The Smartest Managers Hire People Who Are Smarter Than Them

The Smartest Managers Hire People Who Are Smarter Than Them

 

Nobody’s an expert at EVERYTHING — business is simply too complex and fast changing! Whether you engage them for an assignment or hire them full time, here’s how to effectively manage people with more experience or knowledge than youT– and make yourself, your team and your company even more successful:

Leading a team full of smart people is important for your personal success. However, it can be intimidating to manage people who have learned and achieved more than you. The key is to take the right approach so everyone pulls in the same direction.

Don’t Let Them See You Sweat

It is normal to feel nervous about hiring and managing people who might be smarter or more experienced than you. You can feel the fear, but take care not to let it show. You must project confidence at all times if you want others to feel comfortable with your abilities as a leader. When it comes to confidence, however, you must walk a fine line. If you aren’t careful, confidence can come across as arrogance.

Address Issues Swiftly

If you catch buzz that a member of your team is unhappy working for someone with less experience or knowledge, don’t let that buzz get out of hand. Even one openly hostile employee can quickly destroy morale, spreading ill will through the group.

Sit down with that employee for an open and honest conversation as soon as you’re made aware of the situation. Take care not to be hostile or defensive. Open by saying, “I know that you have X more years of experience than I do, and I understand that you’ve got some concerns about that.” Let the employee know you are there to support them, and find out what they want from you and do your best to provide that support.

Honesty Is the Best Policy

When your reports ask you a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t avoid the question and by all means, don’t lie. Offering poor direction or giving an answer that is just plain wrong can put you in a bad position, it could put the employee in a bad position, and it could lead to loss of respect among your team.

When someone has a question you can’t answer, do the same thing you’d want your employees to do in that scenario. Tell them you aren’t positive of the answer, but you’ll track down the correct answer ASAP — and then get to work finding it.

Solicit Input, Ideas and Feedback

Employees who have been with the company for a decade or more have been on the front lines of change. They’ve witnessed the evolution of processes and management, and they have seen what works and what doesn’t work for the department and the organization.

During one-on-one meetings with your team members, actively solicit feedback and input from experienced employees. When you are faced with a challenge, crowdsource ideas and input from the group, especially those who have been there the longest.

Don’t Micromanage

Micromanaging can be tempting, but great managers give their teams the space to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Delegate strategically, assigning tasks that align with each employee’s strengths — then trust them with that responsibility.

You must also remember that you were hired to lead the team. Just because you’ve got direct reports with more experience does not mean they should run the show. You’re still in charge of keeping the ship righted, so give them room to do the job, but don’t let them run roughshod over you as a leader.

When In Doubt, Ask for Advice

Hopefully, you have a mentor or close members of your professional network with whom you can share ideas, vent frustrations and celebrate successes. These people are incredibly important on your leadership journey and they can be a terrific sounding board. Don’t be afraid to tap this network when you need to. Schedule a weekly breakfast, coffee date or lunch with your mentor(s) to stay connected to your network and receive objective advice when you need it.

Be a Development Advocate

If you hire and manage people who are smarter and more experienced than you are, take an active interest in helping them grow their careers as well. During one-on-one meetings, familiarize yourself with each team member’s career goals. Identify people who want to take the next step, and help them map out a plan to get there.

Smart leaders hire smart employees. Pull from their experience and use them strategically to set yourself and your team on the path to success.

How to Make Potential Employees Feel Welcome

How to Make Potential Employees Feel Welcome

One of the biggest mistakes that employers and recruiters make is by simply putting off potential candidates by making them feel like an intruder. An uncomfortable interviewing or hiring process is a sure way to lose the best talent to competitors. If you’re part of the recruitment process for a company, you are likely to make the first impression they will have of what it will be like to work there. Here are some tips for putting candidates at ease during the interviewing process.

Don’t waste anyone’s time

The initial screening process for candidates should include not only questions about what they can bring to the company, but what the company has to offer them as well. While final salary negotiations are usually done towards the end of the whole process, asking an experienced professional to go through an interview process and candidacy, only to learn at the end that it’s an entry-level salary, is insulting. Make sure that the candidate knows whether it is a contract or full-time position, a general idea of what the position pays, and any benefits that they may be eligible for before scheduling any serious interviews.

Communicate clearly

Once you’ve screened a potential applicant and they’ve accepted an interview, be sure to explain the process in detail. Give clear directions and instructions for locating your office and who to ask for when they arrive. Just saying “be here Thursday at 2:00” is simply not enough info. They need to know the location of the building, if there are other suites they will need to navigate past, and what to expect when they arrive.

Help them prepare

If an applicant thinks they’re coming in to meet with you to go over their resume, and you march them to a conference room where they’re met by the department head and three other team members for a technical interview, you’ve just set them up for failure. Not only will this intimidate your candidate, but they won’t be able to adequately demonstrate their skills if they aren’t prepared. Let them know who they will be meeting with, the purpose of the interview, and what kinds of things they will need to be ready to discuss.

Greet them and treat them as guests

Leaving candidates waiting in the lobby for an extended period of time is never a good idea. Interviews are stressful situations, even when they go well. Being blatantly rude and leaving applicants alone or unattended will build anxiety, which can lead to a negative performance during the interview. Invite them in, thank them for coming, and if you are running behind schedule, find someone who can take a few moments and give them a tour of the facility. If you’ve gone through the trouble of setting up an interview, there must be something in them that you desire. Don’t throw it away by being inattentive and distant.

Try to show them the real face of the business

Remember that an interview is a meeting between two parties, to see how well the arrangement will work. If your office is normally a chaotic and high-energy collaborative environment, don’t stifle your other employees for an hour because you’re trying to make a good impression. On the other hand, if your office is quiet and compartmentalized, don’t try to make it appear to be a fast-paced and fun atmosphere. Trying to be something you’re not will create a tension in the workspace that candidates will be able to feel when walking around.

Let them also interview you

Whether a candidate will fit into a position well has implications for both sides. While they are selling themselves to you, you’re also selling a company to them. Leave space at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask any potential questions, or discuss possible deal-breakers. Both sides need to be comfortable with the relationship if you’re going to avoid turnover.

Interviewing candidates for a position shouldn’t be a question of seeing who will jump through the most hoops. Welcoming potential employees and putting them at ease will help to ensure the best fit, not just for them, but also for your company.

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

For many employees, their dogs and cats are beloved family members. Here are seven ways your company can show it cares.

By: Lisa Rabasca Roepe

February 22, 2017

Office life isn’t for everyone. It certainly didn’t suit Beasley. After his first foray into the work world, he found himself feeling skittish and overwhelmed. He got carsick on the commute, and some of the employees made him uncomfortable.
It soon became clear this wasn’t going to be a good fit. He wasn’t let go so much as left at home—by his owner, Cheryl DeSantis, vice president of people and organization for Mars Petcare North America in Franklin, Tenn.
You see, Beasley is a 3-year-old goldendoodle. And while he didn’t have the right personality to accompany DeSantis to work, he remains a very good boy. DeSantis found a better office mate with her mini-goldendoodle puppy, Riggins, who enjoys the daily routine and meeting new people.
“It’s looking promising for Riggins,” DeSantis says.
Beasley and Riggins are members of the more than 54 million U.S. households that include a dog and the nearly 80 million families with a pet of any kind, according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. And Mars Petcare is among a growing number of companies that allow dogs to come to work with their owners.
As organizations look to provide perks that will attract and retain key talent, many are coming to realize that offering pet-friendly benefits—whether that means take-your-dog-to-work days, pet insurance or animal-related volunteer excursions—can be an effective tool for improving recruitment, morale and even wellness.
“Dogs have become a bigger part of everyone’s life, especially as Millennials delay having children,” says Jennifer Joyce, vice president of marketing for Kurgo, a company based in Salisbury, Mass., that makes travel accessories and outdoor products for dogs. “For many, their dog is often their first child.”
Indeed, when Kurgo recently surveyed 1,242 dog owners across the country, 65 percent said their dog is part of their family, while only 8 percent referred to Fido as a pet.

The Benefits of Furry Friends

Mars Petcare, which owns the Banfield brand, has been allowing its employees to bring their dogs to work five days a week since 2007, DeSantis says. On a typical day, there are 900 employees and 30 to 40 dogs in the headquarters office.

Copack
Copack scheduler Lee Wilson greets Mackenzie at the Mars Petcare office in Franklin, Tenn. Photograph courtesy of Mars Petcare.

From an employer’s perspective, one of the biggest benefits of allowing pets in the workplace is related to retention. A 2016 study by Banfield Pet Hospital found that 83 percent of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to companies with pet-friendly policies.

Moreover, more than half of workers at companies without such policies said they would be more likely to stay at their organization if it were to offer pet-related perks. The same survey found that 88 percent of the 1,006 employees surveyed, and 91 percent of 200 HR decision-makers, agreed that having pets at work improves morale.

​“What we hear is people will pick Mars over another employer because they can bring their dogs to work,” DeSantis says. “We also hear that it is hard for associates to leave Mars because not every business allows pets in the office.”

Dogs and cats can also bring people closer together. “They create unity among staff and opportunities for interaction among departments that might not otherwise have interacted,” says Bill Page, HR director for Arkansas Business Publishing Group in Little Rock, Ark., which has 72 employees and four to five dogs at the office each day.

Shaping Pet Policies

Before creating any policy that involves bringing pets to the office, it’s critical to get employees’ input, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins.

“Everyone’s opinion must be heard,” she says. Are you willing to lose good employees because some don’t want to work in a pet-friendly office? If the feedback is mixed, one way to gauge the potential impact on your culture is to try allowing pets one day per week or month.

“Bringing a dog to work is a privilege, not a right,” says Robbie Eddison, a service desk manager at Softchoice Corp., an IT consulting firm based in Toronto. Eddison oversees her office’s Dog Committee. Softchoice has allowed dogs on the premises for at least 20 years. More than 700 employees work in the Toronto office, and they share the space with about 115 dogs each day.

Sometimes smaller companies become pet-friendly by accident after one or two people start bringing their dogs to work and other employees follow suit. That’s what happened at Arkansas Business Publishing Group five years ago, when CEO Olivia Farrell started bringing her Labrador retriever to the office every day, Page says.

“The generally tacit agreement [was] that your dog is friendly, housebroken, well-mannered and gets along well with others,” Farrell says. The organization recently developed a short policy laying out the ground rules in writing.

Kurgo
The office at Kurgo, a pet-accessory company in Salisbury, Mass., was designed with dogs in mind. It has easy-to-clean floors, dog-level water fountains and synthetic grass for playing. Photograph courtesy of Kurgo.

Initially, TINYpulse in Seattle—which creates employee engagement surveys—also lacked a written policy. Company leaders wanted to embrace the flexible, informal feel of a small startup. However, as the organization grew from 20 employees and two to three dogs to 60 workers with six to nine canines, the senior team realized it needed to provide clear guidelines and expectations. “It felt important, especially for non-dog owners,” HR Director Eliza Polly says.

As Polly and her colleagues delved into the issues, they realized there was a lot more to consider than they initially thought. “The leadership team still laughs about how much time it spent on this policy,” she says, noting that the topic was discussed at the group’s regularly scheduled meetings for three consecutive weeks. “When you get senior leaders talking about how much a dog should weigh to be allowed to roam free, it feels like a silly detail,” she says.

Actually, it’s not. “We had a big Irish setter puppy coming in that liked to knock over garbage cans and get into everything,” Polly says. “It was the sweetest dog, but he wanted to play and get attention. Not every dog is workplace-ready.”

That’s why TINYpulse’s policy explicitly states that dogs weighing more than 25 pounds can’t roam the building unattended and that dogs must not disturb any employees.

Each of Softchoice’s 21 U.S. and eight Canadian offices sets its own rules and guidelines for its dogs-at-work program, including negotiating agreements with local landlords.

In the Toronto location, employees are required to have worked at the company for three months before they can apply to bring their dog in. When workers make the request, Eddison says, they need to note their department; the location of their desk; their dog’s name, age, breed and gender; whether the dog has been fixed; whether it has had obedience training; and how often the pooch would come to work.

Employees must also get their manager’s written permission and confirm that they have asked nearby co-workers if having a dog around would be OK. A manager can revoke an agreement at any time if he or she thinks the situation isn’t working out, and people who aren’t dog lovers or who are allergic can request to work in a dog-free zone that has its own entrance and exit and a separate HVAC system, Eddison says.

Many company policies also stipulate that pets need to be healthy, clean, and up-to-date on vaccinations and heartworm and flea treatments.

[SHRM members-only resource: ADA Reasonable Accommodation Policy: Service Animals]

Accommodating Service Animals

There are approximately 20,000 U.S. service dogs, according to the American Humane Association. These animals are trained to perform tasks to help people with disabilities, such as guiding employees who are blind or deaf.

Regardless of whether an office allows pets, service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, although some state and local laws allow emotional support animals in the workplace.

Deciding whether to allow an employee to bring in a so-called comfort animal is not that different from making a reasonable accommodation, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Ask yourself these three questions to make the determination.

Is it reasonable?

A monkey or snake is unlikely to be considered a reasonable companion, but a small trained dog may be. Ask the employee to provide medical documentation that having a comfort animal is a valid accommodation for his or her condition.

​Would it be an effective solution?

Will the animal keep the employee from performing his or her essential functions? Perez knows of a case where a woman who pierced ears at a mall kiosk asked if she could do her work while holding a comfort dog. In this instance, the employer could make the case that the animal was interfering with the worker’s effectiveness because many people likely wouldn’t want their ears pierced by someone clutching a canine.

Is it an undue burden?

If an employee needs a comfort animal but the building lease won’t allow it, for instance, it is probably not reasonable to expect the employer to move to make the accommodation.

Once Bitten

Dogs have bitten employees at Softchoice’s Toronto office twice, Eddison says. “Biting is cause for an immediate expulsion for us,” she says, adding that there is a three-strike policy for lesser complaints, which any employee can submit anonymously; most are related to barking, whimpering or playing with a squeaky toy.

The owner gets a warning when someone complains. A pup that accrues three strikes is not welcome in the office for six months to a year, although it may return on a trial basis if the owner can show a change in behavior, Eddison says.

TINYpulse’s policy relies heavily on self-reporting. If an employee knows her dog barks too much or has had an accident, she is expected to report it, Polly says. The company has a three-strike rule for accidents and no tolerance for biting. “If a dog even bites someone once, they are not welcome back in the office,” she says.

Trupanion
Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider Trupanion is one of the few companies that allow employees to bring cats to work. Photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Employers can’t assume that workers’ compensation would cover a bite from a dog visiting the workplace, Perez says. That’s because, to submit a claim, the employer must show that an injury was caused by the scope of the employee’s work.

However, workers may be able to sue an employer for allowing dogs in the office, Perez says, although she isn’t aware of any such cases. Employees might also have a case if two or more dogs get into a fight and one is injured.

Another tip: Make it very clear who is responsible for the dog at all times. Perez worked at a law firm where an attorney who brought her dog to work asked a co-worker to dog-sit on the days she needed to be in court—which made the co-worker less productive. Your policy should address what happens when someone has to go to meetings. Consider stipulating that workers can’t bring their pets in on the days they have other scheduled events, Perez suggests.

Other Options

If allowing workers to bring their pets to work doesn’t seem like a good option for your company, you’re not alone. Although office animals are making headlines, most organizations don’t allow them. According to the SHRM 2016 Employee Benefits research report, only 7 percent of employers permit pets in the workplace (compared with 8 percent in 2015 and 4 percent in 2014).

Fortunately, there are many other creative ways to show your support for furry friends, including the following:

Foster puppy (or kitty) love online. Because so many employees at Genentech, a San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company with 11,000 employees, were sharing dog photos and advice through e-mail, the company set up gDOGs, an employee resource group for dog owners, in 2014. More than 200 of Genentech’s employees are members, says Andrew Villani, senior manager of corporate relations and co-founder of gDOGs. The group created an online community and schedules events to encourage members to socialize with their dogs after hours and on weekends.

Allow occasional visits. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., invites employees to bring their dogs into the office for occasional photo shoots, says Erin O’Neill, the organization’s people and culture manager. It’s important to communicate with staff ahead of time that dogs will be at the office, she says. “We have one staffer who is allergic, and she is super gracious about it and just stays out of the area,” O’Neill says.

Motley Fool
Once a quarter, The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., hosts an animal therapy day for staff, featuring either puppies or ducklings. Here, Kristine Harjes is visited by a pup from the Operation Paws for Homes rescue. Photograph courtesy of The Motley Fool.

Schedule animal therapy days. Once a quarter, investment media business The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., sponsors an “animal therapy day.” A staff member who lives on a farm brings in puppies or ducklings, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside. “I try to schedule them when the staff seems stressed-out,” she says.

Other building tenants are also invited to participate, she says, because “it’s a good way to create intentional collision points to build relationships.” And the company sponsors an occasional “yappy hour”—a social event in which pets are welcome—at a nearby restaurant with an outdoor patio.

Arrange volunteer opportunities. Mars Petcare offers employee volunteer opportunities with the Nashville Humane Society, and staff deliver lunches and pet food to homebound seniors with pets.

Provide bereavement leave. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is one of a few employers to provide three days of bereavement leave following the death of a pet. Mars Petcare gives one day.

Offer pet insurance. Pet-related coverage was offered by 36 percent of companies in 2015, and that number is expected to surge to 60 percent by 2018, according to a 2016 survey by Willis Towers Watson. The Motley Fool added pet insurance to its benefits package after an employee survey indicated demand.

Consider offering a coverage discount, says Chris Middleton, president of Pets Best Insurance. The typical markdown is 5 percent, he says, and even organizations with only 20 employees can offer this benefit affordably. Keep in mind, though, that each employee’s premium will be different based on where he or she lives and the pet’s species, breed and age, Middleton says.

Genentech offers a plan that covers dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets, Villani says. Employees can pay premiums through payroll deductions, and owners of multiple pets receive additional discounts. The company has also negotiated with several local doggie day care providers to offer employees a discount on the daily rate.

No matter which options you pursue, showing employees you care about their lives outside of work—including their pets—can give you an edge when it comes to recruiting, wellness and morale. And who doesn’t want to be top dog?

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va. 

Opening photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Pet-Friendly Office Checklist

Experts at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider with a 1:2 pet-to-employee ratio (233 cats and dogs to 434 employees) offer this framework for creating a pet-friendly office.

Get executive buy-in. The CEO and senior management must agree to any pet-friendly policies.

Secure landlord approval. The Motley Fool can’t permit daily visits from animals at its offices because the property owner says the ventilation system won’t filter out all the dander and allergens, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside.

Create a policy. Clearly outline expectations, beginning by defining “pet-friendly,” says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Do you mean just dogs and cats? What about boa constrictors and ferrets?
Pet-proof your space. This may include incorporating baby gates or tethers and hiding electrical cords. When Trupanion redesigned its offices, it included gated cubicles so office dogs and cats could enjoy being off-leash while sitting near their owner, says Erich Wuhrman, the company’s vice president of HR.
Communicate with employees. Let employees know if and when they can bring their pets to work. Some companies require employees to sign a written acknowledgment of the pet policy.
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Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

Are you Playing Offense or Defense?

I recently read this question somewhere, and it stuck with me. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it is a valid question for us to ask as individuals and as leaders.

Are you playing offense or defense?

Like in sports, where you can have a strength in offense or defense and be successful, but can’t be successful with a complete lack of either one; this question isn’t an “either/or black or white” question as much as it is a “relative balance” question.

It is a question that can be asked strategically (what will our focus be for the year?) or tactically (how will handle this situation?). In either case, it is a question worth considering, because if you don’t consider it and challenge yourself with it, you will in the short- or long-term operate from your habits – which might not give you the results you most desire.

Are you playing offense or defense?

What do I mean when I suggest this question to you?

Your own definitions for the two words matter, and so my urging you to ask yourself might really be all that is needed (and would make for a short article). But if you want to hear the definitions and descriptions I have been using as I have considered the question, here is a sampling.

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Offense means . . . Defense means . . .
• Being proactive • Being reactive
• Improving processes • Solving problems
• Playing to win • Playing it safe
• Maximizing return • Minimizing risk
• Trying something new • Maintaining what you have
• Creating new Customers • Focusing on the competition

As you can see, what appears to be a black and white question is far from it. As just one example: there is a time to improve processes, and a time to solve problems – and there is value in knowing which will be your overall focus too.

The question has helped clarify my thinking for our team in the coming year and I hope it will do the same for you. It has also come in handy in regards to some specific situations and decisions since I have been considering the question.

So, I ask you to consider this question for yourself from three perspectives.

Which is my subconscious habit, to play offense or defense?

Which will serve me best, most often in reaching my goals for year, playing offense or defense?

Which will serve me best for the situation or decision I face right now, playing offense or defense?

Whatever your answers, make sure you don’t ignore what you didn’t choose. If you choose to focus on offense, there will be a time when defense is needed and vice versa. Asking the question will however make you more intentional and likely more successful in whatever context you use it.

Ten Employee Training Tips

Ten Employee Training Tips

By AllBusiness.com

Well-trained employees are the key to your small business success. Studies have shown that the most successful, productive employees are those who have received extensive training. They’re the cream of the crop, and often have the strongest stake in the company’s future.

In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess the exact skills your business needs. But in today’s competitive labor market, demand for skilled workers far exceeds supply.

That’s where training comes in. Not only does instruction arm your employees with needed professional or technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps keep workers motivated and involved.

To successfully launch an employee-training program in your own company, follow these 10 helpful tips:

  1. Stress training as investment. The reason training is often considered optional at many companies is because it is thought of as an expense rather than an investment. While it’s true that training can be costly up front, it’s a long-term investment in the growth and development of your human resources.
  2. Determine your needs. As you probably don’t have unlimited time or funds to execute an employee training program, you should decide early on what the focus of your training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent to address current or future company needs or ones that will provide the biggest payback. Ask yourself, “How will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?” Repeat this process as your business needs change.
  3. Promote a culture of learning. In today’s fast-paced economy, if a business isn’t learning, it’s going to fall behind. A business learns as its people learn. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and stay on top of their professions or fields of work. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the resources needed to accomplish this goal.
  4. Get management on board. Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that address key needs within your company, you need to convince management to rally behind the initiative.
  5. Start out small. Before rolling out your training program to the masses, rehearse with a small group of users and gather their feedback. This sort of informal benchmarking exposes weaknesses in your training plans and helps you fine-tune the training process.
  6. Choose quality instructors and materials. Who you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it’s a professional educator or simply a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important — after the training is over, these materials become valuable resources for trainees.
  7. Find the right space. Select a training location that’s conducive to learning. Choose an environment that’s quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials. Make sure the space is equipped with a computer and projector, so you can present a visually stimulating training session.
  8. Clarify connections. Some employees may feel that the training they’re receiving isn’t relevant to their job. It’s important to help them understand the connection early on, so they don’t view the training sessions as a waste of valuable time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional portfolios. Award people with completion certificates at the end of the program.
  9. Make it ongoing. Don’t limit training solely to new employees. Organized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees’ skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.
  10. Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demonstrate concrete results.

AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance, and expand their business. The site contains forms & agreements, business guides, business directories, thousands of articles, expert advice, and business blogs. Material copyrighted by AllBusiness.com.

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work

When your job isn’t giving you room to grow, make some.

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work
[Photo: distelpics via Pixabay]

You’re a hard worker, just like you said at your job interview. In all your time at your company, you’ve done consistently good work. You’re reliable. But for some reason, you just aren’t shining as much as you’d like. Maybe there’s a sexy new project at work that you were hoping to be assigned, but it went to someone else. Perhaps you’re holding out for a promotion but haven’t seen it yet.

You’re starting to wonder if your hard work doesn’t cut it. You’re doing some great things, but your boss doesn’t seem to notice. You aren’t getting bigger or better projects, which means you aren’t really growing in your position. Is there something else you should be doing?

Executing Isn’t Enough

The solution here isn’t necessarily to approach your boss and ask point-blank what gives. Before you charge into your boss’s office demanding a change, stop for a minute and ask yourself: How proactive am I in my career? Do I take on more than is required of me? Do I go out of my way to take on projects that benefit teams other than my own? Do I regularly help my teammates? And do I do these things without permission, or only when I’m asked to? In other words, am I fearless?

If the answers here are mostly “no,” it’s time to be more proactive. Don’t wait for your boss to create opportunities for you—create them yourself.No matter what stage of your career you’re at, simply “doing” the work is never enough. In order to take charge of your own career, you often have to take the initiative.

The most successful people are proactive. They provide value beyond what’s asked of them, and in the process, they showcase their talents and show everybody else how much they can contribute. Over time, teams learn to come to them with bigger and better projects. It’s a virtuous circle that benefits both the company and their careers.

Depending on your personality, this might not feel so natural. It may also come more easily to people at senior levels who typically don’t have to wait for a supervisor to approve every decision they make. People earlier in their careers might hesitate to be so proactive, fearing that if they do, they’ll be scolded for overstepping.

In reality, this fear is typically unfounded. What it really boils down to is your confidence and how much you know about the company and industry you’re in, not the current stage of your career. Here are a few tips for being more proactive at every level.

Take An Inventory Of Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Just as you would while preparing for a job interview, sit down and log your strengths and weaknesses. Has your team actually seen the full breadth of your skills? Do they know what you’re capable of? Are you actively utilizing your strongest skills, or are they being underleveraged?

Sometimes assets are hidden inside what appear to be disadvantages. Maybe you’ve been harping on the fact that you’re the youngest on your team—does that also make you the most social-media-savvy? Consider your strengths and weaknesses from all angles. You need to understand them better before stepping up to show your team more of what you’ve got.

Pick The Right Project

Being proactive isn’t about picking any extra project and adding it to your to-do list. It’s about identifying strategic opportunities for the good of the company—not just for yourself.

Which opportunities are those? Ask yourself these questions to pinpoint where you can help your company or team—and your career in the process:

  • What do you know about the business, company, or industry that only you can see?
  • What are some possibilities your company or team haven’t explored yet, and why not?
  • What gaps do you see?
  • What business objectives are you most passionate about at your company, and which of those are you uniquely qualified to help with?

Note that the answers to these questions may mean working with your current team, or not! Embrace the opportunity to meet teams other than your own if that’s where you can best contribute. Going out on a limb to forge those relationships is another sign that you’re interested in growing beyond what you already do.

Once You Seize It, Sell It

Now it’s time to sell your boss on the value of you taking on this project. Boil it down to a one-liner summarizing what you hope to achieve, and why it’s important to the company or team. Practice explaining that in the mirror if it helps.

While it can be scary to work on a project with no obvious stakeholders, if it’s a truly valuable undertaking, it’ll prove itself. Other people will see its value as it develops, and you yourself will become more certain of it.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s essential that you believe in the value of the undertaking. If you’re not sure it’s worth pursuing, get a second opinion from someone you trust (a close colleague, a mentor), or table it until you find another opportunity that makes your heart beat faster with conviction.

Keep Up Your Existing Responsibilities

The only way you can get away with working on something only you see the value in (at first) is if you’re keeping on top of all your current duties. As you start to stretch into self-initiated projects, it can be tempting to focus on those alone, but that’s a mistake.

Being proactive only to drop the basics isn’t a sign of leadership potential—it’s a sign of poor time management, a reason why you might not be progressing in your career as quickly as you thought yourself capable. That can be tough to recognize, but it’s useful intel.

Don’t Wait For Permission To Do More

This is crucial, whether you’re an intern for the season or a seasoned manager. If you find yourself waiting for someone else to signal or approve the next step, check yourself: It’s up to you to keep the ball rolling. Rather than waiting for a new assignment or task, ask yourself what else could be done, and do it.

Of course, be sure to use your best judgment here. There’s a category of things that you may in fact need approval for; sending a mass email to the whole company or expensing some unapproved dinners might create some challenges. But for a more run-of-the-mill project, it may not be necessary. Default toward asking for forgiveness, not permission.

Manage Up

You’re ultimately the best (and only) person to represent your own interests to your boss. Tell her what you want out of your career, and ask her to keep an eye out for opportunities for you. A good manager will keep you top of mind for upcoming projects that match your interest and skill set—or they’ll tell you why they think you’re not ready for those opportunities just yet. (If it’s the latter, don’t despair; this kind of feedback can be helpful, as now you have something tangible to work toward.)

But asking for your manager’s support isn’t the same as sitting on your hands and waiting for it. After all, it’s easy to wait for approval. It’s a lot harder to take initiative. But when you’re proactive, it often pays off—for you as well as your employer.

If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work

Managing people

If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work

December 29, 2016

“People don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad bosses,” according to an old saw. Our research suggests there’s truth behind this saying: bosses matter far more for employee job satisfaction than any other factor we measured. But what makes someone a great boss?

Studies of leaders often focus on their style or charisma, but we wanted to look at how workers are affected by their boss’s technical competence. That is, is the boss is a real expert in the core business of the organization? How much expertise does he or she have? Boss competence is, admittedly, a multifaceted concept. Hence we measured it in three different ways:

  • Whether the supervisor could, if necessary, do the employee’s job.
  • Whether the supervisor worked his or her way up inside the company.
  • The supervisor’s level of technical competence as assessed by a worker.

Using these three measures of supervisor competence, we found that employees are far happier when they are led by people with deep expertise in the core activity of the business. This suggests that received wisdom about what makes a good boss may need some rethinking. It’s not uncommon to hear people assert that it’s a bad idea to promote an engineer to lead other engineers, or an editor to lead other editors. A good manager doesn’t need technical expertise, this argument goes, but rather, a mix of qualities like charisma, organizational skills, and emotional intelligence. Those qualities do matter, but what our research suggests is that the oft-overlooked quality of having technical expertise also matters enormously.

Research into the topic of expert leadership is recent but burgeoning. Modern evidence demonstrates, for example, that hospitals may do better if led by doctors rather than by general managers, that U.S. basketball teams do better when led by a former All Star basketball player, that Formula One racing teams do better if led by successful former racing drivers, and that universities do better when led by top researchers rather than talented administrators.

In our project, we studied 35,000 randomly selected employees and workplaces. The samples are from both the U.S. and Britain. We use traditional ways of measuring the job satisfaction of employees, like the survey question we asked in the U.S.: “How do you feel about the job you have now?” 1 = “dislike very much”, 2 = “dislike somewhat”, 3 = “like fairly well”, 4 = “like very much”.  People’s answer on average was 3.2.  In Britain, we asked: “Please answer on a 7-point scale from “I am completely satisfied with my job,….I am completely dissatisfied with my job.” We found the answer in Britain was, on average, approximately 5.3. Overall, these ratings seem to us to be good, but perhaps not great, news. Workers are fairly happy.

When we look closely at the data, a striking pattern emerges. The benefit of having a highly competent boss is easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction. Even we were surprised by the size of the measured effect. For instance, among American workers, having a technically competent boss is considerably more important for employee job satisfaction than their salary (even when pay is really high).

Although we found that many factors can matter for happiness at work – type of occupation, level of education, tenure, and industry are also significant, for instance – they don’t even come close to mattering as much as the boss’s technical competence. Moreover, we saw that when employees stayed in the same job but got a new boss, if the new boss was technically competent, the employees’ job satisfaction subsequently rose.

The bottom line is that employees are happiest when the boss knows what she or he is talking about, and that drives performance: there is growing evidence, from randomized trials done under laboratory conditions, that when you make workers happier they become more productive. One study found that quite small boosts in happiness went on to produce a reliable 12% extra in labor productivity. Moreover, employees who are happy at work are less prone to quit, and it is well known that a high level of quits is expensive for a company. Lastly, it has recently been demonstrated that firms with happy employees go on to have better stock-price growth in the future.

The boss casts a very long shadow. Your job satisfaction is profoundly molded by your boss’s competence; and your own team’s job satisfaction levels depend on your competence.

Minimum Wage Increases In Store For Many In 2017

Minimum Wage Increases In Store For Many In 2017

12.19.16  Fisher Phillips Legal Alert

While the federal minimum wage has remained steady at $7.25 for the past seven years, many state and local jurisdictions have set their own minimum rates higher than the federal level. And, of course, when a local jurisdiction mandates a rate higher than the federal rate, you must pay your employees the higher rate.

Here is a listing of all the planned increases currently on tap for 2017. If your state or local jurisdiction is not listed, there is presently no increase in store for you in the new year. Obviously, though, these laws may change at any time, and you should consult with your local employment counsel before acting upon the information contained in this summary.

NOTE: These rates are for non-tipped employees. Check with your Fisher Phillips attorney, or with any attorney in the Fisher Phillips Hospitality Practice Group, for information about minimum wage rates for tipped employees.


The Alaska minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $9.80 on January 1, 2017.


Arizona will see a minimum wage increase from $8.05 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017. Also, the city of Flagstaff will see an increase from $8.05 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017, and an additional increase to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.


The minimum wage for Arkansas will increase from $8.00 to $8.50 on January 1, 2017.


There will be plenty of activity in California. The statewide minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017 (although employers with 25 or fewer employees will receive a one-year reprieve and will not face the statewide increase in 2017), but 18 local jurisdictions in the state will also see minimum wage increases this coming year:

  • Berkeley will see an increase from $12.53 to $13.75 on October 1, 2017.
  • There will be an increase in the minimum wage in Cupertino from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Smaller employers in Emeryville (55 or fewer workers) will see an increase from $13.00 to $14.00 on July 1, 2017, while the increase for larger employers will be announced in 2017 and go into effect on July 1, 2017.
  • The minimum wage in Los Altos will increase from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Los Angeles will see an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Those employers in Los Angeles County will also see an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Mountain View employers will face a minimum increase from $11.00 to $13.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • In Oakland, the minimum wage will increase from $12.55 to $12.86 on January 1, 2017.
  • There will be a minimum wage increase in Palo Alto from $11.00 to $12.00 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Pasadena, employers with 25 or fewer employees will face a minimum wage increase to $10.50 as of July 1, 2017, while larger employers will face an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 as of the same date.
  • Richmond will see an increase in the minimum wage from $11.52 to $12.30 on January 1, 2017.
  • In San Diego, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $11.50 as of January 1, 2017.
  • San Francisco’s minimum wage will increase from $13.00 to $14.00 as of July 1, 2017.
  • The San Jose minimum wage will increase from $10.30 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017.
  • There will be a minimum wage increase for employers in San Mateo, with rates increasing from $10.00 to $12.00 on January 1, 2017.
  • Santa Clara will see a minimum wage increase from $11.00 to $11.10 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Santa Monica, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on July 1, 2017.
  • Employers in Sunnyvale will face a minimum wage increase from $11.00 to $13.00 on January 1, 2017.

The Colorado minimum wage will increase from $8.31 to $9.30 on January 1, 2017.


Connecticut will see an increase to the state minimum wage increase from $9.60 to $10.10 as of January 1, 2017.


In the District of Columbia, the minimum wage will increase from $11.50 to $12.50 as of July 1, 2017.


The Florida minimum wage will increase from $8.05 to $8.10 as of January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Hawaii will increase from $8.50 to $9.25 on January 1, 2017.


In Illinois, the statewide minimum wage will remain steady in 2017, but employers in Chicago will see an increase from $10.50 to $11.00 on July 1, 2017, and those in Cook County will face an increase from $8.25 to $10.00 on the same date.


While the minimum wage in Iowa is not scheduled to increase in 2017, three local jurisdictions will see increases:

  • Johnson County employers will face a minimum wage increase from $9.15 to $10.10 on January 1, 2017.
  • For employers in Polk County, the minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.75 on April 1, 2017.
  • In Wapello County, the minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.20 on January 1, 2017.

In Maine, the minimum wage will increase from $7.50 to $9.00 as of January 7, 2017. In Portland, the increase to the minimum wage will be from $10.10 to $10.68.


Maryland’s minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $9.25 on July 1, 2017. Also:

  • Montgomery County employers will face a minimum wage increase from $10.75 to $11.50 on July 1, 2017.
  • For employers in Prince George’s County the minimum wage increase will be from $10.75 to $11.50 on October 1, 2017.

In Massachusetts, the minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $11.00 on January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Michigan will increase from $8.50 to $8.90 as of January 1, 2017.


In Missouri, the minimum wage will increase from $7.65 to $7.70 as of January 1, 2017. Further:

  • The Kansas City minimum wage, which was slated to increase to $9.82 on January 1 2017, is stalled due to pending court challenges. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to soon rule on the issue.
  • The same holds true for the St. Louis minimum wage, which was scheduled to increase to $10.00 as of January 1, 2017.

Montana’s minimum wage will increase from $8.05 to $8.15 on January 1, 2017.


New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase from $8.38 to $8.44 on January 1, 2017.

While the minimum wage in New Mexico is not scheduled to increase in 2017, various local jurisdictions will see increases:

  • In Albuquerque, the minimum wage will increase from $8.75 to $8.80 on January 1, 2017. However, if the employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits to the employee during any pay period and pays an amount for these benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500, the minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $7.80.
  • In Bernalillo County, the minimum wage will increase from $8.65 to $8.70 as of January 1, 2017.
  • The minimum wage in Las Cruces will increase from $8.40 to $9.20 on January 1, 2017.

In New York, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $9.70 on December 31, 2016. For fast-food employers outside of New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.75 on the same date.

  • The New York City minimum wage increase will see rates rise for businesses with 11 or more employees from $9.00 to $11.00 on December 31, 2016. For smaller employers, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.50. For fast-food establishments in New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on the same date.
  • In Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.00 on December 31, 2016.

The minimum wage in Ohio will increase from $8.10 to $8.15 as of January 1, 2017.


Oregon’s minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.25 as of July 1, 2017, unless otherwise described below:

  • For employers within the state’s Urban Growth Boundary, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.75 to $11.25.
  • For employers in frontier counties, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.50 to $10.00 per hour.
  • For more information on this system, please read this summary.

In South Dakota, the minimum wage will increase from $8.55 to $8.65 as of January 1, 2017.


The minimum wage in Vermont will increase from $9.60 to $10.00 on January 1, 2017.


Washington’s minimum wage will increase from $9.47 to $11.00 on January 1, 2017. Meanwhile:

  • Seattle employers with 500 or more employees will see an increase in their minimum wage from $13.00 to $15.00 on January 1, 2017; those with 500 or fewer employees will see an increase from $12.00 to $13.00.
  • The SeaTac minimum wage applicable for hospitality and transportation workers will increase from $15.24 to $15.35 as of January 1, 2017.
  • In Tacoma, the minimum wage will increase from $10.35 to $11.15.

The minimum wage for federal contractors covered by those regulations and Executive Order 13658 (primarily those with Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act contracts) will increase from $10.15 to $10.20 effective January 1, 2017.

For more information, visit our website at www.fisherphillips.com, or contact your regular Fisher Phillips attorney.


This Legal Alert provides an overview of state and local minimum wage increases. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.

Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016

Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety

Filed in Español, Safety By on October 18, 2016 

a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection

Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.

Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and our top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures. Employers must take these issues seriously.

We also see far too many workers killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Lockout/tagout and machine guarding violations are often the culprit here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.

Respiratory protection is essential for preventing long term and sometimes fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or a host of other toxic substances. But we can see from our list of violations that not nearly enough employers are providing this needed protection and training.

The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment.

Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known.

Our list of top violations is far from comprehensive. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. And we urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, we have released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces.

We have many additional resources, including a wealth of information on our website and our free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.

Thomas Galassi is the director of enforcement programs for OSHA.

12 Signs You Desperately Need a Vacation from Work

12 signs you desperately need a vacation from work

Jacquelyn Smith  6/16/2016