It’s a little cliche and, at times, a bit hard to buy into, yet I still firmly believe that we (you, me and everyone else) can create whatever kind of life we want to have. And obviously that includes your business.
Although we all have different starting points in life, we all live in the same universe; meaning we all have the same resource available to us. Yes, some of us have it closer at hand and perhaps a little easier to come by, but that doesn’t mean the resources available are different for each of us; it’s just how we reach and what we DO with those resourcesthat counts. But this is not a competition. It’s simply a matter of knowing what is it that YOU want.
For your business.
For your kids/spouse/dog/fish/etc.
It’s that ‘what’ which carries you through every day you draw breath on this planet, sustains you when you’re low, and bolsters you when things are awesome.
In the video here, I walk you through four key things you need to know and use in order to create the life and business you want.
So what are you waiting for? Get in there and watch it!
To Download the Free tools in the Video, Click HERE
P.S. If you know what you want your life to look like, but are having a hard time getting to the goods, check out our free 90-Day Planning Toolwhich can help you narrow down and hit those short-term goals – after all, as we know – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
P.P.S. If you’d like to learn a little more about SalesUp! Business Coaching and the work that we do, please watch this short video testimonial. We’re super stoked to work with some really awesome business owners and have been humbled and gifted beyond measure to help these fine folks create the life THEY want, and we’d love to hear from youtoo!
A culture of accountability has many advantages. Among them are:
an increase in team performance (obviously)
high morale (because people are growing and getting shit done)
lower stress for you the leader (because you’re dealing with things proactively) ; and
business results (when a team is thriving and executing, result have to happen – it can’t be any other way)
If that sounds attractive (and it should), then the question to ask yourself is “how effective am I at building a culture of accountability?” You’ll be among good company if your answer is lower than you’d like it. It’s a common trap—so let’s not stay there. Let’s take it up a notch (or 10). And here’s how you can do it.
First, the truth
You can’t hold someone accountable.
Sure, you could use all to go to tactics we see some parents using – yelling, guilt and shame (I don’t recommend any of those – in your business or with your kids) but would you rather that YOU have to change someone’s behaviour or would you rather THEY do it? Your true goal as a leader is to help people grow their sense of internal accountability. Your role is to help them either want to get it done or to develop the skills to get it done.
If a person has clarity on the need, the drive to do it and the skills and the resources to do it, they will act. The part of leadership that encompasses accountability is being able to identify and shift where a person has a block. It is usually one of those three elements that are lacking.
With that principle understood, let’s look at the tactics.
Step 1 – The Relationship
For communication to be effective, a relationship needs to be healthy. We listen most closely and openly to those we respect and those whom we feel respect and care for us. Knowing this truth, it is critical that your relationships with your team have a healthy foundation of mutual respect and care. So your first step in helping someone develop their accountability is to check with your own internal view of that person. Second, check in with your view of yourself – self-respect is critical.
Where respect and care are lacking, communication will have an edge, and the intent behind the act will flavour the communication in an unhelpful way, whether you mean to or not.
Step 2 – Clear expectations
To be accountable for something, you first need to know what you are to be accountable for. It sounds obvious, but over and over again we’ve seen lack of clarity between the leader’s expectations and that of the team. Put things in writing. Test your communication by having the person repeat back to you the communication they have received.
When it comes to clarity of roles in the business, we are big believers in position contracts that outline 3-7 key outcomes a person is accountable for. These are defined by criteria for success, so everyone is crystal clear on what the expectations are.
(Fill out the form below to download a free sample)
Step 3 – Framework for the conversations
We use a FeedForward system that is a document allowing two parties to have a candid and objective discussion.
(Fill out the form below to download)
The intent behind the discussion is how to help a person move forward vs. pointing out where they are doing badly. The conversation is driven by the team member, not the leader. The leader acts more as a facilitator to help the person discover opportunities for themselves in the three areas we previously identified (clarity on expectations, motivation, skills & resources).
When these conversations happen proactively (before there is a problem), the feeling behind the interaction is way different than when it is too late.
Now, if you have a situation that is already too late—no problem. Still get started immediately, but you’ll need to take complete responsibility for your lack of action to date. Before you can express your dissatisfaction with their performance or behaviour, you may need to own up to not being clear about expectations or giving more guidance before now. Always point the finger at yourself before pointing it at others.
There is a very good chance that if you feel there is a problem, the other person knows it too, or they are just plain unhappy at work. Either way, there is a good reason to get the issues on the table and sort it out. You both stand to benefit.
Ideally, you don’t want to let it get to that stage. Be the leader you know you are. Be assertive and give your team the gift of accountability. With a strong sense of internal accountability, everyone’s lives become better, and that will make your business better.
When your people grow, so does your business— sometimes exponentially.
Good luck and I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Download Your FreeTemplates
Fill in your details to receive a copy of the Feed Forward Form and Position Contract!
Finding (and keeping) great employees is consistently listed as a top concern of business owners. In fact, a recent study indicates anywhere between 10-25% of new employees jump ship within their first six months on the job. That’s a frustrating and expensive prospect on both sides of the coin, and one which could be greatly reduced with a change to some of the most common employee onboarding mistakes made by companies trying to integrate a new team member. Below are three of the worst barriers to successful onboarding—and some suggestions to combat them.
Problem #1: The Expectation Gap
According to executives interviewed, the top reason new employees leave is that their role wasn’t what they expected when they got hired. Many employees quickly discover that the daily tasks they’re asked to complete don’t tend to match what’s on their job descriptions and fall under the all too overused caveat of “other tasks as assigned.” Employees who find themselves consistently performing unexpected tasks find it difficult to link those tasks to the overall mission of the organization and discontent finds easy purchase in that soil. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest issues to rectify—and it can (and should) be fixed long before an employee’s first day.
Dealing with the expectation gap is easily avoided by communicating a realistic job preview from the moment the job advertisement is posted. If you are aware that the job overview contains elements which may exist in a job description but are never used in practice, then they shouldn’t be included in an ad. If you have a position which sees a lot of turnover which doesn’t have to do with the nature of the job (for example, being a “feeder” job or a stepping stone by design to allow movement to other roles in the organization), then it may be time to review the job profile to see where there is a gap between expectation and reality. The best place to reinforce the picture of what day-to-day life will be like in the role is during the interview. This provides ample information for the candidate to consider the true nature of the job before accepting, allows the opportunity to ask questions and provides the added value of being able to view their body language for clues as to what they truly feel.
Problem #2: A Lack of Preparation
How many times has a new employee shown up for their first day while someone, somewhere, is scrambling to set up computer access, provide access to work areas, create an email address or telephone extension—in some cases, even finding an empty desk to work at? When an employer is unprepared for a new hire, it sends the signal loud and clear that the employee is not a valued addition to the team and makes it incredibly difficult to integrate into the culture.
People are only able to work at their best when they are given the right tools. A simple checklist which can be accessed by any team member responsible for setting up the new hire is a great way to complete tasks before the first day and eliminate confusion over who is responsible for what. (At SalesUp! We use Trello, which is perfect for this type of task.) If setting up a workstation requires the purchase of new equipment, involving the employee over any requirements for specific equipment (such as left/right-handed implements, or any accommodations which may not have surfaced to this point) will make the employee feel invested from the get-go, and that investment pays off when it comes time for employees to decide whether they are going to stick with a job.
Problem #3: Overwhelm and Abandonment
Starting a new job is incredibly overwhelming. From navigating office hallways to matching faces and names to interacting with customers and filling out reams of paperwork, it’s a challenging time which can result in natural second-thoughts from employees if they don’t feel they have the support to be useful members of the organization.
To be clear, alone-time is good—even essential to let employees settle into their space—but leaving them with hoards of policy manuals and no one to help answer their questions is not. To combat this, ensure that new employees have a mentor to help them through the challenging early weeks, and tap into existing employee strengths to match them with the right people. Have someone who is an extrovert and great at ice-breaking? Have them handle team introductions. Has someone in the organization performed the employee’s role? Consider a short mentorship, or at the least have them check-in and see how things are going during the first critical weeks. Of course, this doesn’t negate the value of having manager support, but peer-mentorships can go a long way to solidifying the sense of belonging that is critical to cultural development. They don’t call onboarding “organizational socialization” for nothing…
The Take Home
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Have a formalized process (and if you don’t, make one). It can be difficult to allot resources to creating processes when you aren’t in a hiring position, but adequate foresight can eliminate so many onboarding issues before the scramble of having to find a new employee.
If you need ideas on how to best handle an onboarding solution that is customized to your organization, contact us – we’d love to help.
Best of all – if you have any tips or best practices, let us know in the comments below!
Effective Marketing of your business can be an extremely simple endeavour if you allow it to be. You already have all you need to get out there and make it happen. The best way to approach your business marketing is to think about the problems your potential ideal customers face and provide educational content around that to help. That’s it.
You already know these problems. You come across them every day through the customers you are already dealing with. And you have the knowledge and expertise to solve them, I mean that’s what your business does right? Now just incorporate this into your marketing.
Start listing out those problems and the subsections within them. That way you can start to see where the opportunities for helpful content lie.
Now think about how you want to produce content to help with those problems. You’ve essentially got three options:
Writing can take the form of a blog (easiest and quickest), white papers or books (from simple e-books to full published works). You then have the opportunity to re-purpose your written content. For example, a blog article you write could also be an article you submit to publication (e.g., magazine) or post on your LinkedIn profile.
In fact, all content you produce, you’ll not only post on your website (helping with your sites SEO) but you can and should share through as many platforms as you can manage or are active on.
Audio content could also be blog posts, however in audio form. Or it could be a podcast published through iTunes. You can also have your audio content transcribed if you want to have it written but don’t want to do it yourself.
Video is pretty self explanatory. This would be hosted on a YouTube channel and then posted on your blog and other social media channels/pages.
Making Your Marketing Happen
What does all this cost? Just some time. And yes I hear you saying “but I don’t have any time!!”. If that is your response, then you should have money to pay others to help you create the content. The reality is, if you don’t have the money or the time, then somethings wrong. You are most likely spending time on the wrong things, and that is a subject for another post. On the other hand, if you need to know how to get “unstuck” and free up your time, reach out and we’ll be happy to chat with you about it.
If you’ve never done some of these things then getting it all setup and working can seem daunting. And when you first get started it might feel clumsy and inefficient. Stick with it, because the more practice you get, the easier (and more effective) it will become.
It’s important to know what your goal is and how you’re going to execute it, but sometimes one of the missing ingredients is having the emotional leverage or clarity around why you’re going for something and the drive to see it through. This clarity of emotion is a business strength your don’t want to ignore.
In the pursuit of any goal, there’s ups and downs, but it’s when things are challenging and going against you, that you need those emotional reserves. In this video I’m not going to walk you through the actual planning process—there’s a cracker of a guide HERE that teaches you how to do that—but rather, we’re going to go through some east steps to tap into those emotional reserves when you need them.
What you’ll need to complete this exercise is a blank piece of paper, divided into three columns and enter your information as follows:
Write your goal in the middle column. The only guideline here is to make sure you are picking S.M.A.R.T. goals. That is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented with a Timeframe. SMART goals are critical in the planning process, particularly so you can gain a better picture of what success for that goal looks like in reality.
In the left-hand column, write the all the “WHY” reasons which relate to the goal. Behind every goal is a feeling, an emotion – and the emotional result that you want to achieve through that goal. Don’t skip this step or shake this task as a feel-good, fluff piece which doesn’t have any basis—nothing could be further from the truth. What you want to distill here are all the emotional reasons you want to achieve the goal. For example – if the goal is financial and you want to pay down your mortgage faster, list the emotional benefits you will gain by doing so (more disposable income to travel, more time with family, helping your children financially—whatever it is that fuels your fire). It is the feelings you will get from achieving that goal that will sustain you in the low times.
Finally, in the right-hand column is the “HOW.” Don’t worry about getting this column ‘right.’ The ‘how’ column is all about brainstorming. This is the place to list every possible way you can think of to achieve that goal (and you may need an extra page to do this—that’s ok!). Once you have an exhaustive list, you can go back, prioritize and figure out and ask yourself, “which ones make sense?”, “which ones do I have the resources/time/ability to do.” Etc…
From there, we advocate that you develop a structure to execute the plan and to help solidify your tasks and timelines. To do this, feel free to access our free 90-Day Planning guide which has all the tools and resources to help you develop and track your plan.
That’s it! The absolute importance of planning with purpose and emotion can’t be understated. The clearer you get on your goals, the more emotional leverage you have behind you to help you achieve those goals you’ve been dreaming of.
P.S. You can access the jam-packed Planning Edition of our Business Nutrition Newsletter HERE.
Whether you call yourself a Boss, Leader, or Owner, there’s a very fine line between setting the pace and driving the pace. 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.
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:
the future you want, and
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
What should I have put more effort into? How could I have known to do so earlier?
Looking at all this, what are the biggest lessons of the past year.
How can I apply them moving forward?
Who can help me?
How do I currently see my SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats)
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
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.
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:
Encouragement of ownership thinking
Fostering “buy-in” for organizational change measures
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.
When we started working with Adam he told us he didn’t have the time to measure stuff, let alone the time to compile and analyse the results.
Adam’s situation is typical of many small business owners.
While not all our clients say it to our face, we can see the anguish on their face when we start talking about metrics and reporting.
Here’s how we got Adam excited about numbers to the point where we had to put the brakes on him measuring too much.
We started by asking Adam, “What would you say to an athlete that was trying to run a record time but was not timing their efforts?”. Predictably he said he’d tell them they were crazy.
Next, we asked “How comfortable would you be flying on a plane whose pilot could not read the controls?” Again came a predictable response “Not very”.
“Or what about a doctor who prescribes medication without measuring any of your vitals like blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.” … Adam could see the theme.
Bringing it closer to home we asked “What about a business (not yours) that you invested your life savings into and the CEO didn’t know the profit margins on the work they were doing. They also didn’t understand the numbers behind their marketing so had no idea how to grow the business. How safe would you feel about your investment?” This one made Adam sit up a little straighter.
He knew where we were going, and we probably didn’t have to ask him the next question, but we wanted to drive the point home. You see Adam was not doing nearly as well as he wanted to—and on this point of measuring—he had his head in the sand.
Last question … “Adam, what’s the difference between all these examples and you and your business? If it’s important for all these other people to measure and read the results, what do you think might be good for you and your business?”
He got it.
There’s a business mantra “What gets measured gets managed”. And while we are huge proponents of this mantra, there’s another quote by Einstein that we also like. He says “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts”.
For small business owners, both of these quotes need to be taken into account. When you are short on time and possibly lacking easy access to data (although this is rapidly changing with cloud accounting and other apps), starting simple is the key.
Follow these four steps to gain some meaningful data which will enable you to start making better businesses decisions.
Brainstorm a list of possible things to measure (here are some to get you started)
Marketing (lead sources, retention rate, website performance, referral rate, social media stats, campaign results, cost per lead, etc.)
Sales (conversion rates [dissected by lead source and salespeople], pipeline stats [how many fall off where], average quote value, average job value, margin, sales activities, discounts, new vs. existing customers)
Operations (major costs/sales, project completion duration, Work In Progress, quality stats, bottlenecks, scrap or waste)
People (turnover, absenteeism, survey responses, revenue/employee, etc.)
Financial – AR Days, AP Days, Inventory days, Gross Margins,
Identify top 5 that will give you meaningful information for your business. Things to consider:
Which number, if measured, will make other numbers less important (e.g. an employee survey may give you way more insight vs. measuring absentee days, and it requires fewer resources to measure)?
Which numbers can we measure easily?
Take the top 3 from this list and commit to measuring them for 90 days. If 3 is too hard, make it less. Your primary goal here is to develop the habit, make it easy to be successful and see the value from having some accurate numbers. Note: Allocate accountability for each number.
At the end of 90 days, review what you’ve accomplished and do 1 – 3 of the following:
Amend what you are measuring – you may have found out that was not the best thing to being measuring
Add to what you’re measuring. Over time you’ll want to have a more robust scorecard than just 3 numbers. Gradually add to it as it makes sense.
Develop a wish list of other numbers to measure. Having numbers on your wish list lets you know they are not forgotten and can forgo the temptation to try to measure too many at once.
Be sure to look at the numbers at least weekly. The more often you look at them, the more beneficial they will be. The exception here is, of course, numbers that require long periods of time to change, though these are usually few. Also be sure to display data in a format that is meaningful. (i.e. sometimes you need to see trends vs. stand-alone numbers.) For example. # quotes mean more when there is something to compare it too.