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www.TriCountyBusinessJournal.com 7 EDUCATION & TRAINING


Be proactive to avoid communication pitfalls


by Kelly Keefe D PHOTO COURTESY OF POLLACK STUDIO


Mark Hauserman talks in The Hatchery with John Carroll University students, from left, Patrick Grogan, Matthew Gordan, Ryan Drake and William Johnson.


Incubator businesses find creativity, curriculum


John Carroll University offers room to grow by Maria Shine Stewart


A


place to reflect, collaborate, dream and brainstorm. A place to network, strategize, plan and even make a few mistakes along the way before


getting it right. Who would not want such a comfortable


incubator site to cultivate ideas and plan the leap from idea to reality? Business owners, inventors and entrepre-


neurs know the value of focused attention in the creative process. Thanks to the vision of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship at John Carroll University, students now can cultivate productive habits of mind through “The Hatchery” on the third floor of the Boler School of Business. The room is designed for selected proj-


ects and individual efforts. Students are also matched with business mentors who can offer insight, practical guidance and a listening ear. Obviously, it’s not the magic of The Hatch-


ery or any room that sparks innovation: it’s the state of mind it represents and spawns. “Seventy-five percent of all entrepreneurs


were arts and sciences majors,” says Muldoon Center director Mark Hauserman, who clari- fies what the role of an entrepreneurship mi- nor is at a college like JCU. “We are not in the business of start-ups.” People in their 20s may lack the experience


– the 10,000 hours of experience, according to Hauserman and other experts – that may dem- onstrate mastery of a field. There clearly is strong risk in the start-up experience, as most people know. The average entrepreneur is 38. Typically


at that point, someone working in another person’s business may have acquired power- ful insights on improving operations or new product development. For those with less life business experience,


faculty are needed to foster innovation in stu- dents. An interdisciplinary group of faculty from fields ranging from communications to sociology has begun that process, with the support of an $80,000 grant. Beyond the traditional school year for stu-


dents, summer programs such as Immersion Week and Idea Lab are “classic good times,” as Hauserman put it, as well as the chance to work together, propose ideas and cultivate ideas in a time-driven and supportive environ- ment. “This education will put them [students] in


a position to succeed,” Hauserman says. JCU’s entrepreneurship program is ranked in the nation, according to Hauserman.


43rd


A variety of factors — including the number of students enrolled relative to the campus as a whole, the nature of the curriculum and the number of faculty who have run a busi- ness — go into such ratings. The Hatchery is something more typical of a school in the top 25, he points out. If The Hatchery supports students on their


way to becoming innovators, it will be a place where they will learn to fly and bring hope and innovation to for-profit and non-profit sectors.


As well as serving as eastern Cuyahoga con- tributing editor for the Tri-County Business Journal, Maria Shine Stewart is owner of Shine Writing Services (www.makeyourwritingshine. com) in Richmond Heights.


uring a recent training session, Tony Tomanek, ERC’s senior consultant for training and organizational development, saw firsthand what can happen when a breakdown in communication occurs between employees and their supervisors. “I had a woman come up to me during a break in the training


session,” Tomanek recalls. “She was very emotional and teary eyed. In her seven years with the company, not once had her boss asked how her weekend was. Her boss was a driver, with a direct ‘don’t waste my time, I don’t want to know about your personal life’ kind of attitude. “At a superficial level, that seems OK, but employees sometimes feel they


need interpersonal communication to achieve a certain level of trust. If an employee feels that their supervisor doesn’t care about them, they can become disengaged and even tune the boss out.” Maintaining good lines of communication is just one challenge managers and


supervisors face. The management of conflict and performance, and management of potential liabilities, can be tough hurdles to clear, too. Failing to address any of these issues can lead to damaging consequences.


Companies, though, can be proactive in avoiding these pitfalls through the support and development of their managers. Here are five common challenges for managers and supervisors, plus some practical ways to deal with them.


Communicate Managers frequently are not aware of


the quality of their communication or, as Tomanek’s example illustrates, how their communication or interpersonal style are perceived by their employees. Help managers understand


their unique communication and interpersonal style and how to “flex” this style in different situations by providing communication templates, scripts, tips or checklists. Engage in role-play or dialogue to help them practice their skills and identify improvements. Additionally, educate managers on


common communication breakdowns and how to avoid them and encourage managers to notice signs of communication problems. When all else fails, provide a personal coach if communication problems persist.


Resolve conflict Many managers ignore problems and


do not directly address conflicts with their employees or work team. Whether these are performance problems, conflicts among team members, issues of trust or personality clashes,


managers are challenged to: n Confront and address problems


head-on and as they emerge n Diffuse employees’ feelings and


emotions about the problem n Listen to both parties’ needs and


desires n Derive win-win solutions that lead to more productive and positive work


relations n Prevent conflict in the future


by nurturing positive co-worker relationships and recognizing potential


for conflict or problems early.


Manage performance Managers must balance meeting


goals, managing workloads and motivating employees. These issues, coupled with the fact that many managers are ill-equipped to provide regular and constructive feedback and may not understand the importance of documenting performance, can make managing performance challenging. To support them, build on-going


performance feedback into the performance management process to ensure accountability. Create an easy method for managers to document


performance like a database. Provide support tools for managers


such as rewards, recognition, training and development to recognize and build performance. Most importantly, train managers in topics such as performance management, coaching and feedback because many will have had no experience with these.


Handle protected


employees Most managers are not


well-versed in administering ADA,


FMLA and other laws that protect certain groups of employees, but unknowingly find themselves managing an employee who requires an accommodation, leave of absence or falls into a protected class. These situations need to be handled delicately due to their legal nature, so


make managers aware of: n Legal basics such as conditions or


disabilities that are protected n How to determine essential functions and reasonable


accommodations n Requirements associated with


FMLA (eligibility, length of time, etc.) n Types of employees that are protected under law (gender, race,


national origin, etc.) n Hiring and interviewing liabilities (questions to ask/not ask, etc.).


Administer policies One of the most common challenges


for managers is treating employees fairly and consistently. A manager may allow policies and rules to be disregarded by some employees and not others. “Stretching” the rules for some


employees can open up a range of potential liabilities and perceptions of bias and favoritism that have negative far-reaching effects in the workplace. Be sure to write clear policies and


let managers know when changes are made. Set clear criteria for making employment decisions, particularly where managers need to distinguish between employees (recognition, reward, etc.). Also, clearly differentiate between the policies in which managers have discretion to implement and those in which they do not.


Kelly Keefe is director of training and events at ERC in Mayfield Village. For a complete list of upcoming training events, visit www.ercnet.org/training.


ALSO NEED TRAINING


BUSINESS OWNERS


M


any business owners concen- trate on training and educa- tion for employees, but often


forget that they need training, too. Lakeland Community College’s


Entrepreneurship Academy is an op- portunity for small businesses to work “on” their business as opposed to “in” their business, according to its Direc- tor Gretchen Skok DiSanto. Now entering its second year, the


program was designed to target small businesses of six months to 5 years old to go beyond start-up education into a comprehensive component that answers the most often-asked ques- tion, “How do I grow my business?” Hugh O’Brien of Wickliffe’s Exeter


Cabinet Supply was one of last year’s graduates of the one evening-per- week 12-week program that costs $365. O’Brien says the classes got him out of his bubble at work and helped him gain new perspective, practical ideas, motivation and inspi- ration. Expert business leaders and entre-


preneurs teach the classes that cover strategic planning, human resources and more. Last year’s 18 slots sold out, but there are some openings for classes that run from 6:30-9 p.m. Wednesdays from Aug. 31-Nov. 16, culminating with a graduation dinner. Information includes how to imple- ment the latest best practices in sales,


marketing and customer service, as well as how to develop small- business networking contacts, advice from successful local subject-matter experts and entrepreneurs, and a plan to build the business. Gretchen Skok DiSanto developed


the program based on a 2009 needs assessment when it was determined that more entrepreneurial develop- ment in the area was warranted. “You can’t afford not to invest in


learning about best practices for your business,” she says. “You’d think you would have to


travel out of town to obtain this level of coaching,” says Todd Crockett of The Crockett Team and Train Launch and


a 2010 graduate of the Entrepreneur- ship Academy. “Thanks to Lakeland, it’s now right in our backyard.” The Entrepreneurship Academy is


presented in partnership with the Ohio Small Business Development Center at the Lake County Port Authority and Lakeland Community College, where the classes are held. For more infor- mation or to learn about scholarship opportunities contact Skok DiSanto at 440-525-7444 or gskok-disanto@lake landcc.edu or visit www.lakelandcc. edu/ea. Access a course schedule at lakelandcc.edu/ea/Entrepreneur ship_Academy_Schedule.pdf.


— Kay Bryson


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