Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tips for Staffing Your Small Business

Don’t bend your job expectations or create an unnecessary position just to hire friends or family. You may want to be kind and help but two things are likely to happen. First, they will not meet your expectations. Second, you may find yourself over staffed or over budget. Neither is good because that means that somebody will have to go. Which one would you choose?

Find a list of recommended interview questions for the type of position you are hiring for. That will help you make sure you ask only questions you are legally allowed to ask and you are asking the right questions for the job you’re hiring for.

Ask trusted business or personal associates for recommendations. Some of the best leads for doing personnel staffing come from people you know and not from advertising for employees.

Consider a temporary agency first. They will send you candidates that meet your requirements. That gives both you and the candidate time to see if the employer/employee relationship will work out. If you decide to hire them on full time you usually have to pay a finder’s fee to the temporary employment agency. Overall, it can be a very hassle free and rewarding route to go.

Encourage confidentiality agreements. People get to know each other very well when they work for a small business. Make sure you let employees know that salary and specific benefit details are confidential and not to be discussed with other employees.

Check references after interviews. Many employers say they are going to but seldom end up doing it. If you really liked a candidate it seems unnecessary. Overall, it is a good practice to do though because it can help give some insight into how their previous employment habits were.

To get the best caliber of applicants you do need to offer a competitive wage. Make sure that you are offering an hourly rate or salary that will attract good candidates. For example, if you only want to hire experienced people you need to make sure that you are offering compensation that is higher or at least in line with what they currently make.

If you have busier times of the year consider hiring temporary help for those times. When you hire people full time and they end up not having enough to do at certain times of the year it creates boredom and negativity. Idle time is seldom good in the workplace. Plus, with a temporary position you do not have to worry about benefits and unemployment insurance.

Article by Monika Sylvester – Author “How I went from $0 business credit to over $300,000”

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Improve Workplace Communication – 5 Ways to Get People Talking, Listening and Cooperating

If you want to improve communication at work you first need to define what improved communication would look like. Does it mean fewer misunderstandings about job expectations, less friction between co-workers, better flow of information between departments or does it mean more sales? Now, go deeper and quantify or clearly identify what “less friction” or “better flow of information” would look like. Without this information you’ll have no way of knowing if applying improvement tips and techniques has been successful.

Once you have a way of identifying what improvement or success looks like, you’ll need to document the results of each technique you’ve applied so you’ll know what works and what does not. If you don’t, you may find yourself asking the same question next month-how do I improve communication at work?

Don’t make tracking your results another problem. Quantify or identify and keep a simple checklist indicating results and use surveys. Let’s get started:

1. Increase face time. Stop groaning. If you really want to decrease misunderstandings-go talk to people face-to-face. Email and text messages leave far too much room for faulty assumptions and interpretations. If you want your boss to trust you, promote you or give you choice assignments, have more in-person conversations. Ask for coaching, feedback or provide a solution. If you’re a manager and want more cooperation then go talk to your staff. Sit down and have a conversation, ask what’s going on and give praise and encouragement. In either situation, note your interaction and results. Give it time.

2. Get people connected. Yes, everyone is busy. But people are more likely to be cooperative when they know more about the people they work with. Help people find common ground. Mix up seating at meetings and then have people introduce each other after sharing something others might be surprised to know them. Keep it short and fun.

3. Take your co-worker to work. Hold a take your co-worker to work day (or half-day.) Allow others to learn about your job, what challenges you face, whom you rely on and what you find fun about your job. If you work in accounting spend a day in the field with a salesperson. If you work in distribution spend a day with a customer service rep.

4. Create a safe environment where departments can talk to each other. Get distribution and drivers together with the salespeople and let them share stories. Make it an “I didn’t realize that” opportunity, not a gripe session. When I held such a session where these two teams could share stories about customers and delivery issues the sales team realized there were simple things they could do to prevent misunderstandings, delays and customer complaints. Likewise, the delivery team was surprised to know how cooperative sales wanted to be but didn’t know how. As a result they were more likely to call and ask questions before or during a challenging delivery.

5. Show appreciation. Holding “I didn’t realize that” sessions worked so well that the sales people decided to hold an annual appreciation breakfast for the distribution center. This was not a catered or take-out proposition. The salespeople created a menu, assigned tasks, arrived at 6 a.m. (since drivers had to be on the road at 7) and cooked them a hearty breakfast. A little appreciation goes a long way.

Of course, this will not solve every issue, but it opens up the lines of communication and customer surveys indicated overall satisfaction had increased and gave excellent grades to the delivery team.

If you want to improve communication at work-get people talking, listening and sharing.