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People Management – Best Practices

August 25th, 2011 Comments off

As a startup entrepreneur, having effective people management skills is an important priority and one that will ensure continued growth and success for years to come. Obviously many of the best practices for people management being applied in large businesses and conglomerates can and do cross over into startup companies, however there are certain strategies which should be emphasized and catered to within the entrepreneurial environment. Among these are:

Involving your employees in the development of the business – this is what working for a startup is all about and a main reason why an individual chooses to work for a startup. Everyone wants to feel that their input matters and that they are helping build something.

Communication with all levels of employees is another element that sets a startup apart from larger businesses. Employees want to cultivate a relationship with upper management and owners as this makes them feel closer to the action and that they are cared about as well.

Startups can also offer flexible work and policies that cater to equality and diversity. Entrepreneurial companies can be far more fluid with the scheduling of work and company policies and thus offer a more flexible environment that can be designed to their own schedule.

Another advantage startups have for employees is the ability to easily reward for reaching set targets and offering training and development support that will also increase the value and skills of employees while also increasing their confidence.

By engaging in all these management best practices, your fledgling company will grow exponentially and your employees will grow and develop into real and valuable assets. As a startup owner you can offer your employees a closer relationship, more flexibility, better working environment, and foster that entrepreneurial spirit within everyone that will reap rewards over and over again.

Job Seekers: Choosing the Right Startup for Employment

August 17th, 2011 Comments off

If you’re like some 40 million unemployed Americans, finding employment is the first priority in your life. Considering the hundreds of startup companies developing and expanding each year, it might be time for you to broaden your job market scope to include this fast rising business sector. Working for a startup has many advantages including possible equity in the company – look how many millionaires work at Google because they started there when the company was just a startup.

When choosing the best startup to seek employment, there are a number of factors you need to consider to ensure a successful and long-lived opportunity. The first factor to scrutinize would come with an investigation of the economic and financial stability of the business. It is important to make sure the startup is financial sound currently and for future growth by researching the history of the company – owners, funding sources, profitability and how these are all utilized within the structure.

Next, it is imperative to research the reputation of the company by delving into the reputation of the business including past, present and future project successes and failures, while also getting an industry perspective from competing businesses.

A third and critical factor is to review the compensation package thoroughly. Many startups offer equity in the business in lieu of either all or a portion of the salary. This may sound great, however it could take years before any real profits are achieved, thus knowing whether this is financially feasible is crucial.

Additionally, it may be necessary to ask about support staff (if any) and who else works for the business and what their role is within the company. Ideally, all of the pieces will mesh together to form a cohesive entity that will offer a pleasant and rewarding employment opportunity. Working for a startup can be very exciting, frustrating, and exhilarating all at once with each day offering a different and new experience for any new hire.

The Legalities of Interviewing: What you can and cannot ask

August 9th, 2011 Comments off

As a successful entrepreneur, the time arises when hiring additional staff becomes critical to continued growth and prosperity. Deciding on the skill sets, educational background, and previous employment history is the easy part, the difficult task for any employer is the interview. The legal aspects of what can and cannot be asked of a potential new hire often makes the interview process as stressful and uncomfortable for the recruiter as it does the recruit. However, there is no need for sweaty palms and hand wringing as all it takes is a small amount of due diligence, some prepared questions, and a few responses for volunteered personal information, should keep any entrepreneur out of any legal land mines during the interview process.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal law enforcement of the following employment acts: 1) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; 2) the Pregnancy Discrimination Act; 3) the Equal Pay Act of 1963; 4) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967; 5) Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; 6) Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991; 7) Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and 8) the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (EEOC). All of these statutes are applied to any business with more than 15 employees. Regardless of the size of a company, the best practice in hiring would be to incorporate all facets of these laws into every aspect of human resources, management, and employee relations.

Basically, there are several rules of thumb to follow in order to avoid asking any illegal interview questions:  1) cannot ask a person’s age (either by birth date, high school graduation year, birth year, etc.); 2) marital/ family status; 3) height, weight; 4) disabilities, recent illnesses or operations, last physical exam, family health; 5) obvious physical impairment questions; 6) nationality, native language; 7) arrest record; 8) military discharge information; 9) social affiliations; 10) race, color, religion; 11) use of lawful products like tobacco and alcohol; 12) lowest acceptable salary; 13) language proficiency; and 14) friends or relatives already employed by the company.

Example legal questions: 1) are you over 18 years old? 2) Can you travel or relocate if necessary? 3) Can you lift up to 60 lbs. and carry it 50 feet? 4) Will you be able to perform the job’s essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations? 5) Are you authorized to work in the United States? 6) Have you ever been convicted of a crime? 7) What branch of the military did you serve?

When going through the interview process, potential employers have a legal obligation to correctly handle the questions in a manner that is not offensive or discriminatory to the recruit. By no means is the above list complete or exhaustive and it is always prudent to review the current hiring and employment laws whenever beginning the recruiting process.

References

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. (n.d.). Laws Enforced by EEOC. Retrieved from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/index.cfm.

Interviewing Skills 101

July 31st, 2011 Comments off

Regardless of the job market, having effective interviewing skills is paramount if you wish to go from potential candidate to new-hire. A good interview is comprised of several components including physical appearance, communication skills, and positive energy flow.

Positive Energy Flow

Positive Energy Flow

Physical appearance for an interview dictates wearing a suit, polished shoes, neatly trimmed hair and nails, no over powering fragrances, no gum chewing or tobacco smoking, limited to no jewelry, fresh breath, and an organized portfolio. Your portfolio should contain at least 5 copies of your current resume, your previous employment history including addresses, phone numbers, and supervisor names. Also have three references listed. Make sure you have two working pens and pencils with you as well as note paper to use during the interview.

Communication skills include preparation and knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses and how to emphasize or minimize them (know who you are and why you would be an asset to this company), have extensive knowledge of the company and the employment opportunity under discussion, always make good eye contact with the interviewer, no fidgeting, be an attentive listener, honesty is imperative, asking questions is vital to understanding and making an accurate response, and always be relaxed. Answer all questions fully, do not hem and haw, and do not give short single syllable responses whenever possible.

Positive energy flow is your attitude, affability, and demonstrativeness and it requires a careful balancing act that should be undetected by the interviewer. Be candid, natural, pleasant, confident, out-going, and easy to talk with. Do not be over-bearing, over-powering, arrogant, cocky, demeaning, or flippant as all of these traits are negative energy. People tend to be drawn to friendly, happy, positive people and often shy away from those who are quiet, sullen, and negative. If you are naturally shy, work on becoming more out-going and relaxed.

Interviewing is nerve-wrecking enough when you are fully prepared; don’t make the mistake of not handling all your due-diligence prior to walking in the door. Your behavior, communication, and body language will always give away your lack of preparedness and the interviewer will know it. Preparation is the key to achieving a successful interview – make sure your physical appearance, communication skills, and positive energy flow place you in the position of being the new-hire.

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