How to Create and Best Utilize Your Internship Program

We sat down recently with several of the experts who will be in the spotlight during the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit and asked them to describe what attendees will take away from their respective sessions. Listed below are some of the topics that will be addressed. Click here to learn more about this year’s Internship Summit and to secure your registration.

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    Next up: How to Cultivate a Team Culture
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  • How to Cultivate a Team Culture

    Cultivating a team culture in your business helps keep your employees focused on the mission of the organization instead of worrying about group dynamics. A positive team culture can also do wonders for employee morale and productivity. We spoke to Tameka L. Taylor, Ph.D, CDE, president of Compass Consulting Services, LLC, who shared her tips on keeping your team happy.

    Cultivating a team culture in your business helps keep your employees focused on the mission of the organization instead of worrying about group dynamics. A positive team culture can also do wonders for employee morale and productivity. We spoke to Tameka L. Taylor, Ph.D, CDE, president of Compass Consulting Services, LLC, who shared her tips on how to keep your team happy:

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    • Show Appreciation – Recognize your employees and enhance group dynamics through regularly scheduled appreciation activities like lunches, company cookouts and other activities outside of the office. Learning more about each other on a personal level outside of the work environment can build relationships and respect and, ultimately, teamwork. (Tip: Schedule activities during business hours so employees can’t opt out.)
    • Engage in Team Building Activities – Team building exercises are a great way to build trust and respect, enhance communication and promote teamwork. (Tip: There is great value in bringing in a neutral party to facilitate team building exercises. Employee responses and engagement become different when these activities are led by the boss.)
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    • Resolve Conflict Quickly – While disagreements and conflict are natural among employees or between management and staff, unresolved conflict can lead to a lack of collaboration and a loss of creativity and productivity. Conflict brings with it high stress levels and emotions that when not addressed quickly can become landmines that will eventually blow up. (Tip: Don’t procrastinate. These things never blow up at a convenient time.)

    This article originally appeared in the May 11, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: How to Find and Retain Rock Star Employees
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  • How to Find and Retain Rock Star Employees

    Solving workforce and talent issues is a puzzle a lot of entrepreneurs are trying to put together these days. How do I compete for rock star employees? And once I’ve found them, how do I keep them? These answers are definitely not easy to come by, which is why I was looking forward last week to sitting in on a session featuring speakers from COSE’s Strategic Planning Course who were prepared to tackle this issue head on.

    Solving workforce and talent issues is a puzzle a lot of entrepreneurs are trying to put together these days. How do I compete for rock star employees? And once I’ve found them, how do I keep them? These answers are definitely not easy to come by, which is why I was looking forward last week to sitting in on a session featuring speakers from COSE’s Strategic Planning Course who were prepared to tackle this issue head on. 

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    It was a lively discussion and as it unfolded, I was able to pick out three key takeaways from the session that might be of some help in guiding your own workforce strategy.

    1. Recruiting

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    How do you find those A-plus candidates for your business? Think about where your ideal candidate spends her or his time. For instance, it might make sense to browse LinkedIn groups for your particular industry to find potential candidates. Another option? Reach out to local universities or trade associations and put the word out that you’re looking for talent. Lastly, recruiting firms could be an option, but before you engage with one of these firms, think about what you need. Do you want the recruiting firm to handle everything from A to Z, or do you need the firm to simply provide you with a pipeline of candidates, and then let you filter out the prospects yourself?

    2. Interviewing

    OK, so you’ve got a solid list of prospects and now it’s time to start the interview process. Here are a few tips to help improve the interview process that were mentioned:

    • Check the applicant’s ability to follow directions by asking them to phone in the day before the interview to confirm.
    • Potential questions to ask during the interview include: “What did you like/dislike about your last position” and “How would you describe your ideal job?”
    • Lengthen the in-person interview. The longer it goes, the better the chance is you’ll see the candidate’s true personality come out and you’ll be able to ascertain how good an internal fit they will be to your team.
    • Consider putting the candidate through a program to judge their personality profile.

    3. Retaining

    Retaining solid employees is just as important as plugging gaps with new hires. Communication and transparency were two common threads that wove their way through this part of the discussion. For example, spark discussions with current employees by asking things like: Where do you want your career to go? How can we help you get there? What things do you want to be working on? And along those same lines, ensure you’re providing the right amount of feedback and keep a continual focus on coaching employees to be the best they can be.

    Obviously, over the course of the 2-hour session there was a lot more ground that was covered than this. If you’re interested in learning more, consider looking into the COSE Strategic Planning Course, in which issues such as workforce development and acquisition are explored in depth. For more information, contact Adina Magda at amagda@gcpartnership.com or at 216-592-2379.

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    Next up: Digital Roundtable: How to Hire Millennials
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  • Digital Roundtable: How to Hire Millennials

    One-third of the job market today is comprised of millennials, who have leapfrogged past Gen Xers to become the biggest force in today’s labor pool, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Sounds like a potential employee base you should get to know, right? But do you know what it takes to make your business attractive to these young, eager potential employees?

    One-third of the job market today is comprised of millennials, who have leapfrogged past Gen Xers to become the biggest force in today’s labor pool, according to data from the Pew Research Center. Sounds like a potential employee base you should get to know, right? But do you know what it takes to make your business attractive to these young, eager potential employees?

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    We (digitally) sat down with four HR experts from our COSE Expert Network to find out what it takes to recruit this generation, how to make your business millennial employee friendly, and how to retain these employees once you have them on board. 

    Taking part in this digital roundtable are:

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    • Tim Dimoff, SACS Consulting and Investigative Services Inc.
    • Julie Sumner, Monarch Endeavors LLC
    • Tameka L. Taylor, Compass Consulting Services LLC

    Q: For a business that wants to find millennial staff, does it make sense to turn to social channels?

    Dimoff: Yes, social channels to recruit millennials is very effective. They believe if you are utilizing “Their forms of communication” that it also exists in your company culture and work processes. Secondly, you also have a much greater number of millennials that you will make contact with and therefore have a bigger pool to choose from.

    Sumner: Yes, it makes sense to turn to social media channels because that is where millennials seem to spend most of their time. However, most employers stick to the more professional social media websites, such as LinkedIn. This is recommended as there is a great deal of information that can be garnered from a typical personal social media profile that could put an employer at risk for claims of discrimination. For example, a quick look at a Facebook profile will potentially reveal a candidate's gender, race, age, marital status, whether the candidate has any children, whether the candidate has a disability, veteran status, religion, etc.  These are all protected characteristics that employers cannot use to make hiring decisions, so just by uncovering that information, they may be putting themselves at risk for claims of discrimination or unfair hiring practices.

    Taylor: First, let me just preface this by saying this is not stereotyping millennials, but rather, just thinking about potential patterns. Yes, businesses looking for millennials have to go to where millennials are and not wait for them to come to you. You need to be on the latest social channels because once millennials see other generations on social channels they often turn to other channels.

    Q: How do you make your business “millennial friendly?”

    Taylor: Millennials like other generations want opportunities to grow. It's important to provide them with opportunities for growth and learning.

    They want to be taught new skills so they continue to grow professionally.

     If it's classes or workshops it doesn't have to happen in person for them.  Provide them with opportunities for them to try new things and be in charge of projects.

    They want to make a difference in the business and the world.  Millennials want opportunities to be socially conscious and active.

    It's important for there to be conversations about the communication norms and guidelines within the company.  For example, when is it appropriate to email, text, use social media, etc.

    Also, flexibility is helpful for millennials. That flexibility includes when, where and how they perform their jobs. Sometimes those of us who are not millennials decide that the things need to be done a specific way or our way and that's not necessarily true. As long as the task or job get done timely, effectively and efficiently then it doesn't matter if it's done our way or not.

    Sumner: There are several things a business can do to become more "millennial friendly,” such as using Twitter and other social media accounts to reach the millennial audience. The types of posts do not always have to be related to open positions. Many millennials care if their employer is environmentally conscious, involved in the community, is trying to reduce its carbon footprint, etc. Employers can use social media to show millennials that they do these things. Employers can also post jobs on social media sites; however, given the caveats above, the candidate should then be directed to an application site or process that does not permit the employer to obtain information about protected characteristics.

    Dimoff: You need to have a more in-depth understanding of what attracts, motivates and keeps millennials at your company. They are highly motivated and expect certain criteria in their work environment. If these aspects are truly understood, you can create one very powerful millennial workforce and the opposite also can happen, which is negative. Next, sit down with your current millennials at your worksite and ask them to help create a stronger and more attractive millennial work environment. This rarely takes place in many worksites who need to make these specific transitions. Lastly, there are outside consulting services now that can help you put this total millennial package together.

    Q: When it comes to the retention of millennial staff, what should small businesses keep in mind?

    Dimoff: Once again, you need to have a more in-depth understanding of what motivates and keeps millennials engaged at your company. They are highly motivated and expect certain criteria in their work environment. If these aspects are truly understood and provided you can create a millennial workforce that wants to remain and help themselves and the company both grow and prosper. Millennials feed off having “ownership and input” in each and every aspect of their workplace involvement.

    Taylor: They need to be provided with opportunities to grow and develop. Also, they should be provided with recognition and feedback. They need to understand the value that the small business sees that they bring to the table while contributing to the organization. So, they like all other employees need to be and feel included, valued and respected within the organization.

    Sumner: More than ever, millennials seem to be more concerned about work-life balance than the salary they are making. This can be advantageous to small businesses because, although they may not be in a position to pay the most (or even a competitive rate), they may be able to offer other incentives that will be attractive to millennials, such as telecommuting; flexible work schedules; volunteer opportunities; environmental initiatives; opportunities for leadership, collaboration, and advancement; and one-of-a-kind experiences (such as sky-diving, rope courses, scavenger hunts, etc. and other company-sponsored activities where employees can bound over trying something new and unique). One of the biggest things to remember is that millennials do not just want to punch a timecard and go home at the end of the day. Most want to be passionate and inspired about what they do and feel as though they are making a difference. Fuel that fire and you'll have a better chance of retaining the heat for years to come.

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    Next up: How to Make a Graceful Exit from Your Business
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  • How to Make a Graceful Exit from Your Business

    Devising an exit strategy for the business you worked sat so hard to build from the ground up is not easy. Here are a few resources that will get you started on the best way for you to make a graceful exit from your business.

    Devising an exit strategy for the business you worked sat so hard to build from the ground up is not easy. Here are a few resources that will get you started on the best way for you to make a graceful exit from your business.

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    Next up: How to Make a Graceful Exit from Your Business
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  • How to Make a Graceful Exit from Your Business

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