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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.

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Why You Need A Mentoring Program

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.”
– Live and Learn and Pass It On: People Ages 5 to 95, H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, astronaut John Glen, Oprah Winfrey, and designer Yves St. Laurent have one thing in common: they all had mentors!

A mentoring program is the most direct way for experienced professionals to “throw back” their years of wisdom and knowledge to future, upcoming talent.

Some mentoring programs are informal in nature and others are more structured, but the components for all types are the same: to provide the opportunity for beneficial interactions of shared experiences and life’s lessons learned from the mentor to the mentee.

For the last several years, I have had the opportunity to serve through Auburn University’s AMPD Board as a mentor for students preparing to enter the job market. Most conversations have centered around building a great resume, marketing yourself, searching for jobs, transitioning from college to the working world, and preparing for job interviews.

However, some of the more meaningful conversations were those centered around time management and building leadership skills during college. During these conversations, I am often asked questions like, “What were your plans when you graduated from college?” and “Are you where you thought you would be?” You won’t find the answers to these questions in a textbook, showing again the immense value of a mentoring relationship.

Keep in mind that a mentoring relationship not only benefits the mentee but the mentor as well. Establishing a mentoring program could make your millennial employees stay longer with your company, decreasing your turnover rate. But don’t take my word for it.

According to Forbes and a study conducted by Deloitte, millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%). Contrast that with this stat: 66% of millennials expect to leave their current job in five years or less. Eighty-one percent of them are happy with their mentor. Among millennials planning to leave their employer within two years, only 61% were happy with the mentoring they received.

There are many different types of mentoring relationships. I encourage you to explore and figure out what works best for you, your company, and your employees. It’ll take some work, but it’s well worth the investment.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2017/01/27/make-2017-the-year-to-get-serious-about-mentoring/#13c3c8bbcea4

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-millenial-survey-2016-exec-summary.pdf