Category Archives: Managing People

Everyday Leadership

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

I heard a TED Talk last week and I was reminded why leadership is really a series of everyday moments. Drew Dudley told a story about how one thing he did several years ago ended up being a turning point in someone else’s life. The funny thing was, he didn’t even remember doing it. I think this is probably true for most of us.

We are all leaders in our lives, our families, our communities, our work and just about every opportunity we have to touch other human beings. Leadership is not about a title, it’s about what you do as a human to help or inspire others. Dudley talks about it as times when “you fundamentally make someone’s life better.” If we take that as the most basic definition of leadership, we can all do that, every day.  Continue reading

Effective Staff Communication: Tips for Small Businesses

Your small business team is top-notch. Everyone has the skills needed to do their work, knows where they fit in and brings something unique to the table. So, why are you still feeling stressed when deadlines approach? There’s a good chance you can eliminate that stress by brushing up on your internal communication strategy. Whether you’re running a brick and mortar company or working with a virtual team, communication skills will help you meet deadlines faster and with ease.

How are you verbally approaching your employees? Are you saying too much? Not enough? Using ambiguous language?

Here are five basic rules that will help you make the most of communication in the workplace.

Rule No. 1: Keep it Simple

Over-complication can happen all too easily. This is especially common for those who spend a lot of time researching and learning from experts in the industry. While doing your homework is beneficial for most aspects of running a business, this can sometimes leak out into conversations with employees. In some cases, you’re giving them more information than what they need to do their jobs. Sifting through the information can take more time than necessary and lead to lower productivity. So, keep workplace communications simple and to the point.  Continue reading

Will your small business have employees?

Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industries answers the top 20 small business questions. For example:

  1. I’m hiring employees for the first time. What do I need to do?
  2. Can I just hire independent contractors? They’re easier than employees.
  3. Which government permits, licenses and tax registrations do I need?
  4. I own a business. Am I required to have workers’ comp coverage on myself?
  5. What can I deduct from my employee’s paycheck?
  6. What do I do if I can’t pay my workers’ compensation bill?

You will find the answers here.

What you need to know before you hire your first employee.

If you’re thinking about hiring your first employee, you may be feeling so thinly stretched that you want to fill out paperwork and have someone start right away. That’s understandable, since adding staff to your small business can increase your ability to serve your customers. But if you’re not experienced at hiring and managing employees, it’s easy to make mistakes that can make it harder to serve as a consistent, fair boss.


Before you place your first classified ad for an employee, here’s what you’ll want to consider about the employer-employee relationship you’re about to embark on.

Continue reading

Shared Work Program Helping More Than 700 Washington Businesses

By Chad Pearson, State of Washington Employment Security Department Shared Work Program

sharedwork-slide1_cropWashington businesses big and small continue to avoid layoffs using the Employment Security Department’s Shared Work Program.

Even as Washington’s unemployment rate has dropped to nearly five percent, more than 700 businesses in the state continue to use the program. That’s because Shared Work can be helpful not only during a recession or uneven economic times, but also when a supplier’s delivery is delayed or a road construction project has disturbed traffic outside their business.

Washington’s program is so effective at preventing layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor recently promoted it as a model for other states, encouraging them to set up their own programs.  Continue reading

Did you move from a big company to a startup?

An engineer describes what it was like to ditch his job at Microsoft for a startup with just 25 employees.

Before Michael Borozdin left his job at Microsoft in 2006, he was an outstanding performer at the company.

He was in charge of some Windows-related projects, and said he received raises and promotions that gave him more responsibility.

But Borozdin left that position after working at the company for more than three years to try something new. He joined DocuSign, a service that lets you sign documents using your mobile device.

Read more at buisnessinsider.ocm.

Getting a handle on motivation and leadership.

by Dr. Dick Larkin, Volunteer Mentor, Kitsap SCORE

Motivation Is Personal 

Employee motivation is not a one-size-fits-all driving force of behavior that a business owner can manage by following a few textbook suggestions or providing scheduled rewards to every employee achieving a company milestone.  Motivation, or the desire accomplish something is driven by a set of internal values, unique to each individual.

Nearly anyone who has brothers or sisters, or has raised children can see differences in the interests and behavior of each of their siblings or children.  Even though all family members are usually raised in the same home environment, their interests, career objectives, and long term social relations can be very different from each other as they age.  Each person in the family develops their own personality, behaviors, interests, and career plans in a way that make them unique, or different from any other individual.

As people experience life, they usually maintain shared family values, connections, and a sense of belonging, but at the same time, most people are driven by their own personal interests and follow an independent path into the future.

The differences found in family members are also found in companies.  Like family, there is no simple set of rules designed to motivate all employees.   In order to develop and maintain a highly productive and team oriented company, an owner must be more than a manager, they must be a leader.

Leadership and Management

Managers do not motivate people, leaders do and yet leadership is one of the least understood concepts in the business community.  The Handbook of Leadership says “there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept.”

In the broadest terms a manager tends to not fully trust their employees.   They micro-manage by giving overly specific directions, closely monitoring details of all work in the company and limiting opportunities for employees to make suggestions or share ideas.

A leader on the other hand who might or might not be an owner or manager, trusts their staff and coworkers to make the right decisions and do the right thing. They explain an assignment or business concern then allow individuals the freedom to perform the task without interfering.  They are available for consultation, but they do NOT micro-manage workers.

For the purpose of this writing, I’ll consider leadership as behaving in a way that will bring out the best in others and provide a work atmosphere that will enhance the internal motivational drive in people.

A business owner with leadership skills appreciates each member of the company and they work to develop a team spirit that allows employees to utilize their special talents for the good of the whole organization.

What motivates employees?

There is no single answer, but it is not just money.  Money is a satisfier.  If a worker feels they are not getting enough money to support their needs, their concerns about financial matters can cause them stress and lead them to distraction, or demotivation.  If a worker is being paid enough to satisfy their needs and support their chosen lifestyle, additional money will not always make them more productive, though they will probably appreciate some extra financial rewards at times.

The deeper and more lasting motivator of people is usually giving them a feeling they are doing something worthwhile and their effort is genuinely appreciated.

Leadership behaviors to help motivate employees:

Don’t worry about being clever, even particularly smart.  Concentrate on being honest, caring, focused, positive, and more than any other characteristic, authentic.

Speak to, or at least smile at and acknowledge every person you pass nearby.  Say hello to workers arriving for their shift and thank them at the end of their shift.

Treat everyone in the work place, in personal life, and in public life as though they are spending time with you because they want to be with you, not because they have to be with you.

Whenever spending time with someone, whether they are a personal friend, a cashier in a retail store, a co-worker, or any other person – look into their eyes as you leave and see if you have left them a little happier for being with you.

Work constantly to see, hear, and feel the positive forces of nature.  Share experiences and time with positive people and limit time with negative people; they will only bring you down.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish every goal exactly on time and with the results you expected.  Every activity in life is a learning experience – evaluate what “went wrong” and modify your approach with your next project.

Dick Larkin, M.B.A., Ed.D. is a SCORE Counselor and Certified Mentor serving King, Kitsap, and Mason Counties.