The 10 Crucial Skills for Supervisors to Have

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The 10 Crucial Skills for Supervisors to Have

Supervising and managing a group of employees who all have different personalities, skill sets and who may or may not interact well with each other is no easy task. New supervisors are no longer solely responsible for their own results and performance. Instead, they must now facilitate results and success through their employees. One of a supervisor’s main roles is to establish goals and lead a team of people to achieve them.

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Implementing HR Technology: Is Everyone Really Doing It?

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Implementing HR Technology: Is Everyone Really Doing It?

As is the case in every aspect of our lives, technology plays a major, ever evolving role in the world of HR.

Whether it’s figuring out how to leverage “big data” to improve your workforce planning or simply master the latest mobile application for job postings, keeping up with the latest and greatest HR technologies is an ongoing challenge. Even if you are a computer whiz, not only does every new high-tech system and process have a learning curve, but depending on you’re the demographics and culture of your organization, the next big thing, may not always be the right thing.

To illustrate this point, we take a look at how Northeast Ohio organizations are integrating, planning to integrate, or not integrating some of the better established HR technologies into their workplace practices from recruitment to retention.
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5 Questions to Evaluate Your Performance Review Process

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5 Questions to Evaluate Your Performance Review Process

Performance management is often a challenging area for employers, and many organizations never think they are doing it as effectively as they could be. The truth is that most aren't. Performance management is a lagging area at many organizations, but nonetheless, it's a vital process that should be continuously improved upon in the workplace.

With end-of-year reviews approaching, here are five questions to consider when evaluating whether your performance management process needs a tune-up.
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Integrating Incentive Pay into Your Performance Management Process

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When structuring an effective Performance Management process at any organization, including some type of incentive to help drive performance is a key step. Particularly in recent years, large financial incentives are not always feasible, nor are they always found to be the most impactful driver for incentivizing employees. Nonetheless, a consistently strong majority of organizations both across the region and nationally, tie pay to performance either directly or indirectly.

For a closer look at how organizations in Northeast Ohio are implementing these financially based incentives, we turn to the 2013 ERC Pay Adjustment & Incentive Practices Survey.

Types of Incentives

Annual bonus plans remain the most common type of incentive pay, with individual incentives and profit-sharing filling the second spot, depending upon the employee group being compensated. Other less common incentives reported include, longevity service awards, retirement-based profit sharing, and executive performance bonus plans for select executive level positions.
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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

ERC's NorthCoast 99 program recognizes great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers. ERC is proud to have recognized great workplaces in Northeast Ohio, and has accumulated a great deal of insight into what makes a workplace truly great through the research we conduct as part of the program.

What makes a great workplace that draws extraordinary employees to love coming to work every day? What makes a great workplace that attracts, retains, and motivates the very best talent?

Here are 15 attributes that we believe are characteristic of great workplaces for top talent, based on our research over the last 15 years.

1. Offer Challenging and Meaningful Work

Great workplaces understand the importance of keeping employees' work interesting, exciting, challenging and meaningful, because consistently, top performers say that challenging and meaningful work is the number one attribute they seek in a job.

2. Hire and Retain Great People

Great workplaces are made up of great people. Within great workplaces, top performers work alongside other top performers who are positive, hardworking, committed and loyal, believe in what the organization does, and participate in making the workplace great.

3. Provide Competitive Compensation

Great workplaces offer competitive and fair compensation, above-average pay increases, and opportunities to earn more pay based on performance, such as bonuses, profit sharing, and other incentives to keep and reward top performing talent as well as attract new talent.

4. Value and Reward Employee Contributions

Great workplaces show they appreciate and value employees and their contributions. They celebrate success often, and praise, recognize, and reward employees in a variety of formal and informal ways. They never miss an opportunity to say 'thanks' for employees' hard work.

5. Invest in Training and Development

Great workplaces invest in training and development for their workforce to grow their talents and capabilities. They make time for learning and support it by paying for employees to participate in various opportunities and offering/delivering a variety of training and career development programs.

6. Guide, Support, and Develop Top Performers

Through performance management practices that help guide, support, and develop exceptional performance, great workplaces provide clarity on how to be a top performer, help other employees become top performers, and assist existing top performers in sustaining top performance. Reaching for excellence each and every day is what makes great workplaces successful.

7. Encourage Work/Life Balance

Great workplaces are flexible to employees' work/life needs and encourage work/life balance by offering flexible schedules, providing generous paid time off, accommodating individual requests and needs, and creating a supportive work environment that is understanding of personal and family obligations.

8. Invest in Employees' Health and Wellness

Great workplaces genuinely care about their employees' well-being. They offer wellness options that help employees develop healthy lifestyle behaviors as well as provide an array of benefits which support their employees' health and personal welfare.

9. Involve and Empower Employees

Great workplaces involve and empower employees by listening to their input, involving them in moving the organization forward, and giving them opportunities to lead initiatives, collaborate with one another, participate in decision-making, and make a meaningful difference at work. At great workplaces, employees believe that their opinions matter and that they can positively impact their organizations.

10. Share Information About the Organization's Performance

Leaders frequently share information about the organization's performance, its financials, the vision and direction of the organization, and other critical information and updates at great workplaces. In addition, leaders regularly interact with and communicate with employees one-on-one, in small groups, and as an entire staff. Additionally, great workplaces help everyone understand the mission and purpose of the organization, and how their work connects to the big picture.

11. Are Led by Exceptional Leaders

Great workplaces are led by exceptional and inspiring leaders. Leaders set the example from the top and lead the organization well. They genuinely care about and value employees. Relationships between leaders and employees are characterized by mutual respect, trust,  honesty, and support.

12. Encourage Innovation and Growth

Great workplaces are successful, growing, and innovative. They hold themselves to high standards, are focused on delivering exceptional customer service and quality, and strive to innovate and continuously improve their organizations. They are always raising the bar in their businesses and in their workplaces.

13. Hire the Best of the Best

Great workplaces hire the best—and only the best. They recognize that a great workplace and culture results from great people. They define the talent they need, strategically recruit it, and put into place selection practices that identify top performers, as well as on-boarding practices that engage top performers and set them up for success from the start.

14. Create and Sustain a Unique Culture

Great workplaces have a unique culture that is their own, often described as fun, congenial, collaborative, positive, passionate, and creative. Their work environments, people, and workplace practices all help create a vibrant, positive, magnetic, and infectious culture.

15. Serve the Community

And last but not least, great workplaces make an impact on and give back to their local community. Not only do they generously donate their company resources to the community, but they also serve their communities by helping others in need and offering their staff's time and talents.

There is no magic formula for achieving a great workplace, and these are just some common attributes of many that great workplaces seem to have. While no workplace is perfect, many organizations strive to become a truly great workplace and come close. The NorthCoast 99 winners are among these organizations, and they, as well as all other organizations that strive everyday to be great workplaces, should be applauded for their efforts to become employers of choice in Northeast Ohio. They are truly making a difference.

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5 Tips to Fix Your Performance Review Process

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Most organizations find that their performance review process is broken and faulty process in their organization. Nobody enjoys it, everyone struggles to do it well, it's inefficient, and it often fails to do what it ultimately intends to: improve, enhance, and recognize performance.

A traditional performance management system seems to no longer work for organizations. In fact, a recent WorldatWork study showed that over half of HR leaders graded their performance management process with a "C." All too often, the process is bureaucratic, time-consuming, and a negative experience.

So how do you go about fixing your broken performance management process to better engage your employees and managers? Here are 5 tips...
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Trends in Performance Management

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According to the 2012 ERC Performance Management Practices Survey virtually all organizations use individual performance evaluations of some kind regardless of industry or organizational size. Performance improvement plans, goal setting and individual development plans are also highly utilized by 90% of employers or greater.

The results of these evaluations are directly tied to employee compensation at 65% of these organizations. Just less than half of these organizations then link individual performance evaluation results to compensation by drawing formal connections between raises/bonuses and a certain rating level or performance evaluation score (48%). Interestingly, none of 2012’s participants report utilizing forced rankings- a slight departure from the 2010 survey results in which 10% of respondents indicated they used a forced ranking system.
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4 Questions Every Manager Needs to Answer

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Successful, effective performance management by managers essentially boils down to simply answering 4 key questions for your employees.

What is expected of me?

Managers have an obligation to tell employees what is expected of them in terms of job responsibilities, projects, and goals or objectives. After all, how can you hold employees accountable without telling them exactly what you need and clearly defining what they are supposed to be doing? This question should be answered at the beginning of the performance management process each year and whenever expectations or responsibilities change. Specifically, managers should clarify and define three types of expectations:

  • what employees should do on the job (responsibilities, duties, key projects, etc.)
  • how employees should do the job (behaviors, attitudes, competencies, etc.)
  • results to be achieved over a specific timeframe (such as deadlines, goals, levels of performance, etc.)

How am I doing?

Throughout the year, managers must provide honest and accurate feedback and coaching to help employees understand how they are doing and progressing, as well as to assist them in staying on track with their performance. Feedback should include an honest assessment of employees' strengths and weaknesses and could be achieved through regular one-on-one meetings with their supervisor, formal mid-year or quarterly check-point meetings, and a final end-of-year evaluation discussion.

Although informal feedback is crucial, over the course of the year, managers should meet formally with employees a few times (at least twice) to revisit their progress on key projects and goals, address performance problems, and create conditions that help motivate employees in achieving their goals.

Don't expect your managers to take the initiative on coaching and feedback without some structure. Some managers can thrive with this informality, but many others can't. Teach them coaching and feedback methods and require structured interactions to ensure that employees receive the support they need.

Where can I improve?

Where organizations often miss the mark with performance management is viewing the process as merely a judgment and administrative record of employees' performance. While evaluation is fundamental to the process, performance management also seeks to develop employees' performance and potential to increasingly higher levels.

Based on their on-going assessment of performance, managers should identify opportunities for employees to develop their potential and discuss those periodically with employees. These opportunities may be improving performance deficiencies, attending training, focusing on skill development, or taking on new projects/assignments.

At times, the performance management process also involves answering the question "Where am I going?" in terms of discussing potential career paths and internal mobility and the requirements for moving into higher and different roles in the organization, particularly if these opportunities are tied to performance in their current job.

What’s the big picture?

Incorporating your mission, vision, values, and strategy into the performance management process helps focus your employees on the tasks, projects, and behaviors that matter most to the organization and its growth - especially if your performance management process is aimed at helping your organization meet its objectives and furthering its mission. Equally as important is to discuss how these components link to employees' performance and why certain tasks and goals are important to the organization's success. Consider...

  • integrating your mission, vision, values, and strategy into the performance review form
  • cascading goals from the top of the organization to individuals
  • continually discussing how employees' goals and responsibilities are tied to the organization's goals and objectives

When viewing performance management through the lens of these important questions, your managers can answer the questions that matter most to your employees and that are most important to their success.

View ERC's Performance Management Survey Results

This report explores performance management practices specifically related to performance reviews, performance criteria, role of the supervisor, and other issues.

View the Results

The Best Solution to Managing Salary Costs

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Like most employers, you’ve probably been faced with the challenge of how to manage rising salary increase budgets, reward high performers, and sustain your organization’s financial health by meeting and exceeding margins achieved in past years. How do you manage these critically important yet competing demands? The best solution is to develop a variable pay program.

Variable pay: A solution to base pay management

Variable pay is one of the best solutions to confronting the problem of base salary increases. It is much less expensive to manage than annual base pay merit increases, doesn’t compound salaries over time, and can deliver meaningful rewards and additional compensation to employees without long-term hits to your margins.

Generally, it takes approximately $5 of variable pay to deliver the same financial effect of a one dollar salary increase. Additionally, base compensation costs account for about 20-25% of your revenue, whereas variable pay costs account for about 3-4% of your revenue (on average). As a result, variable pay can be a huge savings for any employer.

Executing variable pay: Paying for performance

Fundamental to variable pay is the issue of pay for performance. Variable pay requires differentiating pay by some factor, usually individual and/or company performance.

This means differentiating pay by performance and allocating all (or most) of your organization’s pay rewards to your highest performers and reducing rewards for your average or bottom performers. It also means that additional pay is entirely dependent on how your organization performs, which can ensure that your organization’s financials remain healthy and that financial performance targets are met year over year.

The trouble with pay for performance is in the execution. For it to work, you need a culture that rewards high performance; standard performance management systems which give employees the insights, tools, support, and clarity they need to reach their goals and managers the tools to evaluate and objectively compare performance; as well as meaningful payouts.

Here are proven best-practices for executing variable pay when it comes to managing these issues related to culture, performance, and payouts:


  • Types of variable pay offered match the culture. For example, strong emphasis on teamwork = team-oriented variable pay.
  • Leaders support a performance-oriented workplace and encourage rewarding “A-players.”
  • Tenure, attendance, and other non-performance related factors are not considered when making decisions about pay, rewards, or promotions.
  • Pay for performance is widespread. Everyone has the opportunity to earn more pay based on their performance – not just execs, managers, and sales staff.

Performance management

  • Goals are clear and achievable. Employees understand how to accomplish their targets.
  • A manageable number of targets are given – ideally 1 to 3 important goals.
  • Accurate measures of performance are intact and not subject to extraneous factors.
  • Performance is regularly tracked, monitored, and well-documented.
  • Performance is well-managed. Employees are coaching, re-directed, and assisted in reaching targets.


  • Payouts are substantial enough to be perceived as beneficial, motivating rewards.
  • Differentiation of pay and/or rewards is enough to be meaningful for high performers. Strive for 2 times the average payout to reward your highest performers.
  • Tiers for payouts are set to reward employees for meeting minimum goals as well as stretch goals.
  • Minimum and maximum thresholds for targets and payouts are provided.

Variable pay programs are promising and highly effective. If your organization is challenged in sustaining its annual merit increase program and controlling base pay costs, variable pay can be an advantageous solution. Just keep these best practices in mind before designing a variable pay program to ensure that the program is successful and delivers results.

Additional Resources

Performance Management Services ERC can support performance management initiatives through performance management system development, performance review form development, competency development, consulting on performance management issues, performance management/goal-setting training for employees and supervisors, and more. 

Employers Develop Younger Workers

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Cleveland– According to the 2011 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey, most Northeast Ohio employers invest resources in training, development, and performance management activities for younger workers, particularly new graduates.

The survey shows that over 70% of employers provide new graduates with an orientation during their first week (72%), conduct performance evaluations (71%), and provide regular feedback and coaching (71%). Additionally, more than half of employers provide formal training (56%) and access to a mentor (52%). Fewer (20%) offer management in training programs for new graduates, however.  All of these developmental activities were more commonly offered by non-manufacturers than manufacturers. Similarly, larger organizations tended to be most likely to provide these, although they were still commonly used by small and mid-sized organizations.

Specific training and development opportunities provided to their new graduates as cited by respondents included: on-the-job training, corporate culture training, product/industry/market training, mentoring, shadowing, and targeted leadership development programs.

The results of the survey show that organizations are making investments in training and development for their younger professionals and emerging leaders. These organizations understand the benefits of on-boarding and developing younger employees early in their careers for their businesses and in developing a pipeline of talent.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results