Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Make The Right Hire

How many times have you had an employee quit and then immediately feel desperate to fill the slot that was just vacated? Unfortunately, it's an all too common occurrence in today's workplace.
There are a number of things you can do to help you get through the trying times while hiring a replacement but there is also the danger of hiring just about anyone that walks through the door just to get the job filled. Don't do this!
Take the time necessary to hire the right person for the job. The actual cost of turnover is much greater than most employers realize so the first line of defense should always be to make every effort to retain your current employee, assuming he/she was performing their duties at an acceptable level.
If you aren't successful at keeping your present employee, the following tips will help guide your selection:
1. Make sure that your other employees are aware of the job opening. Referrals from current employees usually are better candidates than cold prospects coming through the door.
2. If the position is above entry level, look at your current employees and determine if one of them would be a good applicant for promotion. It's much easier to fill entry-level jobs.
3. Be sure to use some type of general IQ or aptitude test. There is absolutely no way to sit and talk with an applicant and know whether they can actually read, write and perform mathematical calculations. (I always recommend the Wonderlic Personnel test for this purpose)
4. Punctuality is a key indicator of how an employee will act once hired. If an applicant is late for an appointment, dismiss them from consideration unless they have an incredibly good reason.
5. Appropriate attire should always be worn to an interview. Dirty, scruffy clothing, rags or hats, and other unsuitable clothes should immediately dismiss an applicant from consideration.
6. Listen carefully as the applicant explains why they left their previous job(s). Someone that continually has problems with supervisors and/or co-workers will probably have the same conflicts with your company. Don't hire an obvious problem no matter how desperately you need help.
7. Always hire someone that you find likable. You don't need to become bosom buddies but you must be able to work with them in a harmonious environment.
8. Create a job description that you can give to your applicants. A properly written job description will answer a great deal of questions and eliminate later problems if the person is hired.
9. Take the time to check references. Previous employers can give you a much clearer description of an applicant's ability, a great deal more than personal references.
10. Always make your job offer in writing. This will preclude any misunderstandings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 Secrets for Women Leaders to Increase Visibility and Credibility

Being a leader must be one of the most rewarding careers you can ever do.  Not only is the work interesting and challenging, but you are impacting the direction of many people and the direction of your company.  You are able to see that you are making a difference in something very big.
In this report, you will learn key areas for women leaders to be aware of in order to achieve success inside organizations.  This condensed report provides general trends identified from research of women and men in the workplace.  As with any general trend, there are exceptions.  You may not align with some of the information provide, and you are invited to read with a curious mind to see what new ideas you might explore in your own development process.
Secret #1 -- Build networks internally and externally
This is important for both men and women. 
This is one area that is a derailer for many mid-level management individuals who don't take this seriously.  It is important to build networks internally to develop allies and externally to increase your value to the company.  You may think you don't have time, but it can actually save you time when you need to call on that ally for support on a big project with a tight deadline.  The higher up you go in an organization, the more important it is for you to have strong networks.  At higher levels, the emphasis of work is done more through people and your ability to effectively influence and communicate with others. 
People with large networks can easily access and receive timely, useful information to help them accomplish their goals.  It is best to identify individuals where there is a mutually beneficial relationship based on common goals and interests.  Who are two or three people you need to develop a stronger relationship with?
Secret #2 -- Sell yourself effectively, not aggressively
One of the things I see over and over again with women is how they undervalue their achievements and they believe that their good works will be obvious.  Or, they think: "this is easy and anyone with half a brain could do this."   Many women do not see their key productive strengths and talents.  Women need to learn how to first see their strengths and second effectively sell themselves and how their specific accomplishments connect to the business drivers. 
Identify two or three of your key accomplishments.  What strengths and skills can you identify from these accomplishments?  See the full report for tips on how to identify your strengths and effectively sell yourself.
Secret #3 -- Select a mentor within your company
This is a very important one!  Don't wait on the company to institute a program or if there is one and you're not part of it, then seek out individuals you value and begin to build a relationship.  This may be more critical for a woman's success than it is for her male colleagues.  In a study of individuals who made it into the senior ranks of organizations, the authors of Breaking the Glass Ceiling found that only 38% of successful men had mentors, but all of the women executives had them.
A mentor can give you advice on what you need to do next in your career to move forward, how to get visibility and recognition, and how to play the game of your particular organization. You can do this informally without necessarily asking the person to be your mentor.  A mentor can encourage you to take more risks and be an advocate for you in those closed door meetings at the executive level.  Who is someone you respect and might be available as an informal mentor for you?  When and how will you approach this person?
Secret #4 -- Ask for the stretch assignments
Women must often explicitly signal their interest and willingness to take on unusual or challenging assignments.  Otherwise, managers may assume they are not interested.  You can use the work you've done in Secret #2 to identify your key strengths and pitch your 'qualifications' or readiness to take on more challenging assignments. Women can get caught in a double bind of being seen as too ambitious.  So, you wouldn't necessarily want to tell your boss you want her job.  But, it would be generally acceptable to voice your interest in taking on more responsibility and demonstrating your ability to do so.
You could volunteer for visible projects that require you to stretch and accomplish tasks you haven't had the opportunity to do in the past.  Other ideas include: volunteer to speak on a program or at a conference, volunteer for a cross-departmental committee, go to company social events and talk with people you don't know.  What action will you take in this area?
Secret #5 -- Develop strong communication skills and mastery of your emotions
Developing strong communication skills, mastery of your emotions, and the ability to effectively handle conflict is another very important area for success.  Once you reach management level, your ability to effectively influence and relate to others is more important than your technical skills. 
There has been enough research out now on the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI), which is a current term for a person's ability to manage their emotions and relate effectively to others.  In a 1990 study (by Hunter et al), 200 companies and organizations were examined.  It was found that top performers were 127% more productive than average performers.  The competency research indicated that about one-third of the difference was due to technical and cognitive (IQ) ability, while two-thirds was due to competence in the area of EI.  In top leadership, 4/5th of the difference was attributed to EI competence.  All this is to say that having EI competence is one of the most important determinants of your success, and especially so if you are in leadership.
Secret #6 --Learn the rules of the game of business and how to play for success
Business is still played by the rules of team sports.  The games we play as girls and boys influence how we 'play' at work.  Organizations are still strongly influenced by the male culture.  So, in order for women to be effective in this arena, they will need to visibly see the rules of the game and understand how to maneuver within that framework. 
Growing up, girls learn dependence and boys learn independence.  Competition is one of the key principles in the game of business where winning is all important.  Even if you grew up playing with boys, those experiences are minor in comparison to the influence of social norms.  Growing up, girls learn how to be competent interpersonally and develop and sustain relationships.  Boys, on the other hand, learn how to subordinate relationships to aggressiveness, competition, and winning.
Research shows that behaving like a man will backfire.  Women have a narrower band of acceptable behavior.  The one important piece to remember is that for most men, business is a game.  If you understand that it's not personal, you will be able to choose your strategies and approaches wisely to your success.
Secret #7 -- Know what it takes to successfully transition each leadership passage
In the book, The Leadership Pipeline, by Charam, Drotter & Noel, the authors identify six passages which require a different focus and attention to navigate successfully through the passage.  The six passages are 1) from Manage Self to Manage Others, 2) Manage Managers, 3) Functional Manager, 4) Business Manager, 5) Group Manager, 6) Enterprise Manager (CEO).  Not only is understanding this critical for your success in progressing upward, but it is vital for you to understand how to focus the development for those under your span of control.  The skills, time application, and work values are different for each passage and there are signs of possible derailment at each turn. For example, passage number 4 from Functional Manager to Business Manager requires an ability to deliver inspired communication, assemble a strong team, grasp how the company makes money, and develop strong leadership at multiple below you.
Secret #8 -- Know and manage your image
You will want to manage how you are perceived.  Some questions to ask yourself are: How do people perceive you in your organization?  What kind of reputation have you established?  What image are you portraying through your dress? 
As a leader it is more important to be respected than liked.  You are called upon to make tough decisions that everyone will not necessarily like.  This is another difference in the male and female culture that can create tension.  As young girls we are taught to get along and being liked is important. 
A word about business attire.  Make sure your business attire is tasteful but does not draw more attention to your sexuality, such as tight skirts, sweaters, low cut blouses, or frilly clothing.  The way you dress determines the overall message you send.  If your makeup, hairstyle, or clothing stands out, then what you are saying in an important conversation will be secondary. The general rule of thumb to follow is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  Notice what successful women at the top of your organization are wearing and adapt to that style.  You can still have your own style, just remember the unspoken dress code is akin to the team uniform and is another 'test' of how well you fit into the team.
Secret #9 -- Hire an experienced coach
Hire a coach who's familiar with 360 tools and other personality and work style assessments so you get the vital objective feedback and how to use it into your development plan.
If you have never worked with a professional coach, you might consider doing a little research and contacting some experienced coaches for a sample coaching session.  Many coaches offer a free 45-minute coaching session so you get to know them and what to expect in the coaching process with them.  Working with an experienced coach can expedite your development and save you a lot of hard lessons.   
Secret #10 Know your long-term goals, maintain work/life balance, and support other women
Be clear about your long-term goals and how you will maintain the work/life balance that's right for you.  If your goal is to reach the upper executive levels, then find out what commitment it will take, how it will impact your personal life, and what support systems you will need to put in place.  There are many ways to be in leadership and have a powerful impact.  You may decide that you enjoy being at a mid-level management position with the ability to influence many people and groups within the organization.  Or, if you are better suited to be a senior level individual contributor such as VP of Investor Relations, then go for that. 
It's important for your own happiness and satisfaction in life that you identify your key productive skills, your long-term goals, and your personal quality of life to determine the best career path for you.
In a Catalyst study with interviews of executive women, women pointed out that you cannot have it all.  You have to decide the priorities for your life and make choices.  If you are married, it is important to have a supportive spouse.  Many women pay for hired help to support childcare, home maintenance, etc.  Women are so skilled at multi-tasking and handling many things for themselves and others in their lives that they often neglect to take care of themselves.  You will need to be proactive in doing things to take care of yourself.
Support other women who are coming up through the ranks to create networks of collective support for all women.  This is key to shifting the culture to be more in balance between masculine and feminine ways of approaching business.

Monday, September 10, 2012

5 Compelling Reasons to Choose a Wellness Opportunity

I run a number of online businesses that include selling wellness products and digital information products (eBooks). Because I can look at things from both perspectives, I often tend to compare the two businesses from the point of view of the "better" opportunity.
But if I were asked to recommend a single business as the best way to make a living online, the Wellness Business would win hands down. And no, I didn't choose it because its easy. On the contrary, selling health supplements, vitamins and related products online is NOT easy.
Not only is there tremendous competition, but it simply can't be done by working two hours a day, as is the common perception. If you sell wellness products, you have to deal with REAL people. People with human needs and problems.
You must be available in person, or by phone, or at least by email, to clarify doubts, answer queries, be prompt and sensitive to your customers' needs and generally make your customer feel good about doing business with you.
You must also provide constant support, training and leadership to a growing organisation of distributors, and help them grow their business.This can be extremely time-consuming because few of these tasks lend themselves to complete automation.
A seller of digital products has it somewhat easier. (S)He need not even interact with customers, because everything from product delivery to answering customer queries can run on autopilot.
Digital product sellers can (and often are) literally sitting on a beach while their websites churn out profits. Given these disadvantages, why would anyone still choose the Wellness industry?
The reason I believe is because ANYONE, regardless of their talent or creativity, can actually make a steady LIVING for a lifetime in the Wellness industry. And of course, there are a few who even go on to become millionaires.
Here are the reasons why I think Health and Wellness is one of the most lucrative choices for entrepreneurs online.
1. Health Products Fulfill a Basic Human Need
Health is a #1 concern for many people - often more important than even sex (also a top seller online) or food.
The lack of health can make you feel... well... lousy. And most people will pay their bottom dollar if they can find something that alleviates their pain or discomfort.
To put it more plainly, NOT buying an eBook will not make much difference to your state of mind or body. But not taking your prescription medication can make you feel very bad indeed.
2. Health Products are Consumable
Unlike digital products that can only be sold ONCE to a customer, vitamins, supplements and prescriptions require monthly re-orders or autoships. Once people start using them and benefiting, more often than not, they will continue to use them.
If you treat your customers right, they will buy from you month after month, providing you with regular commissions and a more or less stable source of income. There's usually no need to keep selling to them again and again (barring the obligatory seasonal promotions).
If the products meet their requirements and you give them a good deal and great service, they will give you repeat business for a long time to come.
3. Your Income Grows Exponentially
When selling a digital product (as an owner or an affiliate), your potential for future income actually DECREASES with every sale you make.
Unless you are among the few top marketers who can churn out a new product every month, or can earn more on back-end commissions, your potential for income will always be limited by your creativity.
In contrast, because most wellness opportunities also involve building an organisation, every product sale actually INCREASES your potential for future income, by growing your organisation of customers and potential distributors purchasing every month.
If you help your downline earn a regular income, few will quit the business they have built so earnestly. Again YOU benefit from the RESIDUAL commissions that the organisation provides.
4. Wellness Opportunities have a High Feel-Good Factor
One of the main reasons that I suspect people stick around in the wellness industry is the feel-good factor. It can really make your day when someone calls or writes, telling you how wonderful your products made them feel. Or how it gave them their life back.:-)
Even more than making money, the feeling that you have helped another person feel better is always a strong motivator in working your business.
I've no doubt it feels good when someone who purchased your eBook writes to tell you how it helped them succeed. But I can bet it comes nowhere near the feeling you get when you help someone beat a life-threatening illness or conquer their pain.
5. The Need for Wellness Only Increases with Age
As we grow older, we want to work less and enjoy life more. We also want to live healthier lives and enjoy enhanced community interaction.
Wellness opportunities are ideally suited to seniors because they have the potential to fulfill all their needs, ranging from financial security to improved health and personal interaction.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Do's and Dont's of Creating Lucrative Business Partnerships

I run a small meeting, event and conference planning company based in the New York City area. As an entrepreneur and small business owner with a limited advertising and marketing budget, developing business partnerships has been really helped me to get the word out about the services that I offer. For example, I have aligned myself with a DJ company as the preferred planner for their clients and am actively receiving business and referrals from this source. Also, due to my partnership with a travel agency, I am now handling meetings, conferences and events for inbound corporate groups from abroad. Forming strategic alliances has been and will continue to be a significant part of my long term business plan and model for exponential growth.
I have practiced the proverbial "art" of building non-competitive alliances with like minded companies, not just as a new entrepreneur, but also as a business building tool in all of my previous positions. While, on the whole, this strategy has yielded very positive results and significant revenue, there have been some negative consequences. So, I would like to share with you a very basic list of "do's and dont's" for creating successful business partnerships.

  • Do seek out companies where your services would be a natural addition to the resources currently offered. For example, if you are a catering service specializing in healthy cuisine, you might want to partner with health club to offer special incentives to gym goers.

  • Do choose organizations whose business ethic and overall image are at least generally compatible with yours. The last thing you want is to be associated with an organization who has questionable business practices. Although you may financially gain from such a partnership in the short term, that type of "bad business karma" can only affect you negatively in the long term.

  • Do determine beforehand whether you will be operating under the aegis of your own company or your partner's organization. If you are ABC company and your partner is XYZ corporation, will you be marketed separately as ABC company or an extension of your partner XYZ Inc.? Are you looking strictly for access to new clientele or for an opportunity for exposure as ABC company?

  • Do specify how referrals will be passed to you. Will clients be contacting you directly or will the initial inquiry pass through your partner?

  • Do specify your payment structure in writing. Will you paid directly by clients that come to you or will the billing process take place through your partner's organization? If you are not being paid directly, what is the billing and payment cycle through your partner's company? What percentage of commission, if any, will you owe to your partner for business that comes in through their company?

  • Don't dismiss partnerships with companies, organizations or individuals with whom you don't have an immediate and obvious synergy. Be open! Be creative! Explore! For example, I am in the process of working with several business coaches to create seminars on how to host successful product launches for home based businesses.

  • Don't neglect to do your research. Ideally, partner with an organization that you are familiar with and whose services you have either used personally or in a business setting. (Or, get at least three referrals from others familiar with your potential partner's services and business style.)

  • Don't accept verbal assurances, particularly where commission and payment structure is concerned. Even if you know and trust your partner, having a formal written agreement is insurance against misunderstanding.

  • Don't hesitate to question a partnership that is not living up to your expectations. Strategic alliances are a two way street. If your counterpart is following your business agreement, politely remind them of their responsibilities.