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Feature Story:

Hiring: Finding The Best Employees »

By Mel Kleiman

Does your system screen out the best and hire the rest?

When it comes to recruiting and selecting new hires, it's amazing how many astute business owners and managers repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot.
I've made hundreds of best practice hiring system presentations, and whenever I ask if anyone in attendance has hired "the employee from hell," without fail, at least 20 percent of the audience will raise their hands. (And those are just the ones brave enough to admit it in public.)
Most of these hiring mistakes are the result of two behavioral tendencies that seem to be part of our all-too-human nature: 1) resistance to change, and 2) an inclination to take the easy way out.
When it comes to change, no one in their right mind would deny it's an entirely different world today than it was even a short 10 years ago...

Feature Story:

Where Credit Is Due: Don't Hesitate To Give Employee Recognition Frequently And Publicly »

By Timothy Bednarz

In some companies, under the premise that they will be perceived more meaningful, rewards and recognitions are given so infrequently as to in fact be meaningless. In order to be effective in generating long-term, concrete results, such rewards, recognitions, and motivation must be given liberally, frequently, and publicly. They should be fun, uplifting, and encourage all members of the workplace.
A critical aspect of leadership is the manager's role as cheerleader. Leaders need to keep their employees motivated and emotionally prepared to do business in a marketplace fraught with intense competition, rejection, and failure.
There are both tangible and intangible aspects of motivation. The intangible aspects of encouraging words and pats on the back, although not insignificant, can be quickly forgotten, while the tangible aspects are visible and durable...

Feature Story:

On The Take: How To Deal With Employee Theft »

By Patrick Barnett

Employee theft is a common crime that is not even regarded as such by most people who commit it. Taking an odd pen or few sheets of paper home is regarded by many as being a right rather than a crime and something that even the most senior managers can be found guilty of.
It's estimated that 95 percent of all companies suffer from employee theft, but it's probably closer to 100 percent. Serious theft, however, is a different thing entirely. There is a world of difference between the theft of a few pens and the steady depletion of stock through organized crime within a large organization. This sort of employee theft is estimated to cause more than 30 percent of all company bankruptcies, and many companies are in desperate need of a means of controlling it...

Feature Story:

Game Time: Don Copus Is Part Of The "team" At His Hungry Howie's Stores »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Don Copus likes to roll up his sleeves and get in the game with his employees, literally. At least a half dozen times a year, he gathers his Hungry Howie's employees for a corporate outing where you may find the Berkley, Mich.-based franchisee batting for one softball team, pitching for the other, or manning the grill. No matter how you slice it, Copus, named 2012 Hungry Howie's Franchisee of the Year, is an employees' employer.
"I want them to know that I am approachable," says Copus. "I want them to realize that I'm no different from them. I started out with less than most of them, but worked hard to get where I am today. I want them to know that I'm willing to mentor them."
A native of Indianapolis, Copus, who operates 25 Hungry Howie's in Michigan, Indiana, and Utah, grew up in a family of eight in a 900-square foot home, made cozier by parents who welcomed any neighborhood child in need of a meal or bed...

Feature Story:

Masters Of The Customer Experience »

By John Tschohl

What kind of value do you provide your customers?

I am often asked how I define exceptional customer service. Here it is in a nutshell: Speed, price, and technology--all built around service. That definition is especially appropriate today, given the fast-paced life we live and the budget constraints many of us face. When we are looking to make a purchase, we want to do it conveniently, we want it now, and we want it at a good price. That is true whether we are purchasing a car or carpet cleaning, an air conditioner or airline tickets.
How do you provide that exceptional service? Take a good look at how you deal with your customers, from initial contact to closing the deal. Are you welcoming, whether customers walk through your physical doors or virtual doors? Do you call them by name? Do you have a smile on your face and in your face? Do you provide the information that will help them make an informed decision regarding their purchase? Do you deliver what you say you will as quickly as possible?
Let me give you examples of three companies that go above and beyond to not only meet, but exceed, customer expectations...

Feature Story:

Restoring Order: Good Leaders Can Turn Chaos Into Order »

By Timothy Bednarz

The process of organizational change is complex. A number of associated factors have the ability to impact the organization's overall ability to successfully evolve. Improper development, management, and monitoring can result in the change process spinning out of control and creating chaos. In the center of this storm, it is the leader who must then wrestle control of events and restore order.
As individuals are making the shift from a management to leadership style, the entire workplace is being buffeted by change. The leader is no longer controlling the employee's actions, but guiding and directing them through involvement and empowerment. Properly executed, this should be a smooth transition. However, ill-conceived plans implemented by poorly prepared leaders and employees can turn the entire process into chaos...

Feature Story:

Generation Gap: A Crash Course In Managing 'Millennials' »

By Jennifer Kushell

Millennials provide a unique challenge for businesses today. Many business operators are struggling to understand this generation and how to get the most out of the employer-employee relationship. Here is a quick guide to those born after 1980 and how you can turn them into some of your biggest fans and assets.

Communicating: They do it differently than you. Let's start there. Veterans like face-to-face meetings, Boomers like phone calls, Generation X prefers email and Millennials do most of their communicating via cell phone, text messages and social media. Interpersonal skills and presentation skills often need work, so be prepared to explain what is important to you and expected in your line of work. But be open to letting them develop relationships through the channels they're most comfortable with...

Feature Story:

Passion Play: Leaders Talk About The Importance Of Loving What You Do »

By Timothy Bednarz

Great leaders are passionate. They possess an absolute love for what they do. Apple's Steve Jobs observed, "I don't think of my life as a career... I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That's not a career - it's a life!" Starbucks' Howard Schultz concurred when he said, "When you love something, when you care so much, when you feel the responsibility... you find another gear."
James Duke, of the American Tobacco Company, enthusiastically expressed his passion, when he noted, "I hated to close my desk at night and was eager to get back to it early next morning. I needed no vacation or time off. No fellow does who is really interested in his work."
McDonald's founder Ray Kroc couldn't say enough about his fifteen-cent hamburgers, and Walmart's Sam Walton was equally passionate about the value that Walmart offered to the average person...

Feature Story:

Reinventing Payday: Trim Your Payroll Costs With Electronic Distribution »

By Matt Merriam

Franchisees nationwide are looking for new ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. Payroll is an easy, and yet often overlooked, opportunity for companies to make operational changes that will have a direct, measurable impact on the bottom line. Electronic pay costs only 10 percent of the average cost of processing and distributing paper paychecks. The cost savings of having all employees use electronic pay is significant and provides added productivity as well as increased employee satisfaction. Electronic payroll also helps companies mitigate fraudulent activity that can occur when using paper paychecks. Despite the many benefits of electronic payroll delivery many franchisees approach to payroll has changed little over the years.

Employer Paycard Advantages
Employers will immediately eliminate the reoccurring costs associated with buying traditional paper paycheck stock with security features...

Feature Story:

Boss Evaluation: How Do You Impact Your Employees And Their Productivity?  »

By John Tschohl

In a recent survey, workplace expert Michelle McQuaid found that 65 percent of workers in the United States would be happier if they had a boss who recognized their good work. On the other hand, only 35 percent of those surveyed said they would be happier if they got a raise.
McQuaid also has found that bosses can affect employees' health by wearing down their immune systems and "leaving us at risk of more colds, diseases, strokes, and even heart attacks" and can make employees so anxious and stressed that they don't perform well at work. "We also take our bad mood home to the people who love us most and wind up damaging our relationships," she writes.
Thirty-one percent of the respondents to McQuaid's survey said they don't feel their bosses appreciate them, and only 38 percent said their bosses are doing a good job...

Feature Story:

Avoid The Pitfalls: 5 Things Failing Leaders Do »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Last time leadership authority Roxi Hewertson, President & CEO of the Highland Consulting Group, detailed five behaviors and attitudes that show up consistently in successful leaders. But Hewertson also finds that there are, unfortunately, five common traits of leaders who fail. It's not a place you want to be. So take heed and avoid these five costly mistakes.

1. Discount others' emotions and perspective.
Failing leaders just don't pick up on or value other people's signals. Or, if they do, they don't care, all demonstrating a fundamental lack of empathy. This emotional intelligence skill relates directly to social awareness. One cannot be a good leader without empathy, period. If the leader cannot walk a mile in someone else's shoes, he or she will have big blinders on and miss important information, ideas, and perspective...

Feature Story:

Get Involved: Effective Interaction Is A Necessary Component Of A Vibrant Workplace »

By Timothy F. Bednarz

Astute leaders guide and direct from the front lines of the company. Leaders are continually present and interacting with their employees in order to see what is slowly transforming and changing and what is causing unit frustrations. Frontline guiding and directing is a necessary process enabling leaders to apply their abilities to moving the organization forward.
There is a critical difference between the roles of a manager and a leader. While many managers are considered leaders, some not totally committed to sound leadership principles choose to direct from behind their desks. This results in relinquishing the advantage gained by immediate, firsthand knowledge of their organization's daily activities, progress, or frustrating hindrances...

Feature Story:

Performance Review: Using Assignments To Assess Employee Growth And Development »

By Timothy Bednarz

Effective leaders manage by keeping their fingers on the pulse of their employees' key activities. When tasks and assignments are delegated, leaders must take the time to review each employee's progress against goals to determine what, if any, additional training and coaching is needed to successfully complete the assignment or to enhance their skills.
There is a two-fold purpose of an assignment performance review. Leaders are receiving a progress report on the delegated task or assignment. They are allowing the employee to provide details and input on what has happened to date, and the results. The employee is also providing feedback on any problems, issues, and concerns that may have surfaced. This allows the leader to provide insights and to suggest possible courses of action, if needed...

Feature Story:

Cheer Up: 5 Questions That Can Help Ensure Happy Customers »

By Dr. Nido Qubein

Having a flock of happy customers is like having your own advertising agency.
A major study by a commission of business experts found that the typical happy customer will tell three friends or business associates about you. Word-of-mouth advertising through satisfied customers influences people to buy a product or service more often than all other forms of advertising put together.
Don't relax too much. The study also found that people who are unhappy with you will tell, on average, nine or ten friends. Negative comments are even more effective in destroying business than positive comments are in building it. It takes nine or ten positive comments to overcome one negative comment.
How can you keep customers satisfied enough to say nice things about you and keep doing business with you without losing money and working yourself to death? Building your business around repeat customers is the best way...

Feature Story:

Beating The Problems: Dealing With The Challenges Of Change »

By Timothy Bednarz

Managers are overwhelmed and burdened with many tasks and responsibilities in a constant quest to improve results. It is easy for managers to ignore the many challenges that confront them while hoping that issues will resolve themselves. However, rather than disappear, unmet challenges create a new set of problems that can represent a deepening morass from which managers must extricate themselves.
Problems and challenges are a regular and ongoing occurrence: some surface as daily tactical problems and issues, while others are more complex, time-consuming, and strategic in nature. In all forms, problems can overwhelm the manager and sap their productivity.
Managers must create a systematic approach to problem solving to allow time for their regular duties and responsibilities...

Feature Story:

Getting It Right: 10 Tips For Hiring Winning Employees »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Earlier this year we interviewed representatives from companies that specialize in helping business operators hire smarter. These experts identified characteristics of the best hiring strategies and processes that can be utilized by multi-unit franchisees. Some of these may seem like no-brainers, while others may provide an "Aha!" moment. Implementing these practices into your hiring process will generate improvements in the performance of both your front-line employees and your bottom line.

Feature Story:

Magnetic Managers: Retaining Your Top Employees »

By Mel Kleiman

How do you feel when a valued employee gives notice? Are you shocked? Disappointed? Do you feel like you've been jilted? Do you have the uncomfortable feeling it was somehow your fault? If so, you are probably right.
The #1 reason really good people leave is because they are dissatisfied with their relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager. You may have heard the old saying, "People join companies, but they leave their managers."
While that great employee probably told you the reason was "for more money," a study of more than 19,000 employee exit interviews by the Saratoga Institute found that only 12 percent of employees left their jobs in pursuit of higher-paying positions. On the other side of the equation, nearly 90 percent of employers think the #1 reason workers leave is for higher salaries, but only because that's what they're most often told...

Feature Story:

Taking Credit: Technology Automates Tax Credits »

Multi-Unit Franchisee

Automating the hiring process has a number of benefits for multi-unit franchisees, from speeding the hiring process to helping identify higher-quality candidates. But don't overlook technology's ability to help find tax credits along the way.
JobApp Network was one of the pioneers in screening for tax credit eligibility during the job application process. CEO Blake Helppie says JobApp is still the only hiring solution that, by virtue of its phone-based application process (provided along with its core web product), can screen individuals who don't have web access for tax credit eligibility. He says individuals eligible for tax credits are about twice as likely to apply by phone as those not eligible. "This is what one would expect, quite frankly, given that most tax credit eligibility 'buckets' are highly correlated to economic factors, like recipients of food stamps and other government assistance," he says...

Feature Story:

E-Satisfaction: Everything You Do Should Focus On The Customer »

By John Tschohl

"A business that fails to satisfy its customers is worth nothing."

I made that statement in e-Service, a book I wrote in 2001 about how to build a successful e-commerce business, and it's as true today as it was then. If you don't give your customers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, you won't be in business long.
If you want to survive--and thrive--especially during these tough economic times, it's critical that you focus on customer service. If you don't believe that, look at Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of amazon.com, which had sales in 2011 of $48 billion, a 41 percent increase over the previous year.
Amazon has 164 million customers, more than 20 million products - and a reputation of providing unprecedented customer service...

Feature Story:

Interaction Plan: Encouraging Questions Can Improve Open Communications »

By Timothy Bednarz

Leaders are confident that they are capable, through their actions and attitudes, of creating a healthy work environment. They foster open communication that encourages employees to freely ask questions and discuss any concerns.
True leadership requires open and regular interaction between leaders and employees. Leaders understand that they cannot lead from their office or behind a desk: to get a sense of what is actually happening in their organization, they must be actively involved.
It is important to understand that good leadership doesn't demand leaders directly help employees perform their jobs. Rather, by simply maintaining an active awareness of what is going on in their organization, leaders can anticipate problems and opportunities, and respond accordingly...



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