Jim Rose
EQ Consulting Services
611 Bear Den Road
Townsend, TN  37882
865-207-4480

jrose@eq-consultingservices.com

Interested in Preventing Unions from Forming in Your Organization?

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  • Having a union develop within an organization is usually not good for long range business success.  It is usually a sign of real problems that exist that leadership has not addresses.  Leadership may or not be aware of the problems.  Whether or not they are known something needs to be done or a union could possibly be formed.  Eliminating a union is much more difficult than preventing one from forming. 
  • Dealing with this threat starts by identifying a clear definition of the problem.  This can be accomplished by having interviews conducted with a cross section of employees.  Selecting the proper person to conduct the interviews is critical.  It needs to be someone that employees are most likely to being truthful and will not appear to be biased regarding the problems.  Most often this is someone from outside the organization.  The purpose of the interviews should be stated in advance as part of a communications program with all employees.  It could be that the interviews are to determine why morale is low, etc.  It should be stated that specific comments of specific individuals will never be revealed but a summary of issues identified by multiple employees will be presented to leadership. 
  • After the key problem or problems have been identified a summary needs to be developed and presented to leadership.  Then a plan needs to be developed to address the issues.  Developing the plan could best be accomplished by the leadership team and through facilitation by the person that conducted the surveys.  Leadership now needs to follow through with the plan.  A series of facilitated follow up sessions with leadership should be scheduled to increase the likelihood of follow through.  Lastly, follow up interviews should be conducted to see if the employees are in agreement that things are better. 

 

How good are you with providing performance feedback to your employees?

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  • It is very important for employees to receive regular feedback regarding their performance.  This should come in a variety of ways.  Something most people do not do enough of is to give their people positive feedback when they do good work.  Just letting them know when you see them do good work is very rewarding to them and has a positive impact on their performance.  Also, when you see unsatisfactory work you should also let them know that you are not pleased.  If you find that the majority of your feedback is negative this could be a sign of a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.  Examples could be that they are not in the right job, they have not been properly trained or expectations are not clear.  It is important to identify and address whatever the issue is because continuously complaining to an employee lowers their morale and reduces productivity with them and others.

 

  • Besides giving ongoing performance feedback to employees they also need to be given a formal performance review.  This is typically an annual event but should be more frequent for new employees and employees with significant performance problems.  Two things are required to do this properly.  The first is a need for a job description which describes expectations at a high level.  The second is to have specific goals that the person is to accomplish.  I have previously written blog articles describing both of these.  There are different phases to a performance review.  These are listed below with comments regarding each:

 

  1. Planning:
    • Feedback needs to be obtained from others that work with the person
    • A form needs to be filled out and a template that can be used is attached
  2. Conducting:
    • The actual review with the employee
    • Discuss performance in each area
    • Provide an overall rating
    • Discuss strengths and weaknesses
  3. Development plans
    • Develop a specific plan for addressing the areas where improved performance is needed.
    • Schedule and have follow-up sessions to ensure that the plan is being implemented.

I suggest trying this with one employee to evaluate its effectiveness.  If that is a positive experience then utilize it with others.

Do your employees have appropriate goals?

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I wrote in a recent blog article about the importance of having a job description.  That is the first step with ensuring clarification of expectations but it is at a high level and more details are needed.  A good means for doing that is to establish goals to accomplish.  Frequently the time period is for the coming year but they could be for any time period.

 The process for doing this is not complex.  Take each area of their responsibility and decide specifically what you want them to accomplish.  It is good to have as many as possible identified in a measurable way but it is not always possible to do so.  Below are some examples:

  • Marketing
    • Develop a new website by 11/15
    • Develop a plan for better utilizing Social Media by 2/1
  • Sales
    • Establish three new customers each month
    • Increase sales for the year by 25%
  • Personnel
    • Conduct performance reviews for each of your people by 1/15
    • Establish goals for all of your people by 2/1
  • Quality
    • Reduce returns by 20% by 3/1
  • Personal development
    • Propose a plan for development by 1/5
  • Facilities
    • Remodel and upgrade the offices by 7/1
  • Health and Safety
    • No major violations on any OSHA inspections
    • Reduce serious injury frequency by 20% in the coming year

There needs to be an agreement between the supervisor and the employee regarding the goals

Could your organization benefit from all employees identifying and focusing on the appropriate goals?

 

Do you have job descriptions for all employees?

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  • Almost all large organizations have job descriptions for their employees because they see the value.  However, most small organizations do not.  This is probably because they have never experienced using it and thus do not know how or see the potential benefit.  It is critical for everyone to have a clear understanding of expectations of them and a job description is one of those ways.  Employers cannot hold employees accountable if expectations are not clear.  I have talked with supervisors and listen to them complain about employee performance but when I ask to see documents describing expectations they frequently do not have them.  All organizations should have job descriptions for all employees.

 

  • Attached is a very simple model that can be used.  Other things could be in the template but I am trying to keep it simple to increase the likelihood that smaller organizations will use it.  I am sure that this template will not be of benefit to large businesses as they already have one that is as good or even more complete.

 

I suggest that you evaluate the tool and determine if it can be of value.  I suggest that you find one position and develop a job description for it.  Then discuss it with the person in the position.  I predict that what you identified as roles and responsibilities will not be exactly the same as what the employee thought.  Resolving these differences can be a very valuable activity.

Is it clear in your organization who is responsible for what and their level of authority?

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  • I have found that in many organizations it is not really clear who has responsibility for certain activities and exactly how much authority they have.  This is a barrier to becoming a high performance organization.  I use a methodology that can bring clarity in this area.  It can best be explained by using an example of its use along with a document developed and it is attached.  I suggest printing it and referring to it as you read the rest of this article. 

 

  • The leadership team of a manufacturing plant agreed that clarity was needed regarding roles, responsibilities and levels of authority.  I facilitated a meeting of this group to bring clarity in these areas.  The first thing we did was to identify the areas where clarity was needed.  This was done during a brainstorming session and the roles were identified and can be seen in the first column.  The actual list was much longer but I have shortened it for the purpose of just explaining the methodology.  I will explain the process using the first role which is handing an employee that refuses to do a job.  Facilitating the discussion the group agreed that the production supervisor (PS) had the primary responsibility for handling that situation. The next question was clarifying his level of authority.  You can see that it was a 4 and what that means is identified below the table.  The person that is ultimately responsible is identified in the next column and in this case is the plant manager (PM).  The last column indicates who should be communicated with regarding the situation and in this case it was the HR Manage (HR).

 

  • It is important to reach consensus on each decision made.  A goal should be to downward delegate as much as possible.  Decisions could be impacted by the experience and capability of the individual in the position.  Changes could be made through time as for example when a person has more experience.

 

Are you sure that roles responsibilities and levels of authority are clear in your organization?  How can you determine the answer to that?

Could you have employees that have issues inhibiting productivity?

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It is important to have a means for understanding issues employees have that are preventing high performance.  When employees have unaddressed issues this frequently results in low morale and lower performance.  Thus knowing what their major issues are and addressing them should be a high priority. 

Possible issues could include:

-no one listens

-not appreciated

-priorities change too rapidly

-issues with a particular supervisor

-issues with a fellow employee

-working environment

-working hours

-fear of company success

-lack of teamwork

-lack of trust

-fear of reprisal

-lack of important information

-no means for providing suggestions

 

  • Identifying the issues your employees might have is the first step in the process.  I believe that appropriately designed employee interviews can be an effective technique for understanding their issues as I have seen this work.   The employees should be told why the interviews are being conducted.  This could be that “top leadership wants to know of any barriers that might be interfering with employees being able to do their jobs in a highly productive way”.   They should also be told that no one will know what any specific individual said.  All input would simply be summarized and presented to top management and they will be responsible for addressing their issues. 

 

  • A key question is determining who should conduct the interviews.  There are two basic options with one being a person or persons in the organization or an outside resource.   This person must be someone the employees can trust and often it is best to have someone like a consultant that is not a part of the organization.

 

  • The issues identified should be summarized and presented to top management.  They would be responsible for developing and implementing a plan for addressing the important issues.

 

Can you afford not have a means for not understanding issues preventing your employees from doing their jobs in a highly productive way?

Are you frustrated with employees that do not perform up to your standards?

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Unsatisfactory employee performance is not an employee problem.  This is a management problem.  Yes, I realize that is probably hard to swallow but consider the following before you draw final conclusions.

I contend that there are five key factors to obtain high levels of employee performance and management is responsible for each.

  1. Hiring the right people
  2. Ensuring expectations are clear
  3. Training
  4. Supervising the employee appropriately
  5. Properly monitoring performance and either improving it or dismissing them

 

Think of an employee that is performing below your level of expectation.  Let’s examine the problem in each of these five areas.

  1. Hiring process:  You have probably already hired the person so do you believe that your hiring process was effective?  If not you might need to determine how to improve that process. 
  2. Ensuring clear expectations: Do you have good documentation of expectations including: job description, procedures, policies, goals and objectives?  Having these is critical.
  3. Training: Do you have a good training process? Improve that process if it is not meeting your needs.  Do you have a means (written tests or demonstration of proficiencies) for determining if the employee actually learned what they needed to learn?  If not you should develop a means for doing so.  Do you have written documents for the employee to refer to after training?
  4. Supervising: Does the employee’s supervisor observe them doing the work to see if they are doing it the way they were trained and take corrective action if they are not?  Has the supervisor been trained to do this?
  5. Monitoring performance: Formal reviews should take place periodically for discussing satisfaction regarding their performance.  This should include both complements for the areas where performance is good.  Areas needing improvement should be identified and a game plan developed for improvements.  Follow up sessions should be scheduled to ensure satisfactory improvements.  Should performance not improve then the process for dismissing the person should be followed.

Which of these is your major contributor to unsatisfactory employee performance?  Are you willing to be honest with yourself?  Most employers simply blame the employee. 

Are you going to continue blaming your employees or are you going to address your management shortcomings?  What is your action plan?

Do you have employees that are empowered but are not held accountable for delivering satisfactory results?

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Do you have employees that are empowered but are not held accountable for delivering satisfactory results?

Employees not delivering satisfactory results can be very frustrating to management.  I contend that the reason is likely problems in one of the following four areas.

  •  Ensure that expectations are clear
    • Job Descriptions
    • Goals
    • Objectives
    • Procedures
  • Provide training and assistance needed
    • Coaching
    • Classroom
    • Formal education
  • Monitor performance
    • Informal: daily observations
    • Formal: regular performance reviews
  • Improve performance
    • Develop a plan for improving performance
    • Ensure that consequences are clear for lack of improved performance
    • Follow through with the plan

 Which of these can assist you with holding your employees more accountable?

Do you have an internal change agent?

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What is an internal change agent?  It is a person working for an organization that has had training with a wide variety of tools techniques and methodologies that can assist with many aspects of improving performance.  It could be described as an internal consultant. 

Why should you consider having a change agent?  They can assist in a wide variety of ways with examples including:

  • meeting facilitation
  • problem solving
  • managing change
  • mediation
  • improving working relationships
  • project management
  • process improvement
  • improving communications
  • conflict resolution
  • and others

A larger organization should consider having this as one or more full time positions.  Smaller businesses could have it be a part of someone’s job.  You can hire someone with the skills or they can be developed.  One requirement is that the person must have good people skills.

What are the advantages of having:

Internal resource: ease of availability, less costly and it is a great means for developing future leaders.

External resource: typically more expertise will have the eyes of an outsider and ease of disposal if they do not more than earn their money.

If you have not experienced using a change agent it is difficult to comprehend the value.  You could consider finding a business associate that has used the concept and asking them for their advice.  Should their advice cause you to want to have one then develop and implement a plan for obtaining one.

Does your decision making style provide the best results?

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Importance

Obviously leaders must make many decisions.  A key for providing effective leadership is providing for the best decisions possible.  I would offer that major decisions should be made in the leadership team of the organization.  The key is for the team to use the decision making style that provides the best results.  There are multiple styles that can be used. 

Guidelines for Making

Click here to see a Power Point slide presentation which explains basic styles.  Each of four styles has a time and place when it is the best for making specific decisions.  Each team needs to determine the means by which they will make decisions.  The slides were developed to be a part of a presentation and so by themselves might not answer all of your questions. 

 

Should you make changes with how your team makes decisions?

Looking for a simple technique to improve your team’s effectiveness…check this out

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  • All groups of people that meet on an ongoing basis would benefit from having what I call Team Operating Procedures.  These are guidelines the team can develop that will improve the effectiveness of the group meetings and move them down the path of becoming a high performance team. 

 

  • There are several areas where guidelines need to be established regarding how the group will work together.  The team should strive for a consensus as they make these decisions.  Click Here to find a document that lists these areas along with a brief definition of each. Also included are examples that some teams have identified that can assist with understanding Team Operating Procedures.

 

 

Try developing Team Operating Procedures and determine if it can be helpful. 

How effective is the teamwork of your leadership group?

Survey

One of the characteristics of a high performance team is that they are continuously looking for means to improve their performance.   Does your team do this?  Most leaders feel they have good teamwork but that is not always true.

Planning a team effectiveness survey

There is a simple way to determine just how strong your team is. 

  • Team Effectiveness Survey is attached that can be used and how the survey used is very important.
  • First of all the questions can be changed if you determine that to be appropriate. 
  • Who administers the survey is critical. 
    • The administrator should be someone that the team would trust. 
    • The leader could just send the survey to his team and ask them to provide their assessment and return it because the truth will not always be expressed. 
    • Frequently this is an outside resource such as a consultant. 
  • All members of the team should be told that responses from specific individuals will not be shared. 
  • The administrator will simply summarize the feedback and share the results with the team that took the survey. 

Using information obtained from the survey

  • When the survey summary is presented to the team the information should be sorted with the areas in the most need for improvement at the top and the least at the bottom.
  • Then the group should discuss the items at the top and develop a plan for changes they should make to improve their teamwork.
  • This discussion would best be conducted by an administrator, facilitator or consultant. 
  • A plan would be developed that identified actions needed along with who will lead those efforts and by when they should be completed.
  • Follow up sessions are needed to ensure follow through.  Additional actions can be added as the group determines it to be appropriate.
  • At some point in time the survey, or portions of it, should be taken again to monitor the effectiveness of the plan

 

Are you brave enough to find out just how effectively your leadership group functions as a team?

Is teamwork an easier way to manage?

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Understanding Teamwork

  • Teamwork is NOT an easier way to manage.  For example it is a lot easier to just tell someone what to do rather than taking the time to listen to their viewpoint (which could be a better way) or to get buy in to your decision.
  • Then why do it?  You should consider doing it because it provides much better results along with improved employee satisfaction and commitment to the organization.  It could be an edge that you would have over your competition.
  • Lots of organizations post teamwork posters on the wall and say they have teamwork.  However, very few organizations really understand teamwork in a business environment thus very few practice high performance teamwork.
  • Possibly a basketball team example could assist with understanding teamwork.  Five good players could be put on the court and be called a team.  However, if each player’s highest priority was how many points and boards they could get as an individual, would you expect to have good team results?  Thus good teamwork along with good skills is required for good results.  This is not only true for a sports team but it is also true for organizations.

Implementing Teamwork

  • Where would you start to consider changing your culture to one of teamwork?  Top leadership must learn to better understand it and see its potential value. 
  • The first step could be to find the right professional.  I believe that using a professional is required for implementing teamwork.  There are thousands of professionals out there that say they are experts but the key is finding someone that has transformed a culture and thus can prove their abilities.  They should be able to help with understanding teamwork and what is required.
  • The next step could be to establish a pilot team for evaluation.  It could be a group anywhere in the organization where it seemed that the environment was appropriate.  The other option would be to start with the top leadership team so they could learn by experience.

Conclusion

  • Thousands of books have been written on the subject and it has been proven many times.  So teamwork must have value.  Can you afford not to properly evaluate it as a possibility to make a real difference with the effectiveness of your organization?

 

 

An important aspect of an M&A is too often overlooked.

M and A

When considering a merger or acquisition so often what appears to be all that is important is determining if these businesses should be combined and completing all of the paperwork.  This is very important.  However, what is equally important is that after the combination has been completed is there a process in place to “truly merge” the business into one successful business.  What I mean by this is do they start working together as “one business” and not two businesses under one name.  This would include:

  • “A” leadership group working together as a team
  • One vision for the future
  • The appropriate strategies
  • The most important initiatives identified
  • Benefiting from synergy potentials
  • All employees pulling together and in the same direction

If a plan is not in place for accomplishing these then money is being left on the table and the new business might not be successful.

If you are in some way involved with combining two businesses what is your plan for accomplishing these things?  If you are part of a business that has already been combined, ask yourself if you are actually operating as one business.  Consider using a professional with proven experience for assistance with this very important activity.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a “personal” vision for the future and a plan for achieving?

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Most business people understand the importance of having a vision of the future for their organization and a means of driving changes necessary to achieve it.  However, not many people do the same for their personal lives and I would contend that the personal visioning process is even more important.  Should you want to consider doing that, I will offer the following suggestions.

1. First of all create a Vivid Image of what you would like to see your life look like several years from now and from many viewpoints.  This could include your life from the perspective of your family, personal growth, work, recreational, financial, Spiritual, etc.  Be very specific and detailed.  I suggest that in fill one sheet of paper.

2. Then determine the three most important things to do during the next few months to take you on the journey toward that vision.

3. Next develop a written plan for implementing each of those changes.  This should have very specific actions and include dates for accomplishing each.

4. Now pick a time each week to review this plan.  Put on your calendar or to do list what you will be doing that week to support each of these important activities.  During this weekly review process you can continuously fine tune your plan.

The biggest challenge most people face in accomplishing this is to truly do this weekly activity and follow through with the plan.  My suggestion to assist you with this process is as follows.  Identify a good friend that will be willing to assist you with this very important process.  Explain to them what you have committed to doing.  Ask them if they would be willing to be your coach or conscious.  Tell them conceptually what you are doing and then share your actual documents with them.  Ask them if they will check with you periodically and ask how you are doing and offer encouraging comments.    Occasionally do something special for this person to encourage them to continue.

 

What could be more important for you to do for yourself than this?