To Retain Talent, Rethink Your Company Culture

To Retain Talent, Rethink Your Company Culture

Your employees are a critical part of your business. A paycheck alone is no longer enough to retain your workers. Without a plan in place to retain top talent, you risk business failures. 

One proven approach is to give employees multiple reasons to want to stay with your company. Building a strong, positive workplace culture leads to greater employee satisfaction by demonstrating management’s commitment to employees. 

Here are some overlooked opportunities, unrelated to compensation, that will give you a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top employees.

Individual responsibility

Giving employees greater independence for decision-making in performing their tasks instills a sense of ownership, pride, and satisfaction in their jobs.

Professional development

Employees value opportunities to increase their skills and improve their performance on the job.

Formal mentorships

Assigning peers as mentors to new employees safeguards your investment in onboarding a new hire and ensures the new employee will immediately feel a connection to the team. 

Advancement opportunities

If employees see that your business offers opportunities to move up the ladder, they won’t have to look elsewhere for promotion.

Clear, transparent communications

When employees feel confident that management is open and honest with them, they feel valued and respected and experience less job-related stress.

Social activities

There are countless ways to introduce fun into your company culture. Even if all-hands interactions are limited to Zoom calls, you can still set aside time for ice breakers and games to improve morale and reinforce relationships.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Fast Track Your Social Media Content Development

Fast Track Your Social Media Content Development

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to use social media to engage with your customers more frequently and consistently – and it should be one of your resolutions – today’s message is for you.  These tips will speed up content creation and maximize your efforts.

Define your audience

Live performers speak about “knowing the room.” The same rule applies to social media content. Avoid wasting your time creating content that misses the mark by getting a clear picture of your specific audiences. The narrower you can define your audience, the more what you say and how you say it will resonate with them.

Define your audience’s need or challenge

When you understand what your audience is looking for, you can create content that converts them to action. Your audience may not even know yet they have a need or problem, but you can use your content to spark awareness of the problem and how you provide a solution.

Brainstorm topics

No need to stare at a blank screen or sheet of paper and wonder what to write about. Use Google Trends, hashtag searches on LinkedIn, and your own email inbox to come up with ideas that are in the news or topics that are frequently searched online.

Break each topic into several smaller topics

Don’t give away all your wisdom in one all-encompassing post, when you can leverage one idea for multiple posts. Additionally, specific tips and advice are more useful than broad, general overviews, so when you narrow your topic, you can dive more deeply into the topic.

Write a few short paragraphs for each topic

You’ll have to put some time in to write a draft, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you write a post. Consider using a template like the one below to guide your writing.

  • Title
  • Audience need
  • Our solution
  • Feature/benefit of our solution
  • How to learn more about our solution

Multipurpose your content

Adapt your content draft to fit more than one social media platform. If you’re sending out an email or publishing a blog post, your draft is ready to go with minimal editing. If you are using Instagram, you’ll need to focus on condensing your message to a few sentences. If you want to make a YouTube video, you’ll want to edit for length and to ensure you have a conversational tone.

Publish and cross-promote

Once you’ve published your content on one platform, notify your followers on other platforms and provide a link to your newly published content.

Respond to comments

Monitor comments to your post and reply with timely, personalized comments of your own. 

Repurpose your posts

Once or year, revisit older posts and give them a fresh twist.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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5 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022

5 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022

When it comes to making your marketing plans for 2022, should you stick with what’s worked in the past or explore some new strategies? To help you decide, here are 5 major marketing trends experts say we’ll see in 2022.

1) Online Communities Are Good for Small Businesses

In a survey of Facebook users conducted by NYU, 77 percent of respondents said online communities are the most important ones they belong to. Online communities provide a wide range of benefits to business owners, and for the most part your investment is mostly your time.

When you participate in communities such as LinkedIN, you create greater visibility for your business and increase connections. When you launch a community for your customers, such as Facebook page, and encourage user engagement, you are cultivating and sustaining a loyal market for your business.

2) The Boundaries Between Social Media Marketing, Shopping, and Customer Service Are Getting More Blurry

If a consumer scrolling on her Instagram feed taps on an ad that catches her eye, she can tap again to make buy the item or make a serivce appointment. Later, she returns to the businesses’ Instagram feed to post a comment praising her purchase or complaining about a lack of service. You might differentiate between marketing and customer service, but you customers don’t. For small businesses, this trend translates into leveraging social media opportunities to promote, sell and provide value and service to consumers.

3) Content Is Still King

Good, relevant, and engaging content fuels the social media engine. Whether it’s Facebook posts, Twitter tweets or YouTube Videos, consumer appetite for a diverse menu of online content has no limits. Learn what content appeals to your audiences through testing, look for ways to simplify the process of creating fresh, meaningful content, and keep posting on a regular basis.

4) Seeing Is Believing

You can’t beat a YouTube video for communicating with consumers. A study shows that about 70 percent of people who watch a marketing video will share it with others. The trend towards watching all video content on smartphones will continue to dominate in 2022, so when you create video content, keep in mind more and more people will view your video on a small screen.

5) Marketing Technology Advances

In this category, I’m grouping together several trends that will shape a dramatically different business and commercial environment. Some of these trends may seem like they are in the distant future for small businesses, but you’ll be seeing them in 2022 if you haven’t already. Rapid growth and adoption of these technology platforms will make it affordable for businesses of any size and scale to adopt these trends.  Specifically, we’ll see wider availability of AI platforms to support marketing content development and increased use of VR technologies to create engaging user experiences. Another trend in this area is the rise of chatbots on websites and voice search.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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My Top 8 Most Popular Topics of the Year

My Top 8 Most Popular Topics of the Year

As the year comes to a close, it’s a perfect time to review the issues that resonated most with my email subscribers and blog visitors with an eye to how we will have a stronger year in 2022.

Listed in chronological order, these are the top 8 topics. If you missed any of these popular popular, I’ve included links to the original message on my blog.

1. Is It Easy to Do Business with You?

When everything else became more challenging as a result of the pandemic, consumers started looking for ways to make things easier. On March 5 I suggested looking at your sales process from the point of view of your customers and find opportunities to improve. Customized experiences and options – whether it’s curbside pickup or delivery, zoom or in-person customer service – will continue to be a game changer for small businesses in 2022.

2. Achieving Your Goals Depends on Having Strong Employee Relationships

I took a deep dive into building strong relationships with your employees, a key way to retaining talent in this competitive hiring market, on April 30. Continue to invest in your employees and let them know how much your value their work.

3. Top Reasons to Consider Blogging for Your Business

Since I publish a new blog post every Friday, it will come as no surprise I’m a big fan of this marketing tactic. On June 25, I provided an overview on the whys and how’s of blogging consistently and frequently to build credibility, provide value and keep your business top of mind.

4. Looking for Opportunities to Grow Your Business

In my August 27 email I suggested a four-step process to look for hidden opportunities to grow your business by closely examining customer needs.

5. The 5 Rs of Employee Retention

As the year progress, finding and keeping good employees became a top concern for all businesses across the country. In my September 24 email, I suggested 5 ways you can tip the scales in your favor when it comes to employee retention.

6. How to Build Work Habits that Stick

A consequence of the higher employee turnover rates is that businesses must onboard new employees more often. On October 29 I recommended ways you can encourage new and existing employees to adopt new workflow processes.

7. Five Ways to Be a Better Boss of You

On November 19 I offered a friendly reminder to train yourself as well as your employees for a positive work environment.

8. Now Is the Time to Set Your 2022 Goals

On December 10 I shared a 3-step process that works with all goal-setting methods: 1) Envision the outcomes you desire; 2) Plan your roadmap to achieving them; 3) Be accountable to yourself.

Thank you for continuing to subscribe to my email newsletter and giving me an opportunity to provide inspiration and value as you work towards reaching your business goals.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Are You Recruiting Right?

Are You Recruiting Right?

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”

– Arte Nathan, Wynn Las Vegas

As businesses compete to fill positions and offer potential employees better compensation packages, business owners find themselves with a mounting number of open positions. In this market, candidates often have more options than employers. To attract qualified candidates and hire right takes more planning and resources than during the pre-pandemic era.

Define the Opportunity

Follow these guidelines to create an appealing ad:

  • Be specific about must-have requirements
  • Make the open position and the business sound appealing
  • Write in a conversational team rather than using formal, impersonal language
  • Create a strong headline and consider framing it as question to engage interest
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Be honest and authentic about the job description
  • Keep sentences short
  • Explain next steps for interested candidates

Keep an open mind

Traditionally job candidates have been screened in terms of how well they matched up with requirements in three key areas: education, experience, and skills. But according to Brad Sugars, founder of ActionCoach, “Skills can always be learned, improved upon, or acquired, but passion, personality, and heart are the things that will give any team a winning edge” (Sugars, 2006). You can teach skills, but candidates have bring their own passion, enthusiasm, and motivation to the table.

Employers who think this way about assessing candidates are open to a broader pool of applicants. They don’t dismiss a promising applicant who may not be a perfect match with the job requirements.

This doesn’t mean ignore the must-have skills for the position, but take into consideration these personal qualities:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Promptness
  • Respectful of others
  • Attentiveness
  • Positivity
  • Appropriate appearance
  • Self-motivation
  • Common Sense
  • Honesty

Get your team involved

You’ll have a better chance at making a strong hiring decision if you engage your team in the process. Have several key employees meet candidates individually or in a group, or ask candidates to complete a written questionnaire that you can share with your team. A candidate who appeals to all or the majority of the team is more likely to be a good fit than if just one person evaluates the candidate.

Use a number-based evaluation system

To increase objectivity in comparing candidates, use a numerical system. Rate the candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the position qualifications and attributes you are seeking in the ideal employee.

For more information about best recruiting practices, reach out to me for a free consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Now Is the Time to Set Your 2022 Goals

Now Is the Time to Set Your 2022 Goals

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ” — Norman Vincent Peale

Goal setting means different things to different people, but nearly everyone agrees about the importance of developing and documenting your goals to achieve success in work and life.

There are many effective frameworks that will simplify and manage the process of setting goals, including:

  • Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results orientated, Time-framed (S.M.A.R.T) goals
  • The three horizons model
  • OKRs
  • One-word goal setting
  • Pyramid goal setting

It’s not a question of one framework being better than the others; you want to find the best fit for your business. Whichever system you choose, in one shape or form nearly all goal-setting systems consist of three fundamental activities.

1) Envision your desired outcome

Think about where you want to be in the future. Focus on specific goals, not general outcomes like, I want to be a millionaire. Consider ways of stating your goal that lend themselves to measuring progress.

2) Create your roadmap

Now that you know what success looks like, think about how you are going to get there from where you are now. One technique to planning your action steps is to work backwards from your intended goal, but there are other ways to build your roadmap. You can start with the biggest steps and narrow down to specific details. Explore your action steps through different lens. Put them in chronological order. Look at them from a roles and responsibilities perspective. Estimate time involved to complete steps. Think about dependencies – what steps do you need complete to move forward. The key point is to document your plan – it’s too easy to ignore if you haven’t written it down.

3) Check in with yourself daily, weekly and monthly

Check-ins serve a variety of purposes. They hold you accountable and they inspire you. Use your check-in to measure your progress, congratulate yourself on your successes, and remind yourself of the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Don’t wait until January 1 to start thinking about goals for 2022. By planning ahead, you’ll start the new year strong and begin achieving success more quickly.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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5 Ways to Be a Better Boss of You

5 Ways to Be a Better Boss of You

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” ― William Faulkner

We talk a lot about managing our employees well, but not so much about how well we manage ourselves as leaders. Let’s remember to take time to reflect on how we might do better.

1. Confront your doubts and fears

It’s not uncommon for successful leaders to experience what is called the “imposter syndrome.” This condition refers to feelings of insecurity about one’s capabilities, despite having necessary qualifications for his or her role.

Left unaddressed, feelings of insecurity can cause a business leader to act in ways that impact employees negatively. Fortunately, this is a mindset issue and if you have experienced these feelings, there are several habits you can cultivate to handle your imposter syndrome. Assemble a body of evidence that will convince you without a doubt of your capabilities. Make a list of your achievement and successes – all the things that got you where you are today. Keep the list handy and reference it often, every day if necessary.

2. Be accountable

Just because you don’t have a boss doesn’t mean you don’t need to meet your job expectations. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture if you’re in the weeds on a specific problem. Use a productivity system to keep on top of your responsibilities in all areas of your business.

Review your performance on a regular basis and keep track of your progress in areas you’ve identified as needing improvement.

3. Invest in professional development

Look for opportunities to improve your knowledge and expertise in your area of business through formal learning programs.

4. Strive for balance

Taking scheduled time off to be with your family and participate in activities other than your work will help you maintain your well-being and prevent burnout.

5. Know when to ask for help

You expect your employees to ask questions when they don’t have answers, but do you allow yourself that same luxury? If you get overwhelmed, do you feel like you have to solve all the problems yourself?

If you built up your own business, it takes practice learning to delegate work to others and admit you may not have all the answers.

The solution to the first issue is to delegate work to your employees. In the short term it will take time to train an employee to learn a new task, but in the long run you’ll free up time for yourself while increasing your employee’s sense of advancement.

Connecting with fellow business owners is a great way to build a support system. For some problems, a networking group or chamber of commerce will give you access to other leaders who may be able to offer solutions.

And, when you need one-to-one advice on a broad spectrum of business development, marketing and management issues, I’m here to guide you towards success and achieve the full potential of your business.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Help Your Employees Grow Through Training, Coaching and Mentoring

Help Your Employees Grow Through Training, Coaching and Mentoring

Life is a classroom. Only those willing to be lifelong learners will move to the head of the class. – Zig Ziglar

One of the best ways to retain your employees is helping them be successful and reach their potential. Training, coaching and mentoring, with yourself or with more experienced employees, fosters growth in newer or new-to-workforce employees.

Learning builds confidence and skills, resulting in better performance. The better your employees perform, the more valuable they will be to you. And, when employees understand you’ve invested in their growth, they feel more valued, engaged and happier working for you.

Training, coaching and mentoring can take many forms, but they should always be authentic experiences and provide real value to your employees and to your business. Focus on these three areas to reinforce personal development at work.

Create a culture of continuous learning

  • Encourage exploration and experimentation
  • Invite experienced employees or outside guests to provide “lunch and learn” talks
  • Plan an in-house workshop for an immersive learning experience on a specific topic that may be new or undergoing change as it relates to your business
  • Provide a learning space in the work setting and consider setting up a reference library with books about succeeding in areas of business relevant to your employees
  • Share articles from print publications or online sources about trends in your industry

Offer on-the-job training

  • Create a formalized onboarding process and materials that focus on role-specific training
  • Invest in self-directed training courses and materials specific to your business
  • Purchase a company subscription to an e-learning platform like LinkedIN Learning, Skillshare, Udemy or Coursera
  • Research industry associations that offer online learning experiences
  • Keep motivation high with public recognition of achievement milestones

Provide individualized support

  • Schedule regular one-on-one coaching and mentoring sessions that focus on the employee’s path towards advancement
  • Provide training to senior employees so they can become effective peer coaches or mentors

Although you may have great employees, there’s always room for improvement, and offering personal development can help you retain your top performers.

I can help you build a robust employee development program. Connect with me to get started now.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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Don’t Mistake Working Hard for Working Smart

Don’t Mistake Working Hard for Working Smart

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

When we get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running our businesses, it’s easy to lose sight of our goals. We may be working long hours, dealing with everything that comes our way, and maybe even feeling proud of the fires we’ve successfully put out. But just because we’re working hard doesn’t mean we’re moving closer to reaching our goals.

How can you tell if you’re not working as smart as you could be? Here are 9 signs to watch for:

  1. You meet the quantity milestones you’ve set for yourself but fall short on achieving quality outcomes
  2. Every day you feel like you’re too busy to get to the really important tasks
  3. You don’t have time to learn about the latest trends in your field or industry
  4. You frequently miss networking opportunities
  5. You spend more time talking than listening
  6. You rely on the same work-arounds again and again
  7. You do everything yourself
  8. You’ve carried over a previous year’s goals to the next year, with no measurable progress
  9. You consistently work through scheduled time off

Strategy Makes All the Difference

In one word, the difference between working hard and working smart is STRATEGY. Envision the outcome you desire, then plan the steps to achieve it.

Everything has to be aligned. The more clearly you’ve defined your goal, the easier it will be to identify the necessary steps to achieve it. If you’re aware of the steps you need to take to reach your goal, you’ll gain awareness of when the work you’re doing isn’t moving you toward your goal. Make adjustments to your plan so you can manage the non-productive work differently.

Know Your Moves in Advance

In the game of chess, the number of moves a player knows in advance differentiates an amateur player from a grandmaster. An amateur typically knows his or her next 1 to 3 moves; a grandmaster knows his or her next 11 to 15 moves.

Grounding your strategy in data, knowledge, experience, and expertise ensures you are defining the right moves to get you where you want to be. And, it’s not just identifying the right moves – understanding the timing of your moves is just as critical. If you want to win in the game of chess, as in business, you can’t execute your move 1- before you’ve completed your move 4.

Sometimes, when we’re forced to fly by the seat of the pants in a situation, we get lucky and make the exact right business move. Don’t mistake good luck for strategy. In that situation, success is an accident. Most of us can’t afford to rely on accidents to achieve success.

Working smart is, however, still work, and you may find that the commitment required for building a strategic roadmap feels like too much hard work. You don’t have to have all the answers. Contact me to learn how I can help you accelerate progress towards your goals.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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