21 Mistakes to Avoid in SEO (Infographic with Valuable Tips)



For online success, as you no doubt know, it’s vital for your site to place high on the search engines.

In particular, that’s true for Google because it perennially has owned at least a two-thirds market share among search engines.

Study after study shows the importance of being No. 1, if not in the top three. Internet users rarely search the remaining sites. Certainly, they don’t visit past the first page on search engines.

That’s why strategies for search-engine optimization (SEO) plays such an important role for online success.

Hungry for information, Internet visitors are constantly searching for the best SEO strategies. Indeed SEO topics rank among the most popular month after month.

SEO is the set of tactics that sites implement to attract organic or natural Web visitors, or traffic, for top search results.

The link is clear: If a site attracts the most Web traffic, it will get a competitive edge with a higher visibility on the search engines.

Typically, the top five sites on a Google page will attract 75 percent of the visitors. That’s why the SEO is a $65-billion industry.

On-page, Off-page optimization

There are two categories of SEO: On-page optimization and Off-page optimization.

On-page optimization refers to what site owners do internally to attract traffic.

Off-page optimization pertains to external strategies – strategies to acquire links from other sites, or also known as link-building factors.

Optimization strategies include meta descriptions: 160 character fragments.

Miscellaneous factors

In conjunction with SEO strategies, you must take steps for a fast-loading site. Google will penalize you for a slow-loading site.

Why? Internet users do not appreciation slow-loading sites and they will soon abandon a slow site.

No matter what you’ve heard, an effective use of social media is a vital best practice for SEO.

By way of explanation, this Biz Coach site went live in late July, 2009. By February 1, 2010 it was ranked in the top 10 on Google.

With no other changes later that month, we implemented a social media strategy, and this site jumped to No. 1 and has never relinquished top ranking. (Note: Google the keywords: biz coach, the biz coach or Seattle biz coach.)

Also, don’t forget your strategies must profit from online customer reviews.

Arduous work

Top ranking is not easy to achieve. Less than 6 percent – 5.7 percent of new sites – achieve a top 10 ranking on Google in 12 months.

To get to the top, your site must have quality content. Google uses critical factors to judge your content quality.

New content or blogs must be published three to five times a week. And you must attract quality links from other sites.

Keyword research helps insure the success of your content. You must pick the right keywords Internet visitors are likely to use in order to find your topics, products or services.

As you go along, you must monitor your situation. Tracking is important to measure your success or lack of improvement, so you can fine-tune your tactics when necessary.

Mistakes to avoid

Courtesy of www.seojury.co.uk, here is a terrific infographic, “21 Don’ts of Website SEO,” and is followed by the Coach’s Corner with links to additional relevant articles regarding SEO.

21 Donts of Website Seo Header21 Don'ts of Website SEO Body image

From the Coach’s Corner, here are additional relevant articles on SEO:

SEO Tips to Rank No.1 on Bing and Google — Study — There are striking similarities with Bing and Google — Web sites for top brands rank the highest and No. 1 sites are dominant because they have quality content, as well as strong social media signals and backlinks.

Tips for Your Site to Capitalize on SEO Trends — How to stay on top of your search-engine optimization game; plus, a helpful infographic: 16 SEO facts we struggle to understand.

Avoid Issues with Google: SEO Checklist for Safe Backlinks to Your SiteGoogle has been penalizing Web sites that might be unethical in link building for search-engine optimization. Why? Google wants authenticity and quality in its search results. It’s vital that you backlink with authoritative, credible sites. Some might be obvious to you, others might not. Here’s a safe list.

SEO and Other Strategic Tips for a No.1 Rated Blog — To own your blogging niche, you must understand the evolving process — important basics in search engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you know success doesn’t keep come automatically. Blogging is arduous work.

Your Mobile Site: 7 Precautions for a Top Google Ranking — With the skyrocketing sales of smartphones and tablets, comes a warning from Google. If you don’t have a mobile site, you should. And if you do, make sure it has what Google calls “mobile friendliness.” Here are seven precautions to take.

“Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about partnering with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users.” 

Phil Frost


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also 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.


5 Tips to Rock with Your E-commerce ‘About Us Page’



Your “About Us” page plays a crucial role in whether people will buy from you. It’s always an emotional decision.

While the potential customers will only see things through their perspective, it’s still all about you.

True, there are people who will only buy from you if you’re selling at the cheapest available price. Those are people to ignore, according to my firm’s research.

Eighteen percent of clients and customers are only motivated to buy at the lowest price. They don’t take into consideration other important factors — the benefits you provide.

But even when they buy, they are the most troublesome.

They’re not repeat loyal customers and they’re the most-likely to return their purchase.

Even if you leverage the reach of Amazon, you can still target the other 82 percent. That’s especially true for those who can be motivated to buy after reading your About page.

They want to know about your approach.

More than half of their motivation to buy hinges on they think about you, your spokespersons and employees. They like characteristics showing excellent integrity, judgment, knowledge and friendliness.

To a much lesser extent they want to be able to trust your image, your product or service utility, convenience and lastly – price.

Your About Us page should focus on five elements:

1. What you sell

Prospective buyers want to know you speak with conviction, and what and why you love doing it. But you must be succinct.

You only have a few seconds to create a positive first impression. This calls for an astute elevator pitch.

Only after you’ve hurdled this obstacle can you be more successful in providing more information.

Keep in mind, too, different prospects will see your About Us page at different stages of the buying process. Sometimes it’s early – right away. Sometimes it isn’t.

2. How and why you sell

A good prospect will want to know why you sell – what are your values and beliefs. You can help your cause if you talk about how you solve needs and problems.

Don’t just say you’re the best at what you do. But differentiate your company with an illustration of how and why so prospects get the picture.

In other words, don’t just make grandiose claims by telling them. Show them.

3. Build comfort

In other words, focus on building trust. How? Your visitors want to feel comfortable with your company. Show what you believe.

Do a self-assessment of your goals and how best can you explain them to build trust. Then, explain what’s important to you.

4. Explain your story

Connect with your visitors by sharing content that interests them – enticing them with a branding story about obstacles and solutions to save them time and money while increasing revenue.

Start with a powerful headline. Insert lifestyle images of real people.

To build trust and confidence in your business, explain how you’ve become successful.

5. Get a commitment

Visitors inherently expect you to ask for their business. So make it clear what you want and how visitors will benefit.

So very early decide on your objective, keep it simple, plan accordingly and ask for a commitment to buy whatever you’re selling.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Marketing Psychology: Choose the Best Colors for Online Sales — Here are color tips to improve visitor experience and to capture customers – including a great infographic on 40 facts about the psychology of colors.

Best Sales Pipeline Tips: Content Marketing, Follow-up and Marketing Automation — Here’s how you can maximize your sales pipeline with effective content marketing, prioritizing follow-up and marketing automation.

Build a Strong Sales Foundation by Being Defense-Minded — Sports is a great lesson for sales growth — build a strong foundation by being defensive-minded. Protect your turf first. Here are five tips for sales domination in your hometown.

Marketing: Solving the Puzzle of Competition — Marketing strategies: Using political lessons as a metaphor to beat your competition.

Tips for Your Site to Capitalize on SEO Trends — How to stay on top of your search-engine optimization game; plus, a helpful infographic: 16 SEO facts we struggle to understand. 

“People like to buy things they need from people they like. And somewhere we screwed it all up by making it some kind of crazy thing. It’s simply, ‘What do you need? What are you trying to solve? Do I have it?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is it the right price?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Next.'” 

Irreverent Sales Girl


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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.




Affordable Yet Creative and Proven Employee-Loyalty Ideas



Given how challenging to recruit and hire the right talent for your business, you might be scrambling to retain your best employees.

You’re not alone.

Just about every company is employing new strategies to compete for talent retention.

It’s especially tough for small businesses.

Staffs are stretched to the max. There are daily fires to extinguish. Orders to fill. Customers to keep happy. And recruiting motivated job applicants and employees to retain.

So it’s important to budget time each day for marketing and also for keeping employees motivated and content-enough to avoid the temptation to accept offers from other employers.

After all, it will cost you more in the long run if you’re forced to replace great workers and to find new ones.

Your employees are not different from you as the boss. They have emotions, families and needs.

If they feel appreciated, they’ll also value the culture and work environment in your company.

Here are affordable yet creative and proven employee-loyalty ideas:

1. Free-form play time

Give them some time to create and generate new energy.

In understanding that every employee has different wants and desires, why not give them some flexibility. Perhaps they want time to analyze and solve problems.

Possibly, they have ideas to pursue that will help your business.

2. Gifts for their families

When you get a great performance by an employee, why don’t you reward their partners or whole family for memorable outings – baseball, football or ski lift tickets – with money for refreshments or incidentals?

Not to sound mercenary, but you’ll earn loyalty and support from their family members, too.

3. Unplanned time off

Some of your most productive employees probably accumulate too much vacation time. They probably are conscientious and work hard, and need to recharge their batteries.

So surprise them – walk into their cubicle or office with a surprise announcement. Tell them to take Friday off for a long weekend of fun. “Order” them not to answer emails or the cellphone.

4. Charitable time off

Charitable “work” is not work. By creating goodwill, it helps employees’ with higher self-esteem and it creates enthusiasm, which is contagious and an attitude worth spreading.

So encourage your employees to support the community. It’s one of the best ways to get their faithfulness to your business.

They might want to feed the homeless, mentor children, or fixing houses for the less-fortunate. Whatever the case might be, encourage them.

5. Conferences or training

You should be thinking of ways to develop your talent. By building their skills, employees will appreciate your interest.

In turn, they will have enhanced productivity.

6. Fun, learning lunches

You know your crew. What would interest them?

Especially if you have employees with good attitudes, they’ll appreciate lunchtime programs of enrichment or coaching programs.

You might consider inviting a personal trainer to your lunchroom to provide workout tips for busy people.

How about a time-management expert to help employees to better balance their work and personal lives?

Or bringing in a nutritionist with ideas for good family health?

7. Wellness program

Yes, it seems most everybody is on a health kick. But why not do something special at noontime like a massage therapist each month?

Cut a deal with a local health club for employee memberships.

Or start a biking, running and walking clubs.

8. Support professional memberships

Encourage your employees to join professional organizations. True, your employees will be exposed to competing recruiters, but if you’re engaging your employees well you won’t have to worry.

Your employees will appreciate the opportunities.

Moreover, it might be a great recruiting tool for you. Your employees will probably end up bragging about your company which will appeal to their new friends.

At the least, they’ll hear horror stories from others. As a result, your employees will develop a deeper appreciation for your company.

From the Coach’s Corner, here related tips:

Manage Health Costs by Improving Your Culture 3 Ways — Is your company saddled with high health costs? By improving your culture in three ways to minimize stress, your company will improve performance and long-term sustainability.

Strategic HR Management for Retaining High Performers — You must build your organizational capabilities if you want to create an environment that will retain high performers. The way to accomplish it is to be committed to strong results with specialized retention initiatives for your talent.

HR Retention: Keys to Profit from Cross-Generational Teams — Today’s cross-generational workplaces present a quandary for employee retention. Promote a trust culture that’s appealing to everyone – young and old.

Non-financial Incentives Motivate Most Employees – Study — Want motivated workers? Recognition for good work is appreciated by 70 percent of workers – a great motivator for high performance, according to a study by two companies.

5 Quick Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.

Tips for Restaurant Owners: Keeping Good Employees, Profits — If you, as a restaurant owner, have trouble keeping talented employees, consider insights from a report on a Sacramento, California TV station. It will also help you increase profits and stay in business.

“Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.” 
-Robert McNamara


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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 nenetus at www.freedigitalphotos.net 

So You Finally Got Your First Management Job? Now What?


Ten principles every new manager needs to know and use.



Sure, it wasn’t easy for you to become a manager. But having achieved your goal, rest assured you have a lot more work to do to insure your success.

You must always be willing to learn about your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your staff.

You must be capable of prioritizing objectives and how to achieve them.

And you must lead from the front, not the rear – all while motivating your employees.

Poor communication results in managerial dysfunction and vice versa because a significant number of workers is mistakenly promoted into management.

New managers must try to win as great communicators.

If you haven’t already, you will have to manage several competing demands to achieve your objectives – all without wasting time and resources.

Compromise is often necessary.

Mistakes must be avoided. You must be careful not to throw your weight around in the early days of your job.

It’s important to take adequate time to get to know your employees and to keep an open mind if you’re fortunate enough to get ideas from them.

You must be authentic to help your relationships to be genuine.

Treat everybody with respect. This avoids unnecessary challenges that start with mistrust and pointing fingers by employees.

It also helps keep team members honest and motivated.

Motivation is a key component. So focus on employee engagement. Otherwise you’ll be shocked by their diminishing performance.

Don’t risk becoming a micromanager. Micromanagement is a ramification of ignoring best practices in management.

People who micromanage lose maximum efficiency, productivity and teamwork – in other words, optimal profitability.

Don’t discriminate. Involve every member of your staff when you set goals and priorities. This will help guarantee feedback immediately.

When you delegate, keep in mind the employee’s capabilities.

Be careful with older workers. It can be tough to manage baby boomers. Not because they’re difficult workers. Your learning has just begun in earning respect to get results.

Remember a lot of baby boomers know they have more experience than you; perhaps even in management.

Hold blue-sky sessions – encourage your team to brainstorm.

Money is not the key motivator of employees. Recognition is a powerful motivator. With a solid recognition program, you’ll profit because your workers will constantly perform without close supervision.

There are 10 principles every new manager needs to know for maximum performance.

Infographic courtesy of: www.acuitytraining.co.uk.

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

Key Differences between Leaders and Managers — There seems to be some confusion in understanding the difference between true leadership and management — particularly, if a manager wants to aspire to leadership in management to enable an organization to become great. The salient distinction between leadership and management: It boils down to how professionals inspire their staffs and other stakeholders.

4 Reasons Why New Managers Fail in Human Resources — Best practices guarantee success for new managers. Not to over-simplify, but here are the four solutions that will help new managers succeed.

25 Strategies to Succeed as a New Manager — Congratulations, new manager. Welcome to a job you’ll find most challenging – and satisfying – 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?

Profit Drivers – How and Why to Partner with Your Employees — If you want maximum profit, consider partnering with your employees. Here’s expert advice from leading financial consultant Roni Fischer.

HR-Social Media Tips for Best Employee Morale, Culture — Social media affects your company’s culture – probably as much as the employees who engage in water cooler gossip. It’s true. Your company’s reputation is affected internally and externally by social-networking sites.

7 Tactics to Enjoy Your Job Managing Difficult Employees — With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s how to love your job even when managing difficult employees.

Probation Meetings – HR Tactics for New Employee Success — Hiring employees is expensive. So it’s important to use tactics that will help insure success of new workers. That calls for probation meetings. Here are five proven tactics.

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”

-John D. Rockefeller


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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 imagerymajestic at www.freedigitalphotos.net

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases



Do you struggle to write the right phrases when giving performance appraisals? If so, you’re not alone.

Naturally, the first step is you must correctly identify the strengths and weaknesses of your employees. You’ll accomplish this goal by avoiding 12 typical errors.

However, in employee-performance reviews, many managers struggle in trying to think of the right phrasing that actually motivate employees.

The reasons all stem from fear.

Because of fear, the reasons range from worrying about an employee lawsuit to paralysis from analysis in not knowing how or what to write.

Much has been written about preferred skills for managers.

We always talk in mundane terms for the need of managers to convey a vision, achieve goals and to foster growth and well-being for a work-life balance.

Seldom do we talk about courage – a critical characteristic of effective managers.

Employee appraisals are far more than just evaluations.

When implemented well, they serve as opportunities for organization growth because they increase individual employee productivity.

As every manager knows, a well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities.

But they must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits in this 21st century litigious society.

Careful planning is necessary before you give an employee an appraisal or in advance of terminating the person. You must say the right things in difficult situations with employees.

Courtesy of Business Management Daily, there are 10 recommended phrases for managers to use in performance reviews.

They are from “2600 Phrases for Setting Effective Performance Goals” by HR executive Paul Falcone.

The 10 phrases:

1. To encourage initiative: “Seek ways to assume responsibilities beyond your current job description.”

2. To require punctuality: “Be on time for all meetings, which shows you respect your colleagues’ time.”

3. To foster a better attitude: “Ensure that your tone, body language and other nonverbal cues convey the proper respect and attitude toward others.”

4.To improve communication: “Anticipate what your manager will need to know, and provide that information.” For managers: “Keep team members informed of each other’s actions.”

5. To spur creativity: “Build relationships among peers that foster collaboration and discussion of new ideas.”

6. To boost customer service: “When we lose a customer, follow up to discover what we could have done differently.”

7. To nurture diversity: “Appreciate the unique perspective, skills and experience that each person brings to the team.”

8. To improve planning: “Begin projects by identifying all the resources required, including staff, funding, materials and other support.”

9. To promote better listening: “Show by asking open-ended questions that you are engaged in conversations.”

10. To foster leadership: “Discover the problems that prevent team members from performing at the highest possible levels.”

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for relevant strategies:

How to avoid EEOC Discrimination Suits — Here are six tips for micro-companies and 13 strategies for larger organizations to avoid EEOC migraines.

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. If you’re so accused, here’s what to do.

3 Crucial Tactics Are Needed to Maintain Your Culture — As your company grows, you can expect growing pains and threats to your culture. Whether you create it or not, your business culture happens. There are at least three steps needed to fashion your culture the way you want.

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb.”

-Andrew Carnegie


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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 Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Marketing Tips from Best Brands that Use Instagram



Positive first impressions are critical in building relationships and revenue. That’s why Instagram has been so successful for marketers.

How?

You can interact with customers via Instagram stories and live videos.

In a very personal way, this means you can grab your target’s attention and create a positive impression in just eight seconds.

True, other social mediums can accomplish the same thing. But a study shows Instagram beats Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in reaching potential customers.

To reach consumers you, too, might want to learn how to capitalize on it for revenue.

Especially, if you have a business that would benefit from visuals in marketing — pictures and video-sharing opportunities — Instagram is probably a good tool to use as a center of influence.

Instagram benefits

There are multiple ways Instagram rocks for companies.

To reiterate, first and foremost, it immediately creates the all-important favorable first impression.

It’s convenient and is easy to post pictures. Like Twitter, you can use hashtags. Hashtags can be used to launch contests or polls.

With its direct messaging feature, you can privately connect with centers of influence. You can give added value by sharing ideas, which enhances your social-media following.

This is important because fans on Instagram are known for being loyal. That’s not the case with other apps.

Instagram can be leveraged for transactions in a variety of ways. For instance, you can provide coupons or discounts if they share information about your company.

Instagram users

Brands experience regular engagement with 3 percent to 6 percent of their followers on Instagram. It doesn’t sound like much, right?

Well, it’s a stellar result compared to other social media sites. Typically, Facebook and Twitter only have engagement rates of less than 0.1 percent.

True, Facebook had 2 billion users in June 2017. Twitter only had 328 million users in Q1 2017. But these figures aren’t as significant if you consider their users aren’t as loyal as Instagram’s.

Meantime, Instagram has enjoyed massive growth since being acquired by Facebook in 2012 when it had 30 million active users. In April 2017, Instagram had 700 million users.

So why do 93 percent of marketers use Facebook but only 36 percent of marketers use Instagram?

That’s a good question, especially for marketers that have limited time and staffs. Exponentially for them, Instagram delivers superior results.

With thanks to M2OnHold, http://www.m2onhold.com.au/index.php, let’s examine how top brands capitalize on Instagram in the firm’s informative infographic:

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related sources of information:

Improve Your Customer Retention with 6 Digital Tips — Outstanding loyalty programs for stellar customer engagement play an important role to improve your prospects for lifetime customer value. That goes for e-commerce, too.

Maximize Your ROI from Your Next Event with Social Media — Will you maximize the return on investment in your next event? Whether you’re a nonprofit or business, great social media strategy will promote your event and your brand. In addition, even after your event it’s possible to enhance your return from social-media investment.

8 Tips for Your Social Media to Work Well in E-commerce — Are you just starting out using social media? Well, if used well, social media is an excellent tool to accomplish two goals – connecting with your existing customers and attracting fans for new business.

5 Essentials to Win Brand Loyalty from Millennials — How do Millennial consumers — ages 18 to 33 — view brands? What’s necessary to win their brand loyalty? The answers to these questions are important because Millennials have $600 billion to spend. If you win them over now — depending on your goods, services and industry — you might also create customers for decades to come.

11 Tips to Make Money on Facebook — Depending on your type of business, the jury might still be out over whether Facebook can you help you make money by making the cash register ring. But some advertisers are increasingly investing in Facebook.

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

-Scott Cook


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also 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.




Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues



Hopefully, you don’t have any employees who stay up nights looking for ways to create trouble.

Who needs employees that cause legal hassles? The energy, time and money to deal with legal issues are exhaustive.

So to guard against it and to enhance your management, what are doing about your employee handbook?

Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies.

Statutory changes occur regularly.

An outdated employee handbook is worse than if you don’t even have a handbook.

A legally obsolete handbook will work against you and provide explosive supportive facts in legal proceedings against your company that would otherwise be unsuccessful.

You must be diligent to avoid EEOC discrimination suits.

So you might be using obsolete policies, if you don’t regularly evaluate your employee handbook.

If that’s the case, don’t be surprised when you’re hit with employee-legal issues.

That’s right, you should be reviewing and updating your handbook wherever necessary and at least annually. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble.

You need to make certain your handbook doesn’t buttress your company’s culture against present-day discrimination laws.

In other words, make certain your handbook doesn’t contain verbiage that’s no longer acceptable to regulators or the courts.

An ideal handbook adequately addresses your policies, but dissuades a lawyer from pursuing action against your company.

It’s paramount to publish an updated handbook that will impress aggressive regulators or impressionable jurors.

Have a qualified attorney review your handbook regularly, and any new draft before it’s finalized.

Certainly, after any updates, you want your policies to be accepted and followed, right? So market your HR policy changes to employees.

Checklist of handbook principles

Here are employee-handbook values to consider:

  1. Make certain your policies comply with all federal and state laws.
  2. Don’t include any political statements and opinions – that includes any judgments about labor organizing.
  3. Plan ahead. In both your handbook and the employee-acknowledgment form, clearly state that the handbook is not a contract and that the company reserves the right to make future changes.
  4. When you revise your handbook, make certain everyone disposes of the old handbook. Get each person to sign a receipt for the updated handbook.
  5. Take steps to be certain employees read the handbook.
  6. Omit from your handbook the following – managerial instructions, an arbitration clause, a list of benefits, particulars on leaves of absence, minutiae that’s likely to change often, unenforceable policies, and any pledges you don’t think you’ll be able to keep.
  7. Make sure your writing style is respectful, and uncomplicated in an easy-to-read format.
  8. In a diversified workforce, see to it your employees are informed of their rights in a language they understand.
  9. Don’t tie your hands. If your policies indicate a list of activities that will result in disciplinary actions – including terminations – make it clear that the sample activities are not exhaustive but just illustrative in nature.
  10. Encourage your team members to bring any complaints to management and/or to a union if applicable.
  11. Be very clear about harassment. Make certain every person knows that harassment that violates federal and state laws is not tolerated.
  12. Include procedures for employees to use if they want to claim harassment.
  13. Make sure your handbook is comprehensive and up-to-date.
  14. Be certain all rules are written to be evenhanded and enforced consistently.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for related information:

First Step in Fighting Lawsuit Abuse – Risk Management — Published reports on two southern California media Web sites illustrate the polarizing effects of laws affecting business. They’re applicable now even though they were published in November 2011.

Why Companies Fall into the Management Lawsuit Trap — Small and many big companies are ripe for EEOC complaints. The majority of lawsuits targeting management usually stem from a half dozen poor practices. You’ll get into trouble using these six bad practices.

Effectively Manage ADA Issues in Your Facilities and HR — Disabled persons have had both valid and invalid complaints about the workplace. Such complaints concern your facilities and human resources program. Here are strategies to consider implementing.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

10 Tips on Responding to EEOC Complaints — Despite all the court cases, warnings and complaints filed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a study shows big companies are guilty of favoritism in their promotion practices. If you’re so accused, here’s what to do.

“The five steps in teaching an employee new skills are preparation, explanation, showing, observation and supervision.”

-Bruce Barton


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also 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 Best Biz Coach Tips for Cost-Savings Include Risk-Taking



To do a better job of cutting costs, successful entrepreneurs take risks by optimizing costs. They understand that linear cost-cutting is in reality an avoidable trap.

The best way to cut costs is to do it is with skill and precision but taking what might appear on the surface to be risk-taking. Some cost-cutting initiatives actually prove to be really bad decisions.

Two key questions to ask yourself: “What business value does my company get from this cost?” What do we risk by cutting this cost?”

After all, that’s the inherent nature of entrepreneurship.

Here are best tips on cost-cutting:

1. Partner with your human capital

Explain your concerns to your staff. Ask your employees for their opinions on expenses and what should be cut. Discuss profit drivers and partner with your employees.

A bonus: Employees will more likely feel they’re valued. If so, they’ll be inclined to give you their best ideas.

2. Avoid across-the-board cuts

When facing too many expenses, companies focus on the big expenses. But instead of cutting fat, they make the make of cutting into their muscle core – what truly generates profits.

Think for a moment. Can you risk cutting skills, talent and branding?

Instead of mass cutting, perhaps all is needed is some tweaking in two of your biggest assets: Employees and marketing.

Savvy bosses know they can increase market share even in downturns by not cutting back on employees and marketing. Why?

Proverbially speaking, their competitors are shooting themselves in the foot by making such cuts while you profit by superior customer service.

Go slow on cutting your human capital and marketing to protect your brand, as well as maintenance of your equipment. Start with small expenses such as minor office expenses and electricity consumption.

3. Simultaneously look for opportunities to grow

Sometimes there’s too much focus on costs at the expense of new business development. By adapting for a different market, multiple revenue streams can be invaluable.

True entrepreneurs are always on the hunt for growth opportunities. While cutting unnecessary costs, look for ways to diversify your customer, and products and services.

4. Re-evaluate your technology

Focus on business cost optimization with productive use of your information technology and its implementation.

Maximize your use of apps. Analyze how you can get more out of your technology to help your employees work more efficiently.

5. Connect the dots

Your due diligence must include examining your entire value chain. Understand how and where you generate value, and where you can eliminate waste.

Cutting costs in one department, for example, might hurt your objectives in  a high-volume sales effort.

6. Focus on sustainability

Unfortunately in tough times, many executives panic. It’s important to stay detached. Concurrently evaluate all potential business value.

Don’t focus solely on your urgent situation in lieu of laying a foundation for sustainability.

7. Assess your relationships

It might be tempting to automatically fire your bank or vendors in favor of less-expensive partners. In a word, don’t.

Put a premium on loyalty. Look ahead at the big picture.

Certainly, evaluate your banking relationship. But gauge what you stand to lose vs. what you’ll gain.

You might save money in the short term, but for long-term sustainability analyze whether you’ll ultimately suffer in efficiency and quality.

Understand how you will be hit with internal business risks that minimize profits.

Also, you should consider costs in switching vendors, which include penalties for canceling vendor agreements.

8. Look for savings in buying

Consider all your annual costs – from consuming printing paper and toner – to mobile and broadband. Shop around for bulk purchases and service providers.

Sign up for “first-order” bonuses.

Evaluate all options including whether to pay upfront vis-à-vis paying monthly.

9. Consider new partners, even competitors

You might very well find advantages from partnering with other businesses on projects. In some cases, even a competitor might work.

Contemplate whether to break down a project to focus on your core focus. Then, let other companies focus on the rest of the project.

You might also create a new income by asking your new partners for referral fees by giving them business.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related strategies:

Cutting Costs: 9 Best Practices to Avoid Making Reactionary Decisions — In chaotic times, it’s common for businesspeople to be fearful and reactionary when they feel they must cut expenses. But entrepreneurs need to be unemotional so that they make decisions that will bolster their objectives. They can take the emotion out of their decision-making — by eliminating stress factors — if their priorities are clearly defined with values.

9 Dos and Don’ts for Best Decision-making — Nine tips if you have difficulty making the best decisions, engage in self doubt after making one, or you’re gun shy because your decisions go awry.

Tips for Strategic-Thinking in Finance: Your Staff, Individuals — Many companies want accountants and finance professionals who are strategic thinkers. But that’s not happening at most companies. Here are tips for managers and employees.

Strategy: How You Can Capitalize on Predictive Analysis — The promise of predictive analysis: Obtain forward-looking insights to innovate and quickly recognize opportunities for growth.

For the Best Cash Flow, Manage Your Inventory Costs with 8 Tips — With proper inventory management, you can lower your expenses and increase your cash flow. For many businesses, that means taking a look at your inventory costs. When your products aren’t selling, obviously, it hurts. Products just lurking and collecting dust in your warehouse are costing you money.

Instead of Group-Think, Promote Creative Thinking — Do you want to ensure your business doesn’t fall into a rut? To use a metaphor, you’ll avoid falling into a quagmire of quicksand if you eliminate group-think from your culture. Here are five strategies to prevent group-think for better performance.

“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.”

-Meister Eckhart


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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.




Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE


A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern.

Of course, there’s no need to panic if you’ve already taken the right precautions to avoid legal hassles with ICE.

However, if you haven’t completed your due diligence, you risk massive fines.

Worse, historically employers and their HR employees have also been jailed for violations.

So not only do you have to be diligent in organizing your I-9s, you have to be very diligent in your response to an NOI.

Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

Assuming you sanction your receptionist to accept and receive important documents like a notice of inspection (NOI), require the person to immediately notify you and/or your second-in-command and your human resources manager.

Your attorney should advise you and take the lead. Otherwise, only a designated manager should have further contact with ICE.

You’ll be required by law to respond within three days – 72 hours.

What NOIs mean

ICE wants to see:

  • Your I-9 forms for both current and recently terminated employees
  • Payroll records
  • List of current employees
  • Information regarding the company’s owners

If an ICE agent shows up at your office with an NOI, here are two strategies:

1. Interfacing with ICE 

Don’t be lulled into thinking the person is on your side. Don’t let the ICE agent trick you into saying something that could be used against you later.

Assume the agent is there to build a case.

Be civil, honest, brief and thoughtful. That also means being careful what you say – like you would in a courtroom – don’t say more than is needed.

Don’t rush the process even if you’re confident. Take your full allotted time to respond.

Your immigration attorney should audit your paperwork.

Additionally, your lawyer should help you respond by interfacing with ICE – for the audit and any extenuating circumstances.

Ideally, you have been thorough in your planning.

However, if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in the NOI, it’s businesslike within the three-day period to ask for two things: Elucidation and confirmation of your request and ICE’s answer.

(Again, your attorney should be involved.)

2. Paper trail … paper trail … and paper trail

Accuracy is vital and make certain you make a list of the information you give ICE.

The ICE audit won’t be conducted at your office. It will be on ICE’s turf – the government office.

Consider giving the agent a carbon copy of your I-9 forms with supporting records. Then, ask for a receipt of your list and documentation.

Finally, keep careful notes of any verbal communication, and document all details in an e-mail or letter to ICE.

From the Coach’s Corner, more HR tips to avoid legal problems:

Management/HR Tips: Checking References of Applicants –– Even if you believe you’ve found an impeccable candidate, you must conduct precise reference checks. If you don’t, you risk paying a high price later.

Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations –– As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.

Avoid EEOC Legal Hassles over Unpaid Leave Requirements — You might want to review your current human resource policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has continued to push employers on unpaid leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees — With difficult employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

With Fraud Running Rampant, How HR Can Help Prevent It — By taking alert measures, human resources can play a major role to put a dent in the global epidemic of fraud in the workplace.

Tips for Handling Your Employees’ Wage Garnishments — Handling wage garnishments of your employees’ paychecks – including communication – is a very sensitive issue. Here are four management tips.

“Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.”

-Warren Bennis


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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.




Management / HR: Avoid Typical Summertime Hazards



Are you ready for the summer’s emblematic malaise in human resources? That would be the lazy, hazy days of employee attitudes and employment-law risks.

Summertime usually ushers in different employee attitudes and behavior. So it would be in your best interest to get ready.

For example:

Business analysis-paralysis appears as temperatures rise, sunshine is more plentiful and the staff thinks more and more about being outside.

The employee handbook policies are ignored.

Your customer service becomes an oxymoron. Dress codes suffer and employees daydream about their summertime lifestyles instead of the needs of your customers.

Strategic analysis, decision-making and actions sometimes come to a standstill. Professionalism seems to go out the window.

To avoid any summertime hazards, here’s what to consider:

1. Analyze your management approach

You must foresee summertime hazards such as risks to your sales, pricing, operations, technology and in time management.

Review your requirements of your managers and supervisors. Make any necessary improvements in your management approach.

Empower your management team to be on the lookout to minimize risks. That includes optimizing talent management with a coaching culture.

Remind your managers they have the responsibility to enforce the employee handbook, and they have the ability to make certain autonomous decisions.

Determine why critical decision-making is stalled. Make certain that all stakeholders are timely in providing their input.

If you decide you need more time to analyze a challenge or issue, give yourself permission to make an executive decision to back off for 24 to 48 hours.

2. Focus on your non-exempt employees

While you don’t want or need your employees to be plugged in 24/7, you do need to make sure they remain professional and are providing strong performances.

So take a special summertime interest in boosting your work environment by taking steps to enhance mutual respect and trust.

For strong performance, non-financial incentives motivate most employees.

Typically, employees become unhappy and want to fire their bosses because they feel under-appreciated and they don’t have a nourishing work-life balance.

No matter how current your company is in using technology, your productivity depends largely on the effectiveness of your employees who use your technology.

Make certain employees have the right morale-incentives, work/life balance, tools and workspaces so they can be responsible.

3. Adhere to policy on vacation requests

Depending on the size of your staff, managing around your employees’ vacation schedules can be a thorny issue. That’s especially true for a small operation.

With just a few employees, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy and to cover the workload.

You must smoothly manage your employee vacation schedules. You’ll avoid short-staffing and morale issues by adequate planning for employee vacation requests.

Your policy should state requirements for vacation requests. Requests must be approved by you and you have the right to deny requests.

4. Jog the memory of your employees about policies

Human capital is the No. 1 reason why CEOs lose sleep.

For instance, depending on your sector and business, your dress code might be more casual than others. But make certain the lines are clearly drawn.

Often skirts and shorts get shorter and employees start wearing flip-flops.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to revisit anti-harassment policy. As attire gets more casual, so do attitudes. So be pro-active.

At least 50 percent of a company’s profits are contingent on employee problems. If you have challenges in one department, odds are you have HR issues in other departments.

The solution is to turn your HR department into a profit center.

5. Hiring seasonal workers necessitates precautions

Temporary and seasonal employees might get the wrong impression. Lessen liability by making sure such employees know they’re taking only a temporary job with you.

By all means, do not guarantee them a specified length of employment.

Make sure you get maximum benefit from your part-time employees.

6. Update you and your management on child labor laws

Remember teenage workers are minors, and there are child-labor laws.

In particular, children under the age of 18 are protected by limits on the type of work and length of work hours.

7. Anticipate absenteeism

Ever notice how your workforce gets the “summer flu?” What a migraine for you. Make sure your policy is up-to-date.

When appropriate, emphasize your requirement for a doctor’s note. Be consistent in enforcement of policy.

Hopefully, you’ve already implemented steps to solve employee absenteeism.

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

Slow Summer Sales? 13 Ideas to Heat up Your Marketing — Summertime barbecues, baseball, boating and outdoor parties all make it hard to get consumers’ attention to make retail sales. So your marketing must be equal to the task. Heat up your marketing to match the hot temperatures.

In a Slump? 11 Tips to Succeed in the Dog Days of Summer — Some businesspeople struggle to succeed in summer months. It’s as though they’re in a slump. It’s the hottest and most humid time of the year in many regions. Business seems to stagnate as the weather becomes hotter and sultrier. Here’s what you can do about it.

5 Tips If Your Web Site’s Traffic Slows in Summer Months — Traffic on the Internet slows in the summertime, according to Website Magazine. Here are five strategies to maintain your growth.

6 Tips to Prevent Vehicle Breakdowns – or Deal with Them — Freezing winter temperatures and scorching summer heat wear out car batteries, belts, hoses and tires which can lead to breakdowns. Here’s what to do.

“It will not always be summer; build barns.”

-Hesiod


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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.




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