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Tips for Minimizing Employee Anxiety During Employee Evaluations

clock October 14, 2009 19:35 by author Administrator
Annual performance reviews can be stressful for both employees and managers. Here are some simple but effective tactics to help minimize your employees' anxiety and ensure reviews are both fair and effective:
  • Explain the process ahead of time. Ideally, whenever you hire an employee you should explain the details of the performance review process — how often these meeting occur, how they are conducted, and what the employee can expect during the discussion. Put these details in writing for easy reference. This way, the review conversation will have a structure that is clear to both you and your employee.
  • Schedule the review together. Some employers blindside their workers by springing a review on them without much advance notice. This is a poor tactic, as it puts the employee on the spot and denies them the opportunity to think through their accomplishments, objectives, and questions. A far better approach is to schedule the meeting with the employee in advance and even share your proposed conversation agenda ahead of time. The employee will come into the room feeling prepared and confident, and will be much more inclined to engage in an honest, productive conversation with you.
  • Flag any trouble spots in advance. If you unleash a series of aggressive questions and complaints regarding a performance shortfall during the actual meeting, you are sure to get a defensive, underdeveloped response in return. Difficult as it might be to talk with an employee about their inability to hit their professional marks, it is much more awkward when they enter the review under the mistaken impression that things are fine. A smart tactic is to tip them off before the date of the review by saying something to the effect of "We'll need to discuss why goals X, Y, and Z were not met this year. Please come into the conversation having given that some thought, so that we can work together on a solution."
  • Have employees conduct self-reviews. In addition to the traditional manager-delivered review, employee self-reviews are a new and viable alternative that are becoming more and more prevalent in the workplace. Consider having your employee provide you with a self-review in advance of your formal meeting.
  • Bring reviews into the round. Rather than have a one-way review process (a manager reviewing an employee), consider a "360 degree review" in which the employee also has the opportunity to evaluate your effectiveness as a manager. Have the employee fill out a brief questionnaire rating your management skills. Or you can simply alert the employee in advance that, during the review, the floor will be open to a discussion regarding your management techniques — what works for the employee and what doesn't. Encourage the person to suggest ways that you could manage them more effectively going forward. In addition, invite your employee to create a "wish list" of how he or she might expand upon or develop his or her job duties.
  • Don't begin on a down note. It is important to keep in mind that your opening remarks will set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Starting a review by diving immediately into the employee's failings is a sure way to start the conversation off on a sour note and set up a barrier between the two of you. Even if you must analyze performance shortcomings, a better approach is to initiate the conversation by highlighting the positive aspects of the employee's performance over the past year. The eventual conversation about what is not up to snuff will feel less dire, and, as a result, the employee will be more likely to listen and work with you toward a solution.
  • Hatch a plan. A review shouldn't simply be about rating an employee's performance. It should be a springboard from which the employee can grow and advance in the company. For every criticism, provide suggestions on how he or she could improve in the coming year. Working together, develop tactical, concrete approaches to overcome shortcomings. Let the employee see that you are interested in helping them develop and succeed. Inspire them to excellence by indicating that improvements will be rewarded with enhanced responsibilities. Knowing that your manager is on your side can be a powerful motivator.
  • Don't let the conversation stop. A formal review meeting is a good opportunity to stop and "check in" with your employee, but you should also strive to sustain an ongoing conversation about job performance throughout the year. By making the review process less formal, communication between the manager and the employee will improve. Allow the employee some time to ponder what was said during the review meeting, and then come back to the table to discuss any resulting questions or ideas that may not have come to mind during the initial conversation.

Customer Satisfaction Survey - When, How and How Often

clock October 7, 2009 16:49 by author Administrator
We all know customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of our businesses. How do we find out whether our customers are satisfied? The best way to find out whether your customers are satisfied is to ask them. When you conduct a customer satisfaction survey, what you ask the customers is important. How, when , and how often you ask these questions are also important. However, the most important thing about conducting a customer satisfaction survey is what you do with their answers. How You Ask Whether Customers Are Satisfied There are many ways to ask your customers whether or not they are satisfied with your company, your products, and the service they received. You can ask them:
  • Face-to-face As they are about to walk out of your store or office, ask them.
  • Call them on the phone If you have their phone number, and their permission, you can call them after their visit and ask how satisfied they are.
  • Mail them a questionnaire This technique has been used for a long time. The results are predictable.
  • Email them a customer satisfaction survey Be careful to not violate Spam laws
  • Email them an invitation to take a customer satisfaction survey
When To Conduct A Customer Satisfaction Survey The best time to conduct a customer satisfaction survey is when the experience is fresh in their minds. If you wait to conduct a survey, the customer's response may be less accurate. He may have forgotten some of the details. She may answer about a later event. Her may color his answers because of confusion with other visits. She may confuse you with some other company. What To Ask In A Customer Satisfaction Survey There is a school of thought that you only need to ask a single question in a customer satisfaction survey. That question is, "will you buy from me again?" While it is tempting to reduce your customer satisfaction survey to this supposed "essence", you miss a lot of valuable information and you can be easily misled. It is too easy for a customer to answer yes to the "will you buy from me again?", whether they mean it or not. You want to ask other questions in a customer satisfaction survey to get closer to the expected behavior and to collect information about what to change and what to keep doing. By all means ask the basic customer satisfaction questions:
  • How satisfied are you with the purchase you made (of a product or service)
  • How satisfied are you with the service you received?
  • How satisfied are you with our company overall?
  • And ask the customer loyalty questions"
  • How likely are you to buy from us again?
  • How likely are you to recommend our product/service to others
  • How likely are you to recommend our company to others.
  • Also ask what the customer liked and didn't like about the product, your service, and your company.
How Often Should You Conduct A Customer Satisfaction Survey The best answer is "often enough to get the most information, but not so often as to upset the customer". In real terms, the frequency with which you conduct a customer satisfaction survey depends on the frequency with which you interact with your customers. My state renews drivers licenses for five-year periods. It would be silly for them to ask me each year what I thought of my last renewal experience. Conversely, if I survey the commuters on my rapid transit system once a year, I will miss important changes in their attitudes that may be driven by seasonal events. What To Do With Answers From A Customer Satisfaction Survey Regardless of how I ask my customers for their feedback, what I ask them in the customer satisfaction survey, and when I survey them, the most important part of the customer satisfaction survey is what I do with their answers. Yes, I need to compile the answers from different customers. I need to look for trends. I should look for differences by region and/or product. However, I most need to act on the information I get from my customers though the survey. I need to fix the things the customers have complained about. I need to investigate their suggestions. I need to improve my company and product in those areas the mean the most to the most of my customers. I need to not change those things that they like. Most importantly I need to give them feedback that their answers were appreciated and are being acted upon. That feedback can be individual responses to the customers if appropriate, or it can simply be fixing the things that they tell you need to be fixed.

Top Ten Employee Complaints - Why Employee Surveys are Critical

clock September 18, 2009 12:33 by author Administrator
Are you interested in discovering your employees’ most serious complaints? Knowing what makes employees unhappy is half the battle when you think about employee work satisfaction, morale, positive motivation, and retention. Listen to employees and provide opportunities for them to communicate with company managers. If employees feel safe, they will tell you what’s on their minds. Your work culture must foster trust for successful two-way communication. HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based management consulting firm specializing in employee engagement surveys, analyzed recurring themes in employee surveys and compiled the following top ten list. These are the items employees consistently complain about on surveys and in interviews. How many are true in your workplace?
  1. Higher salaries: pay is the number one area in which employees seek change. You can foster a work environment in which employees feel comfortable asking for a raise.
  2. Internal pay equity: employees are concerned particularly with pay compression, the differential in pay between new and longer term employees. In organizations, with the average annual pay increase for employees around 4%, employees perceive that newcomers are better paid – and, often, they are. 
  3. Benefits programs, particularly health and dental insurance, retirement, and Paid Time Off / vacation days: specifically, many employees feel that their health insurance costs too much, especially prescription drug programs, when employers pass part of their rising costs to employees.
  4. Over-management: Employees often defined by interviewees as: “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.” Workplaces that foster employee empowerment, employee enablement, and broader spans of control by managers, will see fewer complaints. A popular word, micromanaging, expresses this sentiment, too.
  5. Pay increase guidelines for merit: Employees believe the compensation system should place greater emphasis on merit and contribution. Employees find pay systems in which all employees receive the same pay increase annually, demoralizing. Such pay systems hit the motivation and commitment of your best employees hardest as they may begin asking what’s in this for me?  As you adopt a merit pay system, one component is education so that employees know what behaviors and contributions merit additional compensation. Employees who did not must be informed by their manager about how their performance needs to change to merit a larger pay increase.
  6. Human Resources department response to employees: The Human Resource department needs to be more responsive to employee questions and concerns. In many companies, the HR department is perceived as the policy making, policing arm of management. In fact, in forward thinking HR departments, responsiveness to employee needs is one of the cornerstones.
  7. Favoritism: Employees want the perception that each employee is treated equivalently with other employees. If there are policies, behavioral guidelines, methods for requesting time off, valued assignments, opportunities for development, frequent communication, and just about any other work related decisions you can think of, employees want fair treatment.
  8. Communication and availability: Let’s face it. Employees want face-to-face communication time with both their supervisors and executive management. This communication helps them feel recognized and important. And, yes, your time is full because you have a job, too. But, a manager’s main job is to support the success of all his or her reporting employees. That’s how the manager magnifies their own success.
  9. Workloads are too heavy: Departments are understaffed and employees feel as if their workloads are too heavy and their time is spread too thinly. I see this complaint becoming worse as layoffs; the economy; your ability to find educated, skilled, experienced staff; and your business demands grow. To combat this, each company should help employees participate in continuous improvement activities.
  10. Facility cleanliness: Employees want a clean, organized work environment in which they have the necessary equipment to perform well.
The job satisfaction study included over 2.2 million respondents with 2,100 organizations representing various industries, all surveyed by HR Solutions, Inc.

How To Write A Good Survey

clock September 8, 2009 15:23 by author Administrator
  • Words are often used in different ways by different people; your goal is to write questions that each person will interpret in the same way.
  • A good question should be short and straightforward.
  • A questionnaire should not be too long, use plain English and the question shouldn't be difficult to answer.
  • Only through careful writing, editing, review, and rewriting can you make a good questionnaire.
  • Survey items have two separate parts: the question and the answer. The distinction is important. A good question not only asks for information clearly, but elicits useful responses.
The following provides you with guidelines for conducting your surveys: Remember your survey's purpose All other rules and guidelines are based on this one. There was a reason you decided to spend your time and money to do your survey, and you should ensure that every question you ask supports that reason. If you start to get lost while writing your questions, refer back to this rule. Write a short questionnaire... Above all, your questionnaire should be as short as possible. When drafting your questionnaire, make a mental distinction between what is essential to know, what would be useful to know and what would be unnecessary. Retain the former, keep the useful to a minimum and discard the rest. If the question is not important enough to include in your report, it probably should be eliminated. If in doubt, throw it out This is another way of stating the first rule, but it is important enough to repeat. A question should never be included in a survey because you can't think of a good reason to discard it. If you cannot come up with a concrete research benefit that will result from the question, don't use it. Use simple words... Survey recipients may have a variety of backgrounds so use simple language. For example, "What is the frequency of your automotive travel to your parents' residents in the last 30 days?" is better understood as, "About how many times in the last 30 days have you driven to your parent's home?" Stay focused - avoid vague issues If you ask "When did you last see a movie?" you might get answers that refer to the last time your respondent rented a video, when you are really interested in the last time the respondent went out to a movie theater. Consider too, "Please rate your satisfaction with the service you have received from this company." This is a fine general question, but will not likely lead to any specific action steps. Particular elements of service must be probed if responses are to result in specific recommendations. If a question can be misinterpreted, it will be "What time do you normally eat dinner?" will be answered differently by people living in different regions; "dinner" can refer to either the midday or the evening meal. Be clear, concise, always beware of imprecise language and avoid double negatives. Identify even commonly used abbreviations to be certain that everyone understands. Start with interesting questions... Start the survey with questions that are likely to sound interesting and attract the respondents' attention. Save the questions that might be difficult or threatening for later. Voicing questions in the third person can be less threatening than questions voiced in the second question. For example, ask: "How do your colleagues feel about management?" rather than "How do you feel about management?" Include only one topic per question (avoid "double-barreled" questions) How would you interpret the responses to "Please rate your satisfaction with the amount and kind of care you received while in the hospital." or, a question asking about speed and accuracy? If you want to be able to come up with specific recommended actions, you need specific questions. Make sure the respondent has enough information Asking respondents "How effective has this company's new distribution program been?" may not be as effective as "Recently, we implemented a new, centralized distribution system. Did you know this?" Followed by "Have you seen any positive benefits resulting from this change?" It can be beneficial to break down questions that require background information into two parts: a screening item describing the situation which asks if the respondent knows about it, and a follow-up question addressing attitudes the respondent has about the topic. Avoid leading questions It is easy, and incorrect, to write a question that the respondent believes has a "right" answer. "Most doctors believe that exercise is good for you. Do you agree?" is an example of a leading question. Even the most well-meaning researcher can slant results by including extraneous information in a question. Leading questions can be used to prejudice results. Leading questions demand a specific response. For example: the question "Which day of the month is best for the newly established company-wide monthly meeting?" leads respondents to pick a date without first determining if they even want another meeting.

The Secret to Measuring Customer Service

clock August 24, 2009 12:56 by author Administrator
Measuring customer service is an important way to make sure you get repeat business. Unless customers are happy with your services or goods, chances are they will go somewhere else the next time they need something. If you make a point to measure customer service on a regular, ongoing basis, you can always change or cancel something that is not working and find better ways to help those who call your company with a complaint. Step 1:  Conduct a quick online search to see if there are customer service complaints against your company. Customers who can't get a satisfactory answer through your company will likely go online to complain in forums or websites such as the Better Business Bureau. One or two complaints can indicate a fluke in the system. If you find many complaints by different individuals, it may be a sign that there is a serious problem with the system. Step 2:  Create a survey for your customers to complete. Ask them to rate past experiences with the company and include questions about particular areas, such as over-the-phone and online service, speed of response, attitude of the employees and satisfaction with the solutions offered. This will help you decide what to do in the future when a customer complains. Step 3:  Use call monitoring to measure the type of customer service your company is already providing. Call monitoring refers to a third person (usually somebody in management or personnel) listening in during a conversation between a customer service representative and a customer calling with a complaint. Consultants are sometimes used to monitor these calls and then provide training. Step 4:  Check back with customers who had complaints in the past. Get feedback on how much they believe the company has improved and what else can be done to make it even better. Offer an incentive for people to respond, such as a small discount on future purchases or a token gift. Step 5:  Set out an anonymous box in which customers can place messages. Let the customers know they are welcome to offer both suggestions and post anonymous complaints into the box. This will help you measure the level of trouble people have with the company and see if there are complaints that are repeated by several people. Consider using survey software services of an outside firm to help you monitor customer service. This will guarantee anonymity and ensure fairness to everybody involved.