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Achievers’ Hopper edition makes recognizing easy

Posted by Joanne on September 21, 2014 Comments Off

I am a raving fan of Achievers so I was delighted when I was invited to attend the Achievers Customer Experience (#AACE14) conference as part of the A-team blog squad earlier this month. The two day event brought together Achievers’ customers, guest speakers, analysts, and employee engagement advocates, to discuss and learn how to change the way the world works. It also gave Achievers an opportunity to unveil the newest enhancements to its platform. For those of you who are not aware, Achievers delivers a cloud-based Employee Success Platform™, an awesome application to engage, align, and recognize employees, to drive business success.

Anything that promotes employee recognition goes a long way to creating happy, healthy and productive workplaces. People spend way too many hours at work not to be appreciated for their contributions. Sadly with only 30% of the workforce feeling engaged at work, people are starving for recognition.

Achievers gives its new releases the names of key achievers such as Einstein, Ghandi, and the most recent release, Hopper. Hopper honours Grace Hopper, an American computer scientist who created the first compiler for a computer programing language. (Side note: She is credited with the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches. The “debugging” term was inspired from an actual moth (a bug) being removed from a computer!)  I think if Hopper was around today she would be impressed with the new features.

Razor Suleman, ‎Founder, Chairman & Chief Evangelist at Achievers notes that a measure of success for the platform (or any platform) is “utilization.” Is it easy to use? Do employees use it? Utilization shows the value placed upon the platform by clients and employees (and it ensures the continued success of an already great platform). The new features released with the Hopper edition makes recognizing employees mobile and easier than ever before. Here is a quick introduction to three of the new features:

Achievers Mobile

Achievers Mobile offers a company branded iOS app and an enhanced mobile website to provide recognition mobility. Now employees can recognize, Like and Boost, on the go, anywhere, anytime. With phone-in-hand there are no excuses not to recognize A-Players.


Open Recognition for Email

This is so cool because now employees can immediately access the Achievers Employee Success Platform without logging directly into it. With Open Recognition for Email, employees can send recognitions right from their email application simply with a “cc.” The email posts recognitions directly to the platform. Using email that is a business tool used constantly, makes it easy to give recognition immediately when deserved.

Achievers Anything Visa® Prepaid Card

The Achievers Anything Visa Prepaid Card lets employees transfer recognition points to a personalized, reloadable Visa card to spend anywhere Visa is accepted. The card can be branded to your organization, and your employees can use the card to purchase what they value most. Of course, the Achievers catalogue is also available where points can be redeemed for actual products.

These new features make the Achievers platform easier to use. Easy to use interfaces help increase utilization. Increased utilization means success.

Why is recognition important for business?

Increased recognition results in a more engaged work force. People who are recognized feel valued and are more engaged at work. More engaged employees give discretionary effort at work which results in increased productivity, creativity, and innovation. The end result is a better performing business and a place where people WANT to work. The best companies perform nearly two times better than the general market.

Makes sense to me. How about you? Who have you recognized today?

Joanne Royce creates happy, healthy, and productive workplaces through human resources, recruiting, and training initiatives for organizations that invest in people to invest in success.

 





What does Business Growth and Mother Nature have in common?

Posted by Joanne on February 13, 2013 Comments Off

I am taking a course called Grow to Greatness through Coursera, an online platform for open-access, non-credit classes, available at no cost to audiences around the world. Along with 67,000 students from the across the globe, I am learning from Edward D. Hess, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and author of Grow to Greatness. Professor Hess is so good that I actually forget that his lectures are recorded and not real time. He a great story teller which is one of the signs of a very good lecturer.

The focus of the course is on how to successfully grow an existing private business. It is based on the Hess’s research and thirty years of real-world experience advising private growth companies. I am taking it because many of my clients are small business owners and I have seen first-hand how accelerated growth (or no growth at all) can diminish the success of an organization. I also run my own business providing HR, recruiting and training solutions to organizations wanting to create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces, so the key learning applies to my business as well.

The first week was awesome and we were asked to highlight three key moments that stood out. Only three?

Growth is like Mother Nature. Growth can be good and it can be bad.

Mother Nature gives us sunny days (good) and it also gives us tornadoes (bad). Just like Mother Nature, growth can be good or it can be bad. Growth is good when everything is in place to support it, but it is bad when it happens when people, processes, and controls are not in place or ready to support that growth. Businesses need better and more people, processes, and controls in place for successful growth. Many businesses have imploded when growth happened to quickly without people, processes, and controls in place. Growth can stress quality controls, financial controls, diminish your customer’s value proposition, dilute your organizational culture, and put you in a different competitive space. For example, perhaps your size of organization put you in competition with other small businesses, but once you grew, you found yourself competing with larger organizations that you just could not compete against. I worked for a privately owned real estate company back in the day when it was a small company. The company merged with a larger company. I happened to be interviewed for the company newsletter, along with other employees and managers, about the change. I remember saying something like, “It’s an exciting opportunity, but I hope it does not change the small family-like culture we have right now.” I was an administrator at the time and I remember managers telling me how brave I was to say what I said, because everyone was thinking the same thing. Of course, the culture of the organization changed. There was no way it could not change. The organizational culture was certainly “diluted” and the merger put the company in competition with other big players in the field.

Businesses must “improve or die” NOT “grow or die.”

In week one, we learned the truth about growth. One of the myths perpetrated in the business world is “Businesses must grow or die.” This is a business axiom that has no validity or research to back it up. In fact the adage, “Businesses must grow or die” is a myth that is much better replaced by, “Businesses must improve or die.” Was that what happened to RIM, now called BLACKBERRY? Growth (and innovation) in the earlier days put them on top and allowed for the financial funds to build a stunningly beautiful building, but not enough was channelled to improving the product and keeping up with the competition. It’s focus should have been on improving.

Always carry something on your worry plate

Good entrepreneur always have something to worry about. There is always something on the entrepreneur’s worry plate, and the minute that worry disappears that is the start of problems and business decline. I know that one of my favourite clients had a lot of worry during the recession. He told me he stayed awake at night worrying about whether he had the sales to keep all forty of his employees and their families safe from the impact of lay-offs. (How can you not love a client who thinks like that?) I think always having something on your worry plate, also has something to do with ego. If you have a successful entrepreneur thinking he’s got it made and focusing on ego with no worries about the business, customers, and employees, that is the moment the business is in trouble.

Growth is not linear.

Growth is not linear and businesses need to expect the ups and downs that come with evolving a business. At times the business might even move backwards, and then forward. It is unwise to expect year after year of consistent growth in a linear fashion. That very rarely ever happens.

Successful growth depends on more and better people, processes, and controls.

If growth is on the table, make sure that your people, processes, and controls are ready.

People: Do you have the right people in place? Hire slowly and fire quickly. Hess states that research shows that most business owners do the exact opposite. They hire too late and too quickly when there is chaos, and they put up with poor performance or poor fit for way too long. Based on my HR practice, in most cases with my clients, I found the same to be true. Take the time to understand the competencies (skills, knowledge, and attributes) necessary to help the company succeed. Don’t hire a clone of yourself; rather hire someone who has complementary skills. If you like sales, but hate execution, hire someone with great organizational and tactical skills. Listen to your employees and observe the workplace. Is there high stress and tension that does not seem to abate? Are there increased conflict and sickness? These may be signs that your people are not keeping up with growth. Trust and engage your employees, and indeed, love them like you love your customers.

Processes: Design, manufacturing, sales, and distribution processes need to be researched and in place. Face to face contact with suppliers and manufacturer, if you decide not to do this in-house, is key to developing trusting relationships. Research the best processes. Are your suppliers slipping? Are deadlines being missed? Is your database and invoicing experiencing glitches? These may be signs that your processes are not keeping up with growth. There are so many variables with growth. If your invoicing system won’t handle the volume and keeps crashing, that is not good for business.

Controls: Don’t abdicate check signing to someone else and keep a very close eye on cash flow. We read a case study where one business owner found out that her bookkeeper was defrauding the company with the help of the shipping personnel whom the bookkeeper had recommended for hire. The owner ended up having to fire all of them. Is quality slipping? Is cash flow becoming an issue? These may be signs that your controls are not keeping pace with growth. Make sure you have controls in place that give you the information you need to make good decisions.

Be careful about customer concentration – don’t bag the elephant

Many small businesses might think that concentrating on one large customer (bagging the elephant) is the best growth scenario, but it can actually put them at risk. I know from my own experience that large corporations often have 60 to 90 day payments terms, and as a small business entrepreneur, those terms are not the best for me. I worked with the client who found out that hard way that bagging the elephant was not good for business. When that large client decided to bring the work in-house, the client went bankrupt. To reduce risk, it is better to have a diverse set of smaller clients, then bagging the elephant.

Love your customers, not your product

Research shows that high performance companies have: Strategic FOCUS, operational excellence, constant improvement, customer centricity, and high employee engagement. Hess used the analogy of 2 inches wide by 2 miles deep – now that’s laser focus. The emphasis should be on taking care of your customer and not about your love of your product or service. Entrepreneurs who spend time defending the product and service and not actively listening to customers will not succeed in the long run. Have you run into a customer with a specific need and budget? Of course you have. Did you try to promote a BMW version of your product or service, but they only wanted (and could afford) the KIA version? Less time should be spent “defending” a specific product or service and more time on listening to what the client wants.  Of course, if you want to promote your high-end product or service, you can also find the ones that value it and have the budget for it, but that still takes listening to your customer and having laser focus. That also means saying “NO” to opportunities that don’t hit the company’s sweet spot.

The “gas pedal” approach to business growth

Businesses should use the “gas pedal” approach to growth. This approach allows for spurts of growth, and letting up on the gas pedal to let people, processes, and controls catch up. Doing so helps ensure there are no negative impacts on quality, production, distribution, customers, employees, culture, and cash flow.


Biological growth

Hess shared with us the biological certainty that many species limit their growth to increase chances of survival. He applied this to business growth calling it biological growth. At some point in the growth of a business, a once agile company can become bogged down by bureaucratic processes and controls. Growth increases complexity and the need for additional management and skills. And as a company evolves and grows it might find that the people who helped get them to that point, won’t get them to where they want to go. Employees need to be educated and trained and in some causes the solution will be to move them into another role or to part ways if the skills needed are not there. It is ironic that my logo symbolizes the biological growth concept and the key learning from the first week. If you look at my logo you will see the “roots and the leaves” of a plant. If we want the plant to grow, we need to water it, fertilize it, and make sure it gets sunlight. If we want the plant to grow faster, we might think that if we provide it with more water, fertilizer, and sunlight it might grow faster, but in fact, we can kill the plant.

Growing too fast can kill a business.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced good and bad growth with your own company?

 

Royce & Associates provides outsourced HR support to organizations. We can help with hiring and developing the right people and making sure HR processes and controls are in place to help support “good” growth. Contact us.

Photo credits: Purchased for use on this site only.





How not setting new year’s resolutions can help you succeed

Posted by Joanne on January 9, 2013 Comments Off

How can not setting any new year’s resolutions help you succeed?

New year’s resolutions set you up for failure.

Fitness Trainer Claudine De Jong mentions in her blog post “Cut the fad out” that New Year’s resolutions ultimately fail. Setting “short term goals” work much better because they are less intimidating. Slow and steady wins over new year’s resolutions that are hard to sustain over time (i.e. fad diets).

Leo Widrich in “The science of new year’s resolutions: Why 88% fail and how to make them work” explains why our brains fail at new year’s resolutions. It is because “when you set a new year’s resolution, an enormous amount of willpower is required. It’s an amount that your brain simply can’t handle.” The good news is that we can train our brains to succeed, by making less abstract, tiny goals, linked to small and specific behaviours.

Get active. Get in shape.

One goal that I set last year was to become a more physically stronger person (I know, this sounds like a very abstract goal). This was after a ski trip last February, when I sadly and shockingly realized how out of shape I had become. Too much sitting at a desk can make you weak (and can kill you, or so the scientific research tells us so). I certainly had the motivation to want to get in shape and like many people, I have signed up for gym membership in January, started out with a bang, and ended with a fizzle. So this time, I made the best investment in my health that I could. I found myself a fitness trainer (through Twitter), who just happened to be Claudine De Jong. I wanted to learn how to become healthier without relying on a gym to get me there.

Claudine believes that slow and steady sets the pace and prevents injuries. I didn’t start out lifting heavy weights, working out seven days a week and setting myself up for failure. I started out slow by setting a goal to work out once a week. According to the scientific studies, by starting out with a small behaviour change, I was training my brain for goal success.

This kinder and gentler approach, with small changes in behaviour, made things happen. I noticed changes in my body. I was no longer huffing and puffing up the stairs. My energy increased. I was more conscious about what I was eating and cut back on the “white” stuff (white sugar, rice, pasta, milk, flour) and red meat. I increased my intake of water, whole grains and lentils. I liked how my clothes were fitting. I liked that I no longer felt “stuffed” after eating. I started getting out and going for walks on the weekend with my husband. The slow and steady, one small behaviour change at a time, had a snow ball effect, resulting in a stronger and healthier me.

So this year, instead of setting a New Year’s resolution, set smaller, short-term goals, and be specific about the behaviours that will get you there. This process works whether setting personal or workplace goals. And if being a stronger you is one of your goals, contact Claudine De Jong to help you get there or get you started.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and productive 2013.

Joanne Royce, Royce & Associates provides Outsourced HR, recruiting, and training solutions to organizations wishing to create happy, healthy, and productive workplaces. Give us a call.

Related blog posts:

Tips for successful goal setting

A goal without a plan is only an illusion

Phil the Guitar Guy – A story of success

Photo credit: My hubby (And in case you are wondering - No, I’m not getting ready for the ski-tuck racing position – as one of my colleagues jokingly suggested!)






 Joanne Royce



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