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  • Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Fear Pivoting Your Business

    10/24/16 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    Does the term “business pivot” strike fear in your heart – like a scary scene in a Halloween movie?

    It’s understandable. Fundamentally shifting the strategy you use to achieve your company’s mission may require big changes – in thinking, operations, offerings or even personnel. But knowing when and how to change direction can be the difference between failure and tremendous success.

    If you’re afraid to even consider pivoting your business, here are three reasons to get over it:

    The rate of change in business continues to increase.

    The ways in which we accomplish work has changed dramatically in the past decade. And given the increasing pace of major advances in technology, the rate at which industries change will only continue to increase. To stay competitive, your organization must keep an eye on emerging trends and pivot accordingly. If you get “stuck,” your current business model may not be sustainable for long.

    Pivoting creates opportunities to drive revenue.

    As your business and the markets in which you operate evolve, you must define and measure the metrics most relevant to your growth. What you learn from those numbers may necessitate re-evaluating your offerings and core focus. Strategically pivoting toward new services, new products or new markets allows you to capitalize on opportunities as conditions change.

    Pivoting can fuel innovation.

    Fear of failure (on both an individual and organizational level) often prevents companies from being more innovative. Maintaining the “status quo” may be more comfortable, but it also puts your business at greater risk for becoming irrelevant or obsolete.

    While you don’t necessarily need to jump on the bandwagon every time something changes in your industry, you should continually and systematically test different concepts and ideas. Finding an innovative way to target an audience or a new way to deliver your services could reinvigorate your business – and catapult you ahead of your competitors.

    Related post: If You’re Afraid, You Might be Innovating

    Considering a major shift in your business? Ensure success with a smart staffing strategy.

    Whether you need to test new concepts, hire innovative thinkers or enhance your team’s flexibility, Exact Staff can provide talented people and intelligent staffing solutions to help you turn on a dime.

    Give us a call to discuss your goals – we’ll help you achieve them.


Happy People Have These Habits

10/21/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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If you look up the definition of “happy” online (and we did), you’ll find synonyms like:

  • Cheerful
  • Merry
  • Joyful
  • Carefree
  • Untroubled

Brings a smile to your face, right?

But while defining happiness is pretty simple, knowing how to achieve it is much more difficult.

Where’d that smile go?

Before it completely fades, remember this: nobody has a monopoly on happiness. And gaining it doesn’t cost a thing. By developing the following habits, and focusing your energy in the right places, you can make your life more positive and satisfying:

Be kinder to yourself.

You probably have no problem finding amazing qualities in your friends, family and co-workers – but when is the last time you appreciated a great quality in yourself? Make a daily habit of writing down three things that you did well or that demonstrate one of your positive qualities. In just a few days, you’ll have evidence you can use to replace negative self-talk with kinder thoughts about yourself.

Surround yourself with optimistic people.

Happiness is contagious – but so are things like anger, negativity and pessimism. So if you want to be happier, spend more time with people who are upbeat, content and joyful. Obviously, it’s unrealistic to completely avoid exposure to negative people, but you can minimize the effects of “Debbie Downers” by refusing to engage in their patterns of thinking.

Get your Zzzzs.

According to the American Psychological Association, getting an extra 60 to 90 minutes of sleep per night improves memory and mood, enhances concentration, strengthens the immune system, and reduces the risk of being killed in an accident. Who wouldn’t be happier if they were healthier, more focused and, you know – alive?

Make your social feeds more positive.

We all have those Facebook friends who continually rant, complain and air their dirty laundry online. And most of us follow accounts that routinely post negative content.  Ask yourself, “Why am I following this person/organization/news source?”

With our population spending more time on social media, our feeds have a huge impact on our overall happiness. So make sure you’re bringing positivity into your consciousness! Selectively unfollow people or accounts that bring you down. Then, search for ones that you find inspirational and uplifting.

Related Post: Prevent Negativity from Creeping Into Your Workplace

Want to make your organization a happier place to work?

Choose the right staffing partner. As a national employment agency, Exact Staff can design intelligent staffing solutions that:

  • Offload repetitive and low-level work that distracts 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.

Ready to get happy? Contact your local Exact Staff office today.


The Leading Strategy to Evaluate Your Leadership Performance

10/14/16 1:57 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

As a leader, you regularly evaluate the performance of your team. But when’s the last time you evaluated your own performance – specifically in the area of leadership?

Still thinking? Then you definitely want to read this post.

Merely having the responsibilities of a leader doesn’t necessarily make you an effective one. To understand where you’re successful – and where you could improve – you need to do some regular evaluation.

The Young Entrepreneur Council recently asked members how they assess their own leadership performance. Below, we’ve shared a few of the most unique:

Take a vacation.

Effective leaders empower their teams to handle things in their absence. They also have put resources, processes and policies in place to support that empowerment. If you come back from your trip to find business running as usual, you’re doing your job well. But if your inbox and voicemail are overflowing with unresolved issues and urgent requests? That’s a sign that your leadership skills need improvement.

Ask your peers.

The best feedback on your performance may come from others in similar roles. Join a business group (or start your own!) to share goals, evaluate one another’s performance and exchange best practices for strengthening leadership skills. Then, hold one another accountable for growth in areas of weakness.

Invert your review chart.

Instead of evaluating your team, turn the tables. Ask your immediate reports to review you – providing feedback about your accomplishments, areas for growth and transformational moments. Use their input as a starting point for open dialogue to improve your leadership skills, while strengthening both loyalty and culture.

What else can you do to evaluate your performance as a leader?

Consider how well you’ve integrated these essential habits. In this earlier post, “3 Important Things Great Leaders Do Every Day,” we shared several practices common among great leaders, including effective communication, resiliency and delegation. Conduct a quick personal inventory in each of these areas, to make sure they’re daily habits. If they’re not? Use the tips in the post to tweak your behaviors – and become an even better leader.

Want to be a better leader? Choose the right staffing partner.

The right staffing partner can improve your effectiveness, by:

  • supporting your busy team;
  • taking on pressing projects;
  • improving productivity;
  • and flexing your workforce in response to changing demands.

Contact your local Exact Staff office and let us know what we can do to help.



Want to Increase Engagement? Go with the Flow

10/7/16 9:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Ever experienced focus so intense that you:

  • Accomplish an amazing amount of high-quality work in a short period?
  • Are impervious to distractions?
  • Feel virtually unstoppable?

Then you’ve been in a state of “flow.”

Flow is a state in which you feel and perform your best. And it’s more than just a catch-phrase; studies validate its benefits in the workplace:

  • McKinsey research cited in this Forbes.com post indicates that when employees are in a state of flow, they’re 5 times more productive than normal.
  • According to research cited in this Harvard Business Review post, flow has been tied to improved performance by increasing both concentration and motivation. And it’s no surprise. With an average of 87 interruptions in a typical work day, and an average of 23 minutes to get back on task, it’s a wonder any of us accomplish anything at all!

What impedes flow in the workplace?

Bureaucracy. Cumbersome, restrictive workplace policies and processes. Lack of direction and communication. Frequent, unnecessary interruptions. In other words, anything which prevents people from doing their best, most important and most impactful work.

And how can you improve flow to drive engagement?

Not all workplace interruptions are bad; policies, processes and hierarchy are not necessarily the enemy, either. By the same token, locking your employees in quiet rooms to work isn’t a panacea, either.

So where should you focus your efforts to enhance flow – and increase your team’s engagement? Here are a few practical tips:

  • Get your whole staff on board with the idea. Flow may be a new concept for many of your employees. Explain what it is, why you’re promoting it, and how they stand to benefit.
  • Establish clear goals for your organization that cascade down into projects and positions. Then, work with each employee to create actionable objectives to achieve their goals. When individuals know what to do, as well as how their work fits into your organization’s “big picture,” it gives their work more focus and meaning.
  • Embrace a “hacking” mindset. While not every initiative is suitable for this approach, look for opportunities where unconventional problem-solving methodologies could be applied. Create shorter, more tangible challenge-and-reward cycles for these projects to drive focus and teamwork.
  • Limit distractions. Create practical policies that encourage employees to intentionally minimize interruptions (email and phone calls are huge culprits). In this earlier post, we provide great tips for getting twice as much done in half the time.
  • Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Meetings can be a huge time-suck that disrupts all participants’ flow. But when meetings are essential, improve planning to increase efficiency. Distribute a clear agenda in advance with discussion items, required preparation, and a rough timeline, so that everyone gets the greatest return on their invested time.

Bottlenecks and open positions hindering your organization’s flow?

Exact Staff provides flexible access to the talented people you need. Whether you need to temporarily increase your capacity or grow your core team, our workforce experts are ready to meet your local or national staffing needs.


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.


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.



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.


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.