Tag Archive for 'Human Resources'

Introducing your small business to Motivation 3.0

We’re only 10% into the 21st century, so there is a pretty good chance that a lot of what you know was learned in the last century.  Having said that, here’s the bad news: Most of what you learned about the marketplace in the last millennium is now obsolete.  And that includes how to motivate and manage people, especially the young folk.

Having come of age in the marketplace in the last third of the 20th century, it seems to me that managing and motivating people wasn’t much different in that era than it was for my mentors. Indeed, senior managers in those days were pretty much doing in the 1970s, 80s and 90s what they had learned and practiced for decades. But somehow, seemingly coincidental with the advent of the new millennia, best practices for leveraging human power effectively and successfully in business began to change as two new generations came online.

One of the most noticeable changes was how different these new generations were from earlier ones with regard to motivation.  Clearly, the motivational books are having to be rewritten for the 21st century, and not surprisingly, one of my long-time Brain Trust members, Dan Pink has done just that.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with Dan about why the old “carrot and stick” approach is not as effective in the 21st century and what managers should know about what he calls ”Motivation 3.0.” Dan is the author of several provocative, bestselling books about the changing world of work, including his latest, Drive, in which he reveals his ground-breaking ideas on modern motivation best practices.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to what Dan has to say in this recent visit with me. And be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Ten Small Business survival steps to take right now

Last week we talked about assuming a survival attitude. Here are 10 things to do right now to execute on this attitude.

1. Profit is the Queen of business, but cash is King. Ask employees to help cut waste and expenses, plus review operational steps and eliminate or tighten up inefficient ones. What’s their motivation? How about job security? Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

2. Stay close to accounts receivables and cash management. Many tasks can and should be delegated by a business owner, but right now cash management isn’t one of them.

3. Declare war on excess inventory. Don’t miss a sale, but don’t let one piece of inventory spend the night in your building unless it’s absolutely essential. Inventory is cash you can’t spend until you convert it back by making a sale.

4. Review ALL contracts for services to make sure you still need them. Your customers are doing the same thing; get ready.

5. Make your banker your survival partner in 2009. Keep him or her informed about how things are going, good or bad – especially the bad. Bankers need information, even if it’s bad news. Remember this: An uninformed banker is a scared banker, and no one ever got any help out of a scared banker.

6. Wherever possible renegotiate term loans, including real estate mortgages, to take advantage of lower interest rates. Longer amortization and lower rates preserve cash.

7. If you rent, talk with your landlord about adjustments in the terms of your lease. Don’t expect the landlord to take a major hit, but he or she knows that prospects may not line up to take your space if you leave. This is a good time to be creative.

8. Convert non-performing assets to cash – even if you have to sell for less than you want. What things were worth last year has no bearing on what they’re worth today, and they might be worth less tomorrow. If it’s not performing, cut it loose.

9. If it’s humanly possible, personally call on EVERY customer at least once in the near future, even if a salesperson is calling on them. This isn’t a sales call; it’s a relationship call. Find out what you can do to help them, and then do it. Your company’s future probably depends upon these visits.

10. Payroll expenses must be addressed. Non-performers must go first. Before making other cuts, ask your team to help find creative ways to allocate your bare-bones payroll budget. But don’t forget that now could be a good time to invest in the future by acquiring a highly trained “big business” employee who just got laid off.

Don’t wait - take these 2009 survival steps right now.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I discussed these 10 survival steps in more detail. You can listen to my thoughts by clicking on this link. And as always, I look forward to your comments.

Employee engagement is a key to small business success

With so many hats to wear in a small business, and so few heads to put them on, making sure everyone on the team is committed to excellence is always necessary. But right now we have this thing hanging over our heads – economists call it a recession – and regardless of how it’s impacting your business, this is not a time for the human components of your small business machine to be less than finely tuned. Here are two important fine-tuning steps to take:

1) Make sure you’re employing people who are engaged in their work. In a good economy the negative impact of an unengaged employee is often masked or diluted by opportunity, and merely reduces organizational productivity. But in a recession, the drag of even one unengaged team member can be the difference between survival and, well, you know. Discover if you have an unengaged employee, redeem them if you can and get rid of them if you can’t.

2) Share your vision for how the business is going to address the challenges ahead. It’s not unreasonable for you to believe that your employees trust your leadership. But during unsettling times like these, a leader should reinforce the trust factor with some details.

In a team meeting (perhaps more than one) ask your team members to talk about their concerns about the economy. Ask them for suggestions on how the company can become more productive, effective and efficient. If you can, talk about your experiences in past downturns. Employees will like hearing that this isn’t their leader’s first rodeo. Explain what you’re doing to make sure the business will weather this storm, and talk specifically about what the company needs them to do.

Michael Stallard is an employee engagement expert and he joined me recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to talk about this very important part of successful business management. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from one of the best. And of course, be sure to offer your own thoughts.

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.

Small business management from the middle

Once there was a crow perched on a fence, looking at a turtle that was sitting on top of a fence post. After the crow inquired of the turtle as to how he came to be there, the turtle answered, “Well, one thing is for sure: I didn’t get here by myself.”

If small business owners are to find success in their business, it’s a virtual certainty that they won’t get there by themselves. Business growth requires leveraging other people in the form of employees and managers. It also requires the Alpha Manager (AM) – typically the founder – to be able to delegate.

The term “to be able to” has more than one moving part. First, the AM has to actually be prepared to delegate project ownership and the work. Second, the delegation has to be conducted by the AM in a manner that fosters a successful project completion. And third, the managers and employees have to be competent enough for the task being delegated.

Recently I had an excellent discussion with Brain Trust member, Rick Maurer- author of “Why Don’t You Want What I Want?”- about what he called, “Managing from the middle.” Rick is one of the smartest management minds in the Brain Trust, and I think you’ll find the time you spend listening to our conversation to be well spent.




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