Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Respond When Things Go Wrong – Part Two

Every company should be prepared to face problems. The important thing is to not expect them to happen and then react. The ideal thing is to think ahead and make plans that contribute to fixing the damage before it happens so that the damage to your business is minimal, even after a serious incident.

Here is the second part of a two-part series with tips on how you can respond when things go wrong in your company.

·  Be Ready To Respond: You should already have your emergency action plan (EAP) written by now, so at this point you want to make sure that your staff know about it. It is important that each one knows what is expected of one another when an emergency pops up. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the emergency is. In fact, it is vital that you do “test runs” every month to keep them fresh on emergency procedures. You should keep in mind that no plan is ever perfect until you put it to the test.
o   Here are some areas of training you should focus on:
§  Basic first aid
§  Use of fire extinguisher
§  Emergency equipment shutdown
§  Building evacuation procedures
§  Emergency notification procedures
§  CPR

·  Recovery Procedures: Once the first the steps are in the books, it is vital that you get back in the swing of things and get your business up and running again. Make sure you have a plan for how you will recover after a disaster happens. Think about these questions:
o   Will you need another location?
o   Are you able to obtain replacement equipment?
o   Do you have someone to clean up the business?
o   Is it possible to recover any lost data on time clocks or other instruments?
o   Can your staff get to work?
o   Will your workers be able to reach you?
o   Can your suppliers still get you the goods on a regular basis?

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Respond When Things Go Wrong – Part One

No business is ever safe, especially a small business. In today’s economy, a business can go under in a heartbeat and not always because of financial woes. For instance, employees could be injured, important information may be lost due to computer errors, or even a natural disaster can destroy your factory, office, or working space.

While it’s impossible to be prepared for every disaster, thinking ahead and having contingency plans is always a good idea. Being ready for the unexpected can help you keep your cool as well as your business. Here are some tips for planning for the worst:

1.     Figure out everything that could go wrong. This is important because it tests the vulnerability of your business. This goes well past simple things like time clock software being broken and encompasses things like mass computer failure or integral machine break-down. When looking at the risk assessment you should keep these things in mind:
·       List all the risks or threats your business can face.
·       Determine how vulnerable your business is to these threats.
·       Start prioritizing the threats.

2.     Develop a strong business plan. This will be known as an “EAP”, or Emergency Action Plan, which will help deal with everything you listed in step one. Sometimes these plans will be set by law and, at other times, you will be responsible for setting up the procedures. Here are some tips to help you through this step:
·       Write a clear written policy of your company’s chain of command.
·       List the people who are responsible for assessing risks to property and people.
·       Include instructions on how to shut down any equipment you may have.
·       Record facility evacuation procedures.
·       Include forms needed or procedures required to report any emergency.

With some forethought, you and your business can be ready for any number of incidents or accidents. While it is impossible to prepare for anything, having emergency protocol set can help deal with the unplanned incidents as well.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Delegate Productively

As a manager or leader in your business, you will find yourself delegating out work at some point or another. While proper delegation makes for a well-run and productive team, improper delegation of tasks can side rail and entire project. There are a few tricks that all managers can use to help make sure that tasks are proportioned out fairly, that hours on the time clock are met, and that work is set out in a way that encourages work instead of inhibits.

To reduce the risk of problems when delegating work, start by issuing smaller, easier tasks first. This limits the damage that can be caused in case someone fails. This also will help build the self-esteem of the person who took that responsibility if they succeed.

You should never limit yourself to just explaining what they should do either. When people realize how their work fits in the process, they can react better when things go wrong or when you are not present. Having a chance to innovate can sometimes bring out the best in employees.

Take a look at these other tips which will help you be a better delegator:

1.     Choose things that you can delegate “up”. This means picking things that are simple enough that you can pass off to an assistant like checking emails, picking up dry cleaning and so on.
2.     Choose things that you can delegate “down”. These are the items that you want professionals handling. For instance, you will want to hire an accountant or bookkeeper to do the numbers.
3.     Provide crystal clear instructions. Being able to delegate successfully starts with getting through to your people clearly. If someone doesn’t understand something, make sure they do by talking things over.
4.     Empower the staff. Give your employees enough responsibility to make them feel special. It goes a long way.
5.     Letting go. Some people can do tasks better than you can. Let go and let those with the strengths in that task do said step.
6.     Invest in long-term success. Choose employees that will stick around for a long time but make sure they are worth having around as well.

Do not forget the reality of the learning curve: the first task delegated does not always run optimally. Do not be tempted to take the matter into your own hands. Give your employees a chance and teach them where they went wrong. You will often be surprised at the improvement rate that shows.