Tag Archives: organizational development

The Power of Habits – Part 2

The Golden Rule of Habit Change:  Use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit.  Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and the reward stay the same.  But to change an old habit, you must address an old craving.  You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine. It’s in the power of habits.

Asking patients to describe what triggers their habitual behavior is called awareness training and it’s the first step in habit reversal training.  It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it.  The brain can be reprogrammed.  You just have to be deliberate about it.

If you identify the cues and rewards you can change the routine,  at least, most of the time.  For some habits, however, there’s one other ingredient that’s necessary.  Belief.

The precise mechanisms of belief are still little understood.  But we do know that for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible. This process makes AA so effective.  Belief is also easier when it occurs within a community.  A community can be as few as two people.

The Habits of Successful Organizations—Keystone Habits:

Paul O’Neil—1987 became CEO of Aluminum Company of American, Alcoa. His  opening address to Wall Street, “I want to talk to you about worker safety.”

So how did O’Neill make one of the largest, stodgiest and most potentially dangerous companies into a profit machine and a bastion of safety?  By attacking one habit and then watching the changes ripple through the organization.

O’Neil figured his top priority would have to be something that everybody—unions and executives—could agree was important.  He needed a focus that would bring people together that would give him leverage to change how people worked and communicated.

O’Neil believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization.  Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives.  These are “Keystone Habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play. Live, spend, and communicate.  Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.  Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.  The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.

If you focus on changing or cultivating Keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts.  However, identifying Keystone habits is tricky.  To find the, you have to know where to look.  Detecting Keystone habits means searching out certain characteristics.  Keystone habits offer what is know within academic literature as small wins.  They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.  On an individual basis, exercise can be a Keystone habit.

Small Wins are a steady application of a small advantage.  Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favors another small win.  Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging advantages into patters that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

Small wins do not combine in a neat, linear, serial form, with each step being demonstrable step closer to some predetermined goal.  More common is the circumstance where small wins are scattered.

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Generations in the Workforce

Generational Workforce

One of the advantages of running a small business is that you can manage your employees on an individualized basis. A savvy boss identifies each worker’s hot buttons and work style, and manages accordingly. And if you’re super-savvy, you’ll factor in the cultural generation your employees belong to as well.

Like it or not, the era we’re raised in shapes our attitudes and behaviors. While stereotyping is not a good thing, several recent workplace studies indicate that employees of the same generation often share common values and traits, which set them apart from other generations.

This is information you can use to keep your employees motivated and challenged. You can also use it to create a more harmonious, collaborative culture. Because when employees clash or fail to communicate, it may be generational differences at work.

We’ve been discussing this topic in my small business peer advisory groups. After measuring some of the research against our own managerial experiences, these are the profiles we agreed on regarding different workforce generations.

Generation Y (aka Millennial) Workers (born 1978-1997) – Chances are, the youngest members of your workforce are adept with technology and most comfortable when multi-tasking. They’re fluent in social media, but may need guidance setting boundaries. Many Gen Y’ers chaff under rigid management, so if you want to keep them happy, offer a flexible work environment. They enjoy working in teams, but prefer communicating via brief emails and voicemails rather than traditional meetings.

Generation X Workers (born 1965-1977) – Many Gen X workers tend to be independent minded. They may question established work processes and challenge the status quo, which can either be a healthy thing or a source of conflict with colleagues. Gen X’s gravitate toward flexibility and informality (they also tend to look at meetings as a waste of time), but do want feedback and recognition for a job well done.

Baby Boomer Workers (born 1946-1964) – Typically, Baby Boomer employees work hard in the conventional sense, and are proud of it. Boomers tend to measure dedication in terms of putting in long hours (after all, they were the inspiration for the term ‘workaholic’). Boomers often prefer communicating face-to-face or via meetings rather than electronically, and would rather be rewarded with a bonus than comp time.

One generational group isn’t better or harder working than the other; it’s more a matter of style. However, by recognizing what makes different generations tick, you can manage and motivate more effectively and get the best from all of your people.

One key thing to remember: you belong to one of these generations, too, and it undoubtedly impacts your managerial mindset to one degree or another. The more open you can be to work styles unlike your own, the more it can benefit your business.

Employee differences enrich your workforce, and generational diversity is a good thing. It’s your job to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goal, even if they’re getting there by different routes. (Speaking of goals: be a savvy boss and request my free Goal-Setting Worksheet! Email me at Ray@ProPres.com.)

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Tracking Critical Numbers

How often do you review your critical numbers, those all-important figures that indicate how your business is doing? Do you wait until the end of the month, quarterly, or year to find out where you’ve been and how you’ve been doing? Or do you keep a constant eye on them?

And what numbers are you measuring and tracking? Because what’s truly ‘critical’ varies for every business, and sometimes it isn’t what you think.

Take profit and loss statements. They’re universally recognized as a key measurement tool, but they’re not without limitations. Because they’re historical snapshots in time, they don’t tell the whole story or reflect the here and now. They don’t tell you where you are going, until sometimes it’s too late.

As you know, I’m all about planning ahead. But you can’t do that effectively without knowing where you are and understanding your day-to-day progress.

So don’t wait for your financial statements to become available to assess the state of your business. Use other numbers closer at hand to keep a pulse on how it’s going. Like…

Cash on Hand – Cash is King. Do you know your cash, the cash you expect to collect in the short term, and the bills that you must pay?

Bookings – The orders you receive, and in some cases, the number of quotes you issue, reflect your success rate. If your bookings, quotes, or proposals are down, you can anticipate that you will have less business coming in and therefore less receivables and cash.

Order Backlog – Do you keep track of what’s in your pipeline?  Is your backlog made up of backorders or late shipments or fulfillment? While backlog becomes cash, remember that this is also a measure of service level. I often tell the story of a busy restaurant that only has four waiters, but really needs five. Pretty soon, they will only need three.

Inventory – If you have stock, how well do you know your actual inventory?  Wrong inventory estimates will throw off your profitability expectations. Inventory lower than your expectation means your cost of goods sold is higher than you expect or your selling prices too low, which results in a reduced gross profit percentage.

Open Purchase Order – Some people call this ‘open to buy.’ Are your open purchase orders in line with the business you are getting or expect to get?

Service Level – How do know or measure you are doing a good job? Keeping tabs on service levels is essential to continued success (see ‘Order Backlog’ above!).

Payroll vs. Revenue – Is your workforce becoming more less productive? Or is your business down? This is a quick and dirty test and that will ultimately show up your cash. Tracking payroll and revenue side by side tells you at a glance which way you’re headed.  If your revenue is up and payroll is down, life is good. If the opposite is true, you must find a way to change that!

In addition, some critical numbers may be meaningful only to you.

For example, one of my peer group members is a builder. He keeps a close eye on, of all things, his site managers’ monthly receipts from Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Why? Because if his crews keep running to local stores for supplies, they’re not properly planning ahead. It reflects their efficiency, which in turn impacts everything from customer satisfaction to profitability.

The same applies to forecasting future market conditions. One RV dealer I know keeps an eye on the fur industry. If fall and winter fur sales are high, he predicts a booming spring RV market. To him, it signals that consumers are confidently buying luxury items.

So ask yourself, what measurements are particularly meaningful to your business, both internally and externally? Make appointments with yourself to check these numbers on a regular basis. Don’t wait for P&L statements. The most critical numbers are right at your fingertips.

When it comes to numbers, are you on your game? Ask for my 10-question Financial Tracking Worksheet. Email Ray@propres.com for a copy.

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Avoiding Growing Pains

How to Avoid Organizational Growing Pains

By Ray Silverstein

When it comes to growing a business, is it possible to experience too much of a good thing? Yes, it is. And while you might think this would be a good problem to have, think again. Many times this can put you out of business.

Too-rapid growth is actually more dangerous to a business than no growth at all. While we tend to envy ‘overnight successes,’ research shows that growth exceeding 25% per year puts a business at risk of failure.

Just consider all the demands that an unexpected growth spurt would place on the various facets of your business:

Financial – Suddenly, you have big orders to fill, but not enough inventory to do so (or people-power if you’re in a service industry). Nor do you have the cash on hand to purchase what you need (or to hire who you need). Plus, getting credit is trickier these days (especially for service businesses that don’t have hard assets to offer as collateral). Purchase order financing is a possibility, but it is almost impossible to obtain and very expensive.

Personnel – Regardless of what you sell, you’ll need more workers to push your products or services out the door. But you don’t yet have the dollars needed to meet a rapidly-expanding payroll, not to mention the acquisition costs of bringing on new employees. Speaking of which, you’ll be so busy, you won’t have the time to make wise hires or train your newbies properly.

Morale – Because you’re short-staffed, your employees are constantly under the gun. Even dedicated workers can only give so much for so long before they start to burn out.

Workflow – If you don’t have adequate technology and processes in place when business explodes, what you do have will short circuit your ability to service or produce. Now you have a new fire to put out, and even less will get done.

The end result is: orders will go unfilled, and service will suffer. Customers will lose patience and walk. And remember, business that’s lost due to service issues is very hard to win back.

Picture a tiny, start-up restaurant that unexpectedly receives a great review from a trendy food critic. Suddenly, it needs five or six servers to wait on the nightly crowds, but it only has four on staff. Service plummets; waiting time skyrockets…and unless management makes some quick fixes, soon it will only need three.

Manage Potential Growing Pains

You may think this will never happen to your business, but it may be sneaking up on you, on a smaller scale. My point: keep a pulse on your activity and plan ahead. Know Thy Business. Build on your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, and attend to these key areas now:

Financial – Lay the groundwork for acquiring credit in advance. Develop a relationship with your banker. Build a good credit history. Study your numbers and get them to a healthy place.

Personnel – Always know who your next hires may be. Think of your workforce as a major/minor league system. If you’re continuously scouting for talent, you’ll be halfway there when it’s time to hire. Your minor league is a list of people you believe have the right attitude and skills to do the necessary work.

Morale – Nurture it always. Build good communication habits with your employees. And remember, a little personal appreciation goes a long way.

Workflow – No one wants to incur the expenses of upgrades until they’re absolutely needed. But every new system has learning curves to master and bugs to work out, so who can afford to wait until crunch time arrives?

Finally, learn to recognize the symptoms of growing pains. An easy way to get started: use my Growing Pains Diagnostic Test to conduct a DIY five-minute checkup. Just email Ray@propres.com and request a copy. Do something easy and healthy for your business today.

 

About the Author: Ray Silverstein is President of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago.

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Build to Serve

Build to ServeBuild to ServeBuild To Serve

Dan J. Sanders – Reviewed by Ray Silverstein

Leaders have spent far too much time focusing on fiscal resources and not enough time focusing on human resources. Long-term success is a result of putting more effort into building a positive, people-centered culture than poring over profit and loss statements.
The bottom line is not about price and profit; it is about choice and culture.

The author, Dan J. Sanders is president of United Supermarkets. One reason for its success is the United’s team members are genuinely considered family and United’s workforce displays the rhythm and innovation of a seasoned team. The company’s mission is defined by just six words: Ultimate Service, Superior Performance, and Positive Impact. The company is sustained by a culture-driven, people centered approach to business. The team members recognize personal relationships are their business.

The author believes the global culture that prevails today is broken. What is needed is a radical transformation—a monumental paradigm shift that will reshape our present understanding of the true purpose of work. This transformation begins with accepting the idea that an organization’s culture is the wellspring of sustained success. When the culture models this kind of vibrancy, such positive elements as growth, profitability, and good corporate citizenry are natural by-products. People are fulfilled professionally and personally, and organizations find deep meaning, resulting in a positive impact on the communities they serve. This is a business model that places people ahead of profits and service ahead of statistics.

A sustainable culture is built from the inside out. It starts with leadership that places the highest level of importance on human beings and a corresponding premium on recruiting, hiring, and training—both academic and experiential training—to equip and empower. A people-centered culture does not comprise values; rather, it seeks to remain faithful to values—even when remaining faithful means doing things differently from everyone else.

A leader’s actions, not words, form the basis for learning and eventually handing down a culture. People centered cultures are focused on marketing the work, not on advertising work that needs to be done. Example, rocks to be picked up (advertising), making a game of picking up the rocks (marketing). We all know unglamorous jobs exist in any profession, Even so, the successful completion of the work is largely the result of our mental approach to the task.

An organization’s ability to serve will be the last tool that can provide a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace. Organizations desiring sustained success simply must embrace culture-driven, people-centered philosophy.

Understanding Higher Math:

Higher math requires an emotional alignment of the leader with all levels of the workforce. It is about building trust and having a positive impact on people. Financial statements are only a small part of the story. Spreadsheets fail to convey the emotional status of an organization’s leadership. They are tools and nothing more—fine when it comes to numbers, of limited use when it comes to the human factor. Simply put, engaging people in a manner meant to maximize their contributions makes a difference for both the organization and its people. People-centered organizations speak the language of potential—not so much as it relates to a sales number, but rather as it relates to the workforce itself.

Are people in your organization considered an expense or an asset?

People-centered organizations connect the work they are doing with the mission they are committed accomplishing. A sustainable culture-driven, people centered enterprise exists when team members take ownership of what they are doing and realize it is important and essential to the higher purpose. Cultures focused on people unleash the imagination and lift performance to new heights—to a higher purpose. Example. Medtronic, assembly of heart values… higher purpose, saving lives maybe a co-worker or family member.

The Emerging Career Model:

The people-centered culture relies on leaders who genuinely connect with team members.
Connected team members understand the organization’s vision and mission. Because of that, they recognize the unique importance of their own specific role. Everyone is empowered in a culture-driven, people centered organization.

United Supermarkets calls human resources, talent management. It is customary to base cash compensation on performance, however, consider alternatives where the psychological value is not lost. Trips and special events are a great way to recognize achievement and acknowledge team members throughout an organization.

Making Winners Fail:

As the leader, you can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility. Successful leaders truly belong to their follows. The leader’s ability to understand servanthood and friendship is the difference between a career that flounders and a career that flourishes. Friendship means much more than simply what one person can do for another. It is an emotional investment in each other’s lives, creating a special bond, a common journey. Without investing the time necessary to establish relationships, an organization’s leaders will never realize that difficult-to-reach level of trust and peace..

Fortunately, once the relationships are established, the friendships are formed, and the teaching is under way, a leader learns the important lesson of letting go. Great leaders understand servanthood comes first, before mentoring and friendship. In sustainable organizations, connecting what people do on a daily basis with the higher purpose is paramount. The degree to which that connection resonates with the workforce is directly proportional to the degree to which the workforce feels a part of the community. The word community implies a sense of sharing in common—a sense of family.

People are promoted not for what they have done but for what they can do. When promoting someone to a new position, do so with the confidence that the person has the skills to succeed in that position. It is not enough to say someone was good in the past; the person has to be good in the future.

As leaders, we must resist the temptation to promote winners before they are ready. The success of team members rests on our willingness to take the time to forge relationships by first exhibiting servanthood—a genuine desire to help others make the most of their potential. Therefore, leaders must discern when team members are ready for promotion. And it is the leader’s job to ensure winners on the team win.

Telling Players From Fans:

Organizations are like teams. In fact, teams are composed of players and fans. Players represent the team every day of the week because, whether or not they are playing, they are still a part of the team. Players are apprised of the team’s strategies and tactics, know the “playbook,” and take ownership of their role in the overall success of each play. They rely on one another for support, and they recognize and embrace their teammates’ strengths. They win together and lose together. They exude camaraderie, loyalty and unity.

On the other hand, fans are fickle. If the team is winning, they are happy. If the team is losing, they are unhappy. Fans can actually infiltrate the team, interfering with the players focused on getting the job done.

Far too many organizations subscribe to a “needs-based” approach to hiring. In other words, no serious recruiting, interviewing, or actual hiring of talent takes place until a specific need arises. This is especially popular in numbers-orientated cultures.
Hiring “warm bodies” allows impostors to penetrate organizations. Too often, “warm bodies” fail to appreciate the organization’s vision, much less its values. Culture-driven, people centered organization adopt a healthier approach. They are always looking for players, even if no need exists.

The model begins with a vision of who you are and mission of what you want to achieve. In culture-driven, people centered organizations, values serve as a litmus test for a leader’s vision. Players with a clear vision will make great things happen. Players who have lost the vision creep over to the right side of the life-cycle curve. It begins with nostalgic thinking. Saying, “Let’s just go back to the way it used to be.” The problem with nostalgic thinking is it presents an impossible solution.

Stage two of the journey prompts unproductive questioning, which tears down a healthy organization. Often, these are complaints disguised with questions. Such as, why do have to keep this area so clean? If we are lucky, team members who reach state three will eventually move on to stage four and quit, but remarkably, people in stage three tend to hand on forever.

So how does a leader move people from the right hand side of the curve back to the left hand side? First , in a culture-driven, people-centered organization, it is the leader’s responsibility to remove impostors—to get the fans off the floor. Second, everyone creeps over the right-hand side of the curve from time to time, but most of us choose not to stay there. When we find ourselves distracted, the answer to getting back on the positive side of the graph is to refocus on re-embrace the vision—this is the key, the answer. The vision is everything when it comes to moving team members from ineffectiveness to effectiveness. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations never stop talking about their vision.

Defining The Who: See The Vision:

Vision matters. An organization’s vision represents the purpose of its existence—the heart of what it is an entity. Knowing and understanding the vision creates a level playing field for an organization’s team members and partners. In culture-driven, people-centered organizations, training manuals and checklists may have a role in standardizing policies or programs, thy they do not take the place of the organization’s heart and soul.

A clearly communicated and understood vision statement empowers team members to make decisions that support the organization’s higher purpose. Since leaders cannot delegate responsibility, they must rely on delegating authority ot get much of the work done. It is impossible to equip everyone with a list of action steps that will cover every conceivable scenario. What is compelling about a great vision well communicated is people will do almost anything to keep from compromising it.

In culture-driven, people-centered organization, leaders celebrate actions that support the vision, even if people occasionally bend or break some rules or policies in the process. In culture-driven, people-centered organization, leaders spend more time building relationships and communicating the vision to people and less time devising way to catch people intent on disrupting the process. Communicating the vision effectively allows supervisors to present disciplinary steps in the context of the higher authority.

The psychology of gains and losses and the finding that there is greater fear of loss than desire of gain. This is particularly true in Western culture because ego plays such an important part of self esteem. Business leaders capable of exchanging their ego for humility are more likely to see upside potential and gains than people are imprisoned by fear.

Many business leaders will not seek opportunities that require risk because they do not want to fail and suffer a hit to their egos. Failure to keep people informed leads to fear, the second-biggest obstacle to successful vision attainment. The first is pride.
Leaders must never grow tired of talking or modeling their vision. They may change it from time to time, but they must constantly remind their followers of the vision.

To develop the vision:

1. Think big. Ask stakeholders to share ideas regarding the need for the organization’s existence. Ensure the emphasis is on culture and people.
2. Identify what sustainable difference the organization will make for humankind that will transcend time.
3. Focus on the vitals—those deep seated values the team is unwilling to comprise.

Keep it short, less is more when it comes to articulating who you are. An effective vision statement has more to do with significance than with success.

When Things Go Bad (And They Will:

At no time is an organization’s sustainability more important than when bad things happen. Sometimes the pain is self-inflicted, and other time external forces deliver the blow a culture-driven, people-centered organization allows it persevere and rebuild.
Leaders must radiate positive energy throughout the organization when things are going well, and especially when they are not. Leaders should never deplete their team members’ energy; they should create it.

“Be Here Now.” The importance of living in the present moment.

  • Have you ever been with someone who was not there?
  • Have you ever been with someone and they were not there?
  • Have you ever been at a meeting and no one was there?
  • Have you ever gone home and left your brain at work?

When things go bad, leaders need a place where they can talk, listen, and remove themselves from the day-to-day chatter work. In culture-driven, people-centered organizations, human beings communicate with human beings. Progress is cultivated through a common understanding that solutions are ongoing dialogues for transforming relationships. Even when problems exist the best course of action is to communicate those issues openly and honestly.

Albert Einstein once wrote, “In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity.” Opportunities abound because we have choices to make. Healing starts where pride stops.

The 4P Management System:

The 4P’s of Management system required manager to address issues related to people, process, partners and performance with equal interest. Understanding the 4P’s starts with the observation that management begins and ends with human beings—people and partners. In misaligned cultures, organization prefer the opposite, beginning with performance and ending with human beings.

The 4P’s begins with the people inside the organization—the team members responsible for carrying out the day-to-day tasks necessary to operate the business. The next element of the model is process. Everything that happens inside an organization is a process. The key to improving performance is the elimination of as many obstructions in the process as possible. The further removed leaders are from the actual process, the harder it is for them to determine what is causing the obstruction. The sources of that information are the teams that use the process every day. They know precisely where the obstructions are located because they must work around those obstructions to carry out their duties.

Great ideas can spring from anyone in an organization. The culture of the organization dictates whether they surface. The third element in the 4P’s is partners, a term used to identify the importance of suppliers and buyers—customers, and users of the products and services sold by an organization.

During the past 50 years, customers have become a necessary inconvenience for many organization. Rather than embracing and celebrating the people who purchase their products and services, such organization merely tolerate them. When this happens, few, if any, organizations realize sustained success. Treating customers like partners is often overlooked, but it is important to culture-driven, people-centered organizations.

Culture-driven, people-centered organizations recognize poor performance is symptomatic of deeper problems—problems that require engaging people and changing processes. In this view, performance measurements are mere indicators—tools that prompt additional investigation and productive questioning. Performance measurements alone prompt more questions than they answer.

Humility Trumps Pride:

The biggest threat to an organization’s success is pride. In a culture-driven, people-centered organization, honest feedback is a must.

Pride is an interesting word. It has multiple meanings, some of them in direct conflict with one another. For example, one definition of pride involves a feeling of elation or satisfaction over one’s achievements, while another suggests a high or overbearing opinion of one’s own importance. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations seek to maximize the feeling of elation and satisfaction, derived from achievement and minimize any high or overbearing opinion of one’s worth or importance.

To accomplish this, first, organizations must keep people focused on the future, not the past. The destructive nature of pride is reinforced by what people have done, not what they have yet to do. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations are always moving toward what they want to become, as opposed to basking in their accomplishments.
Second, organizations must keep people focus on the pursuit of excellence, not the path to mediocrity. The pursuit of excellence forces people to confront their weaknesses, adapt their thinking, and keep their egos in check. Organizations must also keep people focused on the right kind of role models.

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How to Recruit Top Talent

recruitingThe Smart, Easy Way to Recruit Top Talent

By Ray Silverstein

Recently, we discussed how the key to making successful hires is to target applicants who share your core values.

Today, we ask: why wait for those hires to come to you?

The smartest, easiest way to identify great potential employees is ‘24/7/365 recruiting.’ It’s simple: even when you’re not actively hiring, keep your eyes open for people who impress you, and get their contact information as you go.

It’s like you’re building your own major league baseball team. You’re always scouting at some level, and you keep a running roster of possibilities. So when it’s time to trade-up, you have a leg up.

24/7/365 recruiting comes down to being observant and building a few good habits, which include:

• Always carry business cards. When you meet an exceptional worker, give him a card and request his. Tell him upfront that he impressed you, and while you don’t have openings now, you’d like to explore future possibilities. At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day.

• Keep your eyes open at trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings, not-for-profit gatherings, etc. At these events, you have a golden opportunity to observe a potential candidate’s skills, work ethic, and communication style, without a formal interview or aptitude test.

• When calling on customers, take a peek at the sign-in book. It’s a goldmine. You just may find an experienced sales pro or two who already know your client or target market.

• Review your company website. Does it do a good job of reflecting your goals, culture, and core values? Make sure it does, because it will draw the kinds of candidates you seek to you.

• Research your market. Visit the websites of competitors or firms that resemble yours in terms of distribution or skill sets. Some companies list key employees on their sites. Use the wonders of LinkedIn to learn more about them.

• When you come across finished work that impresses you—say, a highly-effective website or print marketing piece—find out who did the work and take note. When you’re ready to start a project like that, you already have someone in mind for it.

I have a great example of the benefits of 24/7/365 recruiting. One of my peer group members, Joe, often grabs lunch at a sandwich shop near his company.

Over time, Joe became impressed by one of the shop clerks, Adam. Adam was very careful, and cordial, and took his job very seriously.

At the time, Joe was dissatisfied with the performance and attitude of one of his employees. He found himself wishing he could find more employees like Adam.

Then Joe realized that, instead of finding someone like Adam, he could hire the young man himself.

Out of courtesy, Joe asked the sandwich shop owner if he would mind if he approached Adam about a potential job. As it happened, the owner was all for it. The young man’s wife was pregnant and he knew Adam was ready and eager for a bigger job and paycheck.

So Joe was able to let his non-performer go and hire Adam without missing a beat. Thanks to his proactive recruiting, what could have been a setback turned into an opportunity.

And that’s how 24/7/365 recruiting puts you ahead of the curve.

Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

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Managing Employees: Different Generations, Different Motivations

One of the advantages of running a small business is that you can manage your employees on an individualized basis. A savvy boss identifies each worker’s hot buttons and work style, and manages accordingly. And if you’re super-savvy, you’ll factor in the cultural generation your employees belong to as well.

Like it or not, the era we’re raised in shapes our attitudes and behaviors. While stereotyping is not a good thing, several recent workplace studies indicate that employees of the same generation often share common values and traits, which set them apart from other generations.

This is information you can use to keep your employees motivated and challenged. You can also use it to create a more harmonious, collaborative culture. Because when employees clash or fail to communicate, it may be generational differences at work.

We’ve been discussing this topic in my small business peer advisory groups. After measuring some of the research against our own managerial experiences, these are the profiles we agreed on regarding different workforce generations.

Generation Y (aka Millennial) Workers (born 1978-1997) – Chances are, the youngest members of your workforce are adept with technology and most comfortable when multi-tasking. They’re fluent in social media, but may need guidance setting boundaries. Many Gen Y’ers chaff under rigid management, so if you want to keep them happy, offer a flexible work environment. They enjoy working in teams, but prefer communicating via brief emails and voicemails rather than traditional meetings.

Generation X Workers (born 1965-1977) – Many Gen X workers tend to be independent minded. They may question established work processes and challenge the status quo, which can either be a healthy thing or a source of conflict with colleagues. Gen X’s gravitate toward flexibility and informality (they also tend to look at meetings as a waste of time), but do want feedback and recognition for a job well done.

Baby Boomer Workers (born 1946-1964) – Typically, Baby Boomer employees work hard in the conventional sense, and are proud of it. Boomers tend to measure dedication in terms of putting in long hours (after all, they were the inspiration for the term ‘workaholic’). Boomers often prefer communicating face-to-face or via meetings rather than electronically, and would rather be rewarded with a bonus than comp time.

One generational group isn’t better or harder working than the other; it’s more a matter of style. However, by recognizing what makes different generations tick, you can manage and motivate more effectively and get the best from all of your people.

One key thing to remember: you belong to one of these generations, too, and it undoubtedly impacts your managerial mindset to one degree or another. The more open you can be to work styles unlike your own, the more it can benefit your business.

Employee differences enrich your workforce, and generational diversity is a good thing. It’s your job to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goal, even if they’re getting there by different routes. (Speaking of goals: be a savvy boss and request my free Goal-Setting Worksheet! Email me at Ray@ProPres.com.)

Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

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The Most Important, Most Overlooked Hiring Question

The Most Important, Most Overlooked Hiring Question
by Ray Silverstein

Good news: it seems like more small business owners are shifting into hiring mode. That’s a good thing for everyone.

Now, the bad news. Many small business owners don’t really know how to hire the best candidate. And making a bad hiring choice is one of the most costly mistakes an entrepreneur can make. Consider the recruitment costs, training costs, and lost opportunity costs incurred when an employee fails.

In my experience, most small business owners dread the hiring process. So they adopt a classic HR-type approach, focusing on background, skills, and experience. They come up with tricky questions to pose to applicants.

Background, skills, and experience are important, to be sure. But they are not the most important thing. So what’s the #1 factor that drives a new hire’s ultimate success or failure?

What are the applicant’s core values…and do they match our company’s?

Think about it. Skills can be sharpened. Knowledge can be acquired. Processes can be learned. But the kind of person you are in your heart isn’t likely to change. If you hire someone who’s competent but doesn’t share your values, you’re almost predestined to part ways down the line.

For example, if your company prides itself on its ethical dealing with customers, you can’t accept an employee who places profits or efficiency over quality service. An employee who takes shortcuts when he can get away with it isn’t the kind of employee you can build your business on.

Or, maybe it’s the other way around. It’s not about right or wrong here. It’s about ensuring a good match. It means recognizing your core values, and asking applicants to share theirs.

Say, you’re hiring an office manager, and work/life balance is one of your priorities. Or, conversely, maybe getting the job done is, at any cost. Either way, wouldn’t it be good to know what a candidate would do if forced to choose between staying to push a key project out the door or attending his/her child’s big recital?

When you’re making your list of interview questions, include some that start with:
What would you do if…
Did you ever have to choose between…
What matters more to you…

…and address the issues that matter most to you.

And consider this. When an employee gives notice, many small business owners view it as a blow, a setback. But it’s also an opportunity to raise the bar. Focusing on the core values that ground your business is one way to ensure that your human assets are in fact…assets.

Interested in raising your HR IQ? Request my Human Assets Worksheet at ray@propresidents.com.

Email me at ray@propresidents.com to find out more about working with PRO Peer Advisory groups to find out more about the numbers and what is behind them.

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How do you confront issues and people effectively?

Crucial Conversations

Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior

by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Disappointing Results at Work?

The Guys explore one of the toughest issues – dealing with confrontations in the workplace. No, it isn’t about breaking up fights, but it can result in one if not handled properly in some cases. Most of us avoid conflict at all costs, so confronting employees who aren’t meeting up to standards is certainly not an enjoyable process. Crucial Confrontations – Tools for Resolving

How do good leaders create conversations to address work issues? The first few seconds of the interaction sets the tone for everything that follows.

What do you do when someone disappoints you?  For some people, the response is anger.  They cut people off, overstate arguments, attack ideas, employ harsh debating tactics, and eventually resort to insults and threats.

Surely, there’s a better way.  And there is.  We’ll explore how to step up and master crucial confrontations.  But first, let’s start with a definition.

What does the term crucial confrontation mean?  To confront means to hold someone accountable for disappointing you, face-to-face. 

It doesn’t have to be abrasive.  In fact, when confrontations are handled correctly, both parties talk openly and honestly.  Both are candid and respectful.  As a result, problems are resolved and the relationship benefits. But crucial confrontation skills offer the best chance to succeed, regardless of the topic, person, or circumstance.

The Guys tiptoe through the tulips of tense moments…  pursed and tight.  Well, if you know The Guys, they are a bit fast and loose. In order to loosen things up they cover the essential processes and techniques for having crucial conversations, from the authors’ point of view and from their own experience. Crucial confrontations succeed or fail because of the words people choose, and the way people deliver them.

Before you confront someone, you have to make sure that you are confronting the right problem.

The ability to reduce an infraction to its bare essence takes patience, a sense of proportion, and precision. You’ll have to listen in or download Ray’s Crib notes below in order to get the details of what the process is and how it works.

 

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Business Structures

2 Small Biz Guys engage a pretty dry subject with a little flair – business structures. Although the topic is about as interesting as watching paint dry, business owners have to face the fact that their business must have some legal structure. We are not attorneys and you are advised to consult both an attorney and CPA when determining how to structure your business.

The basic business structures include Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C-Corporation, S-Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Trusts and Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The structures move from very simple with complete liability of the business owner to somewhat complex and less direct liability. Often businesses go through a progression or evolution from one to another over the course of the business’ growth. We discuss the various forms and the distinctions of each regarding personal, financial and tax liability.

Initially, determining a business name requires various legal forms, checking with the Secretary of State for the availability of the name, and filing appropriate paperwork with the State Corporation Commission. Every state is slightly different yet very similar in the process. For branding purposes, your business name should be descriptive and distinct regarding the business itself. It’s always best to describe what you do in your business name.

We close the show talking about the growth of holacratic businesses, like Zappos, and their challenges as Millennials take over the world.

You will find some useful information in our discussion and perhaps gain insight toward your own business path.