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Managing Performance 3: Delegating Work

Delegation involves entrusting the work and goals of your unit to others – a passing on of authority. While simple tasks are included early on, effective delegation also includes work that involves independent action, decision-making, and the ability to change as the situation demands change without referring back to you.

This means you must ensure that the person you select to do a job:

knows what you want
has the authority to achieve it
knows how to do it

To do this requires, first, that each team member has all the relevant information flowing in as needed. Second, you must allow them to exercise control on your behalf which means you must train your staff to apply the standards you do.

Delegating successfully depends on knowing your team members well. You start small with tasks which can be done by the person with a little ‘stretch’ and then add tasks as the person achieves success. This presents the person with the opportunity to use their knowledge more and to increase their knowledge and skills in a supportive environment. Further, you must set up a progress reporting process at the onset so that you have the knowledge you need to provide support and feedback – as well as to keep you comfortable enough not to destroy the process.

When you delegate, you need to be clear on what results you expect. While ineffective, many managers delegate a task and then expect the person to do it exactly as the manager would. This does not usually result in effective delegation since it does not allow the person to develop their skills or learn from the process. In fact, your way may not always be the most effective way either. So be clear about […]

By |July 17th, 2015|Performance Management, Smart practices|Comments Off on Managing Performance 3: Delegating Work

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

Managing Performance 1: What’s the Process?

The goals of any performance management process or system are productivity, continuing improvement, and accountability. If you are hiring effectively, most employees want to contribute and succeed in their work! Founders, executives, and managers play key roles in ensuring that individuals have the skills, tools, support, and knowledge to do so.

Performance management is an on-going work routine designed to help ensure that each person becomes and remains a highly productive, effective contributor. It is a cycle which includes action from orientation through termination.

There are nine discussions which have been shown to have a major impact on productivity. These are:

Orientation to the work unit
Initial work assignment discussion
Orientation follow-up
Agreeing on work assignment plans and measurements
Career coaching
Recognizing consistent progress
Recognizing above-average performance
Counseling and correcting substandard performance
Regular,on-going performance discussions

Note that some of these are relatively formal, scheduled discussions.  Others can be ‘catching the person doing something well’ and saying so, on the spot skill coaching or advice, or other less formal communications.

New employees want to know about the overall business and where and how they fit in. Providing the information they need to succeed, as in the first three above, helps convey your expectations clearly and provides a blueprint for success.

Discussing and agreeing on work assignments affects the individual’s sense of positive involvement. It gives both of you an opportunity to address issues and clarify expectations. When work plans in whole or in part are developed jointly, the risks of misunderstanding and poor performance are reduced. Realistic standards are more achievable. So is success for you both and for your company!

Career coaching involves providing information and feedback. It includes ‘how to succeed here’ talks, discussions of the individual’s goals, as well as future plans of the organization so that an […]

By |July 5th, 2015|Smart practices|Comments Off on Managing Performance 1: What’s the Process?

Should You Hire? 3 Common Mistakes

Hiring employees or independent contractors is an on-going challenge to many small -mid-size businesses. When, who, what can I afford – all come into play. These are among the most common mistakes I see.

1. What skills and experience do you really need?

Classically, smaller employers want folks to wear multiple hats. There are some people who love doing a variety of types of work each day. But the work combinations must make sense and be right for your organization’s needs.

There may be a terrific sales person who is happy to be doing administrative work half of the time – but I have not met such a combination of attributes.

Two part-timers or outsourcing each area to experts or some combination makes far more sense in situations where the work needs are very different.

2. I hate to do sales… and other tasks you dislike

I often see founders who really dislike marketing and sales work. I am not too thrilled with it myself. But in most cases, the best business developer for the business is the founder or top executive. Potential clients want to know you before they will consider hiring your firm.

This can be true of other critical business aspects as well. If your business is highly technical, clients want to see the that founder or CEO knows the technology.

And are you really ready to give up these responsibilities? Many aren’t when it comes down to doing so – and they micromanage and wonder why they are not getting their own time back or the results desired. Giving up critical parts of your job is often more difficult than you expect.

In these cases of things that you dislike doing , you may need to hire support. But […]

Which Are Employees? Trouble Ahead or Not?

Many small and mid-size organizations use a range of people to meet their goals. Some are employees; others are vendors, independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, temporary, or casual labor.

States and federal government agencies are in significant enforcement efforts to ensure that anyone who is really an employee is actually treated as an employee. States complain that they are losing tax revenues. There are legal concerns about who is covered by various laws, like workers compensation. And there is concern about benefits and financial security. The increase in company efforts to reduce costs plus the use of freelancers and companies like TaskRabbit have aggravated these issues.

So how do you know who is really your employee?

Certainly there are monetary costs to making everyone who does anything for your organization an employee. And there are some people who do work for you who are easily outside the employee relationship. If you use a CPA or legal firm, for example, you know those are not your employees. When you hire someone through a temporary employment agency to do a short-term job, the agency is the employer.

If you hire temporary, seasonal, or casual labor directly, they are usually employees.

But what happens if you have a bookkeeper who comes in on a regular basis for a couple days each week? Does the bookkeeper have multiple clients for her own business? If so, she is not your employee. If not, she is likely to be your employee.

If you use a business which offers services to the public to provide you with services, contract work, or consulting then you are not likely to be the employer — unless your firm is the only client of that business.

When you consider bringing someone in to […]

May’s WWII and Military Lessons for Your Organization

May is the month we recognize and remember several aspects of our military:

VE Day (70th Anniversary – May 8th) recognizes victory in Europe in WWII.
Armed Forces Day (May 16th) recognizes those currently in service.
Memorial Day (May 25th) recognizes those who died in war.

Memorial Day began as women, individually and in clubs, decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers with flowers. It became formalized, first in the North and then the South, as Decoration Day. Later, soldiers from World War I were added. Eventually it became a federal holiday in recognition of all our military members killed in war.

Leadership and Management Lessons

Military planning is the basis for strategic and business planning in most companies. While military leaders understand that all planning is overcome by events, they also know that smart planning is the basis for success. That is true for your organization as well! Too often we are so busy with reactive work and daily demands that planning drops to the bottom of a to-do list that we already never get to.

A plan will help you succeed faster and better. No small to mid-size organization needs some elaborate plan put together at great time and expense. Book an hour a week, preferably not in your office, and try to capture your vision of the future you want. A one-page summary would be a real achievement. And one that can be readily shared with employees, board members, or other stakeholders!

A recurring lesson, since President Lincoln replaced General McClellan after Antietam, is the importance of execution to success. Your ability to execute is what keeps your future positive. At far too many clients, I have seen the results of endless debates about next steps or conflict avoidance […]

Smarter Hiring Checklist

Thinking about hiring new employees or interns? Smart hires require some planning. Too often small businesses are rushed and desperate when hiring and then have performance or retention problems.

Here is a basic checklist outline to help you develop your own process and checklist for more effective hiring.

* Why do we need this position?
* What specific skills, training, and abilities do we need at a minimum?
* What additional attributes would we like to have?
* What sources exist to find someone to fill this position?
* What is our hiring plan for this position?   (Include any paperwork)
* Who will take the lead and who else will be involved in this hiring?   (Have all been trained in hiring? Know the specifications?)
* Resume/application review process defined?   (Are you covered by retention requirements for legal or EEO needs?)
* Telephone screening screening interviews of all potentials.
* Pre-employment testing, if required.
* Interview selected applicants.   (Who will schedule, interview, decide?)
* Analyze applicants for skills/ability, attitude/motivation, organizational fit.   (Standards & form to document?)
* Select best match.
* Check references.   (background checks if required)
* Make offer by phone, follow up in writing.   (medical/drug tests if required)
* After offer is accepted, notify those not selected.
* Prepare for new hire (space, equipment, materials, work plan)
* Orient new hire to organization and function, discuss first week’s work plan and why selected.

Happy to work with you to help you achieve your hiring goals and train those involved, just call!

Tips for Employee Personnel Files Management

Hard to come up with a sexy title for this topic – but it is vital to your organization. Employee records include both those items mandated by various laws, examples – I-9 forms and payroll records, and those important to managing the organization and the employee.

You can keep employee records in paper, scanned into a secure system, or managed entirely electronically. However you keep these records, you must ensure their security, limit access, and have back-ups. Once your growth takes you to 50 or more employees, it is often smart to buy a HRMS – software that keeps the records you need and allows you to do the analysis you need for management. These also support your EEO and AAP requirements if you are a government contractor or rely on federal funding.

State laws govern whether employees must have access to their records.  It is usually a smart practice to allow current employees access to their master records. This form of transparency reduces employee fears. You may also want to allow employees to respond or rebut items in their records. Most won’t , but again it is a morale issue.

What are employee records?

Master file: offer letters, resume or application, emergency contact info, pay and job change documents, performance reviews, letters of commendation, client notes, discipline records, and similar documents
Hiring file: reference checks, background checks, assessments, original job description, and other documents needed for EEO/legal compliance but which the employee does not have access to normally.
Payroll file: all records relating to pay including timesheets, vacation and other paid leaves, tax forms, state-ordered payments. These are usually kept in payroll.
Medical file: anything that has any personal medical information. This may include drug tests, medical leave documents, physicals, […]

HR Learnings from Marshawn Lynch

The frenzy around the Super Bowl provides all sorts of ideas for any small business. That around Marshawn Lynch certainly speaks to basics of managing employees.

Lesson 1. High potential employees need support to grow.

Even when you have terrific people working for you, you need to understand and support their growth. Marshawn Lynch is a top level player who clearly does not like responding to reporters and feels his comments are not reported correctly. He has been fined for not speaking to them. Yet the NFL does minimal speaking training. And if you follow the NFL, you know a lot of other players forced into answering reporters questions who do not do so very well.

I have worked in many companies where we invested heavily in training customer-facing people in speaking skills – from the CEO on down through individual contributors. Most of us are not comfortable giving speeches or public presentations – or even talking to internal meetings. Some surveys show a fear of public speaking that is only slightly lower than that of serious injury! And even those who are willing to speak need a lot of practice and preparation to actually be good. This is true for many other aspects of work where you want your people to contribute too.

What are you doing to ensure your people have the right training and development opportunities to grow and develop your business?

What are you doing for your own professional growth and development?

 

Lesson 2. Check your compensation philosophy and structure.

Does your pay program actually support your values and goals? The NFL expects every player to be available to talk with reporters before and after games and at events. They do not reward such behavior, instead they […]

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 […]