How to Avoid Being “That Boss”

Time to Watch: 3:16

Whether you call yourself a Boss, Leader, or Owner, there’s a very fine line between setting the pace and driving the pace, and knowing the difference is critical to the health of your team. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Boss think” on this one and it can be detrimental to the health and productivity of your team. Here’s how to effectively set the pace as a leader, no matter what stage your business is at.

What we’re talking about here is your effect on the team in terms of your behaviour around implementation and execution. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you aren’t held to account in the same way that your people are, but to echo a sometimes-overused phrase, you really do need to lead by example to get the results you want.

You can’t create separate standards for yourself and your team, because the difference will be stark, and the result will be the creation of an “us vs. them” culture which does nothing to promote, ingenuity, motivation or retention—all cornerstones of a successful business.

If you’re looking to be a team and work as a team, then you need to actively participate as one of the team, regardless of how you view yourself in the culture of the business.

What are your biggest challenge jumping into the trenches? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you watch this and think: “If there’s no ‘I’ in team, why am I doing all the work?” This read is for you.

Get out there and have fun with it, and if you’ve hit a stumbling block, we can help. Reach out and let us know what you need.

Cheers,

 

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8 Critical Questions to Ask Your Business-Self Before 2018

For all you ‘A type’ business owners out there, how many of you (like me, many times) find yourselves always charging from goal to goal in the pursuit of evermore? You know where this is leading right? The power of taking some time out to ask critical questions and reflect on what ‘has been’ is a very powerful way of making sure the future you are about to create is:

  1. the future you want, and
  2. that you are going to go about it in the best way you know how.

I was sitting down with a new client last week, and he told me about his annual ritual of taking a step back, looking at what he’s accomplished, looking at where he is relative to the plan he created and asking the question “Am I going to keep doing this for another year?”. The ‘this’ in his case is his business. While you may or may not be open to the option to ‘stop running your business,’ it’s an empowering notion to consciously realise you have the choice. Yes, there may be consequences, but you still have the choice. More importantly, taking the time to ask reflective questions (hopefully insightful ones), is a healthy practise that the best business owners consistently adopt.

This year, I crafted a list of questions. They are based on some I’ve used previously and are designed to extract from my mind the lessons and best practises I’ve encountered over the past 12 months (or 40yrs for that matter). Knowing if I bring these thoughts forward to my conscious, I can then proactively apply them moving forward. Let me share them with you.

Reflection:

  1. Looking back over the past 12 months what were the greatest wins for my business?
    • What were the actions, relationships or events that led to these wins?
    • If I had to bottle this as a recipe, what would be the key ingredients?
  2. Looking back over the past 12 months what were the greatest wins for my personal life?
    • What were the actions, relationships or events that led to these wins?
    • If I had to bottle this as a recipe, what would be the key ingredients?
  3. What were my main points of focus over the past year?
  • Given where I am now:
    • which of those would I consider to have been worthwhile?
    • which were possibly a waste of time?
  1. What should I have quit sooner?
    • In hindsight, what are the signs I might have seen (if I knew what to look for) that could have led me to this decision sooner?
  2. What should I have put more effort into? How could I have known to do so earlier?
  3. Looking at all this, what are the biggest lessons of the past year.
    • How can I apply them moving forward?
    • Who can help me?
  4. How do I currently see my SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
  5. Is my 3-5yr vision still relevant? What changes do I want to make?
    • Looking at my 3-5 year vision, what are my one-year goals.

I find it best to ponder these over a glass of wine – it tends to loosen my creativity ????

Enjoy the questions and more importantly be sure to apply what you learn from answering them…and if you need someone to bounce those ideas off – we’re always ready. Reach out HERE

If This Is How You Handle Employee Performance, You May Be Doing it Wrong

The Employee Performance Problem

Ask any well-meaning manager what an employee performance appraisal should accomplish, and you’ll usually hear answers along the lines of: “to categorize the organization, improve employee performance and boost motivation.”

While these are all critical aims for an organization if the answer to how they currently accomplish this is through an annual performance review—then there are problems with the system. Namely, those annual performance appraisals generally only serve one of the three purposes listed above—and it isn’t performance or motivation.

So, How Did We Get Here?

The long and short of employee performance reviews is that they are derived from military practice, were never designed to foster improvement, and have long been used as a tool to cull an organization of their bottom performers. According to the Harvard Business Review, they also serve to punish past behaviour at the expense of achieving the desired future performance that is critical for organizational survival.

So, the question begs: If employees hate them, managers don’t see their value and an organization isn’t benefiting from them—why not ditch them all together?

The Elimination Problem

Well, while I was going to title this post “The Stone Age Called and They Want Their Appraisal Back,” that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, as ditching the yearly recap isn’t always the best solution either. So many initiatives are tied to it, including, planning and compensation. However, the employment landscape over the last few decades has made it clear that the conversation needs to shift away from the metrical to the malleable.

Anyone familiar with the psychological principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs knows that motivation comes in various levels: from the basic (like food, shelter, and wages), to psychological (belonging, achievement, respect of others, etc.) and finally to self-actualization (morality, problem-solving, creativity, etc.)

Although this theory has its critics, the basic premise is that human beings are striving for self-worth and acknowledgment—and if you aren’t creating an environment where this (and the resulting performance growth) can occur—your employees are going to look to another organization to fill those needs.

The take-home is it’s no longer realistic to rank an employee with performance metrics once per year, give them either a raise or a performance improvement plan, and expect that the basic needs you do satisfy (like a regular paycheque) will be enough to sustain them and motivate them to perform to a level that will grow your organization.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s no secret that supported, engaged employees do better—and when they do better, you do better. The goal of employee performance is to elicit behaviour that supports the organization’s bottom line while fulfilling some of those psychological needs your employees crave—and giving them the tools to do it effectively. There are several ways to get this done—and yes, you can keep your year-end appraisal—if you focus on its value as a recap of the year. A good rule of thumb is that there should never be anything in a performance appraisal that is a surprise for the employee. Other strategies could include:

  • Linking goals to key company objectives like the mission/vision (they “why you exist” stuff)
  • Tying goal achievement to collaboration and communication (not every task needs to be a group project, but increased collaboration and information sharing leads to increases across the board)
  • Training managers to check in consistently (this allows for accurate course corrections throughout the year while retaining employee autonomy. The key here is manager training)
  • Allowing the employee access to the tools, resources, and training to allow them to successfully fill any knowledge gaps they have.

Of course amended performance measures won’t solve all team issues (for an idea of what other issues employers regularly encounter and how to fix them, read this page) but it’s a good support system for overall team engagement. And of course, we’re more than happy to help with any issues you do have  in finding the system that’s right for your business.

 

How about you? How do you facilitate the employee performance process, and what challenges have you encountered along the way? What do you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

The Hidden Profit Centre in Your Business

Think HR has no bearing on profitability? Think again…

Having long been denounced as nothing more than a cost centre and a necessary part of doing business, the people management aspects of an organization (specifically HR) have been overlooked as an integral component of the profit structure of an organization. The link, however, is a lot stronger than many businesses have traditionally thought.

In a recent study on management practices in Fortune 1000 companies, the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California found that employee involvement measures (that traditionally sit well beneath the HR umbrella) show a solid ROI and link to the bottom line.

For small to medium-sized businesses who don’t even have an HR department, the impact of this study is even larger, as decisions made at owner-run businesses see an immediate trickle-down effect due to the smaller work structures, and can see a positive impact in the bottom linke much sooner than a larger organization. The key is in increasing the employee commitment to the organization.

Any one of the following measures can be implemented by a company to see a lasting improvement in financial returns (not to mention the cost-savings garnered from reduced turnover):

  • Employees generally feel that if an investment is made in them, they will return that investment in-kind. Establish a feeling of “repricosity” through:
    • Information-sharing
    • Skills training
    • Encouragement of ownership thinking
    • Fostering “buy-in” for organizational change measures
    • De-centralizing decision-making
  • Using technology for process improvement, not just cost-cutting benefits. If employees are brought into the process on the ground level, working backwards and can have input into process design, hey are more willing to manage change, and feel a greater benefit of new technology as a tool for them—not just because it’s cheaper for the organization
  • Building a culture which values job-security – which means attaching value to the person over the employee number.

Each of these measures is fiscally achievable in one way or another, even for very small businesses and engage in the employee’s higher level needs, which leads to increased productivity, better customer interactions, a willingness to tackle challenges and stick with the company–all which have a positive impact on profit.

Small tweaks can often have the greatest impact on profitabilty, particularly if they are seemingly unrelated to the bottom-line. Remember that everything in your organization starts and ends with culture, so before you tweak your marketing, sales prices, or slash costs to boost productivity, have a critical look at how investments to your people-practices can pay you back in spades.

How to Make Yourself More Referable

This video is NOT about how to get more referrals (well, not directly anyway) It’s about how to boost your level of trust with your clients or customers to become more referable. By identifying your best possible sources of referrals and building those relationships you will see a boost in both the quality and quantity of your referrals.

Unlocking Employee Potential Using the Keys You Already Have

Unlocking employee potential is easier than you might think.

When we run team alignment days to help clients with their business strategy, we coach the team through some principles that form the foundation for great teamwork. One particular exercise we run is a survival scenario, which has a byproduct of unlocking employee potential you may not even know about. We break the team into small groups of 3 or 4 and set the exercise up in a way that shows tangible improvements from working as a team vs working as individuals. Or at least that is the desired outcome. Occasionally it works out the opposite!

During the debrief of a recent team alignment day, I asked a particular group for their score. There are several scores that contribute to the overall outcome but one that is always interesting is how many people on your team had a better individual score vs team score. (i.e. who on your team would have been better on their own vs being with the team.) And as occasionally happens, one girl had an individual score that was significantly better than the team score.

I then asked the question, “why do you think your score was so much better?” Her response … “well a couple of years ago I actually did sail across the Atlantic and learned a lot about navigation, survival and sailing”. My next question … “did you happen to mention that to your team?” …. her response “No, I didn’t”

This happens in life and business all the time. We are often working with people who we know very little about. And if you think about all the experience, skills and knowledge that is probably lying there dormant … let’s tap into it.

Another case of unlocking employee potential appeared recently with one of our business coaching clients who has an employee that just finished an economics degree, majoring in accounting. As of right now, they are doing next to no analysis on their financials. Doing so will enable them to make much better decisions, so we’ve quickly moved her more into that role. Untapped resources.

 

The Potential for You

The lesson is – “who is on your team? and how well do you know them?” What skills, knowledge or natural interests do they have that you can tap into and leverage? The kicker is, people love utilizing their skills and contributing at the highest level. Particularly at what they are good at.

See what you can find out within your own team 🙂

Creating Your Perfect Week

It’s one thing to create a 90-day plan (yes we’ve got a video on that) but translating that into an ideal week needs to be intentional.

 

Business Lessons From Mountain Biking #2 – What is your Sales speed?

The speed at which you approach situations matters. The speed at which you manage others matters.

In this short video, Business Coach Jamie Cunningham shares some mountain biking analogies and shows how your sales speed can affect your outcomes.

 

The Reality of Open Book Management

Truthfully, this is just one reality .. but a good one at that 🙂

Norm Jefferies of Computer Merchants has been running his company for over 20 yrs and I think it’s fair to say, he’s doing a damn fine job at it.

Norm and his team adopted the philosophy of Open  Book Management (OBM) at an early stage and it has become a key part of their culture.

In this interview, Norm shares how they implemented OBM and what the benefits and challenges have been of sharing the numbers within the team. We dive into the specific of day-to-day tactics, how OBM affects performance and how they make it a living and effective tool to align the team.

If you are thinking of implementing Open Book Management or are on the other side and think it’s crazy, either way you’ll get some direct benefit of learning from Norm’s experience.

Enjoy!


 

Links from the interview:

Computer Merchants website – http://www.computermerchants.com.au/

Norm on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/normjefferies

The Great Game of Business – http://greatgame.com/

Ownership thinking – http://www.ownershipthinking.com/

3 Critical Things You Need your Team’s Input on

When doing strategic planning, it is essential to gain some insights from your team members on their perceptions of the business, where it’s going, and why things are the way they are. Remember when it comes to your employees, every action they make is a direct result of their perception of the business and their understanding of why it is being done. The important part is to marry their expectations with yours, so that the team can function as a cohesive unit for the purpose of growing your business. With that said, there are three key questions you needs to ask of your employees before the strategic planning process begins (and is something to keep a gauge on at least once a year):

1. What should we START doing?

2. What should we STOP doing?

3. What should we KEEP doing?

With the answers to those key questions, you will be able to spot trends and patterns of thinking in your employees which will guide your planning discussions.

Good luck, and have fun.