Archives for posts with tag: Business

It’s always a challenge for employers to look for qualified candidates to fill in a new position or a recently vacated one. Here are some tips from Business 2 Community on how to successfully transition new employees into the company workforce.

It’s no secret finding the right candidate for a job is often anything but easy. Entry-level positions can be particularly difficult to fill, as applicants customarily have little (if any) related work experience to help your decision making. So when you find a quality person for an entry-level job, you want him or her to stick around for years to come.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young employees between the ages of 20 and 34—the ages you typically see for entry-level applicants—will only spend an average of 2.3 years with an employer. Some sources indicate employees will decide in as little as 10 days if they intend to stay with an organization or begin looking for a different job! This means successfully onboarding entry-level employees can reduce turnover.

As an HR representative, the bulk of work associated with onboarding often falls on you. Now is the time to create a positive onboarding experience for entry-level employees. These tips will help you get started. 

1. Start the Process Before the New Hire’s First Day

For entry-level employees, few things are as full of promise and excitement as the first day at a career-starting job. First days are also typically full of questions, many of which can (and should!) be answered before a new hire arrives. That’s why you should begin the onboarding process before the new person starts work. Send an agenda of what you’ll be covering on the first day. Also send a list of FAQs so you can spend less time answering questions about paid time off and more time discussing job-specific responsibilities and expectations.

2. Explain Why The Employee Was Hired

New employees want to know why exactly you chose them over the other candidates. This information can be especially worthwhile to entry-level employees who are likely new to job search. “Don’t let new employees lose sight of what makes them different,” says Jeff Haden on Inc.com. “They have qualities and attributes other candidates didn’t. Explain what those qualities are and how they helped you make your hiring decision.”

3. Assign a Mentor or Buddy

Starting a new job can sometimes feel like starting at a new school: Current employees already know each other quite while, and they already have their groups of friends, which can cause a new employee to feel alienated. You can account for this by assigning a mentor or buddy to show the new person around, make introductions and begin training. This relationship should continue after onboarding into training and may continue much longer if the pair form a connection.

4. Automate Onboarding Documents

First days come with a lot of paperwork for the new employee to fill out and for you to process. Between company handbooks, insurance and benefits information, employee agreements and tax forms, it’s easy for a form to go astray. By automating onboarding documents, you can eliminate paper shuffling entirely. Onboarding by Hyrell allows you to organize the distribution and collection of all documents needed to process newly hired employees. As an added bonus, by distributing these forms electronically, entry-level employees will get a great first impression of your company’s tech savviness.

5. Ask the Employee for Feedback

It’s important to recognize that, no matter how efficient and effective you think your onboarding process is, there is always room for improvement. After training has ended and the entry-level employee has worked for the company for a period of time, get back in touch to ask for feedback on the onboarding process. Ask questions to determine if the process met the employee’s needs and how the employee would change the process to make it more enjoyable for future hires.

Working to create a positive onboarding experience for entry-level employees may reduce turnover and make your job less stressful. Use these tips to get started today!

 

The Bertrand Management Group is composed of industry professionals specializing in business coaching. Find out more about their work by liking this Facebook page.

There are many ways to motivate employees but this article from Business2community.com talks about the fine line between empowering and victimizing them.

What Are Your Motivation Tactics?

There have been hundreds of books and articles written on how to motivate one’s employees. All manner of theories and ideas have been introduced, from those that insist that employee motivation lies with financial reward to those that declare you must motivate your employees based on their age group. What many of these theories and ideas don’t express is how deeply employee motivation is tied to personalities, company culture, and the style of management employees receive.

At the core of managing people is a need to empower them. Realizing that each and every employee has strengths and weaknesses is a huge part of successfully managing and empowering them. What are some easy ways to empower your employees? We’ve listed a few below.

Consider the Personalities on Your Team

Many managers avoid getting to know the members of their team because it is, in fact, extra work. Taking the time to have meaningful conversations about the roles your team members fill, what isn’t working for them as far as processes go, and the efficiencies they enjoy in their daily roles can yield tons of valuable information, and not just for the health of your role as a manager.

Successfully empowering your employees begins with considering the wealth of personalities within its confines. From the quiet workers who need to be encouraged to speak up in meetings to the boisterous personalities that demand more leadership roles, you can allot your team members assignments and roles within the company that directly reflects their strengths, comfort zones and aspirations. When they’re working within the sphere where they feel most able, empowerment (and more efficient,  more enthusiastic work) will follow.

Mad Men wherein young, hardworking, and talented copywriter Peggy Olsen is expressing her frustrations with her job to her boss, Don Draper. Don’s reaction to Peggy’s inquiries is a classic example of how to alienate and victimize your employees rather than empower them, and while the show is set in a drastically different time than ours, it’s still relevant to the conversation of employee empowerment.

Not only does refusing to recognize your employees’ hard work make them feel disvalued and overlooked, it can work against any aspirations you have to increase leadership roles on your team. Be aware of exceptional work. Reward it. Acknowledge it. Empower your employees by giving their work the recognition it warrants. Don’t expect their often-paltry paychecks to be all the recognition they need.

Have Realistic Expectations

inevitable failures from the very beginning. By assigning to many tasks and setting unrealistic deadlines, you ensure that your employees will either A) Miss their deadlines so they can do the work correctly, or B) Meet their deadlines, but turn into low-quality work that does not reflect their abilities. Both scenarios produce mental anguish, frustration, and eventual disempowerment for your employees.

Being honest with yourself about the actual possibilities and parameters for your company is the first step towards making realistic assignments and setting attainable and fair deadlines for your employees. When they’re given enough time to do good work, your employees will deliver on their abilities and, as a result, feel empowered in their positions.

Independent Decision-Making

Allowing your employees to make decisions in their jobs without seeking approval or review from you or another management member is also important in the empowerment process. If you shudder at the thought of allowing a task to be marked “complete” before getting your seal of management approval, you might want to rethink the people you’ve hired to hold positions in your company. If micromanagement of each and every task is the only way you’re able to sleep at night, you must re-align your priorities and consider searching for job candidates who can work independently from your constant scrutiny and overseeing.

Unless you’re paying each of your employees a king’s ransom each paycheck, micromanagement is going to suffocate and frustrate them and might also make them feel victimized. Your lack of confidence in their abilities says more about your own lack of confidence in your hiring practices than about your employees’ inability to deliver.

Discourage Competition; Encourage Team Work

Bosses who try to inspire competition among their employees are usually just trying to inspire a spike in performance. What they usually end up doing, however, is creating an atmosphere of tension and deceit that will inevitably become more distracting than empowering. Encouraging your employees to compete with their team mates (the keyword here is team) is bad for collaboration, office culture and the health of future group projects. You want your employees to feel like a united front, willing to help and encourage one another on any project. Any competition that crops up among your team should arise organically, as a result of personal hunger and ambition, not because you planted the seed.

Empowering your employees can seem like a tough riddle when you’re facing trying times in your business and bolstering leadership roles is imperative. You may find that employee empowerment lies in treating your employees like the assets to your company that they are. Seeing them as dynamic people, capable of leading, collaborating and contributing on all levels, will not only help them feel empowered, but it will help you grow as a manager.

Learn more about motivating employees by visiting this Bertrand Management Group blog.

This article from Inc.com reveals that all businesses, from small firms to large corporations, should be paying more attention to customer data. Here’s how businesses can fully utilize the information that’s available to them:

Image source: http://www.inc.com

Image source: http://www.inc.com

Imagine you’re waiting at the checkout in a store. The customers in front of you represent a lot of things: sales, maybe a mild annoyance for you if the line is long, and finally, a heck of a lot of information.

That last piece of the puzzle–customer data–can be the most important, but it’s also underappreciated. Although big online companies track just about everything their customers do, smaller brick-and-mortar ventures are often far behind the curve.

I talked recently with Angus Davis, founder of Swipely, a Rhode Island company that’s trying to take advantage of that opportunity.

Swipely offers payment processing for small businesses, with a focus on collecting and analyzing customer data so its users can improve their operations and marketing. I’ll admit that I was originally interested in the company because I grew up in Rhode Island, which isn’t exactly known as a modern tech or startup hub. In fact, Rhode Island has perennially had the worst unemployment rate in the country.

Swipely, however, is a success story. The company was reportedly the first Rhode Island software company to raise a Series A venture capital round and grew from 30 employees a year ago to about 90 today.

“The idea is that the payment network moves money but doesn’t glean data well,” Davis said. “Our technology enables people not only to accept payment but access powerful analytics about customers.”

Swipely focuses on smaller businesses, and Davis told me that two-thirds of its customers are restaurants (including chains such as Rosa Mexicano and Fig & Olive).

Here are the five things Davis thinks companies are able to do more effectively than their competitors through tracking customer data:

1. Know your customers better than their mothers do.
The key here is to identify your 100 best customers, keep track of what they love to order, and make sure you know how often they visit. Then use that knowledge to make them feel special. Marketing experts suggest that developing 100 fiercely loyal customers can drive more word of mouth than a $25,000 advertising campaign.

2. Evaluate your marketing efforts.
There’s an old saying that 90 percent of advertising doesn’t work, but the trick is that it’s so hard to know which 10 percent is actually effective. If you can track how many of your sales in any given time period come from new customers, as opposed to repeat visitors, you’ll understand more quickly whether your marketing efforts are working.

3. Spot hidden items that will unlock new sales.
There is often a trove of data that’s hard to find without the right tools. If you’re running a restaurant, is there one menu item in particular that new customers come in to try? Identify it, and you’ll see which hidden gems you can coach your staff to recommend to first-time guests.

4. Help your employees to become better salespeople.
You can effectively track who on your staff sells the most and drill down deeper to see who turns over tables most often or persuades customers to purchase particular menu items. Figure out who your stars are, and you’ll know where to focus your coaching efforts.

5. Collect feedback without lifting a finger.
Let’s use the restaurant industry as an example some more. Nearly half of restaurant reviews mention specific menu items, which means there’s another rich data source to mine. Listening to what customers have to say about your business on sites such as Yelp, OpenTable, Google, and TripAdvisor gives you a quick way to offer concrete feedback to your chef, servers, and marketers.

 

Follow this Bertrand Management Group Twitter page to find more resources on better business practices.

On the surface, it may look like an additional cost on your company’s financial statements, but providing staff trainings can give you more profit in the future than the initial funds that you invested for them.

Image Source: cmmonline.com

The most obvious benefit is that your employees can acquire or improve some skills right after training. Employees may not have direct access to tools and resources needed to perform their tasks better, and providing trainings will let them develop their talents and boost their morale for enhanced performance.

 

Productivity will also improve if your employees are skillful. It will prevent mistakes that can affect the delivery of your products to your consumers, and it can build better relationships with your customers as they get superior service, which in turn, makes the revenue flow more stable and fluid.

Confidence within the workplace will also get boosted if your employees know they are skilled enough to do their tasks. It will also make your company more competent in the industry as your products or services become well-organized to the eyes of the consumers. This can also lower attrition and absenteeism among employees because there is less pressure since they are confident that they can easily perform their jobs.

 

Providing trainings can also improve your company’s image to the public as more people will believe that you are capable of giving opportunities for growth, and you will be regarded as an organization that values your employees. This will attract not only skilled people but also investors and new clients to join your company as they believe that you truly understand the worth of your trade.

Image Source: gthankyou.com


Bertrand Management Group in Ontario, CA
is a management consulting firm dedicated to helping companies manage and improve their business process. For updates and latest news, follow this Twitter page.

This piece from the Harvard Business Review reveals that a leader showing optimism can, at times, demotivate his or her team.

I admit that I’m prone to an optimistic outlook, a belief that most problems can be tackled with hard work and the right mindset. I’ve read the research that indicates that positive thinkers tend to do better in school, work and life. Perhaps I even assumed that optimism was infectious and that people wanted to work with a confident, hopeful leader. In the true spirit of optimism, how could this possibly go wrong?

Then I found out from a colleague that he didn’t find my optimism nearly as reassuring as I did. We were in the middle of a high-stakes research project with a small window of opportunity to write an article for a prominent academic publication. To pull this off, we needed to complete a complex analysis, do a round of additional research, and actually write the article, all while working on several other projects and operating on a thin budget.

To me, this seemed like a feasible, interesting challenge, and I enthusiastically dove in. Then at one critical meeting, a more junior colleague turned to me and said, “Liz, I need you to stop saying that!”

“Saying what?” I asked.

“Saying that thing you always say — ‘How hard can it be?'” I looked puzzled. He explained, “You say that all the time. ‘How hard can it be? We can do this. After all, how hard can it be?'”

I recognized what he was saying and began to explain my logic: While I was working for Oracle Corporation, a small but rapidly growing company, I had been thrown into management at the tender age of 24 and was told that I was now in charge of training for the entire company and was tasked with building Oracle University and making it work in globally. I learned to say to myself, “We can do this. After all, how hard can it really be?” Now, I explained how this growth mindset had worked beautifully for me and many of my colleagues over the years. Yet steadfast, my colleague reiterated, “Yes, but that is what I need you to stop saying.”

“But why?” I probed.

He paused and said, “Because what we are doing is actually really hard, and I need you to acknowledge that.”

He wasn’t opposed to the idea that our enormous task was doable; he simply wanted me to acknowledge the reality of the challenge and recognize his struggle. He didn’t want me glossing over the challenge with my coat of optimism. So I did admit, “Yes, what we are doing is hard. It is really, really difficult.” I then assured him that I would do my best to stop saying that thing. Meanwhile, in the back of my mind I told myself “Sure, I can stop saying that. After all, how hard can it be?”

Is it possible that a can-do attitude that worked so well for you as an individual contributor may actually work against you as a leader? When you play the role of the optimist, you may undervalue the struggle the team is experiencing or their hard-fought learning and work (or give the impression that you do). Your staff may wonder if you have lost your tether to reality. And, when a leader seldom focuses on the problems, it leaves more junior managers to worry about those risks. In fact, by being too optimistic, you may actually be putting your employees in the role of having to play the “sensible pessimist.” Or worse, you might be sending a message that mistakes and failure are not an option because, after all, “How hard can it be?” And yet wise managers know that mistakes are inevitable, and that failure is just the price of creativity.

Having coached many executives, I know that senior leadership ranks are filled with glass-half-full types (in fact, one might need to be an optimist to cope with the inherent pressure of these positions). Consider how Nike, Inc.’s chief of global design, John Hoke, sparked a transformation in his organization once he realized the restrictive impact his and his management team’s optimism was generating. John gathered his senior leaders for a week-long offsite to explore new thinking in design and how leaders can multiply the talent inside their organization, which I helped facilitate. As I described the profile of the optimistic, creative, energetic leader, John and his team quickly recognized their own reflection and were curious how they might be inadvertently diminishing capability and ingenuity in others. John asked that we pause our agenda to better understand how his own hopeful style of leadership might actually be causing some angst. His team explained the extraordinary pressure they felt to deliver flawless design, every time. With the London Olympics around the corner and a brand promise to sustain, the group insisted that there simply was no room to fail.

With John’s encouragement, we decided to define a space for experimentation. We rapidly laid out their various work scenarios into two buckets: One where failure was OK and the other where success had to be assured. The group debated each until they agreed on every scenario. Within an hour, they had created a playground — a safe space for their teams to struggle and potentially fail without harming their stakeholders or their business. This thinking rippled across Nike’s design community and sparked leaders like Angela Snow, VP of creative operations and Casey Lehner, senior director of global design operations, to introduce the “risk and iterate” performance goal that encouraged each team member to identify something they would take a risk with and then iterate solutions throughout the year. This effort legitimized the possibility of failure and created safety for designers to tackle the scary problems.

John Hoke and his management team didn’t lower their aspirations or become less optimistic about the capabilities of their team. But, by acknowledging the downside and recognizing the messy, iterative path of innovation, they liberated their team to go bigger and reach further.

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Image source: blog.efax.com

Go ahead and be optimistic. But first, be sure to acknowledge the downside so your team is free to explore the upside.

 

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The business world is growing by the second–but with growth also comes increasing confusion. Learn how this phenomenon increased the demand for clever consultants by reading this article for The Economist:

Image credit: The Economist.

ELITE management consultancies shun the spotlight. They hardly advertise: everyone who might hire them already knows their names. The Manhattan office that houses McKinsey & Company does not trumpet the fact in its lobby. At Bain & Company’s recent partner meeting at a Maryland hotel, signs and name-tags carried a discreet logo, but no mention of Bain. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which announced growing revenues in a quiet press release in April, counts as the braggart of the bunch.

Consultants have a lot to smile about (see table). The leading three strategy consultancies have seen years of double-digit growth despite global economic gloom. In 2011, the last year for which Kennedy Information, a consulting-research group, has comparable revenue numbers, Bain grew by 17.3%, BCG by 14.5% and McKinsey by 12.4%. All three are opening new offices.

Big trends that befuddle clients mean big money for clever consultants. Barack Obama’s gazillion-page health reform has boosted health-care consulting; firms would rather pay up than read the blasted thing. The Dodd-Frank financial reform has done the same for financial-sector work. Energy and technology are hot, too.

Companies are reluctant to talk about their use of consultants, and consultancies are relentlessly tight-lipped. Bain is said to use code-names for clients even in internal discussions. Such secrecy makes this a hard industry to analyse.

It also lets stereotypes flourish. McKinseyites are said to be “vainies” (who come and lecture clients on the McKinsey way). BCG people are “brainies” (who spout academic theory). And the “Bainies” have a reputation for throwing bodies at delivering quick bottom-line results for clients.

In fact, the big three all learn from each other. All three now use their alumni networks to gather intelligence and generate business—something McKinsey is famous for. All three stake some of their fees on the success of their projects, a practice once associated with Bain. And all three show off their big ideas to the wider public, as BCG’s founder was once among the few to do.

Consulting is no licence to make easy money. Cynics sneer that clients spend millions on consultants only to give the boss an excuse to do what he planned to do anyway. But that would be implausibly wasteful in these days of tight budgets. Consultants today cannot just deliver a slideshow and pocket fat fees. Even the elite three now make most of their revenue from implementing ideas, from finding ways to improve clients’ internal processes and from other tasks not traditionally considered “strategy consulting”.

As the elite firms move down into implementation and operations, they are meeting big new rivals hoping to move up into the loftier realms of strategy. Over the weekend of May 4th-5th partners at Roland Berger, a mid-tier consultancy, met to discuss a possible buyer for their firm. The most likely candidates are thought to be PwC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young, three of the “Big Four” accounting firms (the other is KPMG).

The big accountancy firms now do more consulting than McKinsey, BCG and Bain. Much of this involves manpower-intensive tasks such as technology integration. But their strategy and operations practices are ambitious, too. In January Deloitte bought Monitor, a brainy strategy firm, out of bankruptcy. In 2011 PwC bought PTRM, a respected operations consultancy. All four have scooped up smaller firms too. A successful Big Four bid for Roland Berger would reopen an old question: can the Big Four crack the elite tier?

It is too early to know whether the brainboxes of Monitor will fit comfortably into the Deloitte juggernaut. When EDS, a computer-equipment and services provider, bought A.T. Kearney, a midsized strategy firm, cultures clashed calamitously. A.T. Kearney bought itself free in 2006.

Nonetheless, Mike Canning, the head of Deloitte’s strategy consulting in America, says the Monitor integration is going smoothly, and that clients are showing new interest in Deloitte. Is Deloitte competing with McKinsey, Bain and BCG for work? “Day in, day out, on a regular basis,” says Mr Canning. Dana McIlwain of PwC echoes that: “We are definitely competing today, and only more so in the future.”

Bob Bechek, Bain’s boss, puts it differently: competition with the Big Four is up “very slightly in the past few years, but I mean like a couple of percentage points”. He salutes the Big Four: they do what they do well and profitably. But he argues that the heavy-lift, repeatable work at which they excel is a different kind of business. Strategy consultants concoct novel solutions to unique problems, which is hard.

Rich Lesser, BCG’s boss, acknowledges the challenge from the Big Four, but is confident. Having new rivals is nothing new, he says. Tom Rodenhauser of Kennedy Information reckons that the Big Four “are cracking the C-suite, but they’re not first on the speed-dial for strategy work”.

The elite firms are keen not to seem complacent. While boasting about opening offices in Bogotá or Addis Ababa they acknowledge that emerging-world bosses are not blown away by flashy names. The consultants aim to win trust with quick projects that show bottom-line results, before looking to book longer engagements.

Clients in the rich world are changing, too. Fifteen years ago Indra Nooyi, then the head of strategy (now the boss) at PepsiCo, was a demanding client for consultants, having been one herself at BCG. She was a rarity at the time. No longer: the consultancies have seen many of their alumni go on to fill senior positions at big companies.

Some, such as McKinsey, make it easy for big firms to poach their people, by putting potential employers directly in touch with consultants who tick the right boxes for a vacancy. The idea is that this outplacement service makes McKinsey a more attractive place to work. It also keeps the talent churning, constantly refreshing the firm’s intellectual capital.

Clients are increasingly demanding specific expertise, not just raw brainpower. McKinsey and BCG, in particular, are hiring more scientists, doctors and mid-career industry types, and reducing the proportion of new MBAs in their ranks.

Vainie: “Vidi, vici”
The firms spend big sums on “thought leadership”: ie, papers, books and conferences. This is not all airy-fairy theory. McKinsey has invested heavily in proprietary data. Its boss, Dominic Barton, says: “With the push of a button we can identify the top 50 cities in the world where diapers will likely be sold over the next ten years.” The firm invests $400m a year on “knowledge development”, and Mr Barton touts its “university-like capabilities” to impart it to its consultants.

It is fashionable to complain that consultants “steal your watch and then tell you the time”, as one book put it. But customers clearly value what the consultants offer. Otherwise, the elite three and the Big Four would not be growing so fast.

Things are harder for the next tier, however. Old firms such as A.T. Kearney and Booz & Company (which considered but abandoned the idea of a merger in 2010) are seen by some potential clients as too small to bestride the globe but too big to be nimble. They will watch Roland Berger’s fate with interest.

Read more updates on the management consultancy industry by visiting this Facebook page for Bertrand Management Group.

John Brandon of Inc.com reported on shifts in business practices which could happen in 2013. This included the surprising prediction that the fax machine will see its last days this year. With the rise of always-connected mobile devices, it comes as a surprise that fax machines have stayed for as long as they have, and that it is only recently that solid alternatives to paper contracts that need signatures have seen widespread use.

It would be prudent for any business owner to take into account the following predictions for how business practices are likely to change within the year.

1. Email becomes less important. This means that companies may soon see the end of email marketing as more and more companies shift to strengthening their online presence through other means. Companies also now have access to other online services that can get better results for their other needs such as data gathering through surveys.

Image Source: mashable.com

Image Source: mashable.com

2. Social media becomes more important. Previously, social media platforms have been seen as only for personal use. However, given that many Internet users log in to their social media site of choice more than any other site, companies are shifting their attention to increasing their influence on this domain. Additionally, companies must pay close attention to what consumers are saying about them on these platforms.

Image Source: audiencebloom.com

Image Source: audiencebloom.com

3. A renewed focus on America. Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech, said that he expects many businesses to bring back jobs to America. More companies are looking into increasing manufacturing facilities in the U.S., and this move may help reduce the unemployment rate in the country, fueling economic recovery.

Image Source: blog.atyq.info

Image Source: blog.atyq.info

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