To Host the Best Holiday Party Hand Out Bonuses and Go Home

To Host the Best Holiday Party Hand Out Bonuses and Go Home

GENE MARKS | President of The Marks Group

There are people in this world who know all about throwing great office Holiday parties. Take Annette Joseph, for example.

Annette is a stylist, TV personality and author of Picture Perfect Parties She’s everywhere online giving the kind of advice that most people wouldn’t even think about. For example, in a recent post on Pinterest she showed all the great and wonderful ways business owners can throw that perfect holiday party, even when just using stuff from your local Staples’ Copy and Print Center. (And no, I’m not being paid to endorse anyone here). This woman can create a party from anything.

Me? I’m no stylist and I’m not creative enough to come up with all these great ideas. But two decades of attending both horrible and excellent holiday parties thrown by my clients have taught me a few things about throwing an office holiday party that have nothing to do with flowers and decorations and customized invitations purchased at Staples.

For starters, have it in house. Don’t rent out a restaurant. Don’t have some gala, black-tie affair in a hotel or catering hall. You’re not in the Fortune 500. The companies that do that kind of thing clearly have way more money to waste than you. Besides, most people don’t want to take an evening away from home for some stuffy affair. They want to relax in a familiar place. There’s nothing wrong with doing an office party in your office. Check out Annette’s site above and you’ll find a ton of good recommendations for decorating your office, way better than some restaurant.

Don’t serve alcohol. This is a liability you just don’t want. The last thing you need is for some Jabroni from the warehouse to drink a few too many beers and then run over a puppy on the way home…or another living thing, if you get my drift. You’ll be in court before you know it, lawyered up and defending your poor judgment. People can have a good time without alcohol. It’s actually possible. Make up for it with good, catered food. If your employees want to go for an after-party at the local bar, good for them. And good for you, for avoiding this lawsuit.

Don’t invite family members. They kill a holiday party. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. There’s a lot that goes on at work. Relationships are very different and sometimes, unfortunately…well, complicated. You don’t want to be in the middle of that. Wives, husbands and even children of an employee completely change the vibe of a holiday party. You want your people hanging out together where work isn’t the primary topic of concern. You want your party to be an opportunity for your employees to make connections and grow as a team. Having family there completely negates that idea. Try to have the party on a Friday afternoon or another, similar time when it’s not taking your employees away from their families for very long.

Tell everyone thanks. My company is virtual, we have no offices and see each other as a group maybe twice a year. Maybe. Sure, my overhead is lower. But we are very, very dysfunctional! At least at our holiday gathering I can tap the glass with a spoon and say a few nice words. I take the chance to speak with everyone individually and give thanks. I also hand out bonus checks too, which I slip into a holiday card also saying thanks. This is my one chance a year to truly show how grateful I am for everyone’s work. A good holiday party is, if nothing else, the business owner’s chance to say thanks. Take it.

Finally, leave them alone. That means: go. Go home. Leave a responsible manager in charge. But, after spending some time and saying your thanks, take leave and tell everyone to have a great time. I’ve seen this done before and it works well. When the boss isn’t around, people can relax more. They don’t have to feel like they’re going to do something or make a mistake that will impact their career. And neither do you, by the way. So let them have fun. This is a party for your employees, not for you. Your reward: a cold beer and the last half hour of Sports Center in peace. Aah…now that’s a holiday present any hard working business owner could love!

Source: Entrepreneur

Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise?

Can You Be a Great Leader Without Technical Expertise?

Excerpted article was written by Art Markman | Harvard Business Review

There is a broad assumption in society and in education that the skills you need to be a leader are more or less transferable. If you can inspire and motivate people in one arena, you should be able to apply those skills to do the same in another venue.

But recent research is rightly challenging this notion. Studies suggest that the best leaders know a lot about the domain in which they are leading, and part of what makes them successful in a management role is technical competence. For example, hospitals managed by doctors perform better than those managed by people with other backgrounds. And there are many examples of people who ran one company effectively and had trouble transferring their skills to the new organization.

Over the last year, I’ve been working with a group at the University of Texas thinking about what leadership education would look like for our students. There is broad consensus across many schools that teach leadership education about the core elements of what leaders need to know. These factors include: The ability to motivate self and others, effective oral and written communication, critical thinking skills, problem solving ability, and skills at working with teams and delegating tasks.

On the surface, this seems like a nice list. Good leaders do have these abilities and if you wanted to create future leaders, making sure they have these skills is a good bet. They need to take in a large volume of information and distill it into the essential elements that define the core problems to be solved. They need to organize teams to solve these problems and to communicate to a group why they should share a common vision. They need to establish trust with a group and then use that trust to allow the team to accomplish more than it could alone.

But these skills alone will not make a leader because, to actually excel at this list of skills in practice, you also need a lot of expertise in a particular domain.

As an example, take one of these skills: thinking critically in order to find the essence of a situation. To do that well, you must have specific, technical expertise. The critical information a doctor needs to diagnose a patient are different from the knowledge used to understand a political standoff, and both of those differ in important ways from what is needed to negotiate a good business deal.

Even effective communication differs from one domain to another. Doctors talking to patients must communicate information differently than politicians reacting to a natural disaster or a CEO responding to a labor dispute.

When you begin to look at any of the core skills that leaders have, it quickly becomes clear that domain-specific expertise is bound up in all of them. And the domains of expertise required may also be fairly specific. Even business is not really a single domain. Leadership in construction, semiconductor fabrication, consulting, and retail sales all require a lot of specific knowledge.

A common solution to this problem is for leaders to say that they will surround themselves with good people who have the requisite expertise that will allow them to make good decisions. The problem is that without actual expertise, how do these leaders even know whether they have found the right people to give them information? If managers cannot evaluate the information they are getting for themselves, then they cannot lead effectively.

This way of thinking about leadership has two important implications. First, when we teach people about leadership, we need to be more explicit that domain expertise matters. Just because a person is successful at running one kind of organization does not mean that they are likely to have the same degree of success running an organization with a different mission. Second, when we train people to take on leadership roles, we need to give them practice solving domain-specific problems so that they can prepare to integrate information in the arena in which they are being asked to lead. For example, it isn’t enough just to teach people about how to resolve generic conflicts between employees, we should create scenarios derived from real cases so that people have to grapple with all of the ambiguities that come from the conflicts that arise within particular industries.

This issue is particularly important given the frequency with which people in the modern workplace change jobs and even move across industries. This mobility means that many younger employees may not gain significant expertise in the industry in which they are currently working, which will make it harder for them to be effective in leadership roles.  Companies need to identify prospective future leaders and encourage them to settle down in order to develop the specific skills they need to lead.

Check out these 5 unexpected and strange insurance policies

Check out these 5 unexpected and strange insurance policies

Excerpted article was written By

We’ve all read the stories of celebrities and athletes insuring their body parts for incredible amounts. But sometimes, the risk being insured can be more interesting than the policy itself. And we may even be covered by a policy we never knew existed.

1. Turmoil in Thailand

Thailand has become the tourist capital of Southeast Asia. Each year, approximately 16 million visitors arrive in the country looking for adventure, and most of them will have some sort of travel coverage to keep them protected. But what many visitors don’t know is that they already have a little insurance coverage, courtesy of the Thai government. See, Thailand has experienced more coups d’état than any other country in contemporary history, making large protests and the odd military takeover a relatively commonplace occurrence. As a result, the Thai government has purchased an insurance policy that promises to provide $10,000 to each tourist harmed in any political turmoil.

 2. “Take us to your insurance broker.”

Some people say there’s no “official” evidence that any higher intelligence has ever made contact or visited Earth. Others disagree … um, adamantly. Whether intelligent life beyond us exists in the universe or not, over 30,000 people throughout Europe have purchased alien abduction insurance. Now, why they think they’d be selected for abduction over the other 7 billion people on the planet or how they know that kidnapping would be at the top of a visiting alien’s agenda is another story, but … good luck to them.

3. Paranormal policies

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?” Apparently, your friendly neighborhood insurance company, that’s who. The owner of the Royal Falcon Hotel in Suffolk, UK has taken out a policy to insure him against damages caused by his “supernatural guests.” The policy offers up to £1m in the event that his staff or customers are killed or hurt by the ghosts, poltergeists, or other abnormal phenomena that allegedly live on the property. Simon Burgess, the policy’s chief underwriting officer, told the BBC that, “There has been paranormal activity there, and we will treat any claims very seriously, and carry out our normal psychic investigation.”

4. Hole-in-one!

We’ve all seen the almost-impossible, full-court free throw challenges at basketball games. And many golf courses offer amazing prizes to anyone getting a hole-in-one. Of course, nobody really expects anyone will actually win one of these unlikely challenges … nobody, that is, apart from us savvy insurance types.

Prize indemnity insurance is the most popular way of covering these highly valued promotions, with the risk carefully calculated and a series of rules explicitly laid out. Unfortunately, the rules are often overlooked. In fact, one golfer had his hole-in-one prize rejected because the prize indemnity policy for the course needed 2 witnesses and the tournament he was in could only provide one. Oh well, he still has a 1 in 12,000 chance of hitting another once-in-a-lifetime putt, right?

5. Where there are winners, there are losers

Picture this: you’ve built a wonderful midsize company with happy employees, good products, and a healthy bottom line. Then, out of nowhere, the manufacturing department wins the lottery jackpot. The next day, nobody in manufacturing shows up and the company goes from happy, lottery-playing workplace to failing to fulfill their orders and losing the credibility they spent years building. This worry is so prevalent with business owners in the UK that they can now take out a policy protecting them from lottery winners who decide to suddenly leave work after winning.

Source: Esurance

 

Hello, I’m Out Of The Office But Checking Email

Hello, I’m Out Of The Office But Checking Email

MENLO PARK, Calif., May 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Are vacations where people completely disconnect from the office a thing of the past? Research shows “workations” may be more common for professionals today. In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, 54 percent of workers said they typically check in with the office at least once or twice a week during their vacation, up from 41 percent just one year ago.

On the bright side, those who do connect with the office do so fewer times during their break: 15 percent of workers touch base at least once or twice a day, compared to 21 percent in 2016. Their reasons for checking in include gaining peace of mind that things were under control (54 percent), keeping projects moving along (53 percent), avoiding coming back to extra work (47 percent) and preventing colleagues from feeling undue stress (34 percent).

“When possible, use your vacation time to its fullest potential by unplugging from the office,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps. “This helps you come back to work recharged and with fresh perspective.”

Steinitz noted it’s not always feasible for some employees to completely disconnect. “The reality is, many professionals, either by necessity or choice, will check in with the office to ensure things are under control and projects are moving forward in their absence,” he said. “Employees who feel the need to connect with work should set clear boundaries to minimize the time they spend attending to office duties.”

Additional findings from the Accountemps survey:

  • Professionals plan to take an average of 10 vacation days this summer — unchanged from last year’s survey.
  • Thirty percent of those surveyed said they plan to take more vacation days this summer compared to last year. Forty-one percent of workers between the ages of 18 and 34 plan on taking more time off, compared to 25 percent of workers ages 35 to 54 and only 16 percent of respondents 55 and over.
  • Twelve percent of respondents plan to take fewer days off than they did last summer. Only 10 percent of male workers plan to take fewer days off, compared to 14 percent of female workers.
  • More than one-third of professionals (37 percent) said they could use more time to recharge. Forty-four percent of females surveyed said they don’t have enough time off, versus 31 percent of males.
  • Forty-seven percent of total respondents said they don’t check in at all while on summer vacation. Sixty percent of workers 55 and older don’t connect with the office during their break, compared to 52 percent of respondents ages 35 to 54 and only 38 percent of workers 18 to 34.

View a slideshow of the full survey results.

Accountemps offers four ways managers and professionals can unplug while on vacation:

  1. Promote the benefits of taking vacation. Managers should encourage their teams to disconnect during their time off to reap the full advantages of time away.
  2. Let colleagues know. Once your vacation request has been approved, give key contacts advanced notice about your time off. Wrap up projects and appoint a team member to handle your daily tasks in your absence. If you plan to truly disconnect, make it clear to your manager and team.
  3. Set boundaries. If you feel compelled to check in, set a schedule for the brief times you’ll be accessible and note it in your out-of-office reply. Try to avoid checking email outside of those hours so you can rest and recharge.
  4. Get back on track. Upon your return, schedule a quick meeting with your manager or team to get caught up on what you may have missed and what projects are a priority.

About the Research
The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.

10 Ways to Make the Best of Dumb Mistakes

10 Ways to Make the Best of Dumb Mistakes

By James Nazer | Jason Nazar

We’re not defined by our mistakes, but rather how we handle those mistakes and who we become in the process. Here’s the best game plan I can provide on how to bounce back after making a major mistake at work:

Immediately take responsibility

Don’t compound the situation by getting defensive or justifying what happened. Admit your mistake to the key people affected and lay out a plan to fix it. Most importantly, explain what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it. You’ll regain your teammates’ trust and they won’t feel like they have to keep checking in on you to make sure you’re doing things right.

Make sure you understand your responsibilities

The most common reason we make mistakes is also the most fixable: We don’t fully understand the expectations of our role or the goals we’re responsible for. You can never ask too much about what’s expected of you.

Ask for feedback

Once you’re through the worst of it, ask for feedback from the people who were most affected by your mistake. Not only will you get the chance to really learn from the situation, but you’ll help others feel heard and see you in a better light.

Show that you’re committed to improving

Let your team see that you’re going the extra mile to improve. Try to be the first one in and last to leave, or go out of your way to help coworkers get their work done. Whatever you do, make sure you’re showing that your focus is on the company. This can help smooth out a rough situation.

Tighten up your little mistakes

After you make a big mistake, the little things get magnified. Whether it’s coming in five minutes late or turning in a project that’s not exactly to specification, your little errors will seem way worse after a big mistake. This is the time to bring your A-game. Don’t let tiny errors erode your team’s trust in you.

Put key items in writing

We’ve all been in situations where a coworker asks us to do something, only to be told on delivering it that it wasn’t what they asked for. The simplest way to prevent these situations is to put your action plan in writing and share it with whoever else is involved. In doing so, you’re giving others a chance to say either: “This isn’t what we discussed; let’s rethink it,” or “This is what we discussed, but I think you should go about doing it in a slightly different way.” Everyone involved will appreciate the clarity.

Be likable

We’re all more forgiving of people we like. If you’re positive, energetic, generous, and thoughtful, you’re likely to get more of a pass on your mistakes. If you’re negative, passive aggressive, or quick to point fingers, you probably won’t.

Be a hero

The best way to make a big mistake fade into the distance is to solve something critical for the business. It’s not always possible, but if you can do that, you’ll instantly become a hero. Even if an NFL team fails to make the playoffs three years in a row, it’s a winner in everybody’s eyes if it wins the Super Bowl in the fourth year.

Cut yourself some slack

Everyone makes mistakes—it’s a part of how we learn. Remember that people judge you more for how you handle your mistakes than the mistakes you make, so try not to beat yourself up. High performers especially need to keep this in mind, as they will naturally put more pressure on themselves than their boss and colleagues will.

Turn the negative into a positive

A big mistake could become a big opportunity. When Coca-Cola introduced New Coke in the 1980s, everyone hated it. So what did Coke do? It said it messed up and launched a whole campaign about the return of classic Coke—and sales jumped higher than ever. Everybody loves a redemption story. Your big mistake could be an opportunity to turn your career around.

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”

~ Earl Wilson ~

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