3 Technologies You Can Use to Re-Skill Your Employees

November
11, 2019

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Caroline Stokes’s book Elephants Before Unicorns. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.I’d like to introduce you to three technologies that will help people leaders discover talent and fuel your teams’ evolution to avoid dinosaur syndrome (falling behind in terms of the skill and functionality of your teams). Let’s walk briefly through each of them.Bias Avoidance Talent MatchingThe first tool is SquarePeg, a matching service for job seekers and employers that uses online assessments to measure a candidate’s aptitude, preferences and character traits, and determine which organization would be the best fit.When founder Claire McTaggart spoke to me of her time leading a recruitment team as a hiring manager for a strategy consulting firm, she said she found that her team was asking the wrong questions. Instead of, “Where did you go to school? What was your GPA? Which company are you at now?” they should have been asking, “Do you enjoy solving analytical problems? Do you work well on teams? Are you interested in working with a large organization?”The SquarePeg platform takes such psychometrics and preferences into account. How it works: The candidate takes the assessment, which matches her with jobs for which she’s a strong fit. Each employer has taken the assessment as well. When the candidate receives her report at the end of the assessment, it tells her, “You’re an 84 percent match with Company XYZ, and here’s why.” She can then choose to connect with the companies she matched with.On the employer side, the hiring manager now has a curated selection of people who are a good fit for the organization and interested in working there. The recruiter gets to skip the tedious work of scanning through resumes and can focus on higher-value human-to-human exchanges, educating the candidate about the role and telling her where she may experience success as well as which job functions might prove challenging.Related: How to Commit and Turn ‘Diversity’ into ‘Inclusion’Predictive Machine Learning Evolving at the Speed of Your OrganizationPymetrics uses neuroscience and machine learning to help companies hire in a way that’s predictive and diversity-friendly. A candidate encounters Pymetrics as the first step in a company’s job application process. Pymetrics uses neuroscience games and machine learning to predict whether a candidate would be a good fit in the workplace. Here’s how it works: The candidate takes a 20-minute assessment in the form of computer games that analyze things such as memory, planning, attention, risk tolerance, risk and reward profile, and learning style. Prior to this, everyone else in the company had taken the assessment, too. Pymetrics then compares the data from the assessments to determine whether the candidate is a good match.This technology has three especially cool features:It’s self-learning and adaptive. As your organization’s needs evolve, the tech can evolve with it. Pymetrics can anticipate the “future person” you’ll need to move your company forward and test candidates to see if they fit that future role.It’s designed to be bias-free. All humans have biases, whether we want to admit it or not. When a recruiter scans resumes, a candidate is less likely to get an interview if said candidate is a woman, a person of color, older, etc. Pymetrics selects candidates via an unbiased algorithm; the recruiter can then focus on human-centered aspects of the work.If a candidate isn’t a good fit, it will direct him to other companies for which he might be better-suited. I particularly love this last aspect. If candidates go through the application process and don’t end up signing on with the company, they still leave happy — now they have all these other options!Related: 3 Ways You Can Help Your New Hires to SucceedEvolving Your Current EmployeesYour current internal operations need to be evaluated, evolved and invested in. The Riff Learning technology has the potential to transform them. Riff measures conversational dynamics and provides feedback during and after video interactions.What percentage of your business do you conduct via videoconferencing? Chances are, it’s a high number. Riff Learning works to enhance the satisfaction of participants in these conferences. In a meeting — whether in person or via videoconferencing — the goal is dynamic collaboration. You want an environment in which participants freely share ideas and opinions to arrive at authentic solutions. As a people leader, you want to know whether this collaboration is happening or whether one person is grandstanding and discouraging the participation of others, either consciously or subconsciously.The Riff platform has three core features to make your videoconferencing as productive as possible. Riff uses the vocal activity and facial-gesturing patterns of participants to measure when people are talking, whether they’re agreeing with each other, and participants’ levels of engagement (it does this without recording the content of the conversations). It also offers real-time feedback through a feature called the “meeting mediator,” which tracks “turn-taking” in the exchange and notes whether one person is dominating the conversation. Finally, after the meeting is over, Riff offers an analysis of your interaction and gives you a history of your interactions in past videoconferences.For companies that do a significant portion of their business remotely, Riff is enormously beneficial. Conference participants who tend to take up most of the air in a conversation may not realize what they’re doing. Conversely, less talkative participants may feel there’s no opportunity for them to share their thoughts — they leave such meetings feeling frustrated and disengaged. Riff measures these dynamics in real time and provides the data to the employee so they’re aware of the behaviors impacting collaboration and other team dynamics that are skewing in a less than optimal way. Riff values the contribution of all your team members — not just the loudest. By measuring participation and engagement, team members are invited to rethink their conversational dynamics and aim for more genuine collaboration.Whatever your organization’s current status, when used correctly, tech can be a powerful unicorn-attraction tool. So pick the tech that suits your needs, and re-skill your teams accordingly.Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.

The 9-Step Quick Guide to Rehabbing Your Career

January
7, 2020

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Kanika Tolver’s book Career Rehab. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.One of the most important phases of your career rehab journey is creating your Rehab YOU career blueprint. Become the architect of your career by considering your desired career path, location, salary, scope, organization type, benefits and perks and mentors. You’ll start to feel more confident in your career renovations as you craft your vision of your dream career. Here’s how to get started: Related: Building a Meaningful Career1. Be a brand, not an employee Most employees don’t see themselves as brands because they don’t feel empowered by their company’s leadership or don’t like what they do every day. As you rehab your career, you’ll identify your strengths, subject-matter expertise and professional experience and use those to create your brand. 2. Build your brand by “dating” jobs As a professional career coach, I always advise my clients that it’s healthy to “date” jobs until you find the one you love. In other words, don’t be afraid to try a job for a limited time and then move on; it’s OK to find a new job every 12 to 24 months. The more professional experience you have, the more you learn and the more you can earn. Not only do you build your personal brand as you date jobs, but you’re constantly building your professional network as well. My motto is: Date jobs and marry the dream. Until you find your dream job, define your purpose and execute your passions, you should date jobs before settling down.3. Market yourself like an ad As you date jobs and develop your personal brand, learn how to market your new experience and skills using social media. Some of the best authors, speakers, actors and athletes use the internet to market their personal brands. Use your resume and LinkedIn profile to socialize your brand and connect with other professionals in online groups and forums.Related: The Risks of Candidates Climbing Back Down the Corporate Ladder4. Be you, sell you As you market yourself and test what works, be ready to launch your personal brand by focusing on authenticity. You’ll soon be selling yourself to industry leaders, recruiters and hiring managers, so the real question is: What are you selling to them besides your resume? Where is the real you?You can launch your brand by selling yourself through presentations, blogs, websites, white papers and courses that will enhance people’s perception of your professional experience and you’ll become more comfortable selling your authentic self by going to job interviews, speaking at conferences, attending meetups and participating in networking events.5. Network like a hustler Networking is a critical asset to rebuilding your personal brand. While professional networking isn’t easy for everyone, no matter what your personality type, you need to expand your network to take advantage of all the career benefits of professional networking.Professional networking expands your industry knowledge as you learn from others and it opens doors to new career opportunities. Besides networking in person, you can network online using social media, virtual events and online learning platforms.6. Get paid now: Money, power and respect No one wants to go through the process of designing, building, testing and launching their revamped personal brand without getting the pay, power and respect they deserve along with their new role. You need to learn how to negotiate your salary, benefits and incentives using the professional experience and education you already have. That sounds easy, but most professionals don’t take the time to research the correct salary range for their city and state, leaving them at a disadvantage when negotiating. It’s time to take back your power.7. Don’t overcommit to work The career rehab journey is all about letting go of what doesn’t work for you and deciding how your career should be renovated, developed and managed. Your career should always be centered around work-life balance. It’s important to eat right, exercise, spend time with your family and take vacations. Put your physical, mental and spiritual well-being first while still having an awesome career.Related: How Burned-Out Workers Are Jump-Starting Their Careers8. Commutes worth the coins According to 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data, the average one-way commute in the U.S. is 26.1 minutes. That adds up to 4.35 hours a week and more than 200 hours (nearly nine days) per year for full-time employees. In my experience as a career coach, professionals who have a long commute tend not to have great work-life balance and aren’t as excited about their jobs as someone with a commute under 30 minutes. You need to find a job that gives you more career opportunities close to home and provides telecommuting options throughout the week.9. Stay focused on you Career rehab takes a lot of work. But the most difficult part is maintaining a healthy career lifestyle and a solid personal brand as you do it. It can be hard to sustain a good work-life balance, a healthy lifestyle and a good working relationship with the jobs you date. We have to care for ourselves, our families and our careers without falling into patterns of neglect that can tear away at the “good bones” of our careers. Career rehab isn’t a one-time renovation but a lifestyle, but you can learn to maintain your personal brand as you deal with the ups and downs of life.Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.

Launched In Lockdown: The Bakery Business That’s On The Rise

While the pandemic forced many businesses to fold, for some entrepreneurs the last year has been a time of opportunity and growth. At the start of lockdown last March partners Jake Jones and James Talbot started baking and delivering bread from their home in Witney, Oxfordshire. A year on they are running a successful high street bakery store Pobi, with plans to open several more and set up their own bakery school.

Talbot, 25, previously worked as an account manager in retail sales, while Jones, also 25, was in hospitality, where he’d worked for seven years. Last March Jones was made redundant.
“It was a huge shock, but at the same time it got us thinking of what else Jake could do,” says Talbot. “He’d always dreamed of opening a shop in his hometown of Barry in Wales, and he’d always wanted to bake. So we set up a website, registered with the relevant local authorities, and almost overnight Jake started baking from home. We sold locally, to friends, family, and neighbors, and via social media platforms, and pretty quickly we started to build a following.”
Within three months they were delivering further afield, and were also attracting some wholesale customers. “They told us that when lockdown was over, they’d like to use our products in their kitchens too,” says Talbot. “It was only a small part of what we were doing, but it provided us with a good additional revenue stream.”

By late summer demand for their produce was increasing, and they were outgrowing their home kitchen, so they began scouting for a local shop, and secured a startup loan of £20,000 from Virgin StartUp to fund the investment.

Talbot says: “The funding was crucial to the next stage of business growth, but just as valuable was the support they provided, including help with our business plans and cash flow, and access to a business mentor. One important thing we learned is that your business plan goes out of date almost as soon as you’ve written it, especially in these uncertain times.”

In October they opened their shop, Pobi – which is Welsh for bake – on their local high street, and from there things began to take off. By December, when lockdown had eased and people were able to go shopping, turnover was double that of the earlier lockdown months.
Talbot says: “We were contacted by a couple of large wholesale companies whose orders would require us to significantly increase production. We were already baking to capacity in a 200-square-foot space in the shop, so we spoke to our flour suppliers, who’d been very supportive from the start, and they leased us some of their storage facility which we converted into our present-day production kitchen.”
In January Talbot quit his job to join the business full time, and admits that he found the transition more difficult than expected. He says: “I genuinely thought I’d go from working 40 hours a week to working 20 and having some down time. In reality it is more like 70 hours, because you have to do everything, from cleaning the floors to business planning and meeting with potential partners.”
They recently hired their first employees, including a full-time retail manager, and are planning the next stages of retail growth. Talbot says: “Witney will always be our flagship store because of the support that we’ve had here and because we feel part of the community, but we would like to open satellite shops in Barry and Bath.”
The wholesale side of the business is also expanding, but what the founders are really excited about are their plans to create something for the community and open a Pobi Bakery School within their production facilities, where they can offer bakery masterclasses to the local community, including schools.
“We want to share what we’ve learned over the past year,” says Talbot. “Our production facility unit has a huge amount of headspace that could be transformed into a mezzanine, interactive space for a bakery school, where students can learn and watch our team at work in the kitchen. Our ultimate goal is to become accredited and offer formal certification training courses to a wider audience.”
All of this will require significant funding, and the founders are already in talks with potential finance partners. As Pobi marks its first anniversary Talbot reflects on how far the business has come, especially during a year when so many others have struggled to survive. Turnover for the current financial year is on track to hit £135,000, with a forecast of £250,000 for the following year.
He says: “When we started out last March we couldn’t have envisaged where the business would be today. Everything happened so quickly, and the last six months have been especially challenging. One thing that you don’t anticipate is how little time you get to spend with each other away from the business, but we are loving the independence and wouldn’t change anything. We’ve had incredible support from our local community and Virgin StartUp and that more than anything has helped us to get to where we are today.”

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April
11, 2021

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Being inquisitive about data is essential for any web-based business. How are you going to operate a website without knowing how people are actually using it? That’s why Google Analytics is so crucial for any business running a website. It will give you the insights you need to make better decisions about your content, web optimization, SEO, and more. This free tool is preferred by millions worldwide as a simple way to understand their web traffic and make improvements to their websites. If you’re ready to learn GA, The Google Analytics Master Class Bundle is a great place to start.This five-course bundle comprises 12 hours of training from Google Certified Marketer Daragh Walsh (4.4/5 instructor rating), Boot Camp Digital CEO Krista Neher, and professional training organization Earn and Excel (4.4/5 rating). Through these courses, you’ll get a beginner-to-advanced training in Google Analytics.You’ll learn how to set up and configure an account and understand how to use Google Analytics to make better decisions for your site. Through hands-on training, you’ll explore the Google Analytics dashboard and learn how to make sense of the data that Google provides. Not only that, but you’ll learn how to set up Google Ads campaigns, use advanced techniques for a deeper understanding of user behavior, and more. You’ll also learn how to seamlessly integrate with other Google products like Google Data Studio to better leverage your data to attract more web traffic and increase your conversions.Start marketing like a pro with help from the data you gather through Google Analytics. Right now, The Google Analytics Master Class Bundle is on sale for just $34.99.Looking to diversify your investments in 2021? Check out DiversyFund to start dipping your toes in private real estate for as low as $500.Prices subject to change.

This Data Privacy Filter Can Help Protect Your Small Business From Cybercrime

Small businesses are frequent cybercrime targets. Protect yours today.

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April
11, 2021

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

When it comes to small businesses and cybercrime, the statistics are frightening. Forty-three percent of all cyber attacks worldwide target small businesses, and 60 percent of small businesses that are victims of a cyber attack go out of business within six months. Cybercrime costs businesses more than $2.2 million every year and, in 2019, there was a 424 percent increase in new small-business cyber breaches. Simply put, the digital world is dangerous for entrepreneurs.Of course, that’s not going to stop you trying to push your business to the top, so you might as well take some precautions. For instance, the Winston Privacy Filter.[embedded content]Winston is a plug-and-play device that gives you control over your digital privacy. Unlike VPNs, anti-malware, and other subscription cybersecurity products, with Winston, you only pay once and you’re covered whenever you plug in. Not only does Winston cloak your location and identity from anyone creeping on your network, but it also blocks malware and adult content, filters out ads and trackers, and more. The end result is a cleaner, faster, more secure browsing experience that keeps your small business safe.Winston works on every device in your home or office, from computers and smart TVs to tablets. You can protect mobile devices with the iOS and Android apps and encrypt your internet to prevent hacks and identity theft. Winston uses smart cloaking to route high-risk traffic over a zero-logging, proprietary distributed Privacy Mesh network, making it extremely difficult for your location and identity to be tracked. Best of all, there are no subscription fees.Protect your digital life and improve your browsing experience on every device. Get the Winston Privacy Filter for 10 percent off today at $179.Don’t forget to check out DiversyFund to start investing in private real estate in 2021. You don’t have to be in the 1% to get started. Invest today for as low as $500.Prices subject to change.

Spruce Up Your Office or Workspace with These 10 Must-Have Items

April
11, 2021

4 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Whether you’re working from home for the foreseeable future or you’re about to head back to working in person, there’s no time like spring to update your office. We’ve rounded up some of the coolest items on sale right now to spruce up your office.

Plus, during our storewide Spring Savings promo, when you spend $75, you’ll get $10 in-store credit to put towards even more cool stuff for the future. Check out some of today’s offers.

Mobile Pixels TRIO: Portable Dual Screen Laptop Monitor

Image credit:
Mobile Pixels

Need some more screen space? This innovative Indiegogo-funded multi-screen laptop accessory lets you add two additional monitors to your laptop. It’ll boost productivity and make it easier than ever to multitask wherever you are.

Get the Mobile Pixels TRIO for $219.99 (Reg. $256.99) with promo code SCREEN44.

Costway Massage Gaming Chair

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Costway

Sure, it’s made for gamers, but it’s designed for supreme comfort. Ergonomically designed, the seat height, armrest direction, and back tilt are all fully adjustable while the rolling wheels ensure smooth movement in all directions. Plus, it’s equipped with a headrest and a massage lumbar cushion for ultimate comfort.

Get the Costway Massage Gaming Chair for $219.99 (Reg. $319), a savings of 31%.

Mount-It! Height Adjustable Sit-Stand Desk Converter

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Mount-It!

Like standing while working but don’t have the budget for a full standing desk? This elegant converter will do just fine. It raises or sinks in seconds so you can go from sitting to standing easily.

Get the Mount-It! Height Adjustable Sit-Stand Desk Converter for $182.99 (Reg. $199), a savings of 8%.

Costway Computer Desk

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Costway

This elegant computer desk is perfect for smaller home offices. The engineered wood construction and powder-coated steel frame provide a sturdy, reliable construction while the smooth slide-out keyboard shelf lets you make better use of the workspace. It also has an extra bottom shelf for a computer tower or books.

Get the Costway Computer Desk for $89.99 (Reg. $269), a savings of 66%.

Offex Home/Office Wall Mounted Whiteboard Set

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Clickhere2shop

Turn your home office into the conference room brainstorming center. With this deal, you’ll get six wall-mounted whiteboards for laying out all of your brilliant ideas.

Get the Offex Home/Office Wall Mounted Whiteboard Set for $144.99 (Reg. $168), a savings of 14%.

Costway Wobble Chair

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Costway

Keep the creative juices flowing with this wobble chair! The adjustable stool leans when you shift so you can keep your body active and stimulate your mind when you’re thinking through complex problems.

Get the Costway Wobble Chair for $84.99 (Reg. $129), a savings of 34%.

Tripod Adjustable & Portable Standing Desk

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Intension Design

Set up a standing desk anywhere you want without having to pay the standing desk price tag. This ingenious tripod mount lets you work from pretty much anywhere you’d like. Just adjust the height and put your laptop on it.

Get the Tripod Adjustable & Portable Standing Desk for $159.99 (Reg. $199), a savings of 20%.

Costway Lift Top Coffee Table

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Costway

Add a classy storage element to your office with this coffee table. Not only is it a nice centerpiece, but it also has a hidden compartment for extra storage and built-in shelves for display purposes.

Get the Costway Lift Top Coffee Table for $209.99 (Reg. $299), a savings of 30%.

Yaasa Ergonomic Office Chair

Image credit:
Yaasa

Support your body through those long workdays with this ergonomic office chair. With a 20″ x 20″ cushion and comfortable backrest, the chair will give you full support throughout the day. Plus, you can adjust it with flexible height, 3D armrest, and neck support for the perfect setup.

Get the Yaasa Ergonomic Office Chair for $359.99 (Reg. $369), a savings of 2%.

Costway L-Shaped Computer Desk

Image credit:
Costway

Upgrade your workspace with this expansive L-shaped desk! It has plenty of room for you to spread out and set up monitors on one side and keep notes on the other.

Get the Costway L-Shaped Computer Desk for $134.99 (Reg. $269), a savings of 50%.

And remember, with this limited-time promo, you’ll earn a $10 store credit within 14 days of your purchase if you spend at least $75 in-store, as long as your total exceeds $75 after any returns.

Prices subject to change.

Leadership Strategies For Making Employees Happy

As a leader, it’s no surprise that one of your most crucial jobs is making sure employees are productive day in and day out. Many leaders have attempted to increase team productivity by introducing state-of-the-art technologies and testing the most successful workflow methods they could find. Unfortunately, they’re missing a key ingredient. The best way to spur productivity is to make your employees happy.

Don’t just take my word for it. In 2019, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School published research stating that workers are 13% more productive when they’re feeling happy. Not only is productivity significantly improved, but happy employees are more likely to stick around for the long haul. That means you get to enjoy low turnover rates and keep the best employees to yourself.
The question now is, how do you make your employees happy? While there are many factors that play into happiness, the following leadership strategies will certainly get you and your team on the right track.

Encourage Friendship With Team-Building Activities
A 2018 survey found that over half of employees felt lonely at work, and that number has only increased due to the changes associated with Covid-19. Whether your team is currently working remotely or not, embrace team-building activities as a way to combat loneliness and make your employees happier. When your employees are friends with each other, it’s easier to feel happy at work. It’s like going to school as a kid and feeling excited to share a class with pals as opposed to feeling isolated at a new school. 

When planning team-building activities, keep your employees’ various personalities in mind. Remember that not everyone will be interested in karaoke night (unless you have an unusually outgoing team). Don’t underestimate the value of activities such as small group walks or events that include family members. Employees are more likely to form natural bonds when they feel relaxed, not when they’re forced outside their social comfort zones. 

Celebrate the Wins 
Even your most humble and quiet employees appreciate being recognized for their hard work. While they might not be seeking recognition, affirmation that they are performing well can breathe new life into employees who might be feeling a little burned out. In fact, 79% of U.S. employees who leave their jobs say that they packed it in because they felt unappreciated. Finding ways to celebrate the wins will provide a welcome morale boost to your entire team.
Something I recently started doing with my team is ringing a gong each time we make a sale. Whoever rings the gong is the recipient of our praise, and the entire office gets to celebrate the win for the company. This has quickly turned into a fun and motivating tradition.
There are endless possibilities for celebrating the wins with your team. Treat team members to lunch after they achieve a lofty goal or run a friendly competition where the winners get gift cards. For your silent heroes, a friendly message or a one-on-one conversation thanking them for their hard work can be just as impactful. 
Offer Congratulations on Life’s Milestones
In addition to praising your employees’ work-related wins and achievements, congratulate them when they reach personal milestones. You see them primarily at work, but they’re focused on a lot of things outside of the office. Acknowledging employees’ personal lives helps them achieve the work-life balance that really sets the stage for true happiness.
You can celebrate anything from birthdays and anniversaries to closing on their first house or earning a postgraduate degree. There is no life event too small that it shouldn’t be mentioned. Ask your HR manager about their new puppy or your sales lead how their painting class is going. Taking an interest in someone’s life can make their day and help them feel valued.
Simply reaching out will do a lot for your employees’ happiness, but supporting and enabling them to grab life by the horns will have an even further-reaching impact. By providing parental leave when an employee has a new child or flexible hours to an employee who wants to go back to school, you show that you care for your employees beyond the hours they dedicate to your business. 
Listen to Feedback
Even after all the work you do to make your employees happy, there’s always something that can be improved. At the end of the day, your employees will be the judge of their working conditions, and at least one of them will have some ideas to make things even better. A good leader will hear them out and do their best to put their feedback to use.
Start by making it known that you’re open to feedback on your leadership style and the company’s way of doing things. Then take the time to sit down with any employee who has an insight they’d like to share, whether it’s about improving communication between departments or suggesting changes to the new office floor plan. 
When you receive feedback, give it serious consideration. Some of the best decisions you make will be prompted by your employees. Make the right adjustments, and they’ll be pleased that you not only listened, but delivered. Be sure to schedule follow-up meetings with employees who reached out to you to discuss the changes that were made or explain why they were passed up.
How do you gauge happiness? You can see it in the faces of your employees every day. When smiles and laughs are easy to come by, communication is friction-free and team chemistry is solid, you’ll know that your leadership strategies are working.

The 2 Business Obsessions You Need to Ignore

April
23, 2019

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Benjamin Gilad and Mark Chussil’s book The New Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.Business owners and managers often have numerous obsessions regarding their companies, from reorganization and growth to the use of consultants. Let’s cover two of these to see what they are and why they could hurt your business.ReorganizingReorganizing has an economic rationale. Markets are Darwinian instruments in the social realm, and to match changes in the market, companies should reorganize at times. It’s an adaptive response.Until it’s not. The ritual reorg typically starts with slide 136 from the consultants. In that slide, a new organizational chart is presented as far better matching “the new competitive reality,” which can be just about anything. “Disruption” is mentioned subtly 325 times. Management immediately buys into the idea since the job of management is to do something, and the excitement of “the new competitive reality” and the fear of “disruption” are effective action-triggers.Management often buys into ideas that come from consultants. If the idea works, management can take credit for its quick action. If the idea bombs, explaining that the idea was proposed by one of the leading consultancies in the world is a built-in shield. Any necessary explanation can also deflect both blame and attention by saying, “The reorg achieved significant synergies and cost savings.”Reorganizing has its own peculiar logic that reverses itself every X years. (“X” is not a large number.) Scientists are still looking into the mechanism behind the regular about-face, but we already know some principles of the process.Here’s a typical reorganization cycle based on the advice from whoever’s the reigning consultant at the time:Based on a thorough study by the consultants, the company reorganizes itself by regions based on the rising sales in whatever countries it does business in.  When that doesn’t work, the company follows the consultants’ new chart reorganizing along stra­tegic accounts, not sales regions. These are large customers who often require teams to work on their accounts. Then, when a new company comes in with a new product, the customer runs to it with glee.The company then hires a new consulting firm that recommends reorganizing by regions (again) or by product line or business area, which, again, doesn’t work.The company then goes back to step 2, but this is completely different and not a repetitive compulsive ritual because the organizational chart uses four colors for the accounts’ profitability, not just three as in the former consultants’ obsolete chart.You think we are exaggerating for effect, right? It can’t be that absurd, can it?We’re actually toning down the real havoc. According to a survey by the consulting firm The Clemmer Group, 50 to 70 percent of “reorgs” fail. Business school may have taught you that decisions at that level and with such expense are rational, carefully considered, and based on data. We’re telling you how it’s truly done.Growth Why do companies obsess about growth? There are several good reasons and one bad one.Here are the good reasons: Growth is motivating. It means more market power. It means higher profits. It means Wall Street will welcome the CFO and CEO on conference calls and label them quick and agile. It means investors will buy the shares and push the stock price up.In short: Companies obsess about growth because growth makes money.Here’s the bad reason. If you’re a short-term investor in a public company, you buy shares not to hold but to sell. You want the share price to rise as quickly as possible so you can sell it before it falls to a sucker who thinks it will keep rising. But when markets change, sometimes the best strategy is to lower growth targets, not to raise them. It’s at the core of competing as a skill, which requires honesty and clarity. But what’s good for the goose (the business) is not always good for some of the ganders (short-term shareholders).In short: Companies obsess about growth because the sky falls when growth slows. And growth always slows, sooner or later.The pathology of growth targets Growth is good. Obsessive growth targets are not. Why do executives keep pushing relentless, unrealistic, utterly delusional growth targets even if, at the end, it comes to bite them in a soft place?Underlying growth targets is the belief — unexplained, deeply rooted and unsupported by any evidence — that “if you stand still, you will die.” It’s a Darwinian survival instinct dating back to the times our ancient ancestors ran away from charging saber-toothed tigers. Then, if you stood still, you indeed died.These days, however, it’s important to ask yourself: Who says that growth is so necessary? What’s wrong with stability? What’s wrong with being satisfied with where you are and making sure you keep up that performance (which requires competing, not delusions)?A company’s obsessive growth targets reflect a real fear of the prospect of merely stable earning. And the idea that the only winning strategy is to dive into high-growth markets is the bread and butter of Wall Street. MBA programs don’t often teach about dull industries that make money year after year, even without apps. How boring.But boring industries are still out there making money and differentiating themselves without bleeding their competitors with price wars, rampant imitation, or casting the widest possible net (mass markets!). In fact, the smart players make money by segmenting the market. Competing in a boring industry isn’t just a tightening game as some analysts would have us believe. It’s a positioning game.But when we try to tell/sell it to “Corporate,” the response is swift: We’re opening a new plant in China! If every Chinese person buys just one product from us, we’ll be rich! It’s in the spirit of the kid selling lemonade for $10,000 a glass (“I just have to sell one”) and it’s not much better.Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.

How To Scale Your Team For The Impending Customer Surge

To date, about 16% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Coupled with President Joe Biden’s announcement that he expects there to be enough vaccine doses for every U.S. adult by the end of May, and companies will likely see an uptick in consumer activity this summer.With that surge in consumer demand likely to materialize in the coming months, companies and their employees need to be ready to go. Productivity, efficiency, and quality can’t afford to dip, meaning staff and employees need to be up to the task.

As business increases and the economy starts to return, in some ways, to pre-pandemic levels, preparations need to be made. The surest way to do that is to have enough qualified employees to guide you through the rush.
Build A Staff That Can Keep Up With Demand
Research shows that staying adequately staffed during peak periods can yield a 7% bump in sales and a 6% increase in profitability. Low-risk, cost-effective staffing practices can help businesses weather the anticipated influx of customers as the pandemic subsides. Here’s how you can prepare:

1. Explore temporary staffing options. COVID-19 forced many companies to get creative in terms of staffing. With nonessential businesses downsizing their teams in some cases and essentials ramping up, temporary staffers became stop-gap options for companies trying to remain operational.

Businesses preparing for an influx of customer activity would be wise to supplement their workflow with temporary staffers. According to Christine Proffitt, vice president of sales at Integrity Staffing Solutions, temporary workers are versatile options for any company trying to keep things flowing.

“Hiring a temporary worker isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor,” Proffitt said. “For example, you might want to hire a classic temporary worker who fulfills a role that’s needed for a specific length of time. … On the other hand, you might be more interested in a temp-to-hire candidate that enables you to test the applicant on the job.”
Assess your company’s short- and long-term needs and see how temporary workers can help. Sometimes they can be a means to an end; other times, these employees can become permanent solutions to your staffing needs.
2. Look to your team for referrals. According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management, one new hire costs a company $4,425. That’s a sizable dent in your budget for a lone applicant, but it’s a blow that could be softened by looking to your current team to help identify potential hires.
When companies welcome candidate referrals from their team members, studies show that the applicants are of a higher quality. The pool of talent is more willing to listen to an offer and more likely to thrive in the company, should they come aboard. And they’re more likely to stay with the organization, helping retention and keeping hiring costs low.
Referrals usually come with more insight into what the company wants from a candidate and how they can fit in culturally. For employees, identifying a potential hire puts them out on a limb, so they’ll likely only send people that they’d feel comfortable staking their reputation on.
According to LinkedIn, the top way people find out about jobs is through referrals. When openings occur, loop in employees and ask them to pass along promising candidates. Develop a referral program that offers financial or growth incentives to spur team members into identifying talent that would be a good fit.
3. Use technology to recruit faster and better. Approximately 98% of Fortune 500 companies leverage some kind of recruiting software. Furthermore, 68% of all business leaders know that recruiting success in the next five years will come through technology investments. Staff up quickly and find high-quality candidates by leaning on the slew of available recruiting solutions.
Traditional sourcing avenues like job boards are still popular ways of identifying top talent. That said, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are quickly becoming valued assets in the pursuit of top-flight talent. About 63% of recruiters report AI has impacted their companies’ recruiting, and more than half of those respondents say the technology helps them recruit more efficiently.
AI and machine learning are permeating several industries, providing convenience and clarity along the way. According to Mark Brandau, a principal analyst on Forrester’s CIO team, it’s a wave that will pick up even more momentum.
“All vendors are moving in that direction without question,” Brandau said. “It’s the way of the future.”
As you ramp up your hiring in anticipation of increased demand, look for bottlenecks in the process. Whether it’s sourcing, candidate outreach, or even the candidate experience, find ways to improve it via AI. The technology should make your process faster and enable your company to keep up with its needs going forward.
While the pre-pandemic status quo might not return in full, the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines means more traditional consumer activities will rebound. Make sure your team is up to the task of handling it all. Look at all staffing options (including temporary ones), leverage referrals, and lean on hiring technology to quickly fill your team out to prepare for the coming surge.

How To Ease Client Anxiety In Your Service-Based Business

No one really loves going to the dentist, and dentists know this. Taking note of this hard truth, many dentists and dental practices have applied thoughtful entrepreneurial approaches to the age-old problem of not wanting to go to the dentist. This has resulted in premier dental ‘spas’ with luxurious experiences and other approaches to dentistry, such as ‘emotional dentistry.’ Dr. Rodney Raanan and Dr. Justin Raanan are both graduates of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and pioneers in the dentistry field, combining entrepreneurship with dentistry.They’re on the leading edge of the massive shifts that the dental industry is going through, and what they’ve come up with offers considerations for any other healthcare provider or entrepreneur who offers a service that patients or clients are often nervous about, whether that’s cosmetic surgery or even tax support. 

Here are a few tips to lower the anxiety your client may feel when starting a project with you.

1. Create A Focus On Your Expertise
Everyone wants to feel like they’re in good hands if they’re nervous about a service or a procedure. The more that you can humbly shine a spotlight on your previous work, the more the patient or client will feel comfortable with your capacity to do a good job. “To highlight our own work, right when you walk into our office, we have an on-site lab that features ozone therapy devices, a 360-degree 3D imaging machine, laser technology, and a top-of-the-line operating microscope. This immediately shows patients that we’ll be able to handle anything they need to achieve the smile of their dreams,” explained Dr. Raanan.

If you don’t have a physical location for your service, try your own variant of this by highlighting previous client or patient success stories. The more you can show them WHAT you can do and that you have the means to do it, the more the focus can be on the end result, rather than what is causing them anxiety. Or, show them the behind-the-scenes of what you do for them. Providing extra detail and clarity goes a long way in easing anxiety.

2. Bring Multiple Specialties Under One Roof
“We also knew we needed to offer a full suite of specialties, so we also offer professional teeth cleaning and whitening, full mouth reconstruction, laser dentistry, nuVeneers, extractions, Invisalign, and implants,” Dr. Raanan said. “This contributes in helping the patient feel taken care of. It’s not always enough to be really good at one thing – sometimes, you need to partner with others in your field that you can build a suite of services with, so that you become the one-stop shop for the patient or client. Trust and comfort are the most important emotions you can strike with the client, and it’s going to take some time. Keeping everything under one roof is the fastest way to get there,” advised Dr. Ranaan.  
Building a team around your client and their needs will always go the extra mile in ensuring their ease with the process. For example, if you’re a tax accountant, consider partnering with others who can help them maximize their expenses, keep track of key tax dates, and understand their paperwork. Or, find a way to offer these services on your own, even via educational videos on your website or additional coaching sessions. 
3. Give The Client Control
Finally, understand that anxiety is often a symptom of not feeling in control. However you can make the client or patient feel in control, do it. This could be via providing extra details or letting them do a part of the procedure or service (as that makes sense for them). For the Ranaans, they do this through the presence of their on-site lab, Atelier Aesthetics. 
“Usually at dental practices, the dentists have no control over the production process of crowns and veneers. But with an on-site lab, every part of the process can be seen. We even live-stream the production process on TV’s in the office, which gives clients a sense of control and connection to the process. This emboldens their trust,” said Dr. Ranaan. 
As long as the client’s comfort comes first, you will be able to quickly build trust with them and help to ease their anxiety, whether your service is tattoo design or divorce mitigation. There are many services that people typically don’t enjoy, but need (or want) nonetheless. You have an unparalleled ability to affect their lives through easing their anxiety as they go through these procedures or services. Use it wisely.