dream team

How To Get the Right People On the Bus

According to US Department of Labor reports, 2 out of 3 new hires prove to be a mistake within the first year – costing companies thousands of dollars for each departing employee. Hiring mistakes negatively impact productivity and erode your company’s profits.  You can accept this as a cost of doing business or take the steps needed to get the right people into your company.

Tips to Hire Good People

Build a Case for Hiring

Before you replace someone or add a new employee, take the time to build a case for your decision.  Too often when one team member leaves, we rush out and replace them.  Instead, use this as an opportunity to look at your entire company.

Can you restructure some positions and hire for different skills than the departing employee had?  What goals will the position allow you to accomplish – revenue, productivity, profitability?  Should it be a full or part time position or should you outsource the tasks instead of hiring?  What is the full cost for the employee based on wages, bonuses, taxes and benefits?  Now you are ready to move forward.

Create Good Job Descriptions

Most business owners use job descriptions to insure the candidate is clear on the position duties and responsibilities.  But a good job description also helps YOU find the right people — those that possess the skills and competencies to do the job and fit your culture.

In addition to tasks and skills, include the following:  (a) certifications, education or experience required or preferred, (b) work environment and any special physical requirements, and (c) how you measure success – the performance indicators you will use to evaluate performance for this position.  Good job descriptions for all team members keep you focused on what you want, ready to execute when the need arises and communicates your expectations to candidates and current employees.

Market For Employees

Recruiting, like marketing, is most effective when it is targeted, planned and executed with consistency.  Start with the basic question, ‘What makes your company a great choice for potential employees?”  If you are not sure, ask your current team – they’ll tell you.

Identify Best Method to Reach Candidates

 How will you reach potential employees? Today you have a lot of options from online recruitment sites and social media to networking, referrals and print.  The best method may vary by position and experience requirements. Be open to various approaches — especially if you want diversity within your company.

Always be on the lookout for good people who can bring value to your organization.  Make recruiting something that is ongoing, not haphazard.

Make Hiring a De-Selection Process

Your time is valuable and you don’t want to waste it interviewing people who don’t possess the skills you need for fit into your culture.  You can improve your process and save time by incorporating a phone screen on candidates that pass your initial resume or application review.  Stay disciplined and only interview candidates who make it through your process.

Once you decide to bring someone in for an interview, email the job description to them in advance. So they are clear on the expectations before they arrive.  This also paints a professional image of your company.  The interview is an important step in the process, so have the candidate meet with multiple people, where possible, and use behavior interview techniques to probe for the skills and competencies that are most critical.  Be disciplined and be patient.  Be willing to turn down candidates who are not the right fit – don’t settle.

Do Research 

Most experts agree that hiring success hinges on job fit more than any other factor, including experience and education. So before you put out that job offer, do a little research. Today it’s easy.

Search engines and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help you uncover more information about a potential employee — good or bad.  They offer clues on hobbies, personal preferences, likes/dislikes and more. Stuff that doesn’t necessarily appear on a resume.

Fill the Gaps 

Many businesses include background and reference checks in their hiring process. Don’t skip these because you are in a rush to hire or the candidate was referred from an employee. These can often uncover potential issues but only if you take the time to call former employers and run background checks.

Believe You Can and You Will

When you tell yourself “I can’t get good help” — you defeat yourself before you even get started. We make true whatever we believe. So if you have a great team — own it and go hire more just like them.

If you have weaknesses in your team, then make fixing the culture, environment and people a priority. As the business owner, you own this as well.

So there you have it.  I use this method when I hire people and with hundreds of small businesses that I work with. They work. So start putting this system to work in your business and you too can have a team worth talking about.

On a final note, once you have the right people in your company, consider the words of Stephen Covey, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”.

RELATED:  How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Emp Orientation Welcome Aboard

How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

The search is over. After what seems like an eternity, you found the perfect candidate to join your team. He or she accepted your job offer and starts in two weeks.  What you do next, your new hire orientation, will determine whether the employee is productive, happy and hangs around for the long-term.

Purpose of New Hire Orientation

Employee orientation should be an important part of your recruitment and retention process.  For the employee, a good new hire orientation process ensures they feel welcome, fully briefed on expectations and ready to succeed. And for the company, it makes good business sense. Here is why:

  • Save Money. Employees get up to speed much more quickly so costs associated with learning on the job are reduced.
  • Lessen Anxiety. The unknown is often stressful and can impede learning. When you provide guidelines for behavior and conduct, you take the guessing away.
  • Reduce Employee Turnover. When employees feel under-valued or not properly positioned to do their job, they won’t stick around. So, orientation helps provide the tools and training necessary for their success.
  • Save Time. The better the initial orientation and training, the less time co-workers or supervisors need to spend re-teaching the employee. A good how-to manual is also helpful!
  • Develop Realistic Job Expectations. The employee learns quickly what is expected of him/her and what to expect from others in the company.

8 Things New Hires Need to Know

#1 – They Belong. You don’t need to wait for the first day to welcome them to the organization. Send out a welcome kit with information before their start date. Next, announce the new hire to your team so they are ready to welcome him/her too! Take the time to introduce him/her to other staff members. Finally, if they have a work space, make sure it’s ready and welcoming too.

#2 – Company History. Offer some background on the company — the past, present and future. Explain why you do what you do. Convey your vision and high-level goals. Share some insights about your customers – who you serve and why they choose you. And don’t limit customer discussions to sales and customer service people – everyone benefits from this knowledge.

#3 – Leadership. While your business may not have a formal leadership team, it probably has employees who take on leadership roles. Introductions help them connect with others and better understand the organization structure.

#4 – Culture. No two businesses operate the same way culturally. Share company traditions – from team lunches to monthly staff meetings – to help them understand the work environment. Help them fit in and grow with the company.

#5 – Documentation.  New hire documents must be completed for payroll, taxes, and benefits. Get these out of the way and address any questions they may have.

#6 – Compliance and Policies. Your employee handbook will provide the details on policies and answer any questions. You don’t need to review each policy but discuss some that are highly relevant. Consider topics such as sick time, vacation, work schedule/start times, cell phone or internet usage, rewards/recognition opportunities and performance feedback. Also, include policies that apply to their specific job.

#7 – Performance Expectations. While you likely discussed and shared the job description during the hiring process, this is a good time to touch on goals and how you measure success.

#8 – Your Commitment to Improvement. Orientation is the perfect time to convey your commitment to continuous improvement and learning.  In doing so, new employees feel comfortable asking questions to obtain the information they need to learn, problem solve and make decisions.

An orientation process takes time and commitment. However, it will make a significant difference in how quickly your new employee becomes productive and makes an impact. When done right, it is a win-win for everyone.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

empapp2

5 Must Have Tools to Attract and Retain Quality People

Have you ever noticed how some small business owners seem to be a magnet for attracting and retaining quality people while others struggle to do so? Getting the right people into your business and keeping them there is not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of choice. You must choose to make hiring, developing and retaining quality people a priority – for the sake of your customers, team members, and your business.

You don’t need to be a human resource expert to build a strong team of quality people. You simply need to make the commitment and use the tools that are already available and very under-utilized by many small business owners.

Tools For Developing a Winning Team

Job Descriptions.  A good hiring system will always include a job description to outline the duties and responsibilities. Remember to also include the skills and competencies that will be needed to perform the tasks. Many skills are transferable, from job to job and industry to industry. So consider both skills and tasks when hiring and ensure your job descriptions include both.

Performance Feedback Process.  Employees need feedback to continue to develop and improve. A good process has two purposes. First, to facilitate discussion on goals and skills. Second, to help team members develop their potential so they can take on new challenges and responsibilities. If you won’t take the time to provide feedback, you will get the employees you deserve. The poor performers will stay, the good performers will leave.

Employee Handbook.  These are more than just a tool to reduce legal risks. Sure they provide employees with written policies on such topics as discrimination, sexual harassment, and family leave. But a good handbook offers a lot more. It includes your vision and mission for the business and expectations for your team.  It also provides relevant information on benefits, holidays, vacation, work hours, how performance is measured and expectations regarding the use of the internet, cell phones, and social media

While some of the policies are guided by law, the majority of the policies are determined by you, the business owner. The handbook simply provides a written method to communicate what’s important to your current and future employees.

Engage and Reward Your Team

Engaging Team Meetings.  Meetings for the sake of meeting are a waste of everyone’s time, but pulling together the team with a clear purpose gets peopled engaged and keeps communication open. Pulling people together to brainstorm new ideas, work together to solve a problem or make improvements in the business can pay huge dividends beyond the bottom line.

Add some fun. Recognize individual accomplishments. Share the good news about the business: new customers, sales growth, productivity improvements, customer testimonials, and reviews. Whether you do them monthly or quarterly will depend on the business. But do them.

Performance Bonus Program.  Many small businesses build their compensation around one thing – salaries and wages. While wages are important, they are fixed and generally go up annually based on individual performance. Performance bonuses are an easy way to financially reward people when and if the business achieves its financial or other goals.

Unlike wages, a bonus is not guaranteed.  It is only paid if the goals are achieved. A bonus program provides flexibility since you can modify the business goals and amount annually as the business grows. Keep it simple.  The best programs are easy to understand, implement and track. When done well, a performance bonus program motivates employees, helps change behaviors, and creates actions needed to achieve results.

Power Your Goals By Sharing With Team

The tools above are of little value if you don’t have written goals that you are willing to share with your team. Where do you want the business to go? What goals do you want to accomplish? Be clear on these and share them with those that can help you make it happen – your people!

And when they do, remember these words from Sam Walton, ‘Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune’.

If you are ready to build a better team, start integrating these into your business. Take it one at a time, if necessary – but do it. Then you too can be a magnet for attracting and retaining quality people!

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

team

10 Tips to Develop Your Dream Team

When it comes to business, profit is important, but cash is king! The same analogy can be made when it comes to your dream team. Hiring well is important, but retention is king.

The cost of hiring, training and the temporary loss of productivity represents thousands of dollars for most small businesses. The return on this investment depends on two things: (a) how long employees stay and (b) how much they contribute when they are there.

Every successful entrepreneur knows that a strong team makes it possible to accomplish great things. But dream teams don’t just happen.  They are developed over time and require commitment at all levels, starting with you, the owner and leader of your company.

10 Tips to Develop Your Dream Team

Set Clear Expectations with SMART Goals. In sports, teams measure success through wins and losses. How will your team members measure their success? If you want them to meet your expectations, you must be clear on what you want. This starts with goals that are specific and measurable. If you want a 20% growth in revenue, a 10% reduction in rejects or a 12% reduction in A/R days outstanding – tell them what you want. Then everyone is on the same page.

Have Common Goals. While every employee should have individual goals for their position, business goals shared by the entire team are also important. In addition to promoting teamwork, common goals provide a way for team members to link their individual goals to the overall business results.

Develop Action Plans. Goals are important, but without supporting strategies and tasks, it is difficult for the team to get there. Identify what needs to be done (strategies and tactics) to achieve the goals, then assign responsibilities and due dates for completion.

Engage and Involve. Strong teams are committed to the success of the business and each other. Consider the words of Vince Lombardi, “Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work and a civilization work.” Individual commitment comes from participation and understanding. The more we involve our team in the business, the more committed they are to its success. And since some of the best ideas for business growth and improvement come from employees, it’s time to get them engaged. Then everyone wins!

Support Risk Taking. Team members need to be able to make decisions and keep moving if they are going to achieve results. When they understand the goals and have the tools and parameters to make good decisions, you need to allow them to do so. Recognize that mistakes may happen – support them in the decision but help them learn from the mistake so it’s not repeated. Without your support, they will be reluctant to make decisions, big or small.

Reward Results, Not Time. Too often owners recognize effort and hours worked instead of results achieved. When we focus only on hours or time worked, we ignore two critical profit indicators – efficiency and productivity. Comments like, ‘John really put in a lot of hours last week, thank you’ really sends out the wrong message. Instead, focus on the contribution he made. For example, ‘John really stepped up last week while Sam was out, so we met all our customer deadlines – thanks John for making it happen’. Eliminate references to time and start building a team that works smart and delivers results.

Invest in Training. One of the best ways you can demonstrate your commitment to employees is by investing time or dollars in training and development. Research has shown that companies that invest in training have consistently higher employee satisfaction and retention. The good news here is that technology has made this much more affordable for small businesses.

Use a Performance Review Process. Employees want and need feedback so they continue to develop and improve. While many focus on the legal and risk avoidance aspects, successful entrepreneurs understand that a good performance review process has two purposes. First, to facilitate discussion on goals and skills. Second, to help team members develop their potential so they can take on new challenges and responsibilities. Ensure your annual process incorporates interim feedback discussions too. If your team is involved in developing their goals and committed to success, they want and need the feedback – and will go elsewhere if they don’t get it.

Systematize the Routine. Teams that have systems in place will typically outperform those that do not because they operate more efficiently. They know what needs to be done, learn to depend on others to do their part and are ready to take advantage of opportunities that arise. Take the time to document the key procedures in your business and watch your team’s productivity and satisfaction soar!

Make Meetings Count. Team meetings can be a great team building tool, but only if done right. Getting your team together to brainstorm new ideas, recognize individual or team successes or work together on a current business challenge can be a huge benefit. Keep them interactive and never hold a meeting to communicate ‘updates’ that you could have done by email. Whether you do them monthly or quarterly, make team meetings part of your culture.

So there it is. Remember, you don’t need to implement these all at once. Prioritize them for your business and start with one. Then add another and another. Dream teams are built over time, but each step you take moves you closer to the team you want.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Team profit impact2

4 Ways Your Team Can Impact Profit

It’s no surprise that small business owners wear a lot of hats and take on a range of responsibilities from leadership to technician.  The same can also be said for the people working in these companies. They have the ability to impact profit in so many ways.

Unlike larger organizations, where tasks and goals are functionalized into departments, smaller companies don’t have these silos to contend with.  More direct communication between leadership (aka the owner) and staff makes it easier to uncover improvement opportunities, react quicker to market changes and work together as a team. That is of course IF everyone is on the same page – and focused on the same outcomes.

Where Is Your Team Focused?

So where should your team focus?  When working with clients, here are the four core deliverables that I find impact profit and growth:

Revenue.  No surprise here.  Growth comes from two areas – getting new business and keeping the customers you have.  It’ more than just marketing and sales.  Every person on your staff, from the receptionist who answers the phone to the technician who performs the work, can impact revenue with their actions and behaviors.  Share your goals, but also discuss the ways each member of your team contributes to the results.  In other words, connect the dots for them.

Costs.  Reducing expenses is a no-brainer.  Even if you are happy with your current providers, a little comparison shopping on key services or products can uncover savings opportunities.  Don’t ignore other factors like quality, service and on-time delivery, but use the information to negotiate and keep suppliers honest.

But look beyond cost-cutting and traditional expenses.  Think return on investment and get your people involved. What are you spending money on today – that you could re-allocate elsewhere?   While this may not put savings directly on the bottom line, better use of financial resources can support growth in both sales and profit.  Look at everything from your marketing and sales to operations and billing.

Do you really need to email and mail your invoices?  Is that Yellow Page listing creating leads or would the funds be better used elsewhere?  Is your email marketing platform the most effective solution today? I think you get the point.  Technology changes at a rapid pace and options for efficiency and savings come with them – often at a price that is now affordable for smaller businesses.  Take advantage of them.

Customer Satisfaction.  Nothing drives results more than happy, loyal customers, especially today in our socially-connected world.  As an advocate for your business, they can directly impact revenue through referrals, social sharing, testimonials and online reviews.

A lot of factors impact the level of satisfaction your customers have.  Depending on the business, it may include quality, service, convenience, choice, hours, price, etc.  So everyone plays a role in delivering the ‘buying experience’.

Develop a list of key satisfaction drivers for your business – be specific.  For example, quality means a lot of different things so your list might include shows up on time (on-time delivery), done right the first time or quick to solve and fix problems.  Again, connect the dots.

Operational Performance.  Not always the most popular, but if you are looking for impact, here’s an area worth consideration.  Simply put, this is nothing more than finding more efficient and effective ways to do all the tasks you and your team perform each and every day.  It’s about eliminating waste, leveraging resources (time/money) and automating processes for continuous improvement in all areas of the business.

Now, this is an area where your team can really help.  From marketing and sales to customer service, delivery and billing, every area of your business can benefit from improved processes.  In most cases, your team knows where the glitches or problem areas are.  They are often a source of customer complaints or employee frustration – why do we do it this way?  Just ask.

While you can’t fix everything overnight, pick 2-3 and focus on making those processes more efficient, consistent and effective.  Your customers, vendors, and staff will thank you.  And did I mention profit?

As a business owner, you have a lot of valuable assets – your team is one of them. They have the power to affect your business in so many positive ways when everyone is on the same page.  It’s never too late to get them started; time to refocus!

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

Hiring Process

Hiring: 7 Do’s and Don’ts to Make Your Efforts Pay Off

We all know that a strong team makes it possible for any small business to accomplish great things.  But when it comes to hiring, many owners  just wing it, and often end up disappointed and frustrated.

Getting  the right people is not easy, but if you do it well, you won’t be doing it so often!  Here are some do’s and don’ts to make your hiring system pay off – in terms of sales, productivity, and profit.

Do Build a Case for Your Hiring Decisions.   Before you rush out and replace an employee (or bring in additional help) – stop!  Be clear on what you need, why you need it and what it will cost.  Think long-term not just quick fixes.

Do Create a Good Job Description.  Think beyond just duties and responsibilities.  What skills must the person possess to accomplish the job and add value to your company? A good job description sets the expectations for the position and can provide the clarity you need – so you attract what you want.

Do Require a Resume. With online job sites for almost every position out there, most candidates have a resume of some type. Resumes are a great way to evaluate written communication skills and can be helpful in weeding out those you don’t want.  So make them a part of your hiring process – ask for them!

Do Phone Screening of Applicants.  A 10-minute phone screen, with relevant questions,  can save countless hours of time.  Beyond getting clarification on resume information, a phone screen is a great way to evaluate verbal communication skills.

Don’t Go It Alone.   As a small business owner, you likely interview most candidates.  But why not allow other employees to participate in the interview process.  We all pick up different things and input from others can be very helpful in making good hiring decisions.  If you are a solo owner, ask another solo-owner to interview your candidates and return the favor for him/her when needed.

Do Reference and Background Checks.  Face it, some people polish the apple a bit or just flat-out lie on resumes and throughout the interview process.  Before you jump in and offer someone a position, do your homework.  Get business (not personal) references and call them.  Confirm their employment and the dates – then ask the magic question, ‘Would you re-hire the candidate’.  A simple yes or no will speak volumes.  And don’t forget to do a little online research.  Facebook, Linked-In and Google+ provide a lot of information, good and bad, on potential employees.  Use it.   If background checks or assessments are part of your process, do them.

Do Not Settle.  I know that being short-staffed can be frustrating, but hiring the wrong person, just to get someone in there, will cause more damage.  It can hurt productivity even further, kill employee morale and cost you in the long run.

Finally, believe you can get quality people within your company.  If you believe you can, you will.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  So whether you are replacing a current employee or hiring for the first time, invest the time to do it right.  The people in your company represent YOU – so set high standards and integrate these suggestions into your hiring process or system.

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

delegation

7 Keys to Effective Delegation

As an entrepreneur, delegation is an essential management and leadership skill. It obviously saves you time, helps you avoid burnout and allows you to work on more critical tasks. But often overlooked are the benefits it provides to others in your company. Effective delegation helps you develop, empower and motivate your team – a key to retention and employee satisfaction.

When you entrust others to take on important tasks or projects, you send a message that says, “I believe you can do this.” It gives employees a chance to learn new skills and builds their confidence. It also opens the door for them to take on additional responsibilities and contribute more to the success of the business. When used properly, delegation really is a great team building tool.

How to Delegate Better

  • Engage People. If you pay people and tell them what to do, will things get done the way you want? Most of us realize it’s not that simple. Getting work done through others requires engagement and persuasion. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Tell me I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I’ll understand.” Effective delegation requires a two-way conversation and works best when you get people engaged.
  • Provide Clear Direction. Asking an employee to ‘take care of it’ is fine for routine tasks that they have done before. But taking on new tasks or projects requires direction and communication. Be specific and set clear expectations relating to goals, activities, and authority. A written procedure is a definite plus as it helps with the how-to and resources the individual may need to accomplish the work.
  • Invest Time Now. In most cases, doing it yourself is faster than teaching someone else – the first time. But investing the time upfront to teach and motivate the employee will pay off down the road. The work gets done right and produces the desired outcome without your day-to-day involvement.
  • Don’t Abdicate. Delegation is about giving responsibility and appropriate authority to others – not relinquishing all accountability. As the business owner, you can’t simply pass the buck and walk away. Provide guidance, get feedback, track results and hand out praise as appropriate.
  • Start Small. If delegating is a challenge for you, start with less-urgent or non-critical tasks and projects. You will still need to provide direction and guidance, but it is less problematic when you eliminate tight deadlines. While the employee benefits from learning something new, you will see first-hand that others CAN do it just as well – if not better!
  • Match Skills With People. In small businesses, employees often wear a lot of hats and may have skills outside their normal job responsibilities. Delegation allows you to tap into different talents or experiences and expand their skills through a team project. It’s also a good way to create a sense of belonging – a key to job satisfaction.
  • Recognize and Reward. Delegating is easy when your people WANT to take on new challenges and work. If you want them to go the extra mile or step up and take on more responsibility, develop a reputation as someone who appreciates and recognizes good work! Pay increases, bonuses, and promotions are obvious ways to incentivize people. But rewards do not always need to be wage or salary based. A personal thank you note, special luncheon, recognition at a team meeting, gift cards or paid time off work too! Match the reward to the project or task – and always say thank you for a job well done.

Documented procedures make hiring and training people easier. But they also make delegation a lot more effective too! So don’t underestimate the value of systems when it comes to improving your delegation skills!

Related Article: How Your People and Systems Power Profit and Success

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.