Does Anyone Really Benefit From Working With A Bad Boss?

Angry boss shouts at a junior

Does Anyone Really Benefit From Working With A Bad Boss?

A while ago, I walked into a bank hall to perform some transactions. While waiting for my turn, I saw a man walk towards a couple of workers and then start liberally handing out criticisms, right there in front of everyone!

From the look on the faces of the workers, this was a very regular experience, one they had come to expect and loathe. You could have walked into that bank, informed employees that you have another opportunity in a financial institution, but with less pay and a friendlier atmosphere, and have half of the branch employees turn in their resignations right that afternoon.

Despite this natural distaste we all have for working under bad bosses, I recently came across several articles that tried to show how working with bad bosses is good for employees. The claims were many and they ranged from “bad bosses teach you how not to treat others”, to “being treated badly makes you a battle hardened, competent employee.”

I understand where these articles come from. Many people actually have to work under bad bosses, and writers usually look for such common issues to write about, with the aim of providing some relief, and of course, getting more traffic to their website.

However, there are articles and topics that should left alone, including any about how working with a bad boss can be good for you. Such articles may actually help validate the behaviour of toxic bosses.

In some cases, the writers have so little to say in support of their topic, that their article ends up being quite confusing. Take for example this Forbes article. The article is about the benefits of working with bad bosses, but 75% of the content actually sites good research that show why working with bad bosses is bad! In fact, I’m going to be referencing this article a lot in support of my topic.

Some of the claimed benefits

1. Bad bosses teach you how not to treat others:
I’d like to believe every balanced person knows how to treat and respect the people they interact with. And if indeed you were going to learn social skills from a boss, you are much better off learning from a good leader.

One basic reason for this is that we tend to behave like those around us; especially if they are in a position of authority. So there is a higher possibility that you may learn to treat people badly, if you have a boss who treats you badly.

2. Bad bosses produce competent, battle-hardened employees:
Since this claim uses military language, I’m going to tow the same line and use a military illustration. Imagine you are in the army and have been sent on a mission. For this mission, you need a team of soldiers, and you have been asked to choose one of two teams.

The first team has a ton of experience fighting in the field against enemy combatants for several years, and with several successful missions in their portfolio; the second team has also seen some action, but they are most notable for having successfully endured “years of bullying and maltreatment” under a commanding officer who is now indicted. Which team will you place your life on? Of course this isn’t a hard decision (for non-suicidal people).

Further evidence against this claim of benefits to employees can be seen in the results of just about every research into this topic.

“Bad bosses don’t just impact the organization, or the team. They impact the individual. A study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology of 1,100 participants from various industries and company sizes revealed that an employee’s perception of their boss can have a major impact on the way a person deals with their family and their physical health (actually increasing your risk of heart disease if you don’t like your boss, and decreasing the quality of relationships you have with loved ones)…

“A survey of about 2,000 adults, conducted by Harris Interactive and career website Glassdoor, revealed that 2 out of 10 people say a bad boss ‘hurt their career.’” Forbes

Clearly, those who claim that bad bosses produce competent employees, do so in spite of a mountain of research evidence that proves just the opposite.

3. Bad bosses make employees more productive
I’m just going to jump into available research evidence here. Consider this:

The leadership training company Zenger Folkman, conducted a study of 2,865 leaders in a large company. This study which was presented in a Harvard Business Review article, revealed that the most engaged, most committed, and happiest employees where under the supervision of those ranked as the best leaders. Conversely, the most miserable employees where being supervised by bad bosses.

Jim Clifton, the CEO of the Gallup organization, observed that bad bosses may invalidate other employee productivity initiatives. “As Clifton points out, none of the other expensive programs a company institutes to increase employee engagement — excellent rewards, well-thought-out career paths, stimulating work environments, EAP programs, health insurance, and other perks — will make much difference to the people stuck with bad bosses.”

Is having a bad boss completely bad?

Sadly, yes it is! No one benefits from constant criticism, bullying, squashing, etc. If you are in the situation, this may not be what you want to hear, but it is the fact.

Of course you can find numerous help articles that show you how to “cope” with bad bosses. But do not be made to believe that you are benefiting somehow.

In a US News article
, Allison Green captured, in simple terms, the effects a bad boss could have on employees. She said: “If you spend too long in a dysfunctional workplace or modifying your behavior to accommodate a bad manager, the experience can recalibrate your ideas of normal in ways that can hurt you personally. For instance, if you work for a manager who always shoots the messenger and punishes dissent, you might get used to keeping your head down, never speaking up and even covering up mistakes when they happen.”

Clearly, if you are in this situation, the best course of action is to learn to cope in the interim, while you frantically search for a job in a different department or company; and do this like your health and career depends on it. Well then again, they do.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

How To Handle A Coworker Who Bosses You Around

Bossy Coworker

How To Handle A Coworker Who Bosses You Around

Have you had to deal with a coworker who somehow got confused, forgot their position in the company, and started bossing you around? Such employees may feel they are more capable than you are, and so they want to check every task you handle, manage all your interactions with others, question every decision you make, and downright wear you out.

I recently came across this complaint sent in by a frustrated employee to

“One of my coworkers in my department is constantly telling me what to do, and it’s driving me crazy! She does not give suggestions, she gives orders. She also disagrees with me on everything and insists on always having her way….. Even the most insignificant thing will set her off. For example, we recently cleaned out some old departmental filing cabinets, and my coworker demanded to know why I wanted to save a file consisting of ten pieces of paper… I explained to her why it was necessary to save these papers, and she disagreed with my reasoning and told me that I had to throw them out.

“In addition to disagreeing with and giving orders to people that she is interacting with, she constantly inserts herself into conversations she overhears…. For example, a client recently came to my office for an appointment with me, and said he would have to reschedule because he forgot to bring money for the parking meter. I asked him if he would like to move his car into our validated parking garage (which he did not know we had), and my coworker, who happened to be standing nearby but was not part of our conversation, came over and told my client that he should reschedule his appointment with me instead of moving his car!”

If you imagined putting such a co-worker in a choke hold and getting them to repeat “you’re not the boss of me” 20 times, or until they turn purple (whichever comes first), I can assure you you’re not the only one with that thought.

Gladly, there are more civil ways to handle such workers and get them to understand their boundaries.


What To Do About Bossy Coworkers

1. Be more assertive
Create clear boundaries and enforce them. If the person attempts to cross these boundaries, push back politely, but firmly.

Consider the following suggestion by Allison Green of Ask a Manager in response to the complaint quoted above:

Coworker: “Why are you saving this file?”

You: “Those are papers that I need. I have my area covered and don’t need help, thank you.”

Coworker: “But why can’t you throw them away?”

You: “Again, I have my area covered and don’t need help.”


2. Explain how you feel without sounding accusatory
A common suggestion is that you express your opinion with “I” messages. For example if your co-worker barrages you with ideas on how to complete your tasks, you could say “I appreciate that you have a lot of ideas about this task, and that you are willing to share them. However, I feel really put down each time you try to tell me how to accomplish my tasks and would appreciate if you treat me as a professional and allow me use my judgement.”


3. Arrange to discuss with the person
If the two steps above don’t resolve the issue, then it is necessary to have an open discussion with the person.

During the discussion explain that their intrusion has really become a problem for you and is affecting your general work experience. Require that that the person leaves your work to you and explain that you value their input, but will ask for it when it’s needed. In summary, explain all your grievances and try to reach a resolution.

When having this discussion, try to be firm but polite; you want to get this person to understand that they are not your boss, but you do not need to ruin your relationship to get this done.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

The Impact of Skills Management on Business Performance

Skills Knowledge, Abilities

The Impact of Skills Management on Business Performance

In our modern business climate, companies are made or broken by the amount and kind of information they use in guiding business decisions, and each day, new ways to gather data and new applications for available data are explored.

Since there is a general consensus that a company’s most important asset is its people, reliable data about people’s skills with relation to business goals should have tremendous effects on every company.

Many companies have thus implemented skills management systems, some for more than a decade now. And so, ample time has passed to assess the impact skills management has had (and can have) on business performance.

I recently published a whitepaper that analyzed this topic. The paper provides an in depth view into the experiences of companies that have implemented this system, and how it has improved businesses in 4 major ways:

1. Bridging the Skills Gap.
2. Effective Employee Development and Succession Planning.
3. Getting the Right People into the Right Positions.
4. Financial Benefits.

Download the whitepaper here:

White paper cover


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Why Every Company Should Embrace A Culture of Positive Feedback


Why Every Company Should Embrace A Culture of Positive Feedback

Two weeks ago, I gave a task to my graphic designer. I explained some of the specifications and asked him to come up with a stunning design. After discussing other necessary issues, I reminded him once again that I wanted it to look amazing.

The next day, I received an email about the design and went on to check it out. It looked thrown together, far from what I expected. I was furious because I knew what he was capable of, and in the heat of anger, I was about to contact him and ask why he made such a mess of the design (and that was the kindest question I had in mind, did I mention I was furious?)

But then I decided to hold on for a while. Later that day, I sat down and came up with a more precise description of what I wanted.

When I contacted him, I first of all thanked him for his effort and timely response to my request, and then went on to explain quite honestly that I expected something better. I pointed out some of the awesome jobs he had completed in the past and told him he can do something that good for me too. And finally, I gave him the more precise description I came up with.

The next day, I received the graphic work, and it looked “amazing”, much better than I imagined it would be. I’m not sure I would have gotten the same results if I had not striven to give feedback that reminded him of what a great designer he usually was, and why he can do better than he did initially on this work.

But do I have solid reason to believe that my designer performed better because I tried to remain positive? Absolutely!

A new study published by Harvard Business School proves that employees perform better when they receive positive feedback. The study shows that when people are reminded of times in the past when they had performed excellently, they become more creative, make better decisions, and feel less stress.

“In the study, participants visited the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and were asked to solve problems. Approximately half of the participants were told to ask friends and family members to send them an email just prior to their participation that described a time when the participant was at his or her best. Overwhelmingly, those who read positive statements about their past actions were more creative in their approach, more successful at problem-solving and less stressed out than their counterparts. For instance, participants had three minutes to complete Duncker’s candle problem. Fifty-one percent who had read emails prior to the task were able to successfully complete it; only 19% of those who did not receive ‘best-self activation’ emails were able to solve it. Those who received praise were also significantly less stressed than the control group.” – Forbes

In effect, what this study proves is what we already know: People work better when they are commended for their accomplishments.

For some reason however, many people in management still believe that regularly pointing out flaws and avenues for improvement is the best way to motivate employees. The existence of a management practice that requires each employee to sit through a (mostly negative) critique of their performance every year proves this.

Late last year, I also published the results of a research work that revealed the major reasons why employees experience bad days at work, and the third highest reason is “Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do.” So besides degrading the quality of their work, lack of commendation could also make employees hate their job.

How To Foster A Culture of Commendation

1. Re-engineer your Appraisal Process: Apparently, everyone hates yearly appraisals – employees, managers, and even HR practitioners. This management practice essentially ruins relationships around the workplace. As a result, some companies have dropped yearly appraisals and opted for performance feedback in real-time. Accenture, a global consulting firm, made the headlines last year when they announced their plans to replace yearly appraisals with timely feedback from managers.

2. Help employees focus on the tasks they did well: As my personal experience and the results of the Harvard study have shown, employees perform better when they are reminded of things they did really well in the past. In essence, if you are about to start a task or a project and you want your employees to be at their best, remind them of a time when they were at their best, commend them for their contribution to the success of that past task, and express confidence that they will perform well in current tasks too.

3. Say it: A common belief among people in management is that commendation of employees is not really necessary, or that it should be minimized – how wrong! There is this story of a manager who refrained from commending one of his employees for an awesome job because, well, she had done some very awesome jobs previously that week and the manager thought he had commended her enough. However, what he might have failed to note is that his previous commendations may be the reason she continued to produce stellar results.

Simply put, if you think an employee has done a great job, say it every time!

4. Criticize constructively: There are people who believe constructive criticism has no value in manager-employee relations, I’m not one of them. I generally prefer to give (and receive) constructive criticism.

Which would you prefer to hear after putting effort into a task but falling short:

This is the crappiest job I’ve seen this week. I mean the stats are correct, but your presentation is laughable. Were you half asleep when you wrote this report?


You really put a lot of effort into this report, I appreciate how carefully you worked on the stats, it’s thoroughly researched. You can however improve your explanation of the data in sections 2 and 3. Grab a copy of the report I wrote last month and study my presentation of those sections and try to come up with something great.

In truth, constructive criticism which usually includes tips for improvement works better than outright, sharp cutting criticism.

However, there are times when straightforward criticism is required, such as when an employee repeatedly makes a mistake or falls short despite previous corrections. When this becomes necessary, it should be given out. Employees are adults, they can handle it.

5. Encourage managers to give out spontaneous, honest commendation: Some managers may be good at commending people while many others don’t even know the meaning of the word. It is best to promote a culture of commendation among managers like you promote other formal policies. Simply telling managers to commend others will hardly work though, so it’s best to remind them for a while possibly through an email at the start of each week, until it becomes a part of them.

6. Encourage employees to commend each other: Commendation does not always have to come from superiors to be effective. In the Harvard study considered above, the group that performed a great deal better did so because they received an email from a friend, family member, or coworker. Therefore, employees should be encouraged to honestly commend one another whenever possible. Alexander Kjerulf, the founder of Wohoo Inc, suggests that employees learn to send emails of appreciation to fellow employees. The emails should be short and personalized. A good example would be:

Hi Darla,

I’m just writing to thank you for the well prepared stats you presented during our last meeting. They really gave us all a clearer understanding of the tasks at hand.


What can you learn from this?

Frankly, commending people isn’t easy. It takes effort to tell people around you that you value their input to the success of your activities together. But those who have embraced a culture of commendation only have good things to say about it. It may only take a few words to brighten the day of someone you work with, which, as it turns out, also brightens your day.

As an individual, it is important to learn to commend others. If you are in a management position, take action to promote this culture among employees, managers, and everyone else. It clearly leads to better performance.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

11 HR Blogs That Can Improve Your Career



11 HR Blogs That Can Improve Your Career

In our modern, fast paced business world, few things are more powerful than information. Business trends, processes, activities, and policies are constantly being updated. Those that were the rage before you signed off for the weekend may be seeing their final moments when you resume the next week.

Thus, if you want to be a top performer in your field, you need to keep yourself informed.

Here at skills db pro, we are always seeking ways to improve as individuals and as a company, and one major way we achieve this is by reading, a lot of it. We even have a few blogs we follow, and we can honestly say that we have benefited in many ways from the insights shared by these bloggers.

Each day you work, you have to pull resources from your mental storehouse and use them to accomplish tasks and projects. It only makes sense that you constantly update and increase the information in your storehouse, and you can do this by reading online.

So for our blog post this week, I have put together a list of 11 HR blogs in which articles that are always worth a read are regularly published.

1. Success In HR: Alan Collins, a former HR Vice President at Pepsi Co. is the founder and chief editor of this blog. He has had a long career in HR and his advice and career tips are top notch. Besides what he writes on this blog, he has written 8 books for HR professionals.

2. TLNT: TLNT provides news, analysis, and opinions that can help you come to grips with current trends in HR. The blog has several contributors and multiple articles are published each day. One thing you quickly notice when you view this site is how engaging it is. The writers address issues that grab at the heart and they present them in a way that makes you want to read through each article.

3. Positive Sharing: Positive sharing is a blog by Alexander Kjerulf, otherwise known as the chief happiness officer. True to this title, his blog is all about finding happiness, and making employees happy at work. Alexander is also the founder of Woohoo Inc, and is one of the world’s leading experts in happiness at work. Notably, he has done a good amount of study and research on workplace happiness and he presents his findings on his blog in a conversational, interesting way.

4. TalentCulture: This blog publishes regular articles on topics about finding and developing top talent, being a great leader, understanding changes in HR, and other similar areas. The authors on this blog usually employ a light, social approach to their blog posts, making them interesting to read and yet packed full with value.

5. HR Bartender: I was taken aback by the name of this blog, but the founder, Sheryl Lauby, does give an explanation for the name. Something in the line of she being the friendly person HRMs want to communicate with or hear from about work related issues, just as workers love to see the face of a bartender after a stressful workday, and with that I agree. Sheryl’s blog posts are centered on career advice, leadership and management, and office politics. Somehow she manages to produce several articles each week on her own, each written in a casual and informative way that makes you look forward to the next.

6. Ask A Manager: The moment you open this site and see the complete title (Ask a Manager and if you don’t, I’d tell you anyway), you get the feeling you are going to have a good read. At least I did, and boy did it turn out to be true. Ask A Manager is a site where people can ask questions about HR, their career, and a host of other topics. Each question is responded to by Alison Green, a former chief of staff, and her responses are always simple, straightforward, and down to earth. You hardly see an “I don’t know what you should do in this situation” kind of response, and simply reading through previous questions and answers provides you with information that can improve your career.

7. HR Morning: HR morning is a news blog for HR professionals. It provides the latest news on trends and events that are shaping the field of personnel management. Writers at HR Morning present the news as what they term “actionable insight.” In essence, you get to find out what’s new, and also what it means for you and for your business.

8. HR Examiner: This is a magazine blog that focuses on the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital. They have quite a few authors who publish articles, and multiple articles are published each week. The authors often come together to form a panel that takes an in-depth look into important issues and trends in HR. Their blogs are usually presented as audio files, but a transcript is produced for those who prefer to read.

9. Skills Competency Blog (Skills DB Pro): Here at Skills DB Pro, we regularly publish blog posts centered on improving the careers of our readers, and helping them become better recruiters, skill managers, and succession planners. We also look into current trends every now and then to help keep readers fully informed on what’s new and groundbreaking in HR.

10. Fist Full of Talent: This is one of the most diverse and informative hr blogs on the internet. They have a group of about 30 writers who produce regular articles on a range of hr and people management topics, ranging from leadership and employee relations to recruiting, career paths, and succession. Besides articles, they also publish podcasts and videos that feature a program called the CYA Report, which they define as a “free flowing, sometimes mature discussion of HR and talent issues.”

11. HR Zone: This is another site that covers a diverse range of interesting and practical hr topics. Notably, an entire section of this blog is dedicated to predicting HR trends. All articles in this section are prefixed with the phrase “Future of HR.” The major links at the top also make it clear that the articles published are meant to help HRMs become better leaders, fully engage their employees, hire and utilize top talent, etc.


How Can You Use This Information?

As I mentioned at the outset, at Skills DB Pro, we read and follow a few blogs that publish information related to our individual skills and our business. You can and should do the same, and this article helps you identify some great blogs you can follow. Of course you are only expected to choose a few that resonate with you and that publish career tips that you find most fitting. Hopefully you, like us, will quickly see the value of being fully informed of the news, trends, and career advice that blogs provide to their readers.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

5 Things That Make Employees Hate Coming To Work


Sad Employee

5 Things That Make Employees Hate Coming To Work

Jokes about bad days at works are abundant on the internet. Time and again, employees complain about how they watch the time go by as they pray for the day to run out. Many also joke about their hatred for Monday mornings, and how much they resent the sound of their wake-up alarms.

However, behind these jokes, there’s a fact that is no laughing matter. Many employees repeatedly experience bad days at work, the result of which is lowered performance.

I stumbled on a research by Woohoo inc that x-rayed this problem and showed the extent to which this has become an issue.

Of the 719 respondents, 19% said every day or almost every day is a bad workday. 29% said more than one day a week, and 16% said about one day a week is a bad day.

In all, almost 2 out of 3 respondents have at least one bad day each week.

Chart showing occurrence of bad work days

Data from Wohoo inc | Chart Created with amCharts

The study also revealed some demographic information. For example, more Americans experience at least one bad day each week (68%) than Europeans (56%). Also, workers in the private sector reported more bad days (65%) than those in the public sector (61%). And apparently, no gender is less prone to bad days as men and women reported about the same amount of bad work days.

Many may be quick to attribute bad days at work to problems in the employee’s personal life, but this report proves otherwise.

In response to the question “The last time you had a bad day at work, was it bad because of factors at work or factors outside of work?”, 74.7% said it was factors at work, and 20.7% said it was a mix of both. Just 2.8% blamed external factors for their bad work days.

So while it is true that personal issues and attitude toward work could affect work experience, more often than not, when an employee has many bad work days, factors at works are responsible.


Major Causes Of Bad Work Days

1. Lack of help and support from bosses
This is the most highly reported reason (40%) for bad workdays. Of course it is the duty of a boss to call the shots (they certainly would not be called bosses otherwise), but a good boss can and should help out every now and then when a deadline needs to be met, or when it’s apparent that the workload is too much on employees, possibly due to some temporary spike in activity.

2. Negative Coworkers
One problematic coworker can seriously affect the relationships and interactions in the workplace. Since employees are expected to work as part of teams, they have to interact with coworkers on a regular basis, and if a few coworkers turn out to be toxic, others may begin to hate team meetings and discussions, and hate coming to work. In the survey, 39% of the respondents blamed negative workers for bad work days.

3. Lack of praise or recognition for the work I do
Let’s face it, we all like being appreciated, being told our input matters, being recognized and rewarded. Children glow when they are praised by their parents. Parents feel deep warmth when they are openly appreciated by their children. Similarly, employees thrive, grow, and work better when they are told they were instrumental to the completion of this job and that project, and that their work is greatly appreciated. Conversely, an employee who works really hard but receives zero credit may lose morale, and when morale goes, it usually takes everything else along.

4. Uncertainty about the workplace’s vision and strategy
Essentially, people need to know exactly why they are leaving their houses each day, what the company wants to accomplish, and the part they play in getting these things done. Understandably, company requirements and strategy will change from time to time, and in fact this is necessary for any company that wants to stay in business. However, if a company very frequently abandons work processes, tasks, projects, and policies half way through, employees may begin to lose interest in the job.

5. High workload
With the current state of things, a strict 8 hour workday is utopian for a lot of workers. Many people have to work extra hours in the office and at home to meet up with deadlines. Those who are able to avoid overtime may yet be loaded with so many tasks, sometimes of varying nature, and they have to perform maximally or risk losing their jobs. The negative effects of such high workload can hardly be overstated. I know because I’ve been there.

I was once so flooded with tasks that I had to work while commuting to work. As soon as I was settled in a vehicle, work began; I simply could not waste the 40-minute commute. On the way back, I worked just as much. And when I arrived home, I often worked into the night. I was able to keep this going for a while, but pretty soon, I was thoroughly exhausted.

So while overloading employees with tasks can yield momentary benefits, in the long run it will impair employee performance, and possibly even make them hate coming to work.


How Important Is Employee Happiness?

A research conducted by the University of Warwick proved that happy employees are 12 percent more productive, and this is just one of many similar research works that have yielded the same conclusion.

Dr Proto, one of the faculty members who led the research stated: “We have shown that happier subjects are more productive, the same pattern appears in four different experiments. This research will provide some guidance for management in all kinds of organizations, they should strive to make their workplaces emotionally healthy for their workforce.”


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Feature Upgrade: Skills Lists Can Now Be Imported



Feature Upgrade: Skills Lists Can Now Be Imported

We’ve been working hard for a while now to produce features that are aimed at making your job a lot easier. Late last month, we completed the skills import module and have tested it rigorously since then. We are thus very excited to inform you that this module is now live and can be used to get your company’s skills into the system.

Before this upgrade, you had to manually create new categories and skills in the system. Although we have a skills library which you can choose from, this library cannot contain all possible skills across all fields, so you likely had to create a number of skills manually.

But not anymore!

Using the skills import feature, you can easily import your company’s complete skills list from a CSV document in one go. The process for importing skills is quite similar to the “people import” process, and here’s how it works.


How To Import Skills Into The System

1. Go to Admin > Skills Setup > Skills Import
Skills Import Link


2. Under “Import Skills & Categories”, click on the second link to download the CSV document, and then click on the first link to open a PDF guide containing import instructions.
Import Skills and Categories


3. Following the instructions in the PDF guide, populate the CSV document with the list of skills and qualifications you want to import.
Populated CSV file


4. Come back to the import page (Admin > Skills Setup > Skills Import), and click Launch Import.
Launch Import link


5. Set the import type to “Skills”, click on “Choose File” and select the populated CSV document, and click Import.
Import skills
The result should be as shown in the picture below.

Import Skills Report
So whether your list contains 1000 skills and qualifications, they are all created in the system in one hassle free import process.

We hope this update helps save your time and make your job easier. If you have any questions or suggestions about this or any other feature, please contact us about it; we would love to hear from you.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

8 Tips For Awesome Skills Management


Best Rating With Checkboxes

8 Tips For Awesome Skills Management

There was a time when a skills management system was simply a nice tool to have around; that time has passed.

As early as 2003, HR professionals at IBM realized that the rapidly changing business landscape meant that companies had to inventorize the skills of their workforce if they wanted to stay ahead of the competition and drive productivity.

Since then, many companies have caught on, and skills inventories have become quite common and – as many businesses state – quite essential to success.

But this kind of management is still relatively new, and you may find it hard to get information about skills management. In fact, if you Google the phrase “Skills Management”, you’d most likely get results about “Management Skills.”

And so beyond helping new clients understand how to use our system, we often also have to help them understand how to implement it in their company (to the best of our knowledge of course), as well as some best practices they should observe for better results.

For our blog this week, I’d be highlighting these practices that can help you successfully implement and use your skills management system.


Skills Management Best Practices

1. Ensure It Is Supported By Senior Management
Before you implement a skills management system, you should secure the commitment of top management. They have to be fully convinced of the business and financial benefits the system will yield.

These benefits usually come from better utilization of employee skills, better staffing for projects, more effective succession planning, and most importantly, a clear awareness of the talents needed for the success of the business, and a defined method for developing such talents.

Using these and other valid points, you have to get top management to buy into the idea of a skills inventory.

2. Allow Employees To Define The Skills Needed For Their Job Roles
If HR decides to create the skills inventory without consulting employees, you may end up with a system that is understood by HR, but foreign to employees. It is only natural that those who do the job everyday will have better knowledge about the skills needed for their day to day activities. And if you ignore their opinions when creating the system, you will have a hard time convincing them to use it.

“HR [needs] to get out of the business of defining the work. After all, those doing the work and those overseeing the work [are] the legitimate experts.” – SHRM Study Of IBM

Of course, HR has to set the guidelines and structures for collecting skills, but an advisory team made up of employees from the different parts of the company should suggest what goes into the skills list.

3. Avoid Complexity
When implementing the system, start with only those skills that are critical to the success of the business and allow your skills list to grow over time. There’s no need to try to capture every possible skill that may be related to the business all at once.

You can also avoid complexity by using a step by step approach when setting up your skills management system. These systems usually come packed with many features that may require time and effort to setup, and if you try to implement them all at once, you may get lost in the huge amount of work involved. It is best to start from one feature and expand from there.

For example, we usually tell new clients who plan to use the competency management part of our system to start by setting up the skills management part and making it good. After this is done, they can go on to setup competency management.

4. Present The System As An Employee Development Initiative
On a recent online conference, a client asked us how they can present the system to their employees without putting people on edge. This was a good question because, employees are usually skeptical when any kind of change takes place. As simple as remove the coffee maker from an office and you’d raise some eyebrows.

So don’t wait for employees to conceive flawed notions about the system and then try to convince them otherwise. It is better to communicate to them that the system will be used for developing employee skills and careers so as to put everyone at ease, and make them ready to use the system.

5. Organize Proper Training Sessions
Everyone needs to understand how the system functions and how they fit into it. It will expectedly take some time for your people to become familiar with the system, but you can help them get started with proper training.

A good model to follow is to train managers first and get them settled into the system, after which you should organize one or more training sessions for employees.

6. Make Employees Use The System
No, I’m not saying “force it on them.” Rather, you can make the system central to their day to day activities in such a way that they will want to use it.

For example, if you decide to select employees for projects, training, and promotions based on the skills they have entered in the system (which is indeed one of the best ways to select people), employees will want to use the system as those who do not will essentially be left behind.

7. Use It To Analyze Training Needs
The very nature of skills inventories means that they can provide the best insights into the training needs of your organization.

A skills inventory can help you identify skills that are critical to your organizational goals, but are currently in short supply, and you can, and should use this data to ensure all your training efforts are positioned to help your people acquire these business critical skills.

8. Learn To Use The Various Reporting Functions
Skills management systems usually offer quite a few reporting functions. Each one serves a different purpose and provides a different view of the strengths and weaknesses of your workforce.

But it is all too easy to find one or two reporting functions that serve your purpose, and stick to using them without exploring others.

If this sounds like you, you may be missing out on other powerful reports that can help you wrap your head around your workforce skills.


Basic Considerations For Best Practices

There are a ton of other factors that influence the decisions you make regarding your skills management initiative, and it will be impossible to cover them all.

However, before you take any action on your skills management system, ensure it is one that will –

1. Make the system easy to set up and manage,
2. Make employees use and value the system, and
3. Earn you the continued support of top management.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

New Feature: Live Walkthroughs For Administrators

Guided setup widget

New Feature: Live Walkthroughs For Administrators


You may have noticed a new widget at the bottom right of your screen each time you access Skills DB Pro.

Page with setup widget
Article Update: We moved this widget to the top right of the screen as it seemed to cover some functions in its previous position.

If you have been wondering what this button does, but have so far refused to click on it, because you (like me) would rather avoid anything that involves the word “setup”, then let me put you at ease.

This button actually opens up an on-page walkthrough that makes it easier for administrators to setup and use the system.

New clients who just started the initial setup process for their company can simply follow through from step 1 to the last step.

But besides the initial setup, this feature simplifies the day to day usage of Skills DB Pro. For example, if you were working with the system but forgot how to get something done, you would have to grab our user guide and skim for the answer, or maybe even contact us.

But with this new feature, you can simply click on the widget, select the topic that addresses what you want to accomplish, and the system walks you through each step.

The system covers many basic setup functions, and we will continue to add to it as we see fit, or according to your suggestions.

How Does It Work?

Let’s say I wanted to assign some employees to their department manager, here’s how I can get this done:

1. Click on the widget and select the appropriate guide from the list.
Item selected in widget

2. Follow the steps in the guide to assign employees as shown in the following screenshots.
Assign employees screenshot
Assign employees screenshot
Assign employee screenshots
Assign employee screenshots
Assign employee screenshots
Assign employee screenshots
Assign employee screenshots
As you can see, the walkthrough takes you through the whole process until you’ve completed the task you have in mind.

We hope this feature will help save your valuable time, and improve your general experience as you manage and optimize your workforce with Skills DB Pro.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support

Poor Recruitment Practices You Should Absolutely Avoid

Candidate emotions

Poor Recruitment Practices You Should Absolutely Avoid


Recruitment candidates are customers too.

A poor recruitment process could thus mean loss of customers in the form of candidates who are pissed off, and friends and relatives of such candidates who learn to avoid your brand in sympathy.

Just as you wouldn’t want to go back to a shop if you were treated badly, a candidate who has had a bad experience during recruitment may avoid further contact with the company involved.

David Leigh, chief executive of the psychometric testing firm SHL, put it this way: “A bad recruitment experience is at least as damaging as a bad consumer experience in store.”

And SHL does have the data to back this statement. A survey they conducted among some 1600 UK adults revealed that poor recruitment practices could cost your company quite a lot.

Close to a quarter of the respondents had suffered 2 or 3 bad recruitment experiences, and some 6% had suffered 5 or 6.

Of these, some 18% chose not to do any further business with the company at fault. This value is even higher (28%) for people between the ages of 25 – 34.

A mammoth 77% said that if a friend or family member has had a poor recruitment experience, it will deter them from being or remaining customers of that business.

A person who has never passed through a poor recruitment process may not be able to identify with the people polled in this study, but I can because I have.

I was once shortlisted for a job, contacted by the hiring manager and informed of the “many things” I needed to prepare, and then completely forgotten about.

Now I wouldn’t use this company’s products or services, not because I’m resentful, but because this experience has ingrained in me the belief that their customer service will be no better than their recruitment experience, whether this is true or not.

It is quite clear then that poor recruitment practices can harm a business, and according to the study quoted above, the top four of such practices indicated by respondents are:

1. Not being told they had been unsuccessful (46%).
2. Lack of feedback about their application (39%).
3. Not acknowledging receipt of their application (39%), and
4. Not receiving feedback even after completing an interview (37%).

Candidate staring at phone
Poor communication with candidates may affect their view of your company.

SHL however performed another survey, this time from the perspective of recruiters.

Of the 500 professional recruiters surveyed, 25% felt overstretched due to the rise in the number of people applying for jobs.

Of these, 1 in 5 could not find the time to inform candidates that their applications had been received, and some 15% were too busy to inform candidates that their applications were unsuccessful.

Clearly, recruiters have not simply decided to abandon courtesy. In some instances, it is the current increase in job applications that has brought recruitment practices to this nadir.

Nonetheless, if 1 in 5 could not find time to inform candidates, this means the other 4 who were also overstretched, found the time to dignify candidates with a response.

So, although the workload on recruiters is appreciated, the fact remains that those who are not doing so well as per the four complaints above may need to give more attention to the recruitment process, and how well candidates are kept in the loop.

This is actually more important than many realize. A short while before the experience I mentioned above occurred, I entered into a week-long recruitment process with a different company. But due to some unforeseen events at the start of the week, I wasn’t able to meet their deadlines (but still had a chance to get the job).

At the end however, I received a kind email informing me that I didn’t make the cut. After this experience, I would still gladly use, and recommend this company’s products to others, and the difference between this experience and the one above is (would you believe it) a nice email.

In our world of templates and mass emailing, keeping candidates informed really isn’t so hard. A candidate doesn’t necessarily need their name mentioned in a rejection email to get the point.

Thus you can create a simple email template that says “Dear Applicant, We are sorry to inform you that………” and then mass email this template to those who didn’t make the cut. This way, you will only need a few minutes to reach out to candidates each time.

Of course, if you can personalize the email, all the better. The underlying point remains that candidates should not be left in the dark.

As Angela Baron of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development puts it: “A nice e-mail doesn’t cost much…… People really get upset when they invest a lot of time and energy in an application and hear nothing.”

Worse yet, although “a nice e-mail doesn’t cost much”, the lack thereof could cost your company tremendously in lost customers.


By: Mesheal Fegor
Sales & Support