Friday, December 18, 2009
But the interplay between managerial expectations and employee performance is more complex than these commonsense maxims suggest. To be sure, expectations exert a powerful impact on an individual's performance. Yet managers who believe that they've done their job merely by defining and declaring high expectations—without involving employees in the process—will likely get the same poor results that bosses with low expectations receive.
"The idea that setting high expectations gets you more out of employees makes sense at 35,000 feet," says Janelle Barlow, president of the Las Vegas-based consulting firm TMI US. "But you have to execute this principle on the ground." Experts and executives agree that successful fulfillment of individuals' performance expectations hinges on managers' ability to apply four practices:
1. Involve employees
Too many managers leave out a crucial first step while setting expectations: finding out if their direct reports agree with and buy into the proposed expectations, says Linda Finkle, a consultant with the Potomac, Maryland-based Incedo Group. Just because a manager wants a certain level of performance doesn't mean an employee can provide it. Managers need to find out what employees think of the proposed expectations, she says. People are more committed to objectives that they've helped to define. They also feel more confident that they can reach the agreed-upon goals. The result? Better performance.
Bob Senatore, executive vice president of the Woodbury, New York-based staffing firm Comforce, invites employee participation in setting expectations by saying, "This is what I think we can achieve together. What do you think?" He and his reporting managers negotiate defined expectations, as do these managers and their reports. Then each manager-employee pair sets benchmarks for measuring progress, particularly when the employee is new in the role. Each pair also adapts expectations when changes in the business environment demand.
In Comforce's approach, employees find "the agreed-upon goals more meaningful, and people know more immediately when they're not meeting expectations," Senatore says. Still, he adds, "each employee may successfully fulfill his or her expectations, but the company may still miss the mark in terms of overall goals, such as desired revenue. To ensure the company's success, we sometimes need to push for adjustments to employees' expected performance."
Ed Gubman, founding partner of Northfield, Illinois-based Strategic Talent Solutions, urges managers to "think group, but see individuals. Big goals inspire people at the collective level, but you then need to work with each person based on their roles, strengths, and passions. You can't—and shouldn't—expect the same performance from everyone. Some people can and will work sixty or seventy hours a week; others can't or won't but can still contribute valuable results. You need to put people in situations where they can be successful."
2. Focus on achievability
No matter how actively employees participate in the expectation-definition process, they won't rise to the occasion unless they understand in concrete terms what's expected of them. Senatore says that Comforce managers express agreed-upon expectations with as much specificity as possible, including a target time frame for fulfilling each objective. They may frame expectations as, "We will sign a contract with this large account to provide them with five full-time and ten part-time technical staff members through the first quarter of next year" or, "We will make 200 phone calls and 100 on-site visits to potential new clients over the next six months."
Other executives believe that too much detail can set the stage for a limited response and maintain that clarity is still possible with less specificity. For instance, Ray Bedingfield, president of the Monument, Colorado-based executive search firm Woodmoor Group, tells recruiters who join his staff: "We expect you to be able to make six figures this year." He then leaves it up to them to decide what level of six figures to strive for.
Still, clarity of expectations isn't enough. Employees must see defined objectives as realistic and achievable. As Cary L. Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at England's Lancaster University Management School, says, "Expectations and performance are linked in a bell-shaped curve: High expectations can lead to improvement—until the expectations become unrealistically high. That causes overload, stress, and diminished performance. Yet many senior managers intuitively feel that they should constantly push their subordinates, setting ever-higher objectives and performance targets."
"Goals should be difficult," says James Smither, who teaches human resources at La Salle University in Philadelphia, "but not so difficult that employees will see them as impossible and hence reject them." Employees must believe they can achieve their goals if they try—a personal attribute that Smither calls self-efficacy. When self-efficacy is high, he says, people set more challenging goals. They also persevere when they encounter setbacks, and they respond to negative feedback with more effort rather than with defensiveness. Smither says managers can boost employee self-efficacy by:
- Breaking up a large task and giving employees one piece of the task at a time, encouraging "small wins."
- Setting up work so that employees accomplish successively more complex and challenging tasks.
- Drawing employees' attention to colleagues who have surmounted similar challenges.
- Having an employee watch another skilled person model a desired behavior, whether it's performing a quantifiable task or exercising a harder-to-define interpersonal skill, such as conflict resolution.
- Expressing confidence in employees rather than focusing on criticism—or assuming that a person already feels confident about meeting defined expectations.
3. Build measures that help meet goals
With the right expectations in place, managers should focus next on the measures that will help people to meet them, including feedback, training, and encouragement.
Sean McLaughlin, director of brand management at Philadelphia-based Aramark Harrison Lodging, had this point in mind when he launched a new feedback program throughout the company in 2003. McLaughlin set up a system of e-mailed surveys to gather steady, specific feedback on service quality and other criteria from hotel guests and meeting planners, the firm's two main customer groups. The surveys, he says, provide "an enormous amount of actionable feedback that we can present to employees." If Aramark receives a response in which a guest or meeting planner has rated any performance criterion with a "1" or "2" (the lowest values on the five-point scale), the system sends an instant alert to the manager responsible for the property in question. That manager must then communicate the situation to employees and devise a plan to address it. McLaughlin says this approach "enables us to send two crucial messages: that we need to address alienated customers immediately and that we want to raise expectations as well as set them."
Feedback and training exert even more of an impact when managers add encouragement to the mix. As business coach Juliet Funt points out, "There's a huge chasm between a manager who says, 'I want you to…' and one who says, 'I know you can….' Managers must constantly notice, affirm, and express thanks for high performance."
Nevertheless, "you need to adapt the form of praise you use," says consultant Ben Leichtling. "People want their praise in different forms—whether it's delivered orally in a public forum or personally in a handwritten letter or some other form. Through observation and trial and error, managers can find out which form each person prefers."
Likewise, people respond differently to criticism. "As employees work toward fulfilling expectations," Leichtling says, "keep letting them know that you expect the best they can give. If they have trouble fulfilling expectations, adjust your approach to each person depending on how they work best. Some people respond better to shock, disappointment, and criticism; others to help with building step-by-step successes."
Managers who have earned the highest respect and loyalty, Leichtling adds, sometimes need only give a disapproving look or a quiet "You can do better than that" to steer performance in a more successful direction.
4. Tap into employees' deepest motivations
This last element in both expectation setting and fulfillment is often the most challenging for managers: tapping into an employee's motivation. But it could be the most critical part of the equation.
"People are motivated to fulfill expectations based on their personal interests—not based on what others are telling them to do," says University of Houston business professor Curt Tueffert. "Managers must work with employees to discover what each person is most motivated by—whether it's competition, a chance to form close working relationships, or some other reward. When both participate in this process, each has a higher stake in the drive for top performance."
Judy Rogers, senior vice president of human resources at Houston's Central Bank, uses a motivation-assessment tool both for hiring and coaching, and for development. "The results of the assessment help managers work with employees to realize their career fulfillment and potential. For underperformers, the assessment results help identify ways to coach the person up to expectations."
Management consultant Robert Cannon examines motivation from a different angle: "Most managers view the world from a problem perspective and use negative language. But no one is uplifted by the statement 'We've got a problem.'" Cannon helps his clients to use the appreciative inquiry method to frame expectations in positive terms. "Through appreciative inquiry, managers and employees can define together what's going well and which assets they've got to draw from. They envision possible desired future realities, then develop and implement doable solutions for realizing those visions. Instead of telling people how to do something, managers use appreciative inquiry to explain why it's important to do it. Leave the 'how' up to employees, and you get more ownership of those expectations and more buy-in."
How you stand can be as important as what you say. Here are the ten categories of behavior you should monitor to improve your "presence" and effectiveness.
The way you stand could change your life. Immediately. For businesspeople, stance is an important indicator of how deeply you are engaged with your job, how much you believe in the products you are selling, how confident you are that your company will survive.
And that's just for starters. Did you know that you are likely to make or break a sale by what you do in the first fifteen seconds after entering the customer's office—before you say anything? Or that you can increase your attractiveness to others—and your success in your career—by how you move your head? Or that the seat you take at a table will determine, in part, the direction a negotiation will take?
These insights and many more are at the heart of modern communications research, and Teach Yourself Body Language, by Gordon Wainright (McGraw-Hill, 2003), summarizes much of it in very practical terms that readers can put to work immediately to change their lives.
Take stance. Wainwright suggests an experiment in which you stand straight, tuck your tummy in, hold your head high, and smile at those you meet. Do this for a week, concentrating especially on those who normally don't seem to be very friendly in your workplace. Wainwright predicts, based on many such experiments, that you'll find people treat you differently immediately. You'll garner more respect, you'll be taken more seriously, and you'll find that even the grumpy ones warm up to you.
Your stance, broadly speaking, signals to the world how energetic, confident, and powerful you are. Slumped shoulders, a downcast gaze, a slow pace, and a sagging belly are taken by the world to mean that you lack confidence, that you don't have much energy, and that you are probably less important, successful, and powerful as a result. These impressions may be neither accurate nor fair, but they are the inevitable results of the fleeting impressions we tend to get of one another during the course of a busy day.
Those are just the fleeting impressions. Stance, and what used to be called your bearing, can play much more important roles when you're negotiating an important contract or trying to close a sale. We like to deal with winners, and we are more inclined to yield negotiating points to people who appear to be operating from a position of strength.
And what about those first fifteen seconds after entering a room? Wainwright reports research that measured the status of people who enter an office. Low-status people tend to linger at the door. Medium-status people go in halfway. And high-status people go in all the way to the desk and sit down next to the occupant.
To increase your attractiveness, Wainwright suggests ten categories of behavior to monitor and improve. Studies show that attractive people tend to be more successful, everything else being equal, so more than mere likability is at stake here. The ten categories are:
Eye contact: The more the better, up to visual intrusiveness.
Facial expression: Be lively, smile a lot, look interested.
Head movements: Nod to show interest, keep your chin up.
Gestures: Be expressive and open, without overdoing it.
Posture: Stand erect, lean forward to show interest, lean back to be informal.
Proximity and orientation: Get as close as you can to people without crowding.
Bodily contact: Touch as often as you can without causing offense.
Appearance and physique: Go for color in dress, fitness in physique.
Timing and synchronization: Speed up your activities to just before the point of inefficiency.
Nonverbal aspects of speech: Try to balance your need to talk with the need to listen.
If taking on all of these desiderata sounds like a tall order, take heart in the knowledge that doing even a few of them will begin to increase your attractiveness to others. You don't have to manage them all at once. In fact, you don't have to manage them at all, if you can find enthusiasm for your job, your colleagues, and your activities in general. If you are enthusiastic, you'll discover that you'll naturally increase your attractiveness by unconsciously doing many of the behaviors on the list.
Nick Morgan is the editor of Harvard Management Communication Letter.
Encouraging feedback is one thing—putting it to good use is quite another. Step number one is to free yourself from knee-jerk reaction to criticism.
Adapting to feedback—which inevitably asks people to change, sometimes significantly—is critical for managers who find themselves in jobs, companies, and industries undergoing frequent transitions. Of course, adaptation is easier said than done, for resistance to change is endemic in human beings. But while most people feel they can't control the negative emotions that are aroused by change, this is not the case. It is possible—and necessary—to think positively about change. Using the following adaptive techniques, you can alter how you respond to feedback and to the changes it demands.
Recognize your emotions and responses. Understanding that you are experiencing fear ("I'm afraid my boss will fire me") and that you are exhibiting a maladaptive response to that fear ("I'll just stay out of his way and keep my mouth shut") are the critical initial steps toward adaptive change. They require ruthless self-honesty and a little detective work, both of which will go a long way toward helping you undo years of disguising your feelings. It's important to understand, too, that a particular maladaptive behavior does not necessarily tell you what emotion underlies it: You may be procrastinating out of anger, frustration, sadness, or other feelings. But persevering in the detective work is important, for the payoff is high. Having named the emotion and response, you can then act—just as someone who fears flying chooses to board a plane anyway. With practice, it gradually becomes easier to respond differently, even though the fear, anger, or sadness may remain.
Maria, a mid-level manager with whom we worked, is a good example of someone who learned to name her emotions and act despite them. Maria was several months overdue on performance reviews for the three people who reported to her. When we suggested that she was procrastinating, we asked her how she felt when she thought about doing the reviews. After some reflection, she said she was extremely resentful that her boss had not yet completed her own performance evaluation; she recognized that her procrastination was an expression of her anger toward him. We helped her realize that she could act despite her anger. Accordingly, Maria completed the performance evaluations for her subordinates and, in so doing, felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Once she had completed the reviews, she noticed that her relationships with her three subordinates quickly improved, and her boss responded by finishing Maria's performance review.
We should note that Maria's procrastination was not an entrenched habit, so it was relatively easy to fix. Employees who start procrastinating in response to negative emotions early in their work lives won't change that habit quickly, but they can eventually.
Get support. Identifying your emotions is sometimes difficult, and feedback that requires change can leave you feeling inhibited and ashamed. For these reasons, it's critical to ask for help from trusted friends who will listen, encourage, and offer suggestions. Asking for support is often hard, because most corporate cultures expect managers to be self-reliant. Nevertheless, it's nearly impossible to make significant change without such encouragement. Support can come in many forms, but it should begin with at least two people—including, say, a spouse, a minister or spiritual counselor, a former mentor, an old high school classmate—with whom you feel emotionally safe. Ideally, one of these people should have some business experience. It may also help to enlist the assistance of an outside consultant or executive coach.
Reframe the feedback. Another adaptive technique, reframing, allows you to reconstruct the feedback process to your advantage. Specifically, this involves putting the prospect of asking for or reacting to feedback in a positive light so that negative emotions and responses lose their grip.
Take the example of Gary, a junior sales manager for a large manufacturing company. Gary's boss told him that he wasn't sociable enough with customers and prospects. The criticism stung, and Gary could have responded with denial or brooding. Indeed, his first response was to interpret the feedback as shallow. Eventually, though, Gary was able to reframe what he'd heard, first by grudgingly acknowledging it. ("He's right, I'm not very sociable. I tested as an introvert on the Myers-Briggs, and I've always been uncomfortable with small talk"). Then Gary reframed the feedback. Instead of seeing it as painful, he recognized that he could use it to help his career. Avoiding possible maladaptive responses, he was able to ask himself several important questions: "How critical is sociability to my position? How much do I want to keep this job? How much am I willing to change to become more sociable?" In responding, Gary realized two things: that sociability was indeed critical to success in sales and that he wasn't willing to learn to be more sociable. He requested a transfer and moved to a new position where he became much more successful.
Break up the task. Yet another adaptive technique is to divide up the large task of dealing with feedback into manageable, measurable chunks, and set realistic time frames for each one. Although more than two areas of behavior may need to be modified, it's our experience that most people can't change more than one or two at a time. Taking small steps and meeting discrete goals reduces your chances of being overwhelmed and makes change much more likely.
Jane, for example, received feedback indicating that the quality of her work was excellent but that her public presentations were boring. A quiet and reserved person, Jane could have felt overwhelmed by what she perceived as the subtext of this criticism: that she was a lousy public speaker and that she'd better transform herself from a wallflower into a writer and actress. Instead, she adapted by breaking down the challenge of "interesting presentations" into its constituent parts (solid and well constructed content; a commanding delivery; an understanding of the audience; and so on). Then she undertook to teach herself to present more effectively by observing several effective speakers and taking an introductory course in public speaking.
It was important for Jane to start with the easiest task—in this case, observing good speakers. She noted their gestures, the organization of their speeches, their intonation, timing, use of humor, and so forth. Once she felt she understood what good speaking entailed, she was ready to take the introductory speaking course. These endeavors allowed her to improve her presentations. Though she didn't transform herself into a mesmerizing orator, she did learn to command the attention and respect of an audience.
Use incentives. Pat yourself on the back as you make adaptive changes. That may seem like unusual advice, given that feedback situations can rouse us to self-punishment and few of us are in the habit of congratulating ourselves. Nevertheless, nowhere is it written that the feedback process must be a wholly negative experience. Just as a salary raise or a bonus provides incentive to improve performance, rewarding yourself whenever you take an important step in the process will help you to persevere in your efforts. The incentive should be commensurate with the achievement. For example, an appropriate reward for completing a self-assessment might be an uninterrupted afternoon watching ESPN or, for a meeting with the boss, a fine dinner out.
Jay M. Jackman is a psychiatrist and human resources consultant in Stanford, California.
Myra H. Strober is a labor economist and professor at Stanford University's School of Education.
In today's diverse workplace, your actions and motives are constantly under scrutiny. Time to manage your own professional image before others do it for you. An interview with professor Laura Morgan Roberts.
As HBS professor Laura Morgan Roberts sees it, if you aren't managing your own professional image, others are.
"People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace," she says. "It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish."
There are plenty of books telling you how to "dress for success" and control your body language. But keeping on top of your personal traits is only part of the story of managing your professional image, says Roberts. You also belong to a social identity group—African American male, working mother—that brings its own stereotyping from the people you work with, especially in today's diverse workplaces. You can put on a suit and cut your hair to improve your appearance, but how do you manage something like skin color?
She discusses her research in this interview.
Mallory Stark: What is a professional image?
Laura Morgan Roberts: Your professional image is the set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of your competence and character as judged by your key constituents (i.e., clients, superiors, subordinates, colleagues).
Q: What is the difference between "desired professional image" and "perceived professional image?"
A: It is important to distinguish between the image you want others to have of you and the image that you think people currently have of you.
Most people want to be described as technically competent, socially skilled, of strong character and integrity, and committed to your work, your team, and your company. Research shows that the most favorably regarded traits are trustworthiness, caring, humility, and capability.
Ask yourself the question: What do I want my key constituents to say about me when I'm not in the room? This description is your desired professional image. Likewise, you might ask yourself the question: What am I concerned that my key constituents might say about me when I'm not in the room? The answer to this question represents your undesired professional image.
You can never know exactly what all of your key constituents think about you, or how they would describe you when you aren't in the room. You can, however, draw inferences about your current professional image based on your interactions with key constituents. People often give you direct feedback about your persona that tells you what they think about your level of competence, character, and commitment. Other times, you may receive indirect signals about your image, through job assignments or referrals and recommendations. Taken together, these direct and indirect signals shape your perceived professional image, your best guess of how you think your key constituents perceive you.
Q: How do stereotypes affect perceived professional image?
A: In the increasingly diverse, twenty-first century workplace, people face a number of complex challenges to creating a positive professional image. They often experience a significant incongruence between their desired professional image and their perceived professional image. In short, they are not perceived in the manner they desire; instead, their undesired professional image may be more closely aligned with how their key constituents actually perceive them.
What lies at the source of this incongruence? Three types of identity threats—predicaments, devaluation, and illegitimacy—compromise key constituents' perceptions of technical competence, social competence, character, and commitment. All professionals will experience a "predicament" or event that reflects poorly on their competence, character, or commitment at some point in time, due to mistakes they have made in the past that have become public knowledge, or competency gaps ( e.g., shortcomings or limitations in skill set or style).
Members of negatively stereotyped identity groups may experience an additional form of identity threat known as "devaluation." Identity devaluation occurs when negative attributions about your social identity group(s) undermine key constituents' perceptions of your competence, character, or commitment. For example, African American men are stereotyped as being less intelligent and more likely to engage in criminal behavior than Caucasian men. Asian Americans are stereotyped as technically competent, but lacking in the social skills required to lead effectively. Working mothers are stereotyped as being less committed to their profession and less loyal to their employing organizations. All of these stereotypes pose obstacles for creating a positive professional image.
Even positive stereotypes can pose a challenge for creating a positive professional image if someone is perceived as being unable to live up to favorable expectations of their social identity group(s). For example, clients may question the qualifications of a freshly minted MBA who is representing a prominent strategic consulting firm. Similarly, female medical students and residents are often mistaken for nurses or orderlies and challenged by patients who do not believe they are legitimate physicians.
Q: What is impression management and what are its potential benefits?
A: Despite the added complexity of managing stereotypes while also demonstrating competence, character, and commitment, there is promising news for creating your professional image! Impression management strategies enable you to explain predicaments, counter devaluation, and demonstrate legitimacy. People manage impressions through their non-verbal behavior (appearance, demeanor), verbal cues (vocal pitch, tone, and rate of speech, grammar and diction, disclosures), and demonstrative acts (citizenship, job performance).
My research suggests that, in addition to using these traditional impression management strategies, people also use social identity-based impression management (SIM) to create a positive professional image. SIM refers to the process of strategically presenting yourself in a manner that communicates the meaning and significance you associate with your social identities. There are two overarching SIM strategies: positive distinctiveness and social recategorization.
Positive distinctiveness means using verbal and non-verbal cues to claim aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially valued, in an attempt to create a new, more positive meaning for that identity. Positive distinctiveness usually involves attempts to educate others about the positive qualities of your identity group, advocate on behalf of members of your identity group, and incorporate your background and identity-related experiences into your workplace interactions and innovation.
Social recategorization means using verbal and non-verbal cues to suppress other aspects of your identity that are personally and/or socially devalued, in an attempt to distance yourself from negative stereotypes associated with that group. Social recategorization involves minimization and avoidance strategies, such as physically and mentally conforming to the dominant workplace culture while being careful not to draw attention to identity group differences and one's unique cultural background.
Rather than adopting one strategy wholesale, most people use a variety of strategies for managing impressions of their social identities. In some situations, they choose to draw attention to a social identity, if they think it will benefit them personally or professionally. Even members of devalued social identity groups, such as African American professionals, will draw attention to their race if it creates mutual understanding with colleagues, generates high-quality connections with clients, or enhances their experience of authenticity and fulfillment in their work. In other situations, these same individuals may choose to minimize their race in order to draw attention to an alternate identity, such as gender, profession, or religion, if they feel their race inhibits their ability to connect with colleagues or clients.
Successful impression management can generate a number of important personal and organizational benefits, including career advancement, client satisfaction, better work relationships (trust, intimacy, avoiding offense), group cohesiveness, a more pleasant organizational climate, and a more fulfilling work experience. However, when unsuccessfully employed, impression management attempts can lead to feelings of deception, delusion, preoccupation, distraction, futility, and manipulation.
Q: How do authenticity and credibility influence the positive outcomes of impression management attempts?
A: In order to create a positive professional image, impression management must effectively accomplish two tasks: build credibility and maintain authenticity. When you present yourself in a manner that is both true to self and valued and believed by others, impression management can yield a host of favorable outcomes for you, your team, and your organization. On the other hand, when you present yourself in an inauthentic and non-credible manner, you are likely to undermine your health, relationships, and performance.
Most often, people attempt to build credibility and maintain authenticity simultaneously, but they must negotiate the tension that can arise between the two. Your "true self," or authentic self-portrayal, will not always be consistent with your key constituents' expectations for professional competence and character. Building credibility can involve being who others want you to be, gaining social approval and professional benefits, and leveraging your strengths. If you suppress or contradict your personal values or identity characteristics for the sake of meeting societal expectations for professionalism, you might receive certain professional benefits, but you might compromise other psychological, relational, and organizational outcomes.
Q: What are the steps individuals should take to manage their professional image?
A: First, you must realize that if you aren't managing your own professional image, someone else is. People are constantly observing your behavior and forming theories about your competence, character, and commitment, which are rapidly disseminated throughout your workplace. It is only wise to add your voice in framing others' theories about who you are and what you can accomplish.
Be the author of your own identity. Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image:
- Identify your ideal state.
- What are the core competencies and character traits you want people to associate with you?
- Which of your social identities do you want to emphasize and incorporate into your workplace interactions, and which would you rather minimize?
- Assess your current image, culture, and audience.
- What are the expectations for professionalism?
- How do others currently perceive you?
- Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for image change.
- Do you care about others' perceptions of you?
- Are you capable of changing your image?
- Are the benefits worth the costs? (Cognitive, psychological, emotional, physical effort)
- Use strategic self-presentation to manage impressions and change your image.
- Employ appropriate traditional and social identity-based impression management strategies.
- Pay attention to the balancing act—build credibility while maintaining authenticity.
- Manage the effort you invest in the process.
- Monitoring others' perceptions of you
- Monitoring your own behavior
- Strategic self-disclosure
- Preoccupation with proving worth and legitimacy
WINNING WAYS by DATIN T.D. AMPIKAIPAKAN
SEXUAL harassment is a topic that stirs up emotions in the corporate world due to its infinite variations and varying degrees of seriousness, thereby making it a subject that is difficult to discuss.
Organisations should take great pains to define it. The open-ended nature of the law demands that we understand what real sexual harassment is before we cry wolf. There are some guidelines and these are a start:
a.. Unwanted remarks about your sexuality or gender.
a.. Offensive behaviour which is intentional and/or repeated.
a.. Behaviour that is unwanted and not reciprocated.
a.. It interferes with your work or the office environment becomes uncomfortable.
To give you an example of what this means, let me relate an incident that happened to an employee recently.
At a corporate annual dinner, one of the bosses decided to engage in a little flirtation with a junior employee which eventually led to serious sexual assault.
This was clearly a case where power and position allowed a man to take unfair advantage of an unsuspecting junior executive. The victim reported the incident.
The corporate network is often unsure of what action to take with regard to sexual misconduct, and junior executives with no social, economic or political clout often slink away in shame while the culprit gets away.
It is appalling that in this day and age, cases of sexual harassment are still not taken seriously.
From a woman's point of view, sexual harassment can be cruel, disgusting and very frightening, often leaving her traumatised.
No woman should be put in a position where she is forced to enter into a relationship just because she needs to protect her livelihood.
A woman should not be offended when her male colleague is easy-going and misinterprets his wicked sense of humour as sexual harassment.
Avoid jokes about sexual harassment.
People have been falsely accused of sexual harassment because of such jokes.
What then can you do to stop sexual harassment?
a.. If you are a victim of real harassment, take action. Do not accept it. Do not be frightened or intimidated because you need the job. You have rights. Look around and see the kind of people who get harassed. Confident people never get bullied or harassed.
a.. If you see someone in the office who is being harassed, take action. Be indignant. If women do not help each other, who will help them? Accompany the victim to report the harassment.
a.. If the boss is harassing the employees, get out of that office. You can always find another job.
a.. If you think you can handle someone who is harassing you, then you could try attacking his ego. Smile and tell the person that his attempts are comical and that you are not interested.
a.. If the person continues, then give him fair warning. Give the person a second chance but if the harassment continues say: "Look, I have already told you how I feel. You chose to ignore it. This is my last warning and if you try this once more, I am going to report it to HR."
Take action if your warnings are ignored. Go appeal to the good sense of the most senior person in management and do it quickly.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, there is a professional way of handling it. Consider the following:
a.. Control your emotions. You can never make a strong case when your are emotional or hysterical. If you work for a large company, then look up the employee manuals. They must have guidelines on how they deal with this behaviour.
a.. Make a detailed list of the things that happened. Include the time, place and type of action made by the perpetrator. Be clear and precise, and say what you did during the harassment.
a.. If you work for a large organisation and the person harassing you is the boss, it will take great courage for you to go to the Board of Directors. If you think you can handle it, do so. If you work for a small company, just resign and go.
Sexual harassment is not confined to women only. In recent years more and more men have experienced sexual harassment from their female bosses.
Similar action need to be taken but it should be done with due consideration so that your chances of getting another job is not jeopardised.
There was a case of a man who resigned after suffering three weeks of harassment by a woman boss. Wanting to be careful about what he wrote in his letter of resignation, he did not directly accuse his boss but just added one sentence in his letter to the HR manager.
He wrote: "Like my four male predecessors during the past two years, I am resigning to seek a position with better prospect for advancement in the management of an organisation."
Without making a direct accusation, he implied what the real trouble was.
The HR manager was very perceptive and looked into the previous files of the men who walked away. He took the matter up with the senior management and the woman boss was gone in no time.
That's professionalism laced with responsibility and accountability, with regard to protecting the company's employees.
By Mike Toten
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used by organisations both to measure individual employee performance and to measure overall organisation performance.
This article covers their use for individual employees.
The Importance of Being SMART
The acronym of SMART frequently appears when commentators discuss KPIs. It means that KPIs need to be:
- Agreed to
More recently, there has been a trend to turn SMART into SMARTA, by adding the requirement that KPIs be 'Aligned'.
This is an important addition, particularly where KPIs are also used as an organisation-wide measure. Each component of SMARTA is explained in greater detail below.
KPIs need to be specific to the individual job and if possible expressed as statements of actual on-the-job behaviours.
You need to go beyond terms such as 'work quality', 'job knowledge', 'standard of customer service', 'accuracy' and so on, which are too vague to be of much use.
Other 'specifics' an indicator needs to achieve include:
- explaining clearly to the employee what he/she has to do in terms of performance to be 'successful';
- having an impact on successful job performance, that is distinguishing between effective performance and ineffective performance; and
- focusing on the behaviour itself, rather than personality attributes such as 'attitude to customers'.
KPIs must be quantifiable to a large extent, that is based on behaviour that can be observed and documented, and which is job-related. They should also provide employees with ongoing feedback on their standard of performance.
Some degree of compromise may be necessary, however, to ensure you 'cover the field' regarding job performance.
Some aspects of performance are easy to measure, such as financial and work quantity measures, and it may be tempting to prepare a list of KPIs that focuses mainly on these aspects.
If the more subjective but still important aspects are overlooked, such as people management skills or customer service levels, employees will be unlikely to pay as much attention to them.
Always remember that performance management needs to be an open, two-way communication process. KPIs that are imposed on employees without genuine prior consultation are risking failure, the best you can usually hope for is some level of 'compliance'.
If you can't involve employees directly in developing the KPIs, at least try to obtain their agreement before imposing them.
Several points are relevant here:
- The employee must have a significant degree of control over achievement of the KPI.This is not the case when there are issues such as insufficient resources to do the job, 'lemon' products, bad organisation reputation, IT problems, etc. Make at least some allowance for such problems where they occur.
- The KPI must be realistically achievable. If it is set too high for the prevailing circumstances (such as an ambitious sales or production target or deadline), not only will it be irrelevant but if action is taken against the employee for failure to achieve it, legal issues may arise, such as an unfair dismissal claim.
- Also make allowance for the realities of the work environment. Most jobs are clogged, to varying extents, by routine administrative tasks that take time. Nor is every aspect of most jobs predictable or assessable. The prevailing circumstances described above also have an impact.
- KPIs should emphasise the nature of the job as well. If the outcome of the job is its most important aspect, emphasise actual results. If the process is most important, focus on actual behaviour and performance methods. If what the employee 'is' on the job matters most, focus on personal aspects, such as management style, interpersonal skills, 'team player' attributes, risk-taking, etc.
KPIs should have an appropriate time frame.
It should be possible to collect the relevant information either 'as it happens' or within a short time afterwards, otherwise it will lose its relevance. This is also another argument in favour of keeping the process simple.
Individual KPIs need to be directly linked to organisation goals and objectives, or overall organisation KPIs where they are used.
They need to reflect organisation culture and values, by indicating the types of behaviour and performance the organisation will recognise as 'successful' and reward employees for.
As outputs of the performance management system, KPIs also need to be in alignment with other HR-related functions, including training and development, recruitment and selection, rewards and recognition, and career planning.
Scope of KPIs
Even with the SMARTA parameters described above, the scope of potential KPIs is very wide. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but provides an indication of the range of issues that can be adapted to KPIs:
Work quantity, productivity, work quality, time (eg deadlines, response, delivery, turnaround), revenue, return on investment, consistency/reliability, safety, environmental impact, use of resources, cost-effectiveness, management style, turnover/retention, promotion of diversity, workplace relations, training and development, communication.
Training of participants – both those who appraise and those who are to be appraised – has been shown to be influential to the success of performance management activities.
The training process should cover the steps involved in researching, identifying, developing and communicating KPIs, using the SMARTA principles.
There is a range of commercial providers, products, seminars/workshops, etc available for those who require assistance.
Managerial leadership - everyone knows an organization needs it to thrive and grow. But what does managerial leadership mean for you and your organization? The Linkage Research Model (LRM) is one way to think about this. LRM encourages managers to focus on those managerial leadership practices that drive employee results, which in turn influence customer results, which are what actually produce business results.
This model can be depicted as a clock. At the twelve o'clock position is a set of Managerial Leadership Practices. At three, six, and nine, respectively, are employee, customer, and business results.
The Linkage Research Model and Managerial Leadership
This article suggests one way for managers to explore and identify those managerial leadership practices that should be in their twelve o'clock box in the LRM model. In so doing, this approach encourages them to survey current popular management writings in order to stay up to date with current management practices.
More on the Linkage Research Model (LRM)
The primary purpose of linkage research is to identify elements operating in the work environment, especially managerial leadership practices, which influence employee actions as well as customer relationships. To do this, LRM correlates managerial leadership practices with employee and customer survey data and with other important organizational metrics. The stronger the link between particular managerial leadership practices and employee survey results, customer survey results, and other measures of organizational effectiveness, the more important these specific leadership practices are considered to be in influencing overall organizational success. As more research is conducted using this model, practitioners will learn more about how the various relationships examined in the framework interact across different cultural, industry and organizational settings.
While the LRM model does not address all the factors that may impact organizational performance, numerous foundational studies exist that lend support to the linkage methodology. One landmark study, done at Sears in the mid-1990s, demonstrated how the various components in the model can be quantitatively analyzed and used to manage business operations. Management focused on 12 skills, grouped into three categories: passion for customers, people add value, and performance leadership. Following implementation of these practices, they found that a five-unit increase in employee attitude was correlated with a 1.3 unit increase in customer satisfaction (both measured by surveys) and a 0.5% increase in revenue growth. These results were statistically significant.
Jack Wiley is internationally recognized for his work in linking employee survey results to measures of customer satisfaction and business performance. From his experience and applications of LRM across a variety of organizational settings, including retail branch banking, he concludes that:
- Employee and customer satisfaction are clearly linked.
- Managerial leadership value systems and practices are critical ingredients in this linkage between employee and customer satisfaction.
- Employee retention and customer satisfaction are positively correlated.
- Over the long haul, quality and customer satisfaction are positively linked to customer retention, market share, and profitability.
- Short-term practices intended to maximize sales and profits may adversely affect employee and customer satisfaction.
- Commitment to managerial leadership practices that support quality, as well as employee and customer satisfaction, is a longer-term business strategy, not a quick fix.
- Managerial leadership practices within the LRM framework become self-reinforcing.
Given the growing track record of research on the LRM, I would strongly encourage any managerial leader to discern which managerial leadership practices actually drive employee, customer and business results for his or her group or organization. What follows is an approach to help you do just that!
Selecting Key Managerial Leadership Effectiveness Practices
Focusing on key managerial leadership practices that ultimately drive organizational results is a challenge. This challenge includes identifying the universe from which to choose, establishing a set of criteria by which to critically analyze each potential practice, and deciding upon the final practices to be included in your 12 o'clock box. To assist in meeting this challenge, I offer practitioners the following four-step approach to selecting managerial leadership practices that will be effective in their organizations.
Step 1: Survey Practices: First, identify the universe of managerial leadership practices. One way is to regularly review business periodicals that are written for practitioners, as well as websites that provide business tools and information or that aggregate business literature. Book review sections of papers, journals and websites can also be useful. However, if your time does not permit this amount of research, I recommend that you read The Manager's Bookshelf: A Mosaic of Contemporary Views by Pierce and Newstrom, now in its sixth edition. The current volume concisely reviews 45 best-selling business books and offers summaries of a multitude of managerial leadership practices. This source provides a convenient and relatively painless way to pore through volumes of practices to glean what is useful to your circumstance.
Step 2: Identifying Relevant Practices: Then from the numerous practices you have identified, narrow the list to include only those that would be relevant to and potentially useful in your leadership role. This is essentially an informal brainstorming session.
Step 3: Establishing Selection Criteria: Now that your list is more refined, select those that would be most effective for you by formulating a list of a few meaningful criteria to use to narrow your field of finalists. Some potential criteria are presented as questions to ponder: Is the practice valid on its face? - Does it generally seem to make sense? Is the practice practical and does it have application in the real world? - Can this practice be made to work in my organization given my current situation? Is the author espousing the practice credible? - Does the author's training, experience and/or other credentials support and give credibility to what he or she is espousing?
Step 4: Using the Criteria to Select Your Final Practices: Next, look at each of the managerial leadership practices you brainstormed in Step 2 in light of each of your criteria. Typically, anywhere from five to twenty managerial leadership practices will make the cut. You may find it useful to engage co-workers in this critical review process, carefully considering each practice and its relevance and usefulness in your situation. . All your final selections should be double checked against the selection criteria you established in Step 3. Further refine your list until it represents the "best" of managerial leadership practices that you believe drive employee, customer and overall business results in your own sphere of influence.
To demonstrate the process, I would like to apply the Four-Step Model, showing how it can be used by management practitioners
Step 1: Survey Practices: Using the Manager's Bookshelf, read each of the 45 summaries of these business best-selling books. You will find a myriad of managerial leadership practices, some of which may be relevant to your own situation, others not.
Step 2: Identifying Relevant Practices: As you read, list in bullet point fashion the managerial leadership practices that seem to be most able to drive results in your work setting. Note the page, source book, and "take-away" points for future reference.
Step 3: Establishing Selection Criteria: When you have generated an extensive list of potential managerial leadership practices, determine a handful of useful criteria to use to pare down your list. Potential criteria to use may include: Practicality Face Validity External Validity Research Support Author Credibility Uniqueness Objectivity Reliability Reasonable Approach Emotional Appeal Application Value Track Record of Success
Step 4: Using the Criteria to Select Your Final Practices: Your chosen criteria may be applied in a variety of ways to each of the managerial leadership practices designated thus far. I recommend that you create a spreadsheet and list each practice that you have selected. Then evaluate each of these practices against your established criteria using a ten point scale (ten being the highest). The practices receiving the highest ratings would be considered a "preliminary final list." Discuss these practices with three or four of your key reports. Check these final candidate practices against your stated criteria once again. On a scale of one to ten, to what extent does each practice really seem like a key action that managerial leaders in your current situation can take to drive results? If you can answer this key question with an "8" or higher, and you have also given the specific practice a high rating against your criteria, then that particular practice becomes a practice you place in the twelve o'clock box. You are endorsing it as a managerial leadership practice that should help you drive employee, customer, and overall business results.
Some Sample Selections
Having worked externally in many companies across a variety of industries as a business advisor/organizational psychologist, I have gleaned five managerial leadership practices that I would recommend across the board for your final list:
1. The Stockdale Paradox: (Based on Admiral Stockdale's experience as a prisoner of war in the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War.) Face the hard cold facts of the current situation but, even with a grim reality, maintain total faith that you will prevail in the end.
2. Affirming Shared Values and Honesty: Ensure there is an agreement in your organization about values, and be honest in your dealings with others. In one global survey involving over 15,000 managers, honesty was determined to be essential to leadership.
3. Courage and Risk Taking: Create a working environment that fosters courage and encourages taking calculated risks.
4. The New Management Virtues: Lead and manage in ways that reveal the virtues of trustworthiness, unity, respect, justice and service. Do the right things for the right reasons and long-term results will tend to be positive.
5. The Star of Success: Utilize a five-pointed star, where each point represents a key question that helps members of an organization determine if they have the right pattern of success. Do we have the right strategic direction? Do we have the right functions (processes and systems)? Do we have the right form? Do we have the right resources? Do we have the right information?
In practice, I have my clients take this further by translating their selected managerial leadership practices (Step 4) into specific actions and behaviors. They are encouraged to determine how they plan to convert a practice into action, where it will be applied and when it will be applied.
As a practicing manager or a student of management, knowing what is at your 12 o'clock position in the Linkage Research Model can mean the difference between floundering and knowing just what to do to help drive business results. I encourage you to use this four-step process to help you enhance your practice tool kit to achieve results. Managerial leadership practices at 12 o'clock can make the difference between organizational and career success and failure. Do you know what should go into your 12 o'clock box?