Supporting And Reviewing Performance Management Essay
When performance becomes a key aspect for an organization, managers need to consider three key aspects of human resources management to optimise performance. First of all, managers need to formulate a performance management system.
Performance Management is an ongoing dialogue between manager and employee that links expectations, ongoing feedback and coaching, performance evaluations, development planning, and follow-up. Overseeing performance and providing feedback is not an isolated event, focused in a performance assessment or evaluation. The performance management process is a cycle made of three steps – Planning, Supporting and Reviewing.
Planning is where the objectives and performance expectations of the organization are set.
Objectives provide an up-front, mutually understood and accepted basis to help employees to self-monitor progress by providing clear performance targets.
These are set according to the organizations requirements in respect to S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based).
Specific: Make the accountability or goal clear to the employee so that they know what’s expected.
Measurable: The supervisor needs to be able to determine whether the activity took place and how well it was done.
Attainable: The employee will be frustrated if they are supposed to be responsible for activities that are beyond their control or that cannot be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.
Relevant: Each task should be related directly to the job, a personal developmental objective, or organizational mission or strategic plan.
Time-based: The supervisor and employee should be able to track progress against specified target dates and timeframes.
These are the “how” or “how well” of the objective. They specify the ways the supervisor can measure whether goals or objectives have been reached and how well activities have been performed.
This serves as a foundation for communicating about performance throughout the year. They also serve as the basis for assessing employee performance. When the manager and an employee set clear expectations about the results that must be achieved and the methods or approaches needed to achieve them, they establish a path for success.
Expectations are set according to Quality, Quantity, Timeliness, Manner, Method, and Cost.
Quality: How well an activity is performed or to what standard the task is completed. This includes accuracy, appearance of work, usefulness and effectiveness.
Quantity: How much or how many of the results are produced or performed. Numbers or percentages may be used to measure quantity.
Timeliness: How fast a result is produced or performed.
Manner: The way or style in which a task is performed or produced.
Method: The policies, procedures and technical considerations that are applied to complete the task.
Cost: The effective use of resources including human, organizational and physical resources to complete a task.
With specific guidelines, the employee knows exactly what is expected and the supervisor can objectively determine the rating the employee earned.
Planning also consists of training and development of human resources to get the objectives within the grasp of the employees. Training and development is where managers will plan how to training and develop resources to arm employees to get the job done in time. Managers will also have to calculate other resources (such as raw materials and machinery) to plan if the objectives are attainable within the given timeframe.
Managers’ desires and requirements do not become goals until employees or teams choose to expend the time and effort to achieve it. Goals are not tasks, but results – Outputs. Goals shift focus from tasks and work habits to work outcomes.
Soliciting performance feedback and coaching
Actively seeking feedback and making use of the data to improve performance. Example: reviewing plans with manager in advance, describing actions to be taken and soliciting assistance.
Manager’s responsibilities include creating conditions that generate motivation. Basic motivators are the opportunity to achieve, chance to accomplish, recognition, feedback, ‘real’ responsibility, learn and grow, discretion, autonomy and stimulating and worthwhile work.
Managers have control over the motivators: delegate high-level tasks, increase opportunities for achievement; increase level of discretion by allowing employee to make decisions; assign project that will cause learning and growth.
Other key roles include observing and documenting performance, providing feedback and coaching, coaching for improved performance is critical, providing developmental experiences, reinforcing effective behavior and progress toward objectives and collecting and sharing performance data
As projects are completed and goals are achieved, the individual needs to advise the manager of the current status of the objectives that were set at the beginning of the period.
Here, managers will evaluate performances by comparing results with expectations.
The appraisal is based on results obtained by the employee in his/her job, not on the employee's personality characteristics. The appraisal measures skills and accomplishments with reasonable accuracy and uniformity. It provides a way to help identify areas for performance enhancement and to help promote professional growth.
Each employee is entitled to a thoughtful and careful appraisal. The success of the process depends on the supervisor's willingness to complete a constructive and objective appraisal and on the employee's willingness to respond to constructive suggestions and to work with the supervisor to reach future goals.
Periodic reviews help supervisors gain a better understanding of each employee's abilities. The goal of the review process is to recognize achievement, to evaluate job progress, and then to design training for the further development of skills and strengths.
A careful review will stimulate employee’s interest and improve job performance. The review provides the employee, the supervisor, the Vice President, and Human Resources a critical, formal feedback mechanism on an annual basis, however these discussions should not be restricted solely to a formal annual review.
360 degree feedback is a method and a tool that provides each employee the opportunity to receive performance feedback from his or her supervisor and four to eight peers, reporting staff members, coworkers and customers. Most 360 degree feedback tools are also responded to by each individual in a self assessment.
360 degree feedback allows each individual to understand how his effectiveness as an employee, coworker, or staff member is viewed by others. The most effective 360 degree feedback processes provide feedback that is based on behaviors that other employees can see.
The feedback provides insight about the skills and behaviors desired in the organization to accomplish the mission, vision, and goals and live the values. The feedback is firmly planted in behaviors needed to exceed customer expectations.
People who are chosen as raters, usually choices shared by the organization and employee, generally interact routinely with the person receiving feedback.
The purpose of the 360 degree feedback is to assist each individual to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses, and to contribute insights into aspects of his or her work needing professional development.
This model enables the manager to annually evaluate each employ’s performance. In the case where an employee has changed jobs part-way through the appraisal period, both of the employee’s supervisors during the appraisal period should submit an appraisal of the employee’s performance. Employees are reviewed for a salary increase. The method for allocating funds is based on rewarding meritorious performance.
Merit increases will be awarded on a pay-for-performance basis and are based on individual performance. When used as intended, a pay-for-performance structure achieves the goal of rewarding truly top performers with merit increases that match their achievements and contributions.
Importance Of Training and Development
* Optimum Utilization of Human Resources – Training and Development helps in optimizing the utilization of human resource that further helps the employee to achieve the organizational goals as well as their individual goals.
* Development of Human Resources – Training and Development helps to provide an opportunity and broad structure for the development of human resources’ technical and behavioral skills in an organization. It also helps the employees in attaining personal growth.
* Development of skills of employees – Training and Development helps in increasing the job knowledge and skills of employees at each level. It helps to expand the horizons of
human intellect and an overall personality of the employees.
# Productivity – Training and Development helps in increasing the productivity of the employees that helps the organization further to achieve its long-term goal.
# Team spirit – Training and Development helps in inculcating the sense of team work, team spirit, and inter-team collaborations. It helps in inculcating the zeal to learn within the employees.
# Organization Culture – Training and Development helps to develop and improve the organizational health culture and effectiveness. It helps in creating the learning culture within the organization.
# Organization Climate – Training and Development helps building the positive perception and feeling about the organization. The employees get these feelings from leaders, subordinates, and peers.
# Quality – Training and Development helps in improving upon the quality of work and work-life.
# Healthy work environment – Training and Development helps in creating the healthy working environment. It helps to build good employee, relationship so that individual goals aligns with organizational goal.
# Health and Safety – Training and Development helps in improving the health and safety of the organization thus preventing obsolescence.
# Morale – Training and Development helps in improving the morale of the work force.
# Image – Training and Development helps in creating a better corporate image.
# Profitability – Training and Development leads to improved profitability and more positive attitudes towards profit orientation.
# Training and Development aids in organizational development i.e. Organization gets more effective decision making and problem solving. It helps in understanding and carrying out organisational policies
# Training and Development helps in developing leadership skills, motivation, loyalty, better attitudes, and other aspects that successful workers and managers usually display.
Training and Human Resource Management
The HR functioning is changing with time and with this change, the relationship between the training function and other management activity is also changing. The training and development activities are now equally important with that of other HR functions. Gone are the days, when training was considered to be futile, waste of time, resources, and money. Now a days, training is an investment because the departments such as, marketing & sales, HR, production, finance, etc depends on training for its survival. If training is not considered as a priority or not seen as a vital part in the organization, then it is difficult to accept that such a company has effectively carried out HRM. Training actually provides the opportunity to raise the profile development activities in the organization.
To increase the commitment level of employees and growth in quality movement (concepts of HRM), senior management team is now increasing the role of training. Such concepts of HRM require careful planning as well as greater emphasis on employee development and long term education. Training is now the important tool of Human Resource Management to control the attrition rate because it helps in motivating employees, achieving their professional and personal goals, increasing the level of job satisfaction, etc. As a result training is given on a variety of skill development and covers a multitude of courses.
Role of HRD Professionals in Training
This is the era of cut-throat competition and with this changing scenario of business; the role of HR professionals in training has been widened. HR role now is:
1. Active involvement in employee education
2. Rewards for improvement in performance
3. Rewards to be associated with self esteem and self worth
4. Providing pre-employment market oriented skill development education and post employment support for advanced education and training
5. Flexible access i.e. anytime, anywhere training
Systematic Model Training
The system model consists of five phases and should be repeated on a regular basis to make further improvements. The training should achieve the purpose of helping employee to perform their work to required standards. The steps involved in System Model of training are as follows:
1. Analyze and identify the training needs i.e. to analyze the department, job, employees requirement, who needs training, what do they need to learn, estimating training cost, etc The next step is to develop a performance measure on the basis of which actual performance would be evaluated.
2. Design and provide training to meet identified needs. This step requires developing objectives of training, identifying the learning steps, sequencing and structuring the contents.
3. Develop- This phase requires listing the activities in the training program that will assist the participants to learn, selecting delivery method, examining the training material, validating information to be imparted to make sure it accomplishes all the goals & objectives.
4. Implementing is the hardest part of the system because one wrong step can lead to the failure of whole training program.
5. Evaluating each phase so as to make sure it has achieved its aim in terms of subsequent work performance. Making necessary amendments to any of the previous stage in order to remedy or improve failure practices.
The role of leadership in management is largely determined by the organisational culture of the company. It has been argued that managers' beliefs, values and assumptions are of critical importance to the overall style of leadership that they adopt.
There are several different leadership styles that can be identified within each of the following Management techniques. Each technique has its own set of good and not-so-good characteristics, and each uses leadership in a different way.
Four of the most basic leadership styles are:
This article will briefly define each style and describe the situations in which each one might be used.
Autocratic Leadership Style
This is often considered the classical approach. It is one in which the manager retains as much power and decision-making authority as possible. The manager does not consult employees, nor are they allowed to give any input. Employees are expected to obey orders without receiving any explanations. The motivation environment is produced by creating a structured set of rewards and punishments.
This leadership style has been greatly criticized during the past 30 years. Some studies say that organizations with many autocratic leaders have higher turnover and absenteeism than other organizations. Certainly Gen X employees have proven to be highly resistant to this management style. These studies say that autocratic leaders:
--Rely on threats and punishment to influence employees
--Do not trust employees
--Do not allow for employee input
Yet, autocratic leadership is not all bad. Sometimes it is the most effective style to use. These situations can include:
--New, untrained employees who do not know which tasks to perform or which procedures to follow
--Effective supervision can be provided only through detailed orders and instructions
--Employees do not respond to any other leadership style
--There are high-volume production needs on a daily basis
--There is limited time in which to make a decision
--A manager’s power is challenged by an employee
--The area was poorly managed
--Work needs to be coordinated with another department or organization
The autocratic leadership style should not be used when:
--Employees become tense, fearful, or resentful
--Employees expect to have their opinions heard
--Employees begin depending on their manager to make all their decisions
--There is low employee morale, high turnover and absenteeism and work stoppage
Bureaucratic Leadership Style
Bureaucratic leadership is where the manager manages “by the book¨ Everything must be done according to procedure or policy. If it isn’t covered by the book, the manager refers to the next level above him or her. This manager is really more of a police officer than a leader. He or she enforces the rules.
This style can be effective when:
--Employees are performing routine tasks over and over.
--Employees need to understand certain standards or procedures.
--Employees are working with dangerous or delicate equipment that requires a definite set of procedures to operate.
--Safety or security training is being conducted.
--Employees are performing tasks that require handling cash.
This style is ineffective when:
--Work habits form that are hard to break, especially if they are no longer useful.
--Employees lose their interest in their jobs and in their fellow workers.
--Employees do only what is expected of them and no more.
Democratic Leadership Style
The democratic leadership style is also called the participative style as it encourages employees to be a part of the decision making. The democratic manager keeps his or her employees informed about everything that affects their work and shares decision making and problem solving responsibilities. This style requires the leader to be a coach who has the final say, but gathers information from staff members before making a decision.
Democratic leadership can produce high quality and high quantity work for long periods of time. Many employees like the trust they receive and respond with cooperation, team spirit, and high morale. Typically the democratic leader:
--Develops plans to help employees evaluate their own performance
--Allows employees to establish goals
--Encourages employees to grow on the job and be promoted
--Recognizes and encourages achievement.
Like the other styles, the democratic style is not always appropriate. It is most successful when used with highly skilled or experienced employees or when implementing operational changes or resolving individual or group problems.
The democratic leadership style is most effective when:
--The leader wants to keep employees informed about matters that affect them.
--The leader wants employees to share in decision-making and problem-solving duties.
--The leader wants to provide opportunities for employees to develop a high sense of personal growth and job satisfaction.
--There is a large or complex problem that requires lots of input to solve.
--Changes must be made or problems solved that affect employees or groups of employees.
--You want to encourage team building and participation.
Democratic leadership should not be used when:
--There is not enough time to get everyone’s input.
--It’s easier and more cost-effective for the manager to make the decision.
--The business can’t afford mistakes.
--The manager feels threatened by this type of leadership.
--Employee safety is a critical concern.
Laissez-Faire Leadership Style
The laissez-faire leadership style is also known as the “hands-off¨ style. It is one in which the manager provides little or no direction and gives employees as much freedom as possible. All authority or power is given to the employees and they must determine goals, make decisions, and resolve problems on their own.
This is an effective style to use when:
--Employees are highly skilled, experienced, and educated.
--Employees have pride in their work and the drive to do it successfully on their own.
--Outside experts, such as staff specialists or consultants are being used
--Employees are trustworthy and experienced.
This style should not be used when:
--It makes employees feel insecure at the unavailability of a manager.
--The manager cannot provide regular feedback to let employees know how well they are doing.
--Managers are unable to thank employees for their good work.
--The manager doesn’t understand his or her responsibilities and is hoping the employees can cover for him or her.
Varying Leadership Style
While the proper leadership style depends on the situation, there are three other factors that also influence which leadership style to use.
1. The manager’s personal background. What personality, knowledge, values, ethics, and experiences does the manager have. What does he or she think will work?
2. The employees being supervised. Employees are individuals with different personalities and backgrounds. The leadership style managers use will vary depending upon the individual employee and what he or she will respond best to.
3. The company. The traditions, values, philosophy, and concerns of the company will influence how a manager acts.
Throughout the eighties and into the nineties, work stress has continued to rise dramatically in organizations across North America. The eighties saw employees stressing out from working in a rapidly growing economy. During the nineties, beginning from the recession of 1992 till present day, employees are stressed by their own job insecurities in the face of massive downsizing and restructuring of organizations in order to be competitive on the global stage. Work stress is a very extensive topic ranging from research on the sources of stress, the effects of stress, to ways on managing and reducing stress. This report will focus first on the evidence for the harmful effects of stress at work, both mentally and physically. The last section will briefly explain why management should be concerned with rising employee stress and will describe some actions management can take to alleviate work stress.
II. Harmful Effects of Stress
Most research studies indicate a high correlation between stress and illness. According to authorities in the United States and Great Britain, as much as 70% of patients that are treated by general practitioners are suffering from symptoms originating from stress. Everyone experiences stress, however, each person responds to stress very differently. Their response is dependent on how each person reacts to stress emotionally, mentally, and physically. There are, however, common effects of stress for most people on the physical and mental body.
1. Physical Effects
The researcher Blyth in 1973 identified a list of diseases, which have a fairly high causal relationship with stress. The World Health Organization and consultations with the JR. Geigy Pharmaceutical Company obtained his evidence through interviews with medical experts, review of reports. The following is a list of some of the illnesses Blyth had identified:
• Coronary thrombosis
• Hay fever and other allergies
• Migraine headaches
• Intense itching
• Peptic ulcers
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Menstrual difficulties
• Nervous dyspepsia
• Overactive thyroid gland
• Skin disorders
• Diabetes mellitus
Research conducted by Woolfolk and Richardson in 1978 further confirmed Blyth s list that hypertension, coronary disease, infections, and ulcers are highly related to the amount of prolonged stress an employee is subjected to. Evidence for a causal relationship between hypertension and stress was seen in a study of air traffic controllers. The work stress is enormous for this occupation due to the high responsibility for the safety of others that people is this field must bear. This study noted that air traffic controllers experiences a hypertension rate approximately 5 times greater than other comparable occupational groups. Only in recent studies was stress linked to coronary disease. As fatty substance adhering to the artery wall (arteriosclerosis) cause the majority of heart attacks, stress are a causal factor in that, at high levels, the amounts of the two fatty substances, cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood steam are elevated. This is evidenced in one study of tax accountants. As the deadline for the annual tax filing drew nearer, cholesterol levels rose without decreasing until 2 months later. The situation here shows that cholesterol in the blood rises gradually with constant exposure to stress. There is also strong evidence for the causal relationship between stress and infectious disease. Woolfolk was able to show that employees that are very fatigue (a symptom of stress) were more susceptible to infections. In his study conducted upon 24 woman during the flu season, every woman was administered a certain amount of flu virus into their blood stream. Woman in the group who were fatigued were administered a smaller dose than those who were not. Woolfolk found that the women who had just gone through very stressful experiences were more susceptible to the infection despite a very small dosage of the flu virus. The other women who were not tired did not get infected even though they had considerably high dosages of flu virus in them. Woolfolk has conclusively proven that ulcers are associated with high stress levels. Ulcers occur when digestive juices burn a hole in the stomach lining. A person under stress or anxiety would stimulate the rapid secretion of digestive juices into the stomach. Thus, when a person is subjected to constant tension and frustration, he / she has a high likelihood that an ulcer would occur. Evidence for this was provided by the study performed by Dr. Steward Wolf. He was able to monitor activities of a patient stomach, and where the patient responded to an emotional situation, he observed the excessive secretion of stomach acids. Woolfolk and Richardson further the studies by showing increased levels of stomach acids during high exposure to stress.
2. Psychological Effects
Most organizations have recognized that stress can have an adverse effect on the efficiency of their employees. In 1978, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) cited their study report that there are essentially three psychological reactions to consistently high stress levels: repression of emotion, displacement of anger, and isolation. Repression of emotions occurs often in human service professionals such as policemen or accountants. Their roles demand that they suppress their emotions when interacting with clients. Thus, when the stress levels begin to rise as they deal with more and more clients, they would put up an even greater resistance to their own emotions. Over time, the professional may not be able to relax that emotional resistance. All their emotions would be masked and retained within themselves, resulting ultimately in mental and emotional disorders. In stressful times, employees are often displeased or angry about something. However, there are usually limited channels in which employees can express their views. Since opinions, views, and feelings cannot always be expressed to anyone to change the current situation, there would be an accumulation of anger and frustration within the individual. Up to a certain point, the anger would be released, usually at the wrong person or time, such as colleagues, clients, or family members. This symptom has a tremendous impact on society because there is potentials that it may hurt other people. Take for example the US postal shootings over last few years. All of them were a result of accumulated anger and frustration of US postal workers where they eventually released all that pent-up anger at one time towards other colleagues. Moreover, many cases of spousal abuse, child abuse, alcohol abuse, dysfunctional families are a result of overstressed employees unable to diffuse or cope with the anger and frustration building up within them. The 1978 IACP s report stated that isolation is a common side effect of working under tremendous stress. For many service practitioners, they are not always readily welcomed by the clients that they serve. A prime example would be policemen who are shunned often by the public. Over time, a feeling of isolation and rejection would envelop the person. The natural thing to do would be to withdraw from others who do not understand their plight, resulting in profound human loneliness. The symptoms mentioned above are usually long-term effects. There are many other short term, psychological effects of stress that can be readily seen or felt. The following is by no means a definitive list of mental effects as it only illustrates some of the symptoms that could readily identified in a person under constant stress:
• Constant feeling of uneasiness
• Irritability towards others
• General sense of boredom
• Recurring feelings of hopelessness in life
• Anxiety regarding money
• Irrational fear of disease
• Fear of death
• Feelings of suppressed anger
• Withdrawn and isolated
• Feelings of rejection by others (low self-esteem)
• Feelings of despair at failing as a parent
• Feelings of dread toward an approaching weekend
• Reluctance to vacation
• Sense that problems cannot be discussed with others
• Short attention span
III. Management s Role in Reducing Work Stress
Employee stress can have an enormous impact to an organization in terms of cost. As many studies have shown, there is a high correlation between stress and job performance. At moderate levels, stress is beneficial in that it can cause individuals to perform their jobs better and attain higher job performance. However, at high levels, stress can decrease productivity instead. This is the case often seen in employees at many organizations. Furthermore, aside from costs associated with lost productivity, there are costs with respect to stress-related absenteeism and organizational medical expenses. Specifically, these include costs of lost company time, increases in work-related accidents disrupting production, increases in health care costs and health insurance premiums, and most importantly, decreases in productivity. There are numerous methods that organizations could adopt to reduce undue stress in their employees. However, measures taken to counter this problem are usually tailored specifically for the particular organization. Therefore, this report has chosen two separate actions which are fundamental to most organizations that management can take.
3. Reduction of Employee Stress as an Organizational Policy
The first step any organization should take to help its employees reduce and cope with stress is to incorporate into the company policies a positive and specific intent on reducing undue stress. This would indicate that top management is committed to such a stress reduction program. Furthermore, the amendment to the policies should also include recognition that this initiative will benefit the achievement of other organizational goals by enhancing the productivity of employees through lowered stress levels. After the inclusion of the broad mission goal of reducing employee stress, management should draft out plans which specifically lays out the provisions to accomplish that goal. As earlier mentioned, there are many approaches to stress reduction, thus the provisions should detail only the methods specific to the organization. For example, they could specify that employees undergo periodic physical and psychological examinations and personnel surveys to ascertain current stress levels. Another alternative would be to provide personal counseling to employees to identify undue stress levels and then to advise any corrective measures for the individual. In any case, the most important beginning step is a total re-examination and revision of company policies, plans, and procedures to enhance employees own methods of coping with stress, and simultaneously, promote an organizational climate which actively assists employees to minimize their stress.
4. Fundamental Techniques to Employee Stress Reduction
One method management can employ to alleviate employee stress is to make them fitter to deal with the everyday pressures of work. There are three basic management techniques that would accomplish this goal. Managers should be clear about their expectations of employees and clearly convey these expectations to each person. Secondly, management should devise a performance-evaluation-feedback system such that each employee would be aware of his / her performance level based on the feedback received. Lastly, employees should be fully capable of performing their job tasks. Stress arises when employees do not possess the necessary skills to carry on with the work assigned to them. Therefore, job-training programs are essential to reducing anxiety and stress associated when employees feel that they do not possess sufficient skills or knowledge to perform the job that they were hired for.
• Communicating Management s Expectations
In an organization, it would appear that all employees have a clear understanding of their roles they were hired for and the duties expected of them. This assertion is often valid for employees working at the front line, such as workers on an assembly line. Strict procedural guidelines dictate the tasks and procedures each worker would assume. However, at higher levels in the organizational hierarchy, an employee s duties and responsibilities may not be as apparent. A middle manager or team leader s role could entail many different responsibilities and duties such as managing, co-ordination, leading, planning, etc. Despite a detailed job description when the individual was hired, there often exists a cloud of ambiguity as to what the position exactly encompasses given the wide-ranging scope of the position. Work stress arises as a result of this because employees would be distressed over uncertainty of the sufficiency of their tasks in relevance to their position and role. Furthermore, employees may not be clear as to the amount of work expected of him or her. When employees do not know how much effort they should commit to their jobs in order to satisfy their superior s expectations, a certain level of employee work stress would arise in that the individual would be constantly worried about the adequacy of his / her level of effort. In essence, employees need to know exactly the tasks expected of them and the level of effort to put into those tasks. The issue here is essentially a communications problem between management and employees. Management should communicate its expectations to employees whether as a group or individually. Since increased communications is the primary solution in this case, management should also promote a working environment where employees are encouraged to voice their concerns, questions, etc. to their respective superiors. Managers, themselves, should adapt a managing style that is sensitive and responsive to employee stress. Communication of management expectations can be achieved by analyzing each role in the organization to clarify priorities and resolve conflict between roles. This approach would first, clarify any ambiguity an employee may have about his / her position. Secondly, it effectively eliminates the stress from not knowing what or how much to do. Informing employees of their role expectations is only the beginning to reducing stress levels. Employees also require feedback from their performance measures.
• Providing Feedback to Employees Once role expectations are known, employees require feedback on their performance to determine whether those expectations are met. In the absence of feedback, employees would be worrying if their current levels of effort are satisfying the expectations of them. A state of ambiguity would arise again, resulting in increased stress levels. A systematic approach in providing periodical performance feedback to all employees in the organization is required. One common approach adopted by many companies is staff and staff-development schemes. They entail a periodical one-on-one interview between managers and each of his / her subordinates. During the interview, the manager would inform the employee of his / her performance relative to previously set standards (i.e. expectations). The employee would be encouraged to provide his / her concerns regarding the performance evaluation. Any problems and / or requests for assistance would be communicated to the manager at this point. To conclude the interview, the employee would set attainable future goals to improve or maintain the current performance level. Royal Bank is a strong advocate of staff-development schemes. Employees meet with their managers once every four months to discuss the employees performance to-date. The interview process is characterized by the supportive and encouraging roles every manager adopts towards their subordinates. Unlike many other appraisal interviews, managers do not only focus and highlight employee weaknesses. When certain deficiencies in performance are discussed, managers recognize that negative feedback is uncomfortable to both parties and can also be counter-productive. Thus, they usually identify areas for improvement to employees in a very supportive approach. The objective is to rectify the deficiency by motivating the employee to change, rather than imposing additional stress on him / her by merely pointing the weakness(s) out.
5. Job Training Programs
Job training programs provide employees with a broader knowledge and skills enabling them to better handle the expectations from their roles. Employee stress is often caused by the lack of skills or knowledge to meet designated objectives and goals. These programs usually take on two forms – knowledge-based development and skills-based development. Knowledge-based development programs usually involve a conference or seminar where the aim is to broaden the attendees knowledge of a certain topic such as informational seminars, briefing employees on the latest networking technologies. The knowledge gained from such programs may or may not be utilized in the everyday job routines of employees. Alternatively, skill-based development programs focus on training employees to become more proficient in the use of certain behaviors such as assertiveness training. While job-training programs can reduce work stress, there are essentially three conditions to its success. First, the employee must require the job training. No benefit would be derived if an employee is trained for something that is not relevant to the work he / she performs everyday. Secondly, management must discourage any perception by employees that training programs are a form of reward or punishment, or else the entire purpose of the training initiative would be lost. Finally, preparation is required to benefit fully from the program.
Work stress places a very high toll on both employees and employers. An employee subjected to high levels of stress could experience both physical and mental side effects. Physical side effects such as hypertension, coronary disease, infections, ulcers could greatly decrease the life span of the person. The psychological effects such as repressed emotions, anger, and isolation have a direct negative impact on organizational productivity. Thus, organizations have a great responsibility in reducing the stress of their employees, and in general are concerned about their well being. There are numerous methods to counter the stress problem. The report has cited only the basics, which are applicable to most organizations. The first step for management is to set out the intention to reduce employee stress in as an organizational goal. Provisions detailing the organization s planned approach should be drafted. Informing employees of management s expectations is one method to reduce a large portion of the anxiety employees may have about their jobs. Secondly, management must provide subordinates feedback on their performance. Management should also provide job training for all employees to enable them to better perform their jobs and reduce the stress associated with the feeling of inadequacy to perform one s duties.
Absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence from a duty or obligation. Traditionally, absenteeism has been viewed as an indicator of rich individual performance, as well as a breach of an implicit contract between employee and employer; it was seen as a management problem, and framed in economic or quasi-economic terms. More recent scholarship seeks to understand absenteeism as an indicator of psychological, medical, or social adjustment to work.
For Employees Who Are Absent
Recently, I was asked by a manager how he should deal with the fact that on any given day 10% of his employees are absent from work. I informed the manager that the problem of employee absenteeism is a problem best resolved by taking the following four positive interventions versus taking a negative or punitive approach.
Change Management Style: We are all aware of the fact that when employees call in ill, it does not mean they are truly too physically ill to work. One reason, outside of illness, that employees are absent is stress, and the number one reason employees are stressed has to do with their relationship with their manager/supervisor.
Management styles that are too authoritarian tend to promote high levels of absenteeism among employees. Authoritarian managers are managers who have poor listening skills, set unreachable goals, have poor communication skills, and are inflexible. In other words, they yell too much, blame others for problems, and make others feel that it must be their way or the "highway." Authoritarian managers tend to produce high absenteeism rates. By identifying managers who use an authoritarian style, and providing them with management training, you will be taking a positive step not only toward reducing absenteeism, but also reducing turnover, job burnout, and employee health problems such as backaches and headaches.
Change Working Conditions: The employees in your company probably work in a well-lighted climate controlled building. The working conditions I am referring to relate to coworker relationships. Not only does relationship stress occur between the employee and manager, but it also exists between employees. Frequently I hear employees say they did not go to work because they are fearful of or angry with another employee. These employees usually report they just could not deal with "so and so" today, so they called in ill. Companies that adopted policies and values that promote employee respect and professionalism, and promote an internal conflict resolution procedure, are companies that reduce employee stress. A reduction in employee stress reduces employee absenteeism.
Provide Incentives: Giving employees incentives for reduced absenteeism is not the same as rewarding or giving employees bonuses for reduced absenteeism. An incentive provides an employee with a boost to their motivation to avoid unnecessary absenteeism. It simply helps the employee decide to go to work versus staying home and watching Jerry Springer.
The types of incentive programs used by companies are numerous. Some companies allow employees to cash-in unused sick days at the end of every quarter, others give an employee two hours of bonus pay for every month of perfect attendance; and still others provide employees with a buffet lunch, a certificate of achievement, or even a scratch-off card concealing prizes. The type of incentive program that your company uses should be one created especially for your company. You can create an incentive program tailored to your unique company by allowing employees to help you develop the incentive program. For example, your employees may not care about receiving a $25.00 U.S. saving bond for perfect attendance, but they might respond very well to being able to leave one hour early on Friday if they have perfect attendance all week.
The duration of the incentive program is also very important. Once again allow your employees to help guide you to determine the length of time between incentives. Some companies find that they can simply reward employees with perfect attendance once a year, while others decide once a month is best, and still others decide once a week works best. The general rule of thumb is to reward workers more frequently the younger they are and the more difficult the work is to perform. Also, it is best to start with small incentives and work up to larger ones if necessary.
Develop an Attendance Policy: Every company should have an attendance policy. An attendance policy allows a manager to intervene with an employee who is frequently absent. Besides stress as a primary reason for employee absenteeism, other causes relate to alcoholism, domestic violence, and family problems. If you confront an employee about his or her frequent absenteeism, and they inform you it is due to personal problems, consider referring the employee to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
If the employee's absenteeism relates to a medical problem or a family member with a medical problem, you may have to consider allowing the employee to use the benefits allowed to them under the American's with Disability Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Early identification of these employees will get them back to work as fast as possible. Lastly, make sure that you have an attorney review your attendance policy to make sure it does not violate any State or Federal labor laws. By incorporating the above four strategies into your company you will not only reduce absenteeism you will reduce employee burnout, turnover, poor morale, and workplace negativism.
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