Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Small changes with big results

Performance matters. 
In a growing business everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction if you are to achieve your goals.  Highly motivated people are attracted to businesses that are growing, but we all know that passion and drive can lead to raised temperatures, and if not managed well, conflict.  As your business evolves the way people treat each other becomes increasingly important.  The entrepreneurial, fleet of foot feel that you want to maintain can get lost in your increasing scale, and the horse-power of your workforce can become harder to harness.

I was reading a study the other day that shed some light on how to maximise productivity in teams.  It seemed deceptively simple, just three simple ideas, so I tried it out with my colleagues.  I found it worked! 

Some researchers called Barbara Fredrickson and Marcial Losada investigated the differences in how people worked in high, medium and low performing teams.  The three key things that mattered were:
-  how positive people were with each other
-  whether people asked each other questions
-  whether people were focused on themselves, or on others
train tracks

In a high performing team, they found that colleagues make six positive comments for each negative one.  In other words, they build on and support each others' ideas, and recognise each others' strengths, without becoming over the top about it.  In high performing teams people ask 11 questions for every 10 statements they make - they are as curious about what others think as they are about getting across their own opinions.  Finally, they refer to others - be that another team, company or industry one times for every time they refer to themselves / their team.  This balance of internal and external focus makes them open to learning and changing, rather than being insular and keeping things the same.

"I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

In the low performing teams, there were 10 statements for every question, 2 negative comments for every positive one, and 33 (yes, 33!) references to themself for every reference to someone else.  Sounds to me like everyone in these teams is on transmit not receive, and their transmissions make gloomy listening!

Next time you are in a meeting with your team, pause to ask yourself these three questions:
-  how high is the team's curiosity about others? 
-  how positive and appreciate are people being?
-  how much do people question as well as putting across their point of view?

Simple shifts of focus can really help get teams, and individuals performing.  If you want to keep people aligned and motivated as your business grows paying attention to how they relate to each other is a great way to start.

Monday, 14 May 2012

How did you get into HR?

Working with a lot of HR professionals at the beginning of their career, I am often asked my advice on the best way to get into HR.

From my own personal experience, and from speaking to HR people across all sectors, there is one thing that is certain – an HR career can be forged from a number of different beginnings. Whether it be the infamous, ‘I just fell into it,’ path (which is surprisingly common amongst HR professionals) or a planned academic route, there is certainly no sure-fire way of becoming a success in the world of HR.

human resources inspiration, recruitment north eastThere is no doubt that CIPD qualifications are looked upon favourably by employers. From a full degree course in Human Resource Management, to the Certificate in Personnel Practice (or the more recent Certificate in Human Resources Practice), there are a variety of ways to learn the theory behind HR. These qualifications should not be sniffed at, as they provide an excellent grounding in the knowledge that all HR professionals require.

However, it is by no means an essential prerequisite to starting a successful career in HR. There are excellent HR Managers working today who didn’t even think about CIPD qualifications until they had worked within an HR department for a number of years.

For people looking to get into HR at the moment, it can be particularly difficult to get a foot on the ladder. CIPD qualifications can be costly, and experience can be hard to come by. Employers are reluctant to offer jobs to candidates lacking HR experience, but how can they gain experience without being given a chance? It’s a vicious cycle that can frustrate someone trying to get into a potentially rewarding career.

Voluntary experience can never be underestimated. With enthusiasm and perseverance, a valuable placement can be found, and will really strengthen a prospective HR CV.

This is not an exhaustive guide to ‘getting into HR’. It is merely my observations gathered from speaking to young HR professionals across the region. I would be really interested to know how you made your first steps into HR. I’m sure that everyone will have a different story!