The Orion Sword - March 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In This Issue:
Performance Review Do's and Don'ts,
Walk While You Work,
Making the Most of Your Tax Return

Performance Review Do's and Don'ts

Annual employee reviews can be stressful for both the reviewing manager and the employee. Here are some tips to reduce anxiety when giving the next performance review.
Start Early. Begin thinking about an employee’s performance review a month ahead of time, and begin preparing it two weeks before deadline.
Look at the whole year. It’s easy to concentrate on the most recent accomplishments or issues an employee has experienced, but it’s important to look at what has happened over the entire year, and take everything into consideration.
Verify Data. If you are unsure of certain details of an employee’s performance, don’t guess. Verify the facts that you have, and research the information you are missing.
Focus on work. Concentrate on work-related and observed behaviors only. Do not play psychotherapist or make any assumptions about an employee’s personal life.
Spend time discussing pay.  With so much information to cover in a review, it’s easy to dismiss the discussion of pay until the end. Spend time discussing your employee’s raise and how your company’s salary increase structure works.
Don’t compare. Comparing an individual employee to another will only create friction.
Don’t discipline. Annual reviews are for an overall view of an employee’s performance. If there are issues, or you are displeased with something, do not yell, threaten, or lose your temper. Let the feedback speak for itself.
Don’t dominate. Most of the discussion should be an employee’s reaction to your feedback. Allow them to do most of the talking. 

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Walk While you Work

America has the highest rate of obesity, as well as the longest workweek. With this in mind, Dr. James Levine invented Steelcase’s new Walkstation, a treadmill/desk hybrid. Dr. Levine is hoping the fulfillment of his lifelong dream will be part of America’s obesity solution.
Steelcase, a global office furniture company, will be selling its product through Details, one of their subsidiaries. The Walkstation, with its treadmill borrowed from TRUE Fitness, is equipped with a slide out keyboard tray, adjustable work surface, and a padded front edge for working wrists to sit on. The maximum speed of the new workstation is two miles an hour, designed to keep a steady heart rate.
Steelcase isn’t hoping this new invention will replace the conventional work desk, but rather that it will be used in conference rooms where people could perhaps walk while giving PowerPoint presentations or for employees to share. The price of the desk will run between $3,500 and $4,500, a price perhaps worth spending for a healthier workweek.

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Making the Most of Your Tax Rebate

It is that time of year again, and many of you are anxiously awaiting your tax rebate check. Your thoughts race, and you wonder, “Should I plan that trip to Greece or invest in a brand new wardrobe?” But before you waste the money on frivolous things, think about what you could do with the check in order to secure your long-term future or help invigorate the economy.
Financial advisors suggest everything from starting an emergency fund to paying down a home equity line of credit. One of the best things you can do is pay off credit card debt. If you can’t pay down the entire amount, pay part of the credit card and then transfer the balance to a lower interest credit card. reports, “You’ll save $730 if you transfer a $2,000 balance from an 18-percent card to an 8.25-percent card and then pay off your balance at a rate of $50 a month.” Obviously, paying debt will free you in the future to take that trip to Greece, without feeling guilty. 
Another option is investing in your long-term future. Could you benefit from furthering your education? Would this education allow you to further your career and enhance your future earnings? What about long-term care insurance or life insurance? Are you prepared for health-care emergencies? Also, consider education for your children, as well as your retirement. All of these are great options for utilizing your tax rebate check.
If you must purchase something, make sure it will provide a return on your investment. An upgrade for your house, especially in the bathroom or kitchen, can provide this return. Whatever you decide, be sure to choose wisely. Yes, sometimes it is important to reward ourselves with frivolous things, but think first and reap the rewards later.