human resources

Culture – Fad or Real?

‘Culture’ is again a hot topic in the business world. Studies show it has significant effects on success and growth. Yet few smaller organizations focus on creating an effective culture.

Whether you consciously planned it or not, your organization has a culture. And when you try to do something new, you see the negative effects often. But the positive aspects of culture can help you succeed if you develop them.

When I do organizational assessments, a common result is a divergence between what executives say they have as a culture and what their practices actually are. Too often, basic practices and policies have simply been borrowed from other organizations but are wrong for this organization’s needs and goals.

Perhaps you never consciously tried to create a culture. Or the culture you originally developed is not what you now need. Or worse, the culture you thought you had created is not what you actually have. Aligning your culture, your policies, and your actual practices is critical for success. As you look forward, take a look at your existing culture and practices.
* Are they what you want?
* Are they what you expected?
* How do you know if your answers are truly correct?

Will the existing culture support your strategic and business plans? If not, what are you going to do? How?

More from a pioneer on the importance of culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Schein

By |September 30th, 2013|culture|0 Comments

No, No… Not Me, Not Networking

Research consistently shows that it is the entrepreneurs with the extensive network who are most likely to succeed. Yet many small business founders do little to grow and enhance – or even use – their network. How about you?

A real value of a good network is the connections it allows you to make to ideas, services and support you need to develop your business and succeed. You want people with technical and business expertise that complements yours. Add those with wide-ranging interests and specialists – both help you with the future. Plus friends for support and peers for inside info. Attending professional events, including those the Alexandria SBDC offers, is an easy way to meet new people who may be valuable in your network.

When you need to hire employees, your network can often provide referrals who match your needs far better than an ad or job posting. The trick here is to be specific about what you need, what results you expect from the new hire, and what your company offers and expects. Clearly communicate all that to your network and ask for help. The candidates you receive this way are generally better qualified in terms of the job and a better match in terms of your culture.

The same process is useful when you need outside services, advisors, or referrals to competent attorneys, CPAs, consultants, etc.

Network Effectively

Start by carving out a bit of time daily over two weeks to look the people you know already. Decide how to connect or re-connect. Will you use LinkedIn, another online tool, the phone, or what? Improve your most relevant connections first. What do you want and what will you give in return? Don’t forget your community or personal contacts, they offer a lot more […]

By |September 4th, 2013|networking|0 Comments

Growth Starts “At Home”

Many of us understand the importance of building the capacity of our business, but ourselves? Not so much. Developing your skills and knowledge are important. Developing your personal capacity for resilience is critical.

Resilience allows you to push past difficulties, cope with tough times, and maintain your health. All those are vital to any entrepreneur, not to mention to most humans!

Sure you already know what you should be taking care of (yourself, your health, and all those new year’ resolutions)… so how do you understand and build your personal resilience quotient?

First, learn how your brain works.

Do you understand how you react to challenges? How your temperament influences your actions? I see executives all the time who are so tied up emotionally in some problem that they are sense-less or crazy-making.

Understanding personal style and temperament can help you be more effective – and resilient. If you understand these, you can choose to change when you need to or to cope better with issues that you face.

If you know that what drains your energy and what bolsters it, for example, you can work smarter. One easy introduction is the free Keirsey Temperament tool. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is another.

Read the amusing economics book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely to see how and why we so often over-estimate small risks and are not rational about our decisions. It will help you think smarter the next time you are making a business move, hiring staff – or buying chocolates.

Brain science is rapidly developing—a little attention and you can use yours to help you grow, to develop greater capacity, and to be resilient.

Second, evaluate past experiences.

We rarely use our past difficulties to inform our present. You’ve had times where you overcame an obstacle or dealt with something you […]

PROBLEM EMPLOYEE – OR GREAT ONE WAITING?

Dealing with performance issues is a critical component of any founder or manager’s job. Since this often involves conflict and difficult emotions, many people put this off. That often means they do not deal with problems until it is too late to effective solve them. Firing and replacing staff is disruptive and expensive at best. Often you can avoid getting to that stage by more effective performance management.

Remember: your success is directly related to the performance of your staff.

What causes inadequate performance?

Far too often, it is failures in the system rather than the person. Management experts from Peter Drucker on, list the most common causes of inadequate performance as:

* employee does not know what is expected
* employee does not know how to do the task
* work processes interfere with good performance
* feedback on actual performance quality is not given to the employee
* there is negative consequence for good performance

These issues must be addressed first if they exist. It starts with hiring the right person for the right job. Orientation to your workplace, systems, and expectations is important too. Looking regularly at how your processes and systems work  to see that they are efficient for your current needs is vital. And so is regular performance feedback.

When an employee does not perform to expected levels, you can succeed in improving the person’s performance if you address the issue as quickly as it is first identified.

Here are some basics on how to do this well.

* accurately identify the problem and the behavior change you desire
* give specific details of the behavior that creates the problem and the impact of the problem on the function or business
* involve the employee and ask for his/her solution

Once the employee has accepted responsibility and you […]