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Want an easy way to help your employees become more effective? Ask them to spend the end of each workday reflecting on their performance, research suggests.This Simple Daily Exercise Boosts Employee Performance.

A recent study found that "employees who spent the last 15 minutes of each day of their training period writing and reflecting on what they had learned did 23% better in the final training test than other employees," the Harvard Business Review reports.

The study, "Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance," was conducted by Giada Di Stefano of HEC Paris, Francesca Gino and Gary P. Pisano of Harvard Business School, and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

It found that employees who practice a skill and then reflect on their progress learn it better than those who just practiced.

If you have new employees or want a team-building exercise, you can use the "Dear Diary" technique, as the Harvard Business Review calls it, with your team. Employees simply spend 15 minutes or less at the end of the day writing one or two short paragraphs about how well they performed that day and what they learned. You can customize it by using a rating system, where they rate their performance on a scale from 1-5 or 1-10.

Asking them to share the results with you or the team can aid communication, but the researchers noted that employees who shared their results did not perform significantly better than those who only reflected by themselves.

To draw this conclusion, the researchers performed two experiments in a lab, where paid participants solved brain teasers. In both cases, the employees who were told to reflect on the strategy they used to solve the first problem did better than those who didn't. Those who both reflected and explained their techniques to other participants also did better than those who did nothing extra but had essentially the same results as those who only reflected, within the margin of error.

Then the team decided to test their findings in a real-world setting. They went to Wipro BPO, a leading business-process outsourcing company in India.

At the end of employee training, Wipro gives new employees a test, which is graded on a scale of 0-100. The employees who took 15 minutes to reflect at the end of training for 10 days scored 23% higher on average than those who didn't. Those who both reflected and shared their reflections with fellow trainees scored 25% higher than those who didn't, but the team determined this difference to be negligible.

The research team notes that the findings can be used to improve employee performance even when they progress beyond trainees.

Source: Business Insider

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Whether they are called Generation Yecho boomers or even the Peter Pan generationmillennials are becoming more prevalent and weighty in today's business world. This younger generation is expected to comprise 36 percent of the global workforce this year and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Adapting to the influx of generation Y entering the workplace doesn't mean a company must to overhaul its entire environment, but managers may have to make adjustments to their supervisory style. Here are three lessons I've learned from my experience managing a team of millennials:

1. Promote a work-life blend and balance. Millennials live by the motto "work hard, play hard." They are not willing to sacrifice their personal lives for the advancement of their careers. As a manager, empower millennials to manage their own schedules, yet continue to motivate them to be diligent about their assigned tasks.

Their contributions should never be measured by the number of late nights spent at the office but instead by the results realized, whether it's producing high-quality work, beating project deadlines or thinking outside of the box to great effect.

2. Spur collaboration. Millennials have grown up working in teams, participating in group projects in the classes, high school sports and group-chat video games. They want an atmosphere that promotes cooperation. A collaborative working environment can foster learning within a company.

Use open floor plan offices to encourage teamwork, where no one is confined to cramped, isolated cubicles. Having a group setup lessens the sense of a corporate hierarchy and creates an ambiance of community. The team dynamic in the office is augmented by bonding events through company-sponsored activities, such as surfing lessons, pick-up basketball games and monthly dinners that let employees have a chance to get to know one another personally. A team that is built on trusted personal relationships will lead to solidarity.

3. Set personal goals. Many millennials consider themselves altruists by nature. They want to have a purpose, whether it's contributing to their co-workers' success, company growth or aiding those using the products or services they create. Millennials' can-do attitude makes them mentally prepared to take on challenging tasks. They'll continue to assume those tasks when it's apparent they contribute to their professional development.

Personal goal setting is important for millennials who want to see forward movement in their careers and take ownership of their progress. Allow new hires to spend a few weeks getting a lay of the land before asking them to record their goals – for the near term for their current position and long term to map their career aspirations.

From there, managers should conduct a monthly meeting with each team member to check in on their goals, outline expectations and provide candid advice. A manager's job is to help every employee become more successful , and goal setting, along with periodic check-ins, adds a layer of measurement that's beneficial for the team member and manager.

Source: entrepreneur.com 

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By E. Wayne Hart

The benefits of mentoring are well known: It gives less experienced employees valuable feedback, insight and support, while passing down wisdom and institutional knowledge. But who can develop effective mentoring relationships with today's time pressures and revolving doors of employees?

In organizations flattened by design or by downsizing, employees often take on larger or more challenging roles with very little preparation or support. High-potential managers move around the organization, gathering experience but often missing out on time to reflect on what they are learning. Such situations can be both exciting and overwhelming–and when they arise, mentoring relationships can help employees both adapt and learn.

Of course, as an experienced manager, you run major initiatives, take on complex jobs and have zero time to spare. Helping younger employees manage their careers, navigate organizational politics and gain success is almost certainly not your top priority. Take a moment, though, to consider how being a mentor will help you with your own career goals.

For starters, the most effective mentors also improve their own leadership skills. As you assist your mentee, you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience–something you probably don't take time to do otherwise. Along the way, you may see patterns you didn't spot before.

Mentoring also helps you view the organization with a fresh eye toward its functions, politics and culture. You may, for example, gain a new understanding of how people from different generations or backgrounds approach their work and careers. Also, many mentors say they get personal satisfaction and fulfillment from their mentoring relationships. If you're feeling burned out or cynical, mentoring can give you and your career a boost.

What does it take to become an effective mentor? Here's a brief look at seven key tasks for the mentor to perform:

  • Develop and manage the mentoring relationship. Initially, this involves assessing your own readiness and interest, selecting someone to mentor and getting to know each other. Over time, it means working to build trust, set goals and keep the mentoring relationship on track.
  • Sponsor. Opening doors and advocating for your mentee can allow her to develop new skills and gain meaningful visibility. You can create and seek new opportunities for her and connect her with people in your network.
  • Survey the environment. Mentors keep a watchful eye on the horizon, looking for both threatening organizational forces and positive opportunities. You want to be on the lookout for include rumors, people taking an adversarial position relative to the mentee, shortcuts through the system, low-visibility or no-win assignments and high-visibility or win-win assignments.
  • Guide and counsel. You may serve as a confidant, sounding-board and personal advisor to your mentee, especially as the relationship grows deeper over time. You may help your mentee understand conflict or explore ways to deal with problems, for example. You also can warn your mentee about behavior that is a poor fit with organizational culture.
  • Teach. Many mentors enjoy the teaching aspects of mentoring, which mean not only imparting their knowledge but also sharing their experiences and recommending assignments.
  • Model. Just while observing you mentees pick up many things: ethics, values and standards; style, beliefs and attitudes; methods and procedures. They are likely to follow your lead, adapt your approach to their own style, and build confidence through their affiliation with you. As a mentor, you need to be keenly aware of your own behavior.
  • Motivate and inspire. Mentors support, validate and encourage their mentees. When you help your mentees link their own goals, values and emotions to the larger organizational agenda, they become more engaged in their work and in their own development.

You will not do all seven of these things all the time. Each mentoring situation is different, and you'll need to shift your role depending on the person and their goals. For example, if you're mentoring an up-and-coming project manager who will be moving on to another assignment soon, your focus may stay on her near-term challenges and preparation for the next step. Another mentee may be need help navigating the organization and building his career, so sponsoring and protecting may be your focus.

Always remember that mentoring is a shared job. You aren't solely responsible for creating a successful mentoring relationship. The person being mentored needs to be flexible, honest, open and receptive to feedback and insight. He or she needs to be willing and able to take action in pursuit of goals, to invest in learning and to take steps toward needed change. The mentee also needs to be willing to give you feedback and talk about what is or isn't working well in the relationship.

As you work together, you'll make course corrections, the relationship will deepen, and you'll discover that being a mentor is no longer an unnecessary, expendable task. Instead it will be a rewarding one for you that has a profound impact on others.

Source: Forbes. E. Wayne Hart is a senior faculty member at the Center for Creative Leadership and author of the CCL guidebook Seven Keys to Successful Mentoring.

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