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Resources for Managers

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With a strong focus on HR's roles in finding, developing and keeping the best employees, The Essential Guide to Managing Talent by Kaye Thorne and Andy Pellant (Kogan Page Ltd., 2007) urges readers to make talent management an ongoing, coordinated process.

Calling HR "the most misunderstood and (often) misrepresented" function in many organizations, authors Kaye Thorne and Andy Pellant argue that HR must be more assertive about owning the business's "talent agenda."

Tools for taking ownership include:

  • Learning what makes talented employees different from average ones and what motivates talented people. Thorne and Pellant offer a checklist of actions HR can take to motivate talented workers.

  • A model for becoming an "employer of choice" by figuring out the behaviors and competencies that support company values, then creating the right work environment, communicating well, and rewarding and measuring performance.

  • Ideas HR can use to help leaders understand talent development. Leaders need to be more aware of their own roles in talent development and need to let workers stretch boundaries more.

  • Lessons in creating an environment where talent thrives. Construct learning that keeps talented people interested. Consider whether an employee prefers minimal management or lots of input from managers.

  • Steps for creating a "talent development process," including line managers' roles, coaching, employee engagement and goal-setting.

If "performance appraisal" at your workplace simply means doling out ratings and salary news, you're missing out. HR executive and author Paul Falcone wants readers to turn their appraisal process into a "truly worthwhile" effort. Productive Performance Appraisals (Amacom, 2007) walks readers through a three-step process:

  • Evaluation and job analysis. Falcone includes sample forms for evaluating performance and work habits, and discusses why you should have employees assess themselves.

  • The appraisal interview. Employees (and many managers) see this as the time for announcing salary changes, but managers must make the interview about performance goals instead.

  • The post-appraisal meeting. This is the time to talk ratings and salary.

Preparation includes helping employees plan their own futures (Falcone uses sample dialogues to show how to approach those conversations). Managers and supervisors also learn how to keep a useful -- and legal -- employee performance journal that gives managers the information they need when appraisal time comes. Managers learn errors to avoid and get a checklist of documents essential to any appraisal interview. Falcone provides a timeline for appraisals, noting what you should be doing weeks before appraisal time.

A Manager's Guide to Improving Workplace Performance (Amacom, 2007) by Roger Chevalier teaches managers to counsel employees for improved performance, identify performance gaps and find measurable ways to describe them, weigh alternative solutions to performance problems, improve individual and team motivation, evaluate performance results, and more. Chevalier also demonstrates how managers can practice "situational leadership" that lets them vary what they do, depending on employees' "willingness and ability" to improve performance.

The book focuses on three areas:

  • The manager's roles as coach, leader, performance counselor and motivator. Learn to communicate expectations, provide effective feedback, record performance and set goals. A "performance counseling guide" helps managers negotiate their counseling and coaching roles.

  • How the manager "identifies and removes barriers to individual and group performance." Analyze desired and real levels of performance and assess causes of shortfalls. Learn how to get "the power needed to implement change" in the organization and how to evaluate change.

  • The manager's part in creating an environment that promotes success. Chevalier shows how to combine all the book's tools to draw the best performance from employees.

Exercises let readers apply what they've learned immediately in their own workplaces.

Targeting an audience of supervisors, managers, team leaders and others who want to improve teamwork, Zachary Wong, author of Human Factors in Project Management (Jossey-Bass, 2007), notes that the current business emphasis is on strategies and projects -- not on the human behaviors that "make or break organizational performance." This volume examines how individual behavior affects teamwork and how to manage the key elements and stages of team performance.

Wong identifies content, process and behavior -- or purpose, procedures and team dynamic -- as key elements in team success. After outlining each, he uses examples to show ways to manage these interdependent elements -- and ways things go awry when any one of the three gets left out.

Readers learn five stages of team development and the skills needed to shepherd a team through each. Wong shows how team members' behaviors spring from their values and temperaments, and how team leaders and managers can identify and work with different temperaments. A section on managing team conflict examines conflict's roots. Sample conflict scenarios help readers consider how they would handle specific problems.

Detailed case studies illustrate how people's backgrounds and behaviors affect teamwork, as well as offer strategies for turning problem behaviors around.

Unanet Technologies has released Unanet Visual Insight, the latest version of its performance management software. Unanet Visual Insight is designed to help employers boost productivity and increase profitability. The software package gathers and analyzes information on strategic plans, business commitments, resource capacity, workforce skills and expenditures into a single system and provides managers with detailed insight into the best ways to optimize workforce performance. Unanet Visual Insight features dashboard graphics that offer managers an immediate performance profile on a particular project or on the whole organization. Unanet also provides summarized and detailed views of hours worked, resource costs and revenue. Contact:; e-mail:

Conducting business meetings online and across long distances just became easier with iLinc Communications Inc.'s newest version of its popular web conference software tool, iLinc 9. The software release includes a newly designed user interface and enhancements that are designed to improve efficiency and give users the ability to show multiple participant videos simultaneously.

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