How Do You Provide Employee Feedback?

pexels-photo-70292It’s a standard business practice among large corporations, and even smaller businesses: annual performance evaluations. Many businesses hold on to the tradition of conducting annual performance evaluations to review employee progress and goals. However, 30% of performance reviews decrease employee morale rather than improve it.

To ensure your employees receive constructive feedback in a receptive manner, here are a few other options for providing feedback you can consider:

Be Timely

I encourage business owners to provide constructive criticism as soon as their employees experience difficulties within their role. This way, they can take appropriate steps right away to improve their actions rather than continue down a slippery slope of poor performance, which can in turn negatively impact your business. For example, if one of your employees seems slightly too blunt with a client, consider speaking with them immediately after the meeting to discuss how to better communicate with clients.

This suggestion of providing timely feedback applies to providing praise as well. Although it may be appreciated at any time, your employees will have a precise image of how to continue their good work if they can clearly remember the work you’re commending.

Clearly Define Expectations

Before we hire employees, we have an idea of the tasks they’ll perform and the role they’ll serve in the business. Sometimes, especially in smaller businesses, the roles and responsibilities of an employee can shift quite quickly based on the needs of the business. If there’s been any change in the roles or responsibilities of an employee, it’s important that you communicate any changes in expectations that arise as a result of a shift in responsibilities.

You can improve your employees’ performance even further by discussing with them how to meet the expectations of their role rather than to simply assign the expectations. Much of business success is rooted in two-way communication.

Ask for Their Feedback

Although intimidation isn’t your intention, some employees believe receiving feedback to be a daunting ordeal. To help them be more receptive to feedback, try asking them to comment on themselves first. If they are already mindful of their workplace struggles, this allows them the opportunity to inform you of the steps they are already taking to improve. You can then offer further guidance, as needed. The goal of this method is for your employee to have a conversation with you rather than feel they’re being criticized.

To find out how you can better provide employee feedback or learn how other businesses approach it, contact me today to discuss joining a TAB advisory board!

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Respecting Professional Boundaries

29-11-2011Have you ever patted an employee on the back to praise them? Or, have you ever asked them a deeply personal question simply because you care about their well- being? While your intentions may be good, your staff may perceive these gestures in a completely different way than you would like them to. Sometimes we work so closely with our staff that the boundary between employee and friend can become blurred. Despite having the best intentions, as a person of authority, you should be cognizant about how you interact with your employees.

In order to protect yourself and your brand’s reputation from unsavoury allegations, I encourage all businesses, no matter their size, to implement a workplace harassment policy. In fact, all employers are required to have a workplace harassment policy under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The purpose of a workplace harassment policy is to ensure there are procedures in place to prevent and handle employee harassment complaints. If there aren’t documented procedures that you and your employees can easily reference as needed, you potentially open yourself up to legal repercussions. To avoid any grey area, there are template policies you can use to create your own.

Your workplace harassment policy can cover as little or as much as you deem necessary for your business, but here are a few subjects to take into consideration:

 

Verbal Phrasing

I strongly suggest mulling over every comment in your head before sharing them with employees, because carefree comments from a superior can easily be misunderstood as inappropriate or intimidating. Some employees may give you the benefit of the doubt over simple mistakes, but there may be others who take offense. The same goes for jokes; a joke that went over well at a friend or family gathering may not be appropriate for the workplace.

 

Physical Actions

You may have the most innocent of intentions when you pat an employee on the back or place a hand on their shoulder, but not everyone will realize this. If you have a habit of casually touching people when you speak to them, I would suggest trying to break it. If you’re unaware of any such habits, I would recommend taking a day or week to be particularly conscious of your actions around employees; you might have a habit you didn’t know about.

 

Visuals

Décor such as calendars, posters, paintings, statues, and any other form of decoration brought into the workplace should be chosen with a purely professional mindset. Where possible, I suggest choosing pieces that won’t cause debate over the definition of “tasteful.” And similarly to being cautious of jokes you share with employees, satirical images may not be as well received among employees as they can be among friends.

For specifics on what topics should be avoided in the workplace and to ensure discriminatory or offensive remarks/actions don’t take place, consider reviewing the Ontario Human Rights Code.

If you need help manoeuvring around this delicate subject and want to discuss how to implement an effective workplace harassment policy, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.


The Pros and Cons of Working with Family

Have you ever considered running a family business? Perhaps you’re enticed by the convenience of working with people you already know, or maybe you’re seeking to leave a family legacy for your children and theirs. While there are many benefits to working with family, it can also have its downsides. Although many families succeed in business, sometimes the stress of running a business can get in the way of family relationships and vice versa.

I have worked with dozens of family businesses over the years, and through TAB meetings I have noticed several pros and cons family business owners seem to experience. Here are a few pros and cons you may encounter if you decide to work with family:

Pros

  • Kick-Start Your Succession Plan. Your business may be your pride and joy right now, but if you ever plan on retiring or starting another venture, you may need to consider eventually passing it along to someone else. Partnering with or hiring a family member can be a great way to show them the ropes so they can one day run the business.
  • Gain a Valuable Marketing Angle. Consumers prefer purchasing from family businesses. Although this doesn’t mean you should partner with any family member for the sake of owing a family business, hiring a qualified sibling or child can improve your business’s image.
  • Trust Who You’re Hiring. Hiring can be a convoluted process, and it can become discouraging if your business experiences a high turnover. By hiring a family member, you likely already have a strong sense of their work ethic and whether they’d be a good fit for your business and team.

 

Cons

  • Taking Work Home With You. Many business owners I know are guilty of this, but you may find it difficult to keep business discussions within business hours. For the sake of continued positive family relationships you may not want business to be at the forefront of every family gathering.
  • Concerned Employees. Unless your entire staff is family, some of your non-related employees may worry that they won’t be treated equally. I encourage you to communicate to your staff that all employees are held to the same standards, and are subject to the same policies and codes of conduct.
  • Maintaining Professionalism. Regardless if you’re working with relatives, a certain level of professionalism should still be maintained in the workplace. Keep family gossip out of the office and treat each other no differently than you’d treat a normal co-worker.

If you truly believe that one of your family members would be a valuable asset to your team, I encourage you to hire them. If, on the other hand, you are considering working with family solely out of convenience or family pressure, I suggest standing firm on the decisions that are in the best interest of your business. There can be substantial benefits to partnering with or hiring a family member, but it takes a strong, communicative family to make it work.

To discuss the ups and downs of your family business with a TAB peer advisory board, contact me today!


Don’t Let Numbers Paralyze Your Business

document-3268750_1920Since profit is essential for longevity and overall success of a business, it can be difficult to not obsess over your business’s numbers. As a passionate business owner, you may find yourself spending a lot of time worrying about unmet sales goals, overspent budgets, or unforeseen expenditures. These are all valid concerns, but is fixating on them benefitting your business?

Probably not. Instead, I encourage you to look at your business’s big picture. I believe that numbers are better used as a point of reference for the future rather than as an immediate source of panic. To help free you of the burden that numbers place on many business owners, here is what I suggest:

Build a Detailed Plan

You may have annual or quarterly financial goals, but are they included in an in-depth plan that includes steps and strategies to reach those goals? It’s generally easier to reach a destination with a map. Consider implementing KPIs into your business plan to help you recognize that a poor financial quarter doesn’t necessarily mean your business isn’t growing in other relevant areas.

Re-evaluate Your Existing Plan

If you already have a detailed business plan, it can be understandably frustrating if you are not meeting your goals. You have big ambitions for your business, but every business moves at its own pace. Consider that perhaps some goals may be currently out of reach and can be postponed until next year. Aim for greatness, but ensure your goals are realistic for your current means.

Communicate With Staff

Part of re-evaluating your business plan may include confirming that individual staff and departments are aware of the specific part they play in achieving the company’s goals. Perhaps your employees are doing their best to play their parts, but their best could be better if offered the right motivation. Budgets are often tight, but there are ways to keep employees motivated without giving pay raises.

Remember, going over budget on one item or for one quarter rarely means that you need to stop everything. Businesses have their ups and downs, but you will remain on the path to success as long as you treat everything as a learning opportunity.

If you would like to discuss how to build an effective business plan, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.


4 Training Options to Introduce a New Employee to Your Business

pexels-photo-533444Hiring isn’t easy. You may have spent weeks, if not months, ensuring you hire the perfect employee for your business. So, how do you ensure they are set up for success in their new role? Since as much as 25 per cent of new hires leave within 45 days of their start date because their expectations aren’t met, it’s important that you have them prepared from day one.

In order for your new employee to be at peak productivity for your business as soon as possible, they likely need to go through some form of training. Here are some training options I frequently recommend to business owners:

Prepare in Advance of the Start Date

If you already have an idea of the kinds of tasks the employee will need to perform, let them know ahead of time. This will allow them the opportunity to brush up on programs or software they haven’t used in a while. Some new hires may even welcome the opportunity to join your office or work environment part-time, prior to their official first day.

Gain Another Shadow

Reading information packages and manuals may not be the best learning method for every employee. For those that need more than written words before diving into their work, assign them to job shadow a coworker who performs a similar role. Assigning workplace mentors may also be an option to consider by pairing a new employee with a more senior member of the team, from whom they can seek advice. You may also want to consider allowing the new employee to sit in on meetings that don’t directly apply to them, so they can better understand the workings of the business as a whole.

On-the-Job Training

Some employees learn best by being put to work immediately. However, I don’t suggest throwing them in the deep end with a “sink or swim” mentality; we don’t want to allow the employee the chance to sink. Give them the opportunity to learn on their own, but make sure to check in regularly to ensure they are on the right track.

Let the Student Become the Teacher

After the employee has been with your business for a few weeks, consider asking them to create a presentation to teach you everything they have learned so far. Who are your clients? What does your business do? What are your business goals? There are two benefits to this teaching method: 1) If the employee was incorrect about any information, you can correct them before the mistake negatively impacts their work. 2) You will know where to improve other training areas based on the accuracy of the presentation.

With a dedicated onboarding process and the support of a TAB peer advisory board, you can streamline employee development. For more tips and information, contact me today!

 

 


The Dos and Don’ts of Hiring Negotiations

pexels-photo-872957As a small business owner, you know that hiring quality talent on the first try can be critical to your bottom line. In fact, finding and hiring a suitable candidate can cost your business thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars.

When the cost of hiring is so high, what do you do when your offer is countered? Spend the money to start the interview process all over again, or negotiate?

As an owner, being presented with a counter offer may leave a bad taste in your mouth. It’s natural for you to consider the negative personality traits this may reveal about the candidate, such as greed and disinterest. However, in my experience, an attempt to negotiate reveals the following positive personality traits:

  • Intelligence – From the candidate’s perspective, there isn’t much harm in asking for a higher salary. The worst you can say is no, so to not at least ask for a higher salary would be foolish.
  • Confidence – A confident counter offer would tell me that the candidate intends to prove they are worth that value.
  • Enthusiasm – If the candidate only wanted the experience and wasn’t planning on staying with your company long-term, they’d take any offer. It’s understandable for them to want to build a solid base before settling into your business.

If you see these traits in your candidate and want to go ahead with negotiations, you may first want to address this two-part question: How do you negotiate without 1) the candidate changing their mind, and 2) paying more than you can afford? To help guide you, here are some dos and don’ts tips I share with my clients when handling hiring negotiations:

Do 

Don’t

  • Welcome negotiation
  • Be insulted by counter offers
  • Initially offer at least $10,000 below the maximum your business can afford
  • Present your best offer at the start
  • Allow the candidate a couple days to consider the offer
  • Let the candidate drag you along for an indefinite amount of time
  • Communicate the reasoning behind your offer
  • Reject their counter offer and stand firm without explanation
  • Consider highlighting or adding to perks other than the salary
  • Go beyond the hiring budget you deemed reasonable

 

If after a couple rounds of negotiations you two can’t come to an agreement, it wasn’t meant to be. If you are looking for ways to help your business grow including insights on hiring the right candidate on the first try, contact me today!


Eddie and Jacob: the Unlikely Lads

Read Ed Reid

Every day 300,000 people use Southern Rail: every day, a good proportion of those people are subject to overcrowded trains, delays or cancellations – or all three. Management blames the unions: the unions blame the management and now the owners of Southern Rail have been fined £13.4m – which has only increased the bitterness between the two sides.

But it’s not all doom and gloom at head office: Southern Rail have unwittingly discovered a social media star.

Meet Eddie…

DEsdzIrXoAEOubP.jpg-large

Eddie – sadly we do not know his second name – is 15 and was at Southern Rail on work experience. The decision was taken to put Eddie in charge of Southern Rail’s Twitter feed, which (as you might guess) is usually a seething hotbed of complaints, abuse and sarcasm. Showing that all the world’s ‘social media consultants’ are grossly overpaid, Eddie wasted no time in introducing himself:

Hi! Eddie…

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