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I May Have to Fire an Employee. Any Suggestions?

Bigg Challenge
Rick has been a manager now for about six months. He has an employee who is under-performing. Rick thinks he may need to fire this employee, but he’s never done that before. He says he would welcome any suggestions we can provide.

Bigg Advice
Do you remember the Cheers episode where Norm Peterson became the executive’s executioner – his job was to fire people. So he took them out for drinks and, by the time it was done, the employee who was being fired felt sorry for Norm. Because as Norm once said,

“It’s a dog eat dog world and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.”

So there’s one option, but not one that we necessarily recommend for the real world!

Company procedures
Look to your company’s policy manual for guidance on how to proceed.  Also, discuss this with your boss so you fully understand company protocol and precedents.

No surprises

Except for the most egregious situations, you’ve done something wrong if it’s a surprise. To make sure they’re not surprised, you should follow a process. For example, issue a series of warnings with repercussions for not correcting the performance deficiencies

Round and round we go

Sit down with your employee and explain the problem. Discuss what needs to be done to correct it, tell him or her when you’ll review performance again, and outline the consequences if it’s not corrected (e.g. a 3-day suspension without pay).

At the scheduled time, repeat this process. This time the ramifications have to be greater. (e.g. termination of employment). So if you reach this review and the situation hasn’t improved significantly, the result should be obvious to your employee.

You’re giving them a chance to improve their performance and also covering your liability because you’ll document this entire process and have them sign off each step of the way.

An example

George said that in his early days in business, he was managing his field staff. They worked without direct supervision because they performed work at the customer’s home or office. George had hired a young man who just couldn’t work without ongoing oversight.

George went through the rounds outlined above with little improvement. Finally, he let the employee go. He recommended that this young man get a job in a place where someone could watch over him.

He encouraged the young man come back and reapply for employment once he got used to working in a supervised environment. That never happened because the young man found that he liked working with supervision better.

Firing someone doesn’t have to be negative. Offer any help you can provide. Make suggestions. And realize that sometimes it’s just not a good fit – it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, or that they couldn’t be helpful to any employer. It just means it’s not working out for both of you here.

Thanks, Rick, for sharing your bigg challenge. We’re sure you’ll handle it just fine.

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Are You Fishing for Customers in the Wrong Hole?

“If you want to catch a trout, don’t fish in a herring barrel.” – Ann Landers

George said he’s been fishing at times when he would have been happy to catch any fish at all. He’s even had times when his friend a few feet away was catching all kinds of fish.

So he found out what his friend was using – what bait or lure – and changed his, but he still didn’t catch any fish. He concluded he was fishing in the wrong hole.
 


Fishing for business
Sometimes we experience the same thing when we’re fishing for business. We’re putting our line out but we don’t get any bites.

It may be that the customers aren’t where we’re fishing – they’re in another hole!

For example, maybe your customers are primarily shopping for your product or service online and you’re only marketing offline or vice versa.

People don’t use the internet for that

George remembers having a debate with one of his business managers. This happened to be a plumbing business. They were discussing how to allocate advertising dollars between various media. George thought they needed a bigger online presence. His manager insisted that customers wouldn’t go online if they had a plumbing emergency.

After surveying calls that came in, the manager reported back to George that an overwhelming majority of the people who had called with a plumbing emergency during that time period had found them via the internet.

Sometimes we think we know where our customers are, but our perceptions are clouded by our own biases. Fortunately, there’s a way to find out for sure.

Today’s bigg action item – survey your customers.

Find out how they learn about new things. The odds are your future customers are probably a lot like your current customers.

How one car dealer did it

One example of this is a car dealer. He had the employee who pulled the customer’s car into the service bay record what radio station was playing. He analyzed this information to determine which radio stations to use.

Is there some way in your business to naturally find out what media your customers use? If there is, develop a system to track the information so you know in which hole to cast your line.

Work with your direct mail supplier

Here’s another example from George’s service businesses. His mailing service was able to take his customer lists and ping the national databases to see where their existing customers fit in. Then they had a good profile of the people to target with future advertising – target people who are similar to your existing customers.

Survey them directly

You may just have a survey form that your customers fill out. Offer them some incentive to take the time to complete your survey. It may be a product or service you offer that’s relatively inexpensive …

… or cut a deal with another merchant – maybe even work a trade – to offer an incentive to your customers (e.g. movies, dessert, or gas)!

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Are Good Looks an Advantage or a Disadvantage at Work?

A lot of attractive people complain that people assume things about them without getting to know them. It’s assumed that they’re unintelligent, superficial, and even arrogant.

You’ve been given the gift of physical attractiveness, which has to mean you’re lacking in other areas. In the social world, you’re just the pretty boy or girl.

But does that perception carry over into the professional world? Is there a bias against people who are good-looking?

 

Green Without Envy
Economists Markus Mobius of Harvard University and Tanya Rosenblat of Wesleyan University did a study to see how looks affected the hiring process. They divided participants into five groups:

  • Two of the groups never saw a photo of the candidate or the candidates themselves
  • The other three either saw the candidate’s photograph or in-person.

The groups who saw the candidates were much more likely to hire the more attractive candidate, even though the less attractive candidate was just as qualified.

These employers predicted that the attractive candidates would be more productive, and would be rewarded for it with higher pay.

Even Greener Pastures
Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the economics of beauty. Dr. Hamermesh has focused on how beauty effects financial success in the workplace.

His research confirms the results of the study we just referenced – that beauty gains an advantage because the doors of opportunity open more frequently. So they make connections, learn skills, and grow professionally. Then they’re able to leverage that first opportunity into many more opportunities, which results in even higher pay.

He also offers little hope for the unattractive. His research has shown that spending money on things to enhance your looks is a waste. You’ll only get back about 15 cents in pay for ever dollar you spend.

Our bigg quote today is by an unknown author:

“We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty,
some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names,
but they all have learned to live together in the same box.”

The more colors you have, the more colorful your world can be.


Questions for you

Socially, we often hear pretty people complain that they’re discriminated against. But research seems to show that it works to their favor in the workplace.

From your experiences, do you think good looks are an advantage or a disadvantage?

Is there a difference between men and women? Are good looks more important in the workplace for men or for women?

How about age? Is this something you think affects young people more than older workers or vice versa?

What do you think of Dr. Hamermesh’s finding that it doesn’t pay to try to package yourself better? Do you think it makes a difference?

Share your thoughts by leaving a Comment.

 

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I Want to Supplement My Retirement Income. Any Suggestions?

Bigg Challenge
Dorothy is preparing to retire. She was recently presented with an opportunity by a network marketing company. She says she is a people person, but not a sales person. It makes her nervous, asking people she knows to buy something. She would, however, like to supplement her pension and social security checks somehow. She wants to know if we could offer some suggestions.

Bigg Advice
We followed up with Dorothy to find out what she really likes to do. She said there are a lot of things she likes to do, but most of them don’t pay. For example, she’s an animal lover, often volunteering at the local animal shelter.

Our first suggestion is to go with what you love – what you’ll do even without pay.

Before we get to that, though, let’s look at the sales opportunity you have. Do some market research by talking to five people you know. Tell them about the idea you’re considering and see what they say. You’re not selling them … you’re asking their opinion.

See how that goes before you invest any money upfront or commit to any ongoing fees. Then make a decision.

Now let’s explore some other options.


Pet sitting service

Why not start a business that fits your love of animals?

Many people think of their pets as part of the family. When they’re away, they want their pets to be well cared for at home. They need a trustworthy, pet-loving person to take care of their pets.

Start a pet sitting service to meet this need. It’s a simple little side business that’s in great demand. Print up some cards that promote your service. Contact veterinarians you know that don’t offer boarding to see if they would allow you to leave your cards on their counter or bulletin board.

It’s definitely a word-of-mouth business so you won’t have to spend a lot of money to get work.

Related links

Pet Business Startup Guide

Start Your Own Pet-Sitting Business

The Professional Pet Sitter 

Pet Sitting for Profit 

 

House sitting service
Here’s a way to double down on the pet sitting idea. Make more money by combining your pet sitting service with a house sitting service. People who travel want to know someone they trust is watching their homes. You can market this service to the same people whose pets you care for.

Errand service

There’s a growing demand for errand services (sometimes referred to as a concierge service). People just don’t have the time to get everything done. That’s where you come in – run their errands for them. You may drop off and pick up their dry cleaning, shop for gifts, and any number of other things.

Market your service at the same places where people are running errands. Once again, start-up costs are low and word-of-mouth is key.

Related links

Personal Concierge / Shopper Business Startup Guide

The Concierge Manual 

Start Your Own Personal Concierge Service 

 

Thanks, Dorothy for sending us your bigg challenge. We wish you bigg success!

Our bigg quote today comes from Francoise De Motteville:

“The true way to render ourselves happy is
to love our work and find it in our pleasure.”

So find pleasure in your work, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 

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Overcoming Adversity: How Stephen Hopson Opened the Runway for Deaf Pilots

Stephen Hopson
Our guest on the show today was Stephen Hopson, former Wall Street stockbroker turned pilot, author and speaker. We met Stephen at the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference. Once you meet him, you never forget him.

Stephen Hopson is the founder of Adversity University. He knows a lot about overcoming adversity. He’s been deaf since birth, but as he says, we all face our own adversity in life

A dream is born
As a young boy, Stephen said he had very low self-esteem. He had a hearing aid box that was strapped to his chest with cords running up to his ear. He was also very thin. But he was a boy with a dream … to be a pilot.

When he was just four- or five-years old, he saw a plane in the sky and knew he wanted to fly with the big boys. After much prodding, he convinced his mom to take him to the airport. It became a weekly event.

Upon arriving at the airport, Stephen would jump out of the car and run up to the fence. He would put his fingers on the fence and wait for a plane to come out. The minute he saw a plane, he would run back to the car and put his head on the hood, with his face looking out so he could see the plane take off.

When the plane took off, the little car would vibrate like a washing machine. That’s how Stephen heard the sound of a plane.

Living the dream
He didn’t pursue his dream until many years later. He completed college and went off to Wall Street. After fifteen years, he quit his career to pursue his dream of becoming a motivational speaker.

One day, he learned about other deaf pilots on his computer. He didn’t realize that deaf pilots had been flying since 1948. At that point, his childhood dream came roaring back to life!

He began looking for a flight instructor. Many of them weren’t aware that deaf pilots could fly. So they didn’t want to train him. Finally, Stephen found a willing instructor.

He could only fly on good weather days. Deaf pilots navigate by referencing landmarks – like cities, lakes, and highways. But when weather turned bad, deaf pilots were not allowed to fly.

Until 2006.

That’s when Stephen Hopson became the first deaf pilot to fly in bad weather. He says that flying in bad weather is like flying in a milk bottle because you can’t see where you’re going. So, as Stephen says, he became the first deaf and blind pilot! He thought about starting Helen Keller Airways!

Now other deaf pilots are following his footsteps. He says it’s very difficult to fly in bad weather because you have to communicate with your co-pilot, whose job is to translate what the controllers are telling them over the radio. The co-pilot writes it down on a dry erase board and then gives it to Stephen, which is very challenging.

What an amazing accomplishment! Look at the doors Stephen has opened for others.

Stephen’s H.E.A.R. Principle for overcoming adversity

Have a passion for what you do. Otherwise obstacles will seem difficult to overcome.

Entertain the possibilities that are available to you.

Authenticity. Be authentic; be who you are.

Remember who helped you.

We thank Stephen for sharing his inspirational story and his incredible insight with us today!

Our bigg quote today is by none other than Stephen Hopson himself.

“Establishing goals, visualizing myself achieving them, as well having faith that
it will all work out well are essential ingredients in overcoming … obstacles.”

So don’t let adversity keep you grounded … overcome it and soar to new heights.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file | podcast:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/biggsuccess/00147-060308.mp3