>Yesterday I had one the most surreal conversations I’ve ever been involved in so far. There needs to be some context behind this post though. On Friday 1st October 2010, the Equality Act was introduced in the UK. There’s been a lot of expectation about what this new Act will mean for employment legislation. Essentially it brings together all previous employment legislation into one Act, and with it all relating terminologies and nuances. If you want to know more please visit the Acas website.
I’ve been doing a lot of exit interviews lately. They’re interesting and are all fine, but I’m left thinking from more than one of them – yeah well how about I give you some feedback too.
And that’s when it struck me. Why don’t we do that? I may be missing an ‘innovation’ in HR, but this is what I’m thinking. The exit interview should be a 2 part process. Part 1 is about the leaver giving us feedback and insight about why they’re leaving. Part 2 should be about giving the leaver feedback about their time with us, their performance, things they did well, badly, key highlights from their time with us and key lows. Think of it as a 360 exit interview.
Imagine the power behind that. Now it’s not just leavers giving the business reasons why they need to improve, but (genuinely) the business helping the leaver to go with vital information for their own career and future development.
This is one of those scary things that HR types would go – are you crazy?! Imagine the time, effort, and what’s the payback for us? And here’s why it should be done. We care about investing in an individual when they are with us. From the moment they join, we give them an onboarding programme, make training available to them, set objectives, entrust them with projects, expect amazing things.
And all that is geared up to them shouting about us to their networks so they come and work for us. So why wouldn’t we do this for when they leave? Their leaving should be equally a fulfilled experience outside of the form filling side of the process. They should have a final piece of interaction with the business that says – we still want you to have amazing things to say about us as an agency and this is something we believe will help you grow as an individual in your career.
Cynicism and negativity aside, I’d be interested in your comments on this.
If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know I’m a fan of positive psychology and that I’m a fan of Martin Seligman. His work has been central in building positive psychology as a distinct discipline. I heard him give a talk about his work in positive psychology and I was very inspired by him and the work he presented. This produced two posts I wrote about: 3 Good Things and Can I Rule the World Now
So where does this field of psychology take me today? Seligman’s work has been mainly with people who suffer depression in its many forms. And one of the key insights he offered to us (his audience) was this. Sometimes you have bad days, and that’s just life. Now that’s hardly profound, but it is important not to overlook it. We can get so caught up with positive attitudes, constructive conversations, collaboration, engagement activities, and generally making life an enjoyable experience.
But sometimes it’s just shit. And there’s not a lot you can do about it. Just accept that you’re having a bad day. It will pass. You know it will. But whilst it’s happening just get on and do your thing. Don’t wallow in it. Moan to your friends if you have to. But ultimately just do what you’re here to do. You know, work. You’re still capable of doing that. You’re still capable of fulfilling your day to day job details. You’re still capable of interacting with other people.
And that’s it. That’s your bag. Most days we have are good days. And those shit days, are just shit.
>This week, @TheHRD posted a blog entitled Back to school, back to reality. He writes good stuff anyway, and this post was no different. He talked about the “need to reframe the relationship between business and education”, and introduced a term “bonded labour” which I’ve not heard before. It’s an interesting idea centred on ‘bonding’ your new starters – graduates or experienced – to the company for 2 years.
The Leitch Report identified that literacy and numeracy skills across the UK are at a poor level for school leavers. Out of 30 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, the UK is 17th on low skills: 5 million adults in the UK lack functional literacy and 17 million adults in the UK have difficulty with numbers.. A recent study by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development) suggests that employee skills are proportionately lower than needed in terms of general literacy and numeracy ability (“Reflections on the 2008 learning and development survey”). The implications of these reports suggest that the workforce will continue to experience a significant working population who are not able to do tasks such as writing reports, creating spreadsheets, analysing data, or be an active part of organisational policy/change.
These have provided a sharp look at the practices UK institutions choose to enact. In a positive move, schools have the option of allowing students to take a path on the new 14-19 diploma route which is less about passing exams and more about giving students the experiences required to be effective at work. 25% of UK companies are engaged in the Train to Gain scheme and 78% are developing occupational training schemes.
Beyond these initial findings, we then see that there is a direct impact on the skills employers are seeking from new employees. Interpersonal skills are seen by 79% of UK companies as being important, 68% view communication as next in importance. 61% of employers want a broader range of skills from new employees and 90% want increased leadership and management skills. A common argument supporting this upshot of required skills suggests that the current education system is lacking in providing ‘real work’ experiences and skills. Or thought of in a different way, those leaving the world of academics are not able to successfully transfer their skills to a working environment.
I suggest that the current education system in the UK provides ample opportunities to provide the relevant skills necessary for future careers. Support systems are constantly evolving to meet cultural, social, educational, familial needs. The UK education system has been constantly responding to the changing face of the world and allowing many more options for people to choose from to determine the direction of their career. We have seen a move from ‘O’ Levels to CSEs to GCSEs and now an extension to diplomas. Similarly we have seen at graduate levels, courses ranging from ‘traditional’ subjects such as Law, English, Philosophy, Medicine, to including new lines of thinking such as Gaming and Technology, Counselling, and Human Resource Management.
I propose a course of action to provide graduates completing a degree with a 4 week training programme specifically designed to build and develop their skills and giving them the understanding of how to transfer these skills to the workplace. My belief is:
– Graduates will be eager to enter into some further training to support their entry to the workplace
– Prospective employers will be eager to have an influx of graduates who have the required skills that they are seeking
The programme will be titled ‘Certificate in Business Effectiveness’. The programme will be a certified programme recognised by industry that will allow employers to understand that those passing the programme have achieved a desired standard in Business Effectiveness.
The intention of this programme is to provide graduates with the confidence that they are able to enter a work environment with the skills that make a difference.
The 4 weeks would cover topics such as: Objective Setting, Project Management basics, Marketing Principles, Assertiveness skills, Presentations skills, Writing Business Cases, Conflict Management, Business Acumen, Financial Acumen.
The programme would include support after completion. This would take the form of an online space where students can access materials to help refresh learnings from the programme. There would also be practitioner support. An extra facet to the programme that we would include is to have a mentoring programme with industry practitioners who are willing to mentor those completing the programme.
3 ‘Practitioners’ would be required to teach the course subjects.
At the end of each week, the practitioners complete an assessment (based on the BARS system) on each student. Students must achieve level 4 at the end of the programme in order to pass the programme. At the end of the programme, students receive a certificate acknowledging their successful completion of the course in Business Effectiveness.
Those students who do not achieve Level 4 will only receive acknowledgement that the course was attended in full but the required standard was not achieved.
Regardless of level, each student will receive detailed feedback at the end of each week to enable focused development through the programme. At the end of the programme, each student will receive a complete profile based on their performance during the programme.
>I’m loosely following an unconference happening with the hashtag #trumanchester on Twitter. This morning’s topic is on Diversity and the usual drivel is being spouted.
“Companies need a diversity policy to ensure everyone is being included.”
“If you don’t have a diverse workforce you don’t get the best results”
“Diversity isn’t just about gender and race but disability, religion, age and sexual orientation. Is your workforce representative of all the above?”
I worked for a consultancy who had to deliver to Ford Motor Company (UK) training on Diversity and Dignity at Work. It was mandatory training that all staff had to attend as the company was being regulated by government due to some high profile cases which happened in the 1990’s.
The topic itself is obvious enough for any member of staff. If you say or do something offensive or behave offensively you will get in trouble for it. For HR and legalities such as recruitment it’s vital to know what you can and not do in order to ensure you are being fair to all candidates and staff members.
But enforcing things like ‘Diversity week’ or ‘diversity policies’ or ‘diversity training’ defeats the point massively. If you have members of staff who are making conscious efforts to intentionally offend someone in any manner then you have an issue and it needs to be dealt with. It’s likely they don’t need diversity training, they just need to be sacked.
Look, I get diversity. I trained on the bloody topic for 1 1/2 years and could spout all things discriminatory, positive, direct, indirect, GOQ, and any other technical term. It’s there for good reasons. It’s just used horrifically badly by a lot of folk.
The bottom line is this. If you have to use diversity as a weapon you have not grasped the concept of diversity at all.
>I’m a fan of positive psychology. It’s a wonderful field of study that has produced a lot of interesting results in helping people identify specific activities they can do to elevate their mood and help themselves maintain a positive state of mind.
The work was pioneered by a psychologist by the name of Martin Seligman. I’ve listened to him talk and he’s a wonderful person who is very warm and honest about the difficulties he has faced in his own life that have prompted his interest in this area. The work has mainly been accomplished and continues with people who suffer various modes of depression.
There are some very specific exercises that are encouraged which have generated marked improvements in general feelings of happiness. Seligman coined a term ‘authentic happiness’. I’m going to focus on one in particular method. It’s important to remember this is not a one trick pony. Nor is it the primary solution to relieving bad moods. It’s one method which is easy to do.
At the end of the day you should take the time to reflect on the day and remember 3 good things that have happened to you that day. That’s all you have to do. Write them down somewhere that you can keep a diary/log/blog. You’ll find that initially the things you write tend to be things like ‘the sun came out today’, or ‘had a good meal’. As you become more committed to it, you’ll find you write other things such as ‘helped a colleague solve a work problem’ or ‘had a good workout’ or ‘kept my anger in check today’. The important thing isn’t how deep or profound the good thing is, just that it provides a focus for thinking about good events rather than hanging on bad things.
On Twitter I’ll also start a twitter profile @3_GoodThings. Annoyingly @3GoodThings, @ThreeGoodThings and @3_Good_Things were all taken and none are being used well. If you like the idea of this, then please follow.
My intention here is to help people realise that being happy is always within our control, we just need to be conscious of how we do it.
>I’m going through stuff at the moment, both professionally and personally. It’s all a bit frustrating as essentially I don’t feel useful.