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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November 25, 2009

Keeping Your Client Base: How Important is One Customer?

  If it came to a debate, the truth is that both opinions would be on the same side. Those who have succeeded in their business ventures will tell you what newcomers to the business world don’t always know – it is far more important to hold on to strong customers rather than just finding new ones.
 
Of course, logic might deem otherwise. Shouldn’t I always be on the lookout for new customers? Shouldn’t I try to inflate my customer base, making it as large as possible? Let there be no misunderstanding. Customers are very important to a business. After all, no business, no income. But, let’s be honest. Is there any guarantee that the new customer that you found yesterday will still be there tomorrow? On the other hand, even in times that are less than the best, the chances are quite good that a long-standing, loyal customer will still be there.
 
Client retention is vital to the longevity of a business. It is not enough to lure customers through pricing that beats the competition. After all, tomorrow the competition may lower his prices and your customer will follow the price trends.
 
Studies have shown that retaining customers will positively impact the bottom line of a business up to 15 times more than landing new customers. That’s money in your pocket at a much lower risk.
 
Providing great service is not enough to guarantee customer loyalty. It is imperative to develop an actual relationship. Make the relationship deep enough so that the client will not be tempted to take his business elsewhere. When you develop a level of trust with your client that, ultimately, helps him as well as you, you will manage to build a relationship that will remain strong, even when times are tough.

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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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October 1, 2009

Is Canadian Employment on the Rise?

Statistics are like a cat. Rub its fur one way and it purrs; rub the other way and the results are somewhat less positive.

So it is with employment figures released by Statistics Canada for the month of August 2009. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is giving a positive spin to the 27,100 net jobs gain for the month. The announcement triggered an eight-tenth of a cent rise in the Canadian dollar, although higher crude oil prices may also have influenced the dollar’s rise. Some leading economists have announced that this is an indication of the end of the recession. All this sounds rather encouraging.

Critics, though, are quick to note that many Canadians are not feeling quite as positive. Most of the new jobs were part-time only. The number of unemployed rose in August by 21,900, bringing the total number of unemployed Canadians to 486,000 since the global financial crunch of October 2008. The decline in the manufacturing sector has continued, although construction has begun to stabilize. Most of the new part-time jobs were in the lower paying service sector. Higher paying, high productivity work fell by 17,300 positions. Full-time work continues to be in a decline.

Certainly, there is cause to be optimistic. As one economist stated, half a job is better than no job. Economic indicators seem to point in a positive direction. But, one month of net growth may be far too early to establish a positive trend. Canada may well be on its way to economic recovery. Nearly half a million unemployed Canadians certainly hope so.

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July 21, 2009

Boomers as Entrepreneurs and Temps: Helping the Economy

As many of those in the baby boomer generation contemplate retirement, the workplace will definitely be impacted, but how? Many of them see they have less money saved than expected, be it in a 401K type of account or pension and see the need to return to or continue working.

Even as recruiters suffer due to fewer temporary workers being sought out, recruiting companies like Robert Half International (whose sales fell by 30% at the beginning of 2009) are going after the baby boomers. They are very skilled and ready to work once corporations go back to more hiring. This trend appeared in BusinessWeek as reported by Ali McConnon in their June 30 issue. A greater workforce of experienced individuals can turn around the recruiting industry, since their track record is proven and they need less training. The corporations are willing to pay more for them also.

As temps, the boomers are a worthwhile market for the recruiters since they are more likely to continue as part-timers as opposed to younger workers who just temp until they can find something full-time. As such recruiting companies are seeking out boomers through organizations like the AARP and CARP.

Entrepreneurial Start-ups

Like we have discussed in previous posts, small business looks like it has the potential to succeed in many ways despite the current recession. According to Tony Wanless of the National Post, many North American boomers are aspiring to start businesses as opposed to pursuing leisure activities in their retirements. On the whole they are healthy and have a strong drive to succeed in life. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that studies entrepreneurship, even sees the 80 million boomers leading the way out of recession.

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