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  • The Dangers of Groupthink – and a Smarter Alternative for Your Business

    03/21/16 10:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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    There’s no “I” in groupthink.

    Okay, there IS – which is ironic, because the term, coined in a 1952 article by William H. Whyte, refers to the process of achieving group consensus by minimizing conflict (where’s the “I” in that?). But often, that consensus and “group harmony” comes at a high price for organizations. Here are two of the dangers of groupthink in business teams:

    • Innovation is suppressed. When contrary opinions and individual thinking are thwarted, innovation’s spark is effectively snuffed out. Group members self-censor their ideas and opinions in favor of unanimity.
    • Critical questions go unasked. Groupthink often pressures dissenters to conform to majority opinion. As a result, members miss out on critical evaluation of alternatives. Important “what if” questions may never be asked, nor the ramifications considered – leaving organizations at greater risk for strategic missteps and missed opportunities.

    Not exactly a recipe for business success, right?

    Obviously, completing projects and achieving goals requires team work. How can you balance the levels of connection and esprit de corps your teams need to function at their peak, without compromising the “I” (i.e., the individual insights, creativity and, yes, contrary perspectives needed to keep your organization competitive)?

    Renowned leadership expert and author Kevin Eikenberry proposed a solution in a recent blog post: teamthink. If you’ve never heard of the concept, here’s a quick overview and a few practical benefits this organizational mindset can deliver:

    What is “Teamthink”?

    According to Eikenberry, “Teamthink is the collaborative thinking that comes from people who care about each other and their goal enough to listen carefully, consider options and make the best decision for themselves and those they serve.”

    In simpler terms, it’s a healthier alternative to group decision-making that achieves results without stifling individuals’ input. If groupthink is pervasive in your organization, move toward teamthink by:

    • Galvanizing the goal. As with all team efforts, all members must understand and buy into a goal or purpose that’s greater than themselves.
    • Building relationships. To ensure that individuals aren’t systematically overruled, ignored or discounted, make deliberate efforts to solidify work relationships. This doesn’t mean that all group members have to be friends (or even like one another); it means that they must respect one another professionally and commit to working well together, despite their differences.
    • Creating trust. Self-censoring and rushing to agreement often occurs because individuals don’t feel safe sharing ideas which may be considered unpopular or controversial. Can you blame them? If you want to guard against groupthink, you need to increase trust among team members. Only when you give employees a safe place to listen, brainstorm and exchange ideas without being judged can new opinions and ideas get due consideration.

    Need innovators? Independent thinkers? Team players?

    Exact Staff can deliver the high performers you seek. With a national presence, and a full complement of staffing and placement services, the talent you need is just a phone call away.

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

It’s High Time to Start Managing Time Better

03/19/16 8:30 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Job Seekers | Leave a Comment
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Downtime.

Overtime.

Wasted time.

You know how important effective time management is to your personal and organizational success. Obviously, it determines your overall productivity. But, it also has a psychological impact as well. If you’re great at managing time, you experience less stress, are more resilient and can be a motivating force for your entire team.

Given how critical effective time management is, it’s high time to start managing it better. Here are four fresh ideas from Exact Staff to help you get more done in less time:

Get off to a great start.

By making a few small changes to your routine, you can greatly improve the way you manage your time. End each work day by creating a clear plan for what you need to accomplish the next morning. When you lay out your top priorities in advance, you begin your day focused and proactive.

Block your time.

The way you schedule your time each morning dramatically impacts your productivity throughout the day:

  • Tackle your highest priority and/or least favorite (but important) activities first. Setting aside time for the tough things you absolutely need to do creates a “no excuses” operating environment that yields greater efficiency.
  • Make appointments with yourself. Meetings and calls aren’t the only things you should block off time for. Schedule time for any activity that requires your full focus.
  • Set time limits for predictable tasks. Reasonable time limits naturally motivate you to work harder. Furthermore, when you allot a certain amount of time for discrete aspects of your work, you’ll  minimize time wasted on deciding what to do next.

Be a “serial focuser.”

Multitasking has been much-hyped, but research has proven that it doesn’t work. Instead of paying attention to multiple things at once, your brain actually focuses on concepts sequentially – continually switching from one activity to another.

So give your brain a break (and your time management a boost) by becoming a “serial focuser.” By giving one task your undivided attention,  you allow your brain to reach a depth of focus that simply isn’t possible with multitasking – ultimately helping you to stay organized and accomplish more.

Remove yourself from distractions.

It’s pretty logical: the higher your focus, the more you’ll accomplish in any given period of time. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate interruptions at work, finding ways to control them will greatly boost your efficiency. In this earlier post, we cover these four ways to minimize distractions – and get more done:

  • Planning for interruptions
  • Controlling your physical environment
  • Scheduling distractions
  • Improving meeting productivity

Want more free time? Get help from Exact Staff.

With a national presence and a full complement of staffing and placement solutions, we can free up more of your time by:

  • Providing temporary support to “offload” low-priority or repetitive tasks.
  • Taking a proactive approach to staffing and recruiting. The better you plan your needs, the more effectively we can help you meet them (saving you time and frustration!).
  • Assuming the time-consuming aspects of hiring including managing job postings, screening resumes and conducting initial interviews.

The result? An optimally staffed organization. Exceptional hires. And more productive hours to focus on your business. If you’re ready to learn more, give Exact Staff a call.

IRS Alerts Payroll and HR Professionals to Phishing Scheme Involving W-2s

03/14/16 4:05 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

IR-2016-34, March 1, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued an alert to payroll and human resources professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to be from company executives and requests personal information on employees.

The IRS has learned this scheme — part of the surge in phishing emails seen this year — already has claimed several victims as payroll and human resources offices mistakenly email payroll data including Forms W-2 that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information to cybercriminals posing as company executives.

“This is a new twist on an old scheme using the cover of the tax season and W-2 filings to try tricking people into sharing personal data. Now the criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll departments,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”

IRS Criminal Investigation already is reviewing several cases in which people have been tricked into sharing SSNs with what turned out to be cybercriminals. Criminals using personal information stolen elsewhere seek to monetize data, including by filing fraudulent tax returns for refunds.

This phishing variation is known as a “spoofing” email. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and information including SSNs.

The following are some of the details contained in the e-mails:

·         Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review.

·         Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary).

·         I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.

The IRS recently renewed a wider consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season and other reports of scams targeting others in a wider tax community.

The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.

The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry are engaged in a public awareness campaign — Taxes. Security. Together. — to encourage everyone to do more to protect personal, financial and tax data. See IRS.gov/taxessecuritytogether or Publication 4524 for additional steps you can take to protect yourself.

This article was originally published at www.irs.gov

How to Build a Better Workplace

03/14/16 3:47 PM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Want a way to build a better workplace that’s fast, foolproof and free?

Foster greater trust among your employees.

Trust creates a strong foundation upon which you can build a great culture, enhance performance and keep your business competitive. In an earlier post, we touched on the business benefits of fostering trust among managers and employees, including:

Less bureaucracy – and higher productivity.

When people in your company know that they can rely on each another to do what they promise, it reduces the need to peer over one another’s shoulders. Without all that checking, reviewing and other organizational “red tape,” unnecessary stalls and bottlenecks are eliminated. Increase trust, and you’ll boost your team’s efficiency dramatically!

Greater innovation.

Trust is a crucible for innovation. When you give employees a safe place to listen, brainstorm and exchange ideas which may be unpopular or controversial – without being judged – you set the stage for sparking ideas, products or services which can move your business ahead.

Improved morale.

When everyone in your organizations honors their commitments and delivers consistently exceptional service to internal customers, it naturally creates a more positive work environment.

Lower turnover.

Employees who trust one another feel more connected to the group, more loyal to your organization and more motivated to stay and perform their best (even when things get tough).

So, here’s the million-dollar question:

How can you build – and maintain – trust in the workplace? Glad you asked. Below are three essential tips you can implement, which don’t cost a dime:

Treat employees as equal partners.

Establishing trust starts with making everyone – from your newest rookies and entry-level employees up through senior managers – feel like valuable, important members of the team. Get out and meet the people who work with you. Find out their names and why they work for your organization. Seek out their opinions and ideas (and give them due credit). And treat every employee, regardless of their rank or tenure, with genuine respect.

Be honest.

When things are going well for your business, it’s easy to be honest. But when mistakes happen, finances are tight, or crises occur, it’s much tougher. The way you act in difficult times is the greatest measure of your integrity, so resist the urge to sweep bad stuff under the rug. Be open when problems occur. Don’t sugarcoat anything. When you’re honest, accountable and solution-oriented, you’ll go a long way in preserving employees’ trust.

Be consistent.

In everything you do, make sure your words match your behaviors. Honor your commitments, both small and large. And if you find that you can’t keep a promise, for whatever reason, be honest about the reason why. Even if you can’t live up to what you initially pledged, being forthright in your communication will help you preserve the trust you’ve built.

Build a better workplace with Exact Staff.

With a full complement of national staffing and placement solutions, Exact Staff provides precisely what your organization needs to increase trust – and performance. To find out how we can strengthen your workplace, schedule a free consultation today.

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Driving Team Productivity Starts with the Right Software

03/7/16 9:00 AM | By :Exact Staff | Categories : Employers | Leave a Comment
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Do more. Do it faster. And accomplish it all with fewer resources.

Like it or not, this is the business credo of our post-recession economy. And the pressure is taking its toll. Everywhere you look, teams’ limits are being pushed – leading to burnout, turnover, critical mistakes and internal discord. Instead of functioning as high-performing units, strained teams are falling apart at the seams.

Around the world, software developers are taking note – and taking the productivity bull by the horns. In recent years, cloud-based apps and powerful project management software have been developed specifically to support your teams’ changing needs and super-charge their productivity.

Are you taking advantage of the right tools? Indiscriminate use of software applications won’t yield the productivity improvement you seek; in fact, it may have the opposite effect. Instead of coordinating efforts and maximizing team resources, the wrong software can increase communication channels and unnecessarily complicate tasks.

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to help your employees work smarter, not harder. The right software can smooth operations, facilitate teamwork and improve effectiveness. Here’s how to choose the best options for your business:

  • Understand your current needs. Study your environment and work processes, taking into account the hardware and software you already use. Make a list of the biggest challenges your teams currently face (e.g., process bottlenecks; work that’s still accomplished manually or on paper; business intelligence gaps; work coordination impediments; etc.), as well as the goals they need to meet, to determine where software could be of benefit.
  • Analyze your future needs. Beyond considering what your business needs now, you must also predict what it will require one to five years down the road. To choose the right software, you must factor in its ability to evolve with your teams’ changing needs.
  • Investigate your options. The range of choices available today is truly dizzying. Here are a few factors to consider when evaluating your software options:
    • SaaS solutions. Web-based software is popular among small businesses looking for greater efficiency and mobile access. How and where will people use the software?
    • Hosted, on-site enterprise solutions. These typically come with a higher price tag, but they offer greater security and customization. Consider where and how your data should be housed, as well as how much tailoring you will require for a platform to be effective.
    • Features. What basic and advanced features does your team need?
    • Compatibility. How well will the software integrate with your existing systems? Will it reduce or eliminate the need for other software and/or communication channels?
    • Cost. How much money do you have to spend? Would a higher initial investment yield greater long-term benefits?
  • Adequately evaluate a number of vendors. Due diligence ensures you will choose a partner who’s invested in your success and has the resources to deliver on its promises.

Looking to improve the effectiveness of your work teams?

Exact Staff is here to support you. Providing a full complement of staffing and placement services, we can help your teams accomplish more:

  • Offload low-priority and administrative activities to free up more time for key priorities.
  • Supplement your core teams with temporary and contract staff, flexing your workforce to respond to changing demands.
  • Prevent burnout and overwork, both of which can undermine team productivity.

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