Monthly Archives: December 2012

Those Pesky Resolutions

It’s that time of year again – time to make those (sometimes pesky) New Year’s Resolutions.  In a recent survey, the most popular resolutions for 2013 included:

1. More exercise

2. Lose weight

3. Eat more healthy foods

4. Take up or restart a hobby/activity

5. Learn a new skill

But 60% of roughly 1,200 respondents said you wouldn’t be making any New Year’s resolutions at all.

It has been shown that those people that write their goals down AND set a plan to achieve those goals will be more successful and achieve more of their goals than people who don’t write them down.

In a business, there are goals everywhere – they just might not be clearly written out and stated.  Improving the bottom line.  Improving communication with an employee.  Digging up enough money to fix that annoying copier.  Getting that new software that would improve efficiency.  And on and on.

The question you must ask yourself is:  “Are my goals written down?” and “Are my goals measurable?”

Writing those goals will give you something to focus on.  If you look at your goals every day, then you will remain laser focused until you achieve that goal.

Today is a perfect day to sit back, review your personal goals AND your business goals.  And don’t forget to write them down!

2013 New Year Resolution information came from: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2012/12/five-most-popular-new-years-resolutions-2013-307004/

Resolve to Accept Online Applications

What better resolution than to make your biz more tech-friendly this year.  And more specifically, START accepting online job applications for your business.

Even if your business is small, this one step will make your business look better and you will receive a wider variety of qualified job applicants.

For just $10 per month on www.ninjagig.com, you receive:

  • Your own NinjaGig.com website portal
  • The ability to post unlimited jobs
  • The ability to receive unlimited employment applications
  • QR Code (those funky looking barcodes)
  • A tinyURL link for your website
  • A secure login where you can review and organize all received applications, manage job openings, etc.

Here are a Few Key Points to Consider:

-You don’t need your own existing website to receive online job applications.

As part of your registration, you will automatically get your own Ninja Gig portal. We let you choose your own domain name (yourcompany.ninjagig.com) and you will use that link to point applicants in the right direction.
-NinjaGig.com provides you with your own specific link.

We let you choose your own domain name (yourcompany.ninjagig.com) and you will use that domain name on your website and other on-line job postings to point applicants in the right direction. The simplicity of an ninjagig.com domain name makes remembering much easier for your applicants.
-Unlimited Job Applications

NinjaGig.com does not limit the number of applications you can receive from our software. Whether you receive 1 or 1,000 applications, the price is the same. Even if you only receive one application per month, our software is well worth the price to enable the on-line application process, while giving your company the tools you need to receive, track, and manage all current and previous applications.
-Mobile employment applications

We have enabled our software to make accepting employment applications from a mobile device a piece of cake. Mobile visitors will automatically be re-directed to a mobile-friendly website and still enjoy your fully-functional employment application.

-Using Ninja Gig for job postings

While our software isn’t specifically designed as a job posting service, our tools will enable you to create basic job openings with titles and descriptions.
-$10 Per Month and no Contract

We understand that your bottom line is the most important thing (next to hiring fantastic employees) – you pay $10 per month for unlimited use and applications and you don’t have to sign a huge contract. You can cancel anytime.

Having an online presence and giving applicants the ability to apply online for a job is becoming more and more of a big deal.  But, setting this up for your company is NOT a big deal at all.  It’s easy, fast and you can test drive it for free HERE.

Happy Hiring!

A Gift-Giving Guide for Bosses

Christmas is fast approaching.  Okay, it’s tomorrow.  And hopefully you got your employees something meaningful.  Something fabulous.  And something they’ll never forget.

That sounds like a tall order, but in reality, employees are not that hard to please.

In a survey of employees, the overwhelming response about receiving gifts from bosses was that it should be a surprise, something out of the ordinary, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.

One woman said that she received words of praise along with a poinsettia.  It wasn’t an expensive gift, but it was very meaningful because of the words that came along with the flower.

Another woman said that the best experience she’s ever had with a job was when the boss closed the office early for a day and took everyone up to a local resort town with gift cards for shopping and a time to meet back for lunch.  She said that though it’s been years since that experience, she’s never forgotten that surprise.

Something to keep in mind is who your employees are.  Get something personal.  Do you have a golf nut on your team?  Get them golf passes.Got a fashion-lover?  Get a gift card to a trendy department store.

One employee remembered a time when she was 19-years-old working in an office setting.  She was unmarried, still living at home with her parents and yet her boss gave her a glass serving platter that he gave the other women in the department.  It was a lame gift in her mind, something she wouldn’t use for years and definitely not thought out at all.

Gifts should be thoughtful, if given at all.  That is the number one thing survey respondents said regarding gifts.  So put some thought into those employees you hired make their Christmas the very merriest!  Employee satisfaction and high office morale are the gifts you’ll surely earn in return.

The Annual Review

Many employees look forward to their annual review for one simple reason:  it is a natural vehicle for them to get a raise.

Since the economy has been in a downturn, many employers have actually cancelled annual reviews so they don’t have to pay their employees more and also to avoid any natural discussion of pay increases.

This is not a good practice for many reasons.

First, besides the money issues, the annual review is a key time to give much needed feedback to employees.

If there are problems to be addressed or constructive criticism to be given, the year-end review is a good time to discuss these awkward subjects.

Employees thrive on positive feedback as well and if it’s not given, they are left wondering if their performance is measuring up.  The old adage by Mark Twain that reads, “I could live two months on a good compliment,” is true, especially for employees.

Second, if there is no review, you are opening up the door to feelings of resentment from employees, especially if reviews have been a part of business in the past.

If you don’t have the money to give raises, then just explain that to the employee and let them decide what they should do or if they need to find another job.

Having an honest, frank discussion about the state of your business will be appreciated much more than beating around the bush and not opening up.

Finally, reviews are a crucial time to review goals and what has or has not been accomplished in the past year.  It’s a great measuring tool to see if you and your employees are on the same page, accomplishing what needs to be done and on track for the coming year.

Don’t miss out on these crucial reviews – they are beneficial for everyone and will overall improve morale and employee performance.

To Party or Not to Party?

As Christmas approaches, many employers have a hard time deciding how to appropriately thank and honor their employees, in a budget-conscious way of course!

Many employees have recently reported that the annual Christmas party has been given the ax…much to their relief and happiness.

Christmas parties can be morale boosting experiences, or they can be pure torture.  Plan it well and it will serve to benefit your business and keep your employees happy.  If the Christmas party is an unbreakable tradition, then at least keep it appropriate by inviting spouses or even making it a family experience.

One employee recalls year after year of watching her married CEO get plastered at the annual Christmas party and then proceed to hit on his female employees with reckless abandon.

So if you do cancel the company Christmas party, or even if you still have a party, there is still the question of what to get the employees for Christmas.

Clarence Darrow wrote a response to a similar question by simply stating, “My dear woman, … ever since the Phoenicians invented money there has been only one answer to that question.”

In a recent survey, employees overwhelmingly favored getting cash for Christmas than having a party or receiving any other kind of gift.

Cash can seem a very cold way to tell someone thank you, so if you go this route, be sure to make it personal.  Write out a card.  Tell the employee what you appreciate about them.  Cite specific examples of how they benefited the company in the past year.

Christmas should be a warm, happy time and your words of appreciation and praise will go a lot further to ensure employee happiness than any amount of cash ever will.

Gossip, Gossip Everywhere – Even at Work

A recent study that came out of the University of Amsterdam found that 90 percent of all workplace conversations consist of gossip.

That sounds a bit alarming at first.  No one likes a gossip, but the study found that sometimes gossip can be helpful at work.

A team of psychologists in the Netherlands say that gossip in the workplace can serve a purpose to warn co-workers about others who are not pulling their weight or to try to get lazier workers to pick up the pace.

Say you have a friend at work that you really like, but they spend an inordinate amount of time texting their friends, online shopping or other time wasters.  A good piece of gossip to pass along might be, “Hey, I heard the boss is really cracking down on non-work related activities and I would hate for you to get in trouble.”

That would constitute as gossip, but you’re trying to help someone out in the process.

Bianca Beersma and Professor Gerben VanKleef, co-authors of the study, said that organizations can “minimize the negative and optimize the positive consequences (of gossip).”

“Speech makes it possible for group members to warn each other against those who do not behave in accordance with the group’s norms,” they wrote in the study.

The study asked 121 university’s undergrads for their motive in gossiping. Although answers varied, some said they chose to gossip to protect a group from harmful behavior among members.

“Moral codes derived from Christian and Jewish religions condemn gossip and incorporate a number of severe punishments designed to discourage it,” the authors wrote. “Even in societies in which religion no longer plays a central role, gossip is often frowned upon and is seen as reproachable.

But is gossiping really that negative? By gossiping, one can warn group members against others who violate group norms, and it is possible that this explicit motive is a reason to instigate gossip.”

So, gossip can be a positive thing, but in order to cultivate an environment that has little to no negative gossip – that has to come from the top down.

If a manager or boss is fair, equitable and stresses that loyalty to company and to each other is a key component to the success of the business, then employees will be more willing to overlook shortcomings and be a cohesive group.

Social Media and Business

Since virtually everything is online now, your business should be too.  Perhaps you have a website and have left it at that.  That was fine five years ago, but in order to thrive and get the presence you want, you have got to do more.

Many businesses are figuring things out and making their presence known on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.  There are a few ground rules businesses should follow when using these sites.

1.  Never Link Your Business Site with Your Personal One.  No one wants to see drunk pics of their favorite business owner at last year’s holiday party, or family pictures, or even pictures of that trophy elk you shot this year (unless you own a hunting store that is).

2.  Keep the Interactions Brief.  When you set up your Facebook or Twitter account – set some ground rules about when you’re going to utilize these sites.  Don’t overwhelm people with your posts, but don’t underwhelm them either.  If you’re going to set something up, use it and use it well.

3.  Make it Fun.  Have regular contests that promote your business.  If you’re a dentist, then offer a contest for free cleanings or $50 off a service.  If you own an automotive repair shop, give away a free oil change or something with similar value.  People love contests, but make it easy to enter and make it fun.

4.  Keep the Information Pertinent.  There is nothing more annoying than subscribing to a business Facebook page and then being bombarded with annoying posts.  Keep your information about your industry, not filled with political opinions or needless advice.  For example, if you’re a doctor’s office, give healthy living tips…information that people will value and not get annoyed about.  Or, if you are a retail store, use these sites to promote sales, overstock items, clearance and whatever else you want to clear out.  If people get valuable information from you, they will value you as a contact.

5.  Keep it Professional.  As much as we want our businesses to be friendly and outgoing, we also desire a true professional.  Keep your online conversations respectful, positive and not so focused on your individual business that you drive people away.

There are many social media experts out there, but you truly don’t need one if you can educate yourself about how to set these sites up and begin using them appropriately and tailored to your specific needs.

The Workplace Rash

What does one do with the workplace rash?  You know, that annoying co-worker that clips his fingernails in the cubicle next door, grinds his teeth or that picks his peeling, sunburned skin right next to you (true story by the way)!

Dealing with annoying people without giving offense is not an exact science, it is an art that you have to perfect with each offensive person you come in contact with…hopefully there’s not THAT many or you may want to start pointing that finger of blame back at yourself.

Here are three actual events and we will break them out and give some practical advice on how you could handle this situation in your own workplace life.

1.  Jennifer writes:  “I had a coworker take credit for an entire project that I did half the work for.  She told the manager she single handedly did it all by herself, right in front of me.  I didn’t speak up because I figure karma will eventually get her back…”

Jennifer was playing the kindness card and while karma definitely comes back around to bite people, should she have remained silent?

It depends.

If Jennifer would have come across as a whiny, accusing person to the manager, then she probably should have remained silent at that moment.  Sometimes when shocking things happen at work, we are better served if we take a step back, formulate what we really want to say and then deliver our message forcefully and not sounding like a whining child.

Our opinion is that Jennifer definitely should have corrected that problem, if not at that moment, then shortly afterwards in a private conversation with the manager.  Bullies should always be put in their place, or they will continue their behavior and it will amplify.

2.  Mary writes:  “I have had a lot of side by side time training people and there is a lady with horrific coffee smoker breath and when I offered gum … she said, ‘oh no, I’m fine.’ I wanted to say, ‘no,no you aren’t!”

Should Mary say something more direct?

This is awkward because you don’t want to offend others, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of time with someone who REEKS.

Our opinion is that you carefully speak to the person about the situation.  Say that you are very sensitive to smoke smells and that it would be very helpful if she could chew gum or pop a mint before you guys sit down to train with each other.

If you make it sound like your problem (your sensitivity to smells) then you are asking someone to help you out with your issues and not the other way around.

3.  Amanda writes:  “I had one coworker who would make obscence gestures with his hands and his mouth.” (Use your imagination on this one).

There is no debate here at all.  Amanda needs to put a stop to this immediately.  This is sexual harassment and can not be tolerated.  A quick report to a manager should take care of this type of behavior.  If not, it’s time to go up the chain of command and/or get the heck out of that environment.

We are all humans and there will always be someone who bugs us…kind of like a rash.  The trick is to deal with the little problems immediately before they become big ones.

Making Working from Home Work for You

A lot of companies are structured to allow people to telecommute from home.  This can be a win-win situation, especially if you live far from the office or have children to take care of at home.

Here are 5 quick tips on how to maximize your working from home experience:

1.  Set aside your work space.  First and foremost, it needs to be a space where you can’t view the laundry pile to be folded, the TV shows that your kids have on, or any other projects that you have to do at home.

If you don’t have a separate room to work in, then invest in a room divider or a screen to separate your work area from your home area.  Then, establish this place as strictly for work.  Your kids and/or spouse need to know that when you’re in your space, then you are working and are not to be disturbed unless there is a fire or emergency greater than a paper cut.

2.  Make a Schedule and Stick to It! Time-blocking your day is a great way to let everyone around you know when you’ll be working.  If the kids know you’ll be working at certain times, then they will get on a routine too.

If your friends are aware that you work between the hours of 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., they will learn to not text or call you during that time, especially if you are strict with your work hours and don’t answer the calls or texts until you are done working.

3.  Make a Non-Negotiable To-Do List.  Make a list that you WILL get done before you take the kids to the park, run errands, do the breakfast dishes or whatever else is on your home to-do list.

If you make a list that is doable and prioritize it, chances are you will accomplish it faster than you thought possible.

4.  Set Regular Meetings with Real People.  Stay in touch with your boss, your co-workers and other people vital to your success with regular face-to-face meetings.  People who telecommute often comment that they lose touch with the goals and mission of the company without regular (even just monthly) face to face meetings.

In the digital world we live in, it’s a lot easier not to make time to meet with real people, but in reality, these meetings are crucial to success and keep you connected to people that are vital to your job.

5.  Have a Little Fun.  Working from home without the usual office banter and drama can get a little drab at times.  Make sure you shake up your day a bit.

Grab lunch with a colleague, dance around the room with your kids during a 15 minute break from work, walk around the block when you need a breather – anything to keep you from being stagnant and stifling your creative juices!