Policies and Practices

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

SUMMER… THE LAST MINUTE GUIDE

Right about now each year I have clients who suddenly realize it is summertime. And they meant to consider summer hours or a summer family picnic or some other form of recognition for all the hard work of the last few quarters. But the firehouse of daily activities overcame the intent.

Is this YOU?  Yes, there are still things you can do to enhance morale and inject a little fun.

Tip 1. Bring some fun into the workplace

If all your employees are in one-two locations, this works well. Have an ‘ice cream sundae’ party or bring in catered lunches two-three times over the summer. Start with a short ‘thanks’ and push to get people talking to each other for 30-60 minutes. Make it a real break from work. And yes, that means the executives too – unless you are having them make the sundaes.

Tip 2. Cancel a workday

Independence Day is a Friday this summer. Shut down for Thursday July 3rd as well. Or just pick a random day, say August 1st. Announce it in advance a bit to give folks a sense of anticipation. Give a reason – or not! Yes, you will still pay everyone for the day so it has a cost. But it does not take a lot of effort to plan or run and most employees love this ‘playing hooky’ day.

Tip 3. Go All In

Set up a last minute picnic or area trip – say Great Falls National Park with bag lunches and a bus to/from the office for a mid-day break.

Each employee gets a chit for some ‘free’ time off – maybe 3 half-days or two full days, depending on your business.

Bring in a seated chair massage therapist 4-6 times in […]

REALITY BITES: POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND YOU

My friend’s Mother died 17 days ago after a long illness. And without warning, her Dad died two weeks later. I cared for several aunts in their last years, including handling their final hospitalizations, hospice, funerals, and estates. This is pretty common for many employees who are care-givers.

Yet here I am again talking with an organization which wants to define quite carefully the three days for bereavement leave and who it applies to. Can you even get to the funeral and back in three days, much less help your family cope?

Sure, I have known of an employee who had four grandmothers die within 18 months and was gaming the 3 day bereavement system at his company. But one of those in four decades leaves me wondering why we feel such a need for a tight policy. And when a manager’s son was killed in a skiing accident, do you think the company actually enforced its ‘3 day’ rule? Of course not.

One of the bigger risks you can take is to have a policy – on any topic – and ignore it. Too often that may be done for reasons you think are valid. But a good lawyer can find that you did it in a discriminatory manner against their client.

Did you really get anything positive out of your policy in the first place? For every potential issue it may have been meant to protect you against, did it?  Or did it also send a message that you did not trust your employees or did not think they were adults.

This be the right time to look at your policies and see whether you really need them all. Think of it as spring cleaning. Which ones […]