Human Resources Archives | Excelerated Business Solutions

Archive for the ‘Human Resources’ Category

You are here: » Business Coaching, Business Process, Human Resources

As a business, have you expressed your culture in written format? Does your business have a culture? Is that culture unique?  

In this video, I discuss what culture is and why it is important for a small business to have one. I further explore how a small business like yours can start building a culture that would benefit you. 

What is culture?  

Culture is who we are as a company and how we do things. A Harvard Business Review article defines culture as the following: 

Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.”  

Brian Chesky, founder of AirBnB, similarly defines culture as 

 “… simply a shared way of doing something with passion. Our culture is the foundation for our company.” 

What determines “culture”?  

Culture is determined by your core values. 

AirBnB, Zappos, and Netflix—US-based startups that have grown into large businesses—all say the same thing: that culture is the embodiment of one’s core values. 

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos says that it is  

… necessary to come up with core values — essentially, a formalised definition of our culture — in order for us to continue to scale and grow.”  

Core values are, as defined in Netflix’s Culture Manifesto, “are the behaviors and skills that we particularly value in fellow employees.” These values determine “who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go.” 

So, in a nutshell, culture is a way of doing things, and it is guided by what the company values. 

Why is culture important? 

  1. It guides you on who to hire or even which clients to take on. Are you hiring someone who will work well with the team—someone who shares the same values and beliefs as everyone else? In small businesses, hiring is something done usually on a gut feel. For the most part, it works, but this can go sideways on a bad day. Having those values explicitly described in a statement provides one with something to reflect on during those days when the gut sends mixed signals. 
  2. It allows the team to “retune one’s focus.” It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of a small business. A written statement is a great way to remind us of why we’re doing what we’re doing, and it’s useful in getting everyone along a guided track. 
  3. Great culture and fun is one of four traits one needs to succeed in business, as I discuss in a previous video. 

How do you build a company culture? 

With AirBnB and Netflix, culture is determined by the top. The founders have a clear idea of what they value and what they want to see in the future for their company.  

With Zappos, they didn’t have any formal core values in the first six or seven years of the company’s history. When Hsieh decided that it was time to put things to paper, Hsieh got everyone’s input and put that in writing—specifically, he sent an email to everyone describing each core value in detail. Every new hire gets the same email, and are asked to sign a document signifying that they have read and understood the document. 

Should you have a written company culture? The short answer is yes. The top companies of our time all have their company culture and core values spelled out and written down. These statements serve as a beacon—a reminder on how one should think and do, and a guide when making decisions, particularly tough ones. Culture, after all, is a way of doing things—and having it written down makes it easier for everyone to remember how things should be done. 

What if you haven’t written it down? There are few things you can start doing now.  

  1. Write it down. For small businesses, the culture is very much determined by the owner. Where else to start but with you. What do you stand for? What values to you hold sacred and important? 
  2. Maybe you’re little unsure if you have everything covered? You can do what Zappos’s Hsieh did and ask everyone for their two cents. This is easy if you have a small team. But if you’re unsure about whether to get everyone involved or how to do it, why not talk to a handful of people you trust in your organisation and see what they think. 
  3. Get some help. Like many small businesses, the owners of Whole Kids Australia (link forthcoming) did not have their culture statement written down in the beginning. However, as the business expanded, they decided that they needed to be explicit about their purpose and values, and so they hired a consultant to help them formalise this statement.

Most importantly, as a business owner, you need to champion these values. You live them everyday. You hire people based on these values. You decide who gets promoted based on these values—and the ones who are let go.   

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

Read more >

As a business owner, what do you do when you suspect that there might be workplace bully in your team? In this video, I explore the effects of bullying in the workplace and why it makes business sense to stop it in its tracks. I also provide tips on how to mitigate bullying in the workplace. 

How extensive is workplace bullying?  

According to a University of South Australia study, two-thirds of Australians experience bullying, but only 10% of those surveyed self-identify as a victim of bullying. This study finds worrying implications: 

  • That while bullying exists in most if not all workplaces, many instances of bullying don’t get reported. 
  • Many managers misconstrue incidents of bullying as a different issue, often an interpersonal problem between staff members. 
  • Bullying is possibly more widespread than what most people in Australia think. In fact, Australia ranks 6th in workplace bullying, compared to 31 European countries studied. 

How does bullying affect your business? 

The cost of bullying at work in Australia is estimated to be $36 billion per year. Think about it. Bullying contributes to performance issues. Bullying victims experience having trouble making decisions, an incapacity to work, difficulty in concentrating, a loss of self-esteem, and a decline in productivity.  

Bullying affects not just one person. It also affects you, the business owner. Bullying in the workplace creates a hostile work environment, it promotes absenteeism, it impacts workers compensation claims, it reduces overall productivity, and it may result in a costly and even possibly embarrassing legal issues. 

As a business owner or a leader, it is our responsibility to mitigate bullying in the first place. That’s because aside from its dollar costs, bullying has been shown to have lasting effects in the organisation, which affects the growth and development of your employees and your business.  

What contributes to workplace bullying? 

There are many factors that contribute to bullying, but here are three of the most common factors: 

  • How workplace performance is managed, monitored, and appraised. A lot of bullying issues surround policies that affect how an employee is evaluated and how this evaluation affects their progress in the company. A lot of bullying happens in performance evaluations, particularly when an employee is being evaluated at the close of a project, for a promotion, or for a raise.  

How do you hold performance evaluations in your company? How many people get to evaluate each employee? Are the same people involved in every performance evaluation? How transparent is this process? 

Bullies love having the control to make sure that their victims are rendered helpless. Subtle forms of bullying include berating people, stealing credit, or unfair criticism. 

  • How entitlements are managed. Exclusion is a common manifestation of bullying. Victims of bullying claim that bullies are likely to exclude them from recognition or rewards that they are otherwise entitled to receive.   
  • How you manage your emotional culture. In a previous video, I discussed what emotional culture is and why it is important, especially because it affects productivity. An organisation with a positive emotional culture is one where employees are treated not just with respect but where there exists psychological safety, which is a crucial factor in building high performing teams.  

On the flip side, an organisation with a negative emotional culture is one where bullying is allowed to persist. Where people are allowed to blame others for failures, even if they themselves have contributed to this failure. An organisation with a negative culture allows people to threaten others, or to speak in a threatening language.  

How do you mitigate bullying?  

Now that we know what contributes to bullying, how do we mitigate it? The key to mitigating bullying is to nurture a healthy workplace culture and to put healthy systems in place.  

Bullying isn’t caused by just one person. Persistent bullying in the company is often the result of broken systems and a negative workplace culture that either enables or allows the behaviour to persist. For example, bullies will abuse vague policies and take advantage of loopholes to allow them to continue such behaviour. They also take advantage when authorities do not respond to repeated complaints about them. 

Here are six things you need to note to help mitigate bullying in the workplace: 

  • Do not tolerate bullying. Be consistent both in words and in action.  
  • Don’t ignore complaints of bullying, especially when it forms a repeated pattern. 
  • Train managers to handle complaints. Often times, the inability to respond to complaints isn’t for lack of concern or intention but because managers do not have the knowledge or skill sets required to manage this situation. 
  • Have a bullying reporting protocol in place and ensure that your employees know these steps. We need to observe due process, to be transparent, and to be thorough at every step of the way. Remember, false complaints are also forms of bullying.  
  • Promptly take action. When a formal complaint is lodged, carry out swift action. Remember that bullying has a cost, and it affects the organisation as a whole in the long run. 
  • Learn proper performance management. Performance management, in general, should have a specific scope, focused on priorities, and be balanced. The process should also be transparent and made known to all stakeholders.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

Read more >

As business owners, we go through a high level of stress as you try to manage your business and work with your team during this period of time.   

In this video, I explain why it makes business sense to help team members struggling during this pandemic and what you can do to help them manage the challenges they are facing. 

There are many benefits to nurturing an environment that genuinely takes care of your team. As I explained in a previous video, emotions drive productivity—and positive emotions result in increased productivity. On the flip side, negative emotions and stress decrease productivity.  

In yet another video, I explained that having the right kind of environment, where people feel respected and where members of the team are confident that others have their back, is key to developing a high-powered team. Most importantly, remember that your business is operated by your team. When they struggle, your business struggles, too. Richard Branson famously said, “Take care of your employees and they take care of your business.”  

What can you do to help your employees manage during the Covid-19 pandemic? 

First, it helps the most to shift your mindset and remember that this is not business as usual. Nothing will work or appear as usual. This is a pandemic that will likely stretch out for months or even years to come. For some businesses, this may mean making many drastic measures with how they do their business, how they run their operations, and how they serve their customers. 

While change is the only thing constant in the world, adapting to change can still be a struggle—some more than others. Your business isn’t the only one experiencing this change. Many things are changing, too, in people’s households. Everything looks very different from the normal that we are used to.  

It will help your employees if you help them change their mindset, too. Check-in with your employees regularly. Ask them how they are coping. Work with them on how to provide the necessary tools and support so that they can succeed not just in their work but also in adapting to the new normal. 

It is also important to provide guidelines on how employees can take care of their physical and mental health during this time. If you haven’t already, take swift action to implement recommended public health measures. 

Second, be transparent. People experience a lot of stress, which comes from a lot of uncertainty and changes. Everyone who needed to work remotely has had to juggle their home life with work life. Being in a pandemic, some people fear getting sick, or having a loved one fall ill. This pandemic has also affected economies and businesses, so there is also the fear of losing jobs. 

As employers, we can address their uncertainties with their jobs by being transparent with how the business is going and, more importantly, what measures you are doing to help keep things afloat. It will also help your employees if you communicate what you need from them so that everyone knows what they should be doing to help the business going despite the uncertainty. 

Be transparent with your customers, too. Again, this is not business as usual. Some things will take longer to process, produce, or deliver. Let your customers know about any supply or service issues that you are experiencing. This will help manage their expectations. This will also help your employees who deal with your customers—you don’t want your customers to take their frustrations out on your employees if they don’t receive the same level of service that they are used to. 

Thirdly, train leaders, managers, and colleagues on how to support employees. Sometimes, the lack of support is not a result of the lack of intent to provide support. Many times, it is brought by the lack of understanding on how to provide support. Some managers may not understand how supporting a struggling employee looks like. And some policies or tools that managers would typically lean on may no longer work during this time.  

If your business can afford it, you may seek help from a consultant or business coach to train managers on how to manage during Covid-19. If you can’t, you may want to meet with your managers as a group to conceive a plan on how you provide support to each other at this time.  

Lastly, offer flexibility. If your business allows employees to work remotely during this time and your employees will feel safer or they feel that this is the best option for them in the short- to medium-term, please do so.  

The important thing is to make work expectations clear. What do they need to accomplish at a given period of time? Or, what kind of turnaround time do you expect from them? For example, you give them something to work on at the beginning of the week, when do you expect them to turn over the work? Do you expect them to turn in work at the end of the week or the beginning of next week? Please be as clear as possible  

It’s important that expectations are clear as this affects morale and productivity. It especially affects employees who may not be working remotely—they may feel that they are not offered the same level of flexibility. In a previous video, I explain how you can boost morale and motivate a team that is comprised of both remote and in-house employees. 

How about you? How are you helping manage your employees during the Covid19 pandemic? Send me an email or leave a reply below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

Read more >

Some teams work in-house. Some teams work from home. As more companies are creating policies and measures to respond to the current global pandemic and its residual effects, which experts predict to linger for at least two more years, workplaces will look very different from today.

In this video, we explore how you can boost employee morale when you have in-house and remote teams working with and for you in this ever-changing workplace.

The sweeping changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic will affect the workforce in various ways, and this includes employee morale. Many workers have been encouraged to work from home to lower the risk of coronavirus spread. Some companies, such as Facebook, Square and Google, have started putting infrastructure in play to enable some of its workforces to work from home in the long term, or even permanently.

Telecommuting or working remotely is not an entirely new concept as it has existed to some degree for a few decades now. However, the events in recent years, such as globalisation and the emergence of certain risks, such as the coronavirus pandemic, combined with shifts in modern technology and demands for greater workplace flexibility has made remote work more familiar and accessible to more workers.

While remote work has its advantages, particularly in providing workers greater autonomy and flexibility in how and where they work, it also has its downside. Health experts monitoring the effects of increased remote work during the global pandemic reports that mental health issues are surging.

And then there is also the issue of how remote work is viewed by in-house workers who have not experienced working remotely. There is a certain stigma with remote work—some people may think those who work from home, work less to watch Netflix more or take excursions to the mall or the beach more often.

Well, if you’ve ever tried working from home, you know that this is far from the case. In fact, more studies show that people who work from home suffer from anxiety and stress precisely because they work longer hours.

If you’re a business which keeps a mix of remote and in-house workers, this becomes a pressing issue because this affects overall employee morale, and consequently, employee productivity. So how do you motivate your team and boost team morale when your team is a mix of remote and in-house workers?

Here are three key factors:

(1) Keep deliverables and policies clear.

First things first, determine how employees will be evaluated.

Employees are appraised based on whether they show up at work or not. In the traditional workplace, this is measured by their physical presence at work and the number of hours they spend working. Did they show up today? Did they work the full 8 hours?

In remote teams, measures are not as straightforward. While there is software that may allow you to measure whether a remote worker is working on their desktop at particular times of the day, this seems rather counterintuitive to why we allow remote work to begin with, which is to provide greater autonomy and flexibility. In my previous video, How to motivate employees the right way, I explored how cutting the number of work hours to provide employees with a greater (but reasonable) amount of autonomy motivates employees and results in greater productivity.

As work shifts in-house to remote locations, measures of productivity should shift, too. And these measures should apply to both in-house and remote teams. The focus, then, should be on output,  creating and enforcing policies that enable and encourages workers to focus on delivery. Did they do the work that they were supposed? Where they able to accomplish the work?

But what if workers are required to “show up” to work at specific hours of the day? What if the type of work requires teams to chat with or deal with customers at particular hours of the day? How do we, as a business, handle that?

Here’s an example of a business whose employees all work remotely but “show up” for work at pre-determined times of the day: Mountain Bikes Direct. In a previous video, I discuss how they keep their team motivated despite all of them working remotely from different parts of the world. The key to this productivity is being clear about what is expected from each team member. Being fair to everyone is an important factor that determines employee morale.

(2) Stay in contact.

Promote a positive, inclusive culture by setting up regular catch up meetings, where both in-house and remote team members are present.

The catch-up meetings can be a venue to update the team about the state of current projects or a venue to elicit help from each other to fix issues. Alternatively, these can be informal virtual coffee or cocktail meetings (depending on the profile of your team) for people to just catch up and share stories to nurture team bonding.

Aside from these catch-up meetings, businesses should also define how employees can report challenges or issues with work specific to them. Determine a communication plan with clear channels for escalation.

What if a remote worker experiences connectivity issues in the middle of critical work? Where should he or she report this issue, and how should he or she proceed? Or, what if an in-house worker needs to reach a remote team at hours outside of operations for a critical issue? Or, what if an employee, whether in-house or remote, suddenly needs to take a day off for personal reason?

(3) Keep health checks and policies in place.

Experts say that the global pandemic will change the way we work. Remember your team member who would report to work even if they are sick just because work needs to be done? We used to measure worker diligence and commitment based on what an employee is willing to sacrifice just to get to work done. It was normal to see a sick person report to work because things needed to get done.

Not anymore.

These “norms” should soon change—and as leaders and business owners, it’s our responsibility to keep everyone safe and healthy. There is a need to revise health policies, particularly policies on when employees should not report to work due to particular illnesses. The new policies and norms should also include measures that address employee mental health, particularly to remote employees who are more susceptible to loneliness isolation, anxiety, and even depression.

People are driven by their purpose. They are motivated to work when they see that their work contributes towards this purpose. They are also motivated when there is fairness when policies are equally enforced so that good work is recognised and offences are corrected.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >

While being professional entails knowing how to manage our emotions to allow us to work despite pressure, studies have also shown that emotions influence productivity. Happy employees are more likely to be professional.

In this video, I explore what determines an organisation’s emotional culture and how this impacts team performance and team productivity. I further discuss what team leaders can do to nurture a positive emotional culture.

One of the pillars of professionalism is self-regulation. This means that we need to have the ability to work under pressure. However, the flip side of this coin involves what experts now call psychological safety and the need to take care of our mental health.

A recent study by Google concludes one key factor that differentiates mediocre teams from high-performing teams is psychological safety. These findings suggest that emotional culture play an important role in organisational performance as emotions affect team productivity and performance.

What is emotional culture?

There are many facets of workplace culture. The most recognised facet is organisational culture, which defines a set of understanding on how to do things to achieve a goal.

But there is also emotional culture which “predicts many important work outcomes, including employee absenteeism, teamwork, burnout, satisfaction, psychological safety, and objective performance outcomes like operating costs.”

What determines emotional culture?

Emotional culture is contagious—and it trickles from the top. How managers behave and react to different circumstances sets the tone for the team’s emotional culture.

How does emotional culture affect productivity?

Imagine what could happen if you have a manager who consistently reacts negatively to mistakes. Or, what if this manager is prone to blame members of the team for mistakes caused primarily by circumstances out of their control? What if this manager focuses on putting blame rather than using mistakes as opportunities for team members to learn and improve? How do you think the team will react?

  • Team members will be afraid to make mistakes or try new things. This instantly “kills” the growth mindset.
  • Team members will be more focused on doing what they think the manager thinks is right and appropriate, rather than what is good for the team. They will afraid of disappointing their manage. When things go wrong and team members are afraid, it sets off their fight-or-flight response, which instantly “kills” their ability to be creative or innovative.
  • When team members are focused on “not making a mistake,” they’re likely to only focus on just the job or task at hand, and not finding new ways to improve the process. This kills productivity right away.
  • There is no psychological safety because no team member will feel safe in taking risks and making mistakes and doing things differently. If team members are not allowed to learn, grow, and be innovative, there is no incentive for anyone to perform well.

If you have a team leader who consistently focuses on mistakes and putting blame, you are unlikely to build and nurture a high-performing team. What you have is a team of robots or “yes” people who will do only what they are told and nothing else.

And when the environment becomes even more unbearable, team members are likely to jump ship and find work somewhere else. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose the best people in the organisation.

How do you nurture a positive emotional culture?

  • As a leader, keep your emotions in check. Observe how you react and see how your own employees react.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. In my video on How to Build High-Performing Teams, one of the key things to change is mindsets—and one that redirects the focus on issues and root problems, rather than on people.
  • Take a step back and take care of yourself, the leader. Perhaps you are stressed, which is affecting everyone else in the team. In the video, Maximising The Best Asset in Your Business, I discuss how rest is important to encourage creativity and problem solving in the long run.
  • Ask for help. When we have been doing the same things for a long time, it is easy to develop blind spots. Because of this, we tend to think that how we do things is “normal” and “acceptable.” Perhaps they are, but there may be things that are not as acceptable or maybe some things that need improvement. It’s hard to see beyond our blind spots, so we may need someone—a person looking from the outside in—to show us what we don’t see. This someone can be a mentor, a trusted colleague, or a business coach.

Do not let your pride limit you on what you can do in your business. I personally seen successful businesses be ruined by the business owner due to the individual’s perception that only he knows what is best for the business. I have seen his team members leave the organisation, and yet he stubbornly refuses to change his mindset about the business. The result? He is now working alone on his business and struggles to make ends meet. Please do not make the same mistakes as he did—ask for help.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >