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Want to Ride the Coming Gig Economy Boom? Map Your Processes First.

processes

Want to Ride the Coming Gig Economy Boom? Map Your Processes First.

Who sets workflow parameters in your business? Is it a control-heavy CEO? Department heads? The HR people who bring in the muscle? If it’s any of those three, your organization is overlooking the experts on what it takes to achieve goals and innovate: employees.

Trends in hiring options show big potential for companies to boost performance and nail objectives by augmenting permanent staff with project-oriented contractors. Project-based hiring promises greater efficiency and a chance to attract expert talent on a case-by-case basis, giving your workforce more power and flexibility. But to call this a move toward outsourcing is to simplify the job that business leaders and HR professionals face first.

Embracing new ways of hiring will depend on taking a fresh look at how work gets done inside your organization. In other words, to slot the right workers to the right projects, those projects need concise definition, so the right people can be found. The tool for that task is culture. Build transparency and acknowledgment into your company culture to fully identify and hone your job processes.

Transparency Helps Outline Job Breakdowns

The key to contracting specific projects to specific talent is, well, being specific. If you’re looking for a full-time employee to cover a number of tasks, the old, broad job description model still works. But if you’re looking for a series of experts to carry projects over the finish line, you’ll want to pinpoint what you want those people to do, for how long, and to what end. You can use your permanent and rotating staff to help draw those outlines.

Since you may have many microhires, the best way to manage knowledge of the processes they’ll follow is to let everybody on your staff know those boundaries. A project may wend its way through several departments and dozens of desks. When your whole team knows what everyone does and why, anyone will be able to point a person or a process in the correct direction.

Transparency brings this information to every manager and employee. In your regular team-building interactions, create a role-and-goal component. On its face, this is simple. What does each person in the company do? Why do they do it? What do they hope to achieve? At meetings or in internal communications, quiz the whole staff, from the CEO to direct reports, on these items. This is the beginning of mapping workflow and processes, and it should be a perpetual effort, as new people come in and new goals need to be met.

Acknowledgement Reveals What Works

With multiple contractors cycling through your workforce, you’ll want proven processes to guide them. Who decides what works? In a supportive culture, everyone should have a say. Analysis of growth and market share will back up how well the company machinery is working.

In your initial process mapping, you’ll survey each employee and departmental reps on how they do what they do, and how efficient and effective they think those methods are. Then, you can confirm or reject process steps via their outcomes. To keep all of this front and center with employees, use an acknowledgment system that is open to everyone.

For instance, if Kate finds a way to skip a step and hit a goal more efficiently, a colleague might notice and call attention to her improvement. Then, the department manager may take note and decide to implement that process across the board. This is why an open recognition system is important. When peers and those up and down the ladder see which current practices or new innovations aid in job performance, they can adopt them as well or encourage others to do so.

Contractors Help Pay It Forward

Have HR or department heads document your evolving processes, so that there is a map of best practices at any given time. Your hiring and onboarding procedures for contractors will reflect these tasks and techniques. You’ll also include these temporary hires in your roles-and-goals education, to whatever degree is relevant. This may seem like overkill, but it will create stability in what is necessarily a fluid situation.

Now you’re ready to use those expert contractors to their full potential. The new skills and talent they bring to the table will further innovate your job processes. And their knowledge of your internal structure will make them ideal candidates for future projects.

But keeping contractors informed and in the feedback loop does more than just positively affect your workflow. It helps reinforce forward-looking company culture. An organization’s culture is a living thing that transcends who is on the payroll at the moment. A strong culture that highlights how work is best performed will serve whomever you hire, well into the future.

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Chris Dyer is a recognized company culture expert among leadership speakers and consultants. He has channeled what he has learned in his business research and as Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a leading background check company, into his best-selling book, The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018).

strategies

Five Strategies That Can Take Your Business From Pretender To Contender

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

That quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, summarizes why some businesses and other endeavors fall short and end up in the scrap heap of lost dreams.

The importance of preparation for success in business is much like it is for professional sports teams trying to win a championship, says Paul Trapp (www.eventprep.com), founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc., a full-service meeting planning and management company, and co-author with Stephen Davis of Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams.

“Every single significant opportunity in life is a Super Bowl if you really want to be successful,” Trapp says. “The New England Patriots frequently reach the Super Bowl, but they don’t get there if they don’t practice with purpose every week, watch countless hours of video, and rise above the inevitable pain and struggles that come with high-level competition.

“Being prepared for every situation along the way leads to earning their biggest opportunity, and it’s the same way for a business looking for big opportunities to grow. The key to mastering the art of preparation is constant practice.”

Trapp and Davis offer five strategies for businesses to take their preparation to the next level:

Become a disruptor. “You want your business to stand out from the competition,” Trapp says. “To do that, ask yourself, ‘How can my company disrupt the industry? How do we position ourselves in the marketplace so that people will go out of their way to do business with us?’ ”

Attract the right talent. Picking the right person – one who can be a long-term employee vital to the company’s success – should be a slow and strategic process. For a business owner, hiring people is very much like investing,” says Davis, who is EventPrep’s founding owner/president/COO. “Before you offer someone a job, do research, check references, and ask many questions. Do people you are considering have the attitude and motivation to succeed? Would they be a good fit with your existing culture?”

Establish a winning culture. “A business culture is created at the top and cascades downward,” Davis says. “It takes great effort and dedication to build a winning business culture where everyone feels valued as contributors. It goes beyond the professional relationship to the personal – showing compassion for employees in times of need, and recognizing exceptional efforts with tangible rewards.”

Befriend Murphy. As in Murphy’s Law – ”Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Although all businesses encounter problems in a variety of ways, Trapp says, a strong organization can properly prepare in a way to withstand them and solve them quickly. “Because Murphy is going to show up in any number of forms,” Trapp says, “when preparing to do anything, there has to be a list of solutions in place before a problem ever happens.”

Recognize and seize opportunities. “The key to seizing an opportunity is identifying a need greater than your own – that of your customer,” Davis says. “Imagine you meet someone who can help you solve a need because he or she has the tools and experience to give you what you really need. Think about what real estate agents do for home buyers. They ask specific questions about what the clients are looking for, relate to their excitement about finding the right kind of home, and create a vision of that.”

“Preparedness is the key in any and all situations,” Trapp says. “The only way you learn and grow as an individual, and as a business, is to perfect your unique abilities and a team’s winning strategies through repetition.”

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Paul Trapp is a founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc. (www.eventprep.com), a full-service meeting planning and management company that supports 16 franchises across the U.S. He is co-author of the book Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Trapp is a former senior military leader who served as chief of recruiting for the Army National Guard and holds over 30 years of experience in contract management, event planning, and organizing conferences, seminars, and meetings.

Stephen Davis is a founding owner/president/COO of EventPrep, Inc., and co-author of  Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Davis is a multi-state operations director who focuses on conference development, implementation, management, and conference design. He currently serves as a chief warrant officer and CID special agent in the Army Reserves. Davis deployed twice in support of the global war on terrorism. In 2016, Davis and Paul Trapp launched  Federal Conference, Inc., which provided professional event planning and management services to the government and commercial marketplaces. Federal Conference, Inc., twice was an Inc. 500 award recipient and executes over 3,000 events annually around the world.

geopolitical

How to Successfully Conduct Global Business During a Time of Geopolitical Instability

The way organizations approach global commerce is undergoing a radical change. Geopolitical instability is slowing growth in a volatile global economy as organizations are forced to adapt their tactics, making complex decisions that increase operational costs and, if mishandled, make them less competitive in an unforgiving business landscape. So, what can organizations do to navigate this ‘new normal’? As an association whose members deal with small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at the local level on a regular basis, we at the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) released our second annual WTCA Trade and Investment Report: Navigating Uncertainty, in partnership with FP Analytics. The report focuses on how cities around the world are optimizing trade and investment opportunities despite challenges, both economic and political, and how SMEs benefit from these strategies

The report shows that the majority (83%) of business leaders interviewed believe that global economic uncertainty will stay at its current elevated levels (30%) or get worse (53%) in the coming year. However, 69% of business leaders polled are cautiously optimistic about the coming year, as the report shows that resilient cities—defined as those that outperform their countries during economic downturns—have Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a percentage of GDP twice as high as non-resilient cities.

Despite their differences in location and culture, resilient cities have a set of commonalities that allow trade and investment to thrive. These characteristics include diversified economies and strong service sectors. In fact, resilient cities on average saw the share of services in GDP grow by 3.3% over the last five years; more than double the pace of non-resilient cities. Their populations are largely educated, with many inhabitants having college or other advanced degrees, as well as diverse, with higher rates of foreign citizens. On average, foreign citizens represent 11.6% of resilient cities’ populations, which is one-quarter higher than that of non-resilient cities. These cities also tend to have strong transportation infrastructures, including both airports and public transit options. 

Building Resilience 

The report also identified specific tactics used by resilient cities that organizations, including business and civic leaders looking to improve their own city’s resilience, can mirror. 

In resilient cities, key stakeholders are prioritizing direct diplomacy, meeting face-to-face to navigate obstacles created by regional or national governments. By cutting through political red tape, organizations have been able to create new meaningful relationships with each other and strengthen existing ties. The ability to engage in a direct dialogue creates efficient business interactions that are beneficial to all parties. For example, World Trade Center (WTC) Arkansas has organized multiple diplomatic trade missions with Mexico. As a result, its exports to Mexico are growing 3.6 times faster than to any other country. 

Cities are also proactively building programs to attract and retain skilled foreign citizens. For example, Twente, located in the eastern Netherlands, is evolving from a region focused on machine-building and textiles to one with an economy driven by high-tech systems. To retain young, skilled workers from across the globe, WTC Twente created an Expat Center that offers a range of services, including Dutch language courses, visas and work permits, housing, and support for families, as well as social events with the goal of enticing technically-skilled foreign workers and their families to integrate into the community for the long term.

Turning Obstacles into Opportunity

Economic turmoil affects everyone, but not always in the same way. For some, the current geopolitical reality presents opportunity. City leaders are adapting to these geopolitical changes and establishing themselves as cost-efficient and low-risk trade and investment partners to capitalize on the situation. FDI is being redirected towards these agile cities who have recognized the advantages created by this global uncertainty, and supply chains are shifting and realigning based on new benefits. Competition for FDI is escalating (global FDI slowed 27% over the last year, according to the OECD) and the private and public sectors need to work hand-in-hand to create attractive fiscal and tax environments, and institute policies that will attract business. 

Cities are also increasingly investing in both high-tech industries, and SMEs to ensure they are able to attract FDI at a time when this investment comes at a premium. These high-tech industries will lead to future growth and play a central role in the next industrial revolution. Additionally, partnerships with major research institutions are being used to create new technology and modernize existing tech. For instance, in Delaware, private agriculture technology or “ag-tech” companies have partnered with universities to pioneer better technology in seeding, pest management, antibiotic reduction, and biopharmaceuticals. 

SMEs are well suited to adapt quickly in the face of change and evolving economic realities, which enables them to capitalize on changing conditions. However, their size can prevent them from competing on a global scale. To combat this, programs that help SMEs move forward given limited resources can be critical in encouraging and nurturing growth opportunities. As an example, WTC Toronto created the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), a six-week program that connects SMEs with export and business experts to train them on developing export plans fit for the global market. This program has now been adopted by several other WTC members in Canada, including Vancouver and Winnipeg. 

At the moment the global economy is relatively unpredictable, and increasing risks for businesses have made sound strategic business planning more difficult at a time when it is absolutely vital. Knowledge, preparedness, and agility are key traits cities and businesses need to acquire in order to achieve success and growth. Despite the prevailing conditions, with a strategic approach and tactics proven to increase resilience, organizations can optimize current trade and investment opportunities and set themselves up for success now and in the future.

To review the full 2019 WTCA Trade and Investment Report: Navigating Uncertainty, including commentary from WTCA Members, visit www.WTCAReports.org