Tag Archive for Human Resources

Communicating at Work – When Management Makes a Big Change But Fails to Consult those Involved

Alas, miscommunication by management teams is alive and well.

I was reminded of this when meeting with a friend this week. He  shared with me his frustration at a significant change his company made without consulting those it affected.

How does this happen?!

This particular change will spread beyond a mere inconvenience for associates, it promises to challenge family members of these associates in perhaps devastating ways.

Management decided that this particular team was now going to alternate night and day shifts forcing associates to work two weeks on the day shift followed by two weeks on the night shift.

Brilliant.

Forget the fact that the detrimental effects of this kind of schedule have been well documented including loss of productivity and higher incidences of mistakes and accidents.

What shocks me most Read more

Job Interviews – 5 Key Questions Interviewees Fail to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

Never forget that a job interview is a two-way street. The questions you ask are as important as the questions you’re asked–so be prepared for both.

Ask questions that not only highlight your depth of knowledge but questions that show you are a savvy negotiator before negotiations even begin.

People fail to ask these 5 Critical Questions during an interview:

1. Ask about a typical day on the job including key players you’ll be interacting with frequently.

Often a cursory description of daily activities may be offered, but your interest is to get a clear understanding of the role or roles you would be expected to play and daily expectations.

Will you be expected to cover for an absent co-worker, cover calls during breaks, or be required (or expected) to attend company or charity events not held during the workday?

Who will you be expected to work with on key projects? Who will have ultimate decision making on joint projects? What people or departments will you need to depend on for critical information in order to do your job?

Listen between the lines and rephrase your question if it isn’t being answered directly.

2.  Ask about the financial stability of any organization you are considering for employment.

Read, listen and investigate the financial reports of an organization before the interview. If an organization is having difficulties you’ll want to address them at that time.

Ask a direct question in a neutral tone that allows the interviewer to refute rumors or give reasonable explanations to negative news stories. This not only shows interest and initiative on your part, but subtly puts them on alert should anything happen after you accept a position.

If the rumors turn out to be true, you may have a bargaining chip if you are laid off due to financial difficulties or bankruptcy.

3.  Ask what drives your immediate supervisor(s) crazy.

The key here is to fully grasp unacceptable behaviors that might result in poor reviews or even dismissal.

This is often a question about values. You might think that being a few minutes late is no big deal, but if your future boss considers “on time” as  30 minutes before the day really starts, you’ll be clashing in no time. It’s the small things that make for big issues and they often aren’t discovered until too late.

Listen closely to the answer and probe for expansion. Usually there is more than a single “unacceptable” behavior that drives a boss nuts, so uncover as many as possible.

If your values don’t match up significantly you’ll want to consider another place to work.

4.  Ask permission to take notes during the interview.

This is more powerful than you might think. It not only shows your interest and respect but it might help an undirected, unprepared, or nervous interviewer stay on track.

If you find yourself with a “talker” who fails to either ask questions or allows you to ask questions, you may be able to slow them down if you gently interupt their monologue by saying you want to capture every point. Then ask a clarifying question that makes them stop and think. This is easier to accomplish if you are taking notes.

Try it. I once got a job simply because I asked permission to take notes.

5. Ask what qualities the most successful employees possess and what qualities the least successful person is lacking.

Pay attention. If the answer is “”drive or “attention to detail” to the first part of the question, you’ll want to know what “drive” means to them. Ask. Do the same for the negative qualities.

Your aim is to match expectations to reality before you consider accepting an offer of employment.

These are just five questions candidates fail to ask during an interview but certainly not all. What questions do you want answers to before deciding if this is a person or an organization you want to work with? Think about it.

Want to use this article on your website or your own ezine? Share the knowledge but you MUST include the following: Allie Casey , Reinvention Specialist, can help you and your team ramp up your communication for more productivity  and profits and fewer misunderstandings and headaches. To get your F.R.E.E. audio course, more communication articles and information visit www.alliecasey.com.

Find more tips on workplace communication in Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work– What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up!

Communicating at Work – Managing Unmet Expectations

A common complaint from managers revolves around unmet expectations from direct reports and team leaders.  Whether we are talking about missed deadlines, missed goals or missed opportunities communication is always at the heart of the problem.

Let’s take a look at just one root cause  of unmet expectations and a solution.

Problem: Systems and  tools don’t function as needed and departments don’t work well together.

Solution:
1.  Provide the needed tools to do the job
–including software, hardware, human resources, filing and process systems, proper forms, paper, etc.  It is difficult to hammer nails without the nails.

2. Smooth the path between departments to eliminate the “I can’t start my part until I receive this information from…” syndrome. Catch issues before they start. Ensure that all departments are coordinated with the same expected outcome.

3.  Grant the authority to do the job. Often an issue between departments occurs when one department is expected to perform  but has no authority to make decisions that directly affect their ability to do so. Design is often driven by manufacturing , which is driven by operating goals. If operating goals are best met by producing out-of -date products (sounds crazy, but it happens a lot), then design can not create what the market is asking for and sales people can’t meet their goals. Don’t expect a quick fix. All departments need to understand their role in profitability and growth.

Want more information about root causes and solutions? You’ll find it on pages 113 – 115 of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.
Get your copy at Amazon.com and don’t forget to pick up your FREE Bonuses.

Leave me your story of unmet expectations.

Job Function–Avoid Costly Misundersandings with Clear Communication

1181346_person_maskMisunderstanding a job role causes more issues than simply lost production. Customer complaints, lost business, public safety or legal issues are all at stake.

Clear communication takes more than a paragraph in a handbook or a few sentences uttered by human resources or a manager. Ideally, the job function conversation should occur not only during the interview and orientation process but throughout the first ninety days.

Here are a few ways to clearly communicate the role of a job to decrease misunderstandings:

  1. Verbally describe the role including tasks and expectations. The challenge here is to be both specific and broad. Use stories and examples to help create a picture that words alone fail to illustrate. Communicate the desired outcome graphically.
  2. Written job descriptions are critical to compliance.  Don’t rely on an initialed checklist indicating the new hire has read and understood the information. Written communication alone does not address questions adequately and leaves the new hire without an appropriate venue for voicing questions or concerns. Take the time to review and expand the job description using real examples.
  3. Use a detailed description of a typical day or scenarios the new hire might encounter. Again, using a story format helps put the new hire into the picture.
  4. Describe situations outside the job description the new hire would be expected to handle. Give end-result expectations and examples.
  5. After giving a verbal and written description ask for feedback in the form of a summary–not a list or recitation–but a description of how they see the function and their role in making it happen. Ask how they would handle a situation and encourage details about the end results. Listen for any disconnects between their “idea” of the job and the actual expectations of the job. What is not being said is more important than what is being said.
  6. Ask for where they see their biggest challenge in their job. Ask for a strategy for achieving results. Do not let “hopefully, I can…” be an acceptable answer. Hope is not a strategy. Too frequently new hires are skilled at giving the appropriate answers but have no intentions or aptitude for actually doing the function.

Clearly communicating policy, processes and job function is a part of your job if you hire or manage people. Spend more time on this critical message upfront and enjoy fewer misunderstandings in the future.

If you want more tips you can use on the job be sure to get your FREE 6 part audio series by putting your name and email in the boxes to your upper right. Now, pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up, for dozens of tips and techniques that can change your life.