Smart practices

EPIDEMIC, PANDEMIC – PLAN NOW FOR POSSIBLE ISSUES

The coronavirus ( covid-19) epidemic has the attention of most people now. The uncertainty of what may happen and when makes this a difficult threat.

There is no reason to panic. There is every reason to plan!

Pull out your emergency or business continuity plan as a first step. What does it offer that you need to think about now? Plan for? Update?

Your first two big considerations are the potential impact on your business and what you will do about your employees. Knowing what issues you may face helps you to prepare and will help calm fears.

A recent survey indicated over 2.5 million bot-related disinformation efforts related to the coronavirus within two days. Area stores, here and in other locations, are running low on face masks. People are scared. Your efforts can help employees know what to do and where to go for valid information – both good ways to build resilience and reduce over-reactions.

What are the business risk you face?

Assess this first. Look at your options. A retail business which depends on products made in China may face delays in production and delivery. A hotel may face significant loss of business if travel is restricted or people cancel trips in fear. Be realistic about the issues your business may face and develop plans to deal with each potential problem. Involve employees in developing plans where possible. Communicate to employees – and customers, as needed – the outlines of your plans.

What employee risks do you face?

You need to make clear that employees’ health and safety is top priority.  Legally, you must provide a safe workplace but there are few other legal requirements which apply to this situation.  Start by thinking:

What is the impact if multiple employees […]

By |February 26th, 2020|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on EPIDEMIC, PANDEMIC – PLAN NOW FOR POSSIBLE ISSUES

HIRING TRANSITIONING MILITARY AND MILITARY SPOUSES

Small employers ask me regularly about how to find and hire veterans and military spouses. There is not one easy answer to this – no central hiring line that you can call. But there are some steps you can take relatively easily.

First, if you have a veteran in your company already, ask what ideas they have to find other military in transition, veterans, and military spouses. Learn what they think is most attractive about your company to such people and consider incorporating that in your efforts.

Second, find some military people to talk to. Your regular network may know some. In Metro DC military people attend the same community, religious and kids’ events as everyone else. Military people know other military people including those in transition or spouses and can help you discover people who can contribute to your goals.

Third, consider contacting the veterans’ rep at your local workforce development office. These people work directly with a variety of veterans and know the right contacts at local military installations to make connections and to get your jobs posted.

There are a lot of groups on LinkedIn for military in transition and veterans. Read these for awhile and learn before deciding whether you want to be active on any of them.

As you begin to think about hiring vets, you may need to check your assumptions.

Male veterans have lower unemployment rates than civilians do. You are not doing them a favor, you have to make the case for what your organization offers them. Women veterans are more likely to be unemployed but fewer women present themselves as veterans either.
Veterans may have injuries and disabilities but they do not have them at rates that are as high […]

By |November 11th, 2019|hiring, Smart practices|Comments Off on HIRING TRANSITIONING MILITARY AND MILITARY SPOUSES

SECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, AND YOUR BUSINESS FUTURE

Cybersecurity threats against small organizations – businesses, governments, non-profits – are an increasing risk. Few such organizations have in-house resources to address these issues. Most do not even focus on the need because they think no ‘bad guy’ would bother to attack them.

Research indicates that small employers are being attacked on a daily basis – and that many small businesses go out of business as a result.

What can you do?

Learn the basics of what is at risk and what your options are.
Develop a plan to minimize risks and to recover.
Assess what help you need and how to obtain it.
Train everyone.

Here are some useful free resources to help guide you.

This new resource is specifically designed to help you understand cybersecurity and reduce your risks. It includes videos and quizzes as well as basic information and planning guidance:   small-businesses/cybersecurity

A great overview on issues and actions, also focused on smaller employers:   Understanding small biz cybersecurity

An easy plan development tool with lots of info automatically filled in once you pick the topics which apply:  cyber-planner

A webinar I did with Elizabeth Moon of Focus Data Solutions on the security and cybersecurity issues – directed at helping you and your team understand both the human and technology issues:    Security webinar from Alexandria SBDC

In addition, you should consider physical security. Once those concerns were primarily for retail or other open to the public organizations. But now they are important to all. In many locations, your local police department will advise you on physical security issues.

Most important to this discussion is the involvement of all employees in maintaining security practices every day. This includes discussing these issues in orienting new employees, in on-going training of employees, and in employee […]

By |September 10th, 2019|Business planning, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on SECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, AND YOUR BUSINESS FUTURE

I Know It When I See It

Supreme Court Justice Potter said ‘I know it when I see it’ about defining hard-core porn during a court case. Many of our performance management practices appear built on this.

Alan Weiss talked recently about feedback in his Monday Morning Memo – and his biggest point was that feedback says far more about the person giving it than about anyone else.

In managing performance effectively, these two areas create issues for most founders and managers.

Feedback

The best feedback is where you ‘catch someone doing something right’ and tell them specifically to do more of that. It needs to be immediate and specific to help increase productivity. ‘That report you wrote last month was great’ is as useless as ignoring it would be.

When you have an issue with an employee’s performance, the first step to effectively solving the problem is not usually correcting the employee. It is discovering what created the error in the first place.

Do you consider the actual cause first? How do you know that the issue is the employee’s fault? And how do you explain the correct way to perform the task so that the employee learns and applies new knowledge.

I bet you can see where I am going with this – and it is not to simple beliefs. Pairing up good comments with a message of poor performance does not work.

Performance Appraisals or Reviews

Most organizations still have some form of performance reviews, whether annually or more frequent. Decades of research indicating that such appraisals have no positive effect on performance has not been enough to eliminate them.

If you have a performance review program, it is most likely to have a numeric rating (1-5 are most common) or 3-5 phrases (‘fully meets requirements’ is a […]

By |May 13th, 2019|Performance Management, Smart practices|Comments Off on I Know It When I See It

What is the Future of Your Collection

Many entrepreneurs and business owners are collectors. You can see this among your friends, in TV programs about famous collectors, or at estate sales. I know a number of military medal and militaria collectors through a family connection.

Many small business owners neglect to plan for their death or disability’s impact on their company – and many collectors do not think ahead about their collections. If you have been a collector for even a few years, you have heard the sad and bad stories of spouses ripped off by ‘friends’, families riven by arguments on ‘Dad’s collection’, or the whole lot dumped into the trash/Goodwill bin.

Planning what happens to your collection is vital. You know better than anyone what you want to happen to it. And if you love your heirs, you want to be sure that they know too. Collectors have three big considerations in their disposition decisions: emotional ties to the collection, financial aspects, and the time invested. These will influence what decisions you make and how difficult it is to get an action plan developed.

This outline, from an OMSA Convention seminar, is designed to help you think through the process and document your desires effectively. None of us like to think about our death, but it still is necessary.

What Do You Want to Do with your Collection?

A. Gift it

The first thought of many collectors is to pass it on within their family. But if there is not someone already interested, it is unlikely that will change unless yours is a young family. The same is true for friends. So if you are thinking of gifting your collection to someone, do confirm their interest now. Also consider: some family members or friends might […]

By |April 14th, 2019|Business planning, Smart practices|Comments Off on What is the Future of Your Collection

Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity

For many enterpreneurs, solopreneurs, and non-profits, even thinking about cyber-anything is frightening. You know there are dangers but who can keep up, how can you understand the problems you face? Still, you must. Small businesses and individuals are targets for hackers, fraud, and other efforts that require some understanding and actions.

These risks are real and they can seriously hurt you and your business if ignored.  You know that but what to do…

Recently Elizabeth Moon of Focus Data Systems and I did a webinar on common issues you need to understand and address. We talked about the issues and trends in cybersecurity and how you can work to minimize risks at every level. If you have employees, we covered some of the major issues we have seen in what and what not to do with employees to enhance your organization’s security.

Watch and listen – Small Biz Nightmares – Cybersecurity

By |June 17th, 2018|Business planning, culture, Small Biz, Smart practices|Comments Off on Why You Cannot Ignore Cybersecurity

Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?

Does it seem to you as if you see a lot of articles about decluttering your home? Have you seen articles for Boomers about the concept of death-cleaning done early and often? Or those about decluttering your business – usually around the new year? Still, few of us deal with our files and storage and stuffed desks unless forced to do so. I just spent some time watching a small business forced into such a ‘clean up’ by an unexpected relocation. It was tough and it was painful. Who knew that there were files from 10-12 years ago in so many places?

Disorganization costs you time – and money.

Sure, it is hard to take the time to fix your systems. This is not exciting work but it can be critical. Get it scheduled a little at a time and move forward.

Computers:
You need a solid filing system, automatic back-ups, and some external resources to cover your data and info if your system fails. I know that, you know that. But several years ago my own system failed and the back-ups were old and I did not have the data for my online software subscriptions handy.

Do it yourself or hire some help to get your systems organized. Install those malware/virus programs and set them up to run regularly.

Finances:
Be sure to talk with your accountant soon, if you have not already, about the many new tax law changes which will impact your business this year.

Every business, however small, needs a system, whether a simple book-keeping application or a more complex one. But you also need to understand and use it. Go for training. Or hire someone to help you set up your own chart of accounts and understand […]

By |June 12th, 2018|productivity, Smart practices|Comments Off on Should ‘death cleaning’ be a Business Concept too?

Future of Work: What do Longer Lives Mean?

My grandparents were born not long after the Civil War and lived into their mid-60s to mid-70s. My parents and their siblings lived into their late-70s to mid-90s. The Boomers have made ‘60 the new 40′ and millennials are likely to see passing 100 years old as pretty routine.

Have you thought at all about what this means for business? For your own future?

I suspect many people have not. When I speak about longevity, current audiences are almost as likely as those 15 years ago to assume they will retire in their 60s. Investment companies regularly report that retirement savings are not adequate for living beyond 10-12 years of retirement.

A recent book, THE 100-YEAR LIFE: LIVING AND WORKING IN AN AGE OF LONGEVITY by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, offers ideas and insights for our future. Businesses which begin to adapt now will have an advantage. Longer lives also mean different patterns of working and education. Yet most of us still build our business practices around some three-stage life notions of education in youth, 30-40 years of work, and then retirement.

The recent Great Recession brought some changes as more people worked into their late 60s and mid 70s. Retirees returned to the workplace in temporary, seasonal, and lower-skilled jobs. Today there are more people working past 55 and into their late 70s than at any time since before WWII.  But companies have not fundamentally changed their practices.

No-one can really save enough to retire for 30 – 40 years in a 35 – 45 year work life, especially now that pensions have become so rare. One of the early illustrations in the book is a scary look at this point. Someone born in the early 1970s, […]

By |March 19th, 2018|culture, non-profits, Smart practices|Comments Off on Future of Work: What do Longer Lives Mean?

Developing Employees

Developing the skills and knowledge of your staff is critical to your business success and to retaining top quality people. Still, many small business owners do not see the options available to do so at low cost. Like taking vacations, you also need to invest in your own development as well. Here are some ideas to support development.

1. Ask employees what their professional development goals are and how they relate to your organization.

This encourages people to think about their needs. Many will have goals you can assist with at little to no cost. These might include:

skills that other employees have and can teach the person,
ideas for new approaches or projects which will also benefit your organization,
support for volunteer work, and
more traditional education or training.

Offer to assist with those which make the most sense to your business.

2. Involve employees in organizing meetings, events, and new hires.

Your first line supervisors and those staff you feel have potential can learn from helping to organize staff meetings, presenting a training topic at all-employee meetings, and/or arranging other events you provide or sponsor. You need to provide clear guidance upfront about what is needed and any resources; then step back and let the person do the work. Be available to answer questions without imposing too many controls.

If you bring in a new hire or have summer interns, select an employee to be their guide. This person could be tasked with ensuring all needed equipment or space is ready, explaining any specific equipment or access procedures, training the new person on your basic practices and security, and making sure that there is someone to lunch with regularly during the first few weeks.

3. Ensure employees have an […]

By |May 21st, 2017|culture, Smart practices|Comments Off on Developing Employees

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