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How well would the stakeholders in your organisation rate your performance management program?

Do your teams find it motivating and engaging?

Does the program have credibility with team members or managers?

All organisations aim for a performance management process that adds value to a business, encourages positive performance and provides an effective framework to deal with performance gaps.

The previous blog focused on the first three parts of an effective performance management framework:

  1. Ensuring integration of HR Policies that directly impact on performance
  2. The use of position descriptions in building accountability
  3. Goal and performance indicator setting

The Performance Management Process

The next part of the program relates to the way the performance management process is conducted.

To assess how well you are travelling, please consider the following questions:

  • How regularly do you review performance in a structured way? 
  • Does your existing process encourage engagement from both the employee and the manager?
  • Are you acknowledging your teams in a meaningful way?
  • Do you seek genuine two-way feedback?
  • Does the (resource intensive) process motivate or disengage the stakeholders?
  • Do you gather useful information for the team member to reflect on their performance, but also to provide the organisation information to undertake more strategic HR analysis (for example, L&D, succession planning)?
  • Are the scoring systems transparent and accountable to build confidence and integrity in the system by the stakeholders?

Organisations need to regularly seek feedback on the way performance is ‘managed’. 

 In light of that feedback, review your process and ensure that your program includes: 

  • Adequate timeframes so that both manager and team member can reflect and prepare for the discussion
  • Provision to address past performance and focus on future goals
  • The integration of relevant data
  • Sufficient opportunity for both manager and team members to contribute and make comment
  • An acknowledgement of high performance and achievement of goals
  • A mutually agreed plan for addressing opportunities for improvement
  • Development goals for the future
  • A format that is streamlined and maximises data capture for both the team member and the wider organisation

Skills in the performance management conversation

The last, and most important part of the framework, is ensuring managers and supervisors are equipped to make the most of the opportunity to engage people around performance management. 

This can be a very difficult conversation for many to have and unfortunately I see that lack of confidence manifest in ways such as delaying or avoiding performance conversations for extended periods. This usually creates further problems for the workplace as both good and poor performance is not appropriately addressed.

Fortunately many of the skills can be taught! If you would like to know more about how to maximise performance management in your organisation, please contact us.

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Generating and maintaining high performance of our teams is a critical characteristic of successful organisations. 

Teams that are performing at optimum levels drive competitive advantage, create positive work cultures and differentiate ‘great’ from ‘good’ in achieving the organisational outcomes.

It is crucial for businesses to have effective systems in place which:

  • determines performance parameters,
  • acknowledges and recognizes positive performance
  • provides a framework to monitor performance
  • builds accountability of all stakeholders
  • proactively and positively manages performance issues in a timely manner

Many organisations and managers find developing and implementing an engaging and productive performance management system very elusive.

Sometimes even when we have all the components of a constructive performance management framework in place something gets lost in translation. Performance management can become synonymous with an expensive and disengaging waste of time for managers and team members. Rather than turn people on to perform better, the process turns them off!

So, we know it makes sense to have a strong and meaningful performance management framework, but how do we create it? How can you build in accountability and also motivate the team in an integrated and streamlined process?

It is critical to identify the key components of the performance management framework for all organisations;

HR Policies

There are a range of HR policies that can directly impact on managing performance in an organisation. For example,

  • remuneration policies may outline bonus or incentive schemes,
  • employee performance policies may list a process of how regularly performance will be reviewed, the method and the basis of any scoring system,
  • the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary policies will discuss the consequences of unsatisfactory performance or conduct.

All policies should be reviewed to ensure they are working in synergy. For example, the incentive scheme cannot encourage behaviours that could possibly breach organisational Code of Conduct provisions. This sends mixed messages around performance expectations to the teams and undermines the framework.

Position Descriptions

Ensure the position descriptions are accurate and reflective of current duties. Use the performance management process as a regular opportunity to discuss the current roles to identify any changes to the duties involved.

The accountability in the framework is platformed on accurate position descriptions and performance indicators that provide a consistent and clear description of the responsibilities involved. 

Setting indicators and goals

Define the indicators and goals in clear and concise language. Ensure these goals align with the overall business goals and objectives and create a ‘clear line of sight’ through the organisation. This linkage is very important in building understanding of the business direction and priorities and how each individual is contributing to those goals.

The other area where I see organisations struggle relates to effective goal setting. This can often be an area that disengages people rather than motivates teams.

Take some time to get this part right. Engage your teams in setting the goals to build engagement. The SMART goals formula works very well in creating goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

 

The above components of the performance management structure create a shared understanding of the expectations of performance and how it will be measured.

The next blog relates to the two final components of successful performance management:  that is, the actual process used and also the importance of developing skills in our managers to maximise this important opportunity to drive continuous improvement in the workplace.

In the meantime if you would like to know more about creating and implementing an effective organisational performance management process, please contact us.

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In the previous blog post we discussed the importance of undertaking a professional and timely workplace investigation and the first steps to start the process.

Once the need for an investigation has been established, the following are our suggested steps when conducting an investigation.

Conducting the investigation

Step one when conducting a workplace investigation is to determine if your organisation is able to conduct the investigation internally or whether it would be more appropriate to use an external investigator.

The answer to this question will depend upon a number of factors including, the seriousness of the allegation and whether there is anyone in your organisation with sufficient skill, and independence from the parties, to be able to carry out the investigation with credibility.

A consideration of these factors will enable you to determine if the investigation should and can be undertaken “in-house’ or whether it should be outsourced to experts who have experience in conducting workplace investigations. 

Don’t forget, depending on the outcome, the conduct of the investigation process may come under as much scrutiny as the original allegation!

The investigation should cover not only whether the alleged act or behaviour actually occurred, but also whether the employee accused or complained about was actually involved, and whether there are any mitigating circumstances.

You should only approach witnesses or other parties that you are definitely aware can help you and you must instruct them to treat the matter as confidential.

When speaking with witnesses ensure you collect facts around the specific allegation. A workplace investigation is not the appropriate process for 'fishing expeditions'. Poor investigative practices such as these can undermine the entire investigation, jeopardise the investigation and potentially embarrass the organisation.

As part of the investigative process adhere to the principles of procedural fairness. For an employee to defend him or herself against allegations or complaints, you must provide them with sufficient details of the allegations or complaint to do so. The employee is entitled to seek assistance from an appropriate person, such as a union delegate, to defend him or herself.

After the investigation

If an investigation finds that an employee's complaint is substantiated, inform the employee in another interview and advise him or her about what action you intend to take to resolve the matter.

Inform the employee (in the presence of a witness if he or she prefers) of your findings and advise what action you intend to take.

If the complaint is not substantiated, you must still inform the employee, providing some details of the nature of your investigation and the basis for your decision. Be careful not to take sides in this process, just provide the facts.

Ensure you update the complainant on the outcome of the investigation.

Keep a record of the complaint, your investigation findings and the final interview, in case the employee or complainant decides to pursue the matter through other avenues, such as legal proceedings.

If you would like assistance in conducting or managing investigative processes in your organisation, please contact us.

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Managing workplace complaints can be challenging. The impact on the workplace during and post the investigation can be negative and long lasting and can affect not only those involved but also team members on the periphery. 

Poor investigation processes can result in disengaged staff, low morale, lost productivity, poor performance and workplace relationship breakdown that can take years to rebuild. 

Facilitating a professional investigation in a timely manner using investigative processes consistent with best practice and compliant with legislative frameworks can offer a valuable opportunity to minimise the additional human resource risks to your workplace.

There are several underlying principles to positively managing workplace investigations. They are:

  • Developing and implementing consistent policies and processes around workplace investigations
  • developing strong communication practices with all those involved,
  • ensuring confidentiality,
  • recording your actions and
  • documenting decision making processes. 

When are workplace investigations required?

The need to conduct an investigation into an employee's behaviour in the workplace or otherwise in relation to his or her employment may arise in the following circumstances:

  • Where an employee lodges a complaint about the behaviour of another employee, for example sexual harassment, bullying, micro-management or various other issues.
  • Where management becomes aware of conduct by an employee that, if substantiated, may justify disciplinary action or even dismissal.

Investigative first steps

The first action to undertake is to discuss and record the information accurately from the complainant or source.

Ensure that the allegation is clearly articulated and all information to substantiate an allegation is collected. You should then advise the complainant of your proposed action to speak to the team member.  Confirm that you will keep them updated as the investigation progresses.

Following this, and in a timely manner, inform the team member of the allegation and allow them an opportunity to respond and explain any mitigating circumstances that may exist.

If the employee denies the allegations or claims mitigating circumstances, inform him or her that you intend to investigate the matter, and that your investigation will include contacting other people, including other employees and, where relevant, external parties.

You should now commence your investigation without undue delay. Any investigation of an employee's behaviour should be conducted as soon as practicable. Delays may suggest that management does not regard the matter as serious, or even condones it.

Further, some tribunal and court cases have found that a significant delay was unfair to the employee, in that it made it harder for the employee and witnesses to recall accurately what really happened. There is also a strong argument that the unreasonable delay in investigating allegations can exacerbate the stress for those involved which can increase any subsequent workers compensation claims.

Despite the need for a timely response, the investigation still needs to be thorough. As part of this process you need to communicate the process and the timeframes you envisage to both the complainant and the team member. Be sure to highlight that any delay does not imply that the employer condones the conduct either alleged or complained about.

The next step is to conduct the investigation, which will be detailed in the next blog. In the meantime if you would like to know more about investigating complaints, please contact us.

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Feedback from customers, as well as internal and external organisational stakeholders, provides us with a valuable opportunity to identify ways to continuously improve human resource management across the business. 

The opportunities are available only if the private and public sector organisations are brave enough to capture the feedback, analyse the trends and proactively drive improvements!

Organisations can use a number of methods to source and channel customer feedback, for example;

  • internal and external surveys,
  • feedback cards,
  • complaint processes,
  • blogs or service comments and testimonials. 

Much of that feedback inevitably relates to staff performance, both good and poor.

On the upside, positive feedback can provide a valuable opportunity to reward and acknowledge teams in a timely manner.

Just as significantly, negative feedback should be seen by organisations as a thermometer of the business unit. Effective complaint management can be a powerful early warning system of deeper people management issues that need to be addressed.

The key then becomes how to efficiently capture the data, and use that information to identify and implement sustainable improvements in people management processes and systems.

Stakeholder complaints

Complaints from internal and external stakeholders often indicate one or more of the following people management processes needs review;

  • Recruitment processes
  • Induction processes
  • Training and development
  • Workforce planning affecting service delivery (staffing or deployment models)
  • Performance management
  • Conduct management
  • Work, Health and Safety
  • HR policy design and/or implementation
  • Welfare management

What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have a structured process around regularly sourcing and capturing complaints and feedback.

The next step is to analyse that data objectively and really consider the various issues that may sit behind the negative comments.

Build the discussion on feedback into your regular team meetings and communication processes. This depersonalises feedback in many situations and helps to focus on the issues, rather than the person. Issue-based resolution will often result in more long term and positive outcomes. Actively involve your teams in the process as they will offer a valuable and different perspective in problem solving.

If you would like assistance in developing a complaint management system and training and development in this important area for your from a team that has experience managing this issue, please contact us.

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What are the implications for the new bullying legislation for my business?

There has been a great deal of discussion in the media with employer groups and employee advocates concerning the introduction, on 1 January 2014, of new legislation around allegations of bullying in the workplace and the involvement of the Fair Work Commission.

Bullying is about health and safety and is directly related to the obligation of employers to provide a safe work environment. 

Regulators, such as Workcover NSW, have the responsibility for investigating and prosecuting bullying complaints as part of a breach of health and safety legislation.

What is new however, is that starting this year, an eligible employee who reasonably believes that he or she has been bullied at work may now, for a $65.50 fee, apply directly to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an order to stop the workplace bullying. 

Most workplace relations commentators, and in fact the President of the Fair Work Commission Iain Ross,  are envisaging a significant number of  bullying complaints to be lodged as a result of the new provisions.  The potential for flow on costs to organisations is enormous.

What is bullying?

Workplace bullying occurs when a person or a group of people repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety

Source

What do you need to do?

The first thing to do is to ensure you have effective policies in place around bullying behavior.  Review and confirm that they clearly identify expectations in the workplace and also the process for staff to follow in the event of bullying conduct.

However, having good policies is only part of the solution in preventing these types of costly allegations and complaints for your organisation.

Equally as critical is  

  • Ensuring the policies are implemented effectively
  • educating your teams and
  • developing your teams to identify indicators of bullying, investigate and then manage complaints

Quality training around key policies is critical at the induction phase and supported by regular follow up programs in the following areas:

  • The organisational bullying policy and related documents
  • Developing skills to respond quickly and appropriately when a complaint is lodged or bullying behavior is identified
  • Investigation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Management skills during an investigation and post incident.

Training and developing your teams will build resilience and a positive culture in your organisation.

If you would like assistance in developing an appropriate bullying policy or to discuss training and development for  your staff from a team that has experience managing  this issue, please contact us.

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The start of the year is always a great opportunity to take stock of your organisation. As outlined in the previous article the first step in working out what your staffing requirements will be in the short, medium and long term is clearly identifying where the organisation is heading and what internal and external drivers are shaping your business direction.

Some questions to ask include:

  • What strategies can you use to ensure your staffing mix meets your requirements? 
  • How can you ensure you have the right capacity in terms of staff numbers, structure and skill set?

Where are you now?

After determining where you are heading, you need to establish where you are currently. A comprehensive audit is the best way to establish a baseline. 

Some of the information that can be used to objectively review the current position includes:

  • Staff demographics and staff turnover trends
  • Current roles, grades or classifications in the organisation
  • Staff numbers and employment mode (eg. full time, part time)
  • Employment status (eg. permanent, casual, contract)
  • Short term or temporary staff
  • Qualifications held
  • Skills and competencies currently held
  • Number of employees in training positions
  • Locations of staff
  • Salary rates and HR budget figures
  • Awards and agreements

Gathering this information will help identify the areas on which to concentrate your strategies.

Some of the HR options available to align your staff with your overall business goals include;  

  • Development or improvement of a retention strategies
  • Training and education
  • Restructuring
  • Succession planning
  • Targeted recruitment
  • Redeployment
  • Redundancy program
  • Retrenchment program

Remember, it is always important to review how effective the HR strategies have been in facilitating your overall business objectives.  Evaluating and modifying regularly will ensure you are using all the resources available to you to meet your organisational goals.

If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation contact us.

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No matter what size organisation you may be working within, or whether you are in the Government or private sector, the beginning of the year is always a great time to consider where a business is heading in the short, medium and long term. 

This is a critical part of managing human resources so I have dedicated the next two blogs to workforce planning. This one specifically focuses on what is helpful to consider when planning your HR requirements and the next blog discusses strategies you can employ to create the right staffing mix.

Over the last two years, I have worked with organisations in the private and public sector analysing how their human resource planning links in with their business goals. I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but in my experience it does help to break the process down into manageable pieces and work through from there.

Where are you headed?            

Reflecting on the direction of the business unit and what your key goals and objectives are will then lead to a contemplation of what the human resource requirements will be to support those goals in the short, medium and long term. 

Successful organisations understand that planning is critical to ensure they have the right people, with the right skills in the right place and the right time to maximise every opportunity, respond to changes in the operating environment and stay on track to meet, and even exceed, their goals.

The fundamentals of workforce planning involves considering the following questions as a starting point:

  • What external factors are occurring in your industry or sector that could potentially impact on your organisation and therefore your team? (eg. technology, unemployment levels, economic growth/downturn, changing skill sets,  ageing workforce)
  • Where can you readily source the most credible data on industry or sector trends to make informed decisions about the staffing mix?
  • Are there any legislative or political issues that may be relevant?
  • Do you need to adapt the types of services and products you provide?
  • Are you intending to expand/reduce and/or restructure?
  • What are the skills your organisation needs? (including technical, operational management and people management skills)
  • Do you have enough people with those skills?
  • Can you grow those skills internally or do you need to recruit them in? What are the timeframes involved?
  • What internal information do you need to source? ( eg. demographics, retirements, predicted staff turnover, succession plans, planned absences)

 If you would like to know more about human resource planning for your organisation contact us.

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A workplace Code of Conduct is a documented set of standards that describe the behaviours that are expected of those in the organisation. 

It provides a ‘roadmap’ for your employees and should be designed to be a seamless part of your overall business practice. It is critical that the standards described in the document apply to every level in the organisation.

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Well-written position descriptions are a foundation in building  positive organisational culture and are an invaluable tool in managing people.

Position descriptions offer clarity to your team by outlining a position/role in terms of why a job exists, the position objectives, the responsibilities and outcomes, the capabilities and behaviours required and under what conditions the job is performed.

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Conflict is inevitable in the workplace, and when managed effectively, can be a healthy and integral part of your organisational culture.

However in my experience as a HR manager and nationally accredited mediator, I have seen firsthand how damaging workplace conflict can be for many organisations.

Unfortunately the reality is that many managers and leaders are not confident in positively managing conflict. 

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