Connect Key

In a world where it seems like we’re always “connected” why do employers have so much trouble connecting with remote employees? Rather than focus on the reasons it happens, let’s talk about what we can do about it.

Of course it is important to establish clear expectations about an employee’s schedule and expected availability, but make sure they know what to expect from their manager and team. If they work unusual hours and something comes up, they need to know who to contact if they need help.

If their work isn’t tied to normal business hours, be flexible about when and where their work is performed. Some people find their groove early in the morning; others late at night. We know that people are often more productive when they have flexibility to work when it works for them.

Make connecting easy. They can’t just walk down to your office to chat. Consider regular videoconferencing or instant messaging programs like Google Messaging or Slack.

Program management tools are also a great way to track workflow and progress and to continually interact about projects. Flow and Asana are two very popular platforms.

While email is a quick way to communicate, don’t rely on it too heavily. Make time to talk on the phone or via videoconferencing. While you’re at it, schedule dedicated time to connect with them. Commit and don’t change it.

Finally, remote work isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer the consistency of coming to an office every day. Some people aren’t comfortable with the technology often used to ensure remote employee success and not all leaders can manage it well.

If you want to explore this idea more, let me know. I’d be happy to chat.

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Benchmade-Sharpening

From design engineers to skilled machinists, Benchmade’s team is filled with hard-working, passionate individuals committed to producing some of the highest quality knives in the world. Did you know…

  1. In 1979 the Benchmade adventure began, when Les de Asis set out to make the best knives in the world. He wanted a knife that reflected the latest in materials and manufacturing technology to replace the cheap butterfly knives, known as Bali-Songs, he played with as a kid. Proud of his creation, he took his first knife into a local gun store and the owner asked, “Could you build 100 more?”
  2. In 1990 Benchmade became the first company to own and employ a high-power laser cutter, allowing for work with steels too hard to stamp. The Company also became the world leader in automatic knife manufacturing (still true to this day) and began to supply military units. They’ve grown a lot since then, now supplying tools for elite tactical operators, first responders, collectors and outdoor enthusiasts.
  3. Responding to growing customer demand, in 1997 the Company moved its manufacturing facility from Clackamas to Oregon City, which sprawls approximately 144,000 sq. ft. today. This is where they turn sheets of steel, aluminum and titanium into the hand-assembled works of art that can only be called Benchmade.
  4. Over the years, Benchmade has worked with world-class custom knife makers like Mel Pardue and Warren Osborne, perfecting a business model that involves lending manufacturing processes to custom knife designs; affording a level of innovation and quality to the larger market, which was once unavailable. Take a virtual factory tour to see just how they do it.
  5. There’s never a dull moment with a Benchmade knife. Every Benchmade knife comes with a lifetime “LifeSharp” promise that includes complimentary cleaning, small parts replacement and of course sharpening. A customer simply ships their knife back to the company where it’s not only sharpened, but inspected and tuned for optimum performance.

Cascade is pleased to feature Benchmade Knife Company, where hard-working knives are made by hard-working people.

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Money Graph

Executives in Oregon and Southwest Washington recently provided their business projections for 2018 in the National Business Trends Survey. The preliminary results show a mixture of confidence and anticipated business challenges, with the majority of executives reporting optimism for the New Year.

Based on the survey results, five prominent trends to watch for in 2018 are:

  1. Increased Sales
    75% of Oregon executives are projecting their 2018 sales to surpass sales results of 2017.

  2. Stability And Confidence In The U.S. Economy
    Nearly 83% of Oregon executives are anticipating the U.S. economy to remain fixed or to improve in 2018.

  3. Sustaining And Increasing Staffing Levels
    Hiring plans in 2018 show a mixture of consistency and growth, with 57% of executives planning to maintain their staffing levels and 43% planning to hire more staff in the next twelve months. This includes recalling layoffs, hiring temps or contract workers, and/or hiring new employees.

  4. Anticipated Challenges
    When executives were asked to list their top business challenges in 2018, nearly 65% of executives listed a skilled labor shortage as an impediment to achieving business growth.

  5. Priorities That Span Generations
    When asked what new hires are looking for based on their various generation groups, certain priorities prevailed throughout generations. All generation groups were listed as prioritizing competitive pay when seeking a new job. Other priorities were prevalent among multiple generations, but not all. A leading priority for Traditionalists, Boomers, and Gen X groups included competitive benefits. Flexibility in work hours was a leading priority for Millennials and Digitals. While some priorities span generations, such as competitive pay, other priorities appear to be generation specific.

The 2018 National Business Trends Survey, which will be published in mid-November of 2017, provides executive level insight into current and projected national, regional, and local business trends. Visit SalaryTrends to learn more about the 2018 National Business Trends Survey, or to purchase the full report.

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How to run an effective meeting

Last year I wrote an article in NewsBrief about the challenges of designing (or redesigning) an organization’s Performance Management system. So when we launched our own Performance Appraisal software last fall, in partnership with Intelesoft, I expected the phone to ring off the hook. We offered a free demonstration to members and everyone who saw it thought it looked great. But after the demo, interest dropped off and I couldn’t understand why.

After doing a recent training on Performance Management, I’m beginning to understand why: not enough people know about it! So many of our members are still using up precious time and energy with pen and paper forms or Word docs that are outdated and ineffective. To be fair, it’s easy to see why the initial launch may not have grabbed everyone’s attention – it’s been a really busy year!

However, I’m renewing my efforts because I hate seeing our members suffer. So many people feel like they have to start from scratch or they get lost sifting through Google results on “performance appraisal best practices.” Please stop. Cascade has your back.

Want goal setting and well-crafted and defined performance criteria? We’ve got that. Want just one or the other? We can do that, too. Want to customize it? Sure. Want an easy way to keep track of performance conversations, supervisor notes, anniversary dates, and easily analyze trends? Check. Check. Check. Check.

In essence, Cascade took each of the best practices we teach about and rolled them into a robust and extremely easy to use platform. If you’re interested I can set up a virtual demo so you don’t even have to go anywhere to see it. I will also be doing a webinar later this fall so that you don’t even have to wait for me to take a look. The demo will be at your fingertips handily housed on Cascade’s website.

In the meantime, please don’t suffer in silence chasing down supervisors and sifting through stacks of paper. Please reach out to me at emahoney@cascadeemployers.com.

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