HR tips come in all shapes and sizes. However, the best tips are from experienced people managers.
A tip, and an unwritten rule, for working in a Japanese office is that you usually work in silence. When I worked in a Japanese company, my record was working eleven hours without saying a word to anyone. I practiced that task day after day. After sitting in silence for twelve months, I know myself well.
Learning the unwritten rules of any workplace can take time. All experienced HR managers know that. As well as concrete documented processes, you tend to pick up abstract rules during your career. As I progressed in a Japanese office, I discovered other unwritten rules, but for the moment, I’m going to share five unwritten rules we’ve collected from experienced HR experts in this Process Street article.
Here are 5 HR tips you need to know:
- Excellent communication comes from good relationships
- Be an active listener to employee feedback
- Make employee onboarding personal
- Simplify your process
- Let automation do the work for you
HR tip #1: Excellent communication comes from good relationships
Building relationships with other departments and the people in them is the quickest way to build good communication. If you’re looking for a way to improve your communication, the easiest way is to try and treat everyone as a friend.
“Remember, you work with people, not robots; treat them as such.”– Matthew Kirby, Board Member, Honest Human Resources Consulting, LLC
Formal communication is quick and honest. It’s also best when it’s easy. Social technology such as social media platforms allows for fast and open communication. With everyone in your office choosing to be well-connected on one platform, such as Slack, you save time on endless meetings and can make your point clear.
Comments that are productive
At Process Street, we take notice of the communication value in social technologies. Our workflows allow employees to add comments to every task in a workflow run. The comment can be anything from how to make improvements to details of any obstacles. Comments have increased our productivity and effectiveness.
Being open to comments and criticism fosters a personal relationship between employees and managers.
“You want meetings that make progress, that challenge our perspectives, that bring us closer together, and where we choose to tackle the most important questions, such as how do I help my staff do their most vibrant work?”– Jeff Harry, Workplace Consultant, Rediscover Your Play
Colleagues and friends
Most employees cite relationships as the reason to stay with an organization. Employees who become close friends with colleagues in the workplace are 50% happier. It’s true that nearly all of us, mainly when new in a position, rely on other employees to help and guide us. HR best practices such as giving us a buddy are old school but still crucially important.
“The research shows that 70% of an employee’s satisfaction comes down to the relationship with their direct leader.”– Ben Eubanks, Chief Research Officer, Lighthouse Research & Advisory
Great relationships are what can put the human back into human resources. They help staff feel appreciated, give them a sense of belonging, and let them know their contribution is known.
Mary Schaefer, a consultant specializing in talent development, offers her views on how to make employees feel appreciated:
HR tip #2: Be an active listener to employee feedback
An active listener encourages employee feedback, and more importantly, they are willing to hear it.
Active listening is an in-demand soft skill. In fact, having a leader with soft talents can increase a team’s performance by 30%. By actively listening, you can build honest connections with your employees.
Active listening involves:
- Avoiding distraction when being spoken to;
- Paying attention;
- Showing that you’re listening;
- Waiting to disclose your opinion;
- Withholding judgment.
HR managers must try to be active listeners. An excellent way to start is by making your processes transparent and open to employee feedback.
“HR Managers are integral to the effectiveness and collaboration between an organization and its employees – they are the listeners.”– Traci Rubin, Director of Employee Engagement at Legion Technologies and the host of Bringing the Human back to Human Resources Podcast
Make everything crystal clear
You can make your documents transparent and available to all employees using an online knowledge base. As well as storing your employee handbook online, you could also add your:
With transparent documentation comes employee feedback. It’s a fact that employees who feel listened to are five times more likely to produce their best work. One of the best human resources tips is to run anonymous employee satisfaction surveys to capture honest feedback.
“Feedback is the driving force behind the successful development of the employees you support.”– Matthew Kirby, Board Member, Honest Human Resources Consulting, LLC
Giving and receiving feedback well is something we all have to learn.
HR tip #3: Make employee onboarding personal
To make employee onboarding personal, you can use feedback to make your new hire feel listened to from their first day. This shows that their opinion is valued and will likely make them want to stay with you for the long term. Getting new hire input on the onboarding process is a great way to begin an employee’s career and not something they are likely to forget.
“The key thing we see missing in onboarding is letting the employee know how they participate and add value to your purpose, mission, and values. Don’t forget! Onboarding is not training, don’t confuse the two.”– Ron Lovett, Founder & Chief Alignment Officer of HR training for recruitment and alignment of frontline staff
The personal touch makes a long journey easier
But, nearly 70% of employees will likely stay with you for three years if they experience great onboarding.
“Nothing beats that personal touch to the onboarding process, such as getting the team to share their favorite foods or sending personal welcoming messages to the new employee before they arrive.
Asking the new employee to share a few things about themself before they arrive helps the team to get an insight into who they are. These things add a personal touch to your onboarding process.”– Julie Turney, Founder & CEO of HR@Heart Consulting Inc
One of the most reliable human resources rules is to make onboarding the most crucial thing on your daily checklist.
“Prioritize employee onboarding, and make sure it’s intentional for each new employee.
Not only because first impressions are important, but also because a great employee onboarding process will set your new employees up for success, show them how excited you are to have them there, and set the tone for their entire time working with your organization.”– Ashley Chain, Director of People & Operations at Process Street
HR tip #4: Simplify your process
A process needs to be simplified to make it more effective and accessible. With globalization, modern organizations face an increasingly complicated marketplace. They can look to project or business process management in completing tasks and processes.
Project management is the ability to deliver a project successfully according to its goals and limitations. Project management completes a project by using:
Simple, but effective
Onboarding is most effective when run through business process management. An ongoing process, onboarding is subject to constant improvement. Project management is a one-off event. A completed project is not usually improved, unlike human resources.
“The simple and genuine is natural. Decentralizing leadership, in a way that each person is the leader of a part of the whole, also allowing the generation of confidence between people and increasing the value of teams, to naturally accelerate the flow of processes.”– David Hernan Tardini, Head of Agile, Capgemini Invent
Enjoy the benefits of simplicity
“Take the time to document processes and policies and make them readily accessible.”– Ashley Chain, Director of People & Operations at Process Street
HR tip #5: Let automation do the work for you
“Using automation and AI (like chatbots) to streamline simple questions and answers, schedule interviews, send reminders, and so on can help reduce time spent on responding to frequently asked questions from candidates and employees.
This technology has already moved from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for recruiters and HR teams so they can spend more time on high-touch tasks.”– Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com and recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer
Don’t follow the paper trail
“Automate as much as possible. In a lean company and department like ours, it’s so important that we aren’t relying on our memory to know the ins and outs of all the processes we’re in charge of.”– Ashley Chain, Director of People & Operations at Process Street
Automate to reduce work
The benefits of HR automation can boost efficiency and also:
“Using Process Street to not only document the different tasks that need to be completed, but to also automate as many of those tasks as possible saves us so much time that we can spend doing something that a computer can’t do!”– Ashley Chain, Director of People & Operations at Process Street
If you’d like to look at HR automation in more detail, you can run workflows in your free Process Street account. We offer a free demo, and you can look at your gallery of templates where tasks such as background checks, onboarding, and even employee surveys are available.
Rules not written on paper
Oh, and the Japanese office rules I mentioned at the beginning of this article?
To elaborate, the people I worked with let me off whenever I accidentally made an etiquette mistake in the Japanese company. I did learn from experience, and below is a list you can refer to if you ever find yourself in the same position.
The five unwritten rules of a Japanese office
1. Excellent communication comes from good relationships
I met the company owner on my first day. I accepted his business card. Without knowing the Japanese formality, I took the card with both hands and placed it on the table instead of shoving it in my wallet.
I later discovered I’d accepted the card with perfect etiquette. I didn’t realize I’d done it correctly until later reading about it.
2. To be an active listener, you need to know what “Ano” means
This Japanese word serves as a pause and means “Excuse me.” In the United Kingdom, people say “Er.”
In my first few office meetings, I thought Ano was the name of a person at the company.
3. Being silent around you isn’t personal
Silence is a gesture to show that someone feels comfortable in your presence or is happy with an action you have carried out.
I once managed to get a last-minute reservation at a great restaurant. My girlfriend was so silent during the meal that I started discussing egg-fried rice with a waitress. If you’re new and still onboarding in a Japanese office, take silence as a great compliment.
4. Simplify your body language
The Japanese often see hand gestures as threatening. Even if waving your hand politely for someone to go through a door first, it’s better to use a simple head movement. When nodding to someone in a superior position to your own, make your bow deeper.
Body language also applies to sitting down. I was seated near a window far away from the entrance door of my office. I later discovered the significance of the seating arrangement from a Japanese colleague. People of lesser status sit closer to the door, and more important people further away from it. Despite that, I tried to keep my ego in check. Although, when in McDonald’s, I always sit near a window far from the entrance door.
5. Automatically looking down at the floor and smiling to yourself as someone walks past
Tip five is a secret way to let someone in the office know you find them attractive.
“On the path in the desolate field, the shadows overlapped and parted.”– Hisajo Sugita, Japanese poet
Please let us know about your unwritten rules in the comments box below. We’d also love to read your thoughts about our 5 HR tips!