Author Topic: Invest in your staff is the golden rule.  (Read 3026 times)

Offline kuyeekee

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Invest in your staff is the golden rule.
« on: March 20, 2007, 03:54:30 PM »
Invest in your staff is the golden rule
16 March 2007

By Zoë Blackler

People are your most important asset, but how do you get the best out of them and ensure they feel wanted.

It sounds the perfect way to create divisions among your staff. Ask them to report back on each other’s performance and see the sparks fly. But despite the potential pitfalls, this method of staff appraisal — 360 degree feedback — is winning over the doubters.

Developed in the corporate world, it is finding its way into the architectural profession and proving highly effective. It is one of a range of appraisal methods — an essential tool to monitor and encourage your staff development.

Wright & Wright partners Clare and Sandy Wright set out to adapt the 360 method for their 15-strong practice. This combines peer review and top down assessment.

To prepare for the appraisal, staff members write a review of their own performance, identifying five of their strengths and three weaknesses. They also choose two colleagues to do the same, one of whom may be their line manager. These are discussed at the review along with the two partners’ written assessment. Together they set five goals to be achieved during the next six months and agree on training or other needs.

Fears of differing views and employees overstating their achievements are dismissed by Clare Wright. “Actually, we usually find it’s pretty consistent and that everyone tends to say the same things,” she says. “If anything, the person being appraised can be harder on themselves than anyone else. Everybody always manages to identify three weaknesses but it might be something like that the person should be more confident.”

“That five strengths, three weaknesses combination always hits the main things,” she says. And contributions from peers as well as managers guarantees that the meetings cover both technical ability and personal attributes.

Putting everything down on paper could also be seen as detrimental to frank discussion. But again, Wright is adamant the process is always positive: “They do raise things, but because it’s all committed to paper in advance people also tend to be very careful. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Wright stresses that these routine appraisals are not meant to uncover or solve serious problems — anything going badly wrong would be tackled immediately.

The firm has developed an additional assessment system for architectural staff. A graph charts an architect’s competence at different tasks, cross referenced by their experience. So for meetings for example, students would be assessed on their note-taking while a project architect’s chairing skills would be considered.

The completed chart rarely shows a straight line. People tend to gain experience in some areas more than in others. The next step is to build up the weaker areas.

Wright & Wright’s system serves it well, says Wright, and whatever your method, the emphasis should be telling your staff you appreciate them.


A conventional approach
Asseal Architecture, which has just been named one of the best firms to work for by the Sunday Times because of its emphasis on work-life balance, takes a more conventional approach.

Reviews for its 71 staff take place twice a year. Annual reviews in May or June are attended by practice boss John Assael and are linked to pay reviews. A second appraisal takes place in November with another director.

The meeting is based on a series of questions covering everything from goals and achievements to computer training and personal development needs.

Employees are given the forms two days in advance to think about and complete the first section on their achievements, explains practice manager Lesley Chaplin: “It’s important to give people a couple of days to have a good think.”

An assessment of work-life balance is an important part of appraisal, since Assael discourages its staff from working over-long hours. And once the appraisal is complete, the personnel department ensures that anything agreed or promised is delivered.

Chaplin says associates must be fully trained in how to conduct appraisals effectively. Listening and acting on the issues is her first principle.“Among our staff 80% say they’re happy with their work life balance. They know we aren’t just form-filling and we will act.”

Edinburgh-based Malcolm Fraser takes a different approach again. Fraser, who has just converted the practice to an employee benefit trust, believes appraisals should be a two-way process. But as well as the common practice of staff and mangers being able to critique each other, he and his fellow directors have taken it further.

The practice has just completed its yearly appraisals. They used to be quite relaxed but as the practice has grown they have needed to become more formal.

Unlike Assael, he insists appraisals should be kept apart from salaries. The practice pays according to RIAS scales and what it can afford. Fraser would turn down any performance-related fee scale on the principle that the work should always be the best it can regardless of fee, and believes in the same principle for salaries.

“It has to be two way,” he says. “And there needs to be a culture of non-blame. If people feel cowed by the structure, they won’t criticise it.”

The new appraisals ask staff to comment on the direction of the office and the office culture. “It’s important that people are connecting with the work the office is pursuing and that they feel comfortable with it,” he says.

“We want to connect with people about whether we’re doing the right sort of jobs. That there’s nothing we do that they’re ashamed about.” Thankfully, he says, everyone was happy with the general direction of the practice.

Fraser’s model is based on the belief that architects work for love not money, and that job satisfaction includes the feeling you have a stake in the type of work pursued by your practice. Appraisals are a chance to reinforce that.

It is not an approach shared by all, but whatever appraisal system you choose, the process is crucial. With the boom in work and too few good architects to go round, showing your staff you appreciate them and want them to develop is vital to a healthy practice.



Top ten tips for a successful appraisal

-
1Schedule them in regularly. Every six months is ideal.
2 Give appraisees plenty of notice and make sure they know what to expect.
3 Don’t use appraisals to broach serious problems — these should be tackled in day to day management.
4 Be prepared and show a genuine interest in the process.
5 Be positive. Highlight what they are doing right as well as what they are doing wrong. Make sure your criticism is constructive.
6 Use specific examples — do not discuss problems in the general.
7 Ask questions and listen to the answers.
8 Invite feedback and be prepared to take constructive criticism.
9 Consider incorporating an element of 360 peer review.
10 End on a conclusion. Set goals for the future and deliver on your promises.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 03:57:58 PM by kuyeekee »
grades are judgement of others on you but not what you have on yourself.

Offline kuyeekee

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Re: Invest in your staff is the golden rule.
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2007, 03:55:54 PM »
eh.. lyceum...

forget your old LOW CLASS employer... find someone better that appreciate your 10 years loyality and dedication. No matter what, no matter how u argued, it's darn freaking 10 years. At least be a gentleman, go out for a drink and shake each other's hand. After all, this is a small world...
« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 03:59:46 PM by kuyeekee »
grades are judgement of others on you but not what you have on yourself.

Offline unfold

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Re: Invest in your staff is the golden rule.
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2007, 01:23:00 AM »
If only life is that easy...

Offline kuyeekee

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Re: Invest in your staff is the golden rule.
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2007, 02:00:47 AM »
Life is never easy... I went through a couple of bad experiences myself, but it is for both parties to make this final note to be civilised. That can be done with dignity and a little touch of `class'.
grades are judgement of others on you but not what you have on yourself.

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Offline agrohimzqi

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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2017, 04:35:40 PM »
Добрый день друзья!
 

 
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Offline agrohimzqi

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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2017, 04:41:53 PM »
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4)минеральные удобрения в Беларуси - Мы заботимся о том, чтобы предоставляемый нами сервис был высокого уровня. В этом нам помогает наличие главного офиса, складов для готовой продукции, сети дилеров. Кроме того, мы дорожим своей репутацией и несем ответственность за качество нашего товара.
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Offline ElenaMassagecar

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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2018, 07:48:08 AM »