managers should be asking five questions

I encourage managers to be able to answer five person questions about their employees. The questions don’t really matter, it’s the conversation and the relationship that matters.

The time invested into having these conversations is what will build more open communication, an understanding of each other and a stronger relationship.

 

What’s your employee’s favorite colour?
Where were they born?
Do they have any siblings?
If they had to be fired, how would they want it to go down?

What did they want to be when they were a kid?

 

These questions should spark all kinds of questions. Especially the one about getting fired. If you’ve got an employee who is just answering that with a straight face and without questions, you’ve got a pretty strong indicator that they aren’t communicating with you. That question should, at the very least, prompt a ‘what kind of question is that’ response. It opens the door for all kinds of conversation.

 

Try it!

Women in the workplace

A particular area of interest for me is women in the workplace. It hasn’t always been the case though. I spent the first 15 working years focused on my work and career. I wanted to move myself forward. It is only recently that I started to think of the careers and experiences of other women. I want to see us all move forward.

It has been inspiring to watch a woman accept the nomination to run for president of the United States. I loved what Arianna Huffington said – another ceiling broken. I hadn’t thought about it that light until I read what she wrote. It’s an amazing time to be a women. We’re watching history unfold. There is still work to be done. And they may feel like baby steps to some, but they feel like steps to me. Small movements forward, towards equality. And they’re beautiful movements!

Can’t wait to see another Canadian woman prime minister, maybe for a longer tenure, though.

Social events and business metrics

My morning tea rumination landed on social events today. There is often disagreement about whether or not social events fall under the umbrella of human resources. But that’s a different post for a different day. Regardless of whether or not socials fall within Human Resources, should events be correlated to business metrics? Should we connect employee engagement results, sales figures, NPS results, and more to social events? If the business results are poor, should social events continue? If the NPS results are low, should there be more social events?

I think doing the research, being curious, experimenting and measure, will lead you to the right answer. Correlating social events with business results will give you some direction. You’ll learn if social events positively effect business performance. Likewise, you’ll learn if they impact your customer satisfaction.

Using this information, you can determine how to use social events for influencing business results. Social events are almost always a positive. It’s hard to argue with the idea of people getting to know each other better, building relationships and team building. But, connecting with metrics is important.

Go forth, party. Then measure the results.

Advice in the form of a question?

One of my favorite pieces of advice, is actually a question. How badly do you want it?

Such a simple question, but it’s so impactful. We can all find ourselves in a rut or a lull. Or, worse, feel like something we want is out of reach. That’s when the question, how badly do you want it, might help.

If you want to start exercising, but just can’t seem to get yourself to get started – try asking how badly do you want it? If you want to start a business, but you don’t know if it will be successful – try asking how badly you want it?

An oldy, but a goody.

The language of change management

I was reminded in a conversation this week about how excited I am to see the language of change management disappear. Not because it is not important or because we don’t need the help, but because we’ve fully digested the fact that change is not something to be managed. Or planned. But rather, that it is constant. It will have become part of how we operate. And someday the effort we give to managing a change like a new website, will be unconscious. Of course, this will be because of all the good work that the language of change management does today!

Summer dress codes

Ah, yes, summer is back. For many HR professionals that means dress code conversations. Depending on the workplace, this may include chats about flip flops, short shorts, baseball hats, tank tops, and I’m sure other clothing items. Sometimes, clothing impacts our business in a real, tangible way. Maybe for those forward facing with customers. Maybe for those who need to consider health and safety. But, for many others, we’re bringing our own standards of dress to the workplace. Sometimes, the work is what matters. Imagine what might be possible if we weren’t hung up on flip flops and short shorts. Imagine if we were hung up on outcomes, results and metrics. Just saying.

Can you cry at work?

Over the past few years, I’ve done a 180 on shows of emotion at work. I started my career thinking that feelings and emotions were best left at home. Or at the very least, in the bathroom stall.

I have come to think about people as a whole. If we expect people to give their best, be high performers, we have to expect them to be people. People have bad days. People are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, well, you get the idea. I have come to think that we need to give people the opportunity to be themselves. Their whole selves.

For some people, that means crying when they feel happy, sad, frustrated, or angry. You can cry at work! Because it means you are engaged at work. It means you care. It means you care so much that you are getting frustrated. Let it out!

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is only half the battle. Welcoming a diverse population to the workplace is just the beginning. If those people are not included in the workplace, we lose out on the point of diversity. The argument behind diversity is to strengthen business with the different opinions and viewpoints that different people bring. But so often, workplaces demonstrate diversity without the benefits of what different people bring to the table.

It’s not enough to have female representation or people from different cultures, if we don’t listen to them, we miss their valuable contributions.

Include the diversity you’ve worked so hard to create.

Know your culture

When it comes to making changes, so often we, in HR, use change management techniques we’ve learned along the way. Typically a set that we’ve grown to feel comfortable with. Sometimes that works. But other times, we fail and are left wondering why. We followed the same steps we used in the last change or in the last company.

I think the missing element is weighing our corporate culture when deciding how to change manage. How open is the company to change? How quickly do they adapt to change? How big of a change can they swallow in one bite?

And we take that one step further by asking about the appetite for the change in our culture. Some changes are far more welcome than others and that will vary by organization.

By taking a minute and asking these questions, we can create a successful change management plan.

New year, new resolutions

It’s that time of year when many people start to think of change. Some that stick and some that don’t. Okay, lots that don’t stick.

But, how many people make a resolution, or two, about work? We spend so much time at work, we should think about bringing some resolutions to work. Approaching things differently can yield results you might not have seen before. Maybe it’s about a sales pitch, or a spreadsheet, or a relationship with a coworker.

What can you resolve to do differently this year?