How Can You Motivate Employees Without Cash?

How Can You Motivate Employees Without Cash?

Have you ever wondered how can you motivate employees without cash? It’s a Catch 22 for many entrepreneurs; they’re worried about breaking the bank and they also worry about losing great employees. If your employees are being lured away by the promise of more cash at a competitor business, you need to find a way to keep those employees without putting your business in the red.

How Can You Motivate Employees Without Cash?

  1. Flexibility. Many employees would prefer a flexible work schedule to a raise. Can you offer a later start time or an earlier leave time? What about allowing an employee to work four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days? Could you make that work? What if your employee needs time off for a doctor’s appointment or to go to their child’s school play? Can you be flexible with time off requests?
  2. Offer autonomy and allow them to “own” their job. Don’t micromanage. Give your employees a task and trust they will complete it at the level of expertise you expect of your staff.
  3. Offer praise. If an employee goes “above and beyond” make note of that and share that with your other employees. Implement a “refer a colleague” program in which a staff member points out when another does a great job or performs an act of kindness.
  4. Build community within the firm. Even if your employees are scattered in various locations, build community by fostering conversations across the locations. Host get-togethers if feasible.
  5. Offer life long learning opportunities. If your employees are always learning — whether job-related or focused on a passion project (knitting, gardening, auto repair) they will be achieveing a work-life balance and will also be pursuing a passion outside of work — that you have provided them.

What do you do to keep good employees from leaving? What incentive programs have you found that have worked? What hasn’t? We’d love to know.

Ways Your Business Can Give Back

Ways Your Business Can Give Back

Ways Your Business Can Give Back

As an entrepreneur have you ever wondered what ways your business can give back to the community? It is a thought that many entrepreneurs have, especially at the end of the year. What can you do to help the community without breaking the bank and your business budget?

Here are a few ways you, your business and your employees can give back:

  1. Host a company wide food donation or clothing donation drive. Shelters are in need of food and clothing donations year round, but especially at the holidays. You could also ask employees to donate new, unwrapped toys that a shelter could give away to children. Choose a charitable organization to donate to, set up a donation center and let the giving begin.
  2. Find a worthy cause that your employees can embrace and set up a cash donation fund for them. Have employees donate their “coffee money” for a month. Collect loose change. Find a donation that has an online way to contribute and ask employees to donate in your company name.
  3. Collect items to send to the troops overseas. Contact a local Veterans administration office and ask what items are on a soldier’s wishlist and set up a collection box.
  4. Organize a company-wide blood drive.
  5. Take a day off for volunteerism. If you or your staff supports a local organization, take a day off and volunteer at that organization.
  6. Giving Tuesday (November 29) is a way in which anyone, across the country, can get involved and give to the charity of their choice.

Remember, your employees should know that any of this giving is optional. We’ll bet you and your staff will feel great for having donated or volunteered this holiday season for those less fortunate. Do you have ways in which you and your business give back? We’d love to hear about it.

Control Email Madness

Control Email Madness

Control Email Madness

The advent and introduction of email at work was a boon to those business colleagues who wanted to get in touch but couldn’t because it was after hours — or for myriad other reasons. Picking up the phone could take much longer than sending off an email. Having an email conversation trail is also a good way to keep track of a project or to cover one’s behind if something goes awry. Email, however has become a burden to many business owners and they are looking for a way to control email madness. This, I believe, starts at the top level of management. If you, as the business owner, are diligent in controlling emails, then your staff will likely follow suit. You may also find it beneficial to put a company wide email procedure in place to cut back on the number of emails that are sent and that you receive.

Here are some ways to control email madness:

  1. Make certain employees don’t continually use “reply all” when it’s not necessary.
  2. Tell your employees to refrain from sending cute puppy or kitten videos to staff.
  3. Implement a subject line naming protocol. For example rather than saying, “Meeting notes” you could and perhaps should write “Meeting notes from ABC Planning Session on 10.13.16” Be specific. If you have regular meetings on ongoing topics, come up with an abbreviated naming convention. This makes it easy to sort the messages and to retrieve a string when necessary.
  4. Talk with your employees. This may eliminate the need for multiple emails if you have an actual face-to-face conversation.
  5. Make certain your employees don’t use company email for personal business.

When there are emotionally charged issues in the workplace, do not address them in an email. Emotionally charged issues need to be addressed in person; there are no nuances in a written missive an a low level issue can quickly escalate.

Company changes require client follow up

Company changes require client follow up

Is your company undergoing changes? Is there a change in the packaging of your products? Are you adding new product lines to your offerings and discontinuing others? Do you have a change in the upper level management or ownership of the company? In addition to addressing how these changes will impact your staff, you need to understand how a company change will impact your clients.

Remember, in the overall scheme of things your clients may not be impacted at all because you are planning for a seamless transition, but the perception will be there that, “things are changing and this may not be good for us.” You need to allay those fears. How can you do that? Here are some steps to consider:

  • Ensure that the team, especially those who interact with clients daily, are equipped to fully communicate with clients on the changes that are occurring. They need to have all of the information at hand that will alleviate fear and stress from their clients.
  • Set aside a time to meet with clients — either individually — or in a group cocktail (or other) kind of gathering to share your excitement with them about the upcoming changes.
  • Celebrate the successes of the transition in the company and its team. Keep everyone in the loop as this will make it easier for them to share in the excitement of the changes and that will resonate with clients when your staff meets with them.

How did you handle a time of change in your business?

Foster Good Workplace Communication

Foster Good Workplace Communication

Whether you run a business with a virtual team or you have a brick and mortar location, communication is key to a healthy workplace environment. As an entrepreneur who has virtual staff, I am highly cognizant of the need for effective communication, especially as the team typically “talks” via email and instant messaging. Without the body language to go along with the words, there is no tone or frame of reference and this can make virtual communication a murky water to tread. I believe my team and I understand each other well enough to know that if there is miscommunication, we will stop the conversation, ask for clarification and hash it out.

Here are my tips for good workplace communication: stress entrepreneur

  1. Assess and define the problem. Without understanding the root cause of the misunderstanding, it is difficult to address it and communicate more clearly.
  2. Work with the individuals involved in the miscommunication to get to the underlying issue and resolve it. Your managers may take this role on with their own staff, but if it cannot be resolved, you as the business owner, will want to step in.
  3. Don’t design a solution to resolve the problem until you thoroughly understand what caused it originally. You will also want to get everyone involved as a mandate from management to “communicate better” will not be effective.
  4. Evaluate the success of the solution you’re attempting to implement. Give it a time frame of, say 60 days, reconvene and see whether it’s been effective.
  5. If the solution you tried originally is not achieving the desired results, you will want to sit down with all parties involved, open up a dialogue and not leave the room until it’s addressed. There are times you will find when personalities simply don’t mesh and there may not be a “fix” to the communication issue other than to reassign individuals — it is a drastic, last step measure to be sure, but one that shouldn’t be completely ruled out.

How do you foster good workplace communication?

 

How To Hold An Effective Business Meeting

How To Hold An Effective Business Meeting

Business meetings can be the bane of an entrepreneur’s existence, am I right? Because I work with a virtual team, we have frequent Skype or Google Hangout chats. Prior to these meetings we have an agenda and we also have a drop-dead stop time so that we can all get back to work. A meeting that goes on and on tends to lose its impact and your attendees lose focus.

Here are my tips to running an effective business meeting, whether in person or online:

  • Don’t go into any meeting without an agenda. Ask those involved what they want to see on the agenda, add it to it and send it around to everyone prior to the meeting. This doesn’t mean there won’t be deviations from the agenda, but it will give you a roadmap to follow.Plan Cropped280x279
  • Have one person be responsible for the meeting. This team leader will start the meeting, move through the agenda, take notes and wrap the meeting up at the specified time. This format allows all in attendance to focus on the speaker and know they will receive notes on tasks that were assigned to them.
  • If a topic will be too long or involved or will only involve one or two of the team members, take it off line. There is not reason to hold “side meetings” on the team meeting and force all other parties to sit through a topic or a task list that doesn’t pertain to them.
  • Declare your meeting times as “device-free” times. Your staff should be paying attention to the meeting, not to their cell phones or email alerts.
  • Keep the meeting to seven or fewer people. More than that and the meeting will run long and not everyone will get a chance to speak. Smaller is better.
  • Keep the meeting to one hour or less, if possible.
  • Use the last ten minutes of the meeting to recap and to make certain that all parties know their marching orders.

How often does your team meet? Are the meetings effective?