leadership

HR Strategic Planning: Taking Deliberate Action, Post #8 ~ Christina Stewart

No Train, No Gain

Why Lifelong Learning Matters for You and Your Employees

Providing employees with Learning and Development is essential for both your business and for their engagement and happiness
Let’s continue our HR Strategic planning discussion on using training as a tool.

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There’s a saying that that goes like this:
The CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?”
The CEO responds: “What happens if they stay and we don’t?”

The answer is so obvious, it goes without saying. If business leaders don’t invest in learning and development for their employees, we get stagnated workforces and a marked decrease in the quality of work. Conversely, when business leaders promote lifelong learning in their work teams, we get vastly increased morale, increased capacity to cope with day to day work stresses, improved team performance, and improved employer trust. All of which leads to improved loyalty for both the employee and the employer as well as huge economic benefits for both. When the employer provides opportunities for development, the company does well, the employees do well, and loyalty builds. For example, a Wendy’s restaurant in Fredericton, N.B., provided workplace literacy and essential skills (i.e. communication, critical thinking, and computer skills) training to their team members in 2013. Ownership saw reduced staff turnover to between 65% and 80%, which is down from between 125% and 150% in the two earlier years, saving the franchisee $5,000 annually in new staff training.

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More than Money

We all want our businesses to experience profitability but often we want more. We want our business to mean something significant to our customers and to our teams. Developing employees by training and teaching and offering learning opportunities allows us to create both profit and meaning within our workforce.
So, by now we agree that a great way to retain staff and nurture employee skills is to consistently and actively promote learning and development activities. Encouraging this kind of professional growth shows your team you care about their progress and their future, and it inspires loyalty in employees.


Get Ready, Get Set

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Before jumping in to any new initiative a little planning and coordination of goals can go a long way. Ask yourself what you want your employees to achieve – or better yet, ask them. Having individuals complete a self-assessment as a kickoff point to their own learning creates engagement from the outset. In this phase you are identifying where you are and where you want to be. The gap in between is the learning that needs to take place. Ask your team some or all of the following:
• Identify the job requirements and performance expectations of your current position
• Identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that will enhance your ability to perform your current job
• Identify and assess the impact on your position of changes taking place in the work environment such as changes in clients, programs, services and technology
• What goals do you want to achieve in your career?
• Which of these development goals are mutually beneficial to you and your organization?
Ask your employees to set two or three goals using the tried and true SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Timely.) One way of helping them get into the goal mindset is to ask employees to view the workplace as a curriculum. Asking that they look at their daily tasks and responsibilities as items they must master can be a very useful mindset. In this approach, the normal workday of an employee informs what they need to learn in order to do their job most successfully. The tasks they perform become the curriculum components they need to learn, making it easy to set identifiable goals. Employees should also set a target length of time in which to master this goal before moving on to the next. This builds natural stepping-stones between the current job and the next level at the organization, as mastery of each goal can bring them closer to promotions, raises, increased responsibility, or other rewards.


Go: Inside Methods

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There are many methods to consider when implementing professional development in the workplace, however, major impediments to providing learning opportunities to employees is the cost to the business and the time to have employees offsite. However, these don’t hold much weight as there are cost-effective, in-house training opportunities within a work environment, such as:
• Job expansion; the role has been mastered so adding greater challenges
• Job shadowing; following and learning from others in the organization – maybe even you!
• Job enrichment; stretch assignments and special projects or committees
• Job rotations; temporarily being given the opportunity to work in other areas of the business
• Adding mentoring/coaching; a more experienced employee provides advice and guidance to a novice within the work site
• Peer-assisted learning; two knowledgeable employees swap the information they know in order to expand the other employee’s abilities
• Providing time for writing articles for a paper, online publication or magazine enhance the reputations of the employee as well as the organization.


Go: Outside Methods

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Implementing a quality professional development program encourages employees to continue their learning beyond the confines of the office. Outside options include footing the bill to enroll employees in formalized classes. The more specialized training or certifications that an employee receives, the more you can boast your company’s know-how and expertise. If it’s a program that many employees could benefit from consider working with the provider for internal classes or lunch and learn sessions on the topic. Consider networking at industry trade group conferences and with like-minded professionals at other organizations, joining a formal coaching or mentoring program outside of work, or earning an advanced degree.
Although some certification programs can cost an employer a pretty penny, sending an office representative to a conference or to a networking event can be an affordable alternative. Give that employee an even greater opportunity for development by presenting their learning to the organization after the event. Organizing in-house team-building events can also serve as a great method for keeping employees mentally challenged and engaged.


Everybody Wins

By encouraging a learning culture with professional certification, continuing education and association membership to increase the amount of outside education, your employees can bring back valuable knowledge into the company to share with one another. By focusing on in house opportunities to create a learning culture you expand your workforce knowledge and both your organization and your employees benefit.
Improving employees’ skills makes it easier for them to learn new ones and helps them innovate. Your learning culture is a foundation for creating better products and services, and fostering a new competitiveness and profitability. Creating a learning culture in your business is imperative for innovation, growth and economic success. The corporate return on your investment in essential skills and employee engagement is real and attainable.

Come back next week when we chat about a different HR Strategy: Recruitment!

December Career Spotlight

Our highlighted job for December is an exciting leadership opportunity here on the Sunshine Coast. 

Our client is an innovative, collaborative and passionate organization engaged in the economic development of the Sechelt and Sunshine Coast areas. The organization is growing quickly and embarking on a number of new business opportunities. They are seeking a Chief Executive Officer to oversee their Sechelt, BC office.

 You will provide leadership to current and future economic entities through joint strategic planning initiatives with the Board of Directors as well as the development of operational plans to support the directions set.  The major focuses are on effective management of existing business and an aggressive growth strategy for acquiring new opportunities. Your Key Accountabilities Include:

 Board Administration and Support: You support the operation and administration of the Board by advising and informing the BoD Members with up-to-date information or reasonably anticipated future events that may affect operations

 Business, Program, Product and Service Development and Delivery: You oversee the operations of the entire organization, set and achieve goals as well as oversee all design, marketing, promotion, delivery and quality of businesses

 Human Resource Management: You develop policy, manage the HR for the organization, including staffing levels, recruiting, personnel issues, discipline and the setting of goals and performance measures for all staff.

 Community, Governmental and Public Relations: You are the interface between the Board and the Community. You assure the entire organization and its mission, business, programs, products and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to stakeholders and you will develop strong business relationships with local governments and financing sources

 Financial Responsibilities: You are responsible at the executive level for the budgeting, proposal and implementation process and ensure that all funds are managed as authorized with the most efficient use being made of the resources.

You possess cultural awareness and sensitivity well as a Degree in Business, Economics, Finance, or similar. Equivalencies will be considered. You also have a minimum of seven to ten years of progressive leadership experience. You offer the ability to make good strategic decisions and execute on them, excellent interpersonal and communication skills demonstrated through the ability to facilitate, network, motivate, lead, research, negotiate, analyze, and resolve issues, and you possess a strong sense of personal integrity and ethical practices.  

 Our client offers a value driven work environment, very competitive compensation, the opportunity to make this role your own and to live in a spectacular community with abundant natural beauty. This is a great opportunity to join a developing organization with strong community ties and values that respect the shishalh culture, tradition, and beliefs while you build economic opportunities, aid in developing businesses and creating local employment. 

 If this sounds like the position for you, we would love to hear from you. Please respond with a résumé and covering letter to: jobs@praxisgroup.ca no later than December 31, 2016.

 

Praxis Performance Group is a Human Resource and Recruitment Firm located on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful British Columbia. With our depth of experience and our belief in the unlimited potential of a well formed team, we take the time to get to know our clients and candidates. Focused on fit, we work with organizations who know that their people come first and that their greatest resource is their team. 

Overcoming Unconscious Bias by Christina Stewart

I recruit for a living; I assess candidates and determine if they would be a good fit for an organization. I have reviewed 1,000’s of resumes and conducted 100’s and 100’s of interviews.  One particular interview stands out.  I was looking to fill a sales role in a “blue collar” manufacturing organization in Vancouver.  The client wanted competitive, motivated, and hungry sales people who would flourish with little to no supervision, direction or meddling. They had a large team of all men who were killing it and they needed to add one more self-directed person to the mix.  In my experience, some of the best people for roles like this have a background in competitive sports or are still athletes.  When a resume of an experienced sales professional landed in my applicant file with a lengthy list of hockey accomplishments on it, I was excited.  I emailed “Alex” right away and we made swift plans for an interview. 

So, if you’re familiar with what Unconscious Bias is (making snap decisions based on stereotypes) you can probably guess where this is going. When Alex walked into the interview I am certain I was visibly thrown. Alex was, of course, female. I tried to recover without comment and we carried on with the discussion.  Unconscious Bias at it’s finest.

There are a few factors that led to the Bias.  First within the role itself, the team was all men, my clients never outright said “Only men allowed” but the word “she” was never uttered when discussing the ideal candidate, it was a blue collar industry predominately made up of typical male things, and the role involved almost entirely interacting with men – bosses, peers and customers. Therefore deep in my mind, I was already looking for a man.  Then add to that Alex’s hockey history, I further thought male and of course her name, deep in my unconscious Alex must have equalled Alexander and not Alexandria. 

What is Unconscious Bias Anyway?

Essentially, it’s labels, both negative and positive, that exist in our subconscious and affect our behavior.  They aren’t just about men and women, but race, socio-economics, sexuality, weight, age and family status – you name it, it exists.  Some argue that the bias is so deep that it’s beyond our control.  But I disagree.  Let’s take my example above.  When that happened, I could have just moved on with my life and career but I choose to analyse what happened.  I learned and grew from the incident and therefore brought my unconscious bias surrounding all of those factors to the surface.  I use that incident to check myself and ensure that I’m not letting my brain make any quick decisions about roles or candidates.  It makes me a better recruiter and really, just a better person.

But like most of us – I still have a long way to go.  Most of us think we’re pretty good at being fair and that we assign job tasks, promotions, training and other advantages based on merit alone. But if that’s the case, why are there 100 men promoted into entry level leadership roles for every 30 women? (https://womenintheworkplace.com/) That’s the bad news, the good news is that we can start to train our brains to stop making these decisions based on our biases. 

Three Quick Tips to Uncovering Unconscious Bias

1.       Look Inward – What are some of the stories that make up your decisions?  Are they true and accurate or was there something else at play? 

2.       Speak Up – Call out someone on their bias at work (privately and respectfully of course) will help people see the decisions they are making for what they are.  Promoting open discussion at work is essential to exacting change.

3.       Focus on Skills – The number of women in orchestras has gone from 5% in the early 1970’s to 25% today.  This rise is largely due to applicants auditioning behind screens so the judges can’t ascertain gender; they can only ascertain how poorly or how well they play.  Are there any changes like this you can make in your workplace?

By paying attention to our own stereotypes, we can start to see people for who they really are and uncover what value and contribution they can make to our teams.