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How to Get Your Employees to Own Their Job, Not Just Do It

employee As business owners, we’re told that we should work on our business, not in it. But how do you do that when you’re just getting started? How can you do that if you don’t have any employees? Here’s the secret …

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At first, you work on your business by working in your business.

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george
Mary-Lynn’s always trying to get me out of the business!

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Seriously though, you begin working on your business by documenting your procedures, position by position, as you work in your business. Before you hire your first employee, it’s essential to put this structure in place so that, when you do hire someone, you can train him or her them effectively.

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marylynn My favorite General Managers in radio had worked in all areas of the business. They had been on the air. They had produced commercials. They had sold commercials. So they knew the business because they had worked the whole business.

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As a new business owner, you do that anyway, right? All you have to do is document what you do, position by position. Maybe you don’t do it all – you’re not comfortable with accounting, for example. So you get a partner who documents the procedures for those positions. Or you outsource them.

You’ll work through each position that your business will need. As you do, you will document every task that your business performs.

This leads to your employees OWNING their jobs

Now you’re going to build upon the work you’ve done. Put together two or more procedures and you have a process. Two or more processes start to build your system. You’ll end up with a full-fledged Operations Manual.

You get there by working on your business as you work in your business. Because while you’re doing that, you can test your procedures to make sure they are effective and efficient.

Assume you own a retail store. You would want to greet your customers as they come into your store. Here’s a typical conversation:

You: “Hi, may I help you?”

Customer: “No, I’m just looking.”

End of conversation.

Michael Gerber, in his great book The E-Myth Revisited, said he has consulted with retailers who increased sales by 10 to 16 percent when the following question was asked:

“Hi, have you been in here before?”

Now, if the customer says “Yes”, you can offer a special program for repeat customers. If the customer says “No”, you can make another offer for new customers.

So you set up one procedure to greet your customers. Then you test it. That’s working on your business. You’ll have a separate procedure to promote your special offer for customers. These two procedures are the beginnings of your process.

Keep doing this, procedure by procedure, process by process until you have a complete operating system. Document that and you have your Operations Manual.

Now when you hire an employee and start to train him or her, you can involve them in the process because you have it in writing. You’re ready for the five step process for training your employees.

Since you’ve tested your procedures, you can tell your new employee why you do things the way you do. This helps them understand the idea behind the procedure which helps get their buy in.

You’ll also tell your employee that your testing isn’t over yet. In fact, you want them to help you test new ideas. You’ll emphasize that it’s important to follow your system, but you also want them suggesting ways to improve how you do things.

That’s how you get employees who don’t just do their jobs; they own them!

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Next time, we’ll look at an inexpensive way for families to connect and compete. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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How to Get Better Results When You Train Your Employees

loveFor anyone starting a business, we highly recommend reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth. In the book, he tells a story that goes something like this …

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The Master Baker

There’s a young woman who loves to bake cakes. Her friends raved about her cakes; they told her that she should go into business. So she opens a little shop. She mixes each cake with tender, loving care. She is meticulous about her craft. And her customers love it!

So they tell their friends who tell their friends. Before she knows it, she has more orders than she can handle! So she hires her first employee. She shows her employee how to make the cakes. Then she turns her new employee loose.

Freedom! Now she has time to work on more important things. But it doesn’t last. Before long, she’s getting complaints from her customers about the quality of her cakes. That never happened before. She’s hearing from her customers that they’re not getting the same kind of service she gave them.

So she steps in and starts closely supervising her employee. But she still has her own work to do. Now she’s busier than she was when she didn’t have an employee. This just isn’t working out like she planned.

Show and tell doesn’t work

So it goes with many of us when we hire someone for the first time. We hire them because we’re so busy. We often find that we spend more time once we have them.

We’re all familiar with on-the-job training. The new employee watches as someone else performs a task. We expect that they’ll just pick it up, almost by osmosis.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says:

“Show me and I’ll forget; tell me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

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Use this 5-step process

Step 1 – Tell them what they need to do. Explain to them how to do the task, step-by-step.

Step 2 – Show them how to do it. You perform the task step-by-step, talking about it as you progress.

Step 3 – Review and repeat as needed. Keep repeating Steps 1 and 2 until your trainee says he or she completely understands it.

Step 4 – Involve them. This is the part we often forget or pass over. We assume Steps 1 and 2 are sufficient. But they’re not. You want your trainee to actively participate.

So have them tell you how to do it, step-by-step. Then have them do actually do it, step-by-step, explaining the process as they go through it.

Step 5 – Review and repeat as needed. Discuss what went well and what didn’t. Then repeat Step 4 until you’re satisfied that your trainee knows how to do it.

But there’s something you should do before you do any of these steps. We’ll discuss that next Thursday! Come back and see us again!

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How Honest Should You be with Your Employees?

questionsClinton Korver wrote a great article for Harvard Business Publishing. He talks about his experience running a start-up and why it’s especially important during tough times to share information with your employees.

He says that he went against the advice of his venture capitalists. They feared losing employees, customers, and other investors if the bad news got out. Clinton found that being completely forthright strengthened his relationships with his employees.

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marylynn One of my radio managers did that when our company wasn’t doing so well. I appreciated the honesty and how it put all of us on the same page.

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Honesty is high on most of our lists of core values. However, do we really think that we should always be honest?

For example, picture yourself standing with your best friend adoring her newborn baby boy. You think he’s the least attractive baby you’ve ever seen. She’s going on and on about him, when she asks you the dreaded question …

Isn’t he the best looking baby you’ve ever seen?

Would you tell her what you really think? Or would you pick your words carefully to avoid hurting her feelings?

Of course, this is a different situation than the first one presented – being honest with your employees, even when things are not going well.

But it illustrates that there can be a second value at stake – the desire to not cause undue harm.

Is there a reason to tell your friend what you really think? What good will come from it?

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georgeI’ve come to believe strongly in open-book management. As a general rule, I think the more you share with your employees, the better. Having said that, I have found you also have to know your employees. Open-book requires a higher level of maturity from your employees. If that’s not present, sharing more just creates undue emotional distress.

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The reason an ethical dilemma is a dilemma is because two or more core values at odds with each other. These situations flow up to the leader. You have to find a good solution.

It’s a personal decision. There likely will be disagreement on the best way to handle it. That’s why it’s so important to have a framework in place for these kinds of decisions.
This framework will help you:

  • be more efficient in making decisions like this
  • make decisions that are consistent instead of all over the board
  • build goodwill with all affected parties
  • respect the face you see in the mirror at the end of the day

We have a great resource that helps you set up the framework so when an ethical dilemma comes your way you’re prepared. It outlines the three steps to solving an ethical situation:

  • Know your core values
  • Select an ethical model that helps you apply those core values
  • Use a problem-solving process to work through the situation at hand

So we’ve presented an ethical dilemma today … should you share all news with your employees, even the bad stuff? What do you think?

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How to Get Noticed in Job Market 2.0

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we welcomed Phil Rosenberg. Phil is the founder of reCareered, a career coaching service that helps job searchers get past the biggest challenge in today’s competitive jobs market – to get noticed.

 

Phil, what does reCareered mean?

 

 

It means someone who is seeking a job change, or trying to revitalize their career, or someone who is between jobs and wants help with how the job markets have changed in the last eight years or so.

 

How has the job market changed?

 

 

Eight years ago, the majority of resumes were delivered on paper. Around 2000, it changed to where most resumes were delivered digitally.

 

And how does that change the resume itself?

 

 

It changes it completely. The paper-based resume had to be static. The only way to customize it was by a cover letter. A digital resume can be searched. It also increased the number of resumes that went into most companies, by as many as ten-fold.

 

We always hear about search engine optimization and how you want to rank at the tops of the pages for Google. But apparently you can do the same for your resume … it can be optimized?

 

You bet, and it’s especially critical in today’s world. Most major employers get thousands of resumes for each job, but they only staff to look at twenty to thirty. That’s two to three percent. So your goal, in submitting your resume today, is getting to the top two or three percent. Through resume search optimization, you can manage that process rather than have it be random. My strategy with my clients is to make a resume a single-use document – to have it infinitely customizable so that you’re gaming the search engine and forcing it higher up the search page.

 

How do we make a good impression right upfront?

 

 

There’s been research from the University of Toledo and Stanford University that states that interview decisions are made within the first two to thirty seconds. That blew me away. The rest of the interview is just somebody justifying their initial decision. So it’s a “gut feel” decision that may occur even before you shake hands. It’s all about preparation. Learn about your client – how they communicate (verbally and non-verbally), how they dress, how they look. If you want a job, go to a place that’s close to their office and sit there during lunch. Talk to people from that company who are getting lunch there. On a Friday night, go to Happy Hour at a bar close to their office and talk to people from that company. When you talk to them, watch their body movements. What’s the tone they use? What’s the speed they use to talk? You can also do that with their written communication – their web site, annual reports, press releases. The key to all this is communicating to your audience that it seems like you already work there.

 

It reminds me of the book, Guerilla Selling. It’s all about learning about your customer, in that case, but in the case the employer you’re going after – getting as much information as you can, wherever you can. It’s amazing how much information you can gather.

 

Sure. That’s also an effective way to use LinkedIn, Facebook or your own personal network. Chances are you have contacts within that company. A lot of people only use those contacts to see what jobs are available and to ask them to pass their resume along. They leave out some of the greatest uses of a network – talking to people within an organization to find out what an organization is like and what the communication style is like. Listening for how they’re answering questions rather than just what they’re saying.

 

This is fantastic advice because you do want to fit in. It’s all about mimicking. When you’re at an interview, should you sit up straight and lean forward or should you try to have your body language be similar to the body language of the interviewer? From what I’ve read, you should try to mimic that person.

 

That’s exactly what you’re doing – it’s called mirroring. You’re trying to show that you fit in. You speak the same language. You’re really trying to act like you already work at the company. It takes a ton of preparation. A lot of people aren’t willing to put that preparation in, but the people who do get a huge, almost an unfair, advantage.

Phil's links

You can get free daily job tips from Phil at his blog or visit his main site, reCareered, the place for resume search optimization and job search 2.0. 

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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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