Motivate and Retain Employees with These Innovative Tips

February 22nd, 2013

The winter blahs can take a toll on even the most energetic workplace culture. If you’re looking around the office and seeing more window gazing and checked-out behavior than usual, don’t start cracking down just yet. Instead, recognize the effects of the season and search for ways to ease the repetition, boredom or weariness that may be bringing down the general vibe. 

Energize Your Employees: Bring on the Spring

1. Increase individual contact. One-on-one management is always a good idea, but during periods of low morale, it’s even more important to establish close connections between managers and employees. Personal observation, open communication channels, regular check-ins, goal setting and progress monitoring can all make employees feel that their contributions are appreciated and their work is getting the attention it deserves.

2. Bring fun to the workplace. Encourage an unofficial (or official) happy hour at a local establishment that’s clean, inviting, and within easy reach. Bring treats to the breakroom every other Friday. Suggest theme days like funny hat day, or sponsor a “hack day” once every few months—a day in which employees are encouraged to focus on unconventional or non-work related projects.

3. Bring in some fresh air, both literally and metaphorically. Sealed buildings are energy efficient, but they can often result in very poor (sometimes even dangerous) air quality that tends to go unrecognized. Encourage your employees to get up from their desks, move around, and leave the building at least once a day.

4. Match the right employees to the right tasks. If you can shift responsibilities and change partnerships and pairings to keep things fresh, do so. Make sure employees are given opportunities to learn new things and exercise varied skill sets.

5. Encourage socialization, teamwork, and friendship, especially the kind that extends beyond the workplace. At the same time, pay attention to your culture and keep toxic relationships, pointless competition, and solo-flying under control. An unhealthy office is a quiet, dimly lit place where employees are rewarded for stabbing each other in the back. A healthy environment is one that’s full of low grade background chatter, laugher, collaboration, and natural light.

Great personnel management requires a great retention strategy. But it also requires great staffing and screening. Hire the right people to begin with, and you’re halfway home. Turn to the North Carolina staffing pros at PSU and start building a talented, motivated team from the ground up.

Which Is a Better LinkedIn Strategy: A Few High Quality Connections or a Wide, Shallow Network?

February 15th, 2013

If you’re using LinkedIn to increase your job prospects and advance your career, which approach can help you more: maintaining a large, impersonal network? Or keeping a short list of names and faces you know well? Is it better to stay in close touch with high quality contacts, or cast a wide net populated with second and third degree acquaintances?

A Short List of Close Connections Is More Valuable…

Ideally, your social media contacts should be extensive, varied, and close. The most valuable network is both wide and deep—a long list of close friends, respected mentors, and professional contacts. But if you have to choose, it’s a better idea to keep your list short and make sure every name belongs to a person you know fairly well. LinkedIn is advertised as a social media site that can help us reach out to those with whom we’re connected in order to ask for professional favors, but strong relationships aren’t based on favor begging, and most of us (wisely) don’t lean heavily on social media networks for this purpose alone.

In both the real world and the digital one, it’s rarely effective to spam or cold call strangers in order to ask for help or make demands. Those who are poised to help us are those with whom we’ve spent some face time, those who we’ve helped in the past, or those with whom we share a close mutual friend. Don’t be drawn to false assumptions– or presumptions of intimacy– with strangers simply because their names appear on a long but meaningless contact list. And think twice before you send a network request to a distant connection or total stranger.

…But Don’t Close Yourself off to New Relationships

But at the same time, it never hurts to accept contact requests from vetted connections. If you receive a LinkedIn invitation from a stranger who shares a second or third degree contact with you, don’t immediately dismiss the request. The person reaching out to you may represent a new world of opportunity and connection, and there’s no need to reflexively close yourself off to the unknown. Be cautious about clicking on links embedded in “requests” from complete strangers, since these can harm your computer. But if a connection seems legitimate, feel free to click accept and allow your network to grow.

If you’re looking for ways to expand your professional networks, both online and off, reach out to the Texas staffing pros at PSU for personal tips and guidance. A well-maintained contact list and a smart social media strategy can help you take your career to the next level.

Four Ways to Cultivate Employee Leadership

February 8th, 2013

If you run a company or manage a team of employees, chances are you’ve encountered the following phenomenon at least once: You recognize a star on your team. You let him know during formal and informal reviews that you’d like to see him step into a management role. He shows interest in this. He seeks—and you provide—the training he needs to rise to the next level. And when he’s finally ready for management, he takes the reins…and everything falls apart. He struggles with the most basic requirements of his new role, and he can’t seem to gather his team behind him, gain their trust, or inspire their respect. But he showed so much promise! What went wrong?

The truth is, management positions often require entirely different philosophies and approaches then employee positions do. And no matter the level of technical and skill training an aspiring manger receives, not much can prepare her for the actual day she steps into a leadership role. Here are four things her supervisor (you) can do to make this transition more effective.

Turn Great Employees into Leaders

1. Recognize that successful employees are, above all, obedient. Their job is to execute orders and respond to instructions with a cheerful smile. But successful managers can’t get by on obedience alone. In fact, struggling too much to do what they’re told will likely hold them back. Managers need to unburden themselves of some of the weight of obedience and start giving orders instead of taking them. This reversal can be confusing for erstwhile star performers.

2. Mangers need to make unpopular decisions. They also need to frown sometimes, make others uncomfortable, and do what’s right for the company instead of what’s pleasing. Until now, most star employees have done everything they can to make their presence agreeable to others, and they need to learn to let this go…without compromising their sense of diplomacy and tact.

3. Managers – especially new ones—need the freedom to make mistakes, and they can’t do this if their sole focus is on team success. During the early stages of the transition, make sure you reward your new managers for showing leadership behavior, regardless of the outcome. Even if they take their teams over a cliff once or twice, recognize and incentivize decisions that show they’re adapting to their new roles.

4. Provide coaching, don’t just toss new managers into the deep end. For every poor decision, fumbled catch, or lost opportunity, stand by to help your new managers understand exactly what went wrong. Keep your door open, and teach them how to keep their own doors and ears open to their newly acquired direct reports. As you know—and your new managers have yet to learn—great leadership depends on great listening skills.

For more tips on coaching and cultivating leadership skills in your rising stars, arrange a consultation with the NC staffing experts at PSU.

It’s 2013: Time to Reinvent Your Business

February 1st, 2013

It’s now 2013, and if your small business is still afloat, it means either of two things: 1.) you had what it takes to survive one of the worst economic crashes in recent history, or 2.) you recently launched your business, and you’re ready to do whatever it takes to ride out rough patches in the future. In either case, you know that staying competitive means staying flexible. Smart business owners adapt quickly to change, and they’re ready to make adjustments at a moment’s notice in order to stay ahead of a shifting landscape.

With that in mind, 2013 may be a great time to consider a reinvention. Take a close look at your market, your brand, and the strength of your financial footing, and consider making some of the following changes.

It’s Time for Some Fresh Air

Change your product (or service)

What would it take to improve the value of your product? Can you add more features? Can you produce deliverables faster without sacrificing quality? What are some of your most frequent customer complaints, and how can you make these complaints disappear?

Change your profit structure

Consider making your product more appealing by lowering your prices. In order to do this, you may need to cut some of your profits and pour the savings back into your business, but if you make this move correctly, you’ll strengthen your company’s foundation and long-term stability. Which matters more, putting the customer first and running a sustainable enterprise, or pleasing your shareholders over the short term and making your customers wait in line?

Change your marketing philosophy

You know that running a profitable business means keeping a close eye on your target market, and target markets tend to shift and blur over time. When was the last time you closely analyzed your core audience? Who buys your product and why? Refresh your marketing plan and update your advertising and sales campaigns to reflect your current demographic, not the one you pitched to when you first launched your business.

Relocate

The cost of a total relocation can be high, but look closer. You might greatly increase your profits and cut your costs by following your customer base, or moving closer to the source of your raw materials and strategic partners.

Revamp your staffing strategy

Are your employees the true engine of your business and the real force behind every ounce of your success? They should be. For every profitable business, the most valuable capital is human capital. Make sure your employees have the training, the support, and the motivation they need to keep your company moving. If you need to make some changes to your workforce, talk to the NC staffing and personnel experts at PSU. We can help you find and keep the talented, hardworking employees you need to drive your business forward.

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