Why Are My Staff Unhappy?

By Donnavan Finlay

“Treat Employees Like They Make a Difference and They Will – Jim Goodnight”

In my previous career at a large establishment the topic of staff retention was ever trending. The turnaround in staff was concerning to HR and many questions were raised on how to keep the staff happy so they will stay longer.  After leaving the company and now being in a position where I employ my own staff, I asked myself the same question. “How can I hold on to my staff?” “How can I keep them happy?”

Turns out asking how to keep them happy, is the wrong question.  The annual retreat with your team to some resort is no longer enough. We live in a society of quick turnover and instant gratification. A week after an annual trip, most will be back to the moods they were before the trip.

I met up with one of my old HR managers at a large corporation and he mentioned that all companies are keeping a very close eye on the staff turnaround and what he mentioned was the Glassdoor ratings. He stated that they are working hard on building inclusive and multi-generational teams within the organization.

We all understand that the attitude from the staff towards their work or company has a direct connection to productivity levels. Negative staff will have a negative effect on the results and positive staff will have a positive effect on the final results.

So, in the world we live in today, what can we do to ensure more staff stay with the company, and more importantly, what can we do to keep them positive?

First things that come to mind are money and position.  But can it really just be that simple? Pay the staff more and they will suddenly deliver better results for longer periods of time? Actually, money and position will only have a temporarily positive impact on the staff. This is not what we are looking for. We are looking to be able to sustain positive attitudes and therefore positive results.

The problem we are dealing with is actually very complex. First thing we have to understand is that in many companies we have to deal with multi-generational staff. This is a very good asset but can be tricky to deal with. People at different ages will have different values. Communication between the different age groups may also be challenging.

It is also easy to say that we should just engage the staff more and people will be happier. This is true but the thinking is a bit limiting. We need to look at building the organization that is exciting, fulfilling and fun. Think of companies like Google, from what I have only seen n magazines, has created an incredible workspace for the staff. You need people to get fully committed, not just engaged.

We have to start right at the beginning. We need to look at who is being hired. Are you getting the right people in the right positions? If you place a person in a position that they are not ready or good for, they will just face more and more pressure and eventually just quit. This is not the employee’s fault, but fault of the person that did the placement.  Make sure you get the right people in the right positions with a clear career path and they will be in a better mental state about the job and their career at the organization.

Second suggestion is to make sure you have a good training and development concept in place. It is great to have such a department internally, but there are also many coaches and consultants out there.  Training your staff can only yield positive results. The better they are trained at what they do, the easier the job will be. Simple as that. Training should also go beyond just the job. Why not train people on topics like cultural or age diversity? Training around positive thinking and different personality traits.  Topics that will broaden their minds, expand their thinking and understanding of society.

Another idea is to have staff complete surveys. They are anonymous so the staff will feel free to tell the truth. This is great information and you will be able to read their thoughts. This will put you in a good position to make the changes that are needed.

Celebrate milestones with your staff. Get something in place that will make you aware of birthdays and other celebrations. People spend most of their waking hours at work during the week so it is a good idea to make an effort to make it feel a bit like family. In a large company it can be done within a team environment, no need to get everyone involved.  Celebrating service awards should go without saying. People should be publicly recognized for achievements. Whether it is years of service or top sales person. The importance is around the recognition.

Earlier we discussed having a training and development department or consultant in place. No more so than for your leaders within the organization. All leaders should be well-trained in their position beyond just the job description. Part of the job at hand is to look after the team and make sure it is a well-oiled machine. All leaders should have extensive training in conflict resolution and dealing with different personalities.  The best book I can recommend on this topic is “The Oz Principle”. All leaders should read this book, often.  I attended extensive training sessions around this book for a few weeks at my previous employer. It is extremely empowering and effective when implemented correctly. With well trained leaders in place the rest of the staff will follow the example set by the leaders and function effective to achieve the collective goals of the departments and the organization as a whole.

My one big gripe when I was an employee was meetings that could have been an email or meetings that had nothing to do with me. Meetings are important for everyone to touch base but also to get everyone’s point of view. I always hated meetings as I though to myself, “Why am I here, this has nothing to do with me”. Truth is that my boss wanted everyone’s opinion on the matter. I never realized that, as he never made me feel included. He had no game plan. This is why I suggest doing comprehensive planning around your meetings to make sure they are effective and everyone feels included.  This is a complex topic so I suggest reading a book like “Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold”.

At the end of the day you need to see your staff as part of the product. Even if you are in retail, your staff becomes part of the purchase. If your staff are well-trained and in a positive frame of mind, it will come across to the customer. That is nothing more that value added service. This is something that is lacking in many organizations these days and will put you ahead of the competition.













Nailing the 1st Interview

Nailing the 1st Interview

By Sam Kapur. Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

I feel there are a few basic rules to nailing the first interview. From my experience though, after interviewing hundreds of candidates, most people don’t understand the basics.

1. Do your Research

This is the most important and neglected part. You want to know all you can about the
company, the people interviewing you, the hiring manager (because it might not be the
same as the person interviewing you), and the job itself.

I’m going to assume that the majority of people reading this blog know the different ways to research a lot of this stuff online, so I won’t go into that. Once you’ve gained the information, you need to go deeper into your research, I recommend speaking with someone who works at the company, preferably in the same division and if possible in the same role.
This way you’ll get an inside look at what you’ll actually be doing and can even find out from them what the interview process is going to look like.

2. Ask the Right Questions

I know, easier said than done, right? It actually is. The questions you want to ask should all be related to whether the position and company is the right fit for you. Ask about the daily activities, the team makeup, the skills necessary for the job, what the potential for
promotion is. What I would avoid asking is anything regarding compensation. If they bring it up it’s ok to discuss, but I personally would avoid answering by saying, “While compensation is important to me, it’s more important to see if the position is right for me”. We can discuss compensation in the next round if that’s ok with you.

The ultimate question to ask though is this. Right at the beginning of the interview say this, “Before we begin the interview is it ok if I ask a quick question? What was it about me that made you decide to schedule this interview?” This helps get them in a positive mind frame about you and gives you some excellent information to utilize during the interview.

3. Take Notes

Besides for the obvious reason of making sure you remember the information given, it also shows that you care about the interview. Another great reason is as a stall tactic to gather your thoughts before answering a tough question. When the interview starts ask
permission to take notes. Make sure to bring an extra pen, it never looks good when you
have to ask for a pen or paper.

4. Dress Appropriately

I today’s job market it’s not always right to wear a suit for your interview. You need to
figure out the culture of the company and dress accordingly. Err on the side of more formal than casual if you’re not sure. A great way to get this information is to ask someone who’s ever interviewed with the company before.

Don’t forget at any time that you are trying to sell yourself by showing the company your
best you. Stay professional, but not stiff. Answer their questions, but make sure you have
some of your own.

What are some questions you would ask a potential employer?