| Building A Premise That Makes People Want To Come To Work

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and wanting to snooze your alarm 12 times because you hate getting up for work. Most people think that this is normal, but the truth is, it shouldn’t be the norm if you’re in the right job! That being said, there are ways you can encourage your employees to actually want to show up to work bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Making sure you’ve built an incredible work premises will help with this. Here are some tips and tricks on building a premise that will make people want to come to work:

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Make Sure the Exterior Is Attractive

How do you want your employees to feel when they turn up to work? You don’t want them to feel like they want to turn right back around. This means the exterior of your premises needs to be super attractive. Bear in mind that it also needs to be durable, so metal roofing is a good choice to withstand the elements. It’s then up to you as to what sort of signage and colors you add to make your building look great.

 

Make the Interior Bright And Inspiring

The interior of your premises is even more important. It should be bright and inspiring, helping your employees to get as much done as possible and feel great while they do so. Make sure you can let in plenty of natural light, as this has been linked with productivity. You also need to make sure there are some inspiring things on the walls – maybe you could use inspiring quotes and images. Make the interior a fun place to be, a place that helps your employees to think and create. It shouldn’t make them feel tired or lazy. Adding plants is another good idea, as they can bring beauty and life to a space, as well as help to purify the air.

 

Have Fair and Clear Policies in Place

Building a premise that people want to come to every day also means having fair and clear policies in place. When you work on these things, there can be no crossed wires with your employees, and everybody knows what is expected of them.

 

Include Bonuses and Benefits

Bonuses and benefits are an absolute must when you’re creating a place people want to come to work at every day. Having tea and coffee supplies is important, as is a fridge, microwave, and other things people can use to make food and refreshments.

A chill out area is not compulsory, but it can certainly help your employees to get away from their desks for a while, de-stress, and come up with some fresh ideas. Many new offices, even those such as Google and Facebook have adopted this approach. It’s working well for them, as you can imagine!

Are you ready to build an incredible premise that makes people want to come to work? Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way. Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and consider what’s important. Most of all, have fun with it!

| Pension Plan Or Pension Pan? Why Small Business Owners Should Consider Paying Out

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

We all know that running a business isn’t easy. If you’re just starting out, you’re probably fed of up of the considerations which keep cropping up. We’ve all been there, and most of us remember what a hard time it can be!
To make things easier, you need to look as far into the future as possible. Many entrepreneurs only overcome the obstacles they face, and hence crumble under the pressure in no time at all. But, if you plan for the future of your enterprise, there’s no reason you can’t make this work.
That’s not to say you can forget about the here and now, of course. What happens now will make a huge difference to your success in the future. But, you also need to look forward and plan ahead. For example, you need to spend some time considering how you’ll lead a team when you get one. What wages would you offer, and what benefits package would you include? It may seem a little preemptive, but you’ll be glad you considered all this when the time comes.
And, when you’re considering that benefit package, the question of pensions will crop up. Namely, should you offer one? As a new employer, your gut reaction may be to opt out, but here’s why it might be worth considering.

It might not cost as much as you think
Because you’ve thought about this from the off, it’s possible paying into a pension won’t cost as much as you think. As a sole trader, you will have to pay into that pension from tax-deducted profits. But, if you set up as a limited liability company, you may be able to make higher tax relievable pension payments. Plus, the payment will fall on your company, rather that you alone. So, find out how to start an llc, and consider whether it’s for you. With tax benefits in other areas, too, this may be worth considering.

It’ll attract the best staff
When it comes to hiring, we often think that, as the employer, we’re in control. But, that’s far from the reality. In fact, the applicants hold all the cards. You want the best team possible, and they have a variety of similar companies to choose from.

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When you consider it that way, you want to make every effort to make yourself stand out as the best option. As such, having a competitive benefits package will help you in the long run. If you don’t offer a pension, and you’re up against someone who does, you don’t stand a chance.

A fantastic sign of commitment
Along the same vein, offering a pension is a fantastic way to create a lasting work team. By investing in their future, you’re opening the doors to a long working relationship. As such, staff members are more likely to stick around for the long haul. Of course, pensions are transferable, but your commitment is likely to see a similar one in return. Or, that’s the plan, at least!

| Is Your Internship Program Legal?

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Another summer has come gone.  With the summer ending, millions of high school and college students have also ended their internships with companies of all sizes.  Internship programs are important for businesses to be competitive and to get first dibs on top talent as well as provide great networking and job skill development for the our future workforce.

There are many legal employment rules that must be followed even if the internship program is informal.  If they are not followed it could potentially harm the company financially.  The Department Labor has pretty strong guidelines when it comes to unpaid internships versus unpaid.

 

Unpaid Internship DOL Guidelines

All of the following six items must be in place for a company to be in compliance with the Department of Labor:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operations of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff
  • The employer providing the training drives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern
  • The intern is not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitles to wages for the time spent in the internship

Under the Federal  Labor Standards Act (FSLA), when all the above six factors are met, an employment relationship does not exist between the company and the intern and thus the intern does not qualify for minimum wage or overtime.  If not all criteria are met, the intern would be considered to be an employee and any applicable wage and overtime laws would apply from a federal perspective.  In some states, even more rigorous tests must be met so make sure you understand the rules in your city, county or state regarding unpaid internships.

 

Paid Internships

The Department of Labor was really put into place to discourage employers from using unpaid internships as a way to get free labor and displace workers.  If your internship uses paid interns, then the FSLA will not apply and you will need to follow normal labor laws in place for your regular employees.  In other words, nothing special needs to be done for paid internships as long as you follow the labor laws in place.

Thinking of building your own internship program? Loftis Consulting can help.  Visit us on the web or give us a call at (312) 772-6105.

| Tech Shaping The Future of The Office

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

The work environment is a crucial component of a business’s success. It’s the public face of the business. It’s the space that directly contributes to how effectively and efficiently your team can work. It’s the living beating heart of the business. Just like every other important aspect of the business, it’s going to need some work. Here, we’re going to look at what exactly it needs, and how new trends in technology and design are going to improve how you use that physical space.

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Stay Connected

Nowadays, the idea of a business that doesn’t rely on the internet is fast becoming a rare occurrence. It’s safe to assume that any workplace is going to have multiple people connected to the internet at once. They rely on being able to upload and download data quickly in order to do their jobs more productively. However, many business owners don’t give their connection speed the kind of attention it deserves. However, there are a lot of methods you can use to tackle this. For instance, you can use powerline networking, allowing more cabled connections to devices so long as the device is situated near a power outlet. If you’re using wireless, then ensure that there’s as much open space around your routers, lacking metals, mirrors, and electronics, so signal strength is much better. You can use signal boosting accessories to improve the wireless connection, too.

 

Communication Is Crucial

The network can also be one of the strongest tools to improve the communicative abilities of the team.  There are a plethora of different tech tools you can use to help people communicate in different ways. It’s all about finding the right tool for the right kind of communication. For quick conversations, chat apps like Google Hangouts can work, while the video conferencing end of that app is better used for hosting team meetings. On the other hand, email chains shouldn’t be started to have a long conversation on a point but rather as a point of informing others in the business. Structure how you use your communication technology and people will be able to share and retrieve information from one another a lot more efficiently.

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Less Is More

Lighting in the office is used for a lot of things. It’s used, obviously, to give your workers the visibility they need to work safely and happily. It can also be used as a decorative tool to give the office the ambience and make it fit the branding you want; but lighting costs a lot if you use traditional methods. More people are moving to greener, more economically sensible lighting tech and LED manufacturers are becoming more able to offer lights that do more than illuminate. They help you brand the office with things like backlit panels and LED walls, meaning you can get a lot more visual punch out of your office while spending less on the energy bill.

 

Changing Spaces

It might not need an internet connection or a power outlet, but the way furniture is changing is a technological evolution all-the-same. Perhaps the most exciting way that furniture in the office is changing is that way that allows businesses to make spaces more moldable and adaptive. Modular furniture creators are designing tables, chairs, and more that can be connected, disconnected, and moved as you will with little effort. No longer do you need to create separate areas for when people need to work collaboratively vs. when they need to work with privacy and isolation. The workspace can warp to fit many needs all at once.

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All According to Plan

What about the technology we use to decide on and improve office design? Now, more than ever, business owners are looking at the paths that their employees take. For instance, looking at floor plans can help you better decide the best center points of the office which can serve as the space where you put shared resources. Then, it’s all about organizing furniture to create paths that allow for more efficient travel through the office. For bigger spaces, the proper use of wayfinding design is going to keep moving from place to place simplified, too. It might seem like a minor change, but the better that people and resources can move through the office, the less time wasted doing so.

The employee of the future and the client of the future is going to need the office of the future. Look at the inefficiencies, the elements the office lacks, and what you can do to fix them. The five tips above are just the beginning.

| The 6 Sacred Tenets Of A Successful And Healthy Manager/Employee Relationship

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

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It’s often said that two heads are better than one. This saying emphasizes the importance of compassion, teamwork, and mutual understanding. Of course, on the surface, this can seem easy. When it comes to achieving a certain goal, two people, even if they don’t initially get along, might form an unlikely pact to help the other person relieve their stress and achieve the rewards. This is why unlikely countries can help fight a war together, or help when a humanitarian effort is required.

However, in the workplace, getting along with your boss might seem the most unintuitive relationship to foster, especially if your personalities are diametrically opposed. Luckily, the world of business doesn’t demand that you and your boss become best friends and start doing everything together like high school best friends.

All that the world of commerce asks is that you work together well. If you cannot provide this, then you will fail. It’s that simple. New and small businesses have a tough enough time keeping the doors open in the first place to have to worry about small interpersonal disputes that mean nothing in the bigger picture.

There are two quite important considerations you must keep in mind to maintain a successful manager/employee relationship, and it requires both sides work at it throughout their entire business relationship together. Doing so will not only help their career but will affect your career for the profoundly better too. The following six tips should be taken as gospel, and will let you know the methods for cultivating this most important of relationship:

 

It’s Based on Respect

Respect is usually earned and not freely given, but sometimes providing a little respect to lubricate the wheels can get the relationship moving. Be mindful of your managers or employees time, and only take it when necessary. If they aren’t completing their duties to standard, offer to lend a hand in the spirit of co-operative teamwork, as opposed to condemning or belittling. The ideal manager respects the space and capability of those under him, while the employee will listen to the manager with an open ear, even if the manager is repeating information the employee already knows.

The employee would do well to remember that managing is hard, and doesn’t come intuitively to some people. As Exponential Programs points out on their website: www.exponentialprograms.com, managing multiple employees is difficult and requires a manager keep their social discipline to a dizzying degree. Don’t read into your manager’s words too much. A simple comment can be misinterpreted as a condemnation, and the spiral of passive aggressiveness can begin. Unless your manager or employee is outright criticizing your competence, make sure that you never assume they are doing so.

 

Both Know They Can Improve

Just because you manage a worker doesn’t mean that you are a better person than them. You simply occupy a higher position in the company or service you both work for. Berating, condemning and complaining from either side will lead to a stifling in creativity and innovation because it automatically puts the other person on the defensive. This prevents communication, and that leads to less productivity. That should be enough of an argument against it. Anything that can lessen your productivity will make you seem incompetent, even if you’re not. Don’t waste your creative energy in petty arguments. Instead contribute clearly and honestly, and if this means you need to highlight an error you’ve made, be unafraid to do so. This will create a spirit of openness that the two of you can inhabit more freely.

 

No Question Is Too Large or Small

An employee might hesitate to ask a manager a simple question for fear of reprisal, and this can lead to them operating with less knowledge than they should have. A manager might hesitate to ask an employee a simple question even more so for fear of losing pride or seeming less competent in their position. Both of you should make an effort to cut through this mental fog that clouds your clear decision making. We are all human; we all forget information we need. Don’t be afraid to ask.

 

Dress Is Respected

In the military, correct dress is emphatically emphasized at all times to ensure that officers and privates stand on equal footing. This can benefit your workplace culture, and more importantly you as an individual manager or employee. This article from Riskology details the link between dressing well and performing well.

Dress well and appropriately for work, and keep yourself well-maintained. Present-ability is a virtue, and it shows that you respect the space in which you work. For an employee, it’s important to dress well to show that you respect the position you occupy and would like to execute your tasks efficiently. For the manager, dressing well is a symbol for the staff to look up to, and should speak of the values that helped you achieve your position in the first place.

 

Work Isn’t All

Remember, even if you both have completely opposite personalities with absolutely zero in common, you are both humans. Small talk never hurts. Don’t keep everything about business in your exchanges, to lighten the burden of getting into a fixed discourse with them. At its most awkward, small talk can be as simple as a quiet word about the weather or news of that day. No one is asking you for poetry, but your workplace comfort does require some form of sociability to make the long workdays somewhat bearable.

 

Both Share the Credit

If you achieve something, make sure that the higher ups that come to praise you are aware of your manager’s contribution to the effort, or the great work of the employees(s) that allowed your department to flourish. This ‘everyone profits’ attitude can help you greatly increase the favor of the opposite party and can help both of your careers tremendously. The people who manage managers are usually stimulated to see positive employee/manager relationships because it shows that their departments are fluidly executing their responsibilities. This allows for both of you to climb the corporate ladder more efficiently than if you were working against each other.

You’ll notice that these tips are social etiquette that are ideal but are intensified. The world of business is intense, and as such requires a complete framework of positive social discourse. Be the change you’d like to see in your office, and the whole department, employees and managers alike will benefit as a result.

| Train Your Employees For Profit Growth

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Managing your employees is a lot more than simply attracting the right people for the jobs and paying them each month. Employee management is both an art and a science. You need to strike a fine balance to make sure that you get the best out your employees and that, in turn, will help your business to grow. Your employees are your greatest asset so you need to know how to look after them properly. Employee training, on an ongoing basis, is a key aspect of employee management and has many benefits for both the employee and your business profits.

Reasons Why You Need to Invest In Employee Training

A trained employee is a happy employee. There is no doubt that employee training results in improved job satisfaction and increased morale. Employees are more motivated and enthusiastic when they have been trained and that results in more sales and more profit. Your organization becomes more efficient because employees are not wasting their time on outdated techniques and modalities that do not work. Overall, your employee turnover decreases and this has massive financial benefits for you because recruitment costs a lot of money and is very time-consuming and disruptive.

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The Best Training to Provide Employees

There are some types of training that bring maximum benefits to your business. Top of the list has got to be sales enablement best practices training which will give your employees the best practices, tools, technologies, and processes to use in increasing productivity and performance. The focus on inbound marketing includes detailed instruction on sales coaching, onboarding, performance analysis and content generation leaving you with a highly skilled and highly effective workforce who can generate profits for your business.

Computer skills are also highly relevant to all businesses. If you are able to train a designated employee to deal with your IT issues you could save a lot of money in outsourcing the work or buying in a consultant. Your employee will have a better understanding of what your business needs in terms of IT equipment and connectivity. They work in your organization every day and so they will be able to spot where the problems are arising and where improvements can be made. They are also on site and readily available, with a working knowledge of your equipment, should things go wrong.

Health and safety is an important aspect of all business and without a good knowledge of the best working practices, you could be putting your employees at risk. The law requires you to safeguard the health and safety of your employees and providing health and safety training is a key aspect of this. Start by finding out what the law requires you to provide as a minimum. This will differ between industries. Then go above and beyond what is required. Your employees will appreciate that you have their welfare at heart and you will see this reflected in productivity rates.

Invest in training your employees now and reap the benefits in the future!

| Getting The Most From Your Workforce

Posted in Staffing at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

As a business owner, you’ll know that you need to squeeze as much as you can from your resources. Every single thing that contributes to your business is going to have 100% effort, and input asked of it in some way shape or form. This is unavoidable and if a business wants to succeed this always has to happen. Certainly, some bigger businesses will be able to cut the slack simply because things are a bit easier for bigger businesses – they’ve already ‘made it’ you see.  You’ll have to make the best user possible of your working space; you’ll have to push your ideas to the limit, you’ll need to make sure that every single penny counts and of course, you’ll need to ensure that you are getting the most from your staff. This is tough work! But you’ll have to do it if you want to get anywhere in the world of business

Make the most of your staff? Yes – indeed you will. Using your workforce in the right manner is critical to the productivity of a business. You need to get the most from your staff so your business can run well. However, there’s an issue – your staff will never be able to give you 100% of their effort. It’s impossible. It’s well known that even on a good day, you’ll be pushing your luck if you can get staff members to devote 75% of their full effort to working. Some staff members will devote their life to giving 100%, but this cannot be expected from the vast majority – and that’s ok – we’re all human – you, as a business owner need to account for this at all times and do your best to engage your workforce to ensure they are doing what they can to ensure the business is operating well.

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Engage your workforce? Yes – a survey showed that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. That’s worrying. That means your productivity suffers because of human nature – so that means that you need to work extra hard to ensure your staff is engaged in their work. Easier said than done? Maybe.

You need to ensure that your staff is educated about workplace policies. You need to develop your staff and work with e-learning companies to deliver learning materials that can help them do their job – or learn new parts or techniques of it. IF your staff are trained, they can perform their job to a better standard and they might be more engaged with the role.

You also might believe that compensation is enough to ensure your staff get on with the job. This is not always true – even when staff are paid well, your workers might believe that they are underpaid. These thoughts are a natural flaw of our thinking, but it still happens. You’ll have to do a lot of deep digging within your business to get your staff engaged. Ensure your workers are not overworked and stressed out – ensure that their roles are enough for them to handle. Stress will destroy your workforce. There are plenty of ways to get staff engaged, but the solution isn’t always clear. You’ll need to find it to succeed – though.

| Maximize On Your Small Office

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

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Has your cramped office been getting you down? If so, you need to figure out how you can maximize your limited office space so that you can make your work area as efficient as possible. Here are some great tips that should help you do just that!
Have Stand-Up Meetings

Stand-up meetings are becoming very popular with companies for numerous reasons. One is that they encourage meetings to be very brief and to-the-point as no one wants to be on their feet for too long! But they are also very useful if your business as limited space in the office. People can just stand in the middle of the office or walk around if you don’t have the space for a dedicated meeting room. One great advantage of walking meetings is that they get everyone’s blood flowing, which can really help generate inspiration!

 

Use Light Well

There are a few ways you can create the illusion of space in a tight office, one of which is allowing as much natural light in as possible. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough windows for this, you can just be clever with artificial lighting instead. For instance, you should use LED spotlights that illuminate the whole floor space, rather than just illuminating the ceiling. This can help make the room feel a lot larger than what it actually is.

 

Reduce Your Paper

Clutter is going to make your office feel significantly tight on space, and one of the main sources of clutter is paper. You can try and reduce all of this by printing fewer documents and contracts, instead store them in the cloud. Alternatively, you might want to think about using document storage services. These firms will collect all of your sensitive documents and contracts and store them in their warehouse for you, which can save you a whole lot of space!

 

Think Vertically

In a large office, you would be able to add quite a few filing cabinets and drawers. However, you just won’t have the space for this in your small space. Because of this, you need to start thinking vertically and seeing if you can add some shelves to your walls. You might also want to add some wall hooks for coats and jackets. These will save the space that would be taken up by a standing coat rack.

 

Don’t Use Too Much Art

Art can really brighten up your office space and add a touch of your own personality to the space. However, if you use too many busy patterns and go overboard with the wall hangings, you might find that it feels like the walls are closing in! Rather than adding lots of different artworks to your walls, you should stick to one bold color for an accent wall. This will attract attention and help your office space look very stylish!

No office is ever too small once you start to use these tips! You might be surprised to find just how spacious you can make yours feel!

| 4 Tips For Managing Freelance Contractors

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

When you are running a company that hires freelance contractors for independent work, you have a lot of things to manage. Thankfully, this doesn’t include equipment or full-time expenses like permanent staff do. Outsourcing can be wonderful for a business, especially financially, but it can come with its pitfalls.

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Sometimes, outsourcing trade freelancers are difficult to manage when you consider time, cultural differences and distance. Even when you are hiring freelancers, you should make sure you are aware of what qualifications, potential police checks, references and trade insurance they should have before working on the job. We’ve collated four tips for you so that you can be confident in managing the freelance contractors on your books:

 

  1. Finding the right people can be difficult. You can advertise trade freelancers on jobs boards and if you personally know any, grab recommendations from them for others who may need work. When you use a freelance platform to recruit for your company, it can be easy for some as all your contractors are in one place to communicate with. You may prefer to use phone or email to communicate with your contractors, which is just as efficient as a platform.
  2. Bringing on the right freelance contractors can take some time. Not only do you have to do the right background and criminal records checks, you have to ensure that they are responsible for their own insurance and taxes. Some contractors may not be used to working through a company, so there will be an adjustment period while you both get used to each other. Don’t make the mistake of switching through your list of freelancers at the first hurdle; it takes time to get to know the way someone works.
  3. Communication is one of your biggest tools when you are bringing on freelance contractors. It’s important for you as a business leader to be able to be open and communicate with your contractors in both a positive and a negative way. Always over-explain where you can and spell out all the instructions necessary in the plainest way possible. Freelancers do not work one to one with you as they are in the field, so you need to be clear and concise at all times.
  4. The last thing you really need to worry about is the productivity of your freelance contractors. If your employees are unhappy in any way, this can affect their ability to keep motivated in their role. Freelance work is self-employed, meaning that they work harder and accomplish things faster when they feel productive in their jobs. Positive feedback and reinforcement on how they do their role is helpful and getting reviews on their work from the businesses they complete work for is also a way to make them realise they’re doing well.

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Ideally, you will have everything in place for your freelancers to work safely, productively and that keeps them insured at the same time. Protecting your employees is important, whether they are permanent or freelance.

| Don’t Make Your First Employee Your Last: The Best Boss Guide

Posted in Staffing at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

If your business has got to the point where you need to employ, give yourself a pat on the back. This is what dreams are made of, and all your hard work is finally paying off with expansion. But becoming a boss isn’t all about celebration. It’s important to note that your business is about to become a different beast. You are going from an entrepreneur to a manager, and those are two very different things. The chances are, you put some thought into this when you started out. But, with the time finally here, we’ve some tips on how best to move forward.

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WHAT TEAM DO YOU NEED?
First, it’s important to consider what team you need behind you. This includes every aspect of employment, from the types of people to the size of your team. The chances are that, though things are on the up, you don’t have much money to waste. So, it’s important you don’t employ too many people at this stage. Work out a skeleton crew. You can always get more people if need be. Think, too, about which types of people you need on your team. It may be that you value qualifications more because you need someone skilled. Or, it may be as simple as hiring someone you warm to. This is important if the job is not a skill specific one, but the two of you will be working in close proximity. You could even consider hiring freelance workers instead of physical ones. This is often a good idea at first because it means you don’t have to worry about paying for holiday or working out taxes. Plus, with Skype and other programs, it’s never been easier to make this work. At the end of the day, your business is your baby. It’s important to take time considering who you want to hand it to and how.

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MASTER MANAGEMENT

It’s also important you get up to speed on management know how. It may be worth doing something like an online masters in management. Studying remotely means you can continue to work, and earn, as you go. But, a course like this will help you know everything you need to about being in control. Having the know-how will help you stay calm under pressure, which is a skill every manager needs. It’s also worth turning to the internet for information about legal responsibilities. Not having that knowledge could end with your getting sued.

TREAT COLLEAGUES KINDLY
We all have an experience with mean management at some point. Make sure to remember any bad experiences you’ve had to stop you doing the same to your colleagues. A lot of power is about to fall into your hands, and it’s easy to get carried away. But, if you let the power get to you, you could find yourself with staffing problems. Be kind to your employees. Try to strike a balance between being the boss, and also being a friend. Nice bosses get better results!


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