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How To Create A Vision Your Team Can Really Get Behind

How To Create A Vision Your Team Can Really Get Behind

A vision will outline your destination to all those who touch your business: your team, your customers and your investors. The poster boy for creating a vision is Steve Jobs (of course). And for good reason.

According to researcher Carmine Gallo, there’s no question that Jobs’ vision inspired Apple’s breakthrough innovations and it’s employees. Innovation requires a team and you cannot inspire a team of passionate evangelists without a compelling vision: a vision that is bold, simple, and consistently communicated.

You don’t need to be Steve Jobs to learn from his style

And you don’t need to be the size of Apple to have a vision. But you must get clear in your own mind and be able to articulate to others, the vision of your company and not just side-step it as something only ‘big’ organisations do. Your vision is your MAGIC. And it is just as important to paint the picture of the future when you are hiring your fourth team member, as it is when you are pitching to a group of investors or holding a Town Hall meeting with 200+ attendees. People want to work for leaders who give their lives meaning and sharing this with your team to inspire and motivate, gives you a unique and competitive edge.

Values are part of your vision too

They underpin ‘how’ you do business and are the essence of your culture. They summarise the characteristics which are important to you and your team and are a description of what behaviours actually take place and rewarded in your company day to day rather than those which look pretty on a website. With nearly 90% of poor hires not working out are as a result of weak cultural fit, taking time to describe how you want your team to work and what you expect from the word-go will reap rewards in terms of hiring those who are culturally aligned to your business.

Sounds a bit too wishy-washy for you?

Then take note of Michael Gerber who repeatedly found in his bestseller “The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”, that the habit of working on the day-to-day operational problems without really taking time to come up with a vision or dream to really aim for, meant that it will typically fail. And no one wants that.

Creating meaning to people’s lives can feel overwhelming, so to help translate your vision into reality, we’ve shared this this guide below for you to break it all down to manageable chunks…

theHRhub Guide To Writing A Vision

 

The Title The Action The Hack
Mission statement Write a short concise statement that describes the overall purpose of your company (beyond making money…).

It should be:

  1. Short
  2. Clear
  3. Compelling
  4. Future-oriented.
Think of how you would like to be described by your team in the pub or what you would put on a T-Shirt (and it still be readable…).
Long term objectives  Choose up to 5 broad long-term (c. 3-5 years) goals which support your Mission Statement and which, if achieved, would signal success for you.

Use these to articulate your business strategy further (be it growth:  either by acquisition/ external investment/ organically – through to a specific product or service or recognition within a specific area etc.).

Make sure to include the financial as well as the non-financial.

Debate on this can trigger all sorts of ideas so involve your top team in suggesting where they think are the broader opportunities.

Company values Write down all those things you think are important to you: the principles, characteristics and behaviours.

Cluster them until you have a handful of words and phrases which accurately sum up what you think best represents your business, test them with your team and hey presto, you have your values!

(n.b. it can take a few rounds but don’t skimp on it!)

Ask each of the team to think of who your most valued employees are. What is it that they bring to the ‘party’ which they rate so highly?  
Company goals (or objectives) What tangible, measurable things will you do over the next 6-12 months to support your long term objectives?

When do you want to achieve these by? Add in some timescales and be realistic!

Don’t have more than 5 in any one period & start with the key areas of your company that need improving.
Company key result areas Define and set out the measures for success of each company goal (be specific & make sure they are measurable improvements over time rather than ethereal and vague ones).

The key results need to show what you expect to see if you achieve your objective.

Measurements can be in time, % improvements, binary numbers, customer accounts etc. as well as £££, however they should always include timeframes to complete which are not easy to hit but not too difficult.

 

For help in translating your dreams into a reality the team can get behind, please email hello@thehrhub.co.uk.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048 and speak to our team. We’re always happy to help and offer a free initial review to help you understand how to make valuable changes to support your business.

Image: Ben Sutherland on Flickr

 

HR Futures: Engagement With A Fractional Workforce

HR Futures: Engagement With A Fractional Workforce

Fractional: [adjective] Relating to only a part of something; Extremely small or insignificant

The fractional workforce is a phrase new to many. But not for long I suspect.  A term used to loosely describe those who provide work to one or more businesses, it includes many of the 5 million people in the UK who are classified as ‘self-employed’ –   the contractors, the freelancers, the ‘gig’ workers, the temporary staff you have on your books – not to mention those who might be on your payroll on a part time basis. The common denominator of all of these being that they are just not solely dedicated to your business.

But far from these being just the ‘giggers’ who have grabbed the headlines in recent months – those who deliver your food, clean your house or ferry you home at the end of an evening – 60% of these fractional workers are found to be in highly skilled or managerial professions (ONS), and most of whom have turned to fractional work out of choice.

Over half our SME client base are increasing their use these types of workers to supplement their own teams on a regular basis – as accountants, marketeers, designers, data analysts, developers…even HR folks – but a handful have gone one step further by having them as core members of their senior or leadership teams. And anecdotally I know of plenty more highly innovative businesses who use diverse and fractional teams gathered from their wider networks to deliver high profile projects, because they just don’t have the skills they need in their existing employee pool.

But given that many of these highly skilled people turn to fractional work because it supports the things which motivate them most: freedom (in location, work patterns, scope) and ownership of what they do, how do you as a business owner make sure that these broader team members are as ‘engaged’ and ‘onboard’ as your permanent staff members, whilst balancing the risk (and fear associated) that you may lose control over some of the work? From extensive experience on both sides of the fence, here are our pointers on some things you can practically do to rapidly assemble a crack team and get the most out of your working relationships with this group:

  1. Get the basics right, but recognise that a contract simply cannot cover ‘every eventuality’: It goes without saying that a properly worded contract is a no-brainer to manage your legal risks, however our experience is that a properly worded contract is not one which attempts to try and control every single thought and word a person emits during their time working with you (having had many run-ins from those not willing to sign away their entire thought catalogue in a crudely worded IP clause, this is a route which does not bear well with many!). One which seeks to do this beyond what is necessary for the delivery of the work will no doubt hold up the process for any onboarding as wordsmithing goes back and forth, giving your competitors a chance to steal a march on you!
  2. People are people, regardless of ‘working status’ & so speak to them as such: The Contractor’ is not an appropriately named designation for most to respond to and is something which should be reserved only for an introduction by  Hollywood-voiceover-man to something infinitely more fictional….
  3. Treat your wider teams as a community: communities support each other and work for the greater good; they embrace differences, thrive when there is co-operation and provide a vast array of talent for you to pull from which you might otherwise not get access to. Communities do not take the pi** with each other, as they know that they may be the one asking for a favour the following week….
  4. Communicate in a way which is fluid & which builds trust: ask yourself whether you really need different email lists for ‘employees’ and ‘contractors’? Many businesses also exclude non-permanent staff from their communications platforms, however this serves to alienate at best and cause productivity issues at worst. Remember (see point 1) they’ve already signed the same sort of confidentiality clauses as anyone else in the business…
  5. Don’t ignore wider development needs: from onboarding and beyond, make sure you are inclusive and relevant in providing development opportunities. This doesn’t mean sponsoring someone on the MBA if they are only with you for 2 weeks, but may include including them in your onboarding programme, lunch and learns etc
  6. Reward is still important (but outside of traditional methods look to recognition and referral as currency to use): You may think that paying the monthly invoice is reward for these team members done and dusted, however (even if you haven’t read oodles of posts about this one – really??) ‘reward’ to most people is more than just a wedge of cash…. Angela Mortimer, a successful recruitment firm specialising in PA and support staff hold an annual event to celebrate and recognise their temporary staff who don’t get to always get to join in on the social side from the organisations they provide service to or be included in their reward practices. A nice touch I think, which in addition plays to point 3 (above).

This post doesn’t (purposefully) address some of the legal ramifications for employing different types of workers that make up this section of the workforce – that’s definitely for another day and is dependant on ever evolving legal challenges being made – however fractional work is on the increase & those who can strategically think of their workforce as beyond those on their payroll, will already be one step ahead.

For more details on integrating your workforce or any other HR challenges you might have, drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk or call 0203 627 7048.

Image Credit: unsplash

 

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

It’s not you, it’s me: How to handle it when your employees say goodbye

A resignation – like being dumped – can often feel very personal. Particularly if the person in question has been with you for some time. Particularly if you think they are critical to your business. And particularly if you let it.

I mean, it’s sod’s law isn’t it? Just when you think everything is teed up to have a great 2018: Goals in place? Tick. Marketing lined up? Tick. Sales Pipeline trending the right way? Tick. – when someone pops their head around the door clutching an envelope and utters a few words in ‘that’ tone …”er, can we have a quick chat?’. And it’s the ones who are the most valuable to you which always hit you hardest.

Of course, not every resignation is bad news. If you are planning on going through a restructure or making redundancies and the person in question was going to be affected, then you may have just saved yourself a bit of heartache ( not to mention a few quid). But most are not wanted, downright annoying and expensive too.

With an average employee in the professional sector costing up to £30k to replace , the best way to ensure that you handle this well, is to prioritise keeping your team as you would your clients. And plan for it by doing some of the following:

  • At budgeting time, include staff turnover in your forecasting figures and set targets for turnover. The UK average is approximately 15% but this rises to closer to 20% in the digital sectors. You do need to keep new ideas flowing within the business and adapt to your changing model, so not all turnover is bad and it’s likely that you will want to see some movement to avoid becoming complacent, but set targets for this which you can check progress against. It’ll be less of a surprise.
  • Identify your ‘keepers’. The people which, if you lost, you would be stuffed. And then plan how you are going to to show them the love. To support them in what they want out of the business. Too many business leaders don’t take the time to speak to their teams on a 1-2-1 regular basis to uncover what it is that their people want and show support by their actions. Oh, for the times when I’ve seen an account manager hauled over the coals after a devastating client loss. “When did you last meet with them?” is often one of the first things their manager will ask after the bombshell has been dropped.” How did they seem? Were they unhappy? Did they say anything which gave you a clue?….”
  • Take the time to get to know your team. To know what they want out of life on a wider level than just what they are doing at work. I know it’ll come as a shock to many, but most people don’t simply dream of doing better at work! So find out what possibilities lie for people within the confines of the business and how they can help them get to where they want to be.

And I’m not saying it’s easy by any stretch. It’s a hell of a commitment to meet with your team each week/ fortnight/ build a relationship/ keep it going through the good and the tough times. But people are less likely to leave a place where they feel valued and listened to than anywhere else. And even if you can’t keep them, the chances are that they will feel more comfortable giving you a heads up that they may be off, allowing you a bit more time to plan and handover.

But back to that resignation. In practical and immediate terms, you have a few options:

  1. You can take it very personally, considering it a personal slight that someone would not want to work from you and act out in that manner. One boss I know didn’t speak to their team member for their ENTIRE notice period, leaving him to work in an isolated office away from the rest of the business such was the disgust they felt at their team member leaving them. Their maturity wasn’t lost on the entire company…
  2. Or ( a popular option) you can launch into telling them all the reasons why this is all wrong for them and that if they stayed for another £5/ £15k/ £25k then you will be able to fix whatever it is they are concerned about. One business I know spent more money on retention bonuses for those who had resigned in a particular year than they did on the entire bonus pot for existing employees who had delivered for them that year. The‘retained’ employees in this instance lasted on average another 3-6 months before bailing out for real, leaving a red faced boss and disgruntled colleagues who had found out all about the separate arrangement…
  3. Or you can listen to what they are saying. And then really listen. And learn from it. On the odd occasion I have seen someone ‘bought back’ by their business when they’ve resigned, it’s been because the relationship and loyalty was there already, they’d just let things get stale. The drama of resigning was enough to wake both parties up to see that there were other ways for the team member to grow and they’re very happy.

Option 3 doesn’t always mean they stay and you may well still have to say goodbye to someone you would rather not. But at least by taking the time out to find out what is really going on, you will truly understand why your business is not right for the person standing in front of you. But why it may be for another time. Ah yes, Boomerang employees. Now there’s another post….

HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

HR Folks Might Be Highly Skilled But We Can’t Read Your Mind! Here’s How To Get The Most Out Of A Partnership

As your business grows, you might decide that the time is right to start working with HR. It’s certainly true that having a people professional on hand and on your side can bring huge benefits, and it could be exactly what you need to create steady and manageable growth you’re after. But before setting the wheels in motion, it might be useful to take a step back and think about what you can do to ensure that any relationship reaches its full potential. Let’s explore the practical steps you can take.

Be Open And Honest About Absolutely Everything

When you first start to work with any kind of professional services, there’s always a period during which you’re still getting to know each other. You’ll be asked questions about business, and it can be tempting to try to gloss over the less attractive parts, and not be completely honest about your situation and how you’re feeling about it. Here at theHRhub we’ve seen (most of) it all before, and aren’t here to judge. We just need all the information you can give us – the good, the bad, and the ugly – so we can work out an action plan to get you to where you want to be.

Remember To Use Their Services Strategically

Many people first start working with an HR service  because they have a particular problem that they need expert assistance with right away. It could be an issue with a new recruit, or it would be a routine disciplinary matter that’s gone horribly wrong. It’s safe to say though that most business owners’ first contact with their HR service is the result of an operational matter. And that’s fine, of course. Sometimes, there are things that you can’t cope with yourself, that need to be tackled ASAP. If you really want to get the most out of your working relationship though, recognise the strategic value that is there for the taking. Engage in conversations about the future of your business, the big challenges you face, and how HR can help you to get you to where you want to be with less hassle and less fuss.

Speak Up When You Need Help

The world of HR, just like any industry out there, is full of jargon and terminology that you might not be familiar with. The good news here though is that we at theHRhub will break down everything you need to know, so it’s easy to understand and digest and so that you get to know your TUPE from your EAP. If there’s anything at all that you feel unsure about, don’t be afraid to speak up. As skilled as we are, we can’t read your mind! And we’re always more than happy to go that extra mile so you’re really reaping the benefits of having your own on-demand HR point of contact.

It’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed at the thought of working with an HR service or consultant. You probably felt the same when you first called upon the services of your accountant. If you follow these steps though, teething problems can be avoided, and you’re likely to quickly discover that taking the plunge was the best decision that you’ve ever made.

Want to have a discussion about how all of this could work for you, in really practical terms? Drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk to book in a free consultation.

theHRhub is the ultimate online support service for startups and SMEs. We provide software, templates, expert advisers, a community forum and up to date news and views – straight to your tablet or mobile device.

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Photocredit: Kenny Louie Ahhhhhhhh

HR Horrors: Are you forking out more than you should be on fraudulent expense claims?

HR Horrors: Are you forking out more than you should be on fraudulent expense claims?

4 in 10 respondents to a recent survey (by software company webexpenses) admitted that they had fiddled their expenses. This is maybe not a HUGE surprise to you,  however, shockingly the total sum of those amounts could relate to as much as £100 million a year lost from businesses across the UK.  

Many employees made little tweaks to their actual expense claims, some completely false but mainly it seems, exaggerated, with them citing travel as an area where they didn’t feel guilty elaborating on the truth (almost 50% of respondents said that they had claimed for more miles than they had actually travelled).

Surely a little bit doesn’t hurt right? Of course, the individual exaggerations may be relatively small – which is perhaps why 8 in 10 workers had never had their claims challenged or denied – but if you don’t watch it they can really stack up, and be a real cash drain for many businesses. Adam Reynolds, CEO at webexpenses, mentions that there had been a “shift to more subtle methods” that didn’t raise big causes for concern, and that the culture of fraudulent claims was changing.

So it is likely that you may have the same issue so with the new year approaching, now might be the time to do a bit of an update on your policy, make your expectations on expenses clear and do a bit of scare mongering to throw a bit of caution out there to those that may have been abusing the system slighty. After all, what’s the point in working furiously to achieve your revenue goals, when you’re wasting cash unnecessarily? Take a look below at our top tips for combatting fraudulent claims…

Create a robust policy so your employees know exactly what the process should look like

Do your members of staff really know what’s expected of them when it comes to claiming for expenses? Does your policy clearly state what they can claim for, and how they should do it? Are your current processes clear and well communicated, or are they vague and not really adhered to?

Creating a policy that’s fit for purpose is often the first step towards stamping out any future problems. Everyone from your staff to their line managers should be aware of how they should claim, and what they’ll be entitled to.

Conduct regular checks

The survey found that very few companies carried out adequate checks when claims were submitted. This inevitably means that mistakes are being made – sometimes, even because of genuine human error – and a culture of over claiming can be the norm.

You might decide to give line managers responsibility for carrying out checks at stipulated intervals, or do monthly checks on random claims.  What’s important is that there’s a process in place, and someone really owns it.

Keep things simple

Many companies have long winded expense-claiming provisions that are time consuming for everyone involved (seriously – do you need that many people signing things off??). Improving how you do things isn’t about adding in more hoops to jump through, or making things more complicated. It might even be the case that you need to go back to basics, and take out unnecessary steps in the process .

Use technology. This is definitely one of those areas where tech can definitely save you bucketloads of time. Requiring staff to keep track of receipts can turn into an administrative nightmare, and there are now tonnes of apps on the market that can make your life a load easier: many of our clients use FreeAgent, Xero and Concur to manage without the piles of paper receipts weighing down drawers everywhere…..

It’s important to recognise that many of your staff members will be making accurate expense claims, and are simply being suitably compensated for costs that they’ve genuinely incurred. It’s never wise to start throwing around accusations or making your staff feel like their honesty is being questioned. But in order to ensure that fraudulent expense claims don’t damage your business, get started with considering how you can implement these key points. 

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.

Image : Twenty20

Tis the season to crack on…. action plan to stop the Christmas wind down affecting your business

Tis the season to crack on…. action plan to stop the Christmas wind down affecting your business

Let’s face it – it’s that time of year when the mornings are getting darker, people are distracted by festive tasks and busy social lives, and understandably coming to work is the last thing on earth they want to do.  But this time of year is also perfect for reconnecting with employees and colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a while, or even the person you sit next to every day.

Business leaders can still knuckle down on the tactics that they’ll use to make the most of the final quarter.  Whatever your goals are, these strategies can work. By motivating your most valuable asset – your people – you can not only end 2017 on a high but also enter into 2018 with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment from your employees.  

Invest time in refresher training

At this time of the year, exemplary client service can make a huge difference when it comes to your profits. Are your staff comfortable with talking about your products and services? Can they pinpoint opportunities to offer an up-sell? And are they really firing on all cylinders when it comes to their day-to-day work?

Take the opportunity to consider how you can offer training to drill down on key points, and take performance up to that next level. You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on bringing in external providers, so think outside of the box when it comes to how you can deliver. Many sales tools record your calls and can be used to do some internal training within the team. Or how about some e-learning courses to give some focus.

Invigorate the mundane routine and re-establish the immediate goals to focus on

If your staff have been in their positions for a while, then they can really easily fall into a mundane routine. Particularly in the run up to Christmas. After all, everyone’s a bit well, knackered?  Could it be the case that they’re feeling complacent? If so, now’s an excellent time to get your leadership team together and ensure that everyone has realistic but stretching goals to be making progress towards. In the long term, staff value opportunities for professional development, adequate training provision and an appropriate support network far more than you think.

Everyone should understand and recognise the contribution they make to the bigger picture, so make sure they understand the part they play and are recognised, though it’s also sensible to think about how you can encourage staff to work together to achieve bigger things.

Tis the season…

Finally knowing your employees, and providing the right incentives for them to do their best, will result in more productivity and a general “feel good” factor.  Let your staff know about the Christmas plans for your office and get in the spirit with them.

  1. Offer staff a couple of days of festive flexible hours throughout the month, allowing them to re-arrange their hours, working later or starting earlier, so they can balance work with parties, shopping and being with their family.
  2. Relax staff dress codes. There’s no need for them to wear suits every day, if workers aren’t in a customer-facing role.
  3. Organise the Christmas party or team lunch.  If you don’t have a budget, ask workers to bring their own in nibbles, you provide the drinks and have an office picnic with a token gift for employees to take home.
  4. Introduce ad-hoc prizes for staff who hit their targets over the run up to Christmas, such as a bottle of champagne, or theatre tokens.

TheHRhub is the ultimate online HR support service for Startups and SMEs – providing software, templates, expert advice, whitepapers and up to date news and views, straight to your mobile or tablet. It’s like having an HR director in your pocket but without the price tag!

Call us on 0203 627 7048 or drop us a line at hello@thehrhub.co.uk for a no-strings chat about your HR needs.