Tip for Small Business and Succession Planning

As the owner of a successful operation you likely have several part time and full time employees and a standard way to doing business that has served you well over the course of the enterprise.  Full retirement may not be for you.  The sale of the business is not something you are ready for.

Enter the need for a phased in succession planning process and a reduced work and responsibility role for you.  Start the process now.  Look at the people in your employment and identify at least 2 candidates that are ready and able to take over a significant portion of your duties

Start training the person identified immediately on the duties and responsibilities that you currently manage.  Step back in the process and allow that person to make some changes.  After the training and period of stabilization take a complete break from the business and have the newly trained employee be responsible.

You may learn that you enjoy the freedom to come and go from your business as you please.  You may find that new sources of revenue materialize.  With that realization letting go and working fewer hours allows the details of the succession planning process to include a structured plan for your eventual exit.


Need greater clarity on the process for starting a succession plan – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Ways to Gain Influence at Work

Most managers and executives would state that they have a strong influence overall within the business they are in.  That may simply be their view on the matter without evidence to support their assertion or belief.

  1. Personal attitude and behavior are the platform for influence.

Speaking to others in neutral tones, having an open body posture, and making eye contact with people while speaking to them, are all indicators of consistency.

  1. Continuing to be approachable.

Maintaining your listening skills and requesting suggestions from those working in the front lines is invaluable.

  1. Requesting feedback from employees.

When you request constructive feedback form employees opening yourself to receiving feedback that assists in confirming and enhancing the degree of influence you have.

  1. Increased cooperation for change and new initiatives.

Having employees rally around you to cooperate, champion, and assist whole heartedly with the implementation of your programs or projects you can clearly see the evidence of being influential.

Like anything else influence may be achieved and lost.  To maintain the momentum that has started be sure to keep your behavior and attitude consistent and open to receive feedback from those around you.

Having difficulty making changes to  increasing your influence?  Contact me for a consult.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com


10 Reasons You May not be Making the Salary you are Worth

Allowing other people to have a negative influence over the way you think, feel, and behave, you’ll struggle reach your greatest potential. Giving away your attention robs you of mental strength and derails you from your goals.

There are several ways you might be giving away the potential to be overlooked and stay stuck.  Here are 10 signs you’re giving away your personal and your earning power:

  1. You give in to guilt trips.

If you change your mind every time someone tugs at your heart strings, you give others power over your behavior. If you really don’t want to do something, be strong enough to stick to your choices, even when someone tries to take you on a guilt trip.

  1. Your self-worth depends on other people’s opinions of you.

Not everyone is going to like you. But, you don’t have to let one person’s opinion define who you are or how you feel about yourself.

  1. You have trouble setting boundaries.

You get to decide who to allow into your life. If you grow resentful of people who take up too much of your energy, it’s a sign you aren’t setting clear boundaries.

  1. You complain about all the things you have to do.

You also get to decide how to spend your time. No one forces you to go to work, see the dentist, or attend that family gathering. As an adult, you get to make the rules.

  1. You hold grudges.

Grudges won’t do anything to diminish the other person’s life, but it can wreak havoc on your own. Whether someone hurt you yesterday or 10 years ago, holding a grudge allows that person to take up more space in your life.

  1. You’ve changed your goals based on other people’s opinions.

Many super successful people—like J.K. Rowling and Madonna—were rejected at one time or another. But they didn’t let rejection stop them. Changing course just because someone doubts your abilities gives that person power over your life.

  1. You’re hypersensitive to criticism.

Feedback from other people can be instrumental in helping you become your best. But, if you value other people’s input too much, you may avoid doing anything that could lead to criticism. And that could prevent you from living your best life.

  1. Other people have the ability to bring out the worst in you.

If you allow someone else to cause you to get so angry you say or do things you later regret, or you succumb to pressure to do something against your values, you give away your power. It’s important to behave according to your values, no matter what is going on around you.

  1. You spend a lot of time talking about people that you don’t like.

Every minute you spend thinking about someone you don’t like, or complaining about someone you don’t want to be around, is 60 more seconds you give that person. When you dwell on negative people, you give them power over your thoughts.

  1. Other people determine the kind of day you’re going to have.

The kind of day you’re going to have should center around the boss’s mood or your co-worker’s actions. It’s up to you to make it a good day despite whatever is happening around you.

Take Back Your Power

It’s never too late to take back your power. Commit to becoming the driver—rather than the passenger—in your life. Decide that you’re going to be in control of how you think, feel, and behave regardless of the situation you find yourself in.  That decision alone may well put you in line for a higher salary!

Having difficulty making changes?  Contact me for a consult.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Tip for Small Businesses and the Provision of Benefits

As a small business there are a myriad of ways for being creative and having your revenue dollars stretch to cover operational expenses.  Many small business owners invest in a variety of benefit plans provided by insurers.

A cost effective method for having employees have benefits is to begin a self-funded Health Spending Account (HSA) for employees.  Decide on an annual amount that is to be set aside for employees health spending.  Put the parameters in place for the HSA.  For example:

  • Employees have to work for the business for 6 months to qualify.
  • Receipts need to be provided for the employee to be reimbursed.
  • Funds for the HSA will reach a maximum dollar amount within a fixed period of time.

Still not sure about the benefits of an HSA – contact me to discuss.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com


Immigrant and Entrepreneurs and Investors for Canada

The Conference Board of Canada has recently published a report on the need for immigrant entrepreneurs and investors across Canada.  It is interesting to note that back in 1978 Canada was at the forefront of attracting people with business savvy and investment from round the world.  That position peaked in 1992 and has declined over the past 25 years.

It is interesting to note that a rise in global wealth has fueled the competition for immigrant investors willing to start businesses around the globe.  Canada now competes for wealthy immigration investors and is looking at ways of developing and maintaining an advantage to do so.

Canada has long had the issue of needing to attract more business investment.   There are suggestions for methods of increasing investment into the country by provinces and territories alike.

It is an interesting read and I recommend downloading the document by following the link below. http://www.conferenceboard.ca/e-library/abstract.aspx?did=8782.


Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

4 Reasons for Small Business to Have a Code of Conduct

Large, small, or somewhere in between does your business have a code of conduct in place?  From a small business point of view it may superfluous to even bother with having one in place.  You and your employees are likely working flat out to be visible and sell your product or service.

As a small business it is necessary to have a code of conduct in place for the growth and longevity of the enterprise.  This applies to family owned businesses as well.

  1. Having a code of conduct in place articulates the ethics that as a business owner you expect of people in your employment.
  2. It provides a blue print for addressing conflict.
  3. Involving employees in the creation of the code allows for buy in and cooperation within the business.
  4. It sets out the parameters for clear decision making by the employees.

Working with small businesses that have a code of conduct in place provides for a positive work environment and a general attitude of cooperative of cooperation.  The investment of time on the front end to develop one saves countless hours and disputes over time.

Need some suggestions as to how to start?  Contact me for a cost free short consultation.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Culture and Transparency

As a change manger with project, operations, and human resource experience the area of company culture is one that I frequently address.  Having worked in mining, construction, industrial supply, and healthcare the observation is that the permeating culture of an industry is either shaped by the entire organization, or, there is an undertone that is shaped by the employees.  In the case of culture being shaped by employees there is often a disconnection between what the leadership proclaims and the day-to-day operational practices.

Transparency in culture is a challenge that requires alignment from the executive all the way to casual staff.  One of the companies I had the privilege of working for provided a blueprint for that alignment that is worth sharing.

  1. Take the time to develop a code of conduct and ethics.
  2. Ensure you have input from all levels of the organization when developing the code.
  3. Orientation for all employees from the CEO / President to the part time casual staff is mandatory.
  4. Ensure employees to understand and appreciate that decisions they make and activities they engage in reflect the principles in the code of conduct.
  5. Encourage employees to refer to the code when faced with a decision or challenge.
  6. Provide a safe and confidential method for employees to voice concerns, code infractions, or areas that may need to be reviewed.
  7. Engage a random selection of employees from different divisions or departments to review the code of conduct every 2 – 3 years.
  8. Incorporate recommended changes to the code and have all employees re-oriented to the differences.

This company had a transparent culture that employees were all aware of.  Transparency was present at every level as was the level of engagement.  Employees typically had buy in and those who did not left to pursue other opportunities.  The overall attrition rate was less than 5 percent annually.

What experiences have you had with company culture and transparency?

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Transparency and Telling It Like It Is

As mentioned the other day I advocate and practice transparency.  Telling it like it is to employees, colleagues, client is another matter and one that I would discourage.  It may be tempting to bare your souls as it were to the people you associate with.  My reasoning for stating this is based on the work of Brene Brown particularly in the area of vulnerability.

Ms. Brown reminds us all that being vulnerable and transparent is well and good with a caveat.  When we share and tell people without discernment our complete circumstances we are not being responsible.  Sharing details of your business to a broad audience of people does not take into consideration the ability of that group or individuals within the group to actually hold or carry that detail you have shared with them.

Go ahead and be transparent – focus on what is applicable to have a level playing field for your colleagues or employees.  Save the deeper sharing of your turmoil for an audience that is able to manage the information easily and without additional stress.  When we share our fears, failures, or misfortunes widely we do a disservice to ourselves and others.

What experiences have you had in transparency versus telling it like it is?

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Transparency at Work – What is it?

As an advocate of transparency I was recently asked what the term actually refers to.  For starters every person and every level of the organization is impacted. It requires that the business be open about its processes and decisions.

Being open requires fairness.  Employees are hyper vigilant when it comes to fairness.  Differences in work hours, availability of parking spaces, granted request for vacation time during peak seasons – these are all noted by employees.  When employees know and understand the processes involved for variations in each of the areas mentioned (and numerous other areas not mentioned) buy in occurs.

Applying the same standards across all divisions and departments cements employee buy in.  Lack of standardization or a perception of specialized or different treatment from one division to the next is a breeding ground for discontent and even animosity.

There are some organizations that are championing transparency in relation to salaries and perks even for Executives.  It is not clear that knowing what the salary level of your boss or your boss’s boss adds to a sense of fair play at work.  Knowing the salary ranges for positions you aspire to has merit.

From my perspective transparency matters and is necessary.  As to having the knowledge of what everyone in the company makes it seems to me some prudence in having that information readily available to all employees is necessary.  Knowledge of salary levels throughout the organization makes sense.  Knowing what everyone makes seems to be inviting divisiveness where it does not need to be.

What areas of your business are transparent?  By the same token what areas could be more transparent and lead to the enhancement of the workplace?

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com

Intuition and 5 Managerial Competencies

Recently I read an article by Bruce Kasanoff an Influencer on LinkedIn where he was writing about Intuition being the highest form of intelligence.  I agreed with his summation.  That prompted a look at managerial competencies in the business world that are often the result of paying attention to intuition.

  1. Action Orientation

Taking action at the right time is crucial in business.  Whether the action is quick or over a prolonged period of time may be an intuitive decision.

  1. Dealing With Ambiguity

Trusting that change is the order of the day is an important intuitive aspect.  Being able to live with the change and make operational decisions in trusting that gut feeling requires a capacity for discomfort.

  1. Approachability

Being open with others is important even when the final outcome is not clear.  Trusting the intuitive sense of pursing the course and communicating that the final outcome may be somewhat changeable is truly an innate process.

  1. Business Acumen

Being able to read the market place and make decisions based on the goings is perceptive and shrewd at the same time.  Taking action to support those insights as quickly as possible is invaluable.

  1. Managerial Courage

Having the courage to take action on what is often perceived as a lack of evidence or an unsubstantiated hunch is not without its risks.  However it may pay off in the long run and the daring person who trusts that intuitive pull may just win the day.

What decisions have you made in business that was based on something other than logic?   What was the end result?  Do let me know as I am genuinely interested in the outcome.

Solo and Small Biz Change Agent, Marie-Helene Sakowski at info@effectiveplacement.com.