Giving Effective Employee Evaluations

Evaluating your employees can be a great method for helping managers assess employee performance and for giving feedback on how well an employee executes their job duties. Both parties can benefit immensely from evaluations.

Performance evaluations are imperative to company success. They provide room for both parties to gain feedback on what they are doing well, what they need to work on, what they want, and what both parties goals are, yet many managers dread the process or do not know how to conduct them effectively.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to conducting excellent employee evaluations!

Define Expectations

Define what is expected of the employee, and make sure that their goals are both measurable and observable. This way, when it comes time to give an evaluation, you will have very specific and tangible things to look at and bring to the table.

Create Goals

Discuss and set up goals with each employee, and then make sure to get each employee to sign off on the goals, showing that they are on board and agree with the plan in place. This way you will protect yourself from any backlash when it comes time to review your employees, and have a great way to hold employees accountable to the goals they set for themselves.

Provide Written Evaluations

Every 6 months or so, discuss employee performance. For struggling employees, consider a once a month evaluation. Ensure that written performance reviews reflect the entire evaluation period. By putting the evaluation in writing, you have something to refer back to when the next evaluation comes up.

Maintain a Performance Record

Similarly to my reasoning above, take written notes throughout the year, so you always have a paper trail to refer to when discussing employee performance. Things like big wins your employees encounter, any losses, etc… By keeping track of things like this, you will set yourself up for an incredibly successful employee review!

Ensure Integrity Of Evaluation

Written comments need to be factual, detailed and constructive. This makes employees feel both valued and like they are being paid attention to. Use respectful language and mannerisms during performance reviews. Listen actively and ask employee to clarify responses when necessary. It is also important that performance criteria is not changed after the review. Standards need to be consistent across employees.

By incorporating these simple steps into your evaluations, you will come away feeling like you have done an effective job at evaluating your employees! Good luck!

Master Your Elevator Pitch

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Meeting the right person at the right time could help launch your career to the next level! Here’s how to make the most of a chance encounter.

Always Be Ready

You never know when an opportunity will pop up, which is why it’s essential to have an elevator pitch at your disposal. Spend some time practicing and perfecting your pitch every so often so you have it fresh and ready to go in your mind at all times! This way you will always be prepared for any situation that might present itself to you.

Ease Into It

If it’s someone you know, acknowledge how you know each other. If it’s someone you’ve never met, you can still acknowledge what you have in common. For example, a bag or suitcase or pair of glasses, any common ground is better than nothing!

Focus On The Future

Your pitch shouldn’t be a laundry list of achievements of your life story. Instead, talk about what you’re working on or something you’re going to be doing. This catches people’s attention and intrigues them to ask more.

Keep It Short

Aim for a 45-second pitch. Practice in front of a mirror with a stopwatch and videotape yourself. Watch the clip and take notes. See if something doesn’t make sense, if you’re talking too fast or too slow, or if you want to reword anything.

Be Approachable

Make eye contact and keep your arms uncrossed so you’re open to the person in front of you. Be close, but maintain some distance so you’re not taking over the other person’s space.

Ask Questions

Turn the conversation back to the other person. At a minimum you should know enough that you can keep in touch with them.

Exchange Contact Info

A big pet peeve in networking is when people are too presumptuous. The elevator pitch is an introduction, not a close. It’s only purpose is to start a relationship. You want to connect with the person and plant the seed for future contact.

Watch here for more tips on mastering your elevator pitch:

How To Get Over Your Fear Of Networking

alan rasof

Does the thought of entering a crowded room filled with strangers give you anxiety? Does it make you feel overwhelmed?

Networking is a fear many people share. Some would even say it’s one of the scariest steps of finding a job. Whether it’s getting freaked out by small talk or the fear of forgetting someone’s name, networking can be a scary thing to do.

If you’re feeling spooked by networking, here are some tips that can help you become a fearless networker:

Attend fun networking events.

Consider attending networking events with a few friends such as happy hours hosted by professional organizations in your city, going to an alumni mixer, or getting involved with volunteering opportunities. These are some fun ways to meet new people without having to stress about networking.

Host your own networking event.

Can’t find a networking event that fits your needs? Why not host your own?

Hosting your own networking is quite simple. Find a location in your city such as a local coffee shop or restaurant and invite 10 of your colleagues to attend. This is a casual way to get a group of people together to mingle in a relaxed environment and you won’t have to worry if you will know anyone or not since you’ll be the one inviting people!

Use the magic of Twitter.

If you’re not ready to go to in-person networking events, Twitter can be a great resource for connecting with people in your industry!

Use Twitter to participate in industry Twitter chats, search for professionals in your area, and coordinate a meet-up. Twitter can also be used to share industry-related content and engage in conversations with people in your social network. By using Twitter, you’ll connect with more people all over the world in your industry that you probably wouldn’t have been able to in-person.

Stop the small talk.

Instead of focusing on making small talk, shift your focus to learning about the people you meet. Spark conversations with people by asking about THEM. Ask about their jobs, what they enjoy doing for fun, or why they like their jobs. These conversations will become more meaningful, will take the pressure off of you and you’ll learn more about the people you meet!

Avoid networking events altogether.

Instead of focusing on strictly attending networking events, consider going to conferences, workshops, or speaker events where you’ll meet professionals in your industry. These events will give you opportunities to make new connections without having to directly focus on networking.

Less is more.

Take the pressure off of yourself of feeling like you need to collect 20 business cards when you go to a networking event. Instead, focus on making one or two strong bonds with the new people you meet. This relationships will become more valuable in the future.


 

By following these tips, networking should become less scary and more enjoyable. Remember, networking is about building valuable relationships with people who can become friends and mentors.

What are some ways you’ve overcome your fear of networking?

How To Use Relationships and Referrals To Get A Job

Get Ready.

Identify what you want to achieve from networking. Are you exploring a new field or just want to learn about it? Do some homework first – research the field, read up on organization websites, and join a professional association so you can be conversant and professional with your contacts. Don’t waste people’s valuable time with basic questions that you could answer with a few minutes of research.

Get Organized. 

You will be doing a lot of outreach, visits, emailing and following up with people. Get a system in place to track the details, using a spreadsheet such as Excel, or whatever else works for you.

Identify Your Inner Circle.

Inner circle contacts are people who know you personally and might be able to recommend you.

Categorize Your Contacts.

Categorize your contacts by levels of connection with you. For example, begin with your inner most circle of family and friends, to inner circle of coworkers and classmates, to outer circle of friends of friends, to prospects who are people you know of but don’t know you. Another way to categorize is by relevance to your job search. Most relevant would be people currently in your desired industry, to least relevant, like a best friend in a totally unrelated industry, but still may know someone who knows someone….

Leverage Your Existing Inner Circle Contacts.

Contact them via Linkedin, email or phone, with a message reaching out to re-establish the relationship. Ask how they have been and mention that you are soon launching a job search.

Ask Your Contacts.

Ask them to keep an eye out for relevant jobs for you, and to forward them along. Ask them to introduce you to people in your area of interest. Ask them to give you tips on the hiring process for their organization. Ask them to recommend you on Linkedin. Ask them to meet with you to chat and catch up! You have nothing to lose!

Maintain Your Relationships.

Maintain the relationship that you have established with your new and existing contacts, and do this on an ongoing basis, not just when you are job-seeking.

Do this by, for example, sending a note after every interview, not just an email, but a handwritten card. If you don’t have their address for a handwritten card, write them a Linkedin recommendation!

 

How To Become A Master of Networking

Be Open And Genuine
You want people to like you and connect with you because you’re being genuine. Develop a curiosity for others and be open to new relationships where value can be found without letting your ego get in the way. Let people know the impact they’ve had on you.

Forget The Elevator Pitch
Don’t try to impress someone with your title or expertise. Instead, enter into conversation, ask questions and listen. The things you might have in common help to establish a connection that could blossom over time. Elevator pitches are easy to forget but making a genuine connection with someone sticks.

Organize A Happy Hour
Hosting your own small event is a great way to meet new people as well as to be helpful to the people you already know. You never know what opportunities could come from meeting new people and discussing your career in a casual setting. Always important to remember — the more open doors the better!

Network Up, Down, Sideways
Don’t just create a network at your level or industry – diversify! Be intentional about bringing in those above and below you and from a variety of sectors. Every new contact opens up a whole new network to you.

Swap Cards Later
Your business card is only as powerful as the impression you leave behind. By handing someone your card right off the bat, you are providing them with more room to forget about it. So get to know the person first and gauge if there’s a connection, and then end the conversation by offering your card, or even reach out days later via email with your information.

Remember – It’s Not All About You
Don’t ask about job opportunities and favors without offering anything valuable in return. Networking is a two way street.

Be Memorable
You should strive to be memorable when you’re meeting new people, and the best way to do so is through good storytelling. When you tell a story, make sure it has a clear point and a punch line, where a takeaway or a joke.

Quality, Not Quantity
Meeting the right people is most important. The right people are those that can help reach your career goal and speak up for you. You need to focus on people with whom you can build strong mutually beneficial relationships.

Leave Your Comfort Zone
Even if you’re shy, you just have to engage with people. Try to emulate someone you admire in these situations until it becomes more natural for you. After all, everyone was a stranger before you met them.

Keep In Touch
The more you invest in your network, the more valuable your network is. Taking calls, responding to emails, offering to help people creates a strong bond. It’s important to network proactively so you have these relationships when you need help.

Ways To Improve Company Culture

Company Culture Word Cloud

No matter the size of your company, its industry or your budget, certain environmental and behavioral changes are almost guaranteed to improve your team’s creative output, attract the right talent and ultimately move your company beyond what you can even imagine today.

Build an inspired workspace.

It all starts with the workspace. In today’s design-centric, user-focused world, companies have to move quickly and innovate constantly and that certainly won’t happen from behind a bland cubicle wall and dull office light.

Large open spaces, cozy living room setups, big windows, inviting kitchens and convenient facilities like showers and bicycle parking are what’s in. But even if you aren’t building an office from scratch, adding a lot of whiteboards and markers as well as providing your team with beautiful computers and other technology products will help give space to the outpouring of their creative juices.

Grant flexible work hours.

While stable work hours make for organizational order, the creative muse cannot be simply willed into being exactly from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. People have different rhythms that make them more or less productive during certain hours.

For some people, the best ideas come in the middle of the night or during a long lunch when the mind is relaxed. In the technology world, for example, it’s commonplace for developers to be more productive during the quieter “after-hours.” They might choose to sleep in later and work well into the wee hours of the night.

If you want to encourage productivity and inspiration, allow flexible work hours for members of your team. Let them do their work when they will do it best. Flexibility also attracts a creative talent pool of people with a variety of interests and commitments in life.

Remember the fun factor.  

Encourage employees to spend time together outside of the office. Plan events and social gatherings for employees. You can even incentivize your employees to reach a goal and reward them with a company happy hour. The more employees get to know and like each other, the happier they will be to come in to the office and work, in turn producing better results for your company!

Build a diverse team.

Many creative business owners often complain that they have trouble finding good staff people. Perhaps what they’re trying to find is a replica of themselves. They wrongly assume that having a professional twin would double their business overnight.

Carbon copies aren’t the key to creating an innovative company. Instead, build a diverse team whose strength lies in its members’ range of work experience, education and cultural backgrounds that play off of one another.

Put the team first.

To have a truly creative company culture, your staff has to be your biggest priority. While you may think that your customers should always come first, take a cue from powerful CEOs like Virgin Group’s Richard Branson and Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, who have proved that putting the team first makes customers and even shareholders happy.

5 Ways to Improve Your Resume

Alan Rasof

1. CUSTOMIZE FOR THE APPLICATION.

Employers who are screening resumes will eliminate any of the generalized resumes submitted. Offer only specific qualifications you have to best perform the job advertised. State your desired job title, for example, physical trainer, and then make all content relevant to performing that job. You should use a customized resume for different job titles even if you are qualified for several (i.e., one resumé for Physical Trainer, and another separate resume for Office Administrator) stressing only the information relevant to doing that specific job.

2. USE KEYWORDS!

Employers who sort resumés electronically look for keywords. Be sure to include potential keywords for job duties in your resume. Example: state purchased, bought or procured inventory (instead of bought inventory). That way, if the employer searches using the keyword “procured” your resume will not be overlooked.

3. SHOW BUSINESS SAVVY.

Only submit resumes created in the Microsoft WORD software, which is the business world’s standard. Many home computers use other word processing software that can’t always be read by many employer computers. You want to avoid this possible mishap and stick to the reliable Microsoft WORD. Whenever possible, also mail a hard copy of your resume after you have submitted one electronically since you would never be informed if the electronic version wasn’t readable.

4. ONE PAGE IS BEST.

Employers have stated that resumes get less than a 15-second glance, so concise and to the point worked best no matter what level position the candidate applied for. Be a skillful editor, deleting old portions or anything not relevant or helpful to your securing a particular position. No vague generalities. Say exactly what you mean, using the smallest number of words to make the point.

5. BE PERFECT.

The resumé must be flawless. No spelling errors, mistakes or typos. Many HR managers have insisted that they would not hire offenders. PROOFREAD CAREFULLY. Don’t trust computer spell checkers since a correctly spelled word like sea, would go unnoticed by your computer but would be incorrectly used if you meant to say “see.”

The Correlation Between Kindness & Success For Your Business

All businesses can benefit from giving back to their community in a number of ways. Supporting a local charity, hosting philanthropy events, and even partnering up with various nonprofit organizations prove to be beneficial for a company’s success. Being kind goes a long way in all aspects of the world. Charitable acts should not be carried out with expectations for financial gain. But, they certainly have many rewards that can help businesses grow. Here are just a few ways businesses can benefit from giving back:

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First, companies should recognize that it is important to build a good reputation within their community. According to an article published by Entrepreneur.com, “ The relationships formed between customers and prominent community member can be of great value to the company in the future,” (Boitnott, 4 Ways Your Company Benefits From Giving Back). When businesses help out around the community, the community will want to help out those businesses in return. Think of this as a form of good karma – you get what you give. Being recognized as a business that has foundations of compassion towards the local community will help establish the business as a leader in the community, and you will most likely gain a few customers who trust the company and like what the company represents.

Giving back to your community will also help the community grow and become a better place to live. By helping to fix local parks, donating money to school systems, and keeping the streets safe and clean, employees will work in a safer environment, and if they live in the area their children will have a safer place to learn and play. Plus, everyone can benefit from an enjoyable park to relax at and soak up some sun on the weekends.

community service, alan rasof

Furthermore, employees will respect the company they work for if it is involved with some kind of community service, and they will look up to strong leaders who make these impactful initiatives. According to Entrepreneur.com, “If you make your company a positive force in the community it can improve employees’ regard for their corporate leaders, which can only help you. It’s also simply a nice feeling and can make you more motivated to work there,” (Boitnott, 4 Ways Your Company Benefits From Giving Back). Always remember, good morale is essential for growing a successful business.

In conclusion, there are many ways a company can benefit by being kind and helping out around the community. The main point of community service is to help the people around you, and there’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve done so. So be kind in all aspects of life, it’s the best thing you can do.

Chicago Award Program: The Best of Business

Annually, the Chicago Award Program recognizes top local businesses in and around the Chicago area that have demonstrated an exceptional ability to use marketing techniques to grow their company despite rough economic upheaval. This year, Alan Rasof’s company, ATR Investments, has been selected for the 2015 Best of Chicago Awards for Real Estate Agents.

Alan T. Rasof - Chicago awardThis honorable recognition directly correlates to ATR Investments’ diligent work ethic and perseverance throughout the year as a local business. ATR Investments has demonstrated a positive image of smaller businesses through their great customer service and loyalty to the Chicago community, making Chicago an admirable place to work and live.

This award will bring strategic value, sales, and free publicity to ATR Investments, further boosting their strong marketing strategies and helping their realty business grow even larger. Small business and entrepreneurs face a challenging environment of ever-increasing competitive local economies. Winning this award will help Alan Rasof’s business gain further recognition and support from the Chicago community that the company is based in – all while staying consistent with its tactical small-business strategies that have built the foundations of the company.

Furthermore, ATR Investments’ Best of 2015 Chicago Real Estate Agents Award can be used as an effective sales tool to aid the company’s customer growth. The award will also act as a marketing tool for free publicity. As Steven Anderson, manager of Devon Health Corp. stated, “‘We believe it (business awards) helps validate what we do in the company and enhances our ability to keep good people,’” (Chicago.local-best.com).

In conclusion, ATR Investments’ hard work over the past year has made a lasting impact on Chicago business professionals, gaining recognition amongst both high-level executives and local business employees throughout the Chicago area.

Online Networking Tips

Alan Rasof There’s no doubt that networking is one of the most beneficial things you can do to become successful in your career. And now that we are entering a digital age, online networking will play a key role in companies’ recruiting efforts, and for individuals searching for job opportunities.

According to Monster.com, chairman and CEO of RHI (Robert Half International) notes, “Networking sites can be used to identify new career opportunities, create online profiles that highlight one’s skills and experience, and build a roster of business contracts over time,” (5 Steps for Online Networking Success). That being said, there are many ways you can make sure you are prepared to network online. Here are some helpful tips:

First, create an online website that will give insight of who you are and what you care about. RHI advises to “pay as much attention to the content of your online profile as you would the information in your resume,”(5 Steps for Online Networking Success). This means you should be highlighting many of your professional skills, writing well-written blog posts and information that showcases your dedication as a professional.

Alan Rasof

Next, find quality contacts. Your online network should focus on professionals in your industry that are willing to help you out and connect you with higher level individuals that may be able to help you find a job or build your skills. You might have to start by adding a few of your close friends that could connect you with one or two people in your career-path, and go from there. Don’t ever be afraid to reach out to somebody you think could offer you advice, just be diligent and aware that you are online and there could be impersonations of people.

Finally, always be professional and polite online. Networking to advance your career online must be done with care. You should not have images or content that you wouldn’t want somebody giving you an interview to look at.  According to RHI experts, “Make sure that any public messages or images you post don’t detract from your professional image,”(5 Steps for Online Networking Success). Of course, privacy settings are there for a reason, but it’s best to stay on the safe side and not post anything you think is questionable.

Always remember that the internet is a tool that our society should utilize purposefully, and to not step over the line and make a careless mistake that could be detrimental to your career. Use online networking to your advantage, but always be cautious.