Start with a profound desire to understand how and why your people work.
Look employee engagement up online and you shouldn’t be surprised to see a fair few articles about making the workplace more human again. More human? With the exception of certain extreme situations, the average workplace consists primarily of humans and, in fact, is largely driven by humans. So why the need to become more human?
The reality is that while many organisations strive to incorporate best practices for a whole host of workplace-driven issues, there is often a gap (sometimes wide, sometimes not) in terms of what and how they achieve this.
Take employee surveys, for example. Speak to employers and they tell you how difficult it is to get people to complete these surveys. Speak to employees and they tell you how much they distrust it and feel it’s a waste of time.
Surveys can be tedious at times, and not contribute meaningfully in the short-term (or long-term for that matter).
Often, these surveys are akin to a theoretical exercise, cumbersome and time-consuming to run. The typical perception is that nothing will change in any significant way. As employers, we need many ways to get our finger on the pulse but once we do, what do we do with such information?
Making Use of Feedback
Some years back, Aon published their Future of Engagement Survey which indicated at least two alarming issues. First, much of the employee feedback was used to look back on rather than for predictive analyses. Second, the line manager’s role in using the employee data was often not emphasised – it was the HR business partner who was the primary user of this people data.
Don’t you agree that these two things need to shift? First, this relevant and timely data should be used in a proactive and forward-looking manner so that rather than simply examining past behaviours and action, you can take steps to address issues as they surface. Second, far more people need to be actively involved not just in the collection of employee data but the dissemination of the same. The same survey also indicated how technology was not often adopted in how employee feedback was communicated – a mere 6% used electronic means such as blog posts, chat rooms and webinars to share information.
The Challenge at Hand
This issue presents a challenge in many ways, yet simultaneously, an opportunity too. With organisations now ever more dispersed, more mobile and grappling with an ever increasing data overflow, it begs the question how we can leverage technology to ease our lives, simplify processes, automate simple tasks and ultimately, improve employee engagement across as many levels as possible.
This is why tech platforms like SelfDrvn which incorporate gamification and real-time feedback are so successful – they put the employee in the driver’s seat. They involve the employee in identifying what works and what does not as well as source new ideas about potential remedial action. Most organisations have top management defining remedial action but with platforms like these, increased employee involvement means a greater degree of ownership and therefore, greater responsibility on them, for making the workplace great again. It shifts the “I-centric” viewpoint from that of the employer to that of the employee. And that’s not a bad thing.
Digital transformation is not only disrupting established business models. It’s disrupting time-honored career paths as well.
Once, an ambitious professional could take a straightforward path to build experience and reputation in an area of business anywhere from the work-station to the corner office. Anything beyond that was already mapped out for them. However, traditional corporate silos and the career paths leading to the top of them are changing as emerging technologies become crucial to every aspect of doing business.
We live in a digital world where continuously advancing technology has been influencing the day-to-day lives of humans. Digital technology has influenced various fields globally including, but not limited to: education, economy, politics, and business.
With digital technologies like mobility, social networks, automation, big data and cloud computing now deeply implanted into every aspect of our professional and personal lives, today’s HR Mentors/CHROs/HR leaders need to possess a completely new set of understanding on business and HR to sustain the transition, and succeed in this digital era.
Another interesting trend is that in the last two years, a rough estimate indicated that about 300 CHROs have moved from one company to another, or have taken up a self-employed status for various reasons. Change is the new normal.
During our discussions with several CEOs of large organizations, it was found that in CEOs perceptions, especially in the HR domain, that there is no great difference in terms of skill sets needed for execution of HR activities in the organizations between Number One and Number Two.
To understand the implications of this change, we did a survey with our known people through attending various HR conferences in India and overseas, alongside having detailed discussions, analyses, and assessments with HR professionals and practitioners. We asked senior and middle-level HR managers of many large and medium-size organizations in private sectors one question: How do they spend their 8 hours every day in the office?
As a result, it was expected that in-house HR function are broadly getting divided into two parts:
1. OPERATIONAL: Tech HR, which is technology-led HR processes to achieve high productivity and efficiency. 95 – 100% of the HR processes are technology led today. In fact, the entire HR experience is technology-led from Recruitment & Selection, Onboarding, Performance Management, Induction Training, Compensation etc.
2.STRATEGIC: Governance (Organizational and Policies), and Compliances (labors laws, Industrial and employees relations). Organization design, structuring, designing and revising people policies, Compliances, employee relations and industrial relations and HR Audits. These are primarily strategic and technical HR functions designed to achieve effectiveness.
Learning & Development is increasingly becoming a coordination function, delivered through internal and external HR mentors with hands-on expertise. Some training modules are also available in-house and on online portals. Small bytes of learning can be accessed through video or skill-sharing sites. Face-to-face training designed to build up confidence, experience sharing, interactions, on how to work with the group, and the art of getting things done through team members will continue to be imparted through classroom, or off-site formats to bring in hands-on experience to participants.
Many of us are realizing that the past is no longer an indicator of future certainties. This makes career planning, and career development somewhat of a challenge.
We feel that the demand for HR professionals with expertise in these above two functions will increase. Especially for Number 2, as this constitutes rare experience and therefore, the importance of the HR function will increase tremendously.
HR will increasingly apply design thinking concepts for studying working activities and work-lives of the employees, to develop interactions, systems, and tools to make their employees’ work and lives better.
Therefore, the capability, capacity, and commitment of HR professionals will be put on trial in years to come. This profession will be in great demand and will be under great stress to deliver results in supporting the operations of organizations, with the ultimate goal of staying commercially viable in the marketplace.
It is foreseen that employment in the service sector will grow through direct and indirect, third-party roles. These third-party roles have already touched many millions in India. In a nutshell, to stay relevant, it is found that organizations who wish to increase the value of personal experience will have to constantly upgrade themselves in keeping to the context, content, and technology that is churned out before them.
Rakesh Seth: Chief HR Mentor, Corporate Trainer, Author, Writer, Speaker, Visiting Professor.
Springing up from your desk when your colleague informs you that your boss is calling you in a cabin to give you feedback with questions in mind like, “What have I done?”, “Did I make some huge mistake?”, “Are they going to fire me?” or “Am I not doing my job properly?”. This mindset of people makes the word feedback so negative and you are spoken to or given feedback only when you do something wrong or incorrect.
Today let’s dive into the depths of this word which makes people sweat and see if there can be a positive change which will help people develop their skills or motivate people to continue with the same effort and produce strong output.
Positive and negative feedback
Everybody knows that there are two types of feedback one is negative other is positive. As the names suggest, positive feedback is when an employee has achieved a milestone or has been performing exceptionally well. Negative feedback is the other side of the coin, i.e. when the performance is not up to the mark, behavior or professionalism issue. It is easy to give positive feedback as there are no awkward silences or discussions that take place. However, one must be very cautious while providing negative feedback as it can be demotivating and the person at the receiving end might lose their morale.
One on one and group feedback
The generic feedback that applies to a group or all the team members that do not specify a person’s performance can be provided during a team meeting. However, it is of utmost importance that individual feedback should be given in a one on one manner. Discussing feedback in front of others can cause low self-confidence, and it might be difficult for the employees to trust you with any concerns they may be facing, or they would be reluctant to approach you which can hamper productivity.
Ensuring regular feedback
It is very crucial to provide regular updates and feedback as an employee will feel looked after and have a clear mindset of the target to achieve and how to progress to achieve the same. Keeping your employees updated about their performance, checking for any difficulties and challenges that they might be facing. It can get tedious to provide constant feedback to employees, so use a software that helps ease your life; employees can share their problems on these platforms, or you can use social media to be in constant touch with your team members. If you are approachable or available to your team in their time of need and there is a healthy bond between team members the feedback given gets implemented much easily.
Mix and match your feedback
Nobody likes to listen to negative things, and neither do your employees. Try and understand why there is a downfall or dip in the performance of an employee, start with the positives and do not compare. When you include positive and negative, it cuts down the negativity, and the employee feels that they are appreciated for the work they are doing. The sense of being critical to the organization develops a bond which can benefit both the employee and the employer immensely. With this technique, the negative feedback is taken as a guide to improve their performance rather than a judgment.
Feedback should never be one-way it should always be two-way conversations. Every day is a new day, and we learn many new things from our peers and colleagues. When you implement feedbacks and get critiqued for your work is when you grow as it helps understand the right method to get the assigned work completed. You can achieve your goals and a post in an organization that has or follows to and fro feedback system. If management is open to feedback from employees, it will enhance the work environment and functioning. Be a leader, not a boss and strive to improve your team alongside, learn and grow together to attain goals and immense job satisfaction.
People spend more than half of their life at a workplace, and if one does not feel valued and do not get the opportunity to grow, work can seem hectic and stressful. Hence, it is significant to tend to your employee’s needs and assist them to develop with accurate feedback. You will grow when your team grows. No matter how great or poor the outcome is, always give and receive feedback positively.
Do not let your emotions or perception about someone command over your better judgment. Try and place yourself in your employee’s shoes before you give feedback to understand what the reaction might be or if you sound harsh as words cut through sharper than a knife. Just like Frank A. Clark states, “Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”