Category: Leadership (page 1 of 4)

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.

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?

 

The Ditch List – making room to expand

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolHow many hours do you work a day, a week, a month? Loads is probably the answer.

So when someone suggests that you need to take on additional tasks – you groan.

But these new tasks might be the ones that will change things around for you or your business. Time to get the strategic direction right, sort out the offices, resolve that nagging IT issue, reflect on an investment plan. How about those people tasks? Done well you could change the initials HR from Human Remains to Human Resources.

“But” you cry, ” I simply don’t have the time to add to my list”.

Well, that might be true now, but what if you listed all the tasks on to a spreadsheet. Then, allocate a time per day, week, month you spend on them . Using the data sort button, sort them on the basis of time spent, with the largest at the top. Then add a new column. Use the formula to incrementally add the totals, which is the cumulative total. I hope that makes sense.

Now look down the list. And when you get to say 30 hours, stop. Anything below that line needs to be either delegated, ditched or deferred. Play around with it for a day or so, but then take control of your time. It is perishable and can only be used once. Use it wisely.

Hope this helps. Any ideas as to how to maximise time would be gratefully received

Business CoPIlot – Executive coaching and sales mentoring to help keep them on the business flight plan

Writing a plan – what is the point?

Writing a plan – what is the point?

By the time you have written the plan everything has probably moved on and it is already out of date. Or the process of writing the plan has left you in no fit state to carry on the day job.

Executive coaching BristolOK, a plan will give you something to focus on, if you find yourself with time on your hands. It will also help you to work towards an objective or goal. But with so many areas to consider, so many scenarios to incorporate into the plan to make it worthwhile, one has to ask the question – is it all worth it?

My suggestion. Why not write down a completed actions list?

That is one way I have found of capturing activity to reflect if it is going in the right direction. I know in my own mind what i am heading towards, i did that heavy lifting months ago. All I want to see is how I am progressing towards that goal, not how much still lies ahead.

By writing down the work done and the time, I can then look back with a sense of pride about what has been achieved. I can also change direction much quicker if my goals have changed.

So what do you do – do you take the adage that failing to plan is planning to fail? Or do you record activity and let the future take care of itself?

Let me know.

DISC Personality Assessment

Personality Assessments – DISC 

 

Organisations are made up of individuals, each of whom is unique. Gender, age, experience, skills, aptitudes, upbringing and so on. They each have strengths, limitations, motivational needs and have their own individual preference as to how they wish to be treated.

 

Seek to understand and be understood

 

If we can understand ourselves more, then we can enhance the way that we interact with those around us.

The DISC Personality Assessment helps us to decode the language of behaviour, the way we interact with one another and within groups.  What does DISC mean? It is an acronym made up of the first letter of each of the main personality traits.

 

  • D    = Dominance
  • I      = Influence
  • S    = Steadiness
  • C    = Compliance.

 

In less than 20 minutes the assessment provides an accurate insight into how you behave at work, answering questions such as: what are your strengths and limitations? How do you communicate? What motivates you? How can you enhance your value in the work place?

 

DISC – what it means  –  have a look at how it works here.

 

How does it work?

 

Research has shown that behavioural characteristics can be grouped together in four major areas called personality styles or traits. People with similar personality profiles tend to exhibit specific behavioural characteristics common to that profile.

Knowing who you are, what motivates you and almost as important, what demotivates you, is the foundation of a successful and fulfilled life. It means you can play to your strengths and work around your limitations.

Once you know how you would like to be treated, it gets even better.  Once you have a full grasp of your own self-image, you can then start to discern how others might think, act and feel.

After years of research we have concluded that the best determinant of personality traits or styles is the DISC personality assessment.

 

What do I need to do?

 

It is a simple online personality test comprising 28 questions. It takes less than 20 minutes to complete.

Our DISC personality assessment gives you the means to motivate, stimulate and encourage people in your organisation by raising people’s self-awareness, self-esteem and confidence.

 

What are the benefits of assessing personality or temperament?

 

Here are the key benefits:

  • Makes a good team great by building mutual understanding
  • Increases motivation as each person is treated uniquely
  • Improves communication and trust
  • Becomes a powerful force for change
  • Turns around underperforming teams
  • Enhances personal and team courage – breaks down the blame culture

 

Does it show ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities?

 

No. It provides an understanding of how a person prefers to behave at work and the characteristics they will demonstrate. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ qualities.

 

If you want to know more about how the Business CoPilot DISC Personality Assessment can help you or your team call us now on 0117 317 8147 or email me at robh@businesscopilot.co.uk. If you wish to purchase an assessment, the cost is £133.50 plus VAT.

Is trust in the workplace worth the effort?

According to an article in Psychology Today they ask the question “How do you provide evidence that you want your customers or staff or stakeholders to give you their trust?”.

And their answer is simple “You must first demonstrate that the relationship matters.”

Is this right? So what if the relationship doesn’t matter, does that give you an out? Are they arguing that I can be trustworthy with some because it matters, but not with others because it doent matter? Is trust therefore an elastic concept that can flex dependent on what I get out of it?

No of course not, and the article’s author is not arguing that either. Trust is not elastic. The degree of trust may vary but not the concept of trust. Trust is so embedded in our culture that we tend not to consider it, nor train our people in how to maximise the value that can be gained from enhancing trust.

If I may, here below are the suggestions from the article:

Trust grows in relationships when …

  • The relationships are mutually beneficial
  • When you bring the best of who you are into the relationship; the best includes core elements like integrity, tolerance, honesty, and trustworthiness
  • When you want the best for the other person
  • When the relationship is more important than any single outcome
  • When you invest time, communication, commitment, and authenticity
  • When you show genuine care, concern, and compassion
  • When you operate with appreciation, politeness, and inclusion
  • When you give more than you take, while still keeping your interests in view
  • When you help others achieve their aspirations, dreams, goals, or personal best
  • When you respect where others are coming from – knowledge, experience, state of mind, values, beliefs, needs

Trust is an essential component of business success and we disregard it and the consequences at our peril.

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

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Yes, I know it is a bit clichéd. But we have sound evidence that most small firms do not plan well enough to ensure that they grow in a way that is sustainable and profitable.

Personally I have no problem with a one page business plan that resembles an action list rather than the deep, structured formal plan. It reflects where they are and  most probably the variability in the environment in which they are seeking to operate.

Anyhow, back to the evidence. We asked 35 people to complete a Gap Analysis of what they need to strengthen the most. The response was a need to have a plan and have goals and objectives to make the plan happen.

If you want to add your insights to the research, do feel free. Business strategy assessment.

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Pinch points in the sales process

Getting the customer to buy is tough. There are so many opportunities along the sales pathway for them to opt out. Why make it harder than it needs be?

Business Coaching BristolWhen the customer engages with the organisation they in effect “touch” them. They become touch points. So when the customer phones to place the order that is a touch point. Or when the customer goes on line to check the stock availability or to determine delivery costs, these are touch points. Each touch point with the customer can become a pinch point.

A few months back I was doing some strategic sales management consulting with a firm in London. They sold technical products that required detailed order taking over the phone. The pinch point was with the incoming tele-sales staff. Neither spoke English well enough to understand the complexities of the customers needs. I could hear the frustrations of the callers trying to explain what their issues were so they could place the order.

I spoke with the Sales Manager who shrugged his shoulders and said that “they did get a lot of complaints about it”. 

We can lower the numbers who opt out at each stage by looking closely at what the customer is being asked to do and ensuring it is as complex as necessary and as simple as possible. By doing so we will increase the conversion rates that in turn enhances the margins downstream.

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