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  • Great Organizations Know the Best Plans Can Go Awry

    05/26/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
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    “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

    –Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”

    Is the language in this excerpt archaic? Yep. Are there mice in your organization? We certainly hope not.

    Verbiage and rodents aside, Burns’ message is timeless and universal:

    Regardless of your organization’s size, industry, competition or market, the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Great leaders realize this – and plan accordingly. What are their secrets to successful business planning? To find out, let’s examine two aspects of planning which frequently “gang a-gley” for other organizations:

    Ignoring the Big Picture

    Too often, leaders plan from the inside out: they review their organization’s performance over the past year and look for opportunities to tweak processes and make incremental improvements. By looking backward and inward, these leaders are being reactive and tactical.

    High-performance leaders view their organizations through a strategic, forward-looking lens. When planning, they think beyond their own business, considering the ways the economy, competition, industry trends, customers, technological advancements and other external factors could impact them. By taking this “Outside in” approach, these leaders better understand the dynamics, relationships, threats and opportunities around them. Over the long-term, deeper insights help the best leaders create more strategic, flexible and realistic plans.

    Failing to Prioritize

    Most organizations have a list of business goals, but a list will only take leaders so far. Without clear prioritization – and a method for communicating and cascading those priorities – a list of goals is worth little more than the paper on which it’s printed.

    Great leaders’ plans do more than just outline the steps to achieving a goal; they clearly prioritize the actions which will accomplish those objectives. What’s more, that prioritization is pushed down through the entire organization by:

    • “connecting the dots” (i.e., clearly explaining how individuals’ daily actions help achieve high-priority goals for the entire company);
    • ensuring that performance management and reward/recognition models align with delivering on key priorities;
    • making sure that all employees have the resources (i.e., time, tools, training and authority) to perform successfully.

    Plans Changed?

    We can help you adapt and thrive. With a full complement of national staffing and placement solutions, the Exact Staff family of companies offers the resources and expertise to effectively execute your business plans, even when things change in your organization. To learn how we can help, schedule a free consultation today.

How to Regulate Innovation – Without Killing It

05/22/17 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Regulation: innovators shudder at the mere mention of this term.

But does it have to be this way?

Not according to Kevin Werbach, a Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor. In a recent podcast, he explained why regulation doesn’t have to be the enemy of innovation, especially in what he calls the “Internet of the World.” Below, we’ve summarized a few of his key points (you can hear his entire podcast here):

What’s the “Internet of the World”?

According to Werbach, potentially everything in our physical and digital world is a potential generator of data. That data can be integrated, analyzed, processed and manipulated. As a result, the trends and developments we’ve seen online are now impacting services and physical objects – unlocking new markets, blurring the line between the digital and offline worlds, and spurring new regulations.

Do regulations threaten innovation as the online and offline worlds mesh?

Not necessarily. As the Internet of the World evolves, Werbach states that we need to challenge assumptions about the relationship between innovation and regulation. In his view, government agencies don’t necessarily drain or block innovation; in fact, they can be a positive force.

As an example, he cites the Microsoft antitrust case from about 20 years ago. Had our government not stepped in and filed that suit, Microsoft’s overwhelming power may have been able to warp or hinder the growth of our open internet economy.

How can we regulate innovation without stifling it?

Werbach purports that effective regulation:

  • Must start with a conversation between regulators and innovators – to determine what each party wants to achieve.
  • Must leverage data generated by the Internet of the World to transparently, yet securely, identify what the market performance is.
  • Must be more algorithmic (i.e., regulations should be data-driven and evolve along with the new markets they control).
  • Must have adequate accountability mechanisms. The government should set goals, and then give the industry opportunities to meet them, by providing transparent data and explaining how they’re complying with established guidelines/rules/laws.
  • Must start with trust. For regulation to be effective – without effectively killing innovation – regulators and innovators must trust one another to be honest, sustain communication and live up to commitments.

Drive innovation with intelligent staffing.

As a leading national staffing agency, Exact Staff can provide the talented people and smart staffing solutions to turn your innovative ideas into reality.

To develop the best strategy for your organization, we invite you to schedule a free workforce consultation with us. Together we can assess your needs, brainstorm options and design creative solutions to meet your workforce or hiring challenges.

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Make Everyone Around You Great by Inspiring Them

05/19/17 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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You’re smart. Proficient. A flexible thinker. And an excellent leader.

But do you inspire your employees to greatness?

The word “passion” is commonly defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” In organizational leadership, passion is the fuel that ignites success. It motivates you and your team to act. It’s the intangible difference separating “good” from “great.”

Inspiring others starts with passion, but it also requires positive habits and sustained practice. Here’s how to move the needle in your company, and stir everyone around you to realize their potential:

Do the Hard Stuff

Sustained practice – often of things you’re not great at – is needed to “level up” in any aspect of your professional life. Lead by example, exerting focused effort to improve your skills.

Share Yours

Passion is contagious. If, as a leader, you are focused and enthusiastic, and you share that energy with others, it will be reflected back to you.

Promote a Culture of Practice

Exceptional performance starts with great habits. Help your employees develop those positive habits by:

  • Giving them the time they need. Provide ample opportunity for employees to repeat actions that promote real behavior change.
  • Setting the bar high. Creating a sense of shared expectation around the minimum standards for practice.
  • Creating a community. Establish groups to connect with and support one another in their sustained practice.

Practice Mindfulness

Meditation does more than clear your mind; it helps you recognize and overcome feelings of uncertainty, resentment and the urge to procrastinate. Teach everyone (including yourself) to start each day with a minute or two of silent mindfulness. The practice refreshes your mind and refocuses your attention on the things that move you closer to your goal.

Teach Employees to Enjoy the Journey
Success is as much about the voyage as it is the destination. Remind your employees to relish being in the moment – not just “doing.”

Another Way to Inspire Greatness in Your Employees?

Provide the staffing support they need to do their best work. With a full complement of national staffing and placement solutions, Exact Staff can free your core employees to focus, innovate and perform at their peak. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

 

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6 Tweaks to Your Morning Routine that Will Transform Your Entire Day

05/17/17 3:19 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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Good morning! You woke up full of enthusiasm. You were determined to make a productive start and get a ton accomplished by 10:00 a.m.

But then your keys weren’t where you left them.

And a new construction zone made you 15 minutes late to work.

And your Inbox was flooded with emails demanding your attention.

…what was all that about a “good” morning?

Everyone has those occasional days where good intentions quickly evaporate due to circumstances beyond our control. But thankfully, there are many things you can control to ensure you spend your morning hours productively! Today, Exact Staff shares six tweaks to your morning routine that will maximize your energy and focus – and transform your entire day:

Hydrate with lemon water.

Lemon water encourages your gall bladder to release bile into your stomach, kickstarting your metabolism. Lemons are also packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Squeeze the juice of a whole lemon (half a lemon if you’re under 150 lbs.) into a full glass of water, and drink it to fuel a natural physical and mental energy spike in the morning.

Get moving.

As little as 10 minutes of exercise has been proven to release GABA, a neurotransmitter that soothes your brain gives you a more positive mindset and enhances self-control. Add a little physical exertion to your morning routine, and you’ll set a positive tone that lasts all day.

Eat protein.

Your body fasts overnight. Give your brain and muscles the fuel they need to perform by eating a protein-rich breakfast. Healthy options include cottage cheese, eggs, protein shakes, almonds and Greek yogurt.

Spend time with your loved ones.

Carving out a few minutes for those you love in the morning will help you connect emotionally. Even short conversations, if they’re meaningful, can sustain a positive mood for hours.

Skip the screen time.

When you’re checking news and social media, starting text conversations with friends, and reviewing work emails while you should be getting ready, the multi-tasking can backfire. It’s fine to check your phone after breakfast and address urgent issues. But while you’re trying to get ready and get out the door, stay focused on accomplishing your morning routine.

Write down a daily to-do list.

Create a prioritized list of specific tasks you need to accomplish.  Ask yourself, “What activities and priorities have the most heart and meaning for me today?  What do I need to accomplish, to stay on track with my top priorities?” Start with the tasks that are the toughest (but essential to accomplish), and work down to things that would be nice to get done, but aren’t a true priority.

Get you and your team off to a better start each day with the right staffing support.

Up against a deadline? Need to staff up for a big project? Want to build your core team? Our national staffing agency provides a full complement of staffing and placement services to increase focus and productivity, and get every day off to a great start.

Deliver Criticism So That It’s Constructive – Not Demoralizing

04/24/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Ever been criticized at work?

Was the feedback delivered in a constructive way, or did you feel like you were being personally attacked? The answer probably has a lot to do with how that criticism was delivered.

Providing constructive feedback is an integral part of successful employee management. When the feedback is positive, it’s a pleasure to offer. But when it’s critical, how can you deliver feedback effectively, without making the recipient so defensive that they completely ignore your advice?

Below, our team shares some practical tips to make your employees receptive to feedback, even when it’s critical:

Stay Away from Absolutes

“You always.” “You never.” Begin your feedback with either of these two phrases, and you might as well shout into a vacuum – because your employees won’t listen to a word you say afterward. A more productive tactic? Stick to facts. Use specific examples. And try leading with a phrase like, “I’ve noticed that [X behavior] is occurring more frequently…” A softer approach will keep your employees from tuning out your feedback.

Move Beyond Generalities

Don’t leave employees guessing what remedies you expect; engage them in specific solutions. Instead of providing general guidelines like, “I’d like to see you be more proactive,” ask recipients to help you brainstorm and agree to specific actions they’ll take. When employees are involved in creating solutions, they’re more likely to follow through by changing their behaviors.

Stay Neutral

If you want employees to be receptive, hold your emotions in check. Keep your demeanor calm, your mind open and your behavior professional. Withhold judgment and interpretation until after you get employees’ input. And most importantly, don’t tell your employees that they’re being defensive – it’ll only make them more defensive!

Tie the Criticism to Something Important to Employees

Before you speak with them, consider what matters most to your employees. Are they driven by respect from peers? Money? Landing a promotion? Find out what’s important to them, and then frame your criticism in a way that relates to those values.

Balance the Negative with Positives

Employees will be much more open and responsive to criticism if they regularly hear praise from you – so recognize your employees’ accomplishments (both large and small) frequently. Giving a well-deserved “pat on the back” isn’t just a nice thing to do; it builds a more positive culture that supports growth, drives engagement and reinforces company values.

For more practical tips, read this earlier post on how to get employees to accept feedback.

Have Some Feedback for Us?

As a national staffing service, Exact Staff understands and appreciates the value of constructive feedback in maintaining a productive business relationship. So, tell us what you think! Please contact our national staffing service with your comments, questions or suggestions.

Helpful Tips to Have the Most Productive Q2 Ever

04/21/17 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Your organization had a great Q1 – congratulations!

Now do it all over again.

No pressure there, right?

Creating short bursts of high productivity is relatively simple to accomplish: offer a cash bonus or some other type of highly desirable, tangible reward, and employees will typically boost their efforts.

Temporarily.

But how do you sustain high productivity quarter after quarter – without burning out employees or eroding your bottom line? Today, Exact Staff shares four tips for having the most productive Q2 ever (which you can also use in Q3, Q4 and beyond!):

Encourage employees to use downtime.

Findings from a recent survey show that 59% of millennials feel a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation, and that 40% of employees left five or more vacation days unused the previous year. What’s wrong with this picture?

Time away from work is essential for employees to recharge, refocus and renew their enthusiasm for their job – and not surprisingly, that translates into higher, sustainable productivity. Make sure your organization:

  • Communicates that taking time away from work is condoned.
  • Explains the benefits of time away from work, including the ways it reduces work stress and heads-off job burnout.
  • Provides adequate support to “fill in the gaps” vacationing employees leave.
  • Sets a good example (i.e., that leaders take time off, too.

Even if employees don’t take a vacation during Q2, encourage them to plan one. Just having a break on the horizon can be enough to motivate an individual.

Stop the nagging.

Endlessly repeating “motivational messages” isn’t the best way to get peak performance from your employees. In fact, they’ll just wind up tuning you out. To truly motivate your workforce to crush deadlines, use the tips offered up in this earlier post.

Teach employees to build better to-do lists.

Effective list-making habits can keep employees on task and focused on their top priorities – but only if they use them correctly. Here are a few tips for success to share with your team:

  • Write your list at the end of the day (so it’s ready to go the following morning).
  • Prioritize your list, so you’re sure to accomplish your most important task each day.
  • Keep your list focused on what you can realistically finish in a day.
  • Break down larger to-dos into smaller tasks, and include time estimates for each (so you’re not overwhelmed by the items on your list and can better plan what you can accomplish each day).
  • Use the right tool. Whether it’s an app, a leather-bound planner or a good-old-fashioned notepad, use what works best for you.

Promote health and wellness at work.

Effective wellness programs have been shown to decrease absenteeism, increase engagement and improve job performance. In this post, “Promoting Health and Wellness at Work to Improve Overall Productivity,” we share tips to increase employees’ effectiveness by focusing on wellness.

Another great way to have a productive quarter?

Provide extra support when your employees need it most. When deadlines are tight and the stakes are high, Exact Staff can quickly deliver talented people to help you get your work done. Bring in our temporary employees to increase your capacity or perform non-core activities. We’ll keep your team focused and productive so you can have the most productive Q2 ever.

 

Habits to Dramatically Improve Your Life

04/19/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Small changes can have a dramatic impact.

Take the quality of your life, for example. You don’t have to give up all your worldly possessions, permanently drop off the grid, or become an environmental vegan to be happier. In fact, drastic changes can increase your stress levels – and they’re usually not sustainable.

If you want to dramatically improve your life, think small. Start by adopting just one of the habits outlined below:

Practice Positive Thinking

This is the foundation upon which many other productive habits are based. Why? Because thoughts, mental images and internal dialogue all influence your actions. If you discipline yourself to view failures as temporary, forgive yourself for mistakes, picture positive outcomes and look for the best in situations, the way you act will be more intentional and productive.

Single-Task

Multitasking doesn’t work. When it comes to the brain’s ability to pay attention, it focuses on concepts sequentially, not on two things at once. So, work with your brain – not against it. By dedicating your full attention to one high-focus task at a time, you’ll be less stressed, more productive and happier throughout your day.

Eliminate Technology in the Bedroom

The blue light screens emit has been proven to interfere with sleep quality, because it halts production of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone). And honestly, do you really want work emails or random Facebook notifications dancing around in your head while you’re trying to unwind for the night?

Be Kinder

To make kindness a lasting habit, make a goal to do one kind thing for someone each day. Be mindful in your daily interactions, looking for opportunities to soften your language, offer help or just be friendlier. It’s easy, it’s free and it creates good karma.

Which of these suggestions sounds the most appealing to you? Choose one, and focus on adopting that single habit. Once you’ve made one improvement, move onto another. By making small, serial changes, you’ll quickly gain momentum, improving your happiness and overall quality of life.

Looking for more ways to increase your life and job satisfaction?

Adopt the habits of happy people. In this earlier post, we shared the following habits to make your life more positive and satisfying:

  1. Be kinder to yourself.
  2. Surround yourself with optimistic people.
  3. Get your Zzzzs.
  4. Make your social feeds more positive.

Read the full post to learn more about any of these habits.

Related Post: Prevent Negativity from Creeping into Your Workplace

Want to dramatically improve the quality of employees’ work life?

Provide the support they need. As a national employment agency, Exact Staff can:

  • Offload non-core activities that distract you and your staff;
  • Alleviate overwork and the burnout it causes;
  • Improve your team’s focus, productivity and effectiveness;
  • Allow you to confidently tackle new or pressing projects.

What can we do for you? Contact your local Exact Staff office today.

 

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Words and Phrases Smart People Never Use in Conversation

04/12/17 12:22 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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You’re intelligent. Savvy. And an expert in your field.

But could the words and phrases you use in everyday work conversations make you sound like Lloyd Christmas?

Right or wrong, people judge you based on the way you converse, and a seemingly innocuous comment can easily be misinterpreted (and forever impact a co-worker’s perception of you). Think before you speak! Keep your foot out of your mouth by avoiding these things smart people never say:

Potentially insensitive phrases:

Articulate, emotionally sensitive professionals choose their words carefully. Prevent misunderstandings and demonstrate your EQ by thinking through the way others may interpret what you say. Start by eliminating these phrases from your conversations:

  • “As I said before…” This phrase subtly implies that the person you’re addressing has forgotten something. It may well be true, but using language like this reflects negatively on you – by making you sound insecure or hinting that you think you’re superior to the “forgetter.”
  • “You look tired.” An observation like this isn’t compassionate; it’s insulting. Choose a sentence like, “Is everything okay?” This is a more neutral, sensitive way to show your concern for a co-worker.
  • “You always…/You never…” Rarely does someone ALWAYS or NEVER do something, so don’t reduce their actions to absolutes. If you want to be taken seriously, stick to the facts, especially when it comes to the frequency of another’s behavior. Try a phrase like, “It seems as though you do this often,” to point out something someone else does which bothers you.

Throwaway words:

These words have little or no value. And in a business context, they’re not just worthless – they make you sound less intelligent than you are. If you’re in the habit of using any of these words, work to eradicate them from your vocabulary:

  • Whatever
  • Totally
  • Like
  • OMG

Conversational crutches:

Crutch words help fill awkward silences and give your brain a chance to catch up with your mouth when you’re speaking. If you rely on them to introduce or bridge ideas, resolve to change your ways.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional pause during a conversation or presentation. In fact, a moment of silence is vastly preferable to listening to someone use crutches like these over and over:

  • So
  • Um/uh
  • Look
  • Basically
  • Anyway
  • Well
  • Like I was saying

Unnecessary prepositions/prepositional phrases:

Elevate your speaking by finding more concise ways to express yourself. Eliminating extraneous prepositions and prepositional phrases is a simple, effective way to sound as intelligent as you truly are. Here are a few examples of unnecessary prepositions:

  • Where are you at
  • I’m going off of
  • I’m about two seconds away from
  • In the process of (try using “while” or “as”)
  • At the present time (you can typically eliminate this phrase entirely without changing your meaning)

Verbal redundancies:

Show that you really understand the meaning of the words you choose by dropping verbal redundancies like these from your speech:

  • Close proximity
  • Estimated at about
  • Past experience
  • Very unique
  • Whether or not

Searching for articulate temporary employees or new hires?

Exact Staff moves beyond job descriptions to uncover what candidates truly need to thrive in your organization. Whether your requirements are local or national, temp or direct-hire, we’ll deliver the exact talent solution you need.

 

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Are We Thinking About Organizational Culture the Wrong Way?

03/27/17 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Is your corporate culture unifying – or unintentionally divisive?

Before you answer, you should read this Harvard Business Review post by John Traphagan.

Most of us accept the common definition of “corporate culture” as a shared set of values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that characterize how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.

But, according to Traphagan, viewing culture as a unifying thing (albeit an intangible one) is neither accurate nor useful. He makes several arguments to support his position:

  1. Culture isn’t merely a unifying force that brings people together; it’s also a tool people use to wield power and draw proverbial lines in the sand. As such, culture provides a basis upon which employees can contest or counter certain ideas or values – making culture as much about division as it is about unity.
  2. Values that are presented as “commonly held” by members of an organization aren’t really all that common. What’s more, people may agree that a certain value is important, yet fundamentally disagree on what that value really means. For example, values like “freedom” or “hard work” or “social responsibility” are incredibly difficult to define – and even more difficult to garner unilateral support for.
  3. Values espoused specifically to unite employees might not actually achieve their intended purpose. Research cited in the post indicates that, rather than making everyone feel included/appreciated, common values such as diversity can actually make people feel singled out or even threatened.

Could our Thinking About Corporate Culture be all Wrong?

To the extent we view it as a unifier, perhaps. Any attempt to unite employees with organizational culture is an act of power. Individuals will react to that exercise of authority differently, based upon how closely the espoused values align with their personal beliefs.

Looking for Ways to Improve Your Organizational Culture?

Read this earlier post on how to prevent negativity from undermining the success of your team. Then give our recruiting experts a call. We will quickly and cost-effectively refer candidates with the personality traits and soft skills to help you build a more positive culture. Contact our national employment agency today to get started.

 

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Key Tips for Making High-Stakes Leadership Decisions

03/20/17 7:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Chicken or beef?

Wouldn’t it be great if all leadership decisions were as simple as choosing which entrée you’d like? But as you know all too well, most business decisions carry greater weight and are much more convoluted:

Take on a huge client that doesn’t quite fit your strengths…or take a pass?

Stay the course…or pivot your business?

Hire more employees…or outsource a function?

As an executive, the decisions you make impact your employees, customers, stakeholders, and sometimes even the world at large. No pressure there, right? And when the stakes are high, time is of the essence, and you have several equally good (or equally bad) options, making sound decisions becomes even more challenging. And more vital.

There is no “magic formula” for making effective, high-stakes decisions, but you can use these four tips to consistently make the smartest choices:

Get Comfortable with Being a Little Uncomfortable

When you have to make decisions based on limited or conflicting information, don’t let the lack of clarity paralyze you. Nobody has a crystal ball (well, not one that can predict the future, anyway), and making decisions in the face of uncertainty is simply part of doing business. The best leaders are comfortable with take calculated risks – and the only way to gain that comfort level is through practice.

Breathe

This one sounds simple (because it is), but it’s extremely effective. When an important business decision creates a pressure-cooker environment, press the pause button and take a moment to calm your mind. Closing your eyes and taking a few slow, deep breaths engages your parasympathetic nervous system. Focused breathing not only calms your nerves, it gets your mind out of reactive mode and into responsive mode – which allows you to engage the higher order brain functions that yield better decisions.

Apply the “4R” Test

Once you’ve gathered available intelligence and laid out your options, consider the following questions to determine your best course of action:

  • What will you regret if you fail to take any action at all? The higher the potential regret, the sooner you should make a choice.
  • How tough will it be to reverse course? The easier a decision is to repeal, the faster you should make it.
  • What will the repercussions be? The broader the impact, the more carefully you need to tread.
  • How will the decision impact your organization’s resilience? Give more weight to decision options that will build your company’s resilience.

Avoid Binary Thinking

Making tough decisions in high-pressure situations typically intensifies caution and limits creative thinking. Instead of framing options with yes/no questions, take the blinders off. Assemble a cross-functional team to examine the issue; fresh perspectives may lead to new alternatives you hadn’t previously considered.

Make a Great Decision: Make Exact Staff Your Staffing Partner!

Whether you need to engage great decision-makers or give yourself more time to focus on decision-making, the experts at your local Exact Staff office are ready to help.

 

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