Employees: Be honest on those end-of-year surveys!

checklistWe are less than two months away from the New Year and that means an onslaught of new goals, year-end reports, holiday parties, wrapping up projects, and more.

But none of those are more dreaded by employees than the infamous end-of-year survey. End-of-year surveys are typically comprehensive company performance reviews that ask employees to rate their managers, bosses, co-workers, personal satisfaction, company policies, goals, company culture, and even the little things like bathroom and office cleanliness.

They are fairly long and for most employees considered a big waste of time because, “who in their right mind would listen to an underling like me?” Right?

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How to Build a Positive Work Environment

3 people chatting in chairs at workFor many people, ours job could almost be considered our “home away from home.” We spend at least 40 hours a week in the same setting, doing similar things day-to-day with the same people. Often, we find ourselves developing important friendships, lifelong habits, new skills, and many other things that can really affect our lives outside of work.

Work is a very important part of our lives, and as such, it’s essential that your environment at work is one that fosters trust, respect, and understanding.

How can you as a leader build a positive work environment for your employees? Take a look below:

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How to Take the Jump and Work Remotely

Work from home

When we used to think of going to work, many people had in mind a sterile office with beige or grey cubicles. Work was always conducted sitting down at your desk for 8-10 hours a day with only a small lunch break, where you finally had a chance to get outside and experience some sunlight, fresh air, and other humans interacting.

 

These days, things are a lot different. Companies like Google have made a huge impact on the work environment, making the workplace fun by using crazy colors, awesome interior designs, and fun activities that make you feel like you are working at a playground rather than in an office.

 

Unfortunately, not all companies can be as fashion forward as Google, and not all people really want to be in that environment, but at the same time they don’t want to be stuck at the same old boring office. So what do they do? Well, many of them start working remotely.

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3 Tips for Building a Better Company Culture

office space

On Tuesday, we gave you three reasons why you need to vamp up your company culture.

As we mentioned, having a great company culture is an extremely important part of running a successful business, which is why just about everyone is talking about it.

But just because you know that having a great company culture can make you successful, doesn’t necessarily mean you know the best way to go about vamping up your own. To help point you in the right direction, we thought we’d talk about exactly that. Take a look below:

  • Match culture to your goals. First things first, you need to figure out the main goals of your company and match your culture to those goals. The main focus of your company culture is that it should reflect the goals that you’ve set in place for your company. Always consider how the culture, characteristics, and work ethic of your company will affect the goals you have in mind, because if you don’t, then you run the risk of missing your goals altogether.
  • PrioritizeWhen you decide to change or improve your company culture, the last thing you want to do is to have a complete and sudden overhaul. These kinds of improvements–at least, the successful ones–don’t just happen over night. You need to make sure you do your best to figure out what matters to you the most and execute those priorities first. From there, you can go down the line until you’ve successfully built up a top-notch culture that strives towards the goals you have in mind.
  • Be authentic. Above all, you need to be authentic. Don’t try do something that won’t jive with the goals of your company, because chances are you probably won’t meet those goals as successfully as you’d like. Throughout this whole process, you need to do your best to ensure that what you are doing actually means something. If your candidates see a disconnect in what you want and how you execute it, then that will reflect poorly on you, which is definitely not what you want to see happen.

What do you think about company culture? Is it as important as people say it is? If you have any tips you’d like to add to our list let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

photo credit: Infusionsoft via photopin cc

3 Ways to Keep Employees from Working Excessive Overtime

Stressed man sitting at his desk

Yesterday, we gave you three reasons why you should be concerned about employees working excessive overtime.

As we mentioned, we don’t think overtime is necessarily a bad thing–we all have to do it every once in a while–but when overtime begins to become a normal part of our routine, that’s when we see a lot of problems arise.

To help you prevent that, here are three ways you can keep your employees from working excessive overtime. Take a look below:

  1. Have realistic work expectations. Be reasonable when putting together projects. As much as we’d love to have everything put out at a lightning-fast pace, it’s just not always possible. In addition to that, forcing your employees to speed up their work can lead to less than desirable results. In most cases, quality trumps quantity, so be sure to divvy up the workload fairly, and allow a reasonable amount of time for completion.
  2. Put a cap on overtime hours. You may also want to consider putting a cap on overtime hours. Putting a detailed policy in place that they can reference can help to ensure that employees don’t overdo it when it comes to working overtime. This is a much better option than making them or your supervisors guess as to how much overtime is too much overtime. Some companies put the cap at a monthly rate, while others choose to do so annually; choose whichever is right for you. 
  3. Hire more employees. If business is booming but workloads are getting excessively heavier, then you might want to consider hiring a few extra hands to even things out. While it can be hard to match staff levels to the work demand, sometimes it is a must. Plus, every big company started somewhere, so don’t be afraid to let your company grow!

Don’t fall prey to the vicious cycle of excessive overtime. Making sure that your employees are well thought of can do wonders for your company. Not only will you have happier and healthier employees, but you’ll also have a more productive and efficient workforce–and that will help you on the road to running a successful business.

Have any tips on avoiding excessive overtime that you’d like to add to our list? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

3 Reasons Why You Should Be Concerned About Employees Working Excessive Overtime

two men talking over a blueprint

For most employers who put their employees on salary, overtime seems like a gift because it’s free work.

Sadly though, this isn’t always the case. The reality is that overtime can lead to a lot of problems for employees and in turn, end up being a major pain for the employers when things go south.

To be clear, we’re not saying all overtime is bad. Every once in a while, we might have to come into the office on the weekend, especially when a client needs something right away, and that is perfectly okay. But when overtime becomes a weekly, or worse, daily ritual, we begin to get a little concerned.

Today, we are going to give three reasons why you should be concerned about employees working excessive overtime. Take a look below:

  1. Overtime can lead to burnout. Consistent overtime can lead to burnout pretty quickly if you’re not careful. Not only is this bad for productivity, it’s also really bad for your employees’ health. In turn, you run the risk of running some of your best employees into the ground, which will most likely lead to higher turnover rates and a narrowing of your talent pool.
  2. Overtime can be a poor reflection of your company. Sure, you may find an employee here or there making up for lost time because they had a little extra on their plate that week, but more likely than not, if your employees are clocking in an excessive amount of overtime, then it has more to say about your company than about them. 

    Excessive overtime can have a number of sources, whether it’s from poor communication, a poor organization system/method, hiring managers neglecting to hire employees with a good work ethic, etc. But all in all, it means that your company as a whole isn’t efficient enough, which in turn affects your productivity as well as your employer branding.

  3. Overtime can lead to employee dissatisfaction. Above all, overtime is terrible for employee satisfaction. No one wants to feel like a slave to their job, and no one feels it more than the person who is obligated to come in every weekend or stays a few hours later than the rest of their co-workers.

What do you think about overtime? Do you find yourself or your employees doing it frequently? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via photopin cc

3 Ways to Help Your Employees Hone Their Leadership Skills

Leader talking to group of employees

Over the past two days, we’ve discussed the importance of hiring potential leaders and ways you can manage them in order to ensure they are working efficiently.

But tapping into their leadership skills requires more than just hiring them and managing them. You need to make sure you are doing your best to help them hone in on those skills, allowing them the opportunity to improve themselves every chance they get.

To set you off in the right direction, we are going to go over a few ways you can help your employees hone their leadership skills. Take a look below:

  • Allow them to think outside of the box. Leadership and creativity go hand in hand, so it only makes sense that you allow your employees to push the boundaries when it comes to the projects they’re working on. If an employee sees an alternative on how to approach a project, don’t shut them down.

    At least take a moment to review the approach in order to see if they’ve actually found a more efficient way at tackling a problem or project. In turn, you end up saving your company some time and money with this newfound approach, and your employees get the opportunity to be more creative. 

  • Give them the bigger picture. The “your job is to do one thing, and one thing only” mentality is a no-no when it comes to tapping into potential leaders. Employees, especially the potential leaders, need to understand the impact they’ll down the road with the work they’re doing.

    We’re not saying you need to reveal every single detail about the company, but giving your employees insight into how they contribute to the bigger goals is an important part of honing their leadership skills because it gives them more depth on issues and pushes them to think big.

  • Don’t coach them, challenge them. As INC contributor, Tom Searcy, points out, “leaders like coaching when they ask for it. Followers like coaching all the time.”  Providing challenges to your employees who show the potential to lead is a great way to hone their leadership skills.

    It also has many benefits for you as an employer: it reduces boredom in the workplace, which helps fight against turnover rates of top talent, allows your company to progress with the bigger and more challenging projects, and maximizes the qualities/characteristics you saw in your employees when you hired them.

Tomorrow, we’ll round off our posts on leadership skills by giving employees a few tips on how they can effectively improve themselves. In the meantime, what do you do as an employer to help your employees hone their leadership skills? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

photo credit: U.S. Army IMCOM via photopin cc

How to Stop Workplace Gossip

Yesterday, we gave you three reasons why you should prevent gossiping in the workplace. As we mentioned, gossiping can cause a lot of trouble in the workplace, especially when it comes to employee dissatisfaction. In turn, you may find yourself in a situation where productivity slows and turnover is high, which is definitely a bad combination to have. 

As a leader, whether of a team or a whole company, it is your job to keep the peace and make sure everyone is able to work in a happy and stress-free environment. So today, we’re going to give you three ways to prevent workplace gossip. Take a look below:

Nip it in the bud early. If possible, try your best to avert a crisis before it even has a chance to bubble up. This requires you to keep an eye on those who you believe to be or know are the gossipers. If you catch them in the act, it is best to set them aside and explain to them the negative impact their comments have on the work environment. We’re not saying you need to hover over everyone’s shoulder, but a little diligence on your part can do a lot to help stop any gossip and hopefully avoid a serious crisis.

Communicate regularly. Gossip often starts when the imaginative minds of certain employees start to wander a bit. One way to prevent this is by making sure everyone is “in-the-know” about anything big going on. Transparency helps to curb the issue because it doesn’t allow them room to speculate–making things much easier on you.

Avoid it yourself. Most importantly, avoid falling prey to gossiping yourself. As a leader, you are the best person for setting an example of how you want your employees to act—so take advantage of this and use it stop those gossipers.

Gossiping happens a lot more often than we think, and sometimes you’ll find yourself simply slipping up and saying whatever is on our mind about someone else.

In instances like these, it is important to check your tone as well the content of what your saying, because there is a fine line between what can be construed as negative gossip and constructive criticism. We think the best approach is to consider how you might take what you say; if you think you’d be offended, then chances are, whoever you are talking about probably would be, too.

Gossiping can be dangerous, affecting the way we work and our desire to work. And while not everyone is looking to gab away in the break room about someone else, it only takes one to cause trouble.

It’s important that leaders do their best to set an example for their team and make sure gossiping is at a minimum, and if possible, gone altogether. It may seem harmless, but gossip can do terrible things for workplace culture–so do your best to stop it before it ever becomes a problem.

3 Reasons Why You Should Prevent Gossiping In the Workplace

We often think of gossiping as a pastime we indulged in during our years as junior-high students. However, like tattle telling, gossiping happens to be something that still occurs quite often as adults, especially in the workplace.

Overall, gossiping can cause a lot of trouble in the workplace, because it often results in employee dissatisfaction. To show you what we mean, we thought we’d give you three reasons why you should try and prevent gossip from occurring the work place.

1. Gossiping creates trust issues. First and foremost, gossiping can destroy trust among your employees. In turn, this can make it hard for employees to work together because they don’t feel comfortable confiding in one another–whether it has to do with a personal issue that one peer told in confidence to another, or if it deals specifically with work.

No matter what, once a person gossips about another team member, they will most likely feel betrayed, and the work relationship between the two will be strained.

2. Gossiping affects productivity. This leads us to our next point: gossiping affects productivity. If two employees don’t feel comfortable working together, then chances are, things won’t get done as efficiently as they should.

On top of that, some employees who think that gossiping is accepted in the workplace might find themselves in the break room gossiping with others more than spending time at their desk.

3. Gossiping can lead to a crisis. Finally, gossiping has the potential to escalate into a serious issue if it isn’t stopped right away. Take, for example, a situation where some negative gossip turns out to not be true, but is spread around the office nonetheless.

If it happens to be a fireable offense, addressing the issue with the employee can cause a lot of embarrassment for them, which may cause you to end up losing the valuable employee because they don’t want to work in such a negative environment. As a result, this sends a message to other employees that “no one is safe,” which can definitely lead you into more trouble–possibly high turnover.

Don’t let your office fall prey to gossip. While not every employee is looking to spread a rumor or gab about someone else, it only takes one to really disrupt employee satisfaction and put productivity on hold—something that you definitely want to avoid.

3 Ways a Two-Way Approach to Management Can Help Boost Productivity

“My way or the highway” tends to be the management model in many workplace environments, with leaders doing all the talking and employees doing much of the listening.

However, despite its popularity in many workplaces, this “one-way” mantra is not the kind of advice we’d suggest to most business. Employees have valuable things to say, and a lot of the time, what they say can be give employers great insight into how things should run. Needless to say, employees are often underutilized in larger businesses as far as input is concerned.

To show you what we mean, we’ve outlined three reasons why your relationship with your employees should be like a two-way street. Take a look below:

Letting employees construtively criticize you can make you a better leader

Those under you are the ones who are affected the most by your leadership, so it only seems right that they should have a say in how you manage them.

Thoughtful criticism and positive feedback can make a big difference in how you manage your team. In turn, you and your team will be more in sync, allowing for a more productive use of time.

Just like you constructively criticize your employees to help them improve, employees should be able to do the same to you.

More opinions can help the creative process and big picture thinking

Your role as a leader/employer is usually to think of the big picture, often handing down the final process to your employees once everything is set in stone.

But employees can have important things to say as well, and can often enhance the creative process if you let them. By utilizing the diversity of your team, you can push your creative boundaries further and further.

Not only will this allow you to gain a better perspective on how your team works, but it also gives you the opportunity to gain more insight into how your company works. Each and every member of your team has a specific function that helps to contribute to the company’s overall success, so why not let them contribute to the discussion?

Letting employees speak up helps to avoid crises

Employees are usually supposed to do as they’re told. So when it comes time to speak up about an issue in regards to a certain process or situation, they often shy away and just slip things under the rug until it finally creeps up later, leading to some pretty disastrous results.

To avoid this, you need to break the away from the “be quiet and do as you’re told” approach to business. Let your employees feel comfortable speaking up about a potential hazard–doing so can end up saving you a lot of grief.

Taking the time to ensure that your employees’ satisfaction is taken into consideration is one of the key steps to maintaining a successful business and being a good manager. We believe the workplace should be a mutually beneficial environment, so drop the “my way or the highway” approach and opt for the two-way street method instead. With that approach, you and your employees should both end up getting much better results.