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6 Ways To Become A Better Manager

Becoming a better manager isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, hard work, and the willingness to change. Management today is much different than it used to be. You can’t limit your focus to the end results. There is a clear correlation between job satisfaction and productivity. Keep this in mind as you perfect your management skills. A good management strategy should result in less turnover and more productivity. We’ve put together a list of 6 ways to become a better manager.

Get To Know Your Employees

Take time to get to know your employees on both a personal level and a professional level. If you have a bigger office, schedule out time to meet one on one with each employee. Find out their career goals and where they see themselves in your company. More importantly, show interest in their personal hobbies and passions that go beyond the daily office interactions.

Determine Your Management Style

Before you can change your management style, you need to take time to examine yourself. A strong manager is always performing self-assessments. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, then use your strengths as an advantage in your management style and decide how you’re going to improve in areas of development. For example, if you know one of your developmental areas is communication, make it a point to think about how you deliver and receive information, and test new methods. Better yet, be transparent and let your team know you’re working on it. Over time, you’ll observe the positive effects your change will have on your team.

Be Comfortable With Delegation

We understand how difficult it can be to relinquish control of a project – and still be comfortable with the decision. As a manager or team leader, you want everything to be done efficiently and correctly the first time. You hired your employees for a reason; show them you trust them! Your team will quickly lose motivation if you don’t give them responsibility and freedom on their work. Employees who feel trusted by their manager are more likely to feel proud about their work. Plus, you’ll have more time available to work on other pressing tasks.

Foster A Positive Work Environment

So much of our lives are spent in the office, so it’s no surprise that our work environment is just as important as the job itself. One of your roles as a manager is to set a positive tone in the work environment. Your employees’ attitudes towards work are extremely important to their productivity and quality of work. Check in frequently with your employees to gauge their satisfaction and stress levels. If an issue arises, be quick about addressing their problems and concerns. By creating a positive work environment, your employees will perform to the best of their abilities. For more tips on how to foster a positive work environment, check out our other blog on the topic here.

Challenge Your Employees

There is no end to the level of growth your team can experience. Assign projects that may be out of an employee’s skill set. This will not only require them to learn new skills and get out of their comfort zone, but it will show you care about their career goals and professional growth. You’ll be able to see their full range of capabilities, including those that might not have even been known to your talent!  The greater their abilities, the greater potential to grow their responsibilities within your company.

Determine Effective Motivation

Figure out ways to motivate each of your employees. When your employees are motivated, they will show increased productivity and be more eager to perform. It’s extremely important to note that your employees won’t all be motivated by the same thing. It’s equally important to remember that motivation isn’t always generated by money. Although a raise may motivate your employees in the short term, many employees will respond better to an increase in responsibility. Sometimes simply recognizing a job well done will give your employees the push they need to perform at a higher level.

The transformation into a better manager is about constant self-evaluation and learning. When you perform your best as a manager, your employees will do the same. In return, your company will benefit.  If you have any questions related to changing or enhancing your management style, don’t hesitate to ask! Contact us today and we’ll reach out to you ASAP to provide the solutions you need.

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How To Foster a Positive Work Environment

We spend so much of our lives at work, so it’s no wonder that where we work is just as important as the job itself. Even your dream job could potentially be tarnished by a toxic culture or a poor working environment. As a manager, one of your most important jobs is to set the right tone in the workplace for your employees. The attitude your employees bring to work matters, and attitudes are heavily influenced by their work environment. If you want your talent to perform to the best of their abilities, you must foster a positive work environment. In this blog, we’ll discuss a few different ways to achieve this.

Communication is Key

Good communication between management and employees is essential for a positive workspace. Your employees need to have a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish, but you also need to know what your employees expect from you. There must be open communication channels and an equal amount of communication amongst you and your employees (not just top down).

The most important part of communication is to be clear and direct. Don’t avoid issues. Address them head-on. Make it clear why certain behaviors or levels of performance are an issue. If the news is bad news, it is much better to be direct than to delay the news.

Recognize & Reward Hard Work

Recognizing an employee’s hard work is essential. Not only will this encourage them to keep up their hard work, but it also shows your employee that hard work does not go unnoticed. If it is clear that hard work is acknowledged and appreciated, other employees may excel in order to receive the same recognition.

A great way to acknowledge your employee’s hard work is during a staff meeting. Set aside a few minutes in the meeting to address your employee’s accomplishments in front of their peers. Another simple way to reward your employees is to let them leave work a little early or come in later. The half-an-hour or hour of work missed is an easy loss to take when you’re rewarded with the increased productivity a happy (and loyal) employee will bring you. Similarly, you can also reward employees for spending time outside of the workday furthering their knowledge in your industry, growing their skills and expertise.

Demonstrate Trust

Make sure your employees know you trust them. This includes refraining from micro-management. Don’t hover over them and give them limited space to work on their own. It may be difficult to withhold your involvement, but micromanaging will create an uncomfortable work environment for your team. Take a step back, and let your employees do what you hired them to do. If you’ve already properly communicated your expectations to your workforce, you should be able to trust them to meet those expectations.

Create a Safe Space

Nothing can tear your work environment down quicker than toxicity. Toxicity can take the form of an office bully, poor behavior entrenched among co-workers, or even poor expectations set by management, like the expectation to reply to emails after working hours. Toxicity will stifle new ideas and inhibit collaboration. In order to create a safe space for your employees, you need to eliminate any negative personalities and policies. Furthermore, every idea needs to be respected, regardless of the seniority of the staff member presenting it. Each team member needs to be treated equally. If you make sure you lead with honesty and integrity, your employees should feel safe.

Incorporate Some Fun

Make sure your employees enjoy coming to work each day. Being professional and being fun are not mutually exclusive concepts. At the end of the day, a happy employee is much more effective than an unhappy one.

There are plenty of ways to add fun to the average workday without sacrificing productivity. Find creative ways to let your employees show off their personalities. Hold office-wide contests. Allow more flexibility with your staff’s breaks, whether you allow more frequent small breaks or longer lunches. Put your employees’ birthdays on your calendar and make them feel special in the office. Be creative!

Be the Leader

As a leader, you set the overall tone for your employees in the office. If you want to achieve a positive work environment, it starts with you. Don’t show up to work short-tempered and exuding negativity, or run the risk of setting a bad example for the rest of the office. There is a high possibility your employees will react the same way.

Be uplifting and encouraging towards your employees. Listen to what they have to say and be engaging. Let them have a voice, be the supportive leader they need, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a positive work environment that brings the best out of your talented team.

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Does Your Company Need An HR Specialist?

As an owner of a small business, operating costs are one of the things that can keep you up at night. As a result, you likely handle several different jobs and responsibilities that would normally be handled by a hired specialist within a larger company. Rather than hiring an accountant or bookkeeper, you might handle payroll yourself. To save money on IT services, you spend an hour troubleshooting a stubborn POS system when the need arises. And, wary of the costs of a professional recruiter, you end up reading when you can find the time.

This is all perfectly acceptable – so far as you’re still accomplishing all of your other duties. As soon as these responsibilities start to cut into your primary roles, you run the risk of failing in all of them. As businesses grow, it’s easy to justify spending on things like CPAs and IT support teams. However, one of the last areas to receive the necessary attention and expertise is HR, especially when there is the perception that HR will increase your operating costs, not reduce them.

Which brings us to a question all owners of growing businesses grapple with:
When is a dedicated HR professional (or department) necessary?

Many business owners are looking for a hard and fast answer, usually in the form of a number of employees. It’s true that if you have 30-50 employees, you’ve probably begun the process of hiring an HR specialist. Once you hit 50 employees and need to comply with applicable state and federal regulations, an HR professional becomes a no-brainer. However, the real number could be much lower for your business, in relation to the factors listed below.

How much of your time is taken up by HR-related duties?

If you find yourself struggling to make time for your core responsibilities due to a litany of HR-related tasks, it’s time to consider hiring help. These kinds of tasks include recruiting and hiring, updating your employee handbook, and handling compliance issues. Beyond these tasks, you might find your daily schedule eaten up by an inordinate amount of time dealing with internal disputes, lackluster employee conduct, and strategies to retain great employees. If these critically important duties aren’t getting the proper amount of attention, you should seek the experience of a trained human resources specialist.

Do you have an effective system for reporting or managing internal complaints and disputes?

The most frequently-cited reason for a small business owner to neglect hiring HR help is cost. However, not having the right HR guidance can be the exact opposite of cost-effective. Ask any company that’s battled a wrongful termination suit or lost quality talent due to poor company culture if skimping on HR was worth it, and you won’t be surprised by the answer. Regardless of the size of your company, the risk management benefits of a dedicated HR specialist will always be worth the investment.

Are you satisfied with the quality of talent that your business attracts, as well as your business’s ability to retain them?

As your business becomes established, it might make sense to handle talent acquisition by yourself. After all, who would know best the talents and skills required to succeed in your company, if not you? Unfortunately, while you may indeed know the necessary skills and attributes, you may not be finding the best talent available. It takes an experienced recruiter to know where to look – and to attract the perfect candidates for your positions. Until you’ve hired the expertise of a human resources specialist, you’ll need to be satisfied with knowing that you may be hiring “the best talent you could find,” not necessarily the best talent for the position.

In short, you should hire a human resources specialist as soon as possible.

Whether your business has 2 employees or 42, there is significant value in utilizing an HR consultant to grow your business. Your business may not need an entire HR department, or even a full-time dedicated HR professional, but you’ll have peace of mind with HR support to help you navigate troublesome human resources matters.

Contact us here if you need help with:

  • Recruiting and hiring talent
  • Employee handbook updates
  • State and federal compliance
  • Workplace culture and productivity
  • Payroll, benefits, and compensation research
  • Career transition and outplacement services

If you have any questions related to your company’s particular needs, don’t hesitate to ask! Contact us today and we’ll reach out to you ASAP to provide the solutions you need.

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5 Costly HR Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Owning and operating a small business is like filling twenty different positions at once. With a limited staff and a growing list of customers, you might be your company’s bookkeeper, marketing director, CEO, salesman, and hiring manager all at once. With all those responsibilities on your plate, it’s easy to lose focus of one of the most crucial elements of any successful business: human resources.

With a smaller workforce, you might not think you need to concern yourself with HR. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As a small business owner without an HR professional, you need to be especially mindful of the serious issues that can arise from negligence of proper HR rules and procedures. Take heed of these 5 costly HR mistakes that small businesses frequently make, and take measures to protect yourself from their potentially litigious consequences.

1. Incomplete or hurried vetting of candidates.

As a small business owner, few things can cause you more stress and anxiety than an unexpected departure of a crucial team member. It may be tempting to fill that position with the first “promising” candidate to sit down for an interview, but this is a huge mistake. Give yourself the time to properly vet a wider pool of candidates before you make your decision. Follow up with recommendations and any other background screening as appropriate. Make sure you really know the person you’re about to hire, not the person they’re projecting. And make sure you’re selecting the best person for the job, not just a person to fill the job.

2. Having an obsolete employee handbook, or not having one at all.

Regardless of the size of your workforce, you should always have an up-to-date employee handbook that clearly states your company’s policies and expectations. You need to provide new employees with everything they need to know about working for your business – from your requirements for employee conduct, to their pay schedule and benefits. If you don’t have any of this information in writing, it could become a source of conflict in the future.

3. Lacking an anonymous “whistleblowing” outlet.

No matter how friendly your employees think you are, without an anonymous channel of communication for reporting workplace issues like harassment and poor conduct, many of these potentially business-ruining problems will go unaddressed. You’ll also find it harder to track underperformance, since whistleblowers run the risk of being subjected to conflict with their coworkers. Remove this barrier and encourage reporting by opening up a method of anonymous communication.

4. Growing disconnected from what’s happening in the office.

In a small business where “everyone knows everyone,” it’s easy for an owner to lose touch with how employees really feel on a daily basis. You might be frequently out of the office meeting with clients or otherwise caught up in your mile-long list of responsibilities, so you might not have an accurate reading of your employees’ workplace satisfaction. Furthermore, if you’re not regularly communicating your goals and expectations, your staff’s objectives might not align with your own. Make communication with your team a routine activity, even if you have to block off your schedule to ensure it happens.

5. Failing to fully document performance issues.

Terminating an employee for poor performance is never easy, but it can be made exponentially worse when you’ve failed to document the issues. Without proper documentation, you’ll put yourself in a precarious situation if challenged with an unlawful termination lawsuit. Record occurrences of tardiness, missed deadlines or benchmarks, and poor behavior to prove that an employee was rightfully terminated. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should also document instances of exceptional performance to guide you in making promotions or allocating responsibilities.

Never lose focus of the most important part of your company: the people. While your attention might be divided among several priorities of equal importance, you should always make time for things like open communication, a deliberate hiring process, and diligent documentation of employee performance.

 

If these duties overwhelm your already-filled plate, you should consider enlisting the help of a qualified HR consultant to put you on the right track. We can help! Whether you need to update (or create) a comprehensive employee handbook, or you need help implementing procedures that improve communication, Cisso Bean & Dutch has the expertise for the job. Contact us here to learn how we can help your business today! 

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Replacing the Irreplaceable: How To Recover From A Painful Departure

Of the many unpleasant experiences in life, being terminated from your job is definitely one of the worst. Feelings of fear, anxiety, inadequacy, and loss of security abound when we lose employment. Recent studies have shown that getting fired can take a heavier toll on your well-being than a break-up, and the recovery time can take even longer.

But it happens to just about everybody at least once in their lifetime, including some of the most famously successful minds in history.

  • A Baltimore TV station let go of Oprah Winfrey after she was determined to be a “bad fit”
  • Apple’s founder Steve Jobs was fired by the CEO he himself had hired to run the company.
  • Walt Disney was shown the door at the Kansas City Star because his work “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Your termination may make you feel like your career has hit its ceiling, but it’s important to realize that this is merely a speed bump in your journey onward. Take a moment to breathe, and use some of these tips to help you move on to the next stage of your career.

Keep it civil.

The first thing you should do is concentrate on all the things you shouldn’t do. This can be an extremely emotional time for you, and you’re likely overwhelmed by feelings of anger, sadness, and helplessness. None of these feelings are known for producing great ideas. Bad ideas that come to mind may include:

  • Giving your boss a piece of your mind
  • Turning your former coworkers against your former boss
  • Threatening to sue the company

The natural human response to being wronged is retaliation, but in this case you should choose to keep a level head. Burned bridges will come back to haunt you, and even a boss who might’ve been unhappy with your performance may still be happy to provide you with a recommendation down the line.

Focus on you.

It’s easy to sink into depression after a rough firing. You may not feel like socializing. Your diet might spiral down into exclusively-fried territory. Motivating yourself to hit the gym for daily exercise can be a workout in and of itself. It’s important to stay away from these habits because they can affect your drive to secure employment. Exercise is a proven way to stimulate motivation, energy, and a positive attitude – all crucial to a successful job search.

Further, in the age of social media, it’s easy to get the feeling that “everyone is having fun but me.” People only post about their lives when the sun is shining, so your social media feed is a never-ending barrage of smiling faces, beach vacations, and inspiring achievements. This can create feelings of isolation, jealousy, and despair, even when you haven’t just been terminated. Avoid the inclination to compare your life to the works of fiction you see on Facebook, and focus on bettering yourself in pursuit of your next job.

Hit the pavement.

With every great loss comes grief, and grief creates a fog that clears with time. But don’t spend too long dwelling on the past. As soon as you’re capable, it’s time to start sending resumes and making phone calls. The sooner you get started, the more momentum you’ll have going into the hunt.

On the other hand, it’s also possible to spend too much time chasing down the perfect new job. If you weren’t actively seeking your dream job while you were employed, now isn’t the time either. It’s perfectly fine to look for jobs that will make you happy, but it’s much easier to do that with the stability that comes from having a job at all (any job). Taking a job that is less than ideal doesn’t mean you’re denying yourself your dreams. If anything, you’re giving yourself a more secure launching pad to reach those dreams.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is that this isn’t the end of the line. This is a natural career event that happens to even the most exceptional performers, and there are likely many people among your friends and family that can share their experiences with you and support you in this difficult time. The mental obstacles you’ll face will be challenging, but by focusing on improving yourself and addressing the task at hand, you’ll receive an offer in no time.