Blog Archives

Inspiration: 7 Types of Employees You Should Fire [Infographic]

fire

Interview: Brian Dodds, President of Recognition Professionals International

Brian Dodds, president of Recognition Professionals International, talks about incentives to boost employee productivity through recognition.

Listen to Brian’s interview here. Read the rest of this entry

5 Mistakes Entrepreneur Bosses Should Avoid

5 Mistakes Entrepreneur Bosses Should AvoidTraditionally, the entrepreneur has been painted as a lone wolf, struggling to make it in the economic wilderness. He’s innovative, he’s smart, and he’s all alone. The problem is: once an entrepreneur starts to see some success, he/she gains a team of employees to help with that struggle.

If you’re an entrepreneur who has suddenly had employees thrust upon you, here are some mistakes you need to avoid:

1. A failure to communicate

The entrepreneur is used to being alone and can forget that when faced with employees. A communication gap forms. If you’ve only been communicating with yourself, trying to pass your vision on to your team isn’t easy. Don’t assume your employees know what you’re thinking. Take a moment to make sure everyone is on the same page before proceeding.

2. Failure to delegate

One of the traits of the entrepreneur is the “get things done” attitude. Unfortunately, when employees enter into the equation, an entrepreneur can have a hard time passing on the duties they would rather take upon themselves. Remember: your employees are there to help you get things done. Give them a task to complete and be clear on what it is and when it needs to be done.

3. Failure to set goals

You set goals for yourself. Why not set goals for your employees? This is a good way to get to know them and their work habits. Why did they join your company? Where do they see it going? What are their personal goals? This gives you an opportunity to bridge the communications gap. Set goals with your employees. When they have something to aspire to with you, you strengthen the team dynamic.

4. Failure to recognize achievements

Once you set goals with your employees, make sure you recognize and praise them when they hit those goals. Not every reward needs to be a monetary one. Sometimes saying, “good job” to someone in front of everyone else is all you need. The important thing is that you acknowledge the good work that your employees are doing. For many entrepreneurs, their success is it’s own reward, but it doesn’t work that way for your employees.

5. Failure to have fun

A new study shows that happy workplaces are crucial to an effective staff. We’re not saying through a party every Friday, but let people decorate their office spaces. Let people take their lunch breaks together. Don’t flip out if they spend a little extra time chatting at the coffee pot. That little extra time makes the workplace not so stiff and formal. Your employees will reward you for that extra time.

What did you wish you’d known when you transitioned from entrepreneur to boss? Leave it in the comments below!

4 Ways to Motivate your Employees

Working in the small business/entrepreneurial field, there are definitely going to be some lean times. You might not be able to doll out those Christmas bonuses or give your employees the pay raise they deserve.4 Ways to Motivate your Employees

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t motivate your employees with other means. Here are some of our top ways to motivate employees when you can’t do it with money:

1. Don’t be stingy with praise.

Sometimes, we can be so focused on our goal and whether or not we’re making good time that we forget the path and milestones we’ve already come across. After doing something good, the entrepreneur tends to say, “I’m not there yet.” But, just because you’re pushing yourself hard and holding yourself to a higher (often impossible) standard doesn’t mean you should expect the same from your employees. They have their own goals and their own lives. When they do a good job, congratulate them. They are your wingmen on your entrepreneurial journey. Let them know you appreciate them having your back.

2. Get rid of the man in charge.

Sometimes, in cases where there are project managers and supervisors, there can be an us vs. them mentality that develops in the ranks. Is “the man” bringing your employees down? Get rid of him. Try to put all your employees on the same level. This will foster team work. And while not every idea is a good one, teams are more likely to work that out on their own and improve over time if there isn’t an overlord trying to steer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some projects absolutely NEED managers. So, when trying to run a new project without a manger, make sure that’s the best project to do it with.

3. Give out recognition and rewards.

Okay, so we talked about the lack of funds thing. But, remember, not all rewards are monetary. Recognizing an employee in front of other employees is good for everyone. And it just might make you feel good, too. I’ve never been a big proponent of the employee of the month. While it’s a small crime of recognition, because it’s done monthly diminishes it over time. Think of unique and one-of-a-kind ways to recognize your employees.

If you’re looking for some more information on employee recognition, check out this interview with Brian Dodds of Recognition Professionals International.

4. Share the disappointment

It’s great to celebrate the triumphs, but don’t ignore your defeats. Without being a downer, try to foster some transparency between the CEO and the employees. You don’t want to hide things from your coworkers. At the risk of being a cliche, you need to know your lows so you can reach your highs.

What are some ways you motivate your employees? Share your thoughts in the comments!

You’re the Boss! Tips on Being a Great Head Honcho

As the captain of your small business, or the head entrepreneur, or the guy with the original idea, you’re going to end up at the top of the heap. That’s great! But, what if you weren’t prepared to be a leader.Tips on being a good boss

We got you covered.

Be an example

As an entrepreneur, you’re living out your dream and that’s bound to make you feel happy and excited. That’s great! But, make sure you don’t lose sight of your professionalism. You can make sure everyone’s having fun while still taking things seriously. If you have a tough time finding the balance, error on the side of serious. It’s harder to put the genie back in the bottle.

Be prepared

Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” quite like being unprepared. If you’re new to whole “I’m the boss” thing, you might be unprepared a lot. How do you fix this? Most of these issues can be solved with organization. If you have your calendar up to date and everything where it should be, you can give people the appearance of preparedness. Also, it’s good to be organized anyway.

Don’t be “too busy”

You want to develop a trusting relationship with your employees and being too busy for them doesn’t help. You want to make yourself available, so people know they can come to you with problems, issues, and questions. Make sure people see you around. Go grab coffee. Stop and chat a little bit. Don’t force interaction, but don’t discourage it, either. Again, there’s a fine line here. You are busy. You have a lot of balls in the air. But, being a trusted boss is another ball in the rotation. Don’t forget that one’s up there.

Trust your employees

Have you ever been in a situation where the boss doesn’t trust you to get things done? It feels like they’re always looking over your shoulder to the point where you wonder why they just didn’t do it themselves. It doesn’t work as a management style. You can’t keep watching people like a hawk. Give them some room. Some people may need more guidance than others. Give it some time to figure out which people need a daily reminder and which people just want to work quietly.

Give back

Tell your employees when they’ve done a good job. Tell them in front of clients and customers. Let them know they are valued. It seems like an easy thing to do, but when you’re busy and stressed and have a million projects you’re waiting on, this is one of the things that falls by the wayside. Don’t forget to be encouraging.

Have you had a bad boss experience? What did they need to change? How did your best boss operate? Share in the comments!

What to put in your Business Plan

We’ve talked on our blog before about creating a business plan and knowing how to pitch it. Now, here is a list of things that you need to have in your plan to show to an investor.

Create a business plan

CSI whiteboard optional

INTRO

Start off with a description of your business and your goals. Think of it as your business plan’s thesis statement. Everything that comes after this should relate to how you are going to achieve these goals. Include the ownership and legal structure, a bit about yourself, skills and experience. One more thing for the intro is: Why me? Why us? Why now?

MARKETING

First and foremost, what are you selling? Be it product or service, get that in here. Go into some detail. You’re not trying to be mysterious. Also (and oft forgot), how much does it cost? Let people know what you have to offer. All market research should go in here, too: customers, market size, location. Put your marketing plan in here.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

How much money do you need? How much do you have and where is it coming from? What are your expected costs and expected returns? What’s your break- even point? Put projected income statements and balance sheets from the first two years here. Make sure you let investors know who’s in charge of the money, so they know who to contact.

OPERATIONS

What does the day-to-day management look like? This section is where you show people how the business is going to run. Make sure you outline how the delivery of products and services will go. You should also use this section to talk about your employees, your employee policies, and your insurance coverages.

A lot of time, effort, and info goes into a business plan. Once you have it all down, though, you can present your business in a clear, concise way that will get people on board. Besides, it always pays to be organized.

What would you put in your business plan that wasn’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments!

Growing your Employee Base

You can’t go it alone. When you start your business, you’re going to expand eventually which means you will be hiring employees.

It’s an exciting time for your business when you start building your team. You need to pick people you can work with, people who can work with you, people who inspire you to achieve, and you inspire in response. So, how do you build rapport with your team?

1. Be a confidant

Not everything is about work. Your small business might be your passion, but to your employees, it’s a job. By building a safe community for employees to feel like their passions are welcome, you can build trust among your staff. Encouraging their passions will lead them to helping you achieve yours.

2. Do you trust them?

It seems like a simple thing, but it’s obvious when you trust your employees. Are you hovering over them after giving them an assignment? Are you respecting their work? As a small business owner or entrepreneur, there’s the temptation to micromanage. Even if you have a specific viewpoint on how things should be done, not everyone works the way you do. Show them you trust them and they will return the favor.

3. Foster team building

Your employees trust you, you trust your employees. Now, do they trust each other? There are many different factors to watch out for in your employee pool. Some people work well with others. Some people are better off alone. When hiring, try to discover how each individual works best. When put into the office atmosphere, your employees will feel safer with each other if you account for their preferences.

Don’t forget group fist pumps.

4. Beware the room killer

There’s a term in improv. Room killer.

A room killer is someone who draws attention to themselves and doesn’t contribute valuable ideas. He will pass others work on as his own. He is the first to tell someone they aren’t adding anything to the room. They are the first to tell someone they’re wrong. It’s not that they want to work alone. They want to be the teacher’s pet in a post high school world. It’s not hard to pinpoint a room killer. When this person talks, you can feel the energy sucked out of the room. It’s up to you how you deal with a room killer. No matter how you do it, you have to do it.

Whether an introvert or an extrovert, you are the leader of your employees. You can build an effective team that works well with you and takes your business to the next level.

The Customer is Wrong

Our society functions under the mantra: the customer is always right. This is a notion that has been fed to us since we entered the work force. No matter what, make sure the customer leaves happy.

Small businesses and startups rely heavily on word of mouth to find loyal customers and advocates for their businesses. Your customer can be your greatest ally. If you can give them a great customer service experience, you have a fan for life. At this point, you know how to treat customers. Be kind and courteous. Address their issues in a timely fashion. Make sure you listen to their concerns and discuss things with them to make sure you both understand each other.

So, what happens if you can’t make a customer happy?The Customer is Wrong

There are people out there who want to test how far that can go without holding up their end of the deal of being a customer. While you should never assume someone’s trying to scam you, some customers might be testing the waters.

In this case, you want to work closely with your employees and customer service staff. Don’t automatically assume they did something wrong. Customers can abuse products and policies, demand unreasonable resolutions, or verbally abuse your staff. When you step in, make sure the customer knows the buck stops with you.

Don’t belittle your team or employees. Trust that they did all that they could to give the customer what they asked for.

When things start to get hairy, you should start collecting the records of your interactions. If you have a paper trail of evidence that shows this customer has made a habit of being a bad customer, everyone on staff can be appraised of the situation. In the future, don’t work with this customer.

While you might lose one business opportunity, you will show your support for your team.

If you want to learn more about dealing with no-pay customers, check out Business Beware.

Working with Your Employees

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you have employees looking to you for guidance, motivation, and direction. The entrepreneurial journey can be easier with the right team behind with you. So, what are some ways to work with your team?

We’ve got some ideas right here:

Training

Your employees are part of your team and you wouldn’t head into the big game without some practice first. You should invest training in your employees. Find out what their skills are and what they want to develop. That investment will come back to you.

Defining Goals

We posted awhile back about setting goals for your business. You shouldn’t ignore your employees when it comes to goal setting. Find out where they want to go. They might have a perspective on the business that you never considered. They also might have goals of their own. Having focus is helpful to your entire crew.

Get to know them

I’ve been through my fair share of team building exercises. It’s the fast track for trust. Sometimes. While those crash courses might work at college orientation, they don’t always work in a business situation. Do take some time to get to know your staff. Take a lunch. Get a water cooler. Do something to break the ice.

Transparency

You need to include your employees in where your company is going. Discussing goals with them is one thing. You want to keep them up on developments, changes, and hurdles. Employees can get anxious when it feels like the company is headed off the rails. Consider weekly or monthly meetings to catch everyone up on the latest developments.

Again, you want to keep in mind that you are surrounding yourself with a team. You can tell them which plays to run, but they’re the ones out on the field. When things start to shift, they need to be able to read the field.

Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are a trying time for both management and employees. How do you survive a performance review?

This is a time to focus on what you and your employees can achieve in the future.

  1. Don’t focus on what they’re doing wrong. If all they do is wrong, then why do they still have a job with you? Every employee must be doing something right. Spend a little time on that.
  2. Develop performance criteria that you can apply to all your employees, not just a few. This makes it easier on you, but it also can find where some employees excel and where some don’t.
  3. Encourage self-review. You can see what your employees believe are their strengths and weaknesses. Your evaluations should be similar. If not, something is wrong.
  4. If your business is small enough, you may be able to avoid reviews by encouraging feedback and communication. Make sure everyone knows that performance is critical to success.

For more insight on running your own business, tune in to Your Business Success on Biz Television.

%d bloggers like this: