Friday, February 27, 2009

Breaking the Rules

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As part of our series of articles by exceptional HR professionals, today we present another article by our regular guest author, George Krafcisin.

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Working with people is frustrating - they don’t follow neat, logical rules. If you’re an analytical type, comfortable with flow charts and equations, but have to manage or work with people, you have to learn as much as you can about behavior and then make your best guess as to what to do. It would be nice to have an idea of what people factors most affect productivity and profit.

That’s why I was pleased to run across some usable data from the Gallup Organization – the pollsters.  Their book First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, gives statistically rigorous data correlating how people feel about their workplace and the profit performance of the companies they work for. The study found that worker’s positive answers to six questions were strongly statistically correlated with productivity, profitability, employee retention and customer satisfaction. The six questions are:
  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
  5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Some of these seem obvious – if you don’t know what’s expected of you, how can you perform well? – but believe me, they can get lost in the fog of everyday struggles to meet schedules. And of course, it’s obvious that people need to feel cared about.  But are you doing your best to get Yes! answers to the six questions? Is your boss doing the same for you?

The book has a lot more information, including six more questions less strongly correlated with good performance, and some opinions on how to make the most of the information. I highly recommend it.

About Our Guest Author:

George Krafcisin is the President, coach and trainer of Mosaic Management, Inc. He writes regular installments on the topics of leadership and management here on HR-Worldview. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How do you conduct 360 Feedback Follow-up? (Part 2 of 2)

As we pointed out earlier, a 360 Degree Feedback project that lacks a consistent and structured follow-up is going to lack any real and meaningful value not only for the employees who participate in it but for the company as a whole. In short, failure to properly follow-up on a 360 Degree Feedback project results in lost opportunity and wasted money.

So, as promised, we're going to point out a few steps that absolutely must be taken as a follow through or follow-up to a 360 Degree Feedback project.

Step 1) Every focus person must sit down with his or her manager to discuss the outcome of the project. During this discussion, the focus person and his or her manager need to come to agreement on a number of areas that that need to be improved upon. These areas should be easily identifiable if the 360 report is any good.

Step 2) The focus person and his or her manager must work out a "to-do-list". This should be a list of things the focus person can start to concentrate on on a daily basis that will result in improvement in those broader areas worked out in Step 1. This is the step that is almost always ignored which results in negligible improvement for the focus person.

Step 3) The employer need to work out a system to help each focus person track his or her completion of the "to-do-list". If you are a manager, this could mean routinely e-mailing the focus person to let them know that you have noticed that the focus person has been doing a great job on some items of their to-do-list and a poor job on others. Or, the employer could use a tool like HR-Meter's advanced "performance tracker system" which allows a focus person's rater group to continue to comment on his or her progress between 360 Degree Feedback projects. Step 3 keeps each focus person engaged and on top of their own improvement between 360's. This allows you to spread out the time between 360 Degree Feedback projects, save money and improve efficiency.

Step 4) Knowing that between 360 Degree Feedback projects steps have been taken to capitalize on the information gathered in the previous project, each subsequent 360 Degree Feedback project should be adapted to reflect each stage in the company's performance evolution. You should not be doing identical 360's time and time again.

If you implement these 4 simple steps after your next 360 Degree Feedback project, you will have added considerable value and meaning to your project and will have saved yourself and your company time and money.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How do you conduct 360 Feedback Follow-up? (Part 1 of 2)

A big question that companies need to ask themselves after "completing" a 360 Degree Feedback project is "what should we do with the results?". Far too often what ends up happening is that each employee gets a copy of a virtually illegible 30 or 40 page report and is told to look it over. Of course, that report finds itself in the waste bin while its clone is filed away to be compared with the report generated by the next 360.

A process like this leaves employees feeling like the 360 Degree Feedback project was A) just a formality and B) a waste of time. Either no emphasis is put on improvement or (if on the off chance that desire for improvement IS communicated at all) no methods, approaches, goals, etc are laid down upon which the employee is to improve. 

"It's just something that we do once a year."

This is a waste of time and a waste of money and if this is the way your company is conducting 360 Degree feedback or multi-rater feedback projects, you might as well stop doing them all together.

Does the above sound familiar to you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Event Invitation - 360 Degree Feedback

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On February 20th, we will be hosting a live web-event where you will learn how to cut your annual performance review, 360 Degree Feedback and coaching costs by more than 50%. Christina Dietzsch-Kley, President and CEO of HR-Meter LLC will take you through the "do's and don'ts" of modern employee evaluations and unveil an exciting new, real-time, alternative to the norm.

This should be a highly informative webinar for anyone who has been considering implementing some kind of multi-rater feedback project as well as those who currently use 360 Degree Feedback projects on a regular basis.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Workplace Confessions

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As part of our series of articles by exceptional HR professionals, today we present an article by guest author, George Krafcisin.

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Leaders become more effective when they appear to be in control*.  But success or failure for an organization is often beyond the leader’s control. It’s easy for management to blame bad performance on commodity prices, the weather, or stubborn customers who inexplicably refuse to buy the company’s inferior products.

One research study tracked the share price performance for two situations. The first group studied was companies where performance problems were explained by management as due to internal problems that they planned to fix – in other words, they accepted the blame. The other group consisted of companies where management blamed performance problems on external, uncontrollable factors. The surprising result: the first group, where management accepted the blame, had consistently higher share price performance in the next year. It appears that honestly accepting blame is good policy for leaders.

But there’s more to accepting blame than just saying, “I’m sorry.” I looked to my own extensive list of personal management mistakes and recalled a small example from my corporate officer past.  A fellow manager took me aside one day and said, “You might want to talk to John. He’s a bit upset because you’re overdue on his evaluation and raise, and he’s afraid to confront you about it.” (Hmmm . . . sounds like at least two mistakes on my part!)

I checked my files, and sure enough, I had forgotten the evaluation, maybe because I was consumed with other “important” matters, maybe because I hated doing evaluations. Whatever the reason, it was definitely my fault.

I did talk with John, and for a change, I did a smart thing: I admitted my error, and I didn’t try to minimize or dismiss it. I assured him it was a case of sloppy management on my part, and not related to his performance or what I thought of him. Then I immediately moved to correct the mistake, abasing myself before my boss and the HR bureaucracy to get John a retroactive raise. Then I told John and my boss I was setting up a tickler file system with evaluation due dates for the whole staff so I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.

I’ve used that lesson a number of times in my career, accepting blame when it would have been very easy to dump it on someone else. I believe doing that consistently established some personal credibility. People knew that when I said something happened because of some outside factor, I was telling the truth, because they had heard me accept blame when it really was my fault.

So when you have to explain why things went wrong, think hard about what part of the problem was your fault.  Then do more than say, “I’m sorry.” Go on to tell what you’re going to do to correct the current problem, and what you’re going to do to prevent it from happening again. Then do it. It will pay off in the long run, even if it hurts short term. 

*“‘The Half-Truths of Leadership” by Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, Harvard Business School Working Knowledge ( This article is no longer on the site but I can make an electronic copy available. 

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About our guest Author:
George Krafcisin is the President, coach and trainer of Mosaic Management, Inc. Mr. Krafcisin has over thirty years of experience as an executive and manager, which he applies to his coaching and training services.  He holds degrees from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and has held a number of positions in teaching and training.  He is the author of a text on quality management and many articles on technical and management topics. He currently offers coaching for business executives, strategic planning and leadership training for businesses.