Turn mistakes into profits

When working on large projects or implementing new ideas, mistakes will happen.  It’s how we handle them that will move the process forward, or have everyone CYA their work for fear of retribution by the team leader, or boss.

 1)     Plan on mistakes happening. It’s how you handle them that will make the difference for the current and future success of the project, and your continued growth as a leader.  Praise publicly; counsel privately.

2)     View your people as experts and able to work out differences; it’s not your job to fix any personality quirks.  Resist micromanagement; yet, be willing and able to step in when it’s critical (this should be a rare occurrence).

3)     Stay focused on the goals while managing the milestones.  Remember, the failure of a project normally occurs when the team did not create true goals, weak milestones were established, busy work is deemed a result, and details are overlooked or not considered important.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Performance Evaluation Reminders Worth Repeating

In order for a company to succeed as a whole, its managers need to help their individual employees succeed by effectively managing their performance. All managers can benefit from these reminders.

Managers’ Attitude Matters

“The attitude of managers is critical,” said Jeannette Seibly, Human Perfor­mance Coach and Consultant, SeibCo, LLC (Highlands Ranch, CO). “Managers must have a mindset for the employee to win.”

The goal is to evaluate the employee’s performance, not attack their character; to build the employee up, not tear them down. This shouldn’t be a “gotcha” kind of meeting, said Seibly. Nothing in the assessment should come as a surprise to employees.

Seibly also noted that too many managers go into evaluations frustrated because they do not know what needs to be done to fix a performance deficiency. This “frustration will come across more than anything else” during the evalu­ation, she warned. She suggested that the manager should “ask a boss or ask a mentor” for guidance.

Communication Skills Are Key

Whether having an informal performance coaching conversation or conduct­ing a formal annual performance appraisal (PA), managers should be reminded of these best communication practices.

Be specific. Sweeping generalizations can too easily be misinterpreted or misunderstood. Employees need to know exactly what they must stop doing or what they should continue to do.

Support the assessment with evidence. Evidence doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible (e.g., a letter of praise from a customer); the manager’s visual observation of an example of stellar or substandard performance can suffice.

Written PAs should include narrative comments to support ratings/rankings. Copying comments from the employee’s previous reviews or only changing a few words here and there isn’t acceptable.

Set goals. Focus on improving or sustaining performance in the future, rather than dwelling on past mistakes. Negative feedback should include steps for improvement.

Take protected class and protected leave out of the picture. Watch for signs of illegal discrimination. For example, age shouldn’t be noted as the reason for an employee’s inability to learn new technology, just as leave taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act shouldn’t be used as evidence of an attendance problem.

Talk with employees, not at them. Some managers try to come across as more authoritative than necessary in order to be taken seriously. More times than not, however, this will backfire and put employees on the defensive. Use the following approach.

Do use a collaborative tone. Instead of telling the employee they should do this and they should do that, ask for their input on how to improve or maintain performance. You want “a two-way conversation,” said Seibly.

Employees should be allowed to explain their actions and question the assessment, within reason. It’s good to know what’s on the employee’s mind; if the employee’s thinking is flawed or the manager has misunderstood, this is the time to clear the air.

Don’t sweep any awkwardness under the rug. For example, a recently promoted manager may have difficulty criticizing a friend and former peer. The manager should acknowledge this awkwardness and stress that the meeting is professional and not personal.

Do use the sandwich approach. Seibly recommends saying two positive things, followed by two changes the employee needs to make (make them doable!), and then end by making two more positive points. This approach is “so much more positive and powerful than anything else you can do,” said Seibly, who cautioned against listing more than two changes at once for fear of overwhelming the employee.

Don’t apologize for negative feedback because doing so gives the impression that the assessment is inaccurate.

Reprinted with permission from Personnel Legal Alert, © Alexander Hamilton Institute, Inc., 70 Hilltop Road, Ramsey, NJ 07446.  For more information, please call 800-879-2441 or visit www.legalworkplace.com.

Rewire your reactions to your boss

Bosses are human too, or so they (like us) often forget. Many employees have good, or at least tolerable bosses that listen to employee ideas.  It’s particularly difficult to get your ideas and points across when you have a bad boss.  If you have this challenge, consider whether it could be your attitude or behavior that’s the cause:

1)     Before a conversation with your boss, practice in front of a mirror; pay particular attention to your facial expressions.  Tape record what you wish to say, and listen to the words you choose. Some words can cause an emotional reaction before your idea is fully presented.

2)     Listen to learn.  Most people are reactionary.  Someone says “x” and we’re off talking about “y” before the person has had a chance to complete their first sentence.  Listen carefully to what they have to say.  Pause and count to three before responding, after they’ve completed talking.

3)     Stick to the facts. We can become emotionally charged on certain issues.  Before your meeting or presentation to your boss, research the facts, so that you have objective points.  Be able to provide possible solutions and be open to considering new options you hadn’t considered.

(c)Jeannette Seibly 2010

Has it been a while since you’ve hired?

The economy is improving, and your need to hire people that fit your job will increase.  Traditional methods of hiring do not work, and have become costly in more ways than you can calculate.  Now is the time to improve your hiring system, before you need to hire.

1)     Get real about the cost of turnover.  Calculate it!  Write it down!  This information will be critical in determining what you need to do.

2)     Use valid pre-hire assessments that meet legal requirements.  This includes core value assessments (interviewers will catch a lie only about 14% of the time) and job fit assessments, to assess thinking style, core behaviors and occupational motivation/interests.

3)     Train your interviewers.  We all have unconscious biases that we bring to the interview process.  Successful job seekers know how to conform to those (the chameleon effect).  Structure the interview format, and use questions obtained from the assessments to get the right person for the right job.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Build Loyalty, Not Followers

Recently, I talked with a business owner who simply wanted people to show up and do their work.  “I know what needs to be done; they simply need to do what I tell them to do.”  While this type of mindset worked decades ago, it will never creates the loyalty (or level of performance) you wish to build.

1)     They may have the answers. Put aside your automatic judgment that it can’t work and create five reasons why it could work.

2)     Listen to both sides.  When you authentically brainstorm new ideas, processes and procedures, you will come up with out-of-the-box solutions to age-old problems.

3)     Open your mind to new possibilities.  The way it has always been done will not work today.  What can you add gradually, or fade out? Or, what needs a major overhaul.  Start doing it now.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Solutions for Your Most Important People Problems

We have a simple mission:  We increase your profits.

We help businesses increase their profits, by reducing their people costs. Our clients hire better, fire less, manage better, and retain and develop top performers.

We offer tools and systems that improve:

  • Selection of honest, hard-working employees, who show up for work, avoid substance abuse, are less often absent or tardy, and perform!
  • Performance of sales people and other employees.
  • Retention—Keep your good people.
  • Placement—Ensure that each candidate/employee is in the right job.
  • Promotion—Avoid “promotion failure” due to the Peter principle.
  • Coaching—Get the most out of your people resources.
  • Career development—Give them a reason to want to stay with you.
  • Motivation—Do you know what “makes them tick”?
  • Teams—Function and balance. Where is your “operator’s manual”?
  • Customer service—Is there anything more important?
  • Management—People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. Fix this.
  • Recruiting—Maximize your candidate pool, manage it efficiently.
  • Performance Management –Turn this into something productive!

Our tools are scientifically designed and validated. We customize the measures to reflect the needs and values of jobs in your company.  Each assessment has been tested to ensure compliance with EEOC and Department of Labor standards; use of our tools may provide a positive defense against claims of discrimination.

Brief Overview of Selected Tools 

iApplicantsTM Online Recruiting and Hiring System

Developed entirely from input provided by companies like yours, iApplicantsTM is a complete, affordable, efficient, intuitive, and easy to learn applicant tracking and management system. Automatically post your jobs to a wide selection of free internet job boards, track your applicants in ways that make sense for you, e-mail selected candidates from within the system. Ask job-specific screening questions to quickly weed out those who don’t meet minimum requirements, and use any of our assessment tools automatically as part of the application; it’s all here. Designed for companies with 20 to 2,000 employees, it includes powerful reporting functions (including tracking EEO information in the background), application and resume search functions, and much more. No setup charges, no long-term contracts, and you can be an expert in less than an hour.

Step One Survey II®

This is a pre-employment screening assessment, designed to increase your probability of only hiring people likely to become “good employees” in the general sense. It measures your candidate’s attitudes toward 4 critical components of workplace behavior: Integrity, Substance Abuse, Reliability, and Work Ethic. Results show how your candidate compares with the general US working population. Consistently applied in a wide variety of work environments, the SOS has demonstrated dramatic effects of reducing turnover, absenteeism, tardiness, on-job injuries, vehicular accidents, and jobsite theft. It is designed to be completed by your candidates pre-interview, and provides a structured interview guide to enrich the information usually available before an employment decision is made. The measure is available in English and Spanish, and is easily completed over any internet connection, or in booklet form. Scoring and reporting is nearly instantaneous.

ProfileXT®

The ProfileXT answers “the astronaut’s question”—Does this candidate have the “right stuff” for your job?  A “total person” assessment with a myriad of uses, the ProfileXT is used for selection, coaching, training, promotion, managing, succession planning and job description development. Using 20 different scales, it measures the job-related qualities that make a person productive – Thinking and Reasoning Styles(5 scales), Behavioral Traits (9 scales) and Occupational Interests. (6 scales). A separate Distortion scale provides a measure of the quality of information in the assessment. Proper use of the ProfileXT will help you put top performers in each job, maximize their performance, and keep them with you longer.

Profiles Sales Assessment™

Combining the power of the ProfileXT with a set of 7 Critical Sales Behaviors, this assessment predicts and supports job-specific sales success. Used in sales selection and in sales management, this powerful tool will help you hire or promote top performers, place them in jobs where they can perform at top levels, motivate and manage them to produce even more, and keep them longer—because they fit their job.

Customer Service Profile™

Worldwide, up to two-thirds of all customers leave due to poor customer service. When you hire employees using our Customer Service Profile, you populate your organization with people who will increase customer satisfaction, reduce complaints, build customer loyalty, increase sales and make significant gains in profitability. This tool assesses the attitudes and customer service characteristics of existing employees and new job candidates. It gives you the critical information you need to hire people with good customer service skills, improve customer service training, and increase overall customer satisfaction.

Management Development Program

This is a combination of tools, applied in a systematic annual cycle to:

  • First, measure each participant’s competencies in 8 major areas and 18 subcategories critical to management performance. (Checkpoint 360 Assessment)
  • Second, improve competency level in the areas identified as most critical for each participant’s job, and offering the greatest opportunity for significant gains. (SkillBuilder Units.)

Unlike most management assessment programs, ours not only identifies skill sets where each manager (according to themselves, their supervisor, their peers, and their direct reports) needs improvement, it provides a system to directly and efficiently improve those skills. Training is individual, self-paced, practical, and essentially provides on the job training in the specific skills needed, providing lasting change in manager behavior.

All of these tools can be used separately, or in powerful combinations based on your goals and needs. With the exception of the Step One Survey II (restricted to use pre-employment), all can be used with either job candidates, or with your existing employees. Let us help you increase your profits by reducing your people costs! We provide solutions for your most important people challenges.

(C) Jeannette L. Seibly, 2008