Is there a single other management tool that has as poor a reputation or that is executed as shoddily as the hapless position description?  I don't think so.

So I am starting a campaign.  It's time to move the position description out from the depths of your work desk’s bottom drawer.  

You know what I am talking about. Most position descriptions are buried beneath a pile of files and papers and your surplus mouse pads, rarely to see daylight.  If you even have one.

For some, feedback may seem a lot like going to the dentist.  It happens once a year and we dread it or avoid it as long as possible (despite espousing its benefits to others!).  

But then, there's others who embrace feedback, seek it out and seemingly thrive on it.  

The big difference between these two types of attitudes to feedback is in their mindset. Let's look at some prevalent mindsets around feedback that are holding people back from being the best they can be in the workplace (and beyond).

If you’re part of a People and Culture (or HR, for the traditionalists!) team that is about to embark down the road of implementing a suite of HR technology and can’t answer that question, then now is the time to quickly revisit it. Before it all goes horribly wrong.

How often do organisations start with the solution first, and then never really work their way back to why the solution is needed in the first place? Or if they have done so, the message has never really permeated beyond the confines of the People and Culture (P&C) team? And then we wonder why the project never really got any traction in the business.

Despite so much talk about how ineffective and counter-productive performance management is in its current form, there's few organisations who seem to have nailed getting it right.  But why?

Organisations are tinkering around the edges of performance management (e.g. changing the forms, modifying a rating scale etc.) without really addressing the root cause of its lack of impact on performance and productivity.  But as we all know, doing the same thing over and over again will generally yield exactly the same results.  

Or, companies are abolishing their performance review process but without a clear plan on what or how they will do differently in its absence.

So what can you do now to make your performance management approach awesome?  

Onboarding is a hot topic in HR circles, and rightly so.  Clearly it's important to bring new employees into the organisation in a way that sets them up for success in their job and has them excited about the company that they work for.

There's many articles about how to get it right or how to not mess it up, much of which contains good advice.  

But ... the most obvious critical thing to get right in onboarding seems to be missing from this advice ...

It is well documented that there is a significant positive relationship between leadership and a range of organisational and employee performance measures.

Therefore it is not surprising that the majority of medium to large size organisations are focusing on and investing significantly in developing their leaders. 

But is the investment delivering bang for the buck?  Well, not always.  Let’s take a look at five common fatal flaws of the design and delivery of Leadership Development Programs – and most importantly, how to avoid them.

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AuthorMichael Sleap

Last week I published a list of critical decisions to make when commencing as an independent consultant or freelancer – see here if you missed itThis is a big topic, so here is part two.

As mentioned in the previous post, starting out as a freelancer involves a mix of both boring and important things to consider, as well as the fun and cool aspects which led you to this way of working in the first place - this post covers both.

So let’s jump right into part two.

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AuthorMichael Sleap
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When I first started thinking about moving from being an employee of a consulting company to going out on my own as an independent consultant, I had a lot of questions about the exact mechanics of getting up and running.

So here is part one of the top list of critical decisions to make when starting as an independent consultant or freelancer. 

Much of this falls into the boring but important category, but hey, being your own boss isn’t all glitz and glamour (but it sure has a lot of great benefits!).

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AuthorMichael Sleap
CategoriesManagement
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The word ‘agility’ is used frequently in discussions these days to describe desired characteristics of leaders, team members and organisations.  And that’s appropriate, as the environment in which organisations and their people now operate is increasingly dynamic, complex and volatile. 

Yet despite this acknowledged imperative for individual and organisational agility, so many HR processes are the antithesis of agile.

 Let’s focus on employee performance management.

Is there a more maligned piece of paperwork in the workplace than the performance management/appraisal form?

"The forms are too long and too complicated".  

"It takes too much time to complete the forms".

"The rating scale has too many/too few options". 

The list goes on and on.

According to an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report released today there are now almost one million Australians who work as independent contractors in their main job. 

 The Forms of Employment report provides a comprehensive insight into the shift in Australia’s labour market from the traditional employer-employee relationship built around full-time employment to branching out into other less traditional working arrangements. 

 It shows that as well as one million contractors in Australia’s labour market there are also around 367,000 employees engaged on a fixed term contract (one-third of whom are in the Education and training industry) and almost 610,000 ‘other business operators’ (people managing their own business).

Anecdotal evidence about the current state of performance management in Australia suggests that there is a significant proportion of employees without the fundamentals of good performance in place.  

So why then is it that managers in organisations don't treat the expenditure on salaries of employees with the same level of scrutiny that they do contractor or consultant fees?

Last Wednesday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a publication that received little coverage but of which business leaders, recruiters and HR people around the country need to take notice. 

Why?  Well the Persons Not in the Labour Force publication shines a big bright spotlight on a huge undervalued and under-utilised talent pool in this country from a labour market perspeective – women with children.

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AuthorMichael Sleap

From the moment I took my seat at my first ever HR lecture as a uni student some (gulp) twenty years ago, it hit me that my new profession was one much more likely to be chosen by women than men. In more recent times I have attended or heard of HR events with very little attendance by men and have observed that in HR teams men are often very under-represented.

This piqued my curiosity, so I set about finding out the facts regarding the gender composition of today's HR profession.

I tapped into data from the 2011 Census and found that just fewer than two-thirds of employees (65.6%) who work in Human Resources in Australia are female. This includes recruitment, HR, L&D, employee relations etc.

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AuthorMichael Sleap
CategoriesHuman Resources
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As HR practitioners we frequently recommend, develop, implement and monitor policies, programs and procedures and provide advice that has a potentially large impact (positive or negative) on an organisation's people and performance. As professionals going about our work how much of what we do comes from a sound evidence base? If challenged, could you provide defensible evidence as to why a current or proposed HR or L&D program or practice will be of benefit to your organisation and its people and why that approach was chosen over other possibilities?

I see that many HR Teams and practitioners are conscious of evidence-based HR and espouse the need to underpin their HR practices with it. And I doubt that many people (although there's a few out there) would dispute that basing HR practices on sound evidence generally leads to more efficient and effective HR practices, which in turn positively impact the organisation's performance.

 

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AuthorMichael Sleap
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Almost every company's Learning and Development team is grappling with reduced or tight training budgets on the one hand, and increasing demand for training on the other. In attempting to deal with this challenge, L&D teams should be asking "How effectively are we using our current training budget?", or more pointedly, "how much of our training spend is being burned?".

Outlined below are the main areas in which organisations' training investment is being wasted:

1. Misdiagnosis of development need The most obvious way to burn the training budget is to train a person in an area that isn't a development need.

This could happen by simply putting everyone in a team or department through a training program without any assessment of individual competency (the sheep dip) and therefore training need.

It can also come about due to a misdiagnosis of an apparent development need. For example, an employee is not completing their assigned work in a timely manner so their manager enlists them in a time management training course. However, if the main reason for not completing the work on time is something else such as a lack of understanding of the work itself, then they are being trained in the wrong area. This both burns the training budget and leaves the development need unaddressed.

HR needs to be at the forefront of driving productivity in organisations. Anyone disagree with that? Not likely, especially in this post global financial crisis era where HR more than ever needs to demonstrate its bottom line contribution to business performance. Yet despite general acknowledgement of the importance of increasing organisational productivity, I wonder how many HR professionals can articulate what it means and how HR can help? And if we don't really understand productivity how can we truly influence organisational performance?

Most people in HR haven't studied much in the way of economics and accounting and the concept of productivity, and its practical application in the workplace can be complex and nebulous.

In fact the vast majority of HR related articles about productivity focus almost exclusively on individual efficiency at work - better time management, how to manage your email more effectively, saying no to pointless meetings etc.

Is there anything more uninspiring in large companies than their ‘vision’? Almost every major organisation has one. Do you even know what your employer’s vision is, let alone use it a means of motivation and to guide the decisions that you make on a daily basis? Here are a couple of examples that can be found on the website of large Australian businesses, and which are fairly typical of the ubiquitous company vision.

One large bank's vision is “To be one of the world’s great companies, helping our customers, communities and people to prosper and grow”.

A major oil and gas company's website states “Vision - Our aim is to be a global leader in upstream oil and gas”.

Do you find them inspiring? I am not trying to single out those two companies; the point is that most organisations’ visions are similar. They are typically written as a one sentence statement and are very generic, intangible and formal. It is difficult to see how this is benefiting the company or anyone associated with it.

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AuthorMichael Sleap
Tagsvision

One of the most satisfying jobs in my career was as a student when I stacked shelves in the dairy section of the local supermarket. No, seriously. I worked there for 7 years and I often felt a sense of achievement after a day of work having unpacked pallets of stock and seeing the fruits of my labour as I looked around at the full shelves. The work was highly tangible, fairly simple and repetitive, but enjoyable. But the work of a knowledge worker is quite different to that - it is often intangible, complex, ambiguous and varied, and carries pluses and minuses by way of comparison.

Do you ever hear yourself say or think that you feel like you have achieved little in a work day and would like to just get some real work done? Perhaps what we are lamenting when we say that is the lack of a tangible output that day and therefore we feel like we are not contributing to the team in a meaningful way or earning our keep.

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AuthorMichael Sleap