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WANT TO HIRE THE BEST?

Planning hiring is a standard part of business planning. But too often we just plug in a standard title and some $$ in the budget and think it is done.
Want to hire the best matches for your needs?
Want to hire people who will succeed and stay?
Top Tips for Smart Hiring

Tip 1. Develop a recruiting plan for new hires – and use it for replacements also. Include these parts for each potential position:

desired attributes, specific skills, attributes to avoid, possible demographics
potential sources of candidates
application and selection process

Commonly we focus on specific technical or professional skills we are seeking and we might add ‘soft skills’ like good communications or ability to maintain confidentiality. But you want to really focus on the ‘whole person’ you need. In defining desired attributes as well as specific skills, you help yourself focus on cultural fit – the attributes needed to succeed in your organization and the position.

You may also want to realize what attributes you want to avoid. “Don’t hire jerks” is a recent push.  Many companies have tolerated jerks if they brought in revenue or were technically brilliant in a core field.

If you want to broaden the creativity of your group, plan for possible retirements, or know you are losing a key person; then you also may want to consider demographics. This is rarely a ‘must have’ but more usually a preference. You might want some maturity in one position and someone with a different industry background for another. I, of course, hope you will also consider hiring a veteran.

Tip 2. Consider potential sources of candidates.

Have your best people come from one or two specific sources?
Do you encourage employees to refer people for your open positions?
Are you working […]

Top Tips for Checking References Successfully

Some executives think that checking references is impossible. “No one will answer honestly” or “All I get is those automated systems” are common complaints. Many admit to not even trying to check references because they assume it will be useless and time wasted.

Yet, references can add significantly to your understanding of whether a candidate will succeed in your organization. And doing reference checks may protect you from problems, turnover, and legal risks.

Sure, you may need to call some people at home if they are unwilling to talk at work. Or you may want to stress that you want to hire the person but need to complete reference checks to do so to get more information.

How do effective reference checks happen?

Tip 1. One of the smartest things you can do is create a reference check format to help guide the conversation. This should include a bit about your culture and vision as well as the most critical elements of the job and of what it takes to succeed in your world.  Basic format:

Who you are and why you are calling.
Say you appreciate their time and that the applicant gave them as a reference.
Start with the easy questions of how the person knows the applicant and for how long.
Check where they worked together and what each did.
Talk about your organization and then ask about any soft skills that are important to succeeding – creativity or dependability or team work or whatever.
Discuss the job basics and ask how the person rates the applicant on the most important ones.
Move on to areas where the applicant could grow further and what it would take for that to happen.
Before you close, ask for anyone else who might be another reference […]

By |December 1st, 2014|hiring|0 Comments

Compensation Tips

Now is the time many organizations start thinking about the next year’s pay raises. Before you start the hunt for ‘market rates’, projected pay raise averages (overall 3.1% for 2105), budget or other data – think a bit about what you are paying for.

Very few founders, CEOs, or senior executives have thought about their philosophy of compensation directly. Fewer still have tied it to their desired culture.  And so, over the decades, I have talked about these issues with many senior folks.

Often I also use a short quiz and set up scenarios like this:

You have two people in the same role, both are equally productive.

And I ask a series of questions about how one would calculate the pay raise for each. One question is: John comes in early and stays late every day, he works many long hours each week. Tom works his regular schedule but rarely puts in extra time unless helping others.

And nearly 3/4 say that they would give John a larger raise.

Do you see the issue? Most do not until I ask why they are rewarding the person who cannot get their work done in a timely manner over the one who does. Remember – the conditions were that both were equally productive. So Tom is doing the same amount and quality of work in less time than John.

As you think about your salary planning for next year, here are some questions to ask yourself. Pick the top three in each and rank order those.

1. Do we want to compensate for:

individual productivity
teamwork
cost of living changes
our financial success
increased productivity
market pricing changes
seniority
clients increase
revenue growth (funding growth for non-profits)

Think, for example, how many organizations say that they value teamwork highly. How many actually base […]

PAYING EMPLOYEES – MAKE IT MORE THAN JUST ANOTHER EXPENSE

You have seen the pay forecasts for 2015 of 3.1% increases. But what does that mean to you? To your organization? To your employees?

Small organizations cannot afford the big compensation research and expertise of large ones. But you can be sure your pay program supports the values and goals of your own organization without all the information and processes they have. And you can gather relevant, current market data from your network plus state and federal labor market information.

The first step is to think about your mission, your values, your goals. How do pay and benefits fit into these? Want some insight into how companies address these issues? Look at the very different pay and benefit structures of Walmart and Costco. These are well documented, so a little searching will show you how Costco values employee retention and development as critical to customer service and thus pays higher wages and offers more benefits while Walmart is willing to accept high turnover to keep pay and benefits low.

In preparing your pay budget for 2015, it also helps to know a little about others. In 2013, 87% of companies gave pay raises. But very few gave every employee a raise. Most companies try to tie high performance to higher pay raises. In practice this means that lower performance levels mean no or under 0.5% pay raises

High performance is an obvious choice to base pay raises on. However, to support your culture and goals, you may want to consider other reasons to increase pay. If your organization is in an area of rapidly changing technology, you might reward the employees who learn new skills. If customer service is critical, that may be a factor.

Critical to any successful […]

Humans & Computers: Recipe for Trouble

I’ve just spent a week fighting desktop and laptop issues for too many hours.
A client is suing a former executive who took client lists, then approached them to transfer business to his new firm before he left their firm.
JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot… and the list goes on of huge system data breaches.

While many solopreneurs rely on family or friends for ‘IT support”, once you have employees you cannot do that. The employee issues related to computer, communications, smart phones, ‘bring your own devices’, security, and cloud usage are critical to your business.

Do you – and your employees – understand what information is where and how it is safeguarded?
Do you have an information repository? Retention guidelines? Policies to protect your organization?
Do you know which laws apply to your electronic communications and software?
If an employee took a lot of company proprietary information would you know? Could you trace it or delete it remotely from the smartphone or other device used?
What if the person revealed sensitive data on social media?

I regularly have dealt with clients:

* whose employees who took company data on clients, critical intellectual property, or pricing info to use at another employer or to start their own business.
* who are investigating an employee and need to search out any relevant information which may be online or in electronic files.
* with ex-employees who ‘forget’ to return company laptops and data.

All I have lost this week is time, a few documents – and my patience. Before you lose anything, talk to your IT advisor or support company. If you do not have one, now is the time!

What do you need to know about that might affect your organization?
What services can they provide to protect you from employee […]

RETIREMENT – MORE THAN A BUCKET LIST ISSUE

Have you actually thought much about retirement? Do you, like many, intend to get around to thinking about it …. sometime?

Do you love your work so that you fool yourself into believing that you will never retire? That your circumstances will never change?

For years I have talked to CEOs and organizations that did not see any reason to think about the changing nature of retirement. Anyone with relatives over 85 (the fastest growing demographic in the USA) caught on fast though.  What happens when our lifespans are commonly passing 80 years but our work-lives are barely half that? And our systems and many mindsets are still geared for early retirement with some years of play…. then simply disappearing?

A century ago, we worked until we died or became disabled. The Depression and WWII gave us Social Security and pensions. Starting in the 1970s, a ‘golden age’ of retirements was supported by personal savings plus defined pension plans plus Social Security – at least for those in larger companies and government.

Retirement has both financial and personal aspects: many of us don’t plan for either.

Most important: do some personal ‘what-if’ planning. Studies show that women still are more likely to be the care-givers. But anyone can, as I have, end up caring for several older relatives in their last years. Dealing with the medical, emotional, and physical issues is not easy. All these and others related to aging family take far more time and energy than you expect — even if you can afford good help. And this hits your business directly, often disastrously.

For those of us fully invested in our work, planning the personal side is even harder than the financial. Yet it is critical too. […]

TO HIRE … OR NOT TO HIRE?

Some entrepreneurs rush to hire too many, too soon and cannot support them. Others wait too long and do too much low margin work hindering their success.

The decision about whether and when to add staff is always a tough one. And these economic times make it more emotionally charged. Getting the help you need to grow and succeed is critical.

So how do you decide when or whether to hire?  Ask yourself:

Question 1: Is the need actually long-term and at the core of my business?

In this case, an employee may be the best bet. Example: if you are a small organization and can hire a person who will directly support current clients, you free some time to grow the business. A retailer may be able to add hours or serve customers faster and thus increase revenue with an extra hire.

Question 2: Would out-sourcing be worth considering?

Even with a core mission and long term need, you may want to consider other options. Some functions are smart to out-source due to the technical nature of the work or the need for constant personnel/equipment upgrading. IT services come immediately to mind. Others that are critical to your success may also be in this category. Functions may also be done by a contractor, such as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant.

Question 3: Is the need for a specific period of time?

Such work, whether for a brief period or many months, may be most effectively done by hiring someone specifically as a short-term employee or via a temporary staffing agency.

Question 4: Does the work require expertise you don’t have?

Here you may consider hiring a management or specialized consultant or a freelancer, depending on the type of work, project demands, and […]

By |September 8th, 2014|hiring|0 Comments

LABOR DAY

So what do you really think about when you hear “Labor Day”? Big sales? School starting? Last beach holiday? Last summer BBQ?

Labor Day is designed to recognize the contribution of labor to our society and economy. It has been around since President Cleveland recommended it in 1887!

All of us who work – at whatever job – are ‘labor.’ Yet recent research indicates over 55% of workers say they did not receive any recognition from their bosses in the past year. And nearly 3/4th say they did not receive any feedback. Which may be why 65% feel underpaid and nearly 70% are interested in changing jobs.

Labor Day may just be another three-day weekend to you.

But what if you harnessed the concept of recognizing the contributions it represents within your own organization? Which ways can you think of to do so which will reinforce the culture you want to have? What might actually matter to your employees?

Enjoy the Labor Day holiday. Take a bit of time off from all your electronics to do so.

Then, starting next week, put an hour aside weekly for two-three weeks and look at what you can do effectively to recognize the value of ‘labor’ to your success and future. Consider asking a few informal leaders for ideas – but only if you plan to actually do something. Or chose a small team – say a leader, a good employee, a rebel – to define some options.

One client CEO keeps a running record of employee achievements – things he notices, those managers report, client comments, and employee thanks to other employees. He includes one in each week’s memo to all staff. A continuous record exists too. They are highlighted in client communications, […]

Tips – Culture and Success

I talk often with clients on the topic of their culture and how it is manifest in their daily activities, procedures, and practices. Culture is critical to business success.  Yet many organizations have not designed or managed theirs, so it exists more by default than intention. Even more have developed significant differences between what they say and what they do. Think how many say they want teamwork but all rewards and raises are done individually, for one common example.

This SlideShare presentation by Reed Hastings is an excellent example of how to think about an organization’s culture and what it really values. It is clear about many of their choices and decision points. Their culture is not something you want to copy, you may agree with it a little or a lot. Still, it should give you ideas to consider. But the presentation is a great way to get your brain thinking about culture and what that really means in daily actions.  http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664

Your organization’s culture needs to be based on your business reality and values. It needs to support your business goals and drive your policies and practices to be effective.

An effective culture also reduces your risks and enhances productivity as people understand what it takes to be successful and what is valued. Changing a bad culture is far more difficult work. Far better to think about your organization’s regularly and tune-up as needed.

One of the interesting assignments I have done recently was a part of a turn-around process that included culture reassessment. The client CEO and team worked through a values clarification exercise together and then turned that into behavior expectations. We developed practices based on that. Several years ago I did a similar […]

By |August 5th, 2014|culture|0 Comments

COMPENSATION & CULTURE

Now is the time many organizations start thinking about the next year’s pay raises. Before you start the hunt for ‘market rates’, projected pay raise averages, budget or other data – think a bit about what you are paying for.

Very few founders, CEOs, or senior executives have thought about their philosophy of compensation directly. Fewer still have tied it to their desired culture.

And so, over the decades, I have talked about these issues with many senior folks. Often I also use a short quiz and set up the scenario:
You have two people in the same role, both are equally productive.
And I ask a series of questions about how one would calculate the pay raise for each. One question is: John comes in early and stays late every day, he works many long hours each week. Tom works his regular schedule but rarely puts in extra time unless asked to help others.

And nearly 3/4 say that they would give John a larger raise.

Do you see the issue? Most do not until I ask why they are rewarding the person who cannot get their work done in a timely manner over the one who does. Remember – the conditions were that both were equally productive. So Tom is doing the same amount and quality of work in less time than John.
As you think about your salary planning for next year, here are some questions to ask yourself. Pick the top three in each and rank order those.

1. Do we want to compensate for:
– individual productivity
– teamwork
– cost of living changes
– our financial success
– increased productivity
– market pricing changes
– seniority
– client growth
– revenue growth (funding growth for non-profits)

2. Will an individual be rewarded with a base salary […]