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The Importance of HR for Small Businesses

ImageStarting a new venture is always exciting—you get to dip your toes into something fresh and decide what direction you’ll take to complete the endeavor. When starting your own business, however, multiple aspects must be considered—the culture, mission, values, employee size, procedures, management, etc.—and this is where business owners tend to overlook the importance of a human resources department. Small businesses are pressured to bring in sales in order to keep their doors open, but as more sales are made, workload increases and more employees are needed. This is where HR is crucial. 

With the need for more employees comes the need for proper management training for supervisors. If there is little to no guidance on how to manage employees, the company may be more exposed to liability for illegal employment practices. There needs to be someone who is well versed in current employment laws—if your company continues to move forward and ignores the importance of being in compliance, you run a high risk of getting yourself into legal trouble. And as a small business, a single lawsuit may close your doors for good.

Furthermore, an HR department is needed for talent management purposes. If management only cares about the dollars coming in and disregards their employees’ needs and well-being, there is a great chance these vital employees may leave. Pressure from management to complete work as well as having a large workload may lead to employee burnout. Small businesses need to retain their talent and find ways to keep their employees present—incentives, rewards and recognition are some popular tactics. Management needs to show their employees that all their hard work is much appreciated, therefore a culture that values and balances both work and play may alleviate stress and simultaneously promote productivity and overall morale. All in all, small businesses cannot afford to have a high turnover rate because the longer a seat is vacant, the more money it costs the company…and the more burnt out employees may feel if the extra work load gets dispersed.

For small businesses who cannot afford an HR department, there are outsourcing options. e-VentExe has a special service called eBasicHR which serves as a full HR department. eBasicHR gives business owners access to documents and forms necessary for compliant purposes, as well as unlimited use of an expert HR consultant who will answer and advise any question or issues that may arise.

*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting firm specializing in compliance law, recruiting and selection, training and development, and assessment tools. If your company is interested in learning more about eBasicHR or any of the services listed above, please call e-VentExe at 916. 458-5820.

 

Are You Self-Aware Enough To “Lead By Example?”

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Our guest blogger is Lonnie Martin, Vistage Chair. For more information about Vistage, please visit http://www.vistage.com.

I wonder how many times I’ve been asked what leadership is all about?…many, many times.  My answer always includes that oft spoken yet vague cliché “leading by example” that I picked up along the way of my life and made my own.  I decided to think the other day what that phrase means beyond the obvious.

I played on a lot of sport teams in my life, and probably the first time I heard “lead by example” was from one of my coaches.  You could guess how a coach uses the phrase to mold behavior, e.g. come to practice on time, run hard to 1st base on infield hits, wear my uniform right, etc.  But the phrase stuck with me…and that’s because my leadership style has been to not ask something of an employee that wasn’t both important (in my view) and that I wasn’t willing to do myself.

Plus, when I used that phrase I also hoped my employees would embody all those attributes of myself that I considered to be my “good qualities.”

It was only much later when I realized I might also be unthinkingly setting the example of my less good traits.

In fact, we do lead by example.  People pay attention to what leaders do in ways large, small, and even very small.  The examples and patterns we purposely, or inadvertently or unconsciously, set in their eyes might be good, or less good, or even bad with respect to what’s required to operate a company, to serve customers, to interact with each other, to accomplish individual and team goals, etc.

I do indeed believe leadership is leading by example, and actually, maybe it’s only about that—what part of running a business, or department isn’t encompassed by “leading by example?”

But are you self-aware enough about how you go about your business and personal life so everybody has a chance to observe and mimic what’s important to you?  The list of things we do to set examples, and that people observe about us is endless.  Are you on time?  Do you listen well?  Are you organized or disorganized?  Are you detail oriented?  Do you follow up promptly?  Do your meetings have agendas?  How do you treat customers?  How do you deal with stress?  Etc., etc., etc. ad infinitum.

There are no right answers about the very many best practices in running a business, and different businesses may need or want practices others don’t want.  But as the leader you do need to think deeply about all those practices you believe serve the business the best, and then live all of them all the time to the best of your ability so your employees understand the basis of your expectations.  And you need to always be on the search for “better best practices” than you even know (which is one thing a Vistage CEO peer group is great at uncovering).

There’s been a long running “nature-or-nurture” debate as to whether leaders are born or can be molded/made.  My conclusion is that the best leaders are the most self-aware and think the deepest about all those individual traits (we often call that culture) and practices that a business needs to consistently practice.  And in my view, both can be learned and/or decided…we need not count on Mother Nature to randomly anoint good leaders.

If you’re not a good leader then either you haven’t thought too deeply about what cultural traits/behaviors the business needs to be successful, or your own behavior is not consistent with that culture leading to confusion among the troops.  One of the most important examples for a leader to set is to not let the organization deviate from that culture through benign neglect or compromise.

A Period of Reengineering Your Company

ImageWe have all been touched in some way by the economic downturn in our region, professionally and personally.  Many have felt the cold hand of fate grabbing at our dreams and plans for our future/ business and personal goals.  Companies that stayed open dealt with the uncertain business landscape in a variety of ways.  Some CEO’s laid off long term employees to avoid the negative spiraling bottom line results.  Other CEO’s modified positions, changed responsibilities and tried to right size the operation the best they knew how.  And, there were those CEO’s who closed their doors completely; the burden was just too large to manage.  Those days were very dark, doubtful and relentless.  I am sure many leaders sat at their desks alone and wondered, “Did I make the right decision?  Could I have done something different? Would the business outcome be different?  What if…., Where do I turn?  Who can I talk to?”

Today, hope for our business future is taking shape again.  We are seeing a resurgence of focused energy and innovation from our leaders.  It finally feels like a spring day—the sun is out and the birds are singing. People are smiling again.  However, the economic downturn has left a deep scar that may never fully become invisible.  I like to call this period of new growth a Period of Reengineering.

CEO’s have a fresh start, a new look at their organization and workforce.  They can once again begin to build a thriving and prosperous business and create a positive and engaging employee culture.  Vistage International can become that voice, that resource for executives and business owners who supports and guides them through extremely uncertain business decisions.  The time is now to reach out, seek guidance and support from a confidential, peer advisory group of CEO’s.

Vistage International brings together successful CEO’s, executives and business owners into private advisory groups.  Each group is purpose-built to help members help each other improve the performance and outcomes of their business and personal lives.  Vistage International works with each CEO to be a better leader who can make better decisions and get better results.  In fact, they have helped over 75,000 members since 1957 when they began.  And the support does not look at one dimension of a CEO’s life; the business.  Discussions also center on a person’s health and personal life—it is strongly believed that the “whole person” adds to the strategic direction of a company.  If issues are present in any of the three categories listed above, they are freely discussed inside the confidence of a member meeting.

Although peer advisory groups are a great help towards success, leadership and management trainings and assessments should not be ignored. These tools allow those in management to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, ultimately allowing them to build upon their skills.

For more information regarding Vistage International and e-VentExe, please call Amelya Stevenson, M.A., SPHR-CA Vistage Chair and owner of e-VentExe, a full service Human Resource Consulting Firm at 916.458.5820.

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About e-VentExe

Founded in 2000 by Amelya and Craig Stevenson, e-VentExe provides businesses with strategic and compliance human resources tips and techniques, organizational effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) and overall strategic and healthy cultural influences in the workplace. We also make HR administration easy for small businesses with our eBasicHR and Compliance package. At e-VentExe, we keep the “Human” in Human Resources. Let us show our dedication to you! For more information, please visit us at www.e-ventexe.com,“LIKE” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! 

 

70% of Workers Are Paid to Waste Time—Every Day

70% of Workers Are Paid to Waste Time—Every Day

Interesting article that gives you suggestions on how to boost productivity. 

Free Webinar Series: A Guide to Understanding Human Resource Management Solutions & Employee Assessments

Free Webinar Series: A Guide to Understanding Human Resource Management Solutions & Employee Assessments

Spring Clean Your Leadership Skills

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Spring has sprung! Spring is a time for renewal and rebirth of life and energy—plants and flowers begin to sprout and bloom, the annual “spring cleaning” spree ensues to remove unnecessary materials collected during the winter hibernation months, cleansing of the mind and body are encouraged. As such, spring is an essential time for leaders in organizations to review, rethink, and rejuvenate their overall culture by reevaluating their own skills.

Those holding leadership positions should ask themselves, “What can I do to make my organization better?” This “spring cleaning” may include tactics, ideas, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Tactics: As a leader, making strategies and planning (whether long-term or short-term) are typical functions. Tactics on how to perform these strategies must be considered—what’s working now? What worked in the past? What have I done that seems to be working?  Sure, every situation is different and plans need to be adjusted, but you, as a leader, must decide and eliminate strategies that may not be working (e.g. plans that are outdated and cannot reach the same caliber as current trends). In cases when sudden incidences rise without any warning, leaders must be quick and think on their feet without breaking a sweat.
  • Ideas: Has your organization hit a plateau where innovation is nonexistent? Think outside of the box! Be inspired by creativity and if your ideas fail, at least you were brave enough to throw out suggestions that may seem out of the norm to others. After all, every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. With leaders making innovative and creative decisions, they can set a precedent for their employees to do the same; ignite the spark for creative thinking and see the results in action!  
  • Strengths and weaknesses: To be the best leader you can be, strengths and weaknesses must be acknowledged and carried out. Self reflect on what you need to work on and try tackling them a little bit everyday. If you want a more in-depth tool for seeking out your weaknesses (and strengths), consider conducting, or ask HR to conduct, a 360-degree feedback to see what your peers think of you and your effectiveness as a leader. 

Keep a fresh open mind and see what you can accomplish for your organization. Now that spring has sprung, how are you planning to “renew” your leadership skills? 

*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting firm specializing in leadership training and development. If you’re interested in conducting a 360-degree feedback, we can assist you in the process. Follow us on Facebook and/or LinkedIn to learn more about our company and see what interests us!

Tip of the day…

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If you conduct employee engagement surveys and ask your employees to spend time honestly completing the survey, as an employer you must thank your employees for taking the survey and communicate to them what actions you will and will not implement from their suggestions. If you do not recognize your employees and their comments, you run the risk of having your employees never complete an engagement survey honestly again. 

Exemplifying Employee Engagement

ImageOrganizations strive largely because of their employees. But what happens when your employees are disengaged? According to the 2013 State of the American Workplace Report, 70 percent of American workers are dissatisfied with their job, creating an atmosphere where many employees feel emotionally disconnected from their workplace and therefore less productive.

Employee engagement is both a psychological and social phenomenon—as humans, we need to feel accepted and feel a sense of belonging whether in or outside of the workplace. Employees’ needs and viewpoints should be accepted and recognized; without this communication and connection, employees may feel worthless or question their stay at the workplace. This is where most upper management fails.

Dr. Brad Shuck at the University of Louisville, an expert in employee engagement research, states that managers were “promoted into positions with responsibilities they were not ready for” and rather than knowing how projects were getting done, they cared only on how much could get done. Let’s take for example, J. C. Penney’s former CEO Ron Johnson. Prior to joining J.C. Penny, Johnson was seen as the genius Senior Vice President of Retail Operations at Apple. However, during his reign at J.C. Penney, sales dropped 27 percent (Forbes). Johnson, who transformed J.C Penney immediately, terminated the entire top executive team. In doing so, Johnson created an entirely new environment for the current employees, who now must not only learn the new company culture, but also build trust and the emotional connection with their new leadership. Johnson merely assumed he could transform J.C. Penney successfully based on his past accomplishments at Apple. However, he not only caused the retail chain to plummet, he did not take into consideration the views of the current employees.

According to Kevin Kruse, a New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker, the secret to employee engagement stems from the relationships front line managers have with their direct reports, therefore improvements can be made effectively if these front line managers are given their team’s engagement surveys. In order for employee engagement to increase in organizations, a grassroots approach is necessary because top executives usually do not work or rarely know their subordinates on an emotional level.

Top management must be able to strategize, create, and determine an employee engagement plan that is suitable for their company, taking into account company size and culture. Employees should feel they are part of an organization that values them, and not merely seen as another body sitting in the office or driving a forklift or serving customers. Employee goals and insights for working at an organization should be acknowledged. Trust, communication, and employee recognition for all parties should be taken into consideration for optimal employee engagement. After all, a productive and motivated workforce calls for increased business profitability.

*e-VentExe is a full service human resource consulting firm located in Northern California. We offer an array of assessment tools that may help with employee engagement or other HR needs. 

New Year’s Resolutions: What Should I Do as a Leader?

ImageThe New Year is an exciting time for rejuvenation—for self and business. As such, resolutions are made, but how long do these resolutions actually last? We see gyms overcrowded for the first few months into the New Year with individuals trying to change their lifestyle, we see leaders jump-starting a new out-of-the-box campaign or company process with enthusiasm in hopes that it will last the entire year; but sadly, most resolutions are not long-lasting. Motivation and perseverance play a vital role in keeping goals and resolutions. For business leaders, the New Year is a time for reevaluating their tactics, attitudes, and beliefs to better themselves and their organization.

Some considerations for leaders include:

  • Effectiveness as a leader:  What are some things you should stop doing this year that will make you more effective in your role? What are some things you can begin doing or implementing?
  • Self-limiting beliefs: What beliefs are preventing you from achieving your goals?

Learning about your strengths and weaknesses can guide you through these questions. There are many tools that can assist you in recognizing these such as assessment tests (more advanced and validated), self-reflection, or observations from others about yourself.

Maybe your lack of team work and collaboration is holding you back from communicating effectively with your employees and managerial team. Utilizing assessment tools can help you recognize this and give you a detailed and user-friendly explanation to guide you through this behavior.

The first step towards achieving goals and/or resolutions is always the simplest; you just do it. Next, you have to mentally change and implement the behaviors—this is not a one-time process; this might take weeks, months, or even the entire year. But you must practice it in order to change your mindset and receive positive results.

This is where many individuals fail to uphold their resolutions: they do something once and say to themselves, “This is easy. I can do this everyday.” But the fact is: sure, it can be easy if you do it for a short-period of time, especially right after the holidays when motivations to keep resolutions are high. What about after a month when things in your life and/or organization begin to pick up? Will you be able to keep your resolutions or goals? The only way to keep motivated is to practice, practice, practice! Ingrain your resolutions/goals into your daily routine.

To be the greatest leader you can be you must understand yourself and the individuals you work with at your organization, as well as maintain business acumen. With that said, are you still continuing your business resolutions/goals?

*e-Ventexe is a full service Human Resource consulting firm in the Greater Sacramento region with superior knowledge on assessment tools. To learn more about how these tools can be beneficial to your organization, please call us at 916.458.5820.

 

Meet the new CALSHRM State Director…

ImageNew Year, new Human Resource leaders. The New Year is a time for embracing change—from simple things such as changing your diet to grandeur aspects such as electing new leaders. None is different for CalSHRM, the California State Council for the Society of Human Resource Management. As a full service human resource consulting company, we live and breathe HR; we take pride in assisting organizations with any of their HR needs, while still maintaining the human connection. With the HR profession growing tremendously as well as technology, what is the outlook for HR in 2014? Michael Letizia, PHR-CA, the new State Director of CalSHRM for 2014 and 2015 shares his insights and goals for CalSHRM and the overall profession.

Having been a member of SHRM since 2000 and serving on the board in various roles until 2013, Michael’s role as State Director is to primarily oversee the functions of the Council and to bring the SHRM affiliates together in the state to solidify initiatives. The Council consists of solely volunteers that Michael will manage, which he deems as a daunting task especially in such a large organization (SHRM is prevalent in California compared to other states).

In terms of goals for CalSHRM, Michael continues to strive for the plans and goals the past President and he created a few years ago, where they envisioned what they believed the California Council should look like. Michael, whose leadership style has always been collaborative, also set some personal goals for himself; he would like volunteers to feel they are part of a larger purpose and that they receive the intrinsic value they sought. One of Michael’s main focus is to ensure the volunteers understand the time, skills, and efforts they put forth into the State are truly making a difference, and that they feel they are part of an organization that is making a difference in California.

Michael hopes to educate California employers and to bring advocacy to businesses and to HR people—professionals and those who are responsible for running HR in their organizations who are not deemed as professionals. Although SHRM caters to HR professionals, Michael believes it is very important that the Council support the individuals who are responsible for HR that may not have the opportunity at this time to call themselves HR professionals.

As such, CalSHRM is partnering with SHRM to be the HR advocate for the employee and the employer. Michael believes education about HR tactics and strategies must be brought to Sacramento to bring the HR voice to the legislature in assisting the government craft ideas that will benefit both California employees and employers.

Michael finds the progression of HR to be very exciting, stating that when he first began his career in the field, he was a Personnel Clerk. Now, as the profession has gained momentum and recognition, HR is being seen as a Strategic Partner and in many companies, a member of the Executive Team. Companies are learning that if they do not direct, assess, and manage their talent, they are not going to achieve the results they hoped. They need people in order to be successful and if they fail to bring in a professional that can help them manage individuals to their fullest potential, then they are not going to get to the place they envisioned. Many Executives are not interested in developing plans for people; they are looking at it from the business perspective. Having that voice at the table talking about human talent to achieve the organization’s goals and the process to make that happen is crucial. Individuals working in HR need to articulate and demonstrate why they are essential to an organization.

Michael stresses that HR individuals and small business owners must be experts in California (and Federal) labor law compliance and understand litigation risks. With California State laws changing at an alarming rate, employers must be updated with compliance and be prepared for consequences if they come; after all, one lawsuit can close a small business.

Advice for individuals currently working in HR is that they must be realistic about the advancements of technology and its impact on society. Michael stresses that California and its employers need to change their views of the traditional work structure in regards to the younger generation entering the workforce: they have to allow workers to be flexible in their schedule in order to reach optimal results. The younger generation is not afraid to say the traditional norm is outdated and antique. Michael praises companies such as Google, who allow their employees to work wherever they can as long as they deliver and meet the company’s expectations. He believes Google and other companies embracing work flexibility are successful because they are managing their talent very strategically. Michael believes that other organizations could reach the same potential if they embrace new ideas and concepts that are shaping our society.