Employee Survey 101

I just finished delivering an employee survey to an organization that gets it.  By gets it, I mean that they understand the importance of being purposeful about strengthening culture and the hard work it takes to grow culture.  When I think of the word to describe a key ingredient for doing this project successfully – courage.

Here are some key things to understand before starting this process.

101.1  REMEMBER:  There are two fundamental questions you are trying to answer using an employee survey:

  1. How are you feeling?
  2. How are we doing (as leaders)?

*My partner on this project made the quote:  When we do the survey we are asking your people to assign a number to what they are feeling.

101.2 The employee survey is a conversation. Remember, by definition a conversation is the information exchange of ideas by spoken words.  To have a successful conversation it requires two people that are willing to speak and listen.

101.3  The key steps in an Employee Survey

  1. Deliver the survey (It shows you want to talk)
  2. Deliver the results (it shows you are willing to listen)
  3. Follow-up conversation (It shows you ARE listening)
  4. Present back progress report at 3/6 months (It shows you listened and you value their input)

 

Talent management is about great conversations.  This can be a great conversation, but it is not an easy one.

Here is my single page of Fundamental Beliefs.  It is meant to scare you and support you at the same time.

Final thought:  Taking courage AND wisdom into a challenging task is critical if you want to be successful.  Please bring both to this if you decide to do it.

Rule 3 – NEVER cancel without rescheduling

Enough said?  You can stop here if you get it.  If you need more convincing here are 451 more words to get some clarity.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey said We judge ourselves based on our intentions.  We judge others based on their actions. Never is that statement more true than in the relationship between a leader and follower.  Do any of these examples ring true?

1.  A leader cancels a one on one because of a customer issue.  Does not reschedule it because he/she just talked to the person as they walked around the office yesterday.

Leader intention:  Customer is critical and everything stops when they call.  Plus we just talked yesterday and you know I care about you.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Here we go again.  Your issues always trump mine and this issue could have been handled by the field service team with just a little support from us.  This is the 6th time this has happened in the last 8.5678 months (slight exaggeration on the number – but do not be surprised at the human mind to keep a key measure like this).

2.  A leader has the one on one and interrupts the conversation three times because of calls from home.

Leader intention:  Apology issued before each call, and since it was his wife on all three occasions and it was an emergency it was okay because family comes first.  Family is a core value of our organization.  (Emergency = at the mechanic with their new Audi A8 and the repairs were not going well)

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  Would it be okay if I did this?  His/her spouse is a great person, but can’t this wait 20 minutes?  Isn’t this my time?  I will just cut my time/agenda short and let them deal with their issues.  Afterthought – A8?  I wonder why my evaluation/increase is six months overdue?

3.  Leader leads the time with two things that went wrong last week and they want to know what happened and why.

Leader intention:  Accountability.  If we cannot have the hard conversations then I am not doing my job.

Leader action (as interpreted by follower):  What a jelly fish.  There have been four days to talk about these things since they happened, plus I owned them and fixed them.  What about the bad decision he/she made yesterday that kept me here until 8pm to fix?  Can there be accountability there?

Being a leader is tough.  It is tougher when priorities are not clear and the tyranny of the urgent rules over the one on one time.  Never break this rule – and if you do point back to the last date/time/location/reason that it happened so they know you are keeping score too. 🙂

Talent management is about great conversations.  Follow these three rules for one on ones and you can have some great conversations.

Links related to this post:

Our Talent / Self Awareness Language – Have One?

How do you talk about what you are good at doing?  Does it sound like a list of your educational accomplishments?  Do you share the last three job titles you have?  Does some answer come out as you look awkwardly at the floor?

Developing a language around who you are, what you bring to a role, and how the learning from your past will be a fuel for your future success is where talent management starts.trUYou: our model for developing self-awareness

The challenge – making the journey for wisdom a habit and not just something you do once and then just put your head down and work for the next 10 years.

Not sure what this Journey looks like? Read the book Mastery by George Leonard or LinchPin by Seth Godin

Are you stuck with thinking of yourself as a degree or a role? Buy the book Strengthsfinder 2.o by Tom Rath and take the assessment.

What are the key things I need to understand about myself? Take a look at my trUYou™ model and fill in the boxes.  Where are your gaps?  How confident are you in the picture it paints?

I was talking to a community organization this week about coming to their area to provide a keynote for a community leadership program.  I thought  what seeds can I plant in that community to help each individual move it along and initiate some conversations among the people that will keep things going long after I leave. One tool – Strengthsfinder 2.0 and one model – trUYou™ are great ways to begin any journey towards development and performance.

Once we share a language, the conversation becomes more impactful and a learning community is born.

Sound like a great journey?

 

Social Media, Relationships, and Leadership

Relationships are built through connections.  Connections happen when we have great conversations – – over and over again.  The numbers I preach to leaders and followers alike are:

  • 5 to 1: The optimal number of positive to negative interactions in a marriage
  • 3 to 1: The optimal number of positive to negative interactions in a work relationship
  • 3:  If we have this many close friends at work we are 96% more likely to be extremely satisfied with our life
  • If I were a smoker and a loner – I will live longer if I keep smoking and find some friends

Then comes social media.  Recently I was wondering if some day I would read a headline that would turn my world/beliefs upside down.  Something like:

  • Facebook changing the way we build close friends
  • The Tweets/day  = Happiness number is known:  14
  • Top 5 social media tools for creating healthy marriages and friendships
  • Keep Smoking, but open a Facebook account

My gut tells me that ignoring social media at work and in my life, in general, is the wrong move.  I also believe the fundamental things I preach to leaders and followers about success in work, building healthy relationships, building strong teams, and building strong companies will not change.

Then I stumbled upon a great TED talk that took on the topic of social media from Sherry Turkle called Connected, but alone? . I think I will stick with what my gut tells me – even as I continue to use Foursquare.  fyi – I just became Mayor of my street and no one treats me differently. 🙂

EXTRA:  An idea for using this video with high potentials/leadership groups: Watch the video (18 minutes) and explore the following questions:

  • How do I personally use social media tools?  What benefits do they provide me?
  • How do some of the important people in my life use them?
  • What comments from the video stand out for me?  Agree?  Disagree?
  • How can I use this to become better – Leaders?  Teammates?  Friends?  (Make one commitment)

They asked: Hi Po selection, Hiring the right people, Succession Planning

For my blog readers – this is a second post inspired by questions received from HR leaders that I talked with yesterday.  It was great to see a packed lunch meeting with 100 busy HR leaders taking time to talk and go through my Talent Scorecard.  Great questions, and I was happy to get my development plan template in the hands of so many HR leaders who can hopefully use it to impact their people.  

I will start back with more normal posts next week – 150 to 300 words.  Also, I apologize for any spelling /grammar issues.  I work hard to scrub a normal post, but at 1000 words the editing to perfection is not a battle I will fight.  Remember that trUe conversations are not always done in perfect english. 🙂

How do you effectively identify high potential employees based on data rather than who the manager likes?

I am guessing this comes from a negative experience trying to convince a group of leaders that they were wrong. 🙂  First of all, HR has to argue enough with business leaders about things like compensation that do not make this conversation an argument, but make it a collaboration.  Here are a few tips to make it happen.

  • Start the process with this question:  What do we look for in a successful leader here? (Hi Pots by definition are people destined for a significant leadership role – 2 moves up in a larger organization).  Take the list and prioritize it to a top 5 critieria.
  • Insert into the conversation the definition of learning agility from the book The Leadership Machine (by Lominger).  Use that description to help the group make sure the pieces of that definition are captured in your criteria.  (I am assuming you are using a 9 box of some sort somewhere in your process)
  • Make sure there is a section called Accomplishments as part of the Talent Profile you are creating for each candidate.
  • Have the discussion and air disagreements and capture(write it down) any concerns or questions people have about this person.
  • Action Plans / Next Steps should include having leaders questioning the inclusion find an opportunity to work more closely with this person and for the leader supporting them to find ways to showcase this person’s skills in projects, presentations, etc.

I have a post talking about how developing people is like cooking in a crockpot.  Here is the link.  Do not try and microwave this process and feel like ALL the answers have to be clear at the end of the process. 

Other than personal referrals, what have you found to be the most effective way(s) of determining those who will end up being high quality employees?

This is a big one, and there are endless vendors out there ready to sell you their silver bullet solution to this problem.  My favorite solution is outlined in TopGrading, but know that it is not an easy implementation.  It will be a live long skill(that will be marketable and useful) once you master it.  I have worked/networked with lots of startup/early growth companies and here are a few tips based on what they say made a difference and a few hints from me.

  • Divide interviewing into Skills/Experience to do the job and cultural fit for your organization.  Spend some time defining your culture (values, beliefs, mission) and be purposeful about evaluating people based on that.
  • Find ways to work with people first – via contracts, projects, including a ride along with someone as part of an interview, or maybe even giving them a real problem to solve during an interview.  Too many people think interviewing starts with the posting on monster or has to be confined to questions in a room. 
  • Do a 30 day, 90 day, and 6 month review of hires to determine “Good Choice?  Bad Choice? What did we learn?  How do we apply the learning?”  Over time this will make your process better.
  • In hiring decisions center the discussion around answering three questions:  Are the willing?  Are they able?  Are the manageable?
  • Give it time.  If you only have 30 minutes to interview a hire you will likely get a 30 minute hire.  If that is good enough for the leader then move on to a manager/leader who cares.  (sorry that was a bit blunt, but there is no other way to say it.)

If we are not able to have a formal succession planning system can you please provide some other ways and/or tools that we can informally work through this with leaders we support within our organization?  Thank you!

I left the Thank you in your question because I wondered if it would still be there after I gave my answer.  🙂  My answer is No, not yet.  I say this because Succession Planning is such a big topic and really the culmination of doing the basics of Talent Management well that if it is too hard, the reasons are you are not doing the basics well and the relationships within the leadership team are probably not trusting enough to make it work anyway.  The number one barrier to this happening well at the leadership level is ego.

I do have a couple of bits of advice that hit me as I talked with the 100+ HR leaders yesterday.  Stop calling it succession planning and use the terms Most Valuable People and Most Critical Roles to identify your efforts.  I did that in my Talent Scorecard because I wanted to communicate it in more ‘non HR’ language.  Leaders might balk at the ‘valuable’ or ‘critical’ labels because they will exclude people.  This process is meant to focus scarce resources (time, money) on the most critical areas(roles) and most valuable resources(best people) in the business.  I guess the question is whether the leader proposes spending a little bit on everyone?  Another thought is “Do we want our talent management efforts to resemble socialism or capitalism?  On second thought, better hold that one back unless you want a real ideological argument.  🙂  I commit to trU Tips #18 to focus on that, so sign-up for trU Tips  and I commit to addressing this for you and others that are asking the same questions. 

In the meantime, the basics I reference are already out there on my resource page.  Check it out.

If you want clarification on any of this feel free to post a question on this blog and I will gladly do my best to answer it.

Some Hmm . . . #’s – Appreciation at work, Tablet usage, If I were CFO

Some numbers this week that made me pause – and what they might mean to a leader

 

Employee Satisfaction (from current Inc magazine – source Global Workforce Mood Tracker; Staples.com)

Share of employees who say they feel underappreciated at work:      39% (up from 32% in Feb)

Leaders:  Do you have a Habit of doing one on ones monthly?  If no – Hmmmm . . . .    Here is a posting that might help you get started. 

 

If I were the CFO . . . . Employees top choices if allowed to make afew improvements to their work environment:

  • Eliminate office politics – 44%
  • Encourage telecommuting – 41%
  • Upgrade computers – 37%
  • Improve Office Furniture – 35%
  • Provide Private Work Areas – 34%
  • Allow More Flexible Hours – 34%

Leaders:  The first one on the list is FREE.  Are you great at communicating change?  Makes a big difference.  If you are spending money next year on stuff – what about some new computers?  A few $100 flat screens might go a long way. . .

 

Tablet Usage in the US (here is the link to all the numbers)

# of people who own tablets (IPads, etc.) :  54 Million (early 2012)                  108+ (1/3 of US population) by 2015

Leaders:  Are you at least experimenting with tablets for your teachers? salesforce? Anyone for 2012?  If you are – GREAT.  If not, hmm . . ..

Typical Tablet user:

  • Wealthy (50% have $100K+ income)
  • Male, Age 18-34
  • College graduate (51%)

Leader:  Who on the exec team uses them?  Don’t assume that number is the norm . . . ..

 

Executive:  It is a good habit every now and then to have your leaders go listen to people who are listening to what people outside your company are feeling and doing.  Then ask – Is it accurate?  Is it relevant?  What should we do with it?

I like to listen.  This is just some of what I heard this week that made me go Hmm . . .

Leadership Development Starts – BEFORE you lead

I have been asked to read and review David C. Baker’s new book Managing Right For The First Time.  As I go through it I will share some thoughts that make me go Hmmmm . . .  This posting is based on one of those moments.

Your Aptitude Comes Largely From The Choices You’ve Already Made.  This is a section title from the chapter, What Managers Are and How You Become One.  It reminds us that leadership development starts the day we decide we like to work and will commit extra time to becoming better at whatever we do.  I am reminded of a CEO telling me ‘We can’t afford leadership development right now’, and realize that too many people do not see the simple steps involved in developing as a leader.

So what do we do with this wisdom? 

Use this thought as a guide for yourself/others that desire to grow as leaders.  Make a simple list of what you look for in a leader and pick one area to focus on generating success/experience in that area.  Here are some examples:

  • Leaders: Effectively deal with different personalities.  Action:  Who in this office do you dislike the most?  Go build a relationship with them and partner with them on some project.
  • Leaders:  Find solutions to problems and solve them.  Action:  Find something to fix that will take resources/time, present your solution to the leadership group, and fix it.
  • Leaders:  Help teams work together towards a common goal.  Action:  Find a not for profit or outside event, volunteer to help lead an event they have planned, and then do it.  (plan 30 minutes debriefing with your own leader what you learned)
  • Leaders:  Have infectious attitudes, are seen as positive forces in the workplace.  Action:  Ask a few close people – Am I more like Eeyore or Winnie the Pooh? (sounds stupid, but it will cut right to the point).  If you receive feedback that you are a glass half empty person, commit bringing three positive comments to every meeting for every one criticism for the next 3 months.  Ask again at the end of three months.
  • Leaders:  Make learning a habit and help others learn.  Ask two or three leaders in your company what their favorite business book it, pick one, and find 2-3 other people to read it and discuss it over 2 or 3 lunches.  Maybe invite the leader in for one session to share with you their thoughts.

Becoming a leader starts before you lead.

WI SHRM: What to do with a talent anchor?

(note:  Whenever I speak to groups I provide cards to them in case they have a question I cannot answer during our conversation(fyi:  I call all my presentations ‘conversations’).   My commitment is that I will blog answers in 2 weeks.  This question was submitted to me after my Talent Scorecard presentation at the 2011 Wisconsin SHRM Conference in Madison.  I do not edit questions – because my commitment is to answer what is asked.)

Question:  What doyou do if your most successful sales employee and shareholder is the one costing leadership to lose money and sleep?

One of my core beliefs since working with many smaller businesses is that loyalty matters, and being slow to let someone go is okay.  As I read your question two things come to mind:

  1. How is success defined for this person?
  2. When their performance is evaluated – are they judged based on WHAT they accomplish, as well as HOW they accomplish it?

I think back to a situation where the top technology person at a company struggled for years with alcoholism that caused multiple missed work days, missed deadlines, and bristled work relationships as he relapsed repeatedly at company parties, sales events, etc.  All of this, and he stayed in place for many years.

One key habit that is critical for any organization is the CEO going down the list of their people and talking through each person in terms of what they provide, what success looks like for them, and how they are performing from a metrics as well as a culture standpoint.  The key people/key role discussion that is described in the Talent Scorecard is critical to bringing focus to this issue.  Since doing this with an internal HR person is often difficult, it should be done with a board group or an outside consultant.  The value is a safe place to process information and ask yourself some tough questions.

Finally, the book SWAY made a point about irrational decisions.  In studies of people, if they looked at a situation from a net loss perspective, they were less likely to make a rational decision.  An example is investing:  When people say to themselves – If I sell today I will lose 10% of my initial investment – then the are more likely to ride it down lower, even if the outlook is grim.  People are the same way.  When they start looking at people and saying – if we let this person go then our sales will suffer, or the knowledge they have will go away – then we keep them, even if all the other evidence points to it being a bad decision.

Anything to add based on your experience?

WISHRM2011 – How to support development plans?

(note:  Whenever I speak to groups I provide cards to them in case they have a question I cannot answer during our conversation(fyi:  I call all my presentations ‘conversations’).   My commitment is that I will blog answers in 2 weeks.  This question was submitted to me after my Talent Scorecard presentation at the 2011 Wisconsin SHRM Conference in Madison.  I do not edit questions – because my commitment is to answer what is asked.)

Question:  How do you recommend supporting momentum once development plans are established?

In our time together the Talent Scorecard revealed that development plans are not being created for employees in general and high potentials.  There are 3 foundational things that need to be established are part of building the habit of creating development plans.  The foundational keys to a great development plan are: (fyi:  I will use the term follower – if you are wondering why see this post)

  1. It comes out of a great performance conversation.  By great I mean that the leader and follower sit down and agree on a couple of areas that are job related and one goal that is from the individual.  The individual goal is something focused on long term growth or pursuing an interest.  They earn the right to have a longer term goal by performing their job well and proving they can balance daily work and taking on some other assignments.
  2. The Follower owns the plan:  The individual leaves the meeting committed to pursuing the projects, classes, conversations, or whatever else needs to happen as part of the plan.  It is truly their development plan, and understand that they need to update their leader and initiate conversations around help they might need along the way.
  3.  The leader owns the support:  Support includes quarterly “How is it going?/What can I do questions?”  If there is money for travel/time away from work they commit to providing it.  If one of the development items is involvement in a project in another area or partnering with another leader to solve a problem, support might be just keeping their ears open for opportunities.  They also must be responsive if asked for help.

Finally, What can HR do to support this?  If the three things happen above, then HR should not find itself in the role of oversight.  I would say in the first year a good check-in would be to meet with leaders to review the plans and have the “What worked?/What could we do differently? discussion.

In my experience, the most difficult part of this whole process is writing the goals.  I would hate for the leader to get frustrated and say ‘good enough’ and the follower to feel kind of adrift.  One way I have seen myself bring value to this conversation is to help people imagine different ways to address development needs that fit within the constraints of the situation (time, budget, etc).  Remember that 90% of learning happens outside of a class, so often formal education is the easy and least effective way to address a need. 

I think HR could provide lots of value by telling the leaders to get close in their conversation, then feel free to send people to us to help refine the plan prior to having the leader do a final sign-off.  For some leaders, you might even find yourself spending a little time with them before the performance conversation helping them identify some recommended areas to focus on.  Again, this fits into the partner role HR should be playing without putting us in an oversight/ownership role.

I know there are some HR professionals reading this, so I welcome any other comments.

Is Your Talent At-Risk? Talent Scorecard – Part 2

I asked the roomful of HR Leaders this question:  Why  do over 50% of your CEO’s have lists of key people/key positions, and yet <20% are doing anything to follow-up on those lists? 

The room was very silent, then one lone voice offered an answer:  Talking with them would mean we are making some guarantees – and nobody wants to break a promise.  This is one of those things that make me go hmmmm . . .  statements.  I wonder what a high performer in an organization thinks of the silence?

Here are the results after I asked HR leaders to fill out the Talent Scorecard as if their CEO was doing the survey.  The only two measures are 100% and <100%, because those are they only two measures that matter.  100% means you are doing the right things.  <100% means that there is a person out there with a name, friends, bills to pay, skills/talents, and goals . . .  that is not getting their needs met.  These are basic needs.  Here are the numbers.

Key Habits for Managing Most Valuable People and Roles

  100% <100%  
1. I have a list of key people whom we cannot afford to lose AND: 56.7  % 43.3 %
  •   I have checked in with them within the last month to see how they’re doing.
40.0 % 60.0 %
  • I have written development plans for them.
20.7 % 79.3 %
2. I have a list of the key roles in my company AND: 51.7 % 48.3 %
  •  I have a performance/potential chart for people currently in each role.
17.2 % 82.8 %
  •  I have list of candidates in case of openings in these roles.
20.7 % 79.3 %
3. I have a list of high potentials for promotion and we have spoken with each person on the list within the last six months about his/her future. 14.3 % 85.7 %

 

Development programs are not a promise, they are a map.  A map that provides an individual with key places they need to visit/experience over the next 12 months in their career journey.  It gives an individual ownership of their development and puts the leader in the position of support.  So what is the ROI of this conversation?  The cost is about 2-4 hours of work on the part of the leader.  Their might be some training costs, but they should be minimal given that 90% of learning happens outside a classroom.  An effective development plan leverages real experiences and great mentors.  What is the benefit of someone being 5% more excited about their work?

For a quick look at a performance conversation tool/development plan that works see trUTips #13