How to get the right people doing the right things right.

If you could ‘sack’ everyone within your team or company today (without fear of tribunal, notice or termination payments or indeed without any other repercussion) who would you re-employ tomorrow? Now that may bring a wry smile to your face or a serious frown but read the question again and then go through your whole team one at a time. The decision to re-employ has to be without qualification. No get out of jail cards like:- ‘I wouldn’t want to employ her again but she brings in 75% of the sales!’ ‘I definitely wouldn’t want to employ him but he’s family!’ The answers from this question may be uncomfortable but the awareness will be worth the discomfort. As a business grows it becomes necessary to create a more formal structure and appoint managers to take on some of the responsibility of running the business. Who better than the loyal and trusted employees who have helped the business owner in the early stages of growth to take on more responsibility. Over the years I have seen so many companies being run by these ‘home grown managers’. Home grown managers are the life blood in the early stages of a growing business. They hold the culture, knowledge and understanding of the business. However, when the business is ready to scale it can start to outgrow the ‘home grown managers’. Feeling more and more out of their depth these managers resist change to maintain the status quo and protect their position. From a business owner’s point of view, the temptation can be to blame the old guard and to look to introduce... read more

Learnings from a six year old

Recently, I went to watch my six year old grandson play five a side football (soccer) at a local sports field. His team were playing another local team, they all looked the part in their team shirts When play started everyone got involved with parents and grandparents cheering on their children and their team. The opposing team obviously had been drilled by their coach and held their formation. Whilst the whole of my grandson’s team were two metres from the ball throughout the game often tackling each other in their desire to become the star and score. Although their coach tried his best to get their attention shouting from the sideline he would probably have had more success herding cats! Before you think this is just me being a proud grandad and has nothing to do with business, let me explain a moment in the game that got me thinking. Imagine the scene, the opposing team attacked our goal and one of their lads shot. It was a fantastic effort but unfortunately sailed right over the crossbar and disappeared down the hill behind the goal, ending at the bottom of a gully. At this point my grandson and his whole team, including the goal keeper, disappeared down the hill to get the ball leaving the other side, bewildered and alone on the pitch. Minutes later they all reappeared and continued the game, all out of position using up a lot of energy (which for a six year old is a good thing) having a disorganised but lovely time. It was for me the highlight of the game but it... read more

Here’s three steps to avoid abdication.

How often do you put off that thorny issue. You just know it needs to be faced but you’ll deal with it tomorrow when you will feel ready to face the music. Sound familiar or are you thinking nope “I always face up to a problem head on.” Really, always! Just think about when you need to potentially upset a close family member or a key employee. Yes they may have been out of order but you don’t want to upset the status quo. Better to sleep on it, ignore the behaviour and hope it will blow over. Well, guess what, you will still have to deal with it in the future. Until you do the underlying issue will take root and grow. In business, the key element in delegating a goal or task is to have an effective feedback loop to monitor the progress against the agreed plan and timescale. Interesting, even where an effective monitor system is in place the results may not be reviewed. Perhaps it’s that you think the task has been handed over and all is well or it may be that you think it is better not to know. Either way you continue in a blissful state of ignorance hoping all will sort itself out. It is, also, so easy for the business owner to know the results and know that all is not well but then still chooses to ignore the situation rather than follow through with the necessary action to remedy the situation. So here are the three most important steps that I have found are so often ignored or indeed... read more

Are you including all your employees in your appraisal system?

Over the years I have seen many business owners invest in swanky new computer systems. Often dazzled by the bells and whistles they gladly invest in a system that they believe is going to solve all their problems. In the initial implementation period considerable time, thought and energy is put into getting the system installed and operational. As in so many areas Pareto Principle (80-20 rule) may prevail. Let me explain. All the time and effort spent in the first rush of excitement may represent 80% of the total time required to completely install the system but that may only give 20% of the promised benefit. Happy to have the day-to-day business secure the computer can retire to an out of way corner or nowadays to the cloud and just work away controlling the day to day processes of the business. Your customer records, order processing; invoicing etc. Tirelessly handling all the processes until the cash is in the bank. The final stage, although representing only 20% of the total implementation time will give the remaining 80% of the benefits but may also bring about the biggest change to working practices. So all those amazing bells and whistles never get turned on and what should be a tool to help you make informed decisions has become just an expensive accounting machine. Over time those great hopes for the system fade into the past and become forgotten. I have heard the office computer jokingly compared to an employee. It works away hard in the corner, 24/7. It does not need to go on holiday or take time off sick; it... read more

Who are the keepers of your business culture?

The culture in many corporate businesses often consist of beautifully crafted words published in corporate documents, websites and framed statements in reception areas that woefully misrepresent the culture experienced within the company. In many SME’s similar documents are cobbled together as a short term expediency to gain an accreditation or required in a quoting process. Often seen as having no value to the day to day working of the business they are in effect worthless pieces of paper and are irrelevant and are consigned to gather dust in the backwaters of your office filing systems. Management thinking may demand that the company vision, mission and culture statements enshrining the company destination, direction and values be defined and published to align all that enter the sanctity of the organisation. But why are they so misunderstood and largely ignored? Let’s take a moment to consider the culture statement which defines the core values of the organisation. Together these form the rules and the boundaries that underpin the actions, decisions and behaviours of all team members. Trust is the bedrock on which all great teams are built and the culture forms the blocks on which trust is formed and nurtured. So,dust off those long forgotten statements and expose them to the sunshine to bring them back to life, acknowledge them and discuss them openly with your team to see if they are relevant today. Take every opportunity to discuss them within your team. Let them understand why the values are important to you. Repeat them yourself a lot and above all live by the rules. Be the keeper of your culture. Seek... read more

Team management: is it time to raise the bar?

Do your team amaze you or frustrate you? Interestingly, the missing ingredient for them to continually amaze you may be already in your hands. So, if you feel that most of your people under perform then perhaps its time to look at the common denominator. YOU! Whoa!!! Hang on a moment that’s a bit harsh. Before you stop reading, think about it for a moment and see if it just might be the case. In the early stages of growing a business it is so easy to be the solution provider, to always be there to take the decision, to always be right. Quickly, you become the bottleneck to growth and soon you think and the team believe they are not capable of getting a decision right. They lose confidence in their own ability and so it becomes easier to ask you than to think it through to make a decision. Together, you have all stopped growing. Is it any wonder that over the years I have found the missing ingredient is plain simple self confidence. Indeed, I have found the vast majority of employees are much better than they think they are! It’s just they are not aware of their skills, knowledge and talents Unlock that, give them permission to grow and they will amaze you. But, before they can change you may have to change. You may need to give yourself permission to grow and then perhaps you will amaze yourself! Beware of placing too low an expectation on yourself and your team because guess what, their actions and responses will just reinforce your belief. Raise the... read more

The Importance of the Follow Up

Have you ever received a quote from a business for work you want done and then wonder why they never followed up their quote. What did you think about that company? Maybe they did not really want your business? Maybe they were just not interested. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore the obvious. Perhaps we need to look at a situation from both sides. Time and time again I encounter situations where all the hard work is done but then there is no follow up. For example in sales the appointment is carried out, all the right questions are asked so that a quotation can be produced and sent out and then…… nothing! No follow up. No contact. It is left to the prospect or customer to call and place the order. Just think about all the time and cost involved in the process to produce the quote. So why no follow up? I hear loads of excuses like don’t want to be pushy or just haven’t gotten around to it (perhaps been busy producing more quotes). But when we are in the position of the customer we view it differently. Maybe the real answer is that it’s the fear of hearing no. If we don’t ask then we can fool ourselves into thinking that the answer may be yes. Just ask! It’s better to know. You may be pleased with the response. This blog is based on strategies found in Can Your Business Step Up to the Growth Challenge? By Ray Moore DOWNLOAD FREE! I hope you enjoyed this post and found it thought provoking. Don’t forget to send me your... read more

FOUR behaviours seen when forming a team

  Isn’t is so easy to pigeon hole employees based on the behaviour that we observe in the work environment. Their behaviour is dependent on many, many factors but often an accurate reflection of their underlying attitude is highlighted in how they intuitively react to a challenge or task that needs to be completed. Recently, during a business coaching session, I was reminded by a client of four common responses he encountered to a recent business challenge. Over the years I have encountered similar experiences voiced by countless business owners when building a strong, resilient team. I share his insight with his permission. So here is an overview of the four responses. The Willing Helper Who enthusiastically get stuck in straight from the start. Without a moan or a second thought they understand what needs to be done, work on their own initiative and give it 100% until the task is completed. This group are first to offer help, normally without being asked. The Shrinking Violet Who initially hang back but once they see others get involved or are personally invited to contribute become enthusiastically involved. It may take more effort to get buy in but the effort will be worth it. Unfortunately, they are easy to overlook and they can shrink further into the background. The Press-Ganged Who make themselves look very busy to avoid being pressed into becoming involved. May feel put upon or obligated so make sure they do the minimum to say they helped and then escape at the first opportunity having done their bit. The Ghost Who mysteriously disappear at the first sign of... read more

The biggest leap of faith for a business owner

A common complaint I hear from business owners is that they can’t get their staff to step up and take responsibility, they just seem not to want to be involved. If this sounds familiar then read on. As a business owner, especially if you have built the business from scratch it is so easy to become overprotective of the business you have created. You believe that you know what’s best and perhaps unwittingly you want to control every aspect of ‘your babies’ development. However, just like any overprotective parent it is so easy to restrict and smother the natural development of your child. The biggest leap of faith we have to make as business owners is the same as any parent. As parents we have to realise we have done our job and it is time to put our trust in our children- that they are ready to take responsibility and that they will be able to make right decisions. We recognise that they have grown up. In business this leap of faith is to believe that every person you employ will always do the best that they know how. In fact treat them as thinking adults who are capable of having a worthwhile opinion. Trust them, involve them in their future and they will reciprocate with their heart and soul. Just have faith in them.  Delegate roles, responsibilities and tasks to them. Involve them, ask their opinion, share information to get their buy in. Help them to take ownership of their decisions and they will be happy to be held responsible for their actions and be accountable for... read more

Don’t underestimate the power of generalisations in business!

In previous articles I have concentrated on how the owners view of the world impacts on a business. Everyone sees their our own version of reality through their own individual belief filters. So let me explain, a belief is something that we hold to be true. However, that belief may not be true- but if we believe something strongly enough then it is true to us. Indeed, our unconscious mind will actively find evidence to reinforce that belief and sometimes we will unintentionally distort facts to fit in with what we believe. This happens at personal level, group level and all the way up to national level. Think about the manipulation of a whole nation’s belief as demonstrated by the misinformation about the weapons of mass destruction that lead to the second Iraq invasion. Remember, what ever you believe to be true is true to you. Combinations of these beliefs become your personal filter through which you see the world. Now, that is quite heavy, so what has it to do with business. Well actually everything, especially when building a strong team. Every person working for you views the world through their own personal filters, their own version of reality. Problems will arise when those beliefs become challenged especially in a period of change and growth. Given the same set of events or facts two people can take two totally opposing positions. One person can be quite happy and chilled whereas someone else can be angry and agitated. Both have viewed the same facts through differing filters and come up with different conclusions. During a period of change be... read more