smart practices

Orlando to Dallas: “We Are Not as Divided as We Seem”

Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, cities were convulsed and some burned, ‘Chicago ‘68′ became a cliche for demonstrations and strong-arm police tactics. One sunny day I was deep in the beautiful wilds of Minnesota trying to find the farm of a woman whose husband had been shot down and was missing. By 2am, long before the days of social media, she was calling me terrified by the horrible calls and threats she was already getting.

Today we also face turbulent times, compounded by social media and cable news coverage. The ‘fog of war’ hurts us all. Many people are fearful for their personal future and their ‘tribe.’

What does this have to do with your business?

The conditions of our culture are reflected in our work. People spend a large portion of their lives at work. You have the power to create a better place and one that allows all your employees to be their best selves. We know that this actually increases financial success and growth. It will help your employees.  It might just help our country turn this current climate more positive too.

First, have you created a climate of respect?

Respect is more than superficial equality and basic manners – although those might be a good start in some workplaces. Respect includes valuing everyone without implicit bias or overt discrimination based on how different they might be from you. It involves creating a climate that values fairness and good faith and trust. It includes everyone in the organization treating each other well and positively. It includes neither hiring nor retaining ‘jerks’ who damage interpersonal relations and destroy trust. If your own behavior or emotions get in the way, it means learning how to control yourself […]

By |July 14th, 2016|culture, values|Comments Off on Orlando to Dallas: “We Are Not as Divided as We Seem”

What Now? The New Overtime Rules Announced

Small organizations have feared the impact of the new overtime rules which changed the level of pay below which everyone is considered eligible for overtime pay significantly. Many small businesses and non-profits assume they cannot afford to pay overtime. Others think anyone with a college degree is automatically exempt from overtime. The new rules have been announced and the salary level test is $913 per week ($47,476 annually.)

What are you going to do now?

The first step is to educate yourself. The US Department of Labor has a wide range of resources explaining the new rules and what has and has not changed. You can find this at DOL Final Overtime Rules 2016

I will be doing a webinar for the Virginia SBDC Network on June 24th which will focus on what options you have now and how to assess your next steps. Register for this free webinar via Webinar Info and Registration

Then move into assessing exactly what the impact is in your organization.

Who is newly eligible?
What are your options for each new eligible?
How many hours does each person currently work over 40 on average?
What are the reasons for overtime work?
What are the costs associated with the possible changes you are considering?  Timing?

If you have an annual pay review coming up this year, consider that date as well as the December 1 date – what does your culture imply you should do?  What other impacts on your culture will this change lead to?  What other impact will your culture have on your decisions?

Once you have a plan in place, you need to begin communicating with your employees. Although the rule changes do not take place until December 1, 2016, most employees will have […]

By |June 21st, 2016|Business planning, Compensation|Comments Off on What Now? The New Overtime Rules Announced

Managing Performance 7: OH NO! Documentation

Many managers and most small business founders hate the thought of documentation of employee issues. “I don’t have time.” “I don’t want to upset him by writing it down.” “I don’t know what to say.” Standard excuses all. But wrong.

Recently I was talking with a store owner about a problem employee – one who did not follow basic practices, had a tendency to hide from work, and often got angry. We had talked about dealing with this employee on these same topics 18 months ago. Now the owner was quite upset that the unemployment decision had gone against the company.
But, had he done any of the documentation over this period of time – no. Did he document his discussions with the employee about the problems before firing him – no. Is this unusual? Sadly also no.

Documentation can be done quite easily much of the time. Got an employee coming in late time and again? Make a simple record on your calendar if you do not have an automated time-keeping system. Talked with an employee informally about a problem? Make a short note for your records so that if it happens again you have the info you need to refer to that informal counseling when you have to write a warning or more.

The value to you of doing simple documentation of positive and negative performance or attitude issues is quite high. It allows you to know who to promote, who to give pay raises to, who might benefit from some training, and who needs more formal efforts. When it is about a problem, your records can help you avoid paying higher unemployment costs and deal with regulatory or legal challenges.

You can maintain ‘working records’ in […]

By |September 11th, 2015|Performance Management|Comments Off on Managing Performance 7: OH NO! Documentation

Managing Performance 6: Coaching and Counseling Employees

Smart Coaching

Coaching is the best way to develop talent and productivity. If you think back on your own life, you can probably identify teachers, relatives, sports coaches, or previous bosses who coached you for success.

What did they do to help you grow and develop?
What common methods can you identify?
How could you apply these techniques to developing your staff?

Research indicates that common characteristics of good coaches include:

a. creating an atmosphere of support and trust
b. recognizing and building on the strengths of an individual
c. expecting excellence
d. providing continuing information on the company, its goals and the role of the work unit in the organization
e. providing clear guidance on expectations and priorities
f. letting the individual have freedom to do the job

You can become a good coach. Coaching requires generally consistent behavior on your part. This starts with being a good role model for those behaviors you expect from others. When you recognize that your own and the company’s success are built on the success of each member of your staff, recognition of their partnership and needs becomes easier. Basic actions you can take to become a good coach include:

solicit and be receptive to others’ ideas
provide guidance, information, and advance planning details routinely
explain your actions and decisions or reasons for procedures
provide training and support needed
establish and communicate performance standards and hold individuals accountable
provide periodic feedback on job performance routinely
give visibility, recognition and credit to individuals

Coaching is a pro-active behavior in which you help others to grow and develop.

 

Effective Counseling

Counseling is the key to changing problem behaviors into productive performance. Counseling differs from coaching in that it is in response to problems in work performance or behaviors. Since counseling is often seen as criticism or punishment, many managers do […]

By |August 24th, 2015|Communications, Performance Management|Comments Off on Managing Performance 6: Coaching and Counseling Employees

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

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 […]

TIPS TO READ APPLICANT RESUMES EFFECTIVELY

Most businesses look at resumes when hiring people. Whether you asked your network for referrals or posted a sign in the window or placed an ad somewhere, your stated requirements are the minimum standard. But do you really know how to read a resume?

Start with a basic screen of the resumes received to find the best matches. For each:

What does it’s overall structure and appearance tell you?
Does it show actual achievements or just position responsibilities?
Does it show a pattern of increased knowledge, skill, and/or responsibility?
Has the person solved business or technical problems similar to yours?
Does it show a pattern of achievement, with adequate details provided as proof?

Once you have selected those resumes closest to your needs, take the time to actually read for details and content.

Tip 1. Has the person done work which prepared them for your job?

Unless you are seeking an entry level person, you want to see whether the applicant has specifically demonstrated the knowledge and achievements related to what you need.

Casting a wide net is smart – you need to know both their technical or skill specific qualifications and how they work. Evaluate where they worked, what they did, and how effective they were. Job titles can be misleading but details tell the story. Look for candidates who provide information clearly.

Match your needs first, then your other ‘wants’.

Tip 2. How close is the resume to your needs?

Did the person use the keywords you use? Tailor it to the specific job you are trying to fill? Does the resume demonstrate progress, attention to detail, and any important ‘soft skills’ you want?

A resume is usually a person’s ‘best foot forward’ – is their best good enough to meet your expectations?

Is there a cover […]

By |June 30th, 2014|hiring|0 Comments