Corpcentre's Blog

February 21, 2010

How to Perk Up the Disgruntled Employee

You wonder what happened. A couple of years ago, you hired a key employee who seemed like the whiz kid that would be a major asset to your team. At the onset, it worked. But, as time wore on, the shine began to tarnish. The “whiz” became a “was.” It’s easy enough to say the employee should go home and you’ll find another rising star. But, many managers agree that you would be mistaken. Training new employees is costly, both in time and money. Moreover, if you originally spotted talent, chances are that the talent is still there. The question is what happened along the way and how can you improve the situation.

In the hustle of daily business, managers often tend to focus on the most pressing issues and ignore the secondary or tertiary ones. However, our employees are among the basic raw materials that allow the business to operate. When you consider the fact that the majority of an individual’s waking hours are spent at work, it is vital to make sure that the person enjoys his work. There is a direct correlation between performance and employee satisfaction.

Perhaps the whiz kid just became part of the background. You assumed that outstanding performance would just come naturally to such a person. But, what about providing positive feedback? Has a job well done been rewarded, either monetarily or through other recognition? Have you taken the time to sit and chat every now and then? Find out what is bothering that employee. You may discover that a breakdown in the managerial chain of command has affected this person and left a feeling of disgruntlement. In that case, track down the true source of the problem and you might correct the situation. A simple discussion may reveal that your employee needs additional skills in order to perform the task at hand. In that case, attending a course or a change of task will rectify the problem.

Managing an effective staff requires time and skill. It’s not enough to give assignments and sign paycheques. Remember that a loyal staff is vital to your company’s success. Invest the time and energy to develop and protect that loyalty.

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February 16, 2010

How to Deal with the Know-It-All Employee

Filed under: employees,know-it-all,management,managers — corpcentre @ 7:19 pm

Practically every manager has encountered this employee. An average worker has a self opinion of extreme competence. Yet, despite a decided lack of skills, this employee will make decisions independent of any managers or co-workers.

Different styles of management will handle this situation in a variety of manners. Some would say that this type of behaviour must not be condoned and would immediately dismiss the employee. However, a more experienced manager does not rush to fire employees. After all, one needs working, trained employees, rather than terminated ones.

It is imperative to thoroughly assess the situation. Has the employee’s decision making caused damage to the company, either in a business sense or by demoralizing other employees? If so, your response may be somewhat harsher. If not, a subtler tone may be in order.

Speak to the employee. Find out what makes the person tick. Were they trying to cover up a lack of knowledge or simply being irresponsible? Do you think, after speaking to them, that change is possible or is this merely the person’s personality? If change is possible, go for it! Sometimes, the mere fact that a person has been noticed can trigger a change, especially if the employee knows that they are being watched. Or, perhaps, a change of scenery may help. Move the employee to a different task. Another tactic to consider is the chain of command. Try allowing the employee to consult with you, rather than a supervisor. The feeling of importance may counter the feelings of resentment or punishment for having been caught doing something wrong.

Each case, undoubtedly, is different and there is no clear cut recipe for success. However, the bottom line is that you have to make a business decision and do what’s best for the company, not for your feelings. It’s not always easy to do what’s right but management is all about making the tough decisions.

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January 25, 2010

The Right Staff

Filed under: business,employees,entrepreneurs,small business,staff — corpcentre @ 6:37 pm

Remember the movie, “The Right Stuff?” It depicted the U.S. efforts to find the perfect people for its manned space program. Well, staffing your business requires the same diligence and detail. In order for your business to succeed and grow, your staff should match your needs perfectly.

If you’re operating a business, chances are your business will reflect your own personality to a certain degree. After all, you work hard to build an entity and a part of you is in that business. You believe in it! You have the drive and vision to see where this venture should go. Doesn’t it make perfect sense that your staff should share the same values as you?

It is important to remember that most people spend the better part of their waking hours at work. Therefore, they expect that their place of employment will be more than merely a source of income. In fact, surveys have been conducted showing that salary levels are only part of most employees’ expectations.

Do you share your goals and dreams with your employees? Try letting them see the business as you do. Encourage them to be a part of the essence of the business. The more they believe, the better they will perform.

Also, how do you face your “team?” Do you have a sunny disposition? It’s not always easy, especially when problems are on the horizon. But, encouraging a positive attitude goes a long way. Smiles are contagious! In the workplace, a smile makes a person feel good. Feeling good translates into a positive attitude. Positive attitude means productivity.

The bottom line is when employees want to come to work because they enjoy being there, and realize that they truly are important to the success of the business, the result is a business that really has the right stuff.


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January 12, 2010

Survey: National Salary Increases Less Than 3%

Ever the employee’s question, the issue has achieved far more relevance in the current economic climate. No longer is the annual salary increase a matter of form. In fact, many employees were relieved at year’s end to learn that they would still be employed for the coming year, let alone expect a raise from the boss.

The truth is that, owing to a negligible inflation rate, even the slightest salary increase will, in reality, contribute to a gain in living standards. Nonetheless, this is not to say that salaries in Canada will not rise this year. The question on many lips is how much?

According to surveys conducted recently across Canada, encompassing a broad spectrum of more than 700,000 employers, Canadians should not expect large increases this year. Estimates average between 2.3 to 2.8 per cent nationally. Although the national average was 2.2 per cent in 2009, caution in the business community is keeping the numbers down, at least for the foreseeable future.

Employees in Saskatchewan are projected to earn 4.1 per cent more this year, due to the province’s energy boom. Ontario and British Columbia bring down the national average, as estimates are increases of 2.6 and 2.7 per cent respectively, due to low performance in manufacturing and forestry.

In actuality, many companies across the country have projected zero salary growth for 2010. While this is not set in stone, many employers are waiting to see how the economy reacts over the next few months before making new financial commitments.

Another factor to be considered is the number of employees pulling double workloads to compensate for reduced workforces. Easing these conditions could also be considered to be a benefit.

In this recession, every little bit will help.

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December 7, 2009

Is There An Employment Boom?

Recently released statistics by Statistics Canada indicated positive employment figures for November 2009. But, is the picture truly as rosy as it appears?
 

According to the figures, Canada’s unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percent from October, reducing the rate to 8.5 per cent. Full time jobs increased by 39,000, while part time employment increased by 40,000. While these 79,000 new jobs indicate a strong pick-up in the labour force and, subsequently reflect on a steady recovery of the nation’s economy, there are a few factors to consider that may curb the euphoria.
 

First, it should be pointed out that economists agree that this pace of job growth is entirely inconsistent with the current pace of economic recovery.

Next, economists are concerned that the total hours worked declined by 0.3 per cent. In other words, more Canadians are working but less work hours are being paid. Simply put, Canadians are bringing home less money.
 
Another point noted is that almost all the new jobs – 73,000 positions – were in the service sector, primarily in educational services. It is quite possible that this gain may be an abnormal seasonal adjustment. December, therefore, may be far less positive in terms of actual job gains.
 
Economists are also concerned about weak job productivity as a result of various factors compounded to negatively impact workers’ motivation.
 
Finally, self-employment fell by 32,000 jobs in November. In theory, this drop can be viewed positively. In a weak economy, self-employment gains are generally discounted. They are viewed as a fallback for unemployed Canadians who have no choice but to start their own businesses in lieu of regular work.
 
Is the Canadian job market truly on the mend? Only time will tell.

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December 3, 2009

Focus On One Thing

It sounds like instructions that you might give to a photography student or a line that you might hear during an optometrist’s visit. But, it is also the credo of many business entrepreneurs. The secret of success of great companies is to do one thing very well. It is far too easy to go off on several tangents and try to “be number one” in a few ways. But, the business leaders who have made their way to the top will tell the same story. Concentrate your energies on one area and focus your attention in that one direction.
 
For example, sales are crucial to business. But, are great salespeople born or made? Some do have an inherent talent to sell. However, some companies have put their energies into strong sales training. This is a proven investment as salespeople no longer shoot from the hip. Rather, they become part of the sales force that drives the company forward. You focus on building the sales team, complete with team spirit.
 
Apropos team spirit, that may be the area requiring your attention. Employee retention is crucial in the business world. A constant turnover of staff will definitely have a negative impact. A key strategy employed by many experienced employers is to find ways to create an environment that makes employees desire to come to work. The answer is not always money. Making employees an active part of the company is valued highly. Employees’ opinions do count. Chances are very good that your staff has terrific ideas about improving the company and its sales. Provide incentives but allow employees to be part of that incentive process. The sense of belonging creates the driving spirit so that everyone is part of the big picture.
 
Think of business success like an arrow. It propels forward only when the point is out front.

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November 17, 2009

Managing Your Corporate Knowledge

Thanks to your hard work and dedication, your business has grown. Once a small workforce that met for coffee and donuts every morning, the company has now grown into a major concern with scores of employees in several locations. As the boss, you knew each employee and probably taught them what to do. In a pinch, you could fill in for them as well. Today, though, the employees are names on an HR roster. The bigger issue, though, is that you have lost touch with what each employee knows. As the person at the top, it is vital for you to know how much human knowledge and skills are at your disposal.
 
A proper Knowledge Management (KM) system is a vital tool. It helps uncover the knowledge in your organization and reduce or eliminate gaps caused by employee turnover. Furthermore, it helps businesses avoid duplication of work.
 
A recent study of companies with a KM program revealed some startling figures. 63% of the companies had realized an acceleration of innovation. Two thirds of the companies had reduced operating costs. A similar percentage experienced a dramatic increase in teamwork and cooperation as well as an increase in responsiveness and performance speed. The study also calculated that failure to exploit knowledge in an organization effectively results in 6% of a company’s annual revenue remaining unrealized.
 
Experts in KM recommend implementing an intranet-based information system in order to make information readily available and accessible within your company. Similarly, exit interviews for departing employees should be carefully conducted so that specific knowledge does not go out the door with the employee.
 
Finally, even though your business has grown, make the time to socialize informally with employees. In order to work as a team, you must know the team members.
 
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November 12, 2009

Getting the Most Out of Your Employee Team

No, this is not a sports pep rally. However, just as in sports, success is heavily dependant upon teamwork. The higher the performance of the team, the better the chances for productive outcome.
 
     Every employer knows that one of the hardest operating challenges in business is assembling the right people for your team. Hiring unknown individuals is always a partial gamble. Therefore, a combination of instinct and skill is required to hopefully pick correctly.
 
     You’ve worked hard and sacrificed to realize a dream in building your business. You would like your employees to share that dream. Therefore, an employee for whom this is “just a paycheque” may not be the wisest choice for your management team. You want people who can see beyond the job.
 
     A good team player is willing and able to listen to others, as well as share ideas. There must be common agreement that the team works together under the leadership of one individual whose own goals for the business become the collective goals. Ambition in an employee is positive, provided that the ambition does carry its own agenda.
 
     Look for problem solvers on your team. There is no reason for you to carry all the weight yourself. Also, your team should feel as passioniate as you do. Share the lows and the highs become far more important to achieve.
 
     Individual roles should be clearly defined and each member of your team should know how they relate to the team as a whole. Build a well oiled-machine that functions perfectly when each part is operating in sync.
 
     Don’t rely too heavily on references. Quite often, you will hear only what you want or you will be told only what someone wants you to hear. Look for the right qualities, ask the right questions, get the right feeling, and you should be on your way to assembling a top-notch team for your business.
 
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November 11, 2009

Employee Etiquette: Being Held Accountable

 If your business has more than one employee, you inevitably have to deal with the question of accountability. Something is left incomplete or a task is not performed and someone must be held accountable. As an organization increases in size, so does the chain of accountability.
 
     The truth is that the individual may be at fault but, quite often, they are responding to a larger environment. The work atmosphere dictates how an individual performs. In the big picture, employees will generally respond in a similar fashion to their superiors.
 
     A good manager knows the right way to foster a spirit of accountability. For example, adherence to guidelines is crucial. If you set deadlines, stick to them. If you don’t, why should your employee? Do you adhere to schedules of meetings by starting and finishing on time? What about follow up? There is nothing worse than assigning a task and ignoring the follow up. The old fashioned “red flag” system still works wonders. Mark assignment dates in your date book (remember those?) and attach a little coloured sticker to show you when you have to check it. Finish your meetings with a summary so that everyone knows what was discussed and what lies ahead.
 
     We have all learned to give positive encouragement. However, a manager who is afraid of giving negative feedback is far less effective. Certainly, there are constructive ways to deliver criticism. There is also a realistic limit how many times an employee can make the same mistake before having to re-evaluate their position. Management is a skill that must be used correctly to derive maximum achievement. Like any aspect of business, it has an accounting system that must be properly balanced. Learning how to create that fine balance is one of the secrets of a successful business organization.
 
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