Autonomy – What It Really Is and How to Encourage It

Autonomy What It Really Is and How to Encourage ItAutonomy sounds great to employees and employers alike, but is it really achievable? Bosses think if they could just turn projects over and employees would do what’s needed that would be the next best thing to heaven. Workers feel like they could get so much more done if their boss would quit micromanaging.

Part of the problem is that both sides don’t always understand what autonomy really is. That makes it hard to achieve. Let’s start with defining the goal and then explore ways to reach it.

What Autonomy Is and Isn’t

Autonomy is the ability to make choices that help you perform at your best. Here are some of the areas where employees might have the freedom to choose:

  • Project types
  • Flexibility in timing and work location
  • Work pacing
  • Preferred client or industry focus

Autonomy isn’t employees doing whatever they want and making all the decisions. It doesn’t mean any of these things:

  • Employees can show up and leave whenever they want
  • Individuals can work in isolation without seeking approval or clarification from management
  • Employees have to figure out what to do without input from the boss
  • Every staff member has the same amount of freedom

A University of Birmingham study indicated people who had flexible schedules and work pacing had higher job satisfaction. Happy employees are more engaged, innovative and productive. An autonomous workplace is better for everyone.

4 Ways to Encourage Workplace Autonomy

People want to direct their own lives. It’s possible to create autonomy at your business without sacrificing leadership. Here’s how.

Hire for autonomy. Not everyone can handle the choices you want to offer. Look for people who have faced challenges and persevered. Ask interview questions that encourage them to explain how they deal with hardship or frustration. When you call their references, ask questions to explore how they act when no one is looking.

Make expectations crystal-clear. Some businesses have safety concerns, governmental regulations or compliance issues that are never up for discussion. Others would lose business if employees didn’t behave or dress in line with company values. Identify the non-negotiables and make them part of onboarding and regular training. In areas where you offer choices, set boundaries and hold employees accountable.

Allow employees to earn their choices. You don’t have to give everyone the same amount of freedom. You probably already know the person who always gets work done on time and the one who almost never makes a deadline. The first employee literally can’t stand to be late. The idea causes him or her physical pain. That employee would be successful with a flexible schedule. They’ve earned it with their consistent excellence.

Instill a feeling of ownership. Ask for employee feedback on company goals, projects and processes. Recognize staff individually and specifically for how their contribution caused improvement or profit.

Find Employees You Can Trust

At Brelsford Personnel we’re committed to excellence when it comes to employee screening and selection. During our interview process we find trustworthy candidates for your professional, administrative and temporary staffing needs. We perform background checks and in-depth reference checks and verify skills as part of our candidate assessment. Get in touch to find the employees who meet your business needs.

It’s ‘Clean Out Your Computer’ day. Here’s how to declutter your computer in 4 steps.

Save your sanity by keeping files straight from the start.

Chris Ambrose

[Courtesy of Monster.com]

It's Clean Out Your Computer day Here's how to declutter your computer in 4 steps

If you’ve ever seen the comedy “Zoolander,” you may remember the hysterical scene where the not-so-bright title character played by Ben Stiller is told to search for some hard drive files “in the computer.” Zoolander goes into a rage when he can’t open the computer and shatters it open instead.

You may have felt like doing the same thing with your own computer at a time when you couldn’t find an important file you knew you had but can’t locate. Today for Clean Out Your Computer Day, I’ve gathered some easy-to-use, expert tips for decluttering your computer files and getting them organized so you can stop computer rage before it starts.

1. Subdivide your folders

One of the most important steps you can take to organizing your computer’s files is creating subdivisions within folders. In her article, “Where Did I Save That Document?” productivity expert Laura Stack suggests using subdivision to help with organization.

“If every folder were labeled ‘My Documents,’ you wouldn’t find anything,” she notes. Instead, consider making more folders based on type of work or the date it was created. “Microsoft automatically sets up a folder titled ‘My Documents,’ where you can save your documents. If you save EVERYTHING under this directory, you will never be able to find what you need,” writes Stack. Make sure you take control of where your files and work go.

2. Remove old files

Do you have a file — whether it be a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation — you use a couple times a week? You should probably keep those around on your Desktop, but almost everything else should go somewhere else.

N2 Publishing CTO Jim Hall advises people delete or move files off their desktop if they’re not in use. “Move files you don’t use often to an external hard drive or cloud storage (whatever you trust and are comfortable with). And don’t be afraid to delete files you won’t ever use again. Clear out your photos and store them on an external drive or cloud, too.”

3. Think about how you want to search

Before you save something new, remember to first ask yourself “how will I search for this in the future?” Take for instance, the example of searching for old insurance files from Stack’s article.

“You can’t remember, ‘Did I call that “automobile” insurance, or “car” insurance, or “Bronco” insurance?’ You would logically want to go to ONE place in your files to find all information related to insurance. So a simple solution is to put the noun first, such as ‘Insurance, Auto;’ ‘Insurance, Homeowners;’ ‘Insurance, Medical.’” By placing the noun first in the file name you reduce time spent searching and stressing.

4. Invent a file-naming system

Perhaps the best way to prevent all future mishaps is create a simple file-naming system that incorporates both a date and a useful description. Your files don’t have to be in a code that would make the pros at NASA proud, just use short, clear names for your files, advises Hall. “And be consistent with the style or format you use.”

Computers are powerful productivity machines, but like anything else, they must be organized from time to time to remain dependable and easy to use. Take these small steps and you can prevent plenty of headaches in the future.

It’s Customer Service Week!

It’s Customer Service Week

It’s Customer Service Week!

Customer Service Week is an international celebration of customer service and to the people who serve and supports customers on a daily basis. This year’s Customer Service Week theme is Building Trust. The Brelsford Personnel team strives to provide exceptional customer service while working to earn our customers TRUST every day. We deeply appreciate those of you who go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver superb customer service!

#CustomerServiceWeek

It’s Customer Service Week

 

The War For Talent Is Over. This New War Will Replace It.

[Courtesy of forbes.com]

The War For Talent Is Over This New War Will Replace It

William Vanderbloemen , CONTRIBUTOR

I cover topics about having a strong faith and building a business. The future doesn’t belong to the talented. It belongs to the cultured. Culture cannot be taught but competency can.

The War For Talent Is Over This New War Will Replace It

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The last three hires I’ve made at Vanderbloemen, I have passed on super competent candidates in favor of less “talented” people.

I couldn’t be happier with my choices.

Why? I’m convinced that culture trumps competency every single time. So I’ve focused my hiring on people who fit our culture. I’ve trusted that competency (read, talent) can largely be learned. So far, the theory is proving to be true.

In our work as an executive search firm, we are constantly asked about the “war for talent.” I read articles that bear titles like: “There aren’t enough people to go around,” or “The Coming Talent Crisis.” As the baby boomers age, we face the largest wave of retirement in US history. Smart people are noticing that. They’re also aware that there aren’t many people available in the next generation, and it’s causing a panic.

At the age of 31, I became a young leader of a large church, and I noticed this pattern right away. Over 90% of all pastors in my type of church were over 40. So I went after young pastors for our staff. I hired three that were the most talented guys I’d ever interviewed. But I failed to focus on cultural fit and failed to pay attention to developing a healthy culture. No matter how much talent I hired, it never seemed to work out. I should have paid more attention to building good culture and hiring around it.

Now that my team has completed over 10,000 face to face interviews, I’ve been watching the talent horizon for a long time. I agree, there’s a shortage coming. But talent won’t be the trump card for winning as an employee or employer in the long run.

The future doesn’t belong to the talented. It belongs to the cultured.

Leaders who know their company culture and hire around it will see far more dividends than those who hire just for talent. Similarly, people looking for their “dream job” will find it when they look for a company that they fit culturally rather than simply a company that has a high growth rate or even a better compensation package.

Culture trumps competency every single time. Why?

Culture cannot be taught but competency can. With the dawn of the digital age, we now live inside the largest library ever. Nearly everything can be learned online. Look no further than the popularity home improvement shows, the rise of shows that spot unspotted talent in a crowd like The Voice, or the vast surge of online courses that can be taken to learn a new skill. I saw an ad for an online cooking course designed for “The Single Vegan Dad Trying To Feed Kids On a Tight Budget!” Ten years ago, nobody even knew what “DIY” meant. Now, it’s a part of our vocabulary (if you don’t know what it is, then figure it out yourself…).

So if you’re looking for a leg up on the job hunt, or if you’re trying to hire for the future, focus on these questions:

  1. Does the workplace have a well articulated company culture? Far too many companies have “cultural values” listed somewhere on paper, but they are pabulum. They use words and phrases like, “We value excellence.” Who doesn’t? Instead, look for values that stand out and uniquely name the DNA of the company. One example is the Netflix Culture Deck. Another example is our company values at Vanderbloemen that our team crowdsourced and cemented together about four years ago. Company values shouldn’t be stashed away in a file somewhere. You should be able to spot them in the daily rhythms of the company.
  2. Does the job (if you’re searching) or the employee (if you’re hiring) operate with the “same kind of crazy” as you? The more I study companies and people, the more I’m realizing that we are all some form of crazy (starting with me and my strange journey to running my company). Admitting that is the first step toward finding people and a workplace that thrives. When we interview people for our team, we start with giving them a list of reasons they really don’t want to come work here, and we use our cultural values to frame those questions. For instance, we require a very high, almost OCD, obsession with quick responses to clients and candidate. It’s our value of “ridiculous responsiveness.” We say to interviewees, “If you like predictable, routine, easy to schedule work, please save yourself and leave the interview now. We’re not that, and you’ll probably think we are crazy.” This gives both our team and the candidates we’re interviewing a litmus test during the vetting process that can help us assess cultural match early on.
  3. Is the core competency of the job something that can be easily learned? Some things can be taught quickly. Other things, say brain surgery and rocket science, do take intensive training that cannot be overlooked. But my guess is that most jobs have a higher quotient of “learnability” than most people initially realize. While it might take ninety days for a person to fully develop a skill set, I believe a cultural match cannot be taught, no matter how long the person has to learn it.

Culture isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the new currency for both hiring the right people and finding your dream job.

 

Resume Not Getting Responses? Here’s What to Do

Resume Not Getting Responses Here’s What to Do

[Courtesy of Murray Resources]

You only have a few seconds to make a positive impression on a hiring manager. It’s not a lot of time to stand out and get noticed. The good news is that just a few small tweaks can lead to big improvements on your resume. Here’s a look at 5 you can make right now:

#1: Stick to standard.

Unless you’re applying for a job in a creative field, don’t get flashy on your resume. Instead, format it in a traditional way, with bolded job titles and bullets underneath. In addition, when emailing your resume, always send a PDF. That way, the formatting will look the same regardless of the computer it’s being opened on. Also, stick to traditional fonts on your resume. Times New Roman, Helvetica, and Arial are always good choices.

#2: Keep it concise.

Get rid of unnecessary verbiage. This includes stating that “references are available on request.” In addition, don’t include more than six or seven bullets under each job title. And make sure each one is succinct and makes sense for the reader.

#3: Pull out that personal information.

Details such as your marital status, the number of kids you have, or your religion don’t belong on your resume. In fact, it’s illegal for an employer to consider these factors when hiring and including them makes you look out of the loop.

#4: Concentrate on accomplishments.

The single best way to get noticed by a hiring manager is to promote your proven track record. That means highlighting awards, successes, achievements, praise, and positive comments you’ve received over the years – and that are most relevant to the job you want. Add numbers and percentages to quantify accomplishments wherever you can.

#5: Phone a friend.

Once you’ve polished your resume and think it’s as good as it’s going to get, ask a friend or colleague to review it. Not only can they check for mistakes and typos, but they can also offer you some insight and inspiration into how to position your background.

 

Obvious signs your employee is looking for a new job

Obvious signs your employee is looking for a new job

Jane McNeill

Managing Director NSW & WA at Hays

[Courtesy of linkedin.com]

Every day, many people around the world make the brave and exciting decision to leave their current employer in pursuit of a new challenge. It’s an inevitable part of the world of work. However, despite this, hiring managers are often left in a state of shock or even panic when a member of their team hands in their notice unexpectedly.

So, as a hiring manager, what can you do to pre-empt this feeling and plan accordingly? From my experience, there are a number of signs which could indicate a member of your team may be looking elsewhere. As such, I’ve outlined a few of these below.

Admittedly, whilst these signs may not mean much in isolation of one another, I would say a combination of these behaviours is a strong indicator that a member of your staff is about to jump ship, and it’s time to start preparing.

1. They’re using their personal phone more often

If your employee is frequently disappearing outside to speak on their personal phone, or they seem to be using it more often than usual during work hours, then I would class this as one of the signs that they may be speaking to a recruiter or hiring manager. However, I do urge you not to jump to conclusions here – there may be something happening in their personal lives, which requires them to use their phone more. Just keep an eye on how often this happens, especially if it is affecting how productive they are being. And, this brings me onto my next point.

2. Their performance has slipped

Sometimes when an employee can see an end in sight, they tend to clock off mentally, which will inevitably impact on their performance and productivity. This will be evident in their level of involvement during meetings, and whether they seem to be paying less attention or contributing fewer ideas than before. You should also keep an eye on the quality and output of work they are producing.

3. Their attendance has dropped

Is your employee starting to get into the habit of leaving early or turning up late? Are they requesting random days off in the middle of the week at short notice? This is a common clue that they’re going to interviews.

4. They are acting non-committal

If this member of the team won’t commit to future projects or stays quiet during conversations surrounding these, I would suggest that this is because they know they won’t be there to see them through.

5. They are turning up to work looking smarter than usual

Your employee may be arriving to work dressed more formally than usual. If this is the case, then they may well have had an interview that morning, or will have one lined up for their lunch break or after work. This is more than likely to be the case if they normally turn up looking fairly casual.

6. They are more active on LinkedIn

Have you noticed this team member updating their profile, getting involved in more conversations, connecting with more people, and even asking for recommendations on LinkedIn? If so, chances are they are using LinkedIn as part of their job searching process. It’s just a shame that they don’t know how to keep their activity hidden from your news feed.

7. They are distancing themselves

If this employee is acting more distant, whether it’s avoiding work social occasions, or simply making less conversation with colleagues, then this could be an indication that they’re starting to disengage with the team, and almost starting to prepare to leave mentally. Again, this could be put down to their personal matters, so always check that everything is ok with this individual in terms of their wellbeing before you presume that their behavior is work related.

8. They recently asked for something (and didn’t get it)

Whether it’s a pay rise, promotion or training course, this employee, for whatever reason, may have just been refused one of their requests. This may have left a bitter taste in their mouth, and prompted them to look elsewhere. If any of the above behaviors follow a situation where they asked for something and didn’t get it, then I would say it’s safe to consider that this employee may be looking to leave.

Don’t jump to conclusions

Remember that the above signs are also an indication that this employee is simply unhappy, whether it’s personal or work-related, and are not looking for another job at all. You may just need to check in with them to get the full story and find out if there is anything you can do to help. If this conversation doesn’t provide any explanation as to why this employee is acting differently, and you still believe they are looking elsewhere, start to brace yourself practically (and emotionally) for the moment that resignation letter lands on your desk.

What next?

If this employee does decide to explore pastures new, then start working with an expert recruiter on your hiring strategy, from what the job description will include, to the types of questions you will ask.