Take the Stress Out of Your Performance Review Process

November 30th, 2012

Performance review season is right around the corner, and in keeping with annual tradition in most offices, both managers and employees are gearing up for an awkward ordeal. Nobody looks forward to review time. Employees dread it, managers often resent it, and HR pros aren’t usually excited about the task of adjusting payment and compensation based on subjective employee contributions. But despite their lack of popularity, annual reviews provide a necessary method of keeping salaries fair and employees engaged and motivated to perform throughout the year. So what are some of the steps managers can take to keep this important task from becoming an annual headache? Keep these considerations in mind.

Choose Your Model Carefully

The science of performance evaluation grows more sophisticated every year, and with every new behavioral study, managers are presented with new algorithms and metrics for measuring employee success. Whether you choose a nine-box, 360 degree, weighted ranking method, or any of dozens of options, make sure your format matches your workplace culture and your business model. 

Begin With Self Evaluations

Launch the conversation between managers and employees by giving employees an opening opportunity to evaluate themselves. This gives employees a sense of control over the process and it helps managers and employees start on the same page by identifying a shared set of weak points and strengths.

Consistency is Key

Even though employees won’t participate in the evaluations of their peers, the process should be standardized and managers should make a strong effort to be objective as they compare the performance of one employee with another. Of course the bar will be higher for more experienced employees than it will be for new hires, but all standards of measurement should equitable, reasonable, and fair.

Focus on Performance, Not Attitude

Make sure all metrics used to judge employee success are based on output and performance, not attitude. If an employee produces quality work, her attitude should not be brought to the table during review time. Likewise, a struggling employee with a cheery, can-do spirit is still a struggling employee. During the review, stay focused on finding ways to improve her work and raise the value of her contributions.

Conduct Reviews in a Context

Keep the big picture in mind. If reviews aren’t followed by clear actions plans, clear rewards for excellence, or clear consequences for shortcomings, then why conduct them in the first place? The review offers a valuable way to track employee growth and progress throughout the year, and the final product should help create a road map to employee and company success.

For more tips and guidance on getting the most out of your annual employee review process, consult the NC staffing experts at PSU.

Assess Your Candidate’s Teamwork Skills: Sample Interview Questions

November 23rd, 2012

The position you’re offering will require tenacity, industry knowledge, public speaking savvy, basic math skills, and a willingness to travel. But more than any of these things, this position demands a strong sense of teamwork. Your candidate will have to spend long days head-to-head with a closely knit group of peers, solving complex problems that can’t be tackled by one person alone.

A great team player will integrate seamlessly into this job and become invaluable within a week. But a candidate who’s stuck on “lead” or “follow” mode just won’t cut it. Neither will a candidate who’s emotionally unintelligent, stubborn, or insensitive to social cues. How can you tell which candidate you’re facing when you look across the interview table? Here are few sample questions that can help you find the information you need.

Sample Interview Questions Targeting Teamwork

1. Do you prefer working with a team or working by yourself? (Give the candidate a chance to elaborate.)

2. Have you ever worked with a team that failed to meet its timeline or budget goals? What went wrong and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Tell me about a group project you completed that went well. What made the outcome a success?

4. In your opinion, what are some of the features of a great team? What kinds of factors contribute to team success? How about the members of great teams—what kinds of qualities do they share?

5. Have you ever had to work with a group that faced direct competition from another group in a different department or branch of the company? How did that go?

6. When your fellow team members outshine you or pull more than their share of the load, how do you usually react?

You don’t have to ask every one of these questions, of course. But after each question you choose to ask, allow the candidate to speak for a while in an open-ended way and glean what you can from her words. Listen to the way she speaks of her teammates, her competitors, and her own contributions.

For even more reliable insight, offer group interviews instead of just one-on-one interactions between yourself and each candidate. A group setting can provide a real life demonstration of how your applicant interacts with others. Meanwhile, reach out to the NC staffing experts at PSU for additional questions that can help you assess a range of candidate skill sets, from self-direction to leadership to resourcefulness.

Salary Negotiations: Be Prepared!

November 16th, 2012

You’ve made it through the first round of a challenging application process, and as you walk out of your interview, your confidence levels are high. You’re pretty sure this job is yours, if you’re willing to accept the conditions of the offer and the salary that comes with it. But be ready: Your hiring manager may not provide a clear number, and may instead ask you to propose a potential salary and open the floor to negotiation. Here are a few tips that can help you prepare.

1. Know your market value inside and out. Research average salaries for this position in your area, average salaries with competing companies, and salaries for similar jobs with companies in other industries.

2. Once you know the averages, determine where you stand in relation to “average”. What’s the monetary value of your specific experience, accomplishments, and training?

3. Stand your ground. You don’t know your new employer very well, so you won’t be able to read his or her expressions and you’ll be at a slight disadvantage. Meanwhile, you’re one person going toe to toe against a large established organization. But don’t be flustered. Take a stand and get what you deserve.

In a second scenario, the end of the year lies around the corner, and as the date of your performance evaluation draws near, it’s a good time to be ready for another necessary conversation: your yearly salary negotiation. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you head into your manager’s office and begin to make your case for higher compensation.

1. Don’t expect to be asked. If you feel it’s time for a raise, you may have to broach the subject on your own. Time the moment properly, and keep things formal. The best approach: ask your boss for an official meeting with an established time, don’t just ambush her in the elevator or the cafeteria line.

2. Know your value. See the research tips in the first scenario above. But since you already have a relationship with this company, you’ll be in a better position to outline your accomplishments and contributions.

3. Don’t corner, blackmail, or make demands. Managers don’t usually like this. Instead, enter the negotiating process in good faith and give your manager the same respect that you expect from her.

For more detailed negotiating tips that apply to your specific situation, reach out and arrange a consultation with the NC staffing experts at PSU. We can help you navigate the challenges of this difficult but important conversation.

Seven Steps to Ensure the Retention of Top Performers

November 9th, 2012

You may be convinced that your staffing and retention strategy is above reproach. But if that’s the case, why are you still losing your top performers? Talented candidates don’t line up at the door every day, even during a job market tipped in favor of employers. When you have a miracle worker on your team, you need to pull out every stop to keep her from drifting away as soon as your competitors make a better offer. Try these seven tested moves.

Hold Onto Your Most Talented Employees: Seven Steps

1. Pay them. Don’t nickel and dime the engines that drive your company forward. Skimping on employee salaries may raise profits by a notch and impress your shareholders, but think in terms of the long run. How easy will it be to impress them after your best employees leave?

2. Engage. You expect your employees to stay awake, invested, and tuned into the larger picture. You expect them to stay focused on what works for the company and turn away from what doesn’t work. So make sure you give your employees the same respect. Watch them, make note of their growth, respect their long term career plans, and keep an eye out for ways to help them move forward.

3. Show gratitude. At every turn, you should be looking for reasons to thank your employees and offer praise. If you can’t find reasons to do this, it’s because you aren’t looking hard enough.

4. Tackle problems at the source. If your best employees appear to be struggling, or they otherwise appear disengaged or unhappy, don’t wait for a small problem to balloon into a surprise resignation letter. Approach the employee in question and be direct. Find out if you need to provide more resources, offer a promotion, or arrange a transfer.

5. Face conflict head on. The same rule applies to managing interpersonal problems. If a great employee can’t seem to work well with his new manager, or vice versa, don’t hesitate to ask questions and offer solutions. Keep an open door policy and encourage your HR team to do the same.

6. Check in frequently. The only people who truly know what your employees need in order to excel at the their jobs are the employees themselves. So ask them. Go to the source to find out more about the tools and training that might help them move forward.

7. Listen carefully. Take all employee complaints and suggestions seriously. If a small inexpensive perk or policy change might have an impact on employee satisfaction, you’ll need to hear about it, and this will only happen if you keep your ears open.

Are you looking for additional ways to keep your best employees happy, loyal, and fully committed to the success of your enterprise? The NC staffing experts at PSU are standing by to help. Arrange a consultation today.

©Year Personnel Services Unlimited, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Site Credits.