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Provisional Blog

6 Performance Review Mistakes to Avoid Making

December 12th, 2017

It’s the end of the year. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington. Provisional knows that means performance review time for many companies. If yours is one of them and you’re getting ready to conduct them, you might be dreading the process. But as long as you avoid a few key mistakes, you can ensure your reviews go off without a hitch. Here’s a look at some common ones:

Focusing too much on the negative.

During a review, you should bring up performance issues and mistakes. But don’t focus all your time and effort on them either. It’s important to offer employees a more well-rounded experience, including what they’ve done right over the past year.

Not talking at all about the negative.

On the other hand, don’t avoid talking about the negative just because it’s uncomfortable. Most managers don’t like offering criticism, so that’s certainly understandable. But if you don’t, your employees will never be able to correct course.

Creating a one-sided situation.

A performance review should be a conversation with both participants engaged. It shouldn’t be a one-sided discussion where you do all the talking. So make sure once you discuss an employee’s performance, you open it up to questions and ask for your employee’s point of view.

Not looking at the big picture.

Make sure during performance reviews you look at the full picture of the last year. It’s easy to get caught up in a recent deadline that was missed or current project that’s not going well. But the point of performance reviews is to give an overall evaluation of both the good and the bad of the past year. So don’t focus only on recent events.

Not offering specifics.

You’re not going to benefit your employees in any way if you don’t dig into details and get specific with them. Vague input and feedback simply doesn’t go very far, nor will it help your team in any way. For instance, rather than saying someone is a hard worker, give an example that demonstrates this trait and the impact it’s made.

Not following up.

In a perfect world, you’d be offering feedback and input on performance throughout the entire year. Sometimes, though, that’s not feasible. However, if you have an employee who’s performance you’re concerned about, it’s vital that you check in regularly and follow up. If you don’t, they could continue their downward spiral, further impacting your bottom line.

While performance reviews might not be your favorite task, make sure you avoid the above mistakes so both you and your people can get the most from them.

And if you’re looking to conduct even more reviews next year and add to your team in 2018, turn to the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing and hiring solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Top 6 Communication Mistakes Managers Make with Their Teams

November 28th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that just like in any relationship, the key to trust with your team is open communication. However, for many managers, it doesn’t come naturally. As a result, mistakes are made – ones that can impact your employees and your bottom line. What are they and how can you avoid them? Here’s a look at six:

#1: Using the wrong mode of communication.

When you have a controversial or complicated announcement, don’t send around an email. Meet with your team face-to-face. When you do, you’ll be able to immediately answer questions and provide more details– offsetting the rumor mill and any related anxiety that comes with it.

#2: You’re MIA and not regularly communicating.

Rather than connecting with employees regularly throughout the day, your door is closed and you’re MIA. But this sends the message that you’re not available to your employees, which can limit communication. Keep in mind, communication is a two-way street and if employees always see your door closed, then they’re going to be reluctant when it comes to communicating with you, even when issues that need your attention come up.

#3: Not being honest.

There are times when confidentiality is at stake. But lying to your team should be off-limits. If they find out, then it’s going to impact your team’s trust in you in the future, even if you thought you were looking out for their best interest. If there is really something you can’t say, then don’t lie. Simply let your team know you can’t comment right now.

#4: Thinking employees won’t understand.

Business can be complicated, especially when it comes to issued related to projections, financials and reorganizations. But don’t dismiss or underestimate your employees’ intelligence. Rather than assuming they won’t understand and not sharing important information with them, explain it in a way that they will understand. They deserve to know how issues and challenges are going to be impacting them today and in the future.

#5: Making promises you can’t keep.

You want to give your employees raises and promotions. But don’t make promises that you can’t keep – especially when you know the final decision in these areas doesn’t rest with you. Instead, explain to your people how valuable they are and that you will go to bat for them. At the same time, don’t make specific promises as to the outcome.

#6: Not offering enough praise and constructive criticism.

You might think your employees know you value and appreciate them. But unless you say it – often – they won’t. The same applies for offering feedback. Don’t wait until an employee gets so far off track that it’s tough to correct course. Regular and open communication with your team – with plenty of praise and criticism – will ensure you can consistently bring out their best.

Need more help with these and other HR-related issues?

Call the team at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we use a consultative approach to provide customized hiring and HR-related solutions to our clients. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

5 Tips for Promoting Work-Life Balance

November 21st, 2017

It’s a busy time of the year, between finishing up projects before the end of 2017 to getting ready for the holidays. As a result, it can be tough for your workers to remain balanced and productive. The good news is that it can be done with the right steps. Here’s a look at 5 of them:

Talk to your employees about balance.

If you don’t know where your employees are, you can’t work toward helping them to achieve a better balance in their lives. That’s why it’s important to ask them what they need. Whether it’s through one-on-one meetings or an online survey is up to you. But just make sure you ask questions about hours, flexibility and what your company could be doing better in terms of improving overall work life balance.

Know the signs of burnout.

As one of the Northwest’s leaders in specialized recruiting and staffing services, Provisional knows it’s important to understand the signs of burnout and how you can combat it. For instance, excessive absenteeism, more mistakes than usual, missing deadlines or being late to meetings are all red flags. Not only do these lead to issues with productivity, but they can also impact customer satisfaction. That’s why when you’re noticing problems like these, you need to take steps to combat them, from lightening the load of strapped employees to giving them some extra time off.

Offer flex time and telecommuting.

Another way to encourage a healthier work-life balance is to be more flexible when it comes to scheduling. Offer your employees the chance to work from home one or two days a week. Also, embrace flextime, letting your employees be more flexible in terms of the hours they work. Whether they want to come in earlier or stay later is up to them. But allow them to choose an option that works best for their busy schedule.

Educate employees on health initiatives.

When employees understand how to live a more balanced life – and have the resources to do it – they’re going to feel better and perform better, too. That’s why it’s important to offer access to educational initiatives, training classes and other health-related perks, such as discounted gym memberships or hosting in-house yoga classes.

Be a good example.

If employees see you coming in early and leaving late in the evening – and know you work nights and weekends – they’ll assume you expect the same from them. But no one can sustain this schedule for very long, especially on top of other personal commitments and obligations. So encourage employees to unplug at night rather than checking emails, as well as to take their allotted vacation days.

Need more help keeping the balance with your team at work?

Turn to Provisional. Since 1994, we’ve been the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, placing over 6,000 direct-hire professionals with companies in Seattle, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene. To learn more, contact us today. We’re ready to help you find the people you need.

4 Signs You Need a New Hiring Plan

November 7th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that hiring is critical for business success. Without the right people in the right positions, you can’t fulfill orders, meet deadlines, or innovate and grow. That’s why a hiring plan is so important. When you have a solid one in place, it acts as a guide as you bring more employees on board today and plan to hire in the future.

But what happens if your hiring efforts have been falling short lately? Then it’s a sign you need a new plan. Here are a few specific red flags that it’s time to review your hiring efforts:

You’re not getting quality applicants.

If most of the resumes you get for job postings end up in the recycling bin, there’s a problem. Most of the resumes you receive should be at least somewhat of a fit for the position. But if you’re wasting hours screening resumes – without much success – then reconsider your job postings. Take a look at them to ensure the language is clear and your hiring needs are thoroughly explained.

Your top pick candidates keep dropping out.

Getting down to the wire during the hiring process can be a relief for many hiring managers. But it can quickly turn into a nightmare if your top-pick candidates keep dropping out of the running. This is often a sign that you’re moving too slow during the hiring process and other companies are making offers sooner.

You’re seeing an increase in turnover.

Some turnover is a normal part of any business. But when you’re noticing an uptick in it, it could be a sign that the right people aren’t being hired for the best-fit positions. This is a big problem because turnover is expensive, with some numbers putting it at around six to nine months of an employee’s salary. If they make $50,000, that means it could cost anywhere from $25,000 to $37,500.

You’re making hiring mistakes.

The applicant you interviewed was enthusiastic and confident. The new employee you got is notoriously late, not meeting deadlines and has an attitude problem to boot. Part of the issue could lie in your interviewing and vetting process. Make sure you’re spending enough time with each candidate to carefully assess them. Also, don’t skip steps, like reference checking and skills testing just, to hire faster.

If you’re facing these issues – or other recruiting challenges – the team at Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we can get to the bottom of your biggest staffing and hiring problems all so you can hire high quality people who can add value to your organization. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

How Phone Screens Can Boost Your Hiring Efforts

October 17th, 2017

When it comes time to hire new candidates, the interview is one of the most critical aspects of the process. However, it’s also one of the most expensive and time-consuming. That’s why, if you don’t already conduct phone screens as part of hiring at your company, you should consider adding them now. Here are a few ways you can benefit:

Save money.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that interviews are costly – especially if you are recruiting candidates from out of state. But when you conduct phone screens first, you can actually interview more candidates in less time, all without having to pay for air fare and lodging. Phone screens also allow you to eliminate candidates that sounded like a fit on paper, but who fall short of your needs and expectations once you speak with them.

Save time.

With an in-person interview, you might spend a full hour or more with each candidate. But phone screens are just that – quick screens that enable you to get a better sense of whether you should call in the candidate for an interview. You can conduct several of them in the time it takes to prepare for and conduct just one traditional face-to-face interview. This allows you to cover more ground and find those candidates faster who are a good fit for your needs.

Move the process faster.

Interviews can be tricky to schedule with candidates, especially those already employed. They’ll need to find time in their schedule to fit the interview, and often have to take a morning or afternoon off from work. It can therefore take a while to get candidates properly scheduled for face-to-face interviews.

But phone screens can be conducted anytime, even during evenings and on weekends. As a result, you can move the hiring process along faster, while offering candidates the opportunity to assess whether the position is a good fit for them – without having to take time off from their existing jobs.

Provides more objectivity.

When you can’t see the candidate for yourself – what they look like, their clothing and facial expressions – it will give you the chance to simply assess their answers and how they’re delivered. This can provide for a more objective way to evaluate them.

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, only about 41% of organizations conduct phone screens for executive positions, while only 55% do so for hourly positions. Don’t be one of them. When you have structured and effective phone screens as part of your hiring process, you can benefit in a variety of valuable ways.

If you’d like more help with your hiring process – or you’re ready to outsource it to experts – please contact Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

Management 101: Mistakes to Avoid When You’re the Boss

October 3rd, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that when you’re new to managing a team, you have a lot of responsibility on your plate. You’re going from taking care of your work to managing and overseeing the work of others. It can be exciting, stressful, nerve wracking – and full of potential pitfalls.

And in fact, the first year in a manager’s role is often littered with mistakes; so, you’ll likely make your fair share. However, there are some common ones you can avoid with a little planning and know-how. Here’s a look at a few:

You don’t ask for help.

If you’re a new manager, you have a lot to learn on the job. And that’s ok. Don’t pretend you have all the answers or know how to do something when really, you don’t. It’s best to ask for input, advice and feedback – whether from your staff or your boss – to ensure you’re making the right moves and decisions.

You micromanage.

Another common problem among new managers involves micro-managing. There’s a lot that’s at stake and you’re still getting to know your team, so this can be understandable. However, keep in mind that when you micromanage, you’re sending the message that you don’t trust your team. This, in turn, can undermine your relationship and create a toxic culture. So give your people room to do their jobs.

You don’t have boundaries.

When your employee comes to you with a request, or your boss asks you to take on a new project, your first instinct is to say “yes.” After all, you don’t want to disappoint. But if you don’t have boundaries – and can’t turn down projects that are clearly a bad fit for you – you’re going to wind up stretched thin and burned out. Likewise, if you agree to everything your employees ask of you, you’ll end up making promises you can’t keep. So establish clear boundaries from the start.

You don’t get to know your team.

As a manager, your success now depends on your team. That’s why, if you want them to produce optimal results, you need to get to know each one individually and what motivates them. So rather than sweeping in and making changes overnight, take some time to learn the ins and outs of your staff and its unique dynamic. Schedule personal meetings to listen and learn from each one, as well as group-wide meetings to talk about big picture goals and get their thoughts and input. The better you know your team, the easier it will be to manage them.

If you find that you’re struggling in any of these areas, take a deep breath and relax. No new manager hits the ground running and delivers an error-free performance. So ask for help when you need it, set clear boundaries and get to know your people.

If you’re struggling with finding good people for your team, the experts at Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

How to Tap Your Team to Help You Recruit

September 19th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that when it comes time to hire, one of your best recruiting tools is your existing staff. In fact, there are a variety of ways they can help you hire your next great employee. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Talk hiring with your team.

It’s in your employees’ best interest for you to hire top-rated people. Not only will they have to work alongside them, but the quality of candidates you hire can impact your company bottom line. So it makes sense for your team to be involved in the process. Once you’re ready to hire, let them know about the job opening and ask them for insight into what key skills and qualities are important for a new hire to succeed.

Make job openings share-able.

Beyond keeping your employees in the loop about hiring, make sure that job postings are easy for them to share. Post them on your company website, as well as social media profiles, where employees can easily share them with their network. In addition, ask employees to include a link to your jobs listing page in their email signature so that it gets broadcast out whenever they send an email.

Create an employee referral plan.

Employee referrals are often one of the fastest and easiest ways to find new hires. So if you don’t have an employee referral program, now’s the time to start one. When employees know there’s a reward for them, they’re more likely to refer friends, family and past colleagues who would be a good fit for the job. If you already have a referral plan in place, remind your employees about it and the incentive that’s being offered.

Showcase culture on your company website.

When candidates are applying to jobs with your company, they want to know what working there is really like. Show them through blog posts authored by staff members, and photos and videos showcasing “a day in the life” of different employees. When your company can give candidates a sense of what it’s like to work at your company, you’ll not only attract more candidates, but better-fit ones, as well.

When it comes to hiring new employees, your existing ones are truly one of your greatest assets. Just follow the tips above for leveraging them.

Need more help recruiting for your team?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

The Best Behavior-Based Interview Questions

September 5th, 2017

When you’re hiring a new employee, you’re looking for more than certain skills. You need someone who can become a value contributor to your team and who will be a fit for the demands of the job and the company culture. One way to assess that is by asking behavioral interview questions.

What are behavioral interview questions?

These are the questions that ask the candidate to describe a past experience or behavior so you can get a better handle on their abilities, personality and track record. These can be helpful to ask because they force a candidate to dig deeper and offer specific examples of how they’re performed on the job and handled challenging situations. They can therefore play a big part in helping companies like yours to hire the best-fit candidate for job openings.

So, now that you know why it’s important to ask these kinds of questions, what are the best ones to use during an interview? It depends on your hiring needs. However, here are some good places to start:

  • Describe a time where you had to make a good impression on a new customer. How did you prepare?
  • Talk about a time you failed to meet expectations. What did you do?
  • Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond in your job.
  • Describe a time you were able to successfully persuade your boss or co-workers.
  • Tell me about a time you had to explain a complex concept to a non-technical co-worker. How did you do it?
  • Talk about a time when you were under extreme work pressure. How did you handle it?
  • Explain a time when you had conflicting priorities. How did you meet your goals?
  • Describe a time you set a workplace goal for yourself. Did you meet it? How?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who had a different personality from your own.
  • Give me an example of a time when you worked on a team and there was conflict involved. How did you handle the situation.
  • Explain a work situation that you wished you handled differently. What happened and how do you wish you’d handled it?
  • What workplace accomplishment are you most proud of?

These are just a few examples of the countless behavior-based interview questions you can ask. And really, the ones you settle on will depend on your unique job opening and company. Just make sure you do ask these kinds of questions – as well as follow-up ones – so you can dig deeper and get to know each candidate.

Need more help sourcing and interviewing candidates?

Call the experts at Provisional. Since 1994, we’ve been the Northwest’s leader in specialized recruiting and staffing services, placing over 6,000 direct-hire and temporary professionals with companies in Seattle, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene. Contact us today. We’re ready to help you find the people you need, whether on a part-time, temporary or full-time basis.

How to Get Your People to Speak Up & Add More Value at Work

August 15th, 2017

When it comes to managing a team, how open is communication between you and your staff? Most managers think their team members will speak up if they have something to say or a different opinion. But, as one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that’s often not the case.

For instance, many times, employees don’t want to speak up due to fears of retaliation or damaging their relationship with their boss in some way. Still other employees might simply think their voice doesn’t matter much and speaking up won’t change anything.

But, by creating a culture of openness and communication, your team and company can benefit in many ways.

For one thing, employees are more likely to come to you if there’s a problem or issue on the horizon, which means you can deal with it before it escalates. For another, they’re on the front lines each day – managing customer relationships and getting orders out the door – and can therefore offer you some valuable insight into what works and doesn’t work. Finally, with innovation being key to the success of any company, having an environment where people often speak up means there will a better flow of opinions and ideas.

So how can you get your people to be more candid with you?

With these tips:

  • Ask for ideas and thoughts before offering your own. In meetings and one-on-ones, ask your people to give their opinions, ideas and thoughts on a topic before you offer your own. Oftentimes, when you’re the first to speak up, employees will just fall in line with what you say. But by speaking last, you have a better chance at getting more honest opinions.
  • Be open to dissenting viewpoints. You’re not going to keep the dialogue and ideas flowing if you shut down employees with dissenting views. Your people will get the message. Instead, thank employees who offer opinions that differ from your own, even if you don’t agree with them.
  • Encourage people to share their opinions. Sometimes, it takes more than asking for an opinion to get one. You’ll have to draw staff members out in order to find out what’s really on their mind. You can do that by asking questions that are more specific. For instance, rather than just saying “what do you think?,” ask “what were your thoughts on how that last projected ended and the customer’s reaction to it?”
  • Don’t act like you have all the answers. When you are generally curious, ask questions and really listen to every employee, you’ll go a long way in creating a more open culture at your company. If you, however, you act like you know everything and have all the right answers, your people will simply shut down and avoid being honest with you.

Need more help with other management communication issues?

Read this post on 5 Ways to Improve Leadership Communication. Or, if you’d like staffing help, simply contact us. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we know where to look to source the best candidates for a wide variety of positions and fields. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

How to Deal When You Have to Fire Someone

August 1st, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows that firing an employee is not an enviable task. Even if they have poor performance and don’t make any effort to change, it can still be awkward and uncomfortable. You may even have feelings of guilt afterward. However, if someone isn’t contributing – and is actually harming team morale and productivity – it’s time to cut the cord. Here’s how to do it:

Document the situation.

Before you make a move, make sure you document everything. This includes the performance improvement plan, warnings that were given and when, and any emails between you and the employee. Even if you had past meetings face-to-face, it’s important to document when they happened and what was communicated.

Create a plan.

Once the decision has been made to terminate an employee, it’s important to have a plan in place beforehand. For instance, you need to make a list of all the company property they have access to and make sure their passwords are de-activated and security badge turned in. Likewise, you want to ensure you have an employee or multiple employees in place to handle the increased workload until a replacement is found.

Act quickly.

Firing someone is uncomfortable. But don’t put it off because you don’t want to deal with it, or in the hopes that their performance will turn around. The longer you wait, the more time the person will have to continue dragging the whole team down.

Get to the point.

When it comes time to terminate an employee, don’t sit around, making small talk. Instead, get right to the point and be straightforward. Let them know you’ve got some bad news for them and then tell them they’re being let go. Be clear about the reason and avoid making any justifications about the situation.

Go over the essentials.

Once the news has been delivered, your employee is likely in shock. But it’s still important that you go over the essentials – including final pay and termination of benefits, unemployment, unused vacation time and how co-workers will be told about the situation.

Be respectful and gracious.

While you should aim to keep the emotion out of the equation, it’s important to be gracious and respectful during the process. Even if the termination stems from poor performance they weren’t willing to correct, it’s still a devastating experience for the employee. Be sensitive and keep that in mind during the conversation.

If you need more advice on staffing and recruiting for your team, contact the experts at Provisional.

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we can help you quickly source, screen, and hire temporary talent for a variety of positions. Just give us a call today to learn more.

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