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The purpose of a team building event should be to introduce, reinforce and reward, not to single-handedly forge a group of coworkers into a team. If it's used to replace the work your company (or you as a manager) should be doing every day, then you're missing out on some important points - and the major benefits of dragging everyone out of the office for a weekend of exhilirating and challenging activities.

Why Team Building Weekends Fail (And How to Make Yours Succeed)

Why Team Building Weekends Fail (And How to Make Yours Succeed)Somewhere in the world this afternoon, a group of office mates are strapping on safety equipment and preparing to scale the side of a cliff together. In another city, another group of mates is engaged in a retreat designed to foster their sense of teamwork. Late at night in yet another town, six men who usually compete in the office are cooperating on building a robot. What do they all have in common?The phrase is team building, and it has come to represent a way of doing business that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of each member of a workgroup. The basic concept of "team building" weekends is to bring a group of coworkers together and, by subjecting them to various hardships, events and activities, cement them into a team that supports each other and works together toward a common goal.The only problem with that scenario is that all too often, it doesn't work. Once the group is back at the office, they fall back into the old ways of working and the team building weekend is no more than a fond memory. The problem is not in the concept of team building, but in the notion that it can be accomplished in a weekend, no matter what that weekend entails. It's not that team building weekends are a bad idea - it's that they're expected to do a job that should be undertaken in your office, every workday of the year. The purpose of a team building event should be to introduce, reinforce and reward, not to single-handedly forge a group of coworkers into a team. If it's used to replace the work your company (or you as a manager) should be doing every day, then you're missing out on some important points - and the major benefits of dragging everyone out of the office for a weekend of exhilirating and challenging activities.So how do you forge the bonds of a team if not by dipping them into the crucible of a team building weekend? In simple street terms, you can't just talk the talk - you have to walk the walk. If you want your staff to believe they're a team and function as a team, then you have to treat them as a team - and yourself as an important member of it. - Communication is the key to building a team.o- The single biggest mistake that 'management' makes is failure to communicate. Your company doesn't have to be an open book to all employees, but sharing goals and intentions gives employees a sense that they are a part of a larger team working toward a specific purpose.- Build teamwork into the work flow.o- In order to work as a team, people need to be treated as one. Start each project with a team conference to define and refine goals. Create a central 'lounge' area where team members are comfortable grabbing coffee in the morning - and taking a few moments to catch up on things together. Hold regular team meetings where team members can report progress and delays so that no one feels left out of the loop.- Make recognition of achievement a priority.o- Recognizing achievement is important to reinforcing the team feeling. It needn't be formal - in fact, informal and unexpected recognition can be very potent. A word in passing in the hallway, a moment taken to pass on praise from a client while having a cup of coffee, a casual 'great work on that proposal, guys' at the end of a meeting are all part of the teamwork frame.- Make time to play as a team, too.o- Whether the play is a softball team, a bowling league or a semi-annual weekend where the team members can really stretch their wings, teams work best when they have something in common besides their work. A trek up a snowy mountainside builds shared memories that help cement the bonds that have formed throughout the year.

Amazing Quotes from Clients

Amazing Quotes from Clients

No doubt you've collected memorable quotes from your job or business. Here are some of the amazing things people have said to me since I started my business in 1992. And, yes, all of the quotes are true."Paying these royalties is a real hassle."> Comment: You can't judge a book publisher by the cover."I know that you're a much better speaker, and that your content is better, your materials are better, and even your fee is lower, but I decided to use a seminar company from out of state because my boss will approve it without asking any questions."> Comment: That explains why sometimes you find yourself in a really terrible seminar."I save all the invoices in a drawer and every four months or so I go through the stack and approve them."> Comment: I bet she would go ballistic if her paycheck were ten minutes late."Okay, in your case we'll make an exception and pay you on time."> Comment: Here's another person who fails to understand how business works."Instead of hiring a speaker we decided to spend our money on an ice sculpture."> Comment: I suppose it's more important to watch ice melt than learn something."I want you to send me a proposal with complete descriptions of all of your workshops, a resume, your client list for the past five years, a dozen testimonial letters, and a fee schedule. I've got 21 proposals so far and I want to collect 25."> Comment: If I were this man's boss, I'd fire him for being a public nuisance. (And I did not submit a proposal.)"If she had wanted to act on your proposal, she would have returned your calls. Duh!"> Comment: Every vendor is also a customer, and in this case I responded to their rudeness by transferring my phone service to another company. Cost to them: over $1,200 per year."What do you charge to speak for 54 minutes?"> Comment: The same that I charge for 55 minutes. And 53 minutes."Now that we have your workbook, we'll use one of our staff to conduct the workshop."> Comment: Let me know when you start so I can call my attorney."You asked too many questions. You're not supposed to figure out that this is illegal."> Comment: We never ask too many questions. (And I only work with ethical companies.)

Staff or Employee Scheduling Balances Several Requirements

Staff or Employee Scheduling Balances Several Requirements

Staff or employee scheduling or rostering relates employees, workplaces and work times. A workplace schedule lists the employees who will work there at different times. The times might be specific hours, dates, weeks or even months.A workplace can be retail store, manufacturing facility, head office, or even an external place for field sales persons. The key idea is that there should be clarity of who will work where and when. This would help the employee to know what is expected of him or her. And managers would know where an employee is expected to report for work on a given day and time.Rostering employees is not as simple as it might seem. You cannot just create an employee schedule by selecting any employee and including him in the roster. You have to balance a number of things, such as employee vacation plans, skill requirements for work being scheduled, employee unavailability owing to sickness, and so on.Different Kinds of Employee SchedulesEmployee rosters are typically created in a grid form with columns and rows.There are daily schedules where employees are typically listed in chronological order based on the scheduled times they will report for work.Weekly and monthly schedules list employees in the first column and dates (or days of the week) in the headings of the other columns. Against each employee under each date the scheduled working hours for that employee are indicated. In this kind of schedule, the employees are listed in alphabetical order for ease of finding a particular employee.Who Creates Employee Schedules?In smaller organizations, the owner himself or the manager of the employee creates the work rosters. In larger organizations, there could be a scheduling specialist in the HR department responsible for creating employee and workplace schedules.In these days, scheduling or rostering software is used for efficient employee scheduling. In addition to timesavings, rostering software can alert the person preparing the workplace schedule when there is a conflict between employee vacation time, sick time or compensation time with work time.Employee scheduling software can also accommodate differing requirements such as flexible working hours, optimizing worker, equipment and vehicle utilization, and better control over field personnel.The key benefit of using rostering software is that it can work extremely fast compared to humans, and at the same time consider many factors before scheduling each employee to a workplace at a particular time. Humans would find it impossible to handle this kind of complexity and produce timely employee schedules without causing problems with the scheduling.A rostering software can also revise an already prepared employee schedule quickly if it becomes necessary, as when a scheduled employee reports sick.The software can additionally accumulate the schedules in a database and analyze them for various purposes. The analysis can also help current scheduling by looking at each employee's work history so far.ConclusionPreparing a staff or employee schedule or roster involves balancing several requirements. For example, the scheduled work time must not conflict with an employee's scheduled vacation time. Similarly, if an employee is absent sick, the person cannot be scheduled until he or she is back. A rostering software can handle the complexity involved in employee scheduling and produce dependable schedules in short time.

Employee Benefits Driving Corporate Performance -- A White Paper

Employee Benefits Driving Corporate Performance -- A White Paper

In todays economy, companies of all sizes are facing a number of challenges that require urgent action. Health care costs are rising, pension obligations are growing and top talent is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit in the rebounding job market. Among the most significant business trends, competitive pressure on American workers is increasing at a rapid pace as offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) becomes more effective in performing traditional American jobs at much lower costs. The fundamental challenge for human resources managers is to re-invent employee benefit programs to deliver higher performance at a lower cost. The process of re-inventing employee benefit programs begins by developing a portfolio of employee benefits that maximizes total economic value for employees, while minimizing employer investment. In other words, there are a number of very attractive and financially rewarding benefits that employers could provide their employees. One of the most effective, yet highly underutilized, benefits is the employee discount program.Few employers offer their employees an employee discount program, even though its economic value to employees is very significant, while its cost is very low. These programs are either developed and maintained by internal "human resources" staff, or outsourced to managed employee discount programs (such as www.EmployeeHelper.com). Based on case studies conducted by EmployeeHelper.com, companies that have deployed managed employee discount programs with a wide variety of negotiated discounts, the net effect for employees can be equal to a compensation increase of over 5%. Considering the fact that employee discount programs are basically free for employees and their employees, the use of this program is expected to grow significantly across the marketplace. In an economy where competitive advantage is becoming increasingly tied to human capital, enhancements to "employee benefits" represent a growth opportunity for all business.Please visit http://www.employeehelper.com for more information about employee discount programs.

Hiring the Best - Interviewing Strategies that WORK!

In todays competitive environment, hiring has increasingly become a key link in establishing and maintaining your companys edge. By attracting and hiring the best people, your company can move quickly and grow steadily. On the flip side, however, poor hires cost you precious time, money, and opportunity. Poor hiring could cost you your company.Unfortunately, hiring candidates who can do what they say they can do is getting tougher. A whole industry has sprung up in the past ten years helping job seekers land a job sometimes at all costs. You cant afford to hire someone who cant do the job, do it with minimal direction, or do it quickly. Fortunately, there are techniques that you can use to ensure that the candidate you select can do the job. We will examine four techniques here demonstrations, simulations, problem solving, and testing and introduce a powerful interviewing technique High Performance Interviewing that we will cover in more detail in the next issue of Performance News.DemonstrationsIdeally, the best way to see if a candidate is able to do the job is to have them actually do the job. To have them, in other words, demonstrate their ability to do the work. Sales representatives can sell something; software engineers can code something; machine operators can operate a machine; secretaries can answer phones or type a memo; etc.SimulationSometimes demonstrations are not possible or appropriate. The next best thing to a demonstration is a simulation. A simulation is like a demonstration except that the situation is not real. In sales or customer service, for example, you can role play an angry customer and have the candidate respond to your anger. Another example of a simulation is having a telesales representative call you (the customer) to sell you something. Or, if youre interviewing for a training position, you could have the candidate teach you something.Problem SolvingSometimes demonstrations and simulations are not feasible. Then problem solving might provide you with confidence in the persons ability. Problem solving is a technique many interviewers use to see how adept the candidate is in addressing real or hypothetical problems and challenges. It is one step removed from simulation because in problem solving the candidate describes what s/he would do rather than simulating what s/he would do. A cautionary note: problem solving by itself may only indicate what a person SAYS s/he will do in a given situation, not how they actually will or did behave. Still, problem solving is a good way to check a critical skill.TestTests are also sometimes helpful as part of the hiring process. Psychological tests provide a way for some companies to identify key characteristics in an individual. Other ways of testing include asking specific knowledge questions such as What commands might you use to initiate a subroutine? or What are the advantages and disadvantages of common network protocols?InterviewHowever, sometimes demonstrations, simulations, problem solving, or testing might not be feasible; at the very least they -- by themselves -- are inadequate. Interviewing is required. Effective interviewing requires that you have sharp probing and listening skills to get the candidate to describe or explain relevant experiences from which you can draw highly predictive information. We call this type of interviewing High Performance Interviewing.Can we maximize the traditional method of hiring candidates the interview to hire more effectively? The answer is, YES!Many interviews result in a mutual exchange of meaningless information and a gut feeling. The process we call High Performance Interviewing (HPI) helps you gather meaningful, predictive information and substantiates your gut feeling.HPI is based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. HPI is designed to extract highly predictive, accurate target data from candidates. Target data is: Behavioral: The data must be about what the candidate did, said, thought, or felt. We do not consider what the person was responsible for as target data since it doesnt tell what the person actually did. The data must be about the candidate. We do not consider we data target data since we dont know what the candidate did. Volunteered by the candidate: Target data comes from the candidates memory, not the interviewers suggestions or prompting. About a specific past situation: Focused on what actually happened, not on what might have happened, or what generally happens. Having the candidate state what they would do in specific scenarios may point out problem solving and quick thinking but may not predict what the person actually has done in similar situations. Only data based on past situations is considered target data.Step 1: General Opening Statement or QuestionBegin gathering target data with general opening questions or statements. The purpose of this step is to get the candidate to talk about what we want them to talk about. Here are examples of general openings. (The phrases in parentheses are examples of specific skills I might be looking for in a candidate.): Im looking for (examples of when you managed multiple priorities). Id like to hear more about (your experiences in delegating). Id like to find out how (you respond to autonomy and little direction). Can you think of a time when (you had a difficult deadline to meet)? Do you recall an instance where (you were aware that another member of the team was not pulling his or her own weight)? Is there an example of (a challenge you faced in coding a new module)?Step 2: Get DeeperThe next step in gathering target data is to get deeper in those areas important to the job. Questions that help you get deeper include: How did it start? What were the key points in the situation? What were the results? What happened first/then/next? What did you do/say/feel/think? How did you prepare/follow-up? What do you believe was the most important event/decision/activity during that time?Here are several guidelines for getting deeper: Ask what the candidate did, said, felt, thought. Separate the candidates actions from others actions. Ask who, what, when, where, and how.What is your role throughout this questioning? Take notes to help you guide the conversation. Listen. Ask for clarity when necessary. Remember, we cannot assess a candidates qualifications if WE do all the talking!What You Dont DoIt is important that you as interviewer dont: Ask leading questions: Leading questions give you exactly what you want to hear. And they typically result in inaccurate data. Accept generalizations: Generalizations dont tell you what the candidate did. Target data must be specific. Accept collectivisms: Collectivisms are the use of we, the group, my team, etc. They dont tell us what this individual -- the candidate -- did. Again, target data must be specific. Assess the candidate before hearing all: Prejudging a candidate before the data is heard is a serious mistake. The brain can easily find data to support its prejudgment. Therefore, stick to the script; write down what you hear as the interviewer. The time for assessment comes later.How To Get Back On TrackBecause HPI is a dialogue, it is sometimes easy for the candidate to digress. It is your responsibility as interviewer to pull the candidates discussion into more relevant and appropriate direction. Here are some pithy phrases that will rein in or focus the digresser: If I was there, what would I see? You said there were meetings. Could you tell me about one? Can you give me the details? Lets backtrack a bit. Who do you mean by we?When youve gathered an appropriate amount of data for a particular skill, repeat the HPI technique until you are satisfied with the results. Then close the interview.Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service, and training. Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or ttraut@unlockit.com. Check out Entelechy's website at www.unlockit.com.

Finders Keepers

Finding and keeping the right team is one of the toughest and most important tasks you take on as a business owner or entrepreneur. Yet it doesnt always get all the attention it warrants. Business owners focus on the work. In contrast, when investors (Venture Capital groups or Angels) look at a business they are likely to focus more on the team than the business. Why? As Jim Collins substantiated with his Fortune 500 research for his bestseller From Good to Great, its the team that creates and sustains success. So when youre thinking about the team you want with you, as you build or grow your vision of the business, here are some constructive tips to do it right from the start: 1. THINK FIRST - Its tough for small businesses to think past the next electric bill. But before you hire, think through: What skills and experience do I need now in that position, to accomplish what, by when? When were successful (3, 6, 9 months) what skills and experience will I need in that position? What dont I do well and need somebody else to do better? What are the characteristics of people whove done well working for me? Done poorly? This is not about titles, organization charts or job descriptions. Its about the right people. 2. WHAT CAN I OFFER - Once you know what you need short term and medium term, think through what you can offer: * Salary * Equity/Bonus/Promises * Perks * Location * Work environment * Schedule Add it all up, not just for one person, but for everyone on the team. Too often entrepreneurs and sole proprietors look at each hire separately, in isolation, rather than visualizing the overall impact on the business. 3. LOOK BEYOND THE RESUME AND THE JOB DESCRIPTION - Now that you think you know what skills and experience you need, be prepared to discard your requirements for the right person. Good to Great companies learn its more important to get the right people on the bus and then figure out where to place them. When you have the right people, they will do everything in their power to build a great company. Not because of what they will get out of it, but because they simply cannot imagine settling for anything less. 4. FRIENDS ARE GOOD, STARS ARE BETTER - Entrepreneurs instinctively and correctly want to be in the foxhole with people they absolutely trust. So we first turn to friends to hire and work with because we know, like, and trust them. But is that enough to build your business on? Not always. Be careful to distinguish between how much you like or even trust potential and current employees, and whether they will be standout contributors. You need stars in every position, not just someone who can fill a slot. Also, you need the straight truth, with no sugar-coating. Sometimes friends and family cant do that they are friends and family first. Then there are some jobs where you never want a friend. For instance, I want my accountant to provide stellar, ahead of the pack, intelligence to grow the business or protect our interests. I dont need him/her to be the office glue. 5. QUESTIONS NOBODY ASKS BUT YOU SHOULD Ask the tough questions before they join the team, for example: * What should I watch out for if I hire you? * Name a couple of people who dont like you and why? * Describe your last failure. Dont bother with clichs like Tell me about your weaknesses. Everyone has canned answers to them. 6. WHAT CANDIDATES SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU - They need to be able to trust and respect you quickly, so its important to be clear about your values, workstyle, strengths too. Be sure they know: * What you do well. * What you do poorly. * What you dont get around to doing * When you will interfere and why. * When you get mad and why. * What you really want from them. 7. WHEN TO STOP THE BLEEDING - The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, youve made a hiring mistake. The best people dont need to be managed. They want to be taught and led. If you wait before acting, it is unfair to the strong performers and you risk losing them. It is also unfair to the person who must get off the bus. Youre stealing a portion of his life, time that he could spend finding a better place where he could flourish. If you have someone on your team who is just not quite working out, and youve explained why and what you expect, but its been a month and its not happening, what do you do? He/she goes. Now. Summer Small Business Re-evaluation Whether at the beach or on a mountain, I find the summer is a great time to lift my sights to the broader horizon. Its a great time to regroup solo, or with your team, on whats working/not working, what the opportunities are and what it will take to get there in the next 12 18 months. Summers can offer small business owners opportunities not usually available in busier times. With either a slower pace or more time off, it might be an occasion to re-evaluate plans made earlier in the year. Richard Magid, CEO of SoundBoard, a New Jersey company that holds support groups for small business owners said in a statement to Yahoo! News: You can make changes to your business model, re-evaluate clients, really plan out your budget and some of the investments you want to make. You can get a sense of the good, the bad, and the uglywhat have we planned for that wasnt done, what have we done that didnt work, said Magid. It can be a good opportunity to discuss and plan out your business objectives and strategy for the rest of the year or longer. It may be a good chance to make decisions on capital investment or resource planning. As advocated by AccountingWEB.com, Scheduling an appointment with your accountant may be one of your most important to-do items. Implementing new hardware or adding software or systems can be done easier in the summer than in a busy time. Repairs to other equipment or performing a necessary renovation may be done easier during this time. Planning for holiday sales or bigger year-end shipments may also be a timely consideration if you sell or ship a majority of products at the end of the year. The summer is also a good time to take advantage of seminars or tradeshows to check out new products and services as well. Taking advantage of the seasonal weather is a good opportunity to nurture relationships with employees and customers by finding different ways to show your appreciation outside the office. Planning time to plan is no small matter. With your vision and a plan, everything else falls into place.

Summary

The purpose of a team building event should be to introduce, reinforce and reward, not to single-handedly forge a group of coworkers into a team. If it's used to replace the work your company (or you as a manager) should be doing every day, then you're missing out on some important points - and the major benefits of dragging everyone out of the office for a weekend of exhilirating and challenging activities.