Blogs

The Entrepreneurial Life: That Impossible Priority

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ID-100100023Working with small business leaders for a living has both its perks and its perils. What are the toughest business learns for every small business owner or bootstrapped leader? We want to do everything. Fund it all. React to every new idea. Solve every single problem. Serve each and every client. Hire every good talent that comes in the door. Finish every project. Go to every networking meeting. You get the idea. We want to do it all. This is contagious. It builds and snowballs into a doing frenzy.

I was taught to focus on revenue generating activities from 8-5 and to run the company before 8 or after 5. I did that during the early years. Careful to mix the two. This did not prevent me from working until midnight or on Sunday mornings. In fact, in the I would have “meetings” with the foreman of the commercial cleaning crew that went through each night after 9 pm! That foreman would do odds jobs; hang white boards, move desks, and join me at my conference table when I wanted and needed to talk. Fascinating times with incredible experiences. I think you can really only bootstrap once—it takes much energy and stamina.

Over the years, books and consultants have changed my perspective on the do it all and fund everything mentality that came to me naturally.

I now preach limited priorities. Focus, execution, and getting things done is my new philosophy. The hardest things of all is deciding what 3-5 items should be yours to tackle! Every leader I have ever coached says the same thing: I have many more things to do than that! We all do. The point is to choose what part of your business to tackle and understanding how if you fix or adjust that part will impact other parts of the business. It’s like business centrifugal force. Fix one thing, it makes something else move along too. But too much and it will make other parts of the business need future fixing!

How do you chose the part of your business to tackle? Stay tuned for a future blog!

Tips for Unemployed Job Seekers

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Losing your job for whatever reason can be extremely stressful and scary. It’s definitely harder to look for a job during a difficult situation but we’re here to help. We’ve compiled this list of simple tips to get you started and ensure that your job search is both proactive and successful.

Talk it out. The loss of a job is emotional. It’s best to talk out your feelings with a trusted friend or even a counselor before you start interviewing for other positions. Interviewers look for positive, outgoing candidates. Any signs of resentment or antagonism towards your last employer will raise a red flag and could prevent you from receiving the job offer.

Get all of your ducks in a row. Be prepared to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job?” Remember to be positive and brief—less is more. Answer the question very objectively without showing signs of bitterness or resentment.

Refine your resume. Make sure your resume is up to date and perfectly reflects your strengths and accomplishments. Try to create different versions of your resume that cater to each position specifically.

Ask to be recommended. Secure positive recommendations from past coworkers, managers, etc. to counteract any negative inferences about your termination. Have this list of recommenders handy when you submit your resume so employers can see how you work with others.

Network. Now’s a great time to polish your personal brand and make sure that your online presence is prominent and positive. LinkedIn has proven to be a great tool to build your network and showcase your work. Bonus points for getting some written recommendations on your profile!

Make job searching a priority. Devote time each and every day to be proactive about your job search. Treat your job search like a full time job. Make it a point to allot 4-5 productive hours a day for your search.

Follow up. Essentially you are competing with other candidates for the position in which you are applying. Set yourself apart from the rest. Make sure to send thoughtful thank you notes to each person you interview with. Check in a week or so after your interview to assert your interest in the position without being pushy. Display your enthusiasm for the role and highlight one or two of your applicable skills if appropriate.

Recently unemployed and looking for work? We can help. Please email your resume to icanhelpyou@myplacers.com

Chris Burkhard to Present at Small Business Owner’s Boot Camp

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workforceChris Burkhard will be participating in a panel discussion while presenting his well-receieved talk, Trends of the Contingent Workforceat The Small Business Owner’s Boot Camp on Sunday, October 12th at The New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. The event is a FREE, comprehensive two-day education program for small business owners. Join Chris as he takes a look at realities of today’s workforce and the exciting evolution happening in the working world today!

The program will feature a series of panel discussions led by experienced business experts who will provide a broad overview of the challenges facing small business owners today. Audience members will have several opportunities to interact with the expert panelists throughout the day. Complimentary lunch will be served on both days.

The Boot Camp will be held Saturday, October 11, 2014 and Sunday, October 12, 2014 from 9 AM to 4 PM both days at the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce at 12 Penns Way, New Castle, DE 19720. Space is limited. For more information and to reserve your spot, click on this link to RSVP.

Not a small-business owner but would like to gain more industry knowledge and are interested in some networking? We have 5 guest speakers booked for our upcoming Outside-In® Talent Seminars, starting with Alan Levin, the former President and CEO of Happy Harry’s, to share a Delaware business success story. View the lineup and reserve your spot here!

The Small Business Owner’s Boot Camp is sponsored by Xan Hong’s State Farm Office and PNC Bank in Partnership with the Delaware Office of Supplier Diversity. Hosted by the Emerging Enterprise Center, A New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Initiative.

Do Results-Only Work Environments Really Work?

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Guest blog post by Abby Perkins, Managing Editor of the Talent Tribune blog on SoftwareProviders.com

ROWE, or results-only work environment, is one of the latest buzzwords in employee management. Proponents say it makes employees happier and more productive. Those who oppose it argue that it’s simply a form of delegation, and lacks the benefit of close supervision. But what is a results-only work environment – and does it really work?

Understanding the Results-Only Work Environment

Many workplaces base employee compensation and evaluation on the idea that workers should be paid for their time. Under this theory, time is equivalent to output – and the employees that are tied to their desks or workstations from 9 to 5 (or longer) are the most productive.

This model works fine in factories, retail stores, hospitals and other establishments where tasks are both location-specific and visible. But many modern workplaces don’t look like that. Knowledge-based work – think marketing, advertising, or engineering – is invisible and location-neutral. Proponents of ROWE argue that these types of employees should be paid – and evaluated – for the results they accomplish, not the time they spend at work.

How it Began: the Best Buy Experience

ROWE was launched in 2003 by two Best Buy employees, Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler. Fed up with traditional HR practices, Thompson and Ressler came up with a new way to manage knowledge workers. Instead of worrying about time clocks or time spent at desks, managers set performance goals. As long as goals were met, employees could work wherever, whenever, and however they wanted. There was no set workday, and no mandatory meetings.

Despite some initial resistance, ROWE was policy de rigueur for many Best Buy departments by 2005. Ressler and Thompson claim that during that time, those departments experienced a 41 percent increase in productivity. However, Best Buy’s experiment with ROWE ended when a new CEO, Hubert Joly, took over in 2012.

Joly says he dropped the program to get more employees into the office to collaborate on ways to improve the business. The company’s performance had been flagging since the economic downturn in 2008, and improved after Joly’s arrival.

Now, Best Buy is back to an “all hands on deck” business model. But that doesn’t mean ROWE is out of the picture elsewhere. Ressler and Thompson went on to consult with and implement ROWE in many different businesses. Since then, ROWE has shown up in some surprising places — and the business world has learned a lot more about results-only work environments.

ROWE is:

  • An opportunity to be paid and evaluated based on performance, not time.
  • A system for defining work and setting goals.
  • A team effort. ROWE requires teamwork and total commitment to stay on track.
  • An opportunity for innovation. When people stop punching a clock, they find ways to work more efficiently.

ROWE is Not:

  • Flex time, or simply another way of tracking employee hours. ROWE doesn’t care how long anyone works, as long as work gets done.
  • Free time. Each worker has goals that must be achieved, regardless of when or how long they work.
  • Another form of micro-management. Managers won’t always know where their employees are or what they’re doing. But they will know if goals are being met.

The Result:

According to case studies by CultureRX, Thompson and Ressler’s consulting business, companies that implement ROWE can expect an increase in growth and in employee satisfaction. Employees will be happier, healthier and more productive. Teams will innovate and create new ways of doing things — even new products.

What Industries Benefit From ROWE?

ROWE is used in many knowledge-based industries. Here are just a few examples:

  • Accounting: The Garabedian Group, an accounting firm, recently moved from hourly billing to fee-for-service.
  • Manufacturing: Dynatronix, a manufacturing company, redesigned its production system to accommodate ROWE. The result? A 20 percent increase in on-time deliveries and a 40 percent decrease in production time for their biggest product.
  • Consulting: Retail consulting firm JL Buchanan has been able to cut costs and increase revenue using ROWE.

Other companies using ROWE include GAP, Yum Brands, Dixie Iron Works and Ripple IT.

However, ROWE is difficult – even impossible – to implement in some workplace settings. An example? Retail sales. Employees can’t work on their own schedule when they need to be present to mind the store, work the registers, and provide customer service. Other examples include emergency medical services, hotel front desks and restaurants. Any workplace or work function that requires employees to be in a set place at a set time is unlikely to benefit from ROWE.

The bottom line? ROWE isn’t for every company, or for every manager. However, it’s had great results in a number of industries. Where it does fit, productivity and profitability climb.

How much is a warm chair worth to your business? Would you ever try out ROWE in your business?

Abby Perkins in the managing editor of the Talent Tribune blog on SoftwareProviders.com

5 Guest Speakers Booked for Upcoming Outside-In® Talent Seminars!

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At the Outside-In® Companies, we host a monthly series of seminars, which feature stories about people, talent best practices, company culture, and local business successes. Our goal is to facilitate the mutual learning and sharing of best practices in Talent Leadership.

After hosting a successful talent seminar with a local guest speaker in July, we sought out to connect with local business and HR leaders to see if they wanted to share their story in an Outside-In® forum. We are excited to announce that we have booked 5 guest speakers (one being a duo!) for our upcoming talent seminars.

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

We launched the Outside-In Talent Seminar Series in January of this year and plan to continue growing the program throughout 2015. Next year we will host up to 10 talent seminars in locations from Wilmington to Philly. They will be held either in the morning before your work day starts or in the early evening. We’ll add to the schedule, which can be found at www.OutsideinCompanies.com/events, as the dates and speakers are confirmed. All seminars will be submitted for potential HRCI credit. We would be delighted to have you participate in our future seminars.

Are You a Sharing Leader?

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Being a leader in today’s work environment has it’s share of obstacles. The culture of your company directly impacts how you lead and what you do in your role in every circumstance. For example, let’s take the topic of communication and your responsibility relative to cascading messages. Often times leaders maintain the proverbial upper hand by distributing information (or frankly misinformation) to suit their personal goals and objectives. This does not have to be a nefarious or illegal thing by the way. Sometimes as leaders we are simply overly competitive or selfish. Being the leader that always has to win means you’re going to do anything you need to do to come out on top. That often means controlling what you know. Selfish leaders? Well, they are probably just protecting their job and paycheck. Everybody is doing it right? So what’s wrong with it? It’s like a teenager explaining staying out too late or a bad test grade, “…but Tommy is allowed to.”

Today’s world is about information. That’s why it’s called the Information Age. Why not empower today’s knowledge worker with as much as possible? Why not make it a point to share as much as you can? A group perspective is often more right and more powerful than the views of a handful or the privileged.

To be a sharing leader one must:

  1. ID-100161829Be clear on what their role is as a leader. Is it your job to share what you hear and learn in terms of strategy, vision, or simple business updates with your team? If you’re hearing these messages and you don’t see them in newsletter, town halls, or email updates then I bet it is part of your role. Be a messenger. There is good power in doing this well!
  2. Share it all. Don’t hold back an inch. Employees can sense when your holding back and not sharing. Trust them. They can handle the truth. Of course there is confidentiality. This is not what I am talking about. Stop protecting. Quit isolating staff from business news they can help with. They might even view the problems of the business as interesting new projects to tackle to grow their resumes!
  3. Use all means as possible. Some messages are tactical. Some are strategic. Some serious and some not so much. Pick your forum. Have huddles every day for daily sticks. Do a weekly discussion for businesses. Have a phone call or town hall meeting when you’re dealing with longer term updates or when you want to get some real engagement and feedback.

The key is to make communication a part of your daily leadership plan. It will always take a back seat to your inbox and to do’s if you let it!