Archive for August, 2010

The Art of Delegating

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

employeescreeningblog.comRecently a Jet Blue flight attendant named Steve Slater made a dramatic exit from his job—and made the news world-wide. His “I can’t take it anymore” rant was heroic to some, and simply whiney to others.

Those who see him as a hero say he represents the overworked masses that have made it through the recession, but with nerves frayed and tempers flaring. Many of these workers, it seems, are just waiting for the next incident to push them over the edge.

But what about their bosses? Many have been hesitant to pile more onto employees who are already maxed out. Are managers getting ready to crumble under bigger piles of responsibility, too?

How does a manager avoid putting too much onto employees and risk having one quit in a dramatic fashion, or “slide the chute,” as the Jet Blue flight attendant did? It’s a matter of delegating—which is an art. Doing it right maintains a balance and keeps everyone’s workload manageable—including yours.

Here are some tips on delegating well:

  • First of all, recognize that if you don’t delegate, you will cripple your ability to manage.
  • Get to know your staff better. What area of the business they want to learn more about? Find tasks that will advance their knowledge and they’ll be more likely to do them well.
  • Don’t “hover.” Once you give someone a task, let it go and let them do it—even if they’re doing it differently than you would (also known as doing it “wrong”).
  • Give them time. Realizing an employee is capable of handling some things as well as you—even if they’re only at 50% now—comes with time. So delegate a task, teach them how to do it right, and expect that that will. Be patient.
  • Empower employees with knowledge of how each project fits into the company’s operations. Let them see how important it is, and they’ll be more likely to take ownership of it.

When the recession hit, employers knew their workers couldn’t just walk out the door and find another job. Now that we’ve been through a couple of years of the downturn, stressed-out staff need to be handled carefully in order to keep them from running toward the exits as soon as things start getting better.

But, just because your staff may have options now or in the near future doesn’t mean you can’t add to their responsibilities. Who knows—maybe delegating some of your job duties will make their jobs much more fulfilling and your employees more likely to stick around!

Hiring? The best pre-employment screening process includes employee background checks, employee credit checks, and criminal background checks. You’ll know you’re hiring safe when you screen employees before offering a position.

5 Ideas for Hiring Outstanding Salespeople

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

employeescreeningblog.comIn many industries, business is starting to pick up; employers are at least thinking about hiring again. One of the most important positions you’ll hire for is salespeople. What’s the best way to approach this challenge?

Salespeople need to do two things: acquire new business and take care of existing customers. It takes a certain type of employee to make a great salesperson—and there are few businesses that can survive a bad sales hire. Think about how long your company can wait for a new salesperson to get up to speed, and hire the best you can.

Five ideas to consider when you’re ready to hire sales staff:

  1. Expert sales people can sell anything. Often, employers focus on finding someone who already works in their industry. They believe that if Tom has been installing flooring for several years, he should be able to sell it, too. Our first tip is to flip this thinking upside down. Try looking at people who have the skills, drive and temperament it takes to be a successful salesperson—even if they know nothing about your business category. It’s easier to teach a good salesperson about the difference between berber carpet and linoleum than to teach a good carpet installer how to close a sale.
  2. Consider hiring from your competition. If you’re paying attention, you know what’s going on with your competitors. Perhaps they have a very strong sales staff you’d like to emulate. One way to do it is to hire those people. Hiring another company’s staff does not come without challenges, so be sure to do your homework. Confidentiality is the goal—but it’s not guaranteed. If you’re okay with your competitor knowing you’re trying to hire her star salesperson, go ahead. And be prepared to invest enough to lure her in and keep her happy and productive.
  3. Speaking of investing in salespeople, hiring the best means offering an attractive compensation package. Salespeople are driven by a variety of factors, like the thrill of the game, winning the business and of course, making money. Growth is achieved through sales—and if you structure your compensation package correctly, you can make both your new salesperson and your bottom line happy. Consider a base salary plus a commission of some type. Commission only makes some salespeople desperate. Some companies put a cap on commissions—that’s not always a good idea. Why cap sales? Do look for quality of sales when figuring out commissions. Lower percentages for lower-profit items makes more sense than a flat fee no matter how much the sale actually nets the company.
  4. Always be recruiting. This means you should have an idea of who your next salesperson should be long before you hire anyone. Through social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, you can get to know more people quicker than ever before. You could meet an unknown sales star at a networking event, a parking garage, or your neighborhood pizza restaurant. A natural people-person is a natural salesperson too. Keep an ongoing list of who you’d like to talk to when hiring for your next sales position—whenever that may be.
  5. Do your due diligence on reference and background  checks. Salespeople can charm even the most wary employer into believing everything they say about their history and sales performance. Ask for former client and employer references, and don’t skip the credit check.

Should You Re-Hire a Laid-Off Employee?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

employeescreeningblogProductivity in the U.S. is down, and rumor has it that employees are maxed out. If you’ve trimmed some staff members and squeezed out all you can from your remaining employees, it’s time to assess your productivity. Perhaps it’s time to consider hiring again.

Re-hiring a Laid-off Employee
When they’re ready to hire for a newly-open position, many business owners and managers naturally think about the last person who held it. In many cases, that person didn’t leave the company, but was laid off. Before you pick up the phone to recall a laid-off employee, consider these tips.

Often, it makes sense to bring a laid-off employee back into the fold. After all, if Susan did the job for years, she won’t require any training. She’s already in tune with the company’s culture, so there’s no bringing her up to speed on dos and don’ts. She knows the policies and procedures as well as you do. It’s usually much easier to rehire a former employee than recruit, hire and train a new one.

But first, consider the reasons behind the layoff. If George was an exemplary worker and budget is the only reason he’s gone, then he could be your only choice for the position. If that’s the case, call George as soon as you can—before another company hires him.

Why Hiring Laid-Off Employees is not Always a Good Idea
Chances are your company and its needs have changed during the recession. Perhaps your remaining crew has turned into a lean, mean, production machine—and that ex-employee won’t fit in. It can be difficult for inflexible people to fit into a changed environment.

There’s a reason George was laid off instead of Tom. Before you hire him back, assess the situation around the layoff choice. It could lead to insight about George’s past and future performance. Was his work up to speed? Did he create bad feelings when he left?

Laid-off employees can change, too. A formerly dedicated worker could develop a negative attitude toward a company he’s been seeing as the enemy for months or years. Consider requiring the former staff person to go through the same application process and interview as a brand-new employee. This gives everyone an opportunity to look objectively at needs, skills, and attitudes. If there are any signs of a grudge, ask open-ended questions to get to the bottom of it.

Don’t Forget Employee Screening
It pays to be just as cautious when re-hiring an ex-employee as when hiring a stranger. Anything can happen between layoff and rehire time. Don’t expose your company and other employees to the risks of hiring anyone—even a former employee—without a thorough pre-employment background check.

Warning: Your Employees Could Be Planning to Quit

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

employeescreeningblogWhy employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs in larger numbers than we’ve seen in nearly two years, and what employers can do about it.

It may seem like a slap in the face to employers who’ve worked hard to keep their employees happy (and employed) through this tough economy, but they’d better get used to this fact: employees are voluntarily leaving their jobs in larger numbers than we’ve seen in nearly two years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employees quitting their jobs surpassed those being discharged by employers this past February. And as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, a poll conducted by Right Management at the end of 2009 indicated 60% of employees intend to leave their jobs when the market improves.

Some employers are bracing themselves for major turnover. Formerly-nervous employees are starting to feel more confident that the economy will turn and employers will begin hiring again. And, they feel they’ve waited long enough to pursue better opportunities, according to the survey.

Another factor inspiring employees to jump ship could be low morale and job satisfaction. We’ve written about ways to keep employees motivated through the recession, as job responsibilities increased and perks disappeared. But some employers may have taken the “you’re lucky to have a job” approach to employee management too far—even if it was true!

Employees are again going to be faced with choices, as recruiters call and their networks start buzzing again with opportunities. While no one knows exactly when that will happen, history shows that what goes up (unemployment figures, for instance) must come down.

Employers concerned about losing good employees—and the associated costs, like recruitment, lost productivity and training—should think ahead and keep communication flowing. Talk to your employees one-on-one and hear their grievances. Ask for ways you can help improve the work environment. The goal is to catch your valued staff before they head out the door. After all, most employers know it’s much easier to keep a good employee than to find another one.