A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend from Sweden about people changing jobs and how it impacted their lives and what are the challenges with the current labor situation in various countries and places - how much unemployment rates impacts movement etc.
In the middle of the conversation he looks at me and says "Monika, trial period is non-existing in today's Sweden for senior positions. Any way, what will you find out in 3 months about a person - nothing." I must have looked chocked cause his wife added "you cant expect people to leave a good job without any security".
The conversation took another turn, but these lines stayed with me and the more I think about them, the more sense they make. Now a few weeks later, I just feel stupid that I had not realized or thought of this before - all the experiences that I had recalled while writing my book "Put Your People First and the rest will follow" clearly should have pointed me this way, but for the last 3 years not once had it dawned on me that this was the direction to take.
Let me share with you two stories, that should have made me gone Ahhh here is something that we always have done, but should really have some question marks around why to have trial period:
A few years back I hired a new Front Office Manager. She was great with the team and her peers, but she was always jumpy and nervous around me. It drove me slowly crazy that every time she saw me, she asked if I was happy with her and if she lived up to my expectations. After she had been employed for 1.5 months I asked her flat out why she was so nervous around me, did I do something that stressed her? Her answer was "I really like it here and just want you to be happy so that you confirm my position after my three months trial period". The week after I went to my HR managers office and asked her to cancel the remaining trial period, as I needed a Front Office manager that felt secure and happy and didn't wasted her time worrying about my happiness.
Later the same year one of our employees were finishing her degree and looked for a new challenge. She had applied for a few positions in different industries and when I asked her about it, she said she was nervous about leaving as she was the provider in her household and what if they let her go within the trial period, then she would be without a job and no way of supporting her family. Without thinking much I offered her three months leave without pay to go and try another job, with the security that she could return to us, if she did not like it or if they didn't like her.
So, can we scrap the trial period all together? What would happen if we did?
Well, you could argue that it would make it complicated for both employer and employee if either realized that it was not a fit, right? I think, not necessarily. If you have an open and honest conversation this can be resolve. No one wants to hold on to a person or hold on to a job that does not fit. That honest conversation would have to become a major player and fairness and trust as the cornerstones. Possible? Of course! Naive? Maybe you say. However it would require something new that managers and leaders are maybe not equipped to handle; conflict handling.
Spend much more time on recruitment? Well, maybe or maybe not. Very interesting research shows that you are not more likely to hire the right candidate if you go by your first 5 minute gut feeling or if you make the candidate go through personality test, lots of interviews and assessment centers. Sometimes you are just not lucky to have found the right person. Will you find out within the first 90 days if you were wrong? Probably not. I hired a person almost 2 years ago that I really liked, my fellow colleagues that met the person liked him too. After 7 months I started to notice behaviors/habits that didn't fit with the position. We had a talk and learned he was not happy either, so we agreed to part ways in a fair way for all parties - disregarding the statutory rights of the employee at this point. Why? Because we both agreed that this was the best way forward through trusting conversations.
There must be some protection for the employer you might argue?
OK, lets say employers needs to protect themselves; what could be the alternative here? How can we protect the employers right to end the relation within the first 90 days if employee does not perform. Well hang on that is the whole point - perform. Majority of the people who take a job wants to do that job, right? So, if you remove the stress of "showing yourself", "having to perform" maybe you actually get the employee that actually performs much faster, as you have removed stress factors of "performance". And as a small added point if you have a "slacker" you will most likely not catch them in the first 90 days anyway, as most people can hold a high note for this period. How many times have you seen people be full of energy for the first 3 months, to slow down (maybe from being exhausted of "proving themselves") and be like everyone else in energy level or even lower for a while before falling into "normal" mood.
During trial period several companies distinguish the employee as a "non full-fledged" member . A friend of mine was going through a tedious recruitment process recently. After 5 interviews, 2 requested mystery shopper visit with suggested actions and 2 personality tests later he was called in to meet the GM again. He was at this point fairly feed up with the process and asked about the salary package to which the GM responded "I am looking for a candidate who is not drive by money, but by passion for the job and the company" to which my friend responded "so make me excited about the job and the company". The GM answered "I am the one interviewing for a candidate, so I don't have to make you excited". What???? Additionally to this amazing conversation my friend was shown the list of benefits like free fitness access for team members (Euro 5.00 during trial period), free food in canteen (Euro 3.00 during trial period). The savings for the company is minimal, in comparison with impact on the employee integration feelings. These small things could likely lead to slower integration in the team, stressful reminders that you don't belong "yet", causing less productivity and less inclusive work environments.
I did a leadership workshop for a group of government employees recently and they explained that the public servants have six months trial period, because three months is too short to determine if someone is a good fit and once employed they are in principle employed for life. Imagine you are the breadwinner in a family of many children and your partners is stay-at-home, you need to bring a paycheck every month so imagine the stress you will have for half a year. The thought of "what if I'm let go tomorrow" can chew away at anyone during this period.
Would it not be better to be more focused during interviewing to ensure both sides are happy, include a couple of test work days/ week (make sure you pay hourly wage) for all candidates that you are considering. Then talk to all that interacted with the person during the test days to get a well rounded picture of the person. This is very common practice in larger companies like Google, Zappos and progressive IT companies worldwide.
Removing the trial period will reduce stress and improve feelings of belongings which should lead to quicker adaptation and performance. Do you agree?
Are your team members happy with their co-workers or is there a lot of nagging and complaining about "others" not pulling their weight?
Here is a small exercise that you can do easily (at close to zero cost) that can make your team members see each other in a new light.
Create a stack of cards with one card per each team members name on it - then give one pack of cards to each team member.
Ask them to write something positive about each person on the card of the person.
Collect all cards - sort them into new stacks - one stack per name.
Have a gathering and give out the stacks to each person.
We will do this at our Valentines "swedish fika" (https://youtu.be/GjXT93nr1Qs)
Enjoy reading your colleagues comments about yourself and look at the smiles of appreciation as your co-workers read theirs.
Remember to include the boss and everyone should write something good about themselves.
We are doing this on Valentines day for the Vienna House Czech Republic Commercial team (ca 30 people) and I'm really looking forward to seeing the smiles & appreciation faces (and read my positive feed backs).
Our Food & Beverage team did it last week with great result.
So, go ahead appreciate your team this February.
Appreciation of others and ourselves is extremely important for our overall well- being and happiness.
How do you choose what you do? How often do you tell people that you don't have time?
I am often asked how do I do it? Manage my job as regional director, travelling and doing speeches, organizing conferences, promoting my book while being a present and involved mum to 2 relatively small children (7 & 9 years old), wife and somehow fit yoga and meditation courses into my life.
I cut my hair!
Sounds crazy right?
However, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
Until March 2018 I had long curly hair that either ended up in a bun or ponytail most days or I had to go to the hairdresser or get up earlier to iron it straight - all of the above added to very stressful mornings for both my children and myself.
Now, the mornings are so much more relaxed and the 30 min I use to spend on getting my hair in order I now spend doing yoga and meditation and if we wake up late my hair is not giving me a bad "hair day" feeling.
All the moments that I have spend "correcting" my hair during the day are gone.
I am not saying that this is the solution for everyone, I'm rather saying look at what take away precious time for you - what are your time wasters?
Steve Jobs was famous for starting the trend of black polo and jeans every day. I work together with a woman who has one dress (in many different colors) always the same. She said"mornings are quick, as I just take one, put on and go" not wasting precious time and brain capacity on choosing what do I wear today. Which probably is a major delayer in many women's life in the morning.
Focus on removing the things that takes time, but does not increase your happiness level.
Happiness at work should not be confused with laisser-faire or nice boss who lets you get away with everything.
A few weeks back I did a presentation on happiness at work to an audience of 300 hoteliers in varies ages and positions. At the end of my 45min talk a young man stood up and complimented my speech and immediate after told me that it sounds all good but it does not work.
He went on explaining how he had tried to implement happiness in a hotel in the regions of Czech Republic. He had been nice to people, focused on proper pay and all the decent benefits that they could ask for.
Within months people started to leave and those who were left became complacent and ignored what he was saying.
The back side of the coin and strong argument for many who claims that "happiness at work does no work".
I will be the first one to argue that it will not work if you interpret happiness at work as no one has to work, not follow rules or deal with issues that are arising.
Three days ago I had a conversation with a chef who said a cook who drinks beer on the job, has to go even if it is close to impossible to find a replacement. I couldn't have said it better myself and funny enough did exactly that 3 years ago.
A friend and inspiration to me, Martin Pelicka (CEO of Etnetera and a true happiness believer), told me that the first thing he did on his road to Happiness at work (some 15 years ago) was to remove priority parking for management. He said "we should all be held to the same standard".
Rules are there to be followed and to be followed by everyone. If you bend the rules for one you have to bend for everyone or they will bend it for you.
Create only rules that leaders and team are able to adhere to always. Remove rules that management bend often for themselves or in order to satisfy the guests.
One of the most challenge tasks for a leader is to deal with uncomfortable situations with employees. Whether it is personal hygiene or performance related issues. Over and over again I meet managers who are doing everything in their power to avoid discussing these issues. Like the manager who is being promoted away so that its not our problem anymore. Several times I have held conversation with senior manager in chains who told me "he/she will soon be promoted to a senior role in a different hotel and then it is not our head ache anymore".
or the situation of someone smelling really bad or bad breath - management are discussing for the longest time who should break it to the person. because no one wants to be the carrier of bad news and it is embarrassing for all parties.
Reality is that if we took the approach of helping and said I want what is best for you, then it can not be bad news to tell someone that they smell or that their performance is not adequate. On several occasions have I sat down with employees that no one wants to deal with and told them "fairly straight forward" that they are not fitting or they have personal hygiene issues. Each and every time I prepare myself by using positive meditation; ie I tell myself over and over again that I want to be kind, I want to be helpful and I am acting in the best interest of the person in front of me. I am not focused on me or the companies best interest, I am here purely because I want to make this person shine to their best ability.
It keeps surprising me afterwards how well it went and how easy it was to bring what many consider bad news to a person when your intentions and your body language signals kindness and good intentions.
Coming back to the enthusiastic but disappointed hotelier that I met at the conference. He came to me out after the official part was over and we had a great conversation about what he maybe could have done differently with his team.
I told him (and maybe I shocked him) that I am a very demanding leader. I ask a lot from my team, I expect them to work hard and long hours when it is needed.
However, I would never criticize them for leaving early or question their choice of holiday days. I trust that they know when they can go on holiday and when this is not appropriate.
Trust creates loyalty. Trust should be given 100% and if broken removed and then give chances to reinstall and to regain.
After the conference I received several requests for doing workshops or lead discussions for hoteliers on how to better manage these often difficult topics. If you think I should drop me a line here, email or LinkedIn message me.
I wish you to be a happy hotelier as it is a very rewarding job if people are put first.
The more I learn about how managers are expected to behave and work the more convinced I become that we should cancel all manager titles.
As per the encyclopedia a manager is a person who manages or is in charge of something. Managers can control departments in companies, or guide the people who work for them. Managers must often make decisions about things.
The word manager implies that you are controlling and decide things about people who work for you. The manager should manage, right?
Who today wants to be managed? We want to be self-thinking, self-driving and deciding for our self, right?
Then comes this wonderful comment: They are not able to manage themselves, I have to tell them what to do, otherwise nothing gets done. We are so quick to judge and be condescending towards others and put ourselves above what applies to other people. The interesting part is that we did not all start as manager, unless you started your own hotel, most of us have worked ourselves up from lower positions to the more senior positions. However, along the way we have forgotten how it felt to be lead by manager who decided everything over our heads. How we sat in the staff canteen complaining about the boss taking decisions that did not make sense for us as a team neither for the guest, but rather complicated the processes for us all.
Once we become manager for a team. department or hotel we want to be the decision maker, the respected person who has super status and being treated like a King and have privileges that only we imagined seeing the boss have.
Some of these privileges could probably be justifiable as the leadership wants to explore and experience like the guest, or sat in 5 meetings in a row and therefor missed lunch and dinner and asking for food delivered to the office to be able to finish their work while eating. Many of these which could be easily understood by the team if explained. However it could be good to let others also try these experiences out. Therefor "cross exposure" or "work as your boss" can be excellent exercises to engage in.
Overall the trends leans toward to Rid your mind of the word “manager” and replace it with “leader”. Leaders don’t require titles or promotions, they are people that inspire and motivate without regard to the setting or the team.(https://www.wikihow.com/Manage-People).
This is one of the questions I was recently asked after my presentation about Happiness at work and my soon to be published book Put your people first. I was invited to talk at the award ceremony of Copenhagen Bicycle for hotels who have cooperated best with them during the year. (only in Copenhagen would you have the “golden pedal award”).
I was interested in the question, so I enquired more into her thoughts and her stories was that she had recently been promoted to reception manager from receptionist. She had several friends who were receptionist and now she was not sure how to handle her relations.
She told me that she had a great boss, however the boss was always very busy and didn’t have so much time for her. (another topic on its own – how can a boss be too busy to talk to the people who work for them?)
It is an interesting topic, as most hoteliers are moving their careers through promotions within their own teams and as I was listening to her; it occurred to me that this has a major impact on why we have so much unfairness in the hotel workplace.
Because you are most likely not best friends with everyone. You have your group of people that you hang out with. When one in that group is promoted that person, mist likely subconsciously, gives preferences when scheduling, pre-tell information and special treatments (holidays, days off, lunch breaks etc) to the friends. This creates unfairness and subsequently can create major issues in the department.
Should you stop having friends?
Of course not, you should keep your friends. Life without work friends can be very hard and what would your friends think of you if you stopped being with them? Everyone, regardless of position, needs friends.
What is important?
Here are a couple of advices that I answered at the presentation (I’m sure you can come up with many more):
This topic and many more will be discussed in my book that will be released on 8th of November. Get your signed copy by pre-ordering on www.happyhotelsbook.com
This article originally appeared on www.monikahilm.com
A friend of mine told me over coffee that she had been for an exciting job interview. Everything had been going really well. The job was interesting but salary was not great - however she reasoned that she was fortunate enough to needing a high income as her husband had an excellent job.
Then the interviewer told her his expectations of coming at 8am and being in the office the expected 8 hours with 1/2 hour deducted for lunch.
My friend explained that she had to drop children at school 8.20 and could not come before 8.30-8.45 and had to leave between 4-5pm most days.
As she was telling me the story I could tell that she had gotten so disappointed when the interviewer just flat turned her down due to these limitations.
I was thinking... what kind of person is interviewing my friend, who is a very educated and intelligent, and does not see that she has high morale and passion for what she does? How could anyone miss that she would be an asset to any organisation she would join.
I have several friends that are stay at home moms, because they find it impossible to find a job that allows flexibility around children drop off and pick up. Consequently there is a hidden workforce that has capacity, intellect and passion that is not being utilized, especially in expat societies.
Hiring mothers is always a good choice - by giving them flexibility and understand for drop off/pick up and sick children you gain a productive and efficient worker beyond any expectations.
My next step would be to have two mothers on maternity leave work sharing as General Manager - would that not be awesome?
Do you know anyone who already does this? I would love to hear about it.
Write a comment or email email@example.com
A short passage out of my book PUT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST.
This is taken out of Chapter 14 Where do we come from?
Going back in time, there are interesting stories from Greek and Norse mythology explaining the original purpose of hospitality.
In ancient Greece, the cradle of European intellect, Zeus was often called “Zeus Xenia”, the protector of the traveler. Philoxenia is the Greek word for hospitality. Philo means “I am fond of/I love” and Xenia means “the unknown guest”.
Philoxenia consists of two basic rules:
As a fond lover of the Greek style of hospitality (and their food), I find that even today these two rules apply. The Greeks are famous for their hospitality and temperament, right? I have experienced, as a Greek island hopper, invitations to weddings, feasts or even overnight stays in Greek homes. As long as you treat the Greeks with respect and honor, you will be treated as royalty.
"There are many school of thoughts given about the topic discussed in this blog. I think the leader is the source of motivation and spirit for the team members so the one should never cry in front of the team members because it will lower the morale of the team."
I am grateful for the above comments, however I have disagree. Why would a emotion like sadness decrease the morale of the team?
I know most managers have raised their voice and showed anger/frustration, so why not show sadness?
We know that 90% of all our decisions are including emotions. Our emotions are part of us being humans. I say it is because we are scared of sadness and we fear that it will make us look weak.
I argue that knowing/showing our weaknesses displays signals of strengths. Only the strongest leaders are able to display the full range of emotions.
You have to have a relationship with your team in order to be able to show the full range of emotions - so if it lowers the moral it tells me that the leader does not have close relations with the team.
In 2 days I will give a speech at Spotlight Hotel Investment Poland & CEE in Warsaw about the topic of my passion and book "Put your people first and the rest will follow".
I am sitting in the hotel room and reviewing what I am going to talk about. I have the slides ready and I am working on the introduction:
Why focus on happiness?
I have been working with this topic for 5 years now, and I have become so absorbed by it that I have almost forgotten why not everyone focus on this?
Am I close to the truth if I say it's because of FEAR?
Could it be something else that drives senior leaders away from focusing on happiness of their people.
Could it be ignorance? Could it be that leaders still today do not know/ be aware of the amazing impact happiness has on productivity, creativity, trust, loyalty and most importantly the health of the people.
I refuse to believe that any senior leader want to be a tyrant towards their people. So why are so many of us still behaving in this way?
Weekly I am reading about people who are leaving their jobs because of "bullying bosses".
I got a few of my slides for my presentation from a friend and passionate believer in Happiness at work Michal Srajer and one slide in particular is very powerful. The rocks of separation between:
what we know what we do
Science have been telling us for at least the last 30 years that you get better results from people if you treat them fairly, respectfully, give trust and autonomy. Then your people will reward you with loyalty and dedication and all the other benefits that comes with happy people.
If no other argument will convince a leader to be do what is right - the customer/guests and clients will like your people more if they are happy.
A happy person makes me happy and makes me stay longer - ie buy more...would that convince you?
My passions are managing and improving the results of hotels through employee centered processes. My motto: "Put your employees first and the rest will follow. Don't just say it - show it through the actions that you take".