About Vichitra Robinson

Vichitra Robinson is a freelance writer and blogger from New Delhi, India. She likes writing about human resource management and psychology.

How to best orient your new staff?

For a new hire workplace seems to be a strange confusing place and to reduce such stress for your new employee, orientation is a best practice that every organization whether big or small should incorporate.

Your new employee orientation does not need to be too formal. What is important is that your new employee is introduced to your organization’s culture and has the opportunity to learn the company policy.

If your organization is large in size or you have a company practices, you can provide some kind of training to your new employees. An employee orientation helps your new employees feel part of the organization. Orientation can help your new employees learn at least the vision of your organization and what is expected from them.

Here are some points on how to conduct orientation in an effective way.

Welcome your new employee to the company and share with them the company’s vision, mission and values. Let your employee know how their role contributes to the organization’s mission and vision.

Who’s who. Let your employees know the organizational structure of your organization. Share organization’s background with your new employee like who is the owner of the company or people associated with the organization. Let them know the different department and division of the company, how many employees work in the organization.

Discuss company policies. If your company has an employee handbook then it is much easier to handover to their new employees and ask them to go through it and be aware of company policies. Or sit down with them and discuss the company policies clearly.

Job detailing. Discuss the job in detail for which they are hired to ensure that the new employees understand their responsibilities and roles. Let your employee know whom to contact and who to reach out to if they have any issues or concern.

Let them know their office. Personally show them their new office or assign someone to do this. New employees need to know every department or employees concerning their job but one can avoid introducing your new employee to each and every person who either meets in a hallway or cafeteria or any other department which does not concern your new employee.

Employees are the extension of the company and they should know these basic facts.

A good orientation is an effective way to be sure that your new employee has understood his role and is ready to rock n roll with company’s move.

Social media at workplace; Handle with care

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, You tube. Is that all? No. Thousands of names have been added to this social media vocabulary and people using social media for posting their updates and sharing information has become a part of their daily routine. Even emails and texting is a form of social media.

The lines between professional and personal lives are diminishing. We take our professional lives home and also bring our personal lives to work. Organizations can’t keep a check on such activities at a wider level. It is essential to create awareness to use social media safely.

A survey conducted by Internet security firm revealed that 45% of employers are concerned about unauthorized information being posted and shared. In such serious cases where an employee uses social media to damage organization’s image or discloses any confidential information on the social media websites can be terminated from their employment.

What an employee post to their social network can mean serious trouble for the employee and employer.

Can we save ourselves from this clan? Possibly Yes. Only if we want to.

Research reveals that every 1 in 3 employees use social media daily.

There is a need to know the guidelines for such activities about what an employee can and can’t do.

Set up the guidelines and policies for the use of social media. Let your employee knows clearly what they can update or what they can’t. In fact this point can even be discussed while making a hire or one can add this in their job description.

Use of social media tools should be limited. And use it with concern and awareness that whatever you post will be public. Respect privacy. Never make use of any such words which will harm your organization’s value, your manager’s and your co-worker’s image. Employees are expected to treat their co-workers with respect both in physical workplace and online.

On social media website you only represent yourself. You need special training and rights to post or tweet anything related to your organization or any such copyright stuff. You just can’t post anything you feel like.

Have an internal team with whom employees can discuss before posting anything for their
organization. Posting an inappropriate updates and remarks will spoil your colleague’s, your organizations or even your own reputation.

Educate your employees on the use of social media at work and for work. Talk to them if they want to discuss anything with you personally and employees should think twice before posting anything. Ask yourself would you want your manager or the whole world seeing this? Do not let the whole world know the inside story, let your managers know if anything goes wrong and talk to them for any such issues.

Protect privacy and respect the guidelines.

Social media is an effective tool for business if used effectively; having openness at work will help both employees and employers to make the best use of it.

How to write a good job description?

Why do we need a job description?

Well a job description is the keystone that decides a job.

Job description is a clear way to demonstrate whom you are hiring, why you are hiring and what is expected from the applicant.

In a way, a good job description or snap shot ensures an effective hiring process by recruiting the right person with clear understanding for the job.

As a hiring manager, if you are unable to communicate what skills and experience you are looking for in an applicant in a job interview, then how an applicant can explain what he is capable of. So a job description is an effective communication tool between you and the applicant.

A good job description makes your search easier and effective by explaining what kind of person you are looking for and also helps you in determining the applicant’s ability and skills to accomplish the expected task.

A job description doesn’t mean that you need to write down every single task step by step that needs to be done but it is written just to explain the core task clearly.

A good job description must include the following;

Title: Create a title that reflects the work to be done. A job title should be clear enough to understand the responsibilities of the job.

Write down carefully what is expected from a job applicant. For e.g.; If there is a job for Customer care representative, the job description must explain clearly what all needs to be done by an applicant. Like attending calls, solving customer queries on phone, pleasing under rough circumstances etc.

Who reports whom? A job description should clearly explain whom the applicants should be reporting. It could be their supervisor, line manager or it could be multiple bosses.

Explain clearly the Job experience, skills and educational qualification required for the job offered.

A job description can be re-evaluated at the time of appraisals. It is also a good way to determine how your employees are performing; are they happy with job, are they performing well by meeting or exceeding the desired job description or performing low than the expected level.

A good job description doesn’t have to be very long rather it can be just a paragraph with clearly mentioned responsibilities.

Keep your job description simple and effective for obtaining valuable results.

How to resolve conflicts as a manger?

Conflicts can be a positive thing in a workplace; it encourages creative thinking and helps in making good decisions. However if conflicts are not managed effectively it has potential of causing all the problems in your work life, your organization and even your personal life

The conflicts between employees can be really pernicious, can even harm an employee’s morale and can even create a higher level of stress. It can even affect the health and well-being.

To avoid having poisonous atmosphere created by conflicts in your workplace, here are some dos and don’ts.

Conflicts can be reduced if employees spend quality time with each other, time used in connecting with each other at workplace will be useful and quite effective than the time wasted in resolving the conflicts occurred because of misunderstandings and lack of knowing each other.

Determine the needs and requirements of each one and try to provide them the same.

Appreciate and encourage. If an employee needs the freedom to express her views on particular project. She should be appreciated and encouraged to do so. Employees should have the openness of having their say and be heard.

Don’t assume the responsibility of solving all the problems by you only. Though it sounds like being irresponsible and rude but this is the major mistakes all managers make when they try to invade in matters and pledge to solve the problems on employee’s behalf. Ask other’s opinion too.

Don’t be a judge. Being a manager doesn’t give you the right to judge. Mostly supervisors and managers do this mistake of judging the right after listening to both ends. This can put you in an awkward situation by explaining who’s right and who’s not. Instead ask the employees themselves how they are going to treat the problem. Let them try to solve the problem themselves.

Draw a line to these conflicts. It’s better to clear what and how much is “allowed’ in your workplace. Don’t wait till the end when conflicts take a really bad shape and you are so frustrated with the conflicts going on in your workplace that you end up losing your cool and which is not healthy to you and nor to your employees.

Never play favourites. This will only make the matter worse and it is not good even for you as a manager. Being a manger gives you a great responsibility, being biased will only make you an unsuccessful manager.

Avoid saying a direct “No” to an unaccepted suggestion, instead ask questions and let your employee explain, how that particular suggestion is useful.

In some situations manifesting conflicts is healthier but in others it can be harmful and violent.

Different situations require different response, if one can acquire different styles of management while dealing with various situations, one can reduce conflicts and manage it a healthier way. As a manager make sure conflicts should always be handled positively, without creating any harm to anyone.

Are you a gruff boss?

Managing employees can be a knotty tasks at times specially the ones who are under performing and disruptive.

But this is not just one side affair. It will be unfair to say that workplace issues are always because of difficult, non – performing employees. How we treat our employees have an impact on how they behave at work?

Have you ever riddled one of your employees in front of their co-workers? Do you ignore staff issues just because you are too busy with work? Do you ever make the underperformers feel that they are non-competent compared to others?

If yes, then this is a sure way to decrease the employee’s morale and productivity.

It is imperative to find out; do you have bad boss characteristics?

Here are few indicators to check the irrational attitude of manager.

  • Do you have difficulty in discussing goals with your staff?
  • Are you least interested in knowing the challenges your employees face at work?
  • Do you fail to explain your staff what is expected of them? (This helps them to focus and achieve goals)
  • Are you rude and brusque with your employees?
  • Do you ignore to appreciate your employee’s accomplishments?
  • How do you treat employee – employee relations? Do you want them to be aggressive against each other in the interest of reaching organizational goals?

If any of the above and such like, applies to you and symbolises the way you deal with your staff then you fall under “Bad Boss” category.

Managing employees doesn’t require you to be just the provider of the work, rather a good manager should be more like a coach or a tutor and even he needs to act as a counsellor to his staff.

How we interact with our staff has a direct impact on employee’s performance, employee’s motivation and their job satisfaction. Employee’s morale and productivity increases with “Good boss behaviour and characteristics”.

So if you want to be successful as a supervisor or manager, you need to learn to finesse your staff’s skills and seek organizational growth with a change in your management style.

Think wisely and profoundly, how you can get off such label, if any. No manager wants to be tagged as awful boss, isn’t it?

Destress at work

We all hear a lot about stress but what exactly it is?

The dictionary meaning of stress is “A phase of mental and emotional anxiety resulting from unfavourable and demanding circumstances”. In simpler terms, if the thought of going to work gives you strain, you are stressed. People at workplace are in constant stress. Stress at workplace needs to handle carefully.

It is imperative to keep stress at a manageable level. Often when workplace stress goes out of hand, people feel overwhelmed and start to withdraw from their work. It does not affect the mental state only but if prolonged it hampers the physical state by causing various stress related illness.

Before handling or managing, one needs to acknowledge stress and try to find out its source. If one knows where this stress is coming from, it is easier to focus and work towards it.

Stress at workplace could be because of distinct reasons. To list a few;

Estranged and disobliging co-workers. Dealing with colleague is very important and one cannot avoid it. Bullying and harassment are common in workplace. You need to be authoritative with colleagues who are playful and stubborn. Setting high standards with your colleague is the best way to deal with your colleague. When you become authoritative your managers and co-workers develop a degree of respect for you. Proper communication is also very important. If you are facing problems with your colleagues try to speak with them. Place your concerns with your managers. Proper communication can also help you to come up with the solution and also improve your relation with your colleague.

Irrational demands of managers. Fulfilling irrational demands of your managers can lead to stress. This can cause severe problems like loss of productivity, lack of concentration and downward growth.

Lack of job security. Changes caused by economical transformations leads to organizational downsizing, takeovers and higher rate of retention. As a result of which employees are in constant stress of losing their job.

Workplace culture. Fresh employees who are new to their work or even if employees who have just shifted from one organization to another finds themselves misfit in their new organization. Many factors like hierarchy level, the way they communicate, senior employees and co-workers, work patterns and dressing style can cause this stress.

Lack of ability to perform well. An employee when fail to perform within time and is unable to show favourable results experience stress at a higher level. This is not only because of an employee’s inability to perform for the given task but also sometimes difficult managers put unrealistic goals or some strict bosses with their irrational attitude creates unfavourable circumstances where an employee find difficulty in performing well.

Lack of knowledge of technology. The advent of technology like computers, internet, mobile phones, and many such technology devices, leads to an expectation of improved and faster work efficiency. Employees who are not well versed with latest technology feel pressure and this inability to cope leads to stress. Stress level increases more where multi-generational workforce is present, where one set of (Gen Y ) employees are comfortable with technology and the other set (Traditionalist & Baby boomers) of employees are still trying to fix their hands on technology. They both can be stressed at times because of their different working styles. In fact this could be another reason for stress, having distinct generations at work.

People fail to understand that dealing with stress is more important. Ignoring it will cause more damage to one’s work life. Switching jobs will not solve the issues related to work stress.

So, here are some quick and easy tips on how to deal with stress;

  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid foods which includes caffeine and sugar
  • Love yourself – relax with some distressing therapy, pamper yourself by doing something you feel good about.
  • Be positive. Shape your day with new hopefulness – form “you can do it” attitude for yourself
  • Never look down too much on your failures – learn from it and work for it.
  • Set realistic goals

Everyone feel stressed at one point of time, stress is common to all but how you deal with it and how you empower it matters most.

Handle your work related stress in a positive manner so that it doesn’t hold you back.

How to make a good hire and why?

What is a good hire? A person who fits in the job as expected, motivated enough to perform beyond the line, is competitive to the level needed, should have problem solving skills and positive attitude towards the work.

May be all of the above qualities are required to have a perfect person for your job opening.

Here are some pointers on how to hire them and why?

Before making a good hire, the organization should be aware of its strengths and weaknesses. This will give you a clear understanding of what qualities you require in a new hire. Hire people would help you increase your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Of course you don’t want to hire people who force you to spend time where you are weakest rather you want somebody who would nourish your strengths. A simple example to this is suppose you are bad at managing and organizing simple task let say paying bills is often the one you miss to do on time and other such things, then you should hire a person who is good at organizing things and managing them.

Next important thing to keep in mind before you initiate a hiring process is why are you hiring? Are you hiring for the current requirement or you are foreseeing future with your new hires? Have a clear analysis of the organization’s needs. One can hire in combination to present and future need.

Hire capabilities and not credentials. It is observed that very often managers are attracted by the academic success of the applicant and qualification achievements take over the skills. While hiring one should not fall for applicant’s degrees or attractive resumes. Of course it is important that the applicant should be competitive enough but judging a person merely by his degrees will not make a good hire. You need to assess whether the applicant will fit into your desired role or not. How well he can perform for such given task. An applicant who is academically successful may not be a good performer. Your focus as an interviewer should be on an applicant’s capabilities.

Does your organization goal matches with the applicant’s life goal? If yes, then the chances are that the applicant will be more engaged in the job assigned to him and will put in extra efforts. Analyse and find out whether the job, the position and the role that you are offering matches the life goal of the applicant. If the applicant’s goals are inline to the organization’s goal there would be less retentions, more motivation for the job and the result is charged up workforce with a common goal to achieve.

Fast learners make a good hire. The ability to learn and adapt to the new environment should be analysed carefully. Hire somebody who can learn fast, picks things up and applies the learning to the job. Hand over some task to the applicant to judge the capabilities of his learning skills. An applicant who is open to new learning and is not afraid of taking responsibilities in the new environment can be a best hire.

Mostly bad hires happen because of untrained interviewers.

Some managers are trained to hire employees but the kind of training they have had is about the legal dos and don’ts and interviewing basics, they haven’t been trained on “How to hire the best”.

Most company fail to do the analysis on the basis of their needs. An employer should be clear about what his organization needs and what it doesn’t need.

It is better to let the position be open or be unfilled than to fill it with the wrong person. Because at the end of the day a wrong person will do more damage than the open position.

Workforce is changing

How do you react if you come across a situation where your organization is facing issues neither because of non-performers, work environment, stress nor even strict bosses have anything to do with it? It could be because of various working styles colliding with each other.

Workforce is changing rapidly.

Today workforce has four generations working side by side.

Traditionalist – Baby Boomer – Gen X – Millennial

The key to manage multigenerational workforce is the ability to communicate effectively with all.

All these four generations are very different in the way they grew up working and communicating.

Traditionalist use the basic way of writing, Boomer make use of phone calls, Gen X make further use of technology and preferred emailing whereas Millennial who always have less time to spare uses Text me philosophy.

When the workforce sees the world in different ways, it is no less than a challenge for a manager to manage them.

Baby boomers are motivated by title. Whereas this is not the case with millennial. They are looking for freedom in the workplace, flexibility and more openness in the workplace. In olden times, work culture used to be a different one, where older workers were the boss and younger workers used to listen to them. But this so called “new generation” has new rules every day and same is applied to their work life too.

Organizations really need to learn what the drivers are for these generations and how to effectively communicate across these generations.

While dealing with multi-generational workforce, one should keep in mind the difference in
their working style, attitude, factors that motivates them, their workability, the way one can
communicate with them.

Communicating effectively with different individuals requires knowing them. In a family where there are many generations living together, yet they manage to communicate well despite the differences because they know each other. Likewise, in an organization which is one’s work family, knowing each other, understanding one’s way of working can enhance communication and help in achieving common goals.

It is must for a manager to understands the concept of “Unity in diversity” and view the underlying strength of having distinct workforce in the organization.

How to make performance appraisal more effective?

Performance appraisal is always viewed as one sided, negatively criticized, discussing the failures and boss dominated communication.

Are your employees aligned to your strategy? Probably not. If employees do not know their part of the plan, they have no direction. It means they are disengaged and not focused.

Performance review when conducted positively can increase employee’s performance and motivate him to achieve goals which contribute to organizational growth.

It is imperative to have an employee friendly review system.

Here are some tips that can be used;

Effective performance appraisal involves communicating with your employees, sharing ideas and opinions ensuring that employees have the clear cut idea of what are expected from them and whether they are moving on right path. Don’t limit your communication to just problems; provide coaching, training and encouragement. Communicate multiple times in multiple ways. Don’t limit the appraisal to one sided discussion. While conducting reviews make sure the employees have the space to communicate and discuss.

Performance appraisal should not be once a year event. It should be a continuous dialogue, because employees need to know how they are doing, they need to know where they stand. It does make better employees.

Make sure that the outcome of the performance appraisal programme should be a learning ground for the employee. Remember reviewing performance is not about remuneration review or the opportunity to talk about poor performances and corrective action. It should be a ground for learning and development plan for the employee.

Set goals to measure performance. If the employees are aware of their goals and directions it is easier to review their performance more subjectively.

Give time. Criticism in any form is hard to accept. During an interview make sure you talk to the employee in a manner which motivates him to perform better. Help him to find out ways which leads to improvement. Recognize his positives and encourage him to learn and grow.

Provide proper training. Sometimes employees lack guidelines and directions which makes them poor performers. It is a mutual responsibility of both managers and employees to work on a given project. Managers need to provide proper guidance and training, and employees need to pay attention to what is being taught and expected.

Never discuss the developmental plans at the time of appraisal. An Employee who is being evaluated for his performance will not be able to focus on the growth plans. Rather give time to him to settle down with his review and let him get motivated enough to perform even better. Once the employee is in form again, discuss the future plans or goals.

A good review system should be used not only to improve employee’s performance but also to encourage employees to set gaols and work towards achieving them effectively with few obstacles.

Appreciate your employee’s involvement in designing the new appraisal system. If they take interest in forming the appraisals they will be more dedicated to it and both you and your employees will be benefitted.

Why employers should hire Generation Y in their workplace?

They are fun, they are vibrant, overly motivated, addicted to technology – They are the “Millennial” commonly known as Gen Y.

There is an advantage of choosing Gen Y for your organization, they are happy to tackle to, more confident and they could do anything that they settle their mind to.

Generation Y are flooding the workplace of this era.

Here are some reasons why an employer should be happy to have Gen Y in its workplace.

Self-driven attitude. They enter the workforce with fresh mind-set and add new a belief and attitude towards work life. Smart employers who think ahead of time and are not bound to focus within the box are looking for them. Generation Y is woke up to the world which is sudden, inexplicable and as a result many have made the decision that they need to live life now. They are looking for a job that suits their needs.Gen Y is very inspiring generation. If they love their job and are fully committed to it, they love to work for 24 hrs. for it.Gen Y can bring a huge shift in business environment as they are very dynamic, very enthusiastic with lots of energy, their willingness to work think outside the square. Gen Y is lot more demanding too. They are outspoken.

Focus on results. When you think that what drives Gen Y professionally? You need to remember they really don’t have a professional life and a personal life. They have just one life. They can really help to push an organization forward in a significant manner. As an employer you just need to know what Gen Y wants in a workplace to get the most out of them. With that in mind if they feel that the company has set their best interests they are among the most loyal employees who will work around the clock. Companies need to deliver on these promises. Gen Y focus on achieving goals and proving fruitful. They love to challenge themselves and work towards reaping the success.

Techy buds. This is the generation that grew up with internet. They were surrounded by internet since the time they are born so no one is a new learner in their pool. They apply this knowledge in almost all the aspects of their life. They can work smarter, faster and more effectively while using technology all the way.

There are basically the five factors which are called five C’s which employers need to focus on if they want gen Y in their work place.

Condition. It includes the functionality of the job – pay matter, flexibility of the working hours and access to the social media.

Continuous learning. They are more likely to choose an organization which will enhance the further learning. They judge before joining how this job is going to help them in their career. They consider training as a benefit and are looking forward to have more of it.

Challenge. It is linked with the organization’s environment which promotes growth by achieving goals. .They love to put them in challenging work which helps in achieving goals.

Culture. How their organization is engaged in building culture. Are they open to discussions; again flexi time is one of their concerns, If it is not imperative for an organization that the employee work strictly nine to five, it may be a good idea to let the employee choose their own working hours.

Charisma. This involves leadership and how employers can provide a position that they can sign up to.

We really don’t have to adapt them and change ourselves for them completely but yes, Gen Y can teach us some of very meaningful and productive working style.

And yes to sum up there is a message for gen Y, do try to live up to these expectations as you are leading this generation and the reputation of this corporate world is upon you.