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Hope is Not a Strategy

Hope is great for things like “I hope I win the lottery!” Or “I hope that this person I like is at the event I’m going to so I can talk with him.” What you need instead of hope is a STRATEGY!

But when it comes to your business or your personal future, hope it just not enough. Waiting for the perfect client to show up at your door or the perfect person to fill the job opening you are in desperate need of filling – well, that is just procrastinating!

What are you hoping for right now in your business or personal life?  Are you stuck, hoping and not moving – as in parked and need to change the gear to drive? It is great to have faith and a positive attitude – but it is also necessary to get moving. That requires changing the gear from park to drive. And you also need to figure out where you are going, and as in driving it is best to figure out where you are going while you are still in park. To continue with the driving metaphor, once you have your road map (strategy) you can pick a lane and stay in it while you figure out whether or not you are getting the result you are looking for.

What is frustrating you right now? What are you hoping will change but aren’t doing anything about it? Spend some time brainstorming some action items that will take you out of that stuck place. It is always a good idea to get some input from others, experts in the field or people you admire and look to as a mentor. Once you feel you have gathered the information you need, take some action. Pick up the phone and make the call or send the email – whatever it is to get things moving. You can do this – change will happen! If you get it wrong the first time, look at it as a learning experience. Okay, you know what doesn’t work – what else could work? What will you try next?

Employee Development – Grey’s Anatomy Style

Employee Development – Throw the employee or team into the deep end of the pool and cheer them onto victory!

Employee development can happen in many ways. Have you ever been in a situation you didn’t expect to find yourself in and discover you had talents and abilities you didn’t know you had? Perhaps it was a customer who needed something from you that was outside your normal scope of work but for whatever reason, you decided that you would help the customer out so you did. Sound familiar? Sometimes through those experiences we uncover our hidden talents. And admittedly, sometimes we wish we had never agreed to go beyond our scope in the first place. I have had both experiences!

Sometimes I am reminded of good ideas in the strangest of ways. Let’s face it, HR lessons are everywhere if we keep our eyes open. Employee development Grey’s Anatomy Style! I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix and in a recent episode I was impressed by the training experience that was set up for the Interns. It made me realize that sometimes it’s really great to throw trainees – and we’re all trainees by the way– into the deep end of the pool and watch them swim.

Learning Through Challenge

On this particular episode, Grey’s Anatomy had a patient with multiple issues and the more experienced Doctors stood by as the Interns took charge of caring for the patient. What happened is that a leader emerged, and individually, the Interns learned something about themselves that they didn’t know.  Employee development happened! Through the confusion and even arguments among the team, one of the Interns took on the leadership role and others followed. As the chaos was relaxed each Intern took care of the patient and performed well in a highly charged environment. Thankfully, few of us work in that highly charged environment every day. Even so, there are good lessons for employee development in this episode.

Lessons Learned in this Employee Development Activity

The lesson learned is that one way to promote employee development is to give an individual employee, or a team, a project even though they may have little to no experience. The project should be one that will be challenging and create the environment where the employee has the responsibility and the autonomy to take the project through completion. This is what I mean when I suggest they get thrown into the deep end of the pool. Of course, you are going to be by the sidelines, maybe having the employee or team check in with you periodically, and make sure no one dies in this process – like they did in the episode of Grey’s Anatomy. The personal and professional growth through these experiences can be enormous and the employee and/or team gains confidence in their skills.

The result of employee development activities like this, is an employee who feels more enjoyment and engagement in their job and is better at the job as a result of the experience. You can begin to delegate more to the employee – saving you time to work on bigger matters.

It is really fun to watch the employee’s experience from the sidelines.  It’s important that they feel your support, your encouragement and excitement for their new learning.

Do you have an employee or a team that could use a boost in confidence, engagement and job satisfaction? What is a project that you can pass onto them that will throw them into the deep end of the pool? What employee development tool will you choose?

Hi Ho – Hi Ho – It’s off to work we go….How You can positively impact Employee Satisfaction

The keys to happy employees and Improving Employee Satisfaction

Happy employees are by far more fun to around than the grumpy ones but beyond just more enjoyable to work with is the fact that Customer Satisfaction is directly related to Employee Satisfaction. We’ve all been to the retail store, grocery store or restaurant where we were greeted by the unhappy, often downright grumpy employee. As for our own grumpy employees, we may get used to them.  Yep, that’s “grumpy Ginger, that’s just the way she is.” But, our customers are not getting used to them and they may take their business somewhere else as a result.

So what is it that makes employees happy?

Sure, it varies somewhat from one employee to another but mostly it’s about these 5 things. Below are the top reasons for Happy Employees, listen in opposite order of importance to the employee.

#5   —   Money – sure it’s important but it is not the most important thing. Employees want to know they are paid fairly in comparison to others in the company and to their friends in similar jobs. They like to get raises – feel rewarded financially. But the good feeling that comes from getting a raise just doesn’t last that long.

4   –   More control over their time.  Companies who can be more flexible with their employees’ schedules and maybe provide a work-from-home option at least occasionally find happier employees.

#3 – Praise and recognition.  Managers who frequently let their employees know when they do a good job are rewarded with happier employees. Saying thank you and Great Job! really matters. Yes, more important than money!

#2 – A sense of belonging. When employees understand how the work they do fits into the company’s larger mission they are happier. Even more, if the employee buys into the company’s mission and has a passion for the products or services they produce, the employee feels as though they belong.

#1 – Camaraderie.The number one reason employees are happy at work is because they like the people they work with. Striking up friendships at work really matters. As employees come and go for a variety of reasons, the camaraderie can change so be aware of the value of those workplace friendships.

Salaries and Small Businesses

How small businesses get in trouble with high cost of payroll

No doubt payroll is a big expense. What I’ve noticed working with small businesses is that they tend to give higher raises IF they give any raises at all.

How to understand payroll and salaries for small business

Here’s the problem:

Small businesses tend to think in increments of $.50 or $1.00. Here’s a typical way it goes down:

  1. Employee is hired at $10.00 per hour to do an entry level customer service job.
  2. 6 months later, the employee does a really great job – gets a new customer or seems to be catching on really well – or even better is starting to save you a lot of time. So, you give the employee a raise. Now the employee is making $10.50 per hour.
  3. Next thing you know, the employee has once again hit a home run – you are feeling really appreciative and it’s been 6 months since they had a raise, so you decide to give him/her another raise. Now they are making $11.50 per hour.
  4. A couple more years go by and you realize that you have not given this employee a raise for a while and they are still doing a good job so you decide to bring them up to $13.00 per hour.
  5. Over the next 3-5 years you continue in the same vain giving her/him bumps in salary on days when business is going well and you’re feeling generous and now the employee is making $18.00 per hour. The job has not changed in all this time but the salary has not doubled. Really? Are they worth twice as much to your business as they were when they started to work? Maybe so, maybe not. Your resentment toward how much money this employee is making begins.

Believe me, this is not the way Corporate America does business. They give 3-5% increases annually. Here’s how that would look using 4% increases annually as an example.

Year 1 – $10.00

Year 2 – $10.40

Year 3 – $10.82

Year 4 – $11.25

Year 5 – $11.70

Big difference huh? So if you are the employer who is giving the raises when you feel generous, STOP! Consider this:

Give bonuses, smaller ones like $50. Employees won’t feel the appreciation or love any longer whether you give a bonus or increase their pay. The problem with the pay increases is that you’re stuck – if business is in a downturn you’re stuck with that employee at that salary. The only way to change it is to lay the employee off and hire a new employee back at the $10 per hour.

Have annual performance reviews and consider increases closer to the Corporate America version. Most of all, base the salary on their performance, completing their goals and ultimately their value to the company. That will significantly reduce the resentment factor

Consider a cap on the salary for a job that will never really be worth $20 per hour. If you have an employee who works hard, does their job but never really wants to grow or take on more responsibility you can cap the salary so that you don’t’ end up paying more than the job is worth. You can still give bonuses but you don’t’ get yourself into a situation where you’re paying way too much for that job.

If you are one of those employers who feel like you hired the employee at a fair salary 5 years ago and have given bonuses along the way but never raised their pay rate, that is not a good idea either. That employee is at risk for getting picked off by another company offering more money. Again, the employee does not remember the bonus you gave them at Christmas – which was the same as everyone else’s by the way – they just compare their pay rate with the other company. You lose! You lose the employee who may have been doing a great job but you’ve failed to let them know and reward them.

Don’t Be a Dumping Ground!

We’ve all heard Harry S. Truman’s famous quote, The Buck Stops Here. I agree that the top leadership has the final say, sets the direction and the buck stops with them.

However, that does not mean that you, the leader or manager, should be a dumping ground for your direct reports! Teach them to fish for themselves. Are you teaching your employees to fish or are you the dumping ground for work and issues that they don’t know how to resolve or because “it’s not their job?”

The leader in the business or organization should be leading – setting the strategic direction for the company, looking at the big picture and communicating the plans to the staff. If the leader gets caught up in all the issues that other employees dump on them they don’t have the time to take care of the bigger matters.

Here’s a few tips on how to get away from being the dumping ground:

  1. Ask the employee how she/he would handle the problem and if you agree, reassure them that they can handle it. If you don’t agree, tell them how they should handle it and give them the confidence and authority to handle it.
  2. Look for a pattern of what is being dumped – teach someone else how to handle that work and if necessary, add it to someone else’s job description.
  3. Watch how controlling you are as a leader – is the reason for the dump because you feel like no one else can do that work. Question yourself and your reasons for taking the work or issue. Is it really necessary for you to handle that work or can someone else be trained or be given the added responsibility? By the way, most employees like to learn now things and take on more responsibility – it makes their jobs more interesting. If they don’t like to take on new responsibilities – you may have the wrong employees.

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