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Video: How To Avoid Embarrassing Onboarding Mistakes May 31, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace, building a better workplace, business strategy, communication, entitlement, hiring, HR, human resources, kevin burns, leadership, management, onboarding, workplace.
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How To Avoid Embarrassing Onboarding Mistakes from Kevin Burns on Vimeo.

Kevin Burns, Workplace Expert offers up advice to counter managers who systematically remove the incentive to perform well by giving away the farm to new hires by not tying it to performance. All your new hire has to do is the bare minimum – just enough to not get fired – and they will enjoy raises. Hiring a new employee is not simple. There is pressure involved to get it right and to start a new relationship on the right foot. So how do you do that?


Video: Where To Find The Best Employees May 25, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace, building a better workplace, business strategy, committee, corporate culture, Employee Engagement, engagement, high-performance, HR, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, leadership, management, productivity, workplace.
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Where To Find The Best Employees from Kevin Burns on Vimeo.

Kevin Burns, Workplace Expert, shows you where to find the best workers. Do you HONESTLY think high-performers who are happy with their work are going to be checking the newspaper want ads or paying any attention to your “Now Hiring” sign in the front window? The only people who are likely to respond to your ads or your Help Wanted sign are the people who are already looking for a job – the available. And there is a reason that they’re available.

Why Divorcees Make Lousy Managers September 29, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in business model, career, communication, company policy, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture of excellence, culture of high-performance, engagement, hiring, HR, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager.
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why divorcees make lousy managers“How you do one thing is how you do everything.”

That’s the same principle you hire people by: their past performance being the prime indicator of their future performance. You ask people the stupidest questions during interviews that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job and base their candidacy on the answers to meaningless questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about a situation when your work was criticized.
  • What makes you angry?
  • Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.
  • What changes would you make if you come on board?
  • How could you have improved your career progress?
  • Where could you see some improvement in you?
  • What do you worry about?

By the way, these questions were taken from an HR LinkedIn group discussing the “best” questions to ask in interviews. Judge for yourself but if these are the “best” questions to ask in interviews, I think HR is in trouble.

Applying the same logic as used in job interviews, if a potential manager were divorced, it could be argued they can’t communicate well or work towards solutions or negotiate settlements. That logic would say that divorcees make lousy managers. But stupid HR questions are overlooked when it comes time to being considered for manager aren’t they? Of course, because the best indicator of an employees capabilities are hands-on experience – not their past personal lives.

So, in order to overcome the ridiculousness of inane questions that are meant to take up time in an interview, why not change your Culture to consider “test-driving” employees for a few days – even up to a week. Pay them for their time to job-shadow, integrate with other employees, study their on-the-job abilities and base their suitability on what they do present-day instead of asking them what they worry about.

Who cares if they’re good at rehearsing smart answers for dumb questions and instead consider the “training camp” philosophy of sports teams. They show up to camp and their on-the-job abilities are judged for suitability. I’ll bet you find a better crop of good future-managers this way. And it won’t matter what their past looks like will it?

Are You Too Old To Lead? September 7, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in attitude of leadership, boss, business model, career, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, culture, culture of leadership, Employee Engagement, future, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, leadership, leadership attitude.
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Kids using technology fastHigh schools are using Interactive White Boards which can seriously increase a student’s attention by using moveable graphics, Internet connectivity and video – not to mention social media and instant messaging. Schools are also starting to ditch books in favor of laptops and iPads with digitized e-books, video connectivity, access to Wikipedia, social networking and collaborative messaging. Students are participating more in class because it’s fun, it’s hands on and it’s exciting.

Now, when these same students finish school and enter the work world, they will encounter your trainers using archaic and (oh my God this is BORING) PowerPoint slides. They are asked to shut off their cell phones, are not supplied laptops but are given 3-ring binder manuals and no access to Internet video, no collaborative messaging and especially NO social media (because it is viewed as a time-waster).

Not much wonder these new workers think your workplace is a step back in time. Look, these kids are learning with technology you probably not only don’t understand but arent even aware exists. Their parents (some of your workers) are helping them with their homework (with rudimentary knowledge of how it all works). Then, when the students become old enough to work for you, you take everything away from them because you don’t know how it works.

Who looks like the leader now?

If you want to build a Culture that will attract these new workers, you had better be looking to the educational system to see what your workforce of tomorrow is using today. Stop being such an old fart and get with the program. Social media is here to stay. Internet video is here to stay. In five years, the high school students of today will be coming to work to use technology that hasn’t even been invented yet.

If you’re still having a difficult time with your email, maybe it’s time you stepped out of the way and let people who can use the technology embrace it and run with it. Maybe they are much better able to relate to your up-and-coming workforce.

When Managers Suffer Upward Bullying August 31, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in boss, bully, career, competencies, complain, corporate culture, corporate culture turnaround specialist, corporate values, culture, culture of accountability, decency, diversity, environment, hiring, HR, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, labour, management, manager, middle manager, senior executive.

managers suffer upward bullying tooA bully is a bully and it doesn’t matter who the victim of their efforts is: co-worker, subordinate or manager. According to a Chartered Management Institute (CMI-UK) Bullying At Work report:

  • 39% of all managers have been bullied in the past three years
  • 49% of middle managers said they had been bullied, making them the most bullied among the UK management population
  • 70% of respondents said misuse of power or position was the number one form of bullying
  • 17% of bullying was through physical intimidation or violence, making it the least used form of harassment
  • 54% of women said they had been victims of bullying compared to 35% of men
  • Only 5% said they would talk to HR first if they were bullied

Add to that the fact that this year, women accounted for 51% of management positions in the workplace and you can see where the real threat is to see the numbers of upward bullying incidents rise.

To create positive corporate cultures, senior management needs to become aware that upward bullying is on the upswing and must take immediate action to do 2 things:

  1. to initiate bullying awareness campaigns throughout their workplaces (remember bullying can run both upwards and downwards so managers also need to take the training), and
  2. to institute tough guidelines that bullying, either up or down, are immediate grounds for dismissal – and to stick to it no matter what

The problem is when middle managers approach senior managers to discuss issues of being upward bullied, they may be seen as unfit to manage or, at least, not capable of reigning in their staff causing many issues of upward bullying to go unreported – allowing the bullying to continue. A senior manager turning a blind eye to a mid-manager’s cry for help could be interpreted as a misuse of power or position – another incident of bullying.

It’s these types of sensitive issues which can decide whether you have a strong corporate culture capable of attracting high-performers and top talent or whether yours is just another mediocre (possibly awful) place to work masquerading as a professional organization that cares about its people. Great thing is that you get to decide.

Consider Kevin to address this issue at your next meeting. Call us toll-free in North America 1-877-287-6711 or visit us at www.kevburns.com

Performance Reviews: Why Scrapping Them Makes Sense August 15, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in business model, corporate culture, culture, Employee Engagement, engagement, HR, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, manager, performance, performance review.
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I am of mixed emotion on Performance Reviews because first and foremost, I do NOT believe in formal employee performance reviews as a whole. I think that if a manager is engaging his/her people daily, their is no need for a formal review quarterly or annually. Many employees view the annual review as a legal requirement for the organization to defend itself should need be. That stresses the employee.

Too many managers are lazy in speaking regularly with their employees and they depend on a few sheets of paper once per year to be the one time that their is any meaningful dialogue between manager and employee. The truth is that an employee’s performance review is more indicative a manager’s effectiveness at communication and coaching. The only upside to formal reviews is that it forces “absent” managers to communicate with their people – which, on the downside, can create animosity based on a poor review because of poor management.

Employees will engage only as well as managers engage the employee. If the manager is engaged with the employee, performance can be guided daily so that any need for a formal review becomes obsolete. A manager should have a conversation with his/her individual team members daily, no excuses, to hand out an “atta-boy,” something to work on or just even having a heart-to-heart – but something that touches the real person inside.

Rarely do you see a document handed to a new employee which clearly states the metrics in which they are to be measured over the next year. In all fairness to employees, having a document that they can post at their desks which outlines the very things they are being measured on makes it easier for the employee to work toward achieving a good score. In other words, “tell me what I am going to be measured on and I will do only that.”

But the most crucial part of a performance review, if you’re going to do them, should be the employee’s review of their immediate supervisor. This is far more important than the review of the employee. The employee is only ever going to perform as well as his/her manager. That’s a given. Rarely do you find the magnanimous manager who encourages the employee to perform beyond the manager’s ability to coach. So the most important document becomes the review of the manager by the employee and NOT the other way around.

Look, people don’t leave their jobs. They leave their bad managers. So, it would stand to reason, purely by the numbers, that the department with the highest staff turnover and lowest performing employees would have the worst manager running it. Conversely, the department with the lowest turnover and highest performing employees would likely be run by the most engaging manager.

Employees are only ever going to perform as well as their managers allow. Poor employee reviews all coming from one department are more indicative of the manager than the employees. And it is for this reason that employee reviews should be scrapped. If you have a lousy manager, you will have unhappy, disengaged, poorly performing employees who get a poor review as a byproduct of their bad manager. Mediocre managers = mediocre employees. Managers who engage with their staff fully will likely have staff who are fully engaged – more productive, higher achieving and more fulfilled in their work.

Making the employee the sole person responsible for performance creates a lose-lose scenario and hurts performance Culture. You cannot review the employee until you have fully engaging, openly communicating, strong managers who are able to derive high-performance from their employees. You don’t need a formal review if you have daily interactions and conversations one-on-one with your employees.

Annual Reviews were designed by Baby Boomers who, at the time, believed in only communicating with employees if and when something needed to be addressed. So, why do them? Organizations do them because it’s what they’ve always done – which certainly doesn’t make it right. It just makes it old. With all of the advancements in gadget technology, we’re still using old, outdated HR technology in trying to get people to perform better.

Performance Reviews are old-school. They are the equivalent of a high-school report card – which, unless you had all “A”s, you were afraid to show your parents. Same rules still apply. Everyone wants to get an “A” but it’s hard to get if the teacher sucks. But the best teachers, and the best managers, are the ones who encourage high-performance and equip their people with the tools to do it for themselves. That doesn’t happen in a formal environment annually. That happens by engaging every single day.

Protect Your Culture From Bad Speakers July 19, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in business model, career, change, coaching, conference, corporate culture, culture, engagement, high-performance, human resources, ideas, innovation, kevin burns, keynote speaker, meeting, meetings industry, speaking industry, training.
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You’ve finally decided on a strategy to develop and improve your Corporate Culture. Of course, the purpose for doing this was to ensure that you were able to hang onto your really good people (as the market is about to experience a mass exodus of workers looking for something new and challenging – don’t forget this very important point) and to be able to attract and recruit some of the best performers in your industry segment. One of the key considerations when building a strong Culture is a consistent effort in the area of ongoing learning for your employees. Keeping the employees ahead of the market curve makes your an enviable workplace because you’re not following the market, you’re leading it.

I read on one of the message boards last week about a “speaker” who has difficulty getting Play-doh and wire Slinkys through airport security. Are you kidding me? What sort of organization would be hiring a speaker to fly across the country carrying Slinkys and Play-doh and expecting their people to take their jobs and training seriously? Would you be lining up to work for that organization?

It is paramount that your people get good training, ideas and opportunities to stretch themselves but you’ve got to ensure that their learning is in alignment with your Culture initiatives. DO NOT hire workshop facilitators that work with Slinkys or Play-doh or cutting pictures out of magazines to create a dream collage – unless you run a daycare center. Never, ever let elementary school teachers as speakers talk to your people. High-performers will derive zero value from waste-of-time training and go in search of “professional” learning.

If you’re going to create a new Culture, then everything you’ve done in the past may need to be re-evaluated. And that especially includes what your learning programs look like. Do not put “kindergarten teachers” in front of your people and expect them to be better prepared to respond quickly to market changes, customers demands and innovative thinking.

Once you’ve assembled your excellent team, do not jeopardize it with “cutesy” sessions. Protect your people from bad ideas, outdated learning and sessions that treat your people like children – if you want them to be market leaders.

How To Stop Workplace Pettiness July 13, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in business model, career, change, complain, corporate culture, culture, culture of high-performance, Employee Engagement, engagement, high-performance, hiring, honesty, HR, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, morale.

If you ran a retail business in a shopping mall, you would notice a huge difference in the amount of staff required during the month of December versus the month of January.

Now take a look at your own organization, and ask yourself where there are peaks and valleys of performance required. January might be slow in retail but it is an extremely busy time with, say, snow removal. Snow removal business is dead from April through November but pretty good for golf courses.

Every organization has busy times and slow times. So what’s happening in your workplace right now? Are there a few empty spaces from bodies who are on vacation? Is the work still getting done? So what then, is a full staff and how many do you actually need?

Perhaps you’ve convinced yourself that you need a certain number of staff for a full 12 months of the year, when in fact, you might be able to suffice with skeleton staff for six months and add staff during peak times.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating mass layoffs. There’s a reason that I bring up the discussion of potential over-staffing: when employees are not challenged in their work, they get bored. When they get bored, they disengage from their work. Employees are also much quicker to find fault with their workplace, have internal conflicts with each other about petty things and will contribute to reducing the quality of Corporate Culture in your organization.

If you want to stop pettiness, finger-pointing and boredom, keep your people busy – but not to the point where you’re burning them out. If you want to ensure your Culture remains one of high-performance, don’t give your people opportunity to just sit around waiting for something to do. Nothing will contribute to lower morale more than unproductive time to be bored. Your organization will pay the price.

Don’t simply assume that the way you’ve always staffed has been the right way. Study every part of your business because each part of your business contributes to your Culture.

60% Of Workers On The Hunt July 7, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in career, career-builder, change, corporate culture, economy, high-performance, hiring, HR, human resources, job-seeker, kevin burns, keynote speaker, manager.
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According to CareerBuilder Canada’s mid-year job forecast, 60% of Canadian workers, who have jobs now, are going to chuck their jobs and go in search of something new.

Why? Well, according to the report, “When asked why they wanted to leave their current jobs, one-quarter of workers said they felt over-worked, their work environment changed during the recession and they had resentment about other workers being laid off. One-third of workers said they felt overqualified for their current jobs, while 43 per cent said that a lack of interesting work was the main motivator for changing employers.” (Source: Calgary Herald)

31% of Canadian workers are actively looking now and expect to jump to a new job within the next 12 months while an additional 29% will do so once the economy improves again.

Meanwhile, 58 per cent of Canadian employers said they plan to hire in the second half of the year focusing on IT, customer service, sales, administrative, business development and accounting/ finance.

According to the survey, forty-six per cent of hiring managers said they fear their top talent will leave their organizations as the labor market improves. Top talent doesn’t leave a job when they’re happy. They leave when they are unhappy with the job, the company, and more specifically, their immediate manager.

I’ve been harping on this a while but NOW is the time to get to work on transforming your Corporate Culture. Because once the high-performers go, there’s not much left to attract new high-performers. Get to work. Clock’s ticking.

The Effect of Ethnic Cultures On Corporate Culture June 16, 2010

Posted by Kevin Burns in attitude strategist, business model, career, corporate, corporate america, corporate culture, corporate values, diversity, hiring, human resources, kevin burns, keynote speaker, management, morale, performance, USA Today.
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help your people celebrate your culture and you will build a solid corporate culture

The workplace of the future is going to be colorful. Here’s why: record levels of births among minorities in the past ten years are moving the USA a step closer to a milestone in which NO ethnic background commands a majority.

According to USA Today:

  • minorities accounted for almost 49% of U.S. births in the year ending July 1, 2009, a record high
  • 48.3% of kids under age 5 are minorities today
  • only 19.9% of people 65 and older today are a minority

That means that in 15 to 20 years from now, those kids under 5 today will be entering the workforce. Almost half of the workforce will be minorities – meaning there will be no real majority. There will be a lot of diversity in the workplace.

Senior managers, your workplace of the future had better have a culture of “culture inclusion” if you want to be able to attract the best and brightest.

We all come from somewhere. We all have our backgrounds and diversities. Expecting your people to not celebrate where they came from is not good business.

You can’t hire a high-performer and expect him or her to perform to a high level by stripping away everything that made them who they are. They are not workers – they are people who come to work. Don’t forget the people part if you want to build a strong corporate culture.

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