4 Ways Business Managers Can Better Connect with Their Employees

The most effective managers are those that make it look effortless. Connecting with your employees is the best way to become more effective at your job. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you better connect with your employees.

Practice Open Door Relationships

Almost every manager will say that they have an open door policy. Employees know that some managers are just saying this instead of practicing it. You have to practice what you preach. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say. Be sympathetic and try to help them brainstorm solutions to their problems. You may find that they’re more willing to be open with you in return. This could help you to be aware of ongoing issues within your employee group.

Provide an Outlet

There will be times in which your employees need to vent. Let them know that this is okay as long as they’re respectful of their coworkers. Another venue to provide them with an outlet is to host an event or company party. This will allow everyone to get out of their element and socialize. Look into using a rental company like Party People Rentals & Sales to help you with your party needs. It will give you more time to focus on planning activities instead of the logistics.

Be a Mentor

Give your employees an opportunity to grow into a new position if they’re interested. You can help them achieve their goals by providing mentoring and helping to set goals. This will give you a chance to have a meaningful conversation with them about their motivations and desires. You may find that you have more in common with your employees than you had previously thought. This can garner you more respect with other employees.

Get down with It

Some of the most effective managers are those that understand all aspects of the job. Lead by example and pitch in if someone is out sick or there is a large project looming. If employees see that you’re willing to help out when needed, they view you as more approachable. This may be all that you need in order to start connecting with them. A manager that’s willing to get into the trenches tends to be more respected and trustworthy.

The first place to start when connecting with your employees is to make it personal. Having a vested interest in their success will show them that you care about their well-being and livelihood.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

6 Catastrophic Mistakes An Entrepreneur Can Make In Their Business’ First Year

What makes a great entrepreneur? There are numerous theories on the subject. Is it their hard work, dedication and commitment? Is it their invention, imagination and ability to think outside the box? Is it their ability to parse metric data and use it to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want and need? Or could it be their ability to motivate and rally their employees; helping them to work with gusto towards a shared goal. Ultimately, these are all extremely important but it’s arguable that the most important quality of entrepreneurship is…

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Just start.

There are lots of people out there, right now, slaving away in jobs they despise who have a great idea for a business. They have spotted a gap in the market, devised a concept for a product for a product or service that neatly fills that gap and they have a clear vision in their heads of how that can be extrapolated into a living, breathing, working SME. They may have cobbled together something resembling a business plan in their free time. They’ve had some preliminary thoughts about what their business’ mission statement might be and how it would be reflected in their branding. They might even have crunched some numbers to create a reasonably accurate cash flow forecast. But they never reached the point where they reached out to sources of funding or even registered their business’ name. Why? Because they were paralyzed by their fear of the unknown. This perfectly natural and perfectly human impulse may be understandable but it can keep potentially successful entrepreneurs stuck on the path of wage slavery; languishing away in jobs where they’re underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued when they could be at the head of a thriving enterprise.

By far the most crippling of fears when it comes to starting a business is the fear of failure. After all, the numbers are not on the side of nascent entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard that 50% of SMEs fail within their first four years and we’re paralyzed by the fear of what will happen if we fall within this damning statistic. But here’s the thing…

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself

If you have a fantastic idea for a business that would benefit your local high street, create jobs, fill a gap on the market, benefit the local economy and liberate you from a job you despise, it behooves you to overcome your fear of failure and at least attempt to make your business a reality. Very often, failure in small business is not the end but simply a blip on a long learning curve. At worst, you will be made bankrupt (although this is certainly not an inevitable consequence of failure in small business). But in most cases bankruptcy is not the end of an entrepreneurial career. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been made bankrupt at least once.

That said, failure is never an appealing prospect. If we can forego the expense and emotional turmoil that come with failure in small business, so much the better, right?

Learning from the mistakes of others

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we have unparalleled access to a wealth of information which can give you and your business the inside track. As well as learning from our own mistakes (an inevitable and necessary part of small business) we can benefit from the mistakes of other nascent businesses. While there may be no surefire way of avoiding failure in the world of small business (if there were, everyone would be running their own SME), there are certainly commonly made mistakes that you can sidestep when you plan your operations and strategy around avoiding them. Here we’ll look at some of the commonly made mistakes made by businesses in their first year and how you can prevent your business from replicating them…

Under investing to insulate profit margins

When many entrepreneurs start out, they do so with one goal in mind… turning a profit. So long as the numbers are in the black month or month that means the business is going well, right? Well, not necessarily. As important as it is for small businesses to guard against irresponsible, reckless or vanity spending, it’s also vital that they avoid under investing in their enterprises. Under investment in personnel, capital investments like software or equipment, or maintaining / renovating your premises can impede your business’ growth. Unless you’re prepared to invest in better infrastructure for your small business it will only ever stay small and its scope will be limited. While you should certainly learn to walk before you can run and it can be counterproductive to set out with growth in mind before you know how to facilitate that growth sustainably, you should avoid the temptation to under invest in your business for the sake of insulating your profit margins.

Small businesses need to be agile and adaptable and if you fail to invest adequately, you may fail to capitalize on opportunities that come your way and your competitors will leave you in the dust.

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Dipping into personal funds to finance aspects of the business

Separating personal and business finances can be a real learning curve for nascent entrepreneurs. When you have a lot of passion and personal / emotional investment in your business it only makes sense to put your money where your mouth is… but this can be a serious mistake. Not only should you have separate accounts for your personal and business finances, you should take pains to ensure that one doesn’t bleed into the other. Otherwise you could find yourself on a slippery slope.

Trying to do a grade A job with grade B materials

In your first year of business, the name of the game is reputation. With such a plethora of competition out there, prospective customers need a reason to choose your business and not the legions of others who do exactly the same thing. This means that your reputation must be beyond reproach. While a big part of this is in how your employees deal with customers and the experience that your customers can expect, let’s not forget that you can’t do a grade A job with grade B materials. If you work in the construction industry, for example you know that you wouldn’t compromise on materials or make rush decisions when building the foundations of your project. You’d go to HelitechCCD.com and invest what you had to in materials that are right for the job. Otherwise, the whole thing could come tumbling down and take your reputation with it. Whether you’re in construction, catering or content the principal remains the same.

Spending too much time “at the coalface” and too little time on strategy

Entrepreneurs tend to have a proactive and hard working nature and when they see their employees struggling, their first instinct is to roll up your sleeves and join them at the coalface. But while noble in its intentions, this approach can be counterproductive in a number of ways. It can make your employees dependant on you at best or at worst turn you into the kind of relentless micromanager that employees hate to work for. Moreover, this is rarely the best place for you to invest your time and efforts. As the CEO of your business, your time is better spend in your office, concentrating on the strategic running of your business rather than day to day operations. It’s your responsibility to analyze your performance metrics and use them to influence your operational strategy month by month.

Having a resistant approach to new technology

Technology these days moves at a blistering pace. Investing in your technological infrastructure is rarely cheap and often requires an investment not only of capital but of time and effort as you and your employees get to grips with the software and hardware that your business needs to succeed. Thus, when equilibrium is achieved between a business and its tech, it can be extremely tempting to resist technological change. But technological change is an inevitable part of doing business in the 21st century. You need to maintain an agile approach to tech and be prepared to throw out the rulebook when a technological advancement necessitates an overhaul of your operations. If you resist technological change you could end up a dinosaur in your industry, like Blockbuster video in the age of Netflix. If this involves a prohibitively expensive overhaul of your IT or tech infrastructure, you may wish to consider outsourcing your IT operations. Not only will it insulate you from a lot of the cost of staying current, but your tech solutions can be scaled up as your business grows.

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Failing to keep an eye on the competition

As important as it is to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eyes too closely on your own work can be counterproductive. Your business does not operate in a vacuum and competitor analysis is an essential component of any sound business strategy. If your competitors offer something you don’t, run a promotion that you don’t or offer the same services at a price you can’t match you can’t assume that your customers will remain loyal to you.

Steer clear of these common pitfalls of first year businesses, however, and you stand every chance of laying a firm foundation for success.

 

 

 

 

Run Your Warehouse Effectively With This Advice

A lack of efficiency in a warehouse environment can be extremely damaging for your business. Making the most of your time and preventing delays will be key to keeping your business as a whole running smoothly, while also keeping your clients and customers happy. If you’re not sure how to run your warehouse in the most efficient way possible, there are some changes and upgrades you might not have considered yet. Find out more about them below.

First of All, Get Organization Right

The very first thing that you have to get right if you want to run your warehouse in a professional and efficient way is organization. If you can’t make the space organized, the chances are you’ll always have problems with efficiency and other related matters. Have a clear and understandable placement and filing system, and ensure everything gets documented correctly.

Find the Right Software

One thing that will help you a lot with making your warehouse more organized is good software. In particular, you will need to find the inventory management software that works for your business. Few things matter more than making sure your inventory is correct and accessible via digital means for your staff working on the floor of your warehouse each day. There are many software options out there, so read about them and decide which is best. 

Employ Methods of Quality Control

Quality impacts efficiency too, and you should try not to forget that fact; so many small business owners do. If your output and performance are of a low quality, it will only make it harder for you to get things done and arrive at where you want your business to be. You will spend so much time correctly mistakes and putting things right and it will eventually cause massive inefficiency issues.

Use Heavy Duty Casters

For the efficient functioning of your warehouse, you’re going to need to ensure that anything that has to move around the space is able to do so smoothly and safely. A heavy duty caster is for making sure that your goods and equipment moves quickly when you need to get it across the floor in your warehouse. You should invest in as many of these as you need if you want to run things efficiently.

Focus on Staff Training

Finally, you should make sure that your staff have all been trained in the right way. Do they know which safety practices are necessary? Do they understand how you want them to carry out their jobs? When there are new practices and new tools in place, you should make sure everyone is trained in how to use them to prevent confusion and problems that lead to a lack of efficiency.

Running a warehouse is never easy, and there are lots of things that can go wrong and stop you from achieving all of the things you clearly want to achieve. But if you implement the ideas that have been mentioned here, you will quickly find that your warehouse becomes a more efficient asset for your business.

The Advantages of the Process Orchestration and Automation for Small Businesses

In today’s hyperconnected era, we’ve already moved most of our businesses to the digital landscape. AI-powered tools and cloud technology have become extremely sophisticated, helping you improve your team’s productivity and reduce operational costs.

This is exactly why the processes of automation and orchestration have become a must in the small business ecosystem. The idea behind them is logical- software will do your repetitive tasks, while you will focus on more creative aspects of your job.

Still, even though they’re similar, these processes are not the same. As its mere name says, automation means the using different tools that will make your everyday tasks faster and minimize the human error. But, to get the most of your business automation, you need to leverage orchestration, too. It helps you coordinate the tools you use and build a centralized management system to improve the overall workplace productivity.

It Improves Collaboration within Teams

Effective communication is the backbone of every successful business, irrespective of its size. And, precisely because of that, these processes need to be highly automated. With a proper automation or orchestration tool, both project managers and employees can share information, download files, and collaborate in real-time. The process of orchestration is all about centralized data location, these tools allow an uninterrupted flow of information, enabling everyone in your team to solve problems instantly and launch promotions from a single dashboard. This way, you will be able to establish a standardized working environment, eliminate the complexity of using cross-platform projects, save money on IT support, and most importantly, increase the overall workplace productivity.

It Minimizes Human Errors

In almost any industry out there, one of the most common problems employees face is a bunch of repetitive tasks they need to handle every day. This is where the process of business automation and orchestration comes to shine. Automation tools will do these tasks for you, allowing employees to focus on some more complex aspects of their jobs. Aside from taking your task management to the next level, these tools also help you avoid some of the most common mistakes humans make, making your business more efficient.

Let’s take an example of customer support. Even though this is still a pretty new concept, chatbots are expected to dominate the digital industry in the years to come. AI-powered, these tools are highly flexible and they’re constantly gathering information and learning in order to provide exceptional customer services.

It Reduces Operational Costs

Business orchestration gives you the opportunity to minimize your expenses. According to the recent report done by Cisco, those businesses that invested in their workflow automation have reduced their operational costs significantly. Namely, they assessed numerous organizations that have automated the lifecycle of their services. Obviously, by these processes allowed them to coordinate all their tools, leave repetitive tasks to them, and build a standardized networkwide interface, which helps them deliver their services much faster. And, better performance results in a higher ROI.

It Helps You Boost Customer Satisfaction

Today, there are tens of thousands of small businesses just like yours. So, to attract new customers and inspire them to choose you over your competitors, you need to bring value. And, one of the first steps you need to take is to invest in highly personalized user experience.

Let’s take digital marketing as an example. To make your customers happy and deliver the right products and targeted content to them, you first need to know who they are. And, there are numerous tools that will help you automate your customer segmentation process and gather all the data you need to create better relationships with your customers.

The same goes for customer support. It needs to be impeccable. The functionality and intelligence of business orchestration tools help you gather your customers’ data, find out what the most common problems are when using your products, and try to fix these problems immediately to boost their satisfaction.

Those agencies working with numerous clients find it difficult to analyze their clients’ data and create extensive client reports. These processes sometimes take 5 hours per client, which is too much. On the other hand, there are numerous automated reporting tools that will create extensive and highly personalized client reports in just a few seconds. This is definitely something you shouldn’t ignore.

It Makes your Workflow Centralized

According to the Cisco’s report mentioned above, 69% of respondents said, when orchestrating their businesses, they focus on establishing a strong IT plan that helps them merge together all deployed technologies. In other words, they want to create a centralized and a highly coordinated management system that will enable their teams to complete tasks more effectively. This means unifying and coordinating different tools and platforms to attain better efficiency and control. s

It Boosts Transparency within an Organization

By implementing the process of automation, you’re actually investing in building a single knowledge base that is constantly expanding. This way, both project managers and employees will be able to track their performance in real-time. They have an immediate access to any project or task and are able to make changes immediately. At the same time, your every input, rejection, or change is recorded and can be seen by anyone in your team. This is just one of numerous aspects of transparency and, it not only helps people get their work done, but also builds trust among them.

Back to You

Business automation and orchestration are two immensely important aspects of your business and they are constantly intertwining. So, instead of separating them, you should merge them together. By implementing the techniques mentioned above, you will be able to boost your ROI, as well as improve your team’s productivity.

Guest author, Raul Harman, is a B.Sc. in Innovative entrepreneurship and has a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. While he’s not enjoying football and great food, you can find him on Technivorz.com

 

Empowering Your Employees: It’s The Ultimate Investment

You’re one in a million! Few people would have the gumption and self determination to quit the rat race and carve out your own niche for yourself in the fast paced and ultra competitive world of modern business. Moreover, none could do it with the same flair, panache and expertise that you have. Yet, amazing as you are, you’d be the first to admit that you can’t do it alone. Your fabulous employees have been with you almost every step of the way. When things have been at their worst you’ve always known that you have a fantastic team that you trust and can fall back on. You respect, love and appreciate your team and you want to make sure that you keep them. But while you enjoy their respect and admiration, these alone will not prevent them from straying into the arms of your competitors the moment they stop feeling valued.

This is why employee empowerment is so important to SMEs. Fortunately, there’s a great deal you can do to make them feel more valued and empowered. Some of it is simply a matter of good practice, like ensuring a safe and pleasant working environment for them some will require some upfront investment. But while entrepreneurs tend to be a little gun shy when it comes to racking up overheads, empowering your employees is an investment that will continue to pay dividends for years as your employees take you to dizzying new heights.

Give them the flexibility they need to achieve work / life balance

Some employees will have young families. Others will care for sick or elderly relatives. Some will have disabilities which you need to bear in mind. For many reasons you may need to be a little flexible in your working practices to enable them to work remotely from home every once in a while. This can be done fairly easily and with a modest outlay thanks to solutions like Vertex who offer Cloud Computing Solutions For Businesses. This empowers your employees by giving them a cloud based desktop filled with secure copies of their emails, apps, and data to enable them to do their job anywhere. Allow your employees the opportunity to do their job well while honoring their other commitments and they’ll reward you with loyalty.

Keep your distance, yet always be there when they need you

Nobody likes bosses who are relentless micromanagers, always standing over them, scrutinizing everything that they do. Not only is micromanaging dangerous and a potential impediment to productivity, it’s rarely the best use of your time. Give your employees some space yet give them the guidance and support they need when they need it and they won’t disappoint you.

Give them a voice

A hearty “thank you” is good. A competitive incentives structure is even better. But there’s a difference between making your employees feel like valued collaborators and making them feel like well paid slaves. Make sure that they always have a forum in which to voice their ideas, suggestions and objections. This can be anything from a suggestion box to a Facebook group.

Deny them an opportunity to make their voices heard, however, and they’ll wonder how much you really value their input.

How to Keep Accurate Inventory Counts Each Month

If you work in the retail world, then you’re more than likely all too familiar with the value of monthly inventory counts that are both precise and dependable. Inventory counts, in a nutshell, give businesses the ability to assess inventory well. They give them the knowledge that’s required to understand inventory level adjustments. They help businesses analyze cost matters correctly, too. If you want to maintain accurate inventory counts on a monthly basis, there are various practices you can try.

Make Suitable Preparations Beforehand

Inventory counts that are physical can often be big jobs. It can help to set aside convenient days for these counts beforehand. Put together a map that puts your warehouse, stockroom or shop on display. Divide up the items that you plan on counting. Speak with your staff members too. Allocate inventory count responsibilities among them. Doing so can eliminate a lot of potential confusion. It can eliminate redundancies as well.

Place Items in Labeled Spots

Don’t panic right before starting your inventory counting work. Placing items in sections that are neatly labeled is absolutely vital. It doesn’t matter if you have to establish brand new spots for the time being. Labeling can save you a lot of pointless stress and frustration. It can make your inventory count go a lot quicker, too. Remember, time is money.

Acquire Pallet-Wrapping Equipment

Pallet-wrapping equipment can often simplify the process of inventory counting for businesses. This kind of equipment is able to offer you priceless product safeguarding. There are so many convenient and dependable choices in pallet wrapping machines out there nowadays as well. Some companies, such as Fox Packaging Services, know that business owners can make decisions that involve their individual items and requirements. Businesses can often choose between fully and semi-automatic options in pallet-wrapping equipment.

Depend on Digital Assistance

If you want your monthly inventory count to go off without a hitch, you should probably abandon the concept of writing things out by hand. Digital options can make assessing your inventory in full a lot more streamlined. There are many compact inventory tools accessible that can make life a lot easier for you. Mobile computers that you can hold in your hands can in many cases save you considerable amounts of time.

Businesses that are successful are organized, meticulous and thorough. If you want your business to be under that umbrella, you need to stress the need for monthly inventory counts. Precision should be your primary focal point.

Devious Dealings: Handling An Errant Employee Properly

Providing a comprehensive security in your business isn’t just relegated to your IT infrastructure, you have to consider the human aspects too. There are some industries where this can be low down on the priority list. But, there are personal issues that are very difficult for a business to deal with. An errant employee, either one who isn’t pulling their weight, or is even committing fraudulent activities on site, is something that every entrepreneur and business owner can have a struggle with. Firstly, it reflects poorly on the business if any employee does anything to undermine the company, but also, dealing with the person can be a very sticky situation. So, generally, how can you deal with the person, but also, how can you make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

Astute Observation

For something like an employee committing fraudulent activities on site, you need to make sure you gather enough evidence. Nowadays, there are so many different approaches to collecting this data, there are companies like WesTec Services that provide video security, so you can see exactly what is going on. On top of this, if the offending employee knows how to cover their tracks, you may need to spend a lot more time developing more sophisticated ways to keep tabs. You have to be very careful when amassing evidence, because if you are accusing someone of something that they will flat out deny, whether it’s a criminal offence, or if it’s something relating to their personal attitude towards the work, you need to ensure that you can display this evidence clearly before progressing with any form of punishment or feedback.

The Punishment Matches The Crime

For something like criminal behavior, it’s more clear cut; it’s usually an instant dismissal. But when it comes to making sure that the person who isn’t pulling their weight in a business is adequately punished, this is where semantics is best discussed. Especially, with regards to HR rules and regulations, you need to make sure that you are developing the member of staff appropriately, and not punishing them needlessly. Learning and development, as well as constructive criticism are things that will help, but also, implementing specific deadlines can be something to ensure that they are taking the feedback seriously. This is why quarterly reviews and one-to-one sessions are so beneficial now.

Give A Clear Message

It’s a very overused sentiment, using someone else “as an example”, but it’s important that you give a message to the other members of staff who are going down this slippery slope. For something like criminal activity, an instant firing can give the right message to the employees, but for those employees who are underperforming, using someone as an example is certainly a great way to make sure all that other workers are performing to standard. In addition to this, this communicates to clients and people outside of the company that you have a handle on dealing with these types of employees appropriately.

It’s very difficult from the perspective of a business owner, because you have your own reputation as well as your business’s reputation to maintain. You don’t want these types of employees to show up your company, and this is why you have to have something in place that deals with these errant types effectively.