Category Archives for Money

Improving C Suite Communication With All Company Levels

Reaching the C Suite is considered the ultimate goal of many employees working in the business world. The C suite, also known as the upper management department houses top senior executives within a company.  Once you’ve reached the C Suite level, you are charged with maintaining a demanding workload and making high stakes decisions regularly.

As a member of the C Suite maintaining communication with those at lower levels of a company can become a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be.  Below you will find ways in which you can improve the communication of C Suite executives with all levels of your company.

Company Levels

Most large companies have multiple management levels tasked with various responsibilities within the organization.

Upper Management

The upper management team is also known as the C Suite.  It’s called the C Suite because most senior executive titles start with the letter C including…

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Middle Management

The middle management team is composed of the heads of a division or department.  They are responsible for managing other middle managers or the lower level management team.  They often have the titles of director or Vice President

Lower Management

The lower management team oversees the daily business operations of a company.  They have titles such as supervisor and office manager.

Communicating With Discretion

When talking with those at lower levels, you must understand what can and can’t be shared. Many conversations held at the C Suite level are sensitive in nature and are not to be revealed to those outside of the C Suite for various reasons.  While you want to communicate with those outside of the C Suite on a regular basis, you want to ensure that you are not leaking sensitive information.

Terminology

Those within the C Suite often utilize terminology that differs from those on lower levels.  You want to refrain from using complicated verbiage and acronyms especially if you feel those in lower level positions won’t fully understand what you are referring to.  Instead, use layman’s terms. You don’t want your employees to feel as though you are disconnected from them and who they truly are. One of the best ways to ostracize yourself is to communicate in a way that doesn’t connect with whom you’re having a conversation with.  

Understand The Culture

Every company has its own corporate culture, and quite often various departments and company levels have their own mini company culture as well.  The way things operate within the C Suite will often be different than how things are in the lower management realm.  It’s crucial that you develop a general understanding of the culture that’s present in all areas of the company.

This is similar to the role of a United States President.  He/she must be flexible, able to eat lunch with the ruler of a nation and a school teacher within the same week.  This wouldn’t be possible without an understanding of the culture of the various people in society.

Remain Visible

Visibility is crucial to maintaining communication with various levels of the company.  

Obviously, every employee should know who you are by name and face. However, they should also have the opportunity to speak and connect with you when possible.

As the size of your company grows, that can become increasingly difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

Send newsletters to employees addressing topics that are important to them. Record video messages regarding various issues which allows you to connect in a more personable manner than a print message.

Have roundtable discussions with members of the lower levels.  This is best done in a smaller group setting maybe via a brown bag lunch series or departmental meeting.  When you schedule these meetings ahead of time and make them a priority, you can ensure you’re getting face to face time with those in your company to maintain visibility.

Stay Connected

Above all else, you must develop an understanding of what’s going on on the ground floor of your company, both good and bad.  Acknowledge the positives that are taking place with praise. Also, acknowledge the struggles and concerns and put steps in place with the person responsible for those issues to make necessary improvements.

You can stay connected by remaining visible.  When your employees are used to seeing you and interacting with you, they are more likely to feel comfortable communicating with you about what’s going on within the company.

You can also stay connected through the use of surveys, polls, questionnaires, etc. to collect information regarding what’s working well and what’s not working well within the company.

This qualitative data is sometimes more impactful than focusing solely on quantitative metrics in business.  It helps to maintain a human connection with those in the company.

Above all else remember that you are a human working with humans.  Despite your title. Despite your salary. Despite the high impact career level you’ve risen to, everyone should be treated with the same respect and human connectedness across the board.

Moving Forward

As a C Suite Executive, you have a great deal of responsibility on your plate. Maintaining strong communication skills with those in your company should remain a priority throughout your tenure.  

To ensure it maintains a priority, make it a mission in your strategic planning process and revisit the progress you’re making overtime.

A strong and successful company is built from the top down, so establishing a culture with highly engaged employees who produce amazing results begins with you. A little communication can go a long way as a C Suite executive.

Top Reasons for Leaving a Job – Why Good Employees Quit

Finding a highly skilled, hardworking and consistent employee to join your team can be a difficult task.  Some companies find it just as challenging to decrease turnover rates of their best employees.

The reason an employee chooses to resign can vary widely.  Some get married and move to another state. Others decide to start their own business.  They might have a baby and decide to stay home or even win the lottery. Those are all based on circumstances that have more to do with their personal lives and less to do with the decisions made by their managers.  

The other reasons good employees quit their jobs are often directly related to their employer.  Poor management, lack of advancement opportunities, and the inability to maintain a work/life balance are some of the reasons given by good employees who choose to quit their jobs.

When you are dedicated to keeping the employees you manage satisfied and employed with your company, you must first develop a firm understanding of the top reasons why good employees leave their jobs.

Poor Management

Wendy Durante Duckrey, Vice President of recruiting at JPMorgan, is famously quoted as saying,  “most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their boss.”

It is also one of the top reasons good employees give for leaving a job.

When an employee feels supported, encouraged, and motivated by their superior, they will work harder for them, and remain more dedicated to their position.

If they feel their needs are not being met and their concerns are not being addressed, they are less likely to remain with the company, not due to the job itself, but due to management issues.

Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of proper training for many who enter into managerial positions.  It involves more than paperwork and tracking metrics. Managers must have strong people skills and the ability to develop relationships with those who work under them.

Otherwise, employers who struggle to manage their employees will continue to face the harsh reality that goes along with high turnover rates.

Feeling Undervalued

There’s nothing worse than going to work every day, doing your job to the best of your ability, being expected to go above and beyond your required tasks, and feeling underappreciated and undervalued by those at your job.

It is one of the fastest ways to decrease employee engagement and to lose a good employee.

You can make your employees feel valued in many ways including:

  • Acknowledging their hard work publicly
  • Providing them with a physical token of appreciation
  • Offering incentives such as a half day off after reaching a big goal
  • Buying them lunch
  • Giving them a card expressing your appreciation

The ways in which you can make your employees feel valued are endless and can fit any budget your company has.

While all employees should be made to feel appreciated, it’s especially important to do this for employees who are continually working hard and taking on additional responsibilities beyond what they’ve been hired to do.

Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Most employees want to feel challenged in their career.  Being in a job with no advancement opportunities, be it their position or a significant salary change, will often lead to the search for new employment, especially when they recognize their value as an employee.

It’s important to give employees an opportunity to stay with your company as they improve their skills and advance in their career.

You can do this by making new job opportunities known to employees within the company, so they have first dibs before bringing in outsiders.

Also, check in with your employees at minimum once per year to discuss their career goals.  This will allow you to gain an understanding of how your employees are feeling regarding their current position and hopes for the future.

Also, offering educational opportunities and tuition reimbursement opportunities can provide your employee with a reason to remain with your company while gaining skills that can lead to advancement in the future.

Feeling Overworked

Today more than ever, the desire to have a career that still allows for flexibility, time with family and friends, and a healthy personal life is at the top of many employees’ list.

When employees are overworked, it reduces their ability to maintain a healthy a work/life balance.

It’s often found that good employees who show their ability to handle their job and take on additional responsibilities find the weight of their department placed on their shoulders.  While it might be seen as a way to show your trust in the employee, it is actually a form of punishment. It shows that when an employee performs well, they are rewarded with additional work and no salary increase.

When you want to give an employee additional responsibilities, it should be a non-negotiable that a salary increase or position advancement comes along with those added responsibilities.

Keeping Good Employees

If your goal is to keep your good employees working with your company, it’s crucial that you stay abreast of their needs and wants career wise.  In most situations, a highly skilled employee will be able to find another position, so you must consider what you need to do to keep them with your company.

Understand that you are working with people. People who have families.  People who have personal lives. People with dreams, wishes, and goals. People with feelings.

When you keep that at the forefront of your mind, you will treat your employees like real people and your good employees will recognize your humanism and be more likely to stay around.

When you treat them like they’re disposable, they will dispose of their position and find another.

As you work to ensure your employees remain within your company, it’s also vital that you keep employee engagement high.  It is one of the key factors to maintaining low turnover rates within a company.

If you’re searching for a resource that will help you maintain a workforce that is highly engaged, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement which features best practices for getting your employees involved in your company’s success.

Cash Flow: The Life Line Keeping Your Business Afloat

When operating a business, the amount of money you make and spend, or cash flow is one of the major indicators of its ability to thrive or likelihood to struggle. This comes as no surprise.  We’ve all heard the saying that cash is king. That is especially true when running a company. Phillip Campbell, CPA, the former chief financial officer for multiple successful companies and a respected author was quoted as saying “Despite the fact that cash is the lifeblood of a business — the fuel that keeps the engine running — most business owners don’t truly have a handle on their cash flow.”  

If you’re a business owner, and you’re not aware of the amount of cash flowing in and out of your business on a regular basis, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Below you will find vital cash flow related definitions, the benefits of knowing your cash flow, and 5 questions you can answer to ensure you know your business cash flow.

Cash Flow Related Vocabulary Defined

Profit

According to Investopedia.com, “Profit is a financial benefit that is realized when the amount of revenue gained from a business activity exceeds the expenses, costs and taxes needed to sustain the activity…”

Simply put, profit is the amount of money you make in your business minus the expenses.  It is how much money that remains once all of your bills are paid.

Your goal is to have a hefty profit, that’s the only way you make money.  Too often business owners confuse profit with our next term, cash flow.

Cash Flow

Also according to Investopedia.com, “Cash flow is the net amount of cash and cash-equivalents being transferred into and out of a business…”

Therefore, cash flow is not one number, it speaks to the overall flow of money in your business which paints a broader picture of your financial status.

A company can have a positive cash flow with no profit depending on the source of their funds.

For example, if a business takes out a business loan and sees an increase in cash flow that month, their actual profit might be zero because of their need to take out a loan.

A business can also be profitable and have no cash flow.

For example, if you contract with companies who delay their payment, you could have a cash flow of $40,000 with $10,000 that still hasn’t hit your bank account.  If your monthly expenses are $45,000, that means you are profitable, but your cash flow is not positive.

Revenue

According to BusinessDictionary.com, revenue is “the income generated from the sale of goods or services, or any other use of capital or assets, associated with the main operations of an organization before any costs or expenses are deducted.”  

Revenue is also known as sales.

Why Knowing Your Cash Flow is Important

Knowing the monthly cash flow of your business is vital for many reasons.  Here are 5 significant reasons why you should make knowing your cash flow a priority.

It Indicates Financial Health

Knowing your cash flow indicates the overall financial health of your business. It showcases your company’s ability to pay its bills and handle other financial responsibilities consistently.

Being unable to take care of your financial responsibilities, or having a lot of your revenue tied up in debt indicates that your financial health is failing.

It Indicates Your Ability to Generate Cash

Knowing how much money comes into your business every month and how much you have left at the end of the money after paying all expenses helps you to understand your ability to generate cash.

Keeping track of this consistently provides you with an overall cash flow projection which you can use to indicate your ability to cover expenses in the future.

It Highlights Your Debt

Because cash flow indicates where your money is going each month, the payments you make to your creditors are highlighted.  By bringing constant attention to these debts which are taking hold of your incoming cash flow, you can focus on paying them off.

It Gives You Flexibility

When your business has a positive monthly cash flow, it gives you flexibility.  

You can use your positive cash flow to invest more in your business and make choices that will lead to increased revenue.

When faced with a dilemma, you have the opportunity to make choices that will best fit your business because you have the cash available.

Questions to Answer About Your Cash Flow

When you’re working on improving the health of your business and thus your cash flow, you must know what to look for in the process.  As you review your cash flow, here are a few questions you should be able to answer.

  • What’s the difference between profit and cash flow?
  • Where does my cash go?
  • Do I have hidden cash flow (ex. debt)
  • How much cash does my business have?
  • How much cash does my business need to operate?
  • Where does my business get and spend cash?
  • How do my income and expected income affect the amount of cash I need to expand my business?

Cash is king in business and knowing your cash flow will help monitor your financial health to keep your business afloat.  When you’re running a business, you get busy, but reminding yourself of why knowing your cash flow numbers is important can help you keep it at the top of your priority list.  

As you work towards becoming a cash flow king (or queen), remember you should always be able to answer the cash flow related questions listed above.   If you have the cash to keep your business afloat, you are more likely to stay in business as long as you keep the cash flowing. Keeping track of your cash flow is key to knowing your financial health and in indicating your future ability to remain in business.

Cash flow is just a part of running a successful business.  Ensuring all of your employees are engaged in the practices of your company is a necessary skill as well.  When you’re ready to make sure your employees are involved as you expand and grow, download my free book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement. Click here to get your copy today. C

As the Economy Heats Up, the Fed Continues on Its Path of Raising Rates

On Wednesday the Federal Reserve lifted its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point. For those not paying attention to monetary policy, this is the second hike this year.

As a small business owner or even a solopreneur paying attention to what the Fed does with rates is important to your bottom line. The state of the economy as well as interest rates can have a direct effect on your expenses, the pool of potential employees, employee retention, and a host of other things in your business.

As the economy has continually improved Fed officials have been split about whether to raise rates three times or four times this year. The consensus seems to be coalescing around the likelihood of four rate hikes in 2018.

The premise behind the rate hikes is an attempt by the Fed to keep the economy from overheating.

With unemployment at 3.8%, the lowest since 2000, and predictions of a drop to 3.6% going forward, rising inflation is a real risk.

“The main takeaway is that the economy is doing very well,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference. “Most people who want to find jobs are finding them, and unemployment and inflation are low.”

Let’s look at some of the ways this rate hike can impact you directly.

Higher borrowing costs

The Fed lifted the federal funds rate, which helps determine rates for mortgages, credit cards and other borrowing, to a range of 1.75% to 2%.

A higher rate makes it more expensive for banks to borrow money, which can translate into higher borrowing rates for consumers. The cost of higher rates for consumers can translate into less disposable income. It also means increased costs for your lines of credit, credit cards, and any variable rate debt you may have. Paying higher interest rates cuts right to the bottom line.

The Fed’s decision Wednesday was driven by “indications that inflation is right around the corner,” said Jason Reed, an economist and finance professor at the University of Notre Dame’s business school.

The long economic recovery has seen mysteriously low levels of inflation. But it has finally passed 2%, the level the Fed considers healthy.

It’s important to note that the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which strips out food and energy prices, climbed to 2.2% in May. This was the biggest registered annual jump in six years.

An ever-improving economy

The Feds recently offered an improved forecast for unemployment this year, lowering their forecast to 3.6%. They forecast an even lower unemployment rate of 3.5% for 2019 and 2020.

For seven and a half years, employers have added jobs every month, a record. And for the first time in at least 20 years, there are more job openings in the United States than there are people looking for work. The biggest puzzle in all this is the continued stagnation of wages.

Low unemployment seems like a good thing at first glance. But as small business owners this can hamper recruitment efforts. In order to attract quality candidates you may have to offer higher wages. The other risk is a complete lack of qualified candidates all together. Lack of qualified candidates can lessen your ability to grow and/or service your existing customer base.

Don’t get me wrong; the sky isn’t falling in on us. A strong economy is generally good news for all of us. As small business owners, we just need to be aware of the risks and fluctuations in the economy so we can manage our ship accordingly.

I encourage you to tune into what’s going on and adjust your financial forecasts accordingly. Fed Chair Powell announced that he plans to hold press conferences eight times a year, up from the current four.

Ensure that you are investing in your employee engagement efforts, building strong leaders, effective communicators, and redo your SWOT analysis to adjust for any potential threats to your industry based on rising interest rates and a tight labor force. If your strategic plans are more than a year old, it’s time to dust it off and examine your action plans.

 

Have you fallen off the “Why Wagon”?

A very dear friend reached out to tell me she was hosting a 14-Day Examine Your Why Challenge. I graciously accepted the challenge. Truth be told, this challenge came at a very good time for me. You see, I’ve fallen off the “why wagon”. My poor blog has been neglected. I have been suffering from shiny object syndrome. Running from here to there, trying to be everything to every one and I lost sight of my mission. Has this ever happened to you?

Little did I know that when I accepted my friends challenge, it would be more than just examining my “why”. I felt called to begin writing on my blog again. Day 1 already has me thankful that I decided to examine my “why”. Here are some thoughts that came out of my time of reflection:

What are the 3 biggest barriers keeping you from reaching your ultimate dream?

I took a while to reflect on this. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Comparison Syndrome: We’ve all heard the adage that “comparison is the thief of joy”. This has become a hindrance for me. I’ve been so busy focusing on how far others have come, that I was beating myself up for my perceived lack of progress. If it holds true that where focus goes, energy flows. Then it would stand to reason why my “flow” wasn’t where it needed to be. My focus was on comparing someone else’s highlight reel to my every day life.
  2. Lack of Kindness: Showing kindness to others comes naturally to me. Those who know me are aware that my favorite saying is “Love always wins”. Somewhere along the way, I stopped applying that principle to myself. I have been guilty of not showing kindness to myself. Let’s face it, you can’t berate yourself skinny, rich, or into any other goal you want to achieve. I need to remember to treat myself with the same love and compassion that I would show others. Self-love is where I will start.
  3. Clarity: I was lacking clarity of my goal or big dream. I consider myself to be multi-passionate. Meaning that there are many things I am interested in and many things I excel in. Having been in leadership so long, I know that without clarity of purpose, we cannot achieve the goal. I can’t give my team hazy directions with multiple #1 priorities. So, why was I allowing myself to fall into this trap of scatterbrained goal setting? I had to take a step back and as myself what my #1 goal was, then refocus all of my efforts on attaining that 1 goal.

I appreciate this challenge for giving me the kick in the pants I need to get back on track. I’m excited to see what the next 2 weeks brings. Have you been lacking focus? Do you need a kick in the pants? Let us know what you do when you’ve fallen off the “why wagon”.

Spending versus Investing: There is a difference

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If you want to have more money or wealth in the future, then you need to know all you can about spending and investing. At a level, spending and investing is the same thing because they both require that something leaves your hand which can be cash. However, when you’re investing, you get back returns in the future. It could be financial returns or assets.

Investment is tailored towards getting something of financial quality in the future. It is spending as well, but you’re spending with the intention of getting something back in return. If it is money you’re spending, it leaves your hand, but it doesn’t leave your life. I hope you understand.

When you’re spending, you are only doing things for the present. Whatever returns or goods and services you acquire would be useful immediately. Examples include holiday purchases or shopping, dinners, events, and all our wonderful experiences when we take a trip fall under spending. While luxury items such as cars, smartphones, computers, renting an apartment are all things that reduce in value with use, they are the things that are necessary, and we use it daily till it is no longer considered good or it is totally unusable.

When you think of how you can gain more financially, always consider your choice carefully. What would you go for? Goods that depreciate or something that adds to your financial gain and brings in return in the future? If you think about this properly and make the right decisions, it may be painful not having what you want immediately, but you’ll be happier later.

Even when you’re between the rock and the deep blue sea in your decisions, you know you should invest more and spend less and not the other way round. That’s a basic idea of the difference between spending and investing.

Let me paint a picture for you: it’s your birthday, and you want to have a nice time. You have one thousand dollars ($1000). You can decide to go shopping (spending) or you can use the money to pay for your college fund or save it up for a business you want to start (investing).

Remember that spending is for today while investing is for the tomorrow. One who eats bread is spending but the one who plants wheat and processes it to make bread is investing and would make money from it.

Investing is really about increasing the value of your life. It isn’t only about cash. Another thing you can spend or invest is your time. If you decide to play games on your phone or watch videos on Facebook or Instagram instead of reading a book or adding to your knowledge and skill by watching a DIY video, then you only spent your time you didn’t invest it.

It is not only individuals who can invest. Companies and the government can also choose to invest. If the government decides to provide infrastructure for the citizens and it maintains this infrastructure, then the government is investing as well. It is important to develop an investment mindset. Your life and future depends on it.

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