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Exact Staff News

  • Driving Performance with Commit and Stretch Goals

    09/28/16 7:45 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    Use a “pay for performance” plan?

    A two-pronged goal-setting strategy may make sense for your team.

    In this thought Leaders post, author Mike Figliuolo explains two distinct types of goals – commit and stretch – and the role each plays in driving exceptional performance (especially when money is a primary incentive). Here’s a quick summary of the main points he makes:

    • When you set incentives, directly link the goal to the reward. Clearly define what employees will get if they attain certain levels of performance.
    • Work with your employees to set two goal levels: “commit” and “stretch.”
    • “Commit” level goals are ones employees need to deliver, no matter what. At this level, employees are just doing their jobs – and there should be zero bonus associated with hitting them. As a rule of thumb, “commit” goals are comparable to 70% effort.
    • “Stretch” level goals are exactly what they sound like. Attaining them takes substantially more time and effort. So when employees hit them, they should receive 100% of their bonus.
    • To maximize performance with this goal-setting model, create a sliding bonus scale that corresponds to the gap between the “commit” and “stretch” goal. For example, if an employee achieves a target halfway between his “commit” and “stretch” goal, he should receive 50% of his bonus.

    Does this strategy mean your SMART goals are irrelevant?

    Absolutely not. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals are still indispensable in helping your work teams stay on track. In fact, you can use the SMART goal-setting approach to define both “commit” and “stretch” goals. For more information, read our earlier post on setting SMART goals to drive growth in your business.

    And no matter what type of goal-setting approach you use, keep the following tips in mind:

    • Get everyone involved in goal-setting – from front-line employees through senior level executives.
    • Communicate goals clearly. The better individuals and teams understand what they’re trying to achieve – and how their daily efforts impact goal attainment – the harder they’ll work.
    • Revisit goals frequently. Meet monthly with personnel who are accountable for reaching your goals. If progress is on track, that’s great; but if progress is behind schedule, discuss the reasons and create a plan to get back on track.

    Need high performers to fuel your organization’s growth?

    Whether you’re launching new products or services, targeting new industries or increasing market penetration, Exact Staff can supply exceptional talent for your local or national staffing needs. Contact a recruiter today to discuss your requirements.

Do These Three Things – BEFORE Crisis Strikes

09/27/16 3:04 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Accidents. Judgment errors. Cyber attacks.

Nothing tests your organization quite like a crisis.

And unfortunately, no business is immune. Regardless of your location, size or industry, your company WILL be forced to deal with major problems.

So consider this question:

If disaster were to strike today, how prepared is your organization to handle it?

Not surprisingly, the businesses that weather disasters best are the ones that anticipate crises and have clear plans for effectively managing them. Start before disaster strikes! Use these tips to create a crisis management plan that will help your business survive an upheaval:

Assess your vulnerabilities.

Determine the most likely crises your organization may face. For each potential crisis, map out the best-case and worst-case scenarios. Consider the resources you have to address each crisis, as well as those you might need to acquire. Finally, detail plans to address each type of disaster – including keeping the lines of communication open and maintaining “essential” business functions, whenever possible.

Create crisis communication plans.

Designate a “crisis communicator” to share internal information with employees, keeping up-to-date throughout a crisis. In addition, appoint a “crisis spokesperson” who will serve as the primary point of contact between your company and the media. Then:

  • Gather accurate, up-to-date contact information for each employee, as well as at least one emergency contact per employee. Update the information at least once per year.
  • Detail your plan for “talking in” – so employees can get important information, share critical information with you, and get questions answered quickly.

Audit your communication channels.

If your organization is like most, you use multiple social media accounts, websites, contact lists (e.g., customer, vendor, media contact, etc.) and other public-facing communication channels. As part of your crisis communication plan, compile a list of all these communication channels, including key contacts for each. Then, detail steps for “talking out” – so you can proactively communicate with the media, monitor social channels and release coordinated, consistent information.

Once you’ve completed these steps, commit to regularly reviewing and updating your plan. As your company and the threats to it evolve, so must your response plans.

Ensure the safety of temporary and contract workers when crisis strikes.

When it comes to protecting temporary and contract employees, your staffing partner can be a tremendous resource. Contact your local Exact Staff office today to schedule a location tour and discuss how our national employment agency can keep contingent employees safe at your location.

Three Reasons Your Employees Should Shadow One Another

09/26/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Want to make your work teams more nimble?

Protect your organization from essential knowledge loss?

Create happier, more engaged employees?

Have them regularly shadow one another. Job shadowing is a proven development tool that affords both employers and employees a wide range of benefits. If you don’t have a formal program in place already, here are three reasons you should:

Increase Agility

When employees cross-train, they gain new skills and expand their scope of knowledge. More versatile employees provide your organization with increased flexibility to:

  • Handle big projects
  • Shift gears to address changing demands
  • Seamlessly cover unexpected absences
  • Pursue new lines of business or test new service concepts

Facilitate Knowledge Transfer

When employees leave you, they take much more than their personal belongings – they take ideas, proprietary information and other critical knowledge about your products/services, processes and customers.

Shadowing combats the “brain drain” turnover creates, by proactively facilitating knowledge transfer. To maximize the long-term value shadowing creates, have employees document the information, processes and best practices they learn.

Grow and Engage Your Team

For new hires, shadowing is a great way to improve confidence. By seeing and experiencing situations and processes first-hand, they can quickly acquire new skills, “learn the ropes” and become productive and independent, faster.

And for existing employees, shadowing builds relationships. Strengthens inter-departmental ties. Helps you develop your internal talent, without investing in outside training. It also provides opportunities for employees to uncover new ways to grow within your organization long-term.

Want to give it a try?

Set your program up for success by starting early.

Incorporate shadowing and other cross-training opportunities into your onboarding process. New hires will feel more welcome and experience a quicker ramp-up.

Formalizing Your Efforts

  • Create a company-wide roadmap for shadowing, including lateral, vertical and inter-departmental shadowing opportunities.
  • Set targets for annual, semi-annual or quarterly shadowing opportunities, depending on the needs of individual positions.
  • Require managers to incorporate shadowing into employees’ individual growth plans.

When Job Shadowing isn’t Enough.

After implementing a shadowing program, some businesses find a lack of internal talent with adequate growth potential. That’s where Exact Staff can help.  We can recruit, screen and identify individuals with the skills, competencies and behavior traits to thrive long-term in your organization.  Contact your local Exact Staff office to learn more.

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How to Get Employees to Change Direction

09/23/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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In the workplace, why are people so resistant to change?

Here are three key reasons:

  • An “If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” mentality.
    People are naturally comfortable with the knowledge and skills they possess, as well as the ways they perform work. This provides them with a sense of competency, and change forces them out of their “comfort zone.”
  • Fear of failure.
    Most people shy away from new responsibilities, projects or ways of accomplishing work because they don’t want to mess up and look bad (and really, can you blame them?). Beyond the embarrassment factor, people also naturally fear the consequences of failure – things like receiving a poor performance review, being passed over for a promotion, missing out on bonus money, or even losing their job.
  • Protection.
    Sometimes, managers (either knowingly or unwittingly) protect employees’ patterns of behavior and shield them from consequences. When change isn’t required, most people will stay the course.

How can you get people to overcome their fear and resistance – and make changes for the better? Try these tactics:

Reduce the fear of failure.

Build a “psychological safety net” by creating a secure environment for learning, risk-taking and change. Make it clear to employees that it’s okay to fail during the change process – without fear of embarrassment, rejection or punishment.

Make what’s unfamiliar, comfortable.

Habits are familiar. Established work routines are familiar. People like what’s familiar. When you take that away, and replace it with something new, they become uncomfortable and resistant.

Whenever possible, implement change incrementally. Along the way, check in with team members to address the anxiety they may be experiencing – because the simple act of talking about what makes one uncomfortable can reduce that discomfort. As what’s unfamiliar becomes more comfortable, resistance will lower and momentum will increase.

Stop protecting employees.

If you make excuses for people, you merely validate their behavioral “status quo” – and nothing is likely to change. Instead of protecting them, start asking them some tough, but vital, questions:

  • By holding onto your own ways, are you selling yourself short – and missing out on big opportunities?
  • How could you challenge yourself to grow?
  • What are you so afraid of?

Address the proverbial elephant. Ignite desire for change by creating dissatisfaction. Press your team for improvement by challenging their old ways. Be supportive, yet persistent, and you’ll get even the most resistant employees to change for the better.

Time for a change?

With a full complement of national staffing solutions, the Exact Staff family of companies offers the resources and expertise to drive change in your organization. To learn how we can help, schedule a free consultation today.

 

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Build a Digital Fortress: How to Keep Your Business Data Safe from Hackers

08/23/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Think your business is too small or unimportant to attract a hacker’s attention?

Think again.

As large employers improve data security with sophisticated (and yes, expensive) systems, cybercriminals are “moving down the proverbial food chain” and targeting small and mid-sized businesses more frequently.

Even worse, these guys have effectively automated web hacking, using malicious bots to probe sites for vulnerabilities. The problem has become so massive, that as much as 80% of all traffic on sites with fewer than 1,000 visitors per day comes from automated bots.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! Even if your business is small, you’re not “small potatoes” to a cybercriminal. Use these practical tips to guard against a malicious attack and keep your business data safe from hackers:

Know what you need to protect.

Start by assessing the prime targets. Credit-card information is the most obvious type of data hackers seek, but consider the other kinds of information you store which could harm you, your employees or your clients/customers if compromised. Prioritize your efforts to secure your most sensitive information first.

Scan your site the way hackers do.

Regularly use a web scanner to detect key vulnerabilities cyber criminals look for. Doing so minimizes opportunities for SQL injection or Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attacks, and provides insights for engineers to help you remediate other vulnerabilities.

Entrust experts with highly sensitive data.

If yours is a small or mid-sized businesses, don’t try to store extremely sensitive data (such as credit-card information or personal data) yourself. While you do incur some risk when handing it over to a third party, it’s far safer to leverage experts’ proven encryption and security protocols.

Turn your employees into data defenders.

Unfortunately, many attacks are the result of simple human negligence. But thankfully, that makes them highly preventable. Explain the importance of using secure passwords – and provide clear instructions for setting them (i.e., using a mix of upper and lower case, as well as including non-alphanumeric characters). Share examples of suspicious emails – and tell employees to never open attachments without scanning them first. Educate employees about the types of attacks out there, so they can help protect you.

Consider how secure your partners are.

When it comes to data security, never stick your head in the sand. Ask for proof that businesses you share information with (e.g., vendors or other third party providers) take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of your data. Ask how they manage security, and request proof that they’re compliant with security best-practices.

Is your business safe?

Give our technology experts a call. Serving businesses throughout North America, we can deliver the talented IT professionals and end-to-end tech solutions you need to reduce security risks and protect your business data.

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How to Communicate More Effectively with Your Boss

08/19/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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You need to talk to your boss.

Does the proposition excite you, or make you break out in a cold sweat?

If you and your boss have vastly different communication styles, even the most mundane work conversations can be stressful. When you’re worried about how to phrase things properly, or how your boss will interpret what you say, it’s tough to relax, listen and communicate effectively.

Boost your confidence and your skills with these four communication tips from Exact Staff:

Adapt your communication to your boss’ natural style.

In a recent Forbes.com article, Mark Murphy describes the following four communication styles:

  • Analytic. Likes to communicate with facts, data and specific language.
  • Intuitive. Wants to cut right to the chase and get a clear understanding of the big picture before discussing details.
  • Functional. Prefers to communicate in a step-by-step fashion, using processes, timelines and well-thought-out plans.
  • Personal. Values emotional language and wants to know how people feel (not just what they think).

Determine which category your boss falls into, and then try to provide information in a way that resonates with him. For example, if he’s a functional communicator, plan your conversations as much as possible. Provide the detail and logic he craves to ensure that conversations go smoothly.

Be an active listener.

When speaking with your boss, it’s natural to worry about what you’re going to say next. Instead of planning your next move in the conversation, try to stay in the moment as much as possible. Pay close attention to what your boss says, and take good notes (either mental or written). Ask relevant questions and paraphrase him to ensure full understanding.

Don’t get too emotional.

Even if your boss is a “personal communicator,” keep your emotions in check when engaging in work conversations. If you’re angry, anxious, frustrated or upset about something, take a 10-count before approaching your boss. Wait until you’re clear-headed and calm enough to discuss the issue professionally.

Recognize the importance of nonverbal communication.

Your nonverbal cues can impact a conversation with your boss as much as, or even more than, what you say. Make sure you pay attention to the following aspects when speaking with your manager:

  • Posture. If you tend to slouch or fold your arms across your chest, be aware of the negative ways in which these signals can be interpreted. Sit (or stand) upright when speaking with your boss, and lean slightly into the conversation.
  • Eye contact. Avoid extremes (i.e., staring at the floor or glaring intently at your boss) when it comes to making eye contact. Too little conveys disinterest or insecurity; too much conveys aggression.

If communicating with your boss makes you uncomfortable, try mirroring his body language. Subtly adjust your own hand positions, posture or general body orientation to match his.

On the job hunt?

Exact Staff can connect you with career opportunities at every employment level and in a wide variety of fields including administrative, accounting/financial, legal, medical/dental, technical, sales, and engineering. Search jobs here or connect with an Exact Staff recruiter.

Fresh Strategies for Creative Problem Solving

08/16/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Dead ends. Blank pages. Mental blocks.

The struggle to solve problems is all too real. Sometimes, inspiration is in short supply. Other times, you may have plenty of great ideas – but no process for seeing them through.

What’s a savvy business professional to do?

Get creative!

Creative problem solving is much more than brainstorming; it’s a well-defined process for every step of problem-solving. And it’s incredibly important in business – helping you to overcome challenges, improve on existing ideas, and continually generate new ones.

Want to give it a try? Below, we describe two techniques you can experiment with to solve business problems:

Re-Describing

This Entrepreneur.com post describes a unique problem-solving strategy that works on a simple assumption: most of the time, you already know something that will help you solve your problem. The key is to find the right memory cue to retrieve the information you need.

To use the re-describing technique, try changing the way you describe your problem to yourself. The more unique ways you can find to frame your challenge, the more memories your brain will unlock – and the more likely you’ll be to develop a great solution. Ask these two questions to get the process started:

  • What kind of problem is this? Take off the mental blinders that limit creativity and memory, and try to think more abstractly.
  • Who else has faced this kind of problem? Find parallels to your own challenge, and then consider the ways others’ solutions could be applied to your problem.

The Inversion Technique

This approach to problem-solving is similar to reverse-engineering. It starts with imagining worst-case scenarios, and then using those scenarios as the basis for developing solutions.

To use the inversion technique, start with the absolute worst outcome you could imagine to your problem. Then, imagine everything that could possibly go wrong which would lead to that disaster scenario. By working backward from a worst-case scenario, you can reveal hidden problems, opportunities and potential solutions you might otherwise miss.

Improve Problem-Solving by Boosting Creativity

No matter which problem-solving approach you select, use these quick tips to amp-up your team’s creativity (and solve problems faster!):

  • Get everyone involved. More people can generate more ideas.
  • Make your work environment more interesting. Hang art. Play music. Expose employees to scents like lavender or peppermint (which are thought to increase brain power). Engaging their brains in novel ways will spur new emotions, abstract thinking and fresh ideas.
  • Play creativity games. With a simple Google search you can find several free resources for engaging your team’s creative faculties.

Have a Tough Problem to Solve?

Give the experts at Exact Staff a call. Our national staffing agency provides a full complement of staffing and placement services to help you get the most from your team and your career.

Supercharge the Efficiency of Your Small Team

08/9/16 3:35 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Is bigger really better?

When it comes to work teams…not so much. This Forbes.com article presents a wealth of research which suggests that smaller teams are better than larger ones when it comes to:

  • Engagement. 42% of employees working at companies with 10 or fewer employees were engaged at work, compared with just 30% of employees at larger companies.
  • Effort. As team size increases, individual effort decreases (mostly because people believe they don’t need to work as hard when others can “pick up the slack”).
  • Problem-solving. One study showed that teams comprised of two people accomplished a task in an average of 36 minutes, while teams of four finished in an average of 56 minutes.

These findings make sense. With less bureaucracy and fewer opportunities to slack off, small teams have clear advantages over large ones. Small size, however, doesn’t guarantee efficiency; it takes discipline, good work habits and smart management to get the most from team members.

Need a few ideas to get you started? Try these tips for supercharging small-team efficiency:

Set clear team goals.

Do more than just send an email with a list of objectives. Assemble your team in a single room (use videoconferencing technology for remote team members) and get everyone square on what you’re trying to accomplish. Make sure that each member understands their role and buys into the shared goals.

Build trust.

Trustfulness and trustworthiness can only exist if managers like you set the example – and then foster trust internally. Be transparent. Treat team members like partners. Share your mission and values. Do what’s right for your team, and your team will give their best effort for you.

Empower team members.

Provide the tools, training, guidelines and resources employees need to do an amazing job for you. Then let go of the reins. Give employees the autonomy and authority to accomplish their work free from micromanagement – and their productivity and motivation will soar.

Limit meetings.

Require individuals who want to schedule meetings to submit a valid purpose and agenda before putting one on the books. Keep team meetings short and intimate, supplementing them with informal check-ins to see how individuals are progressing.

Help individuals use time effectively.

From productivity apps to email hacks, share efficiency tips that will help team members work at peak productivity. Give them the permission and ability to plan uninterrupted time for focus work, so they can accomplish critical activities free from disruption.

Build more efficient work teams by choosing the right staffing partner.

With a national presence, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, Exact Staff can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team. Improve efficiency. And seamlessly flex your workforce to match changing demands.

What can we do for you?

Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

Stop Hiring Clones!

07/22/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Uncategorized | Leave a Comment
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Want to make your business stronger? More agile? More resilient?

Stop hiring clones!

Scientific research provides support for the very real (and troubling) tendency managers have to select candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of leisure activities, social markers and personal tastes. Even when companies have high levels of demographic diversity, they still often have deep-seated homogeneity when it comes to the ways employees think and behave.

Why? Because our brains prefer the familiar. And without a rigorous, objective set of criteria against which to judge a candidate’s merit, we tend to favor people like ourselves.

While hiring people who mesh with your company’s culture and share similar interests is comfortable, it can also be dangerous. Over time, a company comprised of people who think and act in the same ways experiences less constructive conflict – and as a result, less innovation.

So if you want to strengthen your organization, stop hiring people exactly like you – and do these things instead:

Broaden your definition of diversity.

Typically, employers think of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, age, gender and/or sexual orientation. Take things a step further by also seeking out candidates who are diverse in terms of their skills, attitudes, interests, experiences, backgrounds and beliefs.

Guard against “mirror bias.”

As the name implies, this is the tendency of interviewers to favor candidates who remind them of themselves – regardless of those candidates’ skills and experience. Without proper training, interviewers often seek out evidence supporting their initial reactions to candidates while filtering out conflicting information.  As a result, perceptions turn into reality, and talented individuals are removed from consideration simply because they’re too different.

Make sure that interviewers and hiring managers alike understand the negative hiring impact mirror bias can create. Teach them to guard against premature judgments, and to wait until all the evidence is in before making a decision about a candidate.

Standardize hiring.

Structured processes, standard questions and objective evaluation criteria all protect your organization from the negative effects of interviewing biases. To further enhance results, require interviewers to support their candidate evaluations with specific examples – as opposed to opinions or “gut feelings.”

Choose the right staffing partner.

With a national presence, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, Exact Staff can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team: diverse, independent thinkers who mesh with your culture, but who also bring complementary experience and fresh perspectives to tackle your toughest challenges.

What can we do for y-ou?

Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today.

Want to Drive Innovation? Make Sure You Have the Right Keys

07/20/16 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Autonomous vehicles.

Wearable pain-relief technology.

Eye-tracking software that controls computers.

They’re all real. And for the smart risk-takers who have driven their success, they’re extremely profitable.

Why doesn’t every company develop game-changing products like these guys? Mostly because they don’t understand these keys to driving innovation:

Challenge the status quo.

Instead of shying away from threats or change, discuss your organization’s toughest problems with employees. Challenge your team each day to share new thoughts (even contrary, far-fetched or unpopular ideas), and teach them to disagree without being confrontational.

Don’t wait for 100% consensus.

Nothing thwarts innovation like waiting for everyone to agree before moving forward with a fresh idea. Make sure your team leaders have enough independence in decision-making to innovate. Foster a culture in which individuals are respected for creating – even when they don’t have full consensus on their methods.

Likewise, streamline innovators’ efforts by eliminating unnecessary interim rounds of approval and feedback during the development stage. When you trust employees to see their own work through to completion, you help them maintain critical confidence and momentum.

Increase tolerance for uncertainty.

Help employees get more comfortable with making decisions and taking action, even when information is incomplete. To push through indecisiveness, ask questions like: “How much to we really need to know before it’s acceptable to make a decision?”

Have your team’s back.

Build internal relationships based on respect, trust and shared confidence. Make it clear, through your words and actions, that you are an advocate for their best ideas. Most of all, make it okay to fail:

  • Outline acceptable parameters for taking calculated risks.
  • Do not demean or punish employees for trying something that does not work out.
  • When an employee fails, help your whole team learn from the mistake.

Nix whining, criticism and other innovation-killing behavior.

Not surprisingly, an oppressive culture stifles creativity. Instead of punishing mistakes as a way to promote success, celebrate employees who find solutions to problems. Encourage “can do” behaviors. Enlist your biggest critics and whiners in developing a more supportive environment that encourages new ways of thinking.

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 help you overcome whatever workforce or hiring challenges you face.