The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Archive for May 2010

Consequences for the unsuspecting employees

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Employees may be saying more than they are allowed to

Living in an era with no lack of social media channels, it is frequently reported that companies have found success in improving internal networking among both bosses and workers, and likewise, also in two-way feedback processes. However, the bane of having such social networking channels, ostensibly unconstrained by boundaries is that employees may utilise them for the wrong reasons, and subsequently, punished without learning why.

Would punishing unaware employees for such mistakes be fair?

Almost two in five UK employees criticise their workplace on social networking and micro-blogging online sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are commonly utilised for both private and organisational purposes, a MyJobGroup.co.uk survey found. One in five is guilty of making harsh criticisms about their bosses.

Lee Fayer, managing director of MyJobGroup.co.uk said, “There is no doubt that social networks are seen as an environment where employees feel comfortable criticising their workplace and there is scant regard for how serious these taunts could be.”

Are some employees abusing online social media channels to make derogatory remarks about their employees? My hypothesis is that they do not bear any ill intentions other than to let out some steam after a long tiring day at work. I believe the critiques made of their workplace or personal attacks towards their bosses are merely drivel that employees indulge in on sites which they thought were private.

Well, those sites like Facebook and Twitter are definitely not private, even with their self-adjustable privacy settings in place.

“As an employee, if you were to openly criticise or defame your workplace in a newspaper or within a printed flyer, you’d expect legal consequences – they should expect the same of online outbursts,” said Fayer.

Most employees are not aware that there are implications to what they are publishing on the virtual public, and that they are actually subjecting themselves to cross certain legal boundaries by doing so.

Fergal Dowling, an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said, “Abuse of social media can be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of contract, depending on the level of abuse, and the policies in place at the company.”

However, not unlike Dowling, I feel that employers and HR departments should be transparent about the policies they have in place to handle transgressors who openly voice their criticism on social media canals.

Written by Jocelyn Lee

May 31, 2010 at 12:58 am

Would you pay to work?

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Is a job all about the money?

While there are those who worry themselves sick over employment and salary issues, it is heartening to see some actually finding joy working as volunteers. Some are even willing to fork out money to volunteer for a good cause.

According to Asiaone, there is an increase in the number of docent volunteers working at museums from the mere 10 guides in the docent programme when it was first set up in 1978. There are currently 365 of them working at the Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore Tyler Print Institute and the Peranakan Museum today.

On top of spending time and effort on the job, volunteers have to cough up S$500 for their docent training that can last from three to six months. Carla Forbes-Kelly, president of Friends of the Museums and also a docent, commented that more non-Singaporeans are keen on the programme as it helps them to learn and assimilate into the local culture.

Most docents are retirees, part-time workers, students or housewives and they volunteer mainly because they want to share their knowledge of the local culture and history with the public. As what Forbes-Kelly said, “It is about seeing students’ faces light up with something they have discovered”.

Being a docent is nevertheless rewarding for the volunteers despite the lack of wages, according to the Asiaone article. It seems volunteer docents are willing to put in as much effort into the job as a paid vocation would require. This suggests that job satisfaction does not lie merely in the amount of money one gets. It is something that little, or in this case, no compensation can give.

However, it is interesting to know that only 20% of the docents are Singaporeans. Does it mean that few Singaporeans are interested to learn about their local culture and history, or are most of them simply too engrossed in the corporate rat race?

Perhaps it is a little unfair to assume that Singaporeans are not interested in taking time to contribute to the local culture scene. More alarmingly, it could imply that most Singaporeans simply cannot afford the time off work to stop and smell the roses. Singaporeans might be working too hard.

According to an article posted on Yahoo! News dated 16 May 2010, teachers were reportedly working beyond their official working hours and not having enough time for themselves. This hints at the long hours Singaporeans are devoting in their full-time jobs. If they have hardly enough time to juggle their jobs and personal life together, why would they consider volunteering for another job?

Nevertheless, I do believe that job satisfaction is frequently derived from intangible rewards of a job. Hence, I hope that more Singaporeans will be able to take some time off work and participate in meaningful activities such as being museum volunteers in the future.

Written by Jocelyn Lee

May 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Exceptional performance in the workplace

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In order to gain a competitive advantage, organisations need to grow the leadership capabilities of all its employees regardless of whether the employee works in the mailroom or in the boardroom, says Robin Sharma, author of The Leader Who Had No Title.

In this five-minute video, Sharma shares what he views as exceptional performance in the workplace and how you can achieve it.

Written by Human Resources

May 20, 2010 at 10:41 am

The rules of the game have changed!

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Breaking free of outdated leadership models

By Lalita Nithiyanandan

What is unique about leadership is that it is fluid and needs to be applied to situations and people. There may be overall guiding principles but still the application is individual and dependant on what needs to be dealt with. I think leadership in itself has evolved over time. Leadership of the future, in a knowledge driven world, is going to require more of leaders than it has in the past where leadership was only confined to the few at the top of the organization.

Leaders Adapting to the Change

Knowledge workers seek inspirational leadership and find this for themselves either from within an organization or from the outside. With social networking on the rise, many also find their role models direct from the source, meaning if someone looked up to Richard Branson, they can choose to follow him on twitter and even send him messages and depending on the type of leader they connect with, the leader might also choose to follow their follower, meaning Richard Branson might follow this individual. This makes it a unique proposition for the future of the work place. Whilst someone may report to you physically and they may not be that high up within your organization from a leadership point of view, they could be very well connected in bigger world and they could also be connected to the CEO of your own organization. This is no longer the virtual world, it is very real and the people they connect with are real industry leaders.

The other thing that strikes me is the fact that one could choose a wide variety of interests and people to learn from or just keep track of.  Someone who follows Richard Branson, could also follow Yoko Ono, Robin Sharma and social entrepreneur groups such as the Social Edge.

So the question is: How do managers lead this very well connected, opinionated and aware group of people? People have to follow on their own accord! The hardest job of any leader is being able to navigate through conflicting views and agendas to come to a decision that suits the greater majority while still considering the minority who may have an important point. But the bigger challenge lies in being able to balance internal agenda with external market needs and making sure that everyone values this as the core foundation block.

The Dilemmas

The Fortune Magazine published the following points as the nine dilemmas that Leaders face in 1996, however these days it is not about a choice between two positions, the leader has to do both.

  • Broad-based Leadership and High-visibility Leaders
  • Independence and Interdependence
  • Long-term and Short-term
  • Creativity and Discipline
  • Trust and Change
  • Bureaucracy Busting and Economies of Scale
  • People and Productivity
  • Leadership and Capability
  • Revenue Growth and Cost Containment

Most leadership models of the past came from the military and strong leadership was required as there was only one leader or a few leaders at the top who had to navigate the organization. Today, leadership must exist at all levels of the organization and they must partner closely with industry/market leaders and global leaders who are shaping the future of business. A good leader will find a way to tap into the abundant energy that exists within organization and outside his/her organization.

The following quote sums up what leaders of the future need to be:

“Truly effective leaders in the years ahead will have personas determined by strong values and belief in the capacity of individuals to grow. They will have an image of the society in which they would like their organizations and themselves to live. They will be visionary, they will believe strongly that they can and should be shaping the future, and they will act on those beliefs through their personal behavior.” Richard Beckhard

This column contribution is written by Lalita Nithiyanandan, executive advisor, Global Center of Excellence (CoE) for the Executive Search and Leadership Consulting practices within Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group. For more information, visit http://www.bticonsultants.com

Written by Jocelyn Lee

May 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Leadership

Updating beliefs

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What are their values and beliefs?

By Lalita Nithiyanandan

As leaders, we have the task of grooming talent, spotting potential in others and in some way nurturing talent within our organisations. I sometimes find myself seeing potential in others even before they see it in within themselves. Sometimes this works and at other times, the individual concerned only blossoms a few years later… and sometimes after they leave my organisation. This often made me wonder if there was a way to know if someone was ready for growth. If I had known then what I know now, it would have been easier as someone’s readiness for growth often has to do with that individual’s values and beliefs. It is possible for someone to have the best intentions to do something and yet not achieve it or be very successful in some aspects of their life and yet be unhappy with other aspects.

Values and Beliefs

Underneath every intention lie beliefs and values that validate our action or response. They color the way we look at life and have a big influence on whether we achieve our goals or not. This is why some people are so believable when they talk about their goals and others are not. Those whose values and beliefs are aligned to their goals are seen as congruent. The only trouble with this, is the fact that we often take our beliefs and values for granted; we don’t even know where we get them from at times, and how they can sometimes get in our own way.

I find it quite interesting when I ask people to list out their beliefs about life, work, money, health, relationships, etc. Within each belief statement, we get clues from the words chosen to describe that belief. For example, a statement like (a) “Money is not important but meaningful work is.”, can tell us so much about someone’s orientation. Compare it with this statement, (b) “Doing meaningful work is extremely rewarding to me.”

We are either moving towards something or moving away from something. In statement (a), the speaker is moving away from money in favor of meaningful work whereas in the statement (b) the speaker is moving towards more meaningful work that is rewarding. One is not better than the other; it depends on what serves the person concerned in their pursuit of their goals.

The other important question to ask when you identify a belief is “how has this belief served me so far” It has to, otherwise, we would not have been able to sustain that belief – within every belief is a payoff to the person holding on to that belief. Within a work context, when someone says that “no one is hiring someone my age” It serves the person carrying this belief in the following ways:

1) Helps the person with the belief to justify his or her position of not having found a job yet,

2) it gives them a respectable reason for being unemployed and

3) it helps them to not feel like a loser or rejected.

The next question relating to this belief is even more interesting, “how does this belief limit me? “Some answers could center around: Standing in one’s own way to finding a job, using age as an excuse to not find a job, limiting opportunities to oneself.

Finally, we ask “Isn’t it time for me to update this belief?” What many people don’t think about is that they have the opportunity to consciously update their beliefs anytime they choose to. Having a limiting belief is not a problem in itself, it’s the willingness to explore and update that belief is what really counts. When someone is willing to do this, they open themselves to the opportunity for real growth. This is when people start aligning with their purpose and mission.

Purpose and Mission

Beliefs and values support purpose and mission and can help to drive someone towards their goals. This is what keeps people going when “the going gets tough” because it helps them find meaning in what they do.

So the next time you want to groom talent or hire someone, take some time to find out more about their beliefs and values, their orientation and their willingness to update their beliefs. Most of all, work out where the conflicts lie so that you can help them become aware of this incongruence and how it will get in their way. For example, I worked with someone who believed that he had to choose between relationship and work; he was constantly vacillating between his personal life and work. When we sat down to look at his belief system around work and relationships, he realized what he was doing and was able to update his belief to balance both. Sometimes it is just a shift in perspective that sets the path for a much larger change.

When we look at culture fit when hiring someone, we are in effect doing a values match. This is useful from an organisational point of view to employ people whose values match the core values of the company. That is just one layer, when we hire, we also want the people we hire to succeed in that role and this is where taking a deeper look at a candidate’s values and beliefs becomes critical – will these beliefs serve this person to thrive in this role?

A large percentage of our time as leaders is spent on interacting with people and generally getting a feel of what they are thinking. It is a great opportunity to touch someone else’s life by just listening more attentively to what they say and to open little windows that give them another perspective. As a personal rule, I make sure that I give every single person I interact with a “gift” – meaning that they have to leave “richer” than when they arrived.I find that when I do this, I learn as much as the person I am working with, if not more!

This column contribution is written by Lalita Nithiyanandan, executive advisor, Global Center of Excellence (CoE) for the Executive Search and Leadership Consulting practices within Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group. For more information, visit http://www.bticonsultants.com

Written by Human Resources

May 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

Posted in Leadership

Outsourcing your HR function

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Outsourcing your HR function doesn’t mean relinquishing strategic or tactical control of the outcomes. According to Michael Beygelman, president of North America RPO solutions for Adecco, there are ways that can help HR maintain control over their outsourced function.

Written by Human Resources

May 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Technology