HR PSA: Sometimes it’s Not Your Problem

You got into HR because you genuinely like helping people. You care about other people’s wellbeing and you see the value in building systems that are mutually beneficial for both individuals and companies. You take pride in being able to listen, empathize, and help people deal with problems. 

But being a people person comes with its own challenges. You want to be able to help everyone, but in HR (and in life) that doesn’t always mean allowing them to bring all their problems to you. You’ve got to balance the needs of the company with the needs of individual workers. That does not mean you’re supposed to be the company therapist.  

Although playing the role of the listener is often a part of being in HR, it isn’t your job to listen to employees complain about each other. There are more productive ways to deal with those issues. 

Constructive Conversations 

When employees approach you to complain about a problem they’re having with someone on their team, or their manager, do a quick evaluation to see if they should be talking with you or if they should be taking the first steps to addressing the issue. 

  • Have they tried to solve the problem themselves? 
  • Do you get the sense they just want to change the other person? 
  • Are they trying to absolve themselves of accountability? 
  • Do they simply want to vent and aren’t interested in coming up with solutions? 

In these cases, they should be exploring other methods of addressing the problem rather than giving it to you. Coaching employees and managers to have constructive conversations on their own is key for teams to run effectively. People need to learn to approach, talk about, and solve problems within their team in a professional manner. 

It might include coaching on key concepts like active listeningmirroring, and how to create value from a conversation. Unless it is a matter of safety, such as harassment, this should be the first step anyone takes when dealing with an interpersonal problem at work.  

If your company culture pushes people into the arms of HR before they’ve tried addressing the problem themselves, some changes may be in order. Take steps toward adjusting the company culture around internal problem solving and empowering people to address some level of challenges on their own. 

Need extra support? 

Empowering people to manage their own concerns and disputes is a great way to develop a team. However, sometimes employees are dealing with something much larger than an interpersonal issue.  

Problems stemming from mental illness, grief, or trauma are common and can go unknown to teammates. It may be manifesting itself in disagreements with other coworkersnegativity, and decreased engagement. HR may be the right answer to help in these situations, and you’ll need to take the time to uncover the real issue.  

But often personal problems like this need extra assistanceSome companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that are designed to help with these issues. Having an EAP and pointing employees to these services may be especially useful if there was a recent event involving workplace violence or harassment.  

There are other resources outside of your company you can tap into to help deal with a problem that is beyond the capacity of HR. It’s important to be familiar with them so you can make informed recommendations for whats needed to help maintain workplace health. 

Here are some supporting resources you can tap into: 

  • Hire a coach to come work with your team 
  • Offer inperson or overthephone counseling options to employees 
  • Have a list of hotlines you can reference for employees struggling with personal issues 

Saying no 

Learning to say no to people approaching HR with the wrong problems can be difficult, especially when your first instinct is to help. But sometimes it’s necessary—although it doesn’t mean that the problem goes ignored. 

When you send someone away to deal with a problem themselves, and you give them the tools to do so, you are challenging them to take accountability for their situation and assume a leadership role in addressing the issue. You are empowering them by teaching them how to deal with future workplace challenges and showing them they have the ability to solve it on their own. You’re also taking a lot of unnecessary work off your plate. It’s a winwin.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Dmitrii Shironosov 

  

Your Employee Handbook: Beyond Rules and Regulations

 

You know it’s important for businesses to have an employee handbook, but you may be wondering how having one in place can benefit both you and your employees.

Beyond spelling out company policies and rules, a well-written employee handbook can be a very useful workplace tool for both employers and employees. Some of the things it can do may even surprise you!

Here are a couple of unexpected ways this document can facilitate business growth and help you recruit and retain employees. 

A tool to manage growth

When companies are very small or just starting out, it’s easier to set and manage expectations, self-police behavior, and maintain a cohesive company culture.

As businesses grow and evolve, these things become exponentially more difficult and the need to formalize organizational policies, systems, and expectations becomes much more critical.

An effective employee handbook will clearly outline essential business processes such as behavior standards, safety information, leave policies, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, and employee benefits.

Clarifying HR processes can significantly reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth to resolve employee issues and misunderstandings. This can be especially important for small businesses, where both time and resources are scarce. Your employee handbook will also promote consistency in how employees are treated, helping to keep your business in compliance and out of court.

A culture enhancer

In addition to serving these very practical purposes, your employee manual can be a great way to reinforce your company culture and values.

The employee handbook is one of the first documents your new hires will receive. Keep in mind, they’ve just gone through a hiring process that portrays your company in a certain light. Now is the time to keep that light shining bright by reinforcing all the things you talked about during your recruiting and interview phases.

If your recruitment process is based on a “We care about our employees” message, your employee handbook is a great way to reinforce that notion immediately after. On the other hand, if it reads like a clinical set of procedures, rules, and discipline polices, your new hires are going to notice that these things don’t match up. This could put your new team members on the defensive and cause them to question the decision to jump onboard.

Here’s how you can use your employee manual as another way to make your employees feel good about joining your organization:

  • Include information on your company mission and vision
  • Talk about how you demonstrate your organizational values
  • Outline your employee benefits and compensation packages
  • Promote your employee wellbeing programs and/or initiatives
  • Offer information on where employees can go if they have questions and complaints
  • Let employees know what resources are available if they need professional and/or personal help

If you view your employee handbook as a formality, an afterthought, or a formal list of company rules, you’re wasting an opportunity to showcase who you are as an organization.

Folding an employee-first message into your manual will not only strengthen your company brand and message, it will remind your happy new hires why they chose you.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Africa Studio

 

Your Employee Handbook: Beyond Rules and Regulations

 

You know it’s important for businesses to have an employee handbook, but you may be wondering how having one in place can benefit both you and your employees.

Beyond spelling out company policies and rules, a well-written employee handbook can be a very useful workplace tool for both employers and employees. Some of the things it can do may even surprise you!

Here are a couple of unexpected ways this document can facilitate business growth and help you recruit and retain employees. 

A tool to manage growth

When companies are very small or just starting out, it’s easier to set and manage expectations, self-police behavior, and maintain a cohesive company culture.

As businesses grow and evolve, these things become exponentially more difficult and the need to formalize organizational policies, systems, and expectations becomes much more critical.

An effective employee handbook will clearly outline essential business processes such as behavior standards, safety information, leave policies, anti-discrimination policies, compensation, and employee benefits.

Clarifying HR processes can significantly reduce the amount of time spent going back and forth to resolve employee issues and misunderstandings. This can be especially important for small businesses, where both time and resources are scarce. Your employee handbook will also promote consistency in how employees are treated, helping to keep your business in compliance and out of court.

A culture enhancer

In addition to serving these very practical purposes, your employee manual can be a great way to reinforce your company culture and values.

The employee handbook is one of the first documents your new hires will receive. Keep in mind, they’ve just gone through a hiring process that portrays your company in a certain light. Now is the time to keep that light shining bright by reinforcing all the things you talked about during your recruiting and interview phases.

If your recruitment process is based on a “We care about our employees” message, your employee handbook is a great way to reinforce that notion immediately after. On the other hand, if it reads like a clinical set of procedures, rules, and discipline polices, your new hires are going to notice that these things don’t match up. This could put your new team members on the defensive and cause them to question the decision to jump onboard.

Here’s how you can use your employee manual as another way to make your employees feel good about joining your organization:

  • Include information on your company mission and vision
  • Talk about how you demonstrate your organizational values
  • Outline your employee benefits and compensation packages
  • Promote your employee wellbeing programs and/or initiatives
  • Offer information on where employees can go if they have questions and complaints
  • Let employees know what resources are available if they need professional and/or personal help

If you view your employee handbook as a formality, an afterthought, or a formal list of company rules, you’re wasting an opportunity to showcase who you are as an organization.

Folding an employee-first message into your manual will not only strengthen your company brand and message, it will remind your happy new hires why they chose you.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Africa Studio

 

How to Create a Better Client Experience

Providing great client service is a claim that nearly every business makes. However, being able to provide that great service, versus just promising it, is dependent on a number of things being in place.

It begins with a definition of what great service means to your company, which depends on what you want your customers to experience every time they have an interaction with your organization, which depends on… well… let’s just take a closer look at how this works.

Defining the company

Purpose| Starting from the top, the purpose of your business must be clearly defined so everyone knows why he or she works so hard every day. What goals are their efforts intended to achieve?

If it’s just to put more money in the owner’s pocket, it’s not a very good motivator for treating clients well or understanding what to help them with beyond selling them a product or answering their basic questions.

If it’s to help clients solve their specific problems, that’s a different story. Knowing that your goal is to help clients achieve their goals allows your team to proactively make suggestions toward that end.

Values| Next, the organizational values must be clearly defined. Values are used to help shape and direct behaviors. When the values are known, everyone can use consistent ideas in treating clients and making decisions. Without defined values, everyone is left to use their own set of decision-making criteria, which might not produce the results your company wants or expects.

Culture| Everyone needs to clearly understand the cultural expectations of the company, and leadership needs to actively reinforce them. It’s important to promote and reward appropriate behaviors as well as reprimand ones that don’t reinforce the cultural expectations. Without this, the culture becomes a fractured grouping of behaviors and doesn’t promote consistency across the organization.

Some say you can’t define a culture, that it just develops naturally. To some degree, this is true. Culture is a naturally developing personality of any organization. That said, clear expectations should be firmly in place as guide rails for good, consistent decision-making and behaviors.

Customer Experience| After you have your company values and behaviors defined, describe what you want a client/customer to experience when they interact with your organization. In order to deliver great service, you and your team must know what your definition of “great” is.

Processes| Determine what processes and procedures must be in place to deliver on your company purpose and client experience. This means having the right people performing in roles that play to their strengths. They need to be given responsibility and authority to make decisions and deliver on good service.

Having defined your purpose, values, culture, and client experience, the team should be well equipped now to deliver consistent service that reflects the best intentions of your company.

Follow through on the details

Skill Gaps| Once you’ve determined what the roles are to effectively deliver on the service you’ve defined, there will be some training gaps to fill in. Maybe it’s technical skills, new content skills, proficiency of tools, or even good personal relations. Consistency in training will help reinforce those key, consistent behaviors needed to deliver on your promises.

Communication| Leadership must regularly communicate and reinforce the organizational purpose, values, and expected behaviors. Using multiple forms of communication is important, but even more so is demonstrating it through behaviors and actions.

And as you create these collective definitions, be sure to take an honest assessment of where your customer service is today. Is everyone in the business actively working to “Wow!” clients and make them exceptionally happy? Or is it a more reactionary culture that focuses more on answering client questions, meeting minimum expectations, or putting out fires?

Without clear company definitions and ongoing communication so everyone on staff knows and understands them, any claims of “great service” are sitting on uncertain ground.

Based on individual life experiences, everyone has his or her own ideas of what good, best, and exceptional look like. Don’t leave the success of your company up to chance by simply hoping your definitions match those of each of your staff members. The clearer you make it, the happier everyone will be.

Including your clients.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by sirinapa

 

How to Create a Better Client Experience

Providing great client service is a claim that nearly every business makes. However, being able to provide that great service, versus just promising it, is dependent on a number of things being in place.

It begins with a definition of what great service means to your company, which depends on what you want your customers to experience every time they have an interaction with your organization, which depends on… well… let’s just take a closer look at how this works.

Defining the company

Purpose| Starting from the top, the purpose of your business must be clearly defined so everyone knows why he or she works so hard every day. What goals are their efforts intended to achieve?

If it’s just to put more money in the owner’s pocket, it’s not a very good motivator for treating clients well or understanding what to help them with beyond selling them a product or answering their basic questions.

If it’s to help clients solve their specific problems, that’s a different story. Knowing that your goal is to help clients achieve their goals allows your team to proactively make suggestions toward that end.

Values| Next, the organizational values must be clearly defined. Values are used to help shape and direct behaviors. When the values are known, everyone can use consistent ideas in treating clients and making decisions. Without defined values, everyone is left to use their own set of decision-making criteria, which might not produce the results your company wants or expects.

Culture| Everyone needs to clearly understand the cultural expectations of the company, and leadership needs to actively reinforce them. It’s important to promote and reward appropriate behaviors as well as reprimand ones that don’t reinforce the cultural expectations. Without this, the culture becomes a fractured grouping of behaviors and doesn’t promote consistency across the organization.

Some say you can’t define a culture, that it just develops naturally. To some degree, this is true. Culture is a naturally developing personality of any organization. That said, clear expectations should be firmly in place as guide rails for good, consistent decision-making and behaviors.

Customer Experience| After you have your company values and behaviors defined, describe what you want a client/customer to experience when they interact with your organization. In order to deliver great service, you and your team must know what your definition of “great” is.

Processes| Determine what processes and procedures must be in place to deliver on your company purpose and client experience. This means having the right people performing in roles that play to their strengths. They need to be given responsibility and authority to make decisions and deliver on good service.

Having defined your purpose, values, culture, and client experience, the team should be well equipped now to deliver consistent service that reflects the best intentions of your company.

Follow through on the details

Skill Gaps| Once you’ve determined what the roles are to effectively deliver on the service you’ve defined, there will be some training gaps to fill in. Maybe it’s technical skills, new content skills, proficiency of tools, or even good personal relations. Consistency in training will help reinforce those key, consistent behaviors needed to deliver on your promises.

Communication| Leadership must regularly communicate and reinforce the organizational purpose, values, and expected behaviors. Using multiple forms of communication is important, but even more so is demonstrating it through behaviors and actions.

And as you create these collective definitions, be sure to take an honest assessment of where your customer service is today. Is everyone in the business actively working to “Wow!” clients and make them exceptionally happy? Or is it a more reactionary culture that focuses more on answering client questions, meeting minimum expectations, or putting out fires?

Without clear company definitions and ongoing communication so everyone on staff knows and understands them, any claims of “great service” are sitting on uncertain ground.

Based on individual life experiences, everyone has his or her own ideas of what good, best, and exceptional look like. Don’t leave the success of your company up to chance by simply hoping your definitions match those of each of your staff members. The clearer you make it, the happier everyone will be.

Including your clients.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by sirinapa