Categories: Management & HR

The Thrill of Creative Effort

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 26

Sometimes it's easy to forget what it is that really motivates people. Whether you lead a business or a project team, it is important to foster an environment in which...

Four Reasons to Hire People Smarter Than You

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 22

We want employees who have integrity, drive, and brains. If they happen to be smarter than us, all the better. Here's my take on why you should seek out candidates...

A Script to End Workplace Conflict

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 11

A long-time customer is offended by something a new employee said. Another employee is furious about having been passed over for a promotion in favor of a co-worker and is...

The Internship as Extended Interview

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 09

Ever walk away from interviewing a potential employee, wondering if you just met the perfect match for your company or someone who's simply great at interviews? I do. Interviews tell...

How to Create an Engaged Workforce

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 29

Nationwide job satisfaction is currently at the lowest ever recorded, down 26 percent since 1987. In addition, only 45 percent of US employees are satisfied with their jobs, and less...

Build an Employee-Driven Workplace

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 19

Common thinking is that employees need to be controlled, managed, and monitored to ensure productivity. Smart small-business owners are adopting the employee-driven workplace philosophy that translates into dramatically lower turnover...

Make a New Website Secure

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 08

When designing and launching a new website, many small business owners assume they don't need to address Web security since they're not prime targets. They could not be more wrong....

How to Manage Teams Outside Your Office

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 30

Coordinating office efforts can prove difficult within the confines of your own building. So when you're working with a team that is on the road, in a different time zone,...

Convince Employees to Work Hard

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 20

How can you motivate employees when you don't have financial resources to inspire them, beyond basic salaries? There are several ways to foster teamwork and innovation—keeping staff enthused to not...

Give Convincing Feedback to Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 01

Most of us can remember times in which we were called into our supervisor's office to receive gruff feedback, as well as times when we were given feedback in a...

'In' Days and 'Out' Days

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 25

With so many daily distractions and endless tugs from electronic tethers, it's tough to accomplish any task that requires thinking. It is impossible to concentrate if you are addicted to...

Replace Your Employee-of-the-Month Program

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 20

To build a great company, with great people, performance must be the basis for any recognition and rewards program, or it may backfire on you. At Schwab, managers were surprised...

Get Face-to-Face to See Eye-to-Eye

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 11

Only 20 percent of a message's impact actually comes from the content of words. Another 25 percent comes from the use of your voice, and a resounding 55 percent comes...

Enable Young Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 25

I recently reviewed a survey of chief executive officers about talent development, which confirmed my suspicion that most organizational leaders have lost touch with how to effectively manage and motivate...

Put Wellness Initiatives in Place

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 23

The role of businesses in providing healthy living benefits to employees is often discussed and debated. Certainly, implementing a corporate wellness initiative takes a multitude of resources, specifically time and...

Hiring and Working with Family

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 22

I frequently get asked for advice on hiring, especially as it relates to working with or hiring family members. This is especially true with small business owners, who often look...

Help Your Employees Invest For the Long Haul

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 01

Great talent is hard to find. It can be even harder to retain your best employees, particularly when the job market heats up. One proven technique to encourage employee longevity...

Rally 'Disengaged' Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 21

After two years of layoffs, small pay increases, and requests to do more with less, employees are tired, overworked, and increasingly disengaged. Do you worry that your employees are remaining...

To Increase Profit, Involve More Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 16

After 42 years in business, holding positions that included chief executive of large and small businesses alike, I now spend my time coaching small business owners on what they can...

Create an Engaged Organization

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 04

Companies with engaged employees outperform companies with disengaged employees. Obvious, right? Less obvious is how to create an engaged organization. Engagement begins when you make employee engagement your organization's cornerstone....

Get a Mentor

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 26

A recent study by the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 52 percent of entrepreneurs get advice from a mentor. If you're part of this group, you know that a...

Understand the Importance of Diversity

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 12

Smart small businesses today understand diversity is more than just a feel-good notion on a human resources poster. It is, in fact, crucial to doing business in a world whose...

Manage Conflict with an Employee

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 05

I once read about a business owner who said he didn't have any unhappy employees because he'd fired them all. I guess that's one way to approach workplace conflict, but...

Five Ways to Cause Problems with Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 03

As a professional mediator, I know that certain behaviors can result in on-the-job conflicts that adversely affect your bottom line. You can steer clear of most workplace problems by avoiding:...

Making Slide Decks Shine

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on December 31

It's rare to find a businessperson who doesn't know how to use PowerPoint software. Using it well can be a different story. While a blank slide may seemingly offer a...

How to Navigate a Small Business through Economic Turbulence

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on December 23

Small businesses were among the hardest-hit by the economic free fall and many are still reeling from the effects. Each time the economy takes a dive, even the most steadfast...

Align Your Teams in the U.S. and Abroad

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on December 15

Your startup has headquarters in the U.S. and a small office in India that uses the country's engineering talent. How do you make both your U.S. and India offices feel...

Hire Employees with 'Fire in the Belly'

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 30

I use the term "fire in the belly" to refer to someone's drive or motivation to achieve success. When you're interviewing prospective employees for your business, people will often describe...

Stop Having So Many Meetings

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 05

Other than dealing with an overload of e-mail, the other jail that I hear about consistently is the meeting jail (that is when you spend several hours a day in...

Give Effective Feedback to Millennials

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on November 01

Many business owners have noticed that the new crop of young workers is different from previous generations and are adjusting their management styles accordingly. One key difference? Millennials expect constant...

Set Policy to Avoid HR Disaster

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on October 29

Human resource planning is often overlooked by small businesses until they face a problem. As your business grows, you will need to add resources to manage employees and contractors. Documented...

Reduce Meetings, and Make Them More Effective

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on October 14

Other than dealing with an overload of e-mail, the other "jail" I hear about consistently is the meeting jail (when you spend several hours a day in back-to-back meetings). So...

Minimize Talent Loss

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on September 23

Businesses that are finally beginning to see signs of recovery are now facing a new threat—losing their most valued employees to a new job. Job satisfaction data shows that employee...

Conquer Business Chaos

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on September 02

New businesses are being launched in record numbers by entrepreneurs setting out to find their freedom. All goes along well until they get their first customer. That's when chaos moves...

Maintain Flexibility in Your Organization

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 30

Any small business owner knows how important it is to stay flexible, especially in an economic downturn, and yet many organizations are plagued with a surprising lack of elasticity. Inflexibility...

Manage Customer Support with Metrics

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 23

Smart companies, large and small, should continually seek ways to drive quality improvements in both product development and customer support processes to keep customer satisfaction high. From the customer's perspective,...

The Special 'Who Moment'

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 08

There comes a special moment in every entrepreneur's career when the "who" in the business counts more than the "what." As a business grows in employee size, the importance of...

Interview Questions Every Business Should Avoid

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 02

Interviewing potential employees is an important part of owning and operating a business. Every organization has to interview people and each interviewer has his or her own way of conducting...

Be Prepared for Disaster

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 27

Disaster preparedness is typically viewed as something that's done in a personal or home environment. However, emergency preparedness is equally important from a business standpoint. You never know when a...

Reduce Employee Health Risks

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 26

Through the new health-care law, employers will have to offer some form of health insurance option to employees. As health care can be an expensive part of an employee's benefits...

Build a Metrics-Driven Company

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on May 18

To create competitive advantage, companies of every size measure and analyze information from five areas of their business: cash, customers, sales, products, and people. As Peter Drucker wrote, "What gets...

Combat Rising Health-Care Costs

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on April 26

Current trends indicate that health-care benefits are a top priority for employees and can be the key differentiator in retaining employees for the long haul. For example, according to the...

The Power of a Compliment

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 26

For your employees, one of the best things about completing a long or taxing project is presenting it to you and getting your endorsement, along with a compliment for a...

One Consultant's Take on Millennials

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 18

Business leaders I talk with are perplexed—even agitated—by the attitude of entitlement that seems to have overtaken the Millennial generation (those born after 1980). To get a first-hand look, I...

Building a Great Team

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on March 11

In business and in sports, having great players at every position can make the difference between success and mediocrity—and even failure. Not all companies are positioned to attract the best...

Help Wanted and Found Online

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 03

At this very moment, business owners (including, potentially, your competitors) are finding and hiring qualified freelance professionals online to get work done and grow their business. They are hiring IT...

A Healthy Approach to Trimming Insurance Costs

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on February 01

In the face of never-ending increases to health care insurance premiums, small business owners may want to consider these alternative options to minimize costs: 1. Adjust plan options. For example,...

Don't Choose a Health Care Plan Based Solely on Its Name

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 29

When comparing health care plans during this year's open enrollment period, don't be enticed by "premium" names and overlook the plans labeled "value." Instead, understand how each works so you...

Maximize Your Benefits Investment

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 28

Regardless of the final shape of health care reform, one thing remains certain: Employer benefits costs will continue to rise in 2010. Here are some ways to minimize these costs...

How to Retain Star Employees

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on January 20

As a business owner, at some point you will likely be confronted with the question of how to keep your star performers. It may be your top salesperson or a...

A Better Way To Present Your Company to New Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 08

For many new employees, the first day at new jobs can become tedious as they get introduced to company rules and regulations. While most companies use a static method for...

A New Employee's First 90 Days

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 18

You've found the needle in the haystack and gone through onboarding and orientation. Now what? The first 90 days of employment are critical for both employers and their new employees....

What Sponsors and Advisors Should Know About Retirement Plans

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 28

According to a 2007 U.S. Labor Dept. survey, 68% of small business owners feel unprepared for retirement and just 42% maintain a retirement plan. Here are four frequently overlooked tips...

Retirement Plan Options for Business Owners

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 19

As a small business owner, you assume all of the risk for your retirement. Yet you may be so focused on the day-to-day operations of your business that you have...

Minimize the Impact of a Divorce on Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 14

The divorce of a business owner may cause serious complications, not only to the individual but also to the business. Often, the business is the most valuable asset in the...

Seven Questions to Ask When Planning for Retirement

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 13

As an employer, you may wish to establish one or more retirement plans, which can provide significant benefits for you and your employees. There are many different types of retirement...

What You Must Know About Your Company's Culture

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 30

Choreographing, or at least dancing in step with your organization's culture, is critical to leadership. Move well with it, and it enables you to get great things done. Buck it...

Your Multigenerational Workplace

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 25

It is not unusual for us to find four generations of employees in our workplaces today. As a reminder, they are the Silent Generation, born from 1925-1945; the Boomers, born...

Encouraging Excellent Performance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 24

When you hear the word "excellence" what do you think about? Some people think perfection. But if you think that excellence is synonymous with perfection, then excellence cannot be achieved....

The Innovation Knowledge Transfer

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 24

Until recently, companies were dealing with the challenge of a retiring workforce and knowledge exodus. In the aerospace and defense industry alone, clients like Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne, and Honeywell...

Successful "Onboarding"

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 31

You’ve done the recruiting, found the employee you were looking for, and now he or she has signed the offer letter. Now what? The onboarding process should begin well before...

Judging Is Part of Your Job as a Boss

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 23

One of the longtime influences in my life is my mentor and good friend, Charlie. He is a deep and profound thinker about people and how they behave, and he...

Make Performance Reviews Palatable

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 21

Why does the subject of performance reviews throw managers into such a state of anxiety? Most managers would view a trip to the dentist with more enthusiasm. One of the...

Workplace Bullying

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 20

Bullying has found its way into the workplace. This behavior is an ongoing problem that creates feelings of defenselessness in the target and undermines an individual's right to dignity at...

The 5 C's of Hiring

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 17

In today's economy, hiring the right people is more important than ever. It costs a lot of money to hire new employees and train them, provide the equipment necessary for...

Motivate Each Member of Your Team

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 10

For most small businesses, the owner is the key person in the leadership role. Some owners and managers of businesses are convinced that it is only the money that creates...

Keep People Awake in Meetings

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 22

We've all attended meetings that failed to start on time, ran over, or went off track because the agenda was not followed. When meetings go off course or drag on,...

How Many Times a Day Should You Check Your E-mail?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 18

Before I give you a number, let me set the stage. We all get more work done when we are focused and uninterrupted. An effective time management strategy is to...

How to Find and Hire the Right Person

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 30

Don't be fooled into thinking a difficult economy has made the war for talent as passé as acid-washed jeans and flannel shirts. Rather, the influx of highly qualified people into...

Prepare for and Manage a Reduction in Force

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 21

If the current economic downturn has made a reduction in force (RIF) necessary for your small business, it is important to prepare for it adequately, conduct it efficiently, and then...

Promote Your Top Talent

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 10

If a company is going to survive the current economic storm and thrive again, there's one thing it absolutely, categorically can't do without: its people. And that means that even...

Evaluate Your Social Media Investment

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 09

Once you've made a commitment to using social media as a part of your company's marketing strategy, try to focus on the long-term benefits of this investment. Think about tracking...

Being SMART With Your Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 31

Bad performance reviews are rarely welcomed—especially when they're unexpected. Employees who believe they are performing satisfactorily, only to receive poor reviews, will not be happy. Worse, they could lose faith...

What's Your Transfer Rate?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 27

My definition of communication is the transfer of information and emotion: every time, every conversation, every person, and every topic. If we want strong relationships, we must learn to allow...

Treat Your Employees Like Customers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 13

You know how important good customer service is. If you cannot satisfy your customers, you may not have a reason to be in business. Part of that customer service responsibility...

Conducting Interviews

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 17

With a number of businesses downsizing, interviewing and hiring employees may fall on individuals who are not accustomed to the process. Here are some simple tips that can simplify the...

Don't Underestimate Loyalty

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 12

My approach to business is built on two very simple axioms. Thousands of books and countless research projects have explored the direct correlation between "satisfaction," "loyalty," and "profits," but in...

Satisfaction Does Not Equal Loyalty

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 11

It is amazing how many companies don't really understand the long-term value of a loyal customer or employee. They will spend vast sums of money on advertising and promotions trying...

Employee Performance and Customer Satisfaction

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 10

All businesses depend on employees to deliver quality service. For most businesses, improving customer service levels is more important than providing a good product. Research clearly shows a strong link...

Feedback Helps Drive Repeat Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 09

Multiple research studies have shown that measuring employee performance drives revenue and profitability. Continuous measurement helps individual employees overcome weakness, emphasize their strengths, gain a sense of direction, and know...

The Evolution of Employee Training

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 19

Experienced, knowledgeable employees are an organization's most important asset. So why then are training and employee education programs the first to get the ax in an economic downturn? The problem...

Preparing for Change

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 31

An essential part of preparing for change is examining your corporate culture to discover any impediments to change. Realize that some of your company's traditions and practices may need to...

Developing Policies for Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 22

Here are some insights on how best to develop your company's business policies: • Think ahead. Establish policies before you need them. Doing so helps avert crises and awkward situations...

Diagnosing Reasons for Poor Performance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 29

What do you do when a team member's performance is lacking? Before you can answer that question, you need to understand the reason for the poor performance. Otherwise, the corrective...

The Exit Interview

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 04

No matter how wonderful your company is, it's inevitable that at one point or another, an employee will quit or need to be fired. While this can be unfortunate—or fabulous,...

Using a Competency Model to Promote from Within

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 01

Promoting your own employees into positions of greater responsibility and recognition should be a win-win proposition. It allows you the opportunity to recognize someone for a job well done. It...

Managing Up

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 21

Here is a sound career tip no matter where you are on your career ladder: Focusing on your relationship with your boss is a smart idea that pays off. It...

What Workers Want

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 17

Strategic workforce development is a common theme in organizations today. This is true in spite of changes in the global marketplace, soaring and plunging economies, and the shifting demographics in...

Using Colleges and Universities to Help Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 27

Is your small business in a college town? You might be surprised how many resources are available to you. You can start by volunteering your company to be a business...

What Is Your Corporate Culture?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 24

Even small organizations have a workplace culture. Is the office laid back? Is it a family-like atmosphere? Perhaps it's got a survival-of-the-fittest feel. As the business owner, your personality and...

The Qualities of a Great Hire

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 30

We all know that an ideal prospective hire would be intelligent, competent, sensitive, curious, spirited, able, and confident. These attributes are at the top of our list. What should also...

Dealing with Stress on the Job

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 28

Today job stress poses a threat to the health of workers and, in turn, to the health of organizations. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, job...

When Your Workers Need to Care for Aging Parents

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 27

A large and fast-growing segment of the workforce—about 1 out of 8—is faced with elder-care responsibilities, and this number is expected to triple in the next five to seven years....

The Importance of New-Employee Orientation

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 01

A new employee's first days on the job provide a host of wonderful "teachable moments." To take full advantage of this special time, it's important that you don't ignore new-employee...

Seeking Energy

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 30

When recruiting, I look for a combination of drive, curiosity, and ethics— qualities that all seem fairly typical. But there is an additional attribute that I believe is essential for...

Preparing Your Workforce for the Future

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 04

If you truly want to prepare your workforce for the future, you need to look at it in terms of the generational supply chain. This means you need to have...

Diversity in the Workplace

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 03

The face of the workforce is changing. What's the best way for small business owners to deal with this increasingly diverse environment? Embrace it. There are two ways companies can...

Putting an End to Poor Performance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 02

Subconscious assumptions or negative messages that convey an expectation of poor performance are usually made unknowingly by managers. They are often directed toward an individual over time and have the...

Learning from Millennials

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 01

Businesses rely on seasoned workers to take the lead in their businesses. However, it's crucial that companies take into consideration the benefits that "millennials" (those born from 1980 on) can...

What You Need to Know About Workers' Compensation Insurance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 14

Workers' compensation benefits provide coverage for medical expenses as well as reimbursement for lost wages when employees are injured on the job. Workers' compensation coverage includes two types of protection:...

How Much Can I Ask Employees to Pay for Insurance?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 12

On average, small businesses pay 75% to 100% of the total insurance cost for their employees and 0% to 50% of the cost for an employee's dependents. You can ask...

How to Hire the Perfect Intern

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 05

Interns can be valuable resources for all employers. Don't think that aspiring college and graduate students flock only to large employers when they're looking for experience. If you have a...

Preventing Employees from Getting Trained and Moving On

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 13

Is there a legal way to require employees to reimburse the company for their tuition assistance if they leave within six months or a year from receiving the training? If...

Getting the Most out of Training

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 31

To get the most out of a training program, make sure your employees understand ahead of time your reasons for implementing it. Help them understand what problems it will solve...

Educating Outside Salespeople

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 29

If you want to effectively train outside salespeople, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Think, for example, of what retail clerks selling your product need to know to...

Developing Your Company's Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 28

When you give employees opportunities to grow, their job satisfaction increases substantially. So does your ability to retain them as employees. That's why it's important for you to think more...

Don't Ignore Employee Orientation

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 25

A new employee's first days on the job provide a host of wonderful "teachable moments." To take full advantage of this special time, it's important you don't ignore new-employee orientation....

Healthy Employees Cut Business Costs

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 24

Business owners continue to discover that making wellness a priority in the workplace boosts their bottom line, according to the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). Wellness programs not only...

Don't Forget About Customer Service When Managing Growth

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 15

Amazing customer service can be the crux of business growth. As businesses gain additional customers and grow, they are often faced with expanding customer service hours, adding additional language support,...

Why Employees Hate Performance Reviews

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 10

Performance reviews should be a great opportunity for employees to find out what they are doing well and which areas they need to improve. However, most employees dread the process...

Why Innovation Is So Important For Improving Customer Service

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 08

The most relevant, effective, and useful solutions for improving an organization typically come from those who have face-to-face roles with customers. I call this phenomenon "bubble-up innovation." It happens when...

I Can't Fire Him Now, I Need Him

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 07

All companies experience an employee whose performance has continued to slip and, even after multiple interventions, continues to underperform. But when bosses are asked why they haven't fired him or...

Improve Your Customer Service

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 04

Show your frontline employees how to use the LEAP process and they'll quickly turn a customer complaint into a world-class customer-service experience. LEAP is a simple, four-step process that can...

A What-If Arsenal Can Solve 90% of Your Customer Complaints

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 03

Sometimes customer emotions can be volatile and tempers slippery when a problem with service arises. But sending customers off to the nearest store or telling them that you can't do...

The Right Way to Manage Salespeople

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 02

What's the worst way to motivate your sales force? Unilaterally setting a sales target and then shoving it down their throats. "People, especially salespeople, don't like being dictated to," says...

Customer Service Is About Relentless Focus

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 01

Because a world-class customer-service experience is the foundation of any successful operation, relentless focus on customer service predetermines the ultimate success of any operation. If the focus on customer service...

Make Better Use of the E-mail Subject Line

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 31

With the amount of e-mail we receive increasing almost exponentially, we are always looking for ways to tweak the way we handle our electronic correspondence. Here's how the subject line...

How to Receive Less E-mail

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 28

The staggering amount of e-mail we receive is causing some companies to declare "No E-mail Days." Here are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of e-mail...

How to Make Sure Your E-mails are Read

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 27

Given the flood of e-mail that people are receiving these days, a problematic practice has developed—skimming. With a full 70% of readers skimming their e-mails to get the facts, it...

Ten Things to Avoid When Hiring Administrative Support Staff

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 07

A good support staff can save you from disaster. They're cool under pressure, can make decisions quickly, and can even anticipate problems before they become unmanageable. Hiring support staff takes...

Effective Training Programs for Managers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 28

The ability to manage people well can have a huge financial impact on a company. Employee turnover rates, cost of talent retention, litigation experience, and employee tenure are just some...

The Benefits of Workplace Rituals

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 02

Think about your typical day: You take the same route to the office, listen to a specific radio station in the car, buy a cup of coffee or newspaper from...

Develop a Civil Work Environment

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 01

It seems that today's casual business environment has endangered civility, professional courtesy, and regard for others, leaving rudeness, disrespect, and other inappropriate behaviors in its wake. Common complaints include interruptions,...

Improving Customer Service by Trailing Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 12

Small businesses can learn a lot about their customer service from employees. One way to do so is for you to spend a day shadowing an employee and performing his...

Managing E-mail

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 01

Approximately 90% of all Internet users between the ages of 12 and 69 send or receive e-mail. This basic communications tool is almost universally used, according to the Pew Internet...

Employee Recognition Improves Customer Service

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 28

Customer service is crucial for small businesses hoping to compete with chain stores, larger companies, and even the small business next door. While there are a number of steps to...

Empower Employees to Handle Customer Problems

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 27

Nine times out of 10, a customer problem starts with a simple issue that can be solved in a matter of minutes. These issues can make the difference between one-time...

Should You Buy Windows or Apple Computers for Your Company?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 25

Buying computers for your business can be a nerve-wracking experience. But before you even get started, you need to answer an important question: Should you buy Windows or Apple computers?...

The Customer Isn't Always No. 1

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 24

Customers expect small businesses to provide the best customer service. However, by holding on to the old customer-service strategy that the customer is No. 1, many small businesses have failed...

Giving Employees Health Insurance Options

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 01

Two health insurance options are usually sufficient for most startup organizations. Give employees a choice between an HMO (health maintenance organization) and a PPO (preferred provider organization). For more information,...

Encourage Virtual Workers, but Don't Forego the Face Time

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 10

More and more new hires are being employed based on their skills rather than their location, so we're seeing many virtual workers joining small companies. In fact, I sometimes work...

Understanding Workers' Compensation

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 26

Last year, workplace injuries affected thousands of employees and cost U.S. companies more than $110 billion. Chances are, your firm will eventually have to deal with a workplace injury—which means...

Hire Smart

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 16

As the boss, you set the tone, and create the atmosphere of your small business. Hiring good people can be one of the best investments you make in achieving your...

Hire the Best and Delegate

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 13

If you would like to work sane hours and have weekends off, you need to hire people who are better than you are in their areas, and be your own...

How to Keep Your People on Their Toes

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 22

The old saying "people respect what you inspect" really means that you need to understand how to measure results, and then apply them to your business. The problem comes in...

Take Time to Communicate Well

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 09

It's not what you say but how you say it that counts. And these days, there are a lot of ways to say it poorly. The proliferation of electronic communications,...

Responsibility to Rest

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 25

Time off is not a luxury; it's a responsibility of small-business ownership. As the weeks click by, it's easy to catch yourself thinking that a vacation would be an indulgence...

E-mail Use and Abuse

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 14

Communication in the workplace has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Electronic communications such as e-mail now exceed traditional communication media. While e-mail provides many benefits, it has also...

Harnessing People Power Is the Toughest Challenge You'll Face

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 13

If each employee is an "X" in a company's success equation—and a greater factor the fewer employees there are in the company—why is hiring given short shrift by so many...

Be Flexible With Your Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 08

Value your employees and understand that just because your company is small doesn't mean you have to operate that way. A key to getting a small business to work is...

Taking Time for Training

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 01

We all know that time is money. We also know that investing time into training can often lead to more money by helping create a more qualified, productive workforce. In...

Training on a Budget

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 26

If you'd like to offer employees training opportunities but funds are currently a bit tight, don't despair. With a bit of creative thinking, there are plenty of ways to provide...

Getting the Most out of Training

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 22

Before you start any training program, make sure your employees understand ahead of time the reasons behind the training. Tell them how they will benefit and let them know what...

Developing Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 19

As a small-business owner, it is up to you to help your employees develop. A good first step in this process is to realize that training itself is really employee...

Work-Life Balance

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 01

In analyzing the needs of today and tomorrow's workforce, work-life balance is high on the list of issues facing both employers and employees. Balance is more than a juggling act;...

Business Partners

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 31

Let's face it, no one individual, group, or department has all the necessary talent, skills, resources, or time to innovate and succeed on their own in the long run. So...

Recognizing Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 29

We all need to know that we are valued. One "Nice job!" or "Atta girl!" or "Way to go!" can make an employee's day…and how easy is that? Even so,...

Great Talent for Less Money

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 28

If you're trying to keep your payroll expenses down but are still in need of high-quality employees, here are some strategies to consider: • Offer internships and part-time challenges to...

HR Outsourcing Basics

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 16

For many businesses that don't have the time or the resources to manage HR functions, outsourcing is a cost-effective alternative to hiring an in-house human resources staff. Today's HR firms...

Family Business Indecision

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 22

Families often put off business decisions such as leadership succession and sale or transfer of ownership. Even when decisions are made, implementation is often slow. But the costs of indecision...

Creating a Collaborative Workplace

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 19

Creating a productive and collaborative workplace is not easy, but as a small-business owner, building such an environment starts with you. Here are some tips: 1. Make sure everyone on...

It's About the Team

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 15

Perhaps nowhere is the concept of team more apparent and critical than within a small business. After all, a team is a group of individuals collaborating to achieve their common...

How to Lead an "Action Review"

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 13

No matter how well a project, task, or assignment is done, it is always a good idea to take some time once the dust settles, gather employees together, and conduct...

Thoughtful Decision Making

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 12

Decisions are at the heart of all organizations, and decisions are made by everyone at all levels. Some of these decisions are routine and inconsequential, while others can have a...

What Employees Want: Six Essentials

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 08

An important aspect of creating and maintaining a healthy work organization—one whose culture, climate, and organizational practices create an environment which promotes employees' mental and physical health as well as...

Firing an Employee

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 05

Every employer should exercise caution when firing an employee. Not handling the termination according to government regulations could create serious problems. In right-to-hire states, you can fire an employee for...

Cultivating Confident Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 02

Confident employees are the lifeblood for any small business. Here are some tips for ensuring your employees will be up to the challenges that come their way. 1. Ask them...

Keeping Family Business Meetings Productive

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 25

Keeping business meetings productive is always challenging, but for family businesses the task can be even more daunting. Here are some suggestions to make sure the next family business meeting...

They're Hired -- Now What?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 21

People join organizations for a variety of reasons. They may be attracted to the company's reputation, the pay, the boss, the type of work, or even the location. But why...

Make Sure Your Vendors and Subcontractors Work for You

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 24

Just as you provide solutions for your client, your vendors and subcontractors should provide solutions for you. If they provide you with problems instead, you will lose your clients and...

Be Flexible

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 22

Small companies have a distinct advantage over their larger counterparts and that is the ability to be flexible when it comes to employee policies. Large companies often rigidly adhere to...

Recruiting the Best and the Brightest

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 18

Having a good product and/or service and a solid business plan are two key elements to the success of any business. A third element, and perhaps the most important, is...

Terminating an Employee

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 17

An unfortunate reality of being a small-business owner is that it is sometimes necessary to terminate an employee. Many small operations do not have a human resources department or departmental...

When Cupid Comes to Work

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 14

Workplace romances are nothing new, but as people increasingly spend more time at work, offices have become the new singles bar. In a 2005 survey, 58% of respondents admitted to...

If a Family Business Seeks Improvement, Where Should It Start?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 01

To work at peak levels, family businesses should focus on three distinct areas: accountability, behavioral ground rules, and planning. Accountability. Everyone in the organization—family member, longtime friend, or unrelated party—must...

Closing the Deal: How to Get Prospective Employees to Sign On

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 31

Few people decide they want a job based on an ad's description or a headhunter's pitch. To bring the best job candidates on board, employers need to sell prospective employees...

Ready, Aim, Hire

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 18

If we're going to spend money on building a new plant or buying an expensive piece of new equipment, we gather as much data as we can, analyze it carefully,...

Interviewing: It's More Than Just Your Gut

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 13

The decision to hire someone is essentially a purchasing decision. Yet managers tend to make the mistake of treating the interview like a conversation. This presents several pitfalls. First, it...

Are You Developing Your People?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on July 11

For years, I've been asking groups of business professionals and managers this question: If a developmental manager is someone who engages you in conversations about your progress and looks for...

A Guide to Hiring the Right People

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on June 19

Today's customers have high expectations for quality products and services. To meet those demands and keep customers coming back, you need qualified employees who are as committed to your business...

Don't Let an Employee's Poor Performance Compromise Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 31

When small-business owners find themselves dealing with an employee whose performance has deteriorated, they often don't have the resources in place to effectively deal with the situation or to protect...

Top 10 Mistakes Made When Hiring Consultants

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 26

Consultants play a part in the ongoing activities of many businesses. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and need to be evaluated carefully. Ten of the most common...

How Much Do Group Insurance Premiums Cost?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 19

According to a national survey of employee-sponsored health plans, HMO coverage averaged $3,185 per worker in 1996. PPO coverage averaged $3,293 per employee. Although insurance premiums vary by state, plan...

Getting Along with Your Business Partner

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 18

In our experience, most problems in not getting along with your business partner stem from an inconsistency in expectations: You thought one thing and your partner thought another. The solution...

Expect More from Your Advisers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 11

Family businesses often don't ask the right questions before they hire an adviser or consultant, and end up with people who are not equipped to deal with the complexities they...

Conducting an Effective Interview

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 04

Conducting professional and effective interviews with potential employees is not only the best way to find the most qualified employees for your business but it can also protect you against...

Be Connecting And Be Connected

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 01

Be connecting and be connected. It's a message that may sound a bit strange at a first, but it conveys a key theory in the business world. When you are...

How an Employer of Record Can Help with Benefits

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 24

Your early-stage company may not be able to afford an HR department, benefits, and many other pieces of today's employment puzzle, but you can hire them all. Instead of a...

Key Compensation Components

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 14

Compensation has become a far more complicated issue than just deciding how much to pay your employees. In addition to salary, employers must consider many other components -- 401(k) plans,...

Make the Most of Your Family Business Meeting

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 10

Family meetings differ from other business or advisory meetings, and therefore require extra attention to ensure they run smoothly. Here are some guidelines from David Lansky for maximizing the success...

What Do Your E-Mails Say About You?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on April 03

As someone who receives and sends a couple hundred e-mails a day, I'm constantly amazed at how poorly written and unprofessional most business e-mails are. Every day, fellow entrepreneurs send...

Creating a Staffing Strategy

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 28

Unfortunately, many companies today aren't strategic in their acquisition of a costly and important asset: people. Instead, they're mostly reactive, waiting for someone to get hit by the proverbial bus...

Put Your "Intrapreneurs" to Work for the Better

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 21

"Intrapreneurs" are employees who think like entrepreneurs, biding their time and watching for opportunity while on the company payroll. This new generation of employees brings a change in the workplace...

Building a Senior Management Team

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 20

Building a senior management team can be daunting for new business owners. Here are some ideas to get you started: Start with part-timers. You may not be able to afford...

Putting the Brakes on High Turnover

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on March 17

Small businesses can be plagued with high employee turnover, with workers being lured away by other companies as soon as you finish training them. This is, of course, detrimental to...

Set Ground Rules for Successful Mentoring

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 13

One of the keys to a successful mentor/mentee relationship is to set some ground rules and stick to them. Sit down with your prospective mentee and discuss the expectations of...

Don't Treat Contractors like Regular Employees

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 10

It is not a good idea to treat contractors the same as regular employees. By definition, a contractor is in a different relationship with the company, and it is important...

People Are Your Most Important Asset

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 30

Don't settle for second best when hiring people to represent your business to customers. When you have a front-office opening, review the skills and personality needed for the job, take...

Firing Poor Performers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 25

If an employee is terminated and sues for wrongful termination, an employer will need documentation as part of the legal defense to help show it did not act arbitrarily. Even...

Hiring the Best Candidates

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 24

Finding the time, money, and resources to train new employees can be a significant challenge. You want to find someone who can hit the ground running and do the work...

A Model for Succession

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 17

Successful next-generation leaders in the family business have to create new relationships with their parents that cannot naturally evolve out of the biological family. There are several factors involved: 1....

The Danger of Holding On Too Long

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 13

Many successful entrepreneurs are reluctant to let go of the businesses they started, but in holding on too long, senior-generation family members inadvertently damage the things they love the most:...

Transition Is A Process, Not An Event!

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 11

Many family business owners think of transition as an event. They associate it with death, retirement, or some other form of departure from their companies. But that shouldn't be the...

Extreme Tension Relief

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on January 06

A simple way to relieve stress is to go to extremes. Exaggerate any tension you feel for 30 to 60 seconds. Make it worse. Then let go and relax. When...

Your Company's Parts Must Equal a Whole

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 28

Assertively successful entrepreneurs know how each piece of their company contributes to its growth, and they manage to make the company work as an operational whole, rather than independent parts....

The Line Between Independent Contractor and Employee

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 27

A lot of businesses would prefer to treat workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, for various tax and liability reasons. However, it's important to have a good understanding of...

Put a Mentor to Work for You

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 22

Think about why you seek advice. Establish the goals you expect to achieve by talking to a mentor. Pick the top 3-5 challenges or opportunities that your business faces. Prioritize...

Two Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Quickly

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 16

You'd like to lower your stress level, but as a small business owner you simply don't have the time. Well here are a couple of quick, simple ways to release...

The Personal Touch in China

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 13

When you're trying to do business in China, forget the Western approach of "Here's my PowerPoint presentation, here's the contract, sign here." You need to start with a personal touch....

Does Stress Equal Drive?

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 08

Some executives think that stress helps give them drive. Not true. Initially, stress pumps the adrenaline to your sympathetic nervous system. But if your stress levels don't drop, you'll eventually...

Prepare for the Worst

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 07

A disaster could strike your micro-business at any time. To prepare for disasters ranging from natural causes to burglary, make sure you have answers to these questions: • Do you...

Lower Your Health-Care Costs

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on December 05

Health-coverage costs are rising past the point where micro-business owners can afford them. According to a recent survey by the National Association for the Self-Employed, 51% of micro-business owners did...

Invest Time Wisely

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 30

Spend time on what you do best, whether it's serving clients, generating sales or setting long-term strategies. Allocate 60 to 70 percent of your time to tasks that have the...

Manage Incoming Mail & E-mail Contacts

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 29

Set aside a specific time of day to sort your inbox. Throw away junk mail, forward mail to the appropriate people when necessary, open and separate the rest of the...

Give Yourself a Break

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 22

Have you started looking older ever since you started that new business? If so, you're not alone. It all has to do with your telomeres -- the DNA strands that...

Develop a Pipeline of Qualified Candidates Using Advanced Search Technologies

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 21

Developing a pipeline of qualified candidates within an organization is critical to any company, even small businesses. Time lost while looking for a replacement can result in decreased productivity and...

Know Your Business, and Know Who's Really an Expert in It

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 17

When Howard Schultz met the folks at Starbucks -- then sellers of coffee machines and beans -- and spun his vision of the coffeehouses that we now know as Starbucks,...

Family Business Mistakes

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 15

Most parents think that if you're in a family business you need to learn everything there is to know about that business, you need to learn to work every job...

Don't Forget Your Moral Obligation to the Team

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 10

As an entrepreneur and employer, you have certain basic obligations to your employees, such as paying their salary, withholding taxes, maintaining a safe work environment, and providing the resources needed...

Unleash the Hidden Potential in Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 02

One of the greatest challenges facing today's entrepreneur is finding and growing innovation. Here are some key ways to unleash the hidden potential in your business: 1) Think two generations...

Plan for Transitions in the Family Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 01

Psychologists have observed that normal life transitions (i.e. birth of a baby, divorce, serious illness, loss of a loved one, etc.) often create personal and/or relationship crises. People who work...

Don't Let SarbOx Dampen Get You Down

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 28

What's good for General Motors isn't necessarily good for the U.S.A. Recent corporate "scamdals" and the resulting Congressional prophylactic -- Sarbanes-Oxley -- teach us that corporate directors are supposed to...

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 26

Do you own the materials created by your firm? The answer isn't as straightforward as you may think. Owning the ideas -- or intellectual property, as attorneys call it --...

Don't Surrender Control

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 21

Always be at the helm of the boat. It's your company, and until you go public, you have to be in control of it. It's incredible how many marketing and...

Unite Your Advisers

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 20

My best tip on getting legal advice, accounting advice, financial advice, and that sort of thing is this: Small-business owners are best served by their advisers if they use them...

"Let It Go"

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 19

You can't think stress away with logic. When you're feeling stressed, stop what you're doing for a minute. Get out of your head and into your body. Notice your breathing,...

Carpe Diem

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on October 05

I say don't do tomorrow what you can do today. I try to live by that. I succeed most times, but I'm not perfect. I wish more people in business...

Five Keys to Reputation Management, in Business and Life

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 30

1) Humility in the midst of crisis is also one of our greatest tools, but we tend to dismiss it due to tremendous false pride and fear. 2) The court...

Let Your Kids Spread Their Wings

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 29

More than 80% of family businesses don't make it beyond first generation. How can you avoid that? Allow your children to become successful in their own right. That's very, very...

Personality Matters

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 16

When it comes to hiring, which in itself is probably the most important decision a business owner can make, it is most crucial to hire someone who has the right...

Put People First

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 12

I think the absolute key to running any business is having the capability to look after people -- to inspire people, motivate people, and to put people first. And if...

Acknowledge Mistakes Sooner, Not Later

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 09

Successful companies take calculated chances when launching new products or beginning new ventures. Many times new ideas are successful and contribute to a company's increase in revenues and profits. However,...

Let Work Guide Your Life

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 07

For entrepreneurs and small-business owners, balancing work and nonwork roles can be a heightened challenge. Starting up and running one's own business can at times seem to be an all-consuming...

Form Your Own Kitchen Cabinet

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on September 02

It's never too early for an entrepreneurial board of advisers, if you think of them as a small circle of experts from whom you gain guidance and mentorship that's relevant...

Know When You're Stressed -- How to Walk Away

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 18

When you're stressed, there's negative "self talk" in your head. What are you saying to yourself? Thoughts create emotions, releasing chemicals in your body. When you're under a lot of...

Secrecy Is Poison

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 12

Business owners tend to be very secretive. They don't tell anybody anything. As a consequence, it becomes very, very lonely to be an owner-manager of your own successful business. It's...

Know When To Bring in a Babysitter

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on August 11

If you've ever had a baby, you remember the feeling -- that no one takes as good care of your child as you do. You may even have been right,...

Hire Right -- Or Be Left Behind

Posted by: Administrator on August 08

Small-business owners all too frequently make hiring decisions based on gut feelings about a person. Unfortunately, you can be easily fooled by your emotions. It's absolutely critical that you invest...

About

Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.

To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.

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