How Does Your Company Measure Your Potential?

Understanding how your employer gauges your potential can have a major impact on your position at the company, and on your career. If you know what they’re looking for in an employee, you can improve your chances of advancement.

When a manager is evaluating an employee’s potential, they’re considering factors like motivation, skill, experience, and the willingness and ability to learn, and evaluating how that employee can or will impact the company as it moves forward into the future.

Clearly, there is variation in terms of what different companies and management teams look at when determining an employee’s potential. But some factors are common, even if they may seem obvious. Still, knowing how your employer measures your potential can be valuable information both for your own personal development and for your advancement within the company. Here are a few commonly-used indicators.

Quality of Work

There are many ways for an employer or manager to asses the quality of your work. It might be through a series of specifically stated goals they’ve set for you, or through subjective analysis from your direct supervisor or manager. There is also what’s known as the 9-Box Grid method of assessment, a graph with one axis representing an employee’s potential, and the other their performance. So, a high-performing but low-potential worker would be ideal in their current role, while a low-performing but high-potential employee would be in need of coaching to unlock that potential. Other factors companies use to measure performance can be as simple as tracking the number of errors an employee has made, or, depending on the nature of their work, quantitative statistics like the number or amount of sales made or units produced.

360/180-Degree Feedback

The concept behind 360-degree feedback is for an employer to get performance feedback from a staff member’s direct manager, colleagues, subordinates, and customers. This can be done through specific questions or as a more general performance evaluation. Alternately, 180-degree feedback is similar, but is limited to the employee’s co-workers and manager, and is typically utilized when the worker doesn’t manage people and/or interact with customers.

Leadership Potential

Many businesses will also consider their employees’ potential to rise to a leadership position. Part of management is being able to observe when employees demonstrate a knack for managing others, delegating duties, and taking responsibility for projects. In a small or medium-sized business, it’s often easier for management to get a feel for an employee’s abilities and potential to advance by direct observation. (It also costs a business more to hire and train new employees than to promote an internal candidate.) Factors like drive, organizational skill, the ability to learn quickly and think on their feet, and empathy towards colleagues are some of the traits a good manager will look for when assessing an employee’s leadership potential. The Korn Ferry Institute, an authority on leadership and recruiting, has its own test for measuring leadership potential that takes into account many of these traits and more.

Once you have an idea of how your company measures your potential, you’ll be able to adjust your behaviour accordingly and focus on the right things. Whether it’s making a point of being in the office early every day, contributing in meetings, helping your colleagues with their projects, or just putting in the extra effort when executing your duties, demonstrating your potential to management is a sure-fire way to get ahead.

 

Justin Anderson | Assistant Editor

How to Have a Difficult Conversation with an Employee

It’s never easy to have a difficult conversation in the office, especially if you’re deathly afraid of confrontation. However, it’s impossible to manage a company and not have to approach an employee at some point about their behaviour, insubordination, or work quality, and sometimes even terminate them. Brushing the issue under the rug or simply ignoring it can make the situation worse and negatively affect the workplace, productivity, and other employees. There are several different types of difficult conversations that you might need to have at some point, including policy breaches, coworker complaints, dress code violations, and even workstation cleanliness. As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to know the proper way to handle these conversations, or it could do more harm than good.

Prepare Yourself
Before deciding to have the conversation, get prepared by asking what the behaviour is that’s causing the problem, and what outcome from the behaviour is impacting you, the team, the environment, etc. You need to have an understanding yourself before providing clarity to someone else about the issue. This will also keep the focus on the issue and avoid derailing the conversation.

Choose an Appropriate Location
Before entering the conversation or even calling for a meeting with the individual, decide where it will be held. Finding the right location will set the tone of the meeting. Your office is usually the best place, but depending on your company culture, it might ease the tension if you talk over a cup of coffee or lunch at a food court in the building or nearby; this can lessen the chances of the employee feeling embarrassed. However, if it’s a more formal conversation, your office, a conference room, or a boardroom is probably the most appropriate place.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door
When starting the conversation, be straightforward and tell the individual what the purpose of the meeting is. Be sure to not get caught up in your emotions; keep your feelings in check and don’t let them drive the conversation. Focus on the facts and be careful not to say things like, “I feel disappointed,” which will only add biased emotional elements. It also helps to be aware of your preconceived notions about the situation and the person involved, so make sure to leave that at the door as well.

Be Open and Listen
Be calm and fair during the discussion. Don’t project anger or judgment because that may result in the employee getting defensive and things might get heated. Find a balance between polite and firm; be caring but remain professional. It’s important to be open to hearing what the other person has to say. Be mindful and treat them with respect, even if you completely disagree with them.

Brainstorm
It’s important that you brainstorm solutions during the meeting. Ask the employee in question what they think will work. Out of their ideas or suggestions, build on something you like. Asking for their point of view can create a safe atmosphere and encourage them to engage.

Always Follow Up
Following up after the conversation is a good way to smooth over the relationship between you and your employee. It’s also a good way to check up on their progress if there are any changes they need to make. Don’t micromanage, but keep track of how they’re doing, for as long as you think is necessary. If progress needs to be made, there is a possibility they might backslide.

Putting off a difficult conversation will only do more damage to your business. Holding off on speaking to an employee about their performance or attitude won’t help productivity and might even affect the rest of your team. Practice these tips and prepare your points so that you can mentally prepare and be more effective, confident, and comfortable with having difficult conversations. That way, you can get everyone on your team working together and at their highest potential.

 

Helen Jacob | Staff Writer

Succession Planning in Small Organizations

When we talk about “succession planning”, the first thing that comes to mind is the “seamless process of replacing a top executive when he or she decides to leave the organization”.  However, as business trends change, so does the system.  The procedure is now more inclusive with wider scope.  Aside from exit strategies, it takes into account the (short-term and long-term) stability and sustainability of a company’s human resources plus the individual development of its employees.

Businesses, irrespective of size, legal structure, nature or industry, are always faced with uncertainties – employees or executives leave.  They may reach retirement age, become incapacitated, receive a better position within or outside the company.  Regardless of the reason, the institution must always be ready to fill that void with the right person to ensure continuity of leadership and operations.

There is no prescribed formula in succession planning but here are a few points to consider:

  • Develop and maintain an updated demographic profile of the workforce. This identifies each member’s roles, determines key position(s) that are critical in the short- and long-term operations and recognize personnel with the potential and eligibility to replace or assume other posts.  The data also helps in conducting an analysis of the current office’s collective expertise and what it needs in the future.
  •  Staff development as part of succession planning, requires organizations to provide further training to ensure employees acquire the needed know-how. Equally important is getting the “soft” skills associated with the demands of the job (decision-making, leadership, critical thinking, interpersonal and communication).  Develop programs and coach/mentor them while helping them acclimate to the situation.  This phase likewise involves increasing the scope of their responsibilities and, most importantly, getting the individual participate in the action plan.
  •  Conduct a regular review to re-assess if targets are achieved. If there are changes in goals and/or job requirements, be proactive and make adjustments.  Creating a plan is not enough, it must be updated periodically to reflect the shifting demands of the enterprise and the market.
  •  Select individuals based on competencies and not personalities. Hiring internally is almost always more preferable than contracting out.  However, the pros and cons must be carefully considered.  Regardless of what management decides, it must be communicated to all stakeholders to avoid resentment and confusion.

The success of an enterprise highly depends on its qualifications, knowledge and experience, which are tied to its people.  The moment a staff member walks out, they take with them this valuable asset.  Instead of scrambling and making hasty or uninformed decisions, it is always best to prepare for any eventuality.  Make sure to find the individual who will and can support and complement the company’s vision, values and objectives.

Succession planning is not a one-time event, it is a continuous process – it evolves with your trade and your experiences. It is never too early to start one.  Do it now!

 

Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog

Socializing With Colleagues After Work

People in an office environment typically spend 8 hours a day, five days a week with their co-workers, often longer than the time they spend with family members. Whether we like it or not, our co-workers can become a kind of surrogate family. It is natural to bond with your colleagues, but as with most relationships, this has its ups and downs. Hanging out with co-workers beyond the cubicle can easily translate into better team dynamics and a more collaborative work setting. After-work fraternizing can be fun, but even with all the pros of doing this, there are cons that must be considered as well. These tips can help you decide how personal your relationship with your co-workers should be.

 

Everyone needs positive relationships in their day to day life, whether it’s at work or home. Work relationships are important on many levels, from encouraging teamwork to landing promotions or simply making the work day more pleasant. While all of you may be battling deadlines individually, together you create a constant support system that helps greatly when things becomes stressful. The main objective of seeing co-workers after work, is to gain insight into each other’s personalities and build better teams to improve work performances. Avoid letting these sessions turn into gossip whenever possible.

 

Most companies have an annual holiday party or activity. This is the perfect time to indulge in some healthy office fun. Stepping out of the staid office environment and having the opportunity to relax and socialize with the people around you on a daily basis, can be very liberating. But don’t let your guard down, it is imperative to maintain a level of professionalism in order to uphold your reputation. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, as it tends to loosen inhibitions more quickly than one might think. Having an excessive amount to drink around bosses, clients and your fellow colleagues can lead to negative consequences and regrettable behavior. This can include discussing controversial subjects in front of a supervisor or talking about an employee in an unfavorable light.

 

Part of being a professional also involves conducting yourself appropriately inside and outside of the office. You shouldn’t swear too much. Avoid controversial jokes. A good rule to follow is not to do or say anything that you wouldn’t at the office. Socializing with co-workers has its own set of rules and practices that are far different from hanging out with friends and family, since you still have to work together every day.  It is imperative to understand even if you’re not at work your social life will still impact how you’re seen at the office.

L. Paul | DBPC Blog

How to Overcome the Glass Ceiling

If you ask someone in the workforce what job satisfaction means to them, you’ll often hear it defined by a variety of factors, including culture, pay, vacation time and room for growth; in this instance, we will be focusing on the latter.  Nobody wants to feel like they aren’t able to move up in an organization.  It makes you feel unappreciated and can quickly result you in becoming disgruntled and disengaged.  What many don’t understand is that advancement has to do with a lot more than just being good at your job and that opportunities often exist but you have to proactively seek them out.  Today, we outline some of the best ways for you to seize the opportunities available in your company.

Define your own expertise

The type of work you take on, and the way in which you present yourself will decide how others see you and your role.  Take some time to reflect on areas where you have the most passion/knowledge for and learn to see yourself as a professional with respect to that particular expertise.  If you grow to see yourself as a marketing expert, for example, and constantly describe yourself and take on work in that capacity, then others will grow to view you in that light as well.

Don’t allow yourself to flounder in a role where you are merely performing up to standard.  Find ways to acquire work or assignments that allow you to take full advantage of your greatest strengths and really allow you to showcase your unique value as an employee.

Seek high profile projects that allow management to notice your strengths

A good work ethic is a useful characteristic to have, but it do much for your career if it isn’t directed towards something that the company is paying attention to.  Talk to management and co-workers about important projects coming up, and express your interest in contributing; however, to build the necessary trust between you and the company, you will first need to…

Study your workplace culture

Not all success can be attributed to the quality of your work or the depth of your expertise.  Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of whether people like working with you or not.  Keep an eye on common informal practices and expectations outside of your regular duties.

Network within the company

Very rarely do we accomplish anything completely on our own.  At some point, we all need someone to help open a door for us to walk through, and with that in mind, it is important to cultivate a list of allies at your workplace.  These are individuals who will go to bat for you when it counts and who will vouch for your ability to perform and support your desire to be given more important tasks.  They can also be people to whom you can express a desire to take on new roles.  Your allies will inevitably be a diverse set, running the gamut from co-workers to superiors.

Acquire additional training

Working on more important assignments may require you to learn new skills or expand your current knowledge set.  Take time to acquire new certifications that are relevant to your desired role and inquire about training programs offered by the company.

Landing your dream role or moving into a desirable management/executive position is all about being active.  Promotion tends not to happen if you wait around passively for someone to recognize your hard work.  By actively seeking out ways to make yourself visible to the higher-ups, you create opportunities for your career to keep growing and evolving.

 

Lance | DBPC Blog