Tips from the Top - December 2013
Are You Communicating Effectively?
Effective communication skills are the foundation of success not only socially and personally, but in business as well. Communication is essential to the success of any business, but it is often overlooked. In my many years dealing with business owners, I have seen time and again the effects poor communication between team members can have on a business…Read more
Tips for Onboarding New Employees
In the past, we had not been very successful at bringing on and keeping new employees. My Board and facilitator emphasized having a good hiring process in place, and also a solid onboarding process so that the new employees would have the best chance of aligning with our company culture and processes. Here is a list of ideas we came up with to improve the onboarding process…Read more
Getting the Message to Employees
My Board recently examined the issue of communicating company news to employees. Collectively the group had tried personal emails, an e-newsletter, a paper newsletter, a company Facebook page, discussion groups on the company intranet, mass texting, flat screen monitors at gathering places in the office, and screen savers that popped up on idle computers with company announcements. One CEO was using all of the above technologies, yet employees continued to say, "I didn’t know that" or "No one told me…"Read more
Aligning Job Descriptions with Roles
When I updated my organization chart, I had my staff do the first pass on their job descriptions. However, what I got back was a description of all the various tasks that each individual was doing versus a description for the job function. I have multiple people performing multiple jobs and I realized that I can’t accurately do performance reviews, let alone understand how my organization is doing and where it is going, without having a separate job description for each role (versus each individual). Now, every job function has an up-to-date job description and key accountabilities, and my org chart is updated as well. I have also developed a "future" organization chart – this is part of my road map in terms of where I want to take the company. As we grow and I bring additional resources onboard, it will be much easier to determine what I need and when. Plus, I already have the basic job description done which will enable me to start my hiring process faster!
Learning from the Past to Plan for the Future
I have each of my managers do a short presentation at the end of the year to help with planning for the upcoming year. They must present on two things that went well and why. Then, they have to describe two things that didn’t go well and the reasons why not. They then talk about what they learned and how this will affect their planning for the next year. This generates some great group discussions and gets us into some key issues that might not arise otherwise.
The Power of Positive People
The more positive people you have on your staff, the easier it will be to energize and align your entire organization. The late Paul Harvey, the respected radio host, once said, "Nobody ever erected a monument to a pessimist." A positive outlook is a characteristic common to successful people. Additionally, developing a team with a positive attitude provides a better predictor of organizational success than collective intelligence.
Start with the interviewing process. A favorite interview question is, "Tell me most surprising thing you learned about yourself in your last job." Positive people routinely field this question quickly and fluidly, where negative people need to think it over. Fortunately, should some members of you staff needs an "attitude adjustment", a negative attitude can be reversed and a positive outlook can be reinforced. Positive people are energizers, whereas negative people are energy killers. If you want a positive outcome, hire positive people
Setting Clear Expectations
Sometimes we expect too much out of our employees, even though we’ve given them leeway on certain things. For example, if we want them to come to the office by 8 a.m. but give them a range of acceptable behavior of 8-8:30 a.m., we can’t be upset if they come in at 8:29 a.m. We always want our employees to be like us and we’re disappointed when they are not. We tend to think they’ll take on as much as we can, regardless of what their personal goals are. However, it’s best to clearly communicate expectations instead of relying on our hopes. Otherwise, we’ll be continually disappointed and wonder why they didn’t excel as we wanted them to. It’s up to us as business owners to realize their limitations and use them for their strengths, not what we want as their strengths.
The Benefits of Cross Training
Cross training and having some excess resource capacity puts a company in a good position to let go of the weakest resource when necessary. The remaining staff will then be more diligent knowing that if they are not performing to standards, the company will not hesitate to let them go. This relieves the pressure to hang onto an underperforming individual simply because you think you can’t afford to let them go. The reality is that you can’t afford to keep them, as they will negatively impact the other members of their team. Another cross training benefit becomes evident at vacation time, when customer service levels can better be maintained by knowledgeable staff. This can positively change the whole culture of your company.