Psychological Profiling and Recruitment

This one made me smile!

More Evidence of the Potential for Better Management to Boost Productivity, Performance and Fulfillment at Work

More than four in ten UK employees are considering quitting their job in the next year, YouGov research for Investors in People suggests. In a report published in April 2008:

A lack of motivation at work is cited as a major problem, with unreasonable workloads, feeling underpaid and a lack of career path being blamed.

About half of staff said they had not been supported beyond their initial induction at work.

Meanwhile more than a quarter felt unsupported by their managers.

Nearly one in three (30%) UK employees is de-motivated in their current role, according to research published today by Investors in People UK. Significantly, 43% are considering taking action and leaving their job in the next 12 months, with those that have been in their job for one to two years most likely to want to do so (48%).

The research carried out by YouGov on behalf of Investors in People UK, found that the top three de-motivating factors for employees were:

  • unreasonable workload (18%),
  • feeling underpaid (18%) and
  • lack of clear career path (17%).

Overall, nearly half of employees (44%) claim their organisation has failed to continue supporting their career development beyond their initial induction period.

Over a quarter (28%) of employees also said they felt ‘unsupported’ by their managers.

De-motivation is highest within larger companies with 39% of people in organisations of 5,000 or more say that they are either not very or not at all motivated compared to 30% in organisations of between 50 and 250 people.

Motivation is lowest amongst public sector workers, with 41% saying that they are either not very or not at all motivated and 44% claiming to be less motivated than they were a year ago.

Employees in the public sector are also the most likely to be thinking about leaving their job, half (50%) said they were considering a change of job.

Employees in the North East are the least motivated in the UK, with 38% saying they are either not very or not at all motivated and 52% thinking about leaving their job in the next year.

In an earlier report (November 2007) similar YouGov research for IiP showed:

Less than a third (30%) of UK employees have complete trust in their manager, with almost eight in ten (78%) believing that their manager has let them down in the past.

Over half (55%) of employees believe that their manager only has their best interests at heart when it suits them.

Managers are most likely to let down employees by failing to provide the support they need to do their job (49%), failing to respond to concerns expressed by employees (48%) or withholding information which impacts on them (45%).

Sharing information in confidence with another member of staff was cited by over half (55%) of employees as the worst possible type of betrayal by their manager.

Employees’ lack of trust in their managers is most apparent when asked who they would confide in regarding a sensitive work-related matter: less than one-quarter (21%) would look to their boss, with 55% turning instead to a colleague or contemporary in times of trouble.

Alarmingly, this lack of trust in managers can have serious consequences: respondents said it can lead to lowered employee morale (68%), destroy team spirit (46%) and result in people looking for a new job (42%).

Anyone for Progressive Management?

How To Be an Outstanding Manager

This new 2 hour seminar is aimed at Managers, Senior Managers, Leaders and Human Resource Managers from any type of organisation where improving performance matters.

It will show how managers can quickly boost their managerial effectiveness.

The seminar will introduce participants to four practical management processes that are the hallmark of highly effective managers. These four processes will ensure that:

  • Communication and employee engagement is significantly improved
  • A sense of urgency is developed
  • Underperformers are managed effectively
  • High performers are recognised and retained
  • Every team member is coached, every week, to improve performance
  • Every team member is regularly given new tasks and assignments to help them and the business to develop
  • Business strategies, plans and values are put into practice
  • Will understand how mastery of 4 key management practices will unlock the key to being an exceptional manager.

“All of our managers have done NVQs in operational management – but still shied away from managing poor performers. Now they have the tools they need to manage this group effectively”

“That was an inspiring session”

“I would have liked longer”

Fiercely practical management training to make you stand out from the managerial crowd

Top Tips for Improving Performance Reviews

The performance review process is not about writing good performance reviews.

It is about planning a trajectory for the employees work in the coming year – based on an analysis of their performance in the past year – it is about influencing the future.

Always ask the employee to provide you with their own self assessment 2-3 weeks before you have to deliver their review.  Ask the to give examples of their work that support their judgement.

Only look at their self-review after you have prepared your review of their performance for the past year . Identify where there is agreement and open your review meeting with a discussion of these areas. This gets the meeting off to a solid start and helps to make some quick progress. Leave areas where your assessments differ to later in the meeting.

Where your assessment differs from theirs – whether you have rated then more highly or less highly than they have rated themselves – then you should re-visit the DATA on which you have based your assessments and in the review be prepared to back up your assessment with your data.

Before you show your hand ask them to give specific examples of things that they did in the last year that have led them to their judgement.  If they produce data that you have overlooked and that seriously casts doubt on your data and your judgement then be prepared to revise your review.  THIS SHOULD HAPPEN VERY RARELY.  If it does happen you need to urgently review your own process for collecting data on employee performance throughout the year and using it to prepare your reviews.

You should have several pieces of data available to support your judgement – collected over the past year – especially where it is less favourable than their own.  You do have data to base your review on – don’t you?

After the review the employee should be clear on:

  • Your overall assessment of their performance last year;
  • What this has earned them (promotion, pay rise, recognition, more responsibility, no change, less responsibility, demotion, termination);
  • Specific goals and objectives for the coming year.

The performance of your team members is a direct reflection of your performance as a manager.  If you have one or more people whose performance is not moving in the ‘right’ direction then you need to seriously re-think the way that you are managing them.

Don’t be tempted to provide ‘vanilla’ reviews in an attempt to hide your own management weaknesses.

You can only provide good performance reviews if you effectively manage individual performance throughout the year.

Praise can backfire!

Giving employees positive feedback in the hopes of promoting better performance can sometimes backfire, suggests new research from the psychology department and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the London Business School.

As I understand it they conducted an experiment where undergraduates were asked to act as managers in a recruitment process. Half the group were praised for their great decision making in the recruitment process. The other half werre praised for their creativity.

All were then told that the person they had recruited was not working out.

Those who had been praised for their decision making skills in the recruitment process invested more time and energy in trying to ‘save’ the poor hire rather than just cutting their losses and getting rid. Hence it is proven that giving praise can backfire!

This seems like BAD science and even worse management on so many levels.

The guinea pigs were praised regardless of the behaviours and talents they demonstrated during the exercise. Only the most incompetent manager would praise people indiscriminatley without any regard to what they actually do!

First law of feedback is to make sure that it relates to specific behaviours and is not just plucked out of the air.

If you want to check out the ‘research’ then you can do so here,

Time Management Resource

Time Management by the Hour

A new manifesto has just been published on time management over at the Change This site.

In essence it recommends forgetting about tips, tricks and gizmos – instead building a really solid understanding of the 7 fundamental practices of time management;

  1. Capturing – making sure that all calls on your time are captured in a system – not in your brain
  2. Emptying – making sure that whatever you use to capture calls on your time (e-mail inboxes, in-trays, calendars etc) are regularly emptied – ie the calls on your time are put into a system
  3. Tossing – getting rid of as much of the demands on your time as possible – being rigorous – but not ruthless in managing your time commitments – saying no!
  4. Storing – putting useful information in a place where you can safely retrieve it as needed – this does not mean relying on your memory (‘tickler’ files work well here!)
  5. Acting Now! – doing whatever you can right now – especially if it will only take a few minutes – avoid procrastination. (Get a supply of those little sticky dots of paper and force yourself to put one on each piece of paper you have ‘in the system’ every time you pick it up – you will be amazed at how many get several dots – before you do ANYTHING with them!)
  6. Scheduling – anything that you can’t do right now must have time scheduled for it – effective scheduling – knowing how long things should take and what contingencies might be appropriate is a fine art – well worth mastering
  7. Listing – for jobs that need doing – but don’t merit a fixed appointment in the diary then use lists.  Have a list for things to do when you are:
  • in the office
  • at home
  • in the car thing (listening to audio books for example),
  • in town
  • at a clients etc

Picking up the right list at the right time can really help your efficiency.
This manifesto looks like it has been massively influence by Dave Allen’s work on Getting Things Done and will act as a useful reminder to anyone who has been on the PMN Time Management programme.
You can read the full manifesto here.

NHS Trusts Poor Management Practice

The Healthcare Commission has published a report based on an annual survey of 155 000 NHS staff and some of the findings make interesting reading for the progressive manager.

  • Only 26% thought their trust valued their work. This figure ranged between trusts from 58% to 11%.
  • Survey responses indicate poor levels of communication between staff and senior management, with only 22% thinking it is effective.
  • The survey shows that only 53% receive clear feedback on their work.
  • Results from previous NHS surveys have shown that staff who had received an appraisal in the previous 12 months were more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to consider leaving.
  • In spite of this fact only just over 60% of staff had been given an appraisal in the previous 12 months.
  • Only 39% of staff were satisfied or very satisfied with the recognition they get for good work. Not feeling valued was the reason most often given by staff who said they were thinking about leaving their jobs.
  • Communication between staff and senior managers is poor. Only 23% said senior managers involved staff in important decisions and only 22% considered communication between staff and senior management to be effective. Thirty-one per cent said senior managers encouraged staff to suggest new ideas and 17% said different parts of the trust communicate effectively with each other.

For the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust only 47% of staff said that they had received an appraisal or performance development review in the last 12 months. Only 16% said that they had received an appraisal or performance development review in the last 12 months in which they had agreed clear objectives for their work, which they had found useful in helping them improve how they do their job, and which had left them feeling that their work is valued by their employer.

Things were marginally better in the Leeds Primary Care Trust. 22% of staff at the trust said that they had received an appraisal or performance development review in the last 12 months, in which they had agreed clear objectives for their work, which they had found useful in helping them improve how they do their job, and which had left them feeling that their work is valued by their employer. The trust’s score of 22% was below average for PCTs in England.

39% of staff at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said that they had agreed a personal development plan as part of their appraisal or performance development review in the last 12 months. The trust’s score of 39% was in the lowest 20% of acute trusts in England. The trust’s 2007 score has not changed significantly since the 2006 survey, when 39% of staff also gave this response!

What puzzles me is how any organisation can survive these appalling statistics. And I think the NHS is probably no worse than many in the public, private and third sectors.

The quality of management in the UK is generally poor. I think this shows the massive potential for performance improvement that lies in simply getting the management basics right.

Anyone for Progressive Management?

Alien versus Predator 2; Profit taking versus social enterprise

“For a profit maximising company, the bottom line is how much money you make. But when you run a social business, it’s about impact.”

Mohammed Younis

For a publicly listed company there is a legal obligation on the Board of Directors to act in a way that will maximise the return on investment to shareholders i.e. profit.

For any shareholders who seek a long term return on their investment – rather than quarterly profit taking – then ‘impact’ (net ‘good done’ in the community as the result of the company’s actions) will be more or less synonymous with profit.  In a perfect world, companies that do bad things in the name of profit will only derive those profits in the short term.

Every company I have ever worked in (I have not worked in any PLCs but have worked in profit and non-profit distributing businesses) there has been a real concern both for social impact and for making a sound return on investment.

The sense of dynamic balance has been vital.  It is not profit making OR social impact but profit taking AND social impact that leads to sustained progress.

We can shun the tyranny of “OR” and embrace the genius of “AND” – there is a yin/yang dynamic; a Zen type ambiguity that can be used creatively.

In my experience it was the companies that traded profitably and used those profits transparently and accountably to ensure the sustainable development of the company and is employees that were able to do their best work in the long term.  In the ‘non profits’ too often the development of the business was entirely hi-jacked by the whims of funders and policy makers.

It is possible to find profitable ways to make the world a better place.

People are our Most Important Asset…

That is the ‘espoused’ theory in just about every business I have EVER worked in or consulted for. It says it on the web site and in the annual report so it must be true.

But the theory in practice is usually a very different one.

  • People are a controllable cost
  • People are interchangeable parts – just fulfilling job descriptions
  • ‘Good people’ require little or no management time (“You want me to spend 30 minutes a week looking after our most important asset? Don’t you know I’ve got problems to sort out…Any way they know what they are doing and wnat me getting in the way…”)
  • ‘Mediocre people’ require little or no management time (“They do a decent job – as long as I don’t expect them to take initiative, make things better or use their common sense”).
  • ‘Bad people’ eat up hours of management time (“I have to be on their backs all the time – the problem is that you can’t sack anyone in this organisation…”)

This theory in action is a little bit like the moonwalking bear. Unless you look for it you won’t know its there.

Sorting out these problems requires a bit of structure, some commitment and a fair bit of courage.

In Praise of Praise – Wally Bock

 Power of Praise

Wally Bock has written a great post on the power of praise in management.  It includes sections on:

  • What we know about praise
  • What we know about how to give good praise, and
  • Why don’t managers praise more?

If you find giving affirming feedback difficult – or just want to get better at it then have a look at his post.