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How To Create And Use KPIs For Real Results

How To Create And Use KPIs For Real Results

Analytics today. How much data do we have available just a click away? It’s unreal.

Most of the data we can access today about our business, our clients and the market in general is downright fascinating. But the excitement of all that information quickly deflates when you find yourself neck-deep in data without any idea how to use it.

Not all data is created equal. You can end up with a ton of information that doesn’t inform you on your daily business functions and which quite frankly isn’t that useful.

Gain relevant and actionable insights by developing and using the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Easier said than done, right? It’s true that this will require some development. Well-crafted KPIs are worth it, though, when you see them clearly outline your business’s road map to success.

First, I’d like to back up to one essential KPI “pre-step.” The following section is a must read before starting strategic KPI work, because ultimately your KPIs will be based off of this basic ingredient.

 

Start With The Right Goals

the best kpis start with the right goalsYour KPIs, in essence, are the metrics to check your progress against your goals. So setting the right goals for your business is essential to later craft the KPIs that measure their status.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you just rebuilt your website. It seems obvious that increased traffic would be a goal, right? That means increased visibility, maybe even improved SEO or a better user experience bringing more people to each page. But is website traffic necessarily the right goal to know if your website is performing well?

Websites aren’t (or shouldn’t be) built solely to “get more traffic.” If the business’s goal is to get more business, then a more appropriate goal for the website would be to get more online conversions. Higher website traffic comes with more conversions sometimes (for sheer volume), but definitely not always. By looking at conversions instead, you’re encompassing all the other factors that ultimately lead you to your goal.

Specific website conversion goals might include when users:

  • Register for an event
  • Submit a question
  • Make a payment
  • Fill in a form or opt in to something

Did you catch it? These goals all have a direct and measurable effect on our number-one business goal: growth. And by making it measurable, you naturally identify the KPIs that are worth watching to get where you want to go.

For some businesses, KPIs around things like employee performance feel harder to quantify—at first. Let’s work with another example. Is it the number of calls your front-desk employees are making that you want to monitor and improve? Or the number of appointments set with potential clients? By identifying the right goal, your KPIs will be easier to pick out.

How about business strategy KPIs? Client retention KPIs? See more examples and tips on choosing your KPIs in this well-done Hubspot article. Right here and now, I’ve got some more ground to cover to make your KPIs usable and effective.

 

Lagging Vs. Leading Indicators

It’s important for me to take a moment and talk about lagging vs. leading indicators. This is one important and fundamental way that performance management is broken down in business, and it’s also something I talk about with Kleriti clients and in my new self-guided online course, DuplicateU.

  • Lagging indicators are usually “output” oriented, meaning they measure something you’re looking at in hindsight. Think about financial performance, profit and cost metrics. These indicators are very easy to measure, while being more challenging to influence.
  • Leading indicators are the “input” factors in your business’s performance, meaning they measure something that’s in your control now. Leading indicators are measurable in the context of today or the immediate future, making them harder to measure but easier to control.

Want another example? Imagine a business that has some form of tech user support, like a SaaS start-up. They might have internal policies stating how to resolve client issues. Let’s say they even sold their clients on a commitment that they resolve all help-desk issues within 48 hours.

The output or “lagging indicator” is easy to measure—how many tickets are closed within a 48-hour window?

And how do you influence that lagging indicator? If tickets aren’t getting closed out, what KPIs are in your control? Maybe you see that incidents not touched within two hours are those that don’t get closed within 48. Your “leading indicator” could be the percent of incidents not worked at least once in a two-hour window.

what are lagging versus leading indicators in business kpis

For more examples, you can check out this accounting-specific article on leading and lagging KPIs.

 

Crafting Your KPIs In A Usable Way

So you have your goals and you have your KPIs. You even know how lagging and leading indicators work.

How do you ensure your KPIs are not only insightful, but also actionable?

An actionable KPI is an effective KPI, because the whole point of these metrics is to make smarter business decisions.

To spur action, your KPIs are effective and useful once you set targets for them. And describing the desired performance of these metrics is how your data will be interpreted later. This step defines good performance and bad performance along with thresholds for upper and lower limits.

And here we are at another “how:” how do you measure against those targets?

 

Establishing KPI Scorecards

how to establish kpi scorecards to track kpiOnce you have all these numbers clearly defined, the final steps are to set them up in a highly usable scorecard and establish a cadence for scorecard review.

The scorecard should include:

  • The KPI
  • The target
  • Who in the organization (team or individual) is responsible for driving it
  • How the metric is collected/measured (to ensure consistency)

Then establish a process where the scorecard is reviewed regularly (I recommend weekly) with a red light/green light report out so that corrective action can be taken as soon as possible to get metrics that have gone off track back on track.

For example, I work with the leadership teams of Kleriti clients to elect a set of 6-12 numbers that on their own give an absolute pulse on the business. These KPIs are formalized into a scorecard, data is collected and reviewed weekly by the leadership team and red light items are discussed with specific action items assigned to individuals to get them back in the green.

 

Ensure KPIs Are Understood And Used Across Your Organization

It’s essential that everyone on your team be aware of what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re measuring progress. KPIs form part of your business strategy decision-making across the board, and everyone should be clear on how their contributions affect major KPIs.

Communicating KPIs keeps your team on their toes and it also provides an opportunity to applaud success. People react to numbers, and meeting goals is something that can be shared and promoted company-wide when KPIs are hit out of the park.

Data and metrics are everywhere. For your business, only KPIs that are well designed and actionable will be effective in tracking progress to reaching your goals.

I spend a lot of time with Kleriti clients helping them define goals, identify KPIs and create the scorecards to assign responsibility and streamline the collection of usable data. If you have questions or want to know more about any part of this article, don’t hesitate to send me an email directly.

Should I Have A Policy For That?

Should I Have A Policy For That?

Policies are like your company’s “rules of play.” They provide context, constraints and direction for your business and all the players on the field. And for practical reasons, it’s imperative to have those policies written down.

It’s a reality that many policies are developed after something unsavory happens—accidents, performance problems, poor judgment. However, often times these situations could have been avoided altogether (along with their associated cleanup and negative impact on productivity, resources, etc.) with some time and intentional foresight put into defining and documenting standards and expectations upfront.

You want to avoid fire-fighting policy writing. Trust me. It’s more satisfying and effective to have the right policies in place ahead of time—and the peace of mind is nothing to sneeze at, either. If you want to take a bigger step back from your business, delegate with confidence and know your staff has the information they need, well-written policies will play a crucial role.

And now, the $10,000 question: how do you know what needs to be documented in a policy and what doesn’t? If you were really ambitious, you could write 100 policies and still have more in the queue. So how do you know which policies are really necessary?

Keep reading and I’ll spell that out.

To get started with a basic, no-strings-attached overview, this article will leave you thinking in the most practical terms possible to get the policies you need.

 

An Ace Up Your Sleeve

ace up your sleeve to write policies for your businessIt starts with the question, “Do I need a policy for that?” And to keep it simple, there are several policies that are an immediate and emphatic “Yes.”

These include some of the key HR policies you may already have written out. For example:

  • Workplace health and safety policy
  • Equal opportunity employment policy
  • Code of conduct
  • Leave of absence policy
  • Employee disciplinary action policy

If you have yet to write two or more of these, check out this Inc.com article about fundamental business policies and how they’re written.

And whether you have one or all five of these key policies drafted, they will provide you with an insightful place to start for the rest. Because these are such fundamental policies, they can act as templates for other policies you need written out.

To get the wheels turning on additional policies your business needs, think about the answers to the following questions:

  • In order for team members to be safe and successful in their roles, what underlying rules must they play by?
  • In order to deliver on promises to clients/customers/patients, what must happen every time, without fail?
  • In order to maintain legal, financial and industry compliance, what regulations exist and must be clearly communicated?

Remember, putting company policies in writing makes them official. It’s how employees know what the business takes seriously and what the rules of the game are. Your business will function better when everyone knows exactly where they stand.

 

Do I Need A Policy For That?

Having the right policies in place starts with a deeper look at the typical buckets policies fit into. I’m willing to bet that, when reading this list, a policy you have (or think you need) will come to mind in most, if not all, of the categories described.

1: Organizational Mission And Structure

Documents like your mission, vision, core values, job descriptions, organizational structure and decision-making matrix form your organizational policies. They set the context for who plays what role in the organization and how the roles work together. At the same time, they describe the fundamental culture of your organization that is part of everyone’s experience.

2: Administrative Policies

If you have regulations for in-office printing or want to set clearer standards for social media and internet use, you’re on the way to some decisive administrative policies. These are the policies that outline how resources are to be used. These policies also have ensuing impacts on other aspects of your business.

3: Facility Management

If you have client or employee parking, have standards you try to keep for the appearance of office space or need to carefully manage the use of office supplies, it’s important to get these details down in facility management policies. A lot of these concepts might be “duh” points for some workers, but with policies in place you can hold staff accountable so that those standards don’t slip.

parking policies for small business

4: Client And Client Records

You’ll probably have multiple procedures relating to lead tracking, client communications, project management and the like. Client policies are the backbone to those more practical procedure documents. I’ll put it this way: by clearly outlining how clients are to be treated, what the priorities are (from regular service to escalated cases) and how client information must be handled, your staff will have clear guidelines to follow consistently.

5: Employment And HR

This bucket gets into some of the must-have policies we discussed above, including equal opportunity and disciplinary action policies. The HR category of policy writing is generally the most complex, covering topics like your hiring process and job descriptions, personnel files and access to employee records, wage and pay information, benefits and insurance and more.

6: Workplace Health And Safety

This final bucket of popular policies includes things like workers’ compensation, employee health and well-being efforts, accident reporting and more. These are some of the most important policies to have out in the open, too, because your staff should be kept aware of their benefits and rights as well as the necessary action in the case of a safety or health-related incident.

 

What’s A Policy vs. A Procedure?

Did you notice anything missing from that list of “policy buckets?” How about all the day-to-day tasks, instructions and standards that actually make your business do what it does?

Having clear and well-documented policies is essential to running your business. And you need equally clear procedures, too, so it’s worth taking a moment to differentiate:

  • Policies are documents setting standards and providing core information for employee and employer rights, responsibilities and values. For example, organizational mission and structure documentation; policies related to client records; employment and HR issues. Policies are generally more applicable to the whole business and staff.
  • Procedures are the “how to” documents for everything from a position’s responsibilities to instructions for specific tasks. Many procedures will be shared across teams, and the rest will be specific to certain roles or responsibilities. Procedures include the step-by-step descriptions and requirements of how to keep the business running and doing what it does.

Where policies set things like KPIs and company values, procedures outline how those KPIs and values are met.

policies vs procedures what is the difference

I’m passionate about policies and procedures. They act as load-bearing building blocks in your company’s stable growth and success. And I have so much to say, in fact, that I answer these questions about documenting procedures in greater depth in my new self-guided online course, DuplicateU. Be sure to check it out.

 

So, Do I Need This Policy?

You’ve taken a good look at the different buckets of policies and how existing policies can inform new ones. I’m willing to bet this left you thinking about one or more policy that you don’t have yet.

So, how do you know if you really need that policy? Every business is different, and not every company is going to need the same policies. A digital marketing consultant, for example, won’t need the same “client home and property policy” that a handyman provider would.

It comes down to the biggest accountabilities for your business, which in turn are also generally the biggest areas for risk. Policies establish boundaries, guidelines and best practices for acceptable behavior. Is your staff falling short of a specific “acceptable-level” of conduct? If so, then that’s the first policy you need to write. Do you have another positive behavior you want to promote and normalize? That’s the next policy you need to write.

Writing policies is about more than putting out fires. It’s also about creating a self-sustaining business with the standards you want your whole team to uphold.

Do you have a specific policy you’ve been thinking about? Or a behavior you want to shape, and you aren’t sure what policy would effectively do that? Contact me today! With the DuplicateU self-guided online course newly launched, I’ve been deep in the weeds on this and related topics recently, and I would love to make your question a part of the conversation.

Find, Train and Retain Rockstar Contractors

Find, Train and Retain Rockstar Contractors

You can’t do it all. And this becomes especially true as your company grows to serve more customers. With growth come more relationships and projects to manage, as well as more expansive and complex administrative functions. You need help to build a sustainable business, and we live in a time when there are more options for help available than ever before.

With benefits to your business like less paperwork, lower overhead for office space and skipping the benefits package, independent contractors can be a great option for businesses that don’t need full-time, dedicated on-site support for a specific function, project or initiative.

The notion that outsourcing is only done to leverage lower wages overseas has gone by the wayside, and in has stepped the boom of independent professionals who provide services under the contractor model stateside. Forbes estimates that half of the American workforce alone will be freelancing by 2027.

Maybe you already outsource your bookkeeping or your social media. The contractors you use are an essential piece of your operations, allowing you to let go while still building your business. Maybe you haven’t used contractors yet and are considering when is the right time and how to bring them on board successfully.

The vital question is how to find, train and retain the right contractors.

Let’s dive in.

Finding The Right Contractors

The contractor world is growing, and finding the right contractor starts with a few keystrokes. If you’re looking for an independent contractor in your geographical area, it’s quick and easy to start the search on Google. If you’re looking for an independent professional within a wider radius, websites like Upwork.com and Freelancer.com offer thousands of professionals to choose from. There are dedicated websites for freelancers providing specific services, too, like Textbroker.com for copy writing.

I already mentioned some of the benefits to contracting specific tasks out. Another added bonus is that contractors often have deep experience in a specific skill set (say web development or recruiting). Look for the specific experience a contractor brings to the table—the companies he or she has worked with, his or her portfolio of work, etc.

A metaphor might be helpful here. Let’s look at cloud technology. The idea of running programs on shared servers has existed for 50 years, but until recently it required each business to buy all the related equipment to store in-house. You know—the computers that filled rooms, plus multiple servers to boot. Today, cloud services are offered over the web, meaning the servers and other hardware are stored in one place that now serve thousands of businesses at a time. And none of those businesses have to buy the equipment or devote resources to the IT required to run it.

How to hire freelancers to take tasks off your plateHiring contractors to get specific tasks off your plate works the same way. If you find the contractor with the experience and the client book that demonstrates they’ve worked with businesses like yours before, that means less training you have to do and fewer resources you have to devote. We’ll get into proper training below (because there will be some), but working with a professional who’s doing the kind of work you need in bulk points to a more efficient economy for all of us.

If you’ve dabbled around on freelancer sites but aren’t ready to reach out on those platforms yet, you can also look for contractors by:

  1. Getting referrals from other businesses, in and out of your market
  2. Checking out trade or professional associations
  3. Searching Facebook or LinkedIn for groups devoted to the work you need

Expert tip: to find the right contractor, you also have to know what you need in very specific terms. Start the search after you have your scope of work tightly defined.

Training Your Contractors

Because of the expertise independent professionals can bring, training your contractors or freelancers can be easier than training full-time hires in your office. Just be sure to keep in mind that training contractors will be a little different.

For one, you expect contractors to come in with specific knowledge, so your focus in training can ultimately be around the operations the contractor will be a part of and what you expect the contractor to deliver.

Training a contractor should naturally take on a sense of your bigger business culture, too. In fact, independent contractors who come on for single projects frequently end up feeling more invested in the hiring company than the project at hand. Start by communicating your standards to new contractors and encourage them to keep those same standards. By taking training beyond tasks to this bigger cultural training, you’ll be better positioned to see your outsourcing ultimately reduce your operational costs.

On top of explaining your business, your expectations, your needs and goals (and giving your contractors the operational materials they’ll need to learn and perform their jobs), training will also come in the form of your active feedback. Give feedback with specific examples as deliverables start to come in, and the right contractor will be quick to learn.

Top tips to effectively train independent contractors

And do take note that there are some rules around training contractors that any business owner looking to independent professionals should be familiar with. Consulting with your attorney is a good place to start, especially to understand the legalities around a W2 versus a 1099.

Retaining Your Contractors

Retaining your contractors starts with a clear service contract that outlines all the details about the relationship they’ll have with your business. What is the term of the agreement? How can it be terminated? What are the specific services you’re contracting, and for what compensation? How will intellectual property be protected and who owns it? Do you need a non-disclosure?

Expert tip: email me if you have questions about what else should go into a service agreement for a contractor. If you do select someone through a freelancing website, this may remove the need to craft an agreement yourself, as these sites have standard agreements that both parties sign.

When it comes to keeping your contractors happy, good communication is the name of the game. If you do work with contractors over the web, consider videoconferences whenever you can. It’s important to build a strong relationship, and there’s no better way to do that than seeing one another eye-to-eye.

Expert tip: remember that you aren’t allowed to control how an independent contractor does his or her work. You can, however, communicate proactively with your contractors regarding timelines and milestones to gain commitment on when they will have specific projects done. Deadlines must always be a part of your negotiations, and it helps if you make yourself available as quickly as you can to answer follow-up questions when a contractor has them.

Managing your contractors does take some work. It won’t be as easy as shipping a task off at the click of a button. Managing contractors is, however, almost always less time-consuming than managing employees.

Outsourcing can add steam to your organization’s engine with lower operational costs if you find, train and retain the right contractors. Do you already use an independent contractor for your administrative tasks? How about your marketing strategy? If you’d like to contract more tasks out, leave me a comment here or get in touch—I might even have a referral for exactly what you need.

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

Trouble Finding Talent? You’re Not Alone!

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” In finding and hiring the right talent for your business, this means building a bench of rock star candidates to reach out to with offers as positions in your organization become available.

If only it were that easy.

You know you need the right team to grow your business, but finding candidates with the right set of skills, behavioral traits and ambitions interested in joining your team can be a real challenge. I’ve been hearing this again and again from Kleriti clients in recent weeks.

The unemployment rate as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May was 3.6%, well below the normal rate. This means many of today’s would-be candidates are asking for salaries that immediately disqualify them from the running.

Your hiring process can be simpler and at the same time more effective. There is a path of less resistance to find the talent you need when you need it—and at the price you can afford. I’m going to break down the key factors at play to put this all into perspective—because, with these factors worked to your advantage, finding and hiring the right people for your business doesn’t have to be hard.

How to build an effective and repeatable hiring process

Building a hiring process that is effective and repeatable comes down to assessing:

  1. Where is hiring on your priority list?
  2. How do you write your job descriptions?
  3. What is your process for reviewing, interviewing and evaluating candidates?
  4. And how realistic are you at the onset?

Where Is Hiring On Your Priority List?

To attract the right talent, recruiting has to be a priority. More specifically, this means devoting time to:

  • Promoting openings
  • Searching for candidates
  • And reviewing applicants

For starters, any time you’re in public you have the chance to act as a spokesperson for your business and your team. Give your brand a voice and speak to its mission. You never know if your neighbor, or the café barista or the guy in your running group is looking for a new opportunity. Or maybe they know someone who is. If you start your search for talent by networking and promoting openings in day-to-day interactions, you’ll end up planting seeds that could later yield harvest.

Next, to get more proactive, searching for and researching talent is a must. A natural place to start is on LinkedIn, and you can also look for groups on Facebook that are devoted to the industry or type of work you’re scouting for. Depending on the talent you need, some of these groups might be specific to trade groups or associations where those professionals convene.

These activities take time, and it might feel like devoting energy to one more thing will push you over the edge. Just keep reading through the following steps and you’ll see how this process can become repeatable and easier over time.

How Do You Write The Best Job Description?

Writing the best job description requires clearly outlining the job’s requirements—and a little intrigue on top of that can create an even more effective post. Start by outlining the essential duties, behavioral competencies, education and experience needed for the position. The more time you devote to getting specific here, the more likely you are to bring in the right person.

Expert tip: If you’re unsure where to start with responsibilities or competencies, look at your current staff. How are you using the talent you have today? A quick assessment can act as a springboard to be clearer about what you need out of a new hire. For example, if you wish your current staff had stronger project management skills, highlight that competency in your job description. How you’re using your current talent—and where they need help—can give you direction on what to look for in the next role you fill.

If you’re writing a job description for an entirely new position and you’re struggling with where to start, another option is to read descriptions on job boards for like roles in your area. What do you see in other job descriptions that you want to look for in your new hire?

With responsibilities and competencies clearly defined, the icing on the cake is the “intrigue” element of your job description. If your business is growing, mention that in the post. Give a brief summary of what your business does and how this role fits into the bigger picture. And if you’re looking for talent with a specific energy (like a “go getter” attitude, or someone with a sense of curiosity, or someone who’s flexible), use that language to make your post more human and relatable. Remember that you’re selling your organization along with the role and use language that really attracts the right candidates. 

The best job descriptions come with a little reflection of your current talent, a little research on the competition and clear and relatable language. Keep reading to see how far this takes you into an optimized hiring process.

What Does Your Hiring Process Need?

Your hiring process needs to be practical and repeatable. And yes, you do need a process. By building a step-by-step system, you’ll make life easier the next time you have to hire—and you’ll also ensure that you compare candidates apples-to-apples. You can tweak your hiring process as needed, but here’s my recommendation to get started:

  1. Get creative in the search

Step one is the first concept you read about. By investing time up-front on LinkedIn and Facebook, and in promoting opportunities within your network, you’ll end up with a bigger pool of talent to consider. Posting and ad on a job board and waiting for the right candidate to appear doesn’t always cut it. If you proactively reach out to professionals whose experience, skills and energy align with what you need, you’ll save yourself time in every other step of your hiring process.

  1. Be resourceful in promoting your job descriptions

Let’s say you’ve written a clear and intriguing job description just like I outlined above. Posting it to a job board is a natural place to start. Some options are ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor and Google for Jobs. And sharing it on your own LinkedIn profile, on Facebook and within relevant social media groups and trade organizations will help you make an even bigger splash.

  1. Decide how you’ll compare resumes

Here, not only do you decide what criteria you’ll favor when reviewing candidates, you can also list your priorities in order of importance to help compare candidates in a consistent and weighted fashion. In fact, when you craft your job description, one easy hack is to list the responsibilities, competencies and required experience in their order of importance in their respective lists. Then you can use the job description itself to rank candidates against those key requirements.

One caution here is to remember that a resume is simply one piece of a more complex puzzle. It’s likely the first exposure you have to a candidate, but a sheet of paper and a human being are very different. So use the resume as a starting point for evaluation and comparison, but by no means the entire picture.

  1. Standardize your interviews

Interviewing consistently—using the same questions and making sure those questions are written to get at the heart of the role’s responsibilities—is essential to make your hiring process consistent and repeatable. Keep your open-ended interview questions organized and clear, and take notes when you sit down with each candidate. These notes will allow you to complete an objective evaluation when comparing candidates and choosing the right talent for your business.

  1. Consider the right assessments

Most of us have had the experience of interviewing a candidate we thought would be just perfect for our organization, and months later finding out that they misrepresented their skills or competencies. I always recommend adding assessments into your hiring process to combat this. What combination of tactical skills assessments (typing speed, Excel proficiency, etc.) and communication/cultural/job fit assessments can you work into your process? Again, these become repeatable every time, and help break through the tendency to hire people we like in favor of people that will do the work we need well and add value to our organizations.

After finding and hiring the right talent, read my article about training new hires to your standards to set new employees up for success right away.

Why you need the best hiring process for your small business

Your Market: How Realistic Are You In Hiring?

Even the best hiring process won’t pay off if your expectations aren’t realistic. When looking at your market, one of the big business decisions to make in hiring is what you’ll be able to pay. Don’t stretch your budget or lower your expectations so far that you feel like you’re “settling,” because that never works out. (Mr. Good Enough is out of fashion in dating, so why should your business ever settle?)

Looking at my home state of Colorado and all the Kleriti clients here, the balance of budgets against the job market has been especially tough. I’ve had clients say that it feels like candidates come in asking for a million dollars.

Naturally, with unemployment rates falling lower and lower, top talent will have the luxury of being pickier about their next job. This is where the intrigue written into your job description comes into play by adding excitement and relatability to the opportunity you have to offer.

And while large corporations may be able to offer bigger salaries and more robust benefits packages, small businesses can offer incredible benefits to employees that often go undersold. In small business, employees may get:

  • Greater exposure to multiple roles, allowing them to grow and develop their interests and skills more quickly and robustly
  • More ability to see the impact of their work by directly serving a population they care about
  • Increased opportunities to impact the organization with recommendations and insights that can have an immediate effect on the organization’s direction
  • Greater flexibility

Do not underestimate these benefits, and remember that at every step of the hiring process you’re selling your organization and the role to the candidate as much as they’re selling themself to you.

If you’re looking for new talent now, it’s not too late to do a little extra research, revamp your job description and see what’s hot in your local job market. By taking a look at the most popular positions posted by large employers in your area, and how the associated job descriptions are written, you’ll be able to gain insight into what’s attracting local talent. Use this data to inform your decision regarding salary and benefits, but again, stick to what’s right for you and where your organization is at in its growth.

If you’re still feeling down about finding talent for your organization, drop me a comment here or send me an email to get the conversation started. Your organization certainly has great opportunities to offer the right team members, so there’s no reason not to start with that call today.

You Know An Employee Is Ready To Take Responsibilities Off Your Plate When…

You Know An Employee Is Ready To Take Responsibilities Off Your Plate When…

As a business owner, one of the most important things you do is delegate. After hiring the right people and setting standards for each role, you’ll be faced with new opportunities on a daily basis to delegate tasks and projects, and help employees move to new heights in performance and skill.

It’s satisfying to see an employee grow. So how do you know when someone is ready to take on more responsibility?

One of the first signs that an employee is fully invested in your company (and ready to take more responsibility) is when his or her vocabulary shifts from “mine” and “yours” to “ours.” It’s not just about the employee’s success, and it’s not just about the success of the company. It’s about “our” success together.

This sounds great, especially with that goal in the back of your mind to get to a place where you can let go of the day-to-day and watch your business run itself. You want your hard work to pay off in a self-sustaining way. The specifics of “when” and “how” come down to human resources and recognizing when an employee’s growing skillset can mean bigger opportunity for your business.

Here, I’m going to break down how to identify when an employee is ready to take on more responsibility and carry your business forward.

When an Employee is Ready and Knows it

An employee who is ready for more responsibility and shows it

There are employees who are hungry for more responsibility and make it known to you and your team.

Naturally, any employee you’re considering handing new responsibilities off to will have excelled in meeting his or her current accountabilities. Take a look at any energetic or ambitious employee against the key performance indicators (KPIs) you have in place to ensure that existing tasks are being completed consistently and correctly.

Then look at the telltale signs below that signal an employee is ready to take on even more:

  • Ingenuity: If an employee actively looks for solutions to problems, this demonstrates a drive to exceed expectations, play to the success of the business and ultimately take on more responsibility.
  • Prioritization: Taking on new tasks requires excellent time management practices. In the face of new responsibilities, an employee has to know how to stay on top of current duties and work new ones in while keeping priorities clearly outlined.
  • Managing deadlines: Hand-in-hand with prioritization is the employee’s ability to watch deadlines and take charge of follow-up. Meeting deadlines, and proactivity communicating when a deadline may not be met, are key practices that become more essential when the employee’s plate is even fuller.

When an Employee is Ready and Doesn’t Know it—Yet

An employee who is ready for more responsibility but doesn't know it yet

Maybe you have an employee who’s showing signs that he or she is ready for more responsibility, but lacks the spark to ask for additional tasks proactively. In this case, get curious and speak with the employee about what’s going on. It’s possible he or she has a concern about biting off more and being successful, or simply isn’t aware that there are additional ways he or she could bring value to the organization.

It’s your job to see the possibilities for this employee’s skillsets and strengths and match them with organizational needs.

These are some of the signs that an employee is ready for more responsibility, whether or not he or she knows it:

  • Excelling in existing responsibilities: This is the basic metric when thinking about handing off more assignments or tasks. If your employee is excelling in tasks on his or her plate now, it may be time to start building that employee up to bigger things.
  • Strong performance reviews: If your recent reviews of the employee outline strong adherence to KPIs, that’s one sign that he or she is ready for more. And if your reviews include any type of self-assessment where the employee has shown confidence in work done, that’s an even bigger push to start giving that employee more to do.
  • Acting as the go-to: If other teammates are reaching out to this employee for help with technical or theoretical questions, and he or she has the answers, this may signal that the employee is ready to take on more.

    Expert tip: If other employees are going to one person with questions, this also signals an opportunity in your training program. Make sure team members are cross-trained and have access to the information they need to do their job well.

Align Appropriate Rewards

When an employee takes on more responsibility, consider what type of recognition is most appropriate. If the employee is up for a promotion or raise, celebrate the hard work that went into it. And if you hadn’t thought about a promotion or a raise yet, ask yourself what that employee would need to demonstrate in order for a promotion or raise to be appropriate, and share the criteria with him or her to build up that employee’s momentum.

That said, a raise isn’t the only way to show an employee your appreciation. You can also recognize your employee (and encourage the same behaviors from the rest of your team) using one of several reward approaches. Handing more responsibility to an ambitious and resourceful employee will be good for you, good for the employee and good for your team if done right.

Once you do identify an employee who is ready for more responsibility, the art of delegating is another practice you’ll want to master. And coupled with the recognition and rewards that will keep employees motivated in their new tasks, you and your team will be on the path to bigger things.

Do you have a specific case to ask about? Or an employee who’s shown some of these signs, but not others? Leave me a comment below with your question, or reach out here.

5 Steps To Train Staff To Work To Your Standards

5 Steps To Train Staff To Work To Your Standards

When applying for a new job or considering a job offer, “opportunity for growth” is the second most important thing people look for—right after salary.

When looking at the millennial audience, in particular, a whopping 46% of survey respondents said they left their last job for growth potential.

The point here is that your employees actually want to work to your standards. They want to learn and grow. They want to be engaged, and they want to get more involved over time.

You would think that this hunger to grow means that each new hire will, thus, always be ready to work and work hard—and even up to your own standards.

And yet, there’s a disconnect somewhere along the way. New hires choose to work with you, having measured what room there is to grow. So, why aren’t they growing? How can you motivate staff to work consistently to your standards? Where’s that hunger gone?

The short answer is: training. You have to train your staff correctly in order to work to your standards, or that expectation will never be met.

The long answer brings us to these 5 essential steps.

1. Know Your Standards

A funny thing happens when we communicate. Whether it’s a conversation, an email, or a job description, we have a very clear idea in our heads of what it is we want to transmit.

But then the receiving side doesn’t always picture what we had in mind.

If you want your staff to work to your standards, you must explicitly outline those standards. Start with a little soul searching to find the words, and take notes: what standards do you hold yourself to? What inspires you to meet those standards?

This exercise is a necessary starting point. Anything we feel or expect in life that’s even a little abstract only takes form when we put words to it. It’s how we catalogue our world. So, take a few minutes, close the door to your office and write out what standards you have. Get specific, and include the “why” and other motivators behind each one.

2. Communicate Your Standards

Now, you’ve done the soul searching. You’ve spelled out your standards, where they come from, and what they mean to you.

Next, ensure you have the right language and channels in place to communicate those standards.

When it comes to training staff, you need to have role-by-role key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, communicated openly to each employee. Your KPIs, when clearly identified for each staff member, can help you quantify and qualify those standards you want to train staff to work to.

To measure staff properly on your key standards using KPIs, harken back to the goals and motivations behind those standards. KPIs have to be as objectively measurable as possible, or you risk opening the floodgates of inconsistency that can undo your “standards metrics” altogether.

For example, let’s say it’s your standard to “go the extra mile” for clients. What does that mean? How do you measure it? That could mean a KPI of client retention, or of clients contacted just to “check in” during a given week.

3. Streamline Training

What a buzzword—streamline. What does that mean, “streamline training?”

Streamlining anything means locking in a system to make it happen. This includes an outline of what the process needs to achieve, the steps to get there, and the accountabilities to make those steps easy to follow for all players involved.

In training your staff to work to your standards, your system starts with those same KPIs we just talked about. What training does an employee need to meet all those metrics?

Now, list that training out.

Next, ask yourself, how much time will that training take? Just like you need to schedule in when you check email during the day (and how much time you plan to reply to messages), you need to put real numbers on how much training can be done with your staff and in what frame of time.

Last, and equally important, you have to gather the resources you’ll need for each part of training. For example, if you’re training a client service rep, do you have all needed training documents and tools in one place? Lead sheets? Call scripts? CRM training docs?

This is where most companies’ training stops. If you really want your staff to work to your standards, let’s see what comes next.

4. Offer More Training And Ask For Feedback

One of the standards I’m willing to bet you hold dear is the hunger to continually learn and grow.If you want to support this standard for your staff, the key is offering them opportunities to learn with purpose.

Ongoing training serves two purposes:

  1. It builds staff knowledge and skills
  2. And it keeps staff engaged

Once an employee is trained in and technically knows how to do their job, if you’re at a loss for what other training to offer, there are a couple directions you can go.

First, you can consider adding new responsibilities to offer more training.

Second, you can check in with staff for feedback on what they want to learn. This gives employees a stake in the training they’re about to receive, and emboldens them to view the world through the lens of “what else can I do?”

Share this nugget with your staff, too: asking for advice or training actually makes you look smarter, according to a recent study from the Harvard Business Review. Encourage the company culture where team members know they can come to you (or go to the right person) and ask for more training in order to live up to the standards you’ve set—and even surpass them.

5. Reinforce With Company Culture

This brings us to the hardest part: promoting the same passion you have and getting your staff equally interested in what they’re doing. But how can you get employees to work to your standards, the owner of a business, when it’s not theirbusiness?

For one, make sure you share company successes along with individual successes. You can permit yourself to brag a little if it opens an opportunity to talk about how awesome your business is, along with each of the employees who work there.

Permit me a minute on my soap box. There’s a big difference between confidence and conceit, right? With confidence, you strut and say, “I’m awesome.” But with conceit, you puff your chest out and say, “I’m better than you, and you, and you…”

Most of the time, we want to be confident, but not conceited.

In business, and to create the company culture that will promote standards of excellence, however, a little conceit is a good thing. Tell your brand story and make sure your staff knows the character roles each of them play. If you believe your brand really is better than the competition, how do you back that up?

One of the biggest factors is almost always the team that makes the company up. So make sure your staff knows that.

The right company culture will pay off in many ways. And combined with these other steps, you’ll finally be able to zero-in on that age-old question of how to train staff to work to your standards. If you haven’t already, get out your pen and paper and start with step 1 right now.

Questions? Leave us a comment below!