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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Delegation: Getting Results Through Other People

Leaders who master the art of delegation achieve greater results for the organization, better maximize their time, and develop more skilled employees. Delegation is a key responsibility of leaders, allowing them to achieve results through other people as opposed to doing everything themselves. This leaves them more time to focus on business strategy, planning, and guiding overall business execution, while transferring knowledge and skills throughout the organization. Leaders, who struggle with delegation work more hours, are always buried, are “professional firefighters”, and find themselves micro-managing the details of their employees.

Most employees are promoted into leadership roles, not because they are great trainers or seasoned leaders, but because they excelled in their technical skill. Many fail as leaders because organizations do not train them in how to get things done through others. We promote our top sales person to Sales Manager, not to grow sales, but to grow sales people. Sales Managers can make a greater overall impact through transferring knowledge and skills to other sales people than they do by selling. Delegation is not just about freeing up time, it’s about developing people so they can become self-sufficient.

Effective Delegation

Have you ever turned over a task to an employee, only to see them fall flat on their face? Perhaps their failure had more to do with your delegation method than their ability to do the task. You can’t just turn over a task expecting success unless you have clearly transferred knowledge, given effective coaching, and provided resources needed for the 1 person to get the job done. The following delegation steps and techniques will help ensure greater success.

Delegation Steps & Techniques:

  • Delegate the right task to the right person. Know your employees’ strengths, weaknesses and ambitions. Delegate tasks that utilize their strengths and allow them to grow in areas where they aspire to develop. Make sure the person selected understands why they were selected, how it helps the company or team, and how they will
  • Set clear goals and expectations. Clearly define the task or project expectations including: goals & outcomes, what the final projects will look like, how performance will be measured, and when it should be completed. Establish action plan miles stones and review dates for routine progress evaluation and feedback. Ask for their ideas and involve them throughout the process for stronger commitment and buy-in.
  • Empower people to find their own solutions. With goals and measures clear, let them own how it gets done. Avoid the tendency to describe exactly how you want everything done. Avoid micro-managing their every move, or you will derail their success and their trust in you and
  • Provide needed training & coaching. Delegating a task does not mean you give the assignment and walk away. Help the employee by giving them any needed training, resources and coaching. Be a resource they can openly come to with questions or challenges.  Providing intermittent coaching as needed helps ensure their success.

Remember to discuss current work load and identify any needed freeing up of their tasks or workload so they can accomplish their new assignments.

  • Define any resource needs. Discuss and agree on resources required to get the job done. All relevant resources should be taken into consideration, including staffing, physical space, equipment, materials, inventory, storage and other related activities and services.
  • Support and Communicate. As part of the communication and support process, alert the individual to any unusual matters of politics or protocol within the organization of which he or she should be cognizant. Inform your own manager and your own peers of the new assignment to a direct report, if the task assigned is one of high visibility and warrants this level of support and
  • Monitor progress. Build into the task or project assignment a process for on-going monitoring, meetings and accountability discussions. Don’t leave them to sink or swim; inspect what you expect. Have set times where you meet with the employee, allowing them the opportunity to report on progress, ask questions and receive any needed coaching. If you delegate to someone who lacks the skills to accomplish the job, even after the needed training and coaching occurs, you may have to make a change in the assignment. When you delegate, you’re still responsible.
  • Be patient and encouraging. There are always challenges in learning new skills and taking on something you’ve never done before. Expect some set-backs and mistakes without over- reacting. Remember, you didn’t learn the skill overnight either. Stay positive, showing confidence in the employee and their ability to get through the tough times. When they approach you with problems, ask what they suggest. This shows confidence in them and helps them to take more ownership.
  • Provide feedback and reinforcement.

As you monitor employees’ on-going task completion efforts, provide feedback anytime you are surprised with results. Give praise and recognition when you are pleasantly surprised, and constructive feedback and coaching whenever performance is subpar. Like any performance situation, there should be no surprises at the end. Make sure the employee knows how you feel and how he or she is doing along the way.

  • Assess lessons learned at the end of a given project. Ask the employee to review what went well, what could have gone better and how things should be done differently the next time. This helps with the development of the employee while ensuring continued organizational improvement.  Make sure to let the employee receive credit and recognition for the project results. Nothing will undermine future delegation efforts faster than a leader who delegates, then claims all the glory for the task being done. Each time a project is completed, the manager should attempt to engage the employee in a task that is incrementally more challenging than the previous

 About HR Service, Inc.

HR Service provides broker and client solutions for benefit ERISA compliance and HR, insuring organizations meet ERISA and Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for:  Summary Plan Description Wraps (SPD Wraps), Employee Notifications, 125 Premium Only Plans (125 POP), Summaries of Material Modification (SMM), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), ACA Reporting, and Employment Laws.  Our web-based SPD Wraps, Employee Notices, 125 POPs, and ACA Reporting tools make it easy to comply with ERISA.  Visit us online at or call (855) 447-3375 for SPD Wraps, 125 POPs, HR Support, ACA Reporting, HIPAA Solutions, HR Support, and more.

Internet at Work: Tool or Productivity Waster

The use of internet at work has increased significantly over the years for business communications, transactions, and research. It has also become one of the biggest time wasters to employers, because of the increased non-work related use by employees. For example, according to a recent report by SurfControl (Snoddy), a web filtering and security software provider, office workers who spend one hour a day at work on various non-work activities (e.g., trading stock shares, booking vacations, shopping online) could be costing businesses as much as $35 million a year. The survey found that 59% of internet use at the office was not work related and employees who traded in stock shares, played online games, shopped, and booked vacations cost companies the most. It is clear from this type of research that internet abuse is a serious cause for concern.

Not only are there concerns for productivity, but also for addiction related to things like pornography, gambling, social networks, and video gaming activities. It has been argued behavioral addictions are no different from chemical addictions (e.g., alcoholism, heroin, or tobacco addiction) regarding the core components of addiction such as salience, tolerance, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, time waste, and relapse. Most excessive internet users spend vast amounts of time online for social contact (mostly for chat room services). Young (1999) claimed internet addiction was a broad term that covered a wide variety of behaviors and impulse control problems that have been classified by five specific subtypes (i.e., cyber sexual addiction, cyber- relationship addiction, net compulsions, information overload, and computer addiction).

Each of these addictions translates into lost productivity and time wasters for employees with

these problems. There are many factors that make internet abuse in the workplace seductive.

Research in the area of computer-mediated communication has shown virtual environments have the potential to provide short-term comfort, excitement, and/or distraction (Griffiths, 2000c). They also give anonymity allowing the users to privately engage in their behavior, believing the chance of being caught is minimal.

Fixing the Problem

Finding ways to eliminate internet misuse and addictive behaviors while still allowing the positive benefits to remain in the work environment is possible.

  1. Create Internet Use Policy – Clearly define company policy on all computer, internet, and email use. This should include the following information:
    1. Computer, internet, and email are all company property and the company reserves the right to monitor use and access
    2. Definition of misuse items that would result in corrective action (e.g., gambling, pornography, and other non- job related uses).
    3. A provision prohibiting communications that is contrary to the company’s harassment and discrimination
    4. A statement that the use of internet and email are for business purposes
  2. Train Employees – Train employees in the policy defining expectations, proper use, and abuse that will result in corrective actions. Ask employees to be vigilant in using their work time, internet, and computer resources wisely. Give employees a diagnostic checklist to help them see if they might have an internet problem.
  1. Internet Filter – There are good internet filters available that block or restrict access to undesired websites. Work closely with your IT personnel to develop restrictions to various categories and sites. In addition to restricting sites like pornography and gambling, some organizations even restrict YouTube and Facebook. Consider restricting any site that does not serve a business purpose. Balance restrictions by not being too mistrusting. Allow those who do not abuse the system to do some personal things on the internet during breaks and
  2. Monitor Internet Use – In addition to informing employees your organization monitors internet use, monitor access to restricted sites, especially for those who have shown a problem in this area. If you suspect an employee may have a problem with internet abuse, request that the company’s information technology specialist look at the history of the employee’s internet surfing because the computer’s hard disk will have information about everything the employee has ever accessed. One of the simplest checks is to look at an employee’s list of bookmarked
  3. Give Support – For lesser violations, give support to identified computer/internet abusers, helping them understand the problems associated with their misuse. In some instances, creating a performance improvement plan defining the problem, needed changes, and getting the employee’s signature can be an effective tool to bring about needed changes. Others may need assistance with counseling services or addiction recovery
  4. Supervisor Reinforcement –Supervisors must ensure adherence to all company policies and procedures, including the internet, computer, and email policy. Train leaders to remain aware of employees’ computer activities and other indicators that show there may be a problem. For example, decreased productivity, missing deadlines, spending excessive amounts of time on the internet, and shifting to another site when someone walks by, can each indicate there is a potential problem. Raise awareness, set expectations, monitor, give feedback and reinforce the need to use the internet appropriately.
  1. Corrective Action – Employees who violate your internet, computer, and email policy should be held accountable. The level of the violation drives the corrective action response. For lesser violations, you may give them support and coaching to help them improve. For more serious violations and repeat offenders, discharge may be the best recourse. Keep in mind other employees know when abuse is taking place. If they see someone getting away with wasting time and misusing the internet, it causes resentment, negativity, and may lead to them adopting poor internet habits as well. Be consistent and take needed actions to enforce your policy.

Internet abuse can be a hidden activity that requires clear policies, training, monitoring, blocking, leader reinforcement, and corrective action to keep the internet a productive tool–not a time waster.

About HR Service, Inc.

HR Service provides broker and client solutions for benefit ERISA compliance and HR, insuring organizations meet ERISA and Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for:  Summary Plan Description Wraps (SPD Wraps), Employee Notifications, 125 Premium Only Plans (125 POP), Summaries of Material Modification (SMM), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), ACA Reporting, and Employment Laws.  Our web-based SPD Wraps, Employee Notices, 125 POPs, and ACA Reporting tools make it easy to comply with ERISA.  Visit us online at or call (855) 447-3375 for SPD Wraps, 125 POPs, HR Support, ACA Reporting, HIPAA Solutions, HR Support, and more.

Measuring HR & People Practices

You’ve heard the saying “what gets measured gets done, and what gets reinforced gets repeated”.

The same is true for your human resource management & people practices. Organizations have a greater impact with their people and HR efforts by monitoring key HR/people measures and applying reinforcement steps to drive desired results. By identifying key measures, tracking results, and making needed adjustments, improvement can be tracked and identified.

HR Measures

Most measures of employee results, behaviors and attitudes are a reflection of your people/HR practices. Document key baseline measures before implementation and track after implementation for a reasonable period of time to assess the impact of your training, new initiatives, policies, changes, techniques and other HR efforts.

Consider the following measures when evaluating the effectiveness of your HR/people management practices: Employee performance, turnover, engagement/morale, leader effectiveness, attendance, tardiness, accidents, staff efficiency and organizational effectiveness. Certainly overall business results such as sales, profitability, cost control, quality and productivity are a reflection of your people management practices. Soft measures such as communications, conflict, stress level and work environment also show HR impacts to the organization.

Employee Performance

Measures of employee performance include, but are not limited to:

  • Sales: Growth in sales numbers measured per sales person or sales per employee.
  • Productivity: Output or results per employee work hour or other measures and utilization of labor and
  • Quality: Number of internal errors, external returns or
  • Speed or Quantity: The rate or quantity of output per employee work
  • Accuracy: Ability to perform a given function or service exactly as trained or
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Ability to achieve certain essential job indicators or functions that, when accomplished, satisfy the purpose of a given
  • Goal Attainment: Ability to set and attain specific goals that have meaning to the organization, team, customer or
  • Competency: Any number of knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs) and behaviors which lead to impactful results and accomplishments. For example, you know a good customer service person does her job through demonstrated service skills, product knowledge, and interpersonal communication
  • Performance Appraisals: There are multiple appraisal systems, all which reflect measures of

Turn Over

Employee turnover is the average number of employees who leave the organization divided by the average total number of employees. Tracking not only the turnover ratios, but also the reasons why someone leaves is a good indicator of your HR effectiveness. Conduct exit interviews to get the real reason someone has left the organization.

Generally employees leave for one of the following reasons:

  • Poor fit with the job, hence ineffective hiring practices
  • Dislike for managers or management practices, a measure of leader training & development
  • Pay or benefits
  • Work environment
  • Better opportunity, which usually means poor fit assessment, lacking competitive pay or ineffective training or career path planning

Employee Engagement & Morale

Measures of employee engagement and morale are usually obtained through an “employee opinion survey” that captures these among other important employee perceptions. Conducting surveys annually provides employers with good indications of these important factors. An employee’s engagement level impacts their performance, attitude, and overall impact to the organization. Engagement and morale can also be measured through one-on-one employee discussions, task force meetings and through such measures as performance and turnover.

Leader Effectiveness

Leaders truly are the real HR managers as they coach and oversee employees and their work results. Effective HR programs and practices will provide leaders with needed training, resources, tools and techniques to best do their job. Although challenging to measure, leader effectiveness can be obtained through leader surveys collecting feedback from their employees, manager, customers and others with whom they interact. A 360 degree assessment that focuses on core leader measures is one method to obtain good HR indicators. Other measures of leader effectiveness are looking at the results of their overall department and employee performance measures under their direction.

Attendance, Tardiness, Sick Leave & Accidents:

Monitoring these important employee measures identify symptoms that help you understand overall effectiveness of your policies, training, practices, performance management and leader skills. Not only are these key expected employee performance measures, they can also be very costly to your organization if not addressed with creative HR solutions.

Staffing Efficiency

Staffing efficiency is measured by ensuring the right staffing levels and having the right person in place when needed. Measures might include over- or understaffing, resulting in reductions or downtime. Some organizations track their recruiting efforts through recruitment or new hire cost and number of days to hire.

Organization Effectiveness

People are the heart and soul of an organization, and determine its overall effectiveness. Therefore, overall business results are another indicator of HR effectiveness. Most organizations measure their effectiveness looking at key business measures such as income statements, stock price, business growth, strategy achievement, objective attainment, budget achievement and so on.

Monitor and communicate these key measures often to see greater results from your people management practices.

About HR Service, Inc.

HR Service provides broker and client solutions for benefit ERISA compliance and HR, insuring organizations meet ERISA and Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for:  Summary Plan Description Wraps (SPD Wraps), Employee Notifications, 125 Premium Only Plans (125 POP), Summaries of Material Modification (SMM), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), ACA Reporting, and Employment Laws.  Our web-based SPD Wraps, Employee Notices, 125 POPs, and ACA Reporting tools make it easy to comply with ERISA.  Visit us online at or call (855) 447-3375 for SPD Wraps, 125 POPs, HR Support, ACA Reporting, HIPAA Solutions, HR Support, and more.






Work Distractions: The Productivity Thief

George, your Customer Service Representative, sits at his desk actively sending out personal E- mails, and text messaging, all on your dime. To make matters worse, he occasionally sends off- colored jokes and sexually explicit material. Jane, the Receptionist, plays cards and shops on the internet for up to three hours per day.

Recent surveys indicate that almost 30% of on- the-job computer usage is unrelated to work. Non- job related computer use such as internet surfing, personal E-mails, text messaging, and computer games are major distractions to employee productivity, costing you thousands of dollars.

To help address these distractions, some companies monitor their employees’ computer usage at work. Employees, on the other hand, expect some level of privacy sending emails and instant messages, especially when discussing private matters unrelated to work like medical information.

Computer Usage & Privacy Policy

Charles H. Wilson, attorney for Epstein Becker Green Wickliff & Hall, P.C., provides the following advice on monitoring and creating a computer usage policy:

How far an employer can go in monitoring, and disciplining, employees for inappropriate personal emails and instant messaging largely depends on whether the employer has a clearly defined and well-worded computer usage privacy policy.

Employers mistakenly believe that mere ownership and control of a computer or laptop entitles the employer to unchecked surveillance or monitoring of an employee’s emails and instant messages says Charles. This is not necessarily the case, especially if the employer does not have an appropriate computer usage policy or has one that eliminates any expectation of privacy.

Several recent court decisions have rejected an employer’s right to inspect an employee’s computer in the absence of clear policies and practices informing the employee that no expectation of privacy exists and that the employer retains the right to review emails and instant messages.

What to do: 

To avoid potential liability for monitoring or reviewing private employee emails, employers should create and implement policies that eliminate any expectation of privacy.

Employers should also train their employees on the policy. More importantly, employers must practice what they preach and must not utilize a strategy that gives rise to the expectation of privacy or allow too many work distractions.

At a minimum, a workplace computer usage policy and strategy should include the following:

An introductory statement that an employer’s email and instant messaging system belongs to the company at all times and is a company resource provided as a business tool. Make sure the employees understand the emails and instant messages they send belong to the company not the employee.

A statement that the use of company email and instant messaging for inappropriate personal use may result in discipline including termination. Although, realistically, there will be some personal use allowed, ensure that employees are aware that any and all personal use may result in discipline.

A statement that emails and instant messages sent or received may be monitored by the employer. In this regard, the employer must only review emails or instant messages already sent and saved to the network. It is illegal to intercept emails as they are being transmitted.

A statement informing the employees that their emails and instant messages are not considered private and that by using the employer-provided email and instant message service, they consent to being monitored by the employer.

A statement that all passwords belong to the company and that they must be provided to their supervisors. Avoid giving employees unchecked power to password-protect their computers, which can contribute to an expectation of privacy.

A warning prohibiting the employee from using a code, accessing a file or retrieving any stored information unless authorized. Be careful to explain, however, that such provision does not preclude the employer from accessing the employee’s own stored emails.

A provision prohibiting the communication of messages prohibited by the employer’s harassment and discrimination policies.

Mr. Wilson concludes his recommendations stating that “Implementing and practicing a carefully worded email and instant messaging policy will eliminate any expectation of email privacy and provide the express or implied consent the employer needs to monitor and review emails sent or received by the employee in the workplace”.

Eliminating Distractions

Establishing an effective policy is only half the battle in eliminating work distractions. The following steps will help you get employees focused on their work at hand:

  1. Set the expectation that personal use of computers, cell phones and other distractions during company time is unacceptable. Where possible, allow personal use of these devices during scheduled breaks and lunch periods. Establish the policy and discuss it in group meetings or one-on-one.
  1. The supervisor is the key in implementing and addressing misuse of the policy. Leaders should be in daily contact with employees, monitor performance and address issues as they arise. Anytime the leader is surprised by a misuse of policy or performance, he/she should address the issue with the employee. Look for patterns in dropped performance and investigate to get to the root case, which may or may not be
  2. Catch employees doing things right! Notice and reward those who continually set the type of examples desired and who perform at higher than expected performance levels. Notice achievements and positively recognize when
  3. Those who continue to abuse distraction policies or do not meet performance requirements should be addressed with your corrective action

Managed effectively, organizations can create a positive workforce and have fun at work, while at the same time eliminating costly work distractions of personal E-mails, text messaging, computer games, excessive talking and cell phones.

About HR Service, Inc.

HR Service provides broker and client solutions for benefit ERISA compliance and HR, insuring organizations meet ERISA and Department of Labor (DOL) requirements for:  Summary Plan Description Wraps (SPD Wraps), Employee Notifications, 125 Premium Only Plans (125 POP), Summaries of Material Modification (SMM), Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), ACA Reporting, and Employment Laws.  Our web-based SPD Wraps, Employee Notices, 125 POPs, and ACA Reporting tools make it easy to comply with ERISA.  Visit us online at or call (855) 447-3375 for SPD Wraps, 125 POPs, HR Support, ACA Reporting, HIPAA Solutions, HR Support, and more.