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Get the Right People On-board and Contributing

As your business grows, you’ll need to hire others to work for you and delegate tasks according to their skills, abilities and job description. Get the right people on-board and contributing as fast as possible. Creating a culture where you have high performing individuals is key to improving the trajectory of your success. 

Teamwork - a group of eight business people assembling a jigsaw puzzle - representing team support and help concepts

Hire the Right People

Job descriptions are important and should accurately depict what it is that the employee is required to do on a day-to-day basis. If a candidate is hired believing they are going to be a data entry clerk, but you have them sweeping the floor all day long, they’ll be looking for another job sooner than you think.

Before you start the hiring process, I recommend that you first create a Position Contract and then a task list. Indeed.com has information available online to help business owners create job descriptions and determine the reasonable rate of pay for the position based on duties, experience and education. Also, the Bureau of Labor provides the same information. Payscale.com is another very good resource, especially if someone moves from another state as the pay and cost of living may be similar or very different.

Before you hire a candidate, make sure their vision and values match those of your company. Hiring the right people the first time can help ensure the right fit for the job. Evaluate whether they have the right skills to do the job through education or experience. Our firm has a variety of temperament and skill evaluation tests that will save you the cost and hassle of hiring the wrong candidate.

Discuss the mission, vision, and values of your business during the interview. Candidates who don’t demonstrate the same values as your business will bring their own. You may not want their values polluting your workplace. If they don’t share many of the same values, they may not be a good fit.

Don’t forget to check the candidate’s references and ask about performance. You can also use a social media network like LinkedIn to see if they have recommendations from supervisors and peers.

Train employees

Start with your onboarding process with culture. Discuss the mission, vision, and values of your business during orientation. Let employees know how their role helps to contribute to the company’s overall mission and goals so they will know that their role is vital and important to the business.

When you hired your employee, they came with education or experience that indicated they were suitable for the position. This doesn’t mean that they know the job requirements. Provide on the job training to ensure they have all the required knowledge and tools to do the job that you hired them for. Every company does business differently, and it is unfair to throw someone into a position and expect them to do things your way.

Have regular training sessions on new and improved methods. Send employees to classes and seminars that focus on both the strengths of the employees while providing them with ways to do their jobs more effectively. This can be learning a new conflict resolution process, data entry method or customer service improvement. Employees who learn new ways of doing things and who feel they are able to come to you with new ways of doing things will be happier in their positions.

Assess Employees

Small business owners rarely give quarterly, semi-annual or annual reviews and evaluations to their employees. To simplify this I recommend a two-step solution:

  1. Have a one-on-one meeting with employees each week or every two weeks. It should only be 15-20 minutes long and gives the employee and employer an opportunity to discuss past issues, problems and concerns. You can also discuss the present and future weeks goals.
  2. Perform no less than semi-annual employee evaluations. The one-on-one meetings should make the semi-annual evacuations shorter and less complicated because day-to-day matters have already been addressed and resolved.

Consider if your employees are adding value to your business by either freeing up your time or improving your brand reputation. Are they assets or liabilities? Always think about whether or not employees are adding revenue to your business.

Fire Underperformers

If you have made sure your processes and procedures allow for a certain level of performance by each and every employee, yet you find that one employee who can never seem to perform, then it’s time to have a conversation. Treat them with respect by asking questions to determine why they are underperforming and provide coaching, peer mentorship or additional training to get them back on track.

Employees who are motivated to continue their employment will improve their performance after coaching or retraining. However, there are employees in the world who just want to do as little as possible. People who underperform require their peers to pick up the slack. Underperformers often will bring morale down by complaining and criticizing. This is bad for company culture and morale and is a drain on company resources both financially as well as in the production capabilities of those around them. If the employee has been trained, coached and retrained and is still underperforming, it’s time to let them go.

After you’ve hired and trained your team, it’s time to let them do their jobs. Increase your return on investment by delegating and learning to let go. In the third and final article in this series, I’ll share exactly how to do that.

A Culture of Discipline – Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

A culture of discipline first involves getting the right people on the bus and in the right seat. cultureOnce you have them in the right seat you’ll notice that these employees have disciplined thought, which means they aren’t mindlessly working on tasks that are low priority. Instead, they’re focused on the right priorities that are derived from the three circles that we discussed also known as the Hedgehog Concept. These employees are giving thought to what they’re doing and the action they take drives meaningful results for the company.

A Culture of Focused Discipline

Great companies have a strong sense of discipline. The employes that make up these organizations have some degree of independence that they combine with focused discipline. Without discipline, things begin to break down as the company grows and the company becomes a rigid, stifling hierarchy.
As your company grows you may seek to bring leadership into your organization so that your profit-making machine continues to run efficiently. Be careful to avoid bringing in leaders who instill fear into their employees. They may get results in the short-term, but results will only be temporary and you will lose the best people on your bus. There is a big difference between having a tyrant that enforces a culture of discipline by fear, and creating a culture of people who naturally adhere to a disciplined approach. The latter creates a lasting sustainable system.

Stop Doing List

If you’re a high performer, it’s likely that you have a list of things you need to do each day either in your head, in an application or written down on paper. This to do list continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger ultimately leading to less focus and more frustration. Leaders of good-to-great companies often made just as much use out of a stop doing list as they did with their to do lists.
A stop doing list involves knowing what activity fits within the Hedgehog Concept that you will fully fund verses something that doesn’t fit and therefore gets no funding of time or money. Stop doing the things that aren’t central to your business and focus in the areas that are in your three circles: what you’re passionate about, what drives your economic engine and what you can be the best at.

Do you have the right people on the bus, the discipline to do the right thing and, equally important, to stop doing the wrong things?

The Hedgehog Concept: Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

The Hedgehog Concept is the understanding that your company can’t be the best at everything. Rather, it’s knowing what you can be the best at, gaining clarity, and devising a focused strategy that ultimately leads to business success.Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept is drawn from the essay written by Isaiah Berlin, titled “The Hedgehog and the Fox” in which a cunning fox tries and continually fails to capture the hedgehog. The Fox waits for the perfect time to pounce on the Hedgehog, but is outwitted by the prickly creature when he rolls into a ball at just the right moment.

Jim Collins explains that companies who are more like the hedgehog — that is, focusing on one thing and doing it well — need not be concerned with cunning competitors because they would not be a threat to success. The three circles that make up the Hedgehog Concept are passion, economic engine, and understanding what you can be the best at.

What You Are Deeply Passionate About

The good-to-great companies focused on those activities that ignited their passion. The idea here is not to stimulate passion but to discover what makes you passionate. You can’t manufacture passion or motivate people to be passionate about a product or service. You can only discover what ignites your fire.

What Drives Your Economic Engine

If you could pick one and only one ratio – profit per x, to systematically increase over time, what x would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on your economic engine? For example if you’re focused on profit per store, you might consider changing your ratio to profit per customer visit, profit per employee, or profit per local population.
Your economic engine is not driven by a complicated macroeconomic equation. Instead, this simple single denominator helps force a deeper understanding and focus on the key drivers of your business.

What You Can Be the Best At

In order to truly know what you can be the best at you have to look beyond what you’re good at. It’s not a goal, strategy, intention, or plan to be the best. It’s an understanding of what you can be the best at.
What you can be the best at might even be something that you’re not currently engaged in. Just because you can make money and generate growth, doesn’t mean you can become the best at it. You must focus on what you can do better than any other company. Then gather the competencies and capacity to do so.

An Iterative Process

Developing your Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process. Each of the three circles can take some time to complete. In fact, it took four years on average for the good-to-great companies to get a Hedgehog Concept. It may take you less time, but the effort will be worth it.
What is your Hedgehog Concept?

Confront the Brutal Facts: Good to Great: A DLB Consulting Book Study

In our last post we emphasized the importance of getting the right people on the bus. The right people are internally motivated and your job is to make sure they don’t get de-motivated. In this post we’ll discuss the importance of building a culture that confronts the brutal facts and where open and real communication exist. Confront the Brutal Facts

There’s a difference between having the opportunity to be heard and having your say. Great companies know the difference. To create a culture where truth is heard and problems are solved, consider the four basic practices that good-to-great companies employ.

Lead with Questions

As a leader you must be humble enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers. You weren’t anointed with a crystal ball the moment you got promoted or started your own business. You should ask questions and actively listen to responses. This will help you gain a better understanding of the message and lead to better insight.

Engage in Dialogue and Debate

Become a great moderator. Create an atmosphere where issues can be debated with facts and point-of-views based on information that’s presented. Ensure that all sides engage in the debate and do so respectfully. Then, make a decision and implement the solution.

 Conduct Autopsies

John Maxwell, author of Sometimes You Win—Sometimes You Learn, points out that experience isn’t the best teacher. Instead evaluated experience is. Leaders learn from past mistakes. They take responsibility for the mistake and take the time to truly understand the root cause. In other words, they learn.

 Build Red Flag Mechanisms

The information age brought with it the ability to share and receive data. You have access to this data just like your competitors. However, having data doesn’t do you any good unless you recognize it and then take action. Create a mechanism that allows your employees to raise a red flag when they discover a risk area to evaluate and mitigate.  You can use a physical red flag if you want to or you can simply create a process that enables it.

Confront the Brutal Facts

Good-to-great companies that employ these techniques face adversity with strength instead of fear. They focus on confronting the brutal facts with open and real communication. In the end, they cultivate a culture that drives the success of the company and those who are in it.

Which of the four basic practices discussed today will you employ to drive the success of your company?

The Art of Delegation – Trust is Key

Many small business owners attempt to do everything, leaving little to delegate until they become so over worked and exhausted that they have no where left to turn.delegation Often times they hire the first competent person (hopefully) that they can find and immediately hand over the keys. In the end, they find that the person that they hired, isn’t as competent as they thought or maybe isn’t quite ready to drive.

In the book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey explains that effective delegation is analogous to lengthening the rope of trust. When you properly manage your culture, hire and keep the right people, build unity, provide recognition, and creatively compensate your employees you’ll find that delegation opens doors to success like you’ve never imagined.

Two Types of Delegation

According to Steven Covey, there are two types of delegation: gopher and stewardship.

Gopher Delegation-the gopher delegation method is similar to micromanaging. It involves providing the employee with step-by-step instructions on exactly how to do the task and then verifying that the work was complete to your specifications. The gopher position is generally good for entry level job functions that are repetitive and don’t require a lot of thought.

Stewardship-the stewardship delegation method is management-level delegation. It focuses on the outcome rather than detailed instructions on how to get it done. Stewardship delegation requires trust because you are granting that person authority to act on your behalf and then responsibility to carry out the major project or task. Trust must be earned.

Earning Trust

Before you delegate important tasks it’s important to know that you can trust your employees. The process of developing trust takes time, but it will save you a lot of heart ache and drama if you approach it with intention.

There are two attributes that trust worthy people have in common. They are integrity and competency. Wise business owners trust employees with important tasks to the extent that they’ve spent time with them, observed their behaviors, and believe that the employee has both integrity and competency.

Integrity

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. You should spend absolutely no time trying to work with employees who have no integrity. If they steal from you, cheat on their spouse, or lack moral character, do you think they’ll do an outstanding job for you?  Probably not. Instead, hire someone who has talent, and then work with them letting out the rope bit by bit.

Competency

Competency is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. You can’t assess competency without observation. Competency is more than the ability to complete the task. It involves the process of completing the task as well. Were the team members treated with respect? Did the project get completed within budget?  These are just a few of the questions you should ask to assess competency.

Once you begin to delegate with authority and responsibility, you’ll display your trust to your entire team. Ronald Regan once said, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” What type of delegation do you relate to?  Let me know in the comments below.

Building a Culture of Passionate and Loyal Employees in Your Small Business

Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees

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Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees is the best thing you can do for your small business. If you don’t believe me consider the cost of employee turnover. The cost to replace an employee that makes less than $30,000 per year is approximately $4,800 according to CBS news. That’s 16 percent of his or her salary. For employees who make more, expect to pay significantly higher percentages to find a reasonable replacement. It’s clear that high turnover represents a major expense to any business.

Your employees are not cogs in a machine.  They are human beings with feelings, goals, and dreams.  If you treat them like machines, you’ll forever struggle with your operations.  However, if you treat your employees, as you would want to be treated you’ll find happier, loyal employees in the end. For example, if you believe that you’d deserve a raise if you were doing the same work, then give your employees a raise. Likewise, if you believe that you’d receive a reprimand for the work not performed, then have that chat with your employees.

A Great  Example of Company Culture

A great example of a company who truly values their employees is Infusionsoft.  Infusionsoft is located in Chandler, Arizona and has more than 400 happy and loyal employees. Recently, I spoke to a few of them to get their insight on why they are so committed to their jobs and their answers surprised me. They recited their purpose, mission, and values verbatim. I don’t know any other person who can remember their company’s mission let alone recite eight lines of values.  They said that they believe in people and their dreams, and their company believes in them. In fact, they have a dream manager on staff whose job is to help them work towards realizing their dreams.

Building a Culture of Passionate and Loyal Employees

I’m sure you don’t have to hire a dream manager to turn your culture around, but you can take a few steps to get started in the right direction. In the book Entreleadership Dave Ramsey recommends building unity within your teams. Here are five things you should consider in order to build unity:

  1. Communicate—We discussed how to create a culture of communication in my last post here. Let your employees know how good they’re doing, how well the company is doing, as well as when things aren’t looking that cheerful. You just might find a creative solution to that problem that you’ve been struggling with for so long.
  2. Shared Purpose—You know you have a committed culture when your employees can recite your company’s purpose from memory. Everything you do should correlate to your company’s purpose. When it does, your employees will notice it and share in it too.
  3. Axe the Gossip—Gossip destroys everything that you’ve worked so hard to build. Don’t participate in it, and consider implementing a policy that reprimands it. Problems or gripes are fine, but problems shared with peers that can’t fix them are considered gossip. Hand problems up and recognition down if you want to build a unified team.
  4. Solve Conflicts—Disagreements must be solved in a constructive manner. Part of being a leader involves helping your team grow together before they grow apart. Have the courage to deal with the conflict.
  5. Let Incompetence Go—Team members become demoralized when they are required to picking up the slack for a peer who is incompetent. When you keep an incompetent person in a role they can’t fulfill it makes the leadership appear to be incompetent as well. When you let the incompetent employee go, you send a message that performing with excellence is required.

Building a culture of passionate and loyal employees isn’t easy. You’ll have good days and bad days. But if you make an effort to stay true to the tips in this message, you’ll find a more peaceful work environment, increased productivity, and less turnover.

Earlier in this post I talked about Infusionsoft’s culture. Do you have a great culture in your company? Let me know. I’d love to share it as an example in a future post!