INSIGHTS

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All I Want For Christmas Is… Feedback?!

A healthy dose of feedback is unlikely to be at the top of your christmas list. But constructive, 360 feedback is the gift that keeps on giving and could be the key to unlocking the growth potential that you know is there in the business you love.

Sounds great, right? AND it’s free. No fancy pants online forms or expensive consultants required. A simple, round-robin email asking staff to detail 5 things you (or the business) do well and 5 things you could do better, would suffice.

In fact, asking for feedback is the easy bit. It’s receiving it that can be hard.

Here’s how to embrace feedback like the welcome christmas gift that it is….

1. Allow Time For It To Sink In

When we receive information that’s significant but unexpected (positive, or negative) our immediate response – be it shock, disappointment, anger, elation or whatever – isn’t always the most appropriate or helpful. Let yourself experience the emotion, and then release it and try to accept what you have heard more calmly and rationally.   

2. Keep It In Perspective

It’s not unusual for people to allow one piece of negative feedback to overshadow all the great things that they do and forget the positive stuff about themselves. (Similarly, I have worked with some people who only paid attention to the praise and disregarded important corrective feedback they were given.) So allow the feedback to add to the psychological picture you already hold of yourself, rather than replace it or skew it.  Again, this sometimes takes time.

3. Show Interest And Ask Questions

You may need to explore the feedback in greater depth, assuming you can do this constructively, without being defensive or threatening. In what situations have they observed you behaving in this way?  What was the impact or consequences?  What would they like to see you doing instead?  

4. Look Below The Surface

In an ideal world, all corrective feedback would be wrapped up in tactful language, and delivered in a supportive tone by someone we believe has absolutely our best interests at heart.  But it doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes feedback is clumsily expressed, or comes from someone we don’t particularly get on with (so they would say that, wouldn’t they), or sometimes we think even with the best will in the world, they are just plain wrong to think of us like that.  What then?  Well – with tactless comments, simply look beyond the language at the essence of the message: there may well be some truth there, perhaps expressed harshly, but still a helpful point.  With the feedback from the person you don’t like – again, they probably have an important point to make, so look beyond any relationship issues and focus on what you can learn from their feedback.  Finally with the feedback you simply don’t agree with – well, be honest with yourself first.  Is there not even a glimmer of truth in what they say?  If the answer is – sincerely – still no, then ok.  But they have a perception, and they have been brave enough to share it with you (if that’s what they’re thinking, you’d still rather know, surely?).  So while you might disagree with their view, you do have something to work with in terms of that person’s perception of your style and how you might manage your relationship with them going forward.  

5. Don’t Get Defensive Or Argue With The Feedback

Instead, try one of these: “thank you for letting me know, I wasn’t aware I did that and I can see how that would look from your perspective”, or “thank you for telling me that, could you please tell me some more about my tendency to behave in that way” or if you really believe they’ve got the wrong end of the stick try “thank you for sharing that with me, I wasn’t aware that’s how I can come across, can I just explain more about what’s going on for me in these situations..” although handle this last tactic with care.  

6. Reflect On What To Do Next

Once you have accepted that this is the view held by your colleague, you can decide what you want to do with the information.  Don’t be too quick to either dismiss it or take it to heart – do it justice by fully reflecting on it first.  When you’re ready you can decide whether you agree, partially agree or disagree with the feedback.  Whichever you decide, you do need to accept that this is the view held by your colleague, and acknowledge that it might not have been easy for them to share it with you, so thank them.

7. And Remember You Are Only Human…

Just like everybody else.  You have enormous strengths and skills – otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are today, having achieved all that you have. However, in addition to this, none of us are perfect: we all have areas where we can improve.  So regard any critical feedback you are given as a chance for you to learn more about the improvements you can make, in order to be more effective in the future.

Being able to receive feedback constructively is a great skill.  Done properly, the benefits are like looking in a mirror: just as we take a look in the mirror in the morning before we leave the house – to check our hair’s ok and there’s no toothpaste down our shirt – feedback represents the truth of how we come across to those around us.  Knowing other peoples’ views of you and how you might improve is a hugely powerful lever to improve your effectiveness. Leading without feedback would be like going through your working life without ever checking the mirror. 

For help and advice on the HR needs of your business call us now on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub. Got a spare 10 minutes? Check out our latest ebook The Ultimate Step By Guide To Being An Inspirational Leader and find out how to lead like a superhero…

Image by Caitlin H

HR Horrors: Negative Reviews On Glassdoor

For potential employees, Glassdoor seems a golden opportunity to get an insider view of what it’s really like to work at a particular organisation. But often it’s not the empowering ‘invisibility cloak’ it’s cracked to be. It can be a forum for disgruntled ex-employees with axes to grind to sound off about their previous employer, leaving the company’s hard earned reputation in tatters for the world to see. Or worse, it can be hijacked by employers posting false testimonies in order to rubbish the legitimate grievances of poorly-treated former colleagues.

It’s becoming increasingly important to know how to interact with the minefield that is Glassdoor , particularly when considering how or if to respond to negative reviews.

Here’s our advice:

1. Be transparent: If you do get challenged by a candidate about a negative comment that they’ve seen, simply explain why the comments are there. Perhaps there was a new management structure put in place which meant significant changes, for example. Be open and honest, being defensive will only look like you have something to hide.

2. Build on what you can control: Manage your business’ online presence. Asking for recommendations on your LinkedIn Company page is a good example. Determine the sites that are the most influential to your potential candidates and customers and focus on enhancing these sites by building on their content.

3. Respond to all reviews – positive or negative: Review sites give employers the opportunity to respond to reviews (on Glassdoor you can have an employer profile for free). The value of this opportunity shouldn’t be underestimated. If you receive a negative review, respond as quickly as you can. Job seekers will not only be reading the reviews, they’ll be looking to see how businesses respond to these reviews. Responding promptly and politely will show you care about the opinions of your employees; and this can go a long way to minimizing the impact of a negative review.

4. Don’t lash out: If you’re considering working for a company, and you see a negative review, which approach from the business would make you more confident? a) them getting defensive and listing all of the reasons why the ex-employee is wrong or b)  them being human, empathetic and apologetic. The answer might seem obvious when we look at it from that perspective, which is what makes it amazing to see how many companies will lash out as a first reaction.

5. Take the issue offline: As much as possible, try not to engage in discussions of details; the last thing you want is to air your dirty laundry online, or get into a “he said, she said” situation. Respond in a non-defensive way that shows you’re listening, and whenever possible, take the conversation offline as quickly as possible.  For instance, rather than specifically addressing negative remarks, you could say, “Thank you for your valuable feedback. I would love the opportunity to talk with you about your experience in detail. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

6. DO NOT try to prohibit bad reviews: As the importance of online reviews has risen in recent years, so too have reports of small business owners going to extreme measures to stop customers leaving negative reviews of their company online. Let’s be clear, it is a bad idea to try and influence what your employees post on these sites (other than by being a good employer!) and if there are issues that are leading to negative reviews you would be wiser to spend your time addressing these.  Glassdoor itself has a policy on these types of reviews and states that “you can always encourage employees to post feedback on Glassdoor, however if we suspect you are encouraging or incentivising specifically positive reviews, those reviews are subject to removal”.

7. Please don’t take it personally: Your business isn’t right for everyone.  And that’s a great thing, because you can’t be all things to all people.  And remember, some of the people who leave negative reviews – very, very few – are, quite frankly, just idiots.  These are the ex-employees who make personal attacks and aren’t constructive in their feedback. These are exactly the type of the individuals you don’t want in your business anyway.

The world of online reviews can be a blessing for small business if handled properly.  If not, they can become something of a marketing disaster. This is something many small business owners have discovered the hard way, with poorly judged responses to their company’s negative reviews going viral. So make sure you learn from their mistakes and handle negative reviews in a professional and courteous manner.

For help and advice on this or any other HR issue do please get in touch at hello@thehrhub or call us on 0203 627 7048.

Photocredit: Flickr Spadge6868

Christmas Jumper Day: Make Sure Yours Is Just A Fashion Faux Pas!

As we approach the holiday period, Christmas Jumper Day is a topic of conversation in many workplaces all across the UK. The premise is fairly simple. On Friday 16th December, we’re encouraged to wear our silliest knitwear. It’s fun, it’s festive, and it’s also for a good cause: by donating £2, you’ll also be helping Save the Children to save young lives.

Wondering whether your workplace should get involved? There are so many reasons to do so: it could be a great morale booster during a time when work is likely to be hectic, not to mention the fact that it also gives you the opportunity to give something back to the wider community, something which we know helps drive engagement. (Wondering who to blame for this all however is another matter entirely & in which case I’d point you in the direction of none other than Mark Darcy ….)

Some folks might be concerned that their dress codes exist solely to portray a professional front to customers and clients and that allowing the team to dress like 80’s telly presenters might somehow water the ‘look’ they want down, however it’s highly unlikely anyone’s going to be concerned if you change your standards for the day. Particularly when done in the name of charidddy…. 

So put a willing volunteer in charge of proceedings, so you can ensure that the cash is collected and donated to the charity within the right timeframe. And let the fun commence…

For further inspiration for making the day a resounding success, download a free fundraising pack from Save the Children.

Christmas Jumper Day (and it’s counterparts – dressing the Christmas Tree & Secret Santa) might not be the most strategic HR issues you’ll come across this year. But sometimes, being a good leader isn’t just about driving forward profits and sales. It’s about creating positive and thriving workplaces. And I’m afraid as the boss, it’s definitely your role to lead from the front with a particularly hideous example of the Christmas jumper genre.

If you want to chat about how outsourced HR can boost your business and employee success, then we can help. Get in touch today at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or by calling 0203 627 7048 to arrange an initial, no-obligation consultation.

We’ll pinpoint any potential issues that are at play in your workplace, and give you practical advice around what you need to do next.

TheHRhub: The ultimate HR support for startups and SMEs.

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Boring-but-important: Changes to Tier 2 Visas Which Could Affect Your Future Hiring

Earlier this year the government announced its response to two reviews of its Tier 2 policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and now it’s finally been announced that some of these changes will be introduced on 24th November 2016.

Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK and the proposed changes are designed to ensure that employers are incentivised to up-skill and train resident workers, whilst ensuring they can continue to access migrant workers when needed.

So what’s actually changed? Below we take a look at the key changes and what you need to be aware of not only regarding the imminent changes but beyond……..

The headlines
For Tier 2 (General) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £20,800 to £25,000. However, the Home Office has agreed to waive these new salary thresholds for foreign nationals applying to renew their Tier 2 (General) status if they obtained their status before the 24 November implementation date. You should note however, that this transitional exemption measure will end when the next planned minimum salary increase to GBP £30,000 takes place in April 2017.

For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer [ICT] – Short Term Staff) the minimum salary will increase from GBP £24,800 to £30,000. It is important to note that this immigration route is scheduled to close to new applicants in April 2017.

The 28-day grace period for over stayers is to be abolished and any application for further leave to remain by an over stayer will be refused unless ‘good cause’ is given and it is made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring.

Recent graduates and trainees will be given greater flexibility

In an effort to attract more young, well-educated foreign talent to the UK, the Home Office will also make the following changes to provide sponsoring companies with reduced requirements and greater flexibility in hiring recent graduates and trainees:

  • Applications from non-EU/EEA/Swiss national overseas graduates will receive greater weight in the Tier 2 (General) quota system, giving them a higher likelihood of approval.
  • Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will be permitted to change roles to a permanent position within their sponsoring company upon completion of their training period, without the sponsoring company having to perform a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).
  • The number of Tier 2 Graduate Trainees that a sponsoring company can sponsor will be increased from 5 to 20 individuals per year.
  • The salary threshold for Tier 2 Graduate Trainees will decrease to £23,000

Streamlining of the Tier 2 (ICT) Route
Currently, the Home Office offers three primary subcategories within their Tier 2 (ICT) route: Skills Transfer, Short Term Staff, and Long Term Staff. To simplify this highly-utilised immigration stream, the UK authorities plan to consolidate the current three subcategories into a single ICT category based on the following schedule:

  • From 24th November 2016 the Tier 2 (ICT – Skills Transfer) subcategory will close to new applications
  • April 2017 (exact date to be confirmed) – the Tier 2 (ICT – Short Term Staff) subcategory will close to new applications.
  • This will leave a single, long-term Tier 2 (ICT) route from April 2017 going forward.

There’s still more too come…..

Although the majority of changes are about to be enforced you should be aware that there are still more changes ahead and these are:

The Home Office has yet to confirm when Tier 2 (ICT) holders will become subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge. An announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

Some non-EU/EEA/Swiss dependent parents and partners of work permit holders will now be subject to new English language requirements after 2.5 years of residence in the UK. This new requirement, which comes into force on May 1, 2017, is applicable only to individuals on the five-year route to settlement under the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

Now is the time that you should begin preparing for the scheduled April 2017 changes which will serve as the final phase of the expected immigration changes adopted from the MAC’s recommendations.

You can find full details on the changes here and of course please do contact us at TheHRHub, 0203 627 7048 for help and support through the process. For a fixed fee (reduced for existing members) we can take all the hassle away from you for the process.

Would You Have a Problem With a Tattooed Employee?

It’s fair to say that body art and the workplace are two things that haven’t traditionally gone hand in hand. But in recent years though, things have started to shift.

Back in 2014, Starbucks famously lifted its tattoo ban for staff in a move that was applauded and welcomed with open (and perhaps intricately adorned) arms. The coffee chain is known for being a creative brand, with a predominately young workforce and modern-minded customers, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the business decided to move with the times.

New research from Acas though has suggested that employers as a whole may well be out of touch with the changing public perception of visible tattoos, piercings and other modifications.

The implications here can be fairly serious… If you have a policy, either formally or informally, that bans body art, then you could be missing out on a huge pool of talent. Furthermore, you could be causing unrest and resentment amongst your existing workforce.

So could it be time to rethink your stance?

As a starting point here, let’s consider your legal position as an employer. Body art is not classed as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, so there are no direct implications in the eyes of the law. Still though, there is a possibility that you could be challenged on the grounds of a breach of human rights.

How you decide to approach the issue of tattoos comes down to you, though it could be worth giving some serious thought to whether your position is serving a purpose or exists solely as a result of outdated workplace culture and practice.

Ultimately, it’s essential that whatever you decide, your polices are clear and well communicated to ensure there’s no ambiguity around what’s acceptable and what isn’t. It also makes sense to consult with your staff before making any big changes to ensure that they’re on board from the start. 

You stance on issues like this are valuable contributors to the culture of your business. For employees, being culturally aligned to the company they work for is the cornerstone of engagment – so you’d be wise to tred carefully when pinning your colours to the mast on potenially contentious issues. For advice and support, give us a call on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk.

Image by Annie Spratt