Articles

Making change happen

Usually when change is mentioned or introduced in organisations, it often triggers a fear response. This is why most people are so resistant to move away from the familiar to the unknown.

In overcoming the resistance to change organisational leaders need to overcome the inherent ownership challenges of ‘what I have and what I know’. Organisation change falters when employees fail to buy- in into the idea they do not identify with. It is the role of the leadership to communicate an appealing vision of change in combination with a vision of continuity. The process therefore requires that all people are assured that which defines the organisational identity will be preserved despite the changes. In instances where the change is that identity all people should be involved in coming up with the desired identity. Allow employees to incubate the idea inside them, invest in it and let them test it. Leaders themselves need to really brace for a wave of resistance and be ready to face the challenges. It is a requirement that change drivers master the battle of turfs. Resistance is managed by probing the issues behind it.

Before the start of the change process an organisation must evidence widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo. Watch out for rigidity, over-control, old systems/practises etc. as they may prevent change from happening. Most organisations are slow moving objectives and the tendency of maintaining rigidity and excessive levels of controls are inherent. This is especially so when the situations are deemed right because they adhere to internal controls. The likelihood of embracing a new culture of experimentation is far-fetched as there is fear to fail or doing things wrong. For change to happen nothing should be regarded as permanent any more. Almost everything must be challenged and be opened for improvement. This is so because over years employees build internal walls around their territories. Demolishing these walls only happens if organisations open up and embrace new ways of doing things.

With all change journeys, often times everyone feels motivated at the start and all look forward to the desired results. However hard times come in the middle and all efforts look like a failure. Organisations encounter moments when it seems like they cannot move forward. Some will start feeling uncomfortable and the goals seem far away and even the change drivers may start having doubts. But the reality with change as with any new initiative, there is a good chance of running into trouble before the desired results are achieved. Such problems tempt employees to give up this initiative and start something new again or worse still recoil to old accustomed ways of doing things. Obstacles and delays happen in any change process and stopping too soon is by definition a failure. Mastering change requires persistence and perseverance. Do not blame but rather encourage. Remember to always assess and adjust. Those who recognise the struggles of the middle usually succeed. They have the stamina and are flexible and they expect obstacles on the road to success. These obstacles may be faced by remembering the following tips:

Tip 1: Identify and appoint change champions who employees believe in, trust and listen to. Change champions should have a common set of definitions- approaches and simple checklist that everyone is familiar with. Poor communication often fails change efforts.

Tip 2: Integrate your plans   for change with your   overall plans, make change part   and parcel of the business plan, never should it be an add on managed separately and independently. Look closely at your project design - does it address the underlying  processes of getting the work done e.g. performance management, resource allocation? Isn’t there an over reliance on IT to provide the magic bullet and not explicitly tackling the necessary behavioural change needed?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

#Tip 3: Managers accountable for making change happen should systematically and rigorously appraise behaviours accordingly.

#Tip 4: Keep your team in the loop and open channels for collegial information sharing

Usually the content of change management is reasonably correct, but its implementation has been woefully underdeveloped hence many corporates change efforts have been greeted with rolling eyes from employees. Be always mindful that there is no panacea to change implementation but that with any change process every two steps forward often are followed with one step behind. Setbacks are a natural part of the process. Change needs to be embraced as an opportunity and not   as a threat. So, with a mind-set of persistence, organisations can move towards the desired change they envisage.

Change initiative is like the start of a marathon. Change will be occurring rapidly in some units whereas in others it would not even have gotten under way. Meaningful change isn’t easy but you don’t   have to be omniscient to pull it off.

In conclusion change gurus note that it is very difficult for leaders to spell out in advance precisely what the future should look like to many especially now where other swift changes may overtake undergoing change initiatives. What is important however is to remain guided by organisation’s strategic direction, values and mandate.

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

Importance of employee appreciation and motivation

Individuals in organisations are increasingly extracting the most basic sense of purpose from the personal fulfilment they derive from being part of an organisation.

Creating that fulfilment is a challenge manager face as they strive to develop an energising corporate purpose. With the erosion of institutions like families, communities, churches in some countries due to economic and social demands which once provided individuals with meaning, the workplace is fast becoming the primary means for personal fulfilment. This could explain why employees now seek more than just work in organisations. Institutions now have to give meaning to a person’s life. Inevitably managers have to change the relationship from one in which employees are working for a company to one in which they belong. Their contributions have to be recognised and this personal recognition must reflect genuine respect. When organisations start doing this, employees respond positively to this appreciation. Such recognition confirms that their work is valued which ultimately increases their satisfaction and productivity. Employee motivation automatically rises to maintain that good work.

As leaders, if we want effectiveness in our jobs, there is need to understand the importance of praising others for their good work. We need to continuously apply the principles of employee recognition as well as encouraging others to initiate it in their work relationships. Helping employees to feel appreciated is of paramount importance in the workplace. People generally want to be respected and valued by others for their contributions. Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Everyone has the desire to be recognised as an individual or as a member of the group and to feel a sense of achievement for work well done.

One of the mysteries though of workplace appreciation is that it is rarely done and if done it is that the employee knows the significance of the recent achievement thereby reinforcing it. It will therefore keep the employee focused on their short-term goals.

How should leaders recognise or appreciate employees? This might be a question many leaders can pose in their day to day work. There are however aspects to employee appreciation which leaders need to be cognisant of. Managers and employees should be fully aware of what is expected from the employees. Managers need to see, identify or realise the opportunity to praise employees. When part of the goals are met, when employees go an extra mile in meeting them, these are all opportunities to praise good work. If as managers you constantly stay out of the receptive frame of mind, you may easily pass over so many opportunities. We need to be physically doing something to acknowledge and praise people for the good work. In employee recognition, communication plays a vital role. As leaders maintaining good working relationships with staff is key. Inherently, in recognition reside huge communication components. To ably do this, managers need reinforcement and coaching to assist them in this role. There is need for programs, principles and procedures that help the application of employee recognition effectively within the work place.

The biggest challenge for organisations is to work on managers so that they get out of the non-receptive frame of mind. Training them to think, behave and look outside their boxes will help organisations and employees together. Because of these salient features, employee recognition has remained an undervalued management technique. Yet a cost benefits analysis of employee recognition shows that the costs are quite small and benefits are large when implemented effectively. Employee recognition yields higher loyalty and satisfaction, teamwork is enhanced as well as retention of quality employees. There are persuasive cases that the bottom-line benefits have been achieved through employee recognition schemes. Employer branding is also improved by such best practices which invariably contribute to employee engagement. When done effectively employees are automatically made effective brand ambassadors for an organisation. They in turn contribute to the economic health of an organisation.

Managers need to start spontaneously praising people. Receiving a sincere “thank you” is more important than receiving something tangible. Recognition has to be on a day to day basis because it gives the individual the immediate opportunity to recognise good work by others hence setting an example to others for the desired behaviour. This has been viewed as a powerful reinforcement of desired behaviour and it is the principle of social proof in action, a term social psychologist professors buttressed when they said. “We view behaviour as correct in a given situation to the degree, we see others performing it. People follow the lead of similar others.’’

Best formula to this imperative includes thanking the person by name, stating what is it what they have done that is being recognised and also what that behaviour/ efforts made you feel like.

Building a culture of recognition and motivation is a gateway to keeping employees happy at work. Since job performance is said to be a function of ability multiplied by motivation employers should ensure their employees are appreciated all the time. Please remember, “Feedback is the breakfast for champions!” it is said.

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

What is Outplacement?

Outplacement is generally defined as employer sponsored services provided to retrenched, retiring and remaining employees to help ease career transitions and trauma associated with such processes. These are offered by companies interested in giving their affected employees the support, counselling and motivation to find new careers and new lives.

Organisations are aware of the need to enjoy enduring success and in order to do so, organisations need to have core values and core purposes that remain fixed while business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to the changing world. Outplacement will therefore help organisations reinforce these core values to the remaining workforce. The effects of this management initiative have far reaching implications on employer brand and consequently on corporate brand.  Organisations need to know that any radical change in operating practices, cultural norms and business strategies does not mean losing the spirit of doing business their way. Ideals embodied in an organisational credo remain, but the need to constantly revamp processes is crucial. Core ideologies need to be maintained as these transcend product or market life cycles.

Experience has proved that workplace restructuring can be very traumatic and often very unpleasant for both the employer and employees. Human Resources management working on building employer brand have come to realise that there are a lot of things organisations can offer to separated employees so that they start on a new page. These will include counselling, training on investments, project management, negotiation skills, career evaluation and guidance, CV writing, social networking, personal budgeting etc. The remaining workforce can also be counselled, refocused and multi skilled to work effectively in the new structures.

Offering outplacement can make the termination actions easier to implement in organisations. Outplacement strategies also assist companies in improving post employer relations which also reduce the possibilities of litigation and adverse publicity. Additionally, organisations offering such outplacement services are creating brands of being employers of first choice. When such practices are used in organisations, besides aiding in employer branding, they also help improve the unaffected employees’ moral when they see such help being offered to others. By doing so, a company demonstrates to both current and potential employees that it cares for leaving employees. This employer sympathy also demonstrates that the move to undertake the separation was business driven and not a personal attack but a necessary reality for business survival. Such services reduce the emotional confusion associated with job losses through counselling, training and redirecting the employee focus toward the future. While certain organisations may employ such kinds of outplacements right at the point of separation others have seen more benefits of offering outplacement services way before re-structuring takes place.

These savvy employers saw the need to enter into new covenants under which the employer and employee share the responsibility for enhancing an individual’s employability inside and outside the company. The leaders have realised that with the ever-changing market trends and the unstoppable retrenchments, an employee no matter at what level may find themselves in a different situation. Instead of working with a static workforce with static skills, as their outplacement strategy such organisations have started encouraging employees to manage their careers so that they are highly employable. It has become a core competence for managers at all levels to show that they care about their employees whether or not they stay with the company. What they have realised resultantly is a career resilient workforce that can thrive in an era in which the skills needed to remain competitive keep changing as the market trends change.

When redundancies come, they would have anticipated it and would have made themselves flexible by increasing their employability. Organisations have not made this an employee’s sole responsibility but both the employer and employee assume a shared responsibility. While the employee is working on   flexibility on their part, the employer has the role to provide an enabling environment for this to happen.

While outplacement may sound far – fetched to some, a lot of companies are already moving in this direction especially as they together with Human Resources Departments are working on branding their organisations as employers of first choice. Organisations may have different approaches to outplacements, but the good thing is that they all share a common aim- to give employees the power to assess, hone, redirect and expand their skills so that they stay competitive within organisations and on the job market as well as adjusting to new lives.

Finding a new job can be a daunting task hence the need to equip employees with outplacement strategies so that they do not get stressed when they leave a job. Working for a company that truly care for its employees provides hard working employees who are loyal. With the social media providing real time information such acts on the part of the company will maintain its image and increased customer awareness since everything done by a company is publicised. As organisations vigorously embrace the employer branding fad such strategies or services by an organisation inevitably increase loyalty and satisfaction with current employees.

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

Core communication skills for managers

Good communication skills is one of the most overused terms for professional personal attributes. Almost all job adverts list it as a must and interestingly almost all candidates claim to be masters of it. I infer it goes to show that the ability to communicate effectively is the most important professional and life skill of all.

Corporate management techniques are only as effective as the communication that drives them. This article highlights some core communication skills for management as;

Self – Awareness

A good starting point in improving communication skills is to take time to understand yourself- self-awareness. This will help in understanding your emotions and how to manage them. Empathy for example may be innate but for certain professional decisions it may have to see the way of the corner telephone booth! This introspection will result in a habit of reflecting on your success and failure and keep you ready for new challenges.

Interactive Communication

There is need to aim towards interactive communication across the different categories of staff. The transmitter and audience roles will interchange in this process as either party may inform, listen and question. Some organisations are faced with employees who believe that for them communication is to criticise management and that the role of management is to take action to fix whatever is wrong. Leaders should communicate in a way that is intended to encourage participation, employee buy-in and ownership. Interactive communication encourages stakeholders to take personal responsibility for their own action and inaction. The problem is not that employees run away from the challenges they face in their day to day work but they are simply not asked and guided in facing them.

Always check for employees’ understanding every time you communicate. Be mindful that the job is not done when a message is send-it needs to be heard and understood first before acting on it.

Listening

Challenges may have been experienced in organisation simply because some of those in the leadership seem to be lacking the ability to listen. Listening makes communication effective as it allows learning about what is working and what is not. This will become your departure point in setting context of a shared vision. Every employee comes into the work place with his /her own context, a mixture of cultures, memories, upbringings and experiences. Employees need to understand the bigger picture and their fit into it. There is need to constantly communicate the why behind the business plan and every other business facet and then taking time to listen to all concerned. Professional listening skills require therefore that one listens to the message, listens for any emotions behind the message and be seen as acting on the information given.

Repeat communication

Effective leaders repeat their communication. But the most prevalent mistake by some managers is   the ‘tick –off –the box’ mentality. We tend to see communication as a once off event. Many people naturally need to hear a message multiple times. There is therefore, need to move away from the ‘I have already communicated that’ comfort zone. When effective /great leaders build trust and credibility in their teams it is about communicating a message consistently across multiple touch points. When employees hear the message repeatedly they are more likely to take notice and believe it and most importantly act on it.

Feedback

Complimenting/ appreciating employees is an imperative for great leaders. People work for more than a salary, they want to be noticed and praised for their work. Compliments are generally most effective if they are specific to the situation and in writing. On the other end, customers must be allowed to give feedback on your services and product if organisations are to continue improving.

Body language/ Dressing/ Self Esteem

It’s important to consciously watch out for non-verbal communication. Your intent may be expressed more by non-verbal communication. Voice projection, posture, eye contact etc. are part of non-verbal communication.

Presentation skills

Empirical evidence has shown that presentations have far greater intended success than non-face to face communication. This is another area where practise makes perfect.

Writing skills

Poorly written communication may be frustrating to the readers. Organisations who have invested in training all employees on basic business writing skills have seen the benefits of acquired communication techniques.

Clarity

Another core communication skill is clarity. Always try to think of who, what, when, where and how as you communicate. Explaining the why is vital particularly in regards to deadlines and expected outcomes. Employees may not realise that their job is only part of a series of tasks for a bigger project. Generally people like to know the reason why they are doing something. An overlooked link in communication is making it clear where to get more information if need be.

In conclusion, chances are you will continue learning about becoming an effective communicator throughout your career. Always remember that not communicating is a way of communicating. Spend a bit of time every day learning, reading and practising essential communication techniques. John Powell said ‘Communication works for those who work for it.”

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

The benefits of employer branding in organizations

Employer branding is focused on building the brand name of the organisation as a preferred employer on the job market. Just as in corporate branding where the focus is on customer value proposition, here the focus would be on employee value proposition.

In this role HR professionals and managers need to think like marketers and know how to develop and market what the organisation offers to potential talent as well as current. They also strive to create identity and manage the company image in its role as an employer. The brand becomes a collection of ideas and beliefs that influence the way the current and potential employees view an organisation. It is also about communicating the employer’s culture and values and helping to ensure that employees are passionate about them and fit with them. It is the promise that customers associate with the experience, value and quality of the services extended by the organisation.

As a discipline employer branding has its roots in marketing as well as the HR principles. The strategic thrust of this new intervention is to develop an image of the organisation as an employer of best choice in the minds of existing and potential employees as well as other stakeholders. Through employer branding HR tries to develop emotional link with employees.

How then are HR professionals brand ambassador in organisations?

For people who like to see the world in boxes, Human Resources management is merely and remain a tool for ensuring a good flow of talent into the company and have little bearing on the brand. However, a closer look at the interconnected aspects of branding will prove that Human Resources management is key in the organisation branding. The traditional roles of ensuring compliance with labour laws and employment ethics remain but, now under the new mandate   to ensure that people in the organisation are in sync with the brand image and values of the establishment and also reflect it externally.

It is now the role of HR and management to make an organisation a desirable place to work and elevate the brand from its competitors. HR has to ensure that their organisations consistently evolve to satisfy a change in brand strategy or business goals as they align the HR strategy with the business marketing strategy.

The following HR facets; organisational reputation, integrity, culture, recruitment, orientation, pay and benefits work-life balances, leadership and management, performance management and growth and development impact the employer brand. Branding itself has a magnetic effect. The manner in which an organisation handles recruitment from advertising channels used, the interview atmosphere, who, how and when we communicate the outcome of the process all feed into the employer brand. By being the vanguard of an organisation’s culture through instilling the right values in employees and bringing them in sync with the organisational values and beliefs, HR professionals determine the continuity of the organisation brand at every level. This ensures that each employee becomes the brand ambassador of the organisation.

There is a saying that organisations should look after their employees who will in turn automatically look after the customers and maintain the brand value. Employer’s reputation therefore, also comes from other stakeholders’ experience with employees.

When HR recommends the adoption of employee friendly measures like flexible timings, working from home options, employee awareness programs, to make working more amenable and an exciting experience for employees these initiatives help in building a strong employer brand. Organisations that take lead in adopting such friendly measures will automatically rank higher on employee preference and will have better retention results. Think of the development sector/ international organisations, they generally tend to offer more perks, international exposures, vast learning and development opportunities and rank among the highest preferred employers despite short term contracts they offer in general. When one weighs the benefits and costs, they always see more benefits for working in these organisations. Happy employees translate into brand ambassadors for such organisations thus compelling more talented individuals to join them. HR role in such organisations is to drive the consistent, distinct and deeply held values of the work culture. Organisations that are responsive to employees needs and have defined organisational culture have a higher chance of being branded favourably compared to those that leave an employee asking what is it in it for me? Globally, many organisations use employer HR branding as a bait for attracting and retaining talent.

While HR has this strategic role, it also requires its professionals have what is known as employer intelligence. This is the ability of a company to respond to the changing needs of the talent market and not only of the current employees. The role involves reviewing the company’s annual position as an employer of choice by engaging in comparator surveys as well as participating in employer of best choice surveys to understand what aspects the current and potential labour market will be looking for.

In conclusion, organisations stand to benefit from building strong employer brands which as highlighted above have a direct impact on the corporate brand.

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