Posts Tagged ‘New Employees’


The Small Business Advantage to Snagging the Best Employees

One of my contacts worked for a young, growing company that paid top dollar for software engineers in preparation for the day that they would be needed to meet client demand.  When she expressed concern about the overspending, one partner told her that if she was in charge, the company would be defunct in a year.  Six months later, their doors closed forever.

That partner was not wrong in recognizing the need for exceptionally-skilled workers.  The error was in seeing spending as the only way to attract and keep the best talent.  Large corporations may have ready cash to pay top wages and benefits, but small business owners can attract and keep the finest employees through their entrepreneurial spirit.  Here are some great ways to get your workers involved in your business vision and develop a relationship that few big businesses can match.

Offer Creative Compensation

Economic downturns may create a buyer’s market for hiring, but that doesn’t mean that the most skilled applicants will agree to take a position that offers substandard incentives.  You may not have the funds to pay a top salary when making an offer — or even when it’s time for an annual review.  But as a small business, your company can offer achievement-based bonuses that can really motivate your employees while increasing your revenues.  So, when certain sales reps are responsible for accelerated sales or when engineers enhance a product to make it more attractive to the marketplace, make sure that they receive their fair share of the profits.

Encourage Active Involvement in the Company

Choosing to work for a small company carries certain inherent risks, but it also offers benefits that cannot be matched by working for a huge organization.  When you welcome and act on employee ideas and suggestions, your employees become partners who recognize their unique value to the company as they work alongside you to realize shared goals.

Make sure to listen to their feedback and acknowledge them too- the value of these soft incentives is highly underrated—not to mention easy for small business owners to embrace.

Give Employees the Power to Spread Their Wings

I know a writer who worked for many small software businesses, enlisting her full creativity to develop low-cost, but award-winning manuals.  When she moved to a large company, she vehemently complained that she no longer wrote documentation, so much as manufactured it in accordance with strict, detailed procedures.  She didn’t last long in this position.

Big businesses need to put their employees in specific boxes and keep them there to get their allotted portion of the job done.  As a business owner, you know that one of the greatest rewards comes with seeing a project through from beginning to final results.  Employees can feel that same sense of satisfaction and accomplishment — if you empower them to take on this type of challenge.  As they stretch their abilities, be available to provide upfront and ongoing guidance as needed, but give them latitude to do it their way.  As their abilities grow from new experiences, their investment in the company’s interests will grow as well.

Praise in Public

??????????????????????????????????????A job well done deserves praise and your employees never mind being called to your office to receive your personal kudos.  But when employees receive your commendations at a company meeting or in front of a customer who benefitted from their hard work, they clearly see their true value.  Naturally, public praise helps inspire all employees, but it also lets your customers recognize how the depth of your products and services helps them get the attention and consideration they deserve.

Promote from Within

When a key position opens up in your company, always look first to the members of the team that work hard for you every day.  Granted, some positions require very specific educational requirements not available in your organization, such as a degree in accounting.  But remember that your staff members already have a solid foundation and a deeper understanding of your company culture and how things work.  You probably have to spend time and effort training employees in new concepts and procedures.  Or, they may need to take a class or two to obtain additional knowledge.  But you can’t teach loyalty and dedication, and these traits grow even more when you reward them with advancement.

No large company can match the excitement employees experience going in to a job where they know that they make a vital difference every day.  As their efforts help grow your business, make sure you help them continue to grow as well.  


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.


10 Startups to Watch in 2014

Here are 10 startups launched in 2013 that are ready to rock the world next year:

Collegefeed has a noble mission to help every college student and new grad get hired. The service has already grown to tens of thousands of users, over 1,200 schools and hundreds of employers. It was created by Google's former product chief Sanjeev Agrawal who has turned all of his passion to using technology to solve the job crisis for millennials. Students are facing skyrocketing tuition, massive loan debt and nearly 50% can't get jobs that use their degree. Users have been hired using the tool from Morgan Stanley to Facebook.

Rockbot is an out-of-home music service disrupting the billion dollar market dominated by Muzak. Many bars, restaurants and airports stream music. This service lets customers vote on the playlist and request songs. It’s the modern day jukebox from the customer’s smartphone. They recently announced their newest customer, JetBlue in their JFK terminal.

Cover is a restaurant payment application that changes the way people pay at restaurants. Using an Uber-style experience, it lets diners leave without ever "paying" the check. The app lets people prepay it or split it among diners.  The product is live at about 30 top-tier restaurants in New York.

startupKONO was inspired and created by culinary genius, Rossano Boscolo. It has over 130 locations in countries throughout world where it offers consumers an entirely new pizza experience with its cone-shaped crust filled with fresh Italian ingredients. Launched in August 2013, KONO USA has over 15 units in its development pipeline.

Sense Health helps providers create, deliver and monitor interactive patient support plans called ‘scripts’. Providers simply answer three assessment questions about their patient: their specific condition, their goals for the month and barriers that might be hindering their ability to accomplish them. Through their proprietary algorithm, Sense Health automatically creates a 28 day script which consist of daily text messages delivered automatically. Scripts are comprised of reminders, educational, motivational and interactive text messages. Providers have a dashboard which alert them when a patient asks a question or are non-compliant.

Touchcast is an innovative video platform that brings interactivity of the web into an online TV viewing experience so users can engage with Twitter, web pages, maps, and polls inside the video without interrupting playback. It has been nominated by AdWeek as Hottest Startup in their Hot List. The company saw record downloads since launching in June.

Tok is a new social opinion network that turns online commenting into discussions and users into communities. Its networked, visual conversation interface creates a richer experience that brings people together and will offer companies with an audience an effective way to share targeted, dynamic, interactive content.

3Dagogo is an online marketplace of certified 3D designs to “print” consumer products at home. The company crowdsources “proven-to-print” designs and has an intuitive search interface that allows users to search for designs that work with their home 3D printer, materials, and skill level.

Simply Insured is a way for small businesses to find and buy health insurance online. With the problems on Healthcare.gov, many companies will be facing different requirements and options for health insurance. This company helps small businesses navigate the changing health insurance landscape, using their technology to make it transparent and easy to understand.

TestRocker brings together premier academic tutors with the best technology to make quality private tutoring available to students around the world whenever and wherever they desire. Launched by two sisters, the company's first two programs are SAT and ACT prep. Within one year of launch, TestRocker had students in 14 different countries studying on its platform.

What startups are you watching in 2014?


Business Owners: 5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

crop380w_istock_000003401233xsmall-question-marksHiring can be one of the most difficult parts of being a business owner. You look for the best people for your company and you ultimately end up making your decision based on one event: the interview.

So, how can you conduct an interview that will reveal your next employee of the month? According to Kathleen Lapekas, founder of Lapekas HR Consulting in Evansville, Ind., it all comes down to how you phrase your questions.

“The best types of questions are directly job related and behavior-based,” she says. “Ask someone to explain a time when they had a co-worker that drove them nuts and how they handled it. Keep them talking about real scenarios to learn more about your candidate.”

Lapekas recommends staying away from the following questions:

Question #1: When did you graduate from high school?

While this question may seem benign, it can be perceived as trying to find out a candidate’s age, which is discriminatory.

“You can ask someone when they graduated from college because people graduate from college at different ages, but you can’t say anything about high school because it is assumed that most people graduated when they were around 18 years old,” says Lapekas. 

Question #2: What do you do for fun?

Be careful with this one. Unless your candidate offers, keep the conversation focused on the role at hand. Why?

“By asking someone what they do for fun, they may tell you that they are an active member in the National Rifle Association or that they just marched in the local Gay Pride parade,” she says. “You don’t want find out anything in the interview that later—especially if you don’t hire the person—can be perceived as ammo for discrimination.”

Questions #3: When are you due?

It is never acceptable to ask a female candidate if she is pregnant. If, though, she mentions that she is expecting, leave it at that. Do not ask her when she is due. As Lapekas explains, pregnancy is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits any employer discrimination.

Question #4: Are there any medical issues or medications that we need to know about?

“This is hard because obviously you want to know if you are buying a future heart attack,” she says. “But employers can no longer do pre-employment physicals (note: pre-employment drug screenings are allowed by law). In some states you can’t even ask if someone is a smoker.”

Question #5: Where do you go to church?

Race, sex, age, gender, ethnicity and religion are all protected under law and cannot be mentioned in an interview.

“Even if you live in a small town where everyone goes to the same church, keep it out of the interview,” advises Lapekas. 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Start Staffing Up for the Holidays

woman-shopping-online-for-christmasIs your small business going to need more help this year to handle the holiday rush and provide great customer service? If so, you’d better get a move on: A recent survey commissioned by Snagajob reports that nearly 70 percent of hiring managers will be adding hourly workers this holiday season, up from last year—and they’ll be adding 28 percent more seasonal employees than last year.

Most managers who are adding seasonal workers started hiring last month, and will complete their seasonal staffing this month. That means competition is stiff. So if you’ve waited, here are some strategies to help in your seasonal hiring:

  • Tap your social networks. Post seasonal job openings on your business website, of course, but also promote them on your social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Use photos or videos to give a feel for what it’s like to work at your business and make it look fun and exciting. Of course, you should also check in with your contacts on social networks such as LinkedIn to see if they have any suggestions for people seeking seasonal work.
  • Try a temporary agency. If you want to avoid the headaches of hunting for workers, as well as the hassles of handling all the paperwork and tax withholding, a temporary agency can be a good solution. Tell the temp agency what you want, and they’ll find prospective candidates for you to interview. You pay the temp agency and they pay the worker, plus handle all the documentation, payroll and tax withholding that’s needed so you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Think outside the box. Many seniors and stay-at-home moms are looking for extra money around the holidays. Depending on your seasonal hiring needs, these types of candidates could be perfect for you. Tap into local PTAs, tot lots or other organizations that attract stay-at-home moms (you can find lots of them on Facebook) to let people know you’re hiring. Contact senior centers to see if you can post job listings on their boards or otherwise spread the word.
  • Work with schools. Teens are the classic seasonal employee and the recession has left many teens looking for work as adults are filling jobs that typically went to them. Contact high school career centers or counselors, or college career or job placement centers, to find out about posting your seasonal job listings. Many will be happy to put their students in touch with you.  
  • Go virtual. If you need customer service people to handle phone calls or online inquiries, consider hiring virtual customer service reps. You can place listings with companies such as oDesk or SimplyHired.

It’s not too late to find the perfect seasonal workers—you just have to know where to look. 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: 4 Ways to Build Team Spirit at Your Business

teambuildingDo you wish your employees would always do their jobs cheerfully and enthusiastically, provide great customer service, and go above and beyond the call of duty? Employees who truly feel they are part of a team will do all this and more. By building close bonds among yourself and your employees, you’ll create a strong team that works as a unit to get the job done. So how can you build team spirit among your employees? Here are four tips.

  1. Get to know each other. Employees bond when they feel like their employer and co-workers really know them and care about what matters in their lives. Don’t see your employees simply as job descriptions, but get to know each of them—their interests, hobbies, passions and families. Encourage your employees to get to know each other, too.
  2. Make work fun. Of course, not every day can be a nonstop party, but employees bond better when work is a fun place to be. Employee events add to the fun, whether off-site (like bowling nights, happy hours or beach barbecues) or on-site (potluck lunches, Halloween costume days or silly contests like who can decorate their cube the craziest). Put some employees in charge of coming up with fun events and give them a budget (it doesn’t have to cost a  lot to have a little fun).
  3. Get together. Meetings are an important part of team bonding. They don’t have to be long and boring—a quick Monday morning meeting to get everyone on the same page for the week can be a great team-booster. Even if your employees work from home or you outsource to independent contractors, find time for in-person meetings at least a few times a year so your team can get to know each other on a personal level.
  4. Understand each other’s jobs. Make sure your employees know what each other does and how each person’s role fits into the business as a whole and relates to the other jobs. This will create a better understanding of how the team works and drive home the fact that the team is only as good as its weakest link.

When employees feel like a team, they’ll work like a team, and that will boost your business. 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Managing Millennial Employees

millennialsIf you’re like most small business owners, young adults make up a big portion (if not the majority) of your work force. But if you’re not a 20-something yourself, you might be struggling with how to manage this generation. Also called “Millennials,” the generation born in 1980 or later brings special skills, but also some challenges. Here are some tips for working effectively with Millennial employees.

Take advantage of their “digital native” status. Growing up online, Millennials have innate digital savvy that can benefit your business. Tap them to manage your social media, develop your website or create online videos for marketing purposes. Enlist Millennials to mentor older, less tech-savvy workers in things like using smartphones for business or understanding your CRM system.

Give them relevant work. Millennials want to feel they’re making a difference in your business. Even though an entry-level job may involve a certain amount of busywork, make sure all Millennials have the opportunity to take on bigger projects or make their own decisions about how work gets done. Don’t micro-manage them, but give them general guidelines and let them run with it. For instance, instead of just having a Millennial file customer records, you could task him or her with revamping your filing system, digitizing your records or figuring out ideas for having records completed online so you never use paper.

You can never give too much feedback. Millennials grew up getting constant reinforcement from their “helicopter parents,” so they expect continual feedback on how they’re doing in the workplace, too. This may come off as needy, but it’s essential for helping Millennials improve their performance and feel satisfied in their jobs. Consider holding reviews quarterly rather than once a year, but even that won’t be enough for Millennials—they want more frequent insights into what they’re doing right (and wrong).

Help them balance. Work-life balance is essential to job satisfaction for Millennials. Yes, they work hard, but they want to play hard, too. Consider offering perks such as flexible schedules, the ability to work remotely and comp time off after a big project is completed. (In fact, most Millennials won’t even consider these “perks,” but just the normal way to work.) Millennials also want tools that help them balance business and fun, so provide smartphones and tablets (or let them use their own). Make sure their work gets done—but when it’s done, give them their personal time. They’ll earn it. 




 
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