Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Employee Engagement & Retention

May 31st, 2017 No comments


Keeping the Right People

Employee Engagement & Retention

Employee engagement illustrates the commitment and energy that employees bring to work and is a key indicator of their involvement and dedication to the organization. Employees who are engaged are more productive, content and more likely to be loyal to an organization. When organizations put sound HR practices in place, they are more likely to discover that employees feel satisfied, safe and will work to their full potential…and that means they are more likely to stay put.

HR Responsibility and How it relates to employee engagement

Strategic HR Planning

  • People are the main resource that organizations have for delivering services
  • Strategic HR planning links HR management directly to an organization’s strategic plan and that means that staff will have meaningful roles tied to the strategic direction of the organization
  • Strategically planning how your organization will meet it’s current and future HR needs and how people will be supported and nurtured within your organization is critical for success

Operational HR Planning

  • At an operational level, organizations put in place HR management practices to support management and staff in achieving their day-to-day goals
  • Whether it’s determining how many employees are needed to deliver services over the next year or how performance will be monitored, the HR management practices and activities need to be planned to answer the question: “Where is our organization going and how will it get there?”
  • An operational plan ensures that employees are properly supported

Compensation and Benefits

  • Though usually not ranked the most important, compensation is an important factor in job satisfaction
  • An employee who feels adequately compensated monetarily is more likely to stay with your organization


Developing HR Policies

  • Policies and procedures both communicate the values of your organization and provide everyone with a consistent process to follow
  • Policies and procedures provide your employees with a process to follow and that knowledge can help them confidently approach situations, particularly difficult situations

Employment Legislation and Standards • Provincial/territorial and federal governments outline the minimum requirements to ensure a safe and equitable work environment for employees

Job Descriptions

  • Job descriptions are basic HR management tools that can help to increase individual and organizational effectiveness
  • A well-written job description sets an employee up for success by outlining their responsibilities and the parameters of their position
  • Job descriptions also show how an employee’s position contributes to the mission, goals, and objectives of the organization

Performance Management

  • Performance management is an ongoing process where the manager/supervisor and employee work together to plan, monitor, and review an employee’s work objectives or goals and overall contribution to the organization
  • Motivates employees to do their best
  • Establishes clear communication between the manager and the employee about what s/he is expected to accomplish
  • Provides on-going, constructive feedback on performance
  • Establishes plans for improving performance, as necessary
  • Identifies the skills and abilities of each employee so that work assignments build on and reflect an employee’s strengths
  • Identifies individual employees for more challenging work
  • Assists and supports staff in achieving their work and career goals by identifying training needs and development opportunities
  • Contributes to the succession management plan so that employee skills are developed and employers develop the skills they need to fill a potential HR gap in the future

Learning, Training and Development

  • Investing in training programs helps employees develop personally and professionally.
  • Creating an environment where people feel welcome and safe from harassment and discrimination motives staff to perform
  • Absenteeism and performance problems decrease while productivity, morale and employee retention increases

Work Teams and Group Dynamics

  • When you develop and support effective teams, you enhance the power and feeling of satisfaction of individuals working on the team
  • When a team works well, it means that staff trust one another and that leads to better sharing of knowledge and understanding

Conflict Resolution

  • In a healthy workplace, there will be conflict
  • Having conflict resolution policy and process will mean that conflict is constructive and not destructive

Workplace Wellness Initiatives

  • A healthy workplace means more than just warding off colds and the flu
  • It is more holistic and takes into consideration the physical, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, emotional, occupational and mental health of employees
  • Wellness promotion doesn’t just benefit the employee — an organization filled with healthy, balanced and fulfilled employees is a productive workplace that retains its employees

Employee Recognition

  • Giving employees a sense of shared values and purpose by creating a relationship with them.
  • When you thank employees you value them and that, in turn, is motivating
  • Updating staff on organizational issues through internal communications like e-mail updates and newsletters builds the sense of team and their value to the team

Staff-volunteer relations

  • Develop a sense of team with staff and volunteers contributing to the organization’s mission

Employee Satisfaction and Engagement Surveys

Listening to employees’ insights and suggestions for improvement will provide the organization with valuable information that can be acted upon to increase the level of employee engagement in the workplace. Employee surveys are an important tool to solicit employee feedback. They can be administered internally or externally as long as responses remain anonymous. Employee engagement surveys provide a way to improve productivity and emotional commitment by identifying the root causes of workplace issues.


The following steps provide a guideline for how to conduct an employee engagement survey:

  1. Determine the purpose of the survey.
  2. Determine the design of the survey (i.e. online versus paper-based; open-ended questions versus multiple choice or rating scale, etc.).
  3. Develop the questionnaire based on desired outcomes, while ensuring collection of accurate of data.
  4. Send employees the questionnaire for completion.
  5. Analyze survey responses.
  6. Prepare a summary report of the findings and recommendations for management (and possibly employee) review and discussion. (Ensure survey responses remain anonymous.)
  7. Prepare an action plan
  8. Benchmark survey results for a year-to-year comparison.

Action Plan

An action plan should be developed after discussing and prioritizing the results of the employee engagement survey. Although the plan is dependent on the outcomes of the engagement survey, it should be realistic and include the following items:

  • Action item
  • Person(s) who will be responsible implementing the action item
  • Resources required (i.e. money, materials, people)
  • Timeline – with expected completion date(s)
  • Expected outcome and/or how success will be measured

The action plan should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as required in order to achieve desired results. It is important to communicate and follow through on action plans. If employees see that action plans are implemented, they will be more likely to participate and provide feedback in the future.

Communication with Employees

Communication with employees is important to the success of the employee engagement survey. It should be done before, during and after implementation. This will generally make employees more likely to participate and provide feedback in the future. Communication to employees should include information about:

  • How the results will be used.
  • How specific action plans will be developed from the results of the survey and that input is required in order to properly formulate these plans.
  • How the results of the survey and any action plans developed will be reviewed and discussed.


How to prepare for an interview

August 3rd, 2016 2 comments

How to Prepare for an Interview



The key to a successful interview is preparation. Based on your resume, the interviewer has determined that you meet the qualifications required for the job. The interview will allow you to provide additional details about yourself and give you an opportunity to articulate how you will be a good fit for this position and how you will contribute to the organization.  Although you can never predict the exact questions that an interviewer will ask, you can be prepared when it comes to answering questions that relate to your direct experience, your accomplishments and your resume. Follow these tips:


  • Research the group through all possible sources (i.e. web, professional magazines, libraries or direct contact with a professional working in that area). Specifically you should be familiar with major developments and trends in the field as well as the mission and direction of the organization.
  • Familiarize yourself with the job description; determine your deficits and how you intend to compensate for those.
  • Know who you will be interviewing with and discuss the position with anyone you know who might have insights into the organization. This will target your questions and demonstrate your interest. Be ready for a variety of interviewer styles, some interviewers may be well versed in the process and will guide you smoothly from one question to the next, while others have little experience in the art of interviewing and this could be more challenging.
  • Learn to discuss your values; what sort of environment are you most comfortable working in? Thoughtful responses to these questions show that you have thought about the culture and values of the organization.
  • Familiarize yourself with your resume so that you can talk confidently about your previous work experiences, education and training. You should also be able to discuss skills and accomplishments gained at each employment.
  • Be ready to discuss your strengths and weaknesses. Provide examples from previous employment or volunteer experiences to showcase your skills. The answer should focus on something that is business related but not a critical job task. Talking about what is being done to overcome the weakness is key to answering this question.
  • The interview is a two way street; it is just as important for you to learn whether this might be a good fit for your needs as it is for the organization to learn whether you might be a good fit for their needs.
  • When preparing for an interview, it may be helpful to review the following attributes that are valued by employers.


    • Communicating Effectively
    • Working Well in a Team
    • Problem Solving
    • Using Initiative
    • Being Well Organized
    • Being Adaptable


There are different types of interviews and this will depend on the organization.


Screening Interviews: These are often done over the phone and are used as a way to reduce the applicant pile. First impressions are very important.


On site interviews: These take place at the organization. You usually will meet with several people at this interview. In some instances you may have to present on a topic relevant to your experience and the work you may be doing. You could meet with a  panel of interviewers or meet with a series of people in separate meetings.


What to Expect at the Interview


The interview typically starts before you even get into the room, arrive early so that you can mentally and physically prepare yourself. You can use this time to relax and organize your thoughts. The recruiter begins to evaluate you the minute you are identified and continues to evaluate you in every way. Be firm with your handshake and use good eye contact.


Appearance and Affect


  • You feel how you look, when you look good you feel good.
  • Make sure that you look groomed and neat, your clothes and accessories should be conservative and neutral, rather than overt and distracting. Non verbal actions communicate volumes about you.
  • Use good posture, eye contact and use this time as an opportunity to display enthusiasm, energy and good interpersonal skills.
  • Use a firm voice to demonstrate your confidence and be articulate as it reveals your communication skills. The words you choose will say something about you, as well as your knowledge of the industry. Be prepared to communicate on an informal basis also, it will determine how well you can answer the unexpected under pressure.


       The Balance of Listening and Talking at the Interview


  • Do not be afraid to ask clarifying questions about the interviewer’s questions.
  • Listen well so that you can identify opportunities to link your skills and qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. It is acceptable to take notes.
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Take time to formulate your thoughts before answering a tough question and balance talking with listening.
  • Be as clear and concise as you can in your answers.
  • Be honest.


The Interview Questions


  • Tough Questions: Questions can vary and may be categorized under Personal Assessment, Education and Experience, Career ambition and Plans, Company or Organization.


    • Experience questions: These ask you about specific work related experiences that will identify if you have the skill set and experience to match the position.
    • Behavioral/Competency based questions: These usually begin “Tell me about a time when ….    Which in turn offer insight about how you acted in previous situations and this again can predict how you would react or behave in similar future situations.
    • Opinion questions: These ask about your opinion on specific issues or decisions. What would you do if ……………………? 
    • Credential questions: Related usually to your education and certifications.


  • Do at least 65 – 70% of the talking, state your case and be brief and organized in your answers. Consider the STAR Method in framing your answers.


    • Situation: Give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome.
    • Task: Describe the tasks involved in that situation
    • Action: Talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task.
    • Results: What results directly followed because of your action


  • Expect the unexpected. You can often be asked questions that seem to bear no relevance to the position or your experience; these are simply asked to see how you react in certain situations e.g. “What time period would you like to have lived in?” These questions are intended to force you to react under some stress and pressure.


Turning a Negative into a Positive


This question often comes in the format of what are your common weaknesses?

Some common weaknesses are:


  • Lack of urgency
  • Discomfort with public speaking
  • Perfectionism
  • Not always attentive to detail

The key is to demonstrate self awareness about a quality that is not one of your strengths. Talk about what you are doing to improve and/or how you compensate for it. Be ready with a list of three ‘weaknesses’ and the pro-active response.


Sample Interview Questions


  1. Walk us through our resume?
  2. Why are you looking to leave your current employment?
  3. What is your ideal job/supervisor/environment?
  4. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  5. What is your long term career goal? (five years from now)
  6. Why are you interested in this job?
  7. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  8. What decisions have you been responsible for?
  9. How do you handle conflict (people, situations)? Tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult supervisor/customer?
  10. Do you prefer working in teams or by yourself? Please give examples of each.
  11. What management style works best for you?
  12. What is your management style?
  13. How do you work under pressure? Please give us an example of a stressful work situation and your involvement with it.
  14. How would you solve a work problem? Please describe a time when you identified and resolved a specific problem?
  15. What are your presentation skills?  Are you comfortable speaking in public?


The close – It is your turn to ask questions

When you are asked, “Do you have any questions for me?  You should ask questions that elicit positive responses from the interviewer, your questions should also bring out your interest in and knowledge about the organization and questions that draw on information that you have been told in the interview and may need clarification on. By asking well thought out questions, you show the employer that you are serious about the organization and need more information, it is a two process, the fit has to be right for you and for them.


  • What are the responsibilities of this position?
  • What are the reputations, academic training and tenures of the employees in this department?
  • Do you support professional development? How?
  • What do you see as the biggest challenge that someone would face during the first month on the job?
  • I know that there is a trend toward X in this industry. How do you see this company reacting to such a trend? This shows that you are serious and interested in the position.


How clients should follow up after interviews?


  • Clients should always send a thank you letter following the interview. Ideally a mailed letter is preferable to an email. To be most effective, they should summarize what the client most wants the interviewer to remember about him or her.
  • It is important to debrief after the interview, in reflection you should think about what went well in the interview and what needs further work. What are the pros and cons of the job and any unanswered questions that you may have.
  • If you are aggressively job hunting and doing lots of interviews, this is an effective way for you to continue fine tuning your interview skills and to treat it as a learning experience. It will help you to clarify and think critically about your own job search skills.


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Leadership Development Tips

January 21st, 2015 No comments


Leadership Development Tips


While leadership is easy to explain, leadership is not so easy to practice. Leadership is about

behaviour first, skills second. Good leaders are followed because people trust and respleadershipect them, not for the skills they possess. Leadership is different to management. Management relies more on planning, organisational and communications skills. Leadership relies on management skills too, but more so on qualities such as integrity, honesty, humility, courage, commitment,

sincerity, passion, confidence, positivity, wisdom, determination, compassion and sensitivity. Some people are born more naturally to leadership than others. Most people don’t seek to be a leader. Those who want to be a leader can develop leadership ability. Leadership can be performed with different styles. Some leaders have one style, which is right for certain situations and wrong for others. Some leaders can adapt and use different leadership styles for given situations.

Ten Leadership Tips

From Jack Welch, respected business leader and writer – these are great:

  1. There is only one way – the straight way. It sets the tone of the organisation.
  2. Be open to the best of what everyone, everywhere, has to offer. Transfer learning across your organisation.
  3. Get the right people in the right jobs – it is more important than developing a strategy.
  4. An informal atmosphere is a competitive advantage.
  5. Make sure everybody counts and everybody knows they count.
  6. Legitimate self-confidence is a winner – the true test of self-confidence is the courage to be open.
  7. Business has to be fun – celebrations energies an organisation.
  8. Never underestimate the other guy.
  9. Understand where real value is added and put your best people there.
  10. Know when to meddle and when to let go – this is pure instinct.

As a leader, your main priority is to get the job done, whatever the job is. Leaders make things happen by:

  • Knowing your objectives and having a plan how to achieve them
  • Building a team committed to achieving the objectives
  • Helping each team member to give their best efforts

As a leader you must know yourself. Know your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you can build the best team around you.


Plan carefully, with your people where appropriate, how you will achieve your aims. You may have to redefine or develop your own new aims and priorities. Leadership can be daunting for many people simply because no one else is issuing the aims – leadership often means you have to create your own from a blank sheet of paper. Set and agree clear standards. Keep the right balance between ‘doing’ yourself and managing others ‘to do’.


Build teams. Ensure you look after people and that communications and relationships are good. Select good people and help them to develop. Develop people via training and experience, particularly by agreeing objectives and responsibilities that will interest and stretch them, and always support people while they strive to improve and take on extra tasks. Follow the rules about delegation closely – this process is crucial. Ensure that your managers are applying the same principles. Good leadership principles must cascade down through the whole organisation. This means that is you are leading a large organisation you must check that the processes for managing, communicating and developing people are in place and working properly.


Communication is critical. Listen, consult, involve, and explain why as well as what needs to be done.


Some leaders lead by example and are very ‘hands on’; others are more distanced and let their people do it. Whatever – your example is paramount – the way you work and conduct yourself will be the most you can possibly expect from your people. If you set low standards you are to blame for low standards in your people.


“Praise loudly, blame softly.” (Catherine the Great) Follow this maxim.


If you seek one single most important behaviour that will rapidly earn you respect and trust among your people, this is it: Always give your people the credit for your achievements and successes. Never take the credit yourself – even if it’s all down to you, which would be unlikely anyway. You must however take the blame and accept responsibility for any failings or mistakes that your people make. Never never never publicly blame another person for a failing. Their failing is your responsibility – true leadership offers is no hiding place for a true leader.


Take time to listen to and really understand people. Walk the job. Ask and learn about what people do and think, and how they think improvements can be made.

Accentuate the positive. Express things in terms of what should be done, not what should not be done. If you accentuate the negative, people are more likely to veer towards it. Like the mother who left her five-year-old for a minute unsupervised in the kitchen, saying as she left the room, “…don’t you go putting those beans up your nose…”


Have faith in people to do great things – given space and air and time, everyone can achieve more than they hope for. Provide people with relevant interesting opportunities, with proper measures and rewards and they will more than repay your faith.


Take difficult decisions bravely, and be truthful and sensitive when you implement them.


Constantly seek to learn from the people around you – they will teach you more about yourself than anything else. They will also tell you 90% of what you need to know to achieve your business goals.


Embrace change, but not for change’s sake. Begin to plan your own succession as soon as you take up your new post, and in this regard, ensure that the only promises you ever make are those that you can guarantee to deliver.

Leadership Behaviour

If you are interested in learning more – start with yourself. Leadership is mostly about your own behaviour, especially towards others. People who strive for these things generally come to be regarded and respected as a leader by their people:

  • Integrity – the most important requirement; without it everything else is for nothing.
  • Being very grown-up – never getting emotional with people – no shouting or ranting, even if you feel very upset or angry.
  • Leading by example – always be seen to be working harder and more determinedly than anyone else.
  • Help alongside your people when they need it.
  • Fairness – treat everyone equally and on merit.
  • Be firm and clear in dealing with bad or unethical behaviour.
  • Listen to and really understand people, and show them that you understand (this doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone – understanding is different to agreeing).
  • Always take the responsibility and blame for your people’s mistakes.
  • Always give your people the credit for your successes.
  • Never self-promote.
  • Back up and support your people.
  • Be decisive, but be seen to be making fair and balanced decisions.
  • Ask for people’s views, but remain neutral and objective.
  • Be honest but sensitive in the ways that give bad news or criticism.
  • Always do what you say you will do – keep your promises.
  • Work hard to become expert at what you do technically, and at understanding your people’s technical abilities and challenges.
  • Encourage your people to grow, learn and take on as much as they want to, at a pace they can handle.
  • Always accentuate the positive (say ‘do it like this’, not ‘don’t do it like that’).
  • Smile and encourage others to be happy and enjoy themselves.
  • Relax, and give your people and yourself time to get to know and respect each other.
  • Take notes and keep good records.
  • Plan and prioritize.
  • Manage your time well and help others to do so too.
  • Involve your people in your thinking and especially in managing change.
  • Read good books, and take advice from good people, to help develop your own understanding of yourself, and particularly of other people’s weaknesses (some of the best books on leadership are not about business at all – they are about people who triumph over adversity).
  • Achieve the company tasks and objectives, but never at the cost of your integrity or the trust of your people.


Leadership has been called “The ability to get followers.” One of the deepest cravings of human nature is the need to feel important, to have a sense of meaning and purpose in life and work. Leaders are invariably those who can tap into the deeper emotions of others and get them to rise above and beyond anything they may have accomplished in the past.



Winston Churchill was able to arouse and inspire an entire nation with words like these: “Let us so carry ourselves that if the British Empire should endure a thousand years, men will still say, this was their finest hour.”



Lee Iacocca stepped into Chrysler Corporation when the company was almost bankrupt. Through the sheer force of his personality, his unshakable determination, his appeals to Congress, to Chrysler workers and to Chrysler customers on television, he spearheaded a turn-around that will go down in the history books as one of the greatest achievements in American business.



The key to getting followers in every case is to “trust your subordinates.” Many studies have concluded that it is the mutual bond of trust and respect that acts as the catalyst that creates high performance. Not only must you trust your subordinates, but even more important, they must trust you.



In order to “get followers,” your subordinates must have an absolute belief in your integrity. They must believe that you will abide by the highest ethical standards of fairness and justice. Integrity appears over and over as the most important leadership quality. People can only put their whole hearts into their work when they feel secure and they can only feel secure when they can relax and trust you completely.



Here are two things you can do immediately to bring out the very best from the people who look up to you.


First, make people feel important. Tell them how important and valuable they are and then give them both the responsibility and the opportunity to do their job the very best they know how.


Second, set a good example. Be an inspirational leader by being a role model for everyone else to follow. The more people look up to you, the better they will do their work and the happier they will be.


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