Building ‘Antifragile’ organizations through recognition

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“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

 Organizations are not very different from living organisms – they are born, learn, evolve and die (sooner or later). If one were to take the analogy one level deeper, employees would be cells and you could (in some ways) compare teams to the organs – where people come together to do a particular function.

Companies that do well over a long period of time will need to survive shocks that the markets throw at them ever so often. Fragile companies will fall apart on shocks whereas the robust ones will survive. The winners however will be the ‘Antifragile’ ones that learn from the shocks, adapt and come out stronger. Continue reading “Building ‘Antifragile’ organizations through recognition”

Candies or Charcoal: What is Santa rating your engagement skills as?

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You better watch out, you better not cry
Better not pout, I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is comin’ to town
He’s making a list and checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is comin’ to town

(Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, Lonestar)

Children around the world are told all year round that if they misbehave, On Christmas day Santa will skip the candies and give them charcoal instead.When companies carry out their annual employee engagement surveys, some managers too get their lumps of charcoal. Surveys and studies comes back with the clear message that ‘People leave managers, not companies

Continue reading “Candies or Charcoal: What is Santa rating your engagement skills as?”

Peer Appreciation: The big happiness booster!

Recognition. We all want it, we all take steps to get it and we all feel good when someone gives it to us.

Recognition can be something as simple as a pat on the back for a job well done, a sincere compliment about something we did well, or just being noticed for the hard work we put into our tasks.

This validation of our efforts is important in all aspects of our lives, and can be especially vital in the workplace. Continue reading “Peer Appreciation: The big happiness booster!”

3 tips to ‘power-up’ timely recognition at the workplace.

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Employee recognition is an extremely effective way to empower your best workers. Whether you recognize an employee with a raise or just a quick email, it’s important to let employees know when they’re doing well. However, recognition alone isn’t enough. Continue reading “3 tips to ‘power-up’ timely recognition at the workplace.”

4 smart ways to engage with Millennials in India

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The psyche, work ethic and life choices of millennials are dissected and discussed continually by everyone from opinion columnists to psychologists to economists.

The millennial generation, whose members, born from 1980 to 2000, grew up during an unparalleled digital revolution, has a unique position in history, coming of age simultaneously with the rise of the internet, social media and all the other huge technological and communication advances we’ve seen in the past few decades.

These advances brought with them globalization, drawing the world in closer contact, and opening up new lifestyle and employment possibilities unimaginable just years before.

Because millennials grew up in an age of such progress and possibility, there is a lot of talk about how to engage them in the workforce.

By 2020, millennials are projected to make up 50 percent of the global workforce, and a whopping 75 percent by 2025.

In India for example, a country of over one billion, nearly 65 percent of the population will be of working age by 2026. This striking number of individuals will not only drive India’s progress, but also supply human capital around the world.

Companies around the globe are aiming to provide the kind of work environments that attract and motivate millennials.

Of course, not all millennials can be painted with the same brush; culture plays a huge role in motivational factors and personality.

In that case, what are some key motivators for Indian millennials?

Titles and avenues for progression

Millennials in India are ambitious and conscious of titles. Providing an organizational structure with designated roles and the opportunity for upward movement is key.

Mentor programs

Mentors make millennials feel valued and looked after by an organization. Effective mentor programs show fresh employees there is a path to promotion, and give them guidance for continued success along the way.

Skill development

Millennials have grown up in a society that is constantly reminding them of the need to stay relevant. Many do not want to stay in one role, or even one place, for too long. Offering training programs and skill development courses which allow them to multi-task and fulfill a variety of roles over time will keep them engaged.

Feedback and recognition

Communication with management is vital for millennials. They want to feel challenged and recognized, in order to feel they are an integral part of the organization, and that they are making a positive difference within the company. Give constructive criticism when improvement is needed, but make sure to equally dole out praise for a job well done.

Millennials, with all their quirks, are here to stay in a big way.

Therefore, it’s imperative to harness their collective power, understand what makes them tick, and motivate them for maximum productivity, on their terms.

Here is Sanjay Behl, CEO Raymond with his thoughts in the BusinessWorld Kwench HR Masterclass on how to engage the Millennials.

Do leave your thoughts and comments in the section below. I would love to hear your opinions on the topic.

Related Posts:

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 1 – the Hero Generation)

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 2 – The chasm)

Engaging Gen-Y: The ‘Millennial’ Challenge (Part 3 – The strategies)

10 Ways to Truly Appreciate Your Employees

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The first Friday of March is Employee Appreciation Day!

Great! But I have always wondered why we need to have ‘Day’s’ to do what you should be anyway be doing every single day of the year? And how is it supposed to work if you are a crabby boss all year round and host a team lunch on this one day?

Well frankly it won’t. But don’t despair: all is not lost!  Continue reading “10 Ways to Truly Appreciate Your Employees”

The one BIG idea for Employee Engagement in 2016!

Looking for one transformational idea for Employee Engagement in 2016? kfit: the Employee Health and Wellness platform from Kwench might be just what you are looking for!

I have always dreaded the last week of December. Christmas and New Year get-together and cake eating binges aside, there is always the dreaded mental review of another year gone by.

Ever since I landed up on the wrong side of 30, “Loose Weight” and “Exercise Regularly” have been on top or near top of my New Year Resolutions list and are always the items with a red cross against them in my year-end review. And somewhere along the year I would have inevitably invested in exercise gear that cost way more than I could afford, gym memberships that cost even more than the above mentioned exercise gear, and last year even a high-end water-proof watch – you know, for when I do the 25 laps in the pool. Several consecutive years of this pattern, and tens of thousands of Rupees later – I was fed up.

So I did what was seemed most obvious thing to do – I headed to the café and discussed my problem with others! (With a large latte and a chocolate donut on the side). Now what is interesting is that the story seemed to be pretty common across people I talked to. With all the stresses of just barely balancing daily work and family life, exercise and diet more often than not takes a back seat. Even drinking adequate amounts of water can be a challenge and the sugar in all the cups of coffee reflects pretty quickly on the waistline – if not worse! My colleagues at Kwench pretty much confirmed the challenges and so did a lot of our friends, family and even clients to whom we posed the question.

There is no doubt about it. The more we asked around the more it seemed that India Inc. has a serious health problem. We dug around for some data and this is what we found.

 

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Scared?

Well that’s just one part of the problem. You see from an organizational perspective, there is a lot at stake when the wellbeing of its workforce is not quite up to the mark. Loss of productivity due to more sick days, absenteeism and worse presenteeism.

If there is so much at stake for both the employee and the employer, why don’t Workplace Wellness programs work? Research on enterprise wellness programs by Guidespark reveals the top reasons why these programs don’t achieve the required results. While ~70% of employees feel that wellness is important, less than 10% actually take full advantage of such programs. Employees don’t participate or the end results are not as expected because they are too busy with work, the programs don’t suit their lifestyle or that they are not fully aware of what is on offer. Almost half of them felt that their biggest wellness challenge was insufficient activity followed by stress and poor nutrition.

Clearly any wellness initiative that hopes to succeed in the workplace must have a solution to all if not most of these issues.

One of the really cool things of working at Kwench is that problems are not left unattended for too long. Anything that touches on Employee Engagement obviously piques our interest. And if we think we can use technology to fix that problem them it excites us to no end.

We took the problem, pondered over it, did our homework, drew the sketches, put the engineers and designers into one big room to do their magic and created kfit – a comprehensive employee health and wellness platform that leverages the magic of social, gamification and mobility to help companies raise the health quotient of their workforce. kfit uses micro interventions coupled with technology to bring about positive and long lasting behavioral change.

Excited? We sure hope so, because we are very excited about the possibilities this platform holds in transforming the health and wellness landscape of Corporate India.

If you are looking for one BIG idea for your Employee Engagement program for 2016, then look no further.

If you want us to get in touch and explain more about how kfit can help transform your company’s wellness, please send us an enquiry.

If you want to know more, here is a quick guide to why this is the one BIG Idea, that you can download and it is titled (Surprise, Surprise): The One BIG Idea for Employee Engagement in 2016!

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Oh and I am glad to say this year I won’t be putting a cross against “Loose Weight” and “Exercise Regularly” on my resolution list from Jan ’15.

2016 promises to be a whole new year – in more ways than one! Join us in changing the world – one step at a time!

PS: Reminder – Get in touch with us and we will be glad to talk about Employee Engagement Ideas for 2016!

 

Ongoing Conversations: Time to Bring Stay Interviews to the Fore

interview: /ˈɪntəvjuː/ noun
a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation.

It is that time of the year. Annual performance appraisals are underway. The dreaded bell-curves will be created. Feedback sessions will be held with employees and then the resignations will come pouring in. And here is something that I have always found hilarious: when employees leave they are asked to attend an exit interview – or worse fill out a form – conducted by a junior employee who clearly would be just checking some boxes.

So lets see: there are multiple rounds of interviews when the employee applies to the company for a position. A single (perfunctory) round when the employee leaves. And here is ‘funny’ part – no “interviews” during her entire stint, which might run into decades! Somehow like a bad marriage the conversation just seems to dry up between the employee and her manager(s) till it really is too late.KwenchBlog_StayInterview_Banner1_

Most managers seem to be flummoxed when they get the resignation email (or instant message at times) from their team members. They seem to have no idea how the employee really felt about the work they were doing and often get upset about the resignation. Reactions range from ‘Nobody is indispensable’ to the nasty – refusing to accept the resignation, refusing to release the resource, making the exit of the employee as painful as possible citing pending projects that absolutely need to be completed.

The really smart managers avoid this situation by actively engaging their employees in a continuously ongoing conversation about their work, the organization, their engagement levels, challenges they face and everything else in between. That is, these managers conduct stay interviews regularly, get the pulse of what the employees are thinking and act on it!

First the Do-Not’s:

Do not couple with performance reviews: This is tempting and in fact many companies already do it;  but in my opinion it is not a good idea. An annual performance review in itself is an inefficient event and understandably stressful for both the employee and the manager – siince there would be a lot of ground to cover and there is bound to be differences of opinion of what did or did not happen in that time. Besides the employee is going to be focused on a single number – the rating on the bell curve and would hardly be giving honest and unbiased opinions on how they feel about work and the organization.

Do not outsource: It might be tempting to setup an online survey or tell HR to conduct the stay interviews, but that simply defeats the purpose. The primary objective of a stay interview is to determine the engagement level and immediate concerns of the team member – something that is best understood (and appreciated) by the immediate manager. Immediate supervisor(s) or someone higher up in the direct chain of command of the employee must conduct stay interviews.

Do not cherry-pick: There is no two ways about this. You have to talk to everyone in your team while doing the stay interviews. If you talk only to a select set of people – what ever be the criterion you decided, it will be perceived as discriminatory. If at this point you are wondering about how to talk to the 50 odd people reporting to you, then you have a different problem. If your span of control is more than 10, fix that first!

 

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Now the Do’s:

Do look for what “makes ‘em tick”: Talk to everyone on your team, especially the high performers and try to ascertain attributes that make them successful. If the only common thing you can find is that they are all smokers and join you in the smoker’s zone, then you might want to take a deep look inwards. Jokes apart, find out what motivates the top performers about working for the company, how do they tackle the challenges that others are not able to, etc. This information is not only helpful for you to guide the less engaged employees but also useful when deciding new hires.

The magic of engagement does depend a lot on the personality match of the employee with the organizational culture. For example if the culture is in-your-face-aggressive then hiring the most qualified introvert won’t really help.

Do use the same questions: Ask everyone you are talking to the same set of questions. Only then will you be able to determine the differences across top performers and the rest and be able to help the others engage better.

Do wrap it up quickly: Don’t extend the exercise beyond a couple of weeks at maximum. If you take a few months to get around to talking to everyone lots of things would have changed – most of which would be out of your control. The stay interviews are like a snapshot of the present and it should be done quickly enough to be a true representation of what your team is thinking.

Do close the loop: The sales professionals live by the ABC mantra – Always Be Closing. Well it applies to you too – take the feedback you receive (directly and what the collated data tells you) seriously. The zone of engagement depends on the overlap of what the organization and the employee wants, and if your insights can help increase the overlap – everyone wins! (See the figure above)

The final word: Remember, stay interviews give you an opportunity to connect with and take genuine interest in what motivates and engages your team members. If you come across as just ticking off boxes, then a golden chance would be missed. You couldn’t do much worse than having a 1-hour conversation, take notes and then do absolutely nothing.

 

 

Bouncing Back (when you get the boot!)

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On a street level, I’ve heard that losing your job is like a death in the family. But personally, I feel more like the people I worked with were my family and I died. (Terminated Employee, Up In The Air, 2009)

Lets face it – ‘It’ happens. You get called into a conference room. You boss is sitting there with a sombre face, so is the lady from HR. Maybe you saw it coming or maybe you didn’t. Bottom line, you are out of a job! It doesn’t matter if George Clooney delivered the message to you or not – this is the end of your daily routine as you knew it.

In India there (unfortunately) continues to be a stigma attached to losing one’s job. You resign and you are a hero – “showing the big bad management who is boss”, you get terminated and suddenly you are persona-non-grata! You can’t do much about the social dynamics, but what you can do is go about finding a new (hopefully better) job without falling apart.

The journey from the time you were handed over your termination notice (in whatever colour of paper) to the time you get an appointment letter can be short and painless or long, drawn out and depressing – the choice is entirely yours. I call it the 4C process.

4CProcess_Contextualize: Take some time out and put the situation in context. Try and understand why you were asked to leave. Maybe the entire department was made redundant or an entire product line was shut down, and there was nothing you could do about it. Maybe the company ran out of funds for future research and all it needed was people to man the call-centers leaving no room for a hot-shot engineer. Or then again maybe it was you. Possibly you were in the wrong position, you didn’t quite enjoy what you were doing and that eventually showed or in an extreme case your boss just didn’t like you and he screwed you over.

Bottom line is: get over the initial pain and impulse to lash out and think it through. Logout of your twitter and facebook accounts for a few days. Lashing out at your (now former) employers on social media is the worst thing you could do. Talk to your closest friends and take your family into confidence.

Correct: Once you figure out what went wrong, accept it and move quickly to fix it. If you conclude that there was nothing much you could do in the first place (CEO went on an acquisition spree and company ran out of cash) then there might be little for you to change right away other than read the papers in the future and get out of the company in time. On the other hand if you think you need to reskill – either in your domain or in soft skills – do it! Go attend a few coaching sessions, read a few books, watch videos, ask your friends and family to help you out.

An important aspect to correct at this point is your own perception of ‘limitations’ – You can only work in IT, you can only work in an office, you can only work in Mumbai.

Ask yourself why – brutally!

You have worked only in IT in the past. So what? You are sales professional!

You can only work in an office? Why? Telecommuting is the least stressful way of working.

You can work only in Mumbai? Are those friends whom you think you will miss looking for a job as well?

Take your personal “Only” list and tear into it!

Connect: Once you have done the first two stages diligently and honestly, you are now ready to hit the job market. Logon to your social media accounts especially LinkedIn and carefully craft your profile. This is a good time to not indulge in loose talk, stay away from commenting on controversial topics and keep focused. Companies are looking for professionals not loose canons.

Get your profile (and posts) checked by someone you know has good language skills – typos and bad grammar are big killers in a job search! Be upfront with your friends and connections (without being desperate and pushy) and ask them for help in scouting for openings.

Add the new skills you have acquired. Start posting or blogging about topics you want to be known as being good at. Contribute to forums and online discussions. Take up part-time roles/projects. Freelance. But don’t do nothing and just spam everyone with your resume’ – that approach as they say is #BigFail!

Research companies you would like to work for figure out positions that may open that those firms and apply. This might be a good time to take a contrarian view and look at dynamic young start-ups where your skills are useful. Avoid the parental trap of “secure job in a big company” – there is no such thing anymore. Flipkart was not offering a ‘secure job’ in a ‘big company’ in 2008!

Now this stage might drag on for some time – much longer than you expected. Be mentally prepared and don’t lose your cool and your manners. If someone sets up an interview for you and you don’t get the job, have the courtesy to still thank your friend for the effort. An important aside is to avoid getting bogged down. Exercise, stay connected with your friends, and socialize to ensure that you don’t go into a ‘cave’ overwhelmed with the job search process.

Capitalize: Finally you see light at the end of the tunnel – People are looking at your LinkedIn profile and possibly job offer(s) are already coming your way. This is the time to (again) take a deep breath and capitalize on your experiences. Maybe you don’t like political bosses and the next one seems just the type. Do you really want to take up the offer? You might be tempted to capitulate depending on your personal circumstances, but don’t let EMI’s drive your decision. Would you take that job if you didn’t have to pay the EMI for your fancy car? Do you really need that car right now? You might need to go back to the ‘Contextualize’ and ‘Correct’ stages and take another look at your drivers for taking up the new job.

Getting terminated is not the end of the world. It is a small bump in a long journey. Instead of shutting yourself off from everyone, this is the time to take solace and support from your friends and family. (You will be surprised at how approachable your retired father, who has worked only for one company ever, is on the topic) Hopefully with the 4C process you will come out stronger and land that job you never knew you would like so much!

PS: Certain parts of this post, were quoted in an article in the Economic Times: http://bit.ly/19ukqdX

Acknowledgements:

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net