The Week That Was

The practical use of stay interviews to measure employee engagement topped this week’s top five stories read on Talentmgt.com.

1. How to Measure Engagement With a Stay Interview: Stay interviews are essentially informal conversations between managers and their direct reports — not to mention one of the most valuable measures of employee engagement out there. Talent Management editor Frank Kalman has the story.

2. Teach Employees to Set Life-Changing Goals: Instead of mindlessly running with the herd, employees should identify criteria for leading their lives and have the wherewithal to follow through, writes columnist Marshall Goldsmith.

3. Nine Ways to Make Top Performers Effective Managers: Top-performing individuals don’t instantly become top-performing managers. To succeed, new managers require time, training and guidance, writes Derek Finkelman and Jonathan Corke.

4. Don’t Let Employees Reach Their Boiling Point: When employee tensions mount in the workplace, incivility can take a toll on engagement and performance. Use these tips to defuse such situations, lest things get out of hand, writes Talent Management editor Mohini Kundu.

5. Employee Satisfaction Grows With Ongoing Feedback, Rewards: Employee recognition can increase motivation, engagement and productivity. These techniques can help, writes Derek Irvine, vice president of client strategy and consulting for employee-recognition provider Globoforce.

In Other News

Tuesday, June 5, marked a turning point for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): It was the first day a updated version of the test, which includes a new integrated reasoning section, was introduced to test takers.

And, according to this report in The Wall Street Journal, the revelation had a swarm of prospective business school students hurrying to take the exam in the last month before the new section went into effect.

The integrated reasoning section — a group of 12 questions that requires test-takers to read and sort complex charts and analyze data from multiple sources — replaces an essay portion of the test.

According to the report in the Journal, the new section is intended to “gauge how well applicants can handle the more data-driven courses that business schools have been introducing as preparation for complicated problems in the real world.”

The Journal report also said that the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the exam, said test-taker volume in April and May rose “quite significantly” from the same period a year ago.

The report even told the story of one test-taker who who took the GMAT exam recently despite suffering multiple injuries in a serious motorcycle accident just three weeks earlier.

“After receiving emergency room attention for a head wound, twisted ankle and hand injury,” the Journal report said, “and spending a week on painkillers, he took the test as scheduled because ‘he didn’t want to have to learn a new question type.'”

Productivity Down

Also, U.S. worker productivity slipped by a 0.9 percent annual rate in the first quarter, a sharper drop than the 0.5 percent initially reported by the government, Reuters reported Wednesday.

To read various accounts of the report, click here, here and here.