How to Terminate a Bad Contractor Without Hurting Your Business
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Many companies including my own will hire contracted employees on a temporary or trial basis before hiring them full time. As independent contractors and contracted firms are not classified as employees, this means they you do not have the legal right to manage them as if you were their employer.

When working with contractors, you generally cannot have any say as to when, how and where they perform their job. By law, the only thing you can control is their outcome –whether the job was completed, if it was on time, and if they met the defined expectation of quality for the deliverable.

Just like in our personal lives, whenever we enter into a new business relationship there is always the expectation that everything will turn out for the best. Here’s how to be prepared when the honeymoon period wears off.

1.Get everything in writing.

A statement of work, or SOW, is the first step to engaging any new business contract. Make sure it clearly states what your milestones and outcomes are.

This step can take a lot of time to do but thankfully there are templates available to help you from SmartSheet and to save you some of that. It will definitely save you headaches later on.

2.Pay attention to the details.

Years ago, while working on a large project for Starbucks, my team and I kept running into roadblocks that caused us to miss our deadlines. After further discussion with the client, we determined that they were relying on another team to complete their tasks on time for our project to move forward.

Before beginning any work, make sure you have some sort of discovery process in place where you are able to ask questions and identify all items that will be required for a job to be considered complete and delivered.

3.Get independent verification.

On one situation, I was asked to facilitate between a client and contractor where communication had broken down so much that they wouldn’t even sit face to face. Once I gave a dispassionate evaluation of their work, everyone was able to start talking again.

If things have gotten off track, emotions can get heated and you may not be the best judge of the quality of work being turned in. In this case, turn to a neutral third-party who is familiar with the business objectives to evaluate the output.

4.Fulfill any obligations.

During the mediation of a dispute between a client and their contracted vendor, I discovered that both sides had missed items that were clearly defined in their agreement. Rather than wasting money and time over arguing, they simply canceled the contract and moved on.

Every contract has termination clauses built in for a reason –on both sides. If one side isn’t living up to their contractual agreements, the other side has the right to end the contract –or to dispute it.

5.Remember your manners.

As a contractor for the Naval Research Labs, I was given a project to complete and finished it as directed, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the work.When offered a new contract at the same terms, I chose not to accept, but I was polite about it and remained friendly with my colleagues.

At the end of the day, contractual agreements are put into place to protect both parties –to ensure that the stated work is being delivered and that it is compensated at an agreed rate. If something you care about isn’t in the contract you agreed to, you can renegotiate it next time or let it lapse.

With these simple steps, you should be able to free yourself of any of those clients or contractors that are holding you back — with minimal drama.

Oct 31, 2019
Why Sleep May Be the Secret Key to Your Success

You may realize thatsleep is key toproductivity, but research also points to its importance for leaders.

Your sleep routine may be downright essential to your work and the success of your business. Eti Ben Simon, a neuroscientist and postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, points to several studies that track sleep’s impact on productivity, including one by Christopher M. Barnes and Nathaniel F. Watsonpublished in February 2019that looked at how sleep can help maximize employee effectiveness.

Team leaders’ lack of sleepcould even diminish their perceived charisma in the eyes of their employees, according to another study by Barnes, along with Cristiano L. Guarana, Shazia Nauman, and Dejun Tony Kong,published in May 2016.

“A good night’s sleep is important for every system in our bodies from our brains to how we’re motivated, to how we deal with stress, all the way down to our immune response–which is very relevant right now,” says Ben Simon.

Sleep “istied to optimal functioning,” saysAric Prather, an associate professor at UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, who has studied the subject for 15 years. Sleep plays arole in emotional health and physical health andis critical for a strong immune system, he says.

So, how can you get your best sleep? The experts have some suggestions:

Set a routine

Prather and Ben Simon each cite the importance of a more or less fixed sleep schedule, sevendays a week. That means going to bed at the same time every night, especially when your body begins to signal that you’re tired,and waking at the same time every morning.

To ensure you have a good transition into sleep, create a wind-down routine,Prather suggests. “Cue your body that night is here,” he says.That may mean turning off your devices, stopping your intake of news and information, and taking a shower or bath to ramp up your parasympathetic nervous system and bring on sleep.

“The goal is to let your body let go of all the engaging and angsty things that happened throughout the day,” he says.

“It’s important to keep regularity in the hours you go to sleep and wake up,” says Ben Simon. “When sleep corresponds to a rhythm, I like to give the analogy of riding your bike with the wind at your back: When you’re in sync with your rhythm, the quality of sleep is better.”

Don’t toss and turn

Waking up in the night is normal–especially when worries may intrude on good sleep–but tossing and turning in bed as you try to fall back to sleep hinders restfulness.

“If you’re not able to sleep, and you’re awake for 20 or 30 minutes, you want to get out of bed,” says Prather. Tossing and turning have the potential to counter the conditioned arousal that lets your brain and body associate your bed with sleep. To reset yourself, Prather suggests getting out of your bed. “Try to wind yourself down again. Read, watch a little TV. Something until you begin to feel sleepy again and then get back in bed,” he says.

And try not to worry too much. Anxiety and sleep are bidirectional,Ben Simon notes.”If you’ve had a bad night, you’re likely to have a worse day,” she says. “If you have a bad day, you’re likely to have bad sleep. If you get better sleep, that’s enough to reduce anxiety the next day.”

Make sleep a priority for yourself and your company

This is a big one for founders and company leaders to keep in mind: The way you help structure your employees’days can set the tone for their nights.

“I would recommend that employers let employees know sleep is valued here,” says Ben Simon. She suggests not sending your team emails late in the evening with the expectation that they will respond immediately and not setting meeting times so early in the morningthat they might cause your team to losesleep. “The most important thing is to prioritize sleep,” she says.

Supporting your team’s ability to get good sleep canhave a huge impact on your company’s culture and bottom line.

“I do a lot of work on sleep and the immune system, and we really have shown fairly conclusively that when people get, say, less than less than six hours of sleep per night on average, they are significantly more likely to get a cold,” Prather says. “It’s very, very clear that sleep is a crucial piece to protecting you from infectious disease.”

That has been important for long time, but now it’s even more essential–and potentially lifesaving.

Apr 23, 2020

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