Thursday, October 31, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
10 signs it's time to let an employee goBy Jack Wallen in 10 Things, October 9, 2013, 12:54 PM PST
oRedditFor some it's tough to let an employee go, even when the signs are obvious. If you see these behaviors, prepare to make a personnel move.
Everyone has done it – held on to an employee too long. For whatever reason (family, friends, fear), you just can't seem to muster up the courage to get rid of that one particular employee. For some managers/owners, it's quite a simple process. For others, the prospect of releasing an employee is a gut-wrenching experience they'd rather avoid. It doesn't have to be. Not when you have tell-tale signs it's time to let that employee go. Sometimes, they are practically asking for it.I have brought together ten such signs. Use these as guideposts to help gauge your own instincts on the release of employees.
1. ApathyWhen they no longer care, you should no longer care. The biggest problem with apathy is that it not only prevents people from doing their jobs, it's quite contagious. Should you wind up with an outbreak of apathy, recovery can be quite a chore. If apathy has set in with an employee that previously displayed no such behavior, it would behoove you to get a feel for what is going on. If the employee is undergoing a personal issue, make sure they understand that, although you respect their personal lives and might even offer some form of support, they need to keep the apathy in check. If the employee indicates no issues going on, very likely that apathetic approach is aimed specifically at work.
2. Disappearing actsIf disappearing acts are preceded by the employee dressing up (beyond the norm) or other changes in behavior, it could mean they are already scouting out new employment. If not, they could simply be skirting their duties. Either way, ducking out beyond regularly scheduled breaks is a sure sign you have an employee that feels they are above and beyond the job. Not only do you risk other employees assuming unscheduled disappearing acts are allowed, you will have resentment boiling up from employees who actually follow the rules.
3. ArgumentsThis usually takes two different forms: those employees that feel strongly about their positions and those that have grown weary of their environment and wish to argue for the simple act of releasing their aggression. If the former, congratulations, you have a passionate employee! If the latter, you have someone on your team who has reached the point where a blowup is imminent. When the latter type of employee begins frequently arguing with you, other management, fellow employees, or clients...that's a very good sign it's time for that employee to go. If you're very kind hearted, you could (and probably should) bring said employee in for a conference to see if any issues can be resolved. Otherwise...it's hit the road.
4. Productivity declineProduction loss can come for many reasons. Some times staff can become overloaded with work or be placed on a project they have no business on because they lack the skill set. Other times, a drop in production can come for no apparent reason. It's when this type of slow down occurs that attention must be paid to the culprit. If the employee in question seems to be spending more time with his or her eyes in places other than their work, it's time to bring that employee in for a chat. When that happens, the employee will either deny your claims or make excuses for their (in)action.
5. SecrecyHuddled employees who scatter when you appear are a problem. When you start hearing whispered tales around the office, that could mean dissension is spreading like wildfire. In some cases, those tales can be traced back to one particular member of the team. It is always best to get to the heart of the matter before that discontent (or false information) is spread among the masses.
6. DisaffectionCleaning house is a bad sign. When you see employees slowly removing their personal effects from their desks, you should take that as a sure bet the employee is starting to disassociate themselves with their job and the company. The end game in this scenario is a slow severing of the ties that bind. During that process bad blood can be spilled. If you find this employee already dangling on an unsteady precipice, it's time they were cut loose.
7. Pot-stirringThis one of the most damaging behaviors you'll find in the office. When you see signs of this behavior, the first thing you must do is find out who is holding the spoon. The one fomenting trouble, whether it's by spreading rumors or setting employees against one another, is doing so for a reason (either legitimate or not). That staff member must be dealt with quickly or you'll never calm the sauce of your department/company.
8. Unreasonable demandsWhen employees become dissatisfied with either their jobs or their work environments, they start asking for things that aren't realistic. In some cases they are practically begging for you to let them go. If you find this to be the case, oblige them. Do take one thing under consideration – if more than one employee seems to be making unreasonable demands, it is upon you to figure out if there is one employee driving this coup or if you have actually created an environment that breeds such behavior. Take responsibility and try to view the situation objectively; you might discover something that can be easily remedied.
9. RedundancyIf you're lucky, you can afford to keep someone around for the times when his or her skills are a necessity, even if that need ebbs and flows. When business is in high demand, those redundancies can keep you afloat, but when business is slow, you're spending more than you need. The most important thing is to try and strike a balance. But economics might lead to the hard decision to cull the herd a bit, and rely on a contractor if and when the situation requires it.
10. Internal affairsI'm not talking about run-of-the-mill office politics. I'm talking about emotional and sexual affairs. It's tough to devise a policy that prevents dating among employees, but it's smart. As much as we don't want to admit this, inter-office romance can be a breeding ground for slapping Scarlet Letter A's on the blazers of employees. When this happens, you'll find yourself cleaning up messes you don't want to be involved in. Try to avoid this altogether by creating a strong policy concerning relationships in the workplace. If someone breaks that policy – they have to go.
The hiring and firing of employees is a tough business. This is especially true when you are trying to create an environment of trust and ease. In the end, there will always be hard decisions to make. Finding employees that fall into any of the above behaviors can help to make that decision a bit easier.
About Jack WallenJack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux
Posted by CAMACOL at 8:16 AM
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
An Investor's Guide to Profiting From the Government Shutdown
To most of the U.S., today’s government shutdown comes as a maddening peak in a long-rising fever line of political dysfunction. For hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their families, on the other hand, the shutdown means lost work and missing paychecks. And to the biggest private-sector contractors doing work for the government, the shutdown carries real business risks.
To the folks at Goldman Sachs (GS), that means today could be a big trading opportunity. The investment bank has been sending clients a number of strategies to protect themselves and possibly profit from the gridlock in Washington. The main gambit: Find companies that do a lot of business with the government and then buy puts—contracts for the right to sell a company’s shares at a certain price in a certain time period.
Let’s say you have a put option to sell one share of a hypothetical company called, I don’t know, “Congress” at $10. If squabbling and poor results drive the price down to $4, you can buy a share on the open market for $4 and exercise the put to sell at $10, booking a $6 profit.
In light of Goldman’s strategic advice, we crunched data from Bloomberg Government on the top U.S. contractors in a number of categories to see what public companies might get pinched in a protracted shutdown. Here’s the list:
Company (Industry) | Outstanding Contracts in Dollars | Percent of Revenue (12-month trailing)
• Lockheed Martin (LMT) (Defense/Aircraft) | $36.9 billion in contracts | 80 percent of revenue
• Shaw Group (SHAW) (Construction) | $900 million in contracts | 15 percent of revenue
• Textron (TXT) (Defense/Drones) | $2.4 billion in contracts | 20 percent of revenue
• General Electric (GE) (Engines) | $2.7 billion in contracts | 2 percent of revenue
• BAE Systems (BA/:LN) (Defense) | $6.3 billion in contracts | 24 percent of revenue
• Caterpillar (CAT) (Facilities/Parts) | $500 million in contracts | 1 percent of revenue
• Tyson Foods (TSN) (Food) | $600 million in contracts | 2 percent of revenue
• Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA:NA) (Fuel) | $2.9 billion in contracts | 1 percent of revenue
• Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) (Consulting) | $4.1 billion in contracts | 71 percent of revenue
• Oshkosh (OSK). (Vehicles) | $1.6 billion in contracts | 20 percent of revenue
• Fluor (FLR). (Logistics) | $2.1 billion in contracts | 7 percent of revenue
• Vesuvius (VSVS:LN) (Metals/Mining) | $300 million in contracts | 19 percent of revenue
• Humana (HUM) (Medical Services) | $3.5 billion in contracts | 9 percent of revenue
• McKesson (MCK) (Medical Supplies) | $4.6 billion in contracts | 4 percent of revenue
• Northrop Grumman (NOC) (Defense/Research) | $12.5 billion in contracts | 50 percent of revenue
• General Dynamics (GD) (Defense) | $15.4 billion in contracts | 49 percent of revenue
• Ball (BLL). (Aerospace) | $300 million in contracts | 3 percent of revenue
• Dell (DELL) (Technology/Equipment) | 1.2 billion in contracts : 2 percent of revenue
• FedEx (FDX) (Transportation) | $1.4 billion in contracts | 3 percent of revenue
• Raytheon (RTN) (Defense/Weapons) | $14.5 billion in contracts | 59 percent of revenue
Given the scale of business these companies do with the government, this week’s shutdown might be a mere hiccup. And many of the names on the list above rely on Uncle Sam for only a tiny slice of revenue. But the longer the government remains dark, the cloudier the forecast will be for some of these contractors.
Stock is an associate editor for Businessweek.com.
Posted by CAMACOL at 10:20 AM