Fearless Performance Reviews
By Jeffrey and Linda Russell
McGraw-Hill Education, 2014
List price: $18
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Brenda called consultants Jeffrey and Linda Russell, worried about her upcoming performance review. She distrusted her boss and feared he would ambush her. Then the Russells heard from Tom, a manager requesting their help with his review of a “volatile” employee whom he found “intimidating.” Tom was Brenda’s manager.
Fear of performance reviews—on both sides of the desk—is what the Russells set out to conquer in Fearless Performance Reviews.
What brings out this fear? The Russells show how reviews become “overly judgmental”—not just for the employee but also to the reviewing manager, who may hate judging others as much as employees hate being judged. The book examines how reviews make employees feel like they lack control over their work lives and supervisors feel like they lack control over the review itself.
These issues stem from what the Russells dub the my-way mindset. “Mindset matters because … each person’s mindset contributes to the quality of the connection,” they write. The my-way mindset undermines any real exchange of ideas because of beliefs such as “I’m right, you’re wrong” and “I am in charge, you’re not.” In this type of exchange, someone must win and someone must lose. While managers and employees would say they surely don’t think in those terms, this mindset is so ingrained that people don’t realize they have it—and that it helps them feel in control.
My-way behaviors include holding onto information and never admitting that the other person might have a valid point, because such an admission would mean the other person “wins.” My-way managers won’t explain themselves, even if doing so would help employees better understand what’s expected of them. My-way employees and managers focus on their own goals to the exclusion of all else. Managers might sugarcoat negative messages because they don’t want employees to get overly emotional.
The bulk of the book shows readers the benefits of reviews that use true collaboration. A fearless review has no “undiscussables” hovering in the air to make participants evade, withhold or sugarcoat problems. Performance improvement—not self-defense or self-justification—becomes the focus. “All of these ideal performance review outcomes are available to each of us at any time,” the authors write, without any new processes or even a change to the employer’s review forms.
Ways to make this possible include the following:
- Changes to both parties’ mind-set. The collaborative mindset accepts that there is more than one right answer. Disagreements can be opportunities for learning rather than just occasions to defend yourself. It’s OK to empathize with your manager or your employee.
- New behaviors anyone can adopt. Once participants admit to and identify their assumptions, they can be more direct and honest, suspending judgment and sharing their reasoning with others. Both sides in reviews need to develop mutually accepted meanings for key concepts. What does the employee mean when she says she needs support? What does the boss mean when she says she wants engagement?
- A shift away from negative my-way behaviors to collaborative ones. The authors describe how the review process can change from relying too heavily on some performance measures (such as the number of times an employee performed a task) to giving weight to measures often ignored (such as the quality of the work). Another shift is moving from a focus on filling in review forms to a focus on discussions that produce actions.
Readers learn techniques for defining performance outcomes, developing goals together with employees, and lining up organizational support so that changes needed after a review, such as more training or better sharing of customer feedback, actually happen once the review is done.
The Russells offer a profile of what makes a star performer successful (including initiative, creativity, risk-taking and a supervisor who is also a coach) and what problems are barriers to successful performance (unclear expectations, lack of performance feedback, lack of real rewards or real consequences, lack of skills, and more).
Readers get steps for successful reviews, including details about creating a performance log, a critical incidents log and a performance portfolio with “tangible evidence” of the employee’s accomplishments.
Up, Down and Sideways: High-Impact Verbal Communication for HR Professionals
By Patricia M. Buhler, SPHR, and Joel D. Worden
List price: $29.95
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HR professionals who are good communicators are more valuable to their organizations and more successful in their jobs. Successful workforce management, development and training, compensation and benefits, and labor relations practices all depend on HR’s ability to communicate information effectively.
Patricia M. Buhler, SPHR, and Joel D. Worden offer “high-impact verbal communication for HR professionals” in Up, Down and Sideways. Their detailed advice covers these areas and more:
-- General speaking tips. Readers learn how to use visual aids effectively and how to adjust public speaking for different audiences, particularly audiences of different generations. Cultural differences also should guide speakers; tips include learning what gestures to avoid and eliminating figurative language (such as “Now the shoe’s on the other foot”) that could confuse some audiences.
-- Orientation programs. The book focuses on how to create “inclusiveness and team spirit among newly-recruited employees and current employees.” Learn the details of a truly welcoming orientation speech and how to facilitate meaningful connections between veteran employees and new ones.
-- Training and development. How can HR and trainers best deliver information? Readers learn about preparatory steps, training locations and specific techniques for delivering dynamic, interactive training.
-- Information distribution. Communicating early and often can quash rumors when major change occurs, such as a downsizing, merger or acquisition. Candid, in-person communication from HR and top management are best; face-to-face communications are what employees want at times of change, so they can gauge how truthful they think the top brass are being.
-- Job interviews. Learn how to use language that relaxes job candidates, how to ask questions objectively, how to ask questions that set up a hypothetical scenario and how to avoid questions that could create legal problems. A section looks at alternative interview formats such as team or panel interviews for a single candidate or group interviews for several candidates at the same time.
-- Feedback. Schedule appraisals in ways that involve employees more, let employees know why appraisals matter and how appraisals help the organization, and assess one’s own attitudes and emotional state before reviewing someone else’s performance. HR professionals and managers can learn to use employees’ self-assessments effectively, as well as how to highlight an employee’s strengths while delivering negative observations.
-- Problem employees. When an employee’s behavior requires HR or management to take action, it’s necessary to have some difficult conversations. The authors advise on how to approach these conversations and include examples.
-- Terminations. Get step-by-step guidance on businesslike and brief terminations, as well as advice on informing other employees that someone has been fired.
The Crowdsourced Performance Review
By Eric Mosley
McGraw-Hill Education, 2013
List price: $30
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Performance reviews are a “sad poster child” for an outdated view: Performance judgments are based on job descriptions, expectations and goals decided in advance, and usually assessed by just one manager. Reviews don’t capture employees’ actual behaviors in real time, says author Eric Mosley.
His answer to the outmoded one-manager, once-a-year review is “social recognition” and the crowdsourced performance review.
Social recognition databases and applications let employees recognize each other’s contributions and give managers specific examples of employee performance. Mosley notes that the good performance recognized on social recognition systems should be rewarded under a scaled award system that provides cash awards commensurate with the performance’s impact.
How would crowdsourced performance reviews work? Mosley first shows readers what a recognition moment looks like: An online recognition system notes that a worker has been nominated for an internal award, and the nominator’s comments are published on the system. Other employees weigh in with comments, adding to the initial recognition as a “crowd” and providing crowd confirmation of the employee’s performance. The online praise and the following interactions get archived; they come out not annually but several times each year when the employee meets with his or her boss to talk about performance.
Rather than supplanting the traditional review, social recognition bolsters it. Mosley outlines how crowdsourced reviews can help employers track whether an employee’s work matches company values. He also gives readers a four-step process for implementing social recognition systems:
Decide how traditional and social recognition reviews will work together. Social recognition provides specific stories to back up the traditional review. The review should not be any surprise to the employee because he or she would have seen the social recognitions all year long as they were posted to the recognition system.
Create a budget for social recognition. This includes reallocating some of your existing bonus money so it becomes award money for social recognition awards.
Gradually bring in a social recognition system. Include training on using the system and communications so everyone understands how it will be used in their reviews. You need everyone to buy into participation.
Measure the system’s impact and make budget adjustments if needed. Metrics should look at retention rates, changes to review scores once a system is in place, changes to employees’ answers about engagement and values, increased customer satisfaction ratings, and more.
Using a detailed case study, The Crowdsourced Performance Review shows readers how to prepare for a review from both the manager’s and the employee’s perspectives. The book provides visual samples in the form of screen captures of social recognition records from an online system. Readers learn how a manager can translate kudos into items on a review and how social recognition systems help managers see the interactions among employees by looking at who gives and gets recognition and who observes performance.
A chapter on data looks at how crowdsourcing provides value to HR and managers. Social recognition data can uncover patterns, such as a manager who frequently ranks employees far lower than their “crowd” scores; is the issue the employees or the manager? Crowdsourced social recognition data also can be used to identify top performers as well as employees who are on the verge of quitting.
The New Rules of Recruiting
By D. Zachary Misko and Todd Wheatland
Kelly Services Inc., 2013
List price: $18.95
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Meet B. He’s applying for a financial analyst job at your firm. His experience is minimal, but he says he has a strong personal interest in finance. He has excellent references and grades. But will B really be dedicated to this field?
When you explore B’s online world, you find that his LinkedIn profile links to an in-depth financial blog that shows his well-informed comments. His Twitter feed features frequent items about economics. Searches show that B regularly reads plenty of financial media.
Go by B’s resume, and you might turn him down. But learn who B is online, and you are more likely to offer him the job.
In The New Rules of Recruiting, employers learn how social media’s capabilities dovetail with the characteristics of younger workers to create opportunities for employers to recruit better than ever. Rather than seeing social media and the Internet as problematic disruptions to traditional, familiar recruiting methods, employers can see social media as tools to unveil applicants’ online behaviors and interests, and to figure out whether those applicants are a good fit.
Employees now have far more access to information about employers than in the past—a fact that can worry some employers. But the authors insist that “All this transparency and even loss of control is good; it means when someone accepts a position they are more likely to fit in.” While employers can’t always control their own images and messages reaching candidates, they do gain the advantage of finding out much more about candidates.
Pithy chapters look at how the new “post-resume job market” works and why an individual’s online behavior now is part of his or her resume. The book then outlines three sets of new rules for recruiting:
- Create a new, positive experience for employees and job seekers. Applicants no longer want to know just the particulars of one job. They want to know about the company culture, just as you want to know whether they’ll fit in. Be transparent with information, monitor information about your company that appears anywhere online, invest in the best technology (because today’s workers expect it), and give special attention to your website’s careers pages.
- Use social media effectively. This requires you to experiment, learn in-depth what media are out there and lose any fear of “doing it wrong.” Do not just use social media to pitch jobs. Distribute information about your company and its goals. Use niche sites and unusual platforms to get out the word about your organization. Be sure to monitor your competitors’ online presence too.The book includes a detailed inventory of today’s social media, including job boards, blogs, review sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, broadcasting and webcasting portals, apps, and more.
- Create high-quality online content. The goal is to attract not just job seekers but also others in your industry who could be potential passive candidates. Blogs, e-books, white papers, webcasts and special online events are examples of items to publish. Tweet about topics in your blogs, provide updates on LinkedIn and Facebook, post slides and presentations, and reuse content in new ways. Be sure not only to create content but also to comment on others’ posts and blogs, and connect with others in your business area.
The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit
By Paul Falcone and Winston Tan
List price: $21.95
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Performance appraisals frequently are stale, stuffed with descriptions that don’t help employees understand what excellent performance should look like, authors Paul Falcone and Winston Tan contend. The same content and forms cover administrators, technical experts and senior leaders—how can that tell any of them what’s really expected of them? And performance data and human capital information seldom reach organizations’ top executives to become key, useful metrics in planning for the future.
The Performance Appraisal Tool Kit aims to help readers construct appraisal systems and forms that better reflect their organizations’ real needs and challenges. Appraisals should improve future performance, not just check off boxes about past performance. Falcone and Tan offer readers templates, samples and extensive guidance on tailoring performance appraisals. The book explains:
- The concept of “competency progression” and how salaries typically progress over an employee’s career. Learn how to fund a salary increase budget over time. Be knowledgeable about alternative compensation strategies, especially for top performers, as a way to stay competitive with other employers.
- How to write enhanced descriptors that reflect the organization’s heightened expectations for an employee and the position. For instance, a description of required job skills and technical skills traditionally might mention things such as “Demonstrates mastery in core areas. Employs tools and systems effectively and efficiently to further business operations.” But does that really illustrate what the best performance should look like? An enhanced description might mention specifics such as these: “Continuously develops his or her skill set. Engages in job-shadowing assignments when available to learn others’ roles. Seeks out opportunities to learn about our company and industry that go beyond immediate areas of responsibility. Documents common processes using checklists to ensure consistency. Willingly transfers knowledge to others.”
- How to write goals that set up employees for success while heightening the expectations for performance. Steps include involving employees in assessing and writing goals, understanding the SMART goals model (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound), and using previous years’ performance assessments and goals to see whether past goals and the training to reach them have worked.
Companies can learn to emphasize professional development and training by making them part of the appraisal process.
- How to tie business strategy to organizational performance. Performance management should be a cycle: Set goals and plan at the start of the review year, give ongoing coaching and feedback throughout the year, and appraise and reward at the end of the year. Involve top management in performance discussions, and find out what performance scores should look like for different individuals and teams—what scores do they look for groups, teams or individual employees to achieve? And how do you use that information over time for succession planning? Falcone and Tan offer a model you can use to examine performance, career potential and retention risk (among other things) to assess employees’ places now and understand future gaps in the organization.
The book contains a section on common questions and concerns HR and manager have about creating new appraisals. Among the issues: What if we haven’t communicated problematic performance throughout the review period—can we still bring it up at the review? (Yes, but you have to be honest about your lack of feedback.) We mistakenly gave an acceptable review to someone already under a final written warning; can we still fire that person? (Depends on the situation, but it’ll be hard to fire that person now; try a “last chance agreement” instead.)
Other issues addressed include dealing with workers who refuse to complete required self-evaluations, finding the right frequency for reviews, and deciding how long to wait between a substandard review and corrective action.
The book includes detailed samples readers can use as guides: There is a sample performance appraisal form, a sample annual report on employee performance and six sample performance review templates designed to reflect an organization’s changing needs.
By Dan L. Ward and Rob Tripp with Bill Maki
List price: $32.95
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This collection of articles is a resource to help readers get “the right person in the right job.” Through 25 essays, writers present different aspects of strategic workforce planning—practical steps, metrics and measurement issues, forecasts, theories, and more.
Articles about current practices in strategic workforce planning (SWP) cover strategies for businesses in high-growth markets; tips for public-sector professionals interested in workforce planning; a case study of how Boeing uses SWP; lessons learned from Electronic Data Systems, especially the company’s advice about knowing when it’s truly time to use SWP; and an examination of SWP in China. One of the articles highlights the risk management aspects of SWP and gives advice about integrating it with HR and business strategies.
Readers new to workforce planning can find detailed help, including both simplified and advanced workforce planning flowcharts to use.
A section on analytics looks at how a host of data types—statistics, operations research, employee surveys, financial data and much more—play crucial roles in both informing workforce planning and measuring how SWP is working. An article explaining “talent analytics” outlines how employers can use data about employees to “link people decisions to organizational performance.” The article draws on the real-world experiences of service-intensive employers and includes the idea of an “analytical HR” approach that integrates individual performance measurement with specific organizational goals.
Another essay in Positioned is a primer on the fundamentals of workforce analytics, laying out what they forecast, outlining the components of a workforce analytics program, showing samples of workforce gaps (the difference between workforce demand and supply) and more.
Articles focusing on the future include a look at how HR professionals will work with their three principal targets (individuals, organizations and leadership) and how HR can upgrade the quality of organizational leadership. An essay on developments in management software and statistical analysis systems shows how those tools will give HR new abilities in risk management, learning and development, talent management, and more.
HR professionals are constantly asked to help organizations get the most out of other people, but what about the HR professional’s own development? An article advises HR and other leaders on tactics for taking responsibility for their own careers and getting more leadership development.
The Virtual Manager
By Kevin Sheridan
Career Press, 2012
List price: $15.99
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How does the manager of a virtual team build trust when teammates don’t see each other in person?
What qualities should candidates for virtual teams possess, and how do those qualities differ from those needed in the office?
How does the manager respond when employees working in the office complain that it’s unfair for someone else to work at home?
Those challenges and many more confront the managers of virtual teams, and author Kevin Sheridan’s The Virtual Manager guides leaders through management advice tailored specifically for organizations using virtual teams.
Sheridan shows how offering the option to work in virtual teams brings benefits: Virtual teams can attract and retain top performers, cut costs while improving productivity, reduce absenteeism, and provide better customer service.
But there are still challenges. Sheridan looks at the following issues:
- How do you create trust? This section covers how employee autonomy builds trust, the need for some in-person meetings and tips on how to hire the right people to manage virtual teams.
- What qualities make the best virtual employees? Learn why you need workers who are self-starters, self-motivated, self-disciplined and self-sufficient. This chapter details how each of these characteristics makes an employee a better virtual worker.
- How do you select candidates for virtual jobs? The book teaches how to write a job description tailored to a virtual job, outlines where to post these job openings, and walks managers through the steps for screening candidates and conducting a job interview specifically for a virtual job.
- How do you keep virtual workers engaged? Sheridan looks at the key factors that drive engagement and applies them to virtual jobs. For instance, satisfaction with one’s co-workers is a major contributor to employee engagement. Managers of virtual teams need to prevent team members from feeling detached and distant from each other. Video chats, phone calls (in place of e-mails), “job buddies” who work closely on a project and other tools can help employees who don’t see each other still feel connected.
- How do you train, manage and evaluate people you seldom see? Managers learn techniques including using “virtual tracking” systems to share work products and using video or phone meetings for frequent status reports.
Other challenges addressed in the book: handling jealousy from employees working in the office; managing workloads so that work is consistently balanced between employees working remotely and those working in the office; understanding the legal implications of using virtual workers, such as the need to track hours and monitor computers; and much more.
Win-Win Performance Appraisals
By Lawrence Holpp
List price: $15
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Performance appraisals too often are uncomfortable meetings reluctantly attended and quickly dispatched to the “Glad that’s over” file. But appraisals can and should be key tools for both the employer and the employee, and can be productive instead of painful.
Author Lawrence Holpp outlines how to tie appraisals to the organization’s strategy and use the employee’s experience, skills and goals to benefit both the employee and the organization.
Readers need to learn how well their organizations currently handle performance appraisal and whether the existing performance management process really connects to larger goals or is isolated from larger business objectives.
Holpp covers the roles of both manager and employee in deciding on objectives for employees. Setting objectives also requires managers to draw on corporate goals, work-unit objectives, position descriptions, the employee’s earlier appraisals, peer opinions such as 360-degree appraisals and more. He provides a checklist of criteria for effective objectives.
Readers can improve the existing performance appraisal forms they’re required to use. With examples and samples, Holpp demonstrates how to turn standard sections found on most forms into more useful tools. Readers learn to turn goals and competencies into objectives for the employee and how to rate employees’ potential as well as their past performance.
Holpp then walks managers through the appraisal process, now that they have their employees’ objectives and their improved forms in hand.
He gives managers tips on how to prepare before an evaluation meeting and how to help employees prepare. Readers learn to root out their own hidden biases when considering employees’ performance. Holpp also coaches readers on writing specific narratives to flesh out numeric ratings and on asking questions that are open-ended and don’t direct the employee to a specific desired answer.
One chapter focuses on what should happen during the appraisal meeting, from setting the employee at ease to asking questions, listening effectively and handling tensions.
Other topics Holpp covers include:
- Legal issues in performance management. The book discusses how laws affect performance appraisals and how to avoid issues of harassment, discrimination, defamation, negligence and more.
- Follow-up after an appraisal. This stage is where the manager and employee meet again to cover performance improvement, development and new objectives. Holpp provides techniques to help managers unearth why employees have specific problems and how to address them. He also covers post-appraisal tools ranging from rewards and recognition to discipline.
- Continuous performance management. Real performance management goes on all the time, not just during one appraisal meeting, and managers can diagnose performance problems continuously, coach employees and communicate expectations clearly.
Hiring for Attitude
By Mark Murphy
List price: $28
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Why do new hires fail? Maybe they lack technical competence. But according to author Mark Murphy, research shows that only 11 percent of new-hire failures are due to lack of technical competence on the hire’s part.
So what accounts for the rest of the failures? The answer: Varying problems that Murphy says all come down to one thing: attitude.
The new hires who didn’t last were the ones who didn’t fit in with their employers’ cultures. They weren’t motivated. They weren’t coachable. Or their temperaments didn’t match those of co-workers. Whatever the specifics, Murphy notes, in the end “attitude, not skill, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure.”
In Hiring for Attitude, Murphy urges employers and HR professionals to recruit the best performers who have both the skills and the attitude to stay on the job and excel. Murphy draws on his work as a consultant to guide readers through steps including these:
- Identify your organization’s unique culture and the attitudes that work best in that culture. Learn how to interview CEOs and other leaders in the organization about what makes a high or low performer. Tips include how to get specifics out of these interviews and how to record what you find.
- Revamp your hiring interview questions and throw out the standard ones.
Four types of interview questions—including the commonly asked “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses” questions—should go out the window, Murphy writes.
Other questions to dump are “oddball” questions that shed no light on work behaviors (“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”); questions about hypothetical work situations, because those questions make it easy for a candidate to tell the interviewer what the interviewer wants to hear; and even behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time when you had to…”), because they tip off the candidate about what you’re seeking.
- Create interview questions to reveal attitude. Use the information gleaned earlier during talks with executives and others to build better interview questions. Murphy lays out a four-step process for writing questions and gives examples from real interviews and actual “wrong attitude” and “right attitude” answers from candidates.
- Write “answer guidelines” so you know what good or bad answers sound like before you ask the questions. Many resources talk about how to write interview questions but they don’t teach how to create an answer key so you can give candidates consistent scores, Murphy says. He shows how to draft sample answers and provides an example of an organization’s attitude-based questions and answer guidelines.
- Score answers. Readers get a downloadable rating form for job candidates’ answers, as well as an explanation of why they should use a numeric rating scale instead of “gut feelings” about an answer. The book shows how to merge existing job interview rating systems with Murphy’s new methods. Murphy also shows how to analyze the text of candidates’ answers—their use of verb tense and voice, qualifiers, pronouns and more—to reveal hidden truths about their attitudes.
- Recruit for attitude. Learn a new recruiting formula: The probability of high performers applying to your firm is equal to the attraction they feel, combined with the urgency they feel to leave their current job, but minus any suspicions they have about your authenticity. Murphy demonstrates how to let potential candidates know about the specific behaviors you want (and they want to provide), how to influence candidates to consider leaving their current employers, and how to get rid of turn-offs, especially in job ads, that make candidates wary about your organization.
The Talent Management Handbook, Second Edition
Edited by Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R. Berger
List price: $60
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This text helps managers and HR professionals design talent management systems, build corporate cultures with a focus on talent, tailor compensation to promote keeping talented employees and much more. Readers can use The Talent Management Handbook as a textbook to study the whole topic or as a resource to dip into for help with specific issues as needed.
Authors include dozens of writers from global talent management firms and organizations.
Editors Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R. Berger open the book with essays about creating a talent management program, performance appraisals, and succession and career planning. Topics include designing appraisals, appraising executives, choosing the right performance appraisal and integrating succession planning with career planning.
A section on coaching, training and development covers a range of issues. Readers learn about 360-degree feedback and coaching as development tools. One chapter makes the case for measuring and quantifying talent management results so HR can prove its value to the organization. Authors also look at how to coach leaders to increase organizations’ social responsibility.
A third section focuses on linking compensation to talent management programs through long-term incentives. These essays also examine how to keep top talent on board and how to improve employee engagement through rewards systems.
The relationship between talent management and organizational culture gets attention in a dozen essays ranging from how onboarding relates to talent management, to the role ethics plays in talent management. Other topics include making diversity a tool for competitive advantage and building a “reservoir” of high-performing women.
Nuts and bolts of workforce planning and talent analysis are tools HR and others need for talent management. Chapters look at how to tie a talent strategy to a business strategy, how to use workforce planning and how line managers play a role in talent planning.
What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Job-Hunting Online, 6th Edition
By Mark Emery Bolles, Richard Nelson Bolles
Ten Speed Press, 2011
List price: $12.99
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What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Job-Hunting Online has everything from practical advice (“turn the TV off”) to detailed insights on the inner workings of job boards and social media—all of which are useful for people looking for a job. There is also great advice on preparing resumes. So, if a job seeker follows all the steps and methods laid out in the book, they will be successful. Right? My experience of hiring individuals at a large company conflicts, in a few respects, with the ways the authors recommend prospective candidates approach me and my recruiters.
Authors Mark Emery Bolles and Richard Nelson Bolles quote a statistic from the Wall Street Journal that someone unemployed spends 40 minutes a day job hunting and 200 minutes watching TV. “So,” they write, “box up your remote and ship it back to yourself a month later.” While the advice is tongue-in-cheek, it lays out the fact that if you are searching for a job, you should treat the search as if it were a job.
Other suggestions, such as researching companies and writing thank-you notes are great tips for every job seeker. I can’t say that I have ever given someone a job because they sent a thank-you note, but I certainly put more thought into that person’s interest. And, going into the interview talking about the company, based on research, always helps.
The book lays out 10 steps for landing a job and quotes success rates resulting from each step. However, I question the success rates cited; furthermore, let us look at a couple of statements more carefully:
- I would agree with the authors that the success of the major job boards has been fading the past few years, but these boards still yield significant results. In fact, 38 percent of UPS’s overall hires come from job boards, and that rate soars to 65 percent for professional hires.
- I disagree with the statement “Since it usually costs employers some serious coin to list on most job boards, employers will only put their job listings here when they are unable to fill a position.” I can’t speak for other employers, but UPS lists all openings on the job boards that we subscribe to. However, I agree that job seekers shouldn’t just use one method; they should try all, or as many of the 10 methods listed as they can.
The authors go into great detail about preparing your resume, providing great advice about multiple versions. I heartily agree that when responding to job postings, applicants should:
- Update their resumes for each posting.
- Address how their experience or education (or lack thereof) relates to the listing. Most recruiters will move past resumes that don’t.
The authors do a good job explaining keywords and the inner workings of online vehicles such as LinkedIn profiles. Today, these are used like resumes. The authors mention that LinkedIn is a business networking site and not a job hunting site, but I disagree. LinkedIn sells recruiting seat licenses that allow recruiters to search LinkedIn in a detailed way. Most of the candidates UPS finds on LinkedIn are through these searches and not from the job postings on the site. Approximately 10 percent of our professional hires come from LinkedIn, and I see that proportion increasing.
Overall, this book gives the average job seeker more than enough tools to find a job. It gives an advanced job seeker, including those in the HR profession, more details into the process that they may not be aware of. So, if you know someone looking for a job, I would purchase this book for him or her—and confiscate their remote. They will thank you later.
Reviewed by Matt Lavery, managing director of talent acquisition, UPS, Atlanta.
Managing the Unmanageable
By Anne Loehr and Jezra Kaye
Career Press, 2011
List price: $14.99
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The complainer who finds a flaw in everything. The egomaniac focused only on what benefits her. The do-gooder so involved with helping others that he doesn’t get his own work done. The wallflower who doesn’t contribute. The AWOL who just isn’t there.
Recognize them? They’re the “unmanageable employees,” along with other slackers and jokers and others who drag down productivity. Managing the Unmanageable authors Anne Loehr and Jezra Kaye walk managers and supervisors through each step of identifying and creating plans for working with these employees one on one and helping them become productive contributors.
Loehr and Kaye offer steps to take managers through observing, evaluating, diagnosing, communicating about and resolving challenges with unmanageable employees. Then, chapter by chapter, they show how those steps and tools work with each type of unmanageable employee.
The book includes a “What’s it worth?” worksheet that lets managers calculate how much an unmanageable employee costs the organization—including the costs of the manager’s own time dealing with the person, the cost of the employee’s lost productivity, and the costs of lost deadlines and projects that go undeveloped.
If the manager decides keeping the employee is worthwhile, there are tools to get the salvage operation started.
Tools include key questions to ask at the outset to determine what the problem is and how it affects the employee’s productivity. Managers get tips on how to talk with the employee constructively and neutrally. Then managers look at whether the employee’s goals and responsibilities are clear enough.
The coaching process comes next. The authors encourage managers to take on the role of coach even if they’re wary of it, and they provide a “coaching primer” to turn managers into coaches. And finally, the manager-coach and the employee determine the employee’s new accountability for his own improvement.
As chapters outline ways to change the slacker, the egomaniac, the wallflower and others, Loehr and Kaye introduce tools such as:
- Sample responses managers can use when faced with employees’ excuses, complaints or criticisms. These “Hot Tips” charts arm managers with specific replies for a host of possible statements and questions from difficult employees.
- A “goals diagnostic chart” to help determine whether the employee’s goals are clear enough.
- Examples of words that acknowledge employees’ contributions more effectively, especially when dealing with wallflower employees.
- Examples of and advice about asking good coaching questions that make the employee think and respond.
- An accountability tracking chart to help the employee and manager set benchmark dates for deliverables, so everyone knows whether the employee is taking responsibility for assigned tasks.
2011 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work
Families and Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management, 2011
List price: $19.95
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Last year when the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) asked executives what is the best way to attract and keep top talent, 58 percent of the respondents said workplace flexibility. Flexible time, flexible locations, flexible attitudes—those are not just feel-good extras; they’re now essential tools for successful employers. This pocket-sized volume offers quick summaries of innovative flexibility at 425 employers of all sizes and types—from the recruiting firm with 20 employees to a medical system with more than 8,000, and from Navy commands to fast-food restaurants.
Every employer listed in the book is a 2009 or 2010 recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. Award categories include flexible careers, caregiving leave, economic security for employees, and support for educational and economic opportunities.
2011 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work provides a brief profile of each winner including the specific actions that won it attention. Some examples:
- An airline company lets employees engage in unlimited shift swaps with no minimum requirement for number of hours worked. And some reservations agents and salaried employees work from home.
- A small firm of certified public accountants, swamped in the tax season, schedules events including meals and games as breaks during the workday, to ensure that employees enjoy some downtime.
- A law firm, faced with the financial downturn, offers to let employees work part time to offset any job cuts, and offers wellness and nutrition seminars to help workers deal with stress.
- A medical services company lets employees bring infants up to 6 months old to work with them. In six years, no employee has ever been denied sick leave, thanks to a sick-leave donation system.
- A large bank cuts its occupancy costs, and reduces the amount of time it takes to get information from managers and peers, by using flexible workspace. Employees can choose to work at home or at the same office daily, or they can come and go from a shared, open workspace.
Indexes let users search by company size or location, industry, and business issue (such as leveraging technology, reducing costs or enhancing employee engagement). In this way, readers can discover how employers of a similar size or facing similar challenges, for example, operate.
The guide is a joint publication of SHRM and the Families and Work Institute and is part of an initiative, When Work Works, that brings research about workplace flexibility
The Everything HR Kit
By John Putzier, SPHR, and David Baker, SPHR
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This step-by-step guide describes how to create an HR department from scratch, if needed, and includes samples of everything from interview questions to benefits packages to exit interviews.
Authors John Putzier, SPHR, and David Baker, SPHR, open The Everything HR Kit by urging readers to assess their existing HR departments. A self-assessment survey helps readers examine current practices to see where they need to make improvements. Another worksheet provides calculations to show the real costs of employee turnover and make the business case for improving recruitment and retention.
The toolkit, which includes a CD-ROM of the many forms and sample policies, shows how to design a recruitment brochure (both on paper and online) that attracts candidates. Users also get advice on writing job descriptions that help candidates understand jobs better.
The chapter on recruitment asks readers to consider the following questions: Do you wait until you have a vacancy, or do you recruit continuously? Do you look at people only for the skills and experiences they already have or for their potential to succeed in your industry?
The book provides a complete outline for creating an employee referral program. Additional tips look at better ways to use websites, newspaper ads, ads in niche trade publications, relationships with vocational and trade schools, and job fairs.
Putzier and Baker outline the nitty-gritty details of the recruitment stage—such as who should have responsibilities for posting openings, tracking applicants, selecting the interviewing team, etc.; what role HR must play in working with hiring managers; and how to fill out the legally required equal employment opportunity reports.
The book describes how to use behavioral interviewing to uncover how the applicant acted in specific employment situations. Other interview tools include sample interview questions sorted by categories, such as work history, goals, problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication abilities and motivation; the five most common errors interviewers make; and red flags that warn you a candidate may not be right for the job.
The book shows how to check references, gives information on conducting drug tests and lists legal requirements regarding immigration status (including descriptions of visas and the forms required to hire certain workers).
Readers get directions on starting a performance review system, with two different templates for reviews, plus a sample employee perception survey and directions on how to use and interpret it. A “retention toolkit” lists specific tools for compensation, benefits, scheduling, workplace enhancements and more.
Putzier and Baker focus on retention and improved productivity, but also acknowledge that discipline and firings may be needed. They take readers through the steps of progressive discipline and provide guidance on writing warning notices. They cover the basics on reductions in force and the laws that govern them.
An exit interview checklist helps HR ensure that it is giving departing employees the right information and helps HR find out why voluntarily departing workers are going.
Match: A Systematic, Sane Process for Hiring the Right Person Every Time
By Dan Erling
John Wiley & Sons, 2011
List price: $24.95
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Author Dan Erling walks readers through each step of recruiting, hiring and onboarding, from initial planning to effective interviews to making offers that stay in line with your budget.
Many employers fail to give hiring any real priority and never create a systematic hiring process, Erling argues. Instead, employers will say, “I’m a great judge of people” and end up making hiring decisions based on their emotions and whether they “click” with a candidate. The result, Erling says, is often a hire who might be on time, positive and skilled, but who doesn’t truly fulfill business needs.
The book offers a process for objective hiring, starting with the basic foundation: Who is the hiring team, and what roles does each person play? What is the corporate culture like, and how does that affect hiring decisions now? Erling helps readers answer these questions, then moves on to specific phases of the hiring process:
- Prepare the recruiting plan. Learn how to write a clearer and more-specific job description while avoiding common pitfalls such as being too vague or too rigid. Create a competency profile that outlines the essential personality traits of the right candidate for a job, and learn how that profile can help you script interviews. The book provides detailed samples of behavioral questions for job interviews. Prepare for hiring by first examining whether the job can be handled by outsourcing, whether the job can go unfilled, how essential the hire is and what recruiting methods you’ll use—from websites to search firms to colleges.
- Implement the recruiting plan. Learn to conduct focused phone interviews; Erling provides a format and sample questions. Structure a four-part in-person interview covering whether the candidate has the right skills and whether the candidate has the right personality traits for the job. Learn how to get reluctant references to call you back, using Erling’s scripts, and how to ask references the questions that elicit useful information.
- Make the hire. Tips cover how to choose a candidate and then make an offer that’s realistic for your budget and expresses intangibles like the job’s growth potential. The book lists how to communicate often and well with a desired candidate and how to deal with counteroffers.
Other guidance looks at steps to create a solid onboarding program that gets new hires better integrated into the workplace, strategies for retaining the hires you worked hard to get, and calculating the value and return on investment of a systematic hiring process.
By Mark A. Stein and Lilith Christiansen
List price: $29.95
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Tossing down the corporate welcome mat for new hires just isn’t enough anymore, authors Mark A. Stein and Lilith Christiansen say. Benefits forms, an office tour and a copy of the official values statement don’t take advantage of the investment you’re making in that new hire.
In Successful Onboarding, Stein and Christiansen show how to make the business case for more-substantial onboarding programs that better integrate new hires into the workplace and the organization’s mission. They focus on four areas in which the employer, through HR, needs to support new hires:
- Teaching culture. Employers may think they have “company culture” covered already with mission and vision statements. But real culture exists in the unwritten rules of how things actually get done each day, and employers need to teach that culture so new hires “get it.” Who really has final say over projects, despite what the organizational chart says? Are hallway chats, rather than formal meetings, where decisions are made? Are disputes handled formally or are employees expected to work things out on their own?
To introduce new hires to these unspoken rules, the book shows how to do a cultural audit. It offers a list of sample tactics, from letting experienced employees give “secrets to success” talks to creating online learning modules.
- Making connections. The authors emphasize the need for professional and personal networking, and advise employers on how to nurture networking. The book outlines types of formal and informal networks. Tips show how to help new hires activate relationships, such as encouraging the creation of “affinity groups” of employees with similar interests or using technology such as social networking to link new hires to each other and other employees.
- Providing early career support. Employers need to dust off their underused mentoring, development and feedback systems and use them for new hires, as well as develop oversight that allows new hires to learn from mistakes rather than be punished for them.
- Showing the bigger picture. Stein and Christiansen discuss introducing new hires to customers, resources, products, competition and stakeholders so these employees see where their jobs affect the whole.
The book also covers what employers need to make onboarding effective, including mentoring programs, onboarding software and processes for measuring how well onboarding is working.
The Cultural Fit Factor
By Lizz Pellet
Society for Human Resource Management, 2009
List price: $19.95
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Human resource professionals know the drill: Attract the right employees and then retain them. Author and consultant Lizz Pellet wants HR to add a third component to the “attract, retain” formula—repel.
In The Cultural Fit Factor, Pellet looks at how to build an organizational brand that not only attracts the right people but also keeps away potential candidates who just won’t fit into the organization.
Start by examining current organizational culture. The book includes a primer on what organizational culture is and how to assess it by looking at factors such as values, relationships, acceptable norms (such as attitudes toward meetings, lateness, language, dress, etc.) and decision-making processes.
“Culture should define brand, and not vice versa,” Pellet says as she covers the business benefits of having an employment brand—a “carefully crafted message” that shows what the employee experience is at your organization.
She also looks at the employee value proposition—basically, “what the organization is going to give, [and] what the employee is going to get and, in turn, give back.”
Pellet teaches steps for communicating your unique employment brand to current and prospective employees. Readers learn to develop the basic brand message based on cultural assessment, line up details and proof to back up that basic message, and find anecdotes to bring it to life.
Readers also will learn:
- How to assess company values and make them part of the brand. Case studies look at how well-known firms turned to their company values for guidance in crises.
- How to increase the return on investment of recruitment and retention by attracting and retaining the right people and repelling the ones who won’t fit the culture. Pellet shows how to get people with the right fit without running afoul of hiring rules.
- How HR can create a branding team and sell the top brass on the idea of branding by calculating return on investment.
- How mergers and acquisitions affect branding and how to build a new, combined brand.
101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance
By Paul Falcone
AMACOM and SHRM, 2010
List price: $35
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Managers and HR practitioners today increasingly need to use progressive discipline—giving employees timely notice of performance problems and involving them in solving those problems, writes Paul Falcone in 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance.
With these ready-to-use samples of communicating about performance issues, Falcone wants to provide positive models of addressing “minor infractions before they become major impediments.”
Falcone also aims to help employers ensure that communications about performance are consistent and well-documented, to avoid legal trouble later.
Before offering samples, Falcone walks readers through the parts of progressive discipline, from verbal corrections to written warnings, administrative leave during an investigation, final written warnings, and last-chance steps including suspension and probation. The book also provides do’s and don’ts for wording written descriptions of performance incidents and descriptions of disciplinary consequences. Readers also get an outline of a performance improvement plan document.
Sample documents address a wide range of possible performance situations and infractions of rules, including unauthorized use of equipment or time, removal of files, inappropriate computer use, disclosure of confidential information, e-mail misuse, insubordination, moonlighting, absenteeism, substandard customer service, and inefficient work.
A section of dismissal letters provides sample language for dismissals for reasons ranging from business closure to serious violations of policy or law.
The book includes a CD-ROM of letters and forms. Purchase from the SHRMStore
Workforce of One
By Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith
Harvard Business Press, 2010
List price: $35
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To improve productivity and effectiveness, authors Susan M. Cantrell and David Smith advise tailoring HR practices and policies to individual employees. Go far beyond just offering different benefits or flextime policies, they say—offer a whole menu of options for everything from performance reviews to job descriptions, all to keep employees at their best.
HR shouldn’t fear that its efforts to standardize procedures would go out the window if it embraces customization, the authors maintain in Workforce of One.
The book details four variations on customized practices and policies, backed by case studies from companies already using these ideas:
- Segmenting. Rather than trying to equalize everyone, HR can recognize differences and segment the workforce by attributes such as gender, ethnicity, job role, value to the organization, career aspirations and more. Different groups of employees have different needs and may require specialized options for how, when and where they work.
- Modular choices. Let employees pick options off a menu of choices, not just for benefits and work hours but also for learning, rewards, compensation, types of performance appraisals, career development and more.
- Broad and simple rules. The writers show how companies dropped rigid, detailed lists of competencies in favor of broader values or outcomes—for instance, setting a growth goal for a local store without dictating selling strategies to the store’s employees. Other ways to broaden rules include letting local managers control their rewards budgets, or defining the results expected from an employee but not defining when or where the employee has to work to achieve those results.
- Personalization. Let employees develop their own people practices. Some ideas are already familiar, including recruiting from among employees’ own contacts, mentoring and coaching. But others are more unusual, including letting employees define their own job titles, encouraging job swapping and job rotations, using trials or simulations to test candidates, and even auctioning jobs.
Cantrell and Smith weigh pros and cons of different approaches and help readers assess which options are right for their workplaces.
Readers get lessons in how four firms (a bank, two large retail chains and a global manufacturing giant) made their customization choices, mixing and matching from among the four approaches. Purchase from the SHRMStore
Effective Succession Planning, Fourth Edition
By William J. Rothwell
List price: $65
Organizations creating a succession plan for the first time, or revitalizing an existing succession plan, can use this volume as a step-by-step guide. Author William J. Rothwell opens the fourth edition of Effective Succession Planning with a look at why succession planning matters and the criteria for an effective succession planning program.
With worksheets, checklists, interview guides and other tools, Rothwell shows how to construct a program covering these elements and more:
- Learning what makes a succession program work.
- Identifying common problems with programs.
- Understanding how competencies fit into succession programs.
- Assessing current succession planning and management practices and making the case for changing them.
- Setting program priorities, creating policies and procedures, and ensuring a legal framework for a succession program.
- Conducting meetings and designing and delivering succession training.
- Creating individual development plans through assessing work requirements of key jobs, examining individual performance and looking at future potential.
- Assessing the organization’s “bench strength” to see if potential leaders are in place now.
- Evaluating the succession planning and management program.
For this new edition of the book, Rothwell adds advice on how recruitment and hiring relate to succession planning. Other new material covers retention, ethics and use of technology in succession planning.
The book includes a CD-ROM with worksheets, tools and training guides that readers can start using immediately.
By Leigh Branham, SPHR, and Mark Hirschfeld
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The well-known annual “Best Places to Work” survey, by Quantum Workplace of Omaha, lists companies where employees want to come to work each day and give their best efforts. In Re-Engage, authors Leigh Branham, SPHR, and Mark Hirschfeld delve into how the best places to work keep employees at all levels engaged and productive, and offer lessons on how to revitalize your own employees’ engagement.
Interviewing everyone from secretaries to corporate leaders, Branham and Hirschfeld look for the characteristics of workplaces with engaged workforces. They found six factors that drive engagement:
- Engagement starts at the top, with leaders who care about employees and whom employees trust.
- Managers need to ensure that employees are motivated and stay aligned with company goals.
- Effective teamwork at all levels, with no “us vs. them” mentality, is essential.
- Managers encourage job enrichment and professional growth.
- The employer recognizes and rewards employees’ efforts in meaningful ways.
- The employer is concerned for and takes care of employees’ health and well-being.
Re-Engage details how companies can build these practices for themselves. Advice covers how managers can engage employees through building trust, assessing workloads, encouraging professional development and more. Ideas for teams include greater autonomy, accountability among team members and an end to management behaviors that undermine teamwork. The book examines why employers fail to recognize employee contributions and how specific recognition and rewards work.
The book includes Q&A sessions with top managers and senior HR leaders, as well as easy-to-use checklists and questionnaires to gauge whether a workplace is engaging employees.
Listen to authors Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld summarize their findings into what creates a highly engaged workplace.
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Retention needs to be a priority not only in tough times, when employers realize they need to hang onto their good workers, but all the time: “Retaining good workers is an everyday duty,” says Richard P. Finnegan.
“Rather than call on HR to establish programs and report results,” Finnegan writes, “it’s time to elevate retention to top-down status so it joins sales, service and other essentials by gaining company-wide processes and executive attention.”
Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad outlines broad retention strategies but spends most of its pages on specific tactics for keeping employees. Finnegan adds studies of companies’ actual experiences and ends with guidance on how to start an improved retention program.
Among the tactics Finnegan teaches are how to:
- Hang onto good performers during a layoff.
- Create an “employee value proposition” that identifies how working for you is different from working for your competitors.
- Ensure supervisors have skills that make employees want to keep working for them, such as sharing knowledge and building employees’ careers.
- Set goals for controlling turnover and retention, and hold managers accountable for meeting those goals.
- Train supervisors and managers to gain and keep employees’ trust.
- Improve hiring and build strong early ties with new hires, so that those you hire are likelier to stay with you.
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