Managing Employees Well Is Crucial To Success

Business is a complex business! But do you know what shouldn’t be complex? The management of the employees in your business. You can either run a business the right way and do things by the book, or you can do it the wrong way and take shortcuts that will not benefit your business in the long run. It is very easy to think that you can treat everyone in a way that appeals to you, or dismiss employees willy-nilly – but that’s not the way forward, and it could very well be an exercise towards disaster. You see, there are a lot of shortcuts on offer, and a lot of them are hidden in company policy as innocent bits of legislation, but can be bent and used with malevolent force.

The best way to run a business and a team? With honesty, transparency, and fairness. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so try to ensure your actions are done for the good of the business and are heavily backed up by the word of the law. Take your time with decisions, do a lot of research, talk to HR and act like a leader, not as a total bossy-boots!

The very first thing to do when managing employees is to create a productive and safe environment. This is something that is completely within your power and remit as a leader to do. Your workplace should be a place where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves in. On top of that, it should never be a place where discrimination takes place. Every single member of your staff and your team has the right to work without being harassed or discriminated against by yourself or the larger team. If you are unsure, consult your team and see what the bar is. Of course, if anyone comes to your door with a complaint regarding discrimination of any sorts it is imperative that you take this seriously as any complaint will always be grounded in some sort of upset. When staff members are upset it is up to you to not only address their complaints but to follow up. If staff members under your leadership see that you are taking no interest in their concerns, they could go above your head or even seek legal action.

Another part of creating a good working environment is to ensure that the needs of the staff are met. Can they eat and drink? Can they relax? Is it clean? Are the chairs comfortable and can the staff communicate? Making sure the office environment is clean and comfortable is key to creating a positive working environment that is safe and comfortable workplace.

You can also ensure you are doing everything possible by ensuring the team is in good spirits and that a solid rapport is built between you and your team in the workplace. People do not like to be treated as a means to an end, surprisingly, so avoid doing this! People are people, so treat them like friends and not tools. This is a sure fire way to gain respect and not animosity.

A team exists for a reason, and it is of massive importance to you and your company that you communicate with your team in a friendly and respectful manner. Some managers like to take a lofty perch and avoid creating relationships with their team, and thus lock themselves away in offices and only meet with team members based on appointments. This is not healthy. Some managers also focus on results far too much, and while results are important, they are not the be all and end all of your team, and if you keep presenting your team with results, they might lose focus and stop caring about the big picture.

Learn to speak to your employees and build rapport and a solid working relationship with your employees before focusing on any production of results. A focus on the big picture could very blind you as to what is happening right in front of your eyes. Your team needs to be able to trust in your abilities in order to deliver the results that you want from them. Think about it this way, will you be able to work to the best of your abilities if your boss is hovering over your shoulder demanding the best of you constantly?

The easiest way to build a solid working relationship with your team is to keep your door open. Your employees should be allowed to speak to you about anything as you are in a role of both authority and responsibility. Employees respond well to leaders and managers who clearly care about their wellbeing and their health not just in the place of work, but at home and in their personal life too. Speak to each employee as the diverse individual they are and do not be afraid to get to know each and every single member of your team in a personal manner.

Also, ensure you are capable of recognizing the success of team members. This isn’t just about who can bring in the most sales or hit their targets; it is about what everyone brings to the business in their own unique way. Is someone improving morale? Recognize it! Is someone taking time to train staff? Recognize it! Give credit where credit is due – it’s so very simple and will help your team cultivate a culture of success in the workplace. Staff won’t like it if their best efforts are not rewarded by the person in charge.

Before we jump into talking about discipline in the workplace it is absolutely essential to educate ourselves about the role of workplace human resources or HR. Human resource departments used to handle payroll and other areas, but are now a fully functioning arm of companies that focus on everything to do with employees. HR doesn’t and shouldn’t take a side, but they usually are the voice of the company – that does not mean that they should treat employees unfairly under any circumstances, though. Human resources departments are essential and should be well versed in not just employee and workplace law, but the law in general like Ellis Whittam. A good HR team is worth its weight in gold and should be taken seriously.

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Discipline in the workplace needs to follow company procedures either laid out by yourself or the human resources department. Every action taken against an employee needs to be grounded in consistency, the law, company procedure, and fairness. In other words, if you set a bar or there is a bar set for behavior and ability in the workplace, stick to it. If you aren’t being consistent with punishments or discipline in the workplace, you could be sued or shown to be a perpetrator of discrimination in the workplace. Employees have a lot of reasons to be unhappy with their employers which means that before you take any action against employees, it needs to be grounded in both reason and evidence. This is where HR comes in as they set the bar and can let you know if you are following the best course of action in regards to a problem employee. It is very easy to slip up in this area so ensure your actions are documented, evidence and backed up in as many ways as possible.

There’s only one way to manage employees and that’s well. Be yourself, be natural and don’t be a total authoritarian when it isn’t called for. People can see through your methods easily, so be natural and be the best manager you can be.

Clash Of The Coworkers: How To Rethink Your Open Plan Office

Many of today’s modern office spaces have what we call “open plan” layouts. In a nutshell, they have dispensed with the traditional design where each person or team would have a traditional office with a door, and closed off from other individuals and groups. Instead, everyone works together in one big room or area.

As you can appreciate, open plan layouts are attractive because they allow teams to communicate with each other better. However, there are some downsides to some open plan layouts. For example, noise levels can increase, and some people will find it hard to concentrate. Plus, there’s also privacy concerns to contend with.

If your open plan office suffers from those or other issues, you might think that such a layout isn’t for you. But, the good news is that you can resolve your problems by making some slight changes or additions. Here are a few examples of what you can do to make your open plan office more productive, inviting, and efficient:

Image Obtained From Flickr

Use the same furniture for each cubicle

Is your open plan office a mish-mash of different styles of desks, chairs and other office items? If so, that could be part of your problem. Some of your workers may find it hard to work at desks that are too small or narrow, for instance. And others may have too much space!

One strategy to follow is removing your existing cubicles and furniture and opting for a more uniform approach. Look at sites like Arnold’s Office Furniture for some inspiration on the cubicles and furniture that work well with your particular office setup.

Make use of plants

Why do you often see plants in today’s modern offices? The answer is simple: they are cheap to buy and maintain, plus they serve a multitude of purposes! For a start, they break up an otherwise standard-looking office design.

They can also serve as a barrier of sorts to divide up an open plan office into specific areas. And, finally, they help to improve air quality and increase productivity. The latter was even proven in a scientific study on the subject!

Image Obtained From Flickr

Use the right colors

It might shock you to learn that not all offices get painted with white or magnolia colors, nor do they feature gray carpet tiles! Color can impact how we think and feel in our lives, and we can use it to convey the right message to office workers.

You also need to consider which colors work well with your particular business. For instance, an investment company might not want a kaleidoscope of colors and abstract art adorning the office space. And a technology startup might find a corporate color scheme doesn’t appeal to staff and visitors alike.

Keep it bare

“Less is more” is an approach that works for a variety of modern open plan offices. If your working environment is full of stuff, keep the clutter to a minimum. You might even wish to expose bare brickwork on the walls or steel beams in the ceiling. It gives workers the impression they are working in an area bigger than it is. Plus, it makes the look and feel of the office more attractive.

Getting Through Customs: How To Make Your Relationship With The Customer Soar

Communication with your customers is such a vast subject that it is so difficult to break down into a simple formula. Whether you are in a contact center, a customer facing role, or using email to speak to them, you have many obstacles to overcome. Focusing on the contact center environment, it becomes very apparent that you don’t have as many things going in your favor that you would normally have, like facial expressions, manner, how you posture yourself etc. All you have is your voice, which is a limiting factor in communicating yourself effectively. Secondly, if a customer calls to complain and there are external factors, like a bad line, this will further annoy the customer. There are essential skills to have when working in a contact center, and here they are.

Communication Skills

Communication varies depending on the environnent, and it is down to you to communicate yourself properly. Whether you use body language more in a face to face role this would normally work to alleviate customer anxieties, but this cannot be done over the phone. A thing you do have control over, is the language that you use. There are many words that you use that can be construed as negative. A common example is when someone thanks you and you casually respond “no problem.” Yes, it is an acknowledgement, but the word “problem” will impact on a customer negatively. It could simply imply that there is a problem. Either way, using language that is direct and positive over confusing terms will work so much better to build the bond between business and customer.

Skills In Time Management

From the opening of the business, to the close of business, that is your window of opportunity. So use that time as best as you can. Your role is to sell products and to sell the business or brand. This also applies to when you are in conversation with a customer. You could spend a long time going round in circles with a customer, and sometimes it is better to seek assistance before you say something you regret. And this links to having patience. Managing your own fuse is a very important skill to have, so your best character traits come across, and this translates into productivity and more sales. There are things you can use to help your team get ahead, like extra training or sales team enablement software. Managing your emotions will help you majorly.

Having Superior Knowledge Of The Product

You cannot bluff your way through this. The product is what you are selling, and you need to sell it in as much detail as you can while giving care and attention to the customer. This is balancing act, as you don’t want to come across as someone reciting lines, or too “sales-y.” But knowing your product will help in the sale, and it will help for technical queries afterwards too. If you “know nothing” it reflects badly on the product, on the business, and on yourself.

Why A Trademark Is Crucial For Your Business

If you’re thinking of starting a business, then you have a long way to go before that business is up, running, and exactly where you want it to be. You have many things to consider before you can start your business and begin calling it a success. One thing you’ll likely hear a lot about, is a trademark. If you’re wondering why a trademark matters to you, this post can help you.

Trademarks Make It Easier For Customers To Find You

A trademark can make it much easier for customers to find you. With so many businesses in the same niche these days, it can be difficult for customers to differentiate between different businesses. When you make sure you are trademarked, you make it easier for customers to find you. Not only will it make it easier for them to find you, they’ll become more sure of your reputation and be far more likely to work with you. They will be less likely to move towards another competitor, and far more likely to move towards a sale with you.

Trademarks Can Become Valuable Assets

Trademarks can become extremely valuable assets indeed. They can get more valuable over time, especially if your business is becoming more valuable. As your business grows, your trademark will grow with it. Trademarks can also help you to expand into other industries. They can be bought, sold, and licensed as you see fit, too. It’s one of the most important things to think about as you start your business.

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Trademarks Don’t Expire

Your trademark will not expire, so you don’t need to worry that you must pay for it all over again or go through a bothersome process to keep it. Many brands have been trademarked and around for hundreds of years. Many car brands are an example of this, such as Mercedes, as well as brands you likely use in your day to day life.

A Trademark Will Protect Your Brand

Protecting your business in any way you can is absolutely crucial for the future. Whether you’re big or not now is not the point. The sooner you protect your business, the better. If you have a unique name and business model, a trademark can help to protect you from people trying to jump on the bandwagon and copy you. Unfortunately, there are people like this in the world. Dishonest people out there will try to create a business just like yours and become a rival, or a carbon copy if you don’t take the steps to trademark it, explains Xavier Morales. Making sure your business is safe is an absolute must.

Of course, this isn’t the only way a trademark can help your business. It can also make your brand more recognisable and memorable, and is usually pretty cheap to obtain. Hopefully, it’ll also discourage others from using similar branding techniques to you. Make sure you do what’s best for your business and get trademarked as soon as possible for peace of mind!

How technology helps with staffing

As business owners, we all struggle with staffing issues. The infographic below and companion article helps us to understand how recruiters use technology effectively, I am sure there are a few things we could be doing (better)!

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5 Reasons Why Technology Drives Success in Staffing

Via AkkenCloud

 

50 Interview Questions to Ask Job Applicants

A few months ago I shared with you a Small Business Recruiting Guide provided by one of our trusted contributors.

Because you liked the resource, we thought you might be interested in their latest published work: 50 Interview Questions to Ask Applicants.

The guide contains 50 quick, easy-to-use, and immediately applied interview questions. These questions will help you to decide quickly whether the candidate you are interviewing is the right fit or not. Each question has been filtered through a vast array of human resources scenarios to determine if any are “questionable” or “offensive” based on current HR laws, regulations, and interviewing rules, (e.g., discriminatory questions based on violations of ADA, Title VI, etc.), and each one has passed the test in the US at the time of this writing.

We think this guide will go perfectly well with the Small Business Recruiting Guide we shared with you in the past.

Stamp Out Employee Stress In Your Pet Sitting Business

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Everyone in a work environment experiences work stress at some point in their lives. Small amounts of stress are good. They can push you to meet a new challenge or face a deadline. However, continuous or chronic stress can become overwhelming and is harmful to your physical and mental health.

As employers, we have an obligation to look after the wellbeing of our employees. On a basic, human level, we want to look after the people we work with and ensure they are okay. From a business stance, workplace stress causes a dip in productivity, low morale and increased absences.

Working in the pet sitting industry brings its own unique challenges. Though working with animals is a wonderful experience, it isn’t without its problems. We’ve all been stuck in traffic, trying desperately to get to the next appointment. And meanwhile, we’re hoping that the client’s beloved pooch can wait until we arrive before going to the toilet. And we’ve all looked at the next day’s schedule and wonder how on earth we’re going to fit it all in. And, of course, there are the pets themselves. We worry about their stress and fretting when their owners are away. It’s a big responsibility looking after someone’s pet and being responsible for their home’s security etc. Sometimes that burden weighs heavily. When your job is busy and pressured, healthy stress can turn into burnout.

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Common Reasons For Work Stress

The following reasons are often cited as a factor in work stress. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the common stressors:

  • Mounting or excessive workloads

  • Lack of managerial support

  • Lack of social support within the organization

  • Work that isn’t fulfilling

  • Lack of opportunities for career development or advancement

  • Lack of control over own schedule and workload

  • Changes to policy or processes

  • Poor salaries

 

Effects Of Stress

If stress is left untreated, it can cause serious harm to physical and mental health. It can lead to many illnesses including depression, anxiety, and heart disease. It is also associated with headaches, stomach pain, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

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What Employers Can Do

Employers face their own struggles and challenges at work and are not immune from stress. It is just as likely to affect you as your staff, if not more so. There are several steps you can take to deal with and combat stress for yourself and your employees.

1. Manage Workload

One of the main workplace stressors is an overwhelming workload. There are several steps you can take to manage this. The first thing to look at is whether staff can fulfill their duties. Do they have adequate training? Is there anything they are unsure of or need clarification on? Are they worried about dealing with a specific client or pet? Try to address any uncertainty and take steps to fix it.

Communication is vital, both in identifying and managing the problems. Sit down with your employees and work out what you can do to help them. This may mean swapping schedules or working out more flexible hours. It may also involve hiring additional staff.

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2. Set Up An Employee Assistance Programme

There are many Employee Assistance Programme services for employers. Packages vary but tend to include counselling and referral services for employees. They are created to help employees with issues that may impact on their work. If this is an option for your business, it will offer your staff the support they need during difficult times.

3. Set Clear Policies And Contracts

It is important that everyone is aware of their responsibilities from the outset. This includes responsibilities regarding their own roles and to the company. Any policies and documentation should be clear and transparent. Go through these with employees at the beginning of their employment and ensure they are aware of what is expected of them. Review your job descriptions to make sure they include all requirements and expectations.

Employers should also set up regular supervision meetings. This provides objectives and targets for employees. The manager and employee can both assess how well these have been fulfilled. They can then decide together where changes need to be made. This is a great opportunity to look at strengths and provide useful constructive criticism. A positive approach should always be taken, even when discussing weaknesses. Always start with the positives. Suggest different approaches and improvements rather than dwelling on failures.

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4. Flexibility And Control

People can often feel pressured if they have no control over their workload and how it is managed. Everyone works in a slightly different way. Though there must be some structure in a work environment, it is important to allow employees some control over their work. For example, when planning their routes each day, etc. Or in how to deal with a particular pet.

Discuss work with staff and involve them in making decisions. Involve them in discussions on how work is carried out. They are likely to have some useful insights and may be able to streamline/improve processes.

5. Foster An Open And Supportive Environment

If workers feel they can’t talk to managers about issues, this creates an unhealthy environment. Therefore, it is essential that you create an open and supportive workspace. Ensure supervisors and managers hold regular meetings with their charges to discuss issues they may be facing. Encourage an ‘open door’ policy. Group meetings are also effective as they allow co-workers to discuss issues among themselves. Social events allow co-workers to build solid relationships.

Keep everyone informed about what is happening in the business as a whole. Let them know about new business and new initiatives. Encourage everyone to make a contribution and put forward suggestions.

6. Manage Change

Changes in company policy or processes can lead to concern and worry. Many people fear change and fear their stability is being rocked. Change is inevitable in all businesses, and it is often necessary for growth. The way you manage this will have a significant impact.

Include everyone in discussions. Consult and ensure everyone can offer input and is heard. Always plan ahead when making changes. Give clear indications about when it will happen and ensure everyone is supported throughout the process.

Providing a caring and supportive environment for staff will help reduce stress. Building strong relationships and fostering an open environment will help workers feel they matter. A happy workforce leads to greater levels of productivity and higher morale. This will impact positively on your bottom line. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to identify and manage stress in the workplace.

The Ultimate Guide To Hiring The Best Employees

 

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(pixabay: https://goo.gl/FgosJm)

Hiring employees is an essential part of every business. You need to make good hires, or your company will be filled with bad employees. To ensure you make the best hires possible, follow this guide:

Make A Checklist

The first thing you should do is make a checklist of useful and essential things you’re looking for. There might be certain qualifications that are essential for the job in question. Or, you want a minimum amount of experience in a similar role. Then, you can have a few things that are desirable, but not essential for candidates to have. By making this checklist, you can narrow down your search immediately. If people apply for the job without the essential requirements, then you rule them out, simple!

Outsource An HR Company

A great way to speed up the hiring process is to outsource an HR company. They can deal with posting the job advert and finding candidates for you. This saves you lots of time and effort, as you don’t have to sift through hundreds of applications. They’ll do it for you, and come to you with a short list of potential employees.

 

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Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Eventually, you’ll whittle down your candidates to a handful of people. Then, it’s time for the interview stage. This is usually the part that candidates dread, so don’t be surprised if they seem a little nervous. During an interview, you should ask numerous questions and judge the responses from the candidate. Now, there are loads of typical questions you can ask someone in an interview. But, the best ones you should as are ones that get them thinking. Ask thought-provoking questions to help you find the best employee for your business. I found some great info sourced from Forbes on how top business owners interview candidates. They ask them a question at the end of the interview that determines whether or not they get the job. It’s a multiple choice question, and there is only one right answer. Pick the wrong one, and they don’t get hired. Pick the right one and they’re under consideration. It’s a great little tactic that ensures you get the right hire every time. How? Because the question is designed to ensure, they know the core values of your brand. If they pick one of the two answers that don’t align with your values, then they’re clearly not right for the company.

 

(Link: https://goo.gl/3SJ6FO)

Never Interview On Your Own

You may think that conducting an interview on your own is a good idea. You get one-on-one time with people so that you can scope them out. However, interviewing with someone next to you is a far better option. This way, you have a second opinion, and will find it easier to make the right choice. You may think someone is good, but your assistant can pick up on something negative and point it out to you.

If you follow this guide, then you’ll make the best hires 100% of the time. Your business will excel because you’ve hired the best people for every job.

Are you ready for PRIME TIME?

One of the key concepts of Personal Productivity Principles is the concept of PRIME TIME.

Every time you have a task to do, you have to weigh the time/cost – value equation against your own “productivity expectation” and determine WHEN to do it.

PRIME TIME is best explained with a telemarketing/sales example:

  • PRIME TIME = whenever contact (calls) can be made.
  • NON- PRIME TIME = the rest of the time.

A top gun salesperson (or highly effective business person) only does PRIME TIME TASKS IN PRIME TIME and vice versa.

For example:

  • Reports, time management, scheduling is done early in the morning (NON-PRIME TIME)
  • Calls are made during the day  – maybe even during LUNCH TIME when people have time to talk (PRIME TIME)
  • Paperwork, planning, educational and development tasks are done in the evenings and/or weekends (NON-PRIME TIME)

It’s all pretty SIMPLE to understand – harder to actually do – because most people don’t know what their PRIME TIME tasks/outcomes are.

Once you know your PURPOSE / OUTCOME, everything should fall into place…

But it’s all easier said than done – unless you have a SYSTEMISED approach to time/life management.

Of course, when time permits, NON-PRIME TIME tasks CAN be done in PRIME TIME as long as they don’t interfere with PRIME TIME TASKS.

If you want to learn more about these principles, contact us. These are skills we teach within our Platinum Program.

Keep Your Clients Satisfied With These Top Tips!

One of the top ways you can make your business successful is to keep your clients happy. After all, it’s down to them whether or not you make money. You need to ensure you have a good and honest relationship with them, so they become loyal clients to your business. Here are some top tips for keeping your clients satisfied.

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Make sure you are ready to deal with clients

You need to make sure your business is all set up and ready to deal with customers. If you aren’t ready, you could end up providing them with a product which isn’t up to the standard you promised. As we talked about before, your business could spiral into chaos if you are not ready. Therefore, make sure you have everything set in place before agreeing your first deal. Don’t make promises you can’t keep if you want to make them happy.

 

Listen to what your clients need

Another tip to keep your clients satisfied is to make sure you are listening to your client. When you meet them, remember to ask them questions about what they are looking for, rather than just talk about what you do. Take notes so that you can relay back to your team exactly what the client needs. Remember if you do a good job, they will keep returning to your company for further work.

 

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 Communicate with them effectively

You can also keep your clients satisfied by ensuring you communicate with them effectively. Give them updates of how the project is progressing, and don’t hesitate to call them if you need to clarify anything. You should also ensure you call them back and email them quickly when they have sent you a message. If you don’t speak with them, they will lose some of their trust in you. If you are going to be out of the office, don’t forget to put an office email reminder on so they know you aren’t available.

 

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Make sure products are delivered to them in a timely fashion

Another tip for keeping your clients satisfied is to ensure products are delivered to them timely. If you keep sending over the products late, they won’t be happy and will not use you again. Therefore, you should plan in advance exactly how you will get them there from the warehouse. And if you have clients across the globe, you need customized transport solutions via air, land and sea. It will ensure the product is delivered to them efficiently. Make sure you have a good supply chain management in place before agreeing on a deal with clients.

 

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You need to be honest with them

You need to be honest with clients if something does not go to planned. You are more likely to keep some of their trust if you are accountable, and explain why and what has gone wrong. Resolve the issues efficiently, keeping them updated as you do, and you will soon have them returning to use your services again.

Remember if you want to keep clients satisfied, you need to show them a degree of loyalty.  As this article reveals, if you are approached for work by a competitor of your client, you should think about it carefully. After all, you don’t want to end up losing your loyal customer.