whether carrying out annual performance reviews does actually impact on the quality of performance.

Let us think a little about what the person being assessed usually thinks about when a review is due.  Here’s what it likely to be

  • How is this review going to affect my bonus/performance related pay?
  • How am I being assessed and is it fair?
  • Is my contribution really going to be recognised and acknowledged?
  • How does this review affect my chance of promotion?
  • How well am I doing compared to my peers?

But if you think about it – this isn’t why as a manager you carry out a performance review. What you are concerned about is?

  • How will you help the person understand what you think of their performance?
  • What evidence is needed to support your view?
  • If they are not meeting the standard, what advice should you give?
  • What action should follow on from the review?

You are looking to do an assessment that helps your member of staff become more committed to your objectives and more motivated, accountable, reliable, creative, dedicated, and, yes, happy in the job!

Given the difference in perspectives, holding one annual performance review doesn’t really seem to meet either purpose really, does it? Surely what you need instead is a relationship and structures that support an ongoing dialogue?

No you don’t want spend every day discussing performance. Although there is much to be said about commenting very quickly on exceptions in performance – be they good or bad. Giving praise is as important as giving criticism.

Having a performance stock take once a month works for many! Certainly, having a more formal review quarterly where the question of the bonus isn’t part of the mix has worked for me. And then, at the end of the yea,r it is an agreed summary of those quarterly reviews that feeds into the financial reward system.

Developing an effective relationship and an open discussion about the quality of performance is much more likely to help you and your staff member achieve your goals, both corporate and personal.

Remember performance management is the process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities. Performance management is a whole work system that begins when a job is defined as needed. It ends when an employee leaves your organization.

With a performance management system that works and a well developed relationship, it becomes much easier to discuss career development and the opportunities for progression.  And guess what in this climate potential threats to good performance can be seen off before they become real issues and so everyone benefits.
Wendy is the Happiness Coach and author of  The Wolf Project and a new novel, Blood Brothers, to be published in Summer 2013.  As a life and career coach and blogger, she helps people reach their goals and aspirations. As a novelist she hopes to entertain. Oh and she writes poetry too! To find out more email wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com, find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

A free trial/consultation gives you an opportunity to try phone coaching without risk. Remember there are great benefits to be achieved by being coached in the comfort  of your own home by phone or Skype .

CV review and interview preparation a speciality

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Managing People – Contracts of employment take a great deal of thought

Managing People – Contracts of employment take a great deal of thought

Following on from yesterday’s post about the Psychological Contract, Annabel Kaye,  Irenicon – employment law in a mad world, thought you would find this video useful. It is about how employers make life so much tougher for themselves than it needs to be by using another organization’s contracts. And Annabel is right, many employers do not understand how important the right contract is  in setting up good performance management and employee relations for the future. One size really does not fit all, better to reflect the spirit of that organization’s particular psychological contract.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy atwendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more athttp://wisewolfcoaching.com

 

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The Value Of Performance Management And Guidance From Acas

The Value Of Performance Management And Guidance From Acas

English: acas logo

Acas*, the employment service,  say that poor performance was raised as an issue in 9 out of 10 disciplinary hearings in Great Britain.

So they have published guidance on how to develop and engage employees in performance management that really works.

The aim of performance management is to continuously improve the performance of individuals and that of the organisation. It involves making sure that the performance of individuals contributes to the goals of their teams and the business/organization as a whole.

Good performance management helps people achieve:

  • Business objectives
  • The kind of  communication that supports a productive and well structured workplace

For employees,the benefits of good performance management include:

  • Understanding clearly how they fit into the business
  • How what they do contributes to achieving the business’s objectives through a greater understanding of the skills and competences needed to fulfil their role.

The guidance set out how businesses can set objectives with their employees including drawing up effective personal development plans.

Managing performance gives managers the opportunity to check that their team really knows the business/organization and are working to their best ability and, when there are problems, what to do about them.

You can find the guidance, ‘How to manage performance’, at this link.

http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/g/7/Acas_how_to_manage_performance-accessible-version-Nov-2011.pdf

*Acas stands for the GB Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They exist to improve organisations and the working life of employees through better employment relations. They provide up-to-date information as well as independent advice and training, and they work with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance.  Acas is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members. You can find lots of free resources on their website at this link http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1390

Wendy Mason is a career coach working mainly with managers and professionals who want to make that jump to senior level while maintaining a good work/life balance. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between face to face coaching, and coaching and blogging on-line. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 1 Admit A Change is Needed

Be Successful – Making A Personal Change – Part 1 Admit A Change is Needed

Personal Development Seminar (21)

Change happens

Yes, change is inevitable – you can’t avoid it but sometimes we do our best to try!  At the end of the day, though, we all get caught up in it.  If you look back at your own life and your career, you will know that this is true.

Some change is positive and some negative but change is inevitable. So how do you make the most of it for you and your career?

Facing reality

You need to recognize when a change is needed and you need to admit to yourself when that change needs to be within you.  Start to  monitor the world around you and how those about you are beginning to respond. How have things moved on and how are you going to respond?   Make scanning your horizons a regular routine.  For example;

  • Read the professional and trade journals for your sector,
  • Take part in your professional organization,
  • Keep in touch on the internet with others in your market place – LinkedIn groups are a great source of information.

Locally, listen to what your boss and your colleagues are saying about the future.

Before you make a change, you need to truly acknowledge and accept that one is required.  Sometimes that change is within ourselves and it is about our own performance.  Are you fully meeting the needs of your job as they are now, not as they were when you were first appointed?

Admitting we have a weakness, can be very painful.  It is far more comfortable to blame the boss, our colleagues, the customers or a supplier.  It is easier to make excuses and rationalise, rather than admit to things as they really are.

Making the first step

Facing reality,  admitting there is a problem and taking responsibility for action will setup the conditions needed to make progress.  They contribute to that first step to the personal change needed for career success, now, and in the future.

Look out for the next post in this series. It will be about defining the change properly, so that it will be successful.

I would love to hear about successful changes you have made.  Meanwhile, If you need support in making your change, my email address is below.

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

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Leading Change – excuse me while I quietly burn-out

不幸だ

Change teams can be intense and exhausting places to work.  If it is large and complex change, it may put huge demands on everyone.

Everyone feels stressed! 

The Team Leader needs to recognize this and manage the team so that no undue stress is put on any particular individual.

Judging this, and then getting the resources you need to prevent harm to your team, can be difficult.

But stress and burnout are different.  And in a long standing change team, you may well see symptoms of impending burnout.

You need to know what to look for and you need to act.

If having been through a period of  constant stress, someone begins to feel disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, they may be suffering from burnout.

If you know your team well, you will notice the difference in attitude and approach.  Suddenly that person you relied on to be enthusiastic, just isn’t anymore!

When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care, let alone do something about what is happening to you.

The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten jobs, relationships, and health.

But burnout can be helped.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout in its early stages, simple stress management strategies may be enough to solve the problem.

In the later stages of burnout, recovery may take more time and effort, but you can still regain your balance by reassessing your priorities, making time for yourself and seeking support.

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

As team leader watch for burnout in both your team and yourself!

  • Make sure stress gets managed and that people seek support
  • Encourage your team to take care of their physical and emotional health.
  • Encourage people to eat properly and to go for a walk at lunch time.  Working through lunch can look like macho dedication but as a long-term habit it puts people at risk!
  • Make sure things are kept in balance.

You can recognize burout and deal with it.  Make sure it doesn’t become a full scale break down.

Personal Burnout Prevention Tips   

  • Start the day with a short quiet space for relaxation or meditation before you go to work.
  • Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits.
  • Set boundarieslearn how to say “no” at work and at home – remember  “no” means you can say “yes” to the things that truly matter.
  • Take a daily break from technology.   Put away your laptop, turn off your phone and stop checking email.  Go out for a walk.
  • Nourish your creative side.  What do you really like doing?
  • Learn how to manage stress. At this link is a simple breathing technique that may help when you feel overwhelmed by stress .


Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439  

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Out-sourcing – how to be good at it!

In the present climate the pressure to seek value for money through out-sourcing is stronger than ever.

Yes, you can save money but getting the full value from your outsourced service and making sure that it supports your business in the way you intended is complicated.

The financial benefits alone are often not properly understood.  The results of research by Warwick Business School working with IT group Cognizant showed that less than half (43 per cent) of all CIOs and CFOs have attempted to calculate the financial impact of outsourcing to their bottom line let alone determined the real value to their organisations. They don’t know the real value and it is doubtful that they are getting the outcomes they expected!

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you achieve real value from your out-sourcing activity.

1. Know why you are doing it

Don’t out-source just because the competition does it!

What do you expect from the service and what resource will be available to support it?

Can you specify what you need and will you be able to measure and monitor it when it is delivered?

Have you got experience of managing outsourced services or can you afford to buy that expertise?

How essential is this service to your business operations?

Can you afford to take the risk?

2. Be systematic but keep it simple

Work out a strategy for out-sourcing that your organisation can cope with!

If you are new to out-sourcing don’t go for a complicated strategy that involves many suppliers.

If you go for a complex supply chain, you will need to know how to manage it

If you go for multiple suppliers, you will need to know how to coordinate them

Start with a single and relatively simple business function and a single supplier and build from there.

Gain experience as you develop the approach

3. Know how you are going to measure and monitor

Many companies rely on service level agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are crucial to outsourcing arrangements but you will need more than a traditional SLA if you are interested in business improvement!

Measuring against an SLA will tell you about delivering the status quo

Most SLAs will not tell you if the service is really delivering benefits and the right outcomes to your operation!

You need to focus on business improvement rather than just service improvement processes!

Determine what evidence of success and the right outcomes really looks like and use it!

Use industry benchmarks IF they are useful to your business

4. Invest in the relationship for long-term value

Demands and expectations change over time!

This can lead to disagreements with your supplier which can erode the relationship

Agree at the start how you will recognize and respond to changes together

Share information honestly between you

6. Be an intelligent client

Don’t hand all your talent across to the supplier with the service

Keep enough expertise available so you can talk intelligently to your supplier about performance

Keep enough expertise to cope with changing your contractor if necessary in response to supplier failure or market changes

Keep enough expertise available to cope with business innovation.

Be honest with your supplier about your expectations and your customer base

But be prepared to learn from your supplier

You can find this as a slide presentation on LinkedIn at the following link  http://slidesha.re/hc0HyK

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Achieving that high performance – excellence and why I don’t play the piano!

Aristotle, the philosopher, had it exactly right 2000 years ago: “We are what we repeatedly do.”  Experience shows that by relying on highly specific practices, we can dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, to deeply relaxing.

Anders Ericsson is one of the world’s leading researchers into high performance. For more than two decades, Ericsson has been making the case that it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work — something he calls “deliberate practice That notion can be wonderfully empowering. It shows we can be in control of at least part of our own fate.   But it is also daunting. One of Ericsson’s central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient  in success, but also the most difficult and probably the least enjoyable. Excellence requires dedication and focus.  But it worries me on other fronts!  Do I want to be excellent at one thing or good enough at a range of tasks that help me lead a rounded and satisfying life?  I suppose I want to be more than good at something so that I can make a real contribution to the world! Call that egotistical but there it is!  But I want to be pretty good at a range of things and I want to be broad enough to take to take the helicopter view over the world that makes for a good leader!

Anyway if you want to be pretty good at something and still keep your wider perspective here are some pointers!

  1. Lead with what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance. Choose as your key skill something you really enjoy and love doing
  2. Do the hardest part first. Learning anything is part grind and grunt! We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice first, before they do anything else. Dedicate the time in the day when you have most energy to the part you like least.  Do it well and get it out of the way!
  3. Practice, practice,practice without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. But don’t spend all day! The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day. And you need the rest of the time for wider pursuits and other interests
  4. Seek feedback, but not too much. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too often, overwhelms and erodes confidence.  Find people you trust, who like you, to give honest feedback in the right doses!
  5. Take regular breaks. Just like in the gym, relaxing after intense effort provides an opportunity to rejuvenate. But it also allows you to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, so you could so something creative during your break and find a whole new world of interests.
  6. Build you practice into a ritual . Researcher Roy Baumeister has found, that very few of us of us have huge amounts of will and resolutiont. The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.
  7. Review, review, review Be prepared to take a step back sometimes and review your progress.  How does the skill you are acquiring fit in with your rounded life?  How is it going to contribute your future success and happiness?  Be prepared to change your plans in the light of your learning.

As for that piano, my aunt was a pianist at concert performance level!  When I was a small child she attempted to teach me to play.  She became incredibly frustrated because I would find every excuse not to practice.  I never did learn to play!  But her lesson that the hard work gets done first has stayed with me throughout life!  I regret not being able to play but I value my creative childhood!  I spent my time exploring and that is a valuable skill that has stayed with me throughout life!

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Outwitting the lovely Ondine, or making the right choices in hard times!

I watched a piece on breakfast television about a small child with something that sounded sinister, Ondine’s Curse.  This is a respiratory disorder that is fatal if untreated as sufferers stop breathing during sleep. It is very rare and the name is a reference to the myth of Ondine, a water nymph who had an unfaithful mortal lover. He swore to her that his every waking breath would be a testimony of his love. He was unfaithful so she cursed him; if he should fall asleep, he would forget to breathe. Eventually, he fell asleep and his breathing stopped. Anyway the story this morning was really about the child being able to be at home for Christmas because someone had invented a ventilator that was small enough for a child’s room!

Ventilators are usually large, cumbersome and difficult to accommodate! So this invention, not only adds to the happiness of a small child and her family, it also reduces the cost of her care to the NHS. No longer will she need expensive hospital resources, even with back up at home from community nursing staff, there will be a saving!

What struck me most was the need to take a long view when reducing costs. Inventing new equipment to reduce costs (and hopefully improve quality) long-term takes time and investment. Also, it requires creativity and teamwork! None of these qualities thrive in hard and uncaring environments. To achieve a climate that can deliver long-term ‘efficiency’ improvements while maintaining (or even improving) quality takes great leadership.

Exam question for December 2010 – do you think your leadership abilities would be up to the challenge? How are you going to maintain/improve them next year?

I would like to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a very creative New Year in this time of challenge! I hope you will come back because there will be lots more here next year to help you manage the changes you face!

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Alice down the rabbit hole – or customer service and schizophrenia in the downturn!

I’m reading ‘Surviving Change – A Manager’s Guide’ from Harvard Business Press. It advises on managing in the downturn and opens with a discussion of different survival strategies – hard and soft!  In fact, most change is a mixture of the two and the strategy chosen usually reflects the underlying culture of the organisation!   How the mix works is critical because if it is not well managed it can become fraught with conflict and demoralising for people in the organisation; it can lead to a schizophrenic approach to customers.

The ‘hard’ approach to change is usually short-term and about economics  – cut costs and increase cash flow! If a unit, or an employee, cannot demonstrate how they add financial value, out they go with very little ceremony or concern for personal well-being. The change is usually hard driven from the top with little wider engagement.  Often consultants advise the magic inner circle and HR consultants deal with casualties that might cost the organisation.

Soft change focuses on developing the organisation to meet new conditions with high engagement across the piece from the leaders. Employees trust in the informal contract they have with the organisation and work towards its well being.

Sadly experience shows that neither soft or hard approaches work in isolation.  The hard approach works in the short term but with that alone you are usually left with a demoralised and disloyal workforce – your best employees probably left at a rate of knots when you started the change.  The soft approach can take years to embed and the market doesn’t stand still!

Most successful change is a combination of hard (rationalisation well managed) and soft (employee engagement and encouragement to learn new skills).  But if change is a reflection of underlying culture and that has conflicts within it, a change can put the whole organisation out of kilter.  What I’m thinking of here is an organisation that pays lip service to soft but is really hard.  I believe in the downturn this is likely to be an increasing problem, particularly in the service sector.

Clients of service companies, particularly in the UK public sector, like to hear how well the company manages its employees.  A tender panel may take great interest in training and development approaches but, of course, the final decision is usually made on the keenest price.  In the present climate the client is likely to continue to seek cost reductions, which mean lots of change to be managed.  This can lead a company into a kind of schizophrenia.  It flags up all the good things its HR team would like to do but finds itself increasingly having to make hard, and very short-term, decisions.  As a consequence, its own employees and its middle managers in particular, become confused and a little cynical!  In turn this impacts on the service delivered to the client – so the client pushes harder!

What is the answer.? Well maybe it starts with a little more honesty on both sides!   Perhaps clients should start being more realistic about how they expect their service companies to manage for the price they are prepared to pay.  Perhaps the companies should be a little more honest with clients, and  with themselves, about the real costs of delivering ‘cuts’  At the end of the day, a client gets what they pay for and it they want to see services well managed with employees committed to the services they deliver, they need to recognise there will always be a cost even in the downturn!

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TIME ONCE AGAIN FOR YOUR DECEMBER LIFE STOCKTAKE?

Last year I suggested we should take regular stock of our lives, just as we go to see the dentist for a regular check up! We all know we should do it!  But many of us don’t!   Most of us would gain from a simple check up once a year!  December is a superb time to take stock both on a professional and a personal level.  We can then begin to  think through our plans for next year and how we are going to make it brilliant! So come with me –  get your pad and pen and follow this link to my guidance on making a start.

 

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