Human Resources Archives | Excelerated Business Solutions

Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

You are here: » Business Coaching, Human Resources

Some teams work in-house. Some teams work from home. As more companies are creating policies and measures to respond to the current global pandemic and its residual effects, which experts predict to linger for at least two more years, workplaces will look very different from today.

In this video, we explore how you can boost employee morale when you have in-house and remote teams working with and for you in this ever-changing workplace.

The sweeping changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic will affect the workforce in various ways, and this includes employee morale. Many workers have been encouraged to work from home to lower the risk of coronavirus spread. Some companies, such as Facebook, Square and Google, have started putting infrastructure in play to enable some of its workforces to work from home in the long term, or even permanently.

Telecommuting or working remotely is not an entirely new concept as it has existed to some degree for a few decades now. However, the events in recent years, such as globalisation and the emergence of certain risks, such as the coronavirus pandemic, combined with shifts in modern technology and demands for greater workplace flexibility has made remote work more familiar and accessible to more workers.

While remote work has its advantages, particularly in providing workers greater autonomy and flexibility in how and where they work, it also has its downside. Health experts monitoring the effects of increased remote work during the global pandemic reports that mental health issues are surging.

And then there is also the issue of how remote work is viewed by in-house workers who have not experienced working remotely. There is a certain stigma with remote work—some people may think those who work from home, work less to watch Netflix more or take excursions to the mall or the beach more often.

Well, if you’ve ever tried working from home, you know that this is far from the case. In fact, more studies show that people who work from home suffer from anxiety and stress precisely because they work longer hours.

If you’re a business which keeps a mix of remote and in-house workers, this becomes a pressing issue because this affects overall employee morale, and consequently, employee productivity. So how do you motivate your team and boost team morale when your team is a mix of remote and in-house workers?

Here are three key factors:

(1) Keep deliverables and policies clear.

First things first, determine how employees will be evaluated.

Employees are appraised based on whether they show up at work or not. In the traditional workplace, this is measured by their physical presence at work and the number of hours they spend working. Did they show up today? Did they work the full 8 hours?

In remote teams, measures are not as straightforward. While there is software that may allow you to measure whether a remote worker is working on their desktop at particular times of the day, this seems rather counterintuitive to why we allow remote work to begin with, which is to provide greater autonomy and flexibility. In my previous video, How to motivate employees the right way, I explored how cutting the number of work hours to provide employees with a greater (but reasonable) amount of autonomy motivates employees and results in greater productivity.

As work shifts in-house to remote locations, measures of productivity should shift, too. And these measures should apply to both in-house and remote teams. The focus, then, should be on output,  creating and enforcing policies that enable and encourages workers to focus on delivery. Did they do the work that they were supposed? Where they able to accomplish the work?

But what if workers are required to “show up” to work at specific hours of the day? What if the type of work requires teams to chat with or deal with customers at particular hours of the day? How do we, as a business, handle that?

Here’s an example of a business whose employees all work remotely but “show up” for work at pre-determined times of the day: Mountain Bikes Direct. In a previous video, I discuss how they keep their team motivated despite all of them working remotely from different parts of the world. The key to this productivity is being clear about what is expected from each team member. Being fair to everyone is an important factor that determines employee morale.

(2) Stay in contact.

Promote a positive, inclusive culture by setting up regular catch up meetings, where both in-house and remote team members are present.

The catch-up meetings can be a venue to update the team about the state of current projects or a venue to elicit help from each other to fix issues. Alternatively, these can be informal virtual coffee or cocktail meetings (depending on the profile of your team) for people to just catch up and share stories to nurture team bonding.

Aside from these catch-up meetings, businesses should also define how employees can report challenges or issues with work specific to them. Determine a communication plan with clear channels for escalation.

What if a remote worker experiences connectivity issues in the middle of critical work? Where should he or she report this issue, and how should he or she proceed? Or, what if an in-house worker needs to reach a remote team at hours outside of operations for a critical issue? Or, what if an employee, whether in-house or remote, suddenly needs to take a day off for personal reason?

(3) Keep health checks and policies in place.

Experts say that the global pandemic will change the way we work. Remember your team member who would report to work even if they are sick just because work needs to be done? We used to measure worker diligence and commitment based on what an employee is willing to sacrifice just to get to work done. It was normal to see a sick person report to work because things needed to get done.

Not anymore.

These “norms” should soon change—and as leaders and business owners, it’s our responsibility to keep everyone safe and healthy. There is a need to revise health policies, particularly policies on when employees should not report to work due to particular illnesses. The new policies and norms should also include measures that address employee mental health, particularly to remote employees who are more susceptible to loneliness isolation, anxiety, and even depression.

People are driven by their purpose. They are motivated to work when they see that their work contributes towards this purpose. They are also motivated when there is fairness when policies are equally enforced so that good work is recognised and offences are corrected.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

While being professional entails knowing how to manage our emotions to allow us to work despite pressure, studies have also shown that emotions influence productivity. Happy employees are more likely to be professional.

In this video, I explore what determines an organisation’s emotional culture and how this impacts team performance and team productivity. I further discuss what team leaders can do to nurture a positive emotional culture.

One of the pillars of professionalism is self-regulation. This means that we need to have the ability to work under pressure. However, the flip side of this coin involves what experts now call psychological safety and the need to take care of our mental health.

A recent study by Google concludes one key factor that differentiates mediocre teams from high-performing teams is psychological safety. These findings suggest that emotional culture play an important role in organisational performance as emotions affect team productivity and performance.

What is emotional culture?

There are many facets of workplace culture. The most recognised facet is organisational culture, which defines a set of understanding on how to do things to achieve a goal.

But there is also emotional culture which “predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.”

What determines emotional culture?

Emotional culture is contagious—and it trickles from the top. How managers behave and react to different circumstances sets the tone for the team’s emotional culture.

How does emotional culture affect productivity?

Imagine what could happen if you have a manager who consistently reacts negatively to mistakes. Or, what if this manager is prone to blame members of the team for mistakes caused primarily by circumstances out of their control? What if this manager focuses on putting blame rather than using mistakes as opportunities for team members to learn and improve? How do you think the team will react?

  • Team members will be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. This instantly “kills” the growth mindset.
  • Team members will be more focused on doing what they think the manager thinks is right and appropriate, rather than what is good for the team. They will afraid of disappointing their manage. When things go wrong and team members are afraid, it sets off their fight-or-flight response, which instantly “kills” their ability to be creative or innovative.
  • When team members are focused on “not making a mistake,” they’re likely to only focus on just the job or task at hand, and not finding new ways to improve the process. This kills productivity right away.
  • There is no psychological safety because no team member will feel safe in taking risks and making mistakes and doing things differently. If team members are not allowed to learn, grow, and be innovative, there is no incentive for anyone to perform well.

If you have a team leader who consistently focuses on mistakes and putting blame, you are unlikely to build and nurture a high-performing team. What you have is a team of robots or “yes” people who will do only what they are told and nothing else.

And when the environment becomes even more unbearable, team members are likely to jump ship and find work somewhere else. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose the best people in the organisation.

How do you nurture a positive emotional culture?

  • As a leader, keep your emotions in check. Observe how you react and see how your own employees react.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. In my video on How to Build High-Performing Teams, one of the key things to change is mindsets—and one that redirects the focus on issues and root problems, rather than on people.
  • Take a step back and take care of yourself, the leader. Perhaps you are stressed, which is affecting everyone else in the team. In the video, Maximising The Best Asset in Your Business, I discuss how rest is important to encourage creativity and problem solving in the long run.
  • Ask for help. When we have been doing the same things for a long time, it is easy to develop blind spots. Because of this, we tend to think that how we do things is “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps they are, but there may be things that are not as acceptable or maybe some things that need improvement. It’s hard to see beyond our blind spots, so we may need someone—a person looking from the outside in—to show us what we don’t see. This someone can be a mentor, a trusted colleague, or a business coach.

Do not let your pride limit you on what you can do in your business. I personally seen successful businesses be ruined by the business owner due to the individual’s perception that only he knows what is best for the business. I have seen his team members leave the organisation, and yet he stubbornly refuses to change his mindset about the business. The result? He is now working alone on his business and struggles to make ends meet. Please do not make the same mistakes as he did—ask for help.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

What are some of the unique and fun ways to recognise employees? In this video, I explore some of the more unconventional ways of rewarding them.

There is a consensus on the importance of rewarding or recognising employees who do exceptionally great work. The rationale is that if you reward them, they will be motivated to continue doing great work.

The contention on this belief arises when we talk about finding the right rewards. As business owners, we want to make sure that we are generous enough to make the employee feel appreciated but not too much for everyone to expect that all exceptional work should be rewarded, even if such is a regular call of duty. We also consider our financial ability to sustain such rewards. It can’t be too generous that it affects the bottom line. Ideally, it should be simple and easy to implement—and one that can be sustained for many years to come.

Best of all, we should be transparent and have firm guidelines on who is eligible for these rewards, so that everyone feels that they have a fair chance of being a recipient and that we are not playing any favourites.

Note, however, that not all policies or rewards that aim to motivate behaviour work as well as one plans it to be. In my video, How an employee reward system can curtail productivity, I explored how one well-meaning employee rewards policy led to a decline in productivity. The key is to understand that employees are best motivated when the rewards are aligned with their internal motivation, just as I discuss in my video How to motivate employees the right way.

I’ve worked with business owners who struggle to come up with the proper incentives to motivate their employees. They are usually too busy with the business to think clearly about how to reward exceptional behaviour. But what they fail to realise is that their employees are one of the reasons for their business’s success. Ignoring their contribution may lead to demotivation and to employees doing only the bare minimum. This, in turn, can impact the morale and productivity of the team.

Here are some simple employee rewards that I’ve discovered align with internal motivation and are simple to do:

  1. Kudos Board! Perhaps the simplest but one of the most effective recognition programs. Managers, team members or even clients can give feedback about someone they feel who did exceptional work. This can be published either in the organisation’s bulletin board or social media for everyone to see. It’s good because employees are publicly recognised, at the same time, it gives other employees concrete examples of exceptional work that they can model.
  2. Write a simple Thank You note. Sir Richard Branson has been known to do this. It is simple but heartfelt, and lets employees know that you notice their hard work. While it takes time to do and it may be difficult to write the note, this brings more value to your employee than any monetary value. And, it’s a cost-effective measure, too!
  3. Throw a pizza party! This is great especially when you are celebrating not just the achievement of one team member but the collective effort of an entire team. It’s a fun way to build team camaraderie, too!
  4. Give a special perk for a limited time, maybe a paid day off or the opportunity to park at the best spot for a few days. It’s a simple reward but note that selection criteria should be clear and transparent to prevent any indication that you are playing favourites!
  5. Dinner for the family on you! Large corporations have been known to provide this reward. This is to recognise that families also make sacrifices, especially when their family member has been working very hard on a project that has taken time away from them. It also makes an employee feel especially valued because rewards are extended to their family.
  6. Career-based rewards, such as sending employees to out-of-town training classes or even just online classes of their choice.

How about you? How to you recognise and reward your employees?

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

In this video, I explore the characteristics that make a team successful and high-performing and discuss how your team can build one.

Who are empowered employees?

Empowered employees are your employees who know what they are supposed to do and what they are accountable for. More importantly, they are the ones who take the time to understand problems and their root causes, find solutions to these problems, and find ways to improve processes to make things work easier and more seamlessly. The best part about empowered employees is that they do all of these things without needing to be told—they work on developing solutions almost instinctively.

Empowered employees are motivated to go to work every day. They do not just do what is expected of them, but also the things that are needed to be done for the good of your business and your organisation in the long run.

Why do we want empowered employees?

Having empowered employees mean that you have your entire team making it their business to delight your customers and to improve business. Working with them means working with a team who cares about your customers and your business. They work together, carry out their responsibilities, resolve problems for the greater good of your business, and, most importantly, without needing your intervention.

This sounds like a very ideal situation—but it can be done!

How do you empower employees?

To understand what motivates and empowers an employee is to understand the importance of trust. An empowered employee trusts in the belief that what he or she does is important and meaningful—that it is important to him/herself, to the people he/she is working with, and to the organisation he/she is working for.

An empowered employee also trusts that his/her team and organisation as a whole is looking out for him/her—just as he/she is looking after the team and the organisation. An empowered employee is equipped with the necessary skills and tools to carry out what is expected of him to do, and that the team and the organisation trusts him well enough to know how to use these skills and tools to deliver exceptional service.

The goal then is to build trust. How do you do this?

  1. Hire the right people with the right attitude. Depending on the kind of industry you work in, you hire people who have the right disposition for the job. If your business requires that your team provide technical support to your clients, then you probably want team members who are patient and can remain calm to address problems and provide quick solutions.
  • Train for the skills and the tasks at hand—this includes formal training, mentoring, or even shadowing.

In a previous video, I shared a simple guide on how small businesses can train employees.

  • Make sure that everyone is clear about and understands the organisation’s goals, what their roles are, and what they need to do to achieve these goals.

In Disney, for example, Cast Members (that’s Disney language to mean Disney employees) go through rigorous training to ensure that everyone understands Disney’s main goal and know how each Cast Member can do to achieve this.

  • Nothing proves that you trust your employees more than allowing them to take over their roles and own it. That means cutting micro-managing tendencies and allowing them leeway to solve problems and achieve goals the way they see fit—of course, within reason.

The main challenge is allowing them to make mistakes on your time. But this leads to learning from their mistakes and learning how to make things better.

Do you think that you have empowered employees in your small business? Would you like to share how you empower them? If you have a story to tell, please send me an email and let’s chat.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

In this video, I explore the characteristics that make a team successful and high-performing and discuss how your team can be one, too.

In a 2-year study by Google, the company discovered that there are 5 key attributes present in high-performing teams:

  1. Psychological safety: As a member of this team, can I take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can my team members count on each other to deliver high quality work on time?
  3. Structure & quality: Do all of my team members know and understand goals, roles, and execution plans?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Why do these attributes matter?

Let’s imagine what happens when these attributes are absent in the team we work with. Imagine that in your team, there’s no psychological safety. You can’t depend on anyone to take up the slack, whether you control it or not. You are unclear about the team’s goals and everyone’s roles, and you’re uncertain if there is even a definite execution plan. And because you’re unsure if what you are doing is important or even makes an impact, you don’t find meaning in your work.

How do you think you’ll perform? You’ll be likely to only do as you’re told and most likely won’t initiate or offer suggestions out of what you believe is normal. You’ll likely think and act within the box. You certainly won’t take unnecessary risks—or any risk for that matter.

It becomes stifling, but we would rather be stifled rather than have others perceive our competence or attitudes negatively. This is a natural survival strategy—but this also is extremely harmful to a team and its performance. Team members take less initiative, and they become less creative. That’s because when things are uncertain, we would rather wait to be told about what is acceptable and what isn’t. Rather than blaze the trail and then risk failing and possibly be blamed by the entire team, we are likely to just ‘play it safe’.

So how do we build a high-performing team?

The way I see it is that we need three things:

  1. we need the right people,
  2. they need the right tools and systems to work with, and
  3. they need to work in the right environment.

The right people, the right tools and systems, and the right environment will be different for each business—so there isn’t going to be the fixed formula for each team.

But we need to start somewhere, so here are a few things we, as business owners, might consider if we are going to build and nurture a high-performing team.

Let’s start with the people: hire the right ones. And the common hiring guideline is to hire for attitude and train for aptitude. You want to work with people who have the capacity and disposition to deal with the kind of personalities and situations that your business deals with daily.

Don’t try to get the best people at the lowest possible hourly rate. People who are good will command a higher rate—and even if they agree to come in at a low rate, they are not likely to stay for a long time. Find a good and fair rate to attract the kind of person you want to work in your business.

Once you find the right people, set them up for success by providing them with the right tools and systems to work with. This means making roles and objectives clear, and execution plans concrete. Provide further training if their roles or objectives call for it. The absence of any one of these makes people guess and leads them to improvise, which may not always result in what is ideal.

Encourage communication. A clear indication of psychological safety is found in the quality of team communication. That everyone feels that they are heard, or everyone feels confident that they can freely but reasonably express themselves means that there is a high level of psychological safety in the team.

While communication cannot guarantee that teams will not run into conflict, a culture that encourages open communication can help team members work through problems. Open communication nurtures an environment where team members will feel psychologically safe.

Google’s Head of Industry, Paul Santagata, who was involved in the 2-year study, has this advice: To build and nurture high-performing teams—and nurture the environment of trust, everyone must learn to approach conflict as a collaborator, not an adversary. The goal in resolving conflict is not to win an argument, but to find a mutually beneficial solution—and one that works to everyone’s best interest.

Santagata also advices to learn how to replace blame with curiosity. When exploring the problem as a team, focus on finding solutions, not blame. But when you do find that one member might be the source of the problem, try to ask this person for the solution. The people who are responsible for creating a problem often (but not all the time) hold the keys to solving them.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >