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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Community Mapping

This month Enterprise Center has hosted a free Community Mapping program with Free Online Software and Simple GIS. The workshop was hands-on and geared towards helping community planners, economic developers and community organizers learn to analyze locational data, and create both interactive web maps and static paper / PDF maps. Here is a bit more on Community Mapping and how this practice can help you.

What is Community Mapping?

Community Mapping is generally understood to mean a visual, geographic representation of community characteristics. However, the term can also be used in a conceptual sense, to mean an inventory of information with or without a visual representation.

The basic objectives to Community Mapping aim at collecting  data in order to create a map of community assets and resources within a defined area. A community map highlights people, physical structures, organizations, and institutions that can be utilized to create a meaningful service project.

The benefits of resource mapping are many. Specifically, the resource mapping process can help a community (1) gain in-depth information about an agency’s policies, procedures, funding streams, and collaborative practices, (2) identify opportunities and challenges for meeting the transition needs of youth with disabilities, and (3) provide a comprehensive set of policy recommendations across agencies, along with opportunities for inter-agency collaboration. In addition Community Mapping can be beneficial at:

  • Identification of new resources to develop, enhance, and sustain goals
  • Determination of whether existing resources are being used effectively to achieve expected outcomes;
  • Improved alignment and coordination of resources
  • Enhanced coordination and collaboration among stakeholders with relevant resources and
  • Development of new policies and legislation to better meet goals and objectives.

Geographic data from different easily accessible sources include: the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Massachusetts, and Google. Online mapping tools can include: Google Maps, American Factfinder, Social Explorer, and Mango Maps GIS. Whether the need is to map batches of addresses, make better presentation graphics, evaluate demographic or land use trends online mapping and GIS tools are now readily available and simple to use.

Employee Incentives

Research shows that feeling appreciated- which comes from recognition from others- is one of the top drivers of employee engagement and retention. Showing appreciation can come in many different forms depending upon your field of specialty. Pay raises, promotions and Employee Appreciation Days are far from the only ways to motivate and supply incentives to your team. More than half of America’s companies use incentive programs spending over $77 billion annually on them. Here are a few monetary and creative approaches.

  • Be Flexible – With so many employees with families and responsibilities outside the office, a great reward is flexibility. Since not every employee fits into the 9-5 environment allowing for flexibility is a way to boost morale, as well as show your employees how much their hard work is appreciated. Flexibility may mean flex hours or possibly even remote work. This flexibility may mean that your employees can cut back on child care or even allow for more time with children in general. Flexibility costs nothing and can reap major rewards in the long run.
  • On-Site Rewards – Making your office into a place team members want to be is an incentive that employees will really appreciate. Ideas for this could range from a coffee cart on Fridays or a membership to the gym next door. Some very creative companies have installed game rooms or nap pods where employees can relax during breaks. This may seem counter productive to getting the work done but research says that these additions and incentives increase productivity.
  • Call Outs – Everyone likes to be recognized for hard work or a job well done. “Call out” to team members who have done a great job during staff meetings or on an employee bulletin board. Recognizing an employee who has done an outstanding job could be in the form of a thank  you note, a gift card or some other reward. Some unique ideas for rewards include featuring the employee in the company newsletter, giving priority parking for a month, arrange for a lunch in their honor or plan an “appreciation day” for those who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Perks whether they are financial or creative in nature are worth the time and effort as they will boost morale and possibly productivity. Give creative incentives a try in your office.

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.

Common Business Leadership Mistakes

We all know the “bad boss” types: the “micro-manager, the “know-it-all”, or perhaps the “missing-in-action” boss. These nicknames are great for water cooler talk but in the long run these business leadership mistakes can be disastrous for your company. If you find yourself in a leadership position at your company, it may be time to do some self evaluation to examine if you are making the most common mistakes. Here is a list to help you get your act together.

  • Too Involved? or Not Involved Enough? – Finding a balance between managing every step of a project and stepping back until the completion is a difficult task for even the most seasoned leaders. Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement but in doing so become too hands off. The problem is that if your team misunderstood the specifications of the project it may be too late once it is completed. Leaders and managers must find the right balance between being a Laissez Faire leader and a micro-manager.
  • Communication Nightmares – Team members need prompt and helpful feedback. According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t provide prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.
  • Being a Role Model – Leading by example is the best way to show your team members how to be professional and the work ethic that you desire. When it comes to achieving results, there is no substitute for leadership by example instead of the “Do as I say, not as I do.” Double standards have no place in business leadership.
  • Lack of Delegation – According to Inc. Online the key to leadership success is to learn to effectively delegate both the responsibility for completing assignments and the authority required to get things done. Whenever you prepare to take on a new task or assignment, make a point to ask yourself whether one of your employees can do it instead.
  • Being Boring – Your employees spend anywhere from 8-12 hours of their day in your office or working for the “good of the company”. Not having any fun during those hours is a huge mistake. Fun doesn’t mean that employees are losing efficiency or productivity. The best leaders make their organizations fun places to be. Your people spend about one-third of their lives at work. Make it a pleasant place for them.
  • Not Recognizing Excellence – There are many things that leaders can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and take only a few minutes to accomplish. When you take the time to recognize employees’ achievements, the result is improved morale, performance, and loyalty.


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.