5 Steps for Resolving Conflicts at Work

Most people say they hate conflict, yet avoiding it causes more problems. In today’s culturally diverse, multigenerational workforce it’s bound to happen. Conflicts can be frequent, often petty, and very costly between people speaking different languages, from different generations, and having different religious beliefs and cultural norms.  Tempers flare and regrettable things are said.

You don’t have to like conflict but you can learn to manage/harness it and not try to escape from it.

The only place there is no visible conflict is in a dictatorship and that’s not a good alternative.

Tips For Resolving Conflicts at Work

How to resolve:

1. Understand that big conflicts are made up of little conflicts. Its like a circuit board. Looking at the whole is complicated, but piece by piece it’s easy to connect it all.
2. Then remove emotions from the situation. Emotions are to conflict like air is to a fire — it causes it to grow out of control. Don’t let drama or emotional responses inflame the situation. Instead …
 
3. Choose to be generous. Whomever or whatever started the conflict, give the benefit of the doubt that best intentions were involved. Instead of judging or blaming, give liberal feedback as to where someone or something could have taken a different course of action.
4. Share context with parties involved. People are more reasonable in their reaction if they are given a more complete picture or fuller context, describing the conditions that led to the situation and why the activity (or lack of activity) caused conflict. For example, your team misses one month of their revenue target, the boss goes crazy about it at a team meeting which cases conflict where people feel compelled to defend their activity. The context might be that every other division missed their revenue target also and now people have to be let go.  Context is a great leveler, and it always matters.
5. Go to the facts; honesty prevails. Own up to mistakes. Sit in graceful silence, don’t express every thought that crosses your mind. Calmly talk about the extent of the damage and choose a solutions that matches the severity of the situation.
Then be willing to wipe the slate clean (at least once) if the situation is resolved.
Get used to the fact you work in a passionate environment. And be willing to say, “I understand,” which keeps you from saying, “I agree” or “I disagree” before you’re sure where you stand.
Move on.

Conflict Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "5 Effective Steps for Resolving Conflict in Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

In Demand Jobs Without a College Degree

Not every small business is looking to fill its IT department with some new recruits.

In fact, there are thousands of small businesses right now looking for employees who don’t possess a college degree.

Leading online job site Indeed.com pulled another set of figures and found which non-college degree jobs are most in demand among small businesses.

In Demand Jobs Without a College Degree

Indeed finds that truck drivers are the most sought after talent at small businesses. In fact, truck drivers are some of the most in-demand workers right now, no matter if a job requires a degree or not and no matter the size of the company. Drivers, in general, are the third most in-demand worker. And delivery drivers, as the jobs are listed on Indeed.com, ranked nine on the site’s 10 most in-demand positions.

Customer service reps are the second most in-demand workers among small businesses in the U.S. Restaurant managers are fourth and retail sales associates are fifth.

To pull this list, Indeed calculated the percentage of small business job postings that do not require a degree by job title over the last year. The jobs were all posted by businesses with 200 or fewer employees.

Babysitters and nannies, restaurant servers, administrative assistants, and warehouse workers round out Indeed’s 10 most in-demand jobs at small businesses.

“These roles may not require degrees, but they require a specific set of skills, experiences, or in some cases, professional training or certification,” Indeed senior vice president of HR Paul Wolfe told Small Business Trends.

Hone Your Hiring Process

With so many small businesses looking to fill these positions, competition is stiff. It’s likely your competitor may be looking to fill the exact same role and you may be interviewing the same person for each of your positions. In that case, it’s best to have your company’s hiring process down pat.

“Businesses looking to hire these in-demand roles should be very clear about what their requirements are in order to attract the best candidates for their open roles,” Wolfe added.

This article, "Truck Drivers Most In-Demand Among Small Business Jobs Not Requiring a College Degree" was first published on Small Business Trends

P2P Insurance Offers Small Business an Affordable Alternative

Small business owners need to find secure insurance policies that are affordable. Traditionally, their market has been underserved by both carriers and brokers. That’s where Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Insurance could fill the gap.

P2P Insurance for Small Businesses

The idea is simple. Small business owners use pooled resources to cover the things they need to run their businesses. These costs can include medical costs, vehicles and of course other items needed for operations. When the year is over, the companies with claims can get some of their money back or lowered premiums when there’s a surplus.

An Idea that Sprung from the Digital Age

At first, it might seem like an idea that sprung from the digital age. However, Kyle Hoffman, Vice President of Customer Success at Insureon, told Small Business Trends the origins go further back.

“The core concept being used by P2P insurers is not new,” Hoffman said, “but new players like LemonadeGuevara (now shuttered) and others are innovating with online direct to consumer channels, automation, AI and modern CX concepts.”

Mutual Insurance Design

P2P insurance is built on that older mutual insurance company design with a technology twist.

Leveraging the latest in innovation is one of the ways these P2P insurers distinguish themselves from more traditional carriers. These companies return more profits back to policyholders like small businesses. That makes them more attractive to small businesses but there are some drawbacks.

Lots of Claims?

If you’re a small business that makes a lot of claims, this insurance model might not be for you. Also small businesses need to keep in mind how policies are more limited with the P2P model. It’s a trade-off for the small business. What you get in a lower premium costs in the scope of policies available. P2P insurers keep the costs low by limiting what they offer.

Hoffman says these P2P insurers offer coverage for smaller business that might not qualify otherwise. However, there are a few caveats small business owners need to be aware of.

A Licensed Insurance Agent

“They should read the policy in-depth, consult with a licensed insurance agent, and ask lots of questions to make sure they understand what they’re getting and what they’re not,” he says. Long story short here is this is an option for small businesses, but one you need to look at carefully. Considering just the cost might not get you the coverage you need for a small business like a delivery company.

If you’re a small business owner thinking this might be the way to go, there’s another consideration to mull over. P2P insurance works best with a specific size of small business.

Large and Growing Segment

“Microbusinesses – companies with less than 10 employees – are the perfect target for P2P insurers because it’s a large and growing segment of the market that has traditionally been underserved by brokers and carriers,” Hoffman says.

He also says these smaller small businesses are favored by these insurers because they are easier to underwrite. If you’re the right size and think you might benefit from this insurance model, Hoffman also says you shouldn’t wait.

He predicts the P2P insurance industry will become more sophisticated with time. When that happens, he says the insurers will likely start serving larger businesses for more returns.

Doctor Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "P2P Insurance Offers Small Business an Affordable Alternative" was first published on Small Business Trends

The Importance of Soft Skills Over Experience

It’s no secret that business owners are struggling to find good employees these days. According to Patrick Valtin, a talent acquisition and retention consultant and author of No-Fail Hiring 2.0, the problem is not that there aren’t enough qualified candidates—it’s that employers are defining “qualified” all wrong.

The Importance of Soft Skills

“Many small business owners are focusing too much on selecting applicants primarily based on their hard skills,” explains Valtin. If you’re looking for job candidates with specific skills and experience, you could be making a big mistake. According to a Leadership IQ study, almost half of new hires fail within 18 months. Just 11 percent of those failures are due to a lack of hard skills; the rest stem from a lack of soft skills.

Focusing solely on hard skills not only increases the risk of a failed hire, but can also lead you to overspend to land that hire. “Technically qualified applicants know their value,” says Valtin, “and in today’s applicant-driven marketplace, they often inflate their salary expectations.” That means you could end up paying more than you can really afford for a candidate who may not work out.

Soft Skills in Demand

What soft skills should you be looking for? No matter what industry you are in or what position you’re hiring for, skills such as listening and getting along with others are vital to success. According to a 2016 LinkedIn study, the top 10 soft skills employers look for most are:

  1. Communication (specifically, active listening)
  2. Organization (planning and implementing projects)
  3. Teamwork
  4. Punctuality
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Sociability
  7. Creativity
  8. Adaptability
  9. Interpersonal skills (in one’s relationship to others)
  10. Friendly personality

Assessing Soft Skills

When you’re advertising for an open position, how can you convey the importance of soft skills? “Your job posting should clearly indicate the needed hard skills, while also clearly communicating that you attribute as much importance to vital soft skills,” Valtin says. “Specifically, invite applicants who might not [have] the required hard skills to convince you why they should still be considered for employment.”

Once you receive some applications, Valtin cautions, don’t make the common mistake of eliminating applicants just because their resumes don’t show the necessary hard skills. “Some applicants may lie [about] their skills or [have different] standards than you,” he explains, noting that it’s easier to remedy a lack of hard skills than a lack of soft ones.

As you sort through job applicants and conduct the interview process, Valtin says, follow these steps to assess a candidate’s soft skills.

  • Make a list of important soft skills for the specific job you are posting and keep it in mind during the process.
  • No matter what the job is, always evaluate honesty as the prime soft skill.
  • Always explain why a specific soft skill is important on the job. For example, if you need someone who has a friendly attitude on the phone, explain how it affects customer service and retention.
  • During the interview, challenge the candidate on each specific soft skill by asking them when they were able to demonstrate the skill, and who could verify what they just told you.
  • Use pre-hire assessment tests to identify potential problem areas in a candidate’s soft skills. (Valtin suggests this one.)
  • When conducting reference checks, ask about a candidate’s specific soft skills or personality-related strengths and weaknesses.

Handshake Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Why You Need to Hire for Soft Skills, Not Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends

September 2017 Small Business Employment Statistics

Wages at small businesses across the country continue to rise but job growth at the same companies has stagnated.

That’s according to the latest Paychex | IHS Small Business Employment Watch.

September 2017 Small Business Employment Statistics

The manufacturing sector saw some job growth. But nationally, only the Midwest saw jobs increase at small businesses. All other regions tracked by the Paychex report saw job growth decline in the last month. Paychex notes that job growth has continued this trend since June even as wages at these companies continue to creep upward.

Payroll information that comes from Paychex clients is used in the report. The Index uses a baseline of 100 was established in 2004 to gauge small business health. It’s the starting point that represents moderate wage and/or job gains. The data is gathered from small businesses with less than 50 employees.

The Small Business Jobs Index hovered around the break even point at 99.93 in September. There’s been little movement in the national index since June. On the other hand, the picture is better for wages nationally.

The average hourly wage for small businesses in the United States was $26.03 an hour this month. That represents growth of  $0.75 from the previous year. Wage growth is keeping pace with August’s numbers, but both sets are slightly below the rate for July.

Hours worked are up in September and that trend has lasted for the last 10 months overall. This is despite the fact employees in Houston and Miami saw their hours drop significantly due to hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Regionally, the West is lagging behind other areas of the country in small business job growth. In fact, their rating of 99.56 put them in last place nationally for the first time in five years. The Midwest is at the other end of the scale with a 0.25 percent improvement in September. That marks the sixth month in a row that part of the country has seen an upswing.

Hourly earnings are up the most in the West while hours worked are up year over year across the country.

Image: Paychex

This article, "Job Growth Among Small Businesses Continues to Stagnate, Wages Continue to Climb Slowly" was first published on Small Business Trends