Creating Your Ultimate Staff With Our Help

Look outside the box, break unproductive habits and you may just learn to love your new routine that is actually making things happen in your business like never before.  I have been swamped at work not only helping my clients in Bismarck but across four states as well.  Sometimes, you want to shout in frustration BUT that’s why we are in business, correct?

I am, however, confused why we would complain about too much business and not able to find experienced staff.  Of course you can’t, but you get to train staff (you educate employees, you train dogs!).  Don’t bury your head in the sand!  Call our office and I can give you helpful hints.

I have managed retail staff for 37 years.  I also educated 17 out of 19 manager trainees successfully from 1986 to 1999 in an average of 5 months per candidate.  I can help you turn out better employees and have them perform as you would like and need them to perform.

Revitalize Your Team with Excellent Leaders

Back in my retail days, I was promoted to a larger store in a chain than what I had been used to and this meant there were a few products I may not have been well versed in.  As I spoke to the outgoing manager, I was asking a few questions on the staff, facility, products and other things I didn’t have the answers for after being in the store for about 4 hours.  Rather than answer my questions, the outgoing manager said, “This store really runs itself.”  The only thing that answer told me was that the manager was nothing more than figurehead and not a leader.  I am not saying that as a leader you need to be riding hard on the staff but it was apparent  in this case, the manager wasn’t involved in many, if any, of the daily activities in this branch.  I will say, staff was fairly productive but not as productive as they became after they received a little training and reminders on the importance of customer service.

That any manager would say a store runs itself reflects how unimportant the staff’s education and training are to them.  I assume, their clients’ needs fall into the same category as the staff’s education and training as well.  Let’s not catch ourselves training our staff to be mediocre!

If you are interested in revitalizing your team, give Professional Employment Practices (PEP) a call, (701) 751-1500.  You won’t be sorry and your clients will see the difference.

There Are Leaders Among Us!

In today’s employment environment, in North Dakota, why are we not developing leaders in our organizations?  I don’t mean to generalize, because some of you could very well be breaking the mold and creating leaders!

****Flash News Report****

In the last two weeks, I have run into some great leadership as well as knowledgeable customer service with a smile!  I would love to mention names of these companies and employees but I never get that personal should someone disagree with me.  I don’t want people to take it out on the people that know what it takes to run a customer friendly company.

One small restaurant in town may be small in space but not small in taste and service.  Great food, reasonable prices, great service and five employees asked how everything was.  And by the way, IT WAS WONDERFUL!  Keep it up!

Another great experience was with, of all places, a cellular service retailer.  One gets so used to horrible service in this industry, you don’t think that there is a phenomenal cell service that knows what they are doing.  For a change in this industry, this retailer was very helpful!  They gave features, functions and benefits that may affect you or your phone.  Not only did they sell me what I needed, but saved me money as well.  They also explained things that even a non-techy person could understand.

My hats off to these vendors!  Not only are you adding value to the community but you both should continue to do well in the future.  Thank you for all you do!

Be a Leader and Develop Leaders Within Your Company

In today’s employment environment in North Dakota, why are we not developing “Leaders” in our organizations?  I don’t mean to generalize, because some of you could very well be breaking the mold and creating leaders.  If you aren’t developing leaders what’s the next step?

I started managing stores when I was twenty years old.  Sometimes we learn how not to train employees.  (Oops, we train dogs and we educate people!)  I had to learn to lead and motivate staff instead of being the “boss.”  What a great epiphany!?  This turned out to be one of the best management tools I ever stumbled upon in my thirty years in the retail sector.  My staffs (in all four locations that I was a part of) were intrigued, motivated, and had fun with not only each other but the clients as well.  This occurred whether I was in the store or not!  I don’t think you will find this enthusiasm as readily as in the past.  That certainly doesn’t mean businesses can’t find that magic anymore.

Leaders accomplish much more and much faster than bosses do.  Employee turnover rates drop, employee satisfaction increases, and the clients become the benefactors of this management style not to mention profit margins!  By helping employees identify opportunities to improve techniques and providing them with knowledge to pass on to clients many of these employees were promoted to management positions in other company locations.

We, as a society, need to resurrect leadership as a courtesy to our clients.  If you are interested in revitalizing your team give PEP a call at (701)751-1500.  You and your clients will see the difference!

 

Taking Charge of Building Your Team

We all know how difficult it is to find enough good quality employees in our environment in North Dakota.  But rather than devise a training program to make sure that all new employees are given a lot of direction, a company culture overview, and a job description that is precise yet not too long.  Most of all, Team Member expectations must be given before the prospect is hired.

We must stop settling for what employees we can find rather than what employees we can develop.  Why would we do this to ourselves and more importantly, our clients?  I was trying to pick up a part from a retailer at 12:10 pm and there were five people  waiting for one person to serve all their needs.  After waiting twenty minutes, I left.  I later called the manager about the shoddy service and she said there were two people that should have been at the desk.  Should have been!?

We as business owners, cannot play the big shot and sit back in our office and assume the client is being taken care of.  If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.  I know from personal experience that we can rarely sit back on our laurels and assume that the staff no longer needs direction.  Once expectations are being met, clients are happy with the service and knowledge of the staff.  In turn, your staff is staying productive and they like their roles within the company.  Congratulations.

However, please be aware that you need to have some sort of staff development system to keep the organization and staff moving in the same consistent direction.  Complacency breeds carelessness, bad attitudes and unrest.  Keep the pride going and keep your clients coming back again and again!

Leaders Create Your Business’s Culture

I think a lot of people talk about leadership and there are dozens of philosophies on how to develop effective leadership within an organization.  I’m not saying that there is only way to develop leadership in your company.  However, I am of the opinion, you need a few components to make it a lasting company leadership.

I have known and worked with many managers and business owners that are under the impression that they will oversee the operation but play no major role in any type of job position.  These management types claim they have a good staff and the “place runs itself.”  They might have some fine employees working in their organization but with this mentality, I can guarantee you won’t have a happy team ALL working for the satisfaction of the clients.

If you want to develop a great leader, you need to have a great culture in place first.  I have no opinion on what a “great culture” may look like to you.  I think many different approaches may work well.  But if you don’t know the answer to most of your clients’ needs then who is going to educate the staff on what clients need everyday.  A leader needs to be an educator, motivator, and a visionary.  When that new leader gets the staff heading in the right direction then you will have developed the culture you needed for your company and industry.  However, you need this leader to continue to hire future employees that embrace the culture and learn to maintain and adapt the culture as needed.

It takes leadership to educate a staff on why we need to do what we do and why each and every position is important.  I would hope a strong leader would continually upgrade staff through education and annual reviews.  This leader needs to do a great job explaining to a team member what needs to be done to stay in touch with the culture.  If it happens that your leader fails to paint the picture to an employee successfully then you may have to weed them out of your system before they undercut all your efforts to form and keep the culture.

I feel employees fail for three reasons:

  1. New hires weren’t educated well enough to let them be successful
  2. The employee has a personal or professional problem that needs to be solved
  3. The employee doesn’t care or hates what their job duties entail.

One has to fire people immediately if they fall under reason three.  They will probably never be a happy, productive member of your culture and will destroy everything the leader worked for to make the company truly client-focused.  You need to stay employee focused as well to keep them on track by giving expectations and praise for a job well done.

I have only painted the beginning of a creating a leader.  If we can create the consistent culture first, we can focus on improving more and replicating this daily process.  Who know, we may need to replicate this daily process for multiple locations as our businesses grow!

Be Prepared By Preparing Leaders Within Your Staff

Looking back in the archives of the blog, I see we focused on leadership training.

As I continue to see companies open more branches either in North Dakota cities or expanding across town right here in Bismarck, ND, I am wondering if these successful businesses have found any natural leaders left in the state that could be hired.  If they were lucky enough to find a leader, was that leader already well versed in their industry, company culture and fit in with the rest of the staff?

As North Dakota continues to grow, expand, and thrive, I would hope, before any business owners expand they create their leaders well in advance.  If you look at your key people, are one of them able to run another branch?  Or will they be taking up all your time asking questions about hiring, disciplining employees, training staff and all the other things you take for granted because of your experience?

As the work staff in North Dakota continues to appear to be stretched to the limit, you certainly not only need a complete staff but also a knowledgeable, helpful staff to make your multiple locations a success.

You either need all employees to follow instructions without needing any outside help or start developing a leader now to give you plenty of time to nurture them and give them all the ammunition they need to be successful and make your new branch successful and profitable.

If you don’t have time to scurry around identifying the leaders and putting final touches on them for their new position let Professional Employment Practices become a partner in your staff’s leadership development.  In my former career, I had the great fortune to educate future leaders and managers effectively.  Sixteen of nineteen people graduated to not only one promotion but at least two promotions that included more sales, larger staff and more responsibility.

Don’t be intimidated by the want to expand.  Prepare yourself and your staff for growth and give them the tools to be effective employees for you.  Act now!

Lead By Example

I have been preaching a lot about leadership the last three weeks.  Are we as business owners and/or managers actually setting the example consistently enough that our staff knows how a leader should conduct themselves?

If not, you need to change your behavior very rapidly and begin the leadership program in your business now.  You need to walk the walk if you expect to grow and nurture leaders in your business.  For some reason, even before a business owner has developed a true leader, the owner comes and goes as they please.  The owner doesn’t tell the staff when they are returning, which usually is a major inconvenience to vendors and clients that need more information before they can complete an order or a sale.

As business owners and managers, we don’t realize how the staff is watching us to learn how to carry themselves and improve their own work habits.  Remember, workers may not have been educated in the business world and don’t even understand the value of thanking a customer or greeting a client.

Set the leadership tone at all times and start to mold people into the styles that will help the employee become more valuable to you.  I guarantee you should see more sales if you are doing all other functions correctly as well.

Weather Future Storms By Developing Leaders

Planning on adding staff anytime soon? Or do you need to increase sales, profit and margin?  Do you know what qualities you are looking for in a exemplary employees?  If not, you need to consider the positions you are hiring for AND why.  In my past retail management positions , I never hired someone without looking into the future for the next 365 days.  Don’t you want to remain flexible, nimble and well-staffed to handle whatever is heading your way?  Of course you do!  We will be lucky to hire one person that turns out to be a model employee.  If we are really lucky that person may be more like a Swiss Army knife!  Imagine hiring someone today that fits that new or open position today and has leadership skills to move up and continue to grow with the company.  They may start by training their replacement and moving up in the ranks.

If you have been working with that leader, your Swiss Army knife employee, then you have yet another function for that person.  They have run a department, trained their replacement and leadership skills are running rampant within that individual.  It makes sense then, to a take a person with practical experience in your business, a proven leader and teach them to be management material.  A person with exuberance, practical experience and with developing leadership skills has the potential to be a very dynamic manager.

What are you waiting for?!  Scour the bushes and find the exact prototype person.  If you can’t find one, allow Professional Employment Practices to help you develop that person, or better yet people, on your staff so you can weather the next storm.

A Deeper Look at a Leader’s Attributes

Last week, we talked about different attributes that are or should be extremely important to leaders.  I think, in today’s society, these personal traits are not as common as they used to be, if they are even pursued at all.  And, I think this is not only a shame but it will continue to negatively affect businesses.

Let us quickly review some of the skill sets that we talked about last week.

MORALS

I don’t think this term carries much weight in today’s society but it certainly needs to.    If we aren’t honest with ourselves, family and clients then how can we continue to have productive relationships?  Without honesty and straightforwardness in business, I don’t think businesses have a chance to survive.

PRINCIPLES

Principles are our internal rules of conduct.  If your moral compass is already broken you may not be capable of determining what principles you want to live by.  As a leader, I believe, if you make known your principles to your staff and emphasize the importance of these principles you will gain a following from your staff and clients, which will also usually increase your sales and profit.

SET EXPECTATIONS FOR ALL EMPLOYEES AND JOB DESCRIPTIONS

In all my leadership positions, I have tried my very best to explain what each and every position and employee needs to do to extend our best service to all clients.  Even if we allow employees a little leeway in some matters when dealing with clients we sure want to set the absolute golden rules for our company.  And review these expectations with all employees at least quarterly, more oftern if standards are slipping.  If an employee achieves at least these standards at a minimum you should have a productive and happy staff as well as ecstatic clients.  I have also experienced much lower employee turnover rates when expectations are provided and followed.

The above traits and styles certainly are not the only attributes leaders need to posess.  I think these three are certainly the most important.