Firing an Employee – Part II

To Fire or Not to Fire, That Is the Question

(Part Two of a Two-Part Series)

A packed box sits atop an empty desk.Firing an employee is not a pleasant task and should be avoided if possible. But if you’ve tried to work through problems with a difficult employee to no avail, than you must terminate their employment in order to prevent any further drain on your energy and financial resources. Last week we discussed characteristics of problematic employees to help you determine whether an employee is exhibiting fire-worthy behavior. This week we’ll discuss ways to remedy that behavior and either turn them into more productive and pleasant workers or take the necessary steps to fire them.

Take Note

First of all, it’s important to document your experience with problematic employees long before you choose to fire them. This should protect you should your employee, at some point, take legal action against you.

Practice Regular Reviews

It’s unfair to fire an employee for continuing to practice poor behavior if you’ve never told them it’s poor in the first place. Depending on need, you should practice regular reviews where you call employees in, individually, and talk to them about their performance. In doing so you must be brutally honest and share problematic behavior you’ve noticed and explain to them how it undermines your business’s success. Clarify that the responsibility to change their behavior and improve their performance rests with them. If he/she expresses interest in making changes, ask the employee in question to create an action plan that will help them better chart their way to success. Maintain regular contact with this employee to offer continued feedback and advice as they move forward.

Counseling Out

Once you’ve talked with an employee they’ll either improve their behavior or they won’t. If you find the latter to be the case, you may opt for Counseling Out. CareerBuilder.com defines Counseling Out as “the process of providing enough regular, candid and honest feedback that an employee quits before being fired.” Here are the steps you should take in order to accomplish that:

  • First, you establish a timeline, determining a date by which you hope to see the employee quit; CareerBuilder suggests one month. This timeline is not to be shared with the employee in question in case you choose to fire them before your deadline.
  • Second, schedule a meeting with the employee where you present specific examples of poor performance. If they insist on defending themselves schedule a separate meeting for them to do so, but insist that this meeting is a time for you to share your concerns and explain that the employee’s poor behavior cannot continue. Run through an actual hardcopy of your list (your documentation should help in creating this) and then both you and your employee should sign the list as evidence that all these concerns have been thoroughly communicated. End your meeting by clearly stating, “Now would be a good time for you to look for another job.”
  • Third, schedule weekly meetings to note the employee’s behavior. Ask how the job search is progressing and provide them with the necessary search tools and advice to find another job. Create meeting notes that you can both sign. And continue to document your observations.
  • Fourth, hopefully your employee will quit before you reach the end of your timeline, but if that doesn’t happen it’s time for you to terminate this worker’s employment.

Terminate Employment

When you fire an employee you should do it in a face-to-face meeting. Never delegate this responsibility or perform it over the phone or via email. Regardless of how you approach it, chances are it will be an uncomfortable meeting; detail the performance evaluations you’ve completed and the employee’s lack of improvement. It may be a good idea to have another individual present in order to witness the event both for your legal protection and to provide support in case the employee gets out of control. Terminate employment quickly and make it clear when they are to leave (avoid being overly harsh-“pack up your office by noon” is a little much).Firing an employee may be one of the most difficult things you ever do. But if you’ve evaluated the situation and determined the employee’s behavior is not going to improve, you will be doing everyone a favor by letting him/her go. You never know, the employee may thank you later.References“Counseling Out.” careerbuilder.com.

Dazzling Potential Clients

4 Ways to Make a Good First Impression

A man holds a picture in front of his face.Did you know that the people you meet size you up in just 3 seconds, determining your level of professionalism and whether or not they would like to pursue a business relationship with you? In 3 seconds no one can determine your personal values or level of integrity; it’s obviously a superficial assessment. And while you may be morally opposed to such things, the truth is that your business depends, to a certain extent, on your ability to project a positive first impression. Here are four things to consider when meeting people for the first time:

1. Dress and GroomingObviously, the way you dress says something about you and even the way you conduct business. If you’re a sloppy dresser some might assume you’re also a sloppy accountant. If you’re well groomed, many will assume you’re a trusted professional and will remember that impression the next time they look for someone to manage their finances. So consider your wardrobe and if necessary, invest in some power outfits. They don’t have to be expensive, but they should fit well and help you present a refined image. You may be surprised at how this modest investment is returned to you through a larger clientele.2. Speaking and MannerismsThe way you carry yourself and speak to others leaves a powerful impression. If you’re articulate, confident and well spoken, they’ll think highly of you, and as a result, they’ll think highly of your business. Also watch those mannerisms that are uniquely you. The way you pick at your teeth may be enduring to your husband, but a potential client may not think so. Carry yourself with confidence and ease and you’ll find that people are drawn to you and feel comfortable in your presence, thus securing that dazzling first impression.3. MarketingThe materials you distribute to promote your business also provide potential clients with an impression of you and your services. Poorly written and designed materials, even on a website, may cause people to assume that your work would be equally unimpressive. You should ensure that everything that leaves your office has been reviewed and proofread by a third party. It’s important that your marketing materials have a professional look and feel so that your target audience will appreciate the polished image you’re trying to convey.4. Professional CorrespondenceThe way you interact with people also leaves an impression. Something as simple as the way you answer the phone, the timeliness in which you respond to an email, or the manner you use to greet those who come to your office, all demonstrate your professionalism. When you treat people with respect in all those interactions, they’ll come to respect you and your business.

Don’t disregard the significance of a powerful first impression. When those you first meet are struck by your appearance, professionalism, and confidence, they will remember your business and come to you for their financial needs. So while 3 seconds isn’t very long, it’s long enough to increase your client roster and your bottom line.

First Impressions Do Count

First Impressions Do Count

It probably sounds trite, but when you have exposure to a client or prospective client for the first time, there is no doubt that a first impression can be a lasting impression.

How then do you create a good first impression?

In many instances your initial exposure is through your marketing efforts, it may also be in person or by telephone, e-mail or through your website.

The attached list is not exhaustive but includes matters which should be considered in relation to the creation of a good first impression:

· You need to look the part – always be well dressed and well groomed. If you follow this practice, it won’t matter if a client or potential client suddenly materializes unexpectedly.

· Your office telephone should be answered in a professional manner

· You should ensure that your website does not appear to have been developed by an amateur and that it is always up to date

· Your business cards and stationery should also have a professional appearance. It’s worth investing a little bit more, to give the right look.

· If you are using any marketing brochures, make sure that they add to and not detract from your professionalappearance. It really looks like amateur hour when marketing brochures incorporate inappropriate clipart and meaningless copy

· First impressions are critical when you are networking. You should always rehearse what you are going to say about your business when you meet someone for the first time – “your 30 second personal commercial” or “elevator speech”

A great deal of time and effort goes into your exposure to clients and potential clients and the opportunities should not be squandered.

Other Features From Today’s Newsletter:

  • We Want You To Teach Us How to Improve
  • Give Clients Early Warning
  • Retirement Savings Motivation
  • Show Me How to Make $80,000/year With My Own Accounting Service

How to Market Your Skills to Find the Perfect Job

Don’t Limit Yourself to the Sunday Paper

Now’s a great time to advance your career. How would you like an average 7% raise in salary this year?According to Robert Half International*, the worlds largest placement service for accounting professionals, you can expect up to an average increase in pay of about 7% this year if you work in the accounting field. And it doesn’t matter if you work in small or large companies, the demand for skilled accounting professionals is on the rise. (Of course, depending on they type of accounting responsibility you have and the efforts you make to strengthen your skill set, your expected increase could be more or less than the average.)

What Type of Positions are Available?

According to Robert Half International, here are some of the most sought-after specialties nationwide:

  • Internal Audit- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other corporate governance regulations, have generated unprecedented demand for internal auditors. These professionals are being hired to examine all the financial actions, develop audit strategies and conduct audits of their organization’s financial records.
  • General Accounting- Businesses all over the country are recruiting staff and senior accountants to manage a variety of accounting needs, including maintaining general-ledger accounts, preparing financial statements and assisting with the budget process.
  • Financial Analysis- Financial analysts are being hired to evaluate cost and expense variances, assist with budgeting and forecasting, and perform financial modeling.
  • Controller- Many firms are expanding the number of controllers in their organizations. These professionals are being hired on both full-time and consulting basis to to improve the reporting process and create better internal financial controls.
  • Tax Accounting- Organizations are actively hiring tax accountants to address new twists in the tax code and comply with greater documentation requirements of the Federal Government.
  • Accounts Payable and Receivable- Increased purchasing activity has increased the demand for accounts payable staff to process incoming invoices. As their businesses grow, firms also need additional accounts receivable professionals to manage payments from clients.
  • Bookkeeping- Small companies are hiring bookkeepers to handle their basic accounting requirements, including processing payroll, managing general-ledger reconciliations and overseeing accounts payable and recievable.

Large and small companies are looking for accounting professionals. Right now, more than ever, if you have the right skills, you’ll be able to find the right job.

What’s the Best Way to Market My Skills?

Whether or not you can broadcast your availability, you still need to make the right people aware of your desire to find a new job. Your networking skills are very important in your search, and in most cases will be what helps you find your new job.Make sure that anyone who can help you promote yourself knows about your desire to advance your career. You might be surprised at the resources you’ll find. Whether you’re marketing or considering a change in occupation, networking works. If you’d like to read a little more about the power of networking, click HERE.

Update Your Resume and Make a List of Your Professional Skills

In his book, Getting Everything You Can Out of What You’ve Got, Jay Abraham, a world renowned marketer, speaker and writer, tells a story about a friend of his that might help shed some light on how important updating your resume and list of professional skills is to help you find the perfect job.His friend was a catalogue manager for a large computer mail-order company. Over the years he’d risen to the highest level within the company that he possibly could. He had also trained a number of younger people who, over the years, had quit and gone to more prestigious, high-profile jobs.As time went on his one-and-a-half hour commute and all the bureaucratic corporate nonsense became too much. He was burned out. He hated going to work. He saw nothing fulfilling in his job. And, to make matters worse, whenever he came up with a truly innovative idea, management rejected it. He wanted out.One day, without any other job prospects, he quit.Unfortunately, he had no plan. He’d just walked away from an almost 6-figure income and had to support the Northern California lifestyle that went along with it. He struggled for a couple of months with no success.

Here are three questions that have the power to change your life.

After talking with him, Mr. Abraham asked three questions. Ask yourself the same three questions.

  1. Have you identified and valued your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets? (Do you know what makes you valuable to your employer right now? Do you know what valuable skills you have to offer a future employer?)
  2. What performance skills have you demonstrated in the past that not only have abstract, but intrinsic value and importance to a business—or specific type of business? (What are your special skills that have real value?)
  3. What have you accomplished that people would not only respect, but also desire to learn and utilize to gain the same benefits for their companies?

At first, he drew a blank. So Jay had him analyze and reconstruct all the monumental things he’d experienced, contributed to, and been a part of since he started working. He didn’t limit this to his current job, but in every previous position he’d ever had over the course of his entire career.To his surprise, he’d realized that under his direction, the greatest mail-order catalog success in the entire industry occurred. The owners of the company became multi-millionaires. He was on the cutting-edge of dozens of product-introduction breakthroughs that became massive successes. Further, he had personally trained the heads of critical departments at five of the industry’s top catalog companies.He began to finally realize and appreciate all of his professional skills. His previous successes and skills created a wonderful opportunity to create a better opportunity as well as financial independence for himself.Now, instead of being in a dead-end, lower-rung, middle-management position in a large corporation, he deals with owners and presidents of fast-growing and exciting entrepreneurial enterprises. But what’s more, he’s successful and extraordinarily happy.

Use the Job Search Tools that Are Available to You

It’s not just the Sunday paper anymore. Most people who find a job through a listing are finding that job online. There are a number of available job placement sites available, but don’t stop there. Many companies have human resource departments who post available jobs on their own Web sites. Think of the companies you’d like to work with, visit their Web sites and post your updated resume.

Do You Know Someone Who Already Works For This Company?

If you do… call them. Ask them to recommend you to the recruiter. It may not get you the position, but it might help you get an interview. After that, it’s up to you. Even better if they can recommend you to the department head looking to fill the position. This will give you a leg-up on anyone else who can’t get beyond the Human Resource Department.If you don’t know anyone in the company, see if anyone in your circle of influence has a contact within the company. (Yes, we’re talking about networking again.) Have them get you in touch or make a personal recommendation so you’ll get the interview.

The Right Education Will Give You the Skills to Get Your Career Moving Forward

Unlike many professions, accounting has provided a stable career with great compensation for over 500 years. By learning the skills that help small business owners increase their profits and make their life easier, you’ll create the kind of job security that few professions enjoy.Universal Accounting Center has taught small business bookkeeping and accounting for over 25 years. Since 1979, the Professional Bookkeeper Program has taught thousands of people mastery of the ins-and-outs of small business accounting. By learning the skills of the small business bookkeeper, these people found the professional and personal fulfillment that they were looking for, not to mention a stable, recession-free career track.Click on the link below to find out how improving your skill-set will make you more valuable to your employer or help you advance your career by preparing you for a better job.Learn How the Professional Bookkeeper Program Will Help Me Get a Pay Raise this Year Have you got a question? Click HERE and let us help you find the answer.

*2006 Salary Guide-Robert Half International

QuickBooks Training: A Small Investment with Big Returns

QuickBooks Training: A Small Investment with Big Returns

A group of professionals look at a laptop together.Would you be interested in any of the following?

  • Mastering a software program that over 80% of small business owners use to manage their accounting?
  • Offering additional services to your menu that would appeal to more clients?
  • Making your job easier by teaching your clients to get the information you need in a useful format?
  • Making more money?

We’re guessing that a couple of those questions above would appeal to most accountants and bookkeepers. And you’d be surprised at just how easy it is to accomplish all four in one month!Every business owner wants to increase their bottom line. You’ve probably heard us talk about geometric growth before. If so, we apologize for this reminder: geometric growth is the ability to grow your business by offering new services. The new clients you attract will be exposed to your existing services; existing clients will be exposed to your new services. This gives you the opportunity to increase your income by increasing your billable hours.

QuickBooks Services: Benefiting You and Your Clients

Nearly 80% of small businesses use Intuit’s QuickBooks Software. While other programs may be useful, QuickBooks has definitely captured the small business market. As an accountant or bookkeeper you know that over 80% of accounting opportunities are with small businesses. The stats are in your favor; learning QuickBooks is a great business decision.Becoming a QuickBooks Specialist would provide you with countless ways to bring in more business, increase your income, and make your job easier.

New Income Opportunities

If nearly 80% of small businesses use QuickBooks; where’s the income opportunity, you ask? You can offer QuickBooks set-up and consultation services for $65-$95 per hour. You’ll find companies who want to do their accounting tasks themselves, but need help configuring QuickBooks to meet their needs. And once you’ve helped a company set up its initial QuickBooks system, who do you think they’ll turn to for help? You, of course! After all, you’ll have the training and expertise they’ll need whenever they run into a problem.You can compliment your QuickBooks services by offering QuickBooks support. Consider this: Intuit charges $75 an incident and $349-$600 per year for support. That’s too pricey for most small business owners; you could offer QuickBooks support for a more reasonable fee and draw in more clients in need of a little QuickBooks help.

Attract New Clients

Geometric growth, remember? With QuickBooks expertise, you can increase your services by appealing to both new and existing clients. The secret to obtaining new clients is to begin with at least a small portion of their accounting pie, with the expectation that your portion of the pie will grow as the company and its accounting needs grow. You can begin by automating a business’s accounting process. And even if businesses are doing the books themselves, they will need help in certain areas or have problems that only you can solve. Taxes and depreciation come to mind immediately, along with installation support, accruals, job costing, estate planning, and a myriad of additional services that only you can offer. And once your QuickBooks clients recognize the value and competence of your expertise, they’ll come to you for other accounting and bookkeeping needs.

Useable Information

The biggest complaint we hear from accountants and bookkeepers is that the information provided by their clients is often difficult to sort out and in some cases unusable. This is true whether the client is doing the books by hand or through QuickBooks. Your QuickBooks services will enable your clients to get going and continue in the right direction. You’ll quickly find that the information they give you will be useable, making your job easier.

Universal Accounting’s Professional Bookkeepers Guide to QuickBooks

Universal Accounting Center’s self-paced program enables you to complete the parts that interest you and skip over the parts that don’t. Even if you have used QuickBooks for years the program teaches you shortcuts and methods you may not have known. You will be impressed by the simple flow and completeness of UAC’s Professional Bookkeepers Guide to QuickBooks.We teach you how to do the basic transactions, how to reconcile accounts, what the program does with its data, and a basic understanding of fundamental accounting principles. We have also included about 18 hours of bookkeeping instruction and a complete detailed presentation of QuickBooks fundamentals. You might as well call it a lifesaver.Also when you purchase UAC’s Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks, you will receive unlimited free e-mail support with the program. This gives you an additional lifeline if you can’t solve a client’s problems. If you run into questions you can’t answer, e-mail us any time you want. Our goal is to have a response to you within two hours. We can’t always reach that goal, but we always respond within 24 hours.Order this program now and it will more than pay for itself in a few months’ time. Don’t wait to grow your business today. Make the small investment in yourself that can result in big returns for your bottom line – Order Now!

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