How to Be a Great Boss

It can be tough at the top. Here are some top tips to improve your personal success as well as the success of the people working for you.

  • Lead by example. Provide guidance and support and set the benchmark for team cohesiveness and performance.
  • Understand yourself and work on bettering yourself. What are the things you do well and what can you improve? How effective is your management style? By investing time in developing your individual skills you will drive your business forward and reap the rewards in terms of how successfully you lead your team.
  • Be a good all-rounder and play to all your strengths. Technical skills are important but so are soft skills such as people management skills. Do not neglect one in favour of the other.
  • Learn to delegate effectively. You can’t do it all! By relinquishing responsibility to others you are not only ensuring that your efforts are always directed to best effect but also that the people around you feel empowered to make decisions and improve the business.
  • Build a team that can work without you. A team that falls apart when you are on leave or away from the office is not good business.
  • Maintain boundaries: Whilst it is good to develop a good personal relationship with your colleagues, you must establish appropriate boundaries. This will be important during times when you have to make tough decisions that may not always be welcome by others.

What do you do to make sure that you’re a good boss? Share your tips (or mistakes!) with us by leaving a comment here.

How Do You Get More From Your Staff? Part Two

In a recent blog we looked at the importance of managing performance as a way of getting more from your staff, without dramatically increasing your costs.

Here are some top tips you can actually put into action, to get more from your people:

  • Provide a stimulating working environment that encourages members of staff to contribute to the progress of your business.
  • Encourage your staff to reach their full potential by providing opportunities to develop their skills through training and development, as well as coaching in the soft skills needed to be an excellent team member.
  • Carry out formal performance reviews on a regular basis, setting clear objectives and achievable targets; don’t wait for annual appraisals.
  • Build good relationships by providing regular informal feedback and guidance; allow your staff to air their concerns within an environment of trust and honesty.
  • Deal with issues as soon as they arise – don’t wait for them to become problems.
  • Offer a clear career path, to encourage employees to be the best they can be and stay with you for the long term.

How do you get more from your people? What have you done that has worked – or not worked? Leave a reply below.

If you still have questions about how to improve the performance of your team, come to our next workshop on 22 November 2012 near Henley. Places are free but limited, so click here for full details.

When Can You Use Feedback in Your Business?

Giving regular feedback to your employees is essential if you want them to stay focused and motivated and if you want to prevent small issues turning into something bigger. If you leave it until the annual appraisal, you may find that your staff aren’t as happy or committed as you thought they might be.

Here are some ideas on how to give regular feedback.

Day to day praise. At the end of each day, think of a way of thanking your members of staff as they leave.

Making it personal. Treat each person as an individual and give them their own feedback, even if they are part of a team.

Do it as soon as possible. Feedback has a much greater effect if you can deliver it just after the event, whether you are giving positive or negative feedback.

Negative reactions.  Be prepared for them if you’re giving negative feedback about something that needs to be improved.

Formal feedback. Avoid giving formal, negative feedback in public; take the person aside and speak to them personally. Positive feedback in public can be highly motivating.

Feedback from your employees. Always listen to what they have to say. It’s not just about you giving feedback to them, as they may have something really useful to contribute.

Regular feedback is essential as it maintains dialogue between the boss and your staff. Used well, it can boost performance of individuals, teams and businesses.

How do you give feedback? Leave a reply to share your tips.

How Do You Find the Best New Recruits for Your Business?

So you’ve decided to expand and take on new members of staff; or perhaps you’re replacing someone who is leaving. You’ve written a great job description and a person specification and you know how much you’re going to pay your new member of staff and when you need them to start. Now all you need is a flood of candidates, but how do you attract them?

Advertising. Look at your local press as well as national publications. Depending on the job and your industry you may also want to consider specific trade magazines. The key is to think about which publications your ideal candidates will read, in their search for their perfect job. Remember that you can also advertise online – there are numerous ‘job boards’ that specialise in advertising jobs, so find the ones that your potential candidates visit.

Word of mouth. Talk to your clients, contacts and suppliers to let them know that you’re recruiting. They may know the perfect person for your business and a personal recommendation is always useful.

Internal candidates. Are any of your existing members of staff ready for promotion? They might not put themselves forward for the job, but if you think they’re ready, invite them to apply.

Company website. Use your website to advertise the position. A potential client looking for your services may actually be your next member of staff. Other people searching for particular jobs may find your job and your site if you use popular and relevant key words.

Agencies. There are many recruitment agencies who can help you find the right person. They can handle the whole process, even carrying out interviews if you don’t have the time or skills. Look for agencies that specialise in your industry or the type of position you’re looking to fill.

Job centres. You can advertise your job for free in your local job centre and it will be promoted by the staff, who will be able to recommend the right candidates.

Previous applicants. Someone who wasn?t successful in a previous application may be just the person you’re looking for this time around. Send them the details of the job and find out if they’re still interested in working with you.

Use some of all of these routes and you’ll find it easy to generate a healthy amount of interest in your position, helping you find the best person for your business.

How do you recruit? What’s worked for you in the past – or not worked? Leave a reply in the comment box below.

How Do You Get More From Your Staff?

The key to getting the best, and more, from your staff is through performance management. What is this and how can it benefit your business?

Performance management is a strategic and integrated approach to increasing the effectiveness of your business by improving the performance of the people who work for you. Put simply, the better the people you employ and the better the investment you make in them, the easier it will be get the best from them and to ask more from them, when you need it.

Research shows that a high proportion of businesses struggle with underperforming members of staff. They spend too much time dealing with issues of absence, sickness, poor attitudes and behaviour, failure to meet objectives and poor standards of work. Then they look to solve them through formal disciplinary procedures. Reacting to issues can be time consuming and costly, as well as very negative. Managing performance focuses on the more positive, preventative aspects of working with people.

Good performance management is about regularly assessing the performance of every individual in your team, providing regular feedback, guidance and support to reinforce good performance and highlight areas for improvement before they become a major issue.

You should also make sure that you have proper disciplinary procedures in place to deal with poor performance. In next week’s blog we’ll share some tips which, if you follow, you will only need disciplinary procedures as a last resort, when informal and positive measures have not worked.

Learn how to get more from your people at our next workshop, in November 2012 at Hennerton Golf Club, in Wargrave, near Henley. This is your chance to really get to grips with improving performance, ask all the questions you have and get some professional support. Places are free but limited. Click here to book online.

Why Bother with HR?

What’s the point of HR?  Do you really need someone to spend time (and money) looking at the people in your business? Surely it’s quite simple and something you can do for yourself?

Here are a few ideas to help you decide whether or not to bother with HR.

The cost of getting it wrong.  Without the right HR systems in place, you could end up on the wrong side of the law, with a hefty bill to pay. A majority of employers believe that claims to Employment Tribunals will increase following the increase in the qualifying period of service to claim unfair dismissal from 1 year to 2 years. Part of the reason for the anticipated increase is that there is no system to prevent spurious claims being made to a tribunal. There is no potential downside for a claimant and potential for a financial windfall.  No win no fee solicitors support the disgruntled employee to have a go on the basis that the business will make a settlement to avoid legal costs. The figures of employment tribunal awards in the year 2011/12 have now been released and show that the median of all wards was £4560, the average award was £9133 and the maximum award was £173408. Keeping up to date with the legal issues is vital if you want to avoid unnecessary problems and payments.

The benefits of getting it right.  In order to avoid further claims businesses are making changes to their policies and procedures and making sure their managers are well trained in these procedures because a majority of employers believe that the most important factor behind a decision going against them at tribunal has been the role played by the line manager. In most cases the decision concerns the managers failure to follow their own company’s procedure!  On a far more positive note, good HR can really help to boost the profitability of your business. By putting HR management practices into your organisation, studies have shown that you can reduce employee turnover by 7%, increase sales per employee by 5.2% and increase overall financial performance by 6%.

Do you bother with HR? Do you do it yourself, or bring someone in to help with HR issues? Is it worth it, or just another business expense? Leave a reply below and let us know what you think.

Absence Management

It is estimated that unauthorised absence costs the UK economy around £10bn-£12bn every year with employees failing to come to work for no good reason an average of 8 days each.   With the Olympics just a few short weeks away, and an expected rise is unauthorised absence predicted it important that you plan ahead to avoid unauthorised absence.

To stay on top of unauthorised absence you must put in place thorough absence policy that includes how absence will be managed; states clearly what absence is and is not permitted; details of how absence will be recorded and monitored; reporting lines and disciplinary procedures.

When you suspect an employee is taking an unauthorised day off you should:

  • Make contact on day 1 to establish the reason for the absence
  • If you are not satisfied that the reason for absence is genuine follow up with a letter on day 2
  • If the employee does not make contact and remains absent from work without notice you may have cause to assume resignation and formalise the appropriate procedures
  • If the employee returns to work you should always conduct further investigation in order to prevent a similar absence from occurring in the future and where necessary invoke a formal disciplinary process
  • If an employee takes annual leave despite being previously refused you must contact them immediately in writing and again invoke a formal disciplinary process.

Having in place a robust absence management policy will reap long term rewards by: –

  • Identifying the causes of poor attendance.
  • Providing support.
  • Increasing loyalty and motivation.
  • Deterring casual absence.
  • Identifying problems at work.
  • Improving morale and motivation.
  • Leading to reduction in absence.
  • Improving productivity.


Despite every effort, even the best run business may encounter problems of misconduct from time to time.

Misconduct can range from a minor incidence of unsatisfactory behaviour to an act of violence, theft or malicious damage.  However, the one thing they all have in common is that if handled incorrectly they could not only damage your reputation but leave facing the prospect expensive unfair dismissal claims and employment tribunals.

It is often easier to deal with a minor incidence of misconduct informally by simply explaining to the employee why their behaviour has been deemed unsatisfactory and seeking agreement/agree steps to ensure it does not continue or recur.  However, if this does not have the desired result, or closer investigation reveals that the problem is bigger than initially thought, then it might be necessary to invoke a more formal approach. Most companies operate a 3-stage process: (1) written warning, (2) final written warning, (3) dismissal.

Avoidance is better than cure!  The key to protecting your business is to have in place a clear and fair disciplinary procedure that defines what behaviours you consider to be acts of misconduct relevant to the type of business you undertake and that this is communicated to every member of staff at the outset of employment.  The procedure should cover a range of circumstances, the different types of work performed by your employees, health and safety issues, risks to your business, timekeeping, use and care of company equipment, bullying/harassment, claiming expenses and use of email and internet.

Finally, whatever approach you take, always keep full and detailed records.  This is just as important for minor breaches as it is for acts of gross misconduct and will ensure that if the behaviour occurs or escalates you will find it easier to defend any subsequent claims of unfair dismissal and protect the reputation of your company.