Category Archives: Business

Know More How Your IT and Sales Teams Can Learn to Love Each Other

bs3Salespeople tend to not be especially tech-savvy. Their primary skills are based on their natural charisma—they have an uncanny ability to network, surface a person’s expressed and latent problems and propose meaningful solutions. Unfortunately, sales reps often see technology as a burden instead of a tool, and tech changes can be met with great resistance.
In a given business, IT professionals are held accountable for the productivity gains (or lack thereof) of the team, including salespeople, even though these same sales reps often push back against implementations from the technology team. Despite the process improvements that IT staff regularly make, they typically receive none of the commission or glory when projects are successful. It is not an enviable position, but it is a necessary one. However, IT employees must constantly find and implement technological tools and processes that improve their organization’s performance, even if those additions are unpopular and cause internal uproar.

For sales-dominated companies, a proactive IT strategy can feel like an afterthought. But management should make it a priority to work with both their IT and sales teams to limit the organizational resistance to change and then develop strategies to overcome their reluctance.

Understanding a Sales Team’s Resistance to Technological Change
It shouldn’t be surprising that sales teams tend to resist technological change. Sales is an extremely process-oriented position, and even a minor alteration can drastically impact the way they do business. Considering that a salesperson’s paycheck often is directly correlated to his or her performance, change can be especially sensitive.
Resistance to change isn’t a new phenomenon, either. An article published in Harvard Business Review in 1969 talks about dealing with and overcoming resistance to change. In their case, the studies were focused on minor changes in the daily processes of factory operators. In some of the instances, the resistance to the minor process change was so bad that workers quit or filed grievances.
For a sales team that’s not technologically inclined to begin with, it’s easy to understand that resistance is inevitable. The key is not eliminating resistance—but learning how to work with it and alleviate the sales team’s concerns.

Strategies for Overcoming Hesitancy Among Salespeople
It’s not necessary to understand or overcome an organizational resistance to change, but it can be in your best interest to do so. The main takeaway from the studies published by Harvard Business Review was that the more a team bought into changes, the more successful those changes were. If you want your improved processes and tools to be effective, you need your sales team to embrace change.
Here are some important ways you can overcome these resistances to start working together with sales—instead of against them:
1. Avoid short implementation schedules.
Some experts believe that one of the biggest reasons people resist change is that they have a natural fear of the unknown. If you push technology upgrades or changes onto members of your sales team without much notice, they’re going to be caught off guard and may resist. Your best bet may be to implement over a longer period of time, giving them plenty of training and time to mentally adapt to the changes. Give them a heads-up that changes are coming long before the change ever takes place. This can go a long way to helping them accept and embrace the new state of things.
2. Find a champion.
If your IT folks are working separately from the sales team, it may be hard to get their buy-in. Instead, identify one of the salespeople who has a bit of tech savvy, and invite him or her to help IT management develop new processes and select new tools. It’s much easier to pitch a new sales-management system if it’s the one that a salesperson thought was the easiest to use. That sales insider will be able to explain the benefits to his or her colleagues in a way they understand, making your job much easier.
3. Start small.
When you’re working with a sales team that’s especially resistant to change, you should consider aiming for a small win first. Instead of completely revamping the sales management system, try changing a small part of the system. By getting the sales team to understand the benefits offered by a small change, you may have a good chance of explaining the benefits of a larger overhaul.
4. Provide plenty of support.
Immediately after your IT folks launch a new system or process, it is their job is to support the sales team as much as possible. The worst thing that could happen is letting the company miss out on a sale because sales reps are busy resisting a technological change or fumbling with an unfamiliar sales dashboard. Dedicate staff specifically to support the sales team with any questions, concerns or bugs they might run into.

Driving technological change in a resistant sales-dominated company is not often easy, but it’s a crucial ingredient to long-term success. By understanding why salespeople have reservations with change and working diligently to help them overcome their concerns, you may be able to give sales the tools they need to help win over new accounts and grow existing ones.

Some Efficiency Lessons Business Owners Can Learn From Manufacturers

bs1I’ve always found it useful to be eclectic when it comes to looking for advice. You may think your dry-cleaning business or auto mechanic shop can’t possibly learn from businesses that are in completely different industries, but you might be surprised at what you can learn if you open your eyes and mind.
One of my businesses is a small manufacturing company, and it occurred to me the other day that I’ve learned a lot from our successes and trials. I’ve been able to put those lessons to use in my other business ventures to improve my efficiency. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from manufacturing that may be helpful to your company too:
1. Eliminate waste.
Whether it’s office supplies, raw materials or employees who aren’t earning their keep, you know there are measures you could take to cut costs.
Manufacturers have learned that becoming more efficient can be difficult if they don’t trim unnecessary costs and stop wasting time and money.
2. Establish SMART goals.
To improve efficiency, it helps if everyone in your organization understands your clearly defined goals. It also helps if those goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific—otherwise known as SMART goals.
If your company goals don’t meet every single SMART criterion, then you and your staff may end up spinning your wheels in inefficient activities that can hurt your bottom line. Consider sitting down with your team to define your goals and make sure they’re SMART.
3. Establish systems.
If you or your employees must hand-manage every single task you need accomplished, you may become so mired in minutiae. And that can get in the way of efficiency.
Consider taking a step back from your company’s processes and look for ways to establish systems—portions of your business that you can automate. Systems can help free up you and your staff for more important hands-on tasks, thus improving efficiency. Scaling up requires systematization.
4. Look for bottlenecks.
Bottlenecks are points in your process that prevent you from running more quickly and efficiently. They’re the sticking places where workflow gets gummed up. Bottlenecks can create backlogs that leave your staff idle, waiting to be able to do their jobs—they can be an efficiency killer.
Whether your bottleneck is a task that might benefit from streamlining, or a person who’s unable to keep up with the rest of your employees, when you identify and resolve bottlenecks, you may find that you can accomplish much more.
5. Use key performance indicators (KPIs).
In addition to setting SMART goals, savvy manufacturers use KPIs to evaluate their progress in achieving those goals. KPIs can help you make sure that your goals are clearly communicated to your staff by evaluating them on your prioritized tasks. If your staff knows what matters to you, they may be better able to help you achieve it.
6. Establish quality controls.
Whether you’re manufacturing widgets or cleaning houses, providing excellent service and value to your customers is important. If you don’t have a way to assess the quality of your finished product (and of the staff producing it), you may find yourself struggling to wow your clients. Consider building assessment and evaluation into your process—this can help you learn how much more efficient you can be.
7. Employ root cause analysis.
Business owners often face troubles in their business, but the most successful entrepreneurs find ways to surmount them. It’s important to avoid treating the symptoms of your problems, rather than the cause. Root cause analysis can help prevent just that.
One of the simplest strategies you can use to make sure you’re getting to the heart of your problem is to ask “Why?” until you actually arrive at the root cause. Take this for example: A manufacturer of watches is having trouble delivering orders on time. She asks why. It turns out one portion of her factory is at a standstill. She asks why again. They don’t have the materials they need to produce their component. She asks why. The materials haven’t been ordered. Why? Because the vendor went out of business.
By asking why until she got to the real cause, the manufacturer discovers what her course of action should be. She can then find a new vendor and begin meeting deadlines once again. Root cause analysis is about getting to the actionable issues.
8. Strive for continuous flow.
Most manufacturers understand that streamlining their process can help ensure a smooth, continuous flow of work. An important part of streamlining is ensuring that clients are moved through your process without a hitch. What that means in practice is that if you have a marketing team handing leads to your sales team, that happens without customers getting stalled or neglected in between.

Clients (like products in manufacturing) must be handed off from one department to the next without being dropped. If those handoffs aren’t seamless, you may not be as efficient as you could be. It helps to work toward making your workflow process as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
Ice cream shops, accountants and home repair contractors alike can all benefit from learning from the strategies manufacturers use to become more efficient and profitable. Even if you’re in a service industry, efficiency is worth striving for, as it can always affect your bottom line.

How To Using Time and Timing as Business Power Tools

bs2Are you using time to your business advantage? We can save time, but we can’t buy it; we can kill time and make time, but we can’t go back or forward in time.
But we can use our time better if we think about it. Here are a three ways you can turn time to your business’s advantage.

The Powerful Pause
You can make the so-called awkward pause your tool in business conversations. Most of us grow increasingly uncomfortable with silence in a meeting. We want to fill those pauses. But instead of filling the pause, consider using it to your advantage.
For example, imagine that you’re a buyer in a sales pitch. The seller delivers pricing and terms. You pause. Silence swells. You wait. Quite often the seller will fill the notoriously awkward silence by lowering the price and sweetening the terms.
You haven’t even said no yet. You seem to be thinking about it. But the dynamic around the pause may end up sweetening the deal for you.
I learned about the power of the pause while consulting for an American company in Japan. It turned out that there was a simple cultural difference that played out in favor of Japanese people negotiating with Americans. In our culture, the pause is uncomfortable. In Japan, it is often a sign of respect. The scene I suggest above played out often with Americans selling to Japanese people.
That was decades ago. That cross-cultural phenomenon may not even be still true today. However, whether that detail is still true or not, the pause can be very powerful when used well. Think how it could help you in negotiations and meetings. Those few seconds can be time well spent.

The Waiting Game
We all want to be decisive when it comes to making business decisions. But at times there are very good reasons to put a decision off for later.
1. When more information is coming later. It might be an upcoming sales conference, a meeting, next month’s sales, results or input from somebody else. Having more information coming can be a good reason to wait on making a decision.
2. When there isn’t a penalty for waiting. Since I started using this framework, I’ve been frequently surprised with how often we make decisions quickly when there is no penalty for waiting until later. That’s more obvious when you know more information is coming. But even when you don’t think more information is coming, if there’s no penalty for waiting, you can wait. You might get information you hadn’t expected—or maybe you get insight from your subconscious mind. You may have something to gain and nothing to lose.
3. When you have a gut instinct. It’s the common-sense idea of “Let’s sleep on it.” Sometimes decisions are better when you let them sit for a while. The quasi-scientific explanation might be letting the subconscious mind work on it.

The Slow Simmer
Do you ever turn to a recurring problem, get impatient, forget that there’s a solution already underway and jump ahead with another new solution? I’ve done that more often than I want to admit. I end up not giving the first solution time to cook before jumping in with a second and even a third solution to the same problem.

Business ownership can be full of problems that take time to solve. You might be changing systems, developing software, remodeling space, looking for some new hire and so forth. Meanwhile, the problem reoccurs and frustration sets in. Very often you should take a step back, remind yourself that things are cooking, and wait until they are done.
That can be hard to do. As business owners, we want to solve problems. It’s hard to wait for solutions that take time. Not waiting, however, can be inefficient and counterproductive. Clearly it’s not efficient to throw a second or third solution to a single problem before the first has the time to work.

Some Tips to Help Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome describes individuals’ fears of not being as adequate, competent or intelligent, as others view them. Typical symptoms may include feeling like a fraud or a phony. This can lead to anxiety about being unmasked or being “found out” as an impostor. Those who experience impostor syndrome may suffer from self-doubt. This may make them incapable of taking credit for their accomplishments and successes. They may feel that their success is a fluke, which can lead them to belittle or discount their achievements.
Impostor syndrome typically involves individuals who are high achievers, intelligent and accomplished. There’s a misconception that impostor syndrome primarily affects women, and especially professional women or women in business. But men, too, are subject to it. It can affect anyone from scientists, academics, programmers, actors, authors, librarians, to entrepreneurs and executives. A 2015 study by Vantage Hill Partners, a UK consulting firm, shows that even CEOs experience impostor syndrome. The study, which involved 116 companies, revealed that one of the top fears of CEOs is being found to be incompetent.

Even Albert Einstein may have experienced some aspect of this syndrome. “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held,” he said, “makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
If you think you might suffer from impostor syndrome, try this test. It might help you determine whether you have impostor syndrome characteristics.
So, what can be done to manage, or overcome, impostor syndrome? Here are some suggestions to consider:
1. Don’t fake it.
Well-meaning advice is to “fake it until you make it.” But this might only reinforce the feeling of being an impostor.
Instead of faking anything, consider focusing on increasing your competency in whatever you undertake. Devoting whatever time and effort is required to own your area of expertise can help you feel less like a phony. When we genuinely practice what we know, there’s no need to fake it. There’s power in being authentically who we are and doing work we’re qualified to do.
In that vein, you may not want to take on any challenges where you genuinely feel that you aren’t qualified or where you know you don’t have what it takes in that particular area. If it’s too much, acknowledge it. Acknowledging legitimate concerns can help free you to focus on what you’re good at.
2. Boost your self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is not our ability to do something, but rather our belief in our ability. One way you can increase your self-efficacy is through mastery experiences. This means having successful experiences through repeated effort. Let’s take public speaking as an example. By repeatedly speaking in public, or delivering presentations, you can overcome obstacles to speaking well. Successes that you achieve through persistence and doggedness can lead to mastery experiences.
Another way to boost your self-efficacy is through vicarious experiences. This means watching individuals who are similar to you achieve success through perseverance. This can increase your belief that you, too, can improve your performance in similar activities.

3. Cut yourself some slack.
It’s safe to say that almost everyone who is a high achiever may have, at one time or other, worried that they may not be as capable as others may view them. Perhaps this is what philosopher Bertrand Russell had in mind when he said that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
Instead of self-flagellation, consider practicing self-compassion. Reminding yourself that you’re not alone in this can help you reduce your fears.
Worrying about how others may view you is natural. It’s an indication that you care. There’s humility in worrying and some humility is an attractive trait. It can trump arrogance. And here’s something to keep in mind: Real impostors probably don’t experience the pangs of the impostor syndrome!

4. Practice metacognition.
Metacognition is not only an awareness of our own thinking, but also an analysis of our own thinking. Simply put, it’s thinking about thinking. Since impostor syndrome typically involves thoughts and feelings about one’s performance, rather than the actual performance itself, it pays to raise your awareness of what’s happening in the moment.
One way to do this is to try and catch yourself when self-doubt starts to creep in. Pause for a moment, and ask yourself:
– Is my self-doubt justifiable?
– What hard evidence is there to validate my fears?
– What scripts am I carrying in my head?
– Who put them there?
– Am I allowing my emotions to highjack my logical brain?
– Are my feelings a result of emotional exhaustion? (e.g., Have I over-extended myself?)
– Do I need to change my strategy?

5. Cultivate mental and emotional poise.
When we practice mental and emotional poise, we’re more likely to achieve that wonderful state of balance, of equilibrium. We can do this when we acknowledge that we’re doing our very best to learn and know our craft. There are other ways to achieve this: For one thing, stopping the tyranny of comparisons. As Mark Twain put it, “comparison is the death of joy.” As well, stop seeking external validation. Why choose to depend on others’ judgments, opinions and possible biases?
Finally, consider reminding yourself that the costs of perpetuating impostor syndrome far outweigh any possible benefits. For example, the anxiety that accompanies such feelings can be an unnecessary distraction. Feeling like an impostor can cause you to undersell yourself.
Whether you’re a business owner, a professional or an entrepreneur, impostor syndrome can sap your energy and discourage you from going out there and pursuing your goals for success. Acknowledge it—and take comfort in the knowledge that many others, especially successful people, experience the same feelings. Then resolve not to let it stop you in your tracks.

The Best Strategies for Big or Small Organizational Changes

To remain competitive in the market, companies must evolve and adapt to the changing climate. But organizational changes—whether big or small—can be disruptive to the workforce if you don’t have strong change management.
Many companies tend to be ineffective at organizational change. It’s not as simple as just changing the name from the CEO’s office, deciding to merge with another successful company or undergoing a shift in culture. For change to be successful, it often helps when you take into account every aspect of the company—from the culture to the top leaders and even part-time staff. There are several strategies for change management you might consider adopting before you make any shifts within the organization.
– Start at the Top
To initiate any type of change, consider forming a team that will lead the charge. But ensure that people at the helm of the change ship are competent and aligned on the cause.
Change managers aren’t just the strategy people, despite it being an important part of their role. These folks should ideally be effective communicators so they can clearly spread the word in the organization.
– Ask for Feedback
Many organizations ask for feedback after they’re already shoulder-deep in their change initiative. But you may be more likely to succeed if you begin the change with the feedback already in hand.
Employee engagement survey tools that help you gain insight from employees on the frontline who are affected by the day-to-day change may help streamline the change process.
– Define the Change
It’s often not enough to just tell your employees that change is coming. Consider establishing goals for transitions. While you can simply tell your employees change will “accelerate growth,” it’s often much better to set concrete goals that can be measured.
To do so, consider making the goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Bound. You’ll not only be able to measure your progress, you’ll also hopefully give your employees something solid to work toward.
– Simplify
Overcomplicating matters may just make your employees confused and overwhelmed. Keep things simple. Avoid trying to do too much at once. Stick to a goal. Define it with simplicity.
– Do It in Sections
Consider beginning by introducing the change into only one section of the company, which will act as the “treatment group.” The rest of the company—the unchanged section—will be the control group.
Doing this may allow you to figure out the difference in productivity, morale and finances, which may ultimately determine whether the change has potential for success across the entire organization or if you should do more tinkering before escalating it.
– Don’t Stick to Numbers
Remember those defined goals? Don’t just make them about finances and figures. The emotional aspect may be just as important. Ensure there’s an emotional drive toward making a change. You can’t overestimate the value of a dollar, and you can’t underestimate heartstrings.
– Adopt Recognition Programs
Consider setting standards by recognizing employees who are aiding the change. Tailor the rewards to specific actions and company values so other employees know what type of behavior might garner a reward. It may also show that you truly appreciate and acknowledge your employees during this difficult time.
– Keep Communication Lines Open
It’s not efficient to communicate change and then assume that employees are ready to go. Instead, look for feedback—and do it constantly. Consider leveraging surveys, team meetings and company-wide emails to ensure all employees are on the same page. Then you might use that feedback to adjust your change strategies.

Organizational change can undoubtedly be stressful. But it may be stressful for all employees, from the top down, which is why it may be helpful to maintain employee morale through clear communication, feedback and employee recognition.

Some Tips to Motivate Employees Without Spending Money

he best way to get the most out of your workforce may be to make sure they’re engaged. A 2015 study by the Temkin Group, a customer research and engagement firm, revealed that 91 percent of highly engaged employees always or almost always try their hardest at work (among disengaged employees, only 67 percent say the same).
But employee engagement is such a complex topic, how do you know where to start? To top it off, how do you pinpoint exactly what makes employees more enthusiastic, invested and inspired?
Then the perfect starting point for finding ways to motivate employees and increase employee engagement. And one of the best things may be that you can actually work on these areas without spending any money. Consider starting with these three strategies:
1. Build a top-notch culture.
Organizational culture and team usually go hand in hand. Your company’s culture is ever changing and can be built every day by the various actions and attitudes of everyone in your workforce. If you have even just one toxic employee, they may bring down the atmosphere around them. I’ve seen this happen at various companies that had a stellar culture to begin with, but brought on an employee who was a bad fit with the culture. Their negativity plagued the work environment and made its way into other departments. But once that person was let go, their remaining employees were engaged once again.
So decide what kind of culture you want your organization to have—innovative, agile, collaborative, focused on customer service, etc. Some of the greatest cultures have started off with employees who complemented each other and the culture. Remember that skills can be taught, but personality is typically much harder to change.
2. Focus on leadership qualities.
Engaged employees are likely looking for two specific qualities in their leaders: strong performance and transparency. To get the former, you might consider focusing on leadership skills—not just general job skills—when promoting an employee or hiring someone for a leadership position.
And when it comes to transparency, being open about communication may be valuable to employees while costing you nothing. Establishing multiple channels for communicating information may help, such as all-hands meetings, one-on-ones between direct managers and employees, and perhaps a company-wide newsletter. Use these outlets as ways to share important company information such as performance, goals and upcoming changes. You might use them to announce major decisions and explain the context and reasoning behind them. When employees feel like they’re in the loop, they’ll also feel more invested in their organization.
3. Help employees develop.
Finally, you might guide your employees on their path of professional growth. This means focusing beyond their current job duties and day-to-day expectations. Consider finding out what their interests are, and help them pursue those interests by giving them additional responsibilities at work. Keeping their interests piqued at work may not only keep them on their toes, but also potentially help them develop new skills.
If your employees want to move up in the ranks, it’s often helpful to make the promotion process clear, and to make sure you’ve supported their professional development so they’re prepared for the new role.
These steps don’t take much in the way of resources—just effort. But that effort may benefit your company by helping you get a stronger team, a more positive work environment, a more invested workforce and all the other benefits of high employee engagement.

Help Slow Employees Work Faster With This 6 Steps

Ah, the employees whose veins must be filled with molasses. You know the ones—you leave them with an hour’s worth of work and it takes two days before they’re finished.
There’s good news, though: Not only are there strategies for increasing these slow employees’ work speed, but when you follow these steps, you may also get better quality work out of them, too.
1. Determine why your employees are slow.
Just simply ask. Explain that you’ve noticed their speed isn’t up to par and ask what’s slowing them down. They might be confused. They might be so detail-oriented, they’re getting caught up in particulars that don’t matter to you. They may even know their performance is subpar and be glad you asked. In any case, a number of things may be causing employees to work slower than you’d like, and the first step toward a solution is determining the underlying cause.
2. Team up with them.
Employees may get defensive when they feel backed into a corner, and that’s the opposite of what you want. It may help to make it clear you’re there to help, not simply point the finger and walk away. Ask, “What can we do to improve this situation?” or “How can I help?” Sometimes the answer is there, you just have to ask the question.
3. Give clear deadlines with priorities.
You know which tasks are most important, but do your employees? While it’s great to give your staff to-do lists, it may help to prioritize tasks, or you may run the risk of your employees taking care of the least demanding and important tasks first. And don’t forget about Parkinson’s Law, that work expands to fill the time we allot for it. Don’t be afraid to give your staff clear and demanding deadlines. You won’t know how quickly they can turn projects around unless you push them.
4. Limit distractions.
Employees who feel overwhelmed may end up accomplishing very little, but if you feed them tasks a few at a time, they may be able to knock out phenomenal amounts of work. You might try to find ways to streamline your problem employees’ environments and give them the chance to succeed. Keep in mind that we may be distracted by different things. I’ve learned that I can’t have my email up and running if I’m trying to complete a complex task by a deadline, as I’m likely to be sidetracked by client questions. Determine what gets your slow employees off task and try to address those issues.
5. Find out what your employees like to do.
When you take the time to explore the tasks that make your staff feel fulfilled, you’re really trying to find out what they’re good at. While you can’t assign everyone only the tasks they enjoy, it often makes sense to work to your employees’ strengths. If you can balance jobs that feel like drudgery with jobs they love, your employees may be happier and less likely to drag their heels. You don’t have to treat work like preschool, but employees who feel a balance of fulfilled and challenged may be the most productive.
6. Give regular feedback.
So you meet with your slow employees, find out what the problems are and develop a plan to speed up their work completion. The critical last step is to follow up. Consider planning a series of meetings to discuss their performance and progress and decide how things are going. It may also be important to set incremental goals. When you have otherwise good employees who simply lag a bit, you don’t want to have to fire them if their first evaluation shows they haven’t achieved absolutely everything. Rewarding incremental progress may help you keep the tone positive, while still working toward your end goal. Constructive criticism and a focus on what they’ve accomplished may make the meeting a positive one, rather than something they’ll dread.

An added benefit to addressing the problem of slow employees in a pragmatic fashion is you’re modeling a positive method of conflict resolution in your business. Your staff sees that while you have high expectations, you don’t expect perfection. They’ll hopefully understand that you value them and their contribution enough to work toward better results. Feeling supported and valued often translates into loyal, long-term employees, ones you can trust to deliver on time.

Some Ways to Help Fix a Toxic Work Culture

At the heart of every organization is its culture. A company’s core values provide direction and help increase engagement for its team, which may keep the organization running at maximum productivity.
Unfortunately, just like a virus, a toxic work culture may be damaging to your workforce. Productivity, camaraderie, and retention may all suffer a huge hit when employees become disengaged. TINYpulse’s 2014 Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report uncovered this disheartening fact: A startling 64 percent of employees don’t feel like they’re surrounded by a strong work culture. Thankfully, there are ways to help fix a broken company culture.
– Create and Maintain a Transparent Environment
Sometimes leaders operate behind closed doors. There may be a reason, but shutting yourself off from being open with employees about information may backfire. In the TINYpulse report mentioned above, we found that transparency is the number one factor that contributes to employee happiness. Few people like to be shunned and kept out of the loop.
It may help if your employees know what’s going on in the organization, whether it’s suffering from financial pains or landing a huge client. Along with holding one-on-one meetings with your employees, you might consider having biweekly company meetings to maintain transparency. Regardless of how big or small your organization is, gathering everyone into one room may trump sending out a company-wide email that has a chance of getting lost.
– Ensure That Community Doesn’t Equal Competition
Do your employees constantly butt heads? Are they out to sabotage one another? If so, there’s a chance you’ve built a cutthroat, competitive culture, and this is sometimes a prominent characteristic of a toxic environment. When employees can’t get along with each other, your business may have a hard time succeeding.
To build and cultivate a culture of camaraderie, you may need to be consistent in measuring a culture fit during the hiring process. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever come across a bad apple in your organization. If employees’ behaviors or actions aren’t aligned with your company’s values—they sabotage their colleagues, consistently have a bad attitude or refuse to follow policies—you may want to consider letting them go. Even if this person is a top performer, the negative air they spread in the work environment may wreak havoc on other employees’ productivity and engagement.
– Listen to Your Employees Constantly
Leaders who put their employees’ voices on mute may be putting their business on the road to failure. On the other hand, a manager who asks for feedback and does nothing about it may be practically doing the same. When it comes to listening to and gathering employee feedback, there are three vital steps you might take:
-> Close the open door: When was the last time your employee came waltzing through your door with a problem? Consider an anonymous pulse survey instead. These can be sent out weekly or biweekly and feature only one question. That way, managers may stay up to date with the ebbs and flows of employee sentiment.
-> Share the feedback: If you want to help reinforce transparency, you might let your employees read through the anonymous responses so they can get a gauge on how their colleagues are feeling.
-> Find a solution together: Schedule a meeting or set aside some time during the company meeting to discuss the survey responses. Getting your employees involved in finding solutions to these issues might help them understand that you want to improve the culture for them, not just you.

Ensuring transparency, fostering camaraderie and asking for employee feedback may be the keys to rebuilding a broken company culture. Once you put your employees at the center and build a culture around their needs, you may just create a thriving environment.

Some Tips to Help Overcome the Obstacles to Success

Wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to do to succeed in business was “follow the yellow brick road?” If that were the case, the traffic on that path might be worse than Interstate 405 in Los Angeles at rush hour
Unfortunately, most roads to success include a lot of curves, bends and detours. Personally, I think the detours exist to make each of us show how committed we are to success. How bad do we want it? These obstacles can also be a great opportunity to take a step back and see the bigger picture of what we are doing.
What happens when your company hits a plateau or obstacle? What do you do when sales have leveled off, company morale has slipped and employees seem to be going through the motions at work? How can you get past the wall in front of your business in order to continue your climb to success?
Here are three simple suggestions for dealing with detours and obstacles to success:
1. Evaluate the situation.
What’s the problem? Is it something small, or was the path in front of you completely blown up? In most instances, the problem is usually minor, but don’t simply dismiss it as nothing. That’s when minor problems can become major issues. You may want to look for problems that become trends—whether it’s with your employees, vendors or customers. Trends can turn a $50 problem into a $5,000 nightmare.
Lastly, is your obstacle a “false wall?” Sometimes we can create our own detours out of fear. We may be afraid of success and create excuses as to why we can’t move forward.
Takeaway: Evaluate your situation to determine what is impeding your path to success. You can’t beat something if you don’t know what it is.
2. Generate possible solutions.
Problems can provide great learning opportunities for employees to make decisions. You can empower them to evaluate the situation and come up with possible solutions. This may be the first step in creating new leaders in your company.
However, you may not want to go with employees’ first response; make sure they’ve looked at the problem from every angle. It’s imperative to make sure your team has all the information they need to assess the situation and make the best possible decision.
Takeaway: By empowering your employees to address the obstacles in your company’s path, you’re helping to create confident leaders who can help take your business to the next level.
3. Attack the problem.
Once you and your team have decided on a solution for the problem, attack it. The last thing you want is to have a problem, once thought handled, come back and wreak more havoc on your business. Recurring problems or detours may slow down your workforce productivity and potentially create morale problems. No one wants to deal with the same issues over and over again.
Takeaway: One of the biggest factors in a company’s success may be its ability to successfully deal with obstacles in its path to growth. Don’t let recurring problems or obstacles derail your business.
What are the current obstacles in your company’s path to success? Are you doing everything you can to bust through them, or are they slowing you down? Make the obstacles a priority, attack them and notice how much smoother the path becomes.

Tips to Clone Your Best Employee

Do you have an amazing, incredible employee who stands out from the rest of your staff? You may have a problem.
It doesn’t sound like a problem, of course. You wanted to hire someone incredible, and you did. But if you’ve ever wondered what you would do without them, you can start to see your potential crisis. If you have an employee you consider virtually indispensable, and that employee quits or retires, you don’t want to be in a position of having your company crumble around you.
In other words, you should be doing everything you can to clone your employee. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Have your best employees train new employees.
You might feel you should do all the training, or that a middle-range or lesser performing employee should be breaking in someone new, while the best employees keep the company running.
But that would be a huge mistake, claims Kathy Stokes, who co-owns a PostNet franchise in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with her husband, Terry. The Stokeses have six full-time employees and have owned their franchise for 18 years. Her first employee, Karlyn Wagner, still works for her, and whenever Stokes makes a new hire, Wagner is the primary trainer.
“You want to create a culture in your business where everyone is encouraged to have good staff behaviors,” Stokes says, adding that she has found that “as long as I have those one or two rockstars who get it, and really understand what the business is about, then we can always train the new ones coming in.”
Let the subpar employees go.
Obviously, you should give employees a chance, in a culture where people can be free to make the occasional mistake without fear of reprisal.
“Working and business should be fun. Many employees are not being paid enough, but they will stick around a quality work environment,” says Bruce Brown, who owns Brown Marketing Consulting and is a consultant in Los Angeles specializing in sales training.
But at the same time, if some of your employees turn out to be hateful and are bringing down the business with their negativity or poor performance, it’s important to not let them hang on for too long.
“If you allow sour grapes into the environment and people who don’t follow the company’s culture, then that’s what the new employees will learn. Pretty soon, you’ll have a new culture, one that you don’t necessarily want,” Stokes says.
Be careful about singling out your star.
It’s one thing if you have a small staff and your model employee has been around for years. They’re likely going to expect that longtime employee to be, for lack of a better phrase, “teacher’s pet.” But if your star employee hasn’t been around awhile, holding that person up as someone to emulate may backfire.
“My suggestion is, don’t hold one employee up as a model. That will cause resentments and break down team relationships,” says Kelly Drake, who owns Resolve, a conflict and workplace mediation company in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jonathan Ceballos, human resources director at USB Memory Direct, a Cooper City, Florida-based company that creates custom USB flash drives and has 23 employees, agrees that you should tread carefully here. He explains that one of the company’s star employees now trains the new hires, but before she did, Ceballos made sure everyone knew the employee was going to go through her own training program.
“Since she herself had to go through our training on how to train others, it made it feel like everyone was on the same boat and so we also never ran into any employee resentment problems,” he says.
Even though the star employee’s training was different—she was trained on how to train people—going that route “makes it clear to everyone that no one is above anybody else and that this is something that is going to help everybody out,” Ceballos says.
Michael Lastoria, CEO of &Pizza, which has 11 restaurants in the Washington, DC, area, recommends that if your star employee is training other staff, they use the word “we,” not “I.”
The word “we,” Lastoria says, “encourages camaraderie among the tribe and helps drive success by making it about the shop and not the individual.”
Reward employees.
If you have a fairly large and unmotivated staff, Brown agrees there may be a danger in highlighting someone as the best and making everyone resent their fellow coworker—but not if you do it in a way that rewards everyone for following your model employee. In other words, make the focus on rewarding good behavior and work habits, rather than on one employee being more skilled than the others.
“I always suggest bribes of some sort,” Brown says. That could mean an extra day off with pay, a gift card or a free lunch of somebody’s choice every Friday for a month, “or any number of possible pay-offs.”
And if you think your employees shouldn’t be rewarded for doing something they should be doing anyway, Brown argues, “bite the bullet and give them a bribe that does not cost more than the savings or additional profits gained from the cooperation.”
Keep your star employee happy.
You could find that your star employee resents everyone else, or you, if you’re constantly rewarding everyone else. Wagner at PostNet has “been here 18 years. She can work whatever hours she wants,” Stokes says. “If she needs time off, she gets it. She works remotely when she wants to. Now that she has kids in middle school, that helps greatly with her.”
Stokes also says that the raises are built on a bonus system, and she offers a paid vacation and other benefits.
“We’re a small business, but we try to give our employees a reason to stay a good long while,” she says.
Lastoria agrees with the notion that you should give back to the employees who give their all to your company. He says that particularly when it comes to their employees who demonstrate a stellar work ethic, he and his leadership team “are constantly listening to feedback and doing what we can to encourage their growth and development.”
And it seems to be working. “Our strongest performers, our best cultural fits, those people who we really felt had the most potential, have not left,” he says.
And if you do that, you may find that even if your star employees do eventually leave, you’ll get far more advance notice than the standard two weeks, Stokes says.
“When we hire people, we make them understand that we know some people won’t stay, that this is just part of the path of their life,” she says. “We let them know that because they’re such a valuable employee when they decide to go, the more notice they can give us so we can collectively find a replacement for them, the better.”