Some years ago, I read an article about a survey that asked CEOs to identify the kinds of issues that kept them up at night.
Their responses revealed that the major issues worrying them were not financial, IT, supplier or production issues, but people issues.
The complexity of managing people in the workplace has only increased; workplace diversity and generational shifts have created new and evolving employee expectations.
In addition, employers have to deal with more complex employment legislation and with increased global competition.
You may think that these trends have caused organizations to become savvier in their management of their employees.
However, in my many years of working with organizations of all sizes and in many different sectors, I continue to observe the following outdated practices:
1. Insufficient investment in skills of managers and supervisors.
Research has shown that a strong relationship with a direct supervisor is a key contributor to employee engagement.
Many organizations do not provide training or adequate support to their managers and/or promote valuable employees without first providing them with the tools they need to succeed.
2. Responding to symptoms, not causes.
It is much easier to fix a problem than prevent it from happening; as such, organizations often focus solely on the symptoms of a problem and not the cause.
For example, high turnover in a particular position can cause managers to dig in and keep hiring again and again.
Finding and addressing the root cause is the only action that will slow or stop the turnover.
3. Short-term thinking. I continually remind my clients to think long-term and to hire for both today and tomorrow.
4. Doing things because they’ve always been done that way.
We are all creatures of habit and don’t always take time to rethink our practices; effective leaders periodically re-evaluate internal processes and understand there are efficiencies and organizational learning to be gained by creating new habits.
5. Not utilizing the full power of human resources. Many business managers do not understand that strong human resource processes, much like strong financial practices, can positively impact a company’s financial results.
6. Not ensuring their human resources practices are working in concert with one another.
One client I worked with rewarded their inside sales employees through both their base salaries and incentive plans, blurring the distinction between these programs and decreasing their effectiveness and potentially over-compensating some employees.
7. Failing to communicate sufficiently with employees.
It is almost impossible to “over-communicate” with your employees. Purposeful communication includes both written and oral communications, both inside the boardroom and one-on-one. Silence can be easily misconstrued and will breed misunderstanding and miscommunication.
8. Not using human resources communication to build your brand with employees.
I have encountered companies that have borrowed their materials—including policy manuals—from other organizations.
Efforts to save money on human resource programs in the short-term can harm a company’s ability to build its brand, as well as attract and retain the high-quality employees who will ensure its long-term success.
Shayda Kassam is a chartered accountant, certified management consultant, certified human resources professional and is the principal owner at PeopleLink Consulting in Burnaby.