2/25/12

What Is Mobbing? Mobbing Is a Form of Harassment. Protect Yourself!

Mobbing is a nerve-wrecking type of harassment which is normally initiated by a manager towards an employee. I have experienced mobbing myself for almost two years without knowing what it was called until I read about it in a magazine. If you are the subject of mobbing, remember that it is a form of harassment and that there are laws against harassment and ways of protecting yourself. Just inform yourself and don't let them do it to you just because they are managers and can do it.

Here's what I experienced as mobbing and maybe some of you have faced it too:

- my manager gave me a company phone and called me for stupid reasons at any hour of any day. I was supposed to answer the phone anytime, even if at the toilet and I was clearly told to otherwise I faced great stress and angry words and attitude;

- I was constantly called at home on the company phone early in the morning, long before I was supposed to come to work (like at 6.45 am) or late in the afternoon (like at 9 pm on Sunday) for all sorts of reasons: to be asked about someone's photo, to be reminded about something I hadn't forgotten in the first place, to get some angry suggestion - whatever silly reason was a good reason to be called during my free week-end time or family;

- I was asked to prepare a complex report 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave for home. The report was always urgent and it always happened while my husband was waiting hungry in the car outside to take me home. The report took normally 1-1.5 hours to prepare and it was ALWAYS urgent. My manager always remembered about it at the end of the day and never in the morning when it would have given me time to prepare it efficiently;

- My manager forgot things in the office and constantly called me to bring them. One time she was supposed to go for the annual medical check up (which she did one year late even if the rules for the other employees were very strict), forgot the medical book I had given her the day before in the office and called me to drive all the way to the office which was 30 minutes drive from my house and then to the doctor's office where she waited angrily for me and then back to the office to start work and be on time for a scheduled meeting she knew we had;

- My manager randomly sent us SMSs in the morning asking for various stuff to be brought to her just to check if we keep our phones always close to us and see the message;

- We had a weekly brainwash meeting where we sat in a circle discussing Stephen Covey's 7 Habits book. We were supposed to read one chapter every week (which was OK), but during the brainwash meeting we were supposed to come with examples from our real lives, examples which were always used against us;

- We were asked to listen around the company for people complaining, to spy and come to her with the "vital" information. None of us actually went that low to do it. We always avoided this;

- The morning "Hello"did NOT exist. She always entered the room angrily, threw the laptop bag on the table and prepared for work avoiding to talk to us during the next minutes. All our good mood was gone (had we had any) and we hoped the floor would break making us disappear;

- We had regular face to face individual meetings where we were told in a nice and calm voice how incompetent and useless we were. All this while looking straight to our faces. The words mentioned were really used and they shocked you so much you didn't know how to react;

- The volume of work was always more than a human could handle. I had no time to eat, went to the toilet normally only once during 9-10 hours of work;

- I was told to my face that overtime is required of me to set an example. Of course not paid. We were supposed to do overtime just for the other departments to see us and do it too. Sometimes I stayed in the office for one hour more even if I had finished my work, just for her to be happy and give me one quiet day;

- We were never given all the office supplies we needed. When we asked for a post it for example, angry shouting was heard telling us that we should split one post it notebook between two people; we were supposed to print all contracts double sided on an old and slow ink printer that needed each page to be inserted individually; each contract had 10 pages and was supposed to be printed in 3 copies; all the 6 girls in the office were supposed to use the printer above mentioned while she had a fast laser one she rarely used;

- When we went to her with an important matter, she didn't reply looking all busy and serious and letting you stand in front of her desk like stupid and leaving you to talk to yourself like she didn't hear you. She didn't even look at you or tell you to please come back a bit later. She was not to be interrupted. At the same time when we discussed certain matters in the office, she always interrupted our conversations to tell us something angrily and remind us that we do only mistakes, nothing good; so, surprise, surprise, her hearing was more than fine :);

- She asked someone in the factory to stick some red tape on the carpet in front of her desk like in a bank shouting like crazy if anyone stepped over it. Some of the engineers coming to talk to her didn't know the rule and they got the great opportunity of hearing her shout for 10 minutes like crazy. She was always working on confidential stuff and nobody could approach her desk at less than a meter.

This is what I remember now almost 3 years after those black days. I left it all behind, but it led me to the doctor and to the cat scan with half of my body stiff because of the stress. Don't let it happen to you. Mobbing is harassment. Please act against it!

Also read:
What HR does every day:
http://hr-faq.blogspot.com/2012/04/againwhat-does-hr-do-everyday.html

What's a phone interview, when does it happen and why is it necessary?

A phone interview has the same selective value as a standard face to face interview and is similar in terms of structure and type of questions.

Phone interviews are normally organized in two situations: when the recruiter is doing a quick pre-selection of a large number of candidates or is doing a more thorough selection of candidates who are located in a different city than the company headquarters to prevent unnecessary travelling from any of the two parts (recruiter or candidate).

In the first case the phone interview is normally short – just 10-15 minutes and the questions addressed have the purpose of quickly accepting or rejecting the candidate for the next step. This interview is never the last one. At least one face to face interview will follow. Questions addressed sometimes test skills that the candidate claims to have in order for the recruiter to avoid wasting time – questions may test a foreign language, IT, engineering or any other technical or business knowledge. Questions are clearly targeted to a certain area and if the candidate fails to reply they don’t get a second chance, at least not immediately.

In the second case the interview is longer – even up to one hour and the questions addressed range from technical skills to personality, experience, role plays and case studies. This interview is again never a final one. Unless the position is a virtual or remote one, no company will hire you without seeing you face to face. Not even a Skype interview is enough if you are working in an office. Expect them to wish to see you.

Coming back to the phone interview – depending on the position, sometimes two or more phone interviews may be used during the same recruitment phase. One may test for example language skills for 10 minutes and then if you pass another recruiter may test your technical skills. The two interviews are rarely during the same day; rarely, but not impossible.

To sum up, the phone interview is the type of interview where you are asked questions over the phone, it has the same value as a face to face interview, but very rarely expect it to be final. However, if you fail it, you will not be invited to the following step which is the face to face one.

Take care,
Geo

2/17/12

If they call me for an interview, how to sound interested, but not desperate?

Question suggested by my friend Gianina Froicu

First of all, if they call you, then they see potential in your CV and obviously want to investigate more.
If they call you just to schedule the interview, just keep the conversation short - obviously they have only 2-3 minutes to schedule you and that's it. They don't have time for the interview itself so it's not a good moment to shoot lots of questions at them. Not at all a good idea to start asking about the job responsibilities, company, team or salary. No way! Just write down the time and place or suggest another if their initial proposal doesn't work for you and that's it for now. Just make sure you know exactly where to go and you have understood the address correctly.

Then, how to sound interested but not desperate for the interview?
Just wait for them to address you questions first. It's really frustrating for a recruiter to start the interview, ask 1-2 questions and then get bombarded by the candidate with more questions than they have answered so far. Act normally, try to keep calm, answer their questions, ask a few yourself during the interview but don't turn the discussion into your questionnaire towards the recruiters.

If you have additional questions, ask them preferably at the end of the interview, better prepare a few from home that require short answers. Your questions show the recruiters that you are interested, but too many of them show that you are desperate. Make sure you ask them questions that really interest you and for which you can't find answers on their website.

Don't ask pompous questions like : what are your company's objectives for the next 5 years or what are your company's values just to look smart in front of the recruiters. I have been asked by a candidate these two questions and they annoyed me. The company's values were all over the walls and they could have read about them before or after the interview. About the objectives - the candidate asked this question just to look smart because she obviously didn't pay too much attention to my explanation and was eager to move on to another question. Also, she kept me at the interview for almost 30 minutes more because she just couldn't stop from asking questions. We were at the beginning and wanted to grow our image in the city so I didn't send her away, but this is an annoying practice and don't be surprised if the recruiter shuts you up and send you home nicely. They may have 8 more interviews for the day after you.

So, as a rule - answer briefly unless they ask for more details, ask questions during and at the end of the interview but keep them relevant and short.

Take care,
Geo

What do I wear for an interview?

Question suggested by my friend Gianina Froicu

It all depends on the position you are being interviewed for and the location of the interview.

1. For a manager position - always use business dress code. You will meet other managers for sure, especially if the interview is at the company headquarters. There are exceptions concerning the location of the interview of course. One of my colleagues - Transition manager- was interviewing a candidate from a different city and they decided to meet at the airport in a cafe place since our manager was spending 5 hours between flights and the candidate's residence was in that location. In this case you may still dress business - maybe just lose the tie because of the more casual place to meet, but still be business to make sure you make a good impression.


2. For a senior specialist - if you expect to be working on a position which will require business dress code daily (like Key accounts manager in sales), don't hesitate and use business dress code. If you expect to be working on a position and in a company where dress code is not specified (like programmer, web designer, economist), use business casual. What's business casual? Your regular clothes, always neat and clean, always decent, but without jeans and sports wear.


3. For a junior specialist - if you expect to be working on a position which will require business dress code daily (like Front office clerk in a bank), again don't hesitate and use business dress code. Else, please see above. Business casual is fine for the interview, even if later you will use your sports shoes on the job and so on. Try for the interview to be a little better dressed than you would be on a regular day on the job.


4. For a skilled worker position - most of the times the interview will include practical tasks. Business dress code is not very common. Just use your regular clothes that you would use on a normal day. Just remember the neat, clean and decent rule.

Rules 1-4, except the special case I mentioned in 1., apply mainly if you go to the headquarters of the company. If you are invited in a different location - which is not very common but may happen - like in a restaurant or bar (the company may not have an office where you live - i.e. you will be a sales agent working from home in your city), try to dress neat, clean and decent, but more on the casual side than on the business side. Strict business dress in a bar looks a bit ridiculous. Your intuition can also help or simply asking the person scheduling the interview can save you a lot of trouble.


What to always remember - no matter what you decide to wear, neat, clean and decent are always the answer. Make sure you have clean clothes, not too colourful, decent, no wrinles, no holes, no torn materials, no stains and so on. I remember a guy who came to me for an interview at 11 am - he had just woken up, he hadn't washed his face, his T-shirt looked like he had slept in it and his hair was all untidy and messed up. Of course he didn't convince me. He might have been smart, but I didn't see it no matter what. Always try to make a first good impression - be always neat, tidy, decent and clean and no matter if you don't select the correct dress code all the time, you have a chance.

What are HR people looking to identify from the candidate during an interview?

Question suggested by my friend Gianina Froicu

To start with, I should define the phrase "list of competencies" and type of competencies.
For each position there are two types of competencies - technical/business competencies and soft skills.

Technical/Business competencies are tested mostly by technical members of the team (senior consultants and analysts, technical managers, any person from the team able to decide if a candidate has the right knowledge to be a programmer, database expert, tester, HR specialist or even welder or cook). All knowledge making you a professional/expert in a certain area are technical competencies. Even for human resources - what they know and their experience in terms of recruitment, payroll, law and so on involve the technical or business side of the job.

The other side is made up of the soft skills.
Soft skills are the individual traits, connected somehow to the candidate's personality and social experience. Some can be developed and improved in time and some you are born with. Some examples are: presentation skills, decision making, strategic thinking, proactivity, time management, organizing and prioritizing skills, resilience to stress, leadership skills, social skills, team work and many more.

These are the skills that HR tries to identify during an interview through targetted questions. A candidate can be asked directly if he/she is organized and asked to give examples, can be given an exercise (for example to prioritize a list of tasks according to their importance and urgency) or can be asked tricky questions like "Where do you leave your keys when you are at home?". According to the answer you see if the candidate leaves his things all over the place and then complains about not finding them or if they have a special place for their keys that they use daily. Of course only one question is not enough to test a candidate. HR may ask more or may combine different testing techniques in individual or group interviews to select the best candidates.

2/14/12

Career management exercise

This is an exercise I got during a course that will help you decide if the objectives that you propose for yourselves are really what you want. It will help you get your priorities straight.

If you're not able to answer specific questions below, it means it's not a real objective to you. You may find out that some of the things you think you really need, may be just a caprice.

CAREER MANAGEMENT APPLICATION - What do I do today? - What will I do tomorrow?

Short term objectives:
   A. Right now I wish I ...
        a. at least 3 reasons why I want to achieve this goal;
        b. the first step/action that I need to do in order to achieve this goal is to ...
   B. In the next 2-3 months I want to ...
        a. at least 3 reasons why I want to achieve this goal;
        b.
the first step/action that I need to do in order to achieve this goal is to ...  
C. At the end of this year I intend to ...

Long term objectives:
   A. I want to become .....
       a. at least 3 reasons why this is important to me ...

       b. what are the short-term goals that help me achieve this goal?
   B. In 3-5 years I want to .....
       a. at least 3 reasons why this is important to me ...
      
       b.  what are the short-term goals that help me achieve this goal?  
   C. In 10-15 years I would like to .....
       a. at least 3 reasons why this is important to me ...
      
       b.  what are the short-term goals that help me achieve this goal?

I guarantee that this exercise will make you seriously think about your life and career over short and long term. For some of the items you won't be able to find answers so make sure you have answers for most parts before engaging on actions that may prove not to be what you hoped for in the first place.

Take care,
Geo

2/13/12

I've seen an interesting job posting on a portal, but it's 2 months old. Should I still apply?

Most job postings are valid for one month. Companies expect to find a good candidate within that time frame. If the company decided to post a two-month ad, they might have been planning their recruitment long time in advance or it's a difficult position to fill and they posted it for longer to receive as many CVs as possible.

The chances for the position to be still open are very small, but you may never know. My advice is to apply. What's the worst thing that can happen? The position being filled and the company not calling you.

Go ahead and apply. Even if the position is no longer open, they will put your CV in their database and call you first the next time they have something similar.

Good luck,
Geo

2/11/12

How long should an interview take?

It depends on the position you are being interviewed for.

1. If you are a skilled worker (carpenter, welder, cook, etc.) the interview takes about 15-20 minutes and it's mandatorily followed or preceeded by a test where you get to prove your skills. The test is much more important and decisive than the interview.

2. If you are being interviewed for an entry level position that doesn't require special technical or language skills (for example waitress)  the interview takes about 20 minutes. If the job you apply for requires additional skills (like French, German, or IT skills like SQL, Linux, C++ just to name a few) the interview will be 20-30 minutes, language skills may be tested during the interview and you may be asked to come later or to stay after the interview for additional IT tests.

3. If you are being interviewed for a middle level position (for example experienced salesman), expect the interview to last 30-45 minutes.

4. Finally, for a manager position, interviews can take up to 2 hours and there may be several than one.

Also, when you are scheduled for the interview, it's more than ok to ask for the time you should reserve, especially if you take time from work or from school to go there. The recruiter should normally tell you about the length of the interview and tests but if they don't, just ask.

I had 4 interviews so far with a company. Does this mean I'm rejected?

NO. Unless you get the clear rejection phone call or email, you are NOT rejected.

There are 3 scenarios in your case:

1. They are testing you for more than one position. There are times when a company has more than one position open. You might have skills for more than one position and they want to see where you fit best. Sometimes the positions are in different departments with different managers and each wants to check you to see where you would perform best. It's ok to ask this question if you feel that they are interviewing you too much. They should tell you this information and not keep you in the dark.

2. You are considered for a middle level to senior position and more people need to see you. Getting everybody in the same room at the same time can be intimidating to the candidate. It's not advisable to have one candidate and 4-5 interviewers. Probably they all want to see you to decide.

3. You are being interviewed for a position in a company which requires candidates to go through several interviews and tests befor being hired. For example we hired in our company some French and English Linux engineers. They needed first to be tested over the phone in terms of language skills, then they came to the office for the IT advanced tests, then HR had a meeting with them, then their manager and finally the client who requested to do the final interview.

So, if you have more than one interview, it's not necessarily bad and if you have doubts and you need more information, it's ok to ask.

I have my first job interview tomorrow. What's going to happen?

First of all, if you have your job interview scheduled already, this means that they see potential in your CV and want to explore more. This means that they consider you one of the potential candidates for the job and you have a good chance of getting it. This is good news, so don't panic.

What's going to happen:

- first of all DON'T be late. It's VERY important to make a good first impression. Nobody appreciates having their time wasted. Better go early - 15-20 minutes earlier even is fine. Much better than late. If you don't know how to get there and how long it takes, do an exercise today. Go find the place and time your distance from home to the company headquarters;

- someone from the company is going to invite you in, offer you something to drink; if you feel that you need water or even coffee, it's ok to accept it and drink it during the interview; it's not a test - they want to be nice and make you feel comfortable. A real recruiter doesn't create panic and intimidate the candidate but tries to get the best out of him/her. So let's hope you get one of the nice ones;

- they are going to offer you a seat;

- they are going to start asking you questions. Again, don't panic. Reply as you can and ask questions of your own if you have any. It's ok to do that doing the interview. Concentrate and reply as you feel like doing. Don't invent answers or reply what you think they might want to hear. Even if they reject you in the end, it means that maybe you wouldn't have been happy there or the job wasn't for you. And don't give up no matter what searching a new job if you don't get this one. There's always something for everybody out there.

- they are going to ask you in the end if you have further questions. Go ahead and ask if you have any more questions. Just don't keep them for 30 minutes more. Try to keep it short - 2-3 questions that are most important to you should be enough.

- they will thank you for the interview and tell you what happens next - how you will get the feedback and if there are further steps should you pass this one;

- they may keep you at the end for a little more to give you individual tests (language, IT, etc.) depending on the position. However, this is not mandatory for all positions;

- you can go home and relax.

See :) it wasn't that difficult. I will come back in my next posts with details about each step of the way.

2/8/12

What's "succession planning"? Why is it necessary?

Succession planning is a strategic HR term encorporating a large list of actions necessary to be initiated in all companies. Every responsible manager should worry about succession planning. Plainly explained it means that each manager should select a successor to take his position should he be promoted on a different position or should he leave the company.

Succession planning is normally initiated by HR who meets with all managers (in individual meetings)and together they go through the following steps:

1. The manager assesses his/her job and main tasks in a mature and responsible manner;
2. The manager appoints one person from his/her team to be the successor. The successor most of the time desn't know it. It's advisable to announce the decision to the successor only if we are talking about a very mature person. If not, the successor may end up following his manager around and watching his every step hoping that the position becomes vacant.
3. HR and the manager decide together upon a series of trainings and tasks that the successor needs to be involved in. Normally it is a medium to long term plan. The training doesn't happen in 2 weeks. It's a long process that can take even years.
4. The successor is gradually introduced to new tasks, shadowing his manager from time to time and participating in carefully planned training sessions.

More than one successor can be appointed and their evolution can be monitored over time to see which one is the best to be promoted in the end. Also, HR uses to split successors into categories depending on the amount of training and the time needed to be ready for the job. Several successors may be included in different categories - some ready in a few weeks, some in years.

I want to leave my company. What is "notice period" and why is it necessary?

What is "notice period"?The notice period consists in a standard number of days that the employee still needs to work for the company after announcing his/her decision to quit the job.

Where can I find my notice period?
Read your labor contract. It should mention the notice period. If you have lost it or haven't received it, ask your manager or human resources.

Is it mandatory?
Yes, unless you negotiate with your manager. Notice period can be cancelled or reduced.

Can they keep me more than the standard number of days I have in my contract?
No. Resignation is not a request but an informing action passed to your employer. After the notice period has passed you no longer have any obligations and may go home.

Can they say they haven't received my resignation today and extend the period?
Yes. That's why you need to make sure your hand it in in writing. Make sure you register it officially and preferably have your manager's signature. Keep a copy so you know when the notice period ends.


Do I get paid for the notice period?
Yes, you have the same rights as any other employee.

What happens If I decide to leave and don't come for work, even if I have notice period?
You can get unauthorised absence in your timesheet, HR may start a disciplinary action and your contract may end on disciplinary grounds. This can affect you if you go to an interview and the recruiter decides to ask for references from your previous employer.

How long is the notice period?
It depends from country to country. It's normally mentioned in local labor law and in your contract. It normally depends on the country and on the position. I will tell you the case of Romania where I work - it's 20 working days for a regular employee (which is a full month more or less) and 45 working days for managers (which is about 2.5 months). Of course, the period can be discussed and you may end up with less if you agree with your manager.

Why are they keeping me in the company? Why is it necessary?
Because the company needs to find a replacement for you. If they let you leave just like that, the rest of the team will have more work to do or some of the work will not get done at all. Also, they will most probably keep you for the entire period to make sure that they hire someone for your position and that the new colleague has time to learn from you about your job. So expect to train someone on the job during your last days.

Human Resources Mysteries: Why Do Employees Come to HR When They Have a Silly Question?

I will start with the silly question definition - it's a question or request that has only vague connection to HR, which is NOT in the scope of HR but with which people have no idea where to go to or refuse to go to because they hope HR will solve it quicker.

Here are some silly questions and requests that I have personally received:
- Why does the coffee have chlorine taste?
- Why don't we change the water provider? This one's headquarters is 400 km away. It should be more efficient to get a local one.
- Someone should remove the icicles outside. They are a hazard to the employees.
- Someone should clear the snow for us to be able to park;
- You should build a larger parking space for employees;
- You should buy some benches and umbrellas for outside to create a nice spot for the employees to rest during break;
- There's no more toilet paper;
- Can you do anything about the noise in the open space?
- Someone has stolen my food from the fridge;
- The toilet brush from the ladies bathroom downstairs is missing;
- I want to change my email address to sarah.mitchell...All my clients know me by Sarah (this from an employee NOT called Sarah) - the name I used is not real, but the situation is;
- When will the company buy more fridges for us?
- The dishwasher is broken and the sink is full of dirty dishes. Who should fix this issue?
- There are no more parking spots;
- You should create a database of all cars in the company just to know who owns which car;
- You should install cameras in the kitchen. I am tired of my food being stolen (this I received at least 10 times);
- We should recycle plastic cups; can HR do something about it?
- I noticed some tiles falling off the kitchen wall. Can you do something about it?
and many many more...

Everybody has the silly impression that HR is responsible with everything that is connected with employee happiness - which is NOT true. Most of the items above are in the scope of the administration of the building, maintenance or someone else depending on the company.

So why do employees come to HR or all these? I can see a few reasons:
1. Because we are the people they meet at the beginning when they have Induction training and we tell them a lot of information. That's how they get the idea that we know everything and that we are responsible for everything;
2. Because we let them to. HR are most of the times nice, try to help employees and employees take advantage. If HR would be more firm and send them away, making them feel guilty each time they come with stupid items, they wouldn't do it again.
3. Because we have to put up with all this. HR is instructed to be nice to employees, to take care of their problems. Most of the times our managers don't allow HR to have an office (sometimes HR works in an open space with the employees), don't allow us to have a schedule for employees (we can't say we are available for you between 12 and 2 pm everyday - NO, we must be available anytime and they may interrupt us from important work anytime) and because HR courses brainwash us and tell us that HR must be in the service of the employees since they pay for our salaries.

I think that it depends on every HR professional to make his/her life better and avoid all these situations which may wreck your nerves sometimes. Send the employees nicely but firmly to the correct responsible or to their manager the first time they come with a silly question. Don't be so nice the second time.

But what do you do when a manager comes to you with a silly question? Tough... Send them nicely to the correct responsible and hope it's going to be the last time...

2/6/12

Recruitment and Selection Strategy: How Important Is Attaching a Cover Letter While Applying for Any Job?

Question by Netra Patel on LinkedIn,

It depends a lot on the job. If someone is applying for a skilled worker position like carpenter or welder, the recruiter is not going to care much about a cover letter. They will most probably ask all candidates to come for real work tests to see who is better at doing the job. So, don't bother with a cover letter unless they ask for it in the ad placed for the job.

If you are applying for an entry level position that you expect a few hundred others to apply too (like let's say call center agent), use a cover letter, but keep it as short as possible - you may even include it in your resume at the beginning under the "Professional objective" section. The recruiter is probably going to have time to read maximum 3-4 words out of it. Imagine the time someone needs to go through 500 resumes. They will search just for some keywords then reject the resume or move it to the pile of candidates to go through first tests (i.e. language skills tests or Excel written tests and so on depending on the position). Most probably your CV/resume will be in front of the recruiter for about 1 minute max, so don't waste your time on a long cover letter that nobody will read, but focus on having a good structured CV.

And finally, if you are applying to a middle level to senior or management position, it is advisable to use a cover letter. The recruiter will give more attention to each candidate and will have the time to read it. Make sure you adapt it to the job so that the recruiter knows that you want to work for their company and are really interested in the job. If you can find a contact person's name (I mean the recruiter or a manager in the company) use it to make it more personal.

All in all, a cover letter should have maximum 3 paragraphs. Nobody will have time to read more unless there are only a few candidates applying for a top management position. First paragraph - mention what job you are applying for and where you found it, when it was published etc, second paragraph: mention why you see yourself as the best candidate for the job, what skills and knowledge you bring to the company, third paragraph - thank them for the time taken to read your application and mention that you are available to offer details and to meet them for an interview.

Take care and good luck with the applications,
Geo

2/3/12

How often and how should a manager and an employee communicate?

First of all, talking about the types of communication - two main ones can be identified - spontaneous communication and regular scheduled communication. Spontaneous communication as well as regular can be informal (most of the times) and formal.

Informal spontaneous communication is the communication that takes place every day withing the office. You say hello, you ask for a piece of paper, you ask for a signature, you talk a bit about your family, about your dog, you go for a coffee, nothing special, just regular day to day talk which occurs with no planning and no predetermined purpose. This type of communication is useful to get to know people better, to understand their likes and dislikes, their family matters. Since you spend at least 8 hours at work you need to know your manager and you as a manager need to know the employee beyond a job description. People are not machines and need to socialize and communicate in order to be able to spend productive time together.

Formal spontaneous communication occurs normally when something related to the business or to the employee's job needs to be transmitted and wasn't planned. This means that the manager communicates some new results, new tasks, something has happened and the employee needs to find out - either good or bad. This type of communication builds authority. As I mentioned it is not planned so it can also occur any time.

Informal regular communication is the type that appears during planned team buildings or evenings out. They are planned events taking place normally outside the office allowing people to learn more about each other and building a strong team. It's important to organize such type of communication for people to become a team. They are not just friends (relationship improved by spontaneous informal communication), but they are a team. It's useful during these activities to organize group tasks like games and sports matches in order for people to work together but without the constraints of the office. How often should this happen? As often as possible - once a month, once in 3 months, but not less often than once a year because new members of the team join in the meantime and need to be introduced to the team.

Formal regular communication is the most important for the business. This should occur in two ways: individual and in a team. The manager should take the time to organize regular meetings in a formal environment where employees can share ideas, can participate in decision making, can share feedback, can ask for advice or bring up negative issues concerning their own individual work or the team. Individual meetings should occur not less often than once in 2 weeks (preferably once a week) because the employee has a lot of tasks and he may need support with some and he can't wait for more than 2 weeks. Group meetings can occur a little less often, but not less than once a month. Normally team results are prepared at the end of the month so the beginning of each month is a good time to organize a team meeting.

2/2/12

What is performance review and why is it necessary?

Performance review is a very powerful tool and should be used in all companies for all employees. It gives the manager an idea about the way the employee is seing his/her job and him as a manager and the employee an idea about how he/she is performing. Performance review is a powerful motivation tool also.

From the employee's perspective the following actions take place:
1. He receives some objectives/tasks to follow during a certain period of time - most often a year. This is important because the employee has a clear view of his job. He knows what is expected of him and focuses his actions around these objectives. Meeting the objectives and even exceeding them can end up in a salary increase or bonus.
2. He has the opportunity to evaluate himself responsibly. Most of the times, the review starts with a self assessment. The employee is asked to send the manager a self evaluation explaining his point of view upon the completion of the objectives.
3. He has the possibility to receive feedback and improve his performance.
4. He has the possibility to ask for advice and to tell the manager about his ideas and maybe request training for some areas where he needs or wants improvement.

From the manager's perspective the following actions take place:
1. He gets the possibility to check how the employee sees his own activity and see how responsible he is when he prepares his self evaluation.
2. He has the possibility to get the employees feedback upon his activity as a manager and upon the team's performance.
3. He has the possibility to receive new ideas about how the team should deal with issues in order to improve performance.

Now, just a few words about the 360 degrees review. You may have heard about it and you're wondering what this is. Well, it's one of the most effective ways of review. It's called 360 degree because both employee and manager are reviewed from all angles. The employee does self review, reviews his manager while the manager does self review and reviews the employee. This is the most detailed and useful way of receiving feedback from all parties involved. Sometimes an addition to this method is done: asking the members of the team to evaluate themselves, each other and the manager while the manager reviews himself, the team as a whole and each member of the team.

This may sound complicated - actually there are a lot of questionnaires and forms involved, but it's useful since they all get to receive and offer feedback.