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Totally FREE Employee Perks

 

Keeping employees happy is key, but the BIG perks giants like Google, Facebook and others are dishing out (from free meals to unlimited vacations) is nearly impossible for a small business.  However, there are free employee perks you can introduce without bankrupting your company.  Here they are…

 

1. Flexible Hours

 

This is one of the most popular employee perks.  One study found that 42% percent of working adults would give up part of their salary to have more flexible hours.  Some small business owners might be nervous about doing this. Can you trust your workers to not abuse the privilege?  Will they still get their work done?  But trust has a major impact on making your employees happy and will go a long way in motivating them to get their work done.

 

2. A Pet at Work

 

Who wouldn’t love the chance to have a pet at work?  Getting one will make your employees happier and also boost mood and lower stress, improve relationships between co-workers, and stimulate their creativity.  But first, make sure that your small business is appropriate for a pet and that no one in your office has severe allergies to animals.

 

3. Guilt-Free Nap Time

 

Naps have been shown to have a positive effect on the brain.  You too can adapt a pro-nap environment.  Set aside an empty office, maybe with a donated couch, to create a nap zone.  Let workers benefit from your snooze-friendly environment.  All they need to do is to tap out and log back in when back to work.  Knowing they can re-energize by taking a power nap can go a long way towards making employees happier.

 

4. Eliminate the BOSS mentality

 

Studies show that a bad or incompetent boss is a main reason workers are unhappy and a good leader naturally has the opposite effect.  You might not think of yourself as a perk, but you can become one.  If you make sure you follow our advice to treat others the way you want to be treated, you can become a major force that keeps employees coming in to work happy.  If you continue to work at being the kind of small business owner who improves a company culture from the top down, you’ll find when people ask your workers, “What’s the best thing about working where you do?” they might very well answer, “My employer.”

 

 

Dealing with BIG Personalities: Two Solutions

 

Ever been in one of those meetings where a few personalities dominate the space?  They talk louder than everyone else, all you hear are their thoughts and their ideas.  At the same time, the quieter, more passive members in the meeting feel shut out and no one else can get a word in.  Well, unless you’re the one who’s stealing the show, you walk out of those meetings feeling anxious, bitter, and irritated at the leader of the meeting for letting this happen.  So what to do?

 

Let’s say the team has a decision to make.  The meeting agenda that went out to everyone stated: the purpose of this meeting is to debate and decide upon new pricing.  You invited six people to the meeting because each of them brings a unique and valuable perspective.

 

As soon as everyone sits down, you give these directions:

“We’re going to take five minutes and I want is to get your individual ideas about how you think we should adjust our pricing.  I want more than a percentage of increase; I also want to hear why you think the percentage you’re proposing is right.”

 

HOWEVER, instead of opening the discussion, you pass out a sheet of paper to each participant and as them to back up their comments with some pros and cons, and the whys and the why not’s, etc. You then tell them that they have five minutes to write it down, and THEN you have them pass the papers forward to me to be discussed.

 

This technique accomplishes three things: 1, it forces everyone to take a step back and actually do some thinking; 2, it gives every voice in the meeting an equal chance to get heard; and 3, once everyone’s ideas and thoughts are written down and collected, you now have the opportunity to control the discussion that takes place in this meeting.

 

Another approach, is to start the meeting by saying:

“I’m going to give each person three interruption free minute in which to share our thoughts on pricing and why.”  Again, by doing this you immediately make everybody on the team more thoughtful.  The BIG voices who tend to shout out responses are instead forced to stay in line, and those usually inclined to be passive are equally forced to stand up and speak their mind.

 

It matters not which of these two approaches work.  Instead it matters that you have equalized the voices in the meeting and exerted more control over the entire group.

 

However, most important is the fact that you made sure you got the best thinking from everyone in the group.  Now you can make a completely informed decision from an equal and unbiased footing.

 

 

Delivering (or resetting) Great Customer Service

 

Since we are all in business because of customers, everyone needs the occasional refresher on customer care.  Here are the three basic steps of excellent service.


1)  Help the Customers, Don’t Judge Them.

We’ve all had rude customers, and those moments when the last thing we want to do is talk to anyone.  However, customers deserve–and expect– strong customer service—not judgment.  Customers sense frustration, and as a result choose to spend their money elsewhere.  To help avoid this, make the decision to leave your frustration, annoyances, or anything that puts you in a bad mood aside when working with customers.  Train yourself and your team to set personal feelings and professional frustrations aside PRIOR to supporting customers.  It makes all the difference.


2:  The Customer Come First.

Think back to the “good old days” when corner pharmacies welcomed their customers by name and doctors made house calls.  That said, a little more customer TLC would do us all some good.  Having high expectations is not impossible.  Smiles, friendly greetings, genuine interest in your customer’s are all FREE and cost us nothing!  Similarly, sincere appreciation for their time and dollars spent with you can move those proverbial mountains.  Remember, your business would not exist without customers choosing to spend money with your company.


3)  The Customer Should Feel Appreciated.

Like it or not, we live in an egotistical society.  Between selfies and self-promotion everyone’s looking for the next best selfish thing nowadays, which tends to keep them from appreciating what they are experiencing in their actual moments every day.  STOP>>  When working with customers, avoid the temptation to check your email, scroll through Facebook, play on an app or look the other way.  Instead, Focus and Listen to what your customers are talking about.  Aim to understand what they are seeking, and work hard to deliver the right service or product for them, versus the one that is easiest or most expensive.  By making their best interests first, you are building trust and goodwill that is bound to gain stronger customer retention, more customer referrals, and strength across your business in general, as well.


Very simply, you need to appreciate your customers.  Let’s start again.  Smile :)

 

Your Body Language Says A Lot

 

The way you stand, position of your hands, and hold your head could be hurting your success.  You can use body language poses that can place doubt in the minds of others.  Consider your nonverbal communication.  It is professional, or saying the opposite.  The following are top body language poses and gestures to avoid…and what to do instead.


- Tilting your head.  This gesture can make you appear confused or as though you agree with the person when you are simply considering the message.


Instead, keep your chin parallel to the ground and maintain good eye contact, which indicates that you are an intelligent, decisive person who understands what is being said.  To acknowledge that you’re listening, slightly nod your head.


- Speaking fast.  In addition to being hard to follow, fast speech may make you appear insecure and nervous.  Talking fast also results in shallow breathing, which can also make you appear desperate.


Instead, concentrate on deep, even breathing, which will slow down your speech…and make you appear controlled and confident.


- How you stand.  How you arrange your legs when you stand has a profound effect on your demeanor and confidence level.  Crossing your ankles might be more comfortable, but it sends out a message that you are timid.


Instead, take a strong and confident pose by standing with your legs apart and your back straight.  This will make you appear more confident.


- Hand position is key.  When standing avoid folding your hands and letting them hang in front of your body.  This pose can give the impression that you are insignificant and what you have to say is inconsequential.


Instead, exude confidence by letting your arms hang to your sides or keeping them bent and lightly clasping your hands together with your forearms parallel to the ground.


- Eye contact.  Sufficient direct eye contact is important, but don’t overdo it!  It’s not necessary or advisable to keep your eyes glued to the other person.


Instead, strike a comfortable balance by alternating between meeting the person’s eyes and looking away.


- Facial Gestures.  Do not touch your face, run your fingers through your hair, blink too much, frown, or yawn.


Instead, smile.  Never underestimate the power of a sincere smile.  It displays confidence and pleasure.  A smile also makes you appear friendly and approachable.


Now that you know how actions can speak just as loudly as words, you can make all of the right moves for success.



Considering a Business Partner?


Let’s cut to the proverbial chase: the most important consideration in considering a business partner is making sure you’re equally matched on your values, vision, roles, and purpose.  If you can answer “yes” to all then you’re ready.  If not 100% certain, the following steps may help.


 

  • ·   Create shared vision and values.  Create a list of shared vision based on shared values.  This will show where each stands and if compatible will allow you to work together in a mutually agreed direction that minimizes conflict.  However, when the small things creep in–and they will–you’ll have the list to fall back on as a good foundation to keep you grounded.

 

 

 

  • ·   Position strengths and skills.  Same thing, create a list for the same reasons.  Knowing your personality types will permit you to position yourselves to take advantage of your strengths.  Having an idea of what each of you is good at will maximize skill sets and avoid potential conflicts.  Consider taking a personality assessment to figure out each your individual strengths, and how you can best work together.

 

 

 

  • ·   Set roles and responsibilities…NOW.  Write job descriptions and set clear expectations about who will take on which tasks for the business.  This should be all on one document.  When done, print it, make a copy for each partner, and then each sign the documents.

 


Other points to consider.


Be mindful of boundaries.  Focus on your own responsibilities, and let your partner do likewise without interference.  Collaborate, but don’t be a nuisance.


Refrain from being the boss.  Let each other have some room and flexibility to work independently.


Keep the communication door open.  Open and honest communication will keep minor issues from developing into major problems.  Problems must be communicated, recognized, and worked through in a mutually acceptable way.


Handle conflict with care.  Put a time limit on disagreements and arguments, speak about them, deal with them, and move on.


Show appreciation and gratitude.  Don’t take your partner or their contributions for granted.  Make a point to thank each other for a job well done, and be kind.  Keep constructive criticism at a minimum.


Like any workplace partnership, create together and support each other . . . and you’ll do fine.

 

 

Key Attributes of a Bad Leader, AKA,

 

According to a Gallup poll of more than one million employed U.S. Workers, the number one reason people resigned or quit their job was not because of workplace stress, demands, or interruptions, but because of a bad boss.


How these bosses interact with their people elicits a number of responses from “jerks” to “abusers.”  Boss traits include controlling, egotistical, a lack of empathy, and a lack of acknowledgement, and appreciation.


Since such behavior can restrict a person or a team’s ability and desire to perform, the question is, ‘How do you create value from undesirable situations and personalities?’


Here are a few points that may help:


Appraise more often:  Don’t wait for annual or semiannual reports to let your employees offer feedback.  Instead have a brief weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly team meeting where employees are allowed to share their thoughts (professionally) without fear of reprisal.


Admit mistakes:  Be willing to admit fault and when you’ve made a bad decision.  Admission of fault is not a sign ow weakness, but of strength.  The key is to sincerely admit the fault…and then move on.  No dwelling on the issue.  When you admit a fault you will gain your team’s trust as they will not fear being blamed.


Recognize effort:  Don’t be afraid to praise an employee for doing something right.  Everyone likes to hear a “Well done” on occasion.  Again, there is no need to have a party, just a quick and sincere moment will do wonders.


Stop complaining:  Saying negative things in front of employees will not make the workplace better.  Building morale and building trust and assigning responsibilities.


Let your team interview a prospective hire:  That’s right.  Let the team interview their prospective leader.  Nothing tells a team we respect your opinion more than a group employment screening of a potential leader.  In addition, such interviews show the new leader that you value your team’s opinion.  Once done interview the team and then the new leader hire.  If the leader is a boss in hiding, he is likely to show his true colors.


Although there is no definitive way to make every employee happy, or to eliminate every bad leader, keeping ears and eyes open the workplace is a solid start to making your place of employment a better place in which to work.


 

Tags: micromanaging, team building

 

 

Micromanage Solutions


There’s one thing everyone can agree on: the hatred of being micromanaged.  However, to help deal with them, or, just in case you are a micromanager, we have not only included our top peeves as to why we dislike them, but also a solution for each peeve.


1. Trust Your People.  Trust is fundamental.  It’s truly the corner stone of any relationship.  But the manager who stands behind an employee just waiting to pounce is not helping.  In fact, it’s the best way not to find mistakes, but to create them.  By hovering, micromanagers are not implying a lack of trust, they are shouting it.  They are conveying the simple fact that they don’t believe their employees have the ability or skill to complete tasks.


—Remember that you’ve not only hired a team of skilled professionals, you’ve also ensured your staff is well trained and knows how to accomplish what’s expected of them.  Trust them to get the tasks done.  If they think you don’t trust them, it will create an atmosphere of frustration; however, if you believe in them, it will increase morale and business.


2. Make Them Feel Competent.  Micromanagers tend to criticism and correct.  This type of behavior will undermine your employee’s sense of importance and self-worth.  In no time a micromanager will do more mental damage than any drug could imagine.  Before long your employees’ self-esteem will be destroyed and they will become demoralized and disgruntled just because they don’t measure up to the micromanager’s expectation of perfectionism.


—There are many ways to get a task or job done.  Just because an employee doesn’t do it exactly the way in which the micromanager wants it done is no excuse to drive an employee to the looney bin.  Ever manager should build their team up . . . not tear them down.


3. Fear Never Works.  If every time you made small mistake and someone pointed it out, how long would you keep trying?  I remember a middle-manager who made a minor typo in an e-mail.  Within an hour he was in his new supervisor’s office being berated for his, “lack of professionalism.”  After a few weeks of minor corrections he became discouraged.  Because his job was e-communication based, he began to read, edit, and then reread and reedit his communications for fear of being berated.


—When you stow criticism that comes from perfectionist standards, you remove the threat of potential failure every employee fears.  When the focus is on what’s right and good, as opposed to wrong and bad, your company will see results and the beginnings of a cohesive team.


4. Stop Wasting Time.  Micromanagers squander company’s money and resources by wasting time and by neglecting their own work.  They would rather hover over employees.  They also waste employees’ time by interrupting them.  This breaks the workflow and eventually the employees will fall behind as a result.


—Unless there is a specific problem of an immediate nature, schedule time with an employee.  This way you will get more done, and so will your employees.


 

Tags: micromanaging, team buildingBlog here.

Is Work-From-Home Right for Your Company?


You have a good, hard-working employee and you like her.  She wants to work from home because she has an infant and finding daycare is difficult.


But her reason isn’t the issue.  Everyone has a good reason: long commute, sick relative, tough to concentrate, etcetera.  The main thing is that no one’s reasons are any less important than another person’s.


Although working from home is becoming more common, prior to agreeing to a request, take heed to the following thoughts about home based employees.


1. Think About It.

Take your time.  You don’t need to decide that day.  Also consider other options, like having a trial period.  For example, allow an employee to work from home for a mutually agreed number of days per week over the next 30-60 days and see how it works out (no pun intended) prior to committing to a long term plan.  No matter what is agreed to, make sure you inform the employee, at the start, that this work from home relationship could end at any time and for any reason.


2. Have a Plan.

Decide on how many days an employee can work from home but still require a minimum number of days in the office.  It’s best to pre-establish a maximum number of days out of the office that you can apply to everyone.  This is critical as you should not create exceptions and to be fair and consistent.


3. Let Go.

Remember, you are letting someone work from home because you trust them.  If the person has your trust then you need to let the employee act independently, responsibly, and professionally.  Be prepared NOT to check if she is at her desk or require her to complete time logs or activity reports.  Agree to specific and measurable tasks that she should be completing each week.  So long as these tasks are being completed on time, there’s no need to worry about how their getting done.


4. Set Guidelines.

When you’re working you should expect your employees should be working too, no matter where they are located.  When you give someone the freedom to work from home, it’s not unreasonable to expect that whenever you need to speak to an employee she will be available to communicate.  The employee must understand that you are able to call, IM, text, or e-mail her when something needs to be discussed.  Within reason, the employee should be available and ready.


5. Does Your Company Have the Tools?

There is no way to manage a work-from-home employee without the right tools.  At a minimum all remote employees should have a smartphone, tablet, and laptop.  The employee must have network access to your company’s network so that collaboration, communication, CRM, project management, and file sharing tools are all available in real time to do the job effectively.


6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No.

Not everyone is super-productive when they work from home.  Some love to troll the web, chat online, or watch Netflix.  Yes, we all know smart and productive people who cannot be productive when out of an office setting.  Working from home is not for everyone.  You must decide to match the right person with the right environment.  This decision is never easy, but then again, you’re the manager.


The bottom line is that unless you and your company can face the challenges as addressed above, there is no sense even discussing liability, office space, and potential lawsuits that accompany home employment.  However, if you feel it’s the right move…get going.


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