A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.
Building and maintaining healthy relationships with your employees is crucial to your success as a business owner. Mark Sanborn, president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., a Lonetree, Colo.-based leadership development firm, recommends checking in with every employee each day to get a read on how he or she is doing. "Identify frustrations they are facing, opportunities they've recognized and gauge their emotional energy and commitment to their work," he says.
But beware of micromanaging your staff. Startup employees often want a higher degree of autonomy than workers in established companies. "You'll know you're micromanaging when you're spending more time telling someone how to do something than you are in clarifying what needs to be done," Sanborn says. "Give people the freedom to achieve the best results in their own way." More: What It Takes to Be a Boss Every Employee Loves
Set up a personalized reminder system to manage tasks.
Time is unmanageable, but your choices aren't, says Lorie Marrero, a professional organizer and author of The Home Office Handbook (Reason Press, 2013). Even with a detailed to-do list, it can be easy to get sidetracked. To keep your focus on the important tasks, set up a reminder system, which could consist of phone alerts, sticky notes on your desk, a tickler file or something else. Marrero recommends using whatever system "your brain responds to, but beware of the novelty factor. Some of my clients use reminders and then snooze them. If your cue is no longer effective, try another one." More: Forget Time Management: Why You Should Practice Choice Management Instead
Use community involvement to show customers you care.
Social outreach is an important part of your business's identity, and it can affect your bottom line. "Customers really want to know how you're making the world a better place," says Erin Giles, an Aiken, S.C.-based business philanthropy consultant. If you don't already have a cause in mind that you would like to support, you should take a look at the needs of your community, Giles says. Cody Pierce, vice president of marketing for Orange City, Iowa-based Pizza Ranch franchises, found a way to contribute to a variety of causes by hosting "community impact" nights at the restaurants. Locals volunteer to bus tables for a night, and then Pizza Ranch donates the night's tips and up to 20 percent of the profits to the cause du jour. More: The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line
Hire hustlers instead of slackers to bolster group work.
In school, group projects tend to devolve into a situation in which a few people do all the work while the others slack off -- and everyone gets the same grade. But as a business owner, if you hire the right people, a group work environment can produce stronger results than working individually. Learn how to identify the hustlers, and hire them instead of the slackers. "Good leadership means being able to form teams according to both compatibility and complementary skills," says serial entrepreneur Adam Toren. "Use your negative group experiences to build better and more effective teams." More: 5 Business Secrets They Won't Teach You in the Classroom
Make sure your beliefs and behaviors align with your customers.
After being accused of using racist language, celebrity chef Paula Deen was dropped by the Food Network and several corporate partners, including Walmart and Target. Not only was her behavior appalling, but it was inconsistent with her public image and the beliefs of most of her fans, says Jim Joseph, the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe. These revelations have caused many to lose their trust in her brand. "When a brand leader acts inconsistently, we can't help but ask: Has she been truthful and sincere to us all this time?" Joseph says. More: Lessons from Paula Deen: How What You Say Can Damage Your Brand