The SESCO Report – May 2008


Achieving Goals

We work hard to establish and implement business as well as personal goals and then find ourselves in a matter of weeks or months losing sight of them. The reality is, most of us are pulled back into the business wherein the business manages us versus we managing the business. Frankly, given the extreme time demands of business owners and managers and the responsibilities and obligations as a result of tight margins requiring lean staffing, it is easy to see how we get caught up in the business of doing business. In today's business environment, it literally takes a Herculean effort to own and/or manage a business.

So how do we work on our business to grow our business which allows for greater revenue and additional staffing? Consider the following basic rules for setting and obtaining goals. Most importantly, don't overwhelm yourself as the reality is there is just not enough time in the day to do it all.

Rule No. 1: Set no more than five (5) goals annually and make sure these goals have a direct impact upon key business indicators such as sales, customer service, employee productivity, administrative efficiency.

Rule No. 2: Align goals with your values. Be cautious of setting goals for your organization or yourself that are not in alignment with your mission or values. Don't set goals based upon some "management technique or book of the day". Make them yours and believe in them.

Rule No. 3: Focus goals on immediate benefits. Goals accomplished should affect the bottom line.

Rule No. 4: Reduce goals to writing. State goals in a positive phrase such as "goals" will be accomplished by "date" . Be specific.

Rule No. 5: Develop a plan of implementation. What, who, how much and when ? all need to be answered.

Rule No. 6: Involve others. Many entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders establish goals and strap the goal on their back. Establish teams which would consist of managers and employees and empower them. They will believe in and support what is created. Remember, you can't do it all yourself.

Rule No. 7: If you are not excited about a goal and you are suffering or sacrificing to accomplish the goal, then reconsider it. Developing such a negative mindset is a recipe for failure as you will typically procrastinate or push it aside.

Rule No. 8: Communicate and discuss roles and responsibilities in obtaining goals at least on a weekly basis. Establish a culture of accountability. Don't just assign and assume that the goal will be accomplished. Manage the process.

SESCO provides organizational, team and individual coaching and development including strategic planning and goal setting. Often a third party is necessary in holding teams and individuals accountable, ensuring success in goal setting and accomplishment.

Effective Customer Service

Effective customer service is the lifeblood of any successful organization. We all understand this basic tenet of business operation, but how often do we effectively manage our customer service?

Consider the following tips from SESCO's "Customer Service" training program:

Listen Up!

1. Listen to your customers. Most unhappy customers will not mention they are not pleased. They'll simply take their business elsewhere and tell four (4) business colleagues why they left.

2. It is a good investment to spend resources to retain existing customers. Your best customer is your current customer.

3. It is important to have a complete closed-loop process to gather feedback, take action and then respond to the customer. Ask for customer feedback and follow-up.

4. You should use a combination of internal feedback tools and external resources to obtain a good balance of data. An independent assessment is a good process for obtaining an accurate picture of how you are doing.

5. All leaders should schedule regular time with frontline employees and customers to stay in touch with current issues and challenges.

6. People (customers) quit people (employees).

Create a Culture of Accountability!

1. Hire the right people that will professionally represent your organization and work well with other employees and within your culture. Conduct background checks, personality and skills assessment tests on all applicants before they are hired.

2. The first step toward accountability is to fulfill your responsibilities as an employer to properly train each employee.

3. Create a process to analyze customer feedback to spot trends and take action.

4. Don't be afraid to discipline or terminate employees who are not performing. Your good employees will appreciate it, and your customers as well.

5. Conduct regular performance reviews and keep the process simple.

SESCO specializes in customer service training as well as customer service surveys. Effective organizations need to be able to answer the following two questions:

1. How do my customers feel about our products and services?

2. Are my employees providing excellent service to my valued customers?

Answer these two critical questions by asking your customers the first question and leaving nothing to chance by training your employees, answering the second question.

Contact SESCO's Professional Development Institute's Senior Vice President, Stephanie Peters to discuss our customer service survey and training opportunities.


Personality Testing Continues to be a Critical Staffing Tool

Behavioral or personality testing has become more widespread and routine. "Behavioral and personality testing continues to be the premier way to assess applicants and managers (2007 Staffing Industry Report)." An increasing body of research as well as practical day-to-day success of businesses utilizing personality testing supports the validity and predictive value of personality testing as a useful employment tool. As it is critical to make the best cultural fit, as well as job fit, behavioral testing will be used more to ensure employers hire the right person the first time.

A recent study has shown that 89% of HR professionals who utilize pre-employment personality testing feel that there was a positive effect on their organization. In fact, personality testing may be even better than hard skills assessments for assessing job fit and placement.

SESCO Management Consultants provides behavioral and personality assessments to our clients which can be purchased on line at www.sescomgt.com.

In addition, SESCO provides hard skills assessments to assess applicants which includes tests specific to many industries and positions. These too can be purchased on line at www.sescomgt.com.


New Legislation Expands FMLA Rights

On December 14, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that will expand workplace leave benefits to employees with family members in the Armed Services. The National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1585) had previously passed the House of Representatives, and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days. The portion of the legislation addressing leave for employees with family members in military service represents the first expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) since its origin in 1993.

Active Duty Leave

Employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to an employee whose immediate family members (spouse, children, or parent) is called to active duty in the Armed Forces. Active duty leave may be taken for any issues related to the call-up, and the leave may commence as soon as an individual receives a call-up notice.

Caregiver Leave

This benefit provides up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave in a single 12-month period for a spouse, child, parent, or nearest blood relative to care for a recovering service member. A "recovering service member" is defined as a member of the Armed Forces who suffered an injury or illness while on active duty that renders the person unable to perform the duties of the person's office, grade, rank, or rating.

With both of these new leave categories, leave may be taken in increments of the shortest time periods tracked by the employer's payroll system.

As a reminder, employee handbooks will need to be revised to reflect this change in FMLA leave. In addition, SESCO's forms will be updated.

Finally, employment law posters have been revised. Call SESCO to discuss handbook revisions and to order new FMLA certification forms and federal posters.

SESCO Client Inquiry — Staff Response

Question: With regard to military leave, how much notice must a returning service member give?

Answer: Service of one (1) to 30 days ? the employee should report for work by the beginning of the first regularly scheduled work day that falls eight (8) hours after the employee returns home.

Service of 31 to 180 days ? the employee should apply for reemployment no later that 14 days after completion of military service.

Service of 181 or more days ? the employee should apply for reemployment no later that 90 days after completion of military service.

The reporting and application deadlines are extended up to two (2) years for employees who are hospitalized or convalescing because of a service-connected injury or illness.