Celebrating Veterans Day – How to Hire a Veteran

ASB - Hire a VeteranToday few Americans know any veterans, other than those from the wars of WWII, Korea or Vietnam. Now since much of what we see and read is from the organizations seeking money for those who have disabilities, we tend to think far more veterans have problems than actually do. But the reality is that veterans make excellent employees. Plus veterans are more successful as entrepreneurs than those without military service. So think what they can add to any small business, non-profit or association. While older veterans are employed at higher rates than civilians, those veterans in their 20s and women veterans in general have had higher unemployment rates than civilians over the past decade.

Your organization could benefit from hiring veterans. They have excellent “soft skills” like the ability to work with diverse groups of customers or clients, self-direction, strong communication skills, and dependability–just for starters! Most have had supervisory roles early and all have had extensive training in both their work/career fields and interpersonal skills. Most also are used to doing whatever is necessary for the mission, not an “it’s not my job” attitude anywhere.

 

How do you find and hire a veteran successfully?

Many of the steps are the same as any other hiring. Small business owners tend to see the big companies and their well-publicized programs and assume that they need a big program too. But you do not. You need a little planning. And you will get far better results with less hassle than blasting your needs out on a job board or someplace like Craigslist.

Here is a simple plan to help you hire a veteran, or lots of them!

First, define the position in detail including both technical/specific experience requirements and those attributes that ensure success in your culture. This is critical to any hiring but also ensures you can evaluate potential veteran candidates effectively.

Second, think about your network. Do you already know any veterans? Talk to them and ask for their ideas and support.

Third, talk with the veterans’ representatives in your local employment services office. Many states also have programs like Virginia Values Veterans ( http://www.dvsV3.com ) to help you learn more about hiring veterans and helping them succeed. Both these organizations can assist you in effectively hiring veterans to meet your needs. In Alexandria, contact the Alexandria Veterans Business Enterprise Center (Emily McMahan at [email protected]) for added ideas and links to local military transition offices.

Fourth, consider reaching out to volunteer organizations locally which work with veterans and informing them of your needs. Consider the local chapter of TeamRWB (http://teamrwb.org/) , local veteran Meet-ups, and others which focus on recent vets. And if you need recent graduates, check out local chapters of Student Veterans of America (http://www.studentveterans.org/)

Fifth, if your positions require specific training or certifications, understand that there are plenty of veterans who have these. There are specific programs to translate military experience into required civilian credentials and certifications. There are non-profit organizations and companies which provide specific training to veterans. I work with several. But a simple online search of what you need, such as energy + veterans or SAP + veterans or any specific credential +veterans, will lead you to resources.

Sixth, military members in transition do go through training about how to write civilian resumes. But the translations of titles, units, and boss’s titles are not really obvious. So when you are looking at a person’s resume, check out their achievements and perhaps training or certifications. If there appears to be an overlap with what you need, give the person a call and talk a bit about your needs and their work.

The right veteran will rapidly learn your organization and culture and make specific contributions to your success far sooner than you expect. If you can offer challenges and the opportunity for increased responsibility, you will find each an excellent addition to your future.


Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Are They Employees? Are You in Trouble?

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...
Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many small and mid-size organizations use a range of people to meet their goals. Some are employees; others are vendors, independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, part-time, temporary, or casual labor.

States and federal government agencies are in the early stages of significant enforcement effort to ensure that anyone who is really an employee is actually treated as an employee. States complain that they are losing tax revenues. There are legal concerns about who is covered by various laws, like workers compensation. And there is concern about benefits and financial security. The increase in companies like Uber and online exchanges like TaskRabbit have aggravated these issues.

So how do you know who is really your employee?

Certainly there are monetary costs to making everyone who does anything for your organization an employee. And there are some people who do work for you who are easily outside the employee relationship. If you use a CPA or legal firm, for example, you know those are not your employees. When you hire someone through a temporary employment agency to do a short-term job, the agency is the employer and you are not.

If you hire temporary, part-time, or casual labor directly, they are usually employees.

But what happens if you have a bookkeeper who comes in on a regular basis for a couple days each week?
* Does the bookkeeper have multiple clients for her own business?
If so, she is not your employee. If not, she is likely to be your employee.

If you use a business which offers services to the public to provide you with services, contract work, or consulting then you are not likely to be the employer unless your firm is the only client of that business.

When you consider bringing someone in to help out and you or they want it to be on a “1099″ basis instead of an employee (“W-2) basis, it is critical that you understand the differences. Federal and state agencies look at issues of control and of how the work is done. Control includes whether the person works on-site, how much guidance and direction is provided, whether they use your equipment, mandated hours of work, the employers right to terminate, and so on.

Government contractors often are faced with this issue of people who want to be paid on a 1099 basis but will be working full-time on a specific contract or contracts. Beware! Unless the person can qualify as a sub-contractor, you are at risk.

Many large firms have fallen victim to these laws in recent years and paid high penalties for their errors. Be pro-active. Look carefully at all those who provide work for your organization and assess which category each is properly in. If you are unsure, talk with your employment lawyer or HR consultant and get the proper determinations made.


Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Compensation, Culture: What now?

English: % change in US real compensation from...
English: % change in US real compensation from 1989 to 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now is the time many organizations start thinking about the next year’s pay raises. Before you start the hunt for ‘market rates’, projected pay raise averages, budget or other data – think a bit about what you are paying for.

Very few founders, CEOs, or senior executives have thought about their philosophy of compensation directly. Fewer still have tied it to their desired culture.

And so, over the decades, I have talked about these issues with many senior folks.
Often I also use a short quiz and set up the scenario:

You have two people in the same role, both are equally productive.

And I ask a series of questions about how one would calculate the pay raise for each.

One question is: John comes in early and stays late every day, he works many long hours each week. Tom works his regular schedule but rarely works extra time unless asked to help others.

And nearly 3/4 say that they would give John a larger raise.

Do you see the issue? Most do not until I ask why they are rewarding the person who cannot get their work done in a timely manner over the one who does. Remember – the conditions were that both were equally productive. So Tom is doing the same amount and quality of work in less time than John.

As you think about your salary planning for next year, here are some questions to ask yourself.

Pick the top three in each and rank order those.

1. Do we want to compensate for:
– individual productivity
– teamwork
– cost of living changes
– our financial success
– increased productivity
– market pricing changes
– seniority
– client growth
– revenue growth (funding growth for non-profits)

Think, for example, how many organizations say that they value teamwork highly. How many actually base pay on that? Very few.

 

2. Will an individual be rewarded with a base salary increase for:
– meeting performance standards
– skills increase
– job size
– growth in performance
– short-term projects
– long-term achievements
– cross-training
– breadth of work
– mentoring/training others
– patents, publications, public presentations that enhance your company reputation

Those carry different meanings to your employees. Which represent the culture you say you want? Which do you actually do?

Now you can think how you would pay people based on those decisions. These are only a few of the considerations that underlie effective compensation decisions. Sometimes, you may want help in thinking through these issues. Talk with your management team, a mastermind group, or use a consultant.

You need to think carefully to ensure that what you say about your culture and values is reflected in how you pay people. Sure, you want a simple system. And one that is easy to understand and to explain so employees value it. But you also need it to do what you expect or you are wasting money.


Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Positive Productivity

Productivity: Wrapping up the First Stage of a...
Productivity: Wrapping up the First Stage of a Special Project (Photo credit: orcmid)

A few weeks ago, we had a great group at an SBDC HR seminar. The attendees had lots of good questions. But they also got to start thinking about some questions that underlie many aspects of positive productivity in organizations.

Here are some issues we discussed for you to think about too. What would your answer be to these questions?

What is your vision for the future?
This question is about where your organization is now and where it is going. What specific vision defines your future goals and plans? How does that vision live in regular activities? ‘Hope is not a strategy’ is not just a cliche.

What is your value proposition?
This one speaks to your continuing success. What do you offer that your customers or clients cannot easily find elsewhere? How do your employees influence your value proposition? How do you demonstrate your value to customers and employees?

How are the two above manifest in your policies and practices?
This is where so many organizations begin to really get into difficulty. Do you talk teamwork but recognize and pay for individual performance mainly? Do you talk about top quality or creativity and high performance but regularly avoid conflict? Do you say you value your employees but provide limited benefits?

How are your vision and value proposition communicated to employees?
Are they included regularly in meetings, newsletters, and performance discussions? Do you tell people a bit about them in your employee guide or orientation and hope they ‘get’ it? Do your actions and policies support what you say?

Clear understanding of an organization’s vision and goals and the role they play in daily activities strengthens employees ability to do their work effectively. They help employees serve your clients or customers better. And that knowledge supports on-going performance that directly relates to your organization’s value.

Take a bit of time off this week from fighting fires and really think about these issues. Then do something! Smart tip – talk with other executives/managers and see if their responses match yours. Get some clarity and then communicate. And move forward to higher productivity.


Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Who Me? Avoid These Employment Traps

Recruitment
Recruitment (Photo credits: www.mydoorsign.com)

How are you hiring and paying for services your business needs? Do you have employees? Independent contractors? Contractors or consultants? Interns?

Tax and labor laws contain a lot of traps if you do not pay attention to what you are doing when you bring in the help you need. Workers Compensation insurers and VA’s Unemployment Insurance rules also must be followed. Often small organizations and solopreneurs hire extra help or expertise on an ‘as needed’ basis. But you do need to be clear about the ‘how’ and ‘which’ among your options.

Want to hire a consultant, contractor, or independent service provider?
If you hire via a company which provides such services, it is usually a nice clean transaction – business to business. When you work with and pay an individual directly, you need to be sure to keep it legal. Check out this IRS guidance  on hiring of independent contractors versus employees.

Be sure the help you hire, no matter what you or they call themselves, is working with you to ensure both of you are in the clear legally on your payments to them.

Want to hire an intern?
Lots of small organizations think of interns as free help. Not so! I see organizations all the time that want an unpaid intern to work for them but violate these rules – and get into trouble. Back pay, taxes, and fines are not fun to deal with! If you are legally a non-profit, you may be able to hire an intern without paying the person. All others – very unlikely. See this DOL guidance.

Do you have employees?
The federal and state governments are cracking down on proper payment of employees. Both are looking at whether employees are properly classified in relation to wages or the organization is trying to call them independent contractors when they are employees. They are checking out pay for overtime work and whether the organization is trying to treat employees as exempt from overtime laws when the work done is actually not exempt. Need more info?

Got questions?  Your CPA, HR advisor, or attorney can help.


Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Growth Tips: Networking for 2014

Shaking hands symbol
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can hardly open your browser or a business publication without seeing something about networking. Why? Studies show regular networkers are more successful in business and in life. True for introverts and extroverts incidentally.

Tip 1. Plan your networking

Yes, really. Think about what you want to get from your networking efforts and how they relate to growing your business. Look at what you have done. What has been most effective? Less so? What else do you need to do? Where and how?

Here is your ‘cheat sheet’ of categories – fill each part in with your personal list:
* Professional groups’ meetings
* Individual meetings – specific people in your field and outside it
* Developmental events – seminars, conferences
* Special events
* Potentially valuable groups – research/try new options
* Reconnect – with people you value
* Online activities – LinkedIn, MeetUp, etc.

Tip 2. Define your goals

Don’t just go to events or have coffee with friends and call it networking. Define what you need, what you offer, and what you will do in fairly specific terms. Numbers alone are not worth much.

Consider:
* What do you want to share with others? What do you want to learn?
* Who do you know you might introduce to others?
* Who will you ask for introductions and to whom?

Tip 3. Make it Easy

Never go to an event without a plan. It could be to meet specific people or to learn something valuable talking with many people there. I find it easier to go to events with a ‘wingman’ – introducing him to others helps me meet people too. What works well for you?

Have a goal when you meet with an individual or small group too. What do you want out of the meeting? What are you offering in return?

Keep going! Networking builds on itself.  You need to find ways to maintain your network consistently over time. Pick a process, make a plan and execute it for your success in 2014.

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Three Quick Tips To Be Smarter

CCA & Parker Seminars San Diego Continuing Edu...
Continuing Education (Photo credit: planetc1)

Professional development is critical in the growth of every size organization. If you are not actively involved in such development, you are leaving money on the proverbial table.

Whether you are planning for a new fiscal year right now or just trying to decide whether someone can attend a specific event, development activities can be a real value for your business success – or a big waste of time and money.

Tip 1. Start at the Top

Your own professional development is critical to your success. How do you keep up with the changes in your field, your market, your business? Do you learn best by reading, by talking with others, by listening, or through experiential methods?

Conferences and professional meetings are great for those who learn best by listening and talking shop or participating in a more active setting. But you still have to be sure that the way any program is laid out works with your style. And the topics covered are those you value. Map out your strategy – do you know others who will attend with whom you can deepen your connection? Are there people you know you want to meet? Companies you want to discover more about? Speakers you would like to talk to? Plan your networking – and work your plan.

Depending on your style and what you need to develop, you may find reading in depth, keeping up with professional/trade publications, working with an advisor or coach, or taking an online course or a quick seminar are your best bets. But if you do not make your development a priority, it will not happen. Your choices are also a model for your organization.

Tip 2: Plan!

Don’t waste time or money. Do tie your plan to your business plan/ goals. Think about all the options and evaluate each in relation to:
– your short and long term business goals
– what you need or want to learn
– staying visible in your field
– becoming or staying visible to potential clients
– what you can afford to invest over a full year
– which options provide the most for your money

And, remember that this same exercise applies to those you might send staff members to as well. What is in it for your company, as well as for the person?

Tip 3. Spread development around your organization

Commit to upgrading your staff’s skills. Make it part of your culture. Add it to people’s goals or your performance management process. This helps ensure you have the talent and knowledge to enhance success. It also can reduce your turn-over, a cost saving.

Help people understand the wide range of potential options. Many folks default is that development means formal training. Not true! So learn what interests them, check to see it helps the person grow, and discuss ways to achieve the learning. Consider building up your supply of internal tools, webinars, and access to online courses. Perhaps you can budget specifically for each person or certain relevant programs. And don’t forget learning from experts in the company or your/their network too. Smart learning options are tailored to what methods work for the person and what knowledge is most useful to the organization’s future.

Don’t forget to check out all the great seminars and events the Alexandria SBDC sponsors too – free but mighty!

Teaching others helps us retain new knowledge. It ensures the organization benefits from the investment. And it demonstrates the value you place on growth. So, if you send a person to a seminar or pay for them to be active in a professional association – make it clear they must pass the knowledge on. This may be as easy as a memo or a brown-bag lunch. Or it may be important enough to discuss at a staff/function meeting.

And there you are – three tips for a more successful new year!

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Government Shutdown: React, Communicate, Control

Small Business Is Open for Business During Government ShutdownSmall organizations are at extra risk during the government shutdown – you already know that. But what can you do?

1. Keep your fears at home.

Your employees need concrete information and clear communications. But don’t add to their burden by discussing your fears.

2. Grab control where you can.

A big part of this problem is the lack of control we all feel. Reduce your stress by taking control of what you can. Look for those things in your organization which you can change to help you manage through this tough spot and take action.

3. Talk to your staff.

Clear communications are critical. What are you going to do which affects them?  Tell them now.

What ideas – such as profit improvement or cost control – do you need?  Ask for everyone’s help.

4. Make decisions and execute.

Do you need to stop paying everyone on a government contract and support staff until there is work again? Do so with a clear communication. Talk about their value and how you want to retain them. Be clear on what you must do now to save the company until the return of work. Keep the communications regular once you have send everyone home on unpaid leave.

Are you in retail or otherwise facing a significant loss of business? Decide whether you need to cut hours across the board, close one day a week, reduce employee hours, or reduce employee numbers. Then take the action and clearly explain it to all employees.

More information on unemployment benefits during this time: http://www.vec.virginia.gov/

Don’t dither. Don’t play favorites.

5. Keep politics out.

Whatever your politics and how you feel about this shutdown, keep your comments and communications focused on your business and its future. You and your staff may or may not agree politically but do not add that emotional content to your communications. It will reduce their effectiveness.

Taking corrective actions now is your best focus. It will help you feel more in control. It can help focus your staff on creating ways to improve the company.  Act to protect your organization’s future.

Clear, regular communications are vital to keeping your people actively engaged with the company and to retaining those you need.

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

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