For organisations and businesses in 2018, effective employee communication is crucial for sustained competitive advantage.  It is the foundation of collaboration, and without effective communication practices organisations are likely to suffer.  When communication breaks down, so does the business.  If your organisation is identifying rising levels of stress, unmet expectations, relational breakdowns, health concerns, or a smaller bottom line, poor communication could be at the root of the problem.

As social creatures it is not difficult for employees to communicate with each other, and yet all too often you hear about agitated team members that have been left out of the loop on an important email chain, or unable to locate saved meeting notes.  We cannot expect employees to do their best work if they don’t have access to all the necessary facts.

Making enormous sweeping changes to work systems and culture to foster a communicative workplace can seem daunting, but in reality, only subtle changes to management practices and minimal buy in from employees are required.  The advancements within the digital age have heralded new ways open communication can be fostered.

So, how to foster communication in the workplace?

1. Utilise instant messaging and social networking to ping employees quickly

Almost one third of the world’s population is on social media in some way or another. And while sites such as Facebook may have seriously shaken the public’s confidence and trust with the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, businesses have access to a wealth of encrypted programs designed to foster communication, as well as keep data safe.  

Instant messaging is an easy to use way to get news to travel fast.  By providing a platform for 1-on-1 or p2p communication that employees know how to use, communication between levels and management becomes natural.  For those who struggle with face to face or over the phone communication, especially when raising issues, it can relieve the stress from getting that information out to where it needs to go. While overtly social and recreational forms of instant messaging (WhatsApp, Snapchat and others) would be a deterrent, there are a huge number of professional and reliable platforms out there.  Microsoft Office, Skype for Business, and many email programs already have built in communication systems that can easily be set up across the organisation.  Additional online communication tools such as Slack, Azendoo, and Bitrix24 are extremely customisable and designed with business communication in mind.

Social media itself should not be encouraged, however your employees should feel comfortable enough to talk to each other outside of work.  Encouraging employee external relationships creates a more positive environment when people are actually excited to come into the office and collaborate.  It creates a better corporate culture and improves morale.  We communicate better with those we are comfortable with, so providing an environment that harbours friendships can work wonders for your organisation.

2. Hold short meetings to communicate important news in person

Did you just successfully tender?  Sign a large client?  That’s wonderful! But how are you going to inform your employees, if you do at all?

Emailing staff important information regarding business movements can ensure employees have access to the information, but there’s no guarantees they won’t be overlooked on a busy day.  It’s also an impersonal experience that can make employees feel like spectators in their teams, as opposed to valued resources.

When something worth celebrating happens in your organisation, no matter how small, endeavour to tell your employees about it in person.  A quick, informal five-minute chat next to everyone’s desks is a far more inclusive and positive way to share news and doesn’t leave employees feeling left out.  It brings a sense of humanity to the organisation and doesn’t keep the managers hidden within their offices.

While we can’t always meet employees face to face, whether due to agile work practices, working from client sites, or contacting offices in differing cities, try to go for the personal approach whenever possible.  Taking control of the informal grapevine in this manner ensures you get the message across as intended. Involving all employees is key, especially in a business where communication is an issue.

3. Document meetings and other important information

Employees miss meetings.  It’s inconvenient, but it happens in every workplace.  What is even more inconvenient, is having said employee running around trying to find out what happened after the fact.  Meeting Minutes are an old-fashioned concept that are not utilised as often as they should be.  Not just limited to courtrooms and government sittings, documenting important meetings in some form or another is extremely useful and beneficial to every employee, whether they were there or not.

For employees that may forget the minute but important meeting details, having somewhere they can easily locate the information is a great help.  For those who didn’t understand a concept, or for those that weren’t able to be there, it is again, a very useful tool.  Having someone taking notes to distribute after the meeting is a positive and simple way to ensure that everyone is on the same page at the end of the discussion.

In addition to minutes, organisations should consider sending out weekly newsletters, or other simple documents recapping the important work and news from the week. Keep all your employees informed and involved by providing such a newsletter, or blogging platform, as in the same way that meeting minutes do, these references give all employees confidence in their position in the business, and where the business is headed.

4. Talk, don’t tell

Collaborative communication always beats the top-down approach, and in a society that is in constant technological flux, organisations can not afford to be static.  Top-down may have been crucial for organisational development in the past, but organisations have now evolved to a far flatter agile structure.  Reflect this approach in communication practices by giving the floor to the up-and-coming employees in discussions where possible.

Encouraging an environment with open communication is a must, and employees shouldn’t be nervous or worried about speaking with any other employee, no matter their title.  The fear of disapproval and rejection is something that keeps people from speaking or expressing their views, and this stagnant communication will be detrimental in the long term.

As much as employees need to be confident with suggestions, their higher ups need to be confident in giving feedback.  Explain why the idea would or would not work; explain how they can improve what they have.  Employees should not fear the hierarchy, as it should not be something that gets between them and organisational success.

5. Be compassionate

Communication and compassion should come hand in hand, as employees are far more likely to feel comfortable and productive in an environment where they feel cared for. Communication should trickle down from compassion, but it’s not always easy to determine how compassionate, or communicative, an employee is before you hire them. For this reason, Psych Press has built a Compassion Scale into our Business Personality Reflections® questionnaire to accurately measure a candidate’s compassion.  Ideal employees will be considerate towards other employees and clients, creating a positive flow of interactivity and communication, by expressing interest and sympathy towards those around them.  Those who do not possess compassionate traits, however, will not be involved in the affairs of others, and will keep to themselves objectively, potentially damaging employee relations and overall corporate identity.

It can be of great benefit when an organisation encourages compassion.  Encouraging a healthy amount of chatting at work helps people to feel bonded and positive about work and the workplace, reducing anxiety, encouraging mindfulness, and reducing stress.  A happier, healthier employee will take less leave, and will be more passionate about their work, which will ultimately benefit the bottom line. 

If you are hiring for a job that is associated with high amounts of stress, teamwork, or you just want to improve your communication practices, consider the Compassion Scale in your recruitment process.  To learn more about the Compassion Scale, or the Business Personality Reflections® questionnaire, contact us now or simply visit our website.

The future of work can’t be discussed without mention of digital disruption.  It has already transformed the way organisations operate and how they engage with consumers.  Incumbent market leaders will face some serious challenges if they fail to become students of technology and advocates of change.

90% of CEOs have stated they believe their organisations are facing digital disruption, and 70% of them said they don’t believe their organisations have the skills to adapt.

For those who do have the capacity to future proof themselves, it is going to be a very exciting next few years. Digital technologies are reducing barriers to entry, blurring market segmentation, and opening the doors for the next generation of innovators.  Perceptive organisations are already making strides to embrace digital technologies, particularly within HR, a necessity for success in the global market.

However, that’s not to say that digital technology can only be taught to the up and coming millennial workforce.  

A recent article in Nature exposed as a myth, the proposition that exposure to technology has made young people “digital natives”.

The conclusion arrived at was that “the younger generation uses technology in the same ways as older people — and is no better at multitasking.”

It begins:

“Some people put the cut-off at 1984, but for most it is 1980.  People born after that date are the digital natives; those born before are digital immigrants, doomed to be forever strangers in a computer-based strange land.”

“But a paper published last month in Teaching and Teacher Education reaches the opposite conclusion.  The digital native is a myth, it claims: a yeti with a smartphone (P. A. Kirschner and P. D. Bruyckere Teach. Teach. Educ.67, 135–142; 2017).
It is beyond dispute that people brought up in the most recent decades have been exposed to a lot of digital technology — at least in developed countries.
However, a 2011 review for the Higher Education Academy in York, UK, put it bluntly, as the first of its executive-summary conclusions: “There is no evidence that there is a single new generation of young students entering Higher Education and the terms Net Generation and Digital Native do not capture the processes of change that are taking place”.  Many members of the digital-savvy generation use technology in the same way as many of their elders: to passively soak up information.
Consequently, all HR professionals are going to benefit from learning how to leverage technology for greater organisational outcomes.
With the ongoing digital revolution that streamlines processes and reduces transactional costs, HR plays a key role in improving the efficiency of operations, through standardising processes and using transactional technology (digitalising traditional pen and paper practices).
So, what 3 things should HR leaders consider when combatting digital disruption?
1. Culture is the most significant factor in successful digital transformation.
Having a culture that is open-minded, embraces change and agile will ensure the effectiveness of new digital initiatives.  Today, executives are investing energy into initiatives such as artificial intelligence; programs that use data to build a model for future predictions, and the Internet of Things; the interconnection and communication between devices via the internet.  Ten years ago, only about 40% of CIOs were involved in strategic planning, whereas today, they comprise some of the most integral players in the C-suite.  High performing executives have improved their ability to embrace digital, and the results are evident.

One such example is that of GE’s previous CEO, Jeff Immelt.  One of his legacies is the digital transformation of the organisation.  Immelt’s financial performance exceeded competitors; earnings tripled during his tenure and resulted in record-high market share.  To influence digital transformation throughout the organisation, Immelt maintained an unwavering, persistent and open-minded approach, with an all-or-nothing attitude.  His view was prevalent in all areas of the company, as he encouraged all employees to learn how to code. Whether they learned or not, he maintained that an open attitude and mindset towards new software was imperative.

Investing energy into cultural transformation will complement change.  A common factor for successful digital transformation is strong leadership buy-in, along with a corporate mindset of innovation.  Leaders can account for up to 70% of an organisation’s culture and need to lead the charge when it comes to digital transformation.

2.  Leveraging digital platforms can lead to successful talent ventures.

As jobs and skills adapt to meet the needs of a digital future, finding and recruiting the right people is becoming more important than ever. Luckily digital platforms also have the capacity to revolutionise the recruitment process. Leading organisations are using social networking, analytics, and cognitive tools to improve efficiency and reduce bias in candidate screening.  Akin to the talent acquisition processes of the Big Four, NAB has recently automated their volume recruitment process thanks to platforms like E-Recruitment.  NAB includes these technologies from the very top of their selection funnel, including an online application, a cognitive assessment, a values questionnaire, and an online interview.  NAB’s Chief People Officer, Lorraine Murphy suggested that this new model saved over 700 hours a month and halved the turnover of recruits during the training period.

In addition to using digital platforms to inform decisions about employees, online tools allow important data to be collected to improve HR decision-making.  As such, data analytics may also assist HR to make unbiased judgements and decisions regarding existing employees.

Leading organisations such as Google and Luxottica have further shifted towards relying on the data in their recruiting.  Luxottica identified in their analyses that the slow process of hiring external candidates was caused by hiring managers stalling their decisions.  With this information, Luxottica then altered their recruitment goals and strategy, reducing the time it takes to recruit senior positions with external candidates from 96 days to 46 days.  
This data-based people management is increasingly used in technology firms, as leaders in innovation, and sets an excellent example for other industries to follow. 

3. Workforce planning based on data-analytics and digital technologies.

Beyond recruitment and talent acquisition, digital and data-analytic approaches can assist key elements of workforce planning.  Despite this, once candidates have successfully proceeded through the recruitment and onboarding process, many organisations are failing to emphasise the importance of ongoing learning and development programs.

David Brown, Deloitte Partner in Human Capital, commented that hiring costs can be significantly reduced by changing hiring practices.  He noted that in Australia, “we spend almost twice as much on recruiting people than training and developing them” and if “organisations were to increase their spending on capability uplift, they would be able to reduce those hiring costs.”  Digital platforms and data analytics vastly improve these practices by providing objective insights.

Organisations that are effectively future-proofing themselves understand that continuous learning is critical for business success. Employees are now pursuing opportunities to learn and progress at a rapid rate, which isn’t surprising when the half-life of a learned skill is now only 5 years.

Through digital means, organisations now have the capacity to deliver learning that is always online and available across a myriad of platforms. Training costs can be reduced significantly with adoption of virtual training rather than full-day workshops. Additionally, by collecting employee data and monitoring their output, employees can be selected to attend training according to their needs.

“Everything changes, and nothing stands still.” - Heraclitus

These three HR practices demonstrate the benefits of continued digital transformation.  HR leaders play an integral role in the effective implementation of digital practice.  They can strongly influence and shift corporate mindsets and culture to embrace emerging digital platforms.  Moreover, they can capitalise on efficient talent acquisition solutions, and data-analytic approaches foster unbiased, beneficial people solutions.  The future of work is now, and HR professionals have the capacity to assist integration of technologies into the business, embrace big data to measure workplace productivity and combine digital with people-led management.

Staying on top of digital disruption demands a culture of flexible thinking and innovation.  The ability to think creatively and flexibly within a dynamic and constantly changing environment can allow teams to survive where many others fail.
Whether for external recruitment or internal transfers, promotion or recruitment, companies are increasingly using objective data for its practicality in supporting human capital decisions. 

Psych Press’s Business Personality Reflections® menu driven personality questionnaire offers a choice of a variety of scales relevant to digital transformation from 70 scales in total.
These scales are Tolerance for Ambiguity, Ambition, Autonomy, Dynamic, Self-Discipline, Achievement Oriented, Achievement Striving, Self-Sufficient, Positivity, Positive Thinking, Optimism, Innovative, Imaginative, Strategic Orientation, Vision, Ingenuity, Divergent Thinking, Resilience, Emotional Resilience, Energy Level, Social Confidence, Active Leadership, Influential, Action Oriented, Responsibility, Teamwork, Social Skills, and Approachability.

As an example, one of these scales assesses Innovation, which provides some useful information in this context:

Innovation is described as the ability to introduce new, useful and unconventional ideas, particularly in problem-solving.  It generally requires the use of original and creative thinking. The Innovation Scale measures an individual’s ability to develop interesting or unusual solutions to a problem.  Due to the fast-paced and growing workplace, having innovative employees is essential for an organisation to develop, grow and remain competitive.

A sample item from the Business Personality Reflections Innovation scale is:

“Pushing established boundaries is the only way to succeed”.

Despite the challenges of identifying innovative performance, research indicates hiring creative and innovative thinkers is linked with better individual job performance.  This, in turn, may positively influence the organisation’s innovative performance (Hunter, et al. 2012).  Additionally, Pot (2011) researched the need for policies encouraging innovation; research has found improvement in work performance and quality of working life from innovative employees.  Lastly, Scott and Bruce (1994) found a positive relationship between innovativeness and individual’s problem solving, leadership, and collaborative task skills – all of which are beneficial to any future-aligned workplace.

Individuals who score highly on the innovation scale will likely use their imagination to create novel solutions to problems.  High scorers will also be able to foresee future consequences of their ideas, prior to its development.

You might consider using innovative scales in your recruitment and development process if you want employees that:

·         Are excited at the prospect of new digital technologies
·         Creatively solve organisational problems
·         Work effectively and unconventionally to see what others will not
·         Create and develop unconventional procedures to grow your business

Organisations benefit from innovators as they implement novel solutions to problems and apply creative thinking to develop procedures that are outside tradition.  Recruit and develop employees that will allow your organisation to continue to grow and prosper where competitors will otherwise fall short.

For a free trial of the Business Personality Reflections® Innovation Scale please simply enquire now.

Build Innovative Teams Destined to Succeed

Having recruited individuals with a penchant for innovation and change, determined by a number of relevant personality scales, it might then be appropriate to form team/s on a similar scientific basis. In response to complexity and change in the digital age, businesses have turned to making teams the functional units of their organisations. Over many years, psychologists have been remarkably productive in assessing how teams are formed to produce the best results. There are well over 100 scientific studies about personality and team composition which Psych Press drew on to develop our suite of Team Assessments


TeamBuilder® identifies the aspects of your team which are in need of team building, by allowing team members to provide anonymous feedback regarding eleven team-related attributes.

  • Clarity
  • Processes
  • Trust
  • Commitment
  • Resources
  • Communication
  • Participation
  • Development
  • Competence
  • Praise/Acknowledgement
  • Interpersonal Relations

These eleven research-based attributes are believed to be critical for team building success and address areas ordinarily neglected by routine performance reviews.

What will you gain from the team building report?

  • Identify your team's strengths
  • Identify your team's areas for improvement as part of team building
  • Team members' verbal comments regarding team effectiveness
  • Prioritisation of your team's development needs to facilitate team building.
  • Personalised development suggestions to facilitate team building and improve team effectiveness
  • Comparison of your team with others in similar industries

Get the most out of your innovative employees and face digital disruption head on with the Psych Press Team Assessment Suite today. 

How Effective Managers Deliver Constructive Feedback

Providing feedback is part and parcel of any managers role.  It clearly conveys which behaviours are desired for success and has been shown to be related to a range of important work outcomes including motivation, engagement, and performance.  Feedback allows employees to set appropriate goals and expectations, provides intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and gives opportunities for personal development.

The benefits of feedback are evident, and yet over 37% of supervisors report that they feel uncomfortable giving feedback and 69% state that when in the position of a supervisor, they can feel uncomfortable even interacting with their employees.

Those receiving feedback are no more satisfied with the process.  The most common employee complaints are that managers don’t understand how to evaluate or give negative feedback.

Despite this, 65% of employees are craving additional feedback in their jobs.

That’s because they know people thrive when given appropriate behavioural expectations and feedback.  If we get it right, feedback creates a culture of collaboration, connection, and sustainable change.  Providing honest and constructive feedback can be stressful, but it is a necessary and vital part of effective management.  With that in mind, how do the effective managers deliver constructive feedback?

They are Direct and Specific
There’s no point beating around the bush when discussing negative feedback.  It’s an opportunity for growth and the best way to ensure employees understand where issues are rising from.  Speaking directly increases the likelihood of an employee correcting their behaviours, as there is less chance of being misconstrued.  Feedback must also be focused on the specific skills of the role.  General feedback doesn’t provide the same degree of targeted behaviour change in contrast to specifics about performance.

Providing some examples can quickly demonstrate why a manager is commenting on the behaviour.  This prevents frustrated or angry recipients from believing the critique is more personal than professional.  Imagined slights and malice are toxic.  Acknowledge the emotions of the room and stick to the objective specifics they can’t argue against.

They are Positive and Supportive
Feedback must be delivered in a positive, supportive manner that allows employees to remain engaged about their roles, even in the face of critical and negative feedback.  Making someone feel wrong, or acting superior, is way off track.

Employers are setting themselves up for a hostile exchange when starting their reviews with demands such as ‘Come in and shut the door, I need to talk to you’.  Take the tension out of the situation by always framing feedback discussions around helping to improve the employee.  Don’t create an environment of conflict when it isn’t necessary.

They Act Immediately
Feedback needs to occur as immediately as possible.  The stock standard annual performance appraisal is considered a dinosaur these days.  Instead, more informal meetings have emerged as the standard.  This presents the opportunity for managers to deal with any behaviour issues early, before they become pervasive and systemic.  An effective manager becomes aware of issues and takes strides to deal with them as soon as possible.  Employees are likely to learn much more from this experience when they can remember the details, instead of six months down the line.

They Actively Listen
Active listening is a skill that can be quickly taught and drastically improves communication.  Listening gives the employee a space in which to feel respected and understand information on their own terms.  As well as giving the employee your full attention, it’s important that managers can be ‘seen’ to be listening.  Convey interest to the speaker through both verbal and non-verbal messages, maintaining eye contact, nodding, smiling, and agreeing by saying yes or ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue.

If the employee is struggling to work through some tough feedback, be brave enough allow moments of silence to come into the conversation.  A feedback exchange is a learning experience for both parties.  Give the recipient time to work through the feedback.  Letting the employee put their own stamp on the conversation will ensure they feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily and openly.

They Provide Clear Goals to Pursue
Feedback should be a process of developing clear future expectations of behaviour.  The development of goals, and solutions to any negative behaviour are key to the employee understanding what they must go going forward.  Setting challenging but achievable goals gives employees a clear path to work towards.  It allows employees to focus on the priorities that really matter, guides decision-making, and makes them responsible for their own actions.

They Inspire Greatness
Even when providing negative feedback there are opportunities to further inspire direct reports.  Effective managers set organisational standards high and encourage people to stretch themselves beyond what they can see for themselves.  There’s a reason you don’t see too many Olympic athletes without a coach.  Effective managers communicate the brilliance of the recipient and the aspiration for who they can become.  Conveying this message in a caring, supportive manner ensures employees are inspired to take feedback onboard and run with it to success.
The stakes are too high in this competitive environment to shy away from difficult conversations with employees.  Without feedback organisations diminish and become ineffective.  Team communication and culture breaks down.  But for those effective managers who can utilise feedback, it becomes an efficient developmental tool that ensures organisational growth and success.  It costs absolutely nothing except an emotional investment of honesty, the risks of a bad reaction, and perhaps at times, feeling uncomfortable.
Luckily for those managers who fear the fallout of poor feedback, personality questionnaires can highlight those individuals who are more receptive to feedback.

The Business Personality Reflections® is one such personality questionnaire that measures business-related competencies to assist in selection and personal development decisions.  Developed by Psych Press, this assessment contains 70 personality scales that can be tailored to any organisational role.  Below is more information about the Personal Development Scale in the Business Personality Reflections®

Personal Development

Personal development is a measure of an individual’s preference for obtaining and developing new skills, as well as their level of receptivity to feedback.  The Personal Development scale in the Business Personality Reflections® questionnaire indicates the degree to which an individual is likely to desire understanding and developing new skills, and whether they believe advice and comments from others to be beneficial.  Personal development tendencies place individuals at a sizeable competitive advantage as they are catalysts for their own professional development and will continually seek to increase their own intellectual capital.  Without it, an employee may show reluctance in broadening their knowledge and skill set and may be less receptive to constructive feedback.

Individuals who score highly on the Business Personality Reflections® Personal Development Scale are more likely to want to master new situations, and are likely to regard feedback as useful and fundamental to self-progression.  Employees who have personal development characteristics are also likely to be self-driven, goal-oriented, and innovative.

The results of several studies show that the Big Five personality dimensions of ‘openness to experience and conscientiousness’ are positively related to personal development, specifically proactive learning and feedback-seeking behaviour (Maurer, Lippstreu & Judge, 2008; Orvis & Leffler, 2011).  In a longitudinal study, Seibert, Kraimer & Crant (2001) found proactive and open dispositions to be associated with heightened job performance and role satisfaction. This study also found personal development tendencies elicited long-term benefits for employees, including higher salaries and career success (Seibert et al., 2001).  Cultivating employee satisfaction and growing intellectual capital increases productivity and innovation, which will ultimately increase an organisation’s competitive advantage (Roffe, 1999).

A sample item for the Personal Development scale that you may see on our questionnaire could be:

“To be of the most benefit to their company, workers should continually learn new things”.

You might consider using a personal development scale in your recruiting and development processes if employees deal with the following:

  • Team-oriented tasks where employees offer feedback and advice to challenge and support one another.
  • A flexible and dynamic working environment.
  • Constant career progression and development.

Organisations need employees who are high in personal development tendencies to succeed.  Let us help you find and develop the right people for your organisation so that you can maintain your competitive advantage.