7 HR Insights to Quickly Improve Your Company



In this apparent age of ageism, many employers mistakenly prioritize by hiring Millennials. Their reasons might seem valid.

For instance in cultural concerns, they misguidedly believe they need people who can better relate to young workers. Or they might want to save on health insurance costs.

So they often blindly overlook the over-40 crowd in favor of hiring Millennials.

ID-10065921 David Castillo DominiciBut whether you’re a young entrepreneur or a seasoned veteran, you’ll find advantages and profit in hiring employees with a rich background of experiences.

You can actually turbo charge your benefits by recruiting well.

It’s not only about benefiting from hiring a high-performing employee.

You might need a bench coach – someone seasoned enough to help you to motivate and educate your workers — or someone who can serve as a mentor to you.

Any extra expense in healthcare insurance will be more than offset by the value of experienced older workers.

You’ll also find such a candidate who will work just as hard or harder than you. And they’ll be appreciative for the opportunity to serve.

So don’t overlook a candidate over 40 years of age.

To hire for such exceptionalism, here are seven insights:

1. Negotiate pay as an adventure

With a wealth of experience, a person 40+ usually has remained unemployed because they’re mistakenly perceived as being over-qualified when they’ve applied for jobs.

So they cringe when asked to disclose their pay history.

If they’re long-term unemployed, chances are their credit ratings have suffered. Don’t automatically hold their financial situations against them.

Be prepared to negotiate salary and benefits. If what you pay is insufficient to meet their needs, remember they can always moonlight without hurting their performance for you.

Better yet, you can discourage moonlighting and encourage strong performances by offering performance-based bonuses.

2. Consider a prospect who obviously dumbs down the resume

Many candidates who have a wide breath of experience dumb down their resumes so they don’t look over-qualified.

They also know that employers mistakenly assume an older employee doesn’t have relevant skills.

So they try not to appear over-qualified.

“I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”

-Leo Lacocca

3. Consider older entrepreneurs

While it’s true most entrepreneurs are mavericks, such independent-minded workers are often pressured into entrepreneurship because they can’t find a job.

It isn’t always true that an older worker can’t fit in your culture. Chances are that such a candidate knows how to fit in and be a high performer.

4. Scope out the self-employed on LinkedIn

Many LinkedIn members, who are self-employed, might be ideal candidates for you.

5. Prospect for employees who have more experience than you

A seasoned performer often has more relevant experience than you or your employees.

To use a Hollywood metaphor, they’re like an experienced director who has already seen all the movies. They’ve learned valuable lessons.

They more readily see opportunities and pitfalls. They provide valuable insights that you otherwise might overlook.

So put them in a director’s chair.

6. Leverage their hunger

A smart, experienced worker – suffering from unemployment, quite often is hungry – hungry to prove themselves.

Even if their skills need updating, they’re more malleable because they have strong incentives to keep their jobs and succeed.

Older persons with families are well-motivated to feed the family, which helps to account for their aggressive behavior to outperform.

8. Leave your ego at home

Sad but true, some employers are threatened by a candidate with a rich background of experience and success.

So forget your ego, and hire a person with strong qualifications.

You’re more likely to find more time to spend with your family or on the golf course to make new sales.

From the Coach’s Corner, related management tips:

Millennial Manager: Earn Respect, Get Results with 6 Tips — It can be tough to manage baby boomers. Not because they’re difficult workers. Your learning has just begun. Remember a lot of baby boomers know they have more experience than you; perhaps even in management. Maybe even in your job.

Human Resources – Slow Motion Gets You There Faster — Hoagy Carmichael’s phrase, “Slow motion gets you there faster,” is apropos in hiring the best workers for high performance. Here’s why and how to do it.

Risk Management in Hiring: Pre-Employment Screening Tips — Here are two questions about hiring: 1) what’s the biggest mistake companies make in hiring employees; and 2) what’s the biggest legal obstacle employers face in hiring? Here’s what to do about background screening.

HR Management: Think Like a Sales Pro to Recruit the Best Talent — One-size-fits-all approach to recruiting employees is not a strategy. You and your peers in human resources might be enamored with technology, but job candidates want more focus on the personal touch. That necessitates thinking like a sales professional.

13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism — Absenteeism causes migraines for a lot of bosses. Obviously, your company will make healthier profits, if you don’t have an absenteeism problem.

“I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”

-Leo Lacocca


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy David Castillo Dominici at www.freedigitalphotos.net

4 Tips to Get Your Money’s Worth from a Consultant



To get your money’s worth from a consultant, you might be surprised to learn you have to use best practices in your role as the client.

“Huh?” you’re probably thinking.

For strong results, it’s not just a matter of hiring a consultant, forgetting about it and expecting work to get done. You’ll get top results after retaining a consultant if you’re at the top of your game as a client.

bwi ambro www.freedigitalphotos.netMy conclusions are based on my experience as a confidential business-performance consultant since 1992.

To get your money’s worth, here are four tips:

1. Be 100 percent responsive

For maximum communication and efficiency, you need to be fully accessible and prompt in responding to your consultant.

Reach an understanding on your means of communication – the best ways for the two of you to communicate between meetings – whether it’s e-mail or telephone.

If you are planning to be away from your office for any reason, such as holidays or vacations, notify your consultant in advance.

2. Heed your consultant’s recommendations

Assuming you’ve hired a consultant for expertise you need, and one who is mindful of your welfare, it’s important to listen to your consultant.

Don’t put your consultant in a position to have to ask you: “Why did you hire me, if you’re not going to listen?”

A competent consultant won’t deal indefinitely with a client who doesn’t listen. The exasperation isn’t won’t be worth it.

3. Be fully aware of the agreement

Know all the details and all ramifications. It must be in writing.

Every situation is different, but there are eight essential elements you need to know:

  1. What will be offered
  2. The value it will provide
  3. Start date
  4. Deliverables
  5. Timeline
  6. Limitations on the scope of work
  7. Cost
  8. Payment schedule

For the most efficiency, you’ll find project billing is preferable to hourly billing, as the latter is too open-ended. For instance, if your consultant can’t finish a project on time, you won’t want to pay extra for cost over-runs.

By the same token, be sure to pay your invoices promptly. It’s really true that what goes around, comes around.

4. Hold your consultant accountable

If your consultant fails to adhere to the agreement, don’t settle for substandard deliverables. There should be no negative surprises.

On the other hand, if you get stellar results, be sure to express your appreciation. Recognition is important in relationships.  The two words, thank you, are like magic to a consultant. In turn, you’ll get the red carpet treatment from your consultant.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more tips:

Thought Leadership — Why Companies Hire Management Consultants — Companies want knowledge. A good idea can be worth $1 million and more. That’s why companies hire thought leaders. It’s also why you see many consultants position themselves as thought leaders and give away free information in how-to articles or studies, which lead to books, seminars and being quoted in the media.

Basics in Hiring a Consultant to Help You Improve Your Company — When you can’t solve a business problem, you probably need a consultant. Perhaps you don’t have the necessary experience to solve a problem and need to avoid a costly mistake. Or you’re busy time-wise and you might find it more cost effective to hire an expert.

6 Tips to Save Time and Money by Hiring the Right Tech Consultant — If you need to hire an information technology consultant, it can be costly in time and money, if you choose the wrong person. Use due diligence. Sophisticated tech vendors and consultants of all sizes have been known for cost over-runs. Again, certain precautions are needed.

10 Tips for Hiring the Right Attorney for Your Business — In running a successful business, you typically need the services of three professionals — a good tax accountant or CPA, insurance agent and an attorney. Know that talent and skill levels are crucial for your success.

There is a wide variety of opinions on consultants. Some people hate them, and some people hate them a lot.

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Recruiting an IT Professional? 6 Tips for the Right Skills



Are you looking to add information technology personnel? You want to hire for a competitive edge, right?

Naturally, you must consider your current and future needs and how to align them with the aptitude and skills in the recruitment and hiring of your ideal candidate, and vice versa.

IT is a crucial position for you. The difference between failure and success requires some reflection. Hint — that means hiring someone with compatible drive and talent — an entrepreneurial spirit.

To choose the right person, here six tips:

1. Recruit for impact with best practices in screening resumes.

The wrong hires result in costly turnover — a waste of money and time. Don’t take shortcuts.

Before you begin interviewing, start with careful screening of resumes for an impact person.

2. Hire someone who is a fit for your culture and capable from the get-go.

In this economic environment, especially in a small operation, you’re wearing many hats. So you need versatile employees who will relate well to all members of your team.

Technology will continue to undergo dynamic change. Look for someone who has a good perspective on the history of information technology with the current experience to perform the necessary tasks for your organization — now and in the future.

The most-desirable candidate will actively learn and continuously grow.

Such situations call for behavioral interviews to make sure you have a good match.

3. Put a premium on judgment and communication skills.

You need a person who willingly listens and relates to you and others. With enough information, IT requires strategic decisions to deal with changing technology but the capability to discuss technological concepts in easy-to-understand terms.

So ask your candidates to share how they solved issues. Share with them real-time situations that your company faces. This will afford you the opportunity to consider their judgments and how they’ll perform for you.

Listen carefully to the interviewees’ answers and look for exemplary communication skills.

Look for someone who has a good perspective on the history of information technology with the current experience to perform the necessary tasks for your organization — now and in the future.

4. Hire for resourcefulness.

Interviews should include questions that will give you an idea about the persons’ creativity to address difficult issues. You’ll be depending on IT expertise for success in compliance, finance, marketing and sales, and security.

Seemingly, all CEOs have complained to me about IT professionals who don’t understand business and the need to provide affordable solutions for returning yields on investments. It isn’t a conclusion from my experience as a business-performance consultant.

Two studies indicate the need for IT professionals to get businesslike. Hire someone who gets it.

5. Assess the persons’ resilience.

Business success doesn’t come easily. Your business will continue to face adversity. Hire someone in whom you will have faith to get the job done.

That means someone who will face challenges with resilience — someone not cocky but confident — a game-changer.

6. Consider the applicants’ potential to be leaders.

In growing your firm, you’ll want to hire an asset to help you achieve your objectives. So hire a team member who is ambitious, pragmatic and capable of building an IT staff.

The bottom-line: You need someone with IT talent and entrepreneurial skills. Good luck!

From the Coach’s Corner, additional related tips:

Need to Hire a Professional? Advertising Tips to Attract the Best Talent — Whether your business has grown so you need to hire a key professional or you’re replacing a person, there are certain advertising-recruitment tips to use. To avoid wasting your time, you must plan. Think about your objective and job specifications, and keep editing your announcement draft until you get it right.

Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Job Applicants — Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. It’s not uncommon to interview applicants who aren’t shy in negotiations with their inflated egos and salary expectations.

HR — Avoid the 10 Most Common Background Screening Gaffes — In human resources, all background checks are not equal. “An organization that runs background checks on all of its incoming employees is already doing a lot of things right,” writes Michael Klazema, marketing director of Backgroundchecks.com.

4 Recommendations to Avoid Spending Too Much on IT — To take advantage of big cost savings in information technology, a study says businesses need to change their buying habits. Here’s how. 

For Profits, Manage Your Growth at the Right Pace — Entrepreneurs frequently try to rush their business growth. Certainly, growth is great but if you scale too fast, you’re looking for trouble. The key is to prepare.

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”  

-Elbert Hubbard


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Hiring? 4 Pointers on Negotiating Wages with Job Applicants



Some employers have had difficulty in successfully extending job offers to applicants, especially Millennial professionals. It’s not uncommon to interview applicants who aren’t shy in negotiations with their inflated egos and salary expectations. Of course, that wasn’t the case in the Great Recession.

In fact, some bosses lament some Millennials have unproven skills but are tactless and have unrealistic expectations about compensation.

So, it’s important to have a negotiating plan before you start the process.

woman-83155_1280Here are four tips:

1. Return-on-investment mindset

In making sure you get a strong ROI from a new hire, keep in mind that salary and benefits represent recurring costs.

So be careful about your limits and don’t give away your power by falling into a trap of feeling cornered.

No applicant is that good. You’re the boss, so keep the upper hand.

Even if you encounter someone whom you feel is a dream candidate, don’t stop looking. Always have options.

2. Research 

Do your due diligence. Determine what your budget will allow and what your marketplace pay ranges are.

Assuming you’re hiring a professional in one of seven professions — accounting, finance, technology, creative, marketing, administrative and office support or legal — and if you don’t have access to accurate market data — consider the Robert Half salary calculator.

You’ll get salary data by location and title, comparison of salaries in nearby areas and learn what types of professionals businesses are hiring.

3. Non-financial incentives

If you want to make an offer to a highly qualified candidate but have a tight budget, try being creative by offering non-financial incentives.

Your options can vary from discounted gym membership to telecommuting days.

Your offer might also include a performance clause with the chance to earn more via commission or profit sharing if your business attains certain revenue goals.

4. Discussion of evaluations and salary reviews

A new or existing employee must know that any salary increases would be contingent on performance. An existing employee is a known factor and an educated risk. A new employee — no matter what the track record — is an unknown risk.

They need to develop new business, provide profit-making ideas, or be capable of assuming additional responsibilities to save the company time and money to increase cash flow.

Conclusion

Finally, if it’s not a collegial, easy process, pass on the applicant.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:

Hiring Impact An Impact Person Starts with Screening Resumes — 5 Tips — If you want to hire an impact person, your hiring process is really important. The place to start is using best practices in screening resumes. The wrong hires result in costly turnover — a waste of money and time. Before you start interviewing, the place to start is your screening of resumes.

Hiring for a Small Operation? Conduct Behavioral Interviews — In this economic environment, whether you run a small operation in a big company or you own a small business, you’re wearing many hats. So you need employees who can successfully wear multiple hats, too. What does that entail? It entails several things. To compete successfully, small businesses especially need people who are a good fit culturally.

HR — Avoid the 10 Most Common Background Screening Gaffes — In human resources, all background checks are not equal. “An organization that runs background checks on all of its incoming employees is already doing a lot of things right,” writes Michael Klazema, marketing director of Backgroundchecks.com.

HR – Interviewers Give Higher Marks to Applicants Interviewed Early in the Day — Study has implications for HR professionals and job hunters, alike   Interviewers often mistakenly give higher ratings to job job seekers – whom they interview early in the day – at the expense of other applicants. That’s one of the conclusions from research of 10 years of data from more than 9,000 MBA interviews.

“As a business owner or manager, you know that hiring the wrong person is the most costly mistake you can make.”

 -Brian Tracy


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


Female Hiring Managers in STEM Discriminate Against Women, Too


Why there’s gender bias for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.



You might think in the 21st century that discrimination wouldn’t be problematic for job applicants in STEM — the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Sadly, that’s not the case.

Of course, it’s been widely documented that women suffer from gender bias in technology. As in tech hiring, data shows there are two reasons why STEM is a male bastion.

Not only do STEM male hiring managers give  preference to men, so do their female counterparts — even at the detriment of company profits — according to an academic study.

MH900422730 young business womanThe study, How Stereotypes Impair Women’s Careers in Science, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The disturbing revelation of gender bias was revealed in the study led by Ernesto Reuben, assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School.

The study was co-authored by Paola Sapienza from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and Luigi Zingales from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Why more men?

“Studies that seek to answer why there are more men than women in STEM fields typically focus on women’s interests and choices,” said Professor Reuben.

“This may be important, but our experiments show that another culprit of this phenomenon is that hiring managers possess an extraordinary level of gender bias when making decisions and filling positions, often times choosing the less qualified male over a superiorly qualified female,” he added.

A Columbia Business School press release said that in “an experiment in which participants were hired to perform a mathematical task, both male and female managers were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman — even when the managers had no information beyond a candidate’s appearance and, therefore, gender.”

Seriously?

“The end result is not only a less diverse workforce and a male-dominated STEM field, but also a detriment to these companies for hiring the less-skilled person for the job,” commented Dr. Reuben.

Study’s conclusions

The press release said: “…when the hiring manager had no other information other than a candidate’s gender, they were twice as likely to hire a man than a woman, because they incorrectly believed that men are more talented in science and math…”

Wait, there’s more.

“In some situations up to 90 percent of the time when a mistake was made, it was made in favor of a man,” said Dr. Reuben.

Even worse, the release disclosed: “When hiring managers were given information about the candidates’ actual performance, the bias against women was reduced, but not eliminated, the researchers found.”

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks:

Seattle Tech Recruiter Provides Career Advice, Makes Prediction — As technology companies watch the debate in Congress on visas, one fact remains: They need skilled workers. Amid the debate, a top Seattle tech recruiter answers questions – from career advice to a prediction on future trends.

Why Microsoft Continues Push for ‘Stem’ Studies in College — Among other reasons: The home state of Microsoft, Washington, ranks fourth in technology-based corporations, but is 46th in tech graduates   Do you ever wonder why technology companies push for an increase in H1B visas as part of immigration reform? They need skilled workers. There will be more than 1.2 million new STEM jobs in by 2018, says the U.S Department of Labor.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — News headlines continue to show there are a myriad of ways managers set themselves up for lawsuits. Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints.

“Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.”

-Thomas Sowell


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Hiring and Laying Off Workers: 3 Often Asked Questions



Employers often ponder quandaries in hiring and firing workers. If you’re like many employers, you might want to consider re-thinking your approach to human resources.

As you analyze your situation, wisdom and courage are your best friends in addressing three typical questions about establishing guidelines.

11 AmbroThey include:

1. When do I commence hiring ?

2. If I have to lay off workers, can I include undesirable employees?

3. What do I do if the economy suddenly improves?

When do I commence hiring?

You hire when you’re confident about the economy and the demand for your products and services, as well as when you have adequate cash flow.

From a macro perspective, we can conclude, however, consumer confidence will be a factor in your decision-making.

Consumer demand will account for at least 50 percent of the desired economic expansion. But consumers – weary from being laid off and from unemployment reports – are likely to be very cautious.

“Concerned about the durability of the expansion and pending Obama Care mandate to fund health insurance for full-time employees, businesses are replacing full-time workers with part-timers,” explained Peter Morici, Ph.D., a widely quoted business professor at the University of Maryland.

In the first half of 2013, he wrote, another 833,000 workers are only working part-time. In Aug. 2015, the average American workweek is only 34.6 hours. (See his economic analyses here.)

So, companies have continued to slash labor costs. Automation from technology is another reason for Americans being under-employed or unemployed. You, too, must carefully monitor your company and macro situations.

If I have to lay off workers, can I include undesirable employees?

True, people are consistent in their behavior across the board. Unpleasant employees are frequently under-performers. You must deal with performance issues, but avoid the typical 12 errors in evaluations.

Make sure you have irrefutable reasons in order to avoid a potential claim of wrongful termination. This will be important, too, if you want to refill one or more positions.

You have to justify layoffs for workers if they’re merely annoying to be around. To avoid any legal hassles, it is generally feasible to let such workers go with some provisos.

Here are important questions to answer:

  1. Do you have documentation explaining the business reasons for a layoff?
  2. Can you defend your process for selecting whom to lay off?
  3. Do you have written performance reviews or records of disciplinary actions?
  4. Are you following all applicable laws?
  5. Are you fair and compassionate?

Make sure you have irrefutable reasons in order to avoid a potential claim of wrongful termination. This will be important, too, if you want to refill one or more positions.

Again, it’s important to properly deal with performance issues. You will also have to take precautionary steps to avoid morale issues with your retained workers.

What do I do if the economy suddenly improves?

A sudden improvement in the economy is unlikely, but be prepared. Firstly, consider your staff. Historically, many employees who do not have reasons to be loyal to an organization will want to work elsewhere. That’s mainly the workers who bide their time until the economy improves.

So it is critical to evaluate what will motivate employees to stay and become high performers. Recognition for good work is appreciated by 70 percent of workers. In fact, a study shows non-financial incentives motivate most employees.

Therefore, implement the appropriate measures to show your workers you care about their welfare. In addition, I am a big believer in employee development and training programs. If you fail to retain great workers, it will cost you in the long run.

Of course, know where and how to recruit the best employees. Here are advertising tips to attract the best talent.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more HR tips:

Lesson for Compassionate Bosses from Employees – If you’re a boss, don’t expect appreciation, commitment or loyalty from a worker you help with personal and work issues. Employees take it for granted, according to IMD business-school research. “Managers and employees alike appreciate that controlling negative emotions can be important within an organization,” said research co-author Professor Ginka Toegel.

Human Resources: 4 Reasons Why New Managers Fail – Best practices guarantee success for new managers. Not to over-simplify, but there are often four reasons why new managers are unsuccessful – ineffective communication, failure to develop trusting relationships, weak results, and a failure to delegate.

Strategies to Succeed as a New Manager – a Checklist – Congratulations, new manager. Welcome to a job you’ll find most challenging – if you do it right. You’ll be carefully watched by your staff. You’ll be judged on values demonstrated by your actions. What values will you show your employees?

“The problem with people is that they’re only human.”

-Bill Watterson


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net


How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits



If you’re an out-of-work attorney, the good news is that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a hiring binge. The EEOC’s Web site also indicates the agency is recruiting for investigators to handle employment discrimination complaints.

Of course, mediators, administrative support, managers, and IT personnel are also in demand.

That means federal employment discrimination complaints are sky-high — a sad commentary for businesses and public agencies that are large enough for a human resources department.

thinking-272677_1280This portal has received complaints that HR departments appear to be supporting and implementing such retaliation. Employees ask for ideas on how to deal with abusive employers in both the private and public sectors.

State courts across the nation are also filled with discrimination cases, too, because complainants want to avoid the federal caps on monetary damages.

Historically, high-profile harassment cases are a catalyst for additional complaints by other workers.

EEOC cases also lead to declining morale, retention problems and poor productivity, which are also costly.

While a federal-agency investigation doesn’t necessarily indicate a company is guilty of discrimination, it’s a serious situation and there are several measures that will insure success.

The first step in fighting lawsuit abuse is risk management

Veteran managers are often guilty and so are new managers who need to learn the right strategies to succeed.

Here are the six basics for micro-companies to remember:

1. Get a mentor and join your local chamber of commerce.
2. Consider outsourcing your payroll.
3. Implement benefits and retirement plans.
4. Create a policy and procedures handbook (job descriptions, hiring, appraisals, compensation, firing and operations).
5. Stay aware of all employment laws.
6. Document everything.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches. In my experience, it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Law firms have asked my company to help their clients after U.S. District Court actions. In one case, I was asked to implement a wage and compensation plan after a trucking firm inadvertently violated federal laws. A well-meaning technology employer was fined for comments in an inappropriate interview-process and I was asked to conduct sexual harassment training.

Both companies were heavily fined and their lawyers cost even more. One company is no longer in business. So, it’s vital to know the proactive steps to eliminate workplace discrimination and harassment, and the practical benefits to you of equal opportunities for employees.

The key is to start where the proverbial tire meets the road – when employees are hired.

For larger companies, every company’s situation is different, but in general there are 13 basics to avoid EEOC headaches … it’s important to learn how and why complaints are filed, and to treat employees with respect and confidentiality.

Here are 13 strategies:

Fully understand the required skillsets. Naturally, first decide what each job requires. When a person leaves, decide what additional qualities you want in the job description. While experience and skills are an important consideration for meeting your requirements, there are several other considerations including hiring for attitude and professional appearance and aptitude for teamwork and customer service.

Review your application process. The appearance of discrimination can be unfortunate opportunities for applicants or the EEOC to file complaints regarding your hiring decisions. Review your interview checklist questions and employment applications so that you only inquire about applicants’ talent for the job and availability for attendance according to your required work hours.

When anyone requests an application stay safe by providing it, but don’t do it selectively to avoid the appearance of discrimination. Don’t set deadlines for applicants to apply unless you strictly adhere to them.

Interviewing. When you interview, ask open-ended questions to get the applicant to talk about any issues related to the job. Closed-ended answers in which an applicant answers with a “yes” or “no” won’t be productive. You’ll want to know about the person’s attitudes, expectations and values. A skilled interviewer is careful about commenting on an applicant’s answers.

Background checks. A background check is critical. If you ask questions of a reference or former employer, make certain to take the same precautions as you do with the applicant. If you utilize credit reports, adhere to the provisos in the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Making an offer. Put your offer in writing to successful applicants, but stipulate that you’re an at-will employer. State the salary in weekly or monthly amounts – so that longtime employment tenure is not implied – and whether there are any contingencies, such pre-employment medical exams. Hopefully, you have highly trained interviewers, but make clear that the letter is your company’s last word in employment and that it supersedes any other representations by interviewers.

Drug testing is often valuable for screening purposes. Applicants with a drug history will sometimes withdraw their applications, but the test is effective for those who don’t. In my experience, drug users are the most dishonest employees – at a much higher rate than even alcoholics.

Insuring success. Make full use of your probationary period. Assuming an employee adequately demonstrates technical skills, remember the No. 1 employer-complaint about new hires is their lack of soft skills – a poor attitude and inability to communicate effectively with coworkers and customers. Appraise them accordingly.

Employee handbook. For legal and productivity reasons, the employee handbook should be utilized to inform employees of your expectations. But clearly state a disclaimer – it’s not an employment contract – employment is conditional. Either party may terminate without cause or notice. Preferably, employees will be given an acknowledgment form regarding their at-will employment status.

The handbook should include policies such as attendance, benefits, vacation, employee-monitoring systems, probationary periods, sick leave, and FMLA (family and medical leave, if you employ 50 or more workers).

Make clear the company will not tolerate harassment and the procedures for reporting it. Remember, employers are liable for behavior of their employees. Should harassment allegations be raised by an employee, be sure to follow through with an immediate investigation and discipline, if proven, and don’t tolerate retaliation. Sexual harassment training, in particular, should be regularly given.

Avoid favoritism. Be consistent make sure of adherence to policies.

Be proactive about workplace complaints. Do not avoid taking action. Make sure you are actively listening.

Safety counts. Be empathetic and show respect. Be safety conscious.

Wage and hour practices. Stay current with all state and federal wage and hour laws and regulations. Some companies have run into trouble because their hourly employees are working longer hours as exempt managers and not paid for overtime. Carefully document your records.

Of course, try to be competitive in pay and benefits.

Continuous policy training. To insure success, make certain managers, human resource interviewers and workers are knowledgeable about your business policies. You’ll be in a better position to prevent harassment, hire correctly and appraise employees accurately. You’ll also be in a stronger position, if you do encounter the threat of litigation. Stay on top of all details, but also be mindful of the protected classes of workers to avoid federal intervention.

Evaluations and terminations. Supervisors and managers must be schooled in worker behavior, performance and if necessary, terminations. Not to oversimplify, but remember every employee is entitled to know three things: What’s expected; what’s in it for them; and how they’re doing.

Make certain that terminated employees can’t conclude they’re being let go for reasons of discrimination. Again, that means documentation and thorough footwork.

These minimal reminders will help you to avoid employment and EEOC traps. However, if you do find yourself in the EEOC crosshairs, be careful how you respond in crafting your position.

From the Coach’s Corner, this portal’s HR section has several dozen management tips.

Also, here are informative federal-government Web sites:

– U.S. Department of Labor, www.dol.gov

– U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov

“Discrimination is a disease.”

-Roger Staubach


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



9 Image-Building Steps that Will Attract the Best Workers


Why it’s hard to get great workers and 9 ways to attract the best.


Some things never change.

In 2006, I wrote a Biz Coach column about an exhaustive study that showed 69,000 employers in Washington state were frustrated over their inability to find the right workers – 51 percent of companies complained workers were unfit. As I recall, employers were concerned about a lack of workers’ skills, poor education and weak soft skills.

Since then, most U.S. companies have enjoyed a boom time, only to suffer in a downturn and so-called recovery.

ID-10046884 AmbroBut one human resources problem remains – a shortage of skilled labor. That’s right, published reports indicate businesses have problems recruiting good employees.

But employees complain about a lack of jobs. Labor unions would have us believe companies are not paying enough in salary and benefits to attract workers. Not true.

There are countless unfilled jobs in the U.S. because of the economic climate and the structural gap between job requirements and worker abilities.

Taxes are too high exacerbating a tepid economic climate and jobs are outsourced abroad.

Meanwhile, too many American workers are not flexible enough in developing the right skills, getting the right training, and studying the right courses.

Why do many laid-off workers fail to have the right skillsets?

The high-school graduation rate is too low. Only a quarter of high-school students graduate from college. Technology needs math and science-educated workers. There will always be a need for good accountants. And there will always be a shortage of great salespeople and managers.

But too many parents are not paying attention. Their children should be strongly encouraged to study and develop strong work ethics. The same is true for adults.

Most government agencies are bemoaning their revenue problems. But it is not a revenue problem. It is a spending and payroll problem that’s hurting the private sector. Not to mention the government infringement of the private employers’ economic and political freedoms. And the cost of labor is the single biggest expense of any enterprise – public or private.

Not to bore you with countless statistics, but the public sector is unrealistic. It used to be a problem for the public sector to compete with private enterprise in hiring productive people. But no more. Many government salaries and pension plans are much higher than the private sector. And the pension plans are grossly under-funded – in the aggregate – by billions of dollars.

But too many parents are not paying attention. Their children should be strongly encouraged to study and develop strong work ethics.

So, how can a business compete?

True, the short-term solution is to offshore your needed services and products. You’ll temporarily solve your HR needs. It’s also an economical approach. And sad to say, employers say work ethics abroad are often stronger than in the U.S.

Meantime, it will be necessary to analyze your company’s strengths and weaknesses, anticipate your needs for talent, focus on training of your staff, recruit effectively, and develop and implement a strategic plan.

Here are the nine quick fixes to attract the best workers:

  1. Strengthen your brand. Differentiate from your competitors by enhancing your company image, innovate your product and service utility, become convenient as possible for your customers, and operate more efficiently. You will also learn that such steps will help attract the best employees.
  2. Performance management. Invest in training, mentoring and education – tools and resources to help your employees succeed.
  3. Succession planning. Retain and attract leaders for your firm, and develop a strategy to help your most talented employees ascend to senior levels.
  4. Talent development. Help your managers to evaluate your company’s HR strengths and weaknesses. Eliminate any gaps in your workforce and establish a harmonious environment for company growth.
  5. Promote diversity. It’s good business to consider and implement policies to recruit workers who are from other cultures. Add disabled applicants, and part-timers – such as stay-at-home parents and retirement-age workers.
  6. Recruitment. Target employees with the three A’s of hiring – attitude, appearance, and ability. (Note the priority of attributes. Both you and your customers will be pleased.)
  7. Compensation and benefits. No boss wants to over-pay employees, but if you do your best to provide for employees, they’ll deliver stronger performances and take better care of your company’s assets. Costco is a great example.
  8. Productivity. Reduce your skills gap by investing in technology.
  9. Adapt. Anticipate and respond to dynamic marketplace changes.

If properly implemented, you’ll see strong results. As they say in Hollywood, break a leg!

From the Coach’s Corner, remember you can increase profits with a strong focus on your employees.

My research shows about 52 percent of a customer’s buying motivation depends on what perceive about you and your employees.

What are the so-called soft skills of your spokespersons, customer service, finance and salespeople? Your customers want value, good service and to be treated well.

So fine-tune management of your staff.

“At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”
-Larry Bossidy 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.