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Tips for setting organization goals

In business unless there are definite, precise and clearly set goals, there is no way a business will realize the maximum potential that lies within it. Without set goals all businesses no matter what size remain a wandering generality and will never make it. By setting goals an organization moves towards being a meaningful specific. The challenge however for most organizations is having the acumen ship needed to set better goals. With goals companies are saying we cannot   predict the future, but we certainly can plan for it.

In the world of sport, it has been established that an athlete will perform better against tough competition than against mediocre competition. Effective goals by their nature should be big because it takes a big goal to create the excitement necessary for accomplishment. Goals have to be powerful statements which focus attention on achieving the desirable outcomes. Business goals require you starting with questions such as sitting here in five/ten years what you would love to see.

The human brain has amazing problem-solving abilities and goals channel brain power towards finding a solution. BHAGs (Big Hairy, Audacious Goals – as they are commonly known) are a powerful way to stimulate progress. Companies have goals but there is a difference between merely having a goal and becoming committed to huge, daunting challenges. True, BHAGs that are clear and compelling serve as a unifying focal point while acting as catalyst for team spirit. No matter how much power, brilliance and energy businesses exude, without harnessing the people’s power to specific targets and holding them accountable will not yield desired results.

BHAGs engage people- they reach out and grip them hence the need for tangible, energizing and highly focused goals. Setting BHAGs that are far into the future require thinking beyond current capabilities of the organization and the current environment. Be always guided by your mission and vision to ensure every goal is oriented on the long term focus.

Whatever goals leaders choose, utmost care is needed not to confuse core purpose and inspiring goals. The envisioned future should be so exciting to continue to keep the organization motivated even if the leaders who set the goal disappear. Core purpose is the reason for existence and this is not completed like long range goals which have timelines. When implementing goals never bite off more than you can chew as well as aiming to challenge the champs of the industry at the outset. Work only on wanting to challenge that other player directly in front of you.

Once goals have been set, organizational leadership need vivid descriptions that are vibrant, engaging and specific, defining what it will be like to achieve the big goals. Clear finishing lines are necessary so that the organization knows when it has achieved. Employees like all people like to shoot to finish lines. Statements like ‘selling more, better’ -are not specific enough. Goals should be spelt out in minute detail.

In this game failure is a reality, but the answer lies in learning and at times reviewing the set goals. Success lies in building a clear common direction for an organization to create the future. Once these long-range exciting goals are in place, constantly look out for the stepping or stopping stones. Make use of those stepping stones to take you to the desired end or to amend certain wishful thinking you might have had. List all the obstacles that are likely to stand between the business and the set goals. Confidence remains the handmaiden of success. Then always act as if a business only has few days/months to work on the goals. Doing so will force all people to put on their thinking caps.

While many economies are undergoing rapid changes, long range goals are the best because without them, businesses are likely to be frustrated by short range goals and may lose focus. For a business setting, employees’ daily objectives are key, these become the best indicators and the builders of characters. With these in place, dedication, discipline and determination will always be the order of the day. As you reach daily objectives, you will be getting closer to the long-range ones.

‘Can goals be negative?’ Emphatically yes, especially if an employee does not accept that they are the architects of those goals. Also, if set goals are not in tandem with one‘s field of interest and one is working on them to please someone else. Those Leaders, who have a tendency of directing subordinates’ goals setting, are likely to experience a lot of resistance which hampers their efforts.

Finally, be aware of the We have Arrived Syndrome -a complacent lethargy that arises once an organization has achieved one long range goal and fails to replace it with another.

In conclusion always remember to complete your SWOT analysis, run internal and external competitive performance benchmarking, analyse and understand the market. Review your past performance to know where you are coming from otherwise your organization will be akin to a world map – it will not take you anywhere unless you know where you are.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

How to prepare for your own Performance Appraisal

Performance appraisal time makes a lot of employees uncomfortable.  They can be an annual ritual where supervisors are critical of your weaknesses or a wonderful opportunity to discuss objectively about your job performance. Whether your organisation performance management system includes a self –evaluation step in the process or not, you do not have to be passive during your appraisal. To get the best out of this important performance evaluation meeting, you have to show some initiative by actually preparing for it.

Collect evidence of your job performance

The first step is to work towards your set goals throughout the period under review.  Along the way gather evidence of your work performance, milestones and challenges faced. It will help to create a folder for this information. For the interview, refer to your folder and use the appraisal form that your supervisor will use to help structure your presentation.  It will become easy to apply the SMART performance principles to your achievements. Also remember to refer to reports, the previous performance appraisal, job description, set goals, strategy, organisation’s goals, awards, training & development undertaken etc. This should assist you in avoiding a common mistake of focusing on the past few months and not the whole period under review.

It is also important to be able to understand and articulate the context of your performance. Ask yourself the ‘how?’  and not just ‘what’ you accomplished.  This will give a broad insight into factors that came to play. Always remember to acknowledge the support you got from your team.  You may make available your folder to your supervisor in advance. This will ensure your supervisor prepares for the session. It also demonstrates that the meeting is important to you.

Do a self-assessment of your performance

Based on the evidence you have collected; you can easily do a self-assessment against the set goals using the same tool your supervisor will use.  You would then go on to ask yourself of the challenges faced and efforts you made to alert the supervisor or solve them. When you have a position on your performance before the meeting, it will help you to be assertive as you become a participant too.  Your assertiveness will improve when you anticipate questions/issues that the supervisor may ask/raise. You may disagree with the supervisor but your arguments should be based on facts and evidence you have gathered. The goal of self-assessment is not to campaign for good performance but to be honest with yourself and discuss your perception of your performance with the supervisor.

Prepare to listen

Assertive also means you are ready to look at criticisms/negative feedback as opportunities to improve and this is done through listening. Before you rush in to defend your position, allow the supervisor to speak and support their position. Ask questions where you need clarification. Remember to focus on the outcomes.

Prepare for the coming period  

This interview is about your career and you have a big part to play in shaping it. Do not just wait for the supervisor to hand you your next objectives.  Prepare a list of possible goals to accomplish and be ready to discuss. It is also an opportunity to highlight possible blockers to performance to the manager such as system challenges, processes, organisation structure, and other tools of trade. Be ready to table out your suggestions in dealing with the blockers. Go on to arrange for scheduled progress reports to keep your supervisor in the loop of your performance. These regular performance appraisals will ensure you remain focused on your set goals and that you are well prepared for the next formal performance appraisal meeting.

Identify areas that need development 

As you prepare for your performance appraisal identify areas where you need further development. Be prepared to propose ways on how this may be done; is it training-on site/ off site or mentoring. Do not limit yourself to traditional methods but think of a bouquet of possibilities such as special assignments, project roles, reading, research, acting in senior roles etc. You may identify your areas of weakness from the tasks that you struggled with or from review from colleagues or clients. It takes open-mindedness to acknowledge that you are not perfect and there is always room to improve.

Be Confident

It is not unusual that the supervisor may not know the details of your job. A critical quality you need to convey here is confidence. Your gathered evidence choice of words and non-verbal communication should therefore reinforce your boss’s confidence in you. Remember to be calm so that you articulate your position well.

Prepare to get answers

Modern day work is making one-on-one time in the office very rare. Take time to prepare questions that you want answered by your supervisor. They maybe about work tools, systems, organisation structures/goals/strategy, career opportunities etc.  Such issues may help you understand your goals better and possibly provide some direction on how you can achieve them.

In conclusion you should emphasize the future by making a commitment to further develop yourself and meeting the set goals.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

Managing underemployment in organisations

Underemployment seems to be the hallmark of modern workforce. In it are inherent problems such as limited job satisfaction, lower than expected remuneration and negative emotional well- being.

Underemployment is a situation where workers are employed below their education and skills levels. Research has also shown that there are two types of this phenomenon- the visible and invisible. The visible arm is where an employee is working less hours than is typical in their field. The employee is willing to work more hours but cannot get full time employment. Such people often work part time jobs just to make ends meet. They are rendering their services for less pay. Invisible underemployment includes working on full time jobs that do not fully utilise an employee’s skills set. A skilled worker gets to do a low skilled job because they could not secure a job commensurate with their skills. Both phenomena are increasingly becoming common in our local context. I have always challenged organisations to specify the minimum requirements for jobs as a function of the job and not the labour market.

Causes of underemployment can be attributed to adverse economic conditions such as recession caused by a decline in economic activities. Changes in technology can also result in excess labour supply and low demand due to layoffs. Under such circumstances a low paying, low skilled and part-time job is often preferred to no job.

While underemployment may seem like a business bargain, it carries real risk for the business in the long run. The effects trickle down to the occupational scale and productivity often drops. The reason is because highly qualified workers are more likely to be dissatisfied with the job they are forced to take by circumstances. They are likely to be bored, resentful and distracted than those whose skills are commensurate with the job requirements. Chronic underutilisation of education skills and human capital engenders workplace frustration and low morale. Underemployment also has an effect on an employee identity and value proposition.

Paradoxically, today young graduates expect good jobs as their just reward for years of increasingly expensive higher education. Additionally, they also prefer interesting work that offers a chance of personal career growth and high incomes later. I have heard one say,” Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits.’

As a way forward thoughtful employers must create conditions that try to ensure employees are engaged to their work and in turn to the company. Policies that further develop and promote internal promotions rather that hiring external candidates can capture greater value from the employees.

Current Human Resources Management trends talk of employee employability as a strategy to encourage workers to use their higher order skills. Employers are talking of outplacement strategies where they try to assist employees to unlock knowledge and skills to be utilised beyond their life with the organisation. Management creativity will manage underemployment economically.

In order to try manage underemployment , employees should forget about clinging desperately to one job/ company or even a career path. There is a real need for workforce that is competitive which can find work when needed wherever it can be. Management need not be satisfied with employees who only look up to them for career development. Employees need to be given responsibilities to manage their own careers while employers provide the tools and an open environment. Creating a career resilient workforce who are not only dedicated to the idea of continuous learning but should stand ready to reinvent themselves to keep pace with changes becomes an imperative when managing underemployment.

Organisations in the Silicon Valley moved in that direction long back and then it sounded far- fetched. Companies like 3M, Raychem Corporation and Apple also implemented such programs though differently despite a common objective of giving employees power to assess, hone and redirect and expanding their skills so as to stay competitive on the job market. This approach requires a sea change in attitude and values. The new mandate for leaders is to get rid of traditional   definitions of loyalty and allow employees to jump the ship and go.

Another approach is changing the usual view of a career path. In the old days it meant sticking with one company and rising in an area of speciality. These days both company and employees are healthier if employees have multiple skills which will allow them to move easily across functional boundaries to avoid underemployment. Employees should be comfortable switching back and forth between regular duties and special projects when the right fit with one career path and or organisation can no longer be found.

In the long run businesses have a lot more to gain when they do not turn a blind eye on underemployment. Organisations should not expect employees to feel grateful for being employed in difficult times but should be cognisant of the effects disengaged staff. Employees on the other hand need to constantly benchmark their skills. These and more approaches will awaken and galvanise organisations so that square pegs and round pegs find their way into the right holes.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

HR automation: What does the future hold for HR?

Technology is a reality that is transforming virtually every industry and profession, and Human Resources (HR) management is no exception. Companies all over the globe are embracing the new technological trends in their day to day work. Automation and artificial intelligence have gripped the HR discipline. All HR management work that is routine, standard and repetitive can be automated. Against this background what will become the role of HR professionals, redundant or more critical?

But, ‘human’ is still right there in the name though technology is trying to decipher human intelligence. With all people dealings, there is need to take cognisant of the fact that human are creatures of emotion and logic. Emotional health is at the centre of winning people. Certainly, the gambit of the role played by HR will not go into extinction vis a vis technological/automation changes but will have to mould itself to fit into new dynamism of organisations, labour market, employee expectations etc.

HR Management though guided by HR policy and procedures is incomplete without application of some discretion on a case-by-case basis. Human decisions are perceived or expected to be logically, but in actual fact they are largely influenced by that they know, emotions, opinions, experiences, and even memories. The role of HR and their traditional methods of managing the workforce may have changed or are changing but the human element cannot easily be negated. The human element is the most crucial when dealing with people at various levels. It is true and factual that systems and processes should adopt the latest technology to ease the work of HR professions but the human quality of people management and skilling given by other humans cannot be side-lined.

Doing business in the 21st century requires that employees are coached, championed and guided. This now calls for HR leaders who are broader thinkers, tech savvy and nimble enough to deal with an increasingly agile and restless workforce. Jill Goldstein says, “I think we are going to see HR positions develop in such a way that they will probably be one of the most sought for professionals in the enterprise.” HR Management role has become that of workforce advisors. Technology has helped free HR professionals to take on bigger picture matters and reinforce the strategic nature of HR management. Their role now is also to make more information available to employees. This will also require them to free up time to focus more on business, employee career paths and employee wellness.

The central role of human resources remains that of paving the way for strategic growth across decisions relating to recruitment, compensation, talent management and performance management. In order to effectively deliver on this ever-changing mandate HR professionals, need to constantly   develop themselves and use their knowledge to keep their organisations in the game. In this automation era HR Management cannot just focus on day to day actions but are now required to offer their input on high level business guidance, leadership and defining the very future of work. There is now an increasing demand to move from traditional rigid systems to new agile organisational structures. This much needed   engine of change can be driven by HR professionals. They will act as the bridge between digital and the human and suggest the strategies to help achieve a balance of the future work especially carving out an intelligent pathway   for a promising future.

Issues of employee engagement as strategic imperatives have never been more critical. In this technological age employees are no less important than customers. Just like without customers there is no business, without engaged employees there is no performance culture. This sea change era requires HR professionals to understand and harness diversity in the workforce and to build career resilient staff. Demand for outstanding talent is going to increase and the only way to stay competitive is by ensuring that the right people are hired, kept happy, motivated and retained. Understanding what employees want and what drives them should become business priority in order to survive. Organisations through HR will need to be mindful and make intelligent choices choosing the right technology to keep their workforce satisfied.

As companies accept the digital transformation it is essential to improve operations and serve consumers better. However, this would not be possible to make significant improvements unless due consideration is given to cultural transformations. Such changes will not be successful without considering employee attitudes. As a current trend in business building there is a real need to build   people so that they build the business. Under such considerations there is need to invest in people skills since people need more than motivation to embrace new ways of doing things. In view of all these changes, HR roles remain at the centre stage.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com

Best practices in human resources management

Human Resources (HR) best practices are premised on universal HR principles that provide companies with optimal business performance, regardless of which organization or industry they are applied to. The ability to attract and retain talent is rapidly becoming one of the key issues for HR Managers and their organisations across the world. The HR Department and HR Management by leaders play a significant role in how profitable and successful a company can become. It's more than just making sure employees get to work in time and follow the proper dress code. HR Management improves the company by recruiting and retaining top employees, developing successful leaders, ensuring newly hired employees succeed and keeping up company morale.

One of HR Management best practice is employment security. Having an employer who enables the employee to provide for themselves and their family is, in essence, the number one reason why people come to work. This concept of security is paramount and underpins almost everything Human Resources do. When this employment security is threatened, for example when there is a restructuring or a layoff, there are immediate negative ripples throughout the organization. When employees are laid off, it is usually the organization that pays the price. They are the ones who have invested in the selection, training, and development of these employees and this comes with a cost. If the organization does not focus on retaining its people, they are more likely to leave and work for competitors.

HR Practitioners need to have their organisations invest in training and development opportunities to improve the current workforce, focus on skill-specific training, and realize the value that young workers place on learning. As industries are advancing at an ever-increasing pace, HR Management can support and encourage employees to grow as well, keeping them more engaged in their work and the organization. Another key practice here is to allow trained employees to utilize their newly acquired skills in order for organisations to benefit from the investment.

Each employee should have well-defined reporting relationships, clear responsibilities and an understanding of their scope of work. Best practice now emphases the need for employees to also understand the strategic goals of the organisation and the role of their department and job in achieving it.

Annual performance reviews are a staple of HR practices, but these usually once-a-year evaluations are not necessarily the best way to provide feedback to employees. Instead, provide them with frequent feedback, so they are always in the know as to what their goals are and how they are improving in their position. Managers should sit down with their employees at least once a quarter, if not once a month, to discuss performance. This not only allows managers to be more connected to their employees, it also lets employees feel more engaged in their work. Self-rating should be a part of the evaluation process as it empowers employees. Evaluation becomes fairer if it is based on achievements of the employee, tracked over the year. Cross-functional feedback, if obtained by the immediate boss from another manager (for whom this employee’s work is also important), will add to the fairness of the system.

Another best practice in HR Management is employee recognition. Rewards are not only for the top performers but also a few others who need to be motivated to exhibit their potential.

HR practitioners can also focus on breaking down the traditional hierarchical structure of layers of managers, team leaders, and employees and replacing it with self-managed teams. This means that no individual has total responsibility for a team’s performance. Instead, everybody works together to achieve a common goal, with team members taking turns to lead particular projects based on their expertise and experience. Self-managed teams encourage everyone to take responsibility for business success by giving them some personal accountability for performance. It is also usually the case that employees working in such team frameworks benefit from higher levels of motivation and morale as they feel more in control of their daily work.

HR practitioners are able to effectively execute the above-mentioned practices and more, only if they understand the strategic direction of the organisation. The call even goes further, where best practice expects them to contribute to that strategy formulation.

When all has been said and done, consistency is the HR Management best practice backbone. Any HR professional should know the company's policies and procedures and enforce them fairly (and be seen to be fair) across the board for all employees. If the managers play favorites, or are appearing to play favorites, then employees are less likely to actually abide by the organization's procedures. This also breeds mistrust between management and employees.

In conclusion the world of HR Management is changing, with an increased sense of purpose and focus on activities that add value to the business as a whole. No longer thought of as merely an administrative or reactive field, HR Management can lead the way in terms of positive business change. Hence, it is vital to understand the latest trends and best practices in this field.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at www.proservehr.com