5 tips for hiring new staff members

workingAt some point in your new business, you will need to expand your team. And when that happens you’ll obviously want to hire the very best people. After you’ve advertised the position, a stream of CVs will soon be flooding your inbox.

It can be a daunting prospect to filter the qualified from the shoddy. You’ll need a clear picture of the person you want to hire in mind so you don’t become overwhelmed by the many applications you’ll no doubt receive. It’s unlikely you’ll have completed hr management courses, so you probably don’t know all the details of how to hire someone new. These tips should help you find a new, appropriately qualified staff member.

 

Know what your non-negotiables are

These are often the basics which you’ll stipulate in your job advert. The qualification, years’ experience and essential skills. It can be easy to be swayed by a positive attitude or compelling turn of phrase. Don’t let these convince you. If the applicants don’t have the basic requirements of the job, there’s no point wasting your time in inviting them for an interview.

 

Check for spelling and grammar

These are of course essential when you’re looking to hire a writer of any sort. But they also indicate attention to detail, commitment to tasks and computer literacy. Contrary to popular belief though, poor spelling does not indicate a lack of intelligence.

 

Have a look at social media profiles

This is important because it shows a person’s attitudes and behaviors in a more casual setting. They aren’t on their best behaviour. They aren’t trying to impress. They are just trying to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a normal way. Social media profiles can provide insight into a person’s hobbies, interests and attitudes in a way that a CV can’t.

 

Ask open-ended questions which will reveal more about the candidate

Once applicants have moved past the CV stage into a face-to-face meeting, it’s important that you ask the kinds of questions which will provide insight into facets of their personality and work ethic. These are the types of questions they aren’t expecting, can’t fake and will answer honestly. A question which has gained popularity in recent years is, “What type of animal would be be?”. Steer clear of this one because applicants may be expecting it but consider this kind of odd, out of the box question.

 

Know that not everyone is going to be a perfect fit

You need to accept that some applicants aren’t going to be right for your team. Some may come for a few months, do the bare minimum and slink away a few months later. No one is at fault in this situation. Sometimes it’s just not right.

The simple way to run your small business

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All businesses face challenges, but none as much as start-up companies. Their challenges depend on the size an

d functionality of the company. With a minimal amount staff, small business owners can find themselves having to manage  more than just one aspect of their business. They will have their hand in selling, delivering, financing, managing and growing the business, all while trying to keep the company afloat. Small business owners know that the long hours, sweat and tears are all worthwhile if they want to run a lucrative business. And, there are a few simple processes to implement to assist them in succeeding with their business ventures.

 

Have an outline of the finances

Often times, once the outline of the finances are complete and handed over to potential investors, it’s stored away in the filing cabinet never to be opened again. Don’t let the financial plan gather dust. Always go back and see where improvements can be made. Whenever you devise a plan to add a new product or service to your small business, consider the following:

  • How will the product or service generate income?
  • How much profit is expected?
  • What are the cost involved in producing the product or service?

 

Keep track of your credit  

 

One way of keeping track of your stock is by installing inventory management software. Inventory should be frequently rotated to do away with slow sellers and replacing them with new items. Stock control is an important aspect of any business but very often, small business owners fail to manage their day-to-day cash collection and customer credit control tasks. Fortunately, there are apps available to help manage cash flow and credit. These apps allow for business owners to take-on new customers, monitor existing ones, seek invoice payments or securely run cash collection.

 

Hire a financial professional

 

Trust in a professional accountant to take care of your financial affairs. Not only will they be in control of your profitable income, but they can also identify areas of your business that are not running efficiently. You don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time employee, but someone who will  keep an eye on the books for you. Your accountant will be able to maximise your profits and handle your cash flow.

How South Africa’s tech scene is changing the continent

Africa has slowly become one of the most fascinating spaces for tech development. African citizens are so talented, major companies spend billions buying their creations. What’s been important is examining what this means from a business perspective globally and between African countries.

South African tech and startups

Startups in Africa create technology the wider world finds useful. As The Next Web points out, major banks are wooing African startups. This is due to the understanding that local businesses can establish a mutually beneficial relationship with major banks. Understanding local dynamics can go a long way to successful business ventures.

For example, considering the disconnect between the people who make apps versus the rest of us, many might not consider how important scrapyards are. In America, for example, there is an understanding that even these places need to exist in a digital sphere. Rockaway Recycling has plenty of web presence, letting people engage with them.

Business and local

It’s this mindset which drives a lot of South African and African startups. The mutual beneficial relationships between bigger businesses and local startups is found everywhere, from the main finance hub in Johannesburg to Cape Town.

For example, Eduze, a Cape Town-based startup, got financial backing from the internationally renowned TED organisation.

As HTXT highlights

“Eduze (which means “nearby” in Zulu and is pronounced “Ed-ooz-eh”) is a social digital media startup with the goal of letting South African content creators speak to the rest of the country through mobile videos, at no cost to everyday citizens.”

This is an idea TED finds useful, but required a local startup to develop. There is an understanding international companies might not know what is best or more suited for an African context. By helping local startups develop their software and technology, everyone wins: the startup obtains the ability to develop, local citizens get technology that benefits their lives and bigger corporations get recognition for supporting smaller businesses.

In this way, we can see that understanding a landscape is essential to the success of a particular venture. In order to achieve that understanding, businesses must look to local developers with the right idea.

South Africa is one of the leading countries on the continent. With better infrastructure than most other African countries, we can only hope more businesses take an active stance in supporting this nation and its investments.

Why the IT industry needs the humanities

Today, everyone recognises the importance of the IT industry. The belief is the only way to enter is via a strict studying of technology. Yet, considering the number of people already involved in this area, this might be a mistake. It could be that what’s needed and what is being sought after is not, in fact, what we think. New data suggests people with a broader skillset and talent pool is being searched for, rather than whose only skill is computer tech.

Hiring the Humanities

LinkedIn Data notes:

“Liberal arts grads are joining the tech workforce more rapidly than technical grads. Between 2010 and 2013, the growth of liberal arts majors entering the technology industry from undergrad outpaced that of computer science and engineering majors by 10%. Internet or software companies are especially popular – 38% of all recent liberal arts grads in tech currently work in this space.”

This is obviously surprising and perhaps upsetting for those who’ve dedicated themselves to getting into the tech industry. With liberal arts skills, there is a greater engagement with diverse forms of thinking. Communication is key. By understanding, engaging, communicating and explaining various ideas, liberal arts students are better prepared than pure STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students.

What tends to drive such students’ importance for many businesses is their emotional intelligence (EQ).

Why EQ matters

For the last few years, many businesses have realised being skilled at one particular activity doesn’t mean you have a valuable employee. What matters is someone who can contribute to the company as a whole. Having EQ does just that: The Harvard Theorist, Howard Gardner defined EQ as: “the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.”

This is obviously valuable to businesses as almost all deal with people, whether as clients, staff or target market.

Indeed, ironically it’s the people with high levels of EQ who are better at adjusting to new technology and systems. Writing in Entrepreneur, Mariah Deleon notes:

“Workers with high EQ are better able to work in teams, adjust to change and be flexible… As the workplace continues to evolve, making room for new technologies and innovations, these qualities may become increasingly important.”

This is why it might be important to invest in emotional intelligence training courses, for yourself and your staff. You obtain the necessary skills and knowledge which facilitates communication and understanding of people and environments. This means even tech, which is all about making people’s lives better, improves. You make better products, create a better work environment and thus create a more sustainable business when you have higher levels of EQ in the office.

The most important role of a banker

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Bankers have to do what they can to keep their clients happy. Their number one focus will always be to see to the client’s needs and keep their client’s money safe. Keeping their cool with an irate client can become one of the most difficult parts of the job. A bank promises to always be there, but when a client walks out because of terrible service, it slowly allows for more clients to follow suit.

 

Always keep your composure

 

No matter how difficult a client may be, it’s in the best interest of the company for a banker to always keep their composure. Allow for the client to vent and let off steam. Once they have settled down you can begin the process of trying to figure out how to assist the them. The best you can do when faced with an ill-tempered client is to let them know you’re on their side. Telling them to calm down may only escalate the situation. If you let them know you are willing to help they will be more responsive instead storming through the turnstiles.

 

Be firm and stand your ground

 

No matter how patient you are or how much empathy you show to your client and their situation , if they’re angry they won’t stop ranting. If a client is out of line you have every right to speak up and firmly tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable. If all else fails and they don’t listen to reason you can tell them  if they can’t conduct themselves professionally, you will walk away.

 

Make respect a factor

 

Respect in a business is very important. Keep in mind that as a banker, you’re viewed as the face of the company. What you say to a client is not seen as your personal opinion, it’s seen as the bank’s opinion. As such, you can be held liable for any damage to the company reputation. It’s important to always have a respectful tone and not one that is harmful or offensive to the next person. Remember, it’s not what you say it’s how you say it. Speak slowly to ensure that you are being heard and to allow for your emotions to be kept in tact. This manner of speaking can turn around any hostile situation. Talking too quickly can make you sound nervous and frustrate the other person which only adds to the chaos.

 

What can we teach employees about security?

Office security is one of the most essential parts of running a business. We not only manage and produce data relevant to clients, but must also protect it. Further, we are not just concerned about our own belongings or clients’, but our staff’s too.

Yet, as is widely known, those most liable for security breaches are staff themselves. Or, as IT Portal describes employees, “the weakest link in a company’s security chain.” The question is what can we do to ensure our business is secured. To answer that, we need to start focusing on what we can teach our staff about security and how to do better.

Main business security concerns

While many businesses do focus on using physical security – with guards, locks alarm systems and video wall controller – there are other, more modern concerns. In particular, cybersecurity is the biggest concern for most businesses. As the world has become more connected, with the spread of the internet, businesses themselves have changed.

But the same way we’re storing data, we’re also having to secure it. This is why cybersecurity has become essential to the workplace. As one study pointed out, too often cybersecurity is reactive as opposed to proactive. This fundamentally misunderstands how the world works and the nature of business today.

“This reactive approach is all too common, even though the question is not if a company will suffer an incident but when. In the annual PwC, CIO, and CSO survey of more than 9,600 global executives, 41 percent of US respondents had experienced one or more security incidents during the past year. And that number is rising.”

Teaching employees

Understanding the dangers of cybersecurity also means informing your staff. As we noted, staff are well aware that they’re the reason so many breaches take place.

First, we should ensure staff passwords are complex and change regularly. Implement protocols so passwords can’t be simple words or numbers, but a mixture. Ensure the staff realise why they should not share this password with others either. It’s not just about their data, but the business’.

It might also be wise to invest in VPN network service, rather than a public WiFi service. The latter is far easier to breach, while VPN ensures encryption. Similarly, employees using mobile devices should ascertain they’re secured: both digitally and on their person.

Security is not something that will simply happen, we need to be actively engaged with it. To that end, it’s essential for us to educate our staff.

Better sleeping for business success

bedKnowledge, creativity and innovation are all essential tools for every successful business person. But what about sleep? That’s one tool in everyone’s arsenal which is often left to rust and lose its edge.

Sleep is increasingly gaining an almost cult following in its contribution to the lives of successful business people. More and more are speaking out about the importance of a good night’s sleep. And that can be anything from six to 10 hours – it really just depends on each individual person. Your body reacts incredibly differently to that of your friend or colleague. It’s essential you don’t attempt to sleep for just a few hours a night because that’s what your peers are doing.

 

One person speaking out about the importance of sleep is Arianna Huffington, co-founder, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington’s latest book, The Sleep Revolution, details the importance of sleep which she discovered after collapsing in her office during a particularly busy period in her life.

 

Her rules for sleep include:

  • Sleep is an essential human need.
  • Exhaustion is not something to be proud of but a sign of chaos.
  • A bedroom should be a beautiful escape.
  • Your cellphone should not be present in this space.
  • When you walk through this door, business should be left behind.

 

Huffington, who installed sleeping pods at her offices so employees can nap, says she treats her bedtime like a ritual not to be interfered with.

“I have a specific time at night when I regularly turn off my devices – and gently escort them out of my bedroom. The last thing before bed, I take a hot bath with Epsom salts and a candle to relax – a bath that I prolong if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something.

“Just before I go to sleep, I pause to think about the things that I’m grateful for in that moment. That way my blessings, not my worries, get the closing scene of the night.”

 

In addition, new research from University of California–San Diego suggests there’s a link between sleeping and earning. Their findings indicated that sleeping for an extra hour each night had the potential to increase average earning by 16 percent. For the average study participant, this meant an extra $6 000 each year.

 

Adding his voice to the conversation is Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist. What does that mean? He’s an expert on sleep studies. He speaks to the importance of a good night’s rest in his TED talk, Why do we need sleep?

“This isn’t some sort of crystal-waving nonsense,” he says. “This is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health.”

Foster says our attitudes toward sleep are polar opposites to what they were in previous generations. They knew the importance of being asleep, wrapped in blankets for many hours each day.

 

Also on the TED stage is UK-based science writer Jessa Gamble. She talks about what ideal, natural sleeping patterns look like in her talk, Our natural sleep cycle is like nothing we do now. In studies an ideal sleep cycle was found to be, she says, a four hour stretch of sleep, a period of wakeful meditation and then another four hour sleep session.

“The people in these studies report feeling so awake during the daytime, that they realise they’re experiencing true wakefulness for the first time in their lives.”

How to create a more productive workforce

Every business wants a productive, innovative and creative staff. We’d hope this would be achieved by proper hiring decisions. However, someone being qualified is not a sufficient guarantee they will also be continually productive and innovative. Instead, we should consider creating an atmosphere where that occurs, encouraging our employees to become better.

This benefits us as a business, since we then have better staff. The staff themselves benefit, since they gain additional skills. There are ways for us to create a better, more engaged and productive workforce.

Make them feel valued

Nobody likes being ignored or treated as a machine. The world no longer tolerates leaders who merely dictate, since employees will find places employees are respected.

As Entrepreneur highlights, staff being valued benefits the business.

“Ask employees about members of their family, what they enjoy doing outside the office and the parts of their role that they like or dislike the most. Demonstrating an interest in your employees as people, rather than as cogs in a machine, will ensure that they feel valued. “

If staff feel valued, this will make them more loyal. Even higher salaries can be viewed as meaningless alongside being treated with respect, space and interest. This means they have an investment in the business itself, making them more determined to do their best.

Emotional intelligence matters

To view productivity only in one way is too narrow. Considering how complicated humans are,  it’s important to consider their emotional aspects, too. After all, this ties in to our previous notion of making them feel valued. Staff aren’t just going to work harder. They need a reason, a deeply emotional one, to do so. While earning a salary and having a job are sometimes sufficient, they won’t enhance your staff’s ability to do better.

One aspect is to tap into emotional, as opposed to functional, productivity. As business expert Steven Dupuis notes:

“The challenge is tapping into emotional productivity, which is something that is much more difficult to control because it has no process. Emotional productivity, best defined as achievement and fulfillment, is crucial to living a meaningful life.”

It’s important to realise that emotional intelligence matters, as this shows. This means knowing how to negotiate the emotions of others, particularly those we work with.

To understand how to get this out of staff and their managers, it might be wise to find emotional intelligence training courses. You can either educate yourself as the business owner, the managers or others. In this way, you’ll get a working force more aware of why emotional management matters.

A happy employee is a productive employee

 

workingAs a decision maker in your workplace, one of your biggest mistakes you can make is to create unhappiness among your employees. You should focus your attention on keeping the people who work for you happy.

 

A worker who feels well-treated and appreciated by their superiors will do their best work for you. They’ll always be willing to go the extra mile; you won’t even have to ask them. It doesn’t take much effort on your part to make people happy – particularly millennials. As a leader in the workplace, you have the opportunity to put new measures in place which could make a significant difference to workers.

 

These simple tips can help you to improve the lives of your workers, your most valuable resource as a business owner.

 

Take their personal lives into consideration

Millennials especially are precious about their time outside of the office. They don’t want to feel locked inside the workplace. Your workers need to know they have freedom to step away from their desks, take some time off and still be able to get the job done. It is important that you treat your staffers like the adults the are. They need to know that you trust them to get the job done.

 

Encourage workers to be creative

Workers can very quickly become bored if they work on the same tasks daily. If a worker shows an interest in another area of the business, encourage them to explore this option. They may find a passion they hadn’t previously imagined they would. Someone in the creative department could discover an interest in the business finance sector.

 

Be open and communicative

Your workers need to know where they stand. It’s that simple. If they’re doing a good job, they need to know that. If they’re doing a terrible job, you need to tell them that. Your staffers also need to know about what is happening within the business. Make sure to keep your staff updated on new hires and resignations. No one enjoys hearing about this in whispered conversations and the rumour mill. Employees who are kept informed are more likely to feel part of the team and be willing to contribute.

 

It’s the simple things

Your staffers are really quite simple creatures. Ask them what they want and they’ll likely give you the same answer, over and over. Time and money. That’s all anyone really wants. Offer staff reasonable salaries and be sure to give them cash bonuses when necessary. Drinks after work and lunches out also encourage staff to put in their best work. An early Friday afternoon can be appreciated. You’ll be rewarded with rested and happy staff on Monday morning. There’s no way that’s not a great idea.

How the Internet of Things is changing retail

picThe Internet of Things has become firmly cemented as part of our everyday life. As the world has become more digital and we’ve become more connected, our technology has learned to interact in new ways. Given the incredible advances we’ve recently made, our lives themselves have changed, too. In just over a decade, we’ve gone from slow communication and information gathering to instant communication.

It’s no wonder then that this has also affected how we do retail.

Why the Internet of Things matters

To understand the importance of all of this, we need to know what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. As Wired defines it:

“The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports “smart.”

For example, your phone can be synced up with your alarm system, each one alerting the other as to your presence or an invasion. Other more fancy examples might be your car alerting your phone when it needs repairs.

The interaction between objects is as important as our own. All of these connected devices are, effectively, talking to each other. The main goal is to simplify our lives to achieve ends more efficiently.

How retail is affected

In a new study, Retail Systems Research (RSR) found that the majority (54%) of retailers across the world, with sales growth that is above-average, said they believed the IoT will drastically change how companies do business in the next few years.

As eMarketer reports: “Studies that have assessed the market size and growth potential for the retail IoT agree that retailers are already making substantial investments.”

It was found that every aspect from supply chains to point of sale was or will be affected by advances made with the IoT. Other experts agree, not only with eMarketer but the retailers themselves. There’s an understanding that customers expect the instant responses that comes from the IoT. After all, online retail and free delivery has made large parts of physical shopping unnecessary.

Online shopping doesn’t require you to travel, look for parking, search, carry and so on. These benefits mean you could acquire your items while simply seated on a couch. Knowing this, retailers who exist in the physical space have had to create ways to benefit customers.

This is why they must improve their software, improve their technology to allow for mobile or other client-based payment options (such as SnapScan) and any other aspect using connected tech. Retailers must catch up with their customers or their customers will move on to those who are willing to keep pace.