Problem Solving Template


puzzle (2)

It can be frustrating to try and figure out where things went wrong when the outcomes you had hoped for, did not work out. Sometimes it could be an object or piece of equipment that is not working well. It could also be a process that is at fault or perhaps it is human action or inaction that is causing the lack of performance.

This template helps one to work what you know and finding the facts in order to fix the issues that are stopping you from obtaining the right outcomes. This offers a better chance of discovering the root cause that is stopping you from achieving the planned good results.

After defining at the top what the problem is which you would like to solve, the worksheet takes you through a systematic process covering: The What, Where, When and How Big aspects are. Across the top moving from left to right on the columns, the worksheet has space to write down what you can see (what is observed) and it moves to any facts you are aware of which could relate to the observations, then writing down what the differences are between what you have observed and the facts until you finally arrive at the last column where you are able to narrow things down to the most likely causes that things are not working out with the problem you are trying to address.

It may seem tedious at first to complete the information indicated, but when the reasons or causes are less obvious this is a great way to summarize what you know about the situation in one place. We often know more than we realize and we simply need a way to put things together logically to spot the reasons behind a malfunctioning element in a failing piece of equipment or a process.

This tool can be used by an individual or in a group context. Sometimes it helps to have more than one person look at the same information and brainstorm through the elements shown in this template to get to the root cause(s). I also recommend that you retain a copy of this completed template to serve as a “lessons learned” to others.  I believe each one of us and every company/team should continuously strive to learn to remain competitive and innovative (creative). Others may be able to solve future issues by reviewing your completed sheet for the issue you solved.

Internal Communication Effectiveness SURVEY


comms

Internal communications should go at least in two directions: from the leaders to the people and from the people to the leaders. Employees should receive regular updates from management about the company and should be informed about planned changes, successes achieved in the company and how their efforts have lead to good outcomes and wins for the company. Communication should also go in the other direction where employee opinions and feedback are sought and captured to help managers make better decisions and improve efforts in areas where company actions or activities are not as effective as they had imagined.

Ensuring that employees receive important and relevant information internally on a regular basis and in the right ways is mostly the responsibility of the HR function. In some cases HR shares this responsibility with the Communications department. Whomever is responsible for managing this, there should be planned moments of checking outcomes of the internal communication plan against original objectives set.

Internal Communication Checkup Survey

Effectiveness of internal communication should be evaluated periodically. I would not repeat a survey like this one on a monthly basis unless you are going through a specific change initiative in this regard and would like to ensure you have a good understanding of how well your change process is going. Once per year or once in 18 months should be a good evaluation period. Keep it short to optimize your chances of getting good feedback and a high level of participation.

Tips:

  • Ensure your questions are specific and simple – survey respondents should know what exactly you are asking about. Do not combine more than one question into one.
  • Always make a post-survey action plan and share that with survey respondents and other stakeholders in the success of internal communications.
  • If you are an HR Director or in HR Management – stay close to the creation of internal communications. Read everything before it is released or published internally in your area of responsibility. The tone of communications and the contents of messages that are sent into the company very closely link to how employees are interpreting how the company’s management “feels” about them and you will often find disconnects started with some internal message that was misinterpreted.

HR Function checkup – Feedback from internal customers


In the same way that companies would approach external customers to gather their views on what is going well and what needs improvement (customer satisfaction), the HR function should reach out to its internal customers to find out how satisfied they are with the services and support that they receive. It is true that there are more than one model for HR service delivery, but that does not change the fact that it is wise to gather feedback on the services and support that you do provide given the structure and focus for HR in your company.

The HR function is often guilty of focusing its developmental and improvement efforts exclusively on helping other departments and neglects using those same skills and expertise to improve the HR function as a whole and developing the people who deliver the HR services to others.

HR Function – Feedback Survey

This survey can help you gather the information you need from your internal customers to help you identify specific areas of excellence in HR and also those areas where improvement may be needed. When improvement is needed it will often imply additional training and development of some HR representatives (HRBPs or Generalists) and may also  include communicating the HR vision and goals more clearly within the HR function. Remember to recognize and reward those who were part of delivering excellent services when you review the survey results.

Tips:

  • Add comment fields next to scores if you want to be certain to capture specific comments about the scores.
  • Do be sure to provide survey participants with feedback on the outcome of the survey and the actions that you plan to take as a result of the survey. This motivates participants to continue providing you with valuable feedback in the future.
  • Create an action plan and communicate that clearly within the HR function so that everyone understands which areas you plan to address and how you plan to do that. It may help to set specific metrics around your planned improvements to make it easier to report progress.
  • Regularly update stakeholders – internal to the HR function and those who are internal customers in your company – on the progress of improvement efforts as you implement the post-survey action plan.
  • Remember to celebrate successes (milestones and outcomes achieved) and be prepared to add additional actions to your plan in cases where your improvement efforts are not reaping the results you had planned for.

Having a standard survey which you use ever year gives the opportunity to track the progress in specific questions over time and helps with trend analysis and showing % improvements over time.

Exit Interview Template


Unexpected employee resignations can often be alarming. More so if the resignations come from star employees whom you had high hopes for in terms of future expert or leadership roles at your company. How will it impact your project and your team, you may wonder? The question I would ask is, was it avoidable?

The Exit Interview helps with gathering feedback on employees’ decisions to leave the company and what next steps they are planning to further their careers elsewhere. This structured interview can greatly support your ability to narrow down the reasons for the exit and whether you have any large internal issues to address to avoid more people leaving the company.

While it appears to be a written survey, it works well as an interview conducted in person and then the interviewer (usually from HR) can complete the survey later in order to capture the answers from exiting employees in a structured way. Based on your company set-up and employee conditions you may want to add some questions or statements to be rated. Just avoid overloading the employee with too many questions. Perhaps you can remove some of the existing questions if you decide to add any?

Tips:

  • You could  choose to use this as a survey which the departing employees complete independently. I would however recommend that you ask these questions as part of an exit interview conducted in person as it offers the opportunity to ask follow-up questions to clarify answers to make sure you really understand the factors that led to the decision to leave the company.
  • There is a good chance that the departing employee may not tell you the truth. Sometimes they are afraid you may give them a bad reference in future if a prospective employer called you up. Other times they may be worried about being the whistle-blower on an existing organizational issue in terms of potential impact on any friends they still have at the organization. It may be worth considering the use of an outsourced vendor to gather feedback from departing employees before or just after they have left.
  • Do take the time to review feedback received from exit interviews to determine whether you or anyone else at your company may need to take actions to improve a situation, revise benefits, improve communications to employees on specific topics etc. These actions may be exactly what is needed to avoid other employees from leaving for similar reasons.
  • Mind confidentiality around these interviews. Be sure to be honest with the departing employee on who will get to know about the information shared and stick to the agreement.
  • Talk to those employees who remain with the company and make sure they understand how much you value their continued service and loyalty to the team/organization. When a prominent person leaves – whether a subject matter expert or a much-liked leader – people may start wondering about their own careers and consider leaving too. Taking employee retention actions and communicating especially to those in key roles will go a long way towards putting people’s minds at rest.

It is never easy when you lose good employees and respected leaders and experts to the competition. The best you can do is make sure you learn from the event and take the actions you need to avoid recurrence of an unplanned exit.

New Employee Survey


A New Employee survey is key to capturing feedback on how well your hiring and on-boarding processes are adding value to the early part of the employee’s experience in your company.

The objective of the survey is to capture data over time from various new employees to see if the changes you are making to improve on-boarding is gradually increasing the scores and yielding more positive trends in responses. If you track responses from more than one location you can compare the results to understand if there are any location-based differences in new employee experiences and how you can ensure a consistently great on-boarding process across all locations.

These kind of surveys can be run on a number of online platforms some of which are free to use and others need to be subscribed to. If you find it too daunting to setup such a survey online, use a paper copy of the New Employee Survey. The important part is to gather the data needed to help identify early employee experience improvement opportunities .

Tips:

  • Don’t make the survey very long or you will risk lower response rates, questions skipped or repeated answers.
  • Watch out for questions that seem similar which frustrates survey respondents.
  • Make sure you are asking questions which would generate answers that are actionable. For example I advise against asking “Did you feel good on your 1st day at the office?” If the survey respondent answered “no” you would have limited ability to avoid getting that response from future new employees.
  • Do take the time at least once per quarter (or shorter time periods if you are hiring several people) to review, analyze and summarize the results obtained from the New Employee Surveys. That way you will be able to spot trends and identify specific focus areas for you and your HR/Learning and Development teams to address and improve upon going forward.

Salary Review Template


salary review2

Most companies have an annual compensation review process where the salaries and other payments to employees are compared to internal and external benchmarks and adjustments are proposed, approved and implemented.

Many HR departments of larger companies have access to an online tool for salary reviews, but many smaller companies prefer to use spreadsheets like the one I am sharing with you today.

The basic principles for using this tool:

  •  You need to make sure to retain employees and avoid employee turnover by reviewing his or her salary on a regular basis. Typically once per year.
  • Employees need feedback regarding job performance expectations and also their own performance delivered against the expectations. The compensation they receive should reflect not only the market value of the work they do for you, but also their own level of delivery against expectations for that role. Performance which exceeded your expectations deserves to be rewarded. You could do it as a discretionary bonus or you could review the person’s annual salary and consider an increase.
  • Some employees bring increase requests to their bosses on a regular basis while others may just be waiting for their bosses to realize how much effort they put in and how many good results they are achieving. Without a solid salary review process which is run uniformly on an annual basis (at least) you could run the risk of not treating all of your employees in the same fair manner when it comes to salary reviews. It could happen that only those employees requesting regular increases are receiving them while those who do not ask, do not.
Continue reading “Salary Review Template”

How to record Job Applicant Interview results


Comparing multiple job applicants after the interviews are complete can be tough to do if you did not capture your impressions in a structured way. Without a structured process to capture impressions various forms of bias can creep into your decision-making. For example… most people tend to prefer people who are more like they are and therefore tend to hire people who are most like themselves. And it is also true that we often have a “feeling” of whether we like someone or not within the first 5 minutes of the interview. Trying to ignore these unconscious biases is hard to do without a structured process to capture your interview results.

The template (download button is below) is a way for you to be more diligent in capturing specific feedback from the candidate as it relates to the job description and requirements for the vacancy. Avoid making decisions about whether or not to hire a person during the interview. Instead focus on the gathering the relevant data needed for making those decisions. A structured interview record can go a long way towards helping you do just that.

Continue reading “How to record Job Applicant Interview results”