#Boss advice from 5 fierce female entrepreneurs

March 9, 2022

This Sunday, don’t forget to wish a happy U.S. Daylight Savings Time to everyone except Arizona and Hawaii. (Hey, we admire their gumption.)

In this week’s edition:

  • Advice from women entrepreneurs on running a startup
  • Returning back to the office
  • Onboarding boomerang employees
  • Tips on closing your company’s performance gaps

WHO RUN THE WORLD? 

5 female entrepreneurs on succeeding and thriving

Happy Women’s History Month!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we sat down with five incredible female business leaders. They shared their experiences as entrepreneurs, the highs and lows of being women in the business world, and their advice for other females who want to make that entrepreneurial leap.

On the most important characteristics a leader can have:

Alicia Guerrieri, owner and founder of iSearchDecor: “I’m always willing to do what I ask anyone to do. I’ll jump in and help wherever I need to help, and I feel like that grows a great bond with your employees. Because they know that I understand their role and what they go through.”

Katherine Perez Hernandez, web and graphic designer and owner of All The Kewt Stickers: “One of the most important characteristics a leader can have is empathy. You need to understand everyone else’s point of view. Knowing everyone is multifaceted and everything is combined together. You want to be there for them.”

On the sacrifices it took to become an entrepreneur and a leader as a woman:

Jennifer Ruiz, president of United Circuits: “Before, I used to feel like wearing makeup and a cute outfit made me feel more powerful. But I notice not wanting to dress a certain way or put makeup on. I felt that I didn’t want people to look at my face or my clothes; I just wanted to talk about the business at hand.”

On the advice they would give to other women looking to start their own business:

Melissa Pruett, owner and founder of Melt by Melissa: “One of the big takeaways in business is from a mentor of mine, Robin Sharma, and his quote says, ‘All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.’

That has really stuck with me because in business and in life, we are always changing. And that’s what makes entrepreneurship so exciting.”

Brenda Schmidt, founder and executive chairman of Solera Health: “Don’t tie up your identity with the company, so much that if the company fails, you feel like a failure. Keep the perspective that your entrepreneurial endeavor is like a child, but it’s not indicative of your total success as a person. Keeping that balance is really important from an identity perspective.”

👉 Find more nuggets of wisdom.


#COMMUTELIFE

Planning the best return-to-office strategy

The news:

As of last week, both NYC and LA County ended their indoor mask mandates. And some are taking this move as a sign that U.S. pandemic restrictions will soon be coming to an end. 

That group includes some bigwig businesses. Twitter, Google, and Meta are just some of the companies that have recently released their return-to-office plans.

That’s a good thing, right?

Depends on who you ask. For some businesses, office reopening plans have been stop-and-go since the pandemic started, so they’ll be happy to finally welcome back employees in person.

That being said, not all employees are keen to return to full-time office life. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 78% of people who currently work from home want to continue when the pandemic is over. And 63% of job seekers are prioritizing companies with remote work opportunities.

Okay, so what’s the best move for my business?

If you’re a business leader who’s thinking about your own return-to-office plans, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

  1. Remote, hybrid, or office work? The crucial decision. If remote work has kept production levels steady and your employees want to continue WFH, maybe going remote full-time is the best move. Or, if you do need your employees in the office, consider whether a hybrid work arrangement would be possible. That way, your employees will be satisfied coming in a few times a week versus five times a week.
  2. Your office space. Not everyone prefers remote work. Some people think they work more productively in an office setting. Others feel working in the office makes them feel more connected to their coworkers. If you have a full-time remote plan, consider keeping your office space as a company hub for employees. That way, they have a space where they can be their most productive and connect for in-person meetings.
  3. Timeline. If you’re asking your employees to return to the office, give at least one month’s notice. Some people moved during the pandemic and will need time to prepare for the big switch back. Others set up routines with their families that might need an adjustment period. 

Whatever you choose, communicate the decision to your employees. And have answers for the big questions, like… if sweatpants are now appropriate office wear.


TRAINING DAY

How to onboard boomerang employees

“I’m back.”

That’s the gist of an in-office memo from a team member who left for greener pastures. AKA the boomerang employee, or someone who’s been rehired by the same company.  

In a recent Workhuman research report, nearly two-thirds of employees said they’d return to work for a former employer in the future. And with the Great Resignation still in full swing, chances are, you might be looking to bring back a former rockstar — or considering hiring one who’s decided that the grass is definitively not greener in another office.  

Is that really a great idea, though?

Sure is. Welcoming back a former team member can save time and money through reduced onboarding needs. Boomerang employees also come with the added bonus of having an existing understanding of your company’s inner clockwork, processes, and work culture.

But if we’re going to play devil’s advocate…

Like Maroon 5 says, it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Rehiring a former employee means they could possibly leave your company again (they’ve done it once, so…), resurface past grievances or issues, or just be out of step with your current work culture and policies.

Overall, though…

The pros outweigh the cons. And once you’ve committed to hiring a boomerang employee, you’ll want to consider how to better tailor the onboarding process so that it’s efficient and beneficial for both you and your new hire. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to onboarding a boomerang employee:

  1. Review the employee’s past data performance. Reviewing past performance can be to the advantage of all involved. It helps to ensure that goals and expectations are well aligned. 
  1. Tailor your existing onboarding needs to meet their needs. Taking into account the duration of the boomerang employee’s time with your company can help you create an efficient onboarding process that doesn’t rehash familiar material or omit anything new. 

👉 Read all 6 steps.


WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

How to identify and close business performance gaps

What’s a performance gap?

Essentially, it’s the difference between your team’s performance to date and their desired performance (or the performance you expect them to achieve).

Let’s say you expect your sales team to stay completely up to date on changes to your product — something they should research every week. Instead, they collectively know a little over half of the product changes that have happened this year. Oof. 

The difference in the “expectation versus reality” here is your performance gap.

If we have them, is it that big of a deal?

Absolutely. The sooner you identify a performance gap and take actionable steps to address the root of the problem, the more effective your organization is likely to be. 

If you identify performance gaps, don’t panic! After all, they tell you every expectation that still needs to be documented in your business playbook (AKA your collection of company processes, policies, and procedures). 

You need to know which of your expectations aren’t being met. That way, you can make a plan to get things back on track. 

How to close your performance gap:

In order to set your team up for success, you’ll need to identify and close any and all performance gaps. So we broke it down into five simple steps:

  1. Measure your team’s current performance. Make sure you have reasonable and completely defined success metrics for every role. These metrics should be quantifiable and easy for your employees to measure themselves. When you do this, you’ll be able to compare your desired metrics with real-time metrics. AKA the gap.
  1. Analyze employee skills and knowledge. The solution to existing performance gaps depends on where the disconnect lies. Do only a few team members lack a set of necessary skills, or is it a company-wide issue? Do you have an employee who’s taking on responsibilities that don’t align with their role? After you conduct a skill-gap analysis, you’ll understand whether you need to start a training program, implement mentoring initiatives, or hire someone new to close the gap. 

👉 See all 5 steps.


TL; DR

This week’s highlight reel

  • Equal job, equal pay. After six years, the members of the World Cup-winning United States women’s soccer team came out victorious in their battle with U.S. Soccer. The team negotiated a multimillion-dollar payment and a promise by their federation to equalize pay between the men’s and women’s national teams. To which we say: gooooooal! 
  • Return of the rack. Shopping malls aren’t going down without a fight. To boost traffic and sales for tenants, they’re using unorthodox attractions to lure customers back. Think: pickleball courts, virtual golf, indoor skydiving, and craft breweries. Cheers, Auntie Anne’s. 
  • (Don’t) mind the gap. Last week, LinkedIn launched Career Breaks, a new feature that allows users to share the reason behind a resume gap in their profile. After a challenging pandemic job market, businesses and employers are looking past the stigma associated with these gaps and giving applicants a new lease on the job market. 
  • Free Prison Mike. And the most valuable TV show in the U.S. is… The Office! It received the biggest streaming deal for old TV shows, according to Casey Bloys, head of programming for HBO and HBO Max. Proving a few of us still enjoy watching the in-office shenanigans of the Dunder-Mifflin crew. 

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