Thursday, 2 December 2010

When "Snowed in" is the best thing could happen to you.

How many of us think about snow and wish there is more of it? How many of us wake up in the morning and think just how much they could use the benefits of calling in "sorry can’t make it today, it’s out of my hands". My concern is that more than taking snow off the roads it is about taking care of people who feel like there is “snow inside them.” It is sad coincidence that "snowballing" is also used to express non stoppable power of building up problems making everything else look small and irrelevant. Hence sooner or later you can end up calling in “it’s out of my hands” but this time it will have nothing to do with snow on the roads. In this post I wish to share some examples of “snowed in” people as well as message to HR practitioners as well as any managers who make difference how people feel at work.

Unappreciated people. 

You keep going the extra mile and all you get is a smile of your superior (if you are lucky). What is worse everybody else seems to go the extra mile too, hence you have no option but keep going and make sure you are on the lead. In addition as you go these extra mileS you have to carry loads of weight with you too. Badly executed and misunderstood concept of performance management + long hour working culture in Britain (longest in Europe) all lead to this snowball effect commonly known as Stress. Long term consequences on individuals and their lives are unquestionable; it is the nasty “everybody is replaceable” attitude of some organisations which worries me most.

Underdeveloped people.
You come to work and whatever you do the other people seems to be better in doing it. You want to improve but there is no guidance from superiors or no will from colleagues. Reasons behind underdeveloped workforce vary from one organisation to the other, but the bottom line is that none of them consider people as an asset worth developing. Days, weeks, months and years go by and you are where you were before. It is drowning and frustrating. You might not know it but you bring this frustration home with you and your day doesn’t get any better. You have a bit of “snowballing” there.

Other stressed out people. 

Generally speaking, people have different reasons for being “snowed inside”. The problem is that no one pays attention to their problem and they don’t know who to ask or what to ask at the first place. Most of the time “snowballing” takes place with various consequences when people and their lives end up badly damaged.

Last but not least there are a job hunters. 

For unemployed it doesn't matter much as long as snow doesn't affect other elements of their everyday life. Job hunters currently employed are on top of my list as there must be a genuine reason for wanting a new job and if the snow buys them an extra day off, more applications can be filled and more CV's posted. It is only obvious that your chances to find a new job increase with every application you post. And why they became a job hunters at the first place? Well in the most simplistic way they look for place to work where “snowballing” isn't  an everyday practice.
Lesson for HR.

Talk to your people regularly. You do make a difference in their life already by employing them and letting them spend almost half of their day in your business. So make sure you make a positive not negative contribution in their lives. Performance appraisals with mix of positive and negative feedbacks are the best way of showing people that you watch them and care for them. Develop them towards achieving their personal goals, not only company training needs. In that way they will see that working for you they grow as persons as well as professionals.

Culture of involvement and participation. Give your employees voice. Let them talk about everything, listen to them and make everything clear and understandable. Let them design their own procedures and you will see the difference in how people respond to the rules made by themselves. The most common misconception of empowering people is that managers think they will loose the power to decide. No you will not. In constructive discussion with employees you are the one who is responsible for all processes to fit in with business strategy. They will understand, as long as you make it clear to them. Participation lies in sharing knowledge and views before decision takes place. Build up knowledge sharing culture. Sharing is caring. Learn from most successful and influential online companies. Facebook, Google, Twitter etc. None of them charge for their services (with exception of premium and business tools) and all information they have share with people for free. Yes knowledge is a power and has to be used wisely but if you make your people to see bigger picture and positive effect of “everyone knowing” results will lead to the tremendous competitive advantage and happy workforce. Reward your people. There are many ways of rewarding your workers and it doesn’t have to cost fortune. Check some of the principles of “Total Reward” and find some inspiration for your reward strategy. Looking at Talent management can help you with retention of some most valuable staff that is probably looking for new job while you read this article.

Finally remember that it is all about business and therefore make sure that any HR intervention links tightly with business strategy. In addition in the process of doing any changes use quick fixes along with slowly implemented long term solutions. That way you maintain steady progress with even better future in the mind.

I have highlighted some important elements of the best practice in HR and indeed none of them can be explained in single blog post. I will continue to spread the right word about any of the concepts eventually, but should anyone have questions feel free to ask. I will be also delighted with any response on this post and discuss any thoughts in depth.

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