productivity

Politics, Fraught Employees, and Management Actions

You have seen the big uptick in hate crimes locally and nationally. Perhaps you have read articles about the impact of political divisions on work activities. I remember when I was a kid that racial and religious slurs were common language – and cringe every time I hear someone decry political correctness when what they mean is freedom to say such things again. The SHRM magazine even has a cover this month on “The Age of Rage.”

Are you seeing evidence of employees arguing more or ignoring each other instead? Have you had any incidents of harassment or discrimination in your workplace? Have you felt a need to address these issues but wondered how to do so?  Are you just hoping to avoid this topic?

First, the laws have not changed. If you are covered by EEO laws because you have 15 or more employees, you may wish to remind all employees of the harassment and discrimination rules as a part of an employee newsletter or meeting. Tell them also that diversity has been shown to improve business success and profitability which helps them keep their jobs.

Most importantly, your values have not changed. If your values include respect, ethical behavior, communications, trust, a positive workplace – or many others – remind staff of these values and how you expect people to demonstrate them at work. Pushing a political viewpoint on others or ignoring/harassing those who disagree with one is not a behavior you want to allow in the workplace. Harassing people who are different from one is another area you want to make clear is unacceptable.

If you are not sure if you have a problem, listen to your staff more. Ask a trusted employee about any […]

By |April 24th, 2017|productivity, Smart practices|Comments Off on Politics, Fraught Employees, and Management Actions

Managing Performance 2: Orientation for Success

When a job offer is accepted, the individual begins a period of transition which is critical in setting the tone for success. Research indicates that most people start a new job with enthusiasm and a very positive view of the company and the job opportunity. They want to succeed and grow.

Management failures in both hiring and the first few months are directly responsible for most attrition within the first two years. Yes, and for most performance problems as well. You can avoid many problems with an effective hiring and orientation process. Once you have hired someone with the right skills, attitude, and abilities, you control most other success factors. These factors are knowledge, tools, and motivation.

Smart employers begin supporting the new employee before the person starts. You should make arrangements for the tools the person needs so that all are available when the person starts work. These tools includes work space/facilities, equipment, materials, and information on important procedures and practices.  You may want to send required paperwork out to the person before they start so that they can fill it out and bring it with them on the first day and minimize that aspect of orientation.  Staying in touch, especially if it will be 3-4 weeks before the person starts, also can be done with a few quick interesting texts or emails.

Inform other employees of the new person’s function and background so that they are prepared to welcome and assist the person. You should introduce the person to other employees as quickly as possible after the person starts work. Start with the immediate co-workers and then others in the organization with whom this person will interact.

The smartest way to help develop a successful employee […]

By |July 9th, 2015|productivity|Comments Off on Managing Performance 2: Orientation for Success

3 Top Tips for Reference Checking

Smart employers still check references and learn a lot about their preferred hire. But many small businesses just assume that they will not get any info beyond title and date confirmation. Or they think they know the applicant already and do not bother to check.

How do you get useful information?

1. Ask finalists for the right references – request at least four or five previous bosses, project leaders, others with knowledge of the person’s performance, each with current phone or email information. Entry level person? Ask for part-time work bosses, volunteer managers, professors/teachers. Tell the applicant when you are going to call the reference and who will make the call.

2. Create a basic script to use with the references. Tell the person a bit about your organization, the specific position, and that you need their help so you can hire the person. Build rapport. Ask questions about the critical elements of the job, starting with the easy questions. Remember to ask some questions to help you assess if they can succeed in your culture.

Listen to what each reference says and how they say it. Enthusiastic descriptions of past work are valuable but so are the long pauses and polite but limited responses.

If you get told that they cannot give a reference due to company policy, ask if you can call them at home. If they say no, ask for someone else they think can give a real reference but who is no longer with the company. Most references want to help IF the applicant has asked them to do so and told them you are calling. If they have not, what does that tell you about the applicant?

Think about the applicant – do you know […]

Improve your Surroundings

There is interesting research about the impact of negativity in the workplace. Regularly negative people significantly reduce productivity and creativity of those who work with them.

Which leads to the question: Who is the most negative person you deal with regularly?

If you are like most small business or non-profit leaders, you do have someone in your organization or on your Board who is consistently negative. S/he might be someone with a classic negative reaction to all change or a personality that sees their world through dark lenses. We are not talking about those who sometimes offer negative opinions or are realistically reacting to tough situations. We are talking about consistently ‘negative nellies.’

Some negativity is useful. Such people can provide a realistic voice in many discussions. They serve as a check on those of us who have a ton of new ideas but no filters. They may be a part of your unspoken ‘risk management’ process even.

Still a consistently negative person, no matter how good they otherwise are at their role, takes a toll on those around them. And they infect others with negative responses. You must assess whether their value outweighs those aspects. And think quite clearly about how they influence or impact your own leadership.

Could you reduce or eliminate dealing with this person? Is it worth a frank discussion or is this behavior so consistent that perhaps replacing this person to save the rest of your organization is really needed?

Giving up ‘Always On’

Saw a short article recently stating about 17% of people who participate in giving something up for Lent were reducing their social media time and turning off their smartphones for periods each day. Whether you could actually manage to do this or not, it raises interesting questions.

How do you grow and run your business successfully when you do not make time for uninterrupted thought and planning? Many successful CEOs schedule regular time for such work and give it their undivided attention.

What legals risks do you take, without thinking, if you are given to emailing your employees outside normal work hours? Worse yet, what is this doing to your employees’ creativity and engagement?

Research shows that multi-tasking is a myth. Our brains love the feeling of being important which being always connected provides. But they do not function effectively when doing more than one thing at a time, even though most of us believe we are being more effective!

What message are you giving to others when you check messages during a meeting? A meal? An event? If you do not respect their time and are not committed enough to pay full attention, why are you there?

OK, I can and do shut always-on connections down regularly. Can you? Do you? Now, can I give up mindless TV late each night….

HR Tips for 2014

Just had a great group at an Alexandria SBDC seminar on HR, lots of good questions and networking. One of the first discussions was the usefulness of an HR calendar. Take an annual calendar from any system you use regularly and:

Add in all legal compliance dates that apply to your business. These include due dates for getting out W-2 and 1099 forms, OSHA logs, EEO reports if you are covered.
Put on your benefits policy renewal or due dates if you offer benefits. Figure in when you will do open enrollment.
Look at your planned hiring for the year – and work backwards to when you need to start your process to fill each position. Put that on your calendar.
Schedule regular employee communications. Whether you write a short email or do a formal newsletter or just a ‘state of the business’ note – regular communications of what is going on, what your goals are, customer/client information are critical. Having them on your calendar helps you do them on-time.

Other things you might want to add include company events, payroll dates, pay reviews, employee recognition dates.

This calendar will help keep you focused on upcoming needs for your attention and action. That reduces your stress and helps cut last second goat-ropes. This is a simple process that pays big.

Be sure you keep the calendar somewhere where you see it regularly. And can use it easily. That may be in any format or method that works for you. But do try it for a year and you will discover how useful it really is.

Happy New Year!

Now is the time of articles on all the things you should start doing now for a successful year. My contrary view is that you might be wiser to think about what you should stop doing now.

Too often we do work, keep practices and policies, even hire people just because we have done so this far. One of the smartest things most of us could do would be to look at what we should stop doing. What is not really worth your time? What is no longer productive for anyone to do? What are you doing because,,, just, because? Cut it out!

Health, productivity, and joy for 2014! I look forward to wishing you these in person soon.

Oh, no! Spring Cleaning! Oh, yes! Productivity Jumps!

Okay, maybe you don’t react to the first signs of Spring with a “Wow, let’s get rid of the clutter and mess!” moment. Not my first thought certainly! Mine runs to the beauty: trees turning every shade of green, flowers poking up, and the rainbow which flowering trees and shrubs add.

But clearing out the clutter is well worth a bit of your time and effort.  At work, spring cleaning can be a great way to re-focus on what is important. Whether you do a marathon clean one day or 30 minutes each morning for two weeks, you can enhance your effectiveness and productivity.

I just got rid of three boxes of old paper files –the client sold his company in 2005. And a fast review of those piles around my desk resulted in more things going into the recycle bin than the action box. My vice is paper – books, articles, research papers, clippings. Yours may be all the stuff you get at trade shows, business cards from meeting, or the business development ideas you have stuffed everywhere. Clean it all out! Either take action or make it go away.

Most offices have duplicate copies of files, business records, and client information. Keep a master, as needed.  Get rid of all the copies. Then treat yourself to a small reward. If you have staff, you can make it a game. Offer a prize for the most paper put into recycle boxes. Sure, you need to have some guidelines so that you do not lose some valuable information but simple ones will suffice. And everyone will have an easier time finding what they need, storing the stuff that they currently are piling up, and getting on to important achievements. One 20 person client did that […]