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  • Maximize Your Happiness by Avoiding These Pitfalls

    11/28/16 8:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    It’s “the most wonderful time of the year.”

    So why aren’t you happier?

    Sure, the rush of the season makes it harder to unwind and enjoy the here-and-now. But are external factors like holiday stress making you unhappy – or are you your own worst enemy?

    Twin research has proven that about 50 percent of your happiness is genetically determined, and that “life circumstances” (e.g., money, marital status, appearance) account for just 10 percent. So what’s the remaining 40 percent of your happiness level due to?

    You guessed it: YOU.

    If you want to be happier, take charge with a two-pronged approach: actively develop habits that promote happiness, while avoiding these pitfalls that limit it:

    Falling Victim to “Energy Vampires”

    You may not be able to completely avoid people who are perpetually negative, resentful or hostile (especially if you’re forced to work with or manage them). You can, however, insulate yourself from their behavior – so they upset and drain you less:

    • Allow them to vent without taking their comments personally.
    • Resist the urge to react emotionally. Avoiding knee-jerk, defensive responses takes practice, but it is possible.
    • Listen with intent. Often, negative people simply need someone to empathize with them. Showing that you understand what they’re experiencing can quickly neutralize their toxic behavior.
    • Limit your contact. If the energy vampire is a teammate or employee, keep communications focused on work-related issues. If the individual is a friend or family member, try to associate in groups (and spend less time one-on-one).

    Repressing Your Feelings

    Continually holding in your feelings is like putting handcuffs on your happiness. While you certainly don’t want to erupt on impulse every time you’re upset (see above), you should find acceptable ways to express your emotions. Only by honoring your true feelings can you experience the catharsis they bring.

    Trying to Buy Happiness

    New cars. Expensive watches. Designer clothes. If you listen to media messages (especially during the holidays), you’d think that acquiring these things is the “magic bullet” to guarantee your happiness.

    Buying stuff may produce a short-term “rush,” but it’s typically short-lived. And once that good feeling is gone, it’s replaced by disappointment – and a desire to buy more. A better option to maximize your contentment? Stop pursuing things, and start pursuing the relationships and experiences that will truly sustain your happiness.

    Spending Too Much Time on Technology

    According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in 10 Americans suffers from some form of depression. One of the biggest contributors?  Too much screen time.

    Technology can certainly make you feel more connected to the outside world – but if you’re habitually using it to distract yourself, or you focus too much on social comparisons, your smartphone could actually be making you miserable. Pay attention to how, when and why you use technology – and how happy or unhappy it really makes you.

    Related Post: Prevent Negativity from Creeping Into Your Workplace

    Want to make your organization a happier place to work?

    Exact Staff’s experts can refer talented, experienced people with the personality traits and soft skills to help you build a more positive workplace. Get happier in 2017. Contact our national employment agency today.

Become a Better Boss by Doing These Unique Things

11/25/16 9:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Engaging in active listening? Check.

Following through on commitments? Check.

Leading by example? Check.

If you’re like most bosses, you’ve already mastered management fundamentals like these. But if you really want to grow as a leader in the year ahead, you need to set the bar just a bit higher.

Becoming a truly exceptional manager requires you to do things that most others don’t – unexpected behaviors that make a huge impact on motivation and performance. What are they? Below, Exact Staff shares a few unique habits that set great bosses head-and-shoulders above the rest:

Reframing

Problems, obstacles, challenges…whatever you call them, they can easily derail your company’s progress. A great boss knows how to bring a fresh perspective to issues, transforming problems into opportunities – and reshaping others’ mindsets and actions in the process.

Sharing Information

Exceptional managers are secure in their abilities and aren’t threatened by others’ expertise. As a result, they don’t hoard information; they share it freely! Sharing information allows great bosses to delegate effectively, empower team members and contribute to employees’ professional growth.

Respecting Others’ Time

Amazing bosses place as much value on subordinates’ time as they do on their own. They show up on time for meetings. They allot adequate time for employees to complete work. They get to the point quickly. In short, they engage in behaviors the make the most of everyone’s time – not just their own.

Persuading

“Command and control” management may produce short-term gains, but great managers have a knack for positively influencing others’ behavior with messages that motivate, reassure and (when necessary) redirect. Instead of merely wielding their authority to get the job done, they inspire action by communicating passionately and persuasively.

Making Failure Acceptable

Exceptional bosses create a “psychological safety zone” in which employees know they can try and fail – without being punished or fired. And when their employees do make mistakes, great managers use those missteps as opportunities to learn.

Showing Gratitude

In some managers’ minds, giving employees a paycheck is showing thanks enough for the work they do. Great managers, however, realize that staff members invest a huge part of themselves in their jobs – so they make a habit of thanking employees for their effort, perseverance and success.

Be a Better Boss in 2017

Exact Staff can rapidly deliver exceptional people to build your core team. Improve productivity. And seamlessly flex your workforce to match changing demands. Whether your needs are local, regional or national, our staffing and recruiting experts are ready to help you excel.

What can we do for you? Contact a staffing expert at your local Exact Staff office today!

Back to Basics: 3 Essential Leadership Questions to Consider

11/21/16 8:15 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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That hot leadership book you’re reading right now – you know, the one that promises to revolutionize the way you manage and inspire your team?

It probably has about as much staying power as Pokemon Go.

The simple truth is, sound leadership principles have remained pretty much the same for decades (some would argue centuries!). So instead of keeping up with those trendy management fads that “everyone else is trying,” you might be better served by going back to the basics. Below, Exact Staff shares three questions for reflection to remind yourself what great leadership has always been about:

Do I see myself as others do?

Does the way you view yourself align with how your direct reports, peers and superiors see you? If you want to be an effective leader, it must.

Take the time to get back in touch with who you are as a person. What makes you happy, frustrated, motivated? How would you describe your personality? You might even want to take a personality inventory for a more objective self-analysis.

Then, get feedback from others in your organization and compare their assessment with your own. If significant gaps exist, consider why that might be. Take steps to address areas of discrepancy, and you’ll become an even stronger leader.

Do my daily actions communicate what I value?

What inspires you? What are you truly passionate about? At the end of the day, what do you stand for? If you know the answers to these questions, you’ll know what drives your behavior as a leader.

Strong leaders’ values are communicated through their actions. Reflect on the things that are important to you – whether it’s collaboration, diversity, innovation, compassion or other values – and consider whether or not your behavior evidences them.

Who do I want to be as a person – and as a leader?

Leadership is a journey, not an event. So even if you have years of experience managing others, it’s in your best interest to periodically reflect on the kind of leader you want to become. Consider:

  • the qualities you want to exemplify as a leader;
  • areas for your professional development, to better align who you are (and how others perceive you) with who you want to be;
  • the legacy you will leave (i.e., how others will remember you);
  • and who can help you continue to strengthen your leadership skills.

There is always room to grow as a leader. Take the time to consider these “back to basics” questions, and you’ll discover ways to make lasting improvements in your abilities.

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

Exact Staff’s national staffing and placement services can make you – and your entire organization – more productive, flexible and effective. Contact your local Exact Staff office today.

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How to Start Pivoting Your Organization

11/18/16 8:20 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : News | Leave a Comment
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It’s one thing to realize that your business needs to alter its course.

Figuring out exactly how to successfully change direction? Well, that’s something entirely different.

A few weeks ago, we shared three reasons you should consider pivoting your business:

  • Managing the increasing rate of change in our world
  • Creating new opportunities to drive revenue
  • Fueling innovation

But deciding that your business should fundamentally shift its strategy is just the start. Once you’ve committed to making a pivot, how do you begin changing direction? Below, our experts share three tips for starting to pivot your organization:

Make customers’ needs your beacon.

What are your customers’ biggest pain points? What will they require tomorrow? What wants can your organization fill that your competitors can’t? It’s your job to listen to, understand and even anticipate your customers’ needs. The reason is simple: if customers don’t want or require what you have to offer, your sales will fall flat (in fact, it’s the reason the vast majority of startups fail).

For your pivot to be successful, you must shift to align with your market. Perform your due diligence to ensure you head in a direction that provides opportunity for today – and tomorrow.

Communicate planned changes internally.

There’s no way around it; a pivot will definitely disrupt your business. To minimize the stress, extra work and turnover it can create, communicate everything to your employees.

  • Explain your reasons for the shift and the benefits you all stand to gain. Logically, people execute better when they understand what they’re doing and why it needs to be done.
  • Be honest about changes and expectations. Your team will respect your candor. And ask for their feedback! More open dialogue can increase trust and loyalty, creating a higher-performing group.
  • Work together to set short-term goals for the pivot. Along the way, provide lots of feedback, to keep employees on track and motivated. Celebrate milestones to maintain momentum.

Rollout new offerings to current customers first.

As you develop new products or services, be sure that your existing customer base knows why you’re making changes. Then, find a few early adopters who are willing to help you test out your new offerings and provide feedback.

By bringing customers into the development process, you can:

  • Test and tweak your product/service to make sure it’s on the mark;
  • Develop success stories, case studies, testimonials and other tangible/measurable results to offer potential new customers third-party validation.

Need to pivot your business? Exact Staff is prepared to help.

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.

Call to discuss your plans – we’ll help you stay on course.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.