Twelve Tips for Team Building: How to Build Successful Work Teams Assignment

Twelve Tips for Team Building: How to Build Successful Work Teams Assignment Words: 7275

Twelve Tips for Team Building: How to Build Successful Work Teams (How to Make Teams Effective) People in every workplace talk about building the team, working as a team, and my team, but few understand how to create the experience of team work or how to develop an effective team. Belonging to a team, in the broadest sense, is a result of feeling part of something larger than yourself. It has a lot to do with your understanding of the mission or objectives of your organization. In a team-oriented environment, you contribute to the overall success of the organization.

You work with fellow members of the organization to produce these results. Even though you have a specific job function and you belong to a specific department, you are unified with other organization members to accomplish the overall objectives. The bigger picture drives your actions; your function exists to serve the bigger picture. You need to differentiate this overall sense of teamwork from the task of developing an effective intact team that is formed to accomplish a specific goal. People confuse the two team building objectives.

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This is why so many team building seminars, meetings, retreats and activities are deemed failures by their participants. Leaders failed to define the team they wanted to build. Developing an overall sense of team work is different from building an effective, focused work team when you consider team building approaches. Twelve Cs for Team Building Executives, managers and organization staff members universally explore ways to improve business results and profitability. Many view team-based, horizontal, organization structures as the best design for involving all employees in creating business success.

No matter what you call your team-based improvement effort: continuous improvement, total quality, lean manufacturing or self-directed work teams, you are striving to improve results for customers. Few organizations, however, are totally pleased with the results their team improvement efforts produce. If your team improvement efforts are not living up to your expectations, this self-diagnosing checklist may tell you why. Successful team building, that creates effective, focused work teams, requires attention to each of the following. Clear Expectations: Has executive leadership clearly communicated its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes? Do team members understand why the team was created? Is the organization demonstrating constancy of purpose in supporting the team with resources of people, time and money? Does the work of the team receive sufficient emphasis as a priority in terms of the time, discussion, attention and interest directed its way by executive leaders? Read more about Clear Performance Expectations. * Context: Do team members understand why they are participating on the team?

Do they understand how the strategy of using teams will help the organization attain its communicated business goals? Can team members define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of corporate goals? Does the team understand where its work fits in the total context of the organization’s goals, principles, vision and values? Read more about Team Culture and Context. * Commitment: Do team members want to participate on the team? Do team members feel the team mission is important? Are members committed to accomplishing the team mission and expected outcomes?

Do team members perceive their service as valuable to the organization and to their own careers? Do team members anticipate recognition for their contributions? Do team members expect their skills to grow and develop on the team? Are team members excited and challenged by the team opportunity? Read more about Commitment in Team Building. * Competence: Does the team feel that it has the appropriate people participating? (As an example, in a process improvement, is each step of the process represented on the team? ) Does the team feel that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which the team was formed?

If not, does the team have access to the help it needs? Does the team feel it has the resources, strategies and support needed to accomplish its mission? * Charter: Has the team taken its assigned area of responsibility and designed its own mission, vision and strategies to accomplish the mission. Has the team defined and communicated its goals; its anticipated outcomes and contributions; its timelines; and how it will measure both the outcomes of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task? Does the leadership team or other coordinating group support what the team has designed? Control: Does the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish its charter? At the same time, do team members clearly understand their boundaries? How far may members go in pursuit of solutions? Are limitations (i. e. monetary and time resources) defined at the beginning of the project before the team experiences barriers and rework? Is the team’s reporting relationship and accountability understood by all members of the organization? Has the organization defined the team’s authority? To make recommendations? To implement its plan?

Is there a defined review process so both the team and the organization are consistently aligned in direction and purpose? Do team members hold each other accountable for project timelines, commitments and results? Does the organization have a plan to increase opportunities for self-management among organization members? * Collaboration: Does the team understand team and group process? Do members understand the stages of group development? Are team members working together effectively interpersonally? Do all team members understand the roles and responsibilities of team members? eam leaders? team recorders? Can the team approach problem solving, process improvement, goal setting and measurement jointly? Do team members cooperate to accomplish the team charter? Has the team established group norms or rules of conduct in areas such as conflict resolution, consensus decision making and meeting management? Is the team using an appropriate strategy to accomplish its action plan? * Communication: Are team members clear about the priority of their tasks? Is there an established method for the teams to give feedback and receive honest performance feedback?

Does the organization provide important business information regularly? Do the teams understand the complete context for their existence? Do team members communicate clearly and honestly with each other? Do team members bring diverse opinions to the table? Are necessary conflicts raised and addressed? * Creative Innovation: Is the organization really interested in change? Does it value creative thinking, unique solutions, and new ideas? Does it reward people who take reasonable risks to make improvements? Or does it reward the people who fit in and maintain the status quo?

Does it provide the training, education, access to books and films, and field trips necessary to stimulate new thinking? * Consequences: Do team members feel responsible and accountable for team achievements? Are rewards and recognition supplied when teams are successful? Is reasonable risk respected and encouraged in the organization? Do team members fear reprisal? Do team members spend their time finger pointing rather than resolving problems? Is the organization designing reward systems that recognize both team and individual performance?

Is the organization planning to share gains and increased profitability with team and individual contributors? Can contributors see their impact on increased organization success? * Coordination: Are teams coordinated by a central leadership team that assists the groups to obtain what they need for success? Have priorities and resource allocation been planned across departments? Do teams understand the concept of the internal customer—the next process, anyone to whom they provide a product or a service? Are cross-functional and multi-department teams common and working together effectively?

Is the organization developing a customer-focused process-focused orientation and moving away from traditional departmental thinking? * Cultural Change: Does the organization recognize that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organizational culture of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organization it may currently be? Is the organization planning to or in the process of changing how it rewards, recognizes, appraises, hires, develops, plans with, motivates and manages the people it employs? Does the organization plan to use failures for learning and support reasonable risk?

Does the organization recognize that the more it can change its climate to support teams, the more it will receive in pay back from the work of the teams? Read more about culture change. Spend time and attention on each of these twelve tips to ensure your work teams contribute most effectively to your business success. Your team members will love you, your business will soar, and empowered people will “own” and be responsible for their work processes. Can your work life get any better than this? The Path to Team Building Success How to create effective teams, team work, and team building is a challenge in every organization.

Work environments tend to foster rugged individuals working on personal goals for personal gain. Typically, reward, recognition, and pay systems single out the achievements of individual employees. Appraisal, performance management, and goal setting systems most frequently focus on individual goals and progress, not on team building. Promotions and additional authority are also bestowed on individuals. Given these factors, is it any wonder that teams and team work are an uphill battle in most organizations? Here is the information you need to develop team work and effective work teams in your organization.

Use this information for team building. Teams Employee involvement, teams, and employee empowerment enable people to make decisions about their work. This employee involvement, team building approach, and employee empowerment increases loyalty and fosters ownership. These resources tell you how to do team building and effectively involve people. Employee Empowerment: How to Empower Employees Employee empowerment is a strategy and philosophy that enables employees to make decisions about their jobs. Employee empowerment helps employees own their work and take responsibility for their results.

Employee empowerment helps employees serve customers at the level of the organization where the customer interface exists. Employee Involvement: Involve Employees in Decision Making Employee involvement is creating an environment in which people have an impact on decisions and actions that affect their jobs. Employee involvement is not the goal nor is it a tool, as practiced in many organizations. Employee involvement is a management and leadership philosophy about how people are enabled to contribute to continuous improvement and the ongoing success of their organization.

Team Building Creates Successful Teams People in every workplace talk about team building, working as a team, and my team, but few understand how to create the experience of team building or how to develop an effective team. Many view teams as the best organization design for involving all employees in creating business success and profitability. Learn how team building helps enable the success of work teams and team work. Teams and Team Building Resources Find recommended reading to help you create effective work teams, successful team work, and team building ideas and activities.

Meeting Management for Team Meetings Ineffective team meetings use critical resources, sap organizational energy and movement, and affect employee morale. Find out how to make your team meetings work for you. Team Energizers, Icebreakers, and Team Building Activities Icebreakers, energizers, and activities heighten the effectiveness of training and team building sessions when targeted to the training, speaking, or facilitation topic and the needs of the learners or participants. Team Building Holidays Find ideas for successful teams, effective team work, and team building aroud holiday ideas and themes.

Positive Work Relationships Contribute to Effective Teams Want to work more effectively with people at work? Whether your relationship is with your team, supervisor, manager, customer or coworker, you want to make your interpersonal relationships positive, supportive, clear, and empowering. I trust these resources will help you create successful and effective teams and team work. Happy team building. Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity Managing and Solving Workplace Negativity By Susan M. Heathfield Nothing affects employee morale more insidiously than persistent workplace negativity.

It saps the energy of your organization and diverts critical attention from work and performance. Negativity occurs in the attitude, outlook, and talk of one department member, or in a crescendo of voices responding to a workplace decision or event. Learn About Workplace Negativity As a manager or human resources professional, you are closely in touch with employees throughout the company. This allows you to keep your fingers on the pulse of the organization to sense workplace negativity. It enables you to establish and heed early warning signals that all is not well.

You receive employee complaints, do exit interviews with employees who leave, and know the reputation of your organization in your community. You watch the discussions on employee Intranets, manage the appraisal and 360-degree feedback process, and coach managers in appropriate staff treatment. This information will help you learn to identify the symptoms of negativity before its morale-busting consequences damage your workplace. It will also assist you in preventing and curing workplace negativity. Diagnose Workplace Negativity Negativity is an increasing problem in the workplace, according to Gary S.

Topchik, the author of Managing Workplace Negativity. He states, in a Management Review article, that negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control, or community. Knowing what people are negative about is the first step in solving the problem. In my experience, when rumblings and negativity are beginning in your organization, talking with employees will help you understand the exact problems and the degree to which the problems are impacting your workplace. You will want to identify the exact employee groups who are experiencing the negativity, and the nature of the issues hat sparked their unhappiness. Perhaps the organization made a decision that adversely affected staff. Perhaps the executive manager held a staff meeting and was perceived to threaten or ignore people asking legitimate questions. Maybe staff members feel insecure because concern exists over losing a product line. Perhaps underground rumors are circulating about an impending layoff. People may feel that they give the organization more than they receive in return. They may feel that a coworker was mistreated or denied a deserved promotion. Whatever the cause of the workplace negativity, you must address the issues.

Or like a seemingly dormant volcano, they will boil beneath the surface, and periodically bubble up and overflow to cause fresh damage. Seven Tips to Minimize Workplace Negativity The best way to combat workplace negativity is to keep it from occurring in the first place. These seven tips will help you minimize workplace negativity. * Provide opportunities for people to make decisions about and control and/or influence their own job. The single most frequent cause of workplace negativity I encounter is traceable to a manager or the organization making a decision about a person’s work without her input.

Almost any decision that excludes the input of the person doing the work is perceived as negative. * Make opportunities available for people to express their opinion about workplace policies and procedures. Recognize the impact of changes in such areas as work hours, pay, benefits, assignment of overtime hours, comp pay, dress codes, office location, job requirements, and working conditions. These factors are closest to the mind, heart and physical presence of each individual. Changes to these can cause serious negative responses.

Provide timely, proactive responses to questions and concerns. * Treat people as adults with fairness and consistency. Develop and publicize workplace policies and procedures that organize work effectively. Apply them consistently. As an example, each employee has the opportunity to apply for leave time. In granting his request, apply the same factors to his application as you would to any other individual’s. * Do not create “rules” for all employees, when just a few people are violating the norms. You want to minimize the number of rules directing the behavior of adult people at work.

Treat people as adults; they will usually live up to your expectations, and their own expectations. * Help people feel like members of the in-crowd; each person wants to have the same information as quickly as everyone else. Provide the context for decisions, and communicate effectively and constantly. If several avenues or directions are under consideration, communicate all that you know, as soon as you know it. Reserve the right to change your mind later, without consequence, when additional factors affect the direction of ultimate decisions. * Afford people the opportunity to grow and develop.

Training, perceived opportunities for promotions, lateral moves for development, and cross-training are visible signs of an organization’s commitment to staff. * Provide appropriate leadership and a strategic framework, including mission, vision, values, and goals. People want to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves. If they understand the direction, and their part in making the desired outcomes happen, they can effectively contribute more. * Provide appropriate rewards and recognition so people feel their contribution is valued.

The power of appropriate rewards and recognition for a positive workplace is remarkable. Suffice to say, reward and recognition is one of the most powerful tools an organization can use to buoy staff morale. Take some time to analyze how well your organization is applying these seven recommendations. They form the foundation for positive staff morale and minimized negativity in your workplace. Performance Appraisals Don’t Work The Traditional Performance Appraisal Process Second only to firing an employee, managers cite performance appraisal as the task they dislike the most. This is understandable given that the process of erformance appraisal, as traditionally practiced, is fundamentally flawed. It is incongruent with the values-based, vision-driven, mission-oriented, participative work environments favored by forward thinking organizations today. It smacks of an old fashioned, paternalistic, top down, autocratic mode of management which treats employees as possessions of the company. The Traditional Performance Appraisal Process In the conventional performance appraisal or review process, the manager annually writes his opinions of the performance of a reporting staff member on a document supplied by the HR department.

In some organizations, the staff member is asked to fill out a self-review to share with the supervisor. Most of the time, the appraisal reflects what the manager can remember; this is usually the most recent events. Almost always, the appraisal is based on opinions as real performance measurement takes time and follow-up to do well. The documents in use in many organizations also ask the supervisor to make judgments based on concepts and words such as excellent performance (what’s that? ), exhibits enthusiasm (hmmm, laughs a lot? ) and achievement oriented (likes to score? ).

Many managers are uncomfortable in the role of judge, so uncomfortable, in fact, that performance appraisals are often months overdue. The HR professional, who manages the appraisal system, finds his most important roles are to develop the form and maintain an employee official file, notify supervisors of due dates, and then nag, nag, nag when the review is long overdue. Despite the fact that annual raises are often tied to the performance evaluation, managers avoid doing them as long as possible. This results in an unmotivated employee who feels his manager doesn’t care about him enough to facilitate his annual raise.

Employee Performance Appraisal is Painful and It Doesn’t Work Why is this established process so painful for all participants? The manager is uncomfortable in the judgment seat. He knows he may have to justify his opinions with specific examples when the staff member asks. He lacks skill in providing feedback and often provokes a defensive response from the employee, who may justifiably feel he is under attack. Consequently, managers avoid giving honest feedback which defeats the purpose of the performance appraisal. In turn, the staff member whose performance is under review often becomes defensive.

Whenever his performance is rated as less than the best, or less than the level at which he personally perceives his contribution, the manager is viewed as punitive. Disagreement about contribution and performance ratings can create a conflict ridden situation that festers for months. Most managers avoid conflict that will undermine work place harmony. In today’s team-oriented work environment, it is also difficult to ask people who work as colleagues, and sometimes even friends, to take on the role of judge and defendant.

Further compromising the situation, with salary increases frequently tied to the numerical rating or ranking, the manager knows he is limiting the staff member’s increase if he rates his performance less than “outstanding”. No wonder managers waffle, and in one organization with whom I worked, ninety-six percent of all employees were rated “one”. Eliminate Performance Appraisals as You’ve Known Them Am I completely against performance appraisals? Yes, if the approach taken is the traditional one I have described in this article.

It is harmful to performance development; damages work place trust, undermines harmony and fails to encourage personal best performance. Furthermore, it underutilizes the talents of HR professionals and managers and forever limits their ability to contribute to true performance improvement within your organization. A performance management system, which I would propose to replace the old approach, is a completely different discussion. And, I don’t mean renaming performance appraisal as “performance management” because the words are currently in vogue.

Performance management starts with how a position is defined and ends when you have determined why an excellent employee left your organization for another opportunity. Within such a system, feedback to each staff member occurs regularly. Individual performance objectives are measurable and based on prioritized goals that support the accomplishment of the overall goals of the total organization. The vibrancy and performance of your organization is ensured because you focus on developmental plans and opportunities for each staff member. Performance Feedback In a performance management system, feedback remains integral to successful practice.

The feedback, however, is a discussion. Both the staff person and his manager have an equivalent opportunity to bring information to the dialogue. Feedback is often obtained from peers, direct reporting staff, and customers to enhance mutual understanding of an individual’s contribution and developmental needs. (This is commonly known as 360 degree feedback. ) The developmental plan establishes the organization’s commitment to help each person continue to expand his knowledge and skills. This is the foundation upon which a continuously improving organization builds.

The HR Challenge Leading the adoption and implementation of a performance management system is a wonderful opportunity for the HR professional. It challenges your creativity, improves your ability to influence, allows you to foster real change in your organization, and it sure beats the heck out of “nag, nag, nag”. Five Recommendations for Employee Satisfaction Surveys Two More Ways to Obtain Trustworthy Results By Susan M. Heathfield Employee satisfaction surveys and facilitated focus groups help the employer identify areas of employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

For accurate, reliable results, employee satisfaction surveys or focus group questions need to be: * developed by professionals who understand how to put questions together that obtain unbiased information; * administered appropriately with care and consideration for the organization’s culture and communication; and * analyzed by people who understand survey research and can provide effective analysis. Further, in the interest of building a relationship of honesty, integrity, and trust, among organization employees, the results should be communicated effectively and acted upon by the organization.

Finally, the organization’s managers need to track progress and communicate implementation successes and failures. This article does not attempt to provide a comprehensive guide to performing employee satisfaction surveys and leading employee focus groups. It does pinpoint five practices to embrace when conducting employee surveys and focus groups. Communicate the Fact That While Employee Responses Are Confidential, the Data Gathered Will be Used to Improve the Workplace I have mixed emotions about confidential or secret surveys.

On the one hand, I want the employees comfortable responding in a truthful manner. On the other, the reason employers do employee satisfaction or customer satisfaction surveys is to telegraph their openness to employee input. The second is to genuinely understand what is on their employees’ minds. While I recognize that some employers have differing motivations, companies that are employee-oriented, are unlikely to use the information gathered negatively. If you start with an open process, employees will learn that their employer can be trusted to use the information in their best interests.

As an external consultant, I always explain to employees that my purpose in talking with them is to share information for the common good. Consequently, my promise about confidentiality is that I will use the information to assist the company to make positive progress. The Questions Asked Really Do Matter No one is as familiar with your company culture as the people who work in the company every day. A small group of employees should determine the topics of the questions to ask. These questions will relate to the perceived likes, dislikes, and challenges your employees might experience in your organization.

Once you’ve determined the topics of the questions to ask, develop questions. Your questions should be evaluated to make sure they are not leading to a desired response, vague, or open to interpretation, depending on the employee reading the question. Leading questions or statements are a problem when unqualified individuals develop the survey questions. An example of a leading statement that will also receive a biased answer is: My manager’s door is always open to me. An example of an unclear statement is: My career development and job satisfaction are improved by the performance development planning (PDP) process.

Some professional survey firms have developed databases of questions that have been determined to be effective through years of employee or customer satisfaction surveys in different organizations. You might tap into this service even if you don’t want to employ an external company to administer your survey or lead your focus groups. Hold Employee Focus Groups or Survey Processes at Your Work Site If you take employee groups offsite to participate in surveys and focus groups, you are sending a clear message that it is not “safe” to talk about employee satisfaction in the company.

This is exactly the opposite of the message that you really want to send. Your message? It is safe to share what you think. The company cares about what you think and the employer is providing the space and privacy necessary for your participation. Never Lose Control of Your Data While you don’t want to know that Mary made that observation, you do want to know that three versus thirty employees made the observation. If you work with a consultant to administer an employee satisfaction survey or run employee focus groups, make sure you will have access to the data.

This access to the data and analysis will allow you to assess the degree to which various opinions permeate your workforce. The data will allow you to make your own assessment of employee satisfaction. Particularly correlation analysis and other data charts and graphs are important for you to access. I was once asked to analyze the data from an employee diversity survey that superficially appeared to indicate that the Human Resources department surveyed had serious diversity appreciation issues. With statistical analysis not my specialty, I hired a statistician to professionally analyze the data for me and we found the opposite.

No statistical proof of a lack of diversity appreciation existed upon data analysis. So, maintain access to the data and the analysis. Never Allow Employees to Self-select for Participation in Surveys and Focus Groups Employees should never self-select to participate in an employee focus group or survey. When you allow self-selection, you’ll generally find that less satisfied or very satisfied employees sign up for the group. Or, your more communicative employees are more comfortable expressing their opinions in a group. Your less communicative staff is guaranteed to be unrepresented.

In a recent debrief of a client’s employee focus group process, several of the more negative findings were stated in the exact words a disgruntled employee had used to express the exact sentiments to me the week before. How many employees actually feel that way? We’ll never know for sure. Access to the resultant data and the selection process for participation in the focus groups was controlled by the external consultants. For valid and reliable results, either every employee should be included in the survey process or a random selection method should be employed to decide who will be included.

To ensure widespread participation, perhaps offer an incentive, either company-wide or for individuals. Conclusions About Employee Satisfaction Surveys You can use a simple paper and pencil instrument, an online survey, or a much more sophisticated process to assess your employees’ satisfaction. I’ve used everything from a data analysis by the internal IT department of an online, internally produced survey to an outside survey consulting firm with tried and true questions. Some fundamentals for successful, trustworthy employee satisfaction surveys and focus groups exist in each instance.

I have reviewed five important factors here. Ignore them and you may obtain a false understanding of your employees’ satisfaction. Your results may skew positively or negatively based on the skills of your facilitators or survey producers and the employees who decided to participate. Worst, you may have sent the wrong message to your employees about the safety and worth of communication in your company. Do this at your peril. Top 10 Principles of Employee Empowerment Empower Employees – Right – to Ensure Success and Progress By Susan M. Heathfield Looking for real management advice about people?

Your goal is to create a work environment in which people are empowered, productive, contributing, and happy. Don’t hobble them by limiting their tools or information. Trust them to do the right thing. Get out of their way and watch them catch fire. These are the ten most important principles for managing people in a way that reinforces employee empowerment, accomplishment, and contribution. These management actions enable both the people who work with you and the people who report to you to soar. 1. Demonstrate That You Value People Your regard for people shines through in all of your actions and words.

Your facial expression, your body language, and your words express what you are thinking about the people who report to you. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on his or her current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible. 2. Share Leadership Vision Share the most important goals and direction for your group. Where possible, either make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results.

If you share a picture and share meaning, you have agreed upon what constitutes a successful and acceptable deliverable. Empowered employees can then chart their course without close supervision. 3. Share Goals and Direction Share the most important goals and direction for your group. Where possible, either make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results.

If you share a picture and share meaning, you have agreed upon what constitutes a successful and acceptable deliverable. Empowered employees can then chart their course without close supervision. 4. Trust People Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decision, and make choices that, while maybe not exactly what you would decide, still work. When employees receive clear expectations from their manager, they relax and trust you. They focus their energy on accomplishing, not on wondering, worrying, and second-guessing 5. Provide Information for Decision Making

Make certain that you have given people, or made sure that they have access to, all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions. 6. Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities, Not Just More Work Don’t just delegate the drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff, too. You know, delegate the important meetings, the committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice. The employee will grow and develop new skills. Your plate will be less full so you can concentrate on contribution.

Your reporting staff will gratefully shine – and so will you. 7. Provide Frequent Feedback Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes, the purpose of feedback is reward and recognition as well as improvement coaching. People deserve your constructive feedback, too, so they can continue to develop their knowledge and skills. 8. Solve Problems: Don’t Pinpoint Problem People When a problem occurs, ask what is wrong with the work system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people. Worst case response to problems?

Seek to identify and punish the 9. Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. Guide by asking questions, not by telling grown up people what to do. People generally know the right answers if they have the opportunity to produce them. When an employee brings you a problem to solve, ask, “what do you think you should do to solve this problem? ” Or, ask, “what action steps do you recommend? ” Employees can demonstrate what they know and grow in the process.

Eventually, you will feel comfortable telling the employee that he or she need not ask you about similar situations. You trust their judgment. 10. Help Employees Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior When employees feel under-compensated, under-titled for the responsibilities they take on, under-noticed, under-praised, and under-appreciated, don’t expect results from employee empowerment. The basic needs of employees must feel met for employees to give you their discretionary energy, that extra effort that people voluntarily invest in work.

For successful employee empowerment, recognition plays a significant role. Conducting an effective human resource audit By Candace Walters Published in the Rochester Business Journal, October 3, 2003 © HR Works, Inc. As a business owner or executive, you’re working hard to build a successful organization. You have had no serious problems in the employment area until today, when a notice arrived from the Department of Labor (DOL) saying that you’re being investigated. What prompted this notice? A disgruntled employee who claimed you cheated him or her out of wages?

You may never know. What should you expect if your company must submit to a DOL investigation? The CFO of a local business recently spent more than 60 hours preparing for and meeting with the DOL investigator. She had to provide time records from the past three years, the employee handbook, organizational charts, employee names, social security numbers, hire dates and job descriptions. As part of the process, the investigator also conducted private interviews with several employees. In the end, the DOL ordered her company to make significant payment for back wages.

The firm also incurred its own legal fees. How can an organization avoid the time, expense and embarrassment of a DOL investigation? The best solution: Conduct an audit of your own HR Department and make sure your pay practices and other policies comply with ever changing state and federal regulations. What is an HR audit? Used optimally, a human resource audit helps senior management to: * Ensure compliance with wage-and-hour laws and the myriad of other employment and benefits-related statutes. Examine the effectiveness and costs of HR policies and practices and their role in the organization’s strategic planning. * Benchmark actual against desired performance and develop an action plan for addressing shortfalls. * Save money by identifying and correcting inefficiencies and compliance problems. Progressive organizations will embrace a well-executed HR audit as an important tool for creating, updating and executing HR strategies and best practices that will provide long-term support to the organization’s big picture.

The HR audit process Auditing a human resource department is a systematic process that involves at least two steps: 1. Gathering information to determine compliance, effectiveness, costs and efficiencies. 2. Evaluating the information and preparing a written report, with an action plan based on exposures, priorities and a timeline for instituting changes. In order to reduce exposure to legal liability, some changes will need to be implemented immediately, while others can be completed in three to six months.

Like a financial audit, an HR audit must be comprehensive in order to be effective. The audit review includes but is not limited to: * Department infrastructure * Compliance with state and federal employment laws * Recruitment and selection processes * Employment-related tests * Employee relations * Performance-evaluation processes * Documentation, including employee handbooks * Job descriptions * Personnel records and files * Benefits administration practices * Benefit costs * Exempt and non-exempt classifications * Time-keeping and pay practices Recordkeeping and posting requirements * Policies governing independent contractors * Training and Development * Technology * Safety and security * Labor relations Immediate benefits of an HR audit As with accounting audits, the findings and recommendations from HR audits are only as good as the information provided. If you are not entirely honest and objective, no purpose is served. However, if staying on the right side of the law and reducing legal exposure are not enough incentive to launch your organization on the audit path today, consider the other benefits.

Very typically, small to medium-size companies realize almost instant cost savings once an audit is complete and changes are implemented. For example: * Correcting benefit premium errors and overpayments can generate many thousands of dollars in savings. * Initiating a safety program can reduce workers compensation experience modification numbers, reducing annual premium costs by tens of thousands of dollars. * Shopping benefit costs among alternative carriers and modifying employer/employee co-pay ratios can recoup dramatic savings. Examining the effectiveness of recruiting tools can pare the expense of filling positions. A small or medium-size firm also may benefit from using an HR audit to: * Study retention and turnover, employing a neutral party to solicit honest feedback from employees, and allowing the company to develop an action plan. * Examine the company’s foundation for its compensation philosophies and develop an objective method of grading jobs, with new ranges that are market-competitive and internally equitable. * Create or enhance an employee-referral program or internal jobs board. Improve employee communication and ensure that the HR department is accessible. * Identify opportunities to outsource areas within human resources that offer more value to the company The optimal outcome: Taking HR to the next level Certainly, companies that complete an HR audit for compliance and cost reasons will enjoy an improved employment climate and a healthier bottom line. Organizations that opt to gain maximum benefit, however, also will use the HR audit to ensure that HR practices are linked to and play a vital role in the company’s strategic planning and execution.

HR Works, Inc. , located at 246 Willow Brook Office Park in Fairport (Rochester), New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving more than 700 clients. HR Works provides benefits administration outsourcing; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; affirmative action programs; compensation programs; training of managers and HR professionals; and HRIS and self-service technology. Keep Your Best: Retention Tips Retention in an Improving Job Market

Recruiting the right employees and keeping the right employees matters, especially now. A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) press release revealed the answer to the question of what people plan to do when the job market rebounds. The majority of the Human Resource (HR) professionals and managers surveyed agreed that turnover will rise significantly once the job market improves. Both groups felt that the job market will improve within the next year, according to the latest Job Recovery Survey. The survey is produced by SHRM and CareerJournal. om, the free, executive career site of The Wall Street Journal, two of my personal favorite sites. The survey results include responses from 451 HR professionals and 300 managerial or executive employees. “We’re surprised by the percentage of executive employees who say they plan to jump ship once hiring rebounds,” says Tony Lee, editor in chief/general manager of CareerJournal. com. “And with 56 percent of HR professionals agreeing that turnover will rise, we’re interested to see what types of retention efforts those companies launch to keep their best employees on board. Employees cited the following three top reasons they would begin searching for a new job: * 53 percent seek better compensation and benefits. * 35 percent cited dissatisfaction with potential career development. * 32 percent said they were ready for a new experience. HR professionals were asked which programs or policies they use currently to help retain employees. The following three are the most common programs employers are using to retain employees: * 62 percent provide tuition reimbursement. * 60 percent offer competitive vacation and holiday benefits. * 59 percent offer competitive salaries.

Most HR professionals surveyed (71 percent), in large organizations (those with more than 500 employees), thought it would be extremely likely or somewhat likely to experience an increase in voluntary turnover once the job market improves. Forty-one percent from small organizations (1-99 employees) said it was extremely likely or somewhat likely that turnover would increase. Fifty-three percent of respondents from medium organizations (between 100 and 499) thought the same. * Select the right people in the first place through behavior-based testing and competency screening.

The right person, in the right seat, on the right bus is the starting point. * Offer an attractive, competitive, benefits package with components such as life insurance, disability insurance and flexible hours. * Provide opportunities for people to share their knowledge via training sessions, presentations, mentoring others and team assignments. * Demonstrate respect for employees at all times. Listen to them deeply; use their ideas; never ridicule or shame them. * Offer performance feedback and praise good efforts and results. * People want to enjoy their work.

Make work fun. Engage and employ the special talents of each individual. * Enable employees to balance work and life. Allow flexible starting times, core business hours and flexible ending times. (Yes, his son’s soccer game is important. ) * Involve employees in decisions that affect their jobs and the overall direction of the company whenever possible. * Recognize excellent performance, and especially, link pay to performance. * Base the upside of bonus potential on the success of both the employee and the company and make it limitless within company parameters. As an example, pay ten percent of corporate profits to employees. ) * Recognize and celebrate success. Mark their passage as important goals are achieved. * Staff adequately so overtime is minimized for those who don’t want it and people don’t wear themselves out. * Nurture and celebrate organization traditions. Have a costume party every Halloween. Run a food collection drive every November. Pick a mmonthly charity to help. Have an annual company dinner at a fancy hotel. * Provide opportunities within the company for cross-training and career progression.

People like to know that they have room for career movement. * Provide the opportunity for career and personal growth through training and education, challengine assignments and more. * Communicate goals, roles and responsibilities so people know what is expected and feel like part of the in-crowd. * According to research by the Gallup organization, encourage employees to have good, even best, friends, at work. Now that you have the list, why not work to make your organization one of the few, the best, that truly honor and appreciate employees. If you treat your employees wonderfully, you will never lose them.

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