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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tips to Choose the Right Software for Your Business

Performance reviews are an important way for employers to gauge the success of their employees, and for employees to know where they stand with a company. While there are many ways to conduct performance reviews, software designed for the task of performance management makes the process easier.

“Business owners can save valuable time and act with confidence using powerful technology,” said Aldor Delp, division vice president and general manager ofADP Resource.

Performance management software allows organizations to streamline the performance review process online. Julie Rieken, CEO of Trakstar and Reviewsnap, explains that employees and managers expect modern tools to communicate workplace expectations, and HR and C-suite expect to document and justify employee-related decisions.

“Organizations want to provide timely, relevant communication to employees around workplace expectations. Performance management software empowers managers and employees to interact,” said Rieken.

Rusty Lindquist, vice president of human capital management (HCM) strategy and insights at BambooHR, noted that “people systems” have become the most important systems in organizations. Human capital, he said, is now even higher in demand than financial capital. Organizations today are more serious than ever about measuring and improving their people and their performance and productivity, or their ability to create value at speed.

“[Performance management software] comes in all shapes and sizes, but generally speaking, it represents an industry-wide initiative to understand and quantify how our employees are doing, how much they are doing and how well they are doing it,” Lindquist said.

Brian Crofts, vice president of product at Namely, noted three main benefits of performance management software:

  1. Organization. Software can help HR departments easily administer performance reviews and store reviews for later reference.
  2. Accurate system of record. Consolidating performance data in aggregate helps companies get a 360-degree view of an employee’s growth and development.
  3. Reporting. Easy access to performance data reports enables HR teams and company leadership to make strategic talent decisions.

“We believe the modern HR platform drives employee experience. It helps HR professionals simplify their administrative duties so they can focus on strategy,” Crofts said.

The benefit doesn’t solely lie with the business owner and HR staff, however, as Delp points out: “For employees – especially the millennial generation – it satisfies their need for frequent feedback and helps them define a career path. It can keep all employees focused on what is most important to the business and help them engage in its success,” he said.

According to Rieken, an organization needs performance management software if:

  • Your organization is still doing reviews on paper, in Word or Excel, or not at all
  • Your organization makes salary decisions based on performance (if so, you should have consistent, accurate performance data, Rieken noted)
  • You’re weary and need to modernize your appraisal process

“[I]n truth, no matter what market you’re in or where you’re at in your evolution, everyone stands to benefit from improved visibility into their people systems,” Lindquist said.

Crofts said the need for performance management software also depends on the type of problem you’re solving.

“If you want to streamline administrative tasks and engage employees, software is the answer. If you’re not using software now, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when,'” he said.

According to Delp, there’s actually a debate underway about the value, frequency and validity of the process used to rate, rank and reward employees. To determine if your business needs this software, he suggested business owners ask themselves  one important question: What value does performance management contribute to my businesses success?

“To find the answer to this question, it may be worthwhile to take a look at the talent the business may need based on projected business growth and dynamics over the next two years,” Delp said.

He added that this may help a business owner develop a performance management plan to support many employees, while a performance management solution may help business owners implement and streamline new processes.

Rieken advised choosing a provider that helps train your staff and record the training for new employees. Also, it’s important to remember that organizations need to champion the review process internally and have a provider that supports their initiatives for the best success.

“Above all, pick a provider with amazing customer service. You’ll want to love interacting with your performance provider when questions arise,” Rieken said.

Delp agreed that it’s important to find a trusted partner that not only offers powerful tools, but one that provides HR expertise on how and when to use them.

“User-friendly HR tools and personalized guidance can help a business owner conduct performance appraisals, create employee handbooks, engage employees, handle difficult employee situations, hire and onboard employees, and determine compensation for new positions,” Delp told Business News Daily. “Consider a partner with a successful track record of providing this type of expertise as well as one that has the tools to help a business automate time-consuming manual processes.”

Lindquist offered a few clear “dos and don’ts” when it comes to choosing a provider:

  • DO buy into an approach that is simple and easy to use.
  • DON’T fall into the trap of trying to measure everything. That’s what caused the old-school performance solutions to fail so badly.
  • DO focus on solutions that create conversations.
  • DON’T become too fixated on the quantification of performance. The idea isn’t so much that you can quantify the performance of every person in every role, but rather to get a sense of how they are doing.

Software is only worthwhile if your company uses it, so consider whether the platform is one that your employees will adopt, and whether it is simple and intuitive, said Crofts. If it has the features you need and can easily set and track goals that align with larger goals, and offer different review types and smart performance data, performance management software should be considered.

“Bottom line, it needs to be better than pen and paper,” said Crofts.

7 Tips to Give a Kickass Business Presentation

 Business presentations don’t have to all be the same, and being in the audience during one doesn’t have to be sleep-inducing. It is possible to make every business presentation entertaining, informative and enjoyable for all parties involved.

Experts shared their best tips for creating and giving a killer presentation that will engage your audience and help you land the sale.

“A good business presentation … has one main point and everything is structured around that point. It doesn’t rely heavily upon PowerPoint or slides filled with text, and it allows time for discussion and asking questions.”

“No secret sauce, tech or gimmicks. What makes any presentation engaging and effective is to put the bottom line up front and then provide whatever backup data may be needed. I’ve seen many presentations where the story is dragged out and tension is built, as if the person was trying to make a movie. But … people are busy and need to deal with the issue and then move on.”

“Focus more on what you will say and how you will say it rather than on having the coolest slides. Not everything you say should be on your slides. No more than three sentences per slide. Present your best data, or no data at all – but not all your data.”

“The true meaning of the presentation is to engage with people and persuade them to your point of view, not just deliver chunks of information. Every presentation, no matter the subject, must be tailored specifically to the people you are talking to. If you tell an anecdote, don’t simply repeat the same story wherever you are – not only will it become stale, you’ll also fail to make a connection to the people you’re addressing.”

“What makes a good business presentation is practice, practice, practice! It’s just like sports. You have to repeatedly practice your presentation to improve it.”

“Authenticity is engaging. Too many presentations are technically proficient but lack heart. If you are not genuine, there will be an unbridgeable gap between you and your listeners. Authenticity is the most important element of an effective communication in any context.”

“A high energy level (is) the most important step to take in presentations. This applies to any type of speaking, any size audience and any topic. If you seemed bored or tired, that vibe will translate to your audience.”

Tips to Protect Your Data from Hackers

 Protecting your data is especially important during tax season, when sensitive information about your business and your employees is susceptible to attack by would-be identity thieves. Faux calls and emails from attackers posing as representatives of the IRS or even managers within your organization are commonplace and can lead to the theft of information from unsuspecting employees. Luckily, there are steps you can take to bolster your security during this time of increased vulnerability.

As Eric Cernak, U.S. cyber and privacy risk practice leader at Munich Re, noted, W-2 phishing attacks are just one popular method of thievery amongst digital ne’er-do-wells. Ransomware is also increasingly popular amongst hackers, he said. In a ransomware attack, hackers generally infiltrate a system and encrypt large swaths of a company’s data. They then demand a payment in cryptocurrency, usually Bitcoin, in return for decrypting and returning the stolen data.

“These types of attacks can be costly for a (small business) in terms of productivity and dollars,” Cernak said. “Additionally, with the current value of virtual currency, ransomware attacks are costing small businesses more and more in terms of real dollars, not to mention the interruption to their business income and cost to restore files should they decide not to pay the ransom.”

While these types of attacks are particularly prevalent during tax season, cybersecurity is no seasonal game – it’s a 24/7/365 defensive slog, said Adam Levin, chairman of data protection company IDT911, which is now known asCyberScout. He added that small businesses might feel as though they aren’t a prime target because of their size, but that hackers often target small businesses to gain access to bigger companies they work with. As a result, every business large and small must remain vigilant.

“As a business you are a defender, and as a defender in the cyber world we live in, you have to get everything right,” Levin said. “As an attacker, you just need to find one point of vulnerability that might only be open for a moment or two, but then you’re in.”

It sounds scary, and indeed it is, that a breach of your business’ system could lead to a complete destabilization of your entire company and, in the worst case, its total failure. That’s precisely why developing a culture of security, constant monitoring, testing for vulnerabilities, retesting and constantly adapting is so important. As hackers are always evolving and adapting new techniques, so too must businesses in order to adequately defend themselves.

“The first thing a business has to develop is a culture of security from the mailroom to the boardroom,” Levin said. “That involves employee training, and a sense of employee responsibility for security.”

While implementing secure systems and utilizing effective monitoring tools is a must, Levin said, humans are often the easiest vulnerability for hackers to exploit. Educating employees, then, is imperative.

“This has to be an almost daily event,” Levin said. “The system is only as good as the weakest link, and humans tend to be the weakest link.”

By keeping several best practices for security in mind, you can reduce the odds that your business becomes a victim of a cyberattack. Moreover, you can implement policies and technology to mitigate the damage of any successful attack, turning a potentially catastrophic event into nothing more than a minor irritation.

Based on our expert sources’ insights, here are eight steps you can take to better secure your business data right now.

1. Secure your computers: Using up-to-date software and effective monitoring tools is essential to maintaining a secure browser. Ensure that software updates are installed promptly when available.

2. Use two-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication is a key strategy to avoid falling victim to an attacker using stolen credentials. Oftentimes, two-factor authentication means the employee logging in will receive an additional authentication request, often via smartphone, to confirm their identity.

3. Avoid recycling passwords: Once you change a password, change it for good. Browsers often store passwords insecurely, and reusing a password increases the risk that a user’s credentials will be compromised.

4. Train your employees: Create a culture of security. Make sure each employee understands where they fit in the big picture. Security is not just something for the IT department to worry about, but should rather be a team effort.

5. Always encrypt data: Encryption thwarts many would-be snoopers and hackers because they cannot access your encrypted data without the proper keys. Encryption and other services, like virtual private networks, are important aspects in protecting your information.

6. Back up data: You’ll want to back up your data in case of a ransomware attack. However, it’s important to note that the devices storing the backed-up data should not always be connected to your network. Otherwise, they could be compromised during an attack. If your system is attacked, you can wipe your hard drives and then download your backed-up data, avoiding a catastrophic incident.

7. Manage portable media: When employees use their own mobile devices on your company’s network, it creates new opportunities for hackers. Mobile devices are also more likely to be lost or stolen outside of the workplace, further increasing the odds of security being compromised. If you’re a BYOD workplace, ensure employees are conforming to your company’s security protocols. Minimize mobile device use, or ensure all data stored on these devices is encrypted.

8. Destroy unnecessary information: Make sure you destroy any sensitive documents you no longer need. Hard copies of tax documents or financial information can be used to determine possible avenues of infiltrating your system. Any connected devices in your office should be secured and routinely cleared to ensure safety.

7 Tips to Using Facebook for Business

  While the basics of setting up a page and posting to your business page are relatively straightforward, there are a lot of nuances to managing your page that could help you make the most of your Facebook presence. Here are 7 powerful ways to make your page more robust and engaging.

A key component of branding is consistency. As such, you should be sure you select a @ username that reflects your business. Of course, your ideal pick may not be available, so think of ways that you can get as close to your brand as possible. If you run the Acme Widget Company, maybe you could go with @acmewidgetco. Or even better, @acmewidget.

Remember that whatever you pick will be a part of your custom Facebook URL — shorter is better so it can fit on business cards or other promotional materials.

While Facebook keeps a pretty consistent look across the entire interface, you do have some freedom in how your page looks. You can choose from several templates that have certain tweaks to better match the type of page you have: professional services, business, shopping, standard, venues, politicians, and restaurants and cafes.

The differences are subtle, but they’re important. For example, the restaurants and cafes template places images higher so that you can show off the venue and feature menu items. The professional services option puts a prominent Call Now button at the top so potential clients can reach out to you right away. Spend some time experimenting here to see which is the best fit for your page.

You have quite a bit of control over how the layout of your page is created to fit the needs of your particular business. Make sure you’ve optimized all the right dials and settings that Facebook offers.

For example, you’ll find that the tabs on the side of the page can serve as quick stops for particular actions. Click “manage tabs” to put the photos, events or other items in a more prominent location. Also, if there are some tabs you don’t use, you’re able to get rid of those.

According to Buffer, one of the top methods for getting the attention of your audience is native videos. The company found some slightly better metrics for uploading your own video instead of embedding it from YouTube or Vimeo.

The beauty of videos is they’re so easy to produce now — all you need is a smartphone and a few minutes of light editing. Even if you’re not a professional video creator, it’s worth trying your hand at it.

Your Facebook page can be a portal for potential customers to reach out to you. A very effective way is through Facebook Messenger. If you add a call-to-action button, you’ll get messages in the Messenger app just as if they were from one of your contacts. Visitors to your page will also notice how responsive you are, which will leave them with a good impression of how you treat customers.

Facebook has rolled out a number of new tools for directing your content to a specific audience. While it will take some time to dig into the dashboard, you may find success if you are willing to target your content at characteristics more attuned to your potential customer base. For example, think about geographic location, age groups and other interest targeting. Marketer Jon Loomer has some more detailed suggestions if you want to dive in.

To really push through the firehose of content on Facebook, it’s going to require spending money on some advertisements. Facebook freely admits thatorganic reach has been declining, placing the blame on the vast user base that keeps expanding. While you can make traction without ads, they’re still an excellent way to gain exposure that you can’t get without the extra juice from the Facebook ads program.