Most of us look forward to the holiday season as the perfect time to take some time off with family, but if you’re a typical business owner, you might be looking at this holiday break as a great time to get some extra work done. The freedom to work without being interrupted is a pretty exciting prospect for many of the business owners I work with. I advise that if we don’t take the time to relax and disconnect, we may end up piling more stress on top of an additional workload.
Aside from leaving your work back in the office, spending time with your loved ones during the holiday season is important. Even when you’re doing a thousand things per day, try to reset and think about who and what you’re working for. If you’re finding it hard to take your well-deserved time off, here are some practical tips to help you unplug during the holiday season:
Cover all of your bases before the holidays
Before that last work day of 2018, you might like to have your workload in a place that feels comfortable enough to leave for a couple of weeks, and manageable enough to pick up again in January. This includes responding to emails, setting up appointments and completing any urgent tasks. Many people find that they can’t relax if they have a mountain of work waiting for them when it’s time to come back to the office. See what you can do to take as much as you can off of your plate before loading it up again.
A concrete strategy for completion can be helpful in the weeks preceding the holiday break (e.g. having a set goal for completed tasks each day). Take a deep breath: no matter how organized you are, you may not complete everything on your list, and that’s okay. Try to prioritize, and leave the remaining tasks for a new, fresh year.
Leave work mobile devices alone
It’s going to be really tempting to check your work phone during the course of the holidays (trust me, you’re not alone), but doing so can make you spiral back into work mode. In order to turn off your work brain, try to shut down anything and everything that inspires you to start working again, especially work related devices.
To make it easier to step away, have someone close to you help you with accountability. Allow them to help you set some boundaries and have them recommend a safe place where you can keep your work phone during the holidays. Don’t worry – it will still be there for you, right where you left it, once January 1st rolls around.
If you must check your work emails, only do so once per day
If you’re the type of business owner who still likes to stay connected to your business, even when you’re on vacation, see if you can limit checking your email. Setting aside one time per day (e.g. in the morning) to check in can be a very helpful way to see it, deal with it, then leave it. Limiting the amount of time you remain plugged in can be a valuable step towards finding a sense of peace and relaxation outside of the office.
Have an automated email response that provides an emergency contact
In the event of a work emergency during the holidays, it can be helpful to have an emergency contact available via an automated email response. If someone absolutely has to get in touch with you during the holidays, an automated email response can be set up to provide them with your emergency contact. However, try not to give this contact out to anyone under other circumstances. Remember- you’re trying to relax!
Kicking back for the holidays can feel virtually impossible, and even when you’ve done everything you can to leave your work at the office, you may still find yourself reaching for your work phone during the holidays. It’s natural. As a business owner who is passionate about what you do, you’re always thinking about what more you can be doing, and how you can make it better.
Some experts suggest that taking some time off can actually help to increase your productivity. Mental stress doesn’t just create physiological issues; it can actually prevent you from giving your full attention to your work. Consider your holiday break as an opportunity to get fully charged for a new year. That way, you’ll end up feeling better and more productive.
However, taking a break is not only important for your own mental health, it’s important for the people you care about. We all deserve time to breathe! Work on releasing the urgency of getting work done in favour of enjoying every moment of joy the holidays have to offer. Who knows? You may even find yourself enjoying the time away.
A business is so much more than a “job”. It’s a lifestyle, a world-view, a reflection of the type of person you want to be. It’s how you want to contribute to the community, where you see yourself in your future, and in some cases, it’s what you want to leave behind.
So many business owners tell me that they want to take their business to the next level, but they never define why. Everyone has goals, but they rarely take the time to write everything down and decide the “how’s” and “why’s” of what they want their business to be. In my experience, it’s not only helpful to carefully consider and record your vision – it’s essential.
These personal goals and business goals can be defined and followed by crafting a personal vision and a business vision. Here is a brief outline of both and not just how they are different, but also how they can work together.
Create your personal vision first. As the owner of the business, your vision is key to where you want to take the business.
Do you dream about being able to take your family on vacation to an exotic location once a year? How about a four-day workweek, or buying your dream home? These things could be part of your personal vision.
When crafting a personal vision statement, you’ll need to write down where you want to be in a year from now or 2 years from now. This could include considering your desired material lifestyle, your passion giving back, your ideal workweek, time with your family, and time enjoying the things you love (not your business). If you want to make sure that you are making enough money so that your children can have their college tuition paid for, this should be recorded in your personal vision statement too.
In addition to this, it’s important to include an exit strategy in your personal vision. This will detail how you would like your business to proceed when you retire, including whether or not you intend on naming a successor (e.g. a spouse or child), or if you would prefer to sell the business. Be mindful that your exit strategy is carefully considered, and entails what you plan to do in place of work. Some business owners find it hard to leave their business behind, and it can never hurt to plan ahead for how you will fill your free time in the future.
Once you’ve completed your personal vision, it’s time to concentrate on your company vision. The two go hand in hand. If for example, you want to spend only 6 months of the year working at your business, then part of your business plan needs to include finding a current or future employee who can take on some of your current roles and responsibilities. If your plan is financial freedom, then your company vision will be to increase your sales and marketing efforts, etc.
As the business owner, it’s up to you to set the company vision; it is not a team approach. Although you need to share it with your staff, the company vision statement needs to be synergetic with your personal vision so that the two can work together to create a business that benefits both you and your employees.
The company vision will also help you create a big picture idea of what your company will look like as a whole, for both you and your employees. This is why creating a company vision can enhance your existing leadership skills, which in turn helps your employees attain their own career visions.
Writing out a personal vision and business vision and following them is crucial, and often, overlooked in creating the kind of business you’ll be proud of. Writing out what you really want out of your business in a personal vision and then writing out how it can be achieved through your company vision can be both humbling and gratifying.
To get a better understanding of how to help your business grow, contact me today to find out more about joining The Alternative Board.
As a business owner myself and through interacting with business owners nearly every day, I understand that it can be difficult to let go of certain aspects of your business. However, you can’t be everywhere doing every job all the time, especially as your business grows. I’ve seen many TAB members stretch themselves thin this way, which can lead to important matters slipping through the cracks.
In a perfect world, no one would wear more than one hat at a time. If you’re wearing so many hats that you’re feeling weighed down, find out if any of them will fit your existing employees. If no one is a match, or if your current employees are also overwhelmed, it may be time to recruit.
Needing to delegate is not a weakness. In fact, acknowledging that you need to practice delegation can reveal the following positive qualities of a leader:
You have big dreams for your business, but you may be hesitant to take the necessary steps to reach your end goals if you have enough on your plate as it is. By delegating you are preparing your business for future growth. By freeing yourself of tasks that can be trusted to your employees, you will have the time to look for new growth opportunities. It’s hard to see the horizon when your many hats obstruct your view.
When you show your staff that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and know they can take the lead in areas that aren’t your strong points, you build a trusting work relationship. By respecting the skills of your employees, their performance and the overall work environment can drastically improve.
One of the best ways to show self-awareness is to listen to your employees. How would they suggest the business processes could be improved? What are their opinions on employee morale? They may even have constructive observations on how you can improve as a leader. I encourage business owners to welcome feedback from their employees.
Inviting your employees to provide feedback opens the doors to communication. No matter how approachable you may be, it can be difficult for some employees to feel comfortable around an authority figure. Communicating both your strengths and shortcomings to your staff humanizes you to an approachable level. If they seem resistant in the beginning, I would suggest sending an internal survey that staff can submit anonymously. Once they see that their anonymous proposals are being taken seriously, they may be more willing to come forward for future communication.
To discuss how you can find out how other business owners take initiative with delegation, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board!
As your business becomes increasingly successful, certain aspects of your business will need to change and/or grow to keep up with your demand. Through TAB meeting discussions, I’ve seen this growth take the form of increasing your inventory to meet local demand, expanding to another location to meet national demand, providing more offerings to meet client interests, or outsourcing or hiring more staff to meet all of the above. If you keep hiring more employees, there will come a time when you need to reorganize your reporting structure or even your departments.
In anticipation for future growth, I encourage all business owners to create an organizational restructuring process to ensure your business expansion goes as smoothly as possible. Here are just a few topics you may want this process to cover:
Promoting vs. Hiring
When your business requires a new department, you will need to decide if it’s best to promote an existing employee or hire someone new to manage it. It may sound ideal to promote someone who already knows your business, but it could be best to hire someone from outside your business with a more precise set of skills. For example, your highly skilled and dedicated salesperson may not have the right qualifications to lead a new marketing department.
If you do hope to promote from within, how will you prepare your employee for the tasks and responsibilities that come with a higher-level position? If you anticipate expansion in the coming months, I have seen many business owners see success with managers mentoring talented employees to prepare them to take on the same or similar position. An outside hire can learn the ins and outs of your business this same way.
To ensure everyone in your business is on the same page at every step of growth, you may also want to detail how to communicate to staff that the growth may affect their roles within the company. If big changes are coming and your employees aren’t aware of what they are, they may jump to the conclusion that their jobs or the business may be in trouble when in fact the opposite is true. Your success is their success, and clear communication of any changes in roles or responsibilities can greatly help the progress continue.
Once your organizational restructuring process has been developed and implemented, I encourage you to regularly monitor and reassess its effectiveness. Perhaps there’s an area that can be improved or wasn’t ideal for the type of growth your business experienced. Did you actually need to hire more in-house staff, or should you consider hiring contract workers in the future? It’s important to be flexible and allow your processes to grow and improve with your business.
If you would like to discover how other business owners have restructured as a result of growth, contact me today to discuss becoming a member of a TAB peer advisory board!
You may have a firm grasp on how to run your business, but if you left the company today, would someone else know exactly how to fill your shoes? I have seen many business owners make the mistake of storing an abundance of knowledge in their head and overlook documenting company processes and procedures for others to reference in their absence.
As a business owner, it is understandable that the needs of your business can consume a substantial amount of your time, which sometimes means documenting your processes takes a backseat on your priority list. If you would like to improve your business’s organization but are unsure where to start, here are a few procedures to consider documenting first:
- Customer relations
- Product development
- Organizational restructuring
Once presented with a list, I’ve noticed that many TAB members don’t seem to have problems identifying which processes they use, but they do often question exactly which details they should write down. Again, this may differ from business to business, but I encourage every business owner to describe as much about their processes as they can.
Once you have prioritized your business’s processes and decided which to detail first, here are the next steps you can take:
- Choose a name. What will you and your employees call this process so that it can be easily referenced? Consider a name that is clear and concise yet informative enough so as not to accidently be confused with other processes.
- List the steps. What event triggers the start of this process, and what has to happen to reach the desired end result? For example, the need for a new employee would trigger your recruitment process, and writing a detailed job description would be one of many steps that must be taken to reach the end result of a qualified hire.
- List the roles. Who is in charge of which step? Continuing with the recruitment example, your HR manager may pass along the job applications to the applicable department head, who then conducts the interviews and hiring negotiations.
- Organize the document. How will you and your employees ensure the process is being followed? You can create a summarized version of the process in the form of a checklist or flowchart that can easily track completion of steps.
This may seem like a daunting undertaking, especially if you have a lot of processes that need documenting. However, you may find some employees are equipped to document the processes of certain tasks that only require your final approval.
If you would like to discuss how to organize your business processes, contact me today to join a TAB peer advisory board.
As 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:
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!
Have you made a recent quick hire that isn’t quite fitting the bill? Or perhaps you’ve realized that an employee’s quality of work isn’t what it used to be? For smaller businesses especially, an underperforming employee can have a large impact on the organization as a whole. But what should you do if you encounter such a scenario in your business?
Letting employees go isn’t always the easiest decision to make, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially if all other options, such as coaching and job accommodations, have been exhausted. Before making your final decision, you may want to consider how the termination of an employee could affect your overall business. Consider these factors:
- Customers are perceptive. If you have employees with low morale, customers may sense that something is off.
- Employees startle easily. Discharging one employee could cause others to worry that they’re the next to go. This can result in a decrease in office morale.
In order to keep your customers happy and avoid employee turnover, I have put together a list of suggestions to hopefully minimize low morale within your business after letting an employee go:
Plan for the Increased Workload
Before terminating the employee, if you don’t already have a replacement lined up, I suggest having a plan in place for the increased workload. One in four Canadians have left an employer due to work-related stress. Note which team members would be best suited to take on which additional tasks, and try your best not to overload any one employee. You may even want to consider taking on some of the tasks yourself, to show your solidarity with the team.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
After the employee has been let go, communication is key. Carefully prepare how to explain the termination to your team without possibly opening yourself up to legal repercussions. It’s also important to assure your employees that they are appreciated and that their jobs are secure.
Remember, communication is a two-way street. Not only should you keep them in the loop, but also you should give them the opportunity to provide their input and ask questions. Employees are 4.6 times more likely feel motivated at work if they feel their opinions are heard and valued.
Get Out of the Office
I’ve found that the quickest boost to office morale is getting your employees out of the office. Organize outdoor team-building activities or a team lunch. Maybe put your teamwork to the test in an escape room. Such outings can remind your employees that you care that they are members of your successful, ambitious team.
Deciding when it’s best to dismiss an employee is not an easy task. If you need help preparing your business for change, contact me today!