Friday, 13 September 2013

Well done Jodie, an inspiration to us all!

Echo campaign helps Southampton graduate get her dream job

Jodie Stringer at her new workplace at Emphasis UK in Romsey with colleagues,  operations director Becky Boston, managing director Jane Michel and HR consultant Nicky WhitcombJodie Stringer at her new workplace at Emphasis UK in Romsey with colleagues, operations director Becky Boston, managing director Jane Michel and HR consultant Nicky Whitcomb
SHE was fresh out of university and looking to get her foot in the door.
Now thanks to the Daily Echo, Jodie Stringer has found her dream job in human resources.
The 21-year-old from West EndSouthampton joined the Daily Echo’s Give Me a Chance campaign in June after finishing a degree in English language and comparative literature and linguistics at the University of Kent with a 2.2.
But soon after she was featured in the campaign, Jodie was offered work with Romsey-based HR firm Emphasis, earning £7 an hour.
Although it is a casual position, the firm is keen to give her as much work as they can.
Jodie had already gained experience working in customer service roles, writing for the university newspaper InQuire and working as a brand ambassador for toiletries company Crabtree and Evelyn.
She set her heart on a career in HR after a conversation with friends and family two years ago and now she is enjoying helping other people get back into work.
Jodie began working with Emphasis last month and she has already helped research potential clients, liaised with recruitment agencies and carried out general admin tasks.
Operations director Becky Boston, said: “She’s brilliant. She’s happy to take on anything, she uses her initiative, she’s a confident professional and relaxed and she’s prepared to have a go at anything.

“This proves that if you do a bit more than everyone else you get your head above the parapet.” “We saw the article along with her CV and we were just really impressed that she went that extra mile by contacting the Daily Echo.
Jodie said: “I’m really enjoying working with Emphasis. It’s given me such a good insight into what HR is.
“It’s going to be brilliant for my CV as well.
“I want to thank the Daily Echo for helping me get this job.
“It’s been such a good help. The fact that people may see it gives you an extra push and is such a good thing.”

Friday, 9 August 2013

Don't mention the "A" word...

Why when people mention “appraisals” is there an instinctive reaction of “oh no”.  Appraisals carry a sense of dread for many, whether you are the appraisee or appraiser.  Yet when asked about the benefits of an “effective appraisal”, we are normally in broad agreement; they can be motivating, purposeful, offer positive and constructive feedback, provide an opportunity to review someone’s role and contribution and look at how this may change in the future.  Yet according to a recent World at Work study, 58% of HR leaders gave their appraisal process a “C” grade or worse.  Few other business processes would be allowed to continue to perform so poorly.

So what is going wrong and what do we need to get it right?

Traditional appraisal processes focus on an annual cycle (sometimes with six monthly reviews) and assume an individual is supervised by the same line manager over the period.  The process is often heavily weighted to filling out forms, with pages of narrative and ratings.  The focus is on completing the process; HR monitors whether the forms have been completed and although it is acknowledged the content is often poor, the main objective is to get them done.  It can feel like taking a spoonful of cod liver oil – you are told this should be good for you but you don’t enjoy it and are not completely convinced by the so called positive benefits.

It is useful to recognise how much traditional working structures and practices have changed over the last 20 years.  Employees are working more flexibly, both in their hours of work and location.  They often work in teams which are formed, dissolved and reformed to meet the changing needs of business.  Their work may be linked to specific projects ie the timeframe for measuring their contribution is not annually but much more frequently.  Employees want feedback from a wider range of people; colleagues (whether senior, junior or peers), stakeholders, customers and perhaps suppliers.  They want the feedback in real-time; not several months down the line.  In every other aspect businesses are speeding up their processes, using technology to allow real-time and remote communications but not in appraisals.

If businesses could get their appraisal or performance management processes to work effectively then this would significantly increase their competitiveness in an economy where it is vital to maintain a competitive edge.  So what is stopping us?

For many businesses it’s the worry about trying to change a process which everyone knows is not working properly and the fear that therefore a new process will be damned before it starts. No one wants to take on that poisoned chalice.  So how about trialling some new ideas, perhaps running a pilot with a few interested individuals?  There is no risk – it gives the volunteers the opportunity to be involved in a key business project and to influence the direction for engaging with and developing people.  Most people want more feedback; particularly if it is relevant, timely and will help them be even more effective.  We like to know we’re doing well.

The first step is to establish what good looks like in terms of expected behaviours and performance.   Why is this individual employed – what are the critical elements of their role which are fundamental to the business meeting its objectives? 

Then start to think about using encouraging peer feedback.  When people work together in a trusting and supportive environment this should flow naturally.  People look for feedback all the time – much of the success of Facebook and LinkedIn is the ease with which we can very quickly provide positive feedback to our friends and colleagues (and the fact we “like” to do this).  We all want to be appreciated and recognised for our efforts.  If something doesn’t go to plan, we want to understand why without feeling as though we have done something “wrong”.  Clearly talking to one another face to face is the most effective form of feedback and this is particular relevant if the discussion is focused on changing behaviour but that should not block the speed and relevance of positive technology based feedback.

The answer to motivating your people is through a real time, people centred performance review process.  If this is something you would like to explore or discuss further, please give us a ring (01794 329290) or email

Friday, 28 June 2013

Straightforward resolution to workplace conflict

Our clients tell us they have avoided tackling workplace conflict because of:
  •  fear of tribunal claims
  •  the time it takes to manage the process
  • lack of knowledge of how to handle contentious situations
  • the hope that in time things would improve 

We often get involved when workplace conflicts have not been dealt with at an early stage.  By the time we get involved the situation has often escalated and requires much more time and effort to resolve.  However if workplace conflict is tackled in the early stages there is a more supportive and positive outcome is achieved much earlier for less effort.

The key to success is tackling those initial sources of conflict as soon as possible whether it is a personality clash between two members of staff, partnership disagreements, board level disputes or a team which has not bonded effectively.

Although there are different approaches to handling conflict we find the most effective process is mediation.  Mediation is now widely recognised as a highly effective way to reduce conflict, resolve disputes and build a productive workplace. 

Mediation provides the following benefits:
  • people are less likely to go down the formal grievance process or more costly legal processes
  •  it reduces the cost of conflict in terms of stress, illness and staff losses
  •  better working relationship and more productive teams
  • effectively managed conflicts have a positive effect and saves time and energy it takes to deal with on-going poor workplace relationships
  • enhances people’s handling of their own disputes

We typically run and conclude the mediation process within one day.  This ensures all parties are engaged in the process and exploring possible solutions without the risk of it being derailed through the influence of colleagues and family. 

Our approach is to have an initial meeting with each of the parties involved in the morning and then a joint meeting with all parties in the afternoon if all are happy to proceed.  The process is completely confidential, no notes are taken and no feedback is given to other members of staff (including the referrer).
The mediator assists the people involved in the dispute to explore and understand their differences and, if possible, to settle them.  The disputing parties, not the mediator, dictate the terms of any agreement.

The cost of a one-day mediation process is £800 + VAT this includes a follow up telephone call with the individuals who were involved in the original dispute.
Imagine how you would feel if the issue was behind you and you had more time to spend on the areas you want to progress.

Can you afford not to have mediation?  How much easier would it be at work if the conflict was resolved?  If you think we could help, please give us a ring on 01794 329290.  We believe mediation will save you time, heartache and create a better working environment.