Category: Change (page 1 of 3)

Team of two – making it work

Team of Two  

This is one way to improve job satisfaction and organisational effectiveness.

 

The idea

Much of the business of an organisation takes place between pairs of people. These interactions can be positive and developing or frustrating and destructive. You can improve them using simple methods, providing people are willing to listen to each other.

“Team of two” will work between secretaries and managers, managers and directors, consultants and clients or engineers working on a job together. It will even work between life partners.

It does not work when the relationship is so broken down that either party would rather have a battle than do anything to make it better.

The method

Each person writes down 1) How they think they could help the other person and 2) How they think the other person could help them.

The hypothetical example of a manager and secretary will make this clearer.

Manager’s list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing

Secretaries’ list

Things I, secretary, could do to help you Things you, manager, could do to help me
Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use Listen to me when I am overloaded
Learn to use the spell checker! Say “Hello” to me when I come in

The parties then share their lists and create a joint list as below.

Combined list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Listen to you when you are overloaded Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing
Say “Hello” when you come in Learn to use the spell checker

The two people now discuss the information and decide what they will do.

A person may say:

  •  “I can’t do that because……” . The request might violate your values, by being (say) unethical, or it might be politically unacceptable, or take too much time.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.

It helps people to follow through with their decisions if they record and preferably display their agreements.

Play the negotiation straight. If you use tactics or manipulation, then people will not use the technique again. They will also become suspicious of all the management techniques you use.

Make your requests small, clear and doable. It is more useful to ask someone to say “Hello” in the morning than to “Be more considerate”.

Aim for equity in the negotiations. If people “give in” to every demand they will feel exploited later. People who want something for themselves for everything they give will lose co-operation. People will think they are mean.

Give the process enough time. The expectations take time to clarify. This is often the first time people have talked directly about how they work together.

I have used these ideas and found that the exercise easily led to free, open and positive discussions and decisions about all aspects of the work together, from the day to day, filing etc to the strategic, about priorities. One common decision was for the two individuals involved to attend some meetings together so she or he would understand more about each other’s work and thus be able to make better decisions about what was important. This tool will not work if the relationship has so broken down that the parties do not want to make improvements.

Finally

Please play with these ideas and use them in any way that makes sense to you. If you stick to giving and receiving practical help and treating both parties fairly it will work well, if the people want to make their relationship work.

I am indebted to Nick Heap for his creation and development of the content above.

Agreeing on the problem – Seth Godin

Seth GodinSeth Godin is a prolific author churning out reams and reams of high value content.

I read this and just wanted to share it with the people who read my blog. I take no credit whatsoever for it as all of that goes to Seth himself

Agreeing on the problem

Please don’t tell us it’s complicated.

Organizations, scientists and individuals always do better in solving problems that are clearly stated. The solution might be complicated, the system might be complex, but if we don’t agree on the problem, it’s hard to find the resources and the will to seek out a solution.

For a business, the problem might be that:

  • there aren’t enough customers
  • gross margins are too low
  • word of mouth is poor
  • hiring sufficiently talented people is too difficult
  • competition just moved in next door
  • production quality is off.

Identify and agree on any of these and we can get to work. Denying the problem doesn’t increase the chances it will go away.

This is the political/lobbied challenge facing our stalled response to the melting icecaps. There are a variety of possible problem-denials along with one simple statement that actually opens the door to progress:

  1. The world isn’t getting hotter, the data is wrong.
  2. The world is getting hotter, and that’s okay.
  3. The world is getting hotter, but it’s not caused by us, and anyway, we can’t do anything at all about it.
  4. The world is getting hotter, it’s urgent, we need to hurry, and dealing with it is a difficult technical and political problem.

Which category are you in at work? What about the people you vote for and work for?

Often, the reason people don’t want to agree on a problem is that it’s frightening to acknowledge a problem if we don’t know that there’s a solution, as if saying the problem out loud makes it more real, more likely to undermine our lives.

The irony, of course, is that fear of the problem makes it far more likely that the problem itself will hurt us.

Overcoming push back to change

Working through a change programme

Recognise this famous quote?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – I don’t speak that good French so rely on the translators to tell me that it means: “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”

In my years of working as an executive coach I have found that the hardest thing to overcome is the inherent resistance to change. It seems that in almost everyone I have come across there is some resistance or push-back to change. 

To make sense of this I looked at the various graphs showing how change is perceived and the one that came up most was the Kubler-Ross model, see below.

kubler-ross-model

The problem with this model for me was that Denial was not the first stage. And that Self Esteem was not one of the variables that were impacting on the change.

It took only a few minutes to realise why. The Kubler-Ross model is useful when explaining emotional reactions to a death or serious loss.

It was not applicable for senior business people engaging in a change programme.

What I found was that there were different factors at play and with it came very different responses.

In every single case the initial reaction to change was positive. They all relished the idea of discovery as shown below

Reaction to change

Where things became problematic was during the discovery phase where some of the strongly held beliefs were challenged. That lead to Dissonance.

If it was left untreated the Dissonance overwhelmed the coachee and they gave up.

If they persisted however, they got through this and went through to the design phase where their enthusiasm started to climb and their desire to progress returned.

It is then that an external support network can really help. They can be objective, reassure, be empathetic and open up new lines of thought. That is what a good executive coach can play a part.

So how might you overcome the dissonance and move to the Design phase?

 

Create a compelling vision

Getting your business to fly in formation

Time can only be used once. Ensure you spend it wisely.

To build a truly successful business, you first need a vision – one that will set you alight with excitement, and give those around you something tangible that will capture their imagination.

Your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and will be at the core of everything in your business. Your vision will generate extra commitment and effort. It will translate directly into greater profitability and increase the capital value of the business. In addition, it will lay the foundations on which others can build.

Why is this important? Well, as the team around you take ownership of the goal, the goal takes on a life of its own, opening the way for you to focus on other business priorities, build profits and maybe even for you to have the time to have… a life!

Do you have that inspiring vision?

Do you have in mind a destination that you and your business are heading for? If not, then as that old saying goes “If you don’t know where you are going any road will do”.

What is a vision statement?

There are numerous definitions of what a vision statement should be and what it should include. At its simplest a vision statement should answer the following questions:

  1. What does our company do?
  2. Who are our ideal clients?
  3. What service or product do they want to purchase from us?
  4. How will we measure success?

If you can answer those questions then you should have a single message that you can communicate across every channel. It should be built in to your company’s operations and culture so everyone lives and works by it in every aspect of their role.

Where to start?

You start by simply daydreaming. It may be hazy and nebulous at first, but work at it – wafting away the mist to reach the core idea, the spirit of your vision. It may take days, even weeks. The nice thing about this constructive daydreaming is that it doesn’t stop you working while you are doing it. However, beware of thinking, as you dream your dream: ‘Oh we couldn’t do that! It’s just wishful thinking.’ It’s even easier to get lost in the how-to of it all. Don’t be held back by what you think is possible, or you will end up limiting your vision. The moment you catch yourself starting to think of how you will achieve your dream, stop, and go back to the what – the big picture. Right now, you do not need to burden yourself with reality.

 What does a vision do?

There are many advantages of having a clear view of what the business is designed to realise. A good one does several things.

Your vision will ensure that everybody in the company knows what the business is striving to achieve. As a result it allows them to focus their efforts on the things that make a difference and in so doing it motivates them to deliver the results over the long term.

If you define a clear vision you will have included in it some aspect that will differentiate you from your competitors. As you grow you will need to demonstrate that you are offering something that is different and better, and so ensure potential clients select you in preference to your competitors.

Finally it is also a unifying factor in holding an organisation together. The best example we have come across is a company called Spencer du Bois. Their vision is to work with clients whose ambitions go beyond the bottom line, to make a real difference. So they primarily work with charities, educational and cultural institutions and ‘ethically enlightened’ companies. That means that their employees know that they will work on projects that mean something to them, the clients know that they will work with people that share the same values. It all adds up to building an excellent reputation that will attract the right sort of work and will enable them to repel the sort of work that they don’t want to get involved with.

In short, your vision will excite and inspire people to follow you – and it will be at the core of everything in your business. More importantly, it will lay the foundations on which others can build, and so allow you to escape from your business. After all, Kennedy acted like any good business leader – he didn’t build the rocket or choose the astronauts: he just set out the vision and persuaded people that it was one worth pursuing.

We can summarise the benefits of you having a vision statement as follows.

It will:

  • Paint a picture of an aspirational, desired but realistic future;
  • Be distinctive, credible, memorable, and command attention;
  • Inspire and liberate;
  • Be succinct and context free;
  • Be ambitious but achievable;
  • Create ‘clear blue water’ differentiation.
  • Attract the sort of business you want to be involved in
  • Repel the sort of business you do not want to be involved in

It works for Richard Branson

How does it work in practice? Richard Branson has a clear vision of the kinds of people who will work for him. As far as he’s concerned, Virgin people are easy to spot. ‘They act in unusual ways, as it’s the only way they know how. But it’s not forced – it’s natural. They are honest, cheeky, questioning, amusing, disruptive, intelligent and restless… Virgin people are smart.

‘There are certain attributes that we look for future employees to possess. A Virgin person would typically:

  • Have a passion for new ideas;
  • Think “differently”;
  • Have signs of creativity;
  • Smell new business opportunities;
  • Always listen to customers.’

‘I joined Virgin because I wanted rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted the big challenge, the big job, the big car, but I wanted rock ‘n’ roll as well’ – and that came from a stuffy old Finance Director!

How to create your vision

Coming up with a vision begins with thinking about what it is that you are trying to build. Start by writing down what your business will look like at some point in the future.

Imagine yourself arriving at your office in five years’ time and describe what you see.

What sort of business is it? What will you deliver to your prospective clients? How big? What kinds of people do you have working for you… and what about the customers? How would you describe the ideal client? Are they corporates, global players or local shopkeepers? There is no right answer at this stage, only an image of what you want them to look like. After all it is this group of people that holds the key to your long-term future. What do they want from you? More importantly how will they derive value from using you? How do people behave towards you, each other, your suppliers… your clients? What is the culture or set of values that binds you all together?

Keep imagining what it will look like. Add anything in that you feel will shape the company’s identity. Brainstorm with other people; get loads of feedback from past and current clients, colleagues, acquaintances, friends and family about how they would describe you.

If you prefer pictures to words, we suggest that you use a mood board. Get a decent size piece of card and stick images on it that reflect what it is that you want it to be. Take off the “horizon limiter” during these sessions. Think about what it could look like. If it helps, have a drop of wine or similar to get the creative juices flowing.

Things you might consider

What goes into your vision is entirely down to you, the type of business you are in and where you are on the growth curve. The only check that can be applied to see if it works is – “Are we still heading towards it?” The basic elements of your vision might include:

  • The purpose of your business (which isn’t to make money – that’s just a by-product).

For example, ours is: ‘To help ambitious business leaders achieve profitable and sustainable business growth.’ This clear purpose underpins everything we do.

  • What products and services you offer in their totality or described in terms of the value they create. Be creative; expand on the value the clients get, rather than what it is that you do. For instance we could argue that all lawyers offer legal services, all of them are competent, all of them are qualified, and all of them say that they are personable. If you look at their vision statements it will probably contain one or more of these. If you were a lawyer, your vision statement might want to capture some other aspect of the benefit of using you. You might want to include something that you do really well such as speedier, on line, 24-hour access and so on. Each of these describes ways of achieving a difference.
  •  Who will buy from you? It is unlikely that everyone or anyone will be your target market. You will need to cut it up into smaller pieces and select one to focus on. How will you cut up or segment the market? What are the similarities between them and is the segment big enough for you in the future. You might look at the way your customers feel about the business.
  • What you compete on and what makes people seek you out above all your competitors
  • The feel of the business – what it looks like physically, how it acts, what kind of equipment you use, how your employees feel towards each other, their customers and yourself
  • Your geographic scope – where you are located, where your markets are
  • Finally, you should include some financial metrics to ensure that you keep the business side of things in focus. No business will succeed in the long term if it does not make a profit. What should that profit be? It depends on a whole raft of things. Ultimately it is down to you to decide. You might want to include some or all of the following: the size of your business in terms of turnover, profit level, and annual growth. Insert them at the end of the vision, as you might not want your suppliers to see these!

Remember, vision, differentiation and communication can move mountains! They certainly got a man to the moon.

Turning it into reality

Having gone to the trouble of drafting the vision statement, you then need to ensure that it is used as the basis for everything that you do. Turning it into reality means:

  • Allocating roles and responsibilities. Spell out to everyone what they are expected to do towards delivering to the vision statement. If we return to Kennedy for a moment, there is a famous anecdote to demonstrate the extent to which the vision captured the imaginations of everyone. On arriving at the space centre a visiting congressman asked the car park attendant what he did. “I’m putting a man on the moon, sir” was the reply.
  • Keeping it alive in hearts and minds of employees. Be creative here too. Before every meeting, place a copy of it and read through it. Ask everyone to yell out if the conversation is moving away from the agreed vision.
  • Connecting it to strategy and action programmes. Keep asking yourself – is what we are doing or planning to do going to get us closer to where we said we wanted to go?
  • Identifying critical success factors. Set out a few milestones along the way and most importantly celebrate when they are met. A sincere well done is a huge motivator.

However, your vision will die a slow, lingering death if:

  • Employees are rewarded and remunerated to do something else.
  • Employees are not empowered or equipped with skills to do what is necessary.
  • It isn’t constantly communicated and reinforced.
  • It isn’t based in reality (as well as being achievable and flexible).

Having developed the vision, you then need to communicate it. It is at this stage that things usually start to go wrong. Our experience is that it will only work if it remains visible and out of the business plan/lone sock drawer. Have it drawn up and framed to hang at the most visible part of the building. Have lots of them; support them all with examples of success.

Summary

You need a vision statement to ensure that you focus all your resources on things that matter and make a difference. Long-term sustainable growth, which is the hallmark of a successful business, comes about through leadership, careful planning and the allocation of skills, talents and knowledge to deliver benefits to clients that generates long-term profits.

The final thought on having a vision goes to Peter Drucker, a wise old bird who has given so much to business over the years:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Wishing you every success in accelerating business growth.

Robert M. Hook

The Business CoPilot

Business CoPilot Announcements

Hi,   
We have some announcements to make!!

The Business CoPilot is broadening it’s offering.

We are adding strategic sales management to the business and executive coaching portfolio.
The simple reason being that  our clients tell us that sales and sales strategy is at the uppermost of peoples minds when growing the business. And we can help them through that journey.
Rob was recently awarded Fellow status of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Managers underpinning our credentials in sales strategy.
Our existing clients will see no change in the relationship and no change in the current arrangements. Just that the future Business CoPilot marketing material will be aimed more at bringing in new clients that are seeking support on their sales strategy.
More to follow…
Have a business issue to resolve?
If you’d like to come and meet us to talk through your sales strategy, or if you’d like more information, please call us on 0117 317 8147 or email robh@businesscopilot.co.uk.
Best wishes,
Rob and Nick

Start with Why

In Start With Why, Simon Sinek say that good business leaders start with ‘why’.

Start with Why

Most of us start with what we do. The service we offer, the products we promote.We spend time polishing it to make it shine brighter in the hope that in doing so it will attract more attention.  We seek external validation via testimonials, likes and so on.

We have to do that. Enhancing the offering is essential. But only after the question why has been answered.

Why why?

Because until we can find why, we are at risk of missing the point. For instance, if train companies understood why people travelled on their trains, they would have understood that there were rivals in the wings. Literally. Planes and cars would change the travel industry for ever. But the train companies saw their mission as selling seats on trains. Most people wanted to get to the their destination quickly.

Top tips

Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  1. Why do people buy from me
  2. Why do people buy from my competitors
  3. Why don’t people buy more from me
  4. Why are they not willing to pay more for what we do

Have a go.

Ask yourself why do you do what you do and why do they do what they do. It might show a rich stream of innovative thought and release the creative pressure to inspire others.

Game, Set, Match – get them in the right order

To win a tennis match means winning a series of games. The games won will then turn into sets that will then turn into matches.

Balls win matches

“Isn’t that insulting my intelligence?” I hear you rant at the screen. “I know how to win a game of tennis!” Agreed. How about winning in business though?

I come across a lot of business owners who want to win matches but don’t accumulate enough games to win the match.

They are too busy doing the other things assuming victory is theirs as a right. Using the tennis metaphor they will be writing their victory speech or reflecting on the press conference rather than getting on with the grind of winning games.

In business a game could be completing the marketing collateral, writing the job specs, filling in the expenses, doing the budgets, reviewing client satisfaction ratings. Al the small but essential tasks that need to be done and done well.

Do enough of them and you will see progress. The equivalent of a set perhaps. Persist and the match might be yours. Time for you to grasp the racket and head for the base line.

New balls please …

Coping with the summertime slowdown

sunbizJune is in full swing, and summertime is upon us. Yes, we might look out of the window and see grey skies, or even – dare I say it? – rain! But according to the longer days and impending school holidays, it is definitely summer.

Assuming that your business isn’t seasonal and looking forward to a warm-weather boom, you could face a lull as people start to switch off and get into holiday mode.

So how can you prepare, and what can you do to minimise its impact?

Grow your network (on and offline)

This is a great time to attend as many events as possible and build your network. Attending after-work events on summer evenings is much more appealing than rainy nights when it gets dark early! Be careful though, as some regular events may not take place in summer months, so make sure you check the details before heading out.

Automate what you can

If you and others you work with are going to be away, it’s a better excuse than ever to automate what communications you can. Automate responses to newsletter sign ups, with timed follow-ups if you can, and set out a timetable of social media posts to keep it ticking over while you switch off. Personalised marketing is still essential, but these can be a handy supplement.

Send your staff out for training

This can also be a great time to send staff out for training, and can be a constructive way to keep holiday-headed employees focused while also renewing their enthusiasm.

Take a break

One thing you must do is make sure you take a break yourself, switching off completely. A break where you check your emails and deal with issues is not a break. Make sure you book time off well in advance and make the necessary preparations before you leave to ensure everyone knows you’ll be out of action. This is your reward for being connected for the rest of the year, so don’t feel guilty!

(NB. Make sure your autoresponse message is correct, rather than just setting it off with the same message as your holiday last year, to avoid confusion over when you will return.)

Experiment!

Summer is a brilliant time to try out all of the innovative ideas you have thought of but haven’t had time for. Perhaps it’s a new marketing method or an initiative to increase productivity. Perhaps you want to try an incentive for returning clients. Whatever it is, now is the time to give it a go!

5 questions to ask yourself when creating content

1157699_typewriter_3Creating content on a regular basis can be difficult, and losing momentum can mean you produce content which isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes, inspiration dries up, or we’re not sure that we can create something people really will want to read.

Your outlet for content must be regularly updated, but more than that, it must constantly provide value and engaging content to keep readers coming back.

Here are some questions which will help keep you on the straight and narrow of content creation, and help you provide content which will keep readers coming back for more.

1) Is this relevant to my clients?

Your content needs to be written with someone in mind, and it’s likely that the person you want to be reading your content is a potential client. Don’t start with what you find interesting, but what they’ll feel compelled to read.

2) Have they read this before?

It’s tempting with so much content surrounding us to recycle material. Sometimes, it can seem impossible to create original content, but even if you are taking inspiration from an existing article, allow your own experience and voice to add originality. Don’t be afraid to develop your own voice and put a piece of yourself into your writing.

1186845_pen-friend3) Will it give them value?

It’s important to give your reader something which will be of benefit to them. While doing this, you get to demonstrate your expertise and begin building a relationship. Think about what they will take away from the content; are you giving advice, or perhaps the benefit of your experience? What do you hope they’ll get out of reading your content?

4) Is there an opportunity to engage?

Content without engagement is like bouncing a tennis ball off a wall. There needs to be an opportunity somewhere within your content to create a dialogue. A typical example is to ask a question at the end of the article, but this also goes for the posts you put out on social media to invite people to read what you’ve written. Ask for the views of individuals who you think might be particularly interested, and try to create a conversation.

5) What do I want them to do at the end?

Some content lends itself well to a call to action. Perhaps you have been giving a case study or listing the benefits of your service or point of view. At this point, it seems natural to ask the reader to get in touch with their view, connect with you on social media or simply give you a call if they think you can help. Or, perhaps you want them to pass it on to their colleagues or others who will find it interesting. Whatever it is, ask it in as clear terms as possible, and remind them why it will benefit them.

View from the cockpit: The House

house logoThis month’s pilot giving us his view is Graham Massey, Co-Founder and Director at The House brand agency.

Graham has been running The House with co-founder and Creative Director Steve Fuller in Bath for the last 17 years. They have worked with high-profile clients including Mission Burrito, Sea Life Centres, Fiskars and many more.

We asked Graham about the vision for the business, potential obstacles and how The House plan to overcome them.

gmasseyWhat is the vision for The House? Where would you love to see your business go?

We have a very clear vision for The House. We are fanatical about business and want to use our brand skills to help individual companies create customers and employees who are big fans of everything they do. As we all know, fans buy more, talk more, stay longer, work harder, go extra miles and recruit others; as for The House, well we’d love to create fans who love what we do too.

What might prevent you from achieving this?

Our challenge is always to treat our business as if it was a client of The House; allocate time to plan, share thinking with the team, shape outcomes and prioritise action. Then stick to it! Time is our most precious resource. We need to protect it fiercely – stay ‘frosty’. It’s very easy to get caught up in our client work and put ourselves and our housemates last; delaying important internal changes, creative ideas and improvements that will grow us, our capability and our business. It’s like being in any relationship; you need to nourish yourself at the same time.

How do you plan to resolve these issues?

We actually took a dose of our own medicine. Steven and I invested in a couple of days out of the business recently to write a new 3 year roadmap and spend some creative time playing and writing together. I’d recommend it! We realised just how much we still want the same things for the business – even after 17 years – and how much we still enjoy working together. Since then we’ve made two new appointments, run our first Brand Masterclass and instilled an ‘in-house’ communication & briefing ‘heartbeat’, three times a week that supports our values and brand promise. Our aim is ensure we don’t sacrifice the needs of our team when we’re meeting those of our clients. After all, we’re a learning business and our clients need to be confident that we’re in shape, evolving and growing too.

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