People Management Systems

It is often said that people are our most important asset in any organisation. I fully agree with this statement and I would go further to say that people can also be our biggest liability if not managed correctly. This combined with numerous legislations and other legal requirements can make business owners, supervisors, managers and executives nervous about the management of people.

In the Management of staff there are a number of policies, procedures, systems and processes that ensure a smoother operation of the organisation. In the unfortunate event that something goes wrong or someone creates issues having these systems in place will reduce the impact. In addition these systems will also ensure that staff are preforming as required or better are also supported and rewarded. Some of these people management systems include the following:
• Recruitment process
• Employment / career pathways
• Regular formal and informal support
• Availability of training and professional development
• A formal performance appraisal system
• Policies and procedures around the management of under-performing staff

Recruitment Process

The recruitment process should be focused on ensuring that your organisation is hiring the right people for the organisation. Recruitment is not simply about filling vacancies with warm bodies .It should be about looking at the organisational structure and ensuring that the positions are in accordance with the needs of the organisation and, the organisation’s strategic objectives.

Here are some guidelines to what should be included in the recruitment process:
• Review of the organisational requirements, legal requirements (i.e. a registered nurse for a nursing position) and strategic objectives in order to ensure what position is required and what the role / objectives of the position are to be.
• List the objectives of the position and also the values / culture of the organisation in a document (commonly known as a “Position Description” or a “Duty Statement”) in order to communicate these requirements to potential applicants.
• When reviewing applicants for the position match their skills, experience and outlook with those of the requirements of the position (Both organisation objectives and values). The reviewing process can be conducted a number of ways including individual interviews, group interviews, group exercises and reference checks. Ensure that documentation from the candidates and the notes of the interviewers are taken and kept in case of a challenge to the decision by a non-successful candidate.
• Once the decision is made the process does not stop there. Notification to both the success and non-successful candidates is required. There needs to be an induction to the role and organisation for successful candidates and where relevant a handover/ takeover with the previous incumbent.
• Once this is completed the successful candidate will require ongoing support in accordance with the organisation’s policies and procedures.

Note: If through the process the right person is not found it may be better to have a vacancy, fill the position casually or with contract staff until the right person is found.

Employment / Career Pathways

For an organisation to be successful into the future that organisation requires the right people both now and in the future. Future needs for staffing can come from both outside the organisation and within. A forward thinking organisation will provide opportunity for staff to grow within the organisation where available. This will not just meet the needs of the organisation over time, but also ensure that staff knows that they are valued and improve staff retention.

An employment / career pathway is a document that maps out the requirements (both essential and desirable) for each role in the organisation. It will also map out any specialties that staff can work towards, as well as management opportunities. The document becomes a guide that both staff and their supervisors can use to plan for the future of both the individual employee and the organisation.

Regular Formal and Informal Support

Each person within an organisation requires feedback on their performance in the workplace, both positive and in areas which can be further developed. In an ideal situation this will be provided by their direct supervisor and will be conducted on a regular basis. The regularity of the support will be dependent on the work environment and the role. This could be anywhere from weekly to monthly.

Formal supports for a staff member would include:
• Formal one on one meetings with their supervisor
• A formal appraisal of the role and performance of the individual staff member with their supervisor

Informal supports for a staff member would include:
• Staff meetings and workshops
• Site visits
• Informal conversations between staff and their supervisor

Availability of Training and Professional Development

If you truly believe that people are the greatest asset (and you should) of your organisation then the development of your people should be a priority. When reviewing a staff members training plan, the considerations should be:
• Around the staff members interests and skills;
• The organisation’s requirements, both currently and into the future; and
• The staff member’s capability to complete the training and then apply it into the workplace.

Often people are concerned that if they develop their staff then they will be more marketable and may leave the organisation. Though this is the case having policies that will ensure peoples interest in your organisation will decrease staff turnover. Career pathways being available in your organisation, training options, types of support offered and what remuneration packages are available in your organisation are areas organisations must develop and be transparent in delivery to employees.

There are two types of training and personal development that a staff member can participate in. The first is the formal or accredited training. This may include university degrees and certificate type training through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that is nationally recognised. The second type of type of training and personal development may include short courses and other non-nationally recognised courses.

A Formal Performance Appraisal System

On commencement with an organisation and on a regular basis (generally annually), a good people management system will include a Performance Appraisal System. This system should include the following:
• Measuring the staff member’s performance against the position description and goals set at the previous appraisal. Celebrate the successes and honestly review the other areas.
• The development of strategies and goals to assist staff in their areas of development.
• The development of strategies and goals to take advantage of opportunities in staff member’s areas of strengths.
• Review training and personal development opportunities that the organisation will support the staff member in for the next appraisal period.

The performance appraisal system will include a number of steps, these include:
• Review of the staff member’s performance over the previous appraisal period (usually yearly) against the position description, strategies and goals set during the previous period.
• Development of the Staff Member’s strategies and goals for the next appraisal period.
• Formal feedback from the Supervisor to the staff member on the progress towards the strategies and goals. This will general occur monthly.
• At the end of the period you return to the start of the process, reviewing the staff member’s performance.

Management of Under-Performing Staff

No matter how good your recruitment process is, your support to your staff and your staff appraisal process there are times in which the wrong people are employed or people under perform for a number of reasons. These processes will reduce the likelihood of issues and they will also identify developing issues early on, so they can be addressed.

There are two types of situations that can arise when dealing with a non or under-performing staff member. The first is the wrong person for the role and the second is the right person that is having some issues either at work or in their personal lives that are affecting their work.

Let’s start with the second situation. The right person; however there are issues affecting their work performance. Most organisations will assist, within reason, these people to get back on their feet and to full operation again. Strategies to assist the employee may involve:
• External counselling support for the staff member;
• A temporary transfer to a less demanding role;
• Review of training requirements for the staff member; and
• Allowing the staff member to take some leave in order to recoup.

In terms of the first situation, where for whatever reason the wrong person is in the role, there are a number of actions that can be taken. These actions include:
• Reviewing of the staff members capabilities to see if they match another role in the organisation;
• Assessing whether there is any training or personal development opportunities that may bridge the gaps for the staff member; and
• Using a formal process (as outlined in the organisation Policy and Procedures) to manage the staff member with counselling, warnings and finally termination if the performance of the staff member does not improve.

There are times that staff members are involved in some form of misconduct. Misconduct by a staff member should follow a transparent investigation process. An organisation should have an investigation policy and procedure that outlines this process. Depending of the seriousness of the misconduct the staff member can be suspended from duty for the period of the investigation. The result of an investigation may be anything from unsustained through to termination with or without criminal charges. Where an organisation has a Code of Conduct the process of determining misconduct is made easier.

Created by: Attila Ovari
© Attila & Kim Ovari 2012. The content of this Article may be reproduced with permission of the author. Correct as at 29 April 12.

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