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4 Ways to Modernize Your Business

In the digital age, operating a successful business increasingly requires a touch of modernity. The traditional business tactics and operational standards of the 20th century are rapidly being overshadowed by new technology and new methods of communications. In order to keep your business on top of its game, and keep up with the times, here are some essential goals for upgrading your business in the modern age.

  1. Cloud-Based Solutions

Everything business-related is transitioning to cloud computing. Whether you are operating multiple business locations or just working from home, keeping all of your business-related computing relegated to online servers gives you a leg up in both security and convenience. Working explicitly from local files makes your work far less portable, increasing the difficulty of long-distance collaboration and restricting your access to business-related data while on the road. Turning to cloud-based solutions provides you the ability to connect your business materials and all of your business associates at the push of a button. Plus, aside from the convenience of access, cloud services are increasingly incorporating built-in analytics services and machine learning capabilities to open the door to more capabilities for business owners to enhance and expand upon their current marketing strategies.

  1. Software Automation

In line with the ever-evolving capabilities of most modern cloud-based services, you should take advantage of MLOps strategies for implementing AI-based software automation to improve your overall productivity. Invest in programs that streamline your day-to-day tasks like automated scheduling assistants, time management analytics tools, and data management programs to track expenses, organize accounts payable, and automate invoicing.

The human element is essential to creativity and ingenuity; however, automation allows you to delegate repetitive data-oriented tasks to programs that can manage them with far more efficiency. This boosts your business’s overall flexibility by giving you and your employees more freedom to tackle any tasks that require a direct, human touch, like customer relations and marketing content.

  1. Messaging Apps and Social Media

Once upon a time, the postal service was the go-to means of communicating important information between multiple parties; then, email took its place as the king of communication. Now, social media and interoffice messaging systems give you the best advantage in establishing reliable lines of communication both within and without your business. Whether you need to notify your staff with important information, contact specific employees directly, or interact with the general public, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well as messaging apps like Slack and Discord simplify and streamline communication. Where letters and emails created downtime and posed the risk of “lost” messages, these modern communications platforms reduce clutter and ensure instantaneous, direct interaction, improving both interoffice and remote interactions.

  1. Digital Marketing

Print marketing is rapidly becoming an outdated method of sharing product information with potential clients. In the digital age, your best option for marketing your goods and services is digital content. With online marketing tools, you are no longer limited to a specific quantity of marketing materials, so you can reach out to an unlimited number of existing and potential clients with the push of a button. Amidst digital graphics, video content, blogs, and direct contact via social media, the digital age offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities. More important, perhaps, than the specific digital “medium” used, is to take advantage of real-time marketing strategies. Marketers can now interact with customers immediately, rather than waiting for weeks or even months to compile useful feedback. Social media, for example, allows you to gather real-time data from customers to quickly make adjustments that will improve their experience on the go.

While the core principles of operating a successful business never change, the tools available do. Whenever you are modernizing your business, just keep in mind that as technology evolves so too should your business strategies to take full advantage of the tools currently available. Keep testing the waters with new techniques and technologies, and learn to incorporate the parts that are successful.

 

BY CHANTAL BECHERVAISE

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/edition/daily-psychological-contract-diversity-2021-07-01/?open-article-id=16442745&article-title=4-ways-to-modernize-your-business&blog-domain=takeitpersonelly.com&blog-title=take-it-personel-ly

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What Drives Growth in Midsize Firms?

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Summary.

How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? In the authors’ research, they found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers of midsize companies tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities) — and that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. Their findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives.

 

Much attention is paid to either the startup or stardom — the most exciting business idea (that has yet to make a profit) or the star that began in a garage and is now a worldwide powerhouse, trading actively for billions. But what do we know about the transition of growth between those two extremes? How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? We sought to find out.

Over the course of our respective careers, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many different midsize firms, helping them enhance capabilities, expand operations, and enable exports. We’ve found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities)We’ve also noticed that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. We made those variables the focus of our research.

In our study, we asked CEOs of established midsize manufacturing firms to describe the key variables that contributed to their companies’ growth over a period of five to 10 years and the processes they followed to achieve it. Their descriptions encompassed both personal connections and their companies’ capabilities. They identified personal rapport with executives at customer and partner firms, as well as their firms’ specialized expertise and ability to operate efficiently and/or adapt, as drivers of their growth. Then, it got interesting: We found distinctive patterns of connections and capabilities based on each firms’ revenue stage.

Midsize firms are commonly funded by commercial banks, so we grouped them into categories consistent with commercial lending underwriting practices to see what differences would emerge among the groups. The largest U.S. commercial banks categorize their industrial clients according to total revenues as follows:

  • Business banking: $2 million–$20 million
  • Mid-market: $20 million–$50 million
  • Upper mid-market: $50 million–$250 million

Of course, not all of the midsize firms we studied were growing. In fact, some were stagnating or experiencing slow growth. So, we explored the differences between slow and fast-growing firms to learn what causes the difference. We found that the key drivers for growth within a revenue category differ from the drivers to jump from one revenue category to the next. Our findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives. First, let’s explore the interaction of connections and capabilities as a growth mechanism within each growth-stage category.

How midsize firms grow

CEOs of successful midsize firms described themselves as their companies’ primary contact, with direct hands-on influence over its connections and capabilities. Their companies achieved growth through investments in relationships and proving to be reliable over long periods of time. They offered advantages over their immediate competitors through speed in their core competencies (i.e., what the company does, and what it does well). As a value-add, these firms developed specific complements to their core competencies based on their key clients’ needs — for example, adding intermediate warehousing to complement local logistics. From the hours of interviews we conducted, it’s clear that these CEOs parlayed their connections to bring in contracts and used their companies’ competencies to deliver superior value.

How midsize firms change to continue their growth

Our previous experience in the field had shown us that midsize firms don’t follow the same playbook all time; the strategy that’s effective when a firm is smaller won’t work when its revenues grow multifold. We can all name some firms that continue to grow and others that stagnate or slow down. We wanted to know why.

Although the CEOs mentioned that they relied on their connections and capabilities to achieve growth for their firms, the relative emphasis on the underlying components of those connections and capabilities shifted as the revenues grew. When the firms were smaller ($2m to $20m revenue), the CEOs described their connections as singular and focused on their primary customers and their capabilities as aligned to solve the customers’ problems. But as they grew and added more customers, the emphasis shifted. For firms in the next tier ($20m to $50m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as “well-oiled machines,” driven by proven relationships with key clients and winning formulas based on reputation, trust, and niche. These firms’ core competencies included flexibility and quickness in production processes, as well as distinct capabilities compared to rivals as a growth mechanism.

As the firms entered the next tier ($50m to $250m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as strong and dominant alliances and affiliations with key customers, suppliers, and partners. The firms offered integrated solutions, continuous innovation, and cutting-edge offerings. Growth was achieved through aggressive broadening of applications, progressive learning, and new market creation. Overall, firms within our study built distinctive profiles of connections and capabilities for growth and stability within their revenue category.

Even as the midsize firms grew and achieved stability within their communities (and perhaps more importantly in the eyes of their funding source, the commercial banks), some firms, even those that had reached the pinnacle within their revenue tier, were unable or unwilling to jump to the next tier. This issue represented the final focus of our research.

How midsize firms transition from one stage to the next

As you recall, we purposefully asked our CEOs to describe their connections and capabilities and how they changed over a five-to-10-year period. As a result, we were able to capture changes in the firms’ connection and capability profiles as they transcended growth between stages (or revenue tiers).

The excerpt below is from the CEO of a small pump manufacturer that successfully managed growth past the $20 million mark. The CEO describes incremental improvement in processes as a mechanism to facilitate and manage growth through its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) client:

From five years ago to now, there’s been a continuous investment in technology. We’ve made great advances in our building to design stuff more quickly, our analysis tools are way better, a lot of fluid dynamics software we’ve just continuously upgraded…that along with the IT.

And then the other thing is basically our manufacturing system, the lean principles that we’ve applied…you know, minimum part travel, the part goes into a cell and [comes] out of a cell complete, and it’s simplifying the manufacturing process, and then basically driving your production cycle down to two-day intervals…has sucked out so much lead time. So the lead time and the productivity, those two things together.

Notice the emphasis on continuous refinement of what’s working, application of lean principles, and process simplifications to hone the firm’s capabilities as a way to achieve growth. This CEO further describes his firm’s connections with key clients:

[I]n OEM environments, there’s a trust thing built there. It’s getting that perfect balance to value and then consistently performing. So you build that trust [to] where the guy goes, “They give me the value and they’re never going to screw me”…and so you’ll keep those guys. …[Our company], we’re kind of unique in the world; we’re known for honest, straightforward, our word is our bond. As we build that relationship more and more and more, they become less and less concerned that we’re going to steal stuff. And then that releases energy that would not become realized.

Trust and reputation are built intentionally over time to gain exposure to other potential clients. Performing successfully with current clients, garnering reputation for integrity, and creating value is how the firm grew past the early client list and thus zoomed past the $20 million revenue mark.

Although the formula of refinement and improvement in capabilities and wider penetration into potential customer bases can result in success in the early stages of growth, the formula wears out. To transition into the next stage ($50m–$250m revenue), we found that firms leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while strategically partnering to enter new markets.  Essentially, those firms that transition to the higher tier redefine their internal dialogue. The scripted growth story that once enabled the firm now constrains it. The CEO of a robotics-integrator firm explained this process:

I can talk for a long time about characterizing [our company] when I say a systems integrator.  Historically, that has been about welding, metal joining and cutting…and we recently diversified from metal joining and cutting to other, more elaborate processes…which has kind of brought us some growth and maybe a new generation of life.

The strategy for growth was really two facets, one was to expand the processes that we offer…so we did a technology expansion, and at the same time, concurrently, we did a global expansion. So we moved into [foreign country] with a joint venture, and we’ve also moved into [another foreign country] with a small start-up. So we put together a 5-year plan, and it included specific growth targets.

The firm recognized the need for transition and the limitations of prior scripts, then sketched out expansion pathways to grow into the highest growth stage we studied. The CEO of an industrial seat manufacturer that moved into that same growth stage viewed his firm’s connections as a joint commitment to investment with the client, including a willingness to deploy resources on their collective behalf. High levels of collaboration with a client helps remove investment risk for the midsize firms in new applications, and mutual commitment serves as a sturdy ladder for growth.

The smaller firms we studied grew by managing their connections and capabilities through building firm bonds with early clients and serving them reliably. They then transitioned from a few focal clients to a larger base by increasing their efficiency and core competencies and winning new clients through their reputations for integrity and value creation. The changed emphasis helped them grow to a point, but to transition into the next stage, organizations leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while fostering relationships toward joint investment and new market creation. In this final stage we studied, growth was achieved through strong alliances, integrated solutions, and cutting-edge offerings.

We offer our model in a summarized table below.

Lacking established brand equity, midsize enterprises often rely on close relationships and unique and sharply defined capabilities to earn business. In early stages, they could earn business by building close bonds with key clients and aligning the firm’s capabilities to deliver unique value. As they achieve initial growth, their managers could apply the firms’ core capabilities to new industries to deliver uncommon value.

Smart young firms know that before there’s a product, there are capabilities. Rather than producing a routine product, young midsize firms might draw on their proprietary capabilities to initially build distinctive solutions for a very small number of clients. To grow, managers should emphasize persistent refinement of the solutions to deepen distinctiveness and then widely peddle the solutions to other clients.

Growth plateaus are common, even for healthy and strong midsize enterprises, and they occur when firms seem to have exploited all available opportunities in current industries. To grow, managers should encourage their firms to find ways to transfer their capabilities to new industries. We have to warn, however, that this would require reconfiguring the incentives, reporting lines, management structure, and processes to encourage and support new applications and new markets.

 

By Gary Wolbers and Arun Pillutla

Source: https://hbr.org/2021/06/what-drives-growth-in-midsize-firms

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Training and Onboarding for the New Remote Work Landscape

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has officially become the new normal. More and more people are working from home, making virtual training and onboarding a growing priority for human resource professionals.

Prior to COVID, HR mainly utilized in-person methods to guide new employees through orientation, company goal sets and team expectations. However, Forbes reported that up to 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard after the pandemic. Employees hope to keep the flexibility of remote and hybrid work, so it’s important that employers learn how to meet the digital expectations of the future work landscape.

In fact, as most organizations transitioned to remote work this past year, employees also reported considering or planning a move farther away from their current jobs, according to a separate Forbes article. Employees who were laid off were more likely to report planning a move, as well, which would influence how they applied to future job opportunities.

Returning to fully onsite work will prove difficult for most new employees, so HR must build creative and efficient ways to replicate the training and onboarding process for the remote work landscape. Here are some best practices your company can follow to improve your new employee’s virtual experience:

Provide timely technology and support

To ensure that new hires start off with their best foot forward, organizations must consider what technological requirements need to be addressed for each position. If the employee needs a corporate laptop or cellphone to do their job, reach out and schedule shipping so that they arrive before the employee’s start date.

Once your employee has the proper technology to start their role, HR should coordinate with IT to verify that setup and configuring the new tech is digitally streamlined. Check in with your IT department beforehand to guarantee they don’t become overwhelmed as remote work continues. Ask how the company can automate additional processes to ease the extra workload. Some examples of computer setup automation are interactive platforms that guide new users through setup or step-by-step instructions (written or video) that can be generally distributed online.

Clear communication between HR, new hires and IT is essential to digital onboarding. Don’t be afraid to ask new hires what tools they require to be successful in their new positions and how previously in-person IT tasks can be digitally streamlined. New employees will still need personalized assistance, but automating certain steps in the process is a necessary first step for remote onboarding.

Replicate the remote training process virtually

A great way to build your new HR guidelines for remote work is to use the foundation of previously tried and true methods. If you have set practices for training new hires onsite, go through them and determine how your company can transition each of these steps to online.

Schedule the first day of virtual orientation as similarly to pre-pandemic guidelines as possible, advised the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This means creating a full-day, interactive schedule for new hires that include team and colleague introductions via video conferencing. By now, employees have become all-too-familiar with the importance of video meetings, so just be sure to include what platform expectations (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) are during onboarding.

Once the first day is scheduled, consider how best to guide new hires through their first week, as well. For example, are there any larger company meetings that could demonstrate how your employer operates overall? New questions may arise as employees find their footing in the new digital landscape, so advise managers to schedule daily and/or weekly check-ins in advance. This way remote workers can be certain that they have opportunities to touch base with you.

As your digital onboarding and training schedule is determined, don’t forget to include breaks for your new hires. Employees should feel guided throughout their first day and week at your company, but it’s also important to give them time to go over new materials and properly retain each piece of new information.

Digitize important onboarding materials

Manual paperwork is a time-consuming and stressful part of human resource management. However, a newfound benefit to remote work during the pandemic has been the implementation of virtual onboarding and training materials that can be accessed at any time by new hires and managers from home alike.

By transitioning document signing, company policies, rule books and training materials to digital copies, employers can streamline the onboarding process for both HR and new hires. For example, sharing and filing tax documents, contracts and payroll information can be as easy as sending a link or signing into your company’s preferred platform. Within your company’s online platform or website, HR should also include an FAQ page for more information and a contact page for additional questions.

This cuts back on labor costs as HR and new hires can spend more time engaging with each other and their teams. For some roles, you can also implement onboarding tools that include training videos and/or learning modules that cover specific role needs.

Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to onboard and train new hires in the virtual workplace is a high priority for all companies moving forward. HR teams that successfully transition to online onboarding and training will be able to not only improve efficiency, but also overall job satisfaction and employee engagement.

According to SHRM, overall HR recruiting budgets have decreased this past year due to the pandemic. Employee retention is crucial for companies to be successful in the current remote work landscape. By investing in new hire digital onboarding and training, your team will vastly improve the remote experience for all of your employees — not just new hires.

The best course of action for HR professionals is to mirror the in-person onboarding experience for remote workers as best as possible. The more interactive the schedule is for your employees, the more likely they will have a positive and lasting experience with your company.

 

By PeopleStrategy Staff

Source: https://www.peoplestrategy.com/training-onboarding-new-remote-work/

 

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Why Investing in Your Employees Can Benefit Your Company

Your employees are your business, it is that simple. The people you bring on, train and put into strategic positions throughout the organization are what will make or break your success. From the bottom to the top of the hierarchy, your human capital is your most important capital. This is why it makes so much sense to invest in these people. From sending employees on a leadership career track to business school to simple online seminars or cross-training opportunities, professional development takes many forms. If you are considering an MBA for an employee, keep in mind that there are MBA admissions consultants out there to help you make the right choice.

Employers must start to think of human capital development in terms of ROI. With that in mind, below are some of the ways investing in employees can benefit your company.

Employee Engagement

A Gallup poll from 2018 indicated that only 34 percent of employees in the United States felt engaged at work, which was broadly reflective of a worldwide crisis of engagement. There are a variety of reasons for this lack of engagement, including feelings of burnout from job creep, organizations failing to align philosophically with employees, apathy that comes from a lack of job security but also, importantly, a lack of investment in human capital on the part of employers.

Too often employers see the labour force as mere tools and means to ends, rather than strategic assets to be developed. When employees feel that their professional development and career health is taken seriously by their employers, engagement will increase in turn. Engagement corresponds to more job satisfaction, bigger and better brand advocates for the business, better collaboration and better employee retention.

Attract New Talent

Another reason it pays dividends for an organization to invest in its current workforce is that doing so has future benefits for recruitment and talent acquisition. Surveys have shown that the vast majority of people are willing to trade less money for more meaningful work, which translates into a lot of different things, but among them is work that allows them to develop and utilize their skills and core competencies.

The implications for talent acquisition are easy to see and potentially enormous. If a business is able to establish a reputation as a place that nurtures talent, invests in its people’s professional development and provides opportunities to constantly grow and improve skill sets, it will be a much more attractive place to work for talented, ambitious people looking for a challenge and interested in lifelong learning.

Future-Proof

Investing in people should also be seen as a necessary part of future-proofing the organization. The rate of economic change that is taking place and will continue to do so obligates leadership to take a future-proofing approach to business. The pandemic proved that entire business models could dry up overnight and that the resulting skills gaps could potentially cripple an organization or industry. Your people are your best chance against being blindsided by the future.

Investing in employees can provide the organization with valuable skills–particularly digital ones–to ensure a more seamless transition to a much more digital business environment. It can also ensure that the mission-critical skill sets required for business success are always in supply. Having employees who are able to cover for one another, pick up the slack for absent coworkers and take on new responsibilities when necessary make the organization much more agile.

Productivity

Investing in employees also has implications for productivity. Employees who are confident that their employer has their professional best interests at heart and are committed to providing them with opportunities to improve and increase their skills are more likely to want to do their best for the company. The management and organizational behavioural literature over the last year have been almost singularly obsessed with the phenomenon of decreasing productivity, what to do about it and when, if ever, it will be back.

Of the many things that we know about productivity and the influences on it, employees who believe they are supported in their professional development by their employers are more likely to want to exert themselves on behalf of the company and to make the best use of their working hours. The quality of the employee-employer relationship is dictated by many things, but among them is certainly the extent to which the former believes the latter is concerned about their careers and professional development.

Conclusion

The problem with many organizations is that labour expenses are seen as something to be kept as low as possible at all costs. Professional development and enriching the organization’s human capital takes a back seat with such a philosophy. What these businesses don’t realize is that they are shooting themselves in the foot in the medium to long-term. Investments in employees, and particularly promising people with a demonstrated desire to learn, improve and add value, are investments in the business.

Image by Ronald Carreño from Pixabay

By Editor’s choice|Employee recognition

 

Source: https://www.humanresourcestoday.com/?open-article-id=16422120&article-title=why-investing-in-your-employees-can-benefit-your-company-&blog-domain=gethppy.com&blog-title=get-hppy