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Time Management Tips

Tick, Tick, Tick. . . 

Does your work day slip between your fingers and make you wonder where the time went by the time you reach closing time? If so, you may need to re-think your time management skills. Learning how to manage your time can be difficult and take some time to learn but here are some expert tips that can get you started.

  • Maintain a Calendar – Carry your schedule with you at all times. This may mean using an online scheduler and project management tool. Be sure to refer to the calendar regularly throughout the day and keep track of how long regular activities take. This may seem tedious but will give you a better idea of how long certain activities will regularly take. You will then be able to plan your time better in the future.
  • Plan Every Morning – Many business leaders emphasize that what keeps them on track all day is a 30 minute review every morning of what the goals are for the day and week, maybe even the month. Having those goals in mind before you start meetings or rushing from activities to activity can keep you focused.
  • Know How to Delegate – Having a trusted employee who can handle some of your daily duties can mean you can attend to more important duties. Someone who can field your email and phone calls as well as prioritizing them can help you stay on task all day long.
  • Eliminate Distractions – Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Eliminate those distractions by closing your door or doing work in a separate area. Or set aside a certain time of day when you are free.
  • Start Early – While it might be nice to sleep in or have a lazy coffee, getting an early start is the hallmark of leaders who have time management mastered.

 

Performance Reviews

Whether it is called an annual review, performance review, or a salary adjustment meeting, these workplace events can be stressful for both the employee and the manager. These meetings may seem like a blip on the radar as they usually only happen annually or bi-annually, but they can set the tone for your company and the expectations that you have for your employees across the entire spectrum of leadership. Here are a few tips to help make performance reviews positive and motivational.

  • Prepare in Advance –  Never go into a performance review without preparation. Both the manager and the employee should plan in advance with a worksheet that they can fill out prior to the review that lists major accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses and future goals going forward. This will give both the employee and the reviewer a good way to organize their thoughts.
  • Keep Things Positive – Avoid heading right into the areas where you would like to see improvement. Instead spend the vast amount of time during  the review talking about what went right during the year, accomplishments, and improvements that you have seen since the last review. Everyone wants to know that their hard work has been noticed and find that it is rewarding when a leader in the company has taken note.
  • Talk About Struggles – Every employee, including yourself has some area of the job that they struggle with. Talk about what those are for this particular employee and how the company can be of assistance to guide, mentor or support so that these things are less of a struggle.  This may include assisting with a class on a topic that impacts your company or potentially arranging for a training session.
  • Create Goals – During the review, be sure to talk about future goals that the employee has as well as what you see on the horizon. This is a great way to set your agenda out and let your employee know that you see things moving forward for them. They may have ideas that can build up your business as well.
  • Be Ready to Do a Balancing Act –  Be prepared to be constructive in your discussions but also be ready to hold your ground. The more prepared you are the easier the conversation will go. If you have questions talk to your HR department or representative.

Employee Documentation

As business leaders or human resource managers, documenting employee performance is critical for the health and development of successful companies. Why is it so important to document, document, document?  And how should this be done?  Read on to find out the reasons why businesses should follow good documentation strategies as well as what some of those best practices look like.

It is important to document employee issues for several reasons including: protecting the company, maintaining records for the future managers and for the protection of the employee. Documenting employee issues will protect the company in the future should the employee file a lawsuit claiming discrimination or other legal matter. Documentation will also prevent any new managers from having to start from scratch. Documentation can give insight into issues and conflicts as well as how those issues were resolved. All that documentation also protects and helps the employee as well. In all fairness employees need to be informed when there is an issue so they can make corrective action or add their input about the situation. 

Proper documentation should include the following items:

  • a description of the events or situation
  • a definition of the policy that was violated
  • a review of any previous issues with the employee and how that was resolved
  • designate a mediator or neutral person to discuss the issue with
  • indicate what changes need to be made and a timeline
  • signatures of all people involved
  • comments or input from all parties

The documentation should be a thorough as possible and include differing points of view as well as the final resolution.

Multigenerational Workplace Issues

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and Millennials. . . OH MY!  Companies today often have teams with a wide range of ages. Age ranges can be wonderful. When every person entering an office comes in with different life experiences, perspectives and views it can add value to a company.  But let’s face it, there are stark differences in the values, communication styles and work habits of each generation as well. Workplaces can, in theory, have employees ranging from 18-80. That is a huge range. Businesses in all fields are quickly becoming aware of issues that have become pronounced due to these age ranges. Let’s take a look at the potential issues and some solutions for bridging this multigenerational workforce gap. 

  • Get to know each person and generation and what their concerns may be. For example, the millennial generation of workers would choose workplace flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments over financial rewards, according to a NexGen survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Baby Boomers prefer more traditional classroom or paper-based training. They also have retirement and stability on their mind. Generation Xers prefer to learn on the internet and work well independently. They may be concerned with working their way up the corporate ladder.
  • Negative stereotypes for each generation exist, so try to dispel these and show each what they have in common. For example, Forbes Magazine points out that, “Ultimately all employees want the same thing — to be engaged at work and to have a good manager who acts as a coach and helps them achieve their specific career goals.”
  • Embrace different communication styles. According to Business New Daily, “Preferred communication styles have almost become a cliché: Generation Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messages to communicate, while Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. Throw in that younger workers tend to use abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms, and you’ve got a recipe for serious communication breakdowns. Business leaders should set the example of the company line on communication and create an environment where face-to-face communication is valued and embraced. But don’t ever be afraid to embrace the differing communication methods.

Managing Conflict at Work

Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with differing personalities and work habits in a workplace. Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice. Since avoiding workplace conflict is a near impossible feat, be prepared for how to handle these circumstances in advance. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict. 

  • Stay Calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. Don’t let emotions escalate or drive decisions. However, do let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged. Each member of the conflict should have a chance to say what is on their mind in a respectful and safe manner.

  • Deal With the Issues

    First of all, if you are a manager dealing with conflict you should: recognize that there is a conflict, be objective, and be fair and consistent. What will help in any conflict would be a human resources liaison who can moderate and ease the tension. HR personnel are an unfailingly objective third party. Short of calling in HR moderators, it would be helpful if there was a written code of conduct from which to read and guide employees when a situation arises.

  • Document – Whenever a conflict arises be sure to document the event. Who was involved? What was the resolution? If a pattern of conflict emerges, it is possible that one or two employees may turn out to be the “common factor.”  In this case, documenting for potential future incidences or, unfortunately, termination will be needed.
  • Determine Follow Up – After a workplace conflict, whether it is related to work or is personal, it is critical to follow up. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing. Did the issue continue to fester? Was it completely resolved? Has it impacted workflow or morale in the office? Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Avoiding HR Issues

Owning a small business can be a major juggling act. Being a leader, chief financial officer, office manager and all the other roles that go into making a successful business can be hard. Keeping all the “balls in the air” can be a tough juggling act, which can cause mistakes – sometimes serious ones. Mistakes in the human resources area can be easy to make if you don’t understand and are compliant with the law.

Here are five of the most common HR management pitfalls small businesses face today and how to avoid making them. 

  • Outdated Employee Handbook – The employee handbook is your guidebook for all employees and company leaderships about work-related policies. These policies could include: discrimination policies, standards of conduct, compensation, benefits, work schedules, security, and vacation/sick policies. Each business is different so the policies laid out in the handbook should be updated regularly and be specific to your field of business. Not having company policies in writing and updating regularly is just asking for trouble.
  •  Staying knowledgeable of Changing HR Laws

    Understanding federal, state, and local labor laws are critical when running a successful small business. Compliance with these laws can be a big headache for small businesses. There are a multitude of regulations, and these laws continue to change rapidly. Have a dedicated employee or HR consultant who can stay on top of changing laws and compliance requirements.

  • Handling Terminations Poorly – No business leader wants to deal with a termination but they happen all the time. Messy fires can lead to unwanted lawsuits. Both performance and policy violations require documentation and a paper trail. “Make sure that you document any disciplinary issues, safety inspections, performance discussions, and the like. These records can save you if done right — or kill you if done poorly or not at all.”(Source: Intuit Books)  This is yet another reason why the well-written employee handbook is needed.
  • Develop a Reward System – Employees want to know how they are doing.

    Recognition of good performance is essential to a healthy workplace; without it, your business could face retention issues. Plan and maintain a reward system that will allow your company to maintain employees that do their job well. It is easier to maintain a good employee than to train a new one. 

  • Weak Hiring and On-boarding System – Too many employers hire hastily because they need the position filled quickly. Spend time weeding out unqualified candidates and on-boarding exceptional ones. Take the necessary time to be sure the candidate feels at home, has a mentor and understand the daily running of the office so they don’t feel overwhelmed or out-of-place.

Benefits of Having an Internship Program

If you don’t know already, small and medium sized businesses have been reaping the benefits of internship programs for years. These programs have the potential to be a win-win relationship for both the intern themselves and the company for which the intern is working. So, is your company taking advantage of these rewards?  Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of developing a successful internship program for your business.

If your business is contemplating starting an internship program realize that while there are definite obligations and responsibilities, there are also a multitude of advantages for both the intern and company hosting the program.

For the Company: 

  • New Perspective – Many businesses have a natural routine and organization to them. Using an intern can mean a new perspective on the “old grind”. Having a younger member of the team who is fresh and optimistic may mean that they question why something is done a certain way or have a fresh perspective on how something within your product or service can be done more efficiently or can better serve the customer.
  • Knowledge of Technology – Let’s face it, interns tend to be better in touch with the latest and greatest on the technology front especially social media, and the most recent gadgets. Using that knowledge can give a boost to your company.
  • FREE Labor – While interns do take considerable effort to mentor, they also are free labor which means your employees can be freed up from the more mundane aspects of their job to do more meaningful work.
  • Future Workforce – Close to 68% of interns are offered some sort of position in a company post internship. That means that the time during an internship is a great opportunity for employers to see the talents and skills that can be added to their company – very much like a test drive before buying.

For the Intern: 

  • Exposure and Experience – Two of the main reasons why college age students pursue an internship is to gain valuable experience and exposure to a given field that they otherwise would not gleam through regular studies. This resume building experience makes it just that much easier to get a job post graduation.
  • Marketability – Students who have completed an internship tend to get jobs faster.

    On average, only 30% of graduating seniors have job offers before graduation; however, after completing an internship, that figure rises to 58%. 

  • Contacts – Even if an intern is not offered the dream position in the company in which they interned for, they have had ample opportunity to build a strong list of contacts.

Running a Successful Staff Meeting

Regular staff meetings, team meetings or company get-togethers can be a little like herding cats. Getting all of your employees with different backgrounds and skill sets, and trying to keep them connected, productive and guided toward a common goal is no easy task. To help manage these different personalities and skills, the weekly or biweekly staff meeting is critical to obtaining your business goals. Here are a few tips on how to run a successful staff meeting.

  • Have Clear Objectives – There is nothing worse to team members than a meeting without a true purpose. A meeting must have a specific and defined purpose. In fact, meetings that have a written agenda tend to be more productive than meetings that do not. Standing meetings with vague purposes, such as “status updates,” are rarely a good use of time.
  • Be Conscious of Time – Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the meeting, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see. This keeps people focused. No one likes to be trapped in the never-ending meeting when they have work piling up on their desk. It is also important to start on time and end on time as well.
  • Ban Technology – Yes, we all live with our devices attached to us but that may be a bad thing in a staff meeting. Have one person keep notes but ask for the undivided attention of your team members during the meeting. This may mean banning smartphones and tablets during the meetings. If you don’t, you may find that your team members are emailing, surfing the web, or just playing around with their technology.
  • Follow Up – Sometimes staff meetings become black holes where the information is mentioned once and never followed up on. In addition, it’s quite common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on. To reduce this risk, email a memo highlighting what was accomplished to all who attended and how the suggestions and comments will be dealt with.

Successful Recruiting Strategies

If  Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn and Career Builder are the only  strategies that come to mind when thinking about recruiting the best employees to your business, then you may need to rethink your process of recruiting. If you are looking for a dream candidate to fit into the skill set you need and mesh with the personality of your company you may need to think outside-the-box. To get a list of qualified candidates instead of a pile of resumes that can only be characterized as a “poor fit” you may want to read on about what business leaders are doing to “beef up” their recruiting strategies.

It’s really not enough these days to post a job listing on your company website or one of the many job listing sites and hope that the candidate of your dreams will magically appear and apply. Business leaders need to be active to attract talent, or else someone is going to snatch up that dream employee. In order to compete, you need to make sure your recruitment strategies are up to snuff.

  • Social Media – Use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites to spread the word about the benefits of working at your company, as well as openings that are being posted. Jobvite reports that 44% of recruiters say that social recruiting has increased both the quantity and quality of candidates. In addition, Socially engaged companies are 58% more likely to attract top talent.
  • Drive Referrals as a Company-Wide Initiative– According to the Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association, referrals are one of the easiest ways to source talent. Using the referral networks of your entire company instead of just those of your hiring team will seriously boost your results. Make the referral initiatives worth-while for employees with prizes and benefits that they will be working towards.
  • Teach Your Interview Teams to be Highly Effective – This means that your hiring process is well tuned and practiced in the right questions to ask, how to ask them, what red flags to look for and how to bring the entire team into the hiring process to make sure the new hire will be a good fit.
  • Retain and Recruit the Best – The best way to fill empty slots is to keep them from being empty in the first place. Identify the top 20% of performers at your business, and keep that information in an easily accessible list. Then, sit down and create an action plan to keep those employees happy and keep them with the company. Those top workers probably know and work with people in similar fields who are also the best of the best. Find out what makes them the best so you know what to look for in new hires.