How to Encourage Lifelong Learning in Employees
Career growth and upskilling are some of the most significant factors behind employee retention. The HR Reporter reveals that nine out of ten Canadian employees feel stagnant in their roles, leading to hesitations on whether they should stay at their current workplace or find another job. It isn’t for lack of trying, though, as almost half of the current workforce has expressed the desire to develop their professional skills. The problem is that many employees don’t know where to begin. As such, it’s up to an organization’s leaders to provide opportunities so employees can learn these new skills. This way, they’ll have a chance to grow professionally and become lifelong learners who are also more engaged in their work. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to accomplish this as a business leader.
Include learning as a performance goal
Employees must have work targets in order to succeed. It guides them on what is expected of them, essentially serving as motivation in the form of objectives to hit. Considering that workers would be focused on this, it would be highly beneficial to include a learning aspect in performance goals. In fact, a survey revealed that 88% of Canadian employees believe that goal setting impacts their job performance. Examples of accomplishments that fall under this category are a license or a certification from platforms like Coursera or Google, proving that they studied and learned how to do a specific skill. By incorporating these into their goals, employees would have something concrete to work towards, and it would also serve as a measure of their growth.
Provide access to learning resource platforms
Effective leaders invest in the development of their employees, most often in the form of seminars or digital tools, as outlined in our post "How To Stay Ahead of the Curve". Apart from the more common group programs, self-directed learning opportunities have also been proven successful as long as employees have the proper resources. One such platform that provides world-class learning materials is Studocu. Available online, it offers over 20 million educational resources from an active study community across the world. Signing up opens up a selection of higher-education course materials on a variety of topics at different skill levels. This allows employees to easily tailor the study materials to their needs. Employees can also benefit from a platform like Scribd, which hosts millions of eBooks, journals, and audiobooks. Giving your employees access to these avenues equips them with the tools that can help them learn at their own pace and personal style.
Create social learning opportunities
Although leaders play a huge part in the growth of employees, over 55% of Canadian workers report that they also learn a lot from their peers, as per a recent Canadec survey. This is the social learning theory in practice. Introduced by Canadian-born psychologist Albert Bandura, this theory states that people learn behaviors from interacting with and observing others. It’s highly useful in a workplace setting as employees will typically have a diverse pool of peers to learn from. With this, employees can be more competent and well-rounded as they gain insights by watching others work. Thus, it’s the role of a leader to provide avenues in which employees can engage with one another. On top of encouraging in-person breakout sessions, providing communication platforms such as GSuite and Slack can streamline communication efforts and give employees a tool to learn from their colleagues.
Recognize employee achievements
A report from Benefits Canada found that 57% of employees feel that meaningful professional recognition can increase the likelihood of them staying in a role. Similarly, feeling valued by bosses can increase engagement, which is critical for better productivity. That being said, in terms of encouraging lifelong learning, it can be worthwhile to acknowledge when an employee has finished a course or a training program. A service like Qarrot can help you reward employees who contribute to your company in various ways. For instance, you can track and appropriately incentivize an employee who finishes an upskilling course. With an employee recognition program, your employees can be further motivated to continue performing and learning for their roles.
As a leader, it’s important to prioritize the growth of your employees to get the best out of their performance. Follow the tips above to help them engage in lifelong learning. For more ways to strengthen workplace engagement, try Qarrot today.
Redefining productivity by prioritizing outcomes over output
How do you define productivity? Do you look at the hours worked, the effort expended, and the exhaustion incurred? Or do you look at results? If you’re in the first camp, you might be measuring productivity all wrong.
Prioritizing output has long been the traditional way of gauging employee productivity. But think about it this way: is the most effective person on your team the one who takes eight hours to complete a project…or the one who can bring about the same or superior results in half the time?
Don’t despair if you’re late to the “outcomes over output” party–but keep reading for a way of assessing employee effectiveness that’ll change your company for the better.
Burnout culture is on its way out
We’ve all been in careers where we felt a certain pressure to appear dog-tired from all the work we put in.
Late nights and early mornings were glorified, and coming in on our days off was a badge of honor. These were habits we adopted to show our bosses that we’d work ourselves to the bone to hit company goals. We were expected to be grateful for the opportunity to wear ourselves down in exchange for a paycheck.
But there’s a major cultural shift taking place, one that places employee wellness and satisfaction above burnout.
A record number of American workers left their jobs in November 2021–4.5 million, to be exact. These employees weren’t leaving the workforce; they were breaking up with their employers. And with 11.3 million positions waiting to be filled across the U.S., the unhappy and overworked have plenty of options at their disposal.
Long gone are the days when employees had to take whatever job they could find. And companies who want to minimize turnover and avoid staffing shortages would be wise to change how they gauge productivity.
A new take on an old concept
When we talk about prioritizing outcomes over output, we mean shifting the focus away from individual behaviors and onto specific results. In other words, as long as the job gets done and gets done well, your employees have fulfilled their obligations.
To put this into perspective, consider your own company work model, and ask yourself which components are necessary and which aren’t.
Do your employees really need to report at 9:00 am on the dot and remain glued to their computers for five hours before their first break? Or does that rule exist because that’s how it’s always been done? If an employee knocks out all of the day’s tasks by lunchtime, why are they beholden to run up the clock all afternoon?
The purpose of growing your team is to see improved results, whether it be to increase revenue, secure new clients, or expand your audience. None of these things requires a workaholic mindset to come to fruition, yet all of them can still be achieved when you move away from output-oriented culture.
How this shift in priorities helps your bottom line
Transforming your company in this way requires effort, and it won’t be easy to get everyone on board. You may even have doubts yourself. But when you consider the far-reaching benefits, both in the short and long terms, it’s hard to argue against redefining how you measure productivity.
Reduced sick days
Absenteeism is the bane of any employer’s existence. Employees calling in sick, using PTO at inconvenient times, or not showing up at all can throw a major wrench in your operations.
If your staff has more control over when and how work gets completed, however, they won’t need to request time off nearly as much. Not only does this ensure that high-priority tasks are tended to on time, but it also means less revenue lost to employee absence.
Lower turnover rates
People stay where they’re happy, plain and simple. An employee with zero downtime, poor work-life balance, and a sense that the big bosses are always breathing down their neck is more likely to jump ship than the employee whose time and autonomy are honored.
We’re seeing this exact dynamic play out across the labor market, with workers ditching low-satisfaction jobs for positions that respect these employees’ inherent value. You want your company to be the one they’re running to, not from.
Counterintuitive though it may seem, prioritizing outcomes over output can actually boost productivity.
The reasoning behind this is almost too simple: when you measure productivity by results realized, you’re looking for efficiency. The most efficient employee, therefore, isn’t the one who takes all day to get back to a top client. It’s the one who calls the client and makes the sale right away. But if your staff knows they’ll be at work for eight hours no matter how well they manage their time, what incentive do they have to work harder?
By adjusting your focus, you also adjust how your employees approach their job functions as a whole, giving them a reason to get you those results faster.
How to change your productivity metrics
If you’re convinced that this culture shift is in your company’s best interest, you need to take concrete steps toward reconstructing how you measure productivity. Here are a few to get you started:
- Cut out busywork. Your employees should only perform work that’s directly linked to the company’s goals.
- Be clear about results. Your staff can’t hit a target they can’t see. Let your employees know exactly what results you expect to see from the work they do, and be as specific as possible. “Increase revenue” isn’t nearly as helpful as “increase sales by 10%.”
- Share timelines. It’s perfectly okay to give your employees deadlines, and in fact, it’s necessary. Setting a target date for when those aforementioned results should be achieved will only help your staff to manage their time appropriately and effectively.
- Loosen the reins. You’ve simplified job duties, communicated goals, and implemented timelines. Now, trust your team to get it done.
Defining productivity by outcomes over output may feel foreign, but it’s one of the best ways to maximize efficiency and improve employee satisfaction. Particularly in the age of remote work and employee empowerment, can you really afford not to make this shift?
8 ways to empower employees to take charge of their personal development
Free lunches and gym memberships are great, but they’re not enough to boost your employee retention rates. On average, losing an employee costs 33% of their salary. Considering how difficult it is to find new talent during the current labor shortage, losing even one of your employees could wound your bottom line. If you want to keep your employees around, you need to show them you truly care about them. Empowering them to take charge of their career and personal development is one way to show your employees you genuinely care about their success and wellbeing.
1. Goals in the onboarding process
Use the onboarding process to help new hires define goals for their career and personal development. By starting at the beginning, you can guide your employees through the process of creating a tailored learning path to help them succeed in their role (and beyond). If you use skills assessments in your recruiting process, you can use those insights to inform areas for improvement.
Empowering employees to tackle self-development from the start of their time at your organization will show them that they are in control of their future. This perspective shift can help them view their new role as a growth opportunity instead of feeling like they are a slave to your bottom line. The more in control of their future they feel, the more likely they will want to continue their journey at your company.
2. Promote a culture of lifelong learning
Inspire your employees to keep learning, no matter their stage of life. Consider handing out a new personal development book for employees to read each quarter. Hold a meeting dedicated to discussing takeaways. Make sure you guide your team through the process of converting their new knowledge into actionable steps that will push them toward their goals, both personal and professional.
3. Implement learning into everyday work
Investing in your employees by providing them with the tools and time they need to learn while they do their jobs is a valuable investment for your company. Try integrating learning into your employee’s day-to-day workflow. Consider offering platforms like LinkedIn Learning or SkillShare where employees can learn new skills in an interactive way, tracking their progress. Employees will especially appreciate online courses that will bolster their resumes, and LinkedIn Learning certificates can be added directly to their profiles.
4. Give employees more autonomy
When employees are micromanaged, they feel suffocated. And, even worse– they feel like you don’t trust them to do their jobs well. Data shows that allowing employees their autonomy makes them happier, more engaged, more motivated, and better performers overall. Switch to a hands-off management approach by creating all the conditions your team needs to succeed, then stepping back so they can show you why you hired them in the first place. Giving employees more autonomy helps them improve their creative problem-solving and decision-making skills. This will create a noticeable change in confidence.
5. Outcomes-based work
Instead of counting the hours employees spend tapping away at their keyboards, try counting productivity and performance based on outcomes. Every project should have a goal for each person involved. Reward employees for the outcomes they achieve rather than the time they spend on the job. This creates another shift in perspective. Instead of feeling like they are running on a hamster wheel, your team will feel like they are accomplishing goals for the company. Each outcome achieved will be viewed as a personal achievement.
6. Listen to employees and build trust
Open communication and empathy are key to empowering employees. When managers are more approachable, teams are more comfortable sharing ideas and challenging one another to find the best solutions. Research shows that 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer. Empathy shows your team that they are understood and valued.
When employees trust that you genuinely care about their personal development, they are more likely to achieve their goals, and there’s data to back this. Companies with high-trust cultures report stock market returns two or three times above market average, turnover rates 50% lower than competitors, and increased employee engagement, innovation, and satisfaction.
7. Encourage problem-solving- assign problems rather than tasks
By assigning problems rather than tasks, you show employees that you believe in their abilities and trust that they will land on the best possible solution. This boosts confidence and helps employees learn the skills they need to excel in their careers. Of course, there will always be times when employees fall short of the solution you would have picked. It's important to maintain an open line of communication where you can provide honest feedback without killing the employee’s motivation. After all, making mistakes and fixing them is how we learn.
The more you encourage your employees to problem-solve on their own, the better they’ll get at figuring out the right course of action the first time. If you’re really worried about the outcome of assigning problems, have your employees come to you with a proposed solution prior to taking action. This gives you the opportunity to tell your employees why you do or don’t agree with their decision. You can even have your employees defend their decision to you as another great learning opportunity.
8. Give recognition where it’s due
When employees reach their goals, recognize and reward them. This is another way to show you genuinely care about their successes and that you are cheering on their progress. Rewarding employees for their successes helps motivate them to continue working on bigger goals. Plus, it’s a good way to get all employees involved in your personal and professional development initiatives– even those who may not be as enthusiastic about empowerment.
Being a manager is about more than leading your employees through their day-to-day operations. It’s about empowering employees to be the best version of themselves, providing them with the tools they need to grow within the company. This outlook creates trust and improves relationships within the organization, creating a productive, goal-oriented work environment. Leaders who empower employees are more likely to have team members who peers perceive as highly creative and helpful. When you foster a culture of personal development, you encourage your employees to lift each other up. This makes it easier for everyone involved to continue learning and growing.
10 Reasons a skills assessment tool supports employee growth
Skills assessment tests are a vital part of the recruitment process. But the dynamic nature of the job market makes them equally essential for already working employees as well.
Crucially, pre-employment skills assessment and post-employment skills assessment should not be the same.
Having a robust assessment structure enables companies to make the most of their workforces. It also ensures that they have the requisite skills needed to perform tasks expected of them.
Skills assessment tests have traditionally been manual, requiring a good degree of effort and internal coordination to use. However, today an increasing number of digital tools are available and that are much easier and faster to deploy. Importantly, understanding skill levels across an organization better enables managers and executives to plan a blueprint for future employee growth.
This article discusses ten reasons skills assessment tools are contributing to employees’ growth in the modern job world.
What are skills assessment tests?
82% of the companies use skills assessment tests in one form or another.
Skills assessment tests are scientific and formal evaluation methods that help in gauging employee potential. They enable the organization to comprehend where the employees stand presently and if they have the requisite skills to succeed in their current position.
While traditionally we have seen skills assessment tests happening during the onboarding process, employers have realized their importance and have started conducting them periodically for their existing workforce.
10 reasons skills assessment tools support employee growth
While some people come prepared for their position, others learn by experience. A capable skills assessment tool doesn’t differentiate based on how employees have honed their skills but focuses on measuring their capabilities in a consistent and cost-efficient way.
Here are ten ways skills assessments tools have helped employees grow professionally –
- Eliminates bias
Most employees complain of workplace politics acting as a bottleneck and hindering their proper growth. Undertaking a skills assessment test would help employees prove their mettle without the negative effects of favoritism and bias.
- Unearths skill gaps
75% of employers reported difficulty in hiring because they faced skill gaps in job candidates. Accordingly, employers often hire people who may not be the best fit for the job position they hold. So management actively undertakes periodic monitoring of their development via skills assessment tests.
- Developing personalized development plans
The world is fast-changing. Employees are often required to learn new skills to keep up with technological and industry changes. Accordingly, it is increasingly common to hire based on a candidate's positive attitude towards personal and professional growth, knowing that they’ll continue to evolve once hired.
Employing a robust skills assessment tool enables organizations to support employees as they encounter the need to develop new skills by identifying gaps in a timely fashion.
- Tests ability to adopt new skills
The pandemic proved to the world that change is the only constant. Many workers quickly shifted to WFH as the new normal, which required getting used to a different way of working and adopting new tools. This has highlighted the need for workforces to be flexible and adaptable as their work environments change. A good skills assessment test can inform employers about how well their employees are adapting to their changing work environment.
- Helps in reskilling and upskilling
The year 2020 helped most of us unearth previously unknown skills we may not have paid enough heed to. It also showcased the need to continually evolve to stay relevant. It is why employers are encouraging their existing employees to reskill and upskill with the support of skills assessment tests.
- Helps employees understand expectations
A periodic skills assessment is not only an effective way to help employees understand any gaps they may have in their current position, but also a great way to help them discover their potential for promotions within the company.
It’s not uncommon for employees to be promoted without all of the necessary skills for their new position, which can unfortunately lead to disillusionment, frustration, and sometimes to the employee leaving for another job elsewhere.
- Career development
Ambitious workers are often looking forward and working towards their next promotion or lateral move. Engaging in regular assessment tests better enables them to gauge their progress and confirm that they are strengthening the requisite abilities to rise and succeed.
- Garner interesting projects
There can often be projects that are deemed outside of your purview by your employer. But by demonstrating your skills in a highly valued area, it obliges your employer to take notice. Increasing your employer’s awareness of your talents is a great way of getting access to new exciting opportunities and projects.
- Helps unearth the leader in you
Several skills assessment tests are dedicated to finding leadership talent amongst employees. These are highly specialized, and the tools offer actionable insights alongside gauging leadership capabilities in an employee. It allows the organization to place the right people in the proper position and enables capable employees to supercharge their career trajectory.
- It helps differentiate similar employees
Skills assessment tests, when used effectively, can assist employers in better differentiating between similar profiles within their workforce. Not only does this allow certain employees to shine, but companies are better able to place employees in the roles for which they are best suited.
Employability skills testing during the recruitment process is vital, so is a periodic skills assessment test for existing employees. It allows employees to understand their current position, unearth their true potential, and devise a better career trajectory for them. In addition, using a robust and accurate skills assessment tool would further enable them to figure out even the minutest aspects that would help them attain sustainable growth in the long run.
5 strategies for successful goal setting
Goal setting is a fundamental step in the growth and development of every employee. From boosting employee productivity and morale to optimizing communication - successful goal setting is as beneficial as it is integral to any organization.
Although goal setting may be perceived as an unnecessary administrative burden, in reality, it’s an opportunity to further unlock team members’ potential. More often than not, employees appreciate the opportunity to discuss both near-term and longer-term professional goals with their manager. Goal setting is a chance to refocus your employees’ attention to where and how they should be prioritizing their time, laying the groundwork from them to achieve, and maybe even exceed those expectations.
As the saying goes, failure to plan is planning to fail. Here are 5 ways you can set your employees up for success, and keep them both motivated and engaged while working towards any goal.
Set goals with a definite timeline
What’s the difference between a dream and a goal? An end date. Whether you want to have a goal met by the end of the week or the end of the year, an end date makes the goal real and will motivate your employees to meet that deadline. When it comes to deciding on a completion date, make sure to also take possible conflicts or roadblocks into consideration. Try to find the right balance between a realistic timeframe that will keep your employees motivated, but also one that will not cause unnecessary stress. Whether you circle the date on your calendar, set an alarm on your phone, or follow a daily countdown - it’s time to grind!
Set goals that align with organizational values
Whenever one of your employees hits a goal, their achievement will contribute to the overall success of your team - so goals should always be planned within the scope of your organization's values and aspirations. When goal setting with your employees, circle back, and establish how that specific goal will benefit the overall team. Why is that particular goal important, and how will it contribute to future plans or next steps within the organization? Organizations will only evolve as employees develop - effective goal setting will ensure that your company can scale successfully.
Related Article: How to give feedback to get better results
Set goals that are measurable
As the saying goes, sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination. Those who achieve their goals know how to track benchmarks and growth from the very start. Identifying key metrics or indicators of success are great for establishing when and how a goal is met, but also monitoring progress. Ensuring goals can be tied to something measurable will not only keep employees accountable but can be both informative and encouraging when reflecting back on progress made.
Set goals in an open feedback loop
When it comes to goal setting, the last thing you want to do is establish a goal then hang your employees out to dry. Make it a habit to check in with them and discuss how their progress is coming along, or ask if they need any additional support. Goals may need to be altered or tweaked based on organizational changes, and it’s much easier to regroup when everyone is on the same page. Plus, performance reviews or one-on-one feedback meetings never seem as daunting or intimidating when there has been constant, open communication.
Related Article: Benefits of Positive Reinforcement in the Workplace
Celebrate achieved goals to pave the way for continued growth
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways you can boost employee morale and performance. Whether an employee achieves their end goal or accomplishes a crucial stepping stone along the way, it’s important to recognize a job well done. Acknowledging employees for wins both big and small will encourage them to challenge themselves while also building confidence in their abilities. So celebrate your employees when they crush goals, then encourage them to strive for even more!
Learn how you can recognize and reward your people your way - request a demo with Qarrot!
How to encourage employee alignment in times of growth
Employee engagement is the key to employee alignment. As your company grows, your vision, mission, and values for your company can become diluted. This can sometimes lead to organizational misalignment. A few signs of a misaligned company are:
- Difficulty scaling
- Decision-making is a long and complicated process
- Silos exist with little to no communication between them
The “not my department” mentality kills morale. That misaligned culture will not allow your company to scale and it will slow down the production and productivity of everyone involved.
So how can we encourage employee alignment, especially in times of growth?
Align vision, mission, and values
To align vision, mission, and values you first have to identify what might be hindering your company’s efforts to get employees behind its vision and creating misalignment. Sometimes it’s a simple policy that needs to be updated, but often misalignment is the result of something much bigger. Identifying the problem first will help you move towards solving it.
One of the most important factors aiding this process is proper and clear communication. Ineffective communication can lead to assumptions. Assumptions about what your company values may not align with the message or culture, you are trying to achieve.
For example, Company A has proudly introduced a new mission statement built around a culture of innovation. The CEO boasts about the creativity of employees, the new option for employees to allocate up to 20% of their time working on new ideas, and a rewards initiative to encourage employee involvement. However, prior to developing its new mission statement, Company A suffered from a highly siloed culture and poor cross-departmental communication. A lack of collaboration and communication between departments can stifle any innovation initiative, no matter how much boasting the CEO does. This culture misalignment not only sends mixed messages to employees, but it completely undermines upper management’s aspirations for Company A to become more innovative. The likely result of such a situation is more unengaged employees and very little true innovation.
First by identifying the problem, in this case, a highly siloed culture, upper management can develop a strategy to better align the company’s culture with its new mission. That strategy may include training for managers, smaller cross-departmental initiatives to initiate collaboration and communication, and encouraging employees to celebrate those behaviors.
Assess and measure
“What gets measured gets improved.” - Peter Drucker
Misalignment between departments of a growing company isn’t a simple fix. Reporting on progress is important to assess if the re-alignment strategy is being effective. It’s hard to motivate multiple departments to report on progress if they don’t buy into the overall project vision first.
Once you can clearly and concisely communicate the benefit of better alignment, you need to develop certain KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, that will become critical indicators of progress toward your intended results. Every organization should know how to measure how well the efforts of their employees are impacting company objectives. KPIs provide a focus for operational improvement and create an analytical basis for decision-making.
Create goals that align departments
When you think about breaking down silos and encouraging better communication, change won’t happen overnight. A clear view of the outcome you want to achieve and a plan for moving forward are a great place to start. But cultural change is the result of adopted behaviors and actions and often requires active communication, support, and reinforcement. A gamification and rewards system can encourage the adoption of the behaviors and actions you want to encourage.
With Qarrot, you can create award campaigns for employees to participate in. Say, for example, the misalignment exists between department managers and Payroll. Payroll says employees are not filling out their time-sheets on time and this is putting stress of the payroll department incurring additional costs. Employee managers say they are putting pressure on employees to fill out timesheets, but they have no real way to measure success until Payroll contacts them again.
To encourage employees to fill out timesheets using a rewards and recognition system like Qarrot, the Payroll manager can set up an ongoing campaign to award points every time they record their action of filling out a timesheet. This offers the employee an incentive to fill out their timesheet, as well as a way for department managers to see who is, and who isn’t, participating in the process.
As your company grows, company alignment is critical. Aligning department efforts, and aligning employees to your mission, vision, and values of the company are as important as developing KPIs to communicate the success of your alignment efforts to the people who need to know.
Ready to see how Qarrot can help boost your employee alignment efforts during times of organizational growth?
How to give feedback to get better results
What is the one thing that would make most managers better? The ability to provide effective feedback to their employees.
We know employee feedback is important, but there is a proper way to provide feedback that will produce better business results. First, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Does the phrase "performance review" put your stomach in knots?
- Are there particular employees you know will be more difficult to provide feedback to than others?
- Do you dread offering criticism?
Honestly, if you answered YES to any of the above questions, you’re already in the wrong frame of mind for providing feedback that will actually offer value to your employees. Accurate feedback is the key to engaging people and keeping them on track. Feedback, when done right, with the right intentions, can lead to better business results by helping motivate employees to meet professional goals. Business success is the result of aligning professional goals with the overall goals of the organization.
So, what’s the trick to providing effective feedback? Here are a few tips to consider:
Criticism isn’t always easy to take, let alone deliver, but if done appropriately, with enough thought, and the best intentions behind it, the benefit is that it should help to increase the productivity of the worker receiving the feedback. The constructive part of “constructive criticism” is in the plan to do better. It gives an employee an objective to work for. Non-constructive criticism, or griping if you will, will have the immediate and opposite effect. Nobody likes to be criticized but if it leads to growth it’s easier to handle and easier to convey.
Focused attention on particular feedback will have greater results than when combined with other issues. If the feedback you are giving to an employee is negative you may be tempted to start with a compliment, thinking it will help soften the blow of the criticism. This just muddies the waters of your message. If your intention is to provide feedback with the objective of changing a particular behavior or motivating for better performance, then the focus should be placed solely on that topic in your discussion, and on that topic alone. The same goes for a compliment. Praise goes a lot further and provides more value when not combined with any other motives.
Quarterly and annual reviews are great! They can provide valuable insight as to how an employee is performing and meeting business objectives. They can provide areas to work on moving forward to the next quarter, or year, and offer benchmark data for overall employee performance. However, feedback that provides the best results is offered in the immediate. Issues need to be dealt with as they arise. Wins need to be celebrated as they occur!
Know your audience
Depending on the type of feedback your managers are offering, and the personality type of the employee, you must be mindful that there’s a time and a place for everything. Never criticize publicly. Studies have suggested that public disapproval, or putting someone on the spot with negative feedback, can alienate and embarrass the employee. This will only lower their ability to process the feedback constructively. Subsequently, caution should be exercised in sharing positive feedback publicly too. Congratulations and acknowledgment for a job well done in a public setting is something to be left to your discretion. Some employees LOVE public acknowledgment when some loathe being the center of attention.
Stick to performance
This is one of the hardest things to keep in mind when providing feedback to employees. We discussed remaining constructive, but more than that, stick to words that don’t discuss the personality traits of the employee. Focus on discussing “things they do,” rather than, “who they are.” The best way to help an employee acknowledge and be responsible for their habits or behavior is to discuss them, openly and without personal judgment. As soon as you start discussing overall personality you’ll lose their attention and worse, they could become resentful. Example, instead of saying “You’re a lazy team member, you’re always late!” try, “Your being late hurts our team performance.”
Observe peer recognition
Do you have employees who are loved by their co-workers? Let them know it! Morale and engagement levels in any workplace strongly depend on how well people get along. It’s true that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. Praising positive team spirit can encourage staff to share that behavior and affect your overall company culture.
Can you think of any other tips to help managers provide better feedback to their employees?
Employee recognition software can be a valuable tool for managers when providing feedback. Using software like Qarrot, employees can recognize one another and be awarded points for meeting or exceeding sales quotas, goals and objectives. These peer-to-peer and manager recognitions are immediate and favorable to the employee. Employees can turn in points as they earn them for gift cards or other prizes set by the company.
More than that though, managers can view, in real-time, as employees engage with each other. In the company feed managers can see as employers reward points, as well as comment on the achievements of others as they are earned in the system.
Managers can also quickly export reports to see who earned, or rewarded, points for a selected time period. The nature, and frequency, of an employee’s engagement with company programs, such as Qarrot, is a strong indicator of the overall engagement an employee has with their team, to their goals, and to their job overall. Nothing can better indicate a need for feedback, and coaching, than disengagement. Just remember to use the tips we provided above!
Curious how Qarrot can help you provide better feedback for your employees? Book a Demo, we’d be happy to give you a look around our product and show you how it works!
5 performance tips for the Gen-Y CEO
By most accounts, around 3 years ago we crossed the Rubicon. Millennials, who had been rising up the leadership hierarchy and already knocking on the door, started taking over the corner office, sometimes even at very large organizations.
For a Gen-Y CEO to be at the helm when millennials are entering the workplace in record numbers is only appropriate. However, the current moment is also a major transition, with significant members of Gen-X still part of the workforce, and often in senior positions. This brings about unique challenges for a Gen-Y CEO and helping organizations navigate this transition successfully, while empowering leaders of the future, will be critical to the success of an organization going forward.
With a lot of existing management literature on managing performance being made obsolete in the current scenario, and not many experienced CEO’s of the same cohort to draw on for advice, it becomes incumbent to chart one’s own course by following these simple employee engagement and performance strategies based on first principles:
- Move away from a view of performance review or appraisal as something done sporadically, in fixed mediums, and in a one-size-fits-all format. The same ease that millennials have in communicating across social media and blogging platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, etc.) when building a personal brand, needs to be put in service of being the organization’s principal spokesperson across all relevant channels. This includes not only regular feedback on work, open conversations on career goals, standard updates on achievements, company performance, etc., but giving the world a closer look at the culture and identity of the company itself. Recognition that brings a personal perspective to things, lauding employee efforts in a genuine way, sharing photos and write-ups about team outings, all serve this broader goal.
- Bring empathy into every interaction with millennial employees who will look up to you as their guiding light, as they themselves navigate a critical early phase in their careers where they are looking at personal fulfillment as well. The broad objectives of the organization, with a mission bigger than your individual goals, that drives you, needs to be shared honestly and transparently. You are in the best position to communicate why what someone does matters, and you must, incessantly and obsessively. This can be done at all-hands, in team meetings or even a casual walk-in at someone’s desk spontaneously - all you need is a genuine desire to make sure everyone is on-board with you as you chase your lofty goals.
- Experience is not a taboo word, and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater when dealing with Gen-X employees. Just like millennials, this moment is a challenging one for Gen-Xers. A lot of the paradigms they grew up with are now obsolete (including, but not limited to, a standard career trajectory), and they are having to learn new things just to keep up. Encourage learning and up-skilling, and be a partner with them as they adjust to this new world, but also value what they bring to the table. This includes a culture of discipline, rigor, and in general, a long-term view of customers and other stakeholders that are an asset to you.
- Encourage and embrace non-traditional career paths for employees. One of the hallmarks of Gen-Y, sometimes viewed negatively, is a perceived impatience in search for an entrepreneurial career that is aligned with their own personal narrative. As a leader building the organization of the future, your goal is to match a fluidity in role definitions, while making sure the organization is driving towards its long term goals. A developer with a talent for writing and communication who wants to make the leap to product marketing, or a QA specialist who wants to make the leap to a developer? Make it work, and make sure processes don’t stand in the way.
- Practice and develop a culture of employee assessment, as you want to be assessed yourself - as the creator of long-term value, going beyond only a quarter-on-quarter incessant focus on numbers and deliverables. This ties into point 2 above, where an employee's holistic contribution to the broader vision and their part in shaping the culture holds as much value as traditional metrics. You need to realize that one of the things you are selling is a narrative, an extremely critical intangible, and people who help drive your message by action or otherwise are assets you need to empower and help grow. The product manager who went out of the way to create a fun hackathon for high-schoolers around your platform ‘gets it’, and so should you.
Finally, it all boils down to bringing the whole of yourself as a person to work, and recognizing and encouraging the same in others. The old narratives that were successful in the past, driven by rigid hierarchies and a long list of taboos, have crumbled. In its place, there is an opportunity to create a workplace that mirrors a good life - healthy and focused on long-term personal growth.
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How to incentivize creativity, innovation, and out-of-the-box thinking
Innovation starts, at its very basic level, as a disruption of the old. It can be implemented in processes, services, products, and strategies. Creativity can be a powerful ingredient for better problem-solving and innovation and has become an asset in every field. Once employees begin to think creatively, they can unlock the ability to dramatically improve a product, position, or company for the better. Most employees have interests outside of work and possess varied backgrounds. They may have acquired skills in previous fields that they don’t even realize can be applied to their current position. Bringing those skills to a job that doesn’t explicitly require them can create innovative ways of getting ahead. Take the example of someone with computer programming skills now working in a managerial role. What if she wrote a short program to shorten the amount of time spent analyzing data in order to spend more time on other managerial tasks? This employee’s efficient use of skills saves company funds and resources and allows for employee and company growth.
Unfortunately, not all employees are going to take on such initiatives on their own. Sometimes an incentive or reward can do the trick, but according to a study in a Harvard Business Review article, these incentives are best reserved for a job done well and are not as effective as a general motivational tool. Offering a financial reward only to accepted ideas that were implemented into action motivated fewer, but higher quality proposals that were more likely to succeed. On the same note, some research shows that financial incentives for innovation can actually stifle creativity completely. So what is the real key to incentivizing creativity? Getting your employees to care, feel connected, and challenged, which requires more than simply offering a reward.
How to boost innovation:
Create a strong team
Create a strong team that will help turn their creative ideas into reality. If you want your team to be innovative, start at the beginning: think outside-the-box when you’re hiring. Someone who doesn’t necessarily fit the psychological profile of the office will add different ways of thinking to create fresh ideas. This diversity should be applied to leaders as well, ensuring they have been assigned to the right role. A creative employee’s eccentricities are often what help them to be innovative; they question the norm and push boundaries for results. Involve your employees early, this will help them feel invested and more likely to implement innovative ideas from start to finish. Use techniques for brainstorming such as mind-mapping and lateral thinking, and emphasize the importance of homework vs. teamwork. Brainstorming should be done individually and in a group, this way employees all have innovative ideas to contribute and bounce off of one another to create stronger thought patterns. If your team is lacking in new ideas, work with your existing team by jostling their way of thinking. Prioritize trust and learning by getting to know your employees personally and recognizing their specific skills. This will help you assess what creative assignments to put them forward for, who to ask for ideas, and when. This will also help assign a project outside of their norm, use incentive deadlines, balance tasks with rewards, and raise the stakes just enough to create a challenging and exciting motivation for creativity. This will automatically trigger a new way of thinking and perhaps sprout new innovative solutions.
Implement an innovative culture
Implement an innovative culture by encouraging a growth mindset in the workplace. This requires openness to ideas, change, and failure. Make employees feel comfortable offering any innovative ideas they may have, even if they’re not the right fit. Encourage them to let you know their ideas through an email, a message board, an idea box, or any means that will be regularly checked and acknowledged by management. This way if the employee is enthusiastic about an idea, they know it will be heard either immediately or in a timely fashion. If it is not an opportune moment to acknowledge their efforts, hold back from brushing them off. Assure them you’re interested and will check it out soon. This way, employees from all levels within the company can feel free to implement ideas, because you never know where a fresh change could come from. Additionally, try the simplest perspective trick to encourage positive results. Using the words “Yes, and” rather than “Yes, but” creates an environment of encouragement. It recognizes the obstacles in the idea and promotes the employee to continue digging deeper.
Start solving internally
Start solving internally by encouraging employees to bring forward job or company problems as well as their solutions. This will help the employees air their frustrations and be heard, and in turn, help them feel more in control of their tasks. Keep track of an efficient employee’s shortcuts, even if they were unauthorized. Sometimes these loopholes are created by the employee to get through the mundane and bureaucratic tasks quickly and are actually very innovative ideas that shouldn’t be overlooked. If the ideas ultimately don’t fit, and the merits and downfalls have been considered, let the employee know why they won’t work.
Then get out of the office
Then get out of the office, literally and figuratively. Experiment with open concepts, designated rooms with creative atmosphere, or spending some time with the team outdoors. Look for ideas in other industries to study how they encounter and solve complications, for a different way of thinking. Allot a specific time for employees to work on ideas away from their daily duties, hold creative workshops, or monthly meetings outside of the office. Not only will this change be an incentive, but employees will look forward to this time and be motivated to innovate. The change of environment will change the mindset of your employees to think out-of-the-box, as they will literally be out-of-the-box!
Encourage failure and risk
Encourage failure and risk, and in turn, stifle fear. The enemy of creativity is fear, and failure is one of the main engines of anxiety in creativity. There is an element of vulnerability to creation that if stopped by fear, will be extinguished. Realistically, not every idea will be the best one, but by encouraging employees to take a risk, you will establish trust by allowing an employee to feel that they can fail and try again. Let the employee know where their idea is lacking and encourage them to keep trying.
Execute employee ideas and reward successful innovation
Employees feel motivated and empowered when their creative ideas are chosen and implemented. Initiate a strategy to execute innovative ideas and embrace change. If ideas are never taken to action, employees will view their efforts to be useless and lose motivation to bring ideas forward. Create an idea management system that clarifies where and who started the innovative idea. Keeping track of this will help motivate innovation at any level and keep the company growing. Once a successful idea is chosen, then reward the employee. This can come in the form of financial compensation, flexible work hours, remote assignments; something that suits the specific employee’s needs and keeps them happy and motivated to create more innovative ideas.
Creativity is a tricky thing - you can’t force it. As much as you try to motivate it, it will equally disappear. Creativity and innovation come when there is an environment of trust, patience, freedom, and purpose.
Crafting the perfect incentive program can be tricky, but we can help - book your free trial with Qarrot today!