HumanResourcesToday – Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Sat, 16 Dec 2017 11:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Trivia Crack and the Power of “First Guessing” https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:20:08 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=318 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

So there I was, taking a break from, well, whatever I should have been working on, and playing some Trivia Crack, as one does (Trivia Crack is the phone app version of Trivial Pursuit). I had yet to beat my friend Laura in a game, and I was oh — sooooo —  close. A question comes up…this is for the win, mind you…Entertainment, a category I’m pretty solid in:

How old were Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin when they died?

Ok, a bit before my time, but not outside the realm of my knowledge. Immediately, my finger – driven by my gut instinct – flies to “27.” “Press it,” my gut and finger tell me, “do it. DO IT. DOOOOOO IT!!!”

But no. Suddenly my brain kicks in with doubt, uncertainty and a different answer. “It’s 26, not 27. You can’t be right on the first guess. Think about it… THINK ABOUT IT! C’mon.”

Time’s running out. I can feel the pressure. My heart is beating faster: “You want to win! Get it right!!!”

So in a panic I go with my brain and press “26″ – final answer… and… Waaahhh wahhhh… wrong. Bust. Loser. Nooooooooooooooo! Sigh.

If I had I just stuck with my first guess…

And this of course takes me back to all those questions I changed and got wrong on various multiple choice tests over the years in school. How often did I second guess myself and get it wrong – so very wrong! The prevailing accepted wisdom is that we should go with our first instinct when answering multiple choice questions. Except research shows that when students have the time to go back and review their work on these tests, any answers they change are predominantly changed to the correct answer!  Whoa! What?!?!

The challenge is this: life and leadership are rarely multiple choice moments with one correct answer. Sure, we have multiple options in any given moment of how we could show up, what decision we could make, etc. But there’s no answer key available later on to check our answers definitively: “oh, yeah, choice C would have been the correct choice!” There’s rarely one “right” answer, and we are trying to choose from a myriad of possible courses of action – many of which might be good.

The key to getting more answers correct on a multiple choice test then is to leave time to review your work. What would happen to our leadership presence if we took more time to review our work? And how might we do that?

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?I would offer that within us there are three primary intelligences or ways of knowing things:

The Brain: the seat of thinking, logic, reason, facts, etc. It’s processing and deciding things for us all the time.

The Heart: where our emotions and feelings seem to live. Our desire to connect with others, our passions and purpose and spirit.

The Gut: the realm of intuition; “I can’t tell you why, but my gut tells me…”

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?

With purpose. With conscious choice.

The next time you are faced with a difficult leadership or life choice, try this 10 minute exercise:

  • Get a pen and open to a fresh page in your journal or notebook (don’t keyboard this – you won’t access the body nearly as well)
  • Take a minute to just sit and be quiet, focus on your breathing, get present with your journal; focus on the blank page of possibilities
  • Then, frame the question or situation: Today, I seek wisdom on… or… I want to find my best course of action on…
  • Send your awareness to your mind. And ask it the question you wrote. Do 2 minutes of free writing. No editing, no revising, just write whatever comes out in response to what you asked.
  • Take a few clearing breaths and send your awareness to your heart, and do the same thing.
  • Breathe some and then ask your gut the question and write.
  • Let it all sit for a few minutes. Get up and walk around. Talk to a friend or colleague. Work on something else for a bit. Eat.
  • Come back later and read what you’ve written.

Look for alignments, differences, themes, and pay attention to what you notice in your body as you do this. What feels good inside, and where do you feel it? What seems like the “most right” decision? If body parts aren’t in alignment, what shifts might you make in your action plan to bring everyone on board or closer?

Then take action.

Don’t forget to “review your work” though! Set a calendar item for a week, a month, three months, even a year later (depending on size/scope/impact of the issue) and reflect on the decision you made, the actions you took, the impacts and outcomes. Go back to what you wrote. How well did you create what you’d hoped? Which of your intelligences was helpful? Which are more familiar/unfamiliar?  Which got in the way? How might you balance them? What would you do differently next time?

Use this framework over time and you will tune in and become more adept at discerning what combination of brain, heart, and gut will work in a given situation and build the muscle of bringing them into fuller alignment.

So remember, sometimes your first guess is the right one. Sometimes it’s not. Trivia Crack doesn’t give you the time to go back and review your work. Life most often does, if we take the time. Take it!

 

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Vow to Wow New Hires https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/new-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/new-employee-engagement/#respond Thu, 28 May 2015 10:41:03 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=293 We need to chat about our engagement. No, not the kind announced on Facebook. Employee engagement in the workplace. Only about a third of American workers consider themselves engaged, according to Gallup, and an alarming number (17.5%) have decided to spend their working hours actively disengaged. That’s the bad news. The good news is these […]

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We need to chat about our engagement. No, not the kind announced on Facebook. Employee engagement in the workplace.

Only about a third of American workers consider themselves engaged, according to Gallup, and an alarming number (17.5%) have decided to spend their working hours actively disengaged. That’s the bad news. The good news is these numbers have actually improved. The better news is we can continue to spark positive change, if we band together.

A major way to improve employee engagement is by vowing to wow new hires. That means focusing on providing a pleasant—dare I say, even enjoyable—onboarding experience. An employee’s initial impression ultimately influences your future together. It’s akin to how first dates can make or break a relationship.

Just like some people believe in love at first sight, some employees form opinions about employers within the first week. Thus, a great onboarding experience can mean Wow Your New Hiresthe difference between new hires feeling like they’ve found their “career soulmate” and deciding they’re “just not that into you.”

Now, upholding this vow to wow new hires takes work. It’s a commitment. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. After all, a hallmark of workplace engagement is creating
an inviting, fun, and productive environment that people want to be a part of. So, when your new hire finally arrives:

Provide a warm welcome. Use social media to instantly connect with your newest employees. No, you don’t have to befriend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (that can actually come off as too creepy, and may drive new hires away). Rather, invite team members to say hello through internal social media platforms built into your company’s HCM solution.

Get to know them. As with any relationship, communication is key—and it should be a two-way street. Don’t just spend hours telling them all about yourself while they sit there, slumped over with glazed eyes or zoned out, checking their phone. Ask them open-ended questions. Learn more about their interests, hobbies, or unique skills. Have a system in place that uncovers these talents and positions them to impact projects within your organization.

Plan for the future. Employees want to know how they fit into the big picture, and they want to know you’ve envisioned a long-term path for mutual success. Involve them in the planning process. Spend some time together mapping out tasks and goals. Talk about your exciting future together. It’s never too early to create a succession plan. Indeed, nearly 50% of Millennials say they’d quit a company if they didn’t see a fulfilling career path.

Be honest. Don’t try to impress your new hire by making promises you can’t keep or by presenting a puffed-up image of yourself. Eventually, employees will see through the façade, fall out of love, and move on to a company they find more genuine. Instead, flaunt your true personality. Display your best qualities. Tell them a joke to help lighten the mood. You already know you were meant for each other, so show them they’ve found “the one.”

These are just a few ideas for creating an engaging onboarding experience, but there are plenty more to consider. I invite you to join me on Tuesday, June 9 at 2:00 P.M. for a free, live webcast. My colleague Jim Collins and I will share “10 Ways to Wow Your New Hire” and discuss the HR technology capable of implementing these actions. Spend an hour of your day with us, and you’ll learn techniques that can yield a lifetime of benefits for you and your employees.

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Fresh Perspective: Consumer Experience Applied to Recruiting Strategy https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/consumer-experience-applied-to-recruiting-strategy/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/consumer-experience-applied-to-recruiting-strategy/#respond Tue, 19 May 2015 09:29:41 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=284 Wherever you are right now reading this, I’d like you to take a minute and put on your consumer cap. Forget about your current role—manager, employee, parent, partner, friend—for a few moments and picture yourself in customer mode. Imagine you’re at your favorite coffee shop (you may actually be there right now). You just parted […]

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Wherever you are right now reading this, I’d like you to take a minute and put on your consumer cap. Forget about your current role—manager, employee, parent, partner, friend—for a few moments and picture yourself in customer mode.

Imagine you’re at your favorite coffee shop (you may actually be there right now). You just parted with some time and money in exchange for a refreshing beverage. Think about the preceding experience: Did you have to wait in line? Was your order fulfilled promptly, and to your liking? Did the service exceed your expectations?

We have many expectations as customers, and with whom we do business depends a whole lot on how well those expectations are met. A satisfying experience means you’re likely to return, and maybe even build a long-term relationship with the company or become an advocate of that brand. A less-than-stellar experience, however, can mark the end of your relationship as fast as it begins.

By the way, you can keep your consumer cap on. Though our little thought exercise has ended, the fact is, we’re almost always in customer mode. That’s especially true today in the workplace. And it’s imperative for companies to realize this, and to start better meeting the needs and expectations of their employees like they do their customers.

When companies think about employees like they do customers, it opens up countless opportunities for improving the employee experience. Just as that first customer experience can define the relationship, the same holds true for the employee-employer relationship. We’ve all heard adages about the power of first impressions. Companies invest a lot of thought and money into creating and delivering effective advertising. Much like pleasing or offensive ads can steer us toward or away from a company, so too can an application process for job candidates.

Do your job descriptions rival War and Peace? About 40% of Millennials say they won’t spend more than a minute reading a description online. And lest you rush to judge a generation as too impatient, don’t we all believe our time is valuable? Would you wait five minutes for your coffee if it only takes two to brew?

Let’s say your job descriptions are abridged. Good. How about the application process? Do candidates have to enter the same information multiple times, or can they import it from their LinkedIn profiles? Moreover, are those details stored for future access and use?

Consumers love one-click shopping online. It’s fast and convenient. It works for customers and stores alike. Have you ever canceled an order because of a lengthy or frustrating checkout process? It happens in the job market, too. Think of how many potential top performers you may have lost because they gave up long before reaching the “submit” button.

Retailers love providing recommendations, lists generated by clever algorithms. It’s a great way for customers to discover new products. Do you offer recommendations to your candidates? Maybe they applied for one job, but their skill set best fits a job they never even knew existed. Don’t miss out on acquiring a future star just because they were browsing a different department.

Note that this is all before candidates ever walk into your office for their first interview. But these customer-employee parallels extend to every stage of the employee lifecycle, and each is as important as the next. An enjoyable onboarding experience, for instance, can determine whether a new hire sticks around long enough for a review. Almost two-thirds of Millennials say they decide to stay or go after one month. How many bad lattes does it take before you try a new coffee shop?

The answer for providing these great user experiences is comprehensive HR technology that’s designed to meet employee needs and expectations, much like that of a consumer-based solution. Some important features to consider include:

  • Integration with popular social media platforms (you can import information from LinkedIn)
  • Intuitive user interface (applying for a job is as easy as online ordering)
  • Access anytime and anywhere via mobile devices, with responsive design (optimized for use on smartphones, tablets, etc.)
  • Collaboration through built-in messaging tools (similar to live chats with customer-service reps)
  • Single-click signing for required documents (fast and convenient, like one-click shopping)
  • Insight into the status of an application/the hiring process (don’t you just love tracking orders?)
  • Personalized experienced based on user information (if you like this job, you may also like…)

When companies think about employees like they do customers, it opens up countless opportunities for improving the employee experience. It creates a positive, productive environment where your people—and your business—thrive. It results in better products for your customers.

So, feel free to keep your consumer cap on for a little while longer.

For additional ideas on this topic check out Russ Banham’s article, “Why Treating Employees Like Customers Is the Right Thing to Do.”

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Getting at the Heart of Employee Engagement https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:38:18 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=264 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it. Consultants build entire practices and companies around it. You hear executives and leaders clamoring for it! “WE NEED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT!” It becomes a battle cry around which we hope to rally the troops to get our employees’ heads in the game at work and keep the floodgates of unwanted attrition from opening wider than they already are.

And therein lies the problem. It’s not in their heads.

Yes, you heard me. It’s not in their heads.

Sure, we want people to give discretionary effort, to persevere through the hard march, to get their creative energy focused on innovation, to care for and about our customers and clients. And none of that lives in their heads.

Ask your HR people. They know. They know because they hear it in exit interviews all the time. And it sounds like this:

  • My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
  • It just got too hard to care here.
  • I just didn’t have the heart for it here any more.

The etymology for “engage” is “to make a pledge to.” And when we pledge something, particularly allegiance, where does our hand go? Over our heart. The key to employee engagement, to inspiring them to want to pledge allegiance to our company, our mission, our clients and customers, is to learn how to empower their hearts. Managers and leaders will be successful at doing this when they have real dialogue, real connection with their employees about what makes them inspired to come to work, what’s getting in the way of their passion for showing up at work, and what matters to them as people.

HR professionals getting at the heart of employee engagement

And how do you do that? Talk to your team members. Ask them. They’ll tell you if you take the time to nurture a relationship with them. One tool I recommend is a “stay interview,” which is simply a series of purposeful questions aimed at getting to the heart of the matter. Identify those key team members who are most critical to the success of your organization, and take them to coffee or for a glass of wine. Let them know, “you’re important to me, as a person and a team member, and I want you to have a successful and meaningful career here at ABC Corp. Would you be willing to talk with me about that?”

Construct questions that engage (see what I did there?) the person’s heart. Things like:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What values are most important to you?
  • What makes you want to get up every morning and come to work here? Or if that’s not where you are, what would do that?
  • Where do you see conflicts with those here at ABC Corp.?

The key is to make sure this isn’t a one time conversation but a beginning of an ongoing dialogue / relationship. You must follow up on what you hear from your team members. A powerful close to this conversation is to recap with a summary of “here’s what I heard you say that matters most to you, and here’s what I heard you ask for us to work on. You have my commitment to doing so, and I will keep you posted. In return, my ask would be that if you start to disengage, get itchy to look outside or start answering those recruiters calls, that you will talk to me first so we can see what’s going on and what we might be able to. Are you willing to do that?”

When you begin having a real, honest, vulnerable dialogue with your team members, you will begin to cultivate greater trust, honesty, and connection.

Beyond that, if you nurture the heart of your employees by making sure they are taking care of their whole person, by having real commitment to and connection with your team members, you will begin to allow the heart to show up at work. It’s time we talk about the heart at work and not act like it’s a dirty word. We want their heart to show up in equal balance with their brain and their body.

My challenge to you is this: Find three ways in the coming week to begin to show your heart more at work. How, when and where will you do this?

Because the heart of employee engagement is the heart itself.

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HR Technology Expectations of Different Generations in the Workforce https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-technology-expectations-of-different-generations-in-the-workforce-2/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hr-technology-expectations-of-different-generations-in-the-workforce-2/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:30:40 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=198 In cooperation with Jason Dorsey and the Center for Generational Kinetics, Ultimate Software is thrilled to bring you the results of groundbreaking new research into the impact that new generations are having on the workforce. The research reviews both surprising findings about generational differences in the workforce and their expectations for HR technology, as well […]

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In cooperation with Jason Dorsey and the Center for Generational Kinetics, Ultimate Software is thrilled to bring you the results of groundbreaking new research into the impact that new generations are having on the workforce. The research reviews both surprising findings about generational differences in the workforce and their expectations for HR technology, as well as how the adoption of consumer mobile and social technologies is changing the expectations of the entire workforce regardless of generation.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the fastest-growing generation at work and the largest generation in history with nearly 80 million individuals. Growing up in the heart of the Internet age, Millennials have a unique and intrinsic relationship with technology that they bring with them into the office, and leveraging this dynamic is more important to managing your employees than ever: businesses need to adapt to changing expectations from all employees for transparency and speed.

Our national research dives into the present and future workforce by viewing Millennials through the context of the other generations in the workforce. Three or four generations working side by side has resulted in unprecedented office dynamics for managers, and it’s time to take action. By surveying a broad cross-section of Americans 18 or older who are either currently employed or looking for work, we’ve created a powerful lens through which executives, managers, HR professionals and entrepreneurs can analyze the generational challenges in the labor force.

This fascinating research shows shocking disparities between generations in regular habits in the office and during the job search process, and uncovers potent workplace trends fueled by Millennials, especially in recruiting, communication, and the use of mobile devices. The results also paint a picture of the new workforce realities taking shape across the country. Most importantly, we offer specific, concrete steps your organization can take to apply these findings and create a workplace that bridges the generational divide.

To view all of our findings and get started, check out our resources page here.

 

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Hottest Trending Topics in HR https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hottest-trending-topics-in-hr/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/hottest-trending-topics-in-hr/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:41:15 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=196 The start of the New Year means focusing on new goals and resolutions, so we’ve got our eye on the hottest trending topics in HR that will impact your organization in 2015. It’s never too soon to take action to get in front of the pack when it comes to engaging your people to positively impact […]

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The start of the New Year means focusing on new goals and resolutions, so we’ve got our eye on the hottest trending topics in HR that will impact your organization in 2015. It’s never too soon to take action to get in front of the pack when it comes to engaging your people to positively impact your organization’s outcomes. Start the year ahead of the curve by reading what our industry leaders, analysts and experts think you should be paying attention to this year.

Healthcare Reform

By now, we are all familiar with the sweeping changes to the U.S. healthcare system first signed into law in 2010, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most of the provisions of the PPACA are already in effect as of January 2015, including:

  • The Health Insurance Marketplace
  • The individual insurance mandate
  • Transitional reinsurance fees
  • The employer “pay or play” mandate

A SHRM survey in 2013 showed that 75% of HR leaders expect the PPACA implementation to have a “major impact” on the workplace. The primary concern for corporations in 2015 is the “pay or play” mandate. This mandate hinges entirely on accurate, company-wide workforce reporting to monitoring employee eligibility status. The manual tracking of service hour history and schedules to determine full-time status (or equivalency) as well as monitoring insurance affordability levels can become a nightmare and even a small data entry error or discrepancy can result in costly fees. The ideal way to visualize all of the different factors that impact eligibility is with a comprehensive PPACA dashboard bringing all relevant data in a single view to support timely actions.

To stay prepared and avoid manual tracking and the possibility of data discrepancies:

  • Evaluate cloud-based people management solutions that can do the legwork
  • Consider a solution tailored to ease the burden of PPACA compliance by offering at-a-glance service hour history and projections for the year
  • Look for comprehensive offerings that include reporting tools specifically designed with the “pay or play” mandate in mind

Predictive Analytics

According to KPMG research, data analytics is the #1 most-cited area for HR technology investment in 2015. By moving from traditional BI reporting to proactive analytics powered by, statistical models, to suggested courses of action for users, you will be able to accurately project future workforce trends and predict your employee’s behavior with a high probability, and help managers make the best decisions for their teams. This will also allow you to demonstrate the maximum value of HR by providing actionable intelligence for future success.

To stay ahead of the curve, examine solutions that leverage predictive analytics for HR to:

  • Determine individual employees’ chances of staying with your company
  • Alert you to flight risks—employees who are likely to leave within six months, so that you can take proactive action to retain them or create succession plans
  • Identify the current top performers at your organization throughout the full workforce
  • Predict future top performers by identifying patterns that indicate high potential

Focus on the Candidate and Internal Candidate Experience

With the economy continuing to pick up and the new expectations of today’s job seekers, recruiting solutions are seeing a newfound importance placed on the candidate experience: the way job applicants are treated before being hired, interviewed, or even seriously considered for a position. Today’s labor force, and especially the growing millennial generation that comprises its majority, places a higher premium on the candidate experience, simplicity, and speed than at any time in the past.

By changing the focus in recruiting to candidate engagement and empowerment, you build the foundation for a lasting business relationship between employer and employee before a hire ever takes place and you will gain tangible benefits for your business.

Even for those who aren’t hired, the candidate experience can have a significant impact on brand identity and generate good will about your organization and culture. Furthermore, a negative candidate experience can have dramatic effects, with the advent of social media and mobile technologies, making it easier than ever for candidates to broadly share damaging your credibility as an employer!

Improving the application process can also result in a higher quality of hires. Studies show that 40-80% of candidates don’t ever finish the application process, and many times this is because of the application process itself. These partial applications are simply discarded and never make it across the hiring manager’s desk.

Look for recruiting technologies that leverage user experience features such as:

  • Automatic, persistent saving of all collected data
  • A bold, familiar, and friendly frontend that draws aesthetics from popular social platforms
  • Data-rich applicant options like pulling personal data from LinkedIn instead of relying on cumbersome manual entry
  • Real-time search results and filtering when candidates look for their ideal position, with more relevant results offered the more information is provided
  • “Gamified” elements that replace boring, static Web forms with enthusiastic prompts and a plain-English approach, much like the creation of a social media profile

2015 is shaping up to be an exciting and transformative year for people and organizations in all industries, and leveraging the latest in HR technology while staying on top of critical trends can make or break your success!

Ultimate Software has been providing comprehensive people management in the cloud for more than a decade. Discover how UltiPro® can help your organization stay ahead of the curve and future-proof in 2015 at www.ultimatesoftware.com.

 

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Making Teleworking Work: The Magic Wand for Ensuring Success with Remote Team Members https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/#respond Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:00:38 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=193 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Making Teleworking WorkColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

Time and again during my 20+ years in Human Resources, I heard the same plea from managers at all levels: “Colin, tell me the secret to managing remote employees effectively.” With varying levels of anxiety, fear, trepidation, confusion, and even whining, this was among the top 5 questions I encountered. The good news is, there is a secret. There is a magic wand, and it’s gonna blow you away.

Do everything you would do for/with people in the office; just do it with greater discipline and purposefulness.

Ta da! That’s really all it takes. Use the effective management techniques already in your toolkit and do them more frequently, with more thought, more planning and more purpose. Treat your remote employees BETTER than your in office employees. This may sound crazy at first, and yet deep down there’s a little voice inside of you saying, “I think he might be onto something here.”

The big difference between in-office and remote employees is one key thing: convenience. It’s easy to catch up with an in-office colleague spur of the moment, to pop your head into their office to ask a quick question, to call them into an impromptu meeting or brainstorming session. In-office employees will naturally feel more connected and in tune because it will organically happen just by being there. Therefore, you are called to up your game with the remote employees. How can you do this? Seven Simple Steps:

  1. Stick to your scheduled meetings. If you have to inconvenience anyone on your team with schedule changes, pick the in-office staff first. Don’t cancel or move your remote staff’s one on one time. Barring emergencies (real emergencies), just don’t. If you’re going to be a few minutes late, send a quick IM, text or email to let them know when to expect the meeting to start.
  2. Connect personally. It’s easy with remote staff to get away from this; don’t let it happen. Get to know your employees, make connecting part of your one on ones, figure out what interests them or what worries they have, and connect with them as people.
  3. Use technology to support the connection.Skype, FaceTime, something. Put a face to the person. Find common technology tools you can use with each individual and with the team overall so everyone is using the same tools.
  4. Turn off distractions. Shut down email, turn off your cell phone, close your door, do what it takes to be fully focused on the remote team member. Being present is harder and more important.
  5. Meet in person periodically. Budget for and get the team together once or twice a year for connection and growth. Even better, have the manager get on the road to meet with individual team members where they work; go see their home office and spend a day with them there. Visit remote offices on a periodic basis. This is especially important for new team members.
  6. Ask. Check in occasionally with remote staff during one on ones: How are we doing in terms of helping you feel connected? What can I and the team do to increase your sense of connection?
  7. Trust. Most of us have a good sense as to whether someone is getting the work done and at a high quality. If someone doesn’t answer your IM immediately, it may be for a very good reason. If you find that you’re losing trust with a remote employee, have a conversation about that and seek to understand what’s going on. Then partner with the employee on what you both can do to increase the level of trust.

All of this is assuming that the employee has the temperament and skills to be an effective remote worker. Some people just aren’t good at or wired to be successful when sitting in a home office day after day.

By doing these Seven Simple Steps, your relationship with your remote staff will improve, and you will see better results.

And here’s a bonus for you. We’ve all had occasion to be the lone wolf on the end of a phone when everyone else is in the same room together. It is almost impossible to not feel at a huge disadvantage. How do you level the playing field? Four things will make all the difference:

  1. If anyone is going to be remote, make everyone remote .Particularly for on-going standing meetings, this can be hugely effective. If one person is on the phone, have everyone be on the phone. Or on video conference. Everyone will then be having the same experience and side conversations and other distractions are eliminated.
  2. Remember time zones.Occasionally move the meeting time to make it easier for remote staff, even if it means 10 out of 12 people have to get up an hour earlier. Doing this once or twice is a huge deposit for the remote staff and reinforces the sense of team.
  3. Intentionally solicit opinions from remote staff by calling on them by name and using good “what/how” questions to draw them out:    – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?- Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
      • – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?
      • – Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
      • – Henry, what would make this even more successful?
      • – Tonya, how might we be more effective in implementing our idea?
        • – Jeanetta, what’s running through your head as you’re listening to us?
  4. Assign someone in the room to be the remote shepherd. Make this a rotational assignment for folks in the office to take ownership for ensuring the remote staff are in the conversation and having a good experience. It’s this person’s role to pay attention to whose voice isn’t being heard, to make sure technology is up and running, to call out “we’re on page 23 of the deck now” when someone doesn’t have access to technology, etc.

See, it’s simple really. Implement these practices in your workgroups and you will feel as if you’ve found the magic wand. Abracadabra!

The post Making Teleworking Work: The Magic Wand for Ensuring Success with Remote Team Members appeared first on Ultimate Software's Blog.

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What’s Your Company’s EQ? https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/whats-your-companys-eq/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/whats-your-companys-eq/#respond Wed, 14 Jan 2015 14:34:10 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=182 Assessing and implementing emotional intelligence in the workplace By Dr. Jarik Conrad Dr. Jarik Conrad is the president/founder of the Conrad Consulting Group. The company’s main focus is to teach skills for the development of emotional, social, and cultural-emotional intelligence. We thought some of our readers would find this topic interesting so Dr. Jarik Conrad […]

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Assessing and implementing emotional intelligence in the workplace

By Dr. Jarik Conrad

Dr. Jarik Conrad is the president/founder of the Conrad Consulting Group. The company’s main focus is to teach skills for the development of emotional, social, and cultural-emotional intelligence. We thought some of our readers would find this topic interesting so Dr. Jarik Conrad was kind enough to provide the information below on assessing the emotional intelligence in your workplace.

You are the vice president at a successful hotel chain. You have just arrived at the office Monday morning faced with a difficult dilemma. You need to decide what to do about Peter, the director of sales at one of your locations. Peter began his career as an associate in the hotel’s customer relations department 12 years ago, and worked his way up through the ranks. He is a smart, dedicated employee who often works long hours – and it shows in the company’s results. The hotel is enjoying a record year and is top in sales among the chain in the state; but there is one problem. Peter has trouble controlling his emotions. He has frequent outbursts and often times talks down to people. His peers hate working with him and one of his promising direct reports has threatened to quit – again. What should you do?

If you are like many people in your position, you try to ignore the issue because Peter has had such a positive impact on the bottom line. The problem with that course of action, or inaction, is that the problem rarely goes away, and it generally gets worse. If you do not deal with this right away, you may be unable to attract top talent. You may lose several high potential employees. Customers could decide to do business with someone else. People might hold back their creativity for fear of being humiliated. There could be disputes that result in costly litigation.

This is a common challenge in corporate America because individuals are routinely promoted for their technical skills with little regard for their ability to work with and through people. Such individuals describe themselves as logical and objective. They are often proud of their ability to get things done without paying too much attention to people’s feelings.

For many business leaders dealing with this issue, once the behavior becomes too obvious to be ignored, it comes down to an ultimatum… the troubled employee must shape up, or be terminated. Well, it does not have to be this way. There are other options and tactics to prevent these problems from occurring.

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to recognize and manage one’s emotions, while simultaneously recognizing and effectively responding to the emotions of others. Imagine a leader without EI – cold, disrespectful, rigid, unforgiving, and unpredictable. Who would want to work for or live with that person?

EI has been criticized because people fell into the “either/or” trap, which questioned whether EI or IQ was the key to success. Too many people have discussed these constructs as though they are mutually exclusive. From a practical perspective, the recipe for success includes significant amounts of both ingredients. In fact, EI better enables people to take advantage of their IQ. Imagine an individual with high levels of both—intelligent, optimistic, flexible, respectful and caring. Who would not want to work for or live with a person like that?

One of the greatest aspects of EI is that it can be learned. Your employees who want to improve their EI skills can do so, and you can help. Here are some ways to improve emotional intelligence in your organization:

  1. Incorporate EI into your hiring processes. The first step to implement emotional intelligence in your organization is to develop interview questions designed to assess self-awareness, interpersonal skills, stress management, adaptability, optimism and level of happiness. This is important because it is better and cheaper to be proactive on the front end than reactive once an individual with attitude problems is hired. These questions will also help you to set appropriate behavioral expectations for any aspiring candidate. Some examples include:
      • What has been your most stressful work experience? How did you manage your stress?
      • Tell me about a time when your ability to empathize with customer or co-worker enabled you to solve a challenging problem.
  2. Assess the emotional intelligence of your leaders, and future leaders. Since everybody is different with a unique set of challenges, an assessment would be ideal to pinpoint specific areas of opportunity for leaders and aspiring leaders.
  3. Ensure your performance appraisals consider how the job gets done. Reinforce to employees, especially leaders, the importance of interacting with others effectively. Help them to understand how to maximize their contributions without minimizing the contributions of others. This can be accomplished through ensuring a significant weight is attributed to items like communication, teamwork and flexibility.
  4. Make emotional intelligence a cornerstone of your succession planning process. Along with the standard technical and educational requirements, document the “soft” criteria necessary for effective performance in each key position in your organization. You can accomplish this through asking job incumbents what it takes to be effective in their jobs; the skills not included on the job descriptions.

You no longer have to ignore behavioral issues in your organization for fear of losing highly skilled employees. Infusing all levels of your organization with emotional intelligence will dramatically increase the likelihood of having a great combination—people who do the right things, while doing things right.

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