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Principal Resource Group

Principal Resource Group Blog

Principal Resource Group Blog

Monday, March 28, 2016

Improving Employee Engagement: It Starts with Managers

Staff engagement among the U.S. workforce has remained steady at 33 percent over the past few years, according to recent data from Gallup. This is quite low considering that strong employee engagement is the catalyst for company growth and success. Numbers worldwide are even starker, with 87 percent of workers reporting being disengaged at the office.

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As managers across the country scramble to increase feelings of ambition, connection and enthusiasm among employees, they should first start by looking within. While a wide range of factors can impact one’s feeling of involvement within his or her company, poor management ranks at the top. Managers are reportedly responsible for 70 percent of feelings of imbalance and discontentment. The good news is that there are a number of simple, effective ways managers can boost employee engagement.

“A great leader understands that the success of a company relies heavily on the dedication, commitment and achievements of the employees,” says Suzanne Rice, director of global franchise development for MRINetwork. “By creating an environment that encourages open communication and fosters trust, managers have the opportunity to empower their employees to not only become engaged, but to go above and beyond.”

Rice provides the following tips for raising employee engagement:

1. Cultivate trust
Cultivating an environment of trust is an important way to ensure that all staff members feel valued, heard and comfortable. Trust is not just about leaders acting in a fair or equitable manner, being accountable, or honoring the agreements that they’ve made with staff. Employees also want to feel their managers will back them up in tough or negative situations, even sharing in the blame when necessary. When an environment of trust is created in this manner, it strengthens relationships with employees, making them more likely to want to work hard and do well. On average, those with supportive supervisors are 67 percent more engaged in the company, based on data from The Energy Group.

2. Promote open communication
Regular meetings, consistent social contact and open channels for communication are key for promoting open and honest dialogue between managers and employees. When managers are empathetic and aware of others, they’re more likely to be in tune with the general consensus among employees. Responding to all questions, concerns and feedback - and taking each one seriously - in an adequate time frame confirms that each employee’s voice is heard and valued.

3. Maintain visibility
Rather than being tucked away in a corner office with the door frequently closed, managers should be accessible and visible throughout the workplace. Doing so makes employees feel more comfortable reaching out and asking questions. It also further enhances open communication. Along the same lines, recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of employees is just as important. Publicly acknowledging the work of staff members encourages a healthy commitment to advancing the organization’s mission.

4. Lead by example
When managers lead by example, not only are employees more likely to remain at the company, they’re also much more engaged. Workers don’t just want their leaders to be accountable, they want managers to provide mentorship and guidance for how to be more effective, based on their own experience. By demonstrating the behaviors and qualities that are expected of staff members, and investing time in developing direct reports, managers can boost engagement and improve work ethic.

“Improving employee engagement should be at the forefront of a manager’s responsibilities, and holding themselves accountable is the most effective way to do that,” adds Rice. “When managers are open, flexible and authentic, employee happiness and engagement will naturally skyrocket.”

To view the full article on MRINetwork click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Insightful Hiring: Looking Beyond the Obvious to Uncover Right-Fit Candidates

A hiring manager posts an opening, describes the ideal candidate, and resumes come flooding in. After doing some interviews, the manager has to decide who the best person is for the job. Research shows that more often than not, managers pick someone whose qualifications most closely match the exact criteria for the job or whose background is similar to theirs. Using this process, frequently poor hires are made, and competent and qualified people don't get the job - or sometimes even an interview - because they do not fit the preconceived notion of the right fit. This reality presents a great opportunity for companies to reconsider and potentially improve how they view, screen, interview and engage with talent.
“People with responsibility for hiring have a tendency to see what they’re looking for, especially when they are primed and ready to look for specific things,” says Nancy Halverson, vice president of global operations for MRINetwork. “Focusing too much on set criteria for the ideal candidate or being blind to red flags can lead to serious hiring mistakes, especially when everybody on the hiring team is looking at applicants through the same lens.”
Cultivating the ability to identify and recognize the right people for the job, even individuals with non-traditional backgrounds or with skills outside the exact criteria, can be a tremendous advantage for a business. “You get multiple perspectives for problems or challenges, and fresh perspectives in your day-to-day operations,” Halverson observes. “Although there are instances when hiring candidates who don’t fit the exact profile isn’t feasible, that is less of an issue than many hiring managers may think.”
However, there’s a reason many companies don’t take risks when hiring new talent. Employees with traditional backgrounds and similar skill sets yield predictable results. The tricky part about expanding the hiring horizon is finding the right fit even if the candidate’s background falls outside the range of the safe, defined criteria.
Halverson suggests several ways to avoid mistakes while widening the candidate pool:
Focus on the candidate's potential. Pay close attention to the personality of the prospective new hire. While having the right skill set may seem essential, skills can be acquired, but personalities cannot. Social intelligence - being able to navigate social situations and work well with others - should be under scrutiny during the interview. Don't become pigeonholed into thinking the person with the exact necessary experience is the right person for the role. Give equal consideration to communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence.
Ask the right kinds of questions. While your interview format should retain some standard questions, you can uncover good candidates by adding non-traditional questions into the mix. Asking candidates what they see as the most effective approaches for managing them, for example, can provide insight on both cultural fit and working style - whether they’re low-maintenance and function best with minimal guidance, or perform well under detailed direction and support. Depending on the existing managerial style at your organization, the response may signal an ideal fit or a potential problem aligning with your leadership.
Provide personal insight about the company culture. To help both the organization and prospective candidates determine if they are right for your company and the particular position, it's important to discuss the company's work environment. Be open and honest about what it's like to work at the organization, and talk about the positive aspects or even perks that have personally made your job more enjoyable. Replacing canned corporate responses with insight about your individual experience allows you to connect better with candidates, and both parties can more clearly ascertain if the applicant will thrive in the company culture.
Cover all the bases. Probably the most important step in deciding to extend an offer to a candidate who has a different type of experience or education from the set criteria, is making sure the company has covered all its bases. This includes determining the business rationale behind the hire, what skills and qualifications the candidate has to offer the company, and if the decision will ultimately produce the desired result.
“In today’s competitive world of business, no organization can risk the expense and productivity drain that a bad hire brings, and yet bad hires are surprisingly common,” adds Halverson. “Being open-minded to looking outside of your defined criteria or even your industry can yield a more diverse but equally qualified short list, and may result in a better fit between the successful candidate and your organization.”
For more information, view the full "Insightful Hiring: Looking Beyond the Obvious to Uncover Right-Fit Candidates" article on MRINetwork by clicking here