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Archive for June 2009

Becoming a great leader through storytelling

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Take note: Can your life experiences be used as a motivational tool?

Take note: Can your life experiences be used as a motivational tool?

Can storytelling lead to great leadership?  Yes, says Peter Guber. With an wealth of experience of leadership in the Hollywood film and media industry under his belt, Guber says, “Your ability to narrate your offering — not just the facts, data, PowerPoints, but emotionally move them — that is the secret sauce for getting them to do something.”

Guber suggests leaders can help employees thrive in a complicated business environment through narration. “Narrative bonds information to an emotional experience,” he says. Rather than conjuring random anecdotes, the objective is to form narration out of a situation at hand, and make others feel like characters in a drama.

Guber uses MAGIC as an anagrammatic device, which stands for Motivating your Audience to a Goal Interactively with great Content.

Motivating: Guber feels the key to motivating someone is to be authentic. “You’ve got to have your feet, your heart, your wallet and your tongue going in the same direction. As soon as they see those things going in different directions, you don’t seem authentic.”

Audience: Think of your listeners as an audience, says Guber. When you speak like you’re speaking to an audience, they will naturally do the “emotional dance” with you, find resonance in your presentation, creating an unforgettable emotional experience.

Goal: Guber stresses that goals are very important, and it is okay to be very up front with them.

Interactivity: Make your audience part of the story and give them stories to remember. By doing so, the stories will live on and they will tell their own experiences, not just yours.

Guber feels the material for stories can come from anywhere, from your own experiences, observations, history, metaphors to analogies. He advises collecting the stories and making them part of your business leadership life.


Written by KT

June 30, 2009 at 11:04 am

You want a pay raise in the downturn?

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The economy may be in the doldrums but if you’ve been doing more than your usual job scope, you’re likely itching for a better pay to commensurate the effort you’ve been putting in. The question is how?

If your company is still mindful of the fragile economic conditions or has gone through budget cuts, you do have to play your cards right without getting backslash from your manager.

Speaking from a boss’ perspective, Roy Magee, regional vice president for AchieveGlobal Greater China & Singapore, gives Human Resources an insight into when’s the best time to approach bosses for the money talk.

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Lee Xieli

June 25, 2009 at 4:09 pm

New issue!

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Written by Human Resources

June 25, 2009 at 10:22 am

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

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Apologies need to be sincere. That means no backstabbing!

I don’t want to be a wet blanket. But let’s face facts, we get into endless situations at work where an apology is needed to rectify things. Although we have been taught from young how to apologise, the sad thing is some of us tend to do it the wrong way and make things worse.

When expressed the right way, an apology does not just lead to forgiveness, but it may also repair the relationship and lead to a new and stronger footing. John Kador, author of Effective Apology guides you with ten dos and don’ts for making the right apology.

Don’t include ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’

Adding the word “if”, or any other conditioner modifier to an apology, makes it a non-apology. It always reduces the effectiveness by making the offense conditional. The word “but” is a way for us to deflect some of the responsibility from ourselves.

Don’t be passive, be active

The passive voice is another way of avoiding responsibility. You can tell if an apology is in the passive voice by looking for the verb in the apology. If the verb does not come out, it is likely you are in the passive voice as hiding the action is usually what the passive voice is designed to do.

Passive: I’m sorry you were hit.

Active: I’m sorry I hit you.

Don’t joke

Apology is always serious, and the more you treat it that way, the more effective it will be. While humour can help refuse a tense situation, it is better to let the apology itself do the defusing.

Don’t assume

Adding “I know how you feel” into an apology gives the victim the impression that you take him or her for granted. It is much better to go into dialogue with an open, eager-to-learn attitude. Instead of pretending to know, plead arrogance, and instead of assuming, ask.

Don’t ask “What can I do to make this right?”

Apologies will be more effective if it is accompanied by a concrete offer of restitution, where the victim needs to hear what you consider to be an appropriate offer. Making an apology is not a negotiation, and in an apology you need to be fair and even generous without being asked.

Take turns

In any kind of conversation, many of us stop listening because we are busy formulating our response. Hence, it is beneficial before the conversation to inform the victim that you are about to apologise, and after which he or she can feel free to speak.

I need to apologise to you. This is not easy for me, so can I ask that you hear me out and then I’ll listen to what you have to say?

Begin the apology with “I”

Starting an apology with “I” means an individual is taking personal responsibility. Starting it with “you” tends to make people defensive, especially if they are nervous.

Use the recipient’s name

Using the person’s name reinforces the entire mission of the apology, which is to repair the relationship.

Don’t ramble

We often do a good job apologising, but we keep talking and end up diluting the apology with excuses. It is best to say you’re sorry, stop, and listen.

Don’t argue

The person you’re apologising to may not see things your way, but it is crucial to listen and not argue. An apology is not a place for argument or for attempting to change someone’s point of view

Written by KT

June 23, 2009 at 10:32 am

Labour risk and your business

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Even after the recession is over, issues such as pension funds, taxation and unemployment rates will continue to affect your business. In this video, Peter Wiedemann, vice-president Asia Pacific of Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group and Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group talk about how labour risks can have a bigger impact on your business than you know.

Have trouble loading the video? Why not check your company or computer’s firewall settings to make sure that Youtube videos can be streamed on your computer.

Written by Human Resources

June 17, 2009 at 10:01 am

Key communication steps to take before restructuring

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A poorly managed restructuring exercise can result in a loss of top performers and sharp decline in morale but here’s what HR can do to avoid this scenario.

In the video below, Dr Ric Roi, senior vice president and Asia Pacific practice leader of Right Management,  shares details on how to carry out an effective step-by-step internal communication plan six months before a restructuring exercise.

For more guidelines on effective communication before any restructuring exercise, click here: Human Resources website

Written by Lee Xieli

June 11, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Can a math formula help retain employees?

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Is relying on a fomula a smart HR strategy?

Employee retention: Is a math formula the next big idea?

We all know Google for their great work-place benefits – the stock options, free food cooked by chefs. What we didn’t know is  that the company is struggling to retain its staff.

And in typical Google fashion, the company is now developing an algorithm which will be able to identify the employees who are likely to quit from its 20,000 workforce headcount.

Scary? Or even a little incredulous? Perhaps. While the Google officials are reluctant to divulge more information, it has confirmed that there is such an algorithm and that the formula is still being tested. Collecting input through information from surveys and peer reviews, the Google algorithm has already identified employees who felt underused – i.e. the people most likely to quit.

Edward Lawler, director of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, says Google is one of the few companies that are early in taking a more quantitative approach to personnel decisions.

“They are clearly ahead of the curve, but a lot of companies are waking up to the fact that there is a lot of modeling that can provide you with critical data on human capital,” says Lawler.

Google’s algorithm may help the company get inside people’s heads even before they have the intention to leave, but is it too late? Concerns of a talent exodus has revived amid the departures of top executives, while mid-level employees have been decamping to hotter start-ups like Facebook and Twitter.

Current and former Googlers attribute the company’s loss of talent to impersonal HR programmes. Some said the employees feel they can’t make the same impact the company does, while others said Google provides little formal career planning.

“They need to come up with ways to keep people engaged,” says Valerie Frederickson, a Silicon Valley personnel consultant who has worked with former Google employees. “If Google was doing this enough, they wouldn’t be losing all these people.”

While HR has often been referred to as a combination of art and science, can a math formula really deduce who is going to leave? And if it is effective, would you use it in your company? Or do you think relying on a math formula is hogwash and that it should just boil down to treating your employees right?

(Via WSJ)

Written by KT

June 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Retention

The pay cut preparation guide

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How can you stay afloat when your financial situation is sinking?

How can you stay afloat when your financial situation is sinking?

While a layoff may be our greatest fear in this recession, a pay cut comes close to second. In a survey conducted by Hewitt in April this year, 37% of 53 companies in Singapore say they have implemented a recruitment freeze, and another 33% say they have plans to do so in the May-July period. Although 66% of overall companies  reported no layoffs, the service sector saw 18.2%  looking to retrench staff.

That said, a pay cut, unpaid furlough, or diminished working hours can be a difficult adjustment. In an article on Money Watch, Richard Sine suggests four steps to minimise the effects of a pay cut.

Step One: Get the full story

At the news of a pay cut, it is important to get past the emotions and understand what your employer is actually offering so you can plan ahead. Bosses often don’t make things clear, and it is best for you to review the company’s HR policies or ask the HR department about the possible effects a pay cut has on your benefits. Perks like health insurance, severance packages and bonuses are calculated based on salary and/or work hours, which a pay slash or work reduction may eliminate. It is hence important to fully understand what a pay cut means.

Step Two: Know your rights

Make sure your boss is treating you fairly. There is always a possibility that a manager is using the recession as an excuse to penalise certain workers unfairly or even illegally. If you suspect discrimination, bring it up to the company’s HR department before taking it out of the company.

Step Three: Try to negotiate something in return

Bosses are usually forced to cut your hours or pay because they have little choice. They still want you to remain loyal and productive. Hence, it may be a good time to negotiate for something in return, such as a more flexible work schedule, discounts on company products or services, or allowing you to retain some of the benefits you were set to lose. Approach your boss about this. If it fails, consider banding together with some colleagues for more heft.

Step Four: Adjust your finances

A pay cut may be temporary, but depending on the economy and the company’s fortune, it may be a long time. It is thus important to make adjustments to your finances. Sine provides a list of strategies for consideration:

* Divide all your expenses into “mandatory” and “discretionary.” Then, reduce your discretionary spending and get an idea of how long you can continue paying your mandatory expenses with your reduced salary.

* Increase your savings cushion to prepare for the possibility of a layoff.

* Maintain your access to credit. Make sure you occasionally use each of your credit cards so they don’t get closed due to inactivity. But pay the balance in full!

* To make up for your lost spending power, take advantage of every last benefit your employer offers, such as transit reimbursements, flexible spending accounts for health or childcare, and company-sponsored discounts.

Related article: Penny pinching tips for the unemployed

Written by KT

June 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

The art of sucking up

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Tired of puckering up to your boss yet?

Why does it seem as though every office has a person who thinks that the way to move up the corporate ladder is to kiss the rear end of their boss?

Not sure who’s a brown-noser? They’re the ones who voice the loudest support for all the supervisor’s bad ideas or laugh the loudest at the bosses’ lame jokes. They’re the ones who stay late just so their boss sees them “working” at their computer, even though all they are doing is just surfing YouTube. They’re the ones who gives the biggest presents on their supervisors’ birthdays and write declarations of loyalty on their bosses’ Facebook pages.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the art of sucking up could give you a boost in your career.

A piece of research in the US has found that challenging a CEO less, giving more compliments and doing personal favors increased the likelihood of being appointed to a corporate board by 64% where the CEO was already a director.

Surveying more than 1,000 managers and CEOs at 350 of the Fortune 500 list, the study aimed at measuring the three components of ingratiating behavior described in social influence literature: other-enhancement, opinion conformity, and favor rendering.

After two years of research, the study found that ingratiating, or charming and pleasing behaviour was the “strongest single predictive factor for obtaining board appointments”.

Even Ithai Stern, one of the two researchers and assistant professor of management & organizations at Kellogg School of Management was taken aback by the results. “We were surprised by the sheer magnitude of the effect,” he said.

On one hand, it’s understand why this can possibly happen in the workplace. Bosses – like all other humans –  want to work in a pleasant environment where they are well-liked by their peers and don’t want to work with people who are antagonistic and constantly having to battle with.

And that is where brown-nosers come in. They compliment the bosses on a job well-done (even though the opposite might be true), let bosses feel good about themselves and let them know that it’s not so lonely at the top afterall.

But on the other hand, the idea that a brown-noser who, not by the merit of his work, can get promoted quickly creates a toxic environment where favouritism often rears its ugly head. Good employees who don’t play by the game get disillusioned when their brown-nosing peers get promoted and the whole office is just turned into a race of who can be the bigger suck-up.

Furthermore, the study also found that minorities and women faced an even greater hurdle. The survey stated that the “importance of ingratiation in recommendations for future board appointments is even greater for managers who are female or ethnic minorities;” and that they must engage in a particularly high level of ingratiating behaviour to gain board appointments.

In other words, they have to really master the art of sucking up more than the rest.

But what do you think? Is this scenario caused by the lack of transparent HR processes? Or should our ‘guanxi’ and relationships factor into who gets promoted and who doesn’t? Should we discourage such behaviours, and how can we do it?

(Research methodology here)

Written by Human Resources

June 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Customising your employee communication strategy

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The one good thing that comes out of a bad economy could be the very fact that major corporations are realising the importance of customising communication with different groups of employees.

A special Buck Consultants Communications Advisory Team (CAT) conference was recently held for HR and benefits communications leaders across the US to share their employee engagement experiences and discuss ideas. At the conference, the attendees concluded that effective employee communication contains three top criteria. They are:

Tailored: Employee communications must be tailored to succeed. It is essential to align communication programmes with each organisation’s corporate culture and objectives. In many cases, effective communications need to be tailored for specific subsets of employees.

Personal: In a challenging economic environment, a “personal approach” to employee communications can help relieve employee anxiety. Layoffs cause concern and the workforce that remains behind can become less productive. CAT attendees cited how face-to-face communication by top leaders successfully outlined the steps to a new vision for the organisation and ease the workforce’s fears.

Customised: To overcome the initial employee resistance to many wellness programmes, CAT attendees are developing unconventional approaches. They include targeting specific health issues such as diabetes or breast cancer and providing related improved health incentives to personal appearance or financial savings.

Via Talent Management

Written by KT

June 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm