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Building a Dream Team of Employees 

Look around your office. You probably have some well chosen employees. Some have personalities that work well with clients, others may have the expertise that helps your company innovate and move forward. Have you nurtured this group into being your dream team? 

Molding your group of employees into a dream team is not only a smart idea to grow your business but it can make working at your company a happy place. Let’s take a look at some things you can do as a business leader to help shape and build your dream team. 

Identify Each Person’s Strength 

Working together means that you probably have a good sense of what each person in your office can and can not do well. Some people are more technical, while others are better on the organization front. And still others are best at working with clients or writing that proposal in a hurry. 

Take some time to get to know each of your team members’ strengths and weaknesses. In fact, you may want to hire a specialist to come in to work with your staff to help them identify what they do well with and where they struggle. Not only is this a good way to pinpoint everyone’s strengths but it lets your team know that you are invested in their careers as well. 

Set Goals 

Once you have identified each employee’s specialty areas, help them set goals for themselves both short-term and long-term. These goals can be in relation to clients, sales, recruitment, networking, or any area that you decide upon. The goals should be given to both individuals and the group as a whole. 

Give them the Tools They Need 

If you read that and said, “Whoa, what about the budget,” then keep reading. Within the limits of your budget, we suggest that you provide as many ways as possible to give your team what they need to do their jobs well. If they need better communication between remote workers, clients, vendors and others, then provide an app like Slack that can help keep all parties along the chain connected and communicating. If they need time to collaborate as a group then carve time out of every day or week to allow for group collaboration meetings. In short, listen to what their needs are and try your best to provide them. 

A dream team doesn’t just happen, they are made by the leaders and people within a business. Check out our listing of workshops that can help you nurture the team you dream of. 

 

Organizing a Business Event 

If you work for a small or medium-size business, chances are that your staff does not include a professional party planner to organize those all important seminars, networking events, open houses, customer appreciation events, or company dinners. That means that planning corporate events falls to one (or several) employees that have a handle on details and can stay organized. If that person is you, read on for tips to organize your next business event. 

Corporate events can be tricky to plan since they have so many different components including the venue, budget, food, technology needed, atmosphere, guest lists, speakers, and the list could go on and on depending upon the type of event being planned. Here are some of our suggestions on how to get your ducks in a row and plan your next business event. 

Start With the Big Picture and Your Goal 

Start with what you hope to accomplish during the event. Ask yourself what the purpose of the event is and things will be clearer on how you should proceed. For example, if the goal of the event is to host an educational seminar for your clients, then the venue will be different than a black tie cocktail event. Or, if the goal is to have a social atmosphere and network with other companies in your field, then you know that you will have to find an appropriate venue for that. 

Create a Calendar and “To Do” List 

Once you know what the goal of your event is, you can plan accordingly. You will want to create a list of things to accomplish and give each a suitable deadline. This could include booking a venue if you are not hosting it in-house, finding a caterer and ordering food, creating a guest list and sending invitations, booking speakers, lining up any technology you need and, of course, staying within the budget set for you. 

Booking a Venue

Many corporate events happen outside of the walls of your typical office and finding the perfect venue is something you will need to arrange well in advance, depending upon the popularity of the spot you are choosing. Be sure to take into account travel time, how many people the venue can accommodate, and the atmosphere. When you book a space, an event planner may be assigned to your event and thus make your job a bit easier. If not, you may be required to work through even the smallest of details. 

Guest List and Invitations 

The venue and purpose of your event will help determine how many attendees your business can handle. Be sure to give ample time for a response from the people on your list. Remember that the average “no” response is usually around 20% when making your final guest list. Keep accurate records of who will be attending for a food, drink, or snack count. It will also help you when it comes time to print up any brochures or paperwork that will be a part of the event. 

Food and Drinks 

Depending upon the type of event you are having, food and drink is usually an aspect that needs consideration. Be sure to find out if any guests have allergies or any special food considerations. Venues are usually good about making special meals and will work with you on how to identify those guests when serving time approaches. As for drinks, this one is something your business leaders will need to decide. Do you want your guests to have the option to a cash bar, open bar, or are you having a dry event. All of these decisions need to occur early in the planning process as to allow for the budget to remain on track. 

Tech and other Materials 

Many events focus on some aspect of business and, as such, require technology, whether it is a presentation board, slide projector, smart board or, at the very least, a podium and sound equipment. Be sure to make a list of all the equipment and specialists you will need for your event so they can be secured well in advance. 

Presenters and Schedule of Events 

Once you have the venue, catering, guest list, and technology all set, you will want to line up who will be the master of ceremonies or presenter(s). A run through of the schedule can help ensure that things go smoothly on the day of the event. It will also ensure that small details like name tags, table gifts, and printed materials are ready to go for the event. 

Do you need help planning your events? Check out our workshop on Planning Events from Start to Finish on October 2, 2019. 

 

Making Annual Reviews Productive

Oh no, it’s that time of year again! Performance reviews are not the most happily anticipated work events. In fact, most employees and business leaders report that they often dread, or at least get anxious at, the mere thought of reviewing the past year.

For some businesses, this meeting is not just a review of how an employee is doing but it is also tied to raises and bonuses. That adds a layer of pressure and stress in the days and weeks leading up to the review.

Performance reviews, although somewhat stressful, are one of the most effective ways to assess, motivate, and engage your employees. If you find that your employees are dreading these or that you want them to be more productive, follow some of these tips and suggestions to make the most of the time.

Be Prepared

As with any other aspect of running a business, be ready. Employees should be given a self-evaluation form so they can examine what they thought of their accomplishments and/or setbacks throughout the year. Management should fill out something similar. The worst thing you can do is forget and just go through the motions by having a review without any direction or purpose. A form that each person fills out can help keep you on track during the review.

Start on a Positive Note

Ask your employee to start off the meeting by talking about their most positive learning experience this year or something they are proud of. Always start on a positive note. This will hopefully put everyone at ease and set the tone for a productive meeting.

Be Open and Honest

As an employer, there are probably some areas where you would like to see some improvement or possibly some training over the next year. Talk to your employees about what training you think they could benefit from. You may find that they want to broaden their learning as well. Be honest as well about areas that you would like to see improvement. Ask your employees how you can help them achieve that improvement. Look at it as more of a group effort rather than an adversarial relationship.

Set Goals

As a part of your review process, you may want to set some SMART goals that can be evaluated next year. Make sure the goals are achievable, realistic, measurable, and specific. This can keep both of you on track.

Ask For Feedback

Not only should you be talking about how an employee can improve or in what areas you want to see growth, but you should be asking for feedback from that person as well about your contributions and how you can help him/her attain those goals. Remember, this is a two-way street.

Do you need help fine-tuning your annual reviews? Check out our workshop on “How to Conduct Performance Evaluations.”  Join Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner and Communications Specialist, Insight Performance, on June 11, 2019, from 8:30 am – 10:30 am.

 

 

Getting Real about Goal Setting

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson

 

At the end of every fiscal year, do you find that you are just short of the goals that you so neatly created months ago? Or do you find that your business team took a left turn and went way off course and have not revisited the goals since the last time they created them? These are two extremely common problems when creating goals for your business.

Every business owner knows that creating and sticking to goals are what drive a business. Without goals, it’s difficult to identify ways you can grow, develop, and move toward continued success. Sometimes, however, when it comes to goal setting, it is easier to take a look at the mistakes that are common rather than the other way around.

Let’s take a look at a common personal goal that thousands of us make every New Year’s Eve and see how we can make it better. Many of us make it a goal or resolution to lose weight every year. While this is a wonderful goal that more of us should attempt, there is something wrong with the goal. Do you know what the mistake is?

The goal of losing weight is too broad. Most business owners make similar mistakes. Goals should be: achievable, measurable, and specific. Let’s rewrite the weight loss goal and see how we can improve it.

How about we change it to, “I will lose 15 pounds within three months.” Or, “I will lose at least two inches off my waist.” Or, “I will be down a dress size,” in the same time frame. Each of these is measurable, achievable, and specific.

Business owners should do the same thing when creating sales goals or any other kind of goal depending upon your field or industry. Each goal should be narrow in scope, have a time frame, and have a way to measure whether the goal has been reached.

Many business leaders use the SMART business model for goal setting. What are your biggest mistakes when setting goals? Do you get overwhelmed with the scope of a project? Do you make the goals too broad? There are a million mistakes that can be made. If you need help, you may want to attend one of our seminars on Setting and Achieving Transformative Goals.

 

Beef Up Your Resume

It is the age-old “Catch 22”: you need experience to get a job but can’t get experience without having a job!  This is a problem for many recent graduates who are out on the job hunt and finding that their resume just doesn’t have what it takes to land the job they want. Graduates often find that unless they had an internship or valuable experience while taking classes that their resume needs to be beefed up . . . (that is without lying). Here are a few ways to beef up your resume that may help you get the interview that you are shooting for.

  • Focus on Skills – While new graduates may not have a wide array of work experience they do have skills. Even workers who only have part time work experience or internship experience have started honing skills whether it is in customer service or a specialty in the field.
  • Focus on Academic Success – If you are a newly minted grad then you may find your resume thin on experience, so focus on what you have learned including the skills that were required to get through college. Many of your courses probably stressed project management, communication skills, independent working, gathering information from a variety of sources, distilling complex concepts into an accessible argument, clear writing skills and so on.
  • Show Your Motivation – Sure you may be “green”, but if you can show that you are a self starter you may be ahead of the pack. Show that you are gaining knowledge through interning, volunteering or shadowing someone in the field you hope to enter. This shows motivation and drive!
  • Highlight Technical Skills – Again, you may not have coveted experience but if you have technical skills that can help you land a job them list them on your resume. In fact, present links or examples that can show what you know.

Common Resume Mistakes

The ink is still drying on many college student’s diplomas and they are hard at work trying to land their first “real” job. They have completed their classwork, filled out numerous applications and have written a resume to impress the leaders of their chosen field. That resume is the first impression a company will get of the hopeful applicant. Make sure to cross your “T”s and dot all your “I”s before pressing submit or mailing in that resume. Here are just a few common resume mistakes you should avoid made when applying for your dream job.

 

  • Grammatical and Spelling Mistakes – Nothing says inexperience and lack of effort more than a resume that has not been edited and edited and checked and checked. Be sure to proofread the resume for all spelling and grammatical errors. In fact, you may want a job coach who has years of experience to look at your resume before you apply.
  • Using the Same Resume for Each Application – A resume should match the position you are trying to attain. Make a resume specific to the field and even the company that you are applying to. By using a generic resume you are not taking advantage of details from your skills and education that should be put front and center on each job application.
  • Being Too Wordy or Saying Too Much – Employers have limited time to get through the pile of resumes for each position. Get to the point and make it easy for the Human Resources Department to see what you excel at in a glance.
  • Not Being Yourself – While your resume should highlight your education, skills and strengths should also show your personality such as your volunteering. Interests, passions and drive. Discuss how you can do this with a job coach or professional resume writer.
  • Submitting Incorrect Information – We have all done it at some point or other. Make sure you check and double check that all dates, phone numbers and position titles are accurate. You really don’t want an HR representative questioning your accuracy. That would make for a not so good first impression and may take you out of the running all together.

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.

 

Organization Skills for Business Leaders

One characteristic of exceptional leadership (that many times is overlooked) is the organization skills of that leader. Sure, we have all had a great boss whose desk is a mess or can’t seem to keep meetings straight, but for every one of those types of leaders there are leaders who have their business lives organized. Here are a few tips for business leaders to maintain organization.

  • Planning – There never seems to be enough time in the day for business leaders. That is why planning is a critical part of being organized and taking advantage of every moments to get things done. Many leaders believe that using one calendar for the entire office can help keep things organized. Google Calendar and other online options can keep everyone on the same page and reduce overbooking a day.
  • Office Management – Many businesses have a designated person who keeps the office organized. For example, when the copier breaks down or the clients are running late, an employee should be a point person that can keep things running smoothly even in the absence of the owners or management.
  • Goals – While it is a great idea to have a planning calendar, often managers and owners can get bogged down by the day-to-day activities and not keep the ultimate goal in mind. Organized business leaders have regular meetings with key members of the team or office staff to check in on goals and see whet the progress is for each goal. Be sure to set both realistic as well as long and short term goals. Prioritize them according to your company’s needs.
  • Clean Things Up – At the end of each long work day it is tempting to leave for home and relax with your family. Take an extra ten minutes to tidy your desk and prep for the next day’s meetings or activities. You won’t believe how good it feels to come in the next day with a start on the day already.

Helping Grow your Business

Success! Your small or medium-sized business has made it through the first few “lean” years and has managed to thrive. You know it is time to take steps to grow your business but you are not sure what direction to take. We suggest first meeting with your financial advisor to find out just where you can stretch yourself and where you should play it safe. Here are a few ideas from the Small Business Administration and other entrepreneurs on areas where you can begin to grow your business.

  • Trade Shows – For the first couple of years, you may have been too busy to attend trade shows so start making a name for yourself now. Trade shows are a great way to expand your market. This is also a great time to increase your community activities.
  • Expand your Product or Services – Now that you have successfully gotten your business off the ground, you may want to consider expanding your product line or services. Consider services or products that align with your current offerings.
  • Open Another Location – If your current location is running smoothly and your employee numbers are growing, you may want to consider expanding to another location.
  • Merge or Partner – Many growing companies that have proven that they can be successful find that growing their company may be more successful with a partner or merger with another company potentially in a similar industry.
  • Expand Area – Local businesses often think about expanding the area that they service. This may mean opening a franchise opportunity or seeking funding to open a regional office.
  • Expand on the Web – Your website may need to be updated or expanded if you plan to grow your business.

Organizational Skills for Leaders

Have you ever gone through your work day putting out the proverbial “fires” only to wonder at closing hour what you accomplished? For many business leaders this lack of focus and sense of always being “behind” could be due to the nature of your industry, or it could have something to do with your organizational skills. Let’s take a look at organizational skills for leaders and see where you fit in or if you need to up your game.

According to LeadershipGeeks Online, “Organization skills are about knowing what you want, and then prioritizing your activities and planning your time around activities that will help you achieve those goals.” Do you have set goals in your office or a mission that drives you or are you constantly multitasking and juggling items? One of the steps to becoming an organized leader is to have a set of goals that are prioritized. Great leaders know what is most important and know how to get to that end goal. 

In addition to having a goal oriented workplace, organization means having a workspace that makes sense. If your desk and office in general looks like a tornado recently rolled through then you have some work to do. Start by developing a system that works for everyone in the office. For example, if there is paperwork that needs to be disseminated then find a common area or a method to do so. When everyone in the office knows how things are done then things tend to work better and more efficiently, instead of taking a half hour to find a file, now you have it handy.

Most professionals who are organized use tools to keep them that way. For example, there are dozens of apps and software out there to keep you organized from a detailed calendar that can be shared with employees to customer relations management tools to keep track of client information and expenses. Figure out what tools may work best for you by using a few for the trial period before making up your mind. Organization can be simple with the right mission, a clean workspace and tools to help you.