Determining the Right Amount for a Bonus

We’re having that conversation about what to give for bonuses. No bonuses are bad for morale. I’m worried that if people get too much, they could sit back and take things easy for a while and that would be bad for productivity and profits. How do we get it “just right”?

 

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Use bonuses to give the company more flexibility as revenues and profits go up or down from one year to the next. Do a reality check on salaries first before deciding on bonuses. Check the trends on overhead payroll vs. revenue and cost of goods sold payroll vs. revenue ratios. Reward overall company performance to get everyone on the same page. If you have a 401k plan, check to see if bonuses are included in matching funds. Use a budget to stay realistic.

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Getting Employees to Do Their Jobs

We’re getting frustrated with the amount of effort needed to manage some of our employees. If we don’t babysit them, whatever they’re supposed to be doing more often than not falls off the table – either poorly done or not done at all. Feel like it’s becoming the issue du jour around here. They just need to do their job right and on time. Is that asking too much?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Manage the assignments effectively. Hire for motivation. Give people a mission. Set up measuring sticks. Don’t tolerate defectors.

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Salvaging a Sales Person Who Is Struggling

We have a person who is helping us with sales. He’s opening a lot of doors, but not closing much. We like this person a lot and would like to see him succeed. What should we do?

Thoughts of the Day: Sales is a multi-disciplined job. Look for bad habits that are getting in the way. Consider if fears are holding your sales person back. Think about the kind of training you’re willing to invest in. Use a formula to figure out what to expect.

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Pleasing the Bank

We need to get a loan to tide us over as we start to ramp up to our busy season. All the banks have been calling us saying they want our business, and so far we’ve talked to a couple. When we get into the details, we find they are hard to please. While the local reps say they want our business, the higher-ups don’t seem so eager. One bank said they didn’t want our business, another said they needed more information. Is it worth it going through the process? If we don’t get a loan it could be really tough managing cash until all our clients pay up.

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Understand what the bank wants. Be prepared to fill out a lot of forms. Ask for a realistic loan amount and repayment terms. Back up what you say with a business plan.

You need to have business experience. If you’re a startup with less than two years of history, getting any bank loan will be close to impossible. You’ll probably do better getting a personal loan and personally lending money to the company until there’s some history to show.

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Being nice does not mean being a doormat

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I’m not aggressive and I have to get it done. I’m a nice guy, but while I tend to see the best in other people, I know I also get walked on by vendors, customers and sometimes even employees. How do I find the balance?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Think about what makes you call yourself a “nice guy.” Hone skills that are synonymous with leadership. Make sure you’re clear about where you want to go with the company. Make asking for input a sign of strength, not weakness.

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