What if a valued customer wants you to do a project or support them from a new location where you do not currently have an office? Yes, research will be needed! But there are so many things that may be important, where would you start? This resource I am sharing is a handy starter-list for the research that HR is often expected to do.
The topics covered in the attached checklist include the following areas:
And in each case, the checklist contains the aspect to the left and leaves you some space to jot down notes pertaining to your company and your plans. (See example below) That way you can quickly create your next-step plans following your research.
Some points to ponder:
Trying to answer the question about how much to pay employees you plan to relocate to the new office – calculate their entire package before you start. Add in all benefits they are getting which may not be cash in their hands i.e. health insurance, pension contributions by the company etc. Considering the full package is the starting point, not the annual salary only.
Look for local tax breaks that may be available to those you plan to relocate. In some countries they may be able to pay lower personal taxes.
If the local language is neither English nor the language spoken at the office your planned expats work now – how can you help them learn the new language? Even if all business is conducted in one language, the planned expats would need to set up their lives locally including trips to the supermarket, making local friends, and finding local information online. Being able to understand some basic words or say some basic phrases in the local language could be very valuable as they get settled there.
How can you minimize the carbon footprint of that new location? Limiting flights in and out of that new office and only placing expats there when the work cannot be done remotely or using modern tools and platforms to accomplish business objectives and outcomes.
The shared resource above is a starter-list and may not include all the aspects you need to look at before mobilizing. It is a great tool for doing a high-level review of a location under consideration for a new office or site.
While you can find a lot of the information you need online, I strongly recommend engaging with recognized experts in establishing operations abroad. Laws change, new trends emerge which have not yet made it into laws and websites are not always updated in a timeous fashion. So do your own research (using the checklist above) to understand the “lay of the land”. If you want to go further, engage with experts who may be able to advise on additional aspects and possible solutions which you may have missed in your own first-pass research efforts.
Not shareholders – they are the ones who own shares in the company. Stakeholders are those groups of people who have a keen interest in the initiative or process that you are working on. It could be because your success or your failure will impact their groups or processes in their groups. It could also be because your initiative could generate risks which they would like to keep an eye on. For some reason, these people or groups care more than the average person or employee about the initiative that you are working on.
It is therefore smart to understand who they are and secondly to understand why they care so much about this initiative. And as a result of what you learn, you can plan to keep them happy and informed. If you don’t, you risk them blocking or stalling progress on your initiative, or (if in executive levels) they may put another person in place to supervise you to make sure their interests are well-managed and protected.
For your success as a project manager of an initiative – find out who the stakeholders are, find out what they need and make sure you meet their needs!
Find out who they are
Which groups have processes that overlap or connect to processes you are managing? Who are the receivers or end-users of what you are creating? Answers to these questions could help you start your list of stakeholders.
Start outside your organizations – are there any authorities, special interest groups, communities, clients, suppliers who are somehow connected to the product or service that you are providing? They may be stakeholders!
Look at the high-level organization chart of your company. Do any of the groups you see contribute to, receive outcomes, or participate in key processes you are managing? If so, add them to your stakeholder list.
Look for individuals at management levels who may need to give others updates on your project or processes you manage. They may also be stakeholders.
What do they care about?
Once you have your list of stakeholders with their titles and even down to name level. It is time to validate their interest in your project or process.
What they need:
Why would they care about the outcomes of your process or the way you run the project? Do they need information for their role or group? Or do they use the outcomes from your project somehow?
What they want to avoid:
What outcomes or messages would each of the identified stakeholders want to avoid? Think of anything that would cause them to have to do extra work or have to explain unsatisfactory results.
Make a plan
Use the template below to document a plan that you follow throughout the year to ensure each of your stakeholder groups receive required data, updates or opportunities to provide input or suggestions to your project on a regular basis.
Check-in on a regular basis with your stakeholders whether it is a quarterly survey or a personal call from you. Make sure that you have not missed anything they need to know or be informed about and make sure that they are not dealing with rising frustration due to a lack of updates or output from your team!
Learning how to manage the expectations of stakeholders on an initiative is a great way to learn new skills which will become important as you get promoted to take on more responsibilities. People at higher levels in any organization succeed by keeping aligned with a lot of different personalities and groups and they do this by understanding the needs and concerns of these other parties and then managing that (in a similar way as managing stakeholder expectations) on an ongoing basis.
Need to provide a training workshop for managers on how to conduct job interviews? The slides I am sharing today can help you with that. You can turn it into an interactive online event or you can use it to create a face-to-face workshop. You could even turn it into a standalone training video if you provide your own voice-over to explain the various points further.
Remember, it is not a good idea to start with the slides and then just blindly using them for a workshop or other learning solutions without first considering the needs of your own intended training participants, interview process, etc.
Designing an Interview Training Workshop, use these steps as a guide:
Define the group of people who are the intended participants in your training workshop – what do they know, what do they need to know, (if they have done interviews already) what goes wrong, what goes right when they have done interviews in the past? What does all of that mean for what you need to accomplish with this workshop?
Define an overview of what you intend them to know and be able to do after the workshop. (You can only do so much during a workshop so be realistic on what the outcomes might be).
Define what will be included in further detail and exercises during the workshop (bullet points should help you further) in order to meet the goal(s) you have set in point 2 for the group you have defined in point 1.
Set a date when the workshop will be made available so you can remain focused on deadlines that help to meet that date.
Start working on the next level of detail – Consider that you may want to do a combination of training solutions like assigning some online training before they come to the workshop to cover some knowledge you want them all to have at the start of the workshop. Also, work out your bullet points into a “storyline” that logically structures the sequence of topics to be covered and exercises you will use to help build competency in using specific tools or approaches.
Use the slides I have attached for download (above). Using your answers to the points above – maybe you need ideas about how information can be sequenced? See if any of the sections in the slide deck help you fill in some of your planned learning areas. Maybe some of the exercises could be useful for your workshop?
A friend of mine always says (in Dutch) – you can better creatively borrow ideas from others than come up with something yourself, which is lesser. So use this slide deck, and borrow ideas from it to get your budding Interview Training Workshop to the next level!
Upgrading skills in specific employee groups could be achieved by introducing a new development program. Goals for the program could range from cross-training in key functional knowledge areas to accelerating development of specific groups. Development programs often run over several weeks or months and are attached to pre-defined outcomes to address specific identified learning needs.
Structuring your employee development plan, you will need to pay attention to at least 3 important aspects:
Setting up the curriculum
Preparing managers to be supportive
Preparing attendees to succeed
The overall program
Setting up the curriculum over the development period means you decide how the various learning solutions are scheduled and planned to strengthen and support key messages throughout the time period that your program runs. Each aspect strengthens what had already been covered while adding additional knowledge. Including various learning methodologies (blended learning) enhances the learning experience and keeps it interesting.
Always start by understanding what you are trying to address before you start designing your development program. What is the learning need? What is the business value of employees having this knowledge and experience?
When does the business need employees with these new skills, understanding and experiences? Is it short-term (within the next year), medium-term (between 1 and 2 years) or is it longer term (more than 2 years)? Knowing the timeframe also helps you decide what to develop internally vs outsourcing the entire program or parts of it.
Whoneedstolearn these new skills/behaviors? Be very clear who is your target population for this development program (How many years of experience do they have right now? What kind of experience do they already have – functional, geographic etc.).
Employees are more motivated and do better when their managers are onboard with their participation in the development program. Be sure to engage with managers before participants are told about the program. Managers need to understand the business context of the development program, why someone on his/her team is included in the program (if they were not nominated by the manager) and how to support the employee throughout the program. Some manages may need training or coaching in this regard.
Employees participating in these kinds of development programs are often still working in their current roles. Supportive managers not only expect good results in their departments or projects, but also hold employees accountable for completing program assignments. This gives employees the best chance of completing the program successfully.
Development program attendees need to understand more than just the program contents and overview of dates. An orientation session for intended program attendees could help with that. The session gives them an opportunity to understand the business context and benefits to their own careers plus they can ask clarifying questions before committing to invest the time and effort needed to successfully complete the program.
And orientation session with development program attendees should include at least these topics:
A welcome message from an executive, usually the sponsoring executive, explaining the business value of the development program and also career benefits for attendees.
A message from Talent Development explaining program expectations, the blended learning approach, deadlines, the team assignment and any other relevant details of the program that attendees should know about at the start.
If the program existed before and there was a redesign or some changes were applied, explain how the current programs differs from previous versions some attendees may have heard about in the past.
Keeping learners motivated when a development program runs over many months can be a challenge. Helping to keep attendees focused on assignments and deadlines can be easier when you build in challenges which generate leader boards (friendly competition) or where individuals can earn points or badges by completing specific tasks. Adding recognition by the manager/group/department can also be helpful. Recognition can include anything from a small token offered to attendees after completing a specific portion of the program to being mentioned in the company newsletter.
Hopefully these three templates (see download links above) are useful as you review your own planned development program. Do download the 3 files above if you need to see the templates in detail.
Avoiding obstructions in walkways which could be an issue especially if there should ever be a fire and someone needs to leave fast!
Floors being free from loose tiles
Make this checklist part of a process, if you want to make sure the outcomes are taken seriously and really do lead to having a a safer working environment in the office.
Make it work for you
Train a few people on how to use this list for inspections and what to look for. Assign different people to perform the checks – a fresh pair of eyes may just notice something which you have missed for some time.
Transfer all aspects that require improvement actions after the inspection onto an action list. Monitor closure and completion of each action item until they are all done.
Keep copies of your completed inspection checklist and your completed action lists. You never know when having this documentation may be useful to show your due diligence in keeping your workplace safe for employees.
Look for aspects that are often noted during inspections and create an awareness program to make sure everyone in your office knows how to avoid a situation which could lead to an injury in the office.
You can also think of making it fun – should the person with the best workspace get a special gift to encourage others to pay more attention to keeping their workspace safe?
The starter list file is below if you want do have your own copy to modify.
It may be a while before you are back at the office and this may be the best time to plan your Office Safety Program. This can help you to be ready for when you are scheduled to return to the office. You may want to add some more specific items related to covid19 too. Why not use this time to review the checklist template above and start drafting one that is right for you?
It is about knowing what you want to say when you answer the questions, but it is also about how you say it. Your credibility and success will depend on both – contents and delivery. While you can get feedback from others on your written answers (contents) and feel confident about that, until you have practiced the delivery, you are only halfway ready for the interview to get the job or role you so desperately want!
Collect maybe a handful of typical questions asked at interviews (there are several sites that would offer you suggestions for questions to prepare for). Also, look for some specific questions that are logically tied to the role description for the job.
Examples of typical questions include:
Give me a summary of your career history and why this role is right for you.
Tell me more about yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 yrs – career-wise?
Why are you interested in this role?
What is the achievement that you are most proud of in your life?
Tell me about the last time you got angry with a colleague?
2. Use the STAR methodology to construct answers on paper/screen to the typical questions you picked. If the question is not in the format “tell me about a time when” – you can still use the STAR method by answering “The situation was… X, I had to do Y, Here is what I did… Z, and the outcome was AA and this is why I believe/want/have this approach… (explain your answer)”. In some cases, STAR may not the be right way to go about giving an answer. (Link to explanation of how STAR methodology works)
3. Use structured messages (especially if STAR may not be the right approach for your answers) See post about how to structure messages. In principle – look for 3 key points you want to bring across to answer the question or explain something. The power of using 3 points is that humans remember 3 points and it satisfies something primal in us to hear answers in 3’s. Tell us first “There are 3 reasons why” and then tell us that one by one.
4. Practice your prepared answers a few times until you feel that you have reached a satisfactory level of delivering the right message in the right way – answering the questions you have selected.
5. Time to record yourself. Get out your video recorder/tablet/phone and record yourself answering the questions one by one.
How to use the recording(s) of yourself answering the questions:
How to review your recording
Turnoffthesound! – Watch your body language and look for moments when you find your body language possibly distracting from your message. It could be that you keep sweeping your hair behind your ear, or you fiddle with a pen or your glasses or you do not make eye contact. Make notes about that to yourself.
Don’twatch – listen! – Watch it again without looking at the screen, just listen to your answers… does your voice sound steady? Is it clear? Do your answers come across crisply and credibly? Make notes for yourself.
Watchandlisten! For the 3rd time, watch the recording with the sound on. How does your body language compliment your answers? Where do you wish you didn’t play with that object in front of you because it made your answer sound tentative? Or did you look away from the camera while saying something important? Make more notes.
6. Use your notes and adjust your answers as needed to improve on the contents. And practice answering them in a new way.
7. Find someone who has interviewed others in the past to listen to you. Ask him/her to ask the questions one by one and deliver your answers (updated words and delivery as per your adjustments). Ask for specific feedback on areas where your answers or delivery could be better.
Having made the adjustments and delivered your answers to the best of your ability on the day of the interview does not always mean the job is yours. There are many reasons why good candidates do not go to the next level of interviews. Do make sure you learn from your experience if you are not successful. Ask for specific feedback after the interview – regarding areas where they felt you did not meet expectations. Then use that as a checklist for the next time you prepare for an interview.
If you shine a light on any team you will notice some areas where processes, communication or collaboration can be better. In many cases a team can function well enough even with a few improvement opportunities. Want to do a snapshot checkup on your team? The downloadable tool below can help you identify any specific areas to focus on if you feel your team performance can use a nudge in the right direction.
When teams fail it is usually recognized as a combination of the team not reaching desired outcomes, team members feeling a high level of dissatisfaction and frustration with team processes and other team members and team leaders failing to accomplish their own goals for the team and for their own career growth.
The 7 aspects of teams shown below are classic areas where low performance could lead to team failures.
7 troubles with teams
Taking a closer look
The first column to complete is the scoring column. The question would be – how do I know that my team may be experiencing this trouble? The audit list gives you a possible symptom of observable behavior on either side of the scale: desirable (give this a score of 5 if your team shows this behavior) and undesirable (give this a score of 1 if your team shows this behavior). Should your team display behavior that is somewhere between those two opposites select a score between 1 and 5 that you feel is most accurate to describe how far they may be from either end. Perhaps a score of 3 would be appropriate if you see desirable behavior only 50% of the time.
Look at the column called impact. When you look at the behaviors defined as undesired and also the other column containing desired behaviors, how much does it impact the outcomes produced by your team when those behaviors are present or not present? Maybe the impact is “high” if you consider how many hours are wasted when that behavior is present? Maybe it is only “medium” which means some time or effort is wasted, but not too much. And it could also be a “low” impact if that particular behavior does not contribute highly to the inefficiencies you experience as a team experiencing a particular aspect from the audit list.
Evaluate your results by looking at both the scores column and the impact column. The graphic below shows the way to identify which of the aspects to focus on when it comes to prioritizing an area to address:
The download file above has suggestions for each of the 7 areas that can be addressed.
Every team has good times and bad times. Just because your team just did very well, it does not mean it will necessarily continue to go well. And just because your team failed last week, it does not mean there is no way to make it a high-performing team!
Use the tool above to take a closer look at your team and I wish you success in mapping out your next steps; helping your team be even better than it was before!
It is easy to think “I will just create a quick survey for that” and then go off and email a link out to a group of people to collect responses. Looking at the big picture perspective, firstly be clear on your overall survey objectives and how you will use the input you receive.
Once you have defined that, take a few more minutes to think through 5 key aspects of launching a survey before you proceed:
What exactly is the message?
The platform you plan to use
CHECK the text
The intro matters
The thank you
Launching a survey is a message too
(It says: I want to know, I value your opinion, I am listening, Tell me what you think)
Take the time to write down all the messages about the survey that intended participants need to know. What do other stakeholders need to know – think of managers who may need to help you communicate to their groups about the survey. What do you need to make sure they know about it before your launch date?
People need to know what the survey is for and why it is important. What is this survey linked to and how do you hope to use the input to drive decision-making?
When can they expect the survey to be open and how will they access it? Link via email or QR codes around the building/email or will it be an app on their mobile devices?
Will you be emailing out the announcement of the survey or is there a communication plan that is much broader than the survey? Perhaps some messages will be on social media or notice boards? If you need to make a communication plan, this template can help:
Be sure to share this information with intended survey participants when you map out your communication messages:
This survey is coming on (date)
The reason we do this is (….)
What we hope to review/change/update/introduce as a result of this survey is (…)
Why we are asking for your input is (…..)
It will only take (…..) minutes of your time to complete
We will let you know about the results (time) and (how/where)
How will you protect their privacy and if the survey contains sensitive information – who will see it and how long will you maintain the data before destroying it?
Can they participate anonymously?
There are various survey platforms available these days – some are free, and others are not. In general, those with paying options come with additional features such as help to analyse your data, automatic graphic creations for communicating your survey results, text analysis options etc.
Whichever platform you choose to use, test it first. Create a quick survey and send out the link to some trusted colleagues or to yourself to see how it displays. Can you access the survey using the link without any firewalls or other error screens interfering with ease of access? Is it easy to complete the survey online? Is there a phone app for it? How well does the phone app work?
Also look at the reports you can get from the platform. To what degree does the platform offer you some level of analysis as a download? Can you download a spreadsheet which you then need to analyse yourself to create a presentation or a report? Knowing what remains for you to do is an important consideration in choosing the right platform for the survey.
Check the text
Make sure you have read each sentence out aloud. Missing words or repeated words can be overlooked when you just glance through your survey. Reading it out loud – word for word – often highlights areas that may need to be reworded or corrected. Answer these questions about your survey wording:
Do the instructions make sense? If I ask other people how they would interpret the instructions you plan to use, would they know what to do next?
Is each question or statement to be rated constructed in a simple way to avoid confused answers? i.e. do not ask about more than one thing at the same time such as “do you think it was easy to do and did you like the fun tests we handed out at cafeteria last week?” In this case your results could be hard to interpret. If the final scores are low, was it because people thought it was NOT easy or was it because they did NOT like it? Or was it both?
If the platform has a spell check function, use it. If it does not, copy and paste the text into a document where you are able to check spelling before you proceed to launch the survey
The intro matters
Even if you did a great job at communicating about the survey in your communication plan activities and presentation messages, people may not have seen or heard all of your early messages. Tell them the highlights in the introduction section of the survey: (after the survey title and before you start with your questions or statements to rate etc).
What it is FOR?
Why are THEY asked for input?
What will you DO with the information obtained?
Is it anonymous or will you be telling others what they said in the survey?
By WHEN do you expect their response to have been completed after which you will close the survey?
HOW LONG is it likely to take participants to complete the survey?
Say thank you
When people answer your surveys, they are prioritizing your request given other tasks that lie before them. They are making time out of often busy days to provide you with feedback. A simple thank you message can go a long way to ensure people are open to respond to future survey participation requests.
And while you are saying thank you, it may be an idea to provide a link to a website to visit if they want to find out more, volunteer or whatever other actions you would like them to take after completing the survey.
Surveys are so easy to create these days and the need to collect recent data and employee feedback is becoming more mainstream in companies than in previous decades. The annual employee survey is no longer the only way that change managers and management obtain feedback. Surveys can be a powerful feedback tool and yet, they can also create confusion and frustration if they are not communicated and launched with some forethought and planning.
A learning book is a great tool to use for learners who are keen to capture the key points of learning moments. It is also useful for coaches or trainers who may want to make them available to coachees or class participants to help them along on their learning journey. A pdf version of a learning book is available for free download below – letter size, A4 size an A5 size.
To really learn something new, one must chew on it – write it down, read what you wrote and then consider how it changes your perspective or increases your awareness or understanding. The learning book helps learners to capture ideas and thoughts. It gives them a chance to go back and review what they had written before to remind learners of what they had thought at the time and planned to do about their own continued learning.
“Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.”
– George Iles –
There are many ways that someone can learn something. Classroom sessions are not the only option. See the list of opportunities to learn below: (and this list is not exhaustive)
The learning book is a place to capture all new thoughts, ideas, and areas that a learner wants to learn more about in one place.
Feel free to add additional pages that would help guide the learner along a developmental path.
The book is broken down into 3 parts: Prepare to learn, Learning, and Follow-up. In the preparation to learn section, there is space to capture the topics that the learner would like to know more about.
Prepare to learn
The learning section has a few pages to prompt learners about aspects that may be important for them to remember later. It covers aspects such as areas to research further after the learning event. Or maybe they want to capture the highlights of their learning journey a particular week. Maybe there were a few statements of quotes that they really want to remember – the learning book has a page for that. There is also a page to capture any favorite speakers or writers that they came across and want to know more about.
After a learning event or conference, we often have great plans for new initiatives to implement or people to contact – topics to research. And unfortunately, many of those great ideas dissipate when our normal lives resume. The Follow-up section is about capturing the actions you plan to take and it gives you a section to capture dates or months when you plan to work on it.
It’s a great way to help you check back on how you are doing with follow-up activities.
Reviewing your own learning notes from the last few months can help you pick-up again on an interesting point you still wanted to follow up on. Perhaps you had planned to call someone or to do an internet search, but somehow you forgot about it. Having it written down in your learning book and being able to review it, you can pick up on those points and ensure that you do complete the task that you had planned to do.
The download file links below contain *.pdf versions of a learning book for 3 different printed sizes: letter size, A4 size and A5 size (which is half the size of an A4).
Developing leaders by placing them on specific assignments is a great way to broaden their perspective while ensuring their highest development needs are being addressed in a structured way. The template (download link below) ensures transparency regarding developmental focus and management expectations of the outcomes of an assignment.
An assignment may require a change in location, but not always. An assignment could also be a temporary changed reporting relationship or being part of a different group or business unit. A different group of colleagues and managers to work with provides an assignee with the opportunity to broaden his or her internal network and learn to build relationships fast. International assignments can add additional learning objectives such as developing more cultural awareness and skills involving collaboration and communicating across cultures.
The example shown, helps to illustrate how one would go about using the developmental assignment template I am sharing above (see download link).
What should he/she learn?
The areas to develop (called Leadership Aspects in the example) would depend on the competencies that have been selected for leadership development and the latest ratings from the performance management process can be used to provide you with the ratings for each leader. This helps you to focus on the development needs with the highest priorities at that time. A conversation with the leader’s direct manager could be very useful in selecting the highest priorities. If the employee had been included in a recent talent review, there may be additional information available to complete the template and select the focus areas for his or her leadership development.
How will he/she learn?
Selecting the development activities, it is important to first understand specifically which aspect of that development priority the employee needs to learn more about.
Theoretical (mainly improving awareness)? Then an online self-paced course could be the answer. Or even sending the employee to attend an external class or read a book (or selection of books).
Learning new behaviors? Coaching and feedback based on actual examples encountered could be a good approach. You could also do a pre-test and post-test with some experiential workshop or learning intervention taking place between the tests. Workshops which include options to practice new behaviors can be great solutions.
A combination of learning interventions is the best way to address development needs. Look at each high priority learning need and look for ways to combine class-room training, self-paced learning, short On The Job (OTJ) assignments or tasks and perhaps coaching too. Each of the interventions would then strengthen learning and reinforce principles introduced.
Be sure to document who will mentor or coach the employee. He or she needs to understand the support you are making available to him/her on the journey of learning new skills.
What is the definition of Done?
Spend some time considering how you will close out the assignment with the specific learning needs. Will you want a written report detailing the learning that took place over the assignment period? Or will you want a report and also a presentation? Or perhaps just assign a presentation to be developed whereby the assignee is asked to share his or her key learning achievements with a panel of senior-level stakeholders? Assign the completion activity early so the assignee can prepare for it from the moment he or she starts the new assignment.
Include stakeholders early
Share rating templates with the intended evaluation panel and the assignee before the final event or evaluation of a written report. The transparency helps all concerned to anticipate the level of detail required and where the focus areas will be. This helps the employee prepare from early-on in the assignment to provide the required final product or presentation.
Documenting the learning objectives of an assignment helps to orient and align all stakeholders on how to positively impact the development of that leader – the leader himself/herself, his/her direct manager or supervisor, his/her coach and HR or L&D staff supporting the assignment.