Posts Tagged ‘Human resources’


Delegation Tips for Delegation Haters

Generally speaking, small business owners aren’t the biggest fans of delegating. And it is easy to understand why. Most of them built their companies from the ground up and worry that the addition of a new person may disrupt their business environment and possibly scare away clients. But as Roberta Matuson, HR consultant and author of the new book Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best, explains, delegation is essential to building a business.

“You will never succeed as a business owner unless you let go,” she says. Here are a few of her top delegation tips for business owners who hate to delegate.

Tap into your network

Talk to fellow businesspeople in your area to get the names of possible candidates. If you are new to your city, Matuson recommends joining the local Chamber of Commerce or contacting a nearby college and posting ads on an alumni job board.

Start with small tasks

Now that you’ve hired your first employee (or contract assistant), it is time to give him or her a few job assignments. “Start by giving them tasks that you are confident they can accomplish,” she recommends. “And allow them to do those tasks the way they want. Accept the fact that your way may not be the best way in all situations.”

?????????????????????????????????????????????Focus on training

Don’t expect your new hire to know how to do everything, even if he or she has a lot of experience. You may do things differently in your business, so it is important to provide specific training.  “Give them what they need,” recommends Matuson. “You can’t throw something into someone’s lap and expect them to learn how to do it by osmosis. Give them the tools and then get out of their way.”

Be careful what you delegate

You may want to hold on to major tasks like entertaining a new client at a dinner or attending a conference call that helps close a sale. “Delegate the things that are weighing you down so you can be free to do what you need to grow you business,” she says. “An important meeting may better be suited for you, not your assistant.”

Don’t micromanage

Many of us have had experiences working for micromanagers—experiences that most likely didn’t last long (because you quit). Stop yourself from being too overbearing with your new employee by checking in semi-frequently. “There isn’t a rule of thumb for how often you should check in, but I’d say it is best to see how they are doing once per week,” says Matuson. “Every day can be a bit much.” 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Perfecting the “Dreaded” Employee Review

Stocksy_txp17ae6739N13000_Small_143559Few small business owners relish reviewing employees, but regular reviews are crucial to making your staff the best it can be. Follow these steps for effective reviews:

Be consistent. Use the same review form for each employee in the same capacity—such as all your hourly employees, all your customer service employees, etc. Check out the forms at DocStoc or Microsoft Office templates.

Be prepared. Reviews should be based on specifics, not on your general feeling as to how the person has done in the last three weeks. Document the employee’s performance during the year, both positive and negative, so you can refer to specific examples during the review.

Get input from the employee. Have the employee complete a self-evaluation before the review and give yourself time to read it thoroughly. This will tell you if the employee’s opinion of his or her performance is accurate or way off base.

Provide a balance of positive and negative feedback. Even the best employees need some ideas for how to stretch or improve, or they will become bored. Conversely, even the worst performers need some positive strokes in order not to be completely demoralized. Find something positive and constructive to say so that the review isn’t all lopsided.

Look back and ahead. In addition to reviewing the person’s performance since the last review, look ahead to what the outcomes will be if the person takes (or doesn’t) the steps you’ll recommend during the review. Will he or she be in line for a promotion, or at risk of termination?

Get feedback. It’s easy for the employer to do all the talking, especially in a review that is strongly negative or positive. But be sure you give the employee time to speak so he or she can clarify any issues that may arise. If you ask employees to share ideas for how they can improve, they are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

Clarify next steps.

  • If the employee got a good review, perhaps he or she is getting a promotion and/or a raise. Let the person know the new title, new wage or salary and when both will take effect.
  • If the person got a poor review, you’ll need to specify what remedial actions have to be taken by what date, and what will happen if the person does or does not achieve these milestones.

Codify the discussion. After the review, complete the form, making sure it’s accurate and that you fill in any details that arose during the review. Have the employee sign and date the review form, and add it to the personnel file.


The 10 Best Interview Questions of All Time

??????????????????????????????????????????While unemployment is the lowest in 5 years, it is still challenging to find the best employees for your company. Not only do they need the skills to perform their job well, but they also have to fit within the company’s culture.

To hire the perfect people, it’s important to ask the right questions. This is a challenge for many small business owners because they typically talk more than the job candidate or they just ask questions which review their resume. Here are the best 10 questions to ask:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is always a good introductory question. Ask and then don’t say another thing until they are done. What they actually say is not critical, but how they answer this question is. Do they focus on personal or professional details? How do they see themselves? Does this view fit into the culture of the company.
  2. Tell me about a time when…Many job candidates can talk in generalities about their skills and accomplishments. However, asking for a specific example is a much more effective why to discover what they have really achieved. For example, when interviewing a sales candidate, ask “Tell me about a time when you won a customer from a competitor.”
  3. How will you contribute to the company? This will highlight their goals for the specific job and which of their skills would be most beneficial for the company. It also will tell you how they see themselves as part of a team. Remember, their goals should match the company’s. When they deviate, employees leave.
  4. What is a specific example of the biggest professional challenge you have faced? How a candidate faces adversity is key. Even if a project didn’t go as planned, it’s important to find out how the applicant would reacted and would remedy the problem in the future.
  5. Test them. In a professional setting, these are typically hypothetical situations or ones that have actually occurred at the company. They should demonstrate job-specific and problem solving skills. Don’t be afraid to ask them to solve problems they would face in the first month of their job at the actual interview.
  6. Why are you here? Andrew Alexander, President of Red Roof Inn, says it helps reveal what the person’s passion is. The applicant should want to work at the company, not just want a job. Employees that are passionate about the company’s mission excel at their position.
  7. What is your ideal job? Liz Bingham, Partner at Ernst & Young, says it helps match if the person is suitable for the open job. It reveals what their passions and strengths are.
  8. What areas of improvement were identified in your last job review? Andrew Shapin, CEO of Long Tall Sally, says it can show self-awareness and weaknesses when people answer this question honestly.
  9. Where’s your passion? Hilarie Bass, co-president of Greenberg Traurig, says they only hire people who are passionate about that profession. It helps attract committed employees that will make the business successful.
  10. How do you measure success? This answer will tell you what the candidate values and if it matches the job compensation structure.

What are your favorite interview questions?


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 5 Tips for Keeping the Peace in Family-Owned Business

If you run a family-owned business, you know that hiring, managing and motivating non-family employees can sometimes be a challenge. Employees may think there’s no room for advancement or that the decks are stacked against them because they aren’t family members. How can you avoid these problems? Try these tips.

  • Stocksy_txp4bfbd52fKr2000_Small_131353 (1)Compensate them fairly. Family employees typically have ownership or stock in the family business or enjoy other perks in addition to their salaries. While you may not want to reward non-family employees the same way, it’s important that you find other ways to compensate them financially. Consider offering bonuses or setting up a profit-sharing plan so employees feel they are sharing in the success of the business they work hard to grow.
  • Offer them opportunities for advancement. Promoting from within is a smart strategy for any small business, but particularly in a family business. This practice shows non-family employees that working hard, getting results and being loyal to the business pay off…even if your last name is different than the owner’s.
  • Empower them. Non-family employees in supervisory or management roles often become disgruntled if they feel like they have no real power in the business. If you give a non-family employee a management position, be sure you also give him or her the authority to make the decisions that go with that role, including disciplining family members who aren’t living up to expectations.
  • Communicate with them. Family members who work in a business naturally end up discussing business during their off-hours, which can leave non-family members feeling left out if they don’t get the same information. When your business includes non-family employees, it’s crucial to communicate openly and clearly. Otherwise, non-family employees will feel as if they’re being kept in the dark, and rumors and misinformation will start to spread.
  • Treat family members professionally. It’s easy to slip into a trap of treating family employees one way and non-family employees another. Be sure to maintain professionalism when dealing with family employees—it makes everyone on the staff feel like they’re on a level playing field.

By following these tips, you’ll build lasting bonds and loyalty among your non-family employees.


Mondays with Mike: 7 Simple Steps to Improving Office Morale

Worried about post-holiday doldrums in the office?  Afraid that short of spiking the coffee with Prozac, there’s little you can do about it?  Fear not!  These simple tips can help you brighten the mood and invigorate your staff.

  1. 10-tips-for-boosting-employee-morale-pop_6697Daily Huddle.  Don’t sweep your office problems under the rug.  Take a few minutes each day to air out concerns and address practical solutions.  Let your staff know that you’re making changes by giving them regular updates on the concerns they’ve expressed.  Tip:  Hold the meeting standing up.  You’re more likely to keep people on topic and to-the-point.
  2. Schedule Change-Up.  Offer your staff a chance to shift their schedules a bit.  It’s amazing what a little flex-time can do.  You’ll see refreshed, focused faces if you give your employees the chance to get out of their rut.
  3. Focus on the Why, rather than the What.  No matter what you do, you can benefit from reflecting on why you’ve chosen your field.  Accountants’ offices may not be the most exciting places to work, but if you can get your team focused on the real benefits they provide to your clients, then you can invigorate your staff and get them ready to tackle even the crunch of tax time.  Focus on your purpose.
  4. Say Thank You.   Simple.  Free.  So important.  Take the time to let your staff know that you appreciate their hard work.
  5. Listen.  Any good customer service rep will tell you that the first step to resolving a problem is to let the customer vent.  If a member of your staff has a complaint, it’s important that they be able to voice their concerns.  If a frustrated employee has no place to vent appropriately, then the dissatisfaction will spread to other members of the staff.  The important tip here is to let your staff air their grievances in private if possible, preventing the negative attitude from multiplying and giving you the opportunity to address legitimate complaints.
  6. Take the Bullet.  Does your staff have a gripe about a particularly unpleasant or difficult task?  Is there something standing in their way – an obstacle that needs to be overcome?  Be the hero!  If you step in and show that you’re not just willing to pitch in, but able to solve problems for your staff from time to time, you cement your position as the solution-finder extraordinaire.  By modeling the willingness to roll up your sleeves and get dirty on occasion, you’re setting the example of being a problem-solver.
  7. Change of Scenery.  Monotony is the slayer of enthusiasm.  Get your employees out of the office for a day and see how their collective outlook improves.  Pick a charity and spend the day volunteering, and when you return, have a new coffee maker or new desk chairs for your staff waiting for them.  Shaking up the routine can make your staff as enthusiastic as they were on their first day.

You’re the captain of the ship.  Keep tabs on morale and make sure you brighten up the office when necessary.  


2014 Resolutions: How to Promote Wellness in Your Company

office-yogaWith the New Year right around the corner, everyone is thinking about how to get back into shape, improve what they eat and live better lives. That way of thinking can easily be applied in the office setting and, according to Lisa Menninger, a corporate wellness consultant, business owners are smart to incorporate health-related practices during the workday.

“For every dollar a company spends on wellness, they get back $5 to $6 in decreased insurance claims, a decreased number of employee sick days and an increase in general efficiency on the job,” she says.

Here are a few easy ways to promote wellness in your company:

Start a walking club

Chances are good that your employees are looking to get healthier in 2014. Help them in their effort by creating a walking club where a group meets for a 30-minute stroll at lunch or after work, recommends Menninger. Establish a daily meeting time and ask a staff volunteer to lead the group. Better yet: divide leadership responsibilities between a few people to increase the chances of the program lasting past January.

Throw out the break room

Take inventory of the snacks in your break room. Are you finding chips and dip or carrots and hummus? If your answer is the former, it’s time to get out the trashcan and start over.

“Don’t stock fake creamer or fruit juices. Instead, cut up veggies and put them out on the table,” suggests Menninger. “I promise that those goodies will be gone in no time. By supplying the room with healthy snacks, your employees will no longer reach for the other stuff. They will be fuller longer or have more energy to get work done.”

Launch a health-related newsletter

Take a moment to think about your staff members. Who is the healthiest person in your office? The person who runs races on the weekends or talks about his or her yoga retreats on a regular basis?

“If you have someone in your group that can recognize good information, ask that person to circulate blogs on health topics or create an internal newsletter to help motivate employees throughout the year,” says Menninger. “Either that, or give the person a corner of your existing newsletter to write a column about health.” 


Work Your Biz Wednesday: 5 Things Your Employees Need

Support your employees and develop a win-win relationship to help your business succeed. Learn how with this week's Work Your Biz Wednesday video from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


How to Plan the Perfect Corporate Off-Site Event

Holding a company event outside the office can be a useful way to bond a team and allow employees to relax and enjoy each other’s company without having to talk about work. It can, though, get a little overwhelming to try to plan such an event. Here, Anne Marie Rembold, owner of Anna Marie Events, a corporate event planning company based in San Francisco, offers her top insights.

Start with the money

What is the budget for your corporate off-site event? Establish a number and go from there. Don’t start looking into activities or locations before confirming a budget with your team as costs can quickly get out of hand, says Rembold.

Pick a venue

When choosing a venue, consider where your employees will be coming from, how they will be getting to the venue (public transportation or vehicle) and if you will offer alcohol at the gathering (a vital consideration for drivers).

“Then, go back to your budget,” she says. “Make sure you understand every layer of cost associated with your location. Will gratuity be included? Will there be additional service fees? What about room rental fees? After looking at all of those factors, determine if the venue still fits into your budget.”

447-corporate-team-building-events-with-way2go-adventures-ltdChoose an activity

Off-site activities should be inclusive to most people (hopefully everyone) on your team. Stick with pursuits such as mini golfing, corn hole or Bocce ball. “I also really like cooking events because it doesn’t matter how good of a cook you are, you can still have fun and learn something,” Rembold says. “It is important to choose activities that are lighthearted and level the playing field.”

Communicate with your employees

Think of yourself as a party promoter, you want to build buzz around the office. Generate excitement by announcing the event at least a month in advance. “Remind your team again two weeks out and then three to five days in advance,” she says. “You want to keep it front-of-mind so they are talking about it with their colleagues.”

Plan your food and beverage

Regardless if you are going to a bowling alley or a mini golf course, it is always a good idea to provide food and refreshments for your staff. Think hard about alcohol. It may not be necessary if the event is in the middle of the day. If, though, it is scheduled for the evening, you may consider offering beer and wine or even a full bar.

“But I wouldn’t plan for the entire event to revolve around alcohol,” says Rembold. “If it does, people who don’t drink or are trying to cut back could feel really uncomfortable.”

Stay on top of logistics

Logistical considerations—namely transpiration, directions and maps—are of utmost importance when planning a corporate off-site event. “I’ve seen it so many times where someone plans an event and no one knows how to get there. It can really throw people off,” she says. “Make sure everyone has detailed instructions in advance.”


7 Steps to the Creating an Effective Performance Improvement Plan

Imagine this scenario: Every day you find yourself getting more and more aggravated with a certain employee. You tell him or her to do something and they consistently under deliver, thereby requiring someone else (oftentimes you) to pick up the slack. You are sick of it and seriously considering firing this person.

Before you write out a pink slip, it might be worthwhile to create a performance improvement plan (or PIP) for your troubled employee. With a little concrete nudging, they may just turn into the employee you always wished for.

Here’s how to get started:

Step #1: Look at yourself

Take a moment to think about the direction that you’ve given your employee. Have you taken the time to clearly define his or her job description?

“In your mind, you may want them to increase sales by 30 percent, but if you’ve never told them that, it really isn’t their fault that they are under delivering,” says Roberta Matuson, HR consultant and author of the new book Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best.

On the flipside, have you strapped your employee with unattainable expectations? Asking someone to double revenues on a product that isn’t doing well in the first place may be unrealistic and could cause serious frustration on the part of your employee, says Matuson. It might be time to alter your expectations.

Step #2: Consider the potential usefulness of a PIP

Performance improvement plans take time to construct and implement; you want your time to be well spent. Consider this: is it possible for your employee to do what you want?

“If you have an employee who you want to be nicer to customers and being nice is truly not in their nature, it might be best not to do with an improvement plan,” Matuson says. “It might be best to just part ways.”

Step #3: Write down specific objectives

When coming up with the verbiage for a performance improvement plan, be as specific as possible. Don’t assume anything is common sense. Matuson gives the example of asking your employee to turn in a report every Monday morning.

“You need to tell them that the report should be there by 10 a.m. on the dot,” she says. “Otherwise, it might come in at 11:59 a.m. and you may find yourself frustrated.”

Step #4: Get feedback from your employee

Schedule a meeting with your employee to discuss the PIP. Bring your notes (and specific expectations) to the meeting and ask for your staffer’s feedback. Ask them to be honest with you. Can they achieve your expectations? What concerns do they have? Try to be as non-threatening as possible in the meeting to help them open up and express any concerns they may have.

Step #5: Explain punishments for un-met plans

“As hard as this can be, you need to be forthright and tell them that if they can’t meet the objectives laid out in the plan, you will need to end the working relationship,” Matuson says. “They need to know how serious this is.”

Step #6: Get it in writing

It may take a few drafts, but once you have your agreed-upon PIP down on paper, make sure that you and your employee sign and date the page. You and your employee will be more likely to stick to something if it is in writing.

Step #7: Follow-up

The best thing you can do as a manager is to touch base with your employee during the plan’s duration. Check in on a daily or weekly basis, Matuson recommends. That way, he or she will feel supported throughout the process and be able to ask you questions along the way.

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