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5 Tips for Building Human Connection on Your Team
5 Tips for Building Human Connection on Your Team

We spend half our waking weekday hours working. So it's no surprise that so many of us place a high value on our work friendships and close working relationships with colleagues. And if you think about it, those relationships exist because the conditions were just right for creating connection at work. A warm team environment can make or break the employee experience. But with the rise of remote work and flexible scheduling, it’s harder than ever to form those tight-knit bonds with co-workers. In fact, according to Gallup, 9 in 10 remote-capable employees prefer remote flexibility, and 6 in 10 prefer hybrid work. Of those preferring hybrid work, one of the top reasons for it was a desire to feel more connected to team members and to the organization. And there are major benefits to enabling connection among team members. So in our more remote, work-from-anywhere world, establishing human connection isn’t impossible. It just takes some more effort and focus. Employers increasingly need to play an active role in fostering these connections and ensuring employees feel engaged and motivated at work. But why? Creating Connection at Work Improves Employee Retention What secured your new hire is not going to keep them. Employers are attracting employees through flexible work, competitive salary and benefits, and claims of work-life balance. Employees will choose to stay when they feel connected to their peers, manager, organization, and work. Employee retention about getting the basics right. Building connection means ensuring new employees feel a tie to their work. They understand how they are contributing meaningfully to the mission of the organization, and have a sense of belonging. People must feel these connections immediately. In the virtual workplace, employers must work even harder to make and keep connections. Often this means entirely revamping onboarding for greater effectiveness.  Below are some tips to help you start creating connection at work for your employees. Tip 1: Start connecting with employees at recruitment & onboarding First, show candidates how your organization is one that is worth their investment even before they accept a new job. In a world where many HR processes are automated, organizations that take a personalized approach to hiring will make a strong impression. For example, automating tax form completion is efficient, but having a personal conversation about an employee’s start date elevates the experience of connection.  Handwritten notes, phone calls to check in, and introductions to fellow employees are ways to draw employees in before they get started -- and plant seeds for creating connection. Figure out how your new hires learn and communicate best, and then tailor the onboarding and training to those tendencies. It’s easy to figure that out when you use a psychometric assessment that shows an employee's common behaviors, motivators, values, and work energizers. This is the kind of information that you often only get after months or even years of working with someone, but with just a quick 12-minute personality survey, you can get at this info quickly – and start leveraging it to build connection during onboarding. Your new-hire will feel the difference! Tip 2: Make appreciation a part of work An act of appreciation or recognition is a key factor in feeling connected. When someone takes the time to acknowledge or appreciate your efforts, it has a powerful effect. It says “I see you.” An employee recognition program can be formal or as simple as increasing and normalizing appreciation. In fact, when employees are thanked 12 times, attrition falls to just 2%. Workers recognized in the last month are half as likely to be looking for a new job (26% vs 49%). And you can even institute compelling recognition programs even if you have a small team or limited budget. No matter where you land on this spectrum, here are some ideas to get started. Spotlighting strong performance can transform a content employee into a fully engaged one who actively pushes for greater things. Drives Excellence – Employee recognition is the foundation for creating a high-performing team. It strengthens relationships and provides a clear purpose aligned to achievable goals. Recognizing performance allows business leaders to drive toward key goals like retention by connecting people and culture to shared purpose. Increases Engagement – Eighty-four percent of those surveyed in this SHRM/Workhuman Employee Recognition Survey said that social recognition measurably and positively impacted engagement. Reinforces Company Values – Because employee recognition should be designed with rewards that map back specifically to each value, it integrates those ideals into employees’ everyday thoughts and actions. Nurtures Trust – According to a 2017 study, nearly 90% of employees who received recognition from their boss indicated high levels of trust in that relationship vs. just 48% for those who received no recognition. Research shows that workers who trust senior leaders are nearly 2x as likely to be engaged. Impacts Bottom Line - Organizations with formal recognition programs have 31% less voluntary turnover than organizations that don't have any program at all.Start simple…add an agenda item to your meeting to go around the group and let people “shout out” appreciation to anyone who’s helped them or done something noteworthy since the last meeting. It’s simple but powerful, and helps people bond. Tip 3: Make meetings more personal and less transactional to create connection at work We all still spend a lot of time in meetings, and while they can feel like a necessary evil at work, they can be an incredible opportunity to build overlap with others when approached with that intention. The key is to invite people to share more about themselves in the meeting. One effective way teams do this is by adding a “question of the day” to the agenda. The question might be something as simple as “where did you grow up?” to something more fun like “what’s your favorite movie of all time and why?” The goal is simply to invite people to share more about themselves in a safe, nonthreatening way. The magic of doing this is in the potential for a spark of connection. When two people realize that they grew up in the same place or share a common interest, they take a step or two away from just being co-workers in the direction of becoming friends. Tip 4: Creating connection at work through communities of practice A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic and who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals. Communities of practice exist to take advantage of the expertise within the company. They give employees and teams opportunities to share their knowledge, brainstorm, and collaborate across multiple locations – of which builds connections among employees who might not otherwise have to interact. Employees involved in communities of practice have opportunities to develop their current areas of expertise and grow their knowledge by solving problems with their colleagues. They also gain the advantage of feedback and support from experts. Documents related to the communities of practice are stored in a library accessible to employees. The work performed by these key players benefits others later. Tip 5: Use integrations within your existing communication tools For any work arrangement, whether in-office, hybrid, or remote, keeping your employees connected through technology is a must. Beyond using email, Slack, Teams, Zoom, or other collaboration software, consider squeezing more from your investment in those tools by integrating a quick add-on that gives each team member the insights needed to establish stronger relationships with another – all before they even start communicating.  When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this add-on automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication that ends up helping you improve your relationships at work. Consider the use case of one-on-one check-ins. One of the most powerful and simple steps a manager can take to help an employee feel more connected and productive is to check in with the employee regularly. Learning how to check-in effectively means inviting the conversations that really matter with the employee and providing the support and encouragement they need. Now, add in a layer of knowing how best to approach that employee based on their communication, collaboration, and work styles, and your one-on-ones will be more productive than ever – and your employee will feel more seen and connected than ever. It's a way to start creating connection at work before you even meet, and it’s a total game changer for managers.

The Power of Connection at Work
The Power of Connection at Work

The way we work has changed. Distributed teams along with generational differences and diverse personalities make collaboration, communication, and connection at work more difficult than ever. Miscommunications that could be easily rectified with a quick face-to-face chat now are left to fester at our keyboards. At the same time, the world of flexible remote and hybrid work has opened up many opportunities for employees around the world.  Unfortunately, some of those opportunities lead to other companies. That doesn’t mean remote work isn’t working. It just means we need to do a better job of encouraging interpersonal connection at work. In this article, see how you can harness the awesome power of human connection to improve employee engagement and increase retention. The High Cost of Losing Connection at Work The sudden shift to remote work over the past couple of years gave our people an opportunity to do more than just spruce up their home offices – it also gave them a chance to think and reevaluate bigger topics, like just how work fits into their lives. And this has undoubtedly contributed to trends like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, as many employees realized that personal needs, such as connection, family, happiness, and health mattered more to them than promotions, career paths, and other work-related objectives. In fact, according to Gallup, U.S. employee engagement took a giant step backward during the second quarter of 2022, with the proportion of engaged workers remaining at 32 percent while the proportion of actively disengaged increasing to 18 percent. This put the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees at 1.8 to 1, the lowest in almost a decade. We don’t have to tell you, this turnover can leave your organization in a bind. Estimates show that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making $60,000 a year, that's $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training expenses. This doesn’t even account for all of the soft costs required to onboard a new employee, the impacts on morale and culture, loss of knowledge and productivity, or the ways that whole teams can be affected when it’s a team leader who leaves. Not to scare you further, but research out of LinkedIn also shows that 70 percent of the global workforce is passive talent, and more than half would consider leaving for the right opportunity. So basically, everyone is a flight risk! The good news is that one of the most important and impactful solutions takes into account the fact that work life and personal contentment aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, everything – including employee engagement and retention – improves when we bring the two into alignment through deeper connection. The Importance of Connection at Work Connection at work matters. Would you be surprised to learn that people with friendly connections at work perform better in their job? According to research, people who have a good friend at work are not only more likely to be happier and healthier, but they are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. In addition, employees who report having friends at work have higher levels of productivity, retention and job satisfaction than those who don’t. The feelings of belonging and purpose that friendship and connection foster are among the top benefits people are looking to get from their work. These feelings are so profound and powerful that some employees would even trade some compensation for more meaningful relationships – at least that’s what over half of the employees surveyed by BetterUp Labs found. Feeling more connected at work doesn’t only make employees happier. It has several other clear effects on employee and organizational performance. For example, 94 percent of employees agreed that they’re more productive when they feel connected to their colleagues, and, when compared to employees who didn’t feel actively connected to their workplace, connected employees were:More than 3 in 5 employees with high social connectivity report being highly engaged, whereas just over 1 in 10 employees with low social connectivity consider themselves highly engaged at work. Employees who have strong social bonds with their coworkers are more motivated to perform.  Individuals who report having connection at work are 7x more likely to exhibit better engagement, customer relations, work quality, and wellbeing, as well as a lower risk of injury. Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.Employee engagement consists of concrete behavior, not an abstract feeling. Organizations that view engagement as a feeling often conduct employee surveys and provide offer perks to improve the results. Gallup reports that the most successful organizations make employee engagement central to their business strategy. They give employees clear expectations and provide them with the tools and support to do their best work.  Why are engaged teams more profitable? Those teams who score in the top 20 percent in engagement realize a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism, and 59 percent less turnover. Engaged employees show up with passion, purpose, presence, and energy. So, let’s turn our focus toward increasing connection – and that doesn’t mean forcing everyone back into the office. Return-to-Office Doesn’t Always Make for Better Connection A recent study from Accenture found that on-site workers were the most likely to say they felt disconnected at work. The study challenges the assumption that working only on-site makes people feel more connected. People who work on-site, in comparison with those who work in hybrid or remote workplaces, feel the least connected of the three groups studied — 42 percent of on-site workers say they feel “not connected” versus 36 percent hybrid and 22 percent fully remote.  While in-person time is vital, physical proximity that lacks leadership support, flexibility, technology or sense of purpose doesn’t necessarily translate into people feeling deeper connections to their work and to each other. It’s not about the building, the site, the campus. As with most things in this life, it’s about what’s going on inside that counts. Accenture’s Organizational culture: From always connected to omni-connected report outlines how companies can strengthen culture and connection by delivering what they refer to as “omni-connected experiences,” which level the playing field, enabling people to participate fully and have an equitable experience — growing their careers, building relationships, and creating both personal and business value and impact — regardless of where they physically work. In Enboarder’s research of building connection at work, survey findings showed that the things that made the biggest impact on employees' feelings of connectedness, and hence, their retention rates were things you’re probably already doing: team meetings (49%), skills sharing with coworkers and peers (29%), spontaneous interactions with colleagues (28%), and all-company meetings (26%). Now What? Just because you're already doing it doesn’t mean it’s working well. Consider optimizing these efforts and employing technology that supports them.  The key to deeper connection and strong engagement is to simply enable and activate the everyday interactions between coworkers. Make sure your employees are making the most of their in-office days and that there are adequate spaces and reasons for in-person interactions. Encourage spontaneous check-ins. With fewer people around us, it’s easy just to immerse ourselves in work, but regular check-ins with others are crucial for everyone, in particular leaders who may not otherwise notice if their team is struggling.  Make sure your remote employees aren’t being overlooked for team and company events. Be mindful to create opportunities for genuine human connection. Support informal mentorships. Facilitate communication across departments and employees of different ages and experience levels so team members can learn more about each other and their areas of work, while sparking new ideas and interests.If anything good came out of our rapid, pandemic-induced shift to remote work, it was that we finally had the unique opportunity to meet many of our colleagues’ families and pets over Zoom. This helped us see them as the human beings they are, which fueled a sense of connection when we needed it most. Now, we have the opportunity to take that sense of connection and amplify it. Remember, increasing employee retention doesn’t just help your company; it helps your people. An employee who feels connection at work, is an employee who can engage fully. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. Need help getting your employees connected and on the same page, talk to one of our solutions experts!

How to Improve Communication for Better Work Relationships
How to Improve Communication for Better Work Relationships

Just like any good friendship, marriage, or courtship, when things are good, they’re good because the communication is there. The communication is open communication – meaning each person has a chance to share opinions, ideas, complaints, questions, or feedback and is treated respectfully after doing so. You problem solve together and work through an issue. It’s no different at work. Open communication is one of the easiest ways to build strong relationships in the workplace. The key is to make frequent, robust, personalized communication simply a part of the way you do business. The problem is, when things get stressful, overwhelming, or hard, we tend to retreat into defensive, one-way, transactional, or no communication at all. Here, we’re sharing the 7 most important tips for improving communication at work so you can build quality relationships that can lead to better collaboration, problem solving, and workplace performance – for everyone!  1. Resist the Urge to Avoid Did you know, a whopping 70 percent of employees avoid difficult conversations in the workplace? Further, according to Officevibe, an online platform that helps managers cultivate stronger, healthier relationships, “nearly 1 in 4 employees do not feel that their manager is aware of employee pain points.” Bravely calls it the conversation gap, and it can lower morale and often forms the foundation for a toxic work environment.  Biting your tongue and dodging long-deferred, important conversations may hurt more than just company relationships; it may adversely impact productivity and profits.  According to Forbes, avoiding difficult conversations can actually lead to dysfunction and lack of performance. A major study found that employees spend an average of 2.8 hours a week dealing with conflict, which amounts to roughly $359 billion in workforce costs. Even if it’s uncomfortable, open conversations addressing difficult situations are important for our well-being and mental health, as well as for fostering stronger relationships and teams at work. 2. Improving Communication at Work by Assuming Nothing You know what they say about assuming things! So as hard as this may be, come into the conversation with a clear head and an open mind. Giving the conversation’s participants the benefit of the doubt will help prevent them from getting defensive, which of course, will make the conversation even more difficult. This is an opportunity to practice compassion. Ask questions about people’s experiences and listen to what they say. Important things will be said and the better you listen, the better the people having the conversation will listen to each other. We all want to be heard and recognized, and this approach will put you in the right mindset to more effectively listen to your colleagues, even when it’s things that are hard to hear. 3. Focus on Facts & Behaviors It’s easy to point fingers and place blame based on your perceptions and implications. Try to confront behavior, not your assessment of their behavior. Using inferences like “irresponsible” or “not a team player” causes defensiveness and makes success less likely.  You must ask yourself, “What is the evidence for my inference?” Use the following kind of language conventions to stick to behaviors: “When you do X, it causes me to think you are Y.” Plan before and maybe even practice so you keep your composure.  In the process, take responsibility for anything you can directly — helping to mitigate against any backlash or intense feelings by letting the other person know you understand your part in the problem. 4. Use GRIT for Improving Communication at Work No, not grit…but GRIT: Generosity, Respect, Integrity and Truth. According to Laurie Sudbrink of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, “No one likes to be confronted. Most appreciate being helped. When engaging in a conversation to help, our intent will come from a better place. We won’t feel like we’re confronting the person, and our disposition aligns more naturally. I find it helpful to have an opening statement that portrays my intent. And then commit to being fully present and helpful throughout the dialogue.” 5. Focus on Value & Impact Confrontation suggests meeting someone face-to-face with hostile intent. Examine what your true intent is, and ask yourself, how can this conversation create value for me, for the other person, and for the organization? To prevent them from getting defensive, try using the framework of: Situation, Behavior, Impact. For example, you were in a meeting (the situation; your manager yelled at you and pounded her fist on the table (behavior); and it made you question your ability to do your job (the impact.) When you talk to them, put it in the construct of “when you do this, this is how it affects me.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be how it made you feel. Some of the impacts can be “I didn’t understand where you were coming from,” or “I didn’t fully understand the point you were trying to drive home.”  6. Bring Solutions Not More Problems Move the conversation in a positive direction by bringing suggestions of how to remedy the situation, bringing forth options for how to achieve that. By doing that, you won’t be looked at as complaining but rather, problem solving. It also demonstrates that you respect their time since they probably have limited bandwidth to address this.  7. Prepare, Plan, and Make Tech Your Friend Role play, or at minimum, putting yourself in the other’s shoes is an effective way to prepare for and practice tough or potentially uncomfortable conversations. Write down what you want to say and be clear on the goal of the conversation — what do you want someone to leave with? as an “a-ha” or action item? Rehearsing what and how you want to say something will help you keep the conversation direct and on track — avoiding distraction and saying hurtful things that may cause further issues or conflict. Further, this is where technology can come in to help. The basis for many interpersonal conflicts at work is poor communication; and poor communication often results from misunderstanding or a lack of truly understanding your conversation counterpart.  If you had personality insights for the person with whom you’re communicating, you’d be able to take a more custom approach to the conversation. Whether it be in video meetings, on the phone, via email, or chat, you could have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another right at your fingertips – taking all of the guesswork out of it. Here’s how it works. Every team member takes a scientifically validated, 12-minute personality assessment. The plug-in then delivers those insights through the tools you use everyday: think tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Gmail, calendars, Zoom, Slack, Webex, and more. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, this plug-in automatically surfaces useful, customized tips for more effective communication with peers. Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap for helping leading certain initiatives while identifying those better suited to support, and who might benefit from a heads up on particular messages — all of which take into account your team members’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers in an easy-to-understand way. As a team leader, you’re able to lay a strong foundation for more inclusive and efficient communication and for team members, along with:Creating more balanced, diverse & agile teams Optimizing team members’ impact by tapping into the unique behaviors, motivators & work energizers of each person. Experiencing the increased productivity that comes from improved team effectiveness.As a team member, you’re able to:Gain deeper understanding of one another, allowing better connection and ability to work through conflict Create deeper, more meaningful connection that translates into more effective collaborations and higher quality relationships at work Feel more engaged in your daily workWhen you know others’ behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, along with preferences and tendencies related to communication, learning, and influencing, you can better craft your delivery — taking their style into consideration before you engage – customizing that difficult conversation in ways that increase your chances of a positive outcome.  The Benefits of Improving Communication at Work Thankfully, improving communication at work, while an effort, is entirely possible, and the result is positive relationships. Building great work relationships can do wonders for your career and daily work life. Here are just a few benefits: Increased job satisfaction. People often quit jobs or leave entire industries due to bad colleagues or managers. But when you build strong relationships, you can find purpose in your work all over again. Less discomfort and uncertainty during meetings. In an unhealthy workplace, people are afraid to speak up. But, with the help of good work relationships, you’ll feel empowered to share your ideas. More support from your colleagues. Work can be stressful. You’ll need moral and practical support when times get tough. Good work colleagues will step up for you when you ask, and you’ll do the same for them.If these benefits don’t convince you to start improving communication at work, then not much else will!  Improving communication at work and building good work relationships can take hard work. It requires time, patience, and self-awareness. But putting in the effort and leveraging technology to help will help you feel more connected to your colleagues and increase your overall job satisfaction. Learning how to build rapport is often the first step to building strong relationships.  Humantelligence can help do this for you and your teams. Let's get started.

How Human Connection in the Workplace Drives Inclusion & Belonging
How Human Connection in the Workplace Drives Inclusion & Belonging

In today's fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and deadlines. However, as humans, we are social creatures who crave connection and a sense of belonging. This is why fostering human connection in the workplace is essential for promoting inclusion and a positive work environment. In this article, we will explore the importance of human connection at work and how it can improve inclusion and belonging within teams. The Importance of Human Connection at Work Human connection in the workplace refers to the relationships and interactions between colleagues, managers, and employees. It is about creating a sense of community and fostering a positive work culture where everyone feels valued and supported. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to feel motivated and engaged at work. This can lead to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. Research has shown that positive relationships at work can improve both mental and physical health. A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that employees who reported higher levels of social support from colleagues and supervisors had lower levels of stress and burnout (Halbesleben & Buckley, 2004). Additionally, a meta-analysis of over 200 studies found that employees who felt supported by their colleagues and managers had better mental health outcomes, including decreased anxiety and depression (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). A sense of connection at work can improve job satisfaction and employee retention rates. According to the 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey by Wildgoose, 57% of people say having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative.  These numbers are understandable. Work is often a means to an end, and jobs come with stressors and unexpected events that are out of your control. It can be the relationships we have at work that make the hours spent at work happier and more purposeful. This is because having a connection with colleagues can create a sense of loyalty and commitment to the company. How Connection Improves Inclusion & Belonging Inclusion and belonging are essential components of a positive work environment. Inclusion refers to the extent to which individuals feel valued, respected, and supported in the workplace regardless of their background or identity. Belonging refers to the sense of community and connection that individuals feel with their colleagues and the organization as a whole. When employees feel included and a sense of belonging at work, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and productive. Human connection in the workplace can improve inclusion and belonging in several ways. Firstly, when colleagues have positive relationships with each other, they are more likely to understand and appreciate each other's unique perspectives and backgrounds. This can lead to increased empathy and respect for diversity, which is essential for creating an inclusive work environment. Secondly, having a sense of connection with colleagues can increase trust and psychological safety in the workplace. When individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their ideas, they are more likely to contribute to the team's success. A study conducted by Google found that teams with high levels of psychological safety had higher levels of productivity, innovation, and overall performance (Edmondson, 2012). Lastly, human connection in the workplace can promote a culture of collaboration and teamwork. When individuals feel connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to work together and support each other's success. This can lead to increased creativity and problem solving, as well as a stronger sense of community within the organization. Ways to Foster Human Connection Creating a sense of human connection in the workplace takes effort and intentionality. Here are some ways to foster human connection within teams:Prioritize Social Activities: Encourage colleagues to get to know each other outside of work by organizing social events such as happy hours, team lunches, virtual coffee or trivia sessions, or volunteering activities. Show Appreciation Regularly: Expressing gratitude and appreciation for colleagues can create a positive work culture and foster a sense of connection. Encourage team members to recognize and celebrate each other's accomplishments. Encourage Open Communication: Encouraging open communication among employees is a great way to foster human connection in the workplace. This can be done by providing opportunities for employees to share their thoughts and ideas with each other, such as regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and open-door policies for managers. Promote Collaboration: Collaboration is another effective way to foster human connection in the workplace. By promoting teamwork and collaboration, employees can build relationships with each other and work together towards common goals. This can be done through group projects, team-building exercises, and cross-functional training programs. Recognize Achievements: Recognizing achievements and celebrating milestones is a great way to foster human connection in the workplace. By acknowledging the contributions of individual employees and teams, you can help create a sense of community and foster a culture of appreciation and gratitude. This can be done through public recognition ceremonies, awards programs, and other forms of recognition and celebration.Benefits of Human Connection at Work The benefits of human connection in the workplace are not limited to employees' mental and emotional well-being -- in which both inclusion and belonging play key roles. Research has also shown that employees with strong social connections tend to perform better at work. According to a study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than their unhappy colleagues. Happy employees are more engaged, motivated, and creative -- leading to better performance and higher levels of job satisfaction. Organizations that prioritize human connection can also see significant improvements in their bottom line. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies with diverse workforces are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry median. This is because a diverse workforce leads to better decision-making, improved innovation, and increased creativity. Creating human connection in the workplace can take many forms. For example, team-building activities, such as group outings or volunteer work, can help to build relationships and promote inclusivity. Regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins can also help to foster connection and provide opportunities for feedback and collaboration. Social events, such as happy hours or team lunches, can be an excellent way to create a sense of community and help team members get to know one another on a more personal level. But creating human connection is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different individuals will have different needs and preferences when it comes to social interaction. Some may prefer more structured activities, while others may prefer more informal gatherings. Organizations must be mindful of individual differences and tailor their approach accordingly to ensure that everyone feels included. Further, this approach to increasing human connect takes one of our most valuable resources -- time. So the question becomes, how can we accelerate this process? Technology that Makes Work Feel More Human Funny enough, the answer lies in technology -- technology that makes work more human! Consider optimizing all of your efforts by employing technology that supports them. For example, if you consider all the points of interaction among your employees -- emails, chats, meetings, etc. -- these are opportunities for building connection. There's no need to wait until the happy hour or the team meeting. When drafting an email, chatting with a colleague, or joining a meeting, you team members could automatically have useful, customized tips for more effective communication and collaboration right at their fingertips. These are personality and communication insights surfaced right there in the tools your organization uses every day: Microsoft Teams®, Outlook®, Gmail®, Zoom®, Webex®, Slack® and calendars. With this tool, leaders can reduce friction between team members, create stronger human connection more quickly, build a foundation for inclusion and belonging, and improve the productivity of the team.  Human connection in the workplace is essential for creating a sense of belonging and inclusivity within teams. Establishing meaningful relationships between team members can lead to improved engagement, higher levels of job satisfaction, and increased productivity.

How to Maximize Team Collaboration to Boost Productivity & Engagement
How to Maximize Team Collaboration to Boost Productivity & Engagement

Surveying 1,000 employees and managers across the United States to explore their most pressing workplace concerns in the current environment, Lucid research revealed a need for better tools to support virtual team collaboration and productivity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While over 90% of C-suite executives rated productivity as their biggest concern, a staggering 75% of employees responded that collaboration is actually what’s suffered the most since transitioning to working from home.  In truth, productivity and collaboration are directly linked. Increase your team’s collaborative potential, and you’ll increase their productivity. The key to doing both is adopting agile workflows and processes that allow for iteration, exploration, and meaningful collaboration. One thing is clear: businesses should adopt new solutions and a different approach to ensure employees can ideate together to efficiently produce better work than ever before. So let’s talk about the power of collaborative pairs at work. This can take the form of workplace mentoring or coaching and is a cost-effective way for existing, well-trained or experienced employees to provide guidance and knowledge to less-experienced employees or to employees who differ from them. The mentor is typically not the direct manager or supervisor of the mentee, and the outcomes differ, depending on the goals of the pairing. Serving as an example, the mentor helps the mentee develop new skills, become better problem-solvers, build new ways of interacting and behaving, and get acclimated to the work environment. For the mentor, it is a way to practice leadership and development skills and may help them advance within the organization. It’s also an opportunity for mentors or coaches to learn from those who are different from themselves. And as employees settle into remote and hybrid work arrangements, collaborative pairing/coaching/mentoring is an opportunity to connect socially, deepened workplace relationships, and formulate creative, innovative or new ideas.  For the company, a mentor/coaching program is also a great way to strengthen employee engagement, reduce turnover, and see productivity increase. There are five common ways companies use mentorship in the workplace. Career Mentoring for Improved Employee Career Development High-Potential Mentoring for Leadership Development Diversity Mentoring for an Inclusive Workplace Reverse Mentoring for Efficient Knowledge Sharing Mentoring Circles for Collaborative LearningWhy Team Collaboration Is Important Collaboration is when two or more people work together through idea sharing and thinking to accomplish a common goal. It doesn’t matter if you are collaborating with someone right next to your cubicle or someone across the country or world; you can now collaborate effectively through technology. Team or peer collaboration can provide solutions, give individuals a strong sense of purpose, and also reinforce that you are all on the same team. If that isn’t enough, here are some other benefits of collaborating: Increased Job Satisfaction & Employee Retention You can’t disagree that when you figure out an answer to a problem, you feel a sense of reward. The same goes for pairs working on a problem and finding a solution to that problem.  As managers and owners, we have to acknowledge when these collaborations succeed and give them credit for the job well done. When employees feel like they are a part of a team, they are more likely to stay at their job. Specifically, the mentor-like collaboration experience has shown to positively influence job satisfaction among employees. According to Forbes, retention rates were significantly higher for mentees (72%) and for mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate (49%) in a mentor/mentee collaborative pairing. It’s been proven that it is more costly to acquire new talent than it is to retain employees, and mentorship programs can help reduce these costs. Faster Problem Solving We all have those problems or issues that come up, and we need help figuring out what to do. Many times we try to figure out a solution ourselves. If we put together a pair, chances are you will arrive at a solution a lot faster than trying to figure it out yourself. The concept goes back to elementary school and getting someone else to proofread or what they call peer review your school paper. That other person always has new eyes and can see something we missed; the paper always came out better after that peer review. Discover Employee Skills/New Expertise During team collaboration, you may discover a skill or expertise from an employee that you would have otherwise never known. When you allow employees to work together in a team you are taking them out of their normal work environment and allowing them to be creative. When you make space for this kind of work, you will see different strengths from those employees.  While it’s expected that the mentors are improving the skills of the mentees, what professionals may not realize is that the mentors are also improving their skills through knowledge sharing. For example, employees of differing generations paired together could discuss topics like technological changes or how to efficiently structure one’s workday. There is a give and take in collaborative pairings like this. Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Diversity and inclusion are significant challenges for organizations. Mentoring and team collaboration can help promote diversity in leadership by encouraging the sharing of opinions, knowledge, and ideas throughout an organization. A successful mentor program can serve to better attract and retain employees from all different backgrounds and walks of life, while helping current employees become more comfortable with ideas, backgrounds, and experiences other than their own. Creating Power Pairs for Team Collaboration When you first set out to create collaborative mentor/mentee pairs, you will need to decide what your objectives are and how you will measure them, using KPIs like satisfaction scores, learning targets, engagement activity, retention rate, or project goals just to name a few. Once you’ve done the hard work of designing the program and onboarding lots of eager participants, it’s time to match them. The details the participants were required to enter upon sign up – such as background, skills, experience, interests and so on – can be used to match mentees with mentors who can best help them reach their goals. Most of the time, matching mentees with mentors who can best help them reach their goals is done manually by program organizers, and while they often have great knowledge of the objectives and participants this manual matching is naturally subject to human bias and blind spots. As a result, you might not get the most effective pairings, and as a result, productivity between the two will suffer. To maximize team collaboration, use tools designed to support better collaboration. For example, psychometric tools can give you a multi-dimensional snapshot of a person, rather than just a bulleted list of facts from a resume or accomplishments list. It includes comprehensive data on an employee’s critical behaviors, motivators, and work styles, as well as sought-after skills like communication, creativity and adaptability. When you assess this kind of data right alongside cognitive abilities, you’ll find yourself removing unconscious biases and engaging in a more inclusive approach to identifying teaching & learning opportunities for all of your employees.  With a matching tool designed to boost collaboration and that leverages this kind of data, you can easily perform a many-to-many comparison of employee segments or teams so you can see who might be best to match up. This technology uses a similarity score so you can see who’s most similar or drastically different. By clicking on the similarity score, you then reveal a side-by-side comparison of potential coach/mentor and coachee/mentee. When you have your pairs in place – and they set off to learn more about each other, help in each other’s work, or work on a specific project together – you can also equip them with this kind of data so they work with one another more effectively. Imagine being able to click on your mentor or mentee’s name in email, chats, or video meetings, and see real-time tips for communicating, motivating, and learning. Based on their behaviors, motivators, and work energizers, this tool takes the guesswork out of how to best collaborate with one another – freeing up your time to come up with creative, new ideas or solve problems together. Most organizations are striving for increased engagement and long-term retention. Those rates tend to increase when the company prioritizes employee relationship building, mentorship and coaching, team collaboration, as well as learning and growth opportunities. Collaborative mentoring programs are just one of many strategic ways to develop employees and improve retention. We can help you do that.

2023 Better Meeting Guide: How to Make Them More Inclusive & Productive
2023 Better Meeting Guide: How to Make Them More Inclusive & Productive

During the thick of COVID, a Gartner poll indicated that 48 percent of employees expect to work remotely at least part-time after the pandemic subsides. That’s up from 30 percent before COVID-19. And now, those numbers have only gone up. Future-thinking organizations have become increasingly determined to embed remote work into workforce planning for both the short term and as part of more transformative hybrid-workforce models. But to begin doing this, it's important to start with at intersection of where all employees -- remote or in office -- communicate, and figure out how to hold more inclusive meetings.  Two of the largest challenges employers note when considering remote and hybrid workforce models are culture and communication. While not impossible to nurture culture when employees are remote, many find maintaining cultural alignment and figuring out that uniquely defining way of how the company operates become more difficult without in-person collaboration - especially for new hires.  And then there’s communication -- whether in person or not -- it’s always a complicated matter. It’s a long held belief that meetings tend to function most efficiently when everyone is together, but that certainly no longer means we all have to be in the same physical room, does it? What compounds both of these challenges in our new working reality is the issue of inclusiveness -- critical to culture and key to efficient communication. Different from diversity, inclusion is the degree to which employees feel valued, respected, accepted, and encouraged to fully participate in the organization. A company’s workforce may be diverse, but if employees do not feel safe, welcomed, and valued, that company is not inclusive and will not perform to its highest potential. So how do we create more inclusive remote or hybrid working environments? Let’s start with something we all do every single day -- meetings! Remote work is here to stay so part of the approach must lie in how we conduct meetings. What follows is a short but immediately impactful list of some of the most effective ways you can start fostering more inclusive meetings -- including tapping into one of the best-kept secrets of future workplaces.1. Inclusive meetings requiring planningPrep and send your agenda ahead of time: If you’re organizing a meeting, provide your meeting agenda one day ahead of time. By sending out an agenda in advance, you’re designing a more inclusive meeting.Why? By default, we as human beings are introspective, and it doesn’t matter if you're introverted or extraverted either. 87% of extraverts and 86% of introverts agree that they pay a lot of attention to the meaning of your own thoughts and actions. So while it may require more time to formalize an agenda, you’re also ensuring that your attendees have time to prepare and come to the meeting with more thoughtful inputs -- introverts and extraverts alike.Keep schedules in mind: In our new working normal, many of us have exchanged in-office colleagues for roommate-partner-coworker combos. Some of those new ‘coworkers’ are four-legged, non-humans and some are even mini versions of ourselves. Many parents are trying to keep their kids on track with virtual and hybrid learning while they work from home. And others might care for older family members. This could mean limited windows of quality meeting time during the day.If you’re a meeting organizer, you can try to account for these various situations. Check in with your colleagues about the best blocks for meetings and avoid times when parents on your team might need to be more hands-on with kids -- and you might find yourself with more engaged meeting attendees. 2. Welcoming one & all is at the heart of inclusive meetings Take scheduling considerations to the next level by clearly articulating an ‘All Are Welcome Here." Often, people feel the need to apologize when a child, animal, or parent interrupts or disrupts. In these situations, how you respond can make or break your meeting vibe. Based on the situation, you can foster a welcoming environment with one of the following: No need to apologize. X takes precedence.  I love having the opportunity to see X... I know that X needs your attention. Please feel free to jump off if needed or turn your camera/sound off -- whatever’s most convenient, and just rejoin when you can.Not responding in one of these ways will only make team members working from home feel less than, unwelcomed, or like they have to hide away important parts of their lives. Speaking of important parts of our lives...many video meeting tools allow users to change their display names, and as you might have seen, some people have added their personal pronouns. Begin with yourself and encourage team members to insert their pronouns, and you’ll start cultivating a culture that recognizes that you can’t assume someone’s gender, identity, or pronouns by looking at them.  When you start welcoming one and all, you’ll soon find a team that’s all for one and one for all. 3. Don’t just be open, be accessible If you’re in software or SaaS, you know how important Accessibility is for your products! Why should it be any different for how you operate internally and the tools you use with your own team? Look for video tech that can help everyone participate in meetings more meaningfully. Some video conferencing solutions offer live closed captions, which appear as someone speaks, for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. There is also video meeting software available for people who are blind/have low vision and use screen readers that turn text, images, and other elements into audio or braille. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and BlueJeans all offer live closed captions that are created by artificial intelligence. Zoom offers live closed captioning if you type them in yourself or use a third-party service. All of these programs are also screen reader accessible. The tools you or your company select to use are important. Advocate for more accessible platforms, and you’ll be demonstrating a commitment to inclusive meetings.4. Make feedback king You can take a number of steps to make your meetings more inclusive, but don’t forget that one of the best ways to improve everyone’s experiences is simple... feedback. Just as in the many other aspects of our work, be sure to get your team members’ feedback about what’s working and what’s not. If you’re a manager, start a conversation with your team about what they think could be improved on how video meetings are run -- and make sure you're inclusive of ways to submit that feedback! Why is this important? Studies show that the majority of women in the workforce feel excluded from decision making and uncomfortable expressing their opinions. In fact, a survey from Culture Amp showed two thirds of women feel they can voice a dissenting opinion without fear of repercussion (versus 80% of men), so be sure you’re practicing inclusion with this very activity! Encourage team members to write out a few simple suggestions. While organizations are creating settings in which people feel that they can speak up freely without fear of negative consequences, such environments take time to nurture. You could use a shared “whiteboard” like Padlet, which allows people to give feedback or make comments anonymously.  You could  also deploy a survey that covers video meeting inclusivity. Afterwards, disaggregate the data to look at race, gender, and other demographics, and you might find larger quantities of feedback from particular groups, such as women of color or those who identify as LGBTQ+,  common feedback themes or specific issues among particular identities on your team.Looking at the intersections of all of this feedback can help you identify if there are pockets of people who are not feeling included in how you’re conducting meetings, and importantly, they may have suggestions that will make all the difference.5. Don’t just hold but make space for more inclusive meetings Hello quiet meeting people and those who have trouble getting a word in edgewise...this one’s for you.  As the meeting organizer, pay attention to who is speaking the most—and who keeps getting interrupted. A few different studies have found that women are interrupted more frequently than men, and that men specifically interrupt women more than they do other men. Other studies have shown how men dominate meetings, calls, and other contexts. A July 2020 survey by the nonprofit Catalyst with Edelman Intelligence found that 45% of female leaders (and 42% of male leaders) agreed that “it’s difficult for women to speak up in virtual meetings, and that one in five women reports feeling overlooked by coworkers during video calls. To hold more inclusive meetings, at some point in every meeting, say something like: Okay, let’s pause here, and I’d like to invite anyone who hasn’t had a chance to talk yet to come off of mute and share their thoughts. Not only are you opening the floor to all (as opposed to calling on a specific person who might not be prepared at that moment), you’re also demonstrating consideration to those who maybe just had a child potentially disrupt their train of thought by climbing into their lap -- it’s happening more than you think! You can also break groups up so that people who have trouble speaking in larger settings have a chance to contribute ideas with just a few colleagues. For instance, if you’re having the team brainstorm for an upcoming project, you could split them up into smaller breakout groups for a set period of time, and then have a representative from each group report back to with the best ideas.6. Take cameras and hand-raising to the next level First and foremost, use the tools and functionality you have at your disposal. Consider including a note in the calendar invite for meetings that says turning your camera on is optional. By forcing people to turn on their camera, you get a peek into their personal life that they might not be willing to share. Maybe someone lives in a more crowded household, or they might have had a hectic morning that didn’t permit them to get ready in the way they’d like. Being able to turn cameras off without fear of rebuke allows all of these people to join without feeling self-conscious or anxious about their home lives.  Leverage all of the different features your video platform has to make it easier for everyone to contribute. For example, encourage the hand raise feature, allowing someone to signal when they have something to say, which can be useful for people who don’t like to interject. The private chat function is also helpful for managers to help people who have trouble thinking on the spot. Rather than calling on someone without warning, chat them and let them know you’d like them to share XYZ in a few minutes. This will help them prepare, and they can also alert you if they need more time. As a meeting attendee, you can also use the chat feature to encourage a fellow colleague to share an important idea. Finally, and arguably most importantly, if you want better quality, more inclusive meetings, you have to get emotional!That’s right, one of the most important tools in the virtual meeting toolkit is EQ or emotional intelligence, and as we settle into permanent remote and hybrid work, it’s going to be imperative to demonstrate and help your team members build emotional intelligence and deeper human connection if you want more inclusive meetings. Becoming an emotionally inclusive and intelligent organization begins with putting such insights at the fingertips of every employee, where they communicate most often -- and for most of us now, that’s in video meetings. Do you use Slack calls, Microsoft Teams, and calendar invitations to arrange your meetings? Obviously you said yes, but you’re probably not optimizing your use of those tools by integrating emotional intelligence for your team. With a simple and easily integrated plug-in, you (and the rest of your meeting team because we’re all about including everyone!) will have the kind of information needed to better communicate and collaborate with one another in meetings.  Imagine being able to click on meeting participants and see real-time tips and recommendations for communicating, motivating, and influencing them. Imagine seeing this same information in aggregate for your meeting group. Imagine knowing who best to tap on for pre- or post-meeting action items, for helping lead the meeting, and who might benefit from a heads up on certain agenda items — all of which takes into account your meeting participants’ behaviors, motivators, and work styles in an easy-to-understand way. Some have called it “a transformational tool for remote work that allows for informed collaboration and communication.” Some might even say it’s the best-kept future of work secret that will help you and your team members better prepare for and organize meetings, understand individual and collective communication insights, and figure out how to re-energize the collaborative juices for teams who have never met in person.

20 Expert Tips to Improve Collaboration at Work
20 Expert Tips to Improve Collaboration at Work

The modern workforce has adapted to several changes that have impacted the way we perform work. Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic is front and center, which resulted in many companies moving to completely remote or hybrid workplaces. These changes have also presented an excellent opportunity to find ways to improve collaboration at work. Many businesses are supported by distributed teams spread across different states or even around the world. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College, high-performance organizations are up to 5.5x more likely than lower-performers to incentivize individual, team, and leader effectiveness in collaboration. The study of more than 1,100 companies—two-thirds of which include collaboration as a stated organizational value—found that the difference between productive and unproductive collaboration can be summed up in one word: purpose.  It’s the purposeful pursuit of collaboration that is the primary reason high-performance organizations, such as Patagonia, one of four companies highlighted in the study, can leverage collaboration to achieve desired business outcomes. Effective collaboration results from an effective company culture that is supported by management and embraces the entire organization. Simply think about the best team of which you’ve ever been a part. What made that team work? Was it the project? The people? The interpersonal dynamics? Did you enjoy being part of it? Did it bring out the best in you? Now think about the worst team you’ve ever been on. What made those experiences different? Collaborative teams equal enhanced productivity and results. When teams work, they work in the best of ways. But teamwork takes effort, and the reality is that teams can fall apart, break down and experience disruption for myriad reasons. In this post, we’ve combed article after article in order to compile 20 of the most common and most effective tips to help you improve collaboration at work. Be Strategic About Meetings to Improve Collaboration at WorkPrepare formal meeting agendas & keep communication styles in mind. If you’re leading a meeting or part of the team that called the meeting, keep in mind that some attendees might have a more reflective communication style, so if you want your meeting to be valuable and productive, proactively reach out to those team members ahead of the meeting to share specific topics in which you'd like them to contribute.  Defining a clear agenda for each meeting and considering the role of each person who is attending will help everyone involved understand how they can participate and what individual expectations entail. Not sure how to determine communication style?  No worries, there are tools for that. Always use ice-breaker questions. Never just jump into meeting business. It comes across as too cold and transactional, which makes it more difficult to develop report, connection, and trust as a meeting team. Instead of starting with the formal agenda topics, try these ice-breaker options from Atlassian, designed to build authentic connection. One of the best ways to improve collaboration and work and instill a stronger sense of teamwork is to give employees plenty of opportunities to learn more about each other. Don’t forget about the kickoff meeting. Whenever a new team is established to work on a shared goal, it’s a good idea to hold a formal kick-off event. This not only gives team members a chance to ask questions and learn about the project, but also helps create a shared sense of ownership. While these meetings don’t need to be complicated or even lengthy, depending on the complexity of the project, it’s always a good idea to solicit feedback about the agenda from team members. At minimum, reviewing the scope of the project, the shared objective, and key roles and needs of the project should be enough.Observe and Model Best Practices for Building an Environment to Support CollaborationCollaborate on the issue of collaboration. If the company culture dictates strong teams, take a look at the organization and see who else is doing it well. Talk to other managers about team dynamics, how they get people to collaborate and the behaviors they encourage. And make sure that you return the favor, sharing your own best practices and lessons learned. Don’t forget to look outside your company as well, talking with colleagues and mentors. You’d be surprised at how similar situations seem to come up across industries. Create accountability around team performance, not just individual performance. This helps draw out the lone ranger team member and forces the team to work collaboratively toward common goals. If one person isn’t participating as a team member, the others won’t carry that person and a shift will start to take place. If there is one particular cynic, take that person aside and discover why there is conflict, too much independent work, or general derailing of teamwork. Depending on personality, you can either be very direct here or ask a series of “why” questions to get to the bottom of the situation. Prioritize the employee experience. Seeing things from employees’ perspectives can help you learn a lot about work culture and some of the communication challenges that your company may be facing. Dedicating some time to explore employee experience and finding ways to improve both digital and physical work environments can go a long way towards making employees feel more satisfied and comfortable at work. Get digital. Especially for remote or hybrid teams, it can be difficult for employees to follow and understand what their coworkers are doing. This makes it difficult for workers to forge bonds and improve the way they communicate with each other. Using a shared digital platform that fosters teamwork can help improve visibility, create connection, foster belonging, and support more effective communication. Create tech-driven collaboration spaces. Internet speeds and improvements in technology have made audio and video conferencing remarkably convenient these days. To foster more meaningful communication among employees, consider adding personalized communication insights to your meeting tools so everyone knows how best to communicate with one another. Making meetings more valuable for everyone involved goes a long way toward developing a strong collaborative work culture. Promote learning and development. Many employees desire career advancement for the chance to apply their skills to new projects and learning opportunities, all of which contributes to effective and collaborative relationship building within the company. In fact, companies that encourage mindful risk-taking and learning from mistakes often realize greater innovation and workplace effectiveness. According to the July 2021 Monster Job Index:80% of professionals don’t think their current employer provides growth opportunities.  54% of employees fear they don’t have the skills they need to thrive in a workforce that emphasizes collaboration using technology.  49% of employees expect their employer to support career growth.Check in consistently. Have a formal check-in periodically, once a month or at minimum once per quarter, to make sure relationships are developing and collaboration is growing. Especially important if you’re repairing a team, check in to make sure things are on track and to gain a better understanding of what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to be adjusted. If you start the teamwork ball rolling but then neglect the process, any progress you’ve made will quickly evaporate.How Leaders Can Improve Collaboration at WorkSet clear goals. Employees are more likely to collaborate with each other when they clearly understand their individual roles and the team goals that everyone is working toward. Well-defined goals give the entire team a sense of shared purpose and can help foster innovation and problem-solving. One clear sign of an effective team is one that can self-assess and identify issues that lead to meaningful improvements over time. Provide team incentives. “The lack of incentives and rewards is the most common and powerful barrier to effective collaboration. Yet, most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments,” says Kevin Martin, Chief Research Officer, i4cp. “Finding ways to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams who engage in productive collaborative behaviors can pay off in a big way.” Communicate expectations for collaboration. It’s easy to be a cheerleader for collaboration, but without clear direction, it can be challenging for employees to understand what to do. From the start, set your expectation for collaboration as a minimum standard. Even better, it should be part of your onboarding process so that potential recruits know you prioritize teamwork. Employees' job descriptions should include details about their own individual roles, as well as roles they're expected to carry out collaboratively. By differentiating these, you're setting clear boundaries between what they should be taking personal responsibility for, and what they need to work on collectively. Define the company culture. If a company culture is well-designed and supported, it should truly represent the behaviors and actions of employees throughout the organization. Create a slide deck and supporting materials that define the mission, vision, and core values of the company. These points should act as a guiding resource for employees and can be especially powerful when managing communications and challenges. Celebrate wins often. Especially when dealing with long-term or complex projects, it’s not always easy for employees to appreciate the achievements they are making along the way. Teams can benefit from taking time to celebrate wins and milestones together in a formal or informal setting. These celebrations can be small, as any chance to recognize and appreciate effective team collaboration is valuable.Focus on Communication to Improve Collaboration at WorkEncourage active listening. Part of the challenge in facilitating effective workplace communication is balancing discussions among different team members. This can be particularly difficult when dealing with different cultures, personalities, and challenging topics. Helping employees, and especially managers, develop their active listening skills can help everyone feel heard and more involved. Communication format matters. When the need to communicate some information arises, think carefully about the format you use to share it. Some communications may work best as text messages, while others are more suitable for an email or phone call. Particularly important or sensitive information may also require a meeting to allow for questions and discussion to clear up any confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page. Don’t neglect asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication involves information that is shared at different times. One example would be a post made on a company message board that others can respond to at any time. Many collaboration platforms include features that enable this form of communication. Asynchronous communication can be particularly effective for remote teams and those working across multiple time zones. Adopt hybrid communication models. One of the best ways to foster communication and enhance collaboration is to give employees a number of tools to communicate with each other. Utilizing several tools such as email, chat or messaging, video, and a company intranet will allow employees to communicate information in a way that is effective for them. And if you have plug-in tools that provide specific tips or suggestions for collaborating with particular teammates, even better! This makes it easier for everyone to share insights at any time and contribute to an individual, team, or corporate discussion. Organize next steps and feedback. When employees collaborate to develop a new strategy or review an important document, they can share ideas in a number of different ways. After the work of brainstorming and sharing is done – i.e. the meeting – set clear expectations for processing the notes and feedback to avoid creating a backlog of partially developed ideas that go nowhere. Asynchronous collaboration tools are an essential asset but need to be well-managed to get the most value out of the communications, and importantly, move the project along.On a final note, don’t underestimate the benefits of informal collaboration. You can certainly accomplish a lot in meetings and formally organized work activities, but most of the real work gets done between employees themselves. Whatever you can do to Make it easy for your team members to get together or communicate more effectively not only helps improve collaboration, but also will allow many of them to forge long-term or even lifelong relationships.  If teams are important for your organization, you need to do what you can to facilitate their effectiveness. Make sure open communication exists. Create opportunities for all voices to be heard. Connect with the shared values that unite the team. Effective collaboration is one of the biggest drivers of success in modern organizations. Following these expert tips will help you implement the right processes and technologies to enhance collaboration and incentivize effective collaboration among individuals, teams, and leaders.

5 Ways to Create a Feedback-Friendly Team Environment & Why It Matters
5 Ways to Create a Feedback-Friendly Team Environment & Why It Matters

Whether good or bad, feedback is one of the best ways for us to know if we’re doing something right or wrong. And while it's a must for a healthy culture, still not every business has guidelines about when or how feedback is provided. A strong feedback culture welcomes feedback and uses it to foster the growth of individuals, teams, and the organization. In a feedback-friendly culture, employee voices are valued. And to become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals. That’s called feedback, and direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it. Typically, this information -- what we like to call intel on our efforts -- comes in three forms: Appreciation...recognition for great work. Appreciation connects and motivates people, and it’s vital since intrinsic motivation is one of the critical factors for higher performance. Coaching for Continuous Improvement...helping someone expand their knowledge, skills and capabilities. Coaching is also an opportunity to address concerns, feelings, or ideas, which helps balance and strengthen relationships. Evaluation...more formally assessing someone against a set of standards, aligning expectations and informing decision-making. Why a Feedback Culture is Important Even people who aren’t interested in or skilled at giving or receiving feedback will participate in the process and improve when they’re working in a feedback-rich environment. On the flip side, even the most ardent and capable of feedback champions will give up if the organizational or team culture doesn’t support their efforts. So in addition to helping your more reserved team members improve, feedback carries with it a slew of benefits. Here are just three of the most important. Feedback Saves Time, Money & Resources It’s estimated that a company of 10,000 employees spends a staggering $35 million a year to conduct performance appraisals. Yet 9 in 10 managers are dissatisfied with how their companies conduct annual performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent HR leaders say the process doesn’t yield accurate information. Moreover, the average manager spends about 210 hours a year on activities related to reviews. That’s more than 26 work days. However, when you supplement performance reviews with ongoing, real-time feedback, you can help ease the pressure and expense of the annual review. When you think about performance reviews, it’s really just an aggregation of all the feedback data an employee should have received throughout the year.  Better Performance in a Feedback Culture Now, imagine the loss in productivity throughout that year when that employee doesn't receive ongoing intel on his/her efforts throughout the year. When you save it for an annual performance review, you're missing out on opportunities where your employee could have been improving. When employees enjoy their work, understand their goals, and know the values and competencies of the job, performance increases. The link between effective feedback and productivity has been well established. One study found that 69 percent of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Continuous feedback helps align goals, clarifies expectations, and motivates employees. It also creates a positive workplace, one dedicated to encouraging people to be better will improve the level of performance and employee engagement. Strengthened Interpersonal Relationships Engaging in open feedback and dialogue with colleagues, recognizing efforts after a job well done, and helping employees meet their goals will help create meaningful workplace relationships. Fostering these types of relationships among employees is a driver both for improved collaboration within and across teams as well as for retention.  Once a foundation of feedback has been set, sustaining it will become easier with each feedback conversation. Here's how the experts say to do it. How to Build a Continuous Feedback Culture To foster an environment of both personal and professional growth, people need to feel safe about giving and receiving feedback. A feedback culture is a fluid, two-way exchange between employees as well as employees and management. The end goal is a safe space where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns, suggestions, and advancement plans while employers are equally able to express constructive feedback.A healthy feedback culture is one where feedback is the norm rather than a signal that something is wrong. That means when improvements are needed, asking for change won’t come off as awkward or out of the blue for either staff or employers. Instead, you’ll be able to enhance business processes while empowering employees to excel in their roles. Here are some ways you can start embedding a continuous feedback culture into your workplace.Set and reinforce expectations during onboarding, performance reviews, manager 1:1s, town halls, and department meetings for giving, receiving, and using constructive feedback. Train people to focus on the quality of the feedback. It’s worth noting that there is a difference between good and bad feedback. Encouraging people to say "good job" isn't going to improve employee performance or build an effective feedback culture. Building a culture of feedback starts with providing meaningful feedback - that is, feedback that is behavior based (not trait-based), forward looking (instead of backward), objective, continuous, in real-time and direct. Create multiple channels for giving and receiving feedback...like newsletters, email inboxes, surveys, town halls, office hours and more. Some folks like to write it out, while others prefer vocalizing -- be inclusive of how you solicit and provide feedback. Couple feedback with recognition so that employees associate feedback with a positive form of reinforcement. It will help reinforce the kind of behaviors that are helping move the organization. Make it routine. When feedback happens routinely, it becomes expected. Hold employees accountable by incorporating feedback giving and receiving KPIs. Ensure that managers are having regular feedback conversations and check-ins with their direct reports. Moreover, encourage employees to ask and share feedback.As a rule of thumb, more frequent, directionally correct but incomplete feedback outperforms more detailed and accurate but less frequent feedback. This means that consistency and iteration are what makes feedback good. When asking or giving feedback, many refer to the 30/60/90 Feedback Framework. It states that one should receive feedback when a task is 30% complete, again at 60% complete, and finally at 90% complete. Transforming your culture into one built on continuous feedback can propel your teams to approach tasks from a different perspective and find new solutions to your company’s biggest challenges. And the first step in your culture transformation is a team culture mapping, where we’ll help you unlock the behaviors, motivators, and work energizers of your team so you can empower better performance.

Fit Recruiting: Culture Fit, Culture Add & Diversity of Thought
Fit Recruiting: Culture Fit, Culture Add & Diversity of Thought

Fit Recruiting for Culture In the world of work, there's one thing you can count on...and that's the ongoing proliferation of new phrases or acronyms. New phrases like "culture fit" and "culture add" have taken on multiple meanings and muddied the already cloudy waters of unbiased recruitment practices. To combat that confusion, this article will explore their similarities and their differences, and how using fit recruiting can elevate your recruitment practices and find you the best candidate. The term 'culture fit' has received some criticism. Some companies are even banning the phrase altogether, fearing it emphasizes homogeneity, the very opposite of its intent. At its core, culture fit, or fit recruiting, as Humantelligence defines and uses the term, actually boosts inclusion and diversity within its teams. Finding candidates that align with culture doesn't limit the existing background or experiences to be considered. Here's how we look at culture fit.We assess your current team culture, specifically addressing high and low performers, regardless of their background. Our tool provides insights into Behaviors, Motivators and Ideal Work Energizers (BMW) -- never race, religion, background, socioeconomic status or any other bias-laden factor. With the insights gained from these data points, trends start to emerge. These trends allow hiring managers to hire candidates that will have the traits of their high-performing team members.  If the hiring manager or leadership team determines that the current team is not performing well, or they are on the verge of a transformation, they can use the tool to build an "Ideal Profile" that will reflect the ideal candidates' desired BMW. What we refer to as BMW eliminates outside judgment and preconceived ideas on what the candidate should "look" like.In some instances, companies choose to use this tool for both benchmarking as well as improving overall morale. For example, Ashley Furniture could not have improved their distribution center without a tool that assessed culture fit. They were experiencing high turnover, and while not uncommon in manufacturing, Ashley wanted to better understand what kind of candidates would thrive in this environment. Using culture fit helped Ashley pinpoint their high-performers and continue hiring individuals, driven by a common goal, into a particular, normally high-turnover role.  Even before an interview, where a person can begin to create an unconscious bias, the data can be hard at work finding similarities between candidates and current employees. There is also a threshold which is set by the company. For example, company A may say, "We want potential team members to align with their future boss by 60 percent." But company B might say, "We want a very close match between manager and team member, as this person will assume the manager position in 6 months. We are striving for a 75 percent match." Defining Culture Add Similar to culture fit, culture add is the concept that a new hire should contribute to the culture, or be seen as a supplemental addition who can fill critical gaps. Both terms involve a sense of alignment; however, culture add has become more popular. Regardless, the outcomes when striving for culture add or culture fit will be similar if done properly. Accurately collecting data is key to understanding what culture means for organizations, and any new addition, if chosen intentionally, will "fit" or align with their team and the current value system. Will people of similar backgrounds and experiences gravitate toward one another? Absolutely. This is why hiring new additions need to be driven by data as opposed to a gut feeling. That's where the BMW analysis comes in -- filtering candidates long before the first interview or point of human interaction. This way, biases are dramatically minimized and the overall recruitment process will be quicker, with a more aligned candidate as the final outcome. Fit Recruiting for Diversity of Thought Another common phrase that is often heard within HR and culture conversations is Diversity of Thought. The thinking behind DoT is that a shared mindset or "groupthink" within an organization is negative and creates a shortage of new ideas; particularly from underrepresented groups. True DoT starts with organizations prioritizing diversity in the recruitment process and reinforcing its importance throughout the employee experience. Aside from the obvious benefits surrounding a more diverse and inclusive workforce, Gallup proved that inclusivity and employee engagement are actually linked to profits. It found that employee engagement and gender diversity resulted in 46% to 58% higher financial performance. And while some HR organizations struggle to plead the case for a diversity budget, the ROI is undeniable. Lever, a prominent name in the recruitment space, sites blind resume screenings as a way to combat bias in recruitment. Coupled with this, hiring for culture fit or culture add and utilizing data from behavioral evaluations can create a truly blind screening setting. What all of these concepts do is help recruiters find the best candidate, based on a team's particularly needs, involving the least amount of human error -- that's called fit recruiting and it's admirable goal. Best Practices to Implement Today Let's forget the terms for now. What employees within the organization, as well as those entering through the recruitment process, deserve is a fair and inclusive environment. A more diverse, accepting environment fosters creativity and aids in employee happiness. Teams that emphasize inclusion and belonging are also able to transform more quickly than those that are less diverse. According to Cloverpop, inclusive decision making "can drive meaningful change in months because it focuses on the inclusion of people already employed by organizations, using consistent processes combined with transparent metrics." and inclusive decision making also "leads to better business decisions up to 87% of the time. This means that building diversity into your recruitment processes and, inevitably, your teams, will lead to higher success, employee engagement, and better work overall. If you're interested in learning how Humantelligence can help you elevate your fit recruiting practices, let's connect.

People Before Perks: 10 Tips for People-centric Performance Reviews
People Before Perks: 10 Tips for People-centric Performance Reviews

A new year is upon us, and for HR, you know what that means...performance review prep - what fun! We know what you're thinking but seriously, they can be fun when managers perform them effectively. Good performance reviews put people first. They assess how employees are doing in their current roles, ensure they feel supported, improve employee/manager relations, and provide team members with clear direction when it comes to the competencies in which they need to improve. Monitoring employee performance also helps management teams identify skills gaps and learning opportunities, assign training budgets, and identify hiring needs. Employee performance reviews are important for every business, but their effectiveness depends on how they are conducted. They can empower your employees to reach new heights – or they could drive them away. And with employee engagement at an all-time low, you'll want to be sure your performance reviews are as effective as possible. The Goal of Performance Reviews A people-centric review process, similar to a people-centric onboarding process,  helps your employees identify growth opportunities and potential areas of improvement without damaging employee-manager relations. Still, writing and conducting a strong review isn't easy. Managers often don't receive enough guidance on what an effective and comprehensive review looks like. Compounding the problem, small businesses frequently struggle with limited resources. For example, for a company with 1,000 employees to conduct accurate and helpful performance reviews, a full-time HR staff of 14 is ideal -- sounds luxurious, doesn't it! Regardless of how frequently or in what manner your company conducts performance reviews, these review meetings should benefit employees and managers alike.  Workers gain a better understanding of what they are doing well and where they can improve. They can ask questions, gain clarity, or provide feedback to their managers -- without the fear or retribution. Similarly, managers have the opportunity to communicate expectations with their team, identify their highest performers, correct issues before they escalate, and increase engagement and motivation. In this article, we’ll share with you the 10 best tips for making sure your performance reviews make the right kind of impact on team members.  Tip 1: Include these Areas in Employee Performance Reviews As you prepare your team and people managers to conduct their reviews, here are some helpful reminders to build into your managers’ prep plans. Most employee reviews include assessment of these skills: Communication Collaboration and teamwork Problem-solving Quality and accuracy of work Ability to accomplish goals and meet deadlinesAfter addressing the key areas, you'll need to evaluate and weigh each to get a picture of the employee's overall performance. The way you format and organize this information is up to you as well as your company's needs. Some organizations use a grading system of A through F, numerical scoring or percentages, or written descriptions (e.g., "most of the time," "some of the time"). Whichever system you use, make sure that it is objective and easy to understand. Don't forget to remind your managers to set up time with employees to discuss their findings. It can be helpful to have a written copy of the evaluation to reference and keep your meeting on track. They should deliver transparent feedback, with examples where appropriate, and allot enough time for the employee to ask questions or deliver feedback. Encourage your managers to consider this a two-way conversation. Tip 2: Be Clear & Objective An effective performance review is a chance for managers and employees to start a two-way conversation, communicate clearly, and set tangible goals. After performance reviews, people should understand what’s expected of them and how they’re progressing in their roles. Here are a few pointers to train managers on communicating clearly:Keep language simple and clear — especially when offering constructive feedback Make development goals objective and measurable, so that employees can track progressTip 3: Conduct Performance Reviews Frequently If you want to foster employee success, you should branch beyond the more traditional annual review. So much can change in your organization or with your employees in one year. It’s important to stay aligned and to keep communication open during those changes, not just during annual employee performance reviews. We recommend quarterly or even monthly performance conversations, paired with a year-end or annual review of general themes, notes, progress, and next steps. This allows managers and employees to stay on the same page about goals, progress, and performance. It also helps:Employees understand exactly where they stand and what to do to improve Managers provide real-time coaching to help employees overcome obstacles Organizations benefit from a constant flow of data on individual and team performanceMany organizations are turned off by a quarterly or monthly performance review cadence because it feels like a hefty time commitment. But if you’re having frequent conversations, they don’t need to be long, robust, or comprehensive to be effective. The result of more frequent conversations is ensuring no surprises during an annual review. Tip 4: Make Time for 1:1 Meetings While clear and objective language is important, it can also at times come across as sounding cold. To combat this, create an environment of trust one-on-one with your team members. It may be tempting to just check in when your team is gathered together — especially if you only have a few direct reports or they all have similar goals and tasks. However, taking the time to review each employee individually is crucial because:People have different career goals and need individualized support Employees welcome 1:1 time with their managers to improve rapport Individuals may wish to speak privately about particular goals or struggles Employee strengths and difficulties vary, even if they’re on the same teamTip 5: Encourage the Following Kind of Performance Review Questions One way to determine what makes for a good performance review question is by comparing it to Gallup’s 12 elements of employee engagement, or Q12. You may recognize these affirming statements from the well-known business advice book, First, Break All the Rules. The 12 Elements of Employee EngagementI know what is expected of me at work. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person. There is someone at work who encourages my development. At work, my opinions seem to count. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work. I have a best friend at work. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.Source: Gallup If you’re looking for a way to develop your own performance review questions, one idea is to create questions that gauge whether or not one of the twelve engagement statements is true or false. If you want more detail, or a result that you can track over time, turn a yes/no question into a scored response. Going even further, if you are seeking action items like areas to improve upon or where you can recognize achievement, ask for a response in the form of a list, or, leave the response open-ended. Best Questions for Performance Reviews These questions are for employees to answer during a self-assessment section of the review process.What experience, project, or action are you most proud of since the last review? Which of our company values did you live best in the last few months? How has your manager helped you achieve your goals during the past few months? What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What corporate/personal goals did you accomplish? Which goals fell short? What skill or knowledge do people on your team or at the company rely on you to provide? What project/goal(s) would you like to focus on in the next quarter/six months/year? How were you able to contribute to the company’s current goal of [creating a more inclusive culture, closing more sales, launching a new marketing campaign, etc.]? What would colleagues or clients say about their recent interactions with you? What attributes do I contribute that make up our culture?Best Employee Performance Review Questions for Managers These questions mirror those above but have been phrased to ask a manager about their employee. You can compare the manager’s answers to the employee’s and see if they’re aligned.Describe a meaningful contribution that [Name] has made since the last review. Which company value have you seen [Name] emulating well in the last few months? Describe how you have impacted [Name]’s ability to succeed and grow in their position. What types of projects does [Name] excel at? How has [Name] done with creating and meeting goals over the past few months? What role does [Name] have on the team and what impact have they had? What are some areas of focus/projects that could benefit [Name]? In what way(s) did [Name] contribute to the company’s current goal of [creating a more inclusive culture, closing more sales, launching a new marketing campaign, etc.]? What are some positive interactions you’ve noticed between [Name] and others?Additional Performance Management Assessment Questions Some of these are for employees or managers performing a self-assessment, while others are intended to assess the performance of an employee or manager. You can always be assessing and providing feedback to your employees using these question, when you employ a performance management system.Are you happy at {company name]? What special projects have you worked on this past quarter/year? In what ways can [manager/employee name] improve/help you? Would you recommend working here to your friends? Why or why not? How have you met corporate goals/values this quarter/year? How well have you achieved your goals this past quarter/year? What do you enjoy most about working for [manager/company name]? How do I show my focus on quality work?/How is [Name]’s quality of work? How do I show my focus on clients?/How does [Name] demonstrate a focus on client success? How do I show that I am solution-oriented and responsive in my role?/How does [Name] demonstrate that they are solution-oriented and responsive? What do you hope to be doing within the company one year from now? What about five years from now? What do you want your next position to be at this company? What is one recent project that you have made significant contributions to and how did you contribute? Looking back, how has your manager helped you improve and do your best work? Please share 1-2 examples. Going forward, what do you need from your manager to better support you in your role? Looking back, what have you done to encourage and support [Name] during the past three months? Going forward, what do you need in order to better support [Name] in doing their best work and/or achieving growth? What are your top three priorities for the next 6-12 months? What are your personal development goals (new skill, knowledge, work experience you’d like to acquire) to help you maximize your performance and potential? What training does [Name] need in order to improve? Do you feel comfortable taking risks and approaching your manager with new ideas? Why or why not? What training do you wish you had/would you like to have?Tip 6: Personalize Your Communication During Performance Reviews Yes, being clear and objective is important. But all the question in the world won't make performance reviews impactful if you're not personalizing your communication. Pay close attention to how you phrase your evaluations and communicate with employees. Meaningful and action-oriented words have a far greater impact in employee performance reviews than more standard phrases such as "good" or "satisfactory". Here are five words and expressions that will help you effectively highlight an employee's contributions, based on James E. Neal's Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals (Neal Publications, 2009).  Achievement: Incorporate this into a phrase, such as "achieves optimal levels of performance with/for... " Communication skills: Phrases like "effectively communicates expectations" or "excels in facilitating group discussions" go a long way with an employee. Creativity: Appreciating employees' creative side can make for happier, more motivated staff. In a performance evaluation, try phrases like "seeks creative alternatives," followed by specific examples and results. Improvement: Employees like hearing that they are improving and that it's being noticed. "Continues to grow and improve" and "is continuously planning for improvement" are two constructive phrases to use in a performance review. Management ability: Leadership skills and the ability to manage others are key to employee success. Phrases such as "provides support during periods of organizational change" carry weight with your employee.  Instead of using terms like "good" or "excellent" in a review, opt for more measurement-oriented language. Words like "excels," "exhibits," "demonstrates," "grasps," "generates," "manages," "possesses," "communicates," "monitors," "directs" and "achieves" are more meaningful. As an added bonus, you can take your communication to the next level by leveraging emotional intelligence data. To do it, it just takes a simple plug-in tool, and you have the insights needed to communicate with impact and effectiveness -- especially in sensitive situations. When you focus on how you communicate, when you provide provide, and the kinds of questions you ask, you'll find your employee performance reviews go more smoothly than ever before. Tip 7: Acknowledge Strengths during Performance Reviews Performance reviews aren’t just for spotting what needs improvement — they’re also fantastic opportunities to give credit to your staff for their strengths and achievements, which can often go overlook or unacknowledged during performance reviews. To give employee strengths proper acknowledgment:Include strengths in your review form Give good ratings freely and avoid focusing only on areas for improvement Discuss how the employee has built and maintained their strengths Consider how the employee could transfer strengths to areas for improvement If appropriate, consider if the employee could use their strengths to encourage learning exchanges and coaching within the teamTip 8: Empower with Employee Assessments Performance reviews work best if it’s collaborative rather than top-down process. It's important to provide team members with the kinds of tools that can shed light on their strengths, tendencies, motivators, and work energizers. Consider providing self-assessments prior to performance reviews. Here’s how you can ensure employees are actively participating in their appraisals:Offer staff a chance to prepare a self-assessment so they can take stock of their progress Give employees ownership and responsibility for their own development and progression Discuss employee, peer, and management scores to get a clear understanding of their context Ask employees for their insights on how they align with their role, department and the companyTip 9: Be Aware of Biases We all have it -- biases. We need to be aware of it in order for performance reviews to be as objective as possible. While they must be personalized according to employee strengths and roles, they should still be fair, clear, and objective. Check out these tips to reduce bias in your employee appraisals:Create questions and criteria that take a long view of the review cycle (and previous cycles) rather than simply focusing on recent performance or projects. That will avoid recency bias — i.e., focusing only on recent achievements or issues. Avoid unconscious bias and work to ensure you’re not judging an employee based on your own strengths, abilities, experiences, or personal traits (even if unintentionally). Ensure you evaluate employee achievements based on work quality rather than quantity. For example, the effort they put into a campaign, rather than only results or number of campaigns launched. If you’re conducting several reviews in quick succession, avoid comparing one employee to another. Each person deserves to have their work evaluated based on individual strengths, merits, and development needs. Avoid making conclusions abruptly or without context. If an employee appears disengaged one day, that doesn’t mean they don’t care. They may have had a bad morning or be experiencing problems at home. Try not to let your personal view of the employee impact your judgment. Their performance review is about their career progression and overall skills — not your personal feelings.Tip 10: Keep Feedback Flowing After Performance Reviews In all honesty, performance reviews typically happen once, maybe twice a year, but that does not mean that feedback should be limited to those short review periods. You should encourage your managers to offer consistent assessments throughout the year. Not only does it ensure no surprises when it's annual review time, but it also helps to motivate and engage your employees. Don't catch your people off guard in a performance review. This should not be the first time that they are hearing from you that they are not performing as expected. Be clear in writing, calendar invites, and in setting expectations for the review meeting.  You should also take constant notes on employee performance – especially when there are no performance reviews on the horizon. Employees deserve a robust assessment of their work for the entire period being covered. Far too many performance reviews are based only on what the manager can remember from the last few weeks before the evaluations are due to HR. Managers have to be intentional about taking and filing notes. A great way to keep feedback ongoing is through the use of an employee engagement suite, where managers and employees can continually assess performance and improvement. Performance Reviews for Top Performers Are Necessary Too Don't neglect your top performers. If you're only addressing issues or focusing on the employees who aren't performing, you're missing an opportunity to express gratitude to those who shape the innovation, creativity, and culture within your company. While it's true they may not need as much guidance as other employees, these individuals could lose their passion or motivation if they are not occasionally recognized.  Highly valuable employees who do their job and do it well are often not the priority of concern in performance review cycles, resulting in missed opportunities to communicate how much the organization values the drive and the results of its top performers. And no need to wait for the employee performance reviews to do it. For instance, an unexpected 'keep up the great work' email or a quick phone call or text sends a consistent signal to your employee that you are paying attention and value what they do. In the end, it’s crucial to maintain momentum after performance reviews, making sure that promises and objectives laid out during the process aren't quickly forgotten. A manager should work with the employee to set up deadlines or objectives for each tangible next step — and remember to check in. Keep employees informed on what you’re doing on your side, like setting up training or finding additional hires, and be transparent about changes or roadblocks. Happy reviewing!