Posts Tagged ‘Employee Management’


Build A Customer-Focused Corporate Culture–By Making A (Very Tough) Decision

1-29 Building blocks smallIf your aim is to build a truly customer-focused culture in your organization, here are two difficult steps to take that will make it happen. These two steps that will change your world–if you really want it changed.

1. Decide.  For example:  “We provide only the highest level of service to our customers, our associates, and our vendors.”  That’s a cultural decision.

2. Get to work figuring out what your decision will mean organizationally and behaviorally.  Because it is going to affect everything. Everything. Including:

  • The way you hire–select– your customer-facing employees. You'll need to stop hiring on a hunch, or just for technical skills, or haphazardly.  Instead you'll need to get scientific about finding the right employees to do the right kind of job for your customers: that "highest level of service" that you've just committed to.
  • Support: You'll need to give those employees great support: in terms of onboarding, training, inspiration, reinforcement, coaching, and setting appropriate standards for service functions.
  • Empowerment: You’ll need to empower those employees to make their own decisions to help your customers (including, sometimes, the decision to deviate from the standards you set down in my previous bullet point!
  • Personnel policies and employee treatment: You’re going to have to revise any inhumane and punitive personnel policies that currently serve to demoralize these important people.
  • Building and maintaining the workers' toolbox: You’ll need to  provide your employees with a proper, and properly maintained toolbox – literally (if they’re carpenters, machinists, or janitors) or figuratively (if they’re not) – that they need to do their best work
  • Broadening your benchmarks: You’ll need to look beyond your own industry for service quality benchmarks.  Your decision to provide the “highest level of service” should mean the highest level anywhere, not just the highest among tire manufacturers or whatever your specific niche. Benchmark those high standards, and strive to reach them.
  • You’ll need to–and you'll need to involve every one of your employees in–looking at your processes, systems, and behaviors as if from a customer viewpoint (this is not easy at all, and once you do it, I promise you you will need to change even more.  And it’ll be worth it.

How Bosses Can Deal with Smartphone-Addicted Employees

Group of friends all using smart phonesSmartphones have become more than communication tools. As phones have evolved to include email, internet browsing, and social media connectivity, consumers have begun increasing their screen time each day. These devices have gone beyond being a way to make phone calls to becoming a lifeline for most people.

As The Washington Post pointed out, the modern smartphone is a way for people to protect themselves, allowing people something to do. But mobile devices too often take priority over the people in the room with someone, which is problem enough when it happens in social settings. In business meetings, it can be disruptive and insubordinate. In a world that seems to be increasingly tech-addicted, how do bosses handle employees who can’t seem to go five seconds without texting, tweeting, or checking email? Here are some things leaders can do to deal with distracted workers in the office.

Set Policies

As restrictive as it can be, employers need to set boundaries when it comes to tech use in the workplace. An across-the-board ban against personal cell phone use in the workplace isn’t reasonable in today’s environment. But it’s perfectly reasonable to ask phones to be turned off in meetings, especially if they’re with clients.

The problem comes in when employees are checking work email in meetings. Important work emails could be missed during a no-phones-allowed staff meeting, yet it’s often impossible to differentiate between company-related interactions and personal.

Address the Problem

As with any personal technology use in the workplace, it’s often easier to address the real problem than the symptoms of that problem. In other words, if someone wastes an untold amount of time texting throughout the day, he’s likely not getting his work done. If he is, it might be time to determine whether he has enough to do. A co-worker may be overloaded with work that could be shifted over to a smartphone-addicted colleague, solving two issues at once.

If an employee’s work performance is suffering as a result of his device use, begin documenting missed deadlines or failure to meet standards. Use this documentation to discuss these standards with the employee and state what he needs to do to improve. In some cases once an employee realizes his job is at stake, he’ll spend less time on the phone and more time working.

Offer Help

While it may sound extreme, technology addiction is such a problem there is now a name for it: nomophobia. Instead of taking your employees’ vices away, consider offering help. You don’t have to send them off to rehab or enter them in a 12-step program. Instead, bring in an expert to speak to employees about how they can break their smartphone addictions and get more done in a day.

If a workshop isn’t helpful and disciplining employees for poor performance isn’t successful, it’s likely time to directly address the problem. As long as your discipline is consistent, without showing favoritism, you may reduce workers’ disruptive smartphone use and have a more productive, collaborative workplace.


4 Tips for Handling a Disgruntled Employee

12-26 disgruntled employee smallManaging employees is a necessary part of running a business, whether a company has only a few employees or a few thousand. Ideally, a company will hire the perfect worker the first time, then retain that employee for decades without a single issue. That rarely happens, however, especially as a business’s team grows.

Occasionally, a manager may be tasked with handling an unhappy employee who isn’t afraid to let others know about it. Mitigating the situation may be tricky, especially if other employees are aware of the worker’s negative attitude. Here are some things you can do if an employee is miserable and looking for company.

Separate the Employee

As soon as you notice an employee’s behavior is problematic, it’s time to take action. Never make a scene in front of other employees. Instead, pull the employee aside and have a private discussion about the matter, possibly with someone from human resources present. Let the employee air all grievances and promise to address those that are legitimate. If the issues can’t be repaired, explain this to the employee and make it understood that these bad habits can’t continue.

Listen

In many cases, a disgruntled employee simply wants someone to hear his complaints. By letting a disgruntled worker know that he can come to you whenever he has an issue, you may be able to confine the drama to your office, rather than taking the risk of it spreading throughout the organization. Most importantly, listen closely to what the employee is saying and consider whether there could be a grain of truth in what he’s saying. In some cases, an employee’s complaints could highlight a problem that needs to be addressed.

Limit Access

Once an employee has made his unhappiness public, it’s important to consider the many ways the employee can damage your company. The FBI recently cautioned businesses about the rise in data theft from disgruntled employees. Conduct an inventory of all of the systems the employee accesses and consider limiting his access to information like customer credit card and social security numbers. If dismissal becomes necessary, make sure access to your systems is cut off instantly.

Begin Discipline

If efforts to manage the situation prove unsuccessful, you’ll likely have no choice but to dismiss the employee. For that reason, you should maintain careful documentation of each incident and note all discussions you hold with the employee. Offering the employee an opportunity to resign rather than be terminated can be beneficial, especially if the worker is angry and might possibly file a lawsuit. Since the employee is already making his displeasure known, you may also find it worth your while to offer a severance package in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement. This will keep negative postings off of social media and sites like Glassdoor.

A disgruntled employee can cause great harm to an organization, lowering morale and distracting team members from their daily tasks. By addressing the issue professionally as discreetly as possible, a manager can maintain peace and keep the organization moving forward.


The New Leaderboard: How Gamification Can Motivate Your Team

12-19 leaderboard smallIn traditional sales environments, managers would often keep leaderboards as a visual representation of employee performance. Achieving the top spot on the leaderboard gives employees something to aspire to, igniting the spirit of competition among team members.

As the business world has become increasingly mobile, however, it’s less common to have all employees in the same physical location. This eliminates the possibility of a traditional leaderboard, but the benefits of such a visual tool still remain. For businesses with multiple workers, an automated leaderboard is a great way to motivate employees and achieve better results. For that reason, gamification is growing in popularity among sales teams across the country. There are a variety of uses for gamification in an organization. Here are three ways this tool can be put to use in your small business.

Time and Attendance

Showing up for work every day should be a given, but as many business owners know, reliability can be a real problem for some employees. Perhaps taking a lesson from schools that issue certificates for consistent attendance, some software providers are incorporating gamification into their HR efforts. Kronos’s Workforce Central 7 has a points-based rewards system that provides positive reinforcement for activities like perfect attendance, timely approval of timecards, bonuses for overtime, and more.

Customer Support

Many companies are finding ways to improve customer support processes. However, healthcare company OmniCare learned through experience that gamification should be customized to the type of employees. After unsuccessfully deploying a leaderboard with cash rewards for its helpdesk, the company realized that its technology-oriented workers felt overly watched instead of motivated. After adjusting the program to one that more adequately motivated its helpdesk employees—one that issued challenges and gave non-cash rewards—OmniCare saw a dramatic improvement in its helpdesk performance.

Sales

Gamification is perhaps most popular in sales departments, since companies so often rely on sales teams to bring in revenue. Sales tools like Hoopla, Ambition.com, FantasySalesTeam.com, and Salesforce’s Work.com offer incentives to employees through performance rewards, leaderboards, and countdown clocks. Like Work.com, Ambition.com, and FantasySalesTeam.com, Hoopla can be incorporated into Salesforce and handled along with a manager’s other responsibilities. Rewards aren’t simply badges and virtual awards, either. Businesses can build in real rewards like gift cards to make hosting contests easier for managers.

Before choosing a gamification program, however, it’s important that businesses understand which incentives appeal to the team members in question. In 2012, Gartner documented this issue, predicting that by 2014, 80 percent of all gamification programs would fail due to poor design. This hasn’t happened, however, due in part to the evolution of Big Data. Businesses are interested in measuring performance and improving operations and gamification is a way to incentivize employees to do things differently.

How can gamification be used in your organization? Only you know. But there are many tools available to help you reach out to your employees and make them excited to come to work each day. One of the best things about gamification is that it challenges employees and makes work fun, which tends to get better results than repeated staff meetings to remind workers of their objectives.


Four Crazy HR Ideas To Ignore – And Six Guiding Principles To Follow

Boutique: Owner with Help Wanted SignWrongheaded, even crazy, HR advice tends to be delivered emphatically, as if passed down from Moses, but that doesn’t make it any truer for the delivery.

Misinformation–myths–about how to hire (or “select," which is the term I prefer) and treat employees can destroy your attempts at building a rich and sustainable corporate culture and can make a hash of your leadership. Here are four of them in particular that I urge you to reject:

1. Snappy but utterly insane advice like “hire slowly, fire quickly.” Try this sometime. Or better, don’t. "Hire slowly" certainly has its good points, but "fire quickly" applied to those who aren't immediately successful means you're throwing away human potential in a way that is completely cruel:  a blip on a resume and wasted resources for your company, not to mention the shockwaves felt by those left un-fired.  In my experience great companies certainly don't ignore the failures of initially unsuccessful employees, but they engage in the more difficult "coach quickly," "make adjustments quickly," and "amp up the training" rather than the kneejerkish "fire quickly."

2. Advice like, Go on your gut.”  If people went on their guts, they wouldn’t hire, well, let’s see:  people of different ethnicities, people of different ages, people of different religious backgrounds, single people for the CEO job. And no way in Helsinki would they hire tattooed, pierced, possibly hoodied Millennials, no matter how great their potential.

3. Advice like, “Turnover is inevitable.  You can manage this fact, but you’ll never transform it.”  (This is especially dangerous advice to take as gospel when employing younger workers (millennials), since it fits with the generational assumption — to some extent true — that millennials don’t expect to work with you forever.  If you consider anyone disposable, you increase the chances they'll live up to/down to your expectations. )

4. Advice like, You can’t work successfully with a union:”  Clearly, people who say this ignore companies like Southwest Airlines — the most unionized airline in a unionized industry—who have great employee relations, with management actually striving to learn from the “other side” at each negotiation, Fairmont Hotels, Host Marriott… The incoming workforce of Millennials, by the way, are the most pro-union generation in quite some time.  Even if it is largely theoretical for them, the anti-union rhetoric isn’t going to win you points with them.

Six Guiding Principles 

Fortunately, there are tested approaches, antithetical to all this idiocy, that help companies thrive every day, while the naysayers nay. The model I use in my corporate culture consulting draws not only from my own experience but from the model of superior service-focused companies like Mayo Clinic, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, USAA Insurance, Marriott, Auberge Resorts and others, as well as the work of a few true visionaries in the field include the creators of the Ritz-Carlton Hotels And Resorts and the work of Brad Black of HUMANeX Ventures.

1. Hiring — “selecting” – employees has to be systematic. Your approach to whom you select to work in your company, and in which position you place them, needs to be based on science, not on hunches, politics, whims.

[Quick Refresher: Here, speaking broadly, are the underlying personality traits that make for a great customer-facing employee. They spell “WETCO”):

• W is for Warmth: Simple human kindness
• E is for Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling
• T is for Teamwork: An inclination toward ‘‘Let’s work together to make this happen’’ and against ‘‘I’d rather do it all myself"
• C is for Conscientiousness: Detail orientation, including an ability and willingness to follow through to completion
• O is for Optimism: The ability to bounce back and to not internalize challenges. Optimism is a necessity in customer-facing positions.

Similarly, your approach to getting recruits from whom to choose needs to be relentlessly systematic: As Brad Black puts it, "ABS: Always Be Scouting";This allows you ultimately to be able to choose from perhaps the top 1% rather than forced to make do with the top 10% of those who apply.

2. You need an integrated approach to employee development: Great hiring is never enough. In everything else related to employees, you need to be systematic. You need a system of HR. Not just in hiring, but in reviewing your talent for advancement (and lateral moves): you need an integrated approach

3. Go overboard with the onboard:  Onboarding—orientation and the first weeks of employment— matters.  Make sure employees are welcomed, and oriented by a power in the organization, and onboarded by the team they will be working with.

4. Employees need design input and performance leeway: Employees need to have input into the design of, and leeway in the  performance of, their work — and you as an employer need them to have this input and leeway.  (Fill this in with info from high-tech high-touch on both a) design input and b) autonomy

5. Employees need a purpose to their work – and you as a leader need them to have a purpose, in order to get the most out of them.

6. Employees are an asset, not just an expense. Don’t just hire and then try to minimize turnover.  Select and then maximize potential of your asset.  It requires more forethought and dedication, but ultimately it's vastly more effective and sustainable.


3 Tools to Help Bosses Show Employee Appreciation

12-11 rewarding employees smallAs the economy continues to recover from the slowdown of the past few years, many employees have worked for years without pay raises. Attracting and retaining good employees will become increasingly hard for small businesses, who now face competition from larger employers who can offer perks. There is one way small business owners can gain an edge, though, and it won’t cost as much as an annual salary hike or Christmas bonus.

Employees want to feel as though their bosses respect them. Yet despite data showing that employees who feel respected report 89 percent greater job satisfaction than those who don’t, half of all employees surveyed reported they don’t feel respected by their bosses. The simple act of regularly showing respect for underpaid, overworked employees can go a long way toward cultivating a happy, healthy workplace. But how does a time-strapped business owner find time to regularly show respect? These technology tools can help.

Regular Performance Evaluations

When handled correctly, performance evaluations have the ability to motivate and inspire employees. One research study found that performance evaluations can be especially beneficial if a worker knows what the evaluation will cover. During this process, employees should be given feedback on how they’re performing, as well as information on what they can do to improve.

Several software solutions can automate the process of creating and providing performance appraisals. These include not only rating employees and offering written feedback, but also automating approvals to make the process as paperless as possible. Even if the system is automated, though, employers should set aside time to have a face-to-face meeting with the employee and discuss areas where improvements can be made, as well as praise the employees for his accomplishments.

Make Praising Employees Fun

In today’s technology-minded environment, gamification can be a big motivator. Instead of simply giving an employee a pat on the back, employers can use tools like Salesforce’s Work.com to motivate employees. Using badges and rewards, employees are acknowledged for completing various business tasks, with those awards displayed on their Salesforce profiles.

By creating leaderboards, businesses can ignite the spirit of competition among team members, with specific activities being linked to Salesforce activities to automatically update. If an activity is being measured in Salesforce, the system can be set up to automatically acknowledge accomplishments, including closing big deals, marketing success, and positive comments from customers.

Give Rewards

If badges and virtual rewards aren’t enough, YouEarnedIt offers tangible rewards that really put employees in the competitive mood. Not only can employers thank employees in front of the entire staff, they can attach gift cards or products from the YouEarnedIt catalog. Companies can customize rewards to fit their unique culture, including offering nonprofit and charity gifts, mentoring opportunities as gifts, and customized experiences that mean more to some employees than monetary prizes would.

By finding ways to acknowledge and reward employees, bosses can keep morale and productivity high. As the job market continues to improve, it’s becoming more important than ever that a small business find ways to attract and retain good employees and these tools can help.


Where to Find Your Next Employee

12-11 Looking for employees smallSix years after the Great Recession, national unemployment is finally dropping. At 5.8 percent, it is the lowest since 2008. This poses a problem for small business owners who need to find the best people to fill open positions at their company. Unfortunately, posting jobs on various sites like Craigslist or Monster can bring in a lot of unqualified people and be expensive. For most small businesses, hiring a recruiter that collects 25% of the first year’s compensation is out of reach. The key is to find those individuals that have the required skills and the cultural fit at a reasonable search price.

Here is the best way to do it:

  1. Ask current employees. People socialize with other people like them. If a company wants to find more similar employees, ask the current staff. Pay a $250 to $1,000 bonus for any employee that refers a candidate and stays for at least 90 days.
  2. Post openings on the website. Many candidates are doing job searches through Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Posting job descriptions with the appropriate search keywords will get the opportunity found by those who are looking.
  3. List the opening in every employee’s email signature. Use a simple sentence and link in the signature of every outgoing email from the company. For example, “We are growing! We need sales and marketing superstars. Check out these opportunities”. Then add the appropriate hyperlink for the website.
  4. Search employees at competitors on LinkedIn. Find competitors who have the employees that your company is looking for. Get connected to them and see if they are interested in making a switch. Some websites even list key employees. Alternately, competitors can be called to find out the names of people who hold positions that could be candidates for your company.
  5. Niche job boards. Look at the smaller job boards that focus on a specific job candidate. For example, HealthCareJobsite is for health care positions and Hoojobs for PR. The more niched the job board, the better the quality of applications you will receive. Fifty more niche job boards are listed here. A company may even find a candidate at freelance sites like Elance and oDesk.  
  6. Ask social media. Post weekly (or as a tab on the company’s Facebook page) the types of job candidates that the business needs. This will allow followers to spread the word as well.
  7. Search trade shows or other industry events. Many of these have job boards. In addition, see who is speaking on various panels to source higher level positions. I also saw one company executive once at a show wearing a button that said “I am looking to hire you.”

Where do you find your best employees?


How to Plan Your Holiday Vacation While Keeping Your Business Running

11-26 holiday vacation small The holiday season is upon us, and with that comes vacation time for many entrepreneurs. If you’re on the fence about shutting down your business while you go over the river and through the woods because you’re worried you’ll miss out on sales or opportunities, keep reading. You absolutely can take a vacation while keeping your business alive. Here’s how:

Tip 1: Start Planning Early

If you know you’ll be out between Christmas and New Year’s, plan for your vacation now. Let your clients know you’ll be out, and if they need any work done, to inform you now so you can get it done early. Clear your plate of work so that you can walk out the door confident that you didn’t leave any activities undone. This will also help you transition back to work on your return, and keep you from having to face a giant pile of work after such a relaxing vacation.

Tip 2: Put Someone in Charge

If your company will continue to operate in your absence, find a replacement for you for the week. At the minimum, you need a point of contact you can include in your vacation email autoresponder so that if people who email you need immediate help, they can get it. I always give a few points of contact in my autoresponder so that the appropriate person can help my clients.

Make sure the person you put in charge is confident in “being you” while you’re out. Go over any protocols or questions they have, and discourage them from contacting you unless it’s a true emergency. Empower them to make decisions in your absence.

Tip 3: Schedule Your Marketing

What I love about marketing tools these days is how you can schedule your social media updates and blog posts in advance. No one even needs to know you’re not working! Carve out time from your busy schedule to get your social media updates scheduled in your absence, as well as to write a few posts to go live while you’re out.

Tip 4: Tie Up Loose Ends

Do you have bills due while you’re out? Meetings you’re supposed to attend? Make sure everything is squared away so you don’t disappoint anyone who expects to meet with you (and don’t miss due dates for bills!). The more details you pay attention to now, the more refreshed you can return to the office after the holidays.

Tip 5: Relax. Your Business will be Fine

More than all the tactical, this is the hardest for many business owners. They are convinced that their businesses will fall apart if they’re not there. But the truth is, your business can handle it. Whether you’re a solopreneur or you have a capable team, if you’ve let clients know you’ll be out and done your part to clear your plate, you can relax and enjoy your time off.

And given that many other people take vacations at the end of the year, rest assured that there will be no crises while you’re out!


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Be Productive During the Holidays

Mother and Daughter Making Christmas Cookies for SantaAre you one of those small business owners whose holiday wish would be for “more hours in the day”? Even if you’re usually a model of efficiency, the holidays—with their hectic schedules, family visitors and employee vacation days—can throw everything off.

How can you stay productive and still enjoy the holidays? Try these tips.

Plan ahead. Let employees know how far ahead of time they should put in requests for time off. Employee scheduling software tools can make things simpler, especially if you run a business like a retail store or service provider that gets slammed this time of year. And be prepared for employees to call in sick at the last minute—that’s simply what happens this time of year, so have a backup plan in mind.

Prioritize. Both in your personal and your work lives, it’s important to know which battles to fight. If you’ll save time, money and sanity by sending e-cards this year instead of mailing 200 paper cards to your client list, do it! If you always knit scarves for family gifts but this year a huge project is getting in the way, take a break from the tradition to do something simpler. Know what you aren’t willing to compromise on, and stick to that decision.

Hand it off. You can delegate almost anything these days. Try services like TaskRabbit to handle time-consuming chores like running to the post office or picking up your drycleaning. Holding a family gathering? Hire a cleaning service and get the meal catered or at the very least, have your groceries delivered instead of heading to the store. The concept works for business, too—if your staff is overloaded, call a temporary help agency, enlist a teenage relative home from college to help out for a few days, or connect with a virtual assistant.

Tap technology. Use mobile devices, apps and cloud services to access your business files, data and documents wherever you are so you can get work done wherever you are. Devising templates, auto-responses and keyboard shortcuts lets you create files or reply to inquiries quickly so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time.




 
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