A Message From President Jonathan E. Dehlinger, Ph.D.
"Whats in a name?" Shakespeares Juliet once asked Romeo.
We all know a rose by any other name... but does the same hold true for industrial-organizational psychologists (I/O psychologists)?
At a recent conference of I/O psychologists, a fair amount of discussion was devoted to answering that very question. What should we, as practitioners, call ourselves? Suggestions ranged from industrial psychologist to change management resource with no clear consensus what would make the most sense to you, our customers.
You may have noticed at VRH that we have evolved over the years to using the label business psychologist for identifying both our professional background and the industry we serve. We have intermittently employed the label management consultant, acknowledging the client group we have the majority of our contact with.
More importantly, what our experience has revealed is that once we move beyond the initial stages of our client relationships, you label us your friends. That is the name we value most!
The very nature of our business relationship tends to allow us to become one of your trusted resources. Our clients can count on VRH to be available when a need arises, whether on a regular basis or once a year. That is what friends are for!
Our professional staff is academically trained in I/O psychology with degrees at the master- and doctoral-level. What this means for you is that each of us has fundamental knowledge, insights and expertise gained from academic study and applied work experience that we are anxious to share with our clients, our friends.
If you have colleagues who you believe would benefit from our services, please let them know about us. They may start out calling us business psychologists, but will probably end up calling us friends, too.
Introducing Our New Staff Member
VRH welcomes Deborah Lawler, our new Client Services Manager, to the Milwaukee office. She replaces both Beth Stutelberg and Terri Wagner.
Deborah brings a wealth of experience to this position having previously consulted for VRH as the owner of Excellent Words, an outsource provider of office systems procedure enhancements. Her primary responsibility is client satisfaction - others include scheduling assessments for clients with the Milwaukee consultants, and administering, scoring, transcribing and returning those assessments as quickly as humanly possible.
Deborah will be delighted to assist you however she can.
Assessment In The Round - 360° Feedback
Visualize a circle - it is 360° round and each point on the curve is equidistant from the center. Now visualize an employee at the center of the circle receiving feedback from those around them who are impacted by that individuals workplace performance. Superiors, direct reports, peers, internal and even external customers can be included in this feedback sphere. For those companies committed to maximizing the talents and competencies of their employees, this visualization is, in reality, a management development practice known as a 360° Feedback Assessment Process.
Multi-rater or 360° Feedback is a process by which an employees competencies and work skills are evaluated by a combination of people who have observed their work. Feedback received via this process is intended to provide a broader, well-rounded, and more accurate perspective of an employees performance.
"A 360° Feedback process creates a structured and less threatening approach for employees, especially managers, to get feedback," says Dr. Russ Day, VRH Industrial Psychologist. Russs expertise stems from working with over one hundred (100) companies, individuals, and managers using this specific process.
"The majority of companies initially use this process as an individual feedback and development tool. For example, this process is extremely effective for an organization that recognizes a manager or executive is struggling - the input indicates where improvements are necessary - creating a prime opportunity for executive coaching," according to Russ. The process is also utilized for leadership development, succession planning and as a performance appraisal approach.
The instrument is a structured questionnaire of numerical ratings, statements, questions, or narrative comments usually grouped under major competency areas such as communication skills, decision making, team building, leadership, and interpersonal skills.
"Whether the questionnaire is long or short, it should be linked to competency areas which are important to the workplace performance of the individual being appraised," adds Russ. "Ideally the competencies assessed should support and be strategically linked to the organizations vision and values."
A well-rounded evaluation typically involves 5 to 10 raters, including the individuals manager, peers, direct reports, other internal customers, even external customers if deemed appropriate. A self-evaluation is also encouraged. According to Russ, "the feedback should be meaningful and valuable to the individual. Thus, evaluators should be selected based on their familiarity with the individuals behaviors." The evaluations from peers and direct reports are usually aggregated to protect anonymity.
The Benefits and Payback
Tangible benefits of 360° Feedback include:
Aiding individuals in targeting specific areas for performance improvement.
Building collaborative work practices.
Identifying training and development opportunities.
Encourages leadership development.
Russ observes, "This is an absolutely tremendous tool for building a team mentality and developing leadership capability."
Companies are reporting that productivity gains and return on employee investment, not to mention a direct impact on the bottom line, result from using this process. One large company indicated that performance improvement estimates for their supervisors increased 5 - 20%, and that work group productivity improved an estimated 1 - 10%. That same company translated those performance improvement estimates into a 300%+ return on investment. Another company measured customer satisfaction one year after embracing the 360° Feedback process and saw increases in the magnitude of 100% to 300%.
Is the 360° Feedback process right for your company?
Probably! As long as individuals feel they deserve objective, well-rounded feedback to improve their performance, 360°
Feedback is not likely to diminish in reputation or use. Any organization interested in exploring this innovative feedback process is encouraged to contact VRH.
Employee Retention - Best Practices Overview and Tips
Where do we find good employees?
How do we keep good employees?
These questions, and others like them, are indicative of a major dilemma currently challenging many businesses today, employee retention and turnover. Low unemployment and robust economics are two of the usual culprits often cited.
So how do other companies find and retain employees?
VRH President Dr. Jonathan Dehlinger recently attended the Midwest Human Resource Planning Group meeting and gathered best practices information from a Hewitt Associates presentation.
Best companies are consistently characterized as embracing the following three traits concerning their employees:
1. They are committed to employee development.
2. They foster and nurture a strong, supportive company culture.
3. They work to keep their employees engaged.
Best companies offer broad personal and professional development opportunities including career counseling, executive coaching and mentoring, and investments in continuous learning, such as tuition reimbursement. These companies strive to achieve 40 hours of training per year for all employees.
Best companies also use culture as a business weapon! They offer any number of personal and progressive wellness benefits such as subsidized health club memberships or provide on-site fitness facilities, adoption assistance, stress reduction programs, subsidized meals, convenience services, and more. These companies practice selective recruiting, involving managers, potential peers and even subordinates in the process. Once hired, new employees participate in an extensive orientation, with periodic follow-ups, to ensure the fit is comfortable. In many instances, members of senior management are involved in the orientation process at all employee levels.
Active leadership is essential for nurturing a strong company culture. Monthly employee meetings, informal brown bag lunches with senior managers, along with regular (written or electronic) communications from the top provide several good examples. In addition, best companies offer strong employee rewards and recognition. Base pay is heavy on pay-for-performance. Almost all employees are eligible for performance bonuses, and there are cash rewards for patents or other innovative ideas. These companies often utilize the 360-degree feedback assessment system for performance management.
Best companies are extremely proactive in keeping employees engaged. Employee input is sought through a combination of suggestion boxes, surveys, focus groups, or representative councils. Ideas generated by the employees are more likely to be implemented (and rewarded) at these companies.
When talent is scarce, employees have choices, and the best employees always have the most choices. Audit yourself against these best practices to ensure your employees recognize you as their best choice!
VRH offers a wide range of customized professional services relating to employee selection, and performance assessment and management. For more information, please call either the Chicago or Milwaukee office numbers listed below.
Building Engaged Employees - A recipe for engagement
Culture and Purpose
Challenge & Interest
Status & Pride
Growth & Development
Quality of Work Life