Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Economy’

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.

Is it Hiring Time Yet?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

criminaldata.comWhen it comes to the economy, everyone seems to be waiting for something to happen. Reports we used to pay little attention to, like unemployment, consumer confidence, savings rates and housing starts, capture our attention and are analyzed closely.

Employers are no exception. They’ve weathered the economic storm, and many want to know if it’s ever going to turn around. You may be asking yourself if it’s time to spend some of the cash you’re holding on to, or if it’s time to hire again. Or you may just want to know if you can exhale yet!

We can’t tell you the answer to Questions 1 & 3, but here are some tips for question #2: How do you know if it’s time to hire?

1. You and your employees are stressed out. You might have cut positions, combined workloads, or just kept piling tasks on yourself and your staff. If your people are starting to show signs of discontent, are leaving things undone, or are threatening to walk out—you know you have a problem. It just might be solved with a new employee.

2. You are profitable. Profitability is a very good sign. But only when it happens for several months in a row. Much of this depends on your business, but if you’ve been turning a profit for 18 months, and your current staff is overworked, it might be time to hire. If you’re not steadily seeing profits, see #3.

3. The new hire will produce profit. If you’ve crunched the numbers and a new hire will pay for him or herself and then some, what are you waiting for?

4. You’re paying for temps or independent contractors. If there are services you need enough to pay higher temp and contractor fees, can you afford to turn that expense into an employee? Consider hiring a good-fit contractor or temp. If they have skills you need, then find a way to create a sustainable solution.

When you make the decision to hire, be sure to properly screen employment applicants. Pre-employment screening is an easy way to mitigate the risk of hiring staff with questionable backgrounds, criminal histories, or unacceptable credit problems.

Increase Productivity through Better Employee Communication

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Even as the economy shows signs of strengthening, many companies haven’t yet seen business rebound. They still need to do more with fewer employees. Perhaps you’re a hiring manager or business owner who is not able to begin hiring—but needs to keep existing employees motivated and more productive.

You might be thinking, “Haven’t I analyzed productivity enough over the last couple of years?” Perhaps you think there is no way to ask for more efficiency from overworked employees. What if you want to give them a break without affecting productivity? And you know you can’t hire more staff just yet. What to do?

Analyze Again

One answer is the one you might not want to hear: start at the top and analyze your business again. Look at your processes and procedures with a fresh eye—not an easy task, id it? So, why not get some help from the people on the front line? Seek input through an employee survey. Solicit their ideas for increased efficiency.

Fewer Steps, More Efficiency

If yours is a production-based business, efficiency can make or break it. Again, start with your front-line employees—like Mike, your shipping clerk. Look at Mike’s flow and setup. How many steps does each task take? Which can be eliminated or streamlined? How can Mike reduce travel time required for his job requirements? The higher the number of steps his feet take, the more time and energy he’s wasting. Encourage Mike to work with you to redesign his work station, eliminate wasted time and materials, or redistribute his tasks to others, if that makes more sense.

Decrease the Layers of Authority

If your business is sales-related, listen to your phone operators. How can they better balance customer service with efficiency? Are they wasting time waiting for approvals for services they are not authorized to give? Can you empower customer service staff to take care of issues on their own level, decreasing the layers required to handle a problem?

Be an Undercover Boss

Not sure if these areas are problems in your company? Your employees do! So ask them. Spend time with them. Get out of the office and shadow a few employees for a day. Take a cue from the new reality show “Undercover Boss,” where CEOs go undercover in their own companies, working alongside the lowest-level employees—and learning how their businesses really work.

Employees often follow procedures they are trained in, whether or not they are the most efficient use of their time. They do what is expected. But when given the chance to change things, many will jump at the opportunity to contribute to an improved workflow.

Give Mike a Promotion

Perhaps your frontline employees, like Mike, are capable of taking on some management duties. If you’ve downsized your management team, it may be that they already are—and if that’s the case, recognize them for it. Sometimes a change in title helps employees shine in ways you didn’t expect—and it can be real morale booster, too. So make Mike the Shipping Manager if he deserves it!

Talk to Your Staff

As with most management challenges, the key to increasing productivity lies in staff communication. Talk to your workers, learn how they do their jobs every day, and solicit their ideas for improvement. If they are willing to take on more responsibility, start on a plan to make that happen. And if they are at the point where another task will send them out the door—you need to know before it happens.