Category: Communication

 

How a Business Cope with Staff Loss

image from saveup.com

image from saveup.com

2 weeks ago, one of my Key staff  in fact a person I have been training for 3 years to replace myself was head hunted and decided to go with the offer given to him. This was a shock and a blow not only to myself, but to clients and fellow employees. So how does a business recover from this?

In the IT trade, moving jobs is a common occurrence. This is not something I am proud to express, but it is a fact. So many people are working on contract today, and the demand for quality programmers is so high, that contracts constantly overlap each other, that a person can really choose not only where they wish to work, but the type of IT work that they wish to do. So at all times I prepare for staff to leave and make sure that all people duplicate each other and that all information is recorded.

We have systems that cover for staff turnover. So the core work is always being achieved, and clients are not being disadvantaged by changes of staff in a technical sense. However the human sense is affected.

This occurrence can cause impact on current staff, as they have to learn to work with a new staff member.

CRM in word tag cloudSo one part of the solution to this problem, is that for core work, you need to have good systems, in fact a good database. What can you expect from such a system? A CRM or customer relationship management systems can control not only your customer, but generally link the data you need to retain about your customer, your contacts, your quotes, your invoices can link to this as well if it is a good system.

At Accede we have recently been interfacing off the shelf CRM’s to Accounting products, estimation packages and other products. By creating this interface for the client, it is a seamless way to see the whole of the customer’s information.

Other places I have created solutions for include knowledge based systems. These systems in fact hold expertise, experience etc. from key people. Knowledge bases for a user is like talking to the expert about a problem. The knowledge base take a person through a potential issue, what questions they should ask, what possible answers they may get, and what to do next. It is a like having the expert right beside you without having them there. I have noticed, however, that this is generally the main reason that the loss of Key staff is hugely impacting.

The other part of the equation, being the human affect, is solved only by communication. This communication is essential if you wish to retain clients, build new clients and retain existing staff members.

Losing staff and clients is a fact and generally not in your control (unless you need to review your management). However retaining clients and staff is something you need to constantly work on. The key to this retention is communication. Take the time. Discuss. Share. Find ways to openly communicate in a respectful manner. Praise where praise is due. Discuss problems without being personal or denigrating. Work as a team.

Insurance of key staff, often helps with the financial aspect, but good systems will help with the core work and management. Plus make sure your staff’s work is overlapped, so that people can take holidays and the loss of a staff member can quickly be covered.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Millennials on Family and Business

image from uws.edu.au

image from uws.edu.au

I have a son who is almost 21 years of age. I am lucky. He has a work ethic, and even though he would love to be Peter Pan for his whole life, my blunt, no nonsense approach has made him face the facts that Peter Pan will not give him the life style he so demands.

However with this said, I have recently been involved in another family members life crisis. 5 months ago a family member was made redundant. He has apparently looked for jobs, but won’t return phone calls, or even keep his phone on him and turned on. Why, I can only assume because he will get a job, and can no longer excuse his laziness and desire not to work.

If you are reading this, you may think I am harsh. However, I will back this up, by stating, we offered him work, and he has elected for the last 2 weeks not to take up this offer. He did not return 2 phone call messages, or even answer the phone on the agreed call time. Blamed his 5 year old son for having his phone. In the end, he decided not to work this week, because he hopes to have job interviews! Just to get this in perspective, the offer was made because his family (wife and 2 children under 6) would not be able to make their mortgage payments in 5 weeks time.

I can repeat this story for other family friends, their children, nieces and nephews.

What is with this generation?

Personally, I am tired of working hard, paying tax, and knowing this paid tax is literally just propping up these lazy people. Before we had such a welfare state, people worked or starved. I am not stating I would like people to starve. However, I am really tired of our government stating we should work until we are 70 to keep propping up these lazy people.

Enough is enough!
image from fastcompany.com

image from fastcompany.com

Our whole country is drowning, and no one is taking the hard calls. Our politicians are too busy feathering their own nests. Those employed are busting butt trying to get from A to B. Big business, care for those that are part of their group, and too bad for the rest. Some companies only care about the bottom line. For the last 20 years, our government has just demanded businesses give more. Well businesses have had to go too far, they are now leaving the country or giving up (quitting or retiring).

So where does this lead?

Dollar depreciation creates a domino effect from lesser lifestyle standards to higher crime rates. I believe if a survey was done, those unemployed for 3 months, it would be clear, how much emotional damage has affected these people. We have a responsibility not only to the physical welfare but the emotional one as well. Pacifying welfare recipients is a recipe for disaster in this country. Our government need to be responsible and face these facts.

What do I think we should do?

Experts in this area will bring many ideas. These ideas need to be considered and an active plan put in place, that must be followed and reviewed by each government party whether they be Liberal or Labour. This generation needs to understand that Peter Pan is dead! Living off their parents after the age of 21 is abuse (unless studying and this should be agreed to by the parents prior, with a specific end date).

The Welfare State as we have it, should cease. We need to find our own path. Review the pluses and minuses of the Welfare systems in the UK, the USA and other countries. Come up with a plan and option that will work for Australia.

I feel we are looking at this a bit like the Carbon issue. Doing too little, too late. We will pay the penalty.

I for one, will not stand by and let this happen. I am taking the hard calls today, and hope that my son, will learn, rise above, and be an achiever for his generation. The few that do stand up, will be given opportunity, and will reap success.

As far as business and myself. Well, I try to find the gems in generation Y. They are there, even though hard to find. But Gems they are, and as such, greatly valued by myself.

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Top Ten Technology Trends to see this 2015

bigdataservicesJust as we rely on technology and electronics for our dailies, we ought to think what is next for us to come? Gartner Inc. highlighted from their symposium last October 5-9 at Orlando, Florida the top ten strategic technology trends we will expect this 2015. Gartner Inc. defined strategic technology as an idea that has a potential to create a huge impact for the next three years. David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow said that they have identified these trends that they think organizations cannot afford to ignore in their strategic planning. He added that these trends cover three themes: merging real and virtual worlds, the onset of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift.

 

 

 

 

 

According to Gartner Inc. here are the top 10 trends we should watch for this 2015:

  1. Computing Everywhere  Gartner predicted a much more advancement on mobile devices catering new contexts and environments for the end users. Aside from wearable devices, there is also the idea of consumer electronics and connected screens in both workplace and public spaces. This advancement will pose more management challenges for IT authorities to control their user endpoint devices. It will also become challenging for them to provide extraordinary user design experience for their customers.
  1. The Internet of Things User-oriented computing will be the thing in 2015. All devices, searches and data leading to the Internet of Things will be connected to the Internet of Me. All searches on one single concept (for example housing) might lead to assets (property list of properties), services (property developers or real estate firms), people (real estate agents), places (list of properties near the area of search) and systems (mortgage systems). Gartner stressed that all industries can leverage to the four basic internet models. These are Manage, Monetize, Operate, and Extend.
  1. 3D Printing For the next three years, 3D printing is about to get cheaper and its market will grow around 98% in 2015 alone. Industries, biomedical and consumer applications will continue displaying the advantages of using 3d printing as a cost-effective measure. They will reiterate that using this technology will reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping, and short-run manufacturing without sacrificing product quality.
  1. Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics Gartner indicates that analytics will be on the spotlight as it will collect huge number of data generated from embedded systems. These vast pools of structured and unstructured data will be analyzed inside and outside the enterprise. Mr. Cearley said that every app now gathers data from its users and these data can be used in analysis primarily on customer and product research. He added, Organizations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the Internet of Things, social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.” Apparently the answer rely on the numbers or stats not the data itself.
  1. Current-Information-AgeContext-Rich Systems In relation to embedded analytics and intelligence, this feature will make every system alert and responsive to their surroundings. Context-aware security understands the context of a user request thus alerting the system and respond on a possible security threat. It somehow simplifies the complexities brought about by the advanced computing world.
  1. Smart Machines Self-taught machines will emerge as they are programmed to understand context data and analytics making them act accordingly. This is predicted to evolve rapidly thus making this technology the most disturbing in the history of IT. Expect more prototype autonomous vehicles, advanced robots, virtual personal assistants, smart advisors and other forms of machine helpers starting the new age of machine helpers.
  1. Cloud/Client Computing With the emergence of cloud computing over the past years, it is anticipated to synchronize files and applications across multiple devices. This enables apps to use intelligence and storage effectively lowering bandwidth costs. This will provide enhanced experience for gamers as they are able to use multiple screens and wearables while playing.
  1. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure To keep up with the ever-changing demands of digital business, the computing industry should move away from static models and resort to software-defined applications and infrastructure. This along with cloud services are configurable through rich API’s to access their function and content programmatically.
  1. Web-Scale IT – As defined by Gartner Inc. Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. It is implemented by web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook setting a commercial hardware platform. This platform embraces cloud-optimized and software-defined approaches to reach mainstream. DevOps is said to be the first step in achieving Web-Scale IT for many organizations.
  1. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection It is certain that with all this advancements comes the issue of security and protection. It is certain that security measures will go from perimeter defense to multi-faceted approaches. Expect security measures built directly into applications making each app self-aware and self-protecting against threats and viruses.

 

Sources:

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2867917

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fgjd45eldm/1-computing-everywhere-2/

 

 

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Making the most out of Client-Staff Relationship

5c6e3604057235d6f905282b70bff640This is the stuff nightmares are made of – or at least this is how I feel right now. For those business owners who manage staff who sell the outcomes of their intellect, this is the hardest part of owning a business. I feel this is a total load balancing act and as the owner, I am a tight rope walker.

Problem – To give quality product at high profit margin – quality long term staff are the keys to success. You also need to employ those better than yourself whenever possible and certainly in specialty areas if you want a long term safe business.

The problem is to keep this kind of employee happy is always a challenge. This kind of employee needs challenge, but not too much and not too hard in respect to delivery times. They need to feel good about their work. They generally like to be part of a team, even if the part is only signs of appreciation and discussion. They need to be respected in all areas of their life by their employee.

Here is the problem. The client thinks they are always right and don’t give a damn about how they treat your staff – they can do what they want. In the end you can try to manage this, accept this and lose staff or walk away.

So how to manage this – these are my tips.

  1. 1403015865-5-tips-building-strong-relationships-clientsRemember going into an agreement is a 2 way streak. You can be offered a sale but you don’t have to accept the sale if you see signs that this business is an abusive business. It will probably only cost you in the end.
  2. There are times a good business has stress and will behave in what you may consider as unrealistic ways. This does not mean it is a bad business. There always needs to be give and take.
  3. Be clear about your expectations and demand a win/win relationship. However chose your timing in regards to demands.
  4. Protect your staff where ever possible from abusive clients, and don’t be afraid to stay – No. Sometimes you just have to.
  5. Finally remember – if you are busting your guts to fix an abusive situation consider letting go of it, and spending your time on a more productive option.
  6. Weigh up your approach. Sometimes the direct approach is necessary – but this is rare and you have a high chance that this approach will not end up in your favour – unless your desire is to end the relationship. It may be better to offer a win / win outcome.
  7. Choose your battle. Customers could write or say abusive things – this is purely the emotion related to the problem. Solve the problem – don’t go over the abuse. Deal with the abuse and decide how you want to deal with that as a separate matter. Don’t get the two mixed together.
  8. Ask your staff – if you have a company need that is above and beyond, and accept a No. But do not ask too often. Encourage a No, and accept this graciously without any stress or guilt being passed on.
  9. Be prepared to say Goodbye. 5% of your clients will bring you 95% of your profits and they take only 5% of your stress, whilst the other 95% of your stress only brings 5% profits. A customer who always brings stress – is just not worth it – Say Goodbye.

Clients can be abusive and not even know it. I see this all the time in programming.

Here are some examples and suggested ways of managing.

I asked for this, why isn’t it done? (never mind they only asked for it 5 minutes ago, and you have not had chance to make this change) Explain clearly, I understand you want this change. This change will take X time to programme and test. You can expect to get this back to yourself by..

I would like to meet with you at 9.30pm (the time of this request is 6.30pm, and you work a 9-5 day).Generally you can consider a once off with this request, but let it be known this is a once off.

So if you find this area a challenge as a manager – remember each experience must be handled uniquely and with wisdom. This wisdom you will gain with experience and reviewing of a situation. So if you lose, turn that into a win, by reviewing and gaining experience. If you Win – Double up, by reviewing and gaining experience.

Bottom line – bullying and harassment by any one, client, owner or staff is not acceptable. So don’t just accept it, take control and work out what you want to do and how you want to handle this matter.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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How to Deal with Change – The Easy Way

shutterstock_111462035Being in the IT industry I am at the forefront of change. Changes in what is available, changes in business practice, changes for employers and changes for employees. So in short for 32 years I have been deeply involved in change from one aspect or another – but change in itself has many, many issues.

It is generally not the change itself, but the actions related to the change that cause so many issues. Some of these side effects are:

  • Cost
  • Staff limitations
  • People not pulling or working together for the same end goals
  • Lack of planning and or preparations
  • Lack of Clarity in expectations
  • Lack of depth in review.

Plus many more.

As for me change is easier said than done. So the question is how we can implement change without much pain?

Begin by clearly defining the proposed change. Make sure all those involved are very clear in understanding about this change. This does not mean – telling them, but interactively sharing with those involved. Invite those involved to consider or reveal any possible side effects that may occur due to the change. Do not dismiss this information – this information can be golden key advice. In fact, every time you hear of a change gone wrong, someone always says “I knew”, “If only they had listened”, “Why did they ignore” Etc. So listen, consider and make sure you have brought these ideas into account.

changes-ahead-exit-signMake sure the time to implement the change is agreeable to all. Double check your costing, by 2 different people. It is easy to forget a cost. These costing should be reviewed with the reported side effects.

Action plan for implementation of larger plans – Dont be afraid to really get down to nuts and bolts here, and remember if you want a smooth transition – don’t rush the actions. Be time, cost and human aware.

Plan for difficulties, e.g. sickness, miss performing equipment etc. It always seems that the timing of problems is always the worst time – and it is this way due to not planning for down time. So bring this into your plans.

And Finally – Never work from Anger. Never make changes in panic and anger. This generally leads to far more issues and in the end you are in crisis management.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Carbon Tax – A Real Option or Additional Expense?

This morning, I read another article from our government about Carbon Tax. In short, I believe that what was presented some years ago by the Labour Government of Australia, was really nothing short of a new tax dressed up. But in the end all the monies were going in one big pot and it was up to the Government to distribute. I listen to the Liberal ideas, and I believe that they are trying to find a solution that will encourage business, and still be responsible.

Is there another Option? YES!!!

carbon-taxJust before the earthquake that devastated Christchurch NZ, I was working with an insurance company, who with the financial and intellectual backup of Zurich and Lloyds of London, had come up with another idea, that they wanted to test, and if it worked, bring this to the next world wide summit.

Here is the plan in simple terms.

A Carbon Monitoring company monitors the carbon credit and or debit points of a company/country/location. These points are floated on what is similar to a stock exchange. Those with credit points, needed to insure this asset, and they could offer their credits on the carbon stock exchange for those with Debits to purchase. In the end, each debit company, had to purchase the equivalent credit points to cover their debits. This model meant the following

  • It would be economic to keep the rainforests.
  • National parks would gain an income by caring for their credit assets
  • Farmers could build wind and crop breaks with trees and sell the credits off these areas, bringing in another income stream to their business.
  • Those that abuse the carbon (get lots of Debits) pay for the credits.
  • Wind farms create credits and have an income stream over their electrical inputs.
  • Alternative energy can still be sourced.
  • Costs are fairly shared in all industries.

FeaturedImageThis could be done just in Australia and this would be our carbon answer. This could also be a model for the world, and we could once again lead the way. Why don’t we? We have the skill, the ability, and expertise. Plus this is a real working answer to the carbon issue. We would be showing a tangible action, not just a money collecting action.

How is this afforded? Like with any stock exchange, each buy and sell has a % commission payable. This is still financially based, but really very, very fair. It creates employment, it is a new industry and if we do this right, we could lead the world and really get our plan out there. If we only succeed in a limited sense, at least our carbon plan is real and is showing a true action to the financial input.

 

Every time we get a new tax, I am reminded of the viable industry that was totally ruined by Government when they brought on board work cover. Instead of just making rules, and making sure these were enforced, they created work cover. What has this meant? Less coverage, bit financial burden to the government, and 1000’s of jobs lost. When will they learn?

Let business do business and let our Government Govern. I don’t care if this is Labour, Liberal or Greens. Even with the NBN, other countries put in rules, our country the government tax us and put in a NBN. It does not make sense.

Let business do business and let Government Govern!

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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How To Stop Staff “Back-Biting”

angry-meeting
Recently reading a document from a Business Consultant – Brett Williams, he mentioned how he had done quite a bit of work with businesses who are trying to get the staff to stop “back biting”. I found this interesting, as this has never been a problem that I have had to face.

I thought about why I had not faced this, and I believe I have the answer. The old adage of everything starts from the top – I agree with. So starting with me as the managing director – I have a personal philosophy “No reasons, Excuses or Stories”. This philosophy has lead me to be honest, open and clear on my expectations with staff. If a staff member tries to justify or blame someone else for them not achieving a result – I immediately stop the conversation and ask if they are applying to this philosophy. If they are not, then I ask them to reconsider.

Even if we need to review a problem, by having this philosophy, and never being personal with a problem, then from management, I am not allowing people to feel ashamed of being honest and up front. This means that we can solve problems – not create extra ones, or have issues trying to work out what really occurred.

I also ask staff to treat me and each other as I treat them. If they feel I am out of line, I encourage them to respectfully speak up, and visa versa. I find this also leads to far greater respect amongst us all. Only in the last 3 days, I had to chat to a staff member who was about to come on the heavy to someone he was managing, and asked if he would like to be treated this way. He reconsidered his position and the action never took place.

Finally – responsibility. Most of the time, I have found the justification of mistreatment comes from a person not taking responsibility. As I don’t believe in “Working the Man”, I wont allow my staff to work me. I am happy to hear and assist on any problem, as long as the problem brought to me, is attached to a prospective solution – even if they believe the solution to be foolish. If they bring a problem to me without any possible solution, I inform them that this is unfair, and not how I should be treated. By staffing taking on responsibility, then they are responsible for not only achieving a job, but also the care and well being of those working with them to achieve this job.

So with these four simple methods, I have avoided all staff back biting.

  1. No reasons, Excuses or Stories
  2. Treat others as you wish to be treated
  3. Be responsible and encourage others to be responsible
  4. Don’t manage with a “work the man” philosophy.

I hope that these ideas help you get rid of back biting and make you business life far more enjoyable and productive.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Preparation – Procrastination or Essential in Business

Up until last Friday – I would have said, preparation is necessary, but don’t go over the top. Realise this is said from experience and a business perspective. However an experience last week, taught me a whole new slant on Preparation, that I had honestly never considered.
My perspective was : Prepare – do this efficiently and effectively. Don’t waste time, writing a book, when the readers digest version willimages

suffice. Be clear, be definite, and make sure all parties can understand the desired result.

Early in my business ownership, I employed a programmer, that for every 10 lines of code he wrote, he added a 30 line comment. This was the average. After about 6 months and no improvement on efficiency I let this programmer go. Having a glass of wine with a fellow programmer and employer for a government branch, we shared the funnies of our trade. Well she told me of this current employee – whom she was going to let go, that wrote 4 to 1 comments to code – here is the funny part, she had employed my ex programmer. This programmer was preparing for the programmer that followed, but was totally over prepared, by lacking in efficiency himself.

However a recent experience made me re assess my position on preparation.

Now my experience last week was a funeral. I was shared in the preparation for this funeral, as it was for a beloved family member. Well, I found that I was once again taught a valuable lesson from this family member I was saying goodbye to. They had spent time, working out the funeral that they would like in minute detail. They had paid for the funeral, selected the readings, the hymns, the location, the plot, even the information to be put in the paper.

The beauty of this level of preparation showed in first 48 hours after my family member departed. The family left to prepare still had a lot to do, and not all things went exactly as she had prepared. But the beauty of this level of preparation was that the intent was clear, and the guess work was minimal. We all knew the desired outcome. One situation did arise during this that could have created quite an issue, but due to the clear outcome, this issue was easily reasoned and a resolution put in place, that left no one but those involved in the planning aware of this issue. In fact all family, friends and professionals who were involved commented on the ease and beauty of this funeral.

So I have had to review my Preparation position slightly.
Prepare – do this efficiently and effectively. Don’t waste time, but be prepared where emotion is involved to take a little more time with the details. Be clear, be definite, and make sure all parties can understand and accept the desired end result.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work. 

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