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Solving the Problem of the Under-Enthusiastic Staff Member … and More of Your Questions Answered for January

Sounds like it’s time for a chat.




What does the law say about conducting a body search on a staff member I suspect of theft?

It says keep your hands to yourself. The laws regarding searches (body and workplace) stem from the way the Constitution guarantees a basic right to privacy — and your worker has a very strong privacy interest in his or her own body, even when fully clothed. If you have a legitimate concern that a staff member has stolen anything, call the police in to take it to the next level. For more information, try The Essential Guide to Workplace Investigations by attorney Lisa Guerin.

What’s the best tool for creating images and graphics for social media?

Says Candace D’Agnolo of Pet Boss Nation: “Create a account! They have a free and a paid version. I’d opt for the monthly paid so that you can load your business fonts and colors to keep things consistent, add your logo (I recommend a variety of file designs — all white, all black, full color, elements of your logo) and any photos you have that are unique to your business.”

I just caught an error in the holiday bonuses we paid to sales staff. It comes to more than $1,000. Should I ask for the money back?

Asking for the money back now is a lost cause — even if you could collect, the impact on morale and productivity would be a killer. Instead, you could explain what happened and that you plan to treat the payments as interest-free advances against next year’s bonuses. That way, you should eventually recover most of the overpayments without demanding staff find money that’s probably already spent. But, hey, it’s $1,000, and it’s your mistake. If you need $1,000 that badly, you have bigger worries.

Everything I read about advertising says I need a “call to action.” What is one? Where do I get one?

“Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment,” says Linda Liebrand of My Brand Buddy. “What would make them want to call you or visit your website?” that is a call to action. Liebrand offers six examples:

  • Book a free consultation today and get a bag of dog treats.
  • Call us to book your appointment today and get 10% off your first visit when mentioning “First Time Bath.”
  • Book your holiday dog care one month in advance and get one weekend free.
  • Book your dog’s grooming today and get an extra free bath — mention “Rubber duck.”
  • Visit our website and download your $10 vouchers.
  • Bring this leaflet for an instant 20% off your dog’s first spa session.

What’s the best approach to take with employees who show up and go through the motions? They don’t do anything wrong — they’re just not excellent.

Sounds like it’s time for a chat. Call the employee in, outline your concerns or hopes, and explain that you’re setting new and higher expectations, says Kerry Patterson, co-author of Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When Stakes Are High. Tell the employee you want him or her to show more desire, initiative, skill, whatever, and provide specific instances where he or she fell short. Make it clear you’ve raised the bar and then jointly brainstorm on how he or she can accomplish the goals you’ve set. You’re also going to need to make yourself responsible for follow-up. This means being on the lookout for positive behaviors, even the most incremental changes, you can recognize and reward. If all goes well, the result should be increased productivity. If not, you’re going to have to make a decision whether to let go of that employee. Average performers make for an average business

I fell behind on a personal loan and the bank sold it to a finance company that I understand paid 50 cents on the dollar for it. I can now offer repayment — but I want a 25 percent discount. How should I proceed?

Your offer sounds reasonable but be careful about disclosing how much cash you have, because the finance company still has a right to collect the full amount of the loan. And they are experts at squeezing every cent out of a settlement, so don’t expect a friendly “let’s split the difference” discussion.




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