Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Best Strategies for Big or Small Organizational Changes

To remain competitive in the market, companies must evolve and adapt to the changing climate. But organizational changes—whether big or small—can be disruptive to the workforce if you don’t have strong change management.
Many companies tend to be ineffective at organizational change. It’s not as simple as just changing the name from the CEO’s office, deciding to merge with another successful company or undergoing a shift in culture. For change to be successful, it often helps when you take into account every aspect of the company—from the culture to the top leaders and even part-time staff. There are several strategies for change management you might consider adopting before you make any shifts within the organization.
– Start at the Top
To initiate any type of change, consider forming a team that will lead the charge. But ensure that people at the helm of the change ship are competent and aligned on the cause.
Change managers aren’t just the strategy people, despite it being an important part of their role. These folks should ideally be effective communicators so they can clearly spread the word in the organization.
– Ask for Feedback
Many organizations ask for feedback after they’re already shoulder-deep in their change initiative. But you may be more likely to succeed if you begin the change with the feedback already in hand.
Employee engagement survey tools that help you gain insight from employees on the frontline who are affected by the day-to-day change may help streamline the change process.
– Define the Change
It’s often not enough to just tell your employees that change is coming. Consider establishing goals for transitions. While you can simply tell your employees change will “accelerate growth,” it’s often much better to set concrete goals that can be measured.
To do so, consider making the goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Bound. You’ll not only be able to measure your progress, you’ll also hopefully give your employees something solid to work toward.
– Simplify
Overcomplicating matters may just make your employees confused and overwhelmed. Keep things simple. Avoid trying to do too much at once. Stick to a goal. Define it with simplicity.
– Do It in Sections
Consider beginning by introducing the change into only one section of the company, which will act as the “treatment group.” The rest of the company—the unchanged section—will be the control group.
Doing this may allow you to figure out the difference in productivity, morale and finances, which may ultimately determine whether the change has potential for success across the entire organization or if you should do more tinkering before escalating it.
– Don’t Stick to Numbers
Remember those defined goals? Don’t just make them about finances and figures. The emotional aspect may be just as important. Ensure there’s an emotional drive toward making a change. You can’t overestimate the value of a dollar, and you can’t underestimate heartstrings.
– Adopt Recognition Programs
Consider setting standards by recognizing employees who are aiding the change. Tailor the rewards to specific actions and company values so other employees know what type of behavior might garner a reward. It may also show that you truly appreciate and acknowledge your employees during this difficult time.
– Keep Communication Lines Open
It’s not efficient to communicate change and then assume that employees are ready to go. Instead, look for feedback—and do it constantly. Consider leveraging surveys, team meetings and company-wide emails to ensure all employees are on the same page. Then you might use that feedback to adjust your change strategies.

Organizational change can undoubtedly be stressful. But it may be stressful for all employees, from the top down, which is why it may be helpful to maintain employee morale through clear communication, feedback and employee recognition.

Some Tips to Motivate Employees Without Spending Money

he best way to get the most out of your workforce may be to make sure they’re engaged. A 2015 study by the Temkin Group, a customer research and engagement firm, revealed that 91 percent of highly engaged employees always or almost always try their hardest at work (among disengaged employees, only 67 percent say the same).
But employee engagement is such a complex topic, how do you know where to start? To top it off, how do you pinpoint exactly what makes employees more enthusiastic, invested and inspired?
Then the perfect starting point for finding ways to motivate employees and increase employee engagement. And one of the best things may be that you can actually work on these areas without spending any money. Consider starting with these three strategies:
1. Build a top-notch culture.
Organizational culture and team usually go hand in hand. Your company’s culture is ever changing and can be built every day by the various actions and attitudes of everyone in your workforce. If you have even just one toxic employee, they may bring down the atmosphere around them. I’ve seen this happen at various companies that had a stellar culture to begin with, but brought on an employee who was a bad fit with the culture. Their negativity plagued the work environment and made its way into other departments. But once that person was let go, their remaining employees were engaged once again.
So decide what kind of culture you want your organization to have—innovative, agile, collaborative, focused on customer service, etc. Some of the greatest cultures have started off with employees who complemented each other and the culture. Remember that skills can be taught, but personality is typically much harder to change.
2. Focus on leadership qualities.
Engaged employees are likely looking for two specific qualities in their leaders: strong performance and transparency. To get the former, you might consider focusing on leadership skills—not just general job skills—when promoting an employee or hiring someone for a leadership position.
And when it comes to transparency, being open about communication may be valuable to employees while costing you nothing. Establishing multiple channels for communicating information may help, such as all-hands meetings, one-on-ones between direct managers and employees, and perhaps a company-wide newsletter. Use these outlets as ways to share important company information such as performance, goals and upcoming changes. You might use them to announce major decisions and explain the context and reasoning behind them. When employees feel like they’re in the loop, they’ll also feel more invested in their organization.
3. Help employees develop.
Finally, you might guide your employees on their path of professional growth. This means focusing beyond their current job duties and day-to-day expectations. Consider finding out what their interests are, and help them pursue those interests by giving them additional responsibilities at work. Keeping their interests piqued at work may not only keep them on their toes, but also potentially help them develop new skills.
If your employees want to move up in the ranks, it’s often helpful to make the promotion process clear, and to make sure you’ve supported their professional development so they’re prepared for the new role.
These steps don’t take much in the way of resources—just effort. But that effort may benefit your company by helping you get a stronger team, a more positive work environment, a more invested workforce and all the other benefits of high employee engagement.

Help Slow Employees Work Faster With This 6 Steps

Ah, the employees whose veins must be filled with molasses. You know the ones—you leave them with an hour’s worth of work and it takes two days before they’re finished.
There’s good news, though: Not only are there strategies for increasing these slow employees’ work speed, but when you follow these steps, you may also get better quality work out of them, too.
1. Determine why your employees are slow.
Just simply ask. Explain that you’ve noticed their speed isn’t up to par and ask what’s slowing them down. They might be confused. They might be so detail-oriented, they’re getting caught up in particulars that don’t matter to you. They may even know their performance is subpar and be glad you asked. In any case, a number of things may be causing employees to work slower than you’d like, and the first step toward a solution is determining the underlying cause.
2. Team up with them.
Employees may get defensive when they feel backed into a corner, and that’s the opposite of what you want. It may help to make it clear you’re there to help, not simply point the finger and walk away. Ask, “What can we do to improve this situation?” or “How can I help?” Sometimes the answer is there, you just have to ask the question.
3. Give clear deadlines with priorities.
You know which tasks are most important, but do your employees? While it’s great to give your staff to-do lists, it may help to prioritize tasks, or you may run the risk of your employees taking care of the least demanding and important tasks first. And don’t forget about Parkinson’s Law, that work expands to fill the time we allot for it. Don’t be afraid to give your staff clear and demanding deadlines. You won’t know how quickly they can turn projects around unless you push them.
4. Limit distractions.
Employees who feel overwhelmed may end up accomplishing very little, but if you feed them tasks a few at a time, they may be able to knock out phenomenal amounts of work. You might try to find ways to streamline your problem employees’ environments and give them the chance to succeed. Keep in mind that we may be distracted by different things. I’ve learned that I can’t have my email up and running if I’m trying to complete a complex task by a deadline, as I’m likely to be sidetracked by client questions. Determine what gets your slow employees off task and try to address those issues.
5. Find out what your employees like to do.
When you take the time to explore the tasks that make your staff feel fulfilled, you’re really trying to find out what they’re good at. While you can’t assign everyone only the tasks they enjoy, it often makes sense to work to your employees’ strengths. If you can balance jobs that feel like drudgery with jobs they love, your employees may be happier and less likely to drag their heels. You don’t have to treat work like preschool, but employees who feel a balance of fulfilled and challenged may be the most productive.
6. Give regular feedback.
So you meet with your slow employees, find out what the problems are and develop a plan to speed up their work completion. The critical last step is to follow up. Consider planning a series of meetings to discuss their performance and progress and decide how things are going. It may also be important to set incremental goals. When you have otherwise good employees who simply lag a bit, you don’t want to have to fire them if their first evaluation shows they haven’t achieved absolutely everything. Rewarding incremental progress may help you keep the tone positive, while still working toward your end goal. Constructive criticism and a focus on what they’ve accomplished may make the meeting a positive one, rather than something they’ll dread.

An added benefit to addressing the problem of slow employees in a pragmatic fashion is you’re modeling a positive method of conflict resolution in your business. Your staff sees that while you have high expectations, you don’t expect perfection. They’ll hopefully understand that you value them and their contribution enough to work toward better results. Feeling supported and valued often translates into loyal, long-term employees, ones you can trust to deliver on time.

Some Ways to Help Fix a Toxic Work Culture

At the heart of every organization is its culture. A company’s core values provide direction and help increase engagement for its team, which may keep the organization running at maximum productivity.
Unfortunately, just like a virus, a toxic work culture may be damaging to your workforce. Productivity, camaraderie, and retention may all suffer a huge hit when employees become disengaged. TINYpulse’s 2014 Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report uncovered this disheartening fact: A startling 64 percent of employees don’t feel like they’re surrounded by a strong work culture. Thankfully, there are ways to help fix a broken company culture.
– Create and Maintain a Transparent Environment
Sometimes leaders operate behind closed doors. There may be a reason, but shutting yourself off from being open with employees about information may backfire. In the TINYpulse report mentioned above, we found that transparency is the number one factor that contributes to employee happiness. Few people like to be shunned and kept out of the loop.
It may help if your employees know what’s going on in the organization, whether it’s suffering from financial pains or landing a huge client. Along with holding one-on-one meetings with your employees, you might consider having biweekly company meetings to maintain transparency. Regardless of how big or small your organization is, gathering everyone into one room may trump sending out a company-wide email that has a chance of getting lost.
– Ensure That Community Doesn’t Equal Competition
Do your employees constantly butt heads? Are they out to sabotage one another? If so, there’s a chance you’ve built a cutthroat, competitive culture, and this is sometimes a prominent characteristic of a toxic environment. When employees can’t get along with each other, your business may have a hard time succeeding.
To build and cultivate a culture of camaraderie, you may need to be consistent in measuring a culture fit during the hiring process. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever come across a bad apple in your organization. If employees’ behaviors or actions aren’t aligned with your company’s values—they sabotage their colleagues, consistently have a bad attitude or refuse to follow policies—you may want to consider letting them go. Even if this person is a top performer, the negative air they spread in the work environment may wreak havoc on other employees’ productivity and engagement.
– Listen to Your Employees Constantly
Leaders who put their employees’ voices on mute may be putting their business on the road to failure. On the other hand, a manager who asks for feedback and does nothing about it may be practically doing the same. When it comes to listening to and gathering employee feedback, there are three vital steps you might take:
-> Close the open door: When was the last time your employee came waltzing through your door with a problem? Consider an anonymous pulse survey instead. These can be sent out weekly or biweekly and feature only one question. That way, managers may stay up to date with the ebbs and flows of employee sentiment.
-> Share the feedback: If you want to help reinforce transparency, you might let your employees read through the anonymous responses so they can get a gauge on how their colleagues are feeling.
-> Find a solution together: Schedule a meeting or set aside some time during the company meeting to discuss the survey responses. Getting your employees involved in finding solutions to these issues might help them understand that you want to improve the culture for them, not just you.

Ensuring transparency, fostering camaraderie and asking for employee feedback may be the keys to rebuilding a broken company culture. Once you put your employees at the center and build a culture around their needs, you may just create a thriving environment.