Do These 9 Things to Resolve an Employee Harassment Complaint

 

An employee harassment complaint can be resolved quickly if you take the right actions.
An employee harassment complaint can be resolved quickly if you take the right actions.

An employee harassment complaint is one of the most difficult issues you as a manager must know how to resolve.

One of your primary duties as a manager is to provide a safe work environment for your employees, which means reducing and eliminating all forms of harassment.

As the video below points out, “It’s your job as a manager to know what to do when an employee reports a harassment claim.”

In this post, we’ll help you understand exactly what you need to do to resolve an employee harassment complaint.

First, go ahead and watch the video below for a few quick tips.

Then, continue reading because we’ll give you the precise legal definition for harassment and show you how to handle an employee harassment complaint tactfully and effectively and how to prevent it altogether.

What is a Legally Legitimate Employee Harassment Complaint?

When it comes to harassment at work, you should know the precise legal definition for harassment so that you know what it is when it happens.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Harassment is:

“Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

But that’s not what makes harassment illegal. Petty slights, annoyances, or mild isolated incidents aren’t illegal. What makes harassment illegal or unlawful is when:

“Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

Here’s a list of offensive conduct that could create an intimidating, hostile, or abusive workplace:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Epithets or name calling
  • Physical assaults or threats
  • Intimidation
  • Ridicule or mockery
  • Insults or put-downs
  • Offensive objects or pictures
  • Interference with work performance

If you receive an employee harassment complaint that meets these requirements, there are specific actions you should take immediately that we outline below.

How Should Managers Handle Employee Harassment Complaints?

When dealing with employee harassment complaints, you should aim to be methodical and detailed to avoid any legal repercussions and so you can effectively resolve the conflict and achieve justice for the potential victim(s).

With that in mind, here some of the things you need to do after receiving an employee harassment complaint:

Take the Complaint Seriously but Impartially

You should accept an employee harassment complaint as potentially true without passing judgment on whether it is true or not.

Your job is to assist in finding the truth, which means you have to remain objective until the investigation into the complaint has been concluded and sufficient evidence has been collected that proves or disproves the harassment complaint.

Treat the Person Who Reported the Complaint with Respect

As the video in our intro pointed out, “It’s not easy for an employee to come forward about harassment. It’s embarrassing and demeaning.”

Your job as a manager in this situation is to treat the complainant with respect and kindness. You should exhibit honest empathy and offer genuine comfort.

Delivering a harassment complaint and enduring the ensuing investigation into the complaint can leave an employee feeling vulnerable and afraid, which can lead to poor performance at work.

Ensure that the complainant feels comfortable with you, and do whatever you can to make them feel as comfortable as possible while at work.

Always Investigate the Complaint

If an employee harassment complaint matches the guidelines set forth by the EEOC then it must be investigated – even if the complainant insists on not pursuing an investigation, or the complaint was delivered to you informally.

If you don’t investigate the complaint, you could face legal repercussions if more complaints are filed later and law enforcement discovers you didn’t investigate the situation after the first complaint.

Even worse, you could allow a bully or predator to continue harassing more employees when you had a chance to stop him or her.

Keep The Harassment Complaint as Confidential as Possible

An employee harassment complaint can quickly polarize your office. Some workers will side with the complainant while others will side with the accused – creating unnecessary tension, conflict, and gossip.

Worse yet, if details regarding the complaint are leaked, damaging the reputation of the complainant or accused, you could be sued for defamation and liable for damages.

Follow Established Procedures

If your office has a handbook, it likely has procedures for handling a harassment complaint. It’s best to follow those procedures exactly as they’re laid out to avoid mistreating the complainant and to avoid taking illegal or negligent actions during an investigation.

If you don’t have a handbook that deals specifically with employee harassment, then consider creating one.

Never Investigate a Harassment Complaint on Your Own

You should never investigate an employee harassment complaint on your own. The first thing you should do after listening to an employee harassment complaint is to contact HR.

All investigations and proceedings should be led by an HR professional, an internal affairs officer, an outside manager trained in conducting internal investigations, or a law enforcement official.

Write Everything Down

It’s critical that you record every interaction with the complainant and accused harasser, along with anyone else you interview or interact with as part of the harassment investigation. Include dates, names, and documents in your notes.

Keeping a meticulous journal of the proceedings will protect you in case a complainant accuses you of malfeasance in an investigation, retaliation after an investigation, or that you ignored a complaint and never conducted an investigation at all.

Take Appropriate Action Against the Harasser

After you conclude the investigation with the help of HR and anyone else, decide if the accused harasser is guilty. If he is guilty, then discipline him accordingly.

You may need to terminate him if his actions were especially dangerous or egregious, such as stalking or threatening the complainant.

If the harasser wasn’t violent, but was mean or ignorant, as in the case of excessive office pranks or insensitive jokes, then counseling or a leave of absence may be appropriate.

Whatever you decide to do with the harasser do it quickly, document it, and encourage the rest of your employees to speak out when they see harassment.

Don’t Retaliate Against the Complainant

This should be obvious to you, but it is illegal to punish someone for complaining about harassment, even if the claim is unfounded and dismissed after a proper investigation.

This means you can’t do any of the following as a result of an employee harassment complaint:

  • Terminate a complainant
  • Discipline them
  • Cut their pay
  • Demote them
  • Change their shift or work hours
  • Change their job responsibilities
  • Isolate them
  • Exclude them from meetings or other office functions
  • Or threaten any of the above

Now, if you’re a sensible manager you wouldn’t do any of these things anyway.

However, to legally protect yourself, you should take extra precaution against performing any actions that would imply retaliation against a complainant – because again, they can sue you even if their complaint was unfounded.

How Can You Prevent Employee Harassment Complaints?

If you want to prevent employee harassment complaints you have to learn how to prevent employee harassment.

To do that, you’ll need high-quality training that can teach your employees how to spot and prevent harassment in the workplace as well as training that teaches you and the rest of management how to prevent and mitigate harassment in the workplace.

But you probably don’t have the time nor the budget to afford a lengthy seminar or speaker.

What you need is on-demand training you can watch from any device, anywhere for quick and easy learning.

Where can you find high-quality employee harassment training that you can access immediately with nothing more than an internet connection?

Right here at Enterprise Training.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

 

6 Effective Strategies for Managing Remote Employees

 

You can start managing remote employees effectively by using a few different tactics and strategies
You can start managing remote employees effectively by using a few different tactics and strategies

Employees regularly working at home has grown by 115% since 2005, resulting in 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now working from home at least half the time.

These statistics come from Global Workplace Analytics, and they showcase the trend of companies allowing or encouraging employees to work remotely.

Government agencies are also riding the remote employee trend.

According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, the number of eligible teleworkers in the Federal Government has increased from 29% in 2012 to 46% in 2015.

So how do managers effectively manage remote employees?

As you might know (or have experienced), managing remote employees requires different tactics and strategies than what you commonly use to manage office workers.

For that reason, we have a video for you below that details ways to manage a virtual team effectively.

The main point of the video is this:

“The key to making those kinds of situations work [managing remote employees] is…clarity of what good performance looks like. The clearer you are on what good looks like, the easier it is to evaluate.”

You can hear all of the points made about managing a virtual team by watching the video below.

After that, we’ll give you 6 tips for better managing remote employees.

Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

There are many things you can do as a manager to help your remote employees improve their productivity, stay connected to their team, and deliver great work on time.

Here are 6 best practices for managing remote employees:

Build Real Relationships with Your Employees

In general, if you want your employees to respect you and respond to your requests, then you have to establish rapport and build a genuine relationship with them.

This will be the foundation for working through both job-related and personal problems with employees.

Strong relationships also protect you from unwarranted condemnation from employees if you make a mistake.

And a strong relationship with your remote employees will make them more likely to motivate themselves and deliver what you ask of them because they’ll no longer just care about doing their work to get paid, they’ll want to do their work to please you, too.

Use Video as Often as Possible When Communicating Remotely

Similar to building solid relationships with your employees, video communication helps you connect on a more emotional level when conducting meetings remotely.

Since over half of human communication is nonverbal, you’ll need a better medium than email to deliver your message.

Video calls help you be more persuasive, but they also help you judge your employees’ reactions to tasks given, and help you understand your employees’ feelings about their jobs, and gives you insight into any issues your employees might be dealing with.

All those nuances are lost through text.

Video helps you maintain a strong relationship with your employees, and helps you detect and fix any problems quickly before they get worse.

Schedule Meetings That Accommodate Every Employees’ Time Zone

If you have quite a few remote workers, chances are they don’t all live in the same time zone, which presents a serious scheduling issue:

One or more of your employees will be meeting early or late in the day, or at some other inconvenient time to make the meeting work for everyone else.

Managing remote employees is all about making that faraway person still feel appreciated and part of your team.

To maintain that kind of relationship, you should try to schedule meetings that work for that one person or group of people who always sacrifice their time to meet someone else’s requirements.

This proves to your remote employees that you value their time and you’re willing to work in their best interest – which compels them to do the same for you.

Set Clear Expectations

As the video in our intro pointed out, the key to managing remote employees is “clarity of what good performance looks like.”

Remote employees have more freedom, which means they need more structure and clearer targets to stay on track.

Make sure you create individual development plan goals for every new and existing employee and regularly review those goals with your employees, especially the ones working remotely.

Furthermore, every employee should know their daily and weekly tasks and projects.

By making your expectations clear, and precisely defining your employees’ work requirements, you’ll avoid confusion and incomplete tasks.

Focus on Completed Tasks, Not Activities

One other expectation you should set with your remote employees (and yourself) is to focus on completed tasks (deliverables), not activities.

You can’t monitor your remote employees’ behavior, so you have to focus on the one thing you can monitor: what they produce.

Let them know that all you want is the correct finished product – which requires setting clear expectations – and that they can use any methods to get the job done in the way that works best for them.

This can actually increase employee engagement by allowing them the freedom to be creative and inventive. They may even create better work processes that they can share with other members of your team.

Encourage Continuous Learning

Building a culture of continuous learning is essential for agencies to continually improve their processes and develop skilled employees.

But remote employees usually can’t attend in-house training or instructor-led seminars – it’s often too expensive to fly them out for just a one or two-day event.

But the cost of eLearning changes that.

With eLearning, your remote employees can educate themselves on essential subjects and topics in their home office or hotel room.

This type of education is often superior to long-form training because it uses a method of education known as microlearning.

Microlearning uses quick, easy-to-consume lessons instead of extended learning sessions – resulting in learners absorbing the information faster and retaining it longer.

The easiest way to provide eLearning opportunities to your employees is to find a proven platform that teaches a multitude of courses across a range of subjects.

And since you’re a Government agency, it would be helpful if the platform you choose specializes in teaching and training Government employees on both the Federal and State level.

Where will you find such a platform?

Right here at Enterprise Training.

Take Care of Your Remote Employees’ Education with eLearning

We provide courses for remote employees teaching them how to communicate effectively when telecommuting and how to maximize their productivity.

But we also provide courses for all types of jobs they may be performing, from IT training for IT exam preparation to project management training for getting things done efficiently and on time.

Whatever you need to run a high-functioning agency and manage remote employees, we have it ready for you.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

 

5 Tips for Creating a Government Leadership Development Program

Creating a Government leadership development program is critical for running a high-functioning agency
Creating a Government leadership development program is critical for running a high-functioning agency

 

Government leadership development is often done haphazardly and informally.

But as the video below points out, “Without having mentoring and leadership in place, the company really struggles.”

The same applies to Government agencies.

Watch the video below for a few more insights on the importance of leadership development, and then we’ll show you how to create a Government leadership development program today.

How to Create a Government Leadership Development Program

By 2020, millennials will make up 46% of the workforce, according to the Brandon Hall Group.

If you don’t start identifying and developing the next generation of leaders in your agency, then you’ll lack the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to reach your organization’s goals.

To help you successfully develop a Government leadership development program, here are 8 tips to get you started:

Define Your Goals

Before you can develop leaders, you should know what you’ll need leaders for.

Create a clear vision and concrete goals for your agency. If you already have written goals, then review and update them.

This is important both so you know what skills you’re looking for in future leaders, and so that you can inspire potential leaders with your agency’s mission.

Also, you need to know if you’re developing leaders for the short-term or long-term. Clear goals will help you accomplish this.

Create Government Leadership Criteria

Now that you know what you need leaders for, you should define the characteristics of a good leader.

Develop a leadership framework and assess all current and potential leaders according to it.

The reason why you need a model for leadership is that people are often promoted based on technical skill, which does nothing to increase employee engagement or foster a culture of engaged managers.

Yes, the individuals you promote should possess the technical skills to do their jobs, but they should also know how to inspire and lead your team, take initiative, listen to employee needs, implement new strategies, act fairly, act decisively, and act with integrity.

These are just a few of the traits you should use to evaluate leaders if you want to maintain a high-functioning agency.

Identify Potential Leaders

Now that you know what you’re looking for in a leader, you should start identifying potential leaders within your agency.

It’s easy to put everyone in your staff through leadership training and call it a day, but if you want to get the most out of the money you spend on your team, then you should spend it on your most energetic, ambitious, and hard-working people.

One way to identify a potential leader is to use a manager-for-a-day program. This allows a promising employee to work alongside an established manager to understand what their job entails – and to allow the manager to better evaluate their leadership capabilities.

If it doesn’t work out with one person, try it with another.

If it does work out, you’ve successfully identified a leader you can start developing using all of your resources.

Develop Government Succession Plans

Government succession planning is crucial if you want to pass on the combined knowledge and experience of your best leaders to your future leaders – keeping employees productive, and avoiding any disruption in your agency when a top leader leaves.

Here are 5 tips for executing a successful Government succession plan:

  1. Identify the Key Positions Within Your Organization You Can’t Function Without
  2. Identify The Base Competencies That are Required for Each Position
  3. Identify Your Backfilling Talent
  4. Develop a Mentorship Program Between Your Backfilled Talent and Senior Managers
  5. Deploy Education and Training Programs to Backfilled Talent

Develop, Don’t Train

Like we showed with our example of manager-for-a-day training above, it’s best to place individuals into situations that require them to learn and grow on their own – to apply themselves – as opposed to just reading good books or going to a seminar on Government leadership development.

When a manager is away, give one of your potential leaders the opportunity to step up and perform some of their duties.

Allow potential leaders to collaborate with colleagues in other departments on a special project.

Throughout this process of hands-on training, make sure to provide your leadership candidates with personal feedback and coaching to effectively nurture them on their development into a leader.

How to Develop Government Leaders Quickly

The quickest way to develop Government leaders is by implementing a leadership program immediately.

But what do you need to make your program successful?

You can use the tips we’ve given you, but if you want to create an effective program, you’ll need the help of people who have taught other Government managers how to implement leadership development.

And, thanks to the low cost of eLearning and the efficiency of microlearning, once you have identified your required leadership competencies, you can quickly and inexpensively develop the skills to create your own leadership development program today, and start applying what you learn tomorrow.

So where will you find a platform that offers training specifically designed for developing Government leaders?

Right here at Enterprise Training; our implementation consultants are experienced and ready to help you map courses to competencies and create a complete development plan for aspiring leaders.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

17 Benefits of Agile Project Management

The benefits of agile project management apply to software and non-software pursuits
The benefits of agile project management apply to software and non-software pursuits

 

Government agencies need to respond to policy changes and the needs of the public quickly.

To do that, they need a method for completing projects efficiently.

Traditional project management methods like waterfall take a long time to plan and execute –  resulting in projects being finished past the deadline or long after a policy change has taken effect.

Agile project management, on the other hand, encourages you to swiftly gather the materials you need, execute a part of your plan, and build on the feedback you collect in the process.

This guarantees that the final product or service you produce will serve the people it’s supposed to serve more effectively.

There are many more benefits of agile project management, and we’ll take a look at those a little later in this post.

First, let’s define agile project management and look at its guiding principles.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management was created by a group of software developers in 2001 with the release of their manifesto.

The agile framework focuses on continuous improvement, flexibility, input of the team, and the delivery of high-quality results.

Unlike other project management methods which work in a linear, sequential manner toward the final product, agile project management creates a prototype, tests it, and uses feedback to iterate that process until a final product is ready to be launched.

Instead of breaking up the process of planning, researching, building, testing, etc. into separate parts, agile project management does it all at once so project managers and developers can judge the progress and quality of their product faster and more effectively.

To help you understand the original intent and benefits of agile project management, here are its 12 principles as outlined in the manifesto:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

What are the Benefits of Agile Project Management for Government Agencies?

While the benefits of agile project management were intended for software developers, they do extend to non-software pursuits.

According to PM World Journal Vol. V, Issue VIII Benefits of Agile Project Management in a Non-Software Development Context – A Literature Review, there are many benefits of agile project management for organizations doing work outside of software.

The author of the article reviewed 21 case studies and found 17 reported benefits. Here are all 17 benefits the researchers found, listed from the most cited benefit at the top to least cited benefit at the bottom:

  1. Better collaboration in the team
  2. Increased customer interaction
  3. Increased productivity and speed
  4. Increased flexibility and the ability to cope with change
  5. And a better understanding of goals, tasks, and requirements
  6. Increased transparency and visibility
  7. Increased quality
  8. Customer-centered value-add priority process
  9. Increased knowledge sharing
  10. Increased cross-organizational collaboration
  11. Better focus
  12. Impediment removal process
  13. Increased individual autonomy
  14. Decreased customer complaints
  15. Increased motivation
  16. Clear sense of progress
  17. Improved resource allocation

This list should give you a clear idea of what you can expect if you use the agile project management framework in your agency.

Which may leave you wondering, “how do I implement agile project management?”

We answer that question below.

How to Implement Agile Project Management in Your Agency

Reading the Agile Manifesto will give you the philosophy of agile project management, but how do you turn those principles into actionable practices?

By learning the method from an organization that actively teaches it to Government agencies.

No expensive speakers or weekend seminars required – you can learn the agile method in your office right now.

The cost of eLearning has made it easy for new managers and experienced managers alike to learn and apply tactics and strategies for running a better office and getting more done. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.

If you’re interested in applying agile project management in your agency, we provide a full suite of project management courses such as:

  • Agile Principles, Methodologies, and Mindset
  • Agile Project Management Fundamentals
  • And (for the software developers out there), Managing Agile Software Development

To get started, just click the link below.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

Schedule Free Consultation

What New Managers Need to Know: 5 Tips for Success from Day One

Learn what new managers need to know to be successful in your new position.
Learn what new managers need to know to be successful in your new position.

Today, we’re going to tell you what new managers need to know.

We’ll start with this:

“[Becoming a manager] requires fundamental shifts in the way you relate to the people you’re working with.”

That quote comes from the video below which outlines a few major mindset and behavioral shifts you have to make to be a great manager.

After you watch the video, we’ll expand on it by giving you 5 additional tips for succeeding as a new manager.

What New Managers Need to Know

60% of new managers will “underperform” in their first 2 years, according to research conducted by CEB (now Gartner).

By “underperform,” they mean 60% of new managers “drive performance gaps and employee turnover across the entire frontline.”

What new managers need to know, as the video above points out, is that “you’re no longer a doer, you’re helping other people do.”

If you help them do well, then you can prevent falling into that 60% category, and your employees won’t leave their jobs, and their performance will improve instead of decline.

To help people do well, you’re going to need to change how you interact, coach, and deal with your employees.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1) Help Your Employees Accomplish Their Tasks

It can’t be stressed enough:

Management is not about you. It’s about everyone else.

Your job is to provide the coaching, direction, assistance, resources, and encouragement that your employees need and crave.

If your team fails, that means you’ve failed.

This is a heavy burden to bear, but if you can bear it, you’ll earn the trust, respect, and productivity of your employees that so many new managers will never get.

2) Don’t Be “Friends” with Employees, Be Friendly

You used to work side by side with the people you’re now managing. You used to be peers, and now you’re their superior.

That’s tough.

You don’t have to sever ties with your existing friends, but you should be extremely careful about making new friends with subordinates.

Since being a manager means you have to hold people responsible for their actions, you’re going to have to have difficult conversations with old friends and new employees who are doing the wrong things.

This can be hard to do if they look at you like you’re one of them.

What new managers need to know is that you can be friendly, but you have to be confident and steadfast too.

Let your employees (and friends) know you’re a mentor and confidant but that you’re not afraid of having serious discussions about their performance and behavior in the workplace.

3) Make Confident Decisions

Managers often fail because they fail to act.

They wait until they know everything they’re supposed to know. Or, they wait until their superior tells them what to do (But isn’t that why you’re a manager?).

Stop thinking and dreading about the “right thing to do” and start making confident decisions.

Fail forward.

The more you take charge (while also taking your employees’ wants and needs into consideration), the more respect you’ll earn from your team.

4) Build on What Was Created Before You – Don’t Tear It Down

The caveat to making confident decisions is to resist the temptation to change everything the previous manager put into place.

Keep in mind that the people on your team helped the previous manager create the current policies. If you start tearing them down to create anew, you’ll reduce your employees’ trust in you.

Instead, ask your employees what they currently like and dislike about workplace policies. Ask them what they want to change or keep.

Getting your employees involved will increase employee engagement and productivity. Plus, you’ll earn their respect and build your credibility as a manager who listens to his employees and takes action on what they say.

5) Review And/Or Create Individual Development Plan Goals with Each Employee

According to Gallup, “clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance. Great managers don’t just tell employees what’s expected of them and leave it at that; instead, they frequently talk with employees about their responsibilities and progress.”

To clarify expectations with your employees, you should sit down with each one and create or improve their individual development plan goals.

This will help you understand their motivations and aspirations, and will let them know that you have their back and that you care about their success at work.

Bonus Tip: Seek out as Much Training on Management as You Can

The more you learn, the better you’ll manage.

What new managers need to know is that continuous learning, both for themselves and their employees, is the key to success in any field.

Seek out all the tools, resources, and mentors that will help you upgrade your knowledge and refine your skills.

While formal training is important and essential, it’s not always cost-effective or convenient – which makes the cost of Elearning look even better.

But it’s not just cost that makes Elearning so beneficial; it’s also the fact that it uses microlearning to enhance your retention of what you learned.

Even more than that, Elearning programs can be consumed on-demand so you can learn wherever, whenever.

The only problem is, where will you find ready-made Elearning programs for new managers?

Right here at Enterprise Training Solutions.

Discover What New Managers Need to Know Today

We have 12 videos and courses on the essentials of being a new manager that you can watch and apply right now. From living up to your roles and expectations to handling common challenges, our courses will teach you how to tackle a new management position with poise and purpose.

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Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How to Increase Employee Engagement: 7 Successful Strategies

You can increase employee engagement with the right ideas and strategies
You can increase employee engagement with the right ideas and strategies

Do you want a happier, more committed and hardworking staff?

Then you need to increase employee engagement.

Unfortunately, employee engagement is scarce, both in the U.S. and around the world.

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. since 2000, and today, only 32% of employees are “engaged” in their workplace.

The number of engaged employees is even worse globally. Only 13% of employees around the world are considered “engaged,” according to another report from Gallup.

This means that most of the people in your agency aren’t committed to your mission, aren’t enthusiastic about the work they do, and aren’t motivated to participate in improving your workplace beyond the bare minimum work requirements.

But what is “employee engagement?” What motivates employees to become engaged? How can you increase employee engagement?

We’ll answer all these questions by giving you practical tips on creating an environment, setting policies, and working with your team for optimal employee engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

Before you can increase employee engagement, you have to know what engagement means.

The Wikipedia definition of an engaged employee is:

A person who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and who takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

An employee who is emotionally invested in your agency and its goals can be considered “engaged.”

The most important part of Wikipedia’s definition of employee engagement is “action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.”

Engaged employees work harder without being asked. They stay late because they genuinely want to perform well for their department and agency. They don’t complain about playing catch-up on work because their coworker was out sick – they gladly shoulder the load.

Engaged employees are the best employees. But what drives employees to become engaged and invested in their organization?

What Motivates Engaged Employees?

Money engages employees to show up for work and do their jobs…

But money doesn’t help employees live up to the definition of “employee engagement.”

Instead of speculating on what does create employee engagement, we can go straight to the inventor of the term employee engagement, William A. Kahn.

In his seminal paper, “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work,” Kahn recognized 3 major factors that influence how much of themselves an employee is willing to give to their workplace.

Here are the 3 factors:

  1. Psychological meaningfulness
  2. Psychological safety
  3. Availability

Psychological meaningfulness refers to employees feeling like what they do at work has purpose – that through their efforts they made a meaningful difference.

Psychological safety refers to employees feeling valued, trusted, accepted, respected, and safe within their work environment.

Availability refers to employees feeling secure and self-confident in their workplace relationships and in their ability and competency in performing their jobs.

This is all heavy-duty psychological stuff.

But it’s not all that difficult to foster these mental and emotional states in your employees.

You just need to know what to do.

Employee Engagement Ideas

We’ll show you how to effectively increase employee engagement and make your staff feel safe, confident, and important by offering a few ideas for you to test in your workplace.

Distribute Surveys and Apply the Answers

If you want to know how to increase employee engagement, you need to know what your employees currently think about you and your organization.

If you want to know what they think about your organization, ask them.

A good way to ask them (and get honest answers) is to distribute surveys and questionnaires.

But the survey shouldn’t include multiple choice or yes/no questions.

You should ask open-ended questions that allow your employees to fully express themselves, comment on real issues, and suggest original ideas for improvement and innovation.

Then, hold a meeting, formal or informal, and discuss the answers to the questions.

Afterward, implement any workplace changes you decided were necessary. Implementing ideas your employees suggested is one major way you can foster “psychological meaningfulness.”

Give Constant Feedback

Employee surveys are a good way to understand how your employees think and feel.

When it comes to their work performance, however, you’ll probably know more than they do about how well they’re doing at their jobs.

And you need to tell them if they’re doing a good or bad job right when you spot good or bad behavior. Don’t wait for annual reviews if you want real-time improvement.

The funny thing about giving feedback is that employees desperately want it and managers absolutely hate it, according to research conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.

All the more reason to “eat that frog” right away, instead of allowing employees to continue developing bad habits or toiling diligently without being given the pat on the back they deserve.

Let your employees know that you’ll be giving regular, daily feedback, and that you’re doing it because you genuinely want everyone, including yourself, to improve within the agency.

Allow Your Employees to Offer Their Opinions and Ideas

While surveys are great for allowing employees to express themselves formally, you should also encourage them to offer their opinions and ideas to you regularly.

One, because this fosters their “psychological safety” and “availability.”

Two, because they may have great ideas you would’ve missed if you hadn’t encouraged them to speak up.

Develop an open-door policy to foster a safe, inclusive environment for open communication.

Throw Employee Parties

What’s better than giving your employees a pat on the back?

Throwing them a party.

Picnics, catered lunches, and team building afternoons can infuse your workplace with life, laughter, and loyalty.

Encourage fun at your workplace in general, and keep the mood light and friendly. Your employees will be happier, more productive, and of course, more engaged.

Encourage Health and Wellness

Researchers from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University, and the Center for Health Research at Healthways found that healthy eating habits result in more productive employees.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Here are the results for the organizations who implemented wellness programs:

  • Absenteeism was 27% less in healthy-eating employees as compared to those who didn’t eat healthy and exercise.
  • Employees who ate healthy throughout the day were 25% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • Employees who ate 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week were 20% more likely to have higher job performance.
  • And employees who exercised for 30 or more minutes on 3 or more days a week were 15% more likely to have higher job performance.

If you want to reap the productivity benefits of healthy living in your agency, then offer healthy snack foods in the office, promote exercise, and/or implement a wellness program.

Rally Your Employees Around Your Agency’s Mission

Your employees want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves (psychological meaningfulness).

How do you inspire such a feeling?

Well, as Simon Sinek would say, by rallying your organization around your big “why.”

Your mission statement, your agency’s culture, your belief in what you’re accomplishing in the world should be understood and loved by everyone in your organization.

Find that, and your employees will find meaning.

Teach the Way Your Employees Like to Learn

Your employees don’t all learn in the same way.

You shouldn’t treat them as if they do.

Creating learning alternatives, finding a happy medium between microlearning vs. long-form learning, and considering the cost of eLearning can help you create individual development plan goals that cultivate the skills, knowledge, and attributes your employees need to succeed and grow within your agency.

Encouraging them to upgrade their skills and providing the resources they need to improve in their work will tell them you’re working for their best interests – which will certainly increase employee engagement.

If you want to give your employees the freedom to learn at their own pace without breaking your budget, we can help.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Women Leaders in Government: Why It Matters and How to Achieve It

Women leaders in Government are critical for helping agencies meet their full potential
Women leaders in Government are critical for helping agencies meet their full potential

According to a Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership, most Americans believe women possess the same key leadership traits as men such as intelligence and capacity for innovation. In fact, some people think women are superior to men in areas of compassion and organization.

Despite this, only 15.4% of chief administrative officers are women, according to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

If we want to increase the gender parity index and work towards a fair footing for women leaders in Government, then we need to do everything we can to make it more likely women will pursue managerial positions in their local state and county.

Before we can look at how to get more women in office, let’s look at why they’re so beneficial to have in there at all.

What are the Benefits of Women Leaders in Government?

According to a study conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman for the Harvard Business Review, women outperformed men in 15 out of the 16 categories they studied.

This study surveyed 7,280 leaders across some of the most successful and progressive organizations in the world both public and private, government and commercial, domestic and international.

The data confirmed that women are certainly better than men in the categories they’re typically known to excel within, such as “building relationships” and “developing others.”

But surprisingly, women were also rated higher in stereotypically male dominated attributes, such as “taking initiative” and “driving for results.”

Here’s a list of the other categories women excelled in:

  • Practices Self-Development
  • Displays High Integrity and Honesty
  • Inspires and Motivates Others
  • Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Establishes Stretch Goals
  • Champions Change
  • Solves Problems and Analyzes Issues
  • Communicates Powerfully and Prolifically
  • Connects the Group to the Outside World
  • Innovates
  • Technical or Professional Expertise

The only category in which men scored marginally higher was “developed strategic perspective.”

This study clearly demonstrates that women are necessary and essential for a high-functioning Government agency.

Which leaves us with one question…

How Do You Get More Women Leaders in Government?

We’ve seen huge strides in getting women to run and be elected into top Governmental roles as shown in the unprecedented Decade of Women.

But how do we get women involved on the state and local level?

Here are 2 ways to make it happen:

Mentorship Programs

Without a doubt, a strong local Government mentorship program for women is one of the best ways to foster leadership traits and increase women leaders in Government.

Patricia Martel, the city manager of Daly City in California, told Governing Magazine that “One of the most critical things is having a role model…You can’t be who you can’t see.”

A great example of a strong mentoring program for women is the Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program (WLMP) in San Antonio, Texas.

It offers ambitious young women a year-long mentorship with a female city executive and is built upon strategic requirements, offerings, and expectations that enhance the mentoring relationship and leadership development for all participants.

The more cities offering these types of programs, the more we’ll see women leaders in Government.

Women Leadership Programs

Programs that teach young women the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be a strong manager are needed to increase the confidence of women who are interested in becoming a leader in Government.

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men, according to the Atlantic in their article titled, “The Confidence Gap.”

Some organizations are taking a bold step to empower young women with valuable managerial skills, such as our New to Management training.

From what to expect, to directing others, difficult conversations, motivating a team, and effective interpersonal skills, our management training materials include video lessons, knowledge checks, and other course materials to help men and women alike improve their management and leadership skills.

This kind of focused, hands-on training will go a long way in developing the talent needed for future agency managers and leaders.

How Can You Become a Woman Leader in Government Today?

If you already work within a Government agency, you can be part of the growing movement for female leadership.

If you want to become the head of your agency, you’re going to need to dedicate yourself to lifelong learning and skill building.

This doesn’t mean you have to go back to school or spend enormous amounts of money on high-priced instructors.

All you need is the right training program to quickly foster the skills required to become a leader in your sector.

Want to know how?

Invest in your education through one of our Government eLearning courses.

ELearning Helps to Quickly Develop Women Leaders in Government

We have over 6,000 online Government training programs designed to help you sharpen your knowledge, learn new skills, and become a stronger leader. You can learn from any device, anywhere. From effective communication to project management, you can fast-track your ability to become the manager or the head of your agency.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by starting your free 10-day trial today!

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5 Individual Development Plan Goals for Improved Employee Success

Individual development plan goals will improve your employee's productivity and strengthen your organization
Individual development plan goals will improve your employee’s productivity and strengthen your organization

Many Government agencies don’t have individual development plan goals for each of their employees, which is a shame because an IDP is one of the most effective ways to retain employees and motivate them to give their best efforts.

In fact, according to research firm Edenred, 68% of workers say training and development are the most important workplace policy.

This means that the majority of employees are craving dedicated, meaningful, and effective individual development in order to succeed within your organization.

Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to hire the right people to fill vacant positions, which should make you put employee retention and development at the top of your priority list.

RandstadUSA conducted a study on workplace trends and found that 75% of companies agree it takes more time this year than last year to find the right talent to fill positions. Today, the average time to hire a non-executive candidate is more than two months.

If you already have the right people in your organization, your job now is to give them the tools they need to consistently improve their skills and grow their knowledge.

This is where an IDP comes into play.

To help you give your employees everything they need to succeed, we’re going to define an IDP and then layout the 5 most important individual development plan goals your employees should be focused on.

What Is an Individual Development Plan?

Simply put, an individual development plan is a formal agreement between the employer and the employee regarding how the employee will grow within your organization, and what goals they will accomplish over a set period of time.

Once set, individual development plan goals can be used by managers to measure the performance of every employee. Since all employees come with different skills and knowledge, it’s important to analyze their productive output on an individual basis.

Clear, tangible goals allow you to assess where your employees are in their current abilities and then use this assessment to keep them accountable for their professional development.

Ultimately, an individual development plan is used to draw out leadership capabilities from within all of your employees—creating a strong, competent, and highly motivated workforce.

What Are the 5 Most Important Individual Development Plan Goals?

Create an Individual Development Plan for Yourself and Your Organization’s Objectives

You should begin your individual development plan by identifying the objectives of your organization, and the skill sets you require in your employees to accomplish those objectives.

This provides a clear picture of the needs of your organization, which will make it easier to identify the employees who are ready and willing to meet those needs.

Also, if you’re going to help your employees write an IDP, you should first write one for yourself.

And, make sure you actually sit down with each of your employees to help them develop their IDP—don’t just give them a sheet to fill out on their own.

Write down a Big Reason Why an IDP Is Being Created

An IDP is useless without a compelling reason for creating it.

Each of your employees should know exactly why you’re creating an IDP together, and what they think it will help them achieve.

Common reasons would be:

  • They’re currently struggling and want to improve in their job
  • They want to move up in your organization and prepare themselves for the new role
  • They’re comfortable in their position but feel like they could be doing even better

Nailing down a reason for the IDP will help you and your employees stay focused on the core objective as you work through the rest of these steps.

Make a List of Core Strengths and Weaknesses

This exercise is what helps you and your employees evaluate where they’re at currently in their development, what roles and responsibilities they are best suited to pursue within your organization, and what requires the most attention right away.

They should work to master their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses.

Identify What Needs to Be Learned and What Skills Need to Be Developed

There are 3 main categories you should focus on:

  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Attributes

If they’re moving to a new position, what skills do they need to learn? What knowledge do they need to possess?

If they’re trying to improve in their current role, what skills are lacking? What are their knowledge gaps?

In regards to their attributes, what personality traits should be developed? What type of leadership characteristics should they embody?

Overall, identify specifically what is required to learn, know, and possess to reach their individual development plan goals.

Identify the Actions Required to Achieve the Learning Objectives

This is where the rubber meets the road with IDP’s. Here’s a list of what you need to do to make their IDP actionable:

  • Identify the 1, 2, and 3-year goals of your employees
  • Create milestones for them to hit in their developmental journey
  • Create specific dates for every milestone and goal so you both know when they’re supposed to achieve their objectives
  • And finally, identify how they’re going to actually develop their abilities:
  • Take on a challenging new assignment
  • Receive coaching or mentoring
  • Take an online course

How Do You Implement Individual Development Plan Goals?

Sign the IDP with your employee to make it a formal contract binding both of you to the goals set forth. Allow your employees to take on new challenges like you identified. Plan to meet with them regularly to discuss their progress. And make sure they’re checking off the items on their list as they go.

After a period of time implementing the plan, have a meeting with each of your employees to discuss their successes and failures, and ways to adjust their plan for accelerated performance. Be an open confidant for their continued success.

Also, make sure that you, too, are always developing and improving upon your processes, and learning how to facilitate a better IDP.

Ready to Take Your Individual Development Plan Goals to the Next Level?

Our online courses can give your employees the technical, job oriented skills they desire, along with the interpersonal, leadership skills they require to reach their goals and serve your organization. Plus, we have multiple resources to help you create the best IDP possible for the best results.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Government Succession Planning: 5 Easy Steps for Great Results

Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.
Government succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization.

Succession planning is critical to maintaining a high-functioning organization. Do you feel like your Government succession planning efforts are falling short of your expectations, and you’re failing to effectively backfill talent to take over for your retirement-aged staff?

You’re not alone.

Back in 2009, The International Public Management Association for Human Resources conducted a survey on workforce and succession planning and found that only 25% of respondents reported having a formal succession plan in place. Those that didn’t have a plan at all said they were too preoccupied with short-term activities and suffered from insufficient staff due to the great recession.

According to a more recent survey conducted by Cornerstone, Creating the Next Generation of Federal Human Capital: The 2014 State of Human Capital Management Report, 76% of federal agency human capital executives believe their management programs have fallen short of their goals, and 63% believe that their succession planning efforts are not successful.

Even with their programs failing, only 38% of survey respondents cited backfilling talent as a top 3 priority in 2014.

What’s The Big Problem With This Lack of Government Succession Planning?

According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, nearly 600,000 employees (31%) Government-wide will be eligible to retire by this year, 2017.

This massive turnover could cause a serious loss of leadership and institutional knowledge you’re going to need to operate effectively into the future.

Developing a pipeline of motivated individuals who could fulfill the gaps in your agency is a critical step for sustained and unimpeded service levels in Government.

To help you identify potential candidates with the critical skills needed to lead your agency effectively, here are the top 5 steps you can take to execute a successful Government succession planning strategy.

1. Identify the Key Positions Within Your Organization You Can’t Function Without

An appropriate first step would be to create an oversight committee that can develop a competent plan and resolve any issues related to Government succession planning. The people most qualified for this job would be senior and mid-level managers who already oversee the critical business operations in your agency.

The foremost goal of this committee would be to identify key leadership positions along with positions that are critical for accomplishing your major objectives within your organization.

2. Identify The Base Competencies That are Required for Each Position

After you identify your mission-critical positions, you should identify the base competencies your future staff needs to master in order to successfully perform in those positions.

An easy way to do this is to deliver a survey to managers to measure these competencies so you can devise a plan for developing them in your backfilled talent.

Also, you can measure your “benchmark strength” to see where your staff rank in terms of the competencies you are looking for.

3. Identify Your Backfilling Talent

Now that you know what positions will need to be filled the soonest, and you know what competencies those positions require, you can begin scouting for potential talent to groom for those positions.

Most skills can be easily developed, so you should focus on candidates that possess “raw talent”—self-determination, high motivation, and dedication to your organization. These are the individuals who will be the most eager to learn, and the easiest to teach.

Managers should work to instill a “talent-seeking culture” within your organization to continuously identify and develop an internal selection of promotable individuals.

4. Develop a Mentorship Program Between Your Backfilled Talent and Senior Managers

A strong mentoring program will allow senior managers and executives to impart their valuable knowledge about their job requirements, employee management styles, and professional development strategies.

This will help your chosen candidates realize their full potential through regular feedback, cross-training, and proactive coaching in order to mold them into high-performing employees who are ready to take over their mentor’s position.

5. Deploy Education and Training Programs to Backfilled Talent

In addition to mentorship and coaching, your selected talent will need ongoing education to fully prepare them for their potential new roles within your agency.

With constrained budgets and limited staff, It’s not always possible to deliver this training on-site.

Online learning tools for Government training can provide your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively perform in their current position while preparing them for the challenges of their future roles.

Ready to Make Government Succession Planning Cost-Effective and Easy?

Sign up for our course “Initiating Succession Planning” to help you build your talent pool, motivate your employees, and fortify your agency against the loss of vital employees. Plus, you’ll gain access to thousands of other courses you can use to refine your succession planning and to help your employees reach their full potential and thrive within your organization.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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