Category Archives: Business

Know About Job Analysis and Why It’s Important

Recruiting and hiring employees is difficult for most small business owners. Whether you are going to hire your first employee or your tenth, it’s important to choose the right person for the job. Bad hires are costly, stressful and time-consuming to deal with.  They are also quite common. According to a Robert Half report, 62% of small business owners have made a bad hire.

One thing that causes business owners to employ the wrong person is a failure to do a detailed job analysis before starting the recruiting process. In a rush to fill a vacant position or to fill new jobs as the business is grows, employers often fall back on generic job titles and job descriptions when they write help wanted ads. They may know, for instance, that they want to hire an administrative assistant or a salesperson, but they don’t think about all the tasks the new employee will need to do and what skills the job candidate will need to perform the job they will be hired to do. Don’t fall into this trap.

What is a job analysis?

A job analysis is an in-depth study of the tasks, responsibilities, skills and soft skills needed to perform a job successfully. The job analysis should be conducted as the first step in the recruiting process. It gathers together the information you will need to write an job description.

To perform a job analyis, make a list of the tasks that you will expect the new hire to perform, and be clear about what you hope to achieve by having someone do these tasks.

For each task, identify and list the skills, training, abilities and soft skills needed to perform the task. You may know for instance, that you need someone to help answer phones, take orders, and do other “routine” things. But the devil is in the details. Be clear about how that work will need to be done.

Will the employee need computer skills? Will he or she have to take care of orders that come in through an online shopping cart as well as over the phone? Will the employee have to pack up and ship the orders as well? If so, will they have to lift anything heavy? Will those “other routine things” you’ll want done include ordering supplies and managing inventory? What about answering questions about your products and services if customers call in or replying  to email inquiries or customer complaints? Will the person you hire need excellent spelling and grammar skills? Will they also be expected to update spreadsheets, manage your appointments, and make arrangements for travel and meetings?

What about language skills? Will the new warehouse supervisor you want to hire need to be fluent in some language other than English in order to communicate with the people they supervise? If you’re hiring a waiter or cook for your restaurant, will they have to be able to read and write English or need to be bilingual? (A friend and I had dinner one night in a Chinese restaurant on Long Island, NY, and when we got our check we couldn’t tell what each of us owed. The waiter had written our orders down in Chinese.)

Or perhaps you need an administrative assistant or secretary. In a small company, it’s not unusual for the admin or “secretary” to be a key player who knows how to complete documents for government agencies, screen calls, set up accounts for supplies, interact with vendors, or even do the bookkeeping. Will this person handle the office in the owner’s absence? Oversee and manage other employees? Many job applicants can type 50 wpm, but not everyone is cut out to handle these other tasks.

Hiring technical or scientific staff? How skilled do they need to be? What specific programming skills will that web developer need? And what instrumentation will the chemist need to know? How much independent work will your tech or scientist be expected to do? Will they have to speak in public or deal directly with clients? Write scientific papers? Or will they just be following orders and doing routine work.

A thorough job analysis is equally important for the most senior of positions to be filled. Sales and management are critical to a company’s success, especially a small or growing enterprise. Experienced applicants bring to the company backgrounds that must be evaluated. Were they successful? Were they team players? Did they merely follow directions or did they take control of their previous work environment, devising innovative solutions to tough problems? Did they achieve the results desired and can they get results for your company?

Put your job analysis on paper

Don’t just “think” about skills the employee will need and the tasks you’d want them to do. Create a formal job analysis document.

If someone other than you will be supervising or interacting in some way with the new employee, have that person complete a job analysis, too. The supervisor may think of requirements that slipped your mind. Before you proceed, compare your analysis with theirs to identify differences in opinions on what’s needed. Doing so will help make sure you haven’t left out any major criteria.

Putting your needs, wants and expectations in writing may take thought and time, but it’s one of the most important steps in the hiring process. If you aren’t clear about the skills and traits you need an employee to possess to do a good job, how can you find the right person to fill that job? The documentation of your needs will guide you throughout the entire hiring process, whether you do the recruiting yourself or hire a recruiter to find the right employee

Top Skills That Will Make You Automation Proof

Large areas of today’s economy will be impacted by advances in robotics and AI over the coming decades. Forecasts show 47% of current jobs in the US being automated over the next two decades. They will be very tough areas to try to build a career.

However, there are also areas that technology will impact far less and skills that nobody believes will be replicated by computers in our lifetimes. Far better to build a career there.

1. Leadership

Groups of people need leaders, and people will always want to be led by other people.

If you’ve ever been at a kid’s birthday party before the entertainer arrives you’ll know what happens when you have lots of people and no leader.

A computer won’t struggle to have the courage to say “Follow me, we need to go this way.” The problem is that it also won’t have the emotional intelligence to know when and how to say “Follow me” so that people will actually listen and buy into that vision for the future.

In leadership it is the how that is so crucial. Each group of people is different and unique. Yes, there are some underlying basics of human psychology and organizational design that apply to all of us but those are the basics.

High level leadership requires a clear understanding of culture, emotion, history, group dynamics and also the physical environment. Understanding, weighing and combining all of these items is something that humans do naturally but it’s incredibly complicated (currently impossible) to encode.

It is the tailoring of your leadership approach so that it works for each group’s specific dynamics that is vital.

Communication is only a small (but vital!) piece of leadership, however it illustrates the point vividly.

Only 7% of communication is verbal. The other 93% is body language which includes tone of voice, body position, eye contact, the position of your head … The list goes on and on of things that humans do and interpret naturally when communicating which computers find impossible currently.

The other component parts of leadership we mentioned above, like culture and group dynamics, are equally vital and undecipherable for computers. The day may come when computers can do all of these things as well as humans, but it’s an awful long way off.

Certainly no one is currently even hazarding a guess as to when computers can put all of this together. Some researchers believe that computers will outperform humans in all activities in 120 years time. My guess is that leadership skills will be one of the last, whenever that day finally comes.

Build your leadership skills. Leaders will be valuable and needed while groups of people come together to achieve a goal.

2. Problem-solving

There will always be problems. The unexpected will always happen. Things will always go wrong. Sadly this is an immutable law of the universe.

The ability to look at a new problem, come up with a solution and then implement that solution is always going to be in demand.

It is precisely because problems are unexpected that computers struggle with them. If it was expected it would have been programmed into the computer upfront.

Problem solving requires the ability to look at the time and resources that are available and then come up with a new way forward. It is a creative skill that requires you to see connections where they haven’t previously been seen.

Who would have thought that removing road markings from roads would actually make roads safer not more dangerous. Someone who thinks carefully about the problem and realises that actually road markings mean that drivers ‘switch off’ and so are less engaged when they are driving. A connection that a computer would never make.

There are actually a large number of types of problems that we humans have proved that computers will never be able to solve. For example did you know that it is impossible for a computer to determine with 100% accuracy if a piece of computer code is a computer virus. There goes our dream of perfect anti-virus software!

No matter what industry and what area you work in there will always be demand for people who are creative and who are good problem solvers. By focusing on activities that are not repetitive and not straightforward you will make yourself incredibly difficult to automate.

3. Adaptability

Change is coming and it’s only going to accelerate.It is going to be part of your career whether you like it or not. Even if AI and robotics can’t replicate your job you can bet that how you carry out your job will probably change markedly.

If you are someone that struggles with learning new things and adapting to changes then you are putting a big issue in the way of your career.

As the business environment changes you will need to change with it, learning how to use new technologies and ways of interacting.

In the distant past I had a boss who refused to use email. His secretary would print his emails and he would dictate his responses to her. It was a waste of both their time and painful to see, however it worked and he continued to be a top performer for a number of years. He thought he’d been clever to find a way not to adapt to email.

Then the day came when the firm decided that email meant senior people could share secretaries. His workaround no longer worked. His shared secretary didn’t have time to write his dictated emails. Overnight his productivity halved and he missed his sales targets for two quarters.

He got some training and ultimately turned things around but not before he’d been labelled as a dinosaur and damaged his reputation. When a round of redundancies came two years later guess whose name was on the list?

Being someone who takes every opportunity to learn whether formally or informally will allow you to move with changes in your company and industry

Simple Tips to Help Employees Weather a Business Storm Cycle

The modern economy is in a constant state of change, which means businesses – large and small – must move quickly in response to market shifts.

Even the strongest companies will cycle through good times and bad, says Dave Hopson, managing partner at the information-technology consulting firm Triumphus and author of Surviving the Business Storm Cycle: How to Weather Your Business’s Ups and Downs.

Bringing out the best in employees is a challenge at the best of times. According to Gallup, only 32 percent of U.S. workers felt engaged in their jobs in 2015 – which was a pretty good year for the economy and business growth.

So imagine the struggle of keeping the best workers happy when the business transitions through a down period.

And it will. Hopson says every business goes through four repeating phases: start-up, high growth (what he calls the “tornado”), declining growth (the “avalanche”), and consolidation.

Picture the employees sliding downhill in that avalanche, and you get the idea: It’s up to a company’s leaders to help them hold on, to turn the inevitable transition period from exhausting to exhilarating.

How does a business leader manage that through possible layoffs and pay cuts or, at the very least, major changes to the processes that are used to get the work done every day?

Start putting people in the roles that fit them best.

“This is the time to ask some tough questions,” Hopson says. Who on the staff is so tired and discouraged they can no longer do their jobs well? Who has been moved outside of their normal roles, and how are they handling their new positions? Do they need to be moved back or not? “Once you’ve answered these questions, you can step back and take a more accurate look at your staff,” he says. “You’ll be able to add people where you need them – and remove people where you don’t.” The method to do this is quite simple. You perform a review of the process and find where it doesn’t work anymore or that where changes have been made on the fly. Following this, you can “fix” your process and then reassign your roles. Often businesses need external help to do this as it is hard to see the forest for the trees.

Expect resistance to change.

If this is painful for you as a manager, think about how it is for staff members who have a lot less control over the situation. “How you and your leadership team present change to your staff can make a world of difference,” Hopson says. Employees who feel involved in the change and understand what’s going on demonstrate a more rapid recovery and may even perform better in the end. Business leaders often fail to realize how staff feels when outsiders and “best practices” are brought in to create new processes and workflows without involving those who do the work. This is a recipe for disaster. Use the process method described above to mitigate this.

Clear and frequent communication is vital.

“If you introduce processes that staff members don’t understand or haven’t learned, you’re going to slow things down rather than speed them up,” Hopson says. Invest in your people, he advises. Make sure they always have proper training and equipment. Involve them, they know their job and where the process needs help. Keeping them involve will ensure you minimize resistance and will likely provide a much better process than any outsider could provide alone.

During the consolidation period between high times and low times and back to high times again, a leader’s primary role is to rally those frazzled and frustrated troops.

“Make sure everyone understands you’re in the midst of a normal process,” Hopson says. “And keep waving that flag so that no one gets discouraged.” Resist playing the blame game or calling out leaders or departments where the failures were most predominant. Remember, this is natural. Instead, focus on how you can make your people and processes scaleable so they are resistant to the failures of the previous cycle.

Should You Know 3 Questions That Can Make You a Better Leader

Some 70% of the workforce in the United States hates their job, according to recent polls by the Gallop organization. That’s more than two out of three people on this morning’s crowded subway or in that endless sea of cars that jams the freeways into our business centers across the country. These tens of millions of people are actively unhappy, finding little to no value in what they do for a living. They don’t fulfill the universal desire that all humans share: the need to find meaning in their work.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We, as a nation, can do better.

While it’s easy to want to blame these workers for their own unhappiness, the problem doesn’t lie with just them. They likely serve bosses who don’t care whether they’re satisfied or passionate. Those bosses serve higher leadership who are leaders in name only. They assume their job title and scope of authority, by definition, will be sufficient to inspire the following of their organizations.

My team and I built our company, Integra Telecom, from start up to national prominence, growing to become one of the 10 largest fiber based, landline telecom organizations in the US. Attributing our success to our people, I became fascinated by the behavior traits of leaders who successfully create companies that defy the national norms, building cultures of engaged workers. Learning from my journey and partnering with other leaders of nationally recognized, iconic organizations we refined our experience and developed the practical, every day tenants of Fusion Leadership, dedicated to fusing together teams of people who are committed to a shared Mission.

If you are a leader (or plan to become a leader) it is vital to examine what message your daily behaviors communicate in terms of how you prioritize the needs of your organization verses your own, ego-driven needs. Consider these three common questions every leader encounters:

Who do you prioritize within your organization?

As a young CEO I fixated on making sure I had the right leaders in the right places, I obsessed over the attendance and flow at board meetings and managing these priorities quickly filled my calendar, adding phone calls, emails and strain to my weekends. Sound familiar? Managers manage and that fills calendars. Unfortunately, c-level execs and board members are not the ones who serve customers and generate the life-blood of a business, revenues. Prioritizing peer level managers, executives and board members is important; however, it also runs the risk of sending this message to your front line employees: “I don’t have time for you” or “the work you perform is not important to me” or, the worst possible message, “you come to work every Monday morning just to make me wealthier and more powerful.”

Making your front line workers a top priority on your calendar sends the opposite message: “your work is vital to our success” or “this company cannot succeed without your contribution.” Equally important, your front line workers will help you discover where your organization is succeeding and where your organization is failing. These employees, more than any c-level executive, truly have their hands on the business. Investing the time to make my front line workers more successful became my highest priority as I matured in my CEO role. When a workforce truly believes the execs have their backs, amazing things happen, the organization fuses together, committed to the organizations’ Mission. Workers who show up on Monday morning to advance a Mission are significantly more engaged than workers who show up on Monday morning to advance the selfish interests of their boss.

When you conduct a meeting, who becomes the smartest person in the room?

After completing a large private capital raise, described by the Oregonian newspaper as the largest in Oregon’s history, I landed some national names on my board of directors. Determined to earn their confidence and demonstrate my executive prowess, I ran board meetings with a specific agenda and little patience for anyone who took the discussion on an unnecessary detour. That approach almost cost me one of my most valuable executives because I tended to cut him off in board meetings. At the time I felt that his contributions were too long winded and wandered too far from the message I wanted to deliver.

While it is important for a leader to conduct a meeting with professionalism and purpose, I came to learn that my style was partly influenced by another need. That need was for me to demonstrate my intellect and my command for the business. My interruptions communicated to this key member of our team that “I do not value your contribution” or that “I do not have confidence in your capability.” In fact, those messages were the opposite of how I viewed the contributions of this individual. Fortunately, thanks to my COO’s willingness to confront me on my style, I came to see the truth underlying this dynamic. After modifying my approach, this executive became a backbone to the organization, serving for many years until his successful retirement after a stellar career.

Whose job is it to step up for the customer?

Those times when a customer reaches their most agitated state, when they are proactively engaging your competition, when your organization resembles total melt-down- those are the most visible moments in an organization. Those are the times to step-up and lead.

Unfortunately, most leaders fall back on their job description: you’re an executive- delegate. What a shame, they miss out on the opportunity to seize the most important spotlight, they miss out on the opportunity to define, by their example, what the Mission truly means. They miss out on the opportunity to communicate their highest priority to their employees.

Answering these three questions will require that you engage with what I describe as the selfish verses collective ego dilemma. For example, my need to demonstrate my intellect in board meetings served my selfish ego at the expense of the effectiveness of my team, or the collective ego. How leaders behave when navigating these (and other) daily decisions communicates volumes to their employees and organizations. Over time these behaviors lay the foundation for a company’s culture and ultimately determine whether employees become engaged or fall victim to the national norm of some 70% of American workers who dread Monday morning

Should Know About Greatest Wealth Transfer

Anyone who just inherited a deceased parent’s IRA or 401(k) could be about to commit a costly blunder.

You can take the money from that retirement account in one big lump sum, no matter how young you are, but that will trigger a tax bill – probably a hefty one.

“It’s tempting to take the lump sum, especially if it represents a huge windfall of cash for you,” says wealth management advisor Rebecca Walser of Walser Wealth ( “But you should be aware it’s also a windfall for the IRS.”

Walser, a successful tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in working with high net worth clients, says this issue will become an even more common one in the coming years as the aging Baby Boomers die off, transferring their wealth to their Generation X and Millennial offspring.

Some have called it the greatest wealth transfer in history, as over the next few decades the Boomers are expected to leave about $30 trillion in assets to their children and grandchildren.

Part of that money is in tax-deferred retirement plans such as a traditional IRA or an employee-sponsored 401(k) that Baby Boomers have been contributing to for decades.

They didn’t have to pay taxes on the money they contributed to those plans until they started withdrawing the money in retirement. But just to ensure those taxes aren’t deferred forever, the government requires a minimum withdrawal each year once the account holder reaches age 70½.

The IRS also isn’t picky about who does the paying, Walser says. It’s fine with collecting the taxes from heirs if the retiree dies before spending all the money.

A spouse who inherits such an account falls under different rules, but Walser has advice for anyone else who finds themselves in this situation:
  • Consider a tax strategy. If you inherit an IRA, think about your need for these gifted funds. If there is no need for the funds for at least five years, consider repositioning them into a tax-advantaged vehicle over the next five years and save yourself thousands of dollars in taxes over your lifetime. “We always prepare an RMD analysis and find that paying the tax man over the next five years, while we still have the second lowest tax base in U.S. history, is much more appealing than deferring the tax and then being trapped into paying them in a rising tax rate climate,” Walser says. Taxes must inevitably go up in the future, she says, because of our current federal debt of $20 Trillion combined with the concurrent retirement of the Boomers in mass.
  • Understand what kind of account you inherited. The rules for a Roth IRA are different from the rules for a traditional IRA. Taxes were already paid on the money that was contributed to a Roth. If the Roth was funded more than five years before the person died, you won’t need to pay taxes when you take distributions.
  • Don’t rush into a bad decision. You will face deadlines for when you have to make decisions (the IRS won’t remain patient forever), but there’s no need to be hasty and do something you’ll regret later, Walser says. If you don’t have a financial advisor, she says, it would be wise to find one who can help you figure out what the best tax strategy will be for your situation.

“Maybe you really do need the money, so taking the lump sum makes sense,” Walser says. “But I think most people who do that are going to regret it later, especially if they just blow all the money right away and don’t have anything to show for their inheritance.”