Posts Tagged ‘Employees’

Can You Start This Afternoon?

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I don’t have a lot of rules, but I do have a few when it comes to business. Perhaps I have just a few because when I say “rules”, I mean RULES – something to be followed 100% of the time. Not 90%, not something that’s close to the rule.

When hiring any employee, I have a rule that I (or my clients) must be so excited for that person to join that it begs the question, “Can you start this afternoon?”

Now I almost always sleep on a hiring decision (that’s almost a rule!), but that doesn’t change my excitement, my knowing-ness that they are the perfect fit. Is your mind racing with ideas of how they can add significant value to your organization? If the potential hire causes you to see goals achieved, a company with well-run systems, and an easier future for yourself, then chances are you need to be putting together an offer.

More than at any other business life cycle stage, employees of a small business represent your growing brand as well as you personally. They need to exude the professionalism, passion, values and technical skill that your customers have grown to expect from you. If your business goals include hiring more staff, consider the earliest employees the DNA of your growing organism. Those first few hires form the culture, demonstrate to future hires your expectation level, and drive either continuing business growth and brand recognition or decline.

The next time you are in the market for an employee, make sure they cause you to say (to yourself), “Can you start this afternoon?” Never, ever settle for less.

Helen Dutton, Business Coach


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The need, and desire, for boundaries seems to be circling me lately. Last week I listened as a mom asked for help in getting her toddler to stay in bed; it seems that the toddler cried for a bottle and the tired parents gave it to her or invited her into their bed. Having lived through similar situations I felt her pain but knew that both the problem and the solution was with the parents, not the toddler.

Not long after, a client brought a customer situation to me; the customer disturbed other customers and despite repeated requests hadn’t changed her behavior. And recently, the COO of a company told me the story of independent sales reps who didn’t want to follow procedure. Until recently, they had gotten away with it. All three of these situations have boundaries as the core issue. First, let me define boundaries. Boundaries are behavior that you hold someone accountable to in your presence; when the boundary is not met, there is a pre-defined consequence.

If you have children, your family has probably experienced the relief when a boundary is set…and upheld. We really are very much like children and want the same thing; to know what the limits are, to know what is acceptable and what is not. Boundaries are not always easy, but they are simple:

  1. Define the boundaries.
  2. Communicate the boundaries.
  3. Uphold the boundaries and follow through with the pre-defined consequence.

In the case of the COO, he explained to his independent sales reps what information he needed and by when; he clearly let them know, in a non-threatening, matter-of-fact way, that if the reporting was not something they could live with, then his company was not the right place for them.

Explain to employees (or customers or children!) that, while you’ve made the request before without any follow through or consequence, the rules have changed. Just like at home, boundaries in business will make life easier.

Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.