Leadership and Trust : Training slides


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Trustworthiness is the undisputed main characteristic that we look for in a leader and frankly also in any other person we encounter on a daily basis.  Trust is a topic that is often discussed in a business context after employee satisfaction or engagement survey results are known in organizations. The topic also often comes up when leadership training or development is considered.

Trust and Leadership resource link

The resource that I am sharing here can be used in a few ways:

  • As a quick exercise (about 20 to 30 minutes) with meeting participants where Trust and Leadership is the topic of conversation or discussion. For example: in a meeting to discuss a recent employee survey where trust came up as an area to be addressed.
  • As a sub-section within a leadership training course where Trust and Leadership is an aspect of the course.
  • As a coaching discussion topic where it is important for someone to learn more about actions and behaviors that can contribute to being viewed as more trustworthy.

While these slides won’t teach someone all of the aspects of trust and leadership, they do provide a context for you to explore the topic and you may always choose to follow-up with more exercises or conversations about the topic in future.

(Note that the last “Slide” in the resource is not for display purposes, but for you to print out so that the small groups in the exercise have a way to capture their thoughts while going through the exercise.)

 

 

 

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How to set priorities in an action plan


After a survey, a brainstorming session or a discussion it is often true that you end up with a long list of actions that should be put into an action plan. With many actions, a small number of people available to execute on those actions while also doing their normal day jobs and possibly low funds available for some of the actions this could seem overwhelming.  At such a time it becomes really important that you are somehow able to prioritize the list of actions to focus your limited resources and funds on the most important actions. But which ones are more important than the others?

The Priority Setting resource I am sharing with you contains a section where you can enter all of the actions you have in the text column – simply replace the example statements I have there with your own actions. The next column is called Ease of Implementation. Consider how many people you would need to dedicate to an implementation, how long will it take? How much do you need to spend/invest in order to implement this action? If it will take a lot of people working intensively and it may cost a lot to invest – for example in buying expensive licences to a software package/system – then you should score that action closer to a 1 for this column. The harder it is to implement the lower the score should be. Your scores in this column should be between 1 and 5.

Priority Setting resource link.

The next column is called Impact Potential. This column requires a score for each action item in terms of how much will it improve your business or move you closer to achieving your strategies and business goals if you had this action completed? If the impact will be low then your score should be closer to 1. Low would mean that employees and customers would barely notice the difference after implementation. It could also mean you would not gain much strategic advantage, market share improvements, long-term positioning, synergies, major cost savings or any other business impact that would be noticeable. The scores in this column should be between 1 and 5.

The graph with dots will be generated automatically on the electronic worksheet after you have put in your actions and the scores as indicated. The numbers appearing next to the dots are the numbers that correlate with your list of actions. Use the graphic below that to interpret your score results and understand which actions you should prioritize over overs.

prioritising actions legend

If your dots appear in one of the yellow sections, you have some questions to ponder. If you can solve the question in each case you may be able to move that particular action into a different “zone” by changing the score. This means you are able to for example make it easier to implement by solving an issue which made it particularly difficult to implement. Or it could mean you realize the business impact is bigger than you previously realized because the company could gain a competitive edge if you implemented that particular action.  Your final action plan for immediate focus areas should contain those actions which finally end up in the green zone on the legend.

Be sure to communicate the reasoning behind your high priority actions to the key stakeholders in the outcomes of the action plan. They may have additional insights to share which could further cause you to change the scoring of actions.

You can use the Action Plan posted here to capture the actions that you will implement, monitor status of and report on regularly.

Coaching Effectiveness Survey


While it is a good idea for coaches to periodically discuss how well the process may be working for those that they are coaching, it is also a good idea for HR/Learning and Development to get feedback on the coaching program on an annual basis. Occasional informal feedback from the person being coached to the coach directly may help the coach improve the person’s coaching experience and outcomes reached. A formal annual survey helps the department responsible for managing and monitoring the coaching program to understand a few things:

  • General questions that coaching participants may still have about the process or program objectives
  • How to improve the training of coaches to improve developmental outcomes
  • How well the relationships are working between coaches and those being coached. Perhaps an intervention may be needed in cases where a high level of dissatisfaction is recorded?
  • Whether the coaching process is working well in general – meetings are held on a regular basis and the right topics are being discussed.

The coaching effectiveness survey contains questions you may want to consider for your annual survey and it also contains some suggested wording in an email to those who are being coached to introduce the survey and its purposes.

The coaching effectiveness survey  link

Gather the survey feedback and analyze it for overall coaching program effectiveness, but also look at individual responses to see if anyone is having a particularly negative view about his or her coach or the coaching process.  When you take action on individual responses pay close attention to the confidentiality statement you put in the email that went with the survey. Do not reveal someone’s input to his or her coach unless it was expressly established that the survey respondent consent to this course of action. Also use the information gathered from the survey to improve your orientation slides for the next coaching program and to improve future training you offer to coaches.

Other coaching resources that may be useful for setting up your coaching program: preparing for coaching, coaching questions, coaching program orientation slides.

Internal Communication Effectiveness SURVEY


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Employees should receive regular information about the company and should be informed about planned changes, successes in the company and how their efforts have lead to good outcomes and wins for the company. Managers also need to be heard and have their views, goals and plans shared with employees who can help them achieve the planned successes. Employee opinions and feedback should also be captured and reviewed by managers to enable better decision-making and improve in areas where company actions or activities are not as effective as originally planned.

Ensuring that employees receive important and relevant information about the company 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.

Internal Communication Effectiveness Survey  link

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.

Feedback from internal customers on HR Function SURVEY


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.

The HR Function Feedback 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 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:

  • 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.

The HR Function Feedback Survey link

Team Effectiveness Snapshot


The strength of teams lies in their ability to achieve more as a group working together than as individuals working independently on various parts of a project or activity.  The main obstacle to a team achieving the optimal performance level is the ability of the individual team members to work together collaboratively. You can select the right team members based on the knowledge you need, the skills and competencies you need and the experience levels you need for a project. And the team performance can still be very disappointing if the team members do not communicate effectively, are not sharing information in a comprehensible way, and are not clear on how to coordinate with each other to avoid rework or waste their efforts working on the wrong items.

Any team will go through developmental phases starting from the first day the team members spend together. If these phases are navigated successfully, they can help team members build a high level of trust which enables the team to achieve a high performance level. The leader of a team has an important role to play throughout the phases to help the team achieve their goals in the most effective and efficient manner. Team Success Measures
Measuring the progress of a team’s efforts is typically simply a case of setting and measuring KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) on a regular basis. These are typically set around costs, time to completion, quality of the product etc.

Measuring the cohesion between team members and how well the team is functioning is not that simple. Every team member most likely has his or her own opinion of how well the team is functioning and where improvements may be needed on interpersonal levels to enhance their experience of being on the team.

The Team Effectiveness Snapshot is a great way for leaders to take a quick look at how each of the team members see the team at that moment in time and identify where discussions may be needed to clarify or remove impressions that could hamper team functioning.

The purpose of this quick survey is to gather input from the team on their own perspectives. Remember that a perspective is just how one person sees things at that moment in time. It does not mean that the perspective of one person holds true for the rest of the team. It is important though that you understand whether one or more team members are not feeling included, engaged or able to contribute or understand what the team is trying to accomplish.

I suggest you, as the team leader, ask your team members to fill this out maybe once a month – more often if you are going through a difficult phase as a team and you are concerned about how well things are going for each team member. I would not do this more than once per week.

Note that your team dynamics will most likely change when you add members, remove members or when your project enters a completely new phase of functioning and performance expectations. At those moments you are likely to see a decline in previously recorded good scores for team effectiveness and functioning.

Use this tool as a way to quickly diagnose where the team is at and use it as a starting point for some team or one-on-one discussions to address concerns raised. Include an external person to facilitate difficult team discussions if you feel it may be helpful – someone from HR/Learning and Development may be able to use their expertise and skills in group dynamics, conflict resolution and interpersonal relationships to get your team out of a rough spot when it occurs.

Action Plans for Employee Surveys


The most important action to take after you are clear on the results from an employee satisfaction or employee engagement survey is to ensure you develop a realistic action plan to address the highest priority areas of concern. I am assuming that you have already decided when you would communicate the results to the survey participants and whether or not you would wait to include the planned actions based on the survey in the feedback.

The first template helps you to describe and be clear on which areas you plan to address in making improvements to how employees experience their work environment etc. Specific actions are then selected and jotted down. (Always remember to make actions SMART – Specific, Measurable (what progress can be observed/measured from this action?), Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.)

Employee Survey Action Plan Template

The second template relates to the regular updates that management typically expect from those who are managing the process of setting the action plans, actioning the plans and updating the plans. It focuses specifically on the agreed actions with a simple indication of progress. You can always add a comments column if your manager requires more details than the indicator of progress to date.

Employee Survey Action Plan Update Template

Some reminders:

  • Remember to communicate the survey results, the actions planned and action status updates to those who participated in the survey. It motivates employees to participate in future requests for input and establishes credibility in the process and management’s intentions to ensure a good working environment and fair and supportive treatment of employees.
  • Don’t pick more than four areas to address. If you pick too many actions and areas to action you could easily be overwhelmed by the activities that need to take place on top of your normal day-to-day workload. It is important that you are able to show progress according to your plan – to management and to survey participants.
  • Don’t survey employee opinion too often – this leads to survey-fatigue and your participation rate can drop. How often? Depends on the length of your survey. A short “employee happiness” check with about 10 questions or rated statements may be done on a quarterly basis. A full-blown survey with between 40 and 80 questions should not be considered more often than perhaps 18 to 24 months apart.
  • Explain the context of actions from employee surveys. Most people dislike being expedited on the actions that they need to take according to the action plan. It is not always true that the individuals responsible for these actions understand how the action that he or she needs to take relates to the overall action plan and the employee survey. Knowing the context of their activities and how these activities relate to a greater cause can be very motivational and may simplify your job of ensuring progress on action plans.

Employee Happiness Score Chart – Smileys


Sometimes you don’t want to run a full employee engagement survey, but you just want to do a quick check to see how things are going. Call it a “mood meter” or a high level check to see if you can catch some underlying issues that may require further investigation.

Of course it is understood that a quick check is not meant for applications where the correlation between questions and outcomes require a statistically defensible position. HR folks and OD folks sometimes just need a quick tool that would help you see if there may be a trend that is worth looking into further at your location. Sometimes the trend you see can be as simple as a low level of responses to your quick check.

A few watch-outs:

  1. Don’t make this the ONLY tool you use to determine how happy your employees are. There are some very affordable and good tools available to drive a more in-depth look at your company culture or employee engagement. This is just for spotting any trends you may need to be aware of or take a look at.
  2. Don’t survey your poor employees to death. Don’t run this any more than once every other month – at most. Even that. If you do that too often, people will lose interest and you will lose credibility.
  3. You can plan to take some actions based on what comes out of this quick check, but if you really want to determine change management initiatives that will most likely take a while to implement and cost more than a few pennies – this is not enough. You would have to follow-up with something more solid for that purpose. Focus groups, a full employee engagement survey etc.
  4. Don’t give them too much time to respond or they won’t take you serious on the deadline and put things off until they forget. Don’t give them too little time either – be aware of their workload and other priorities when you decide how much time to allow. I would recommend 7 to 10 days as an average, but it does depend on factors such as whether it is a small group, are they all based at one location or spread around the globe/region?
  5. Be sure to be clear on why you are running it and what can be expected from the outcomes when you introduce the tool. People who are in some way distrustful or feel unhappy could easily read negative motivations into your introduction of this tool plus management and leaders whom you are trying to support by doing this could easily expect too much from this.

I am sure I could come up with more watch-outs, but for now, I will just post this tool for your use and wish you good outcomes! Feel free to let me know what your thoughts and experiences are/were with these kinds of quick tools.

Employee Happiness Smiley Chart