Tag Archive for 'employee'

Find work you love and enjoy

Whether work is a blessing or a curse depends on what you are working on and your attitude about it. James Matthew Barrie, the Scottish novelist said, “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

Many hard working entrepreneurs were once unproductive employees, but now, with their wagon hitched to their own star, work is the stuff of their dreams. Many productive employees understand the blessings of employment and become the most valuable of resources: the entrepreneurial employee who loves his or her work.
Work feeds our stomachs with food and our spirit with accomplishment. Work creates, produces, energizes, and fulfills all things humans need for survival and happiness.
If work is not a blessing for you — whether owner or employee — the problem is not work itself, but the work you are doing. The Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Work is love made visible.”
Life is short.  Keep searching until you find work you can love.  I did.

The Four Levels of Performance Consciousness

Ever wonder why some people are effective in their work while others aren’t?  The answer may be found in their consciousness. But it’s about being aware, not just awake.

Take a look at the four levels of performance consciousness.

1. Unconscious Incompetent
The Unconscious Incompetent doesn’t know that he doesn’t know. He’s also called a DK2, which is short for, “don’t know, squared.” He’s not only incapable but actually clueless about his inability.

In truth everyone is a DK2 from time to time. The challenge is to not live our lives as one because DK2 is a terminal professional condition. But if you’re thinking, “Oh, Great One! Please, stop me before I DK2 again,” don’t fret; we’ll get to that.

Photo courtesy of Impact Learning

Photo courtesy of Impact Learning

Don’t envy the Unconscious Competent because not knowing how you got where you are is one of the definitions of lost. Any resulting success is also likely to be temporary.

3. Conscious Incompetent
This person is incapable and knows it. There’s no ego about what he thinks he knows and no resistance to your methods and practices. A Conscious Incompetent is an amorphous block of disciple clay waiting to be molded by you, the sculptor.

Be careful. Sometimes this person wallows in his condition as an excuse for non-performance. Conscious Incompetence should be a temporary condition on the way to the ultimate level of consciousness.

4. Conscious Competent
This person gets the job done and knows why. She can identify what causes success while being fully aware—and taking ownership—of failures.

How do you become a Conscious Competent? Through a practice called self-analysis.

Self-analysis allows us to see what we do well and capitalize on it, as well as recognize and evaluate what we don’t do well and improve or minimize it. It’s not easy because it requires control of our egos.

Ego obstructs self-analysis by telling us that any success we have is because we’re so smart, while assuring us that any failures we experience couldn’t be our fault. Successful self-analysis is part of a conscious plan for professional improvement.

By practicing self-analysis, Conscious Competents discover the enduring benefits of being honest with themselves about their own performance.

Write this on a rock… If professional excellence were a mountain, Conscious Competence would be its peak.

Independent Contractor or Employee

If necessity is the mother of invention, a pink slip is the nagging parent of a great deal of entrepreneurialism. And even though there are many different paths to small business ownership, millions have been thrust into this independent state as a result of some form of cessation of employment.

The good news is many of those who find themselves unemployed decide to fend for themselves by starting a small business. The bad news is, some of them don’t know that.

“How could that happen?” you ask. Well, it’s because they hired themselves out as an independent contractor, possibly to their last employer.

Not to take anything away from all these entrepreneurial accomplishments, but for many who have been fired, sacked, canned, downsized, right-sized and consolidated, in the current state of our economy there often are only three choices: Either stay unemployed and ultimately become homeless; be underemployed; or start working for themselves.

A Personal Example
Having been one of the sacked back in the late ’80s, I decided that I didn’t need any help messing up my life, so I headed out on my own and started my own small business — a business consulting company.

For a few years I was my company’s only employee. My products were my time, advice, and personal service. My slogan was, “I’m a vice president you can rent.”

And even though I considered myself a business owner, technically speaking, until my company was incorporated, I was an independent contractor.

The Technical
So does anyone care whether you’re an employee, a business owner, or an independent contractor? Oh, yeah! You bet your sweet assets someone cares. The IRS cares - a lot!!

Every year there are millions of new reported contract relationships for the IRS to keep track of, plus millions of new unreported relationships to track down. Because there is often confusion about this issue, a whole new body of tax compliance by the IRS has been developed which includes a list of 20 ways to identify an employer/employee relationship. Sounds like a Paul Simon song, doesn’t it: “There must be 20 ways to find your employee!” Sorry.

If you’re selling your time and advice as a consultant, you may think of yourself as a contractor or a business owner, but you may actually be an employee, by the definition of the IRS. Do you know who is responsible for paying and remitting the payroll taxes on your income? Is that being done?

If your business is using the services of people you consider to be independent contractors, will the IRS agree with you? Do you know how many clients your “consultants” have? If you are their only — or most significant — client, and they are not reporting and remitting their payroll taxes, you may be in the queue for a visit from the IRS.

Here are those guidelines the IRS uses to determine if the relationship in question is employment or contract. Please note that paraphrasing is used for brevity, and to illustrate the concept. You and/or your financial/tax/payroll staff and advisors should use the actual IRS ruling and language.

20 rules that differentiate between an employee and a contractor

1. Instructions: If a worker must comply with when, where, and how to conduct the work, that is usually an employee.

2. Training: If the worker has to be trained by the company, that is usually seen as an employment relationship.

3. Integration: If the worker’s activity is integrated into the operation, this demonstrates direction and control, and is usually seen as employment rather than contract.

4. Services rendered personally: If the services must be personally rendered by the worker, then this is usually seen as an employment relationship.

5. Hiring, supervising, and paying assistants: If the hiring company or person also hires, fires, and pays assistants, that activity is seen as control by the hirer, and is usually seen as an employment relationship.

6. Continuing relationship: The continuity of the relationship between the hiring company or individual and the provider of services may indicate an employment relationship, rather than a contract relationship.

7. Set hours of work: This indicates an act of control. Control is typically seen as a function of an employer.

8. Full time required: When a worker must devote substantial full time to the business of the company or person receiving the services, this indicates an employment relationship.

9. Order or sequence set: Again, an issue of control over how work is performed. If the receiver of services sets the order or sequence, they are typically going to be seen as an employer of the service provider.

10. Oral or written reports: Requirement of reporting indicates employment control.

11. Payment by hour, week, month: How a worker is paid can indicate the nature of the relationship, whether employment or contract.

12. Work done on premises: Employees usually do all work on the premises of the receiver of services. This may be a tricky one in the case of teleworkers.

13. Payment of expenses: Employers usually pay the expenses of employees, while contractors typically pay their own, but may be reimbursed at the end of the assignment.

14. Tools and material: Employers typically provide tools and materials to employees, while contractors usually provide their own.

15. Significant investment: Employees typically do not invest in the facilities they work in.

16. Realization of profit or loss: A worker who has the potential to profit or lose from the delivery of a service is typically not seen as an employee.

17. Working for more than one firm: A worker who delivers significant services to more than one unrelated firm or person in the same period is typically not seen as an employee.

18. Right to discharge: The ability to fire a worker is seen as an employment relationship.

19. Making services available to general public: Availability of services to the general public is seen in independent contractors.

20. Right to terminate: The right to quit is seen as that of an employee.

Not that the IRS isn’t motivated to collect all taxes, but they are especially vigilant about collecting payroll taxes. When the IRS determines that a “consultant” is actually an employee, a surprise tax bill will be coming soon. And if that isn’t bad enough, there are also those two abiding companions of most delinquent tax bills: interest and penalties.

I’ve talked quite a bit with Barbara Weltman, small business tax attorney, radio host and author of many books, including her latest, J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2012. To listen to or download our latest conversation, click here.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Small business employees morale in a recession

One of the usual topics of concern and discussion during a slow economy, especially a serious recession, is asset management; watching inventory levels and keeping close tabs on cash are two prime examples. In fact, as you may know, I’ve been talking and writing a lot about this subject recently. But there is another kind of asset that must also be monitored very closely, and alas, often gets overlooked, especially when a tough economy raises frustration and pressure. I’m talking about our employees.

We small business owners get so wrapped up in growing, or saving, our baby – this business we’ve nursed from start up – that we take for granted that our employees love what we do as much as we do. After all, they show up everyday just like we do, right? So when economic times are scary, we think they have the same ability to rise above the fear and push on, just like we do. Well, it isn’t necessarily so.

As the Alpha Member of our company, we have information our employees usually don’t have, including the long-term vision, financial condition and access to capital, for example. And we know one more thing they cannot know: how committed we are to not giving up.

Whether we know it or not, during a recession, when layoffs are so much a part of the news, our employees have a level of concern – somewhere from manageable to hysterical – that we need to allow them to talk about with us and the entire team.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about owners and managers proactively getting employee concerns about the economy out in the open before they get out of hand. I think you’ll find the few minutes it takes to listen to be time well spent. And be sure to leave a comment, if you have one.

Maximizing small business employee engagement

For the past year or so I’ve reported on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, the results of several national employee engagement surveys that have been conducted by highly credentialed organizations. The news has not been good.

In every survey, with respondents partitioned into three groups – not engaged, somewhat engaged and very engaged – the survey with the most favorable numbers indicated that each of the groups represented one third of the respondents. The other surveys indicated worse numbers, as bad as 20-60-20. So, at best, these surveys indicated that two-thirds of employees are either not engaged or only somewhat engaged. Pretty scary,huh?

Clearly, something’s wrong. And if you think about it, we didn’t need a survey to confirm what we see everyday when we’re being served in the marketplace – more disengagement than engagement.

So is the problem bad management? Bad hiring practices? Employees with bad attitudes? Probably a combination of all of these, but one thing is for sure: it’s up to management to fix this mess.

This week, on my radio show, I interviewed engagement expert and Brain Trust member, Joyce Weiss- author of “Full Speed Ahead”- about this. She offered several tips and best practices that I think will help you maximize the engagement of your employees. Take a few minutes to listen to this archive of The Small Business Advocate Show, and leave your comments, too.

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