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We Don’t Talk Anymore: Communicating Effectively at Work

The level of productivity that a company experiences often relies a lot on how well employees are communicating with one another. There is also a level of communication that should exist between employees and upper management. In many companies, this communication isn’t occurring. If it does occur, it isn’t being done effectively. In many cases, upper management doesn’t know much about the people who are working for them. If you’re looking to improve the level of communication at your business, let’s look at some tips that can help.

Use a Combination of Face-to-Face and Digital Communication

There are many different methods of communication in this day and age. However, digital options are proving to be quite difficult for effective communication. According to a new survey of more than 250 communications professionals, 48 percent said that to the extent employee engagement is important to their organizations, companies need to rethink digital workplace internal communications. Speaking in-person is still a great option. It allows you to see a person’s facial expressions, you can hear what they are saying, and you’ll be able to understand their message better. That doesn’t mean you should completely give up on digital methods. Try a combination of both to see what happens.

Ask Questions

Employees should always be encouraged to ask questions, especially when they need help. No question is unnecessary if it helps someone learn how to do their job better. If people are nervous about asking a question in front of their colleagues, come up with a system of submitting questions anonymously. The questions can be addressed at team meetings or in a group email. 

Handle Conflict Positively

It is inevitable that conflict will arise within the office. A disagreement could occur because of two differing opinions. It’s important that everyone handles this issue positively and professionally. Have a method of dealing with inner-office conflict. Make sure the problem is addressed for both parties, in a way that won’t harm the flow of business. You also want to make sure everyone is getting along with each other. Being able to handle conflict in a mature, productive manner is an essential characteristic of a good leader.

It’s very important that everyone in your office gets along and can communicate properly. Not everyone has excellent communication skills. You might want to offer some training sessions or team building exercises as a way for people to communicate things that have been on their mind. Learning how to communicate more effectively will help generate better morale and increase productivity.

3 Ways to Earn Side Money Without a Degree

While it may be easier to find higher-paying jobs after graduating from college, there are plenty of ways to make money without a degree. Creating a side hustle can help you make extra money on your own time, which can make it easier to pay bills or save for your future goals. In some cases, one of these side hustles can become a full-time job or a thriving business that creates jobs for others in the community.

Become a Real Estate Agent

If you want to go into a profitable field, consider becoming a real estate agent. All you need is a real estate license to get started. Generally speaking, anyone who is able to pass the license exam can enter the field regardless of their level of education. Whether you represent the buyer or the seller, it’s possible to earn thousands of dollars from a single listing. Even if you only help to sell a few homes per month, it can be a lucrative career path.

Get at Gig as a Food Delivery Driver

To be a food delivery driver, you typically need little more than a driver’s license and a reliable automobile. You can choose to work for an established company or deliver food on a freelance basis. Since there are undoubtedly many delivery services you can join in your local area, it’s not difficult to find work—this field is steadily growing. One of the perks of bringing people food is that they are likely to tip their driver. This gives you an opportunity to earn significantly more than the base wage an employer pays for your services.

Work as a Freelance Writer

There is a huge demand for quality content that can be posted on blogs, social media accounts, and other online properties. Individuals and companies are also constantly on the lookout for authors to ghostwrite their books. If you don’t want to write, it may be possible to earn money editing what others have already created. In some cases, editors may be able to charge more than authors. This is because authors are usually willing to pay a premium to ensure that their content is free of spelling or grammar errors.

If you have a unique talent, there is a good chance that someone will pay for your knowledge or skills. This is true whether you have an advanced degree or no degree at all. While you may need to spend some time marketing your services, doing so can help put you on a path to financial independence.

Looking for more ideas? Explore more business ideas and personal development resources from Chance and Confidence. 

How a Japanese Concept Can Improve Your Productivity

While kaizen, according to its original Japanese definition, can mean either one-time or continuous improvement, many life-coaches and businesses try to adopt a continuous philosophy that can be implemented for long-term progress. First developed in post-WWII Japan, the philosophy emphasizes productivity while eliminating wasteful actions. Eventually, this improvement concept was adopted by the Toyota Motor Corporation in 2001 as part of their official corporate culture and became known as the Toyota Way.

What is Kaizen?

According to Kaizen News, kaizen means continuous improvement, and it’s a philosophy that is effective at all levels of a business, from its corporate culture down to a single individual. From CEOs to production workers, anybody can practice this philosophy. It can also be applied to processes such as purchasing, operations, manufacturing, and logistics in a variety of industries. Its many benefits include waste reduction, immediate troubleshooting, improved utilization of resources, and better teamwork.

There are multiple forms of this philosophy: point, line, plane and cube. The point system is the most basic improvement. You and your team are only focused on making a single improvement. If something is broken in a production system, you implement a solution to fix the problem. The line system extends the single point improvement down to another point. The solution used can also be used by another department. 

Sometimes, the strategy used in one point can be extended to multiple departments or processes and become a plane system. A cube system is a system where multiple planes of improvement connect in upstream or downstream processes, and each improvement plane affects and is affected by the changes made by other departments in an organization-wide restructure. According to Value Based Management, this philosophy exceeds at eliminating waste and inefficiency. 

Steps of Kaizen

While the steps can be customized to different company cultures, the basic process involves identifying the problem, studying the problem, identifying the root causes, making changes, implementing the changes, and evaluating the changes. In the case of any ambiguity, work is stopped and communication is established between managers and employees to resolve any confusion.

Application

The application of this Japanese concept is an interactive problem-solving process. You and your team need to have a vision of your long-term goals, and actively challenge yourself and your employees to seek to achieve these goals. Since the application of this philosophy is circular, you and your team must continuously return to the beginning of the cycle after evaluating the effects of the previous improvement.

While the application of the Toyota Way can be used in corporate culture, individuals can also use this philosophy as a way to make lifestyle improvements. Proactive and empowering, continuous improvement seeks to align both individuals and companies with long-term goals.

Productivity in the workplace is vital for success. Here are some common stumbling blocks in the workplace that inhibit productivity and how to bite them in the bud.

How to Overcome Productivity-Killing Obstacles in the Workplace

No matter how hard you work to excel at your job, there are bound to be a few factors that get in your way. Learning to identify these obstacles and deal with them effectively is sure to increase your confidence and effectiveness in the workplace, so let’s take a look at some common work issues that sap productivity.

You’re Doing Too Much Work

It’s surprisingly easy to take on too much work to reasonably handle, especially if you’re the ambitious workaholic type. You might think that the best solution in most cases is for you to simply complete the task yourself, but your productivity will be crippled if you burn out.

If you’re feeling overloaded in the workplace, see if you can delegate helpful tasks to other employees. If there’s too much even for the whole team to handle, consider asking your boss if he or she would be willing to hire more people.

Discrimination

Unfortunately, discrimination in the workplace is a very real issue that can seriously hamper productivity. If you feel that one or more of your coworkers might be discriminating against you and hindering your ability to get your work done, then talk to your employer.

Be prepared for the talk by documenting all the details such as names, places, dates, and times. If you still cannot work out a solution in-house, even after repeated attempts to communicate with your employer, then file a claim. You can file an employment discrimination claim at the local EEOC office or on their website.

Your Coworkers Don’t Pull Their Weight

Sometimes, despite your best efforts to work cooperatively with your team, things still don’t get accomplished because your coworkers aren’t on the ball. If someone in the workplace tends to drag their feet or does a poor job of working with others, then it can kill productivity for everyone.

People come with many different personality types, and a simple change in your approach might be all that’s needed to smooth things out. If you can’t find a way to engage unproductive workers, then you may need to enlist a supervisor to help.

You’re Distracted by Digital Alerts

Do you get push notifications on your computer or phone from social media sites, email, or apps? If so, these might seriously slow down your productivity rate. It’s nearly impossible to resist the urge to quickly check on notifications, and every time you do, it saps some energy and breaks your concentration.

Go as minimalist as possible with alerts and notifications, or put your phone on silent and keep it face down while you work. Turn off desktop notifications for your email and allow only the most urgent ones, such as emails from your boss.

No matter how great your work ethic is, there are several obstacles that can pop up in the workplace to slow you down. Keep an eye out for these productivity-killing issues in the workplace and combat them effectively in order to get things done.

Nothing kills productivity like an employee that’s a bad egg! Click here to learn about how to hire better employees!

4 Well-Paying Careers You Haven’t Thought Of

There was a time when the top three careers (healthcare, law, and upper management) were the only places you could obtain a high paying job. However, times have certainly changed within just the past few decades, and with that change comes new demands. Now you don’t have to choose from only three options; the world is truly your oyster. The following are our top four well-paying careers you haven’t thought of.

Air Traffic Controller

A career as an air traffic controller is often never anyone’s career choice. I mean, it can’t pay that much right? False, air traffic controllers are paid very well due to their incredibly important roles as navigators for city airports. In fact, an experienced air traffic controller can earn as much as $122K per year.

Pharmacy Technician

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 32 percent. This means employers are ready to roll out the benefits in order to meet the demand. Pharmacy Technicians in most states have to pass an exam and attend some mandatory training, but nothing like medical school and residency. A pharmacy technician can see themselves earning upwards of $40K a year.

HVAC Repair

Unfortunately, labor jobs are often painted as beneath other careers that require a degree to obtain. However, there are certain labor jobs, such as being an HVAC repair technician. The fact is that both residential and commercial buildings will need HVAC repair at least once or twice a year. Thus, many technicians find themselves working year-round with a salary of up to $51K per year.

SCUBA Diver

Do you like swimming and are you very good at it? Try your hand at a career as a SCUBA diver. Contrary to popular belief, SCUBA diver careers are not only found within military or law enforcement fields but in all kinds of fields. One of the most in-demand positions is that of a repairman for boats and or underwater equipment. Other industries hiring SCUBA divers are aquariums and golf clubs needing to clean their lakes of golf balls. A SCUBA diver can see themselves making a comfortable 50K+ a year.

A high paying career in today’s world doesn’t always require a university degree. There are plenty of careers out there that if you put the right research and effort behind can be a gateway to that amazing high paying job you’ve always wanted.

How to Hire Better Employees

Whether you run a small business or a multinational corporation, your company’s most valuable asset will always be the people who work for and represent your business. Hiring new employees is always both a new opportunity and a gamble since you never truly know who you’re going to get. Here are three things to consider when revising your company’s hiring practices to ensure you attract better employees.

Check References

Calling a candidate’s references is a great way to get insight into the person you’re thinking of hiring. References can be past employers, colleagues, or previous educators of your applicant. Glowing references are obviously an encouraging sign and indicate that you’re on the right track with your candidate. However, according to Top Echelon, even when a not so great reference arises, that does not always indicate a bad candidate. For many, past mistakes can be learning opportunities, which manifest in stronger candidates for future employers.

Identify Skills

If you are hiring for a job that requires a specific skill set, you may want to conduct a trial test when screening applicants. According to The Hire Talent, hiring skilled employees helps improve your talent management process. Ensuring that your candidate already has the skills needed to complete his or her job will save time and preserve resources in terms of training, onboarding, and more. Plug-and-play candidates can help you to maintain production and stay on track for any existing project goals.

Ask About Other Experience

While past job titles may indicate one thing, the context of where a candidate has worked may indicate another. In small businesses, job responsibilities often leak into other areas. An accountant may perform miscellaneous HR duties, while a project manager may also have duties in sales and marketing. Additionally, you should consider all of the candidate’s  experience, even if it was unpaid. According to Moving Worlds, volunteer activity is a great way for people to gain experience in new fields and also meet a few new references along the way. Whether your candidate has served on a volunteer board, offered skill-specific assistance to an organization, or simply contributed time to a cause he or she cares about, these are all indicators of the individual’s character and ability to complete the task at hand.

Hiring and retaining talent for your organization helps to ensure your business’ longevity and profitability. Not only do you rely on employees to perform various duties and tasks, but they also function as walking embodiments of the values of your company. Employees not only need to have the right talent and experience, but they also have to fit in with your corporate culture. Ask the right questions, give a test, and look at volunteer experience when conducting your next hiring interview.

What You Should Know About Building a Cash Reserve

Perhaps you think of it as your personal cash reserve, your emergency money or the rainy-day fund. Whatever you actually call it, your emergency fund can be the safety net that you need when disaster strikes. If you don’t yet have a cash reserve and you’d like to learn how to set one up, the following three tips can help you get started.

Setting a Budget

One of the simplest budgeting methods is the 50/30/20 budget. If you’ve never set a budget for yourself before, then you may want to try this one because it’s easy. Basically, this plan asks you to put aside 50% of your income for the necessities such as rent, transportation needs, utilities, etc. Next, you’ll earmark 30% for fun. This might be movies, coffee with friends or a dinner out. Finally, 20% of your income goes toward savings and debt. Ideally, you’d have no debt, so the full 20% would go toward your cash reserve.

Take Extra Steps

If you do have a lot of debt or you want to build your cash reserve faster, you’ll want to take some extra steps. First, be willing to do things like get a second job or have a yard/garage sale to make some extra money. Second, build your reserve in smaller steps, starting with about a $1,000. This fund will be for issues like unexpected car repairs, an emergency trip to the dentist’s office, etc. Finally, you should save enough money so that you have three to six months’ worth of income in the bank after you have the initial $1,000 saved up.

Using It

Your cash reserve should be used instead of credit cards when an emergency strikes. Eventually, this financial padding will replace your need to resort to high-interest credit. You may be in for an uphill battle initially, especially if you’ve been accustomed to using credit cards for every unexpected expense, but it’s worth the effort. As City Creek Mortgage points out, by using the cash reserve instead of credit cards, you train yourself not to build debt, and you can help secure your financial future. Learning how to live this way takes discipline and forethought, but it can be done.

Most people know they should have an emergency fund set aside to use when life’s mishaps befall them, but there’s a big difference between knowing they need one and actually having one. That’s where most people get tripped up. Building a fund takes time, sacrifice and discipline. However, that discipline pays off in the end. Those with a cash reserve weather life’s storms far better and with more peace of mind than those who don’t.

Setting goals for your financial life is important. Let us help you figure out how to do it!

How to Keep Top Employees in Your Company

A business is only as good as the people who make it work. If your employees are the best, your company will also be the best. That’s why it’s so crucial to keep the best talent employed with you as every person who walks out that door could potentially find work with a competitor. Try the tips outlined in this guide to keeping top employees in your company so that this never happens.

Keep an Open Door

One of the quickest ways to create a hostile or otherwise unpleasant work environment is to come off as a guarded, untrustworthy and aggressive manager. To remedy this, Paychex suggests trying to keep an open door as much as possible and foster the attitude that your employees can talk with you freely and openly. Nothing builds trust like vulnerability, meaning the less it seems like you have to hide, the more your employees will feel happy about coming to work. After all, wouldn’t you be a bit less likely to go looking for a new job if it meant giving up a genuinely nice workplace filled with people you trust and get along with?

Be Employee Focused

Your employees are the backbone of your company. If you don’t treat them right, you’re essentially shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why it’s important to focus on employees, helping them learn and grow with the company. According to Instructure, 70 percent of employees were willing to change companies if they found one more focused on their development, and 34 percent of people interviewed have left a job to find one that is more focused on developing their career. This development training is especially important because being able to advance in a job is what keeps many people loyal to a company. If there’s no chance that they could be promoted or learn new skills, they might as well pack up. Providing bonuses, great insurance packages and vacation days are also part of this mindset. Overall, do your best to make it a better and more rewarding experience for your employees to stay with your company.

Set an Example

Change starts from the top down, so it’s your job to be a good leader for your employees. If you show a good work ethic, so will they. If you’re loyal to the company, they, too, will be loyal. According to Office Vibe, there’s plenty you can do to be a better boss for your employees. But, what it comes down to is setting a good example by doing your fair share of the work and helping others when needed.

Employees are the lifeblood of any company. Smart business owners want to keep the best people right where they are instead of having them leave to find other opportunities. Try these three tips to make your company a more appealing option.

3 Career Fields That Let You Be Your Own Boss Without a Degree

A large part of the American Dream is working for yourself and earning a living without having to answer to anyone. However, there is a perception that you need advanced degrees to reach that far, which is not the case. Here are some fields where you can be your own boss, even if you do not have a degree.

Real Estate Agent

When you go to work as a real estate agent, you are dependent upon your own savvy and your ability to form relationships. This is not something that is taught in a classroom. All you need to do is pass the right licensing exams and you are on your way. Then, you will go as far as your own skill will take you. What gets you ahead in the field is your ability to be creative and entrepreneurial. By building your own reputation and network, you will be in a position to get some of the hottest listings.

Truck Driver

The business of being a truck driver is getting even more rewarding as the shortage of drivers gets worse. The booming economy combined with the dearth of drivers has pushed up the earnings of drivers. The average earnings of an owner-operator truck driver are around $162,000 per year. You will need some training and be able to pass several exams, but once you receive all of your CDL certifications, you will have the flexibility to run your own business. The best part is that your services will always be in demand.

Plumber

Everyone always needs a plumber, especially when there is an emergency. This is a job where the demand never seems to go away. All it takes to become a plumber is vocational training, an apprenticeship, and a license. Once you establish your reputation and earn a handful of solid reviews, people will knock down your door to give you their business. At the same time, people who need a plumber’s services are in a position of necessity. Master plumbers can earn a six-figure income, and that number can increase if there are other plumbers who are working for you. While it takes time to reach that level, it is entirely possible given the demand for plumbers.

While a degree is certainly helpful in terms of career prospects, it is not necessarily a prerequisite to being able to have a rewarding and successful career. There are many career options like the ones above that can provide you with a decent living without requiring a degree. No matter what your level of education is, there are lots of great career options that are available to you.

5 Secrets to Marketing Your Business Successfully Online

Are you overwhelmed with deciding on an online marketing strategy? With so many ways to market your business online, it can difficult to learn every option available. If you are looking for a concise list of ideas, read on to learn five secrets to successfully marketing your business online.

Think Outside the Box

Sometimes people with curious, active minds stand out and are criticized for being eccentric. But thinking outside the box is a valuable skill that others have to learn how to acquire. Online marketing requires a lot of creativity to come up with ideas for reaching people. Consider sending your customers a physical postcard with a coupon code as a thank you note. This is part of online marketing because all your other marketing is online, and the postcard will redirect your customer back to your online business. Bringing your brand into their home will give your customers a sense of humanity and acknowledgment and make your brand feel more real to them. If your business is small enough, write or sign some of the notes yourself. If your business is large, do this for select customers.

Ask for Reviews

Customer reviews are an effective way to create a positive online reputation, but it is also a form of market research. Online reviews can be a valuable feedback tool to improve your business, and you won’t have access to that data unless you ask. You can ask for reviews at the end of every transaction, such as placing a request at the bottom of customers’ receipts or automating a follow-up email that asks them about their experience. Another way to ask for reviews is by using polls on social media to gather information about customers’ experiences.

Optimize SEO

Optimizing your SEO is vital. Search engine optimization is a way to grow organic traffic without paying by crafting your copy to increase visibility in search engine results. This includes researching which keywords customers are using to search for what they need and then using them organically. Part of this marketing discipline is knowing at least the general idea about search engine algorithms. They can change frequently, so it is important to stay abreast of this information. If you are low on time and funds, you may want to consider using a consultant or an outside company if you want to maximize your visibility.

Offer Value Through Content Creation

Often, when people create their businesses, they don’t realize they are also starting small media companies. This may cause stress for those who are more interested in business operations. Either way, creating content that captures attention and builds an audience is a necessary part of your business. The secret to creating content that potential customers care about is to offer something of value that is specific to your brand and give it away for free. Building an online reputation as a place where people go to not only for entertainment, but also to learn will earn trust and build an audience conducive to generating leads. Use your metrics to discover where your audience hangs out online and then use that platform.

Outsource Your Marketing

If you are wondering why outsourcing your marketing is on a list of five ways to successfully market your business, it is because you may need a reminder that it is OK not to be good at everything. Entrepreneurs are ambitious, and sometimes they try to do everything on their own. Knowing when to outsource and delegate tasks that you are weak in is an important skill.

Digital marketing isn’t as scary as it seems at first glance. There are several simple, actionable tools that you can use right away to boost your business online. No matter what shape your marketing takes, remember to always be honest and transparent with your audience.

You come across opportunities for success every single day.  Prepare yourself for your next golden opportunity with our resources, starting here: Your Greatest, Most Powerful Asset