Tag Archives: better managers

Are You Keeping Your Employees Safe?

ID Theft

Did you know there are approximately 50 million victims of identity theft each year?  Recently in Colorado, a sophisticated ID theft ring broke into various stores and stole employees’ records from safes and filing cabinets including copies of blank checks, driver’s licenses, and social security numbers.  Storing hard copies of your employees’ information, even if locked in a filing cabinet or safe, can be extremely risky.  Safeguarding your employees’ information is important and good business.

Below are 5 key principles that the Federal Trade Commission recommends when securing highly sensitive information.

1. Take Stock – Assess and keep inventory of all sensitive information you have for each employee by type and location.  Ensure it is in a secure area at all times and only a minimum number of people have access to it.  Keep track of who has access to the sensitive data at all times.

2. Scale Down – Keep only the information that you need and only as long as needed.  Dispose of any unnecessary sensitive information.  Also, only use social security numbers as necessary.  It isn’t essential to use social security numbers as an employee identification number.

3. Lock It – If you do have hard copies of sensitive information, ensure to lock them in a secure location, such as locked safe or filing cabinet in a locked up room.  Limit employee access to the locked location, and keep track of who has a key and the number of keys.  Ensure that keys are kept with employee at all times.  Also, make sure not to leave employee information out in a public area unattended.  Please note that even with all these safety precautions, it can be easy for a professional thief to break open a filing cabinet or safe.

Electronic security is probably the most secure way of storing employee information due to the difficulty of trying to break into one’s secured data on a computer.  However, there are still a few precautions you need to take when storing data electronically.  Make sure you keep your login and password information secured.  Don’t give out your password unless necessary.  Also, don’t leave sensitive information on your computer screen unattended.  Most importantly, ensure that all sensitive data is kept on a secured server, and run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computers.  Lastly, do not scan and email employee information.  It is best to use a secured online system to complete and store employee’s sensitive information.

4. Pitch It – Shred, shred, shred!  If you have hard copied sensitive information that you want to get rid of, make sure to shred or burn it so that it can’t be read or reconstructed.  If you want to dispose of sensitive information on your computer, use software to securely erase data, usually called wipe utility programs.  This will overwrite the entire hard drive so files cannot be recovered.  Deleting files using your keyboard or mouse does not completely wipeout the files and can potentially be recovered.

5. Plan Ahead – Have a plan in place in case identity theft occurs.  If filing cabinets or safes have been stolen or tempered with, contact the authorities and alert your employees immediately.  If you have sensitive information on a computer and it has been compromised, disconnect the computer immediately from your network.  If an incident does occur, you should consult your attorney.

It is extremely important to protect your employees from identity theft.  GoHire’s onboarding system can help you protect your employees by storing their personal information in a secure, virtual environment.  GoHire provides standard forms with sensitive information such as the I-9, W-4, and Direct Deposit Enrollment for new hires to complete and sign all online so there is no paper trail.

For more information regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to protecting sensitive information for your business, please go to http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus69-protecting-personal-information-guide-business.

If you would like more information about Red Book Connect’s solution, GoHire, please visit our website at http://redbookconnect.com/hiring-gohire/.

Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect


Intersection at the Corner of Regular and Facebook Friend

social media

Savvy restaurant and bar employees know that marketing is a group effort. While the company may maintain social media platforms and engage in digital or traditional marketing to help drive business, team members can engage in their own efforts (providing it doesn’t violate company policy) to increase their personal base of regulars as well.

Learn to Share Effectively

Visuals and imagery are key to engaging your fans, friends and followers on social platforms. Fortunately for you, the restaurant business provides ample opportunity for great pictures. Have a great special you’re promoting tonight? Snap a pic of that pretty plate and get to sharing.

Facebook friends are a great way to get your content in front of people who already have a connection with you and therefore are more likely to come in quicker than someone with very little connection. However, when it comes to sharing, maximize effectiveness by deploying across several platforms.

Instagram offers the opportunity to take a photo, spice it up with filters and tags, and then share across both Instagram as well as Twitter and Facebook. By using Instagram to post your pictures to Facebook, you’re effectively killing two birds with one stone. Make sure to add descriptive text to get your friends’ attention.

Promote the Important Stuff And Do It Regularly

Don’t post so sporadically that you surprise your friends with something exciting and then disappear for so long that they forget you work in the restaurant business. Make it a point to post with regularity. If you have delicious new specials every Friday night, make a regular Friday night highlight post. Your friends will start to remember that your restaurant has great specials on Fridays and you’ll start to see them in person on Fridays instead of in your comments section.

For bigger news, pepper in special events and news into your posts as you have it, but don’t make it overly promotional or salesy. Stick to only real information if a band will be playing next Wednesday night or the restaurant is sponsoring a local charity event, share that. Skip the forced “Tuesday Night Is Pasta Night!” posts and keep it comfortable for both you and your friends.

Tag Away!

Leverage your friends by tagging them in pictures at your restaurant. Friends of theirs will see and you’ll get more exposure for your restaurant. Of course, make sure you have your friends’ consent before doing this.

Not sure how to get started? Stick with what you’re comfortable with and share “organically”, meaning make posts that are in your own words and are about things you actually care about. People can tell if posts are genuine or forced and the results you see from your efforts will be a direct reflection of that.

The Better Managers Blog Surpassed 35,000 Views!

35K-viewsOur readers are the reason we work so hard to research and share blogs each week on the topics that matter to you. Thank you for your support and please continue reading! And as always we welcome all suggestions on topics and challenges that you face as managers. ~Your Better Managers Team

How to Identify or Create Top Performers

  • You can read books and blogs, buy step-by-step guides, or invest in expensive software in hopes of helping to promote ‘top performer’ behaviors.
  • Or you can focus on improving mediocre or average performers through training session after training session.
  • Or you can load up on green energy drinks that claim to be the source of fuel to drive top performers.

As is often the case with important management topics, there are a lot of opinions and options to address making managers and their people the top performers we all so desperately need.  In fact, the list of possible solutions is overwhelming.  While it is clear that certain behaviors contribute to strong performance; organization, goal setting and good communication skills focus on high priority activities. However, there are other attributes that also drive top performance.  It’s not enough to just prepare and practice the behaviors to make an effective presentation if it’s not packaged with the ability to understand and adapt to a changing environment.

In a recent blog, Lynette Ryals and Javier Marcos discuss what new skills are needed to succeed in sales.  Although their research findings are specific to the sales industry, I believe they apply to other arenas as well.  Their article reviews how today’s customers have access to more information about products and services, are looking for items that meet their individual needs, and are unwilling to waste time on salespeople who don’t listen or do little more than walk in and present a piece of literature to a prospect and think they are done with the sales process.

They suggest that to be successful, today’s salespeople need to rethink their role and be prepared to understand and discuss the business climate, appreciate the complexity of the purchaser’s organization and business relationships, work effectively with all the players involved in the decision (both those within their own organization and at the customer site), and be able to see beyond the current opportunity.  Traditional selling skills are highlighted as no longer being included in the key attributes of successful sales people.  It is now more important than ever that people who expect to succeed have a thorough knowledge of their industry (not just their own product), their clients’ issues and priorities and sensitivity to the relationships that affect decision making.

I’m involved in the evaluation of a prospective new service provider at our company, and I appreciate that they have asked questions to better understand our needs, suggested ways we can keep within our time and budget constraints, and been willing to share information about competitive and complementary services.  These people clearly got the message about meeting the expectations of today’s customers.

In their book “Top Performer: A Bold Approach to Sales and Service by Stephen Lundin and Carr Hagerman, key attributes of success are labeled differently, but share the same philosophy as Ryals and Marcos.  Top performers must have “energy” which they claim is derived from human interaction.  They indicate that a true interaction isn’t rehearsed or routine, but represents open and meaningful communication.  Generating the energy that creates success comes from being able to connect with the “audience” through unique, focused interaction; not through a scripted presentation or grab bag of arguments that may not fit the current situation.  In order to do that, top performers not only have to be masters of their own business, but they should be able to quickly assess and adjust to relate to the audience.

This focus on knowledge, understanding and adaptation serves not only salespeople, but almost all types of business interactions.  How often have you been called in to manage a conflict only to discover that one party ends up by saying, “I didn’t know that?”  In contrast, top performers tend to ask a series of questions about a situation before jumping in and try to understand what happens outside their immediate job or they make an effort to learn.

So why don’t we have more top performers?  Too often, organizations or people are so focused on their own issues that they don’t appreciate alternative views or concerns.  Job descriptions rarely say that it’s important to know the other guy’s job in addition to your own.  It’s time consuming to stay educated on industry trends, competitive forces, or issues effecting your clients or markets.  And there’s often enough to do just staying on top of new initiatives or programs affecting your own job.

Finding a way to engage in activities that expand your knowledge base or connect you with resources to keep you on top of business or industry trends pays off in the long run. You will quickly find yourself more integrated into your own organization or more valued in your interactions with business partners.  If you also provide, encourage or support the education, development or training of your employees, you are ready to build your own team of top performers.

By, Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business services.

Hey Managers…Can You Embrace Failure?

With the upcoming election we are bombarded with campaign commercials.  Over the past couple of decades election campaigns have turned negative.  Candidates love to tell everyone about what is wrong with the candidate they are running against. They are very specific about what they believe their opponent has done wrong and where they failed.  They also tell you about all the great things they are going to do, but they are rarely very specific about what that will be.  They never talk about their own failures.

Some people are motivated more by fear than positive results.  Obviously, the very smart people who run these election campaigns have learned that we don’t like failure and have little tolerance for it.  What is interesting is that most of the greatest people in history have experienced significant failures.  Many people who have experienced great financial wealth went bankrupt at one time in their life.  Some of the names you might recognize are Henry Ford, Walt Disney, P.T. Barnum, Mick Fleetwood and Abraham Lincoln.   There is also a very impressive list of people who did not go bankrupt but have been fired from their job.  These people include Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, Bill Belichick and Lee Lacocca.  Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, never believed in failure in the negative sense.  Instead, it was an event allowing him to get one step closer to achieving success.  The book Adapt, by Tim Harford, makes a compelling case backed by countless facts for why risk, failure, and experimentation are necessary to find great ideas.

Over the years I have worked with many people and have found that a majority of them truly fear failing.  I have also seen where Managers have little tolerance for people who fail when they were willing to take a risk.  The reality for most people is you have to fail many times before you actually achieve success.  I think the problem is how people define failure. Watch a kid who is just learning how to walk.  They pick themselves up and then they fall down.  They pick themselves up and then they fall down, again and again, undeterred.  Each time they fall down, did they fail?  I don’t think so.  I think they are learning.  They are learning more than to walk, they are learning to strive to be better. Personally, I have to agree with Thomas Edison.  There is no such thing as failure.

With that said there are two important points to consider:

1.    As a manager, you need to give people the opportunity to fail.  When they have a problem, which they will, you need to evaluate how they respond when something goes wrong , not the failure itself.
2.    You cannot be afraid to fail.  Again, what is important is how you react when things go awry. Do you step up and try to figure out how to make it work or do you blame other people, circumstances, etc?

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.” Muhammad Ali

In conclusion, don’t be the politician. Instead, embrace failure. Tolerate failure with your employees and become extremely successfully from everything you learn when things do not work out the first time around.

By, Greg Thiesen, President and CEO, Red Book Solutions and B2A – Over 30 years of experience in various areas – President and CEO of  Red Book Solutions and B2A, Turnaround Specialist with Doering and Eastwood, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer for a major division of Conagra, Inc. and Senior Manager and a Certified Public Accountant with Ernst and Young.

A Blissful Engagement – Uniting Employees and Managers

As we’ve learned previously, a manager’s diligence in keeping a watchful eye on key metrics as a way to assess whether they are on-target for the week or quarter is incredibly important.  Knowing how we are doing against our goals is the first step in reviewing our actions and making course corrections.  However, there is one addition you can make that plays a significant role in helping you meet company, district or regional goals and unit-level goals.

The item that is often overlooked on a manager’s list of KPIs (key performance indicators) but can have a significant impact on success is employee engagement; meaning, are your employees committed to the business at hand or are they marking time until something new comes along?  Many companies have structured programs to ensure employee performance meets targets, but it’s equally important to gain feedback to understand where your employees’ heads are.

I recently conducted our regular employee engagement survey to assess whether we are meeting our obligation to provide the right support, guidance and encouragement to our employee group. We asked employees about job expectations, recognition, opportunities for input and advancement, and if they feel they have access to the right tools, equipment and training to excel.

We use a tested survey questionnaire from the Gallup organization which states that “increasing employee engagement correlates directly with a positive impact on key business metrics.” It’s easy to use in one location, across multiple units or throughout your company.

Their research shows that:
•    In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1.
•    In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1.

The payoff for improved employee engagement goes far beyond just having a happy workforce.  Gallup’s findings show that engaged workers have higher productivity and reduced absenteeism and safety incidents.  Their companies also benefit by having greater earnings and growth rates.  Sometimes employee feedback is sensitive when it highlights areas where the company can improve, but that is ultimately more valuable than receiving perfect scores from employees who don’t believe their input really matters.

The benefits of higher employee engagement levels are mirrored by a Kenexa Research Institute study that paints the following picture of organizations with this trait:
•    Leaders who inspire confidence in the future
•    Managers who respect and recognize employees
•    Exciting work they know how to do
•    Organizations that demonstrate a genuine responsibility to their employees and communities

Simple research provides lots of suggestions on ways to increase employee engagement; but the fundamentals remain consistent.
•    Communicate clearly and regularly about business matters – this builds trust and everyone likes to be “in the loop”
•    State your mission and values often and hire employees who support and share them
•    Provide opportunities for employees to share opinions and be heard
•    Have regular conversations about job expectations, performance feedback and development opportunities
•    Be consistent in providing recognition for good results

By following the above guidelines you can help create employees who perceive themselves as partners in your business success.  Showing respect for employees and the job they do doesn’t require special training or additional resources, but will pay off for you as well as for your company.  If your current KPI list doesn’t include some measurement of employee engagement, consider adding one and watch to see if your other results also improve.

By Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business services.

Are emails consuming your life? Take it back!

66% of workers feel they don’t have enough time to complete their work.  At the same time, over the next 60 seconds 98,000 tweets will be sent out, 495,000 Facebook status updates will be made, 510,040 comments will be made on Facebook and an astounding 168 million emails will be sent.  As I am writing this blog at least 10 emails have popped up and three of those emails caused me to stop writing.  I just had to open them, read them and respond.

Were any of these emails very important?  Not a single one.

As I was responding to these emails I started to think what If I got the same number of phone calls as emails?  I wouldn’t get anything else done but answer the phone.  Then I laughed because I am probably spending about the same amount of time reading and answering emails.  My laughter quickly turned to sorrow when I consider that if I had actually talked to someone on the phone I would have gotten a lot more accomplished. We could have resolved all of the issues right then instead of sending emails back and forth.

I wonder if the new communication technology is helping us or hurting us? There was an interesting study done by the Harvard Business School about why people like to tweet.  The study said that telling people about ourselves makes us feel good.  Basically, if people are listening to us it makes us feel significant.  I believe that emails have somewhat the same effect.  I can email anyone, at anytime, and copy as many people as I want.  Whether someone reads my email or not is somewhat irrelevant because I sent it out to anyone who might have the slightest interest.  I probably even sent it out to people who had no interest.   I believe they all read my email and I have now created a built in audience.  How many people before the age of email and Twitter could get such an audience?
In his book “The Power to Shape Your Destiny,” Tony Robbins says that being significant is one of the four key emotional areas that everyone needs to fulfill to some degree in order to survive.  The advent of email and Twitter has dramatically increased people’s perception of their significance, which is probably one of the reasons it has exploded.

The reality is, while the new communication channels may be hurting us in many ways, they are definitely helping us in other ways.  How do we start eliminating all of the extraneous information that is killing productivity and keep the information that dramatically improves productivity?

You can’t cut off the constant bombardment but you can manage it by applying the same things that worked before the information boom.

Don’t Multi-Task

In our Better Managers’ blog on multi-tasking, Debra Koenig masterfully spelled out why multi-tasking doesn’t work.  We know that if you eliminate interruptions you are ten times more effective than when you stop and start a project. Your conscious mind is not very powerful.  It only processes 2,000 bits per second while you are being hit with over 400,000,000,000 bits of information per second.   According to Tony Robbins, your conscious mind can only focus on a couple of things at one time.  An example Tony gives is you rarely feel the clothes you are wearing.  You only feel it now because I got your mind to focus on it just by drawing your attention to it.  However, very quickly your mind will turn to something else and you won’t think about your clothes again.  Therefore, if you can turn your focus to the task at hand and eliminate all interruptions, you will not only be more productive better able to shape your life.

Think about doing the following to help stay focused and take back your life:

•    Realize that all those emails probably are not very important. If the email is important, the person who sent it would probably call you if they needed an immediate response.
•    Only answer and read emails that are important to what you want to get done.
•    Only answer emails a couple of times a day in scheduled windows. Give yourself the time to focus on the tasks that are meaningful to your life.
•    Turn off the notification setting on your email.  (note to self on this one)
•    Only focus on those things that you want to get done.  Create a time value ratio.  For everything you think you think you should do, rate the value of the task and compare to the time it will take to do it.  If the ratio of value to time is low, don’t do it. If it is high make it a high priority, or throw your to-do list into a priority matrix and see what you get. There are lots of tools out there to get you on task.

The information boom creates a new management challenge that compounds as we sit here contemplating its effects. If we don’t proactively attack it we will be like the guys in the Direct TV commercials who end up in a bad place because all we did was answer meaningless emails.

By Greg Thiesen, President and CEO, Red Book Solutions and B2A – Over 30 years of experience in various areas – President and CEO of  Red Book Solutions and B2A, Turnaround Specialist with Doering and Eastwood, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer for a major division of Conagra, Inc. and Senior Manager and a Certified Public Accountant with Ernst and Young.