Archive for February, 2011

5 Ways to be a Great Boss

Friday, February 25th, 2011

employee screeningIf you’re new to managing employees, it can be a daunting task—especially if you haven’t been formally trained in employee relations. Much of being a great boss is basic, common sense. Try basing your approach on these tips while you continue to learn how to be a better leader and employee manager.

Here are 5 Ways to Be a Great Boss:

  1. Show Your Passion: If you’re not enthusiastic about your company, why would your employees be? Passion is contagious—spread it around and you’ll be the leader that your staff wants to follow.
  2. Be Respectful: Remember the Golden Rule? Treat your employees with respect, and they will do the same. Show them your loyalty and support. Say “thank you”more than you think you need to.
  3. Look for People Who Balance Your Personality: This trick ensures a team that is well-matched for any challenge, with a variety of strengths and personal characteristics that complement each other. Too many employees who are just like you leaves the organization with all its talents (and weaknesses) in the same area.
  4. Recognize Achievement: Don’t let an employee’s outstanding effort stay just between the two of you. Public praise is a sure way to encourage everyone to do their best. Almost everyone loves to be recognized by their boss0—especially in front of their peers.
  5. Don’t Expect Perfection: You won’t get it. Motivating your staff to perform is your job, but if you think you can motivate them to perfection, you’re wrong. They are human. They have other interests besides work. Maybe they won’t work as many hours as you do; perhaps they aren’t as smart or talented as you would like them to be. But as long as they are performing as well as you need them to, that should suffice. Expecting them to be human (and acting like one yourself) will go a long way toward creating a strong an loyal team.

Look For These Red Flags When You’re Hiring

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

employee screening, employee background checkMany employers are cautious when it comes to hiring employees. Is it better to choose from word-of-mouth candidates? Or should you just place an ad online and see what comes in? What about your friend’s kid who’s looking for a job?

No matter how you get prospects in the door, the interview is the most important step in choosing the best new employees. Even now, with so many good workers clamoring for a job, you could easily make a bad hire—wasting your time, the employee’s time and your company’s money.

Red Flags That Might Eliminate a Job Candidate

  • Unorganized: Was he on time? Does she have her resume ready to hand you in case you don’t have a copy handy? Are they well put-together? Matching shoes are always a good sign! During the interview, listen for thorough answers to your questions. Candidates who avoid questions, answer questions other than the ones you ask, or offer incomplete answers reveal their lack of preparation.
  • Don’t know what the company does: It’s a given that a prospect should have done some research on your company; even better is that they know something about the position they’re interviewing for. If a candidate asks no questions when given the opportunity, consider the reasons behind it. Whether he’s nervous or just lacks creativity, no questions asked means no go.
  • No common courtesy: Did the prospective employee send a thank-you note after the interview? While this practice is not as common as it used to be, when a job candidate thanks you for your time, it’s a sign that they are not only polite, but good at following up. Also, observe how they treat other staff, from the building maintenance person to the president.
  • Blame others for their failures: Candidates who won’t take responsibility for their mistakes or lack of success will likely continue this pattern. We’ve all heard employees complain about their co-workers, bosses, or lack of resources—but rarely do we hear an employee complain about themselves! Everyone makes mistakes—and those who admit it and learn from them make great team players.
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.

Can Employers Terminate Employees for Social Media Mistakes?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

One woman posted a photo of herself on vacation, holding a glass of wine. Another posted negative remarks about a supervisor. Others discussed their work environment on a private MySpace page.

What do these employees have in common? They were all fired, dismissed or forced to resign over these activities.

Is it okay to terminate an employee for their online actions? What about postings that are harmful to a company, its reputation, a supervisor, or co-worker? Where do employers draw the line when it comes to employees’ online behavior?

The new rules have not yet been sorted out. As some firms scramble to create social media policies, others are hands-off when it comes to how employees spend their free time.

A Social Media Policy Can Help
Cover the Content: We’ve all seen photos of company picnics that look like drunken free-for-alls. Prohibiting the posting of photos from company-sponsored events anywhere but on the official website, after approval by a content manager, is one way to establish control.

Reinforce that employees do not have free reign when it comes to badmouthing their employer or co-workers, on or off the job. Not only is it in bad form, it’s can be grounds for dismissal. Employers can be held responsible for what employees say or post; therefore, they have the right to limit it.

Establish boundaries. How does a view inside a co-worker or boss’s private life affect employee relations? What about knowing a staff member’s religious or political views? When does a “friend request” become creepy and harassing behavior? Decide whether or not it is permissible for a boss to friend a subordinate.

Realize you probably cannot establish broad policies such as prohibiting employees from referring to the company in any way on any social media site.

Screening Every Employee

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Business owners and hiring managers usually stand in one of two groups when it comes to screening employees: either they are all for it and believe every single job candidate needs to be pre-screened prior to the job offer; or they make that decision on a case-by-case basis. Here are a few examples from the news this week that shed some light on why the latter is not such a great idea:

  • An executive director of a non-profit, the West Wisconsin Land Trust, allegedly stole thousands of dollars from the organization by using its credit card to purchase things like nutritional supplements, coffee and hotel rooms. While this might not sound excessive, it is when you consider the nutritional supplement purchases totaled over $13,000 and the hotel was over $1,600. If you can’t trust the ED of a non profit, who can you trust?
  • A non profit sled dog organization in Alaska realized too late that an employee had failed to pay $20,000 in gaming taxes, instead keeping $15,000 of it for herself. She was arrested and convicted of a felony.
  • In California, a Macy’s employee was accused recently of stealing a whopping $60,000 in makeup over the course of a year. The stocker had access to storerooms where makeup was kept, and took bags of high-end merchandise out of the store in bags. He then sold the high-end makeup at street fairs.
  • Even the federal government is not immune from employee theft. This week, a U.S. Forest Service employee was charged with stealing and pawning $4,500 worth of tools. The employee stole chainsaws, air compressors and generators. His thievery went unnoticed until a repairman noticed Forest Service numbers etched into a chain saw bought in to his shop.

Regardless of whether these four individuals had criminal records when they were hired, they do now. So if you’re a business owner or hiring manager who wants to avoid hiring people who steal from their employers, it’s always a good idea to run a pre-employment credit check and criminal background check.