The Employee Management Files: Jokesters and Late Comers

Every workplace will have its own unique environment to an extent but, when you get right down to it, most are fundamentally the same. Sure, every industry has different day-to-day tasks and problems they have to deal with, but if you put a bunch of clashing personalities together you’ll get similar employee conflicts and typical drama.

You may be the manager or owner of your company, but that doesn’t mean that you’re free from dealing with these employee issues. In fact, you may have to deal with them even more often now that you’re in a position of power. Every business owner from Alexander F. Bouri to the owner of the pizza shop down the street has had to deal with employee conflict in some form. You can handle the problems properly when they arise by anticipating what may happen. Here are the most common troublesome employees you’ll encounter, and how to deal with them.

The inappropriate “jokester”

You have a pretty clear policy about potentially offensive jokes in the office, but this employee always manages to push the envelope. They look confused when you approach them about an issue another employee is having with their behavior and claim to just be joking around. The employee’s friends may enjoy their quips, but they aren’t for the workplace. Don’t let this person skate by after a warning; after all, if they say the wrong thing and offend someone, you could find yourself in legal trouble – especially if nothing is done to correct the problem. Let them know that their behavior isn’t appropriate for the workplace, and that they’ll either be written up or terminated the next time it happens.

The late comer

Sometimes it’s five minutes; at other times, it can be hours. This employee always seems to be running late, but that’s really their only issue. They may be excellent workers, but if they can’t show up to places on time, they’re just going to cause problems in the future. Lateness can become a chronic problem, and if you keep letting it slide they won’t feel the need to get to work on time. Ask them if something has occurred that has been making them late, and if there’s a way that you could reasonably accommodate them. If not, let them know their constant lateness is a problem and that it needs to be changed unless they want to get a new job.

This Is the Only Qualification You Need to Look for in a New Employee

There are a million things to consider when hiring a new employee, from their experience level to how long they stayed at their last two jobs. But to Alexander F. Bouri, there is only one qualification that truly matters—and it may not be what you think. To Bouri, personality is the most important hiring characteristic. Why? Here are five good reasons:

1.  It’s easy to spot – Personality is something you can gauge easily in a first interview. If they seem consistent in subsequent interviews, it’s a lock. You know your company culture better than anyone—both what’s currently working and what you’d like to see—and hiring people who fit that mold is the surest way to make the culture even stronger. Think of whether a candidate is someone you would be happy to see every day, and you’ll know instantly if they are a fit.

2.  It improves every project – Having people you trust and like is more than just a recipe for a happy office; it makes the hardest, most challenging projects easier to bear. At the same time, it makes the easy, fun projects even better. When everyone gets along and treats each other well—which is pretty much the definition of what good personalities do—teamwork isn’t something you’ll have to promote. It will come together naturally.

3.  It’s one of the hardest things to teach – If someone has less experience, or hasn’t used your software before, or has done the sales side of the job but not the administrative side, these are all skill sets you can teach. Whether it’s some OTJ, a four-week training course or mentoring over the first six months, skill sets can be picked up with time. Personality is much harder to change, and it tends to change from major life events, not from training seminars. Take the people who already have the right personality and you can teach them the rest.

4.  It can be found in any demographic – It doesn’t matter what kind of job you’re offering, what kind of education is necessary, or where your business is located. There are people from all backgrounds, in every part of the world, who have good personalities. Focusing on this trait will help you build a broader, more diverse team that works together well.

5.  It can save you money – At the end of the day, bottom line matters. A hire who is “great” because they have ten more years of experience than anyone else is going to come with a price tag. But there is no pay grade associated with personality. A person with moderate experience and great personality can be incredibly valuable, but they’re paid like anyone else with moderate experience. You get more for the same price.

How does personality figure into your hiring?

3 Business Lessons You Can’t Learn at School

Alexander F. Bouri has great respect for higher education, but like many business leaders he also understands there are some things you can’t learn at school. Here are three crucial business lessons Bouri learned only through vital, real world experience.

1.  How to fail – No business person will ever forget the first time that they fail. The first collapsed deal, the first downsize, the first next-big-thing that totally falls flat—or even the first time they have to shutter a company. This kind of experience can be shattering, but it also teaches vital lessons about how to guide an idea or a company through the low points, how to get back up and push on and, most importantly, how great a responsibility you have to your staff to fight for them and for the company’s future. Of course, it is possible to fail in school, but getting a bad grade on a paper doesn’t carry the same monumental, existential punch as watching a product or business fail.

2.  How to trust your instincts – This is a lesson that some business people take decades to figure out, only to wish they had learned it sooner. In this age of science and data, it can be hard to swallow the idea of trusting your “instincts”—after all, what are instincts, anyway? But the truth is that your instincts are the sum total of all your business, social, and work experience, nudging you in the right direction (or away from the wrong one) at every turn. You may not know why you don’t trust a particular funder, or a certain supplier, but if your gut is telling you to walk there’s a good chance you picked up on some small but very real cue that they don’t have your best intentions at heart. School can teach you a lot of useful information and, in many ways it prepares you well for the business world. But once you’re out there facing real competition, your instincts will be invaluable.

3.  How to inspire your staff – Business management classes work best for the big picture stuff: how to choose a mission statement, how to cover your liability, how to structure a company. Creating a culture and earning your staff’s respect takes something more, however. It means being the kind of leader who has an idea and working at least as hard in pursuit of that idea as you ask any of them to do—in ways they can see and appreciate. In other words, being the kind of leader who inspires. And the way you learn that is by rolling up your sleeves and treating your staff members as your teachers.

What lessons did you learn from real world experience?

How to Hire the Right Staff Every Time

There’s nothing worse than hiring what you think is a great new staff member only to find out that they don’t work hard or can’t cooperate with team members. Successful cement industry businessman Alexander F. Bouri has seen this happen too many times, but also noticed that it happened a lot less when he changed his hiring practices. Here are his three steps for hiring the right person every time.

No arbitrary criteria

These days, it’s not uncommon for a hiring manager to end up with a stack of 40, 50 or 100 resumés or more. At that point, it’s not practical to carefully consider each one, and you have to narrow down the stack somehow. Unfortunately, this is where many business owners become arbitrary. Alexander F. Bouri hears businesspeople say that they throw out any résumés with a typo, for example. Unless you’re hiring a proofreader, this doesn’t speak to their qualifications for the job and you’re likely throwing out qualified candidates while keeping some duds. Instead, consider narrowing down the pool using criteria that reflects on personality and attitude, like keeping only those that show active volunteer work on their resumes, or only those with a certain amount of education. Alternately, consider a round of speed interviews where you ask each candidate three questions over the phone, and get a chance to choose candidates based on how they present themselves.

Hire based on attitude

Most hiring managers place far too much emphasis on numeric criteria, like number of years of experience. Alexander F. Bouri calls these “checkbox” criteria because all you have to do is check the boxes and you’re hired. Experience matters, but there are plenty of candidates out there who have spent years in their field under-performing and aren’t really a good hire. Instead he hires based on attitude. When Bouri sits down with a candidate, he is looking for a very specific personality type that is actively engaged in the conversation, positive in their outlook, comfortable in making suggestions, and full of creativity. This is the sort of person who will flourish in almost any position and can always help your team tackle a difficult problem. Plus, it’s easy to train an inexperienced employee, but it’s almost impossible to reform someone’s attitude. Put personality first!

Have a specific set of character traits you look for

The best way to hire people with the right attitude is to carefully outline what that attitude is. Have a set of values and characteristics that you look for. They don’t have to be the same as Bouri’s but you need to be able to list them in your head in order to assess whether people have them or not. Keep it to four or five, but consider them priorities in hiring.

Do you take a different approach to hiring? What is your approach?

4 Things Entrepreneurs Should Focus on in 2015

It’s a new year and that means new business challenges. Some things are constants in the business world, but as Alexander F. Bouri knows, entrepreneurs also need to adapt with the times in order to stay relevant and successful. Here are Alexander’s top four tips for what every entrepreneur should focus on this year:

1.  Mobile, mobile, mobile – Something pivotal happened in 2014—mobile overtook traditional computers as the primary platform by which consumers access the Internet. If that turnaround moment happened in 2014, then you can already guess what needs to happen in 2015: a new commitment to mobile marketing. Mobile marketing starts long before designing an ad or an app. It begins with making your core website highly mobile-friendly. That doesn’t just mean the site can be viewed elegantly on a mobile device, it means it has full functionality on that device as well. No features from the traditional website should be missing from the mobile version. And your social media, search ad, and online display ad strategies should all consider the mobile browser as the default platform that your potential customers are using.

2.  Producing information, not just products – Here’s a dirty little secret that many businesses don’t want to admit: you’re no longer just working in your core industry, you’re also working in the digital publishing industry. No matter what your product, niche or customer base, you are expected to produce helpful, worthy information about that niche in addition to actually offering products and services within in. The companies who figure this out will be the schooners of the new digital sea, while the rest will be stuck on rafts. Start producing high-quality blog content along with videos, infographics, podcasts, and anything else you can create to answer your audience’s questions and solve their problems.

3.  Offering more for free – This goes hand in hand with the previous item because all of that information you’re producing can be part of what you give away. Our economy today is founded on the idea that the Internet has made costs negligible and that every business can provide at least a basic service for free. So create your free eBook, your free guide, or your free DIY kit; offer a free consultation or a free first session; give out free gifts and free extras.

4.  Adjusting and evaluating goals – Long-term planning is a business essential, but it can also be misleading – especially in an age of instant metrics and performance analysis. Your five-year plan should be viewed as a guide at best. Look at the real results on a regular basis and adjust not just strategy, but even goals as needed to keep your business plan realistic.

What else should entrepreneurs focus on in 2015?

 

Why Entrepreneurs Should Understand Social Media

Business has changed a lot since Alexander F Bouri first took the helm of Seament. The advent of the Internet, the smartphone, and social media has changed how we do business. But one thing hasn’t changed: a smart and successful entrepreneur needs to understand all the moving parts that make their business run, as well as recent and upcoming trends within their industry. If you find yourself a little out of touch with social media, this is your wake up call. Here are three reasons every entrepreneur needs to understand social media:sm

  1. Because there is no such thing as a business that doesn’t need it. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what scale you’re looking at, or whether your next business is tech related or not: you need social media. Social media accounts are particularly crucial in a retail or customer facing business, where they serve not only as important points of contact but also allow you to find, grow, and speak to your fan base. But even in a B2B business, social media remains critical: it gives a sense of credibility to your company and will often be the first thing prospective clients look at when researching you. Plus, whether you use social media as a point of client contact or not, your social media presence contributes to your SEO which means active social media equals more prospective clients.
  2. Because it’s so easy to do wrong. Despite how important it is, social media is one thing that many business leaders still don’t understand well and that has led to many mistaken theories on how to go about it. More than 10 years after Facebook became popular, businesses still make rudimentary mistakes like posting only to try to sell things, or deleting complaints and critical comments when they come up. These “antisocial” behaviors make sense from a traditional marketing/advertising perspective but not from the perspective of having a friendly chat with past and future customers. These flubs can do long-term damage to your company and its online presence. It’s important to know enough about social media not only to avoid these flubs personally, but also to vet the advice you get from staff or consultants who claim they know what they’re talking about.
  3. Because you’re ultimately responsible for every message that goes out. It doesn’t matter whether you plan to post to social media accounts personally, or whether you’re delegating 100% of tasks to an employee: the buck stops with you. If you’re clueless about social media, you’re not only likely to misuse it if you personally are the company’s voice online, you’re also likely to set poor priorities or push bad strategies on staff who handle it for you. In order to intelligently oversee a company with a social media presence, you should know as much about social media as you know about marketing.

How Cement Drives Economic Development

What is it that drives some companies to develop strong, growing economies while others seem to struggle to catch up? There are numerous factors involved in determining which companies can industrialize successfully and which cannot, including historic factors such as war and colonization, which leave lasting legacies long after they end. However, a major ingredient in the recipe for economic success is the resources that a country has access to. Which resources a country can obtain—and how affordably—has a lot to do with whether they’re able to become a developed first world nation with a successful economy. No one knows that better than Alexander F. Bouri.

That’s because Alexander F. Bouri has made a living on one of the most overlooked, but crucial resources of all: cement. When most people think of the resources that are vital to economic development, they’re likely picturing energy sources like coal, oil, and natural gas. Likewise, the presence of skilled workers who can compete in the technology market is a common answer. And both of these answers are correct, as these are essential to competing in today’s economy—but cement, although much overlooked, is just as crucial.

The importance of cement has to do with infrastructure. If you look at a developed nation, almost all of their production relies on large scale infrastructure and all of it is built largely out of cement. Cement is the necessary ingredient when constructing large factories, warehouses, docks and other industrial structures, as well as-large scale housing for workers and educational buildings. Without a supply of cement, all of these facilities become impossible—even the power plants that put energy resources to work. Production then has to happen in small scale shops, which raises costs, lowers efficiency, and makes safety and environmental regulations difficult to enforce.

Similarly, cement is crucial to roadways. Even in the age of airports and railroads, a huge amount of cargo travels by truck—especially in the developing world. That makes cement a necessary building block for businesses of all kinds.

Alexander Bouri knew this and dedicated his life to making affordable cement available in struggling developing nations. He pioneered a method to deliver large cement shipments to small ports that couldn’t handle big container ships. This was the founding innovation behind Seament, his family company, and it helped Nigeria and many other nations get the cement they needed and successfully build a growing industrial economy.

Cement might be something that we often take for granted, but it’s essential to our high-tech economy and way of life.

4 Advantages of a Family Business

When Alexander F. Bouri decided to make Seament a family business, it was no accident. He knew that family businesses often have an edge over other companies, especially in the early phases. He built Seament into a global cement supplier, and his family was with him every step of the way. Here are four advantages to a family-run business:

1.  People you can trust – No matter what line of business you’re in, it’s hard to find people you can count on—especially when you’re first starting out. While established companies can afford to head hunt leaders with a record of success, newer businesses often have to rely on what’s already available. As Alexander F. Bouri knows, a family-run business has a clear advantage in this regard, because your closest family members are those who will be entrusted with key aspects of the enterprise. While a spouse, son, daughter or sibling may not start out with expertise, they do have a strong interest in making the family business succeed—and you already know their individual strengths and weaknesses well. The rest can be learned.

2.  The best education – If there’s anything that will give a child a lifelong advantage, it is knowing how to succeed at business. Working in a family business gives your children a hands-on, real-world understanding of the principles of capitalism years before their peers ever enter the workforce. This is especially true when you start children off doing basic tasks and slowly work them up to positions of more responsibility. These are lessons that they will greatly value one day.

3.  Becoming closer with family members – For most people, family time and work life are constantly competing for their time and attention, and it’s a continuous balancing act to make enough time for both. One major advantage of a family business is that you get to see the people you care most about during your work day. Obviously, business comes first when you’re on the job, but that extra time together really does matter—especially when you’re working together to overcome challenges and solve problems. These are experiences that bring you all closer together.

4.  The chance to leave your children something that will endure – What will happen to your business after you’re gone? For most businessmen the answer is that it will be carved up or sold off. A family business, however, has continuity built in. It will become an enduring legacy for your family and continue to help them prosper after you’re gone.

Do you have a family business?

A Few Things You may Not Know about Nigeria

Nigeria has been in the news recently, mostly for all the wrong reasons. With cases of Ebola being reported and the presence of Boko Haram, Nigeria can seem like a different planet. However, the country is not exactly what Western media portrays it to be. With a large population, an economy in which entrepreneurs like Alexander F. Bouri have made a name for themselves, a thriving movie business, and a large Christian population, Nigeria is not the exotic place that many people may think it is.

Not Exactly Desolate

It’s safe to say that the average American doesn’t know much about the economic and societal makeup of Africa, let alone the specifics of each country within the continent. Nigeria is called “the Giant of Africa,” in reference to the size of the population and the economy. With approximately 174 million residents, Nigeria has the highest population on the continent and is the seventh most populous country in the world.

Economically, Nigeria is on the rise. With a GDP of 500 million dollars, it is ranked 26th in the world and economists believe it has the potential to be in the top 20 in the next 50 years. The success of the Nigerian economy is tied primarily to its oil reserves, but the economic climate does allow for some success in other markets. Alexander F. Bouri, the chairman of Seament and a prominent leader in cement trading, got his start in Nigeria.

A Secret Leader in the Arts

Quick! Name the second most prolific country when it comes to releasing movies? Did you say India? No, actually India is number one. The United States? Up until recently, that guess would’ve been correct, but no. Nigeria produces the second largest number of movies each year. They’ve become so big that they even have a name for their movie industry: Nollywood.

There are also plenty of famous people that are from Nigeria. Chiwetel Ejiofor, the Oscar-nominated lead of 12 Years a Slave, is of Nigerian parentage and singer Sade and NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon were both born there.

A Large Christian Population

If you had to guess the major religions of Nigeria, you probably would bet against Christianity, but it’s actually nearly tied with Islam for the most popular religion. Islam makes up around half of the population while Christianity accounts for about 48%. Nigeria has the highest population of Christians in Africa, accounting for over 80 million.

 

Nigeria may be on an entirely different continent than the United States, but it’s not as different as it may seem.

 

4 Important Things that We can Learn from Alexander F. Bouri

Have you heard of Alexander F. Bouri yet? Alexander F. Bouri is the founder of Seament, a cement company known for providing bulk materials and expert service in all areas of manufacturing, bulk handling, shipping, and terminal management. As the founder of Seament, Alexander F. Bouri has been very successful and has even helped revolutionize the cement industry. He is truly an inspiration for many. Here are 4 important things we can all learn from Alexander F. Bouri.

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1.  Hard work pays off. Sure, Alexander F. Bouri is a very successful man now, but his success didn’t come overnight – he had to work very hard for it. He started off studying at American University of Beirut where he earned a degree in business administration. Shortly after this, Bouri moved to Nigeria where he worked selling insurance.

2.  Dare to dream. Selling insurance may have given Alexander F. Bouri the money he needed to pay the bills, but it wasn’t what he intended to do for the rest of his life. As he continued to work at that job, he began to dream of a career in the cement industry; he took his first steps towards achieving this dream by taking out a $50,000 loan to get started in the cement trading business. With hard work and perseverance, he turned his loan into a huge profit and quickly earned the title of “Cement King” in the 1980s.

3.  Never stop learning. Just because Alexander F. Bouri has been successful doesn’t mean he has nothing left to learn, whether industry-related or something for fun. Presently, while still serving as the owner of Seament, Alexander F. Bouri spends his free time learning about agriculture and growing his own food.

4.  Give to others whenever you can. Alexander F. Bouri has never been one to revel in his own success or to get greedy with earnings. He knows that charity begins in the home, which is why he chose to help his son, Charles Bouri out by providing him with a job at Seament. Charles now proudly manages many of Seament’s operations, including their overseas locations.

Alexander F. Bouri also enjoys giving back to the community whenever he can, and has been assisting the foundation and building of schools in Lebanon and Nigeria. Additionally, he is also helping Lebanon and Albania improve their medical care by offering financial assistance to the Red Cross.

As you can see, Charles F. Bouri is not only a hard worker and successful owner of Seament, but he’s a very caring and generous individual as well. He is very inspiring for those who wish to one day own a business of their own.