Management

Achieving Workplace Goals With CHANGE

The New Year just began and already people are setting goals and implementing new practices throughout the workplace. Sadly, The University of Scranton reports that 92% of people will fail at accomplishing their New Year’s goal. This can come off as defeating to leaders of organizations trying to adopt company-wide goals. However, there should be something said about the power in numbers. Goals in the workplace can have positives outcomes with a little CHANGE. One just needs to know how to make them stick. So, if you want your idea to last past the third week of January, follow the guidelines for effective CHANGE:

C: Communication

If there’s going to be any real change within your company, then the channels of communication must remain open. After all, can you think of one success story that came from NOT communicating? Allow for open and clear communication up and down the professional ladder as well throughout teams. Also, if a change is going to occur, be clear on why the change needs to occur, and what it means to the company.

H- Have clear expectations in place

Set clear expectations from the beginning. When a change occurs in an organization, it’s important for everyone in the company to understand why those changes happened and how it will affect them individually. Confusion equals disruption in workflow, so take the time to set the stage upfront. By outlining clear expectations for every team member, you prevent future confusion and lay an easy path for them to achieve the company’s goals. 

A- Are the correct systems in place

Now that you’ve decided to set new goals for your business, do you have the right resources? Are there any people, processes, or systems that would get in the way of success?  Your system of communication is vital – are all managers on board? Is there a system for communicating down through the company?    

N- Never assume or rush into things

A good rule of thumb: never assume anything. If you haven’t mentioned your goal since it was first implemented, don’t assume everything’s fine. Take time to analyze what progress has been made. Relying on everyone to do their part isn’t enough, so keep communication channels open within your team and perform frequent check-ins.  

G- Gain a sense of measurement

A goal lasts longer when it exists in reality and not just in the mind. Solution: write your company’s goal down preferably where people can see them. Does your goal have a timeline? When there are clear milestones in place, goals become concrete and actionable rather than something broad and distant.

E- Encourage and provide support

A goal will grow or die depending on a company’s approach. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to develop the right people to make your business successful. As a leader, beyond expectations and accountability, you need to show encouragement and support to everyone involved. During both good or bad times, a leader’s passion and commitment can uplift the team and keep everyone focused.  

Achieving your company’s biggest goals this year can happen, but it all depends on the communication, accountability, and support structures that are set in place for your team.  Use the CHANGE method as a starting point to achieve lasting success. 

How to Recruit Personal Trainers

Why Certification Matters

The popularity of personal training and fitness classes is on the rise as Americans take initiative to become healthier. As gym memberships increase, it becomes even more important that employees are well-equipped to work directly with gym members. Fitness instructors operate in a capacity that holds the organization liable for potential harm that befalls clients. In Indiana in 2003, an injured gym member attempted to sue both the personal trainer and the gym for bodily injuries. The health risks involved with working out highlight the importance of hiring quality fitness trainers. A successful organization needs experienced professionals to reduce risks for both clients and the gym itself.

Finding Certified Trainers

Certified personal trainers hold certifications and knowledge that enables them to assist their clients in the case of an emergency, such as CPR and AED certifications. Certified fitness trainers know how to recognize signs of bodily distress and prevent physical harm of clients. Also, customers feel more at ease working with trainers who are certified and are knowledgeable about nutrition, exercise, and safety.

Anyone familiar with the hiring process understands the difficulty in finding the right candidates. A good employee will be familiar with proper exercise etiquette and have a passion to help  people improve their physical well-being. One way to make the process more efficient is by specifying minimum standards for fitness applicants. This can be done through the use of pre-screen questions that weed out applicants who don’t meet the minimum requirements, such as CPR/AED certifications. Pre-qualifying certified candidates allows you to fast track the most promising trainers through your hiring process, empowering you to make an offer before your competition. 

Making the right hire for your gym, classes, and members

Identifying the most qualified trainers goes a step further than trainers’ certifications. Finding instructors who have the right mindset for the job is important as well. Using personality assessments allows you to reveal insights beyond the resume and find instructors who have the qualities needed to work with a  range of different gym members. By administering personality assessments to applicants, you can easily identify trainers who have competencies such as optimism, emotional stability, and achievement striving. Being able to pinpoint fitness applicants strengths gives you an idea of how they would best fit into your team. For example, you may want more encouraging and patient trainers working with beginner-level members and tougher trainers working with athletes and advanced members. You wouldn’t necessarily want to hire a former Crossfit trainer to head up a level one spin class – even though experience and certifications may pre-qualify the candidate, the training and communication style may detour beginners. Remember that you’re seeking a great fit for both your business and your members.

CareerPlug Simplifies Hiring for Over 4,000 Gyms

CareerPlug works with about 4,000 fitness club locations in streamlining the hiring process, including Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, Orange Theory, and many other franchised and non-franchised chains.

To learn more about how CareerPlug can help with your hiring needs, request a demo today or download our free ebook!

 

How to Make Your Job Descriptions More SEO-friendly

As any HR professional can tell you, attracting top talent in today’s competitive job market is no easy task. Nowadays, it’s no longer enough to simply write a compelling job description and hope for the best. With so many opportunities available to job seekers, your first step must be to ensure that your posting can be easily found in online search results.

Just as marketers try to optimize their web pages to rank highly in Google, savvy recruiters optimize their job postings to rank highly in job search engines when candidates do job searches. Therefore, to get the most out of your job postings on Glassdoor and elsewhere, you’ll need to start thinking like a search engine and following best practices for search engine optimization or SEO.

How does that work? To get the inside scoop on what employers can do to optimize their job descriptions, we sat down with the head engineer in charge of Glassdoor’s job search engine, Bhawna Singh. Here are 6 SEO tips to jumpstart your posting performance:

1. Make your job title easily searchable

Most job seekers search by job title, so knowing how to optimize your title is the first step to getting your job posting in front of qualified candidates. To perform well, keep your title straightforward and consistent with the language typically used in your industry. Steer clear of creative titles like “Excel Wizard” or “Coding Ninja,” as these tend to rank poorly compared to frequently searched titles like “Software Engineer.”

Singh, Senior Director of Engineering for Glassdoor’s job search engine, tells us, “Our algorithm will rank your jobs higher if the job title closely matches what the user typed in the search box.” Singh adds, “Additional phrases in the title, like ‘apply now’ or ‘competitive salary,’ make it less likely that your job will match well to the user’s query. These types of modifiers are best saved for the job description.”

2. Watch your abbreviations

When it comes to abbreviations, most search engines are advanced enough to recognize commonly used abbreviations such as “Sr.” for “Senior” or “RN” for “Registered Nurse.” However, things start to get tricky when the same abbreviated term may be used among different positions in different industries. To prevent your description from getting advertised in the wrong place, make sure to expand your abbreviations to specify whether your “PA” job is referring to “Physician’s Assistant,” “Production Assistant,” “Personal Assistant,” or “Personal Accountant.”

3. Keep location out of the title

Unlike Internet search engines such as Google or Bing, which filter queries through a single generic search field, all major job search sites feature two fields, one for job title and the other for location. When these search engines try to match your job to the user’s query, they match title-to-title and location-to-location.

Users search for specific job titles more than any other group or combination, including location. If your job title is “Assistant Manager North Canton Store” and your location is “North Canton, OH,” including the location within the job title only makes it a less exact match to a job seeker’s query of “Assistant Manager.” To help boost click-through rate, ditch redundant information like location so that your title will more precisely mirror what the job seeker is searching for.

4. Front-load your title

A 2014 eye tracking study conducted by Mediative revealed that the way people view search results differs from the way we read other kinds of text. As opposed to reading a piece of text line by line from left to right, people consume search results vertically, scanning the beginning portion of results from top to bottom. Applying this to job search results, job seekers scanning through dozens of job results are likely to view just a fraction of job titles, focusing their attention at the beginning.

To make sure that important pieces of information don’t get passed over, orient your job titles so that the most relevant words fall within the scanning window of the first 1-2 words. In the image below, you’ll find an example of a job title not optimized for search result viewing. Because the first two words don’t include any job title related terms, it’s more likely that a job seeker will skip over it. Avoid this mistake by beginning your title with the most pertinent words.

glassdoor-pic

5. Keep an eye on character count

When crafting the right title for your job posting, it’s useful to keep length in mind. At Glassdoor, the job search engineering team has found that among the site’s millions of job postings, the most typical length for a job title is between 12-20 characters. What’s more, titles within this range also have the highest click-through rate. Think titles like Product Manager (15 characters); Sales Associate (15 characters); Business Analyst (16 characters); and Non CDL Truck Driver (20 characters).

If your title’s character count falls on either extreme of the range, you run the risk of experiencing a significant decrease in your number of click-throughs. For example, on Glassdoor, job titles over 60 characters get clicked on about half as often as titles in the 10-20 character range.

If this is the case for you, consider either shortening or extending your job title to fit within the 12-20 character range. Look into what titles are most commonly used in your industry for the level and skill you’re looking for. If you’re worried about your title not being detailed enough, remember that you can always provide more detail later on in the description.

6. Formatting matters… a lot

Job seekers tend to skim job descriptions, so it’s crucial that yours is easy to digest. However, beyond simply making your description easy on the eyes, there is an SEO incentive around formatting as well. Singh says, “Good search engines take into account the quality of the job title and description. Misspellings and bad formatting can negatively impact how your job ranks.” To give your description a well-defined structure, break up your text with separate paragraphs, section headings, and bullet points where appropriate.

Paying close attention to formatting is particularly important when advertising the same job on multiple sites. Be cautious when copying and pasting descriptions that your posting doesn’t convert into a single blob of text. Singh advises, “If you’re using multiple sites, it’s always a best practice to check how the formatting of each one looks.” Be aware that some job boards do a poor job of preserving your original formatting, which will reflect poorly on you as the employer.

When developing your job posting, remember that your goal is to craft job titles and descriptions that will match a job seeker’s search query as closely as possible. Try putting yourself in their shoes and think about how you would conduct a job search for your particular position. The more you can imitate the way job seekers interact with search engines, the better your job posting will perform.

 

This guest blog post was written by Lizzie Jeffrey, a content writer and business development specialist for Glassdoor. As one of the fastest growing jobs and recruiting sites, Glassdoor is dedicated to helping people everywhere find jobs and companies they love.

If you want to read more of Glassdoor’s content, check out their blog.

 

 

Restaurant Hiring: Workflows for Each Team

Separate Workflows for Hiring Restaurant Managers and Recruiting Team Members

Restaurateurs take various approaches to recruiting great talent, but what some may not realize is that effective tactics for attracting hourly labor may not be practical for hiring restaurant managers. It is helpful to view the two needs separately and evaluate the right applicant channels and screening techniques for each. Furthermore, depending on the level of skill and experience desired for kitchen staff, some restaurant owners may opt to hire chefs, cooks, or kitchen staff through a different process than they would use to recruit the front of house team. Likewise, savvy restaurateurs who have collected benchmark assessments from their current top team members on personality traits, such as integrity & math aptitude  (quick-serve cashiers), empathy & and leadership (managers), work ethic & consistency (kitchen staff), and friendliness & sales aptitude (full-service waitstaff), can leverage that information to make new hires confidently.

Designing Restaurant Hiring Workflows by Team

To begin designing or conceptualizing a new workflow for recruiting, it is helpful to think about the process in steps, from start to finish. At CareerPlug we see the following stages as the logical progression of a basic hiring process:

Attract

When it comes to attracting talent for various restaurant roles, consider where your ideal talent will find information about your open position. In the food-service industry, some of the best hourly hires are already your customers – showcasing your openings in-store, detailing an easy way to apply online, and encouraging your employees to refer their friends are all great tactics for building your talent pool. For attracting experienced managers or cooks, posting free to Indeed.com or even considering a sponsored posting on Indeed will put your job in front of qualified job-seekers immediately.

Prequalify

Once you’ve received applications, gauge the interest and skill level of the applicants by reviewing resumes and and filtering by responses to prescreen questions. One customization that may apply here is to rely on prescreen questions to filter out many applicants to a low level position, while reviewing most applicants to the management positions to identify if there are any good candidates for other roles at your restaurant, even if they aren’t a perfect fit for the one they applied for. Another key customization at this step would be to fast track the clearly qualified candidates to an immediate interview to get ahead of any competitors the candidate may have also applied to.

Assess

When it comes to evaluating applicants, we encourage our restaurant partners to send applicants personality and cognitive assessments to measure candidates on the criteria that is most important to their success in the role and their fit in your restaurant’s culture. Using candidate assessments will reveal insights beyond the resume and empower you to continue into the interview process with data and confidence. Savvy restateurs will evaluate candidate assessment scores against assessment scores of their current top performers, by role, to identify clear matches on culture fit, work ethic, and integrity. For instance, if you are hiring an additional front of house manager, and you already employ a stellar front of house manager, ask her to take the assessment so you can benchmark her leadership traits and have a basis for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the new hire candidates. Obviously, no two employees are the same, so identifying the personality and cognitive traits that are most important to success in the role will be critical for clear evaluation.

Interview

After you’ve received assessment scores back from your applicants, scheduling an initial phone screen is the next step in a lean hiring process. A quick phone screen can reveal many of the intangible and less quantifiable insights about the applicant, and it saves time for both parties. Assuming that the candidate passes the phone screen, it’s time to arrange the first face to face interview – for lower level staff, an assessment, phone screen, and interview may be all you need to make a confident, informed hire. However, if you are hiring a manager, you’ll probably want to setup additional interview rounds with other team members to meet and evaluate the candidate, so this process, while customizable, should be consistent every time you hire for that role. Likewise, there may be interview steps that some roles require – for instance, if you want to role play with a waitstaff candidate, build that step into your waitstaff hiring workflow and leave it out of your workflow for kitchen staff. This way, you can ensure that you are building a consistent, repeatable process that leads to predictable hires, every time.

Verify

You have an outstanding, qualified candidate who scored well on the assessments, nailed the interviews, and is available to start immediately – so it’s time to extend an offer, right? Wrong. Too many recruiting horror stories are a result of skipping the verification step, and while it may seem like just a formality, it’s absolutely in the best interest of your restaurant. At a minimum dedicating a step in your restaurant’s hiring process for calling candidate references will help you validate the candidate’s claims about their experience and work history. Sometimes, it yields no surprises, and other times it can be the single most insightful step of your hiring process. Lastly, for some roles, a background check or drug screen may be required, while for others it is not necessary. A fully customizeable process allows you to set protocol by role and even facilitates reference checks with consistent guides, in case you want to delegate that task to hiring managers.

Offer

After you feel confident in a new hire and have verified that they are the right person for the role, extending an offer is the next step. A restaurant owner may want to configure standardized compensation for entry-level positions while leaving pay for management roles a bit more open. This is part of creating a repeatable process and equipping hiring managers with standard offer letter templates not only ensures consistency, it saves overhead time and costs. Taking a few minutes to configure templates for each hiring workflow can empower managers to extend offers to top candidates with ease and confidence.

Hire & Onboard

Pending offer acceptance, the final step is hiring and onboarding the new employee, and having an approved document checklist is the part of any onboarding process. With a truly paperless onboarding process, a restaurant owner can ensure compliance and streamline employee onboarding by configuring which forms need to be completed for part-time, full-time, and management (I-9, W-4, direct deposit, benefits, any custom forms, etc). This is typically a clunky, time-consuming, and error-prone process, but with a small time investment from the restaurant owner or HR manager, it can actually set a precedent of professionalism and consistency for all new employees.

Building Custom Hiring Workflows With CareerPlug

CareerPlug is a dedicated partner to restaurant franchise systems and restaurant owners, providing powerful, easy to use hiring software that empowers users who consider themselves “non-software people” to hire effectively and build great teams. If you’d like to learn more about our software, services, or approach to hiring, please reach out to our restaurant hiring experts for more information. You can also download our free ebook, How to Build a Talent Magnet.

Restaurants: Meet Employment Demand & Build a Dream Team

Food-service employment demand growing, job-seeker interest low

The restaurant industry has seen a tremendous rebound from the economic downturn of the previous decade, and that growth has propelled full-service and quick-serve brands to expand their retail presence. This holds true for huge franchised brands, such as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and locally owned chains, such as Austin’s own Torchy’s Tacos, and the store growth has, of course, led to significantly more employment opportunity in traditional culinary destinations, such as NYC and San Francisco, as well as markets that had formerly been less appetizing. The truth is simple: young consumers are spending more at restaurants than they are at grocery stores, and most signals point to that trend continuing. While restaurateurs, franchisees, and franchisors are all reaping the benefits of serving the millennial generation, finding talented team members who cater to the high expectations of this young audience is critical to sustainable brand growth. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to staff restaurants, quick-serve and full-service alike, with experienced, dedicated talent. The brands that are able to build experienced teams will benefit on all fronts from diligent recruiting.

Competing for talent in the restaurant industry

With recruitment becoming more competitive in the industry, restaurateurs and franchisees need to prioritize hiring practices as a key differentiator between their brands and the competition, and most know that their staff is the key to success. Owners can feel trapped in their current hiring process because efforts to branch out from job fairs, walk-ins, and open interviews have failed to produce value at scale. However, competing on hiring can be one of the most effective and fruitful strategies an owner can employ – most just don’t know where to start.

Here’s the truth: building the perfect team can take years, and it’s incredibly challenging.

Here’s the key: start hiring more intentionally today.

If restaurateurs continue to rely on open interviews and walk-ins, they are doomed to limit their teams to the same quality of hires they’ve always made. If they find outstanding talent through these antiquated processes, it’s more of an anomaly than a predictable, repeatable success. Many full-service and boutique restaurant owners are frustrated by hiring and training chefs with minimal experience, only to see them leave to work elsewhere. Most quick-serve employers would say that they hire primarily students and inexperienced staff and view that employment as temporary from the start. The hidden cost of the high-turnover approach is astronomical, and the fact is that there are experienced candidates in almost every demographic – the food-service industry at large has settled for ineffective, expensive recruitment and trained owners to expect talent to walk in the door and ask for a job.

Great teams will not assemble themselves. Restaurateurs and franchisees must take a more active role in staffing.

Finding and fast tracking food-service talent

It’s possible to reach and attract experienced candidates with the help of job boards and referrals, but in order to identify them in your candidate pool, you’ll need hiring tools to evaluate and interview all applicants effectively. An applicant tracking system is a great place to start, and routing all applicants, regardless of where they applied, into a central system will reduce uncertainty about referrals and provide a basic framework for the hiring process. Leveraging an ATS is just the beginning, and building a repeatable process for management to follow is crucial. However, where restaurateurs and franchisees can become more competitive is by reaching out to promising candidates faster than the competition.

The concept is simple; job-seekers typically apply to more than one restaurant or business, and fast-moving hiring managers will have an edge on the competition by scheduling interviews first. This is why CareerPlug offers Fast Track. We encourage our food-service clients to determine their core criteria for evaluating talent and fast track applicants who meet those criteria to an immediate interview, enabling them to get ahead of the competition and quickly meet with experienced applicants. For instance, if a restaurant owner is looking to add a junior cook with at least a year of kitchen experience, we help speed up the process by surfacing the experienced candidates as soon as they apply, allowing our client to immediately schedule interviews. In some scenarios, responding to top talent promptly will make all the difference, and when restaurateurs are looking to handpick a phenomenal team, it’s critical to identify experienced talent without sifting through hundreds of resumes.

Build your dream team with CareerPlug

CareerPlug’s user-friendly hiring system offers a comprehensive menu of branded careers pages, job post distribution, mobile friendly applications and assessments, pre-screen questions, fast track, and paperless onboarding, plated with dedicated support to help your restaurant make hiring easier. We exist to help you assemble your ideal team, and we are committed to that goal, every step of the way. Connect with a hiring expert today!

Franchises: Brand Standards & Employment Brand

When it comes to how much brand freedom a franchisee should have, franchisors have mixed emotions. While some franchisors feel that it is necessary to set stringent standards on how a franchisee displays their brand, others are okay with giving their franchisees flexibility to slightly deviate from the franchise model provided. So what is the best way to balance regulations that protect your brand, while still supporting the goals of your franchisees?

IFA’s stance on franchisor/franchisee relationship

Collaboration between franchisors and franchisees is necessary to ensure “franchisees are given a regular role in the strategic direction of the system,” according to the International Franchise Association. This open flow of communication, however, doesn’t mean a franchisee’s opinions override the brand manager – franchisees taking this role wouldn’t be effective within the franchise model. It does mean that franchisees should be able to provide feedback from the micro view of the franchise relationship that can be considered in the “macro managing of the system” by the franchisor (IFA). According to the IFA, franchisors should ultimately be responsible for the direction of the brand and any changes made to it.

Franchisors providing clear brand standards

Franchisors should provide clear brand standards for their franchisees in the franchise disclosure document to maintain franchisees uniformity in this respect. One important brand standard  is the use of the franchise’s logo. Consistency is paramount and helps leverage brand power and awareness. The type of marketing collateral, such as taglines, that franchisees use should also be made clear by the franchisor. Marketing collateral ensures the brand is presented and received in the way the franchisor intends.  A franchisee should be consistent and recognizable with the corporate brand since too much variance of these brand standards may be confusing to customers and possibly job applicants. Because a misrepresentation of the brand can be harmful to the whole franchise system, franchisees should only use corporate approved trademarks to maintain the integrity of the franchise. Best practices by the franchisor – such as conveying how beneficial any changes will be to the franchisee’s business and slowly phasing changes in – can help secure franchisees from being blindsided by any new brand standards as well as give them time to adjust.   

Franchisees shape their own employment brand

While franchisors should set forth clear franchise brand standards, franchisees should take charge of their own employment brand.  A good employment brand is what makes people want to start working for you and continue working for you. A franchisee can foster a good employment brand by engaging in good business practices, such as offering fair wages, a healthy company culture, and creating a recruiting/hiring process that improves the candidate experience. Employment brand standards can lead to an environment with higher employee productivity, morale, and retention, and ultimately a great recruiting point for new employees. Franchisees that promote a strong employment brand can be very successful, especially if they are empowered with the right tools by their franchisor.

How CareerPlug can help

Careerplug can help franchisees build a strong employment brand by helping them develop a structured recruiting and hiring process to consistently bring on employees who will add to the success of their franchise.

To learn more about how CareerPlug can help empower your franchise, contact us today!

Toxicity in the Workplace

Because the hiring process doesn’t always work out perfectly, you’re bound to have worked with a not so great employee during your career. The problem is that you might not have known how bad they were when they first started. But once you figured it out, well, you know how toxic a bad employee can be.  How did they even find their way onto your team in the first place? Or … how did they find their way into managing your team?  

So, what’s really the lesser of two evils: a toxic team member or toxic manager?  Is one even more toxic than the other? How does the impact of a low performing coworker differ from that of a pessimistic leader? And is there a way these sinking ships sail the office into success?

Employee

We’ve all worked with these coworkers before. They show up late, have bad attitudes, and are the first to bolt out the door. They can usually be spotted with a dark cloud looming over their head. These are the workers that complain about their workload or given tasks every chance they get. These employees don’t usually last very long on your team because their attitude is usually noticeable by supervisors. The difference between the employee and the manager is the exposure to toxicity. With a team member, you’ll probably have more day-to-day face time with them.

A bad employee is damaging to your company and atmosphere, but does is it hold a flame to a horrible boss?

Manager

There’s no getting around it, having a toxic person in a leadership role is damaging. This person typically has influence – not only over your team, but sometimes the entire company.  Besides affecting the atmosphere and culture of a team, a pessimistic leader can stand in the way of others growth, creativity, and even fracture communication. While an encouraging leader fosters growth, a horrible manager has a penchant for control; they would rather dictate rather than teach. Ultimately, if a person on a leadership team is toxic, it doesn’t take long for the company to suffer.

Two negative people, two very different roles. Both are equally wrong for the company but is one more damaging than the other?

The answer? Both are equally harmful!

A company trying to grow in success should have employees who believe in the same mission, regardless if they’re a low level employee or a top leader. When hiring a potential candidate, you have to keep in mind that they are going to be as much of an influence on the company as any other current member.

Careerplug launched our first free ebook on Building a Talent Magnet this year. It’s all about what helping our clients attract talent and build successful hiring processes, and how growing businesses can start to build their own Talent Magnet. Our ebook can help you filter through toxic members so that you won’t face current dilemmas. 

 

For more hiring tips follow us on Twitter @CareerPlug

Justin Zungia is CareerPlug’s Sales & Marketing Intern 

 

Knowing Your Team Members

Harry Potter Edition! 

The House-Elf, AKA the intern

An intern is an important member of an office for many reasons.  Like a House-Elf, an intern is often given tasks that are unfavorable or tedious.  An intern fits into the proverbial “lowest man on the totem pole” of a company, but that does not mean their efforts are not important to the company’s success.  Much like the House-Elves of the Harry Potter series, an intern’s work is most often appreciated by those who see their interns as an asset.  By giving Dobby the House-Elf a sock (and his freedom), Harry gained Dobby’s trust and allegiance. Taking the time to train an intern and make sure they understand your company’s work can be very beneficial.  If it is a good fit, your intern will grow into a competent and loyal employee.

Ron Weasley, AKA the loyal partner

One of the best parts of doing any job is having a great partner to work with.  Whether you’re hunting for Horcruxes or simply finishing a presentation for Friday’s meeting, the perfect teammate can make the difference between a successful meeting  (or defeating the Dark Lord), and showing up unprepared.  As with most great things in our life, it can be easy to take for granted our partner’s consistent support and conscientiousness.  Be sure to always make sure your partner knows they are appreciated (and let him/her destroy a Horcrux on their own every now and then).

Hermione Granger, AKA the go-getter

Whether we are at school or work, we all know that one person who always seems to have too much on their plate – and loves it.  In the Harry Potter Universe, Hermione was under constant stress from taking too many classes to cope with (even with the advantage of going back in time).  At work, this person might take on every project he/she hears about and end up working hours past the time that everyone else has gone home.  If your office has a “Hermione Granger”, it is important to let them know that their efforts are appreciated while encouraging them to take a break every so often.

Neville Longbottom, AKA the unsung hero of the office

Sometimes, especially in large companies, it can be easy to overlook an employee either because they are new or because you are unfamiliar with their contributions.  The Harry Potter series taught us that even the most unlikely sources can produce the most surprisingly valuable results.  Neville may have been clumsy and shy, but under this mask of insecurity was the heart of a brave and powerful wizard.  This is why it is important for all team members to have a chance to speak up and be heard.  You can’t know what ideas are being missed or overlooked if you don’t give everyone a voice.

Draco Malfoy, AKA the entitled employee

At some point in our lives, everyone is forced to work around a person who thinks he/she is the boss, even when that is far from the truth.  While there is nothing wrong with being confident in the work place, boasting over every minor accomplishment or belittling those who you see as inferior can create hostility and resentment.   In the Harry Potter Universe, Draco Malfoy was born into a wealthy, pure blood family and learned quickly to judge others based on such imprecise criteria as blood-status and which House they were sorted into.   At Hogwarts, Draco believed that he was superior to all of his classmates, despite having mediocre talent and creativity.  What we can learn from this type of employee is that while everyone has strengths, it is okay (and sometimes necessary) to give constructive criticism in order to reign in an over-inflated ego.

Do you have an employee who fits into this list? Tweet us @CareerPlug and let us know!

Sarah Haby is CareerPlug’s Recruitment Services Intern

The Multi-Tasking Problem

The clock is racing and you’re on the move again: juggling a project here, moving in and out of meetings there . . . You are an expert at multi-tasking.  As a whole, we navigate the workplace like it’s a jungle. Hastiness is the new norm and accepted as part of the job requirement. While the work needs to get done, it’s important to ask which is better– taking on multiple objectives at once, or to zone in and focus on one task at a time?

The Fable

Take on multiple things at once, boost efficiency.  Doesn’t juggling workloads mean we accomplish tasks faster?  We may feel like we’re achieving superhuman feats, but the reality is that we aren’t really being as productive as we’d like to think.  In fact, it’s actually taking us longer to get work done. The reason? We spend more time focusing on the actual mechanics of multi-tasking– switching back and forth. Instead accomplishing things faster, we actually decrease our productivity by 40%.

It takes us twice the time to complete something while multi-tasking because we are never fully in the zone. A study from the University of Utah shows that even the simple act of trying to drive and talk on the phone can slower our driving speeds. Besides the safety hazard, this multi-tasking act resulted in drivers taking much longer to reach their destination while using their phone, rather than just focusing on driving.

Multi-chunk.

Be productive without multi-tasking. For all the busybodies of the workplace, there is still a way to win at productivity. Before you take on your duties for the day, clear your mind from any previous distractions. ManagementCraft offers the solution of multi-chunking, a process where you only focus on one priority for a chunk of time. The key is planning out your time and what your day will look like beforehand, rather than scrambling last minute. The second and most important factor is that you are only dedicating your time to one task at a time.

Multi-tasking is familiar to the busy world of our society, but the myth has been de-bunked. It is not the best strategy when trying to knock items off your to-do list and increase productivity. If you’re still not sold on the idea, French neuroscientists found that trying to multi-task actually splits your brain in two. One side of the brain focuses haphazardly on one task, while the other side of the brain focuses on the other task. The study also suggests that we can only really try to multi-task two objectives and any more can increase error, stress, and heart rate.

Do you still try to multi-task? Tweet us @CareerPlug and let us know!

Justin Zuniga is CareerPlug’s sales & marketing intern. 

Confronting a Slacking Employee

More often than not, people who are dissatisfied with their jobs claim it is because they are having to make up for someone else who has failed to fulfill their duties. Employees who do not put their best foot forward by pulling their own weight cause workplace resentment and create an environment of hostility among teammates. Here are some tips to consider when preparing to confront an employee who is not pulling his/ her own weight.

Do not put it off

Managers can usually spot a slack in the efficiency chain as soon as it happens, yet they often wait until what they have witnessed is confirmed by complaints from other employees. This is not a meeting you can put off. The sooner you meet with your slacking employee, the better chances are that they will apply changes to their performance.

Avoid Attack

Create an environment of open dialogue and security for the purpose of a review. The worst thing you can do is read off a list of grievances compiled by all the members of his/her team. Providing examples of what exactly needs to be changed gives your employee an exact visualization of their errors rather than leaving vague ideas of what the issues are.

Solutions

With the help of your slacking employee, discuss what they feel their own reasons are for the lowered performance, then come up with some ways that they can improve.

End on a  positive note

Although the purpose of the meeting is to confront performance issues and providing solutions, it is important that you end with a tone of optimism, or you may risk damaging what is left of your employees work ethic. Make sure to bring up some tasks that they have done well in the past, and encourage them to use that same energy when applying the changes you discussed together. You may be able to both walk out of the meeting with a positive attitude rather than a reprimanding one.

Remember that performance reviews can be awkward for all parties, and in this case it is all about the words you choose to use and the attitude you portray.

What steps do you take when confronting a slacking employee?

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Kimberly Gaspar is a Recruitment Services intern.