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Get Rid of Performance Reviews

Get Rid of Performance Reviews

It’s confirmed: Many employees hate performance reviews. At the recent SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, attendees learned that, upon receiving the annual performance review, 18 percent of women reported crying, while 25 percent of men reported doing so. Thirty-four percent of Millennials said the annual review has driven them to tears. Another interesting statistic: 57 percent of individuals surveyed reported that the annual review made them feel they were in competition with co-workers. This research was shared by speakers Jennifer Currence, SHRM-SCP, CEO of WithIN Leadership, and Art Jackson, president of Eagle’s Nest Performance Management, in a panel discussion moderated by Tony Lee, vice president of content for SHRM.Currence and Jackson noted that the traditional annual review tends to promote favoritism, inconsistency, abrupt swing between leniency and severity, and recency bias (which happens when reviewers judge an employee’s most recent performance and apply it to the whole year. For example, Employee A has a lousy year with a great finish whereas Employee B has a great year with a lousy finish. Who gets the higher rating?). Another problem with the annual review is it tends to increase fear of confrontation, which results in avoidance. This produces silence when communication is most needed.With this data, information and experience, it’s not surprising the speakers’ strong recommendation regarding the annual review was simple: Get rid of it!This doesn’t mean eliminating performance feedback. Employees still want to know how they’re doing. Unclear job expectations are the No. 1 cause of workplace stress, Currence and Jackson said. They shared several things that can be done to replace the annual review:Initiate more frequent conversations about performance.Adopt a less cumbersome and more welcoming approach.Separate the review from any discussion of compensation.Train managers on coaching techniques to help them get away from being the traditional “boss.”Include 360-degree feedback. In addition, managers should be trained on how to give objective feedback, not subjective feedback. Subjective: “You don’t seem to be doing as well as your co-workers.” Objective: “Here’s what I’m observing regarding results on your individual performance plan.” Subjective: “You’ve got a lot of potential that needs developing.” Objective: “Here’s how you could increase your contribution toward achievement of our organization’s strategic plan.” Currence stressed the value of forward-focused discussions. Instead of rehashing criticism of past or current failures, managers should ask questions such as, “What do you think?” Develop the habit of replacing a declarative statement by starting with “what” or “how” to elicit more powerful responses.Jackson also encouraged abandoning the widespread 1-to-5 rating scheme, noting that most managers will default to the just-above-average and not-too-harsh 3.5 rating. Instead, he recommends using a 4-point scale that provides a little more information to the recipient.As a guide for these more-frequent performance-related discussions, the speakers recommended five actions:Set performance expectations.Establish accountability.Focus on mission priorities.Seek to develop team members. Solicit feedback and document the discussion. Currence and Jackson prefer to call these discussions “check-ins” rather than “performance reviews.” In terms of frequency, Jackson suggested one check-in per month. An alternative suggestion was …

Why a Layoff Is Not an Alternative to Terminations for Cause

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Why a Layoff Is Not an Alternative to Terminations for Cause

​One of the biggest mistaken assumptions in the workplace is that companies can simply lay off their weakest performers rather than proceed with progressive discipline. In almost all cases, progressive discipline is the method of choice when dealing with substandard performance or conduct issues. To simply make the person and problem magically disappear via a no-fault layoff may feel like the path of least resistance, but it often leaves managers unaccountable, workers neglected and the organization vulnerable.Here’s what you need to know so you can avoid this potentially dangerous landmine:The Path of Least ResistanceManagers who want to avoid the confrontation associated with progressive discipline and termination often look to a no-fault layoff because it appears to provide a quicker, cleaner solution to ending employment. No confrontation, no disagreement and no conflict necessary: simply a “position elimination” removing the poor-performing employee from the workplace, coupled with a severance package and a promise not to contest the individual’s application for unemployment insurance.But there are certain legal and practical guidelines you need to follow when considering a layoff. Specifically, you should determine the appropriate employee to be laid off, how long you’ll have to wait before refilling that position and what could happen if you are legally challenged for having improperly laid someone off.Keep in mind that you eliminate positions, not people. There’s typically a budget shortfall that needs to be addressed by eliminating a position or a redundancy in work processes that triggers the need to eliminate a role. In other words, your written records must reflect that a position is being eliminated because of a legitimate business need, and the individual who currently fills that position will now be affected because there’s no longer a job to report to.”If removing a problem performer is your goal, then eliminating that individual’s job may be a big mistake,” according to Jeff Nowak, management-side employment attorney at Littler Mendelson P.C. in Chicago. “After all, you’ll still need to get the work done.”Even if you already have a specific employee in mind, determining which employee should be separated once you’ve established a legitimate business reason to eliminate a position can be challenging.”Remember, you can’t arbitrarily select someone for a layoff simply because he is your weakest performer or because he happens to be sitting in the seat that’s being eliminated,” Nowak said. “Instead, you must first identify the least-qualified person in the department or unit to assume the remaining duties after the restructuring occurs. The least-qualified person on paper, however, may end up being your best (albeit newest) performer.”Let’s look at an example to clarify these concepts. Assume you’re looking to terminate a poor-performing employee by eliminating one of three administrative assistant positions in your marketing department. Since there are three individuals who currently fill that role, you have a pool to choose from and your company will be required to conduct a “peer group analysis” to see which of the three is the least qualified to assume the remaining job responsibilities once the position …

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Pandemic Toll – Six Recommendations for Improving Employee Experience and Organizational Culture

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Pandemic Toll – Six Recommendations for Improving Employee Experience and Organizational Culture

NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 2021 – The pandemic dramatically changed how, when, and where work gets done. And while a majority of businesses reported that productivity increased as employees settled into working remotely, for many, it came at the expense of the employee experience: Employee burnout, time spent in meetings, and the number of employees […]

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Work Martyrdom: The Road to Burnout

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Work Martyrdom: The Road to Burnout

​Do you routinely work late into the night or early into the morning to finish an assignment that is not part of your regular workload? Are you the one who always jumps in when something is needed despite the work piling up on your own desk? Does work take priority over vacations, weekends, family?You might be a work martyr—habitually sacrificing your own needs for the needs of your organization. And that’s not healthy.The result: slow burnout, said Juliette McClendon, Ph.D., director of medical affairs at Big Health in San Francisco.”Oftentimes [these] individuals put work first above themselves, above family responsibilities; working and working and not attending to [their] own physical and mental health needs,” she said. “[They] pick up extra projects they really don’t have time for to prove themselves to the company or show their commitment.”The COVID-19 pandemic—with people working from home—can perpetuate this martyrdom.”It makes it a little easier to work more. You don’t leave your office and go home. You can just stay in your house and keep working late hours. For many people, [the pandemic] has worsened some of that work martyrdom.”Research has found remote employees are working longer, spending time in more meetings and having more communication channels to keep up with during the pandemic, SHRM Online reported in December 2020. Last year, people who mainly, occasionally or recently worked from home clocked in about six hours of unpaid overtime a week—almost double the 3.6 hours of those who never worked remotely, according to an April 2021 Business Insider news report.Work martyrdom was “pretty strong” in the pandemic’s early days as, concerned about their jobs and their organization, employees put in long hours, said psychologist Lisa Orbe-Austin, Ph.D., a partner at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting in New York City. Now, Orbe-Austin thinks feeling unappreciated is one factor of the Great Resignation.”What I’m seeing is people are [angry], recognizing the way their work martyrdom has not been rewarded. They’re looking for ‘more.’ I’m seeing more resentment, anger, frustration, [a feeling of] ‘I put all this time in and I’m not getting a bonus this year and I’m not getting the promotion this year.’ ” Difficulty Setting BoundariesThe work martyr does not know how to set boundaries, Orbe-Austin said. “If someone has a need, they have to jump to it. They will work until the job is done… until 4 in the morning, [and during] their vacations.” And while sometimes they are superstars who are recognized with tangible rewards, they’re not necessarily motivated by outward recognition, McClendon said. This can be particularly true for people of color, who may feel they have to work harder than others to overcome stereotypes.”For people of color, there is a sort of general cultural norm around working really hard. In the Black community, you have to work 10 times harder than everybody else to prove yourself. [You] come into a work situation already at a disadvantage because of stereotypes. Also, some of those [workers] have internalized beliefs that ‘I’m not going …

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How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organizations

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How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organizations

How toxic leaders destroy people as well as organizations Theo Veldsman, University of Johannesburg — There is a growing incidence of toxic leadership in organisations across the world. This is clear from anecdotal evidence as well as research which suggests that one out of every five leaders is toxic. My own research shows that closer […]

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Take the Fear out of Feedback

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Take the Fear out of Feedback

​The ability to give feedback is a superpower. Little nuggets of feedback can change lives. But the word “feedback” has a negative connotation, perhaps because not many people are comfortable giving it.One mistake many managers make when giving feedback is to focus only on poor performance instead of also speaking to successful performance.That’s according to Tamra Chandler, partner at EY, and Laura Grealish, senior manager at EY, both in Washington state, who co-authored the book Feedback and Other Dirty Words: Why We Fear It, How to Fix It (Berrett-Koehler, 2019). They provided a new outlook on one of the more dreaded duties of HR and managers during their session “Redeeming Feedback for Good” during the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021.”We need to redeem feedback and start over, because feedback is good for your company,” the presenters shared. “You have to lean in and listen in your feedback. If you do, you will outperform those companies who don’t.”Chandler and Grealish said teams should allow frank and positive thoughts in their feedback because teams that encourage this will stay together longer. Employees who receive specific praise in the form of feedback performed better at future tasks than their counterparts, they said.For example, two-thirds of employees whose managers focus on their strengths are “fully engaged.” When managers focus on their weaknesses, employee engagement drops to 31 percent.”Research shows that focusing people on their shortcomings doesn’t enable learning. It impairs it,” Chandler said. “Our words have the power to inspire, to unlock potential, to lift us up instead of knocking us down. If that doesn’t get you on board with fixing feedback … nothing will.”Most importantly, when supervisors focus on fixing a performance problem through negative feedback, “It’s a huge turnoff in the employees’ minds,” they said. “When we exert control over someone, their performance will actually go down, outcomes suffer, and learning is limited. As a supervisor, remember it’s about their future and not your agenda.”Trust and Positivity Are KeyWhen giving feedback, managers shouldn’t be judgmental. Feedback should be intended to help individuals or teams thrive and grow. “If not, then don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s feedback,” they said.Once a manager and employee develop trust, more valuable and more effective discussions over feedback can be had, they said.”When there’s a trusting relationship, so many good things happen. There’s 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy, 50 percent more productivity, 60 percent more joy, 70 percent more purpose and 50 percent more retention,” Chandler said.Chandler and Grealish said negativity will kill the process. They recommended that supervisors tie necessary negative feedback to the future: They recommended conveying the message “It’s not that you did it wrong. It’s that you can do it even better.”Don’t Make Feedback ScarySupervisors should aim to lower employees’ fear of receiving feedback. “The last thing an employee wants to hear is, ‘Let’s set up some time tomorrow for you to visit with me in my office,’ ” Grealish said. “That is something that will surely lead to …

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5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

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5 Common Mental Health Challenges in the Workplace

​You can’t see mental health challenges, but they are happening all around you.Speaking during a session at the recent SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, Andrea Sides Herron, SHRM-CP, told the plight of her sister, who has struggled with mental health issues for nearly her entire life. Then COVID-19 made them worse. Herron’s sister initially hid how she was feeling from friends and family, but eventually the warning signs became clearly visible and she asked for help.Mental health issues are afflicting people in your office, too, Herron said. Pre-pandemic, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. had some form of mental disorder; the numbers have skyrocketed since then. Identifying Employees Who Are Experiencing Mental Health Challenges”Many of you are being squished by mental illness,” Herron said. “You have more than you can handle.”One way HR teams and supervisors can identify staff members experiencing mental health challenges, she said, is by paying attention to each person’s base lines. What is the person’s typical behavior? Learning this becomes more difficult with remote workers, she said, but there are signs that should cause concern.”Have you noticed that a person’s appearance has shifted?” she asked. “Are they choosing not to have their camera on during videoconference meetings when they usually did? Is there evidence that they’re drinking too much or [have] picked up smoking again? Maybe they’ve told you about the 12 Amazon deliveries that show up at their house each day. These are signs.”Herron, a seasoned HR executive, author and host of the HR Scoop podcast, advised HR and managers to be careful when reacting or responding to an employee’s changed behavior. “Do not add to the shame that can come with mental health’s stigma,” she said. Addressing Struggling EmployeesHerron described five fictional employees, explored some of their behaviors and suggested ways of dealing with those behaviors. Masa: He’s been an employee at the company for three years. He’s been a solid performer, but his manager has noticed changes in his behavior and there are rumors that he’s getting a divorce.Check in with him. Managers should keep an open-door policy and let employees know they are there for support, Herron said. “Employers should never make that first one-on-one meeting … because an employee did something wrong,” she said. “Try to meet earlier on with employees under friendly terms to help to establish a better relationship.” Carlyn: She’s been working at the company for two years. She’s a high-performer, and she has asked for an off-cycle raise. You sense that she’s under financial strain.It turns out her partner was fired and her household is lacking income. She’s become uncharacteristically angry at her co-workers.”We know there is a strong link between financial stress and mental health,” Herron said.Herron suggested that the employer might:Offer her a promotion with more responsibilities since she is a high-performer, if it makes business sense.Think about whether the company is doing enough to offer resources that support financial wellness.Consider offering tuition reimbursement or student loan payoffs or other benefits in addition to a traditional 401(k).Employees can be high-performers and have mental …

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Business Formation Statistics (BFS)

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Business Formation Statistics (BFS)

July 15, 2021

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Annual Business Applications by State and County

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Annual Business Applications by State and County

<a href=’https:&#47;&#47;www.census.gov&#47;library&#47;visualizations&#47;interactive&#47;bfs-annual-state-county.html’><img alt=’NationSymbol ‘ src=’https:&#47;&#47;public.tableau.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;BF&#47;BFSAnnualState-County&#47;NationSymbol&#47;1_rss.png’ style=’border: none’ /></a>

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The Strike Zone—July 19, 2021

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The Strike Zone—July 19, 2021

As previously discussed, the Supreme Court’s opinion in NCAA v. Alston was a narrow ruling on strictly antitrust grounds, but the decision has the potential to more broadly alter the landscape of collegiate athletics. That potential is already being realized, as a proposed collective and class action suit seeks to apply the court’s reasoning in […]

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