Spring Has Sprung

 

Spring Has Sprung… The Grass Is Riz…
I Wonder How My Business Is?

 

Spring has sprung nearly everywhere now.  Matter of fact, in a few days summer will be upon us.   Have you done a spring cleaning in your business?

There are a few times a year that you should put new projects and milestones on your calendar.  In the fall you should be looking at your programs and plan for the following year.  Getting your game plan, your financial goals, your marketing plan, etc. for the next year or 18 months.

 

In the spring take a look at your 1st and 2nd quarters of the year.  Ask yourself, what’s going well – what’s not going so well.  What can you eliminate – what can you add. You might want to adjust your plan.

 

Remember, those things that get measured and monitored get done.  From time to time you must measure and evaluate your own business from the inside out.

 

Here are the top business areas you should make a habit of evaluating. Hint:  schedule focused planning and evaluation time and put it on your calendar.

 

1.      Is your marketing plan supporting your:

 

a.      Financial goals?

 b.      What’s working? What’s not working?

 c.       What needs to go?  What can you change or add?

 

2.      Is your current team or staff adequately supporting your mission, goals and objectives?

 

This is sometimes a hard one because it’s can be difficult to release staff who are no longer meeting the higher good and goals of your business. It’s all about performance.  A question you could ask yourself is, “Is this staff member paying for themselves?”, “Is this staff member part of the team or more concerned with the “I”.

3.      What is your focus for the next 90 days and 2nd half of the year? Everyone wants to finish strong in the last half of the year.  What needs to go – what needs to stay? Is your plan congruent or in alignment with your objectives.  Are goals and objectives captured on your calendar?

 

 

4.      Are your systems and operations manual up to date and working for you in the way  you want them to? Needless to say, this is not the sexiest part of running your business but it is one of the most important.  The more you systematize your business the more it will run on autopilot.  You will not be interrupted by simple questions over and over again and that alone will help you carve out dedicated FOCUS time to work on your business. 

 

 

5.      What additional support do you need in your business to get things done that you haven’t started yet? Does you current team have the skills and knowledge to execute your plan?  Maybe you might need to outsource some additional talent to get your plan moving?  These are questions to ask yourself.  As technology changes and there are new “what’s working now” topics, your team’s skills and knowledge base will need to adjust accordingly. 

If you don’t want to do this yourself, hire the skill out to an expert who will help you get it done.  Because this isn’t the sexy part of your business and you probably struggle with it, it is definitely worth the investment to have an expert do it for you  and with you. One such service is the S.M.A.R.T. Start Partner.  You might want to check it out.

 

Spring cleaning any time of year is freeing.  It’s those little adjustments that can help you move forward in a big way.

Be S.M.A.R.T.!

 

Employees Verses Contractors

 

Employees Verses Contractors
7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

Not long ago I conducted a survey asking business owners and entrepreneurs, “What is your biggest planning challenge?”  To my surprise one of the answers I received was… “How do I manage contract workers?”  My immediate response was… “Why should it be any different?” When you hire a contract worker, they are working for you… their product or project is yours…. You have the right to dictate the specifics of the job, the measurements, and how you want things done.

 

In today’s internet world there are virtual assistants, online business managers, virtual staff, work for hour contractors, and many more.  For the most part you can hire any task you might want accomplished in your business virtually.  They might be long term employees or contractors, or maybe someone you hire for one specific task such as a graphic design or copywriting task.

 

First, there is the rudimentary difference between an employee and an independent contractor.  I suggest you look up the federal guidelines [I am not a lawyer and don’t play one on TV.]  A super resource is Jessica Eaves Mathews and her Leverage a Lawyer program.

 

There are several keys to managing employees and contract workers.  There really is no difference to managing employees and contractors.  Set yourself and your support staff up for success from the start.

 

7 Magical Keys to Managing Employees and Contractors

 

1.       Make sure you clearly know your specific requirements for the job or the project.

a.       Job descriptions should be clear, detailed and written including S.M.A.R.T. principles.

b.      Contracts should also be clearly written with all requirements of the job or project including timelines for deliverables and standards of performance.

c.       Communicate verbally and in writing your desired outcome.
 

2.       Include language in your job descriptions and contracts that includes an “out” for you if you are not satisfied with employee’s or contractor’s performance.  Sometimes you might want to include a probationary period so that you don’t get stuck with non-performance issues for contractors and employees.

 

 

3.       Always design a follow up or measurement aspect.  There are several ways to do this:

a.       Daily reports

b.      Staff meetings

c.       Status reports

 

4.       Hire slowly…. Fire fast.  This is great advice from one of my mentors Dan Kennedy.  Before you hire and simply throw a “body” at a project… Think!  Determine the requirements, the time line, the skills requires and everything you can think of before you hire.  Interview… Interview… interview!  On the other hand, once you do hire an employee or contractor, make sure your standards are clear and concise.  You will know quickly if someone isn’t working out. Don’t drag on with someone who isn’t working out.  NEXT! And QUICKLY!

 

5.       Set everyone who supports you and your business up for success from the beginning.  For example, be specific in the task requirement, the measurement tool or time line, final expectations, and encourage feedback.  Ambiguous instructions or tasks won’t work.  Assumptions will fail.

 

6.       Communicate!  Constant communication creates community and team.  Business owners, who communicate regularly, reward employees and contractors when good things happen and vice versa, will get better results and ward off more challenges.  Use staff meetings and measuring tools as a communication media. 

 

7.       Delegate…. Don’t abdicate!  Delegation is a wonderful thing!  Beware however, just because a task or entire job is delegated does not mean that your responsibility is relinquished.  You’ll definitely run into challenges.  For example, one business owner told her VA to do her marketing for a specific event.  The VA was not a marketer… what do you think happened?  Failure.  The business owner blamed the VA for the failure but soon realized that she was really the one who should have been the marketer and the VA the one who supported the marketing.

 

You might be wondering, OK, that’s good advice but HOW do I do this?

 

The illustration below generally depicts the flow down from your Strategic Plan to your job descriptions. 

  

Businesses which have developed systems and have an operations manual will definitely have an advantage.  Why?  Because the business owner has thought out and documented “how they do things and to what standard”.  Job descriptions that are written based upon the strategic business and marketing plan, and operations manual, logically fit together hand in glove.  As you develop your strategy and implementation plan the skills required by individuals to get things done will most likely become obvious.

 

If you need a little assistance developing your S.M.A.R.T. management tools and job descriptions a S.M.A.R.T. Start Partner may help.  Visit here for details.


Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com. Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching. 

 

 

Who’s Pointing Fingers At Whom

 

S.M.A.R.T. Accountability
5 Tips On Developing Team Accountability

 

Some favorite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job. . . No one told me. . . It couldn’t be helped.” Break the cycle of finger pointing and get down to business.

 

What is accountability?  Accountability is simply the ability to accept responsibility or be answerable for the results (good or bad) of a task or project.  Accountability cannot exist without proper preparation, leadership involvement and measurement tools. What that means is that business owners must develop some leadership skills so that they can clearly communicate tasks and projects at hand, assign responsibilities and measure the results.  If you think about it, the absence of accounting means an absence of accountability.

 

 

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” Stephen R. Covey

 

Being accountable means being willing and able to accept full responsibility of the consequences as a result of certain activities or events in your business. First it starts with your own accountability.  As the leader in your business, of course you are responsible for everything…good and not so good, however, remember if you talk the talk and walk the walk your team will line up behind you easily.  Next it’s with achieving individual staff or team accountability. With each member of the team being accountable for their actions, team accountability can be easily achieved – each and every member of the team becomes accountable of the actions of the whole team. Achieving team accountability eliminates the concept of finger pointing or the blame game which only creates discontent and is counterproductive in achieving your business goals and objectives

 

When you create a culture of accountability within your business, it ultimately encourages better performance.   Creating a culture of accountability is not always easy since most people think that the concept of having to accept responsibility is often negative. It’s important to also consider the positive aspects of accountability. 

 

Reward positive actions and results.  Highlight positive actions.  Team members will react and perform better by holding them accountable in a positive way and that creates a culture for business success.   When that occurs, it’s natural for people to strive for positive recognition and it will become your powerful secret weapon towards obtaining your business goals and objectives.

 

5 Tips To Build Team Accountability

 

 1.       Clearly establish and publish performance goals and behavior standards for the team. Collectively and publicly state exactly what needs to be achieved, which needs to deliver what, and how everyone must act in order to succeed.  This is exactly what clearly written job descriptions and Operations Manuals are for.  Be specific!

 

 2.       Develop simple tools to measure and monitor systems to track progress at regularly scheduled staff meetings.  Always measure and follow up. This is a task that can be accomplished with your team leaders or business manager.

 

3.       Be ruthless if need be and prepared to resolve team performance issues “head on” if necessary.  As one of my mentors says, “Hire slow and fire fast.” [Dan Kennedy]  Performance that is not acceptable must be dealt fast and consistently throughout your entire organization. 

 

4.       Publicly declare results. Teams that are willing to commit publicly to specific results are more likely to work with a passionate desire to achieve those results.  Praise them individually and as a team for great work done.  You will get more fro praise and “at-a-boys (girls)” than by ruling by fear.  Fear breeds resentment and is counter productive to the success of your business and your reputation.

 

5.       Establish results-based rewards. A very effective way to ensure that team members focus their attention on the tasks at hand is to tie their rewards, especially compensation, to the achievement of specific team outcomes, versus individual outcomes.  There are many creative ways you can do that such as: time off, bonuses based on results, lunches, dinners, or gift cards.

 

These are just a few pointers on building a great responsive team and accountability.  The bottom line is that you must “set the bar”, set the standards, communicate performance standards, follow up and hold people responsible for their actions.  Reward successes always!

 

Gail Saseen is an author and information marketing business coach and consultant.  She has a unique ability for communicating complex marketing and technology concepts in simplified and understandable language.  Gail is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of: marketing strategy and planning, systems development, direct mail, social media marketing, website and technology implementation, product development, information marketing and coaching.  Gail assists small business owners and entrepreneurs develop business systems and goals and strategic plans using S.M.A.R.T. Principles.  www.gailsaseen.com – Free Gift www.SmartBizToolsForEntrepreneurs.com