Monthly Archives: February 2016

Give Better Employee Performance Tips

images-15Conducting regular performance reviews is an important and constructive way to evaluate the contributions an employee is making to the company. But the traditional practice of sitting down once or twice a year to discuss what an employee has done well and needs to improve on simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

In a recent study, employee engagement company TINYpulse polled over 1,000 professionals to find out what they thought about their reviews. The results showed that employees are generally dissatisfied with traditional performance reviews: 37 percent said they think the process is outdated, and 42 percent said they think managers leave important elements out of their review due to bias. Nearly a quarter of respondents even said they “feared” their performance review, especially those in the millennial generation.

“Traditional annual performance reviews are inadequate,” said Matt Hulett, chief product officer of TINYpulse. “They’re biased towards recent work, goals aren’t communicated clearly, there’s misalignment in objectives between organizations and employees, and quite simply, the whole process just takes too long. With more and more … workers wanting change, the time for a performance review system upgrade is now.”

In a recent article for The Washington Post, Cliff Stevenson, a senior recent analyst for the Institute for Corporate Productivity, said that, to date, nearly 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have done away with annual employee performance reviews. Many large companies — such as The Gap, Adobe, Costco, GE and Microsoft, to name a few — have scrapped their traditional review programs in favor of systems that incorporate newer technology and immediate feedback to employees after assignments while still maintaining documentation of performance.

Here are some suggestions to follow their lead in revamping your company’s employee review process.

1. Embrace technology. There is an increasing trend in the development and use of employee engagement apps, such as TINYpulse, Impraise and Workday. These apps give employees and managers a chance to communicate regarding assignments daily, tracking progress, providing feedback and incorporating other business aspects so that each member of the team is on track and on the same page.

2. Institute performance-related pay increases. Sixty-four percent of the people polled by TINYpulse wanted pay increases tied to their performance reviews. Consider quarterly bonuses or increases to positively reinforce good work as well as the employee’s confidence that you value him or her as both an individual and a contributor.

3. Make reviews more frequent. With immediate feedback provided on social media sites like Facebook, people are increasingly used to hearing the good and bad on our thoughts and actions in real time. TINYpulse found that employees are in favor of more frequent reviews, so consider conducting evaluations at key milestones, such as at the end of a major project, or quarterly. These meetings do not have to be long, but they should highlight the highs and lows of the project or time frame. Such reviews give managers a chance to stay engaged with their direct reports, and also provide an opportunity for continuous improvement by receiving feedback from the employee on what could be improved for the next cycle.

“If you put this new generation in the box of the performance management we’ve used the last 30 years, you lose them,” Accenture CEO Pierre Nanterme told The Washington Post. “People want to know on an ongoing basis, ‘Am I doing right? Am I moving in the right direction? Do you think I’m progressing?’ Nobody’s going to wait for an annual cycle to get that feedback.”

Insights Engine Tips

You need data to accomplish this. Yet having troves of data is of little value in and of itself. What increasingly separates the winners from the losers is the ability to transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy. This alchemy requires innovative organizational capabilities that, collectively, we call the “insights engine.”

The vital role of the insights engine was revealed in a global market-research study led last year by the strategy consultancy Kantar Vermeer. The study, called Insights2020 (i2020), involved interviews and surveys of more than 10,000 business practitioners worldwide. Of the factors that were found to drive customer-centric growth, none mattered more than a firm’s insights engine, embodied in its insights and analytics function. (While these go by many names—including “I&A,” “consumer and market insights,” and “customer intelligence”—for simplicity we refer to them as insights functions here.)

About the Insights2020 Research

In this article we describe the elements of the insights engine and show how it works at consumer goods giant Unilever. The firm’s 400-plus brands, which include Dove, Knorr, and Axe, generated $60 billion in revenue in 2015, propelling underlying sales growth of 4.1% for the year. Performance at that level requires the full engagement of the company’s 169,000 employees, who span functions from supply chain and R&D to marketing and finance. But as we’ll show, it’s the insights engine, manifested in the firm’s Consumer and Market Insights (CMI) group, that underpins Unilever’s customer-centric strategy.

A New Strategy

When Unilever released its first-quarter results in April 2016, CFO Graeme Pitkethly, addressing analysts, announced a major new initiative to shift resources to local markets around the world. He noted that consumers are increasingly seeking brands and products that align with their cultural identity and lifestyle. The result is that local firms, particularly in emerging markets, are growing fast and strengthening their competitive positions. The new program, he explained, would clarify accountability and make Unilever’s marketing teams more agile both globally and locally.

Country business heads had recognized the rising popularity of local brands, and the implications were being discussed separately at many levels across the firm. A presentation to the operating board by CMI’s head, coauthor Stan Sthanunathan, drew on this intelligence and on CMI’s own review of what was happening. Sthanunathan walked the board members through an analysis of why local brands were growing, what threat this posed, and how Unilever could compete. The presentation focused attention, catalyzed the conversation about strategy, and ultimately led to changes in both organization and mindset.

Unilever’s new initiative showcases the type of high-level advisory role that leading insights functions are increasingly taking. A decade ago, this sort of strategic involvement by a customer intelligence operation was almost unheard of. The market research department typically was a reactive service unit reporting to the marketing function, fielding marketing requests, and producing performance management reports. Over time, however, market research departments have been shifting from merely supplying data to interpreting it—distilling insights about consumers’ motivations and needs on the basis of their behavior.

Driven by the imperative to become customer-centric, leading firms are now completing the transformation of market research groups into true insights engines with a fundamentally strategic role. At Unilever, CMI’s prominently communicated mission is “to inspire and provoke to enable transformational action.” Note that the word “insight” is missing—intentionally. That’s because insights merely provide a means to the desired end: action that drives business growth.

In the text that follows, we describe 10 characteristics of superior insights engines, gleaned from the i2020 research and our experience at Unilever. We divide these into two broad groups: operational characteristics, such as functional independence and experimental orientation, and people characteristics, such as business acumen and well-balanced analytic and creative thinking styles.

Operational Characteristics

Seven of the key characteristics relate to the way insights engines operate.

Data synthesis

Until recently, large firms had an advantage over smaller rivals simply because of the scale of their market research capability. Today research that once took months and cost millions can be done for a fraction of that price and in mere days. What matters now is not so much the quantity of data a firm can amass but its ability to connect the dots and extract value from the information. This capability differentiates successful organizations from less successful ones: According to the i2020 research, 67% of the executives at overperforming firms (those that outpaced competitors in revenue growth) said that their company was skilled at linking disparate data sources, whereas only 34% of the executives at underperformers made the same claim.

Top and Killer Business Tips

unduhan-11Whether you’ve lost a loved one, buried a family pet or had a near-death experience, death is simply a fact of life. And, as it turns out, the business of death can be quite lucrative.

From afterlife preparations to unique burial methods and memorials, it turns out that there are more businesses related to death than you might expect. Here are 10 businesses that are cashing in on the dearly departed.

Immortal ink

Just because you’re no longer alive doesn’t mean your tattoos can’t live on. The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA) hosts a website called Save My Ink, which is dedicaed to preserving tattoos of the deceased and leaving them in the care of their next of kin.

The tattoo preservation community isn’t just for the recently deceased; the living are so interested in the process that NAPSA is retooling to offer their services directly through funeral homes. The move comes just in time, as Americans are getting record number of tattoos. Will the future homes of millennials be commonly decorated with the ink once worn by their loved ones?

Murder scene maids

You’ve heard the expression, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” but what’s the consensus on spilled blood? If the idea of mopping up gore makes your eyes water (or worse), don’t worry: There’s a business you can call to tidy up even the bloodiest of messes.

Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Florida, does something your average maid won’t: It cleans up after the Grim Reaper. Whether it’s a crime scene, the aftermath of a suicide or the remains of an exploded meth lab, Baxter will disinfect, decontaminate and leave things looking less macabre.

Industry insiders refer to such sluicing down of blood and brains as “biohazard” cleanup. And while this unusual service makes some people squirm, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call to perform this most unpleasant of chores.

An afterlife app

Leaving behind a hefty inheritance for family members to squabble over is a nice gesture. But what if you want to bequeath something more meaningful than money? There’s an app for that.

Your Last Will is an iPhone app developed by former video game publisher and entrepreneur Wolfgang Gabler. The app lets users prepare for the afterlife by recording a short video with a final message for those they’ll one day leave behind. Whatever your final words are, the app lets you record them in a 5-minute video, which is then uploaded to the company’s servers.

Your Last Will then generates a QR code for you to share with a trusted confidant who can sign in to your account after your demise and distribute your video to friends, family, archenemies, old flings and whomever else you choose to haunt. You can even make your will public and inspire (or sadden) the entire Internet.

Talking tombstones

A company that lets you send messages from beyond the grave is one thing, but a business that facilitates the sending of messages directly from your grave is quite another.

Invented and patented by Robert Barrows, president of an advertising and public relations firm in California, the “video-enhanced grave marker” is a tombstone for the modern age. Embedded with a remote-controlled video screen, this high-tech memorial caters to those unwilling to go quietly into the hereafter.

As Barrows explains on his website, the invention allows people to record messages for family, friends and even complete strangers before dying. Once the person is 6 feet under, these messages are broadcast right in the cemetery. Mourners can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Barrows envisions a future in which graveyard visitors will pay a fee (headset included) to wander from grave to grave, listening to the dark secrets and final advice of lost love ones, as well as dead strangers.

Compostable coffins

Sure, you eat organic apples and have sworn off plastic shopping bags, but will your green lifestyle die when you do? That’s the question this next business wants you to consider before it’s too late.

The Natural Burial Company is an online retail and consulting business that sells biodegradable coffins, caskets, urns and other funeral goodies for eco-conscious mortals. The business aims to facilitate the natural burial process for those who take the whole “dust to dust” thing literally.

To that end, the company sells goods like the “Everybody” Coffin Kit, a biodegradable cork coffin that you can put together in your living room. Talk about a fun do-it-yourself project! The company’s online retail store also features a line of products for pets, including a biodegradable urn in the shape of a yarn ball for the eco-minded (but aging) feline in your life.

Carbon-free cremation services

If you want to be cremated but aren’t sold on the idea of being hoisted onto a conveyor belt and pushed into a giant oven, then this next business is for you. Anderson McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg, Florida, specializes in a new kind of cremation that utilizes water, not fire, to dispose of human bodies.

The process is known as alkali hydrolysis, or “flameless cremation.” And while it sounds less scary than its fiery cousin, the end result is much the same. In this process, the body is soaked in a tub of water and alkali for a few hours. According to the company, the process results in 75 percent fewer carbon emissions than traditional cremation, and is marketed to those looking for a greener way to go.

The process is still in the early adoption phase and is only legal in a few states. However, legislation is pending in many states that could bring this bizarre alternative into the mainstream.

Aquatic afterlife

Lots of people want their ashes scattered across the surface of the sea, but those looking for a unique postmortem experience may want to consider permanently joining the seafloor instead.

Decatur, Georgia-based Eternal Reefs specializes in the construction of “memorial reefs.” The company mixes human remains into concrete, artificial reefs. The reefs are then lowered to the seafloor, where they play host to local sea life and help maintain marine diversity.

The company’s “reef balls” are designed to withstand even the strongest of ocean currents, so mourners don’t have to worry that a loved one’s remains will drift into unchartered waters. Each reef also features a bronze plaque bearing the name of the deceased person it’s made from, making this memorial much like an underwater tombstone.

Spacey send-off

If the deep blue sea isn’t your thing, you might want to consider sending your remains into deep space instead. Celestis, a company offering “memorial spaceflight services,” launches human remains into the dark corners of the universe.

Celestis’ Voyager Service, scheduled to launch for the first time in 2015, isn’t exactly the cheapest way to memorialize a loved one, but it might be the strangest. For $12,500, the company will strap 1 gram of the departed’s remains onto a spacecraft and launch it into outer space. Or, if you’d like to know just where your loved one is headed, you can opt for the company’s Luna Service, which rockets human remains directly to the surface of the moon.

For those with smaller budgets, Celestis’ Earth Rise Service (starting at $1,295) launches human remains into outer space for just a few minutes. After floating in zero gravity, your loved one will drift back down to Earth, where you’ll be reunited with their space-traveling remains.