June 2018
Ladysmith Chamber Business Essentials


2nd Annual Chamber / LDBA Christmas Social

Celebrate the Holidays with fellow business people!  Members and guests are invited to the 2nd Annual Chamber / LDBA  Christmas Social at Cottonwood on Tuesday, December 4th from from 12 pm to 2 pm.  Book a table for you, your staff and guests!   Silent Auction donations are welcome. Please RSVP by Friday, November 30th.   Read More...

Employee Evaluations – 101


Employee Evaluations – 101

Are you carrying out regular evaluations with your employees? Do they know where they stand in terms of their performance, good or bad? Do they know what you expect of them, where they're excelling and where they need to improve? Do you know how they're feeling about their job?

For most of us, regular performance appraisals sit in the "things I really ought to do" category but never get around to because – well they're not urgent. The thing is, sitting down with your employees on a regular basis to see how they are doing in their jobs can increase your efficiency and productivity and that should always be a priority.

For many small business owners the biggest thing holding them back is not knowing where to start, so in this article we'll give you a crash course in how to effectively handle employee evaluations.

Schedule evaluations - and stick to your schedule. HR experts most often suggest holding employee appraisals every six months, but annually may be often enough for your business. Schedule them during a quiet time of year for your business.

Let your employees know in advance. Staff will be more cooperative and less threatened if you give them advance warning. It allows people to save concerns and know there is a set time to discuss any challenges they may be facing. Establish them as part of your businesses routine – nothing out of the ordinary.

Find a format that works for your type of company. What kinds of questions will give you meaningful information? Check online for examples of performance appraisal templates - these will help you create your own to suit your specific industry, company and particular circumstances.

Create open questions that encourage dialogue. "How's it going?" might get a response of "fine", but it's more difficult for people to use one-word answers for questions like "What aspects of your job are you enjoying most?" and "What are you finding most challenging at the moment?"

Keep it positive. Since it's human nature to seek approval, it's important that your appraisals provide a positive aspect that affirms the employee's work, in addition to setting goals and presenting challenges around things that need to change. Sometimes this is difficult, especially if you are perhaps evaluating a person who isn't performing well. It is however, vital that you find some aspect of their performance to praise. Using both sides of the coin, allows the person to be more open to receiving a critique.

Be approachable. As a general rule, do your best to be open and approachable with your employees. While in an employee appraisal, one of the best ways to do this is to listen more than you talk. When an employee is answering your questions - put your pen down and look at them. Make eye contact. Use appropriate body language to let them know you are hearing them. Respond to what they are saying and allow it to trigger more questions on your part. If you practice this kind of active listening, you will find you will get a much more honest and productive response during your appraisals.

Recognize different personalities. If you treat each person in your company exactly the same, you'll be in trouble before too long. Research online about the four main personality styles people exhibit. They go by different names but if you look up Analytical, Driver, Expressive and Amiable you will find an abundance of information on how each of these styles should be approached. Recognizing each person's unique style and knowing how to best relate to them, will help you immensely in getting the information, and results you need.

Schedule time to review, evaluate and strategize. Don't take your appraisal forms and file them for future reference. After you've conducted your appraisals, schedule time to go over each form and evaluate the information you've collected. Do you see any patterns that need to be addressed? Are there performance issues you have been neglecting? Are there specific people who need mentoring or training? Is morale high or low? What is the level of job satisfaction? When you've evaluated the information, come up with strategies to deal with the information you've collected.

Plan to implement your strategies. Make sure your employees know what you are trying to do, and what you expect of them. Create a plan to increase staff morale, or decrease spending, or add training, or whatever your needs are. Put dates on your implementation strategy so you can keep track of how you're doing. If your employees go through evaluations year after year but never see any results from them, they are less likely to take them seriously. If you don't have an implementation plan, you've wasted your time.

Performance appraisals are a must for business growth. The more you know, the more you will grow! Take this aspect of your business seriously and watch the impact it has on everyone in your company, not to mention your bottom-line.

Employee Evaluations – 101


Setting Home-based Business Boundaries

If you work at home, you've probably experienced the tension between staying focused and productive – and throwing in that last load of laundry, answering a phone call from your best friend, or watching "just" a few minutes of that "special" game on television. In fact, you may have chosen to have a home office because you enjoy being able to do those things AND work efficiently doing what you love to do. Be cautious however, that your home office doesn't turn into just another room in your house. If it does, the line between home and business will become blurred and you will seriously hamper your ability to run your business effectively.

Here are a few ideas to help you determine whether you have appropriate boundaries for your home based business.

Make Your Office a Professional Environment

Leave the kindergarten artwork on the kitchen fridge and try to give your office a professional feel. Ensure you have the appropriate furniture, filing cabinets, and only office items on your desk. Keep things in their place and try to set up your desk so that all the things you need are close by. Don't walk to the bedroom or hall closet to get a package of paper for your printer. If there's not enough space IN your office to store the things that you need, you may need to look at finding a bigger space.

Your office should have a door so that you can close off whatever else is going on in the house that may distract you from focusing on your work. The more professional your office "feels", the less likely you are to be distracted, or to wander away from your business tasks.

Create Mental Boundaries

Determine what you will and will not do in your home office. If you determine ahead of time that you will not receive personal calls while you are in your office, you are more likely to follow through, and when Jason answers a call from grandma he'll say "Sorry, Mom's working right now." Make your home office a personal-life-free-zone – as much as you can anyway.

Create Physical Boundaries

If you are working from a suite in your house which has a separate entrance, instead of walking downstairs leave the house and go around to the suite's front door. This can work as an excellent separation physically and mentally between personal and business life. It's even better if your home office is in a separate building such as a converted garage.

If you can't do that, close the bedroom door and hang a sign that says, "Mom/Dad at work." The secret is to at least imagine you have left home and gone to the office.

Whenever Possible, Maintain Regular Hours

If you're the type of person who has chosen to work from home because you like the flexibility of not having regular hours, and it works for you to stop for an hour to watch your favorite soap or finish the house cleaning and work later in the evening, that's great. For most people though, setting "office hours" can be very helpful both in keeping them on track and maintaining productivity. For many, a regular work day with scheduled coffee and lunch breaks and a definite "end of the day" time, are very effective. If you make this commitment to yourself, you'll think twice about unloading the dishwasher the next time you grab a cup of coffee.

Involve Your Family

Making these decisions and commitments in your own mind is important, but equally important is letting your family know what you're up to. If you can enlist their support and respect for the boundaries you've set, sticking to them will be so much easier.

Working from home is great, and for a growing number of small business owners, it's becoming a wonderful way to blend family and business endeavours. However, setting boundaries and making some professional decisions can help you avoid slipping into the realm of a part-time job that doesn't meet your long-term business or financial expectations.

Employee Evaluations – 101


The Dreaded ... BUT

Our words have an impact, either positive or negative andsometimes we say one thing butmean another. On occasion, we are simply careless with impactful words andfail to realize their effect on others.

Think about a time when someone was giving you feedback. Perhaps they began by sounding nice andsupportive andthen they said, BUT. How did it make you feel? Perhaps your first thought was, 'Oh oh, what's next?' Odds are, you suddenly felt a little deflated andyou may have actually forgotten the more positive opening.

BUT is one of those words that shuts down communication. Rather than being supportive andencouraging, it is competing for the two truths in a statement.

Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations, suggests that we substitute the word butwith AND. She talks about multiple realities competing when the word butis used. There are two truths, I own one andyou own the other, andwhen butis inserted there is a loser.

"I love what you've done, but..."

"I love what you've done and..."

See how different the start of those two statements feel without even knowing what's next?

"I know you want an extension, butthe deadline is approaching." This statement contains two truths where the second competes with andoverrides the first. No negotiation or even consideration.

"I know you want an extension andthe deadline is approaching." This statement comprises two truths of which both are balanced. What can we make of this?

It may seem awkward at first andit might require a bit of rethinking as to how andwhat you are going to say to another person. When my clients andI have explored this concept, we have realized the power of it in creating a shift in thinking about the impact of our statements. It's about recognizing the other person andtheir accomplishment andit's about the other truth, whatever that is. It doesn't negate the accomplishment, it merely exists beside it.

Another reason for trying to exchange these two words is that it challenges you to view things in a different way, to shift your thinking. The word BUT does not allow the brain to hold two ideas together to explore a solution. Replacing BUT with AND allows both thoughts to be considered, which in turn may lead you both to figuring out a way forward.

Although it's not always possible or necessarily easy, it is worthwhile considering the impact of your statements when using the word BUT. By trying to replace it with the word andyou are considering the impact of your statements in relation to another person, be they staff, student, colleague, etc. andjointly coming to some understanding of each other's postion.

So next time you are about to use the word BUT, stop andthink about what you are going to say andhow it might impact the other person.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 598, 33 Roberts Street, Ladysmith, BC V9G 1A4
Phone: 250-245-2112