Improving Employee Retention: 5 Ways to Keep Your Staff Happy

by Andy Denka

The job market for skilled professionals continues to improve. The latest jobs report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 215,000 jobs had been added in July, and that unemployment remained steady at 5.3 percent. For those workers over 25 years old with a college degree, it was significantly lower: just 2.6 percent.

This is particularly true in the finance and accounting field, where there’s an ongoing shortage of talent. Hiring is heating up, as companies capitalize on growth opportunities and launch new revenue-generating initiatives. That means there’s a lot of competition for the top candidates, and when an accounting or finance employee leaves a company, the hiring manager can find herself facing a tough task: recruiting from an increasingly shallow pool of talented professionals.

And that’s why employee retention is more important than ever these days. Here are some tips to help you keep your top performers on board:

Make sure they have a defined career path. Your top employees are always looking to take the next step in their career. And these days, many companies are working to make sure they do: 63 percent of CFOs in a recent Accountemps survey said they’re promoting top employees to keep them from jumping ship. If you want to retain your best employees, you have to clearly map out their path in the company and communicate that path to them. Better yet, work with them to define their long-term objectives, and provide them with challenging assignments and skill-building opportunities that will help them reach their goals.

Offer competitive compensation. If your top performers think they can get a better salary somewhere else, they’ll probably start looking around for a new job. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically evaluate your compensation package, via resources like Robert Half’s Salary Guide for Accounting & Finance, to ensure it’s in line with other firms in your industry and region. If at all possible, try to pay a little bit more than the average: In the previously mentioned Accountemps survey, 52 percent of CFOs said they are raising salaries to keep their best employees on board.

Help them maintain work-life balance. In another Accountemps survey, workers were asked which perk they’d put at the top of their wish lists. The top two choices both pointed at a desire for better work-life balance: 35 percent said they’d like more time off, and 17 percent cited a desire for schedule flexibility. If you can, it’s a good idea to consider both perks, as both can improve employee retention. Vacations allow workers to relax and recharge, and they often return to the office with renewed enthusiasm for their jobs. And flexible hours can help workers better balance their jobs with their family, friends and other personal obligations, which can boost employee morale.

Provide professional development opportunities. Of course, providing company-subsidized training to your top performers can help them develop or refine their skills, which in turn can help increase productivity and innovation in the workplace. But it can also improve retention. Why? Firms that pay for professional development show that they care about their workers’ career paths, which can make employees more loyal.

Take time to recognize their achievements. If your company is growing, taking on new clients and projects, you have a lot to celebrate. Make sure your employees know how much you appreciate the work they’ve done to get you here. When your team hits a major milestone, consider scheduling a lunch or another get-together outside the office, or provide your staff with an afternoon off. Alternately, applaud a major success with spot cash bonuses, movie tickets or gift cards to the local coffeehouse. But don’t forget that a heartfelt thank-you note is sometimes the most meaningful recognition you can provide.

Only 15% of Employees in Germany Are Engaged

Story Highlights

  • Lack of engagement costs Germany up to 275 billion euros a year
  • Traditional management culture makes it hard to engage workers
  • Managers need talent, skills and support to turn things around

Gallup has been continuously measuring and reporting German workplace engagement since 2001. One of our key findings is that, in any given year, fewer than one-fifth of employees in Germany are engaged in their jobs. Right now, only 15% of employees are engaged and 15% are actively disengaged.

This has serious effects: Actively disengaged employees aren’t merely unhappy at work — they undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish every day. This actively disengaged group costs the German economy 73 billion to 95 billion euros annually in lost productivity, according to Gallup estimates. Add the damage caused by workers who are not engaged — who put time into their jobs but not energy or passion — and the financial impact jumps to 210 billion to 275 billion euros lost.

Employee Engagement in Germany

Employee engagement is primarily driven by how supervisors — from team leaders to line managers — manage people. Given the state of employee engagement in Germany today, it’s evident that most managers aren’t creating environments in which employees feel motivated. That lack of motivation has significant implications for businesses.

How Low Engagement Hurts German Companies

One effect of low employee engagement can be seen in the absenteeism rate, which is 132% higher among actively disengaged employees compared with engaged workers (8.8 days versus 3.8 days). Absenteeism among actively disengaged workers has a substantial impact on companies, given that each day an employee is away from work costs a business in Germany 252 euros on average.

Companies also suffer from lower employee loyalty and retention when their workers aren’t engaged. When Gallup asks employees if they plan to be with their company three years from now, 81% of engaged employees strongly agree, compared with 33% of actively disengaged employees. Similarly, 76% of engaged workers strongly agree that they plan to spend their career with their current company, while only 14% of actively disengaged workers do. Last but not least, 19% of actively disengaged employees are actively looking for a new job, while only 1% of engaged employees are actively seeking new employment.

Low employee engagement is not only a serious problem for companies but also for workers themselves: Engagement levels affect the extent to which people enjoy their lives. More than eight in 10 engaged employees (83%) say they had fun at work during the last week, compared with only 5% of actively disengaged employees. And actively disengaged workers are significantly more likely than their engaged counterparts to say that they felt burned out due to work stress in the last month — 60% versus 21%.

Signs of Positive Change

The clear message to leaders is: You can directly influence your company’s performance — and the lives of your employees — by managing employee engagement. The most important step to increasing an organization’s engagement levels is to improve the quality of management and leadership. Gallup research has demonstrated that a team’s immediate manager is responsible for a large part of his or her team members’ engagement. A great manager can create the motivation and energy a team needs to perform well, while a bad one can destroy that motivation and spread discontent among employees.

The decrease in actively disengaged employees reflects a growing emphasis on organizational culture among German businesses and their leaders. Corporate culture is increasingly recognized as a key factor in attracting and retaining the best employees. Business leaders are paying more attention to employee engagement now that they realize the shortage of skilled labor in Germany is not just a short-term phenomenon, it’s a long-term reality as Europe’s largest economy faces the challenge of a decreasing workforce.

For example, it took 77 days to fill a vacancy with a qualified employee in 2014, on average, according to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Germany’s federal job agency. That’s 12 more days than it took to fill a vacancy in 2008. The number of unfilled positions in 2014 was 490,310, on average, according to the same source. Estimates place the gap in the labor force at 10 million people by the year 2030. This underlines the importance of retaining employees and avoiding unwanted turnover in the future. Engagement offers a potent lever for companies to use to retain top workers as the skill shortage becomes even more severe.

Business leaders are rethinking their management strategy. Some human resources departments are evolving — becoming partners who work alongside managers to improve workplace quality and pushing leaders to make engaging employees a central tenet of their HR strategy. This approach seems to be working — the number of actively disengaged workers is dropping.

Yet the percentage of engaged workers is not growing — and that’s the category German business leaders need to grow. Workplaces that implement engagement strategies have achieved a ratio of 3.5 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee, compared with a ratio of 1:1 among the German employee population overall. This shows that it is possible to foster an engaging workplace culture in Germany — and this culture, in turn, offers a strong competitive advantage.

What German Companies Can Do

Here are steps German companies can take to improve employee engagement:

Update their company culture and people management. Managers in Germany are valued because they are reliable, efficient, straightforward and structured. But people management is not yet one of their strengths — and managers are already aware of this, a recent study by the Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, Germany’s federal ministry of labor and social affairs, revealed. Half of the managers in Germany are convinced that the management culture in Germany requires a fundamental shift.  For this shift to occur, leaders must remove managers who consistently fail to engage their employees, must hire and promote for manager talent, and must provide more opportunities to develop and reward people management skills.

Improve management education and preparation. A key problem is that the curriculum of most MBA programs emphasizes managing finances and processes; it pays little attention to actually managing people. And in far too many companies, employees with high performance in a role are moved into management regardless of whether they have demonstrated talent for managing people. When Gallup asked German managers why they believed they were hired for their current role, about half cited their expertise and tenure in their company or field (51%) or their success in a previous non-managerial role (47%).

These reasons don’t take into account whether a candidate has the necessary talent to thrive in the manager role. Being a successful employee or having significant subject-matter expertise is no guarantee that someone will be adept at managing others. Experience and skills are important, but talent — naturally recurring patterns in the way people think, feel and behave — predicts the areas in which they will perform at their best. To gain the benefits of an engaged workforce, companies should select managers based on their ability to engage, care for and focus on each employee as an individual.

Develop new and better strategies to overcome barriers to engagement. These barriers include command-and-control culture (and its related hierarchical thinking), silo mentality and rigid social formalities. (It’s not uncommon in Germany, for example, for people who have worked together for decades to address each other with the formal “Sie” rather than the informal “du.”) Leaders also should foster engagement through empowerment and accountability, a culture of open and honest dialogue and frequent collaboration.

Provide managers with support, training and coaching to help them understand what employees need from their workplace.Companies must set engagement goals, hold managers accountable for meeting those goals and include rewards for meeting engagement targets in recognition and incentive systems.

The more engaged employees a company can create, the better the organization will be. None of this is easy, nor may it even appear necessary — export quotas are up, unemployment is down and disengagement isn’t getting worse, after all. But all that good news disguises the fact that Germany isn’t as productive, profitable and healthy for workers as it could and should be.


The Value of Crowdfunding for Social Organizations

By Wayne Elsey

Innovation and creativity are essential for social enterprise and nonprofit. Crowdfunding is an opportunity that provides socially focused organizations with a fun way to create a new revenue stream for a specific program or initiative.

Crowdfunding involves raising revenue for a project from a large number of individuals, typically via the Internet. According to MobileCause, here are some interesting statistics:

* The average amount donated by an individual is $66, which is probably higher than the average gift for many organizations.

* On average, nonprofits will gain 62 percent new donors and 28 percent of these new supporters will give again.

* Organizations raise an average $568 per campaign; however, there are organizations that have raised $75,000 or even $100,000 or more doing a campaign.

Nonprofits looking to get started in crowdfunding should be mindful that the best approach for this type of fundraising is for a specific project or program and not for general operating support. If your organization is ready to explore this 21st Century way of raising money on the Internet, then some crowdfunding platforms for social enterprises and nonprofits you should look into are as follows:

Kickstarter – This site is an “all or nothing” crowdfunding platform. So, once you have designated a goal, in order for you to receive any of the pledged money, you need to attain your goal.

Indiegogo – This platform is the largest crowdfunding site with 15 million people visiting the site each month.

Crowdrise – Is the leading crowdfunding site for causes. Crowdrise has been named a “Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist” by Barron’s, which beat out the likes of Oprah Winfrey in philanthropy.

CauseVox – This site focuses on working with small to medium sized organizations focused on social good and impact.

Razoo – This company has raised over $100 million for over 14,000 social organizations.

Crowdfunding offers opportunity besides money, which social enterprises and nonprofits should keep in mind. One of the clearest benefits besides raising money for a particular project is to increase brand awareness. Implementing a crowdfunding campaign provides a chance for your organization to communicate a compelling story. By telling your story, people hear about who you are, the work you do and, most importantly, the societal impact you are making in your community.

This type of fundraising also gives your organization the benefit of growing your supporter base. Keep in mind the aforementioned MobileCause findings where 28 percent of new donors obtained through crowdfunding make an additional donation to the cause. However, you must start with current donor base to provide your core funding and help you promote your campaign. A good rule of thumb is to secure at least 30 percent of your revenue goal with the support of your current donors before you start promoting it to new prospects.

Contrary to old nonprofit wisdom, a Yale study from 2012 found that donors do not like to receive premiums or incentives as an acknowledgement for their gift. Instead, provide gifts that are tied to the work and impact of the organization. For example, if your social enterprise or nonprofit is international, perhaps give a piece of art or high quality photography related to the those who are actually benefitting. If your organization is a school, a drawing from a student is something that many donors would be pleased to receive in acknowledgement for their donation.

Nonprofits and social enterprise entities need financial support in order to accomplish their work. In order to accomplish this in today’s environment, organizations need to consider creative and out of the box ways to raise revenue, especially leveraging the power of the Internet.

� 2015 Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.

Author of the book, “The Rise and Fail of Charities In the 21st Century: How The Nonprofit World Is Changing And What You Can Do To Be Ready” available on Amazon. Please visit my website at

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The Importance of Story

By Douglas Rugh, PhD

In 1984, when computer graphics began to merge with film and most people remained unconvinced of its viability, a group of software engineers led by Ed Catmull (Lucasfilm) got together with John Lasseter, a story-teller from Disney. They wanted to show people complex animation from their machine (The Pixar) at an annual graphics conference where the fledging industry met in Minnesota. It was important to impress because the graphics division needed funds to stay in business. If they failed, their vision for a computer-generated animated feature film would die.

As the date for the conference approached, the team realized that they were unable to finish their showcase short. The animation of a jungle with thick foliage and multi-hued greens took much longer to render than they anticipated. They would have to go to the conference with some of the key technological elements of their two-minute film unfinished. This spoiled everything. After all, the entire reason they were going was to show their technical advancements.

At this conference, all film was shown on one evening. As the group from California watched slick and well-made examples of animation from the other vendors, it seemed more and more likely they would be embarrassed. The state-of-the-art of the day consisted of fifteen seconds of flashy spinning logos, fly-bys, and moving text. Their film was about an android startled awake in the middle of a jungle by a bumblebee flying near its head. The technical breakthrough was to show this small bee chasing the android through the trees, over and under fallen logs and across streams.

After the screening, the feedback they received from other attendees about their film was just short of miraculous. Despite their worries, people connected with the characters and didn’t even notice that half-way through the film, the elements of the graphics dropped away and became black and white with wire frame images and simple mock-ups. The magic turned out not to be the movement but the thinking, emoting, and consciousness of the characters. They received this feedback from computer graphic specialists who were there to focus on the technical aspects of animation.

The lesson seen over and over again throughout different industries is people will forgive and excuse technical problems if the story works. If you are trying to get somewhere interesting, and you have a good reason to get there, people will want to be part of the journey, but if you are simply trying to look good without a story, people will focus only on the technique and not the possibilities in spite of the current problems.

My name is Douglas Rugh, and my methods build capacity and increase revenue.

If you find the ideas in this article valuable, you will find extensive information on my website

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The Future of For-Profit and Nonprofit Organizations

The Future of For-Profit and Nonprofit Organizations

By K. MacKillop

There is a strong current trend within the business community toward social entrepreneurship — where people are combining their business acumen with a drive for social justice to develop businesses that benefit the greater good. Whether incorporating charitable or cooperative features into a for-profit business or integrating solid entrepreneurial principles into developing a nonprofit, social entrepreneurship is driving a much-needed change in the way we do business.

For-profit business owners are becoming more conscientious of their responsibilities to the community and the world, and are seeking out ways to incorporate those concerns into their business models. Going Green is more commonplace, where the internal systems of a business are designed with the environmental impact in mind. From reducing paper use and other waste to designing office space with green materials, there are a million options for preserving the environment, and the innovation of entrepreneurs is turning out new ideas every day.

Conversations and advice on for-profit exit strategies now often include ESOP opportunities. An ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) essentially turns over the ownership of a well-developed company to the workers. ESOPs can be implemented in whole or in part, where the rest of the company is owned by regular stockholders or the founders themselves. History has shown employee ownership to be very effective — often both productivity and profitability results are significantly higher in these companies. And, obviously, the employees themselves are more dedicated…they not only feel more ownership, as corporate trainers try so hard to instill, they actually have ownership over the job they do every day. Age-old ideas like cooperative ownership, where the business itself is owned by the workers or the consumers, should see a reemergence through this current economic debacle. However these businesses are technically organized, the end result is a venture with a social conscience (they exist to benefit the members) and an inherent need to survive economically (thus must be managed with solid business fundamentals).

On the nonprofit side, incorporating entrepreneurial ideas and sound business practices can make all the difference in the success of a charitable organization. The classic idea of scraping together pennies and underpaying staff as a badge of honor doesn’t have to be. People working for the betterment of the world shouldn’t be relegated to Top Ramen and 20-year-old cars because they elect to work for the public good. By applying solid business fundamentals (and a little entrepreneurial creativity) to just about any nonprofit organization, there are ways to sufficiently fund the overhead while still reaching the vision of the project.

Some poverty-focused nonprofits are finding great success in establishing the nonprofit as the owner of one or more for-profit corporations. Here, the for-profit business retains the flexibility and motivation of a profit-driven company, while those profits flow directly to the nonprofit coffers to finance the stated purpose of the organization. In some cases, these for-profit businesses are developed with the intention of turning ownership over to locals once the business is stabilized. This sort of program meets the “teach a man to fish” proverb — by establishing the business with knowledgeable professionals overseeing the operations, the locals are provided an unmatched opportunity to learn the elusive entrepreneurial skills so important in recovering an economy on any scale.

Ultimately and ideally, the bulk of new business will lead the charge to incorporate social justice with profitability. At some point, the line between for-profit and nonprofits will be so blurred as to exist in name only, and eventually be fundamentally extinct. That isn’t to say there won’t be opportunities for individuals to build personal wealth, but hopefully it won’t come with the same predilection to rip off everyone else in the process — as we’ve seen revealed so blatantly through this recession!

– K. MacKillop, is founder of LaunchX and blogs about starting a non-profit. The LaunchX System for Non-Profits includes step-by-step instructions, key software, and more to help you start a nonprofit successfully.

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Reevaluating The Nonprofit Sector

By Cassidy Chalhoub

The nonprofit sector comprises roughly 9% of the United States workforce and is the fastest growing sector in the U.S. economy with over 1.4 million non-profit organizations to date. The National Philanthropic Trust states that the amount of money given to charities in the U.S. in 2012 totaled $316 billion; over 300% more than a decade ago. With exponential growth in revenue, we expect to see a proportional growth in performance. A cure for breast cancer has not been found, food insecurity dominance remains in Sierra Leone, and we have not skimmed the surface of finding a vaccine or prevention measures for tuberculosis. The failure of congruence between financial growth and performance comes from poor infrastructure within the sector and attempting to combine pathos, capitalism, and taxes.

The 300% increase in charity-giving over a decade cannot be explained by an evolution of society’s gradual feeling of remorse for others. Rather, a combination of greater awareness and the implementation of financial incentive. While we all like to believe that our favorite celebrities and CEOs donate because they feel a social obligation, many contributors donate money to entitle themselves to a charitable contribution deduction against income tax.

Generally, we associate charity with giving to others out of altruism and ethical obligation. Whether an individual decides to donate to charity out of benevolence or tax spurs, individuals always give with the intention of their financial contribution apportioned directly to the cause. When individuals of the general population give $100 to Feeding America, each person invariably requires that their payment be used to purchase $100 worth of food for children. It is easy for one to monetize feeding a single child, but difficult to quantify the benefit of giving money to an organization that spends it on overhead costs. The viewpoint from the donor is basic: when money is given to a charity, it is expected to serve the cause, entirely – any other allocation must be superfluous, after all it is non-profit.

With this in mind, here is an illustration of the operations of a charitable organization. We have Brad Pitt, Lebron James, and Kanye West who contributed a total of $80 million to their favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity [hypothetical situation]. The three celebrities sit alongside the board of directors and the well-learned, well-experienced CEO of Habitat for Humanity at the next board meeting. The CEO claims that they should spend the $80 million on fundraising, research, and hiring – potentially further increasing the revenue and efficacy of the charity. Pitt, James, and West cannot rationalize the idea of spending money on the unessential and intangible. Moreover, donating money to charity that does not use the money on its cause does not make them feel as good about themselves. Following the celebrities’ request, the CEO decides to spend the money on building a number of houses. However, the $80 million could have been expended in other areas that could have raised more capital and increased the effectiveness of the organization.

Conversely, imagine that the three celebrities start brainstorming at the board meeting and decide that it may be a good idea to invest the $80 million on events or research to generate more income. At this point, the CEO has a decision to make – if they decide to invest the $80 million in overhead then there is the chance that the organization does not see a return on investment. If so, then the CEO’s character would be in question – people will begin to wonder how charitable money was spent within the organization, and why the money was not going to the cause. Therefore, the CEO decides to remain prudent and insists that they use the $80 million to construct more homes.

Finally, when the $80 million is resorted to the cause, we see no change in the aggregate amount of homeless or financially insecure because $80 million in homes is not enough to make a substantial impact. The illustration exemplifies the reason why we have not made extensive progress in finding a cure for breast cancer or ending child poverty in Sierra Leone. In the end, the CEOs of charities are always reluctant to inherit any risks, if even granted the opportunity to do so by non-experts such as Kanye West or Brad Pitt. CEO’s of charitable organizations are even discouraged from acting independently by distributing capital to areas outside of the cause because they fear losing the allegiance of sponsors or top contributors.

If Lebron James held a considerable portion of stock in a company such as Walmart, he would not only have minute influence over the company’s operations, but he would not have any input to begin with because he made an investment, not a donation. When somebody invests in a company, they are investing in the management as well, not just the usual implied value; furthermore, an investor’s input to a company would be negligible because it is simply outside their area of expertise. It seems absurd that Lebron James would have some domain over financial activities when carrying his contribution from private to nonprofit sector just because he believes that he and the CEO are on the same obligatory plane. Executives of nonprofit organizations should be regarded no differently than the executives in private sector companies

We believe that charities are basically an agent between the fortunate and unfortunate – the wealthy shares with the underprivileged and charities are just the channel to do so. It’s a difficult mentality to adjust; it seems as though good deeds should be simple and executed as such. In reality, charities are complex, transparent organizations that operate similarly to those in private sector. Social entrepreneurship cannot thrive as long as its incentives and disincentives remain. Executives in the nonprofit sector need to be granted further autonomy and incentivized by reasonable risks. The infrastructure of the nonprofit sector and the configurations of organizations, respectively, need to be altered to allow innovation. Potentially adopting more principles associated with private sector could allow nonprofit organizations to reach the parallel between proceeds and performance that we expect from them.

Author Simon Sinek is best known for popularizing his concept of the “golden circle”. The golden circle is a basic but powerful paradigm of leadership. The significance of the golden circle lies in that successful leaders are driven by a profound purpose to succeed – successful leaders’ cognitive process are inverse from most people. Effective leaders think and act in the order of why they do what they do, how they do it, and what they do, while most of us transpose the sequence of thought. Interestingly, executives of charities are the first people that come to mind when I think of people who do what they do because of a deep sense of motivation to fulfill their cause – they have no regard of money or fame, charities function in congruence with the golden circle. However, charitable organizations have not been [relatively] groundbreaking and have not fulfilled their cause at a global level. Personally, I believe in the golden circle, and I do not believe that it is habitually inapplicable to charities. With this in mind, I am convinced that financial, structural, and social adjustments to the nonprofit sector could revolutionize charities’ performances.

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Tips for Managing Projects in Volunteer Organizations



It’s hard enough to motivate team members when you pay them. But project management for an all-volunteer organization has its own unique challenges.

In the late 90s, I once arranged a “meet the press” panel for a meeting of the Association of PC User Groups. One of the computer user group officers, clearly thinking about the difficulty of convincing his members to contribute newsletter articles, asked my magazine editor how he motivated writers. “That’s easy,” Alan replied. “I tell Esther, ‘If you don’t write, you don’t eat.’”

Whatever your angst as a project manager at your day job, you have this much to be grateful for: The team members are paid to get the job done. They may do it poorly, or with bad attitude, or they may otherwise disappoint you. But you have that basic motivation which does not need to be said aloud: If they don’t work, they don’t eat.

In a volunteer organization, that isn’t the case. People have to be motivated to get the job done, and they do it for every possible reason besides being paid. As the person in charge of the project, it means you need to develop different motivational skills, some of which do not come naturally.

Here’s a few tips for motivating volunteers.

Find out what they are proud of, and enable them to share it. Don’t assume that everyone is motivated wholly by the organization’s grand lofty goal (“We’re going to change the world!”). A few may be driven by idealistic goals, and if you’re in charge it’s likely you’re one of them.

However, most people want to have fun working for-or-with something they care about.

Instead, approach team members individually. People love to be asked to help with something specific where they have some measure of enthusiasm, and wherein you (sincerely) value their expertise. Tell the would-be volunteer why you thought of him for this job, and why he would be perfect for it; few people can resist genuine appreciation and admiration.

Never ask for help in a general way. If you’re putting together a community fair, don’t ask from the podium, “Please let me know if you want to help!” Don’t expect people to respond to the e-mail newsletter plea to contribute. Few people ever step forward.

Instead, be specific with your needs: “We need three people to put together the booth on Saturday morning,” or “We have to staff the clubhouse every afternoon during Christmas season.” Make it easy for someone to sign up, such as creating an online form where they fill in the details.

Appeal to their non-financial desires. Just as money is only one component of job satisfaction, volunteer workers want to feel that their contributions make a difference. Yes, they want to help the project succeed, but many also see opportunities for their own careers – or they should.

If you need someone to design a website for the project, or manage its accounting, or create costumes, find out which members might benefit from volunteering the time to do that job. A college student who designs the organization’s website can list the experience on her resume, and your recommendation may help her get her first job. A woodworker who wants an excuse to teach himself a new technique might be motivated by contributing his skills to a project he believes in.

Someone who complains has just volunteered. It’s really frustrating for a project manager (who probably is a volunteer too) to stand at the podium and listen to a member whine about a problem.  We like to be appreciated, too, and it seems like all you hear is the complaints.

However, I’ve always taken the attitude that someone who complains has just offered to take over that part of the project – even if he didn’t know that’s what he was doing. When a computer user group member complained about, say, the signs in the parking lot, I replied publicly and with no snark, “That’s a good point, Brad. I can see that it matters a lot to you, and you’ve given it a lot of thought. In fact, I hereby delegate you to work on those signs and address the problem. Can you give us a report on the options by our meeting next month?”

This has one of two results. Either Brad shuts up, because he only wanted to whine – and I just made him responsible for the situation. Or – 80% of the time, in my experience – he enthusiastically accepts the challenge and tries to fix the issue.

These tips just scratch the surface, but if you adopt them, your volunteer project has a much better chance of success.  Read more by 

Are You a Great Leader? A 6-Point Checklist

1.  You inspire employees to have the same goals as the company

Internalizing the company’s goals makes one more motivated to work. If the goals of the company are the same as the employee’s own, he or she will work hard to achieve them. He will also have more fun doing it. An awesome leader blurs the line between company goals and personal goals. She meshes it together so that the employee understands that he is working for personal growth as well as company growth.

2.  You allow mistakes

No one is perfect and not even the awesome leader. He allows his employees to make mistakes, and forgives them, so long as they prove that they have learned from their mistakes.

Awesome bosses don’t judge an employee based on one mistake, but instead uses it to motivate the employee to be better.  

He will allow the employee to learn from mistakes in his own way. Sometimes, he will not get involved because he knows that a great employee does not always need to be taught. He knows where he went wrong and he knows how to fix it.

3.  You dig deeper

While we are in the subject of mistakes, a remarkable boss will find out the cause of the problem. She will find out what motivated the employee to make such a mistake or action. She looks past the mistake and looks into the reason behind it. She may find that the problem lies within the company and its rules and will do something about it, so that this situation will not happen again.

4.  You know when not to decide

A manager is there to guide the staff. He usually does not get involved with their daily affairs unless his attention is needed. When a problem arises, a great manager knows if he should decide or if he should allow his staff to decide on the best course of action. He knows that the employee involved best knows how to fix the problem.

5.  You see yourself as a helper, not a controller

Great leaders recognize that they have the ability to lead. They know that they excel that is why they are made leaders but they also recognize that they are not in the position to be controlling. They don’t control their staff, but they help their staff to be the best they can be. They are not insecure and are not afraid to see their employees shine. They recognize the potential in their employees and they nurture that potential by putting them in situations where they can best develop and bring out their skills.

6.  You always strive for more

Finally, an great boss is never satisfied with himself. He always strives for more. He will make it a point to be better the next day. They find ways to serve their customers better, manage their employees more effectively and do their jobs more efficiently. They find ways to become more productive and constantly improve themselves. They always make it a point to be great.

About the Author:  Kurt C. is a blogger and entrepreneur with a website that deals with packing companies and productivity issues.

3 Ways a Coach Can Change the Course of Your Business

 by Betsy J. Baker

11237842_sFinally fed up with the direction my business wasn’tgoing in, I conducted a lot of research, took a huge leap of faith – and invested in a business coach. I’m relieved to share that it was the wisest investment I could have made in my business and I continue to receive coaching to this day. Why? Because I no longer want to play hit or miss with my decisions and I know that I can benefit from someone whose business I admire and that’s willing to show me exactly what they have done to reach that level of success.

I literally could write page after page of how coaching has caused my career to skyrocket so much bigger than I ever thought it could be but that might be a bit overwhelming for you. ;) So instead, I’ve settled on the top three ways a coach can help you and your biz:

1.  A good coach will assess your current state and provide clarity. Whether we’re looking to uplevel our business, change course in it or can’t tell which end is up, coaching will help sort first things first. In other words, we can’t successfully get to where we want to go without first knowing where we are.

I was so discombobulated with my business when I contacted my first coach that all I could say was “fix this.” She helped me sort what I needed to concentrate on first to meet my goals from those things that I thought were important but actually weren’t. Most often it just takes someone more removed from you are to your business to help you get you on a straight and narrow path.

2.  A good coach will help you determine a plan of action to move you forward much more quickly. Again, you can get so bogged down with all the to-do’s that a solo entrepreneur has that you feel like you’re drowning. Sometimes, when it seems that everything is a must-do, we tend to freeze and do nothing. My coach helped me develop goals and action steps so that I didn’t feel like I was just in a state of motion and getting nowhere fast.

I liked that I could rely on her to help me set meaningful goals since from her own experience she knew what I needed to be concentrating on. Also, she helped lessen my learning curve and helped me reach my goals much quicker than I would have since I wasn’t left floundering trying to figure out things on my own.

3.  A good coach will help provide accountability. Admit it – we sometimes let ourselves get away with a lot. And left to our own devices, great businesses often fail. Working with a coach gives me an accountability that no one else can provide. She keeps me on track, provides support in areas that sometime seem foreign to me and explains concepts that I would otherwise miss. You know that old adage “you don’t even know what you don’t know?” Case closed.

Because I’m dedicated to creating a powerful, supportive environment to help women entrepreneurs achieve the success they want, I have created my own coaching program with one singular goal: to have you enjoy your own highly-successful and sustainable business online. Please reach out to me at if you’d like more information.

10 Rules for Implementing Lean

“10 Commandments for the Boss of a Company Implementing Lean”
Lean Enterprise Institute – Tomasz Koch, et al

Having analyzed experience gained from cooperation with different enterprises, conversations with company bosses, the studies of subject matter literature and Internet sources, the authors have put together their thoughts on this role in ten points, even daring to call them commandments:

  1. Have a clear vision and improvement goals for the whole organization.
  2. Be an engaged boss initiating changes.
  3. Improve processes and the results will come as a consequence.
  4. Create Obeya-like management centre.
  5. Determine indicators and bonuses which show one direction to the managers.
  6. Motivate your people.
  7. Delegate the ownership of processes and places to your employees.
  8. Engage everyone in problem solving and continuous improvement.
  9. Teach your employees to achieve “the impossible”.
  10. Practice the routine of Gemba Walks every day.

All these ten commandments are discussed and explained in subsequent parts of the paper.  You can read the entire paper here.