• Employee Engagement: What is it?

    love-my-job

    We’ve been hearing a lot about employee engagement. It sounds like a good thing, but what is it, really? How do you know when you have it (and don’t have it), and how can you get it? I’m so glad you’ve asked.

    Employee engagement is a condition in which team members feel valued and involved enough with a company to willingly and positively contribute all of their ability for the betterment of the business.

    Sounds great, right? How does an employee come to feel valued and make the decision to invest all of him or herself in their employer’s business? It starts during the job interview, and continues through retirement…and it’s always the responsibility of the employer.

    There is a deficit of employee engagement, and the epidemic is global.

    Only 13% of employees, worldwide, report feeling engaged at work[1].

    This is bad news for employees in general; however, it’s great news for you, an employer. This is a prime opportunity to be the employer who engages, and to therefore attract the best and most dedicated talent to your business.

    As a growing and thriving business, you want your employees to wake up excited to go to work. You want them to arrive ready to go and always be thinking of new ways to improve the customer experience, operational efficiency, your product line and your bottom line.

    Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity2.

    This is what engagement looks like. And here’s how you can get it:

    • Your business has a set of core values that it abides by and demonstrates through all media (or at least it should). Whenever a person is being considered for employment with your company, you must determine if he or she shares those same values as part of their personal and professional credos. When values align, engagement comes much more easily. When they don’t, there will be a struggle…every day.
    • Create a feeling of ownership for every employee, no matter their job description. Whether the team member is head of a department or a new-hire, make it clear how what they do contributes to the overall success of the business. Show them the results of jobs well-done and give them credit whenever they’re responsible or accountable. When everyone feels like a significant part of the effort, they will not only do a better job, they will do it as if they were doing it for themselves.
    • Keeping everyone informed is another great way to nurture engagement. With every piece of relevant information shared (profits, KPIs, etc.), you will increase feelings of value and ownership.
    • Give employees the freedom to come to you with problems, as well as the freedom to make decisions pertinent to their roles and the freedom to be creative with their jobs—without the fear of reprimand. This is the type of environment in which company advocates and forward-thinking innovators are born. Provide this, and you’ll have every employee striving to improve your business.
    • Utilise an open-feedback policy, in which all team members feel the liberty to speak honestly about all matters, whether positive or negative, without fear of repercussion. This not only feels like ownership and feeds engagement, it works toward building a strong brand, overall.

    We have only scratched the surface of employee engagement here. If you’re hoping for more advice on engaging your employees so that you can grow your business more effectively, we should talk. We can accomplish a lot in 30 minutes, and I invite you contact me to schedule that consultation. Your employees will thank you—with higher-level involvement, positive workplace attitudes and a bottom line that proves you’re doing it right.

    [1] Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace

    2Workplace Research Foundation

     

  • Your Business’s Greatest Assets

    I-Love-My-Business-500x383

    What is your business’s greatest asset? Is it your product? Your building? Your bank account? Your investors?

    It doesn’t matter in what industry you work, what type of service you offer…your team members (i.e. your people) are always your most valuable endowment. But if the mix and the engagement isn’t right, they can feel like your greatest obstacles.

    How can you create a culture of accountability and results? So your people can shine and be your greatest brand advocates? How can you achieve the highest performing unit possible? How can you begin to see your people as your most valuable assets?

    It starts with finding the right people—but it doesn’t end there.

    Put Your Living Assets to Work for You

    Why are your people your most valuable assets? Because when they’re feeling fulfilled, they will act as big, happy bullhorns for your business. They will tell people about your company, even in their spare time. Customer service will be no sweat—happy employees want to “share the love.” Profits will multiply, because every member of the team wants to see the business succeed.

    According to Fortune magazine, those businesses included in their current “100 Best Companies to Work for” list notice a 14% increase in stock prices, whilst the rest of the market only realises an increase of 6%.

    Notice that the list wasn’t built around companies that had the greatest product, or the best marketing campaign, or the most famous spokesperson; it was built around those businesses’ most valuable assets.

    So how can you not only make your team members feel valuable, but create the types of results that prove them to be indispensable? Here are some guidelines:

    • Hire people who share your business’s values. It can be difficult to work toward a collective goal when the goal isn’t important to everyone involved. Before you hire anyone based on qualifications alone, ensure that they genuinely believe in what your company stands for and what you wish to accomplish. There should be no “differences in opinion” to work out—there should only be another interview with a different candidate.
    • Engage your employees. You’ve probably heard that you need to engage your customers, but don’t overlook this very important provision for your team members, too. Everyone should come to work knowing that they will feel challenged and fulfilled. Know your employees well enough to put them in roles that will interest them and that they will feel compelled to take ownership of. Assign tasks to individuals with the intent of pushing them just past when they’ve already proven they can accomplish. Talk to them. Keep the conversation flowing. Listen and always remain open to change.
    • Empower your people. In order for growth and independence to bloom, a person must feel the freedom to be innovative and make mistakes. When an employee feels boxed in by rules that are too stringent, or if they feel that any new idea will be shot down, there is no growth. There is no freedom of expression. There is no empowerment to make the entire organisation better.
    • Always be clear with expectations. Every function within your company should be assigned to one accountable person. Know the difference between being accounatable and being responsible and never leave team members wondering about their roles and responsibilities. Always welcome questions and never end a conversation without feeling confident that everyone knows what is expected of them. Managers sometimes feel that this cages people—that they should be permitted to figure this out amongst themselves. To the contrary, when people know precisely what is expected of them, they feel more confident in moving forward and in turn feel more freedom to create and innovate.
    • Assign authority. As people begin to flourish in their roles, you will start to see the blossoming of gifts and talents. You will also see the expression of preferences. Use what you learn to put people in the roles where they will shine. In the end, they will feel more fulfilled, employee retention will increase, you will feel less burdened and your business will thrive.
    • Create a feedback system. An employee should never feel disempowered by having nowhere to go with their problems. Have a system in-place that provides a safe, confidential, judgement-free environment so they can speak their minds…for the betterment of your organisation.

    Your team members are your most valuable assets because when they are engaged and empowered, they will not only show up to work, they will show up ready to do everything they can to build your business. It’s been said that word-of-mouth advertising is the business investment with the highest ROI. I’d like to challenge that notion by saying that happy employees are the highest-ROI investments—because they not only create the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, they live them.

    Are you wondering how you can create a team that’s more engaged and empowered? Have you already begun to see the value of happy employees? Then let’s talk for 30 minutes about how your business can create an atmosphere that will attract (and retain) the best-of-the-best. Simply contact me here to schedule.

  • Measure your Business: 5 Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. (1)

    How’s your business doing?

    How do you know? Have you measured your progress? Tracked your conversions, returns and referrals? Compared all numbers to previous periods?  Made adjustments and monitored their effects?

    If you’re like most business owners, you’re canned answer is “Good.” However, you probably have little evidence to back it up, and there’s usually one reason why:

    Tracking your business’s progress is boring and tedious. Plus, it makes you nervous; it’s much easier to coast along, assuming you’re improving every month. There is a fear that measurement will reveal areas that need improvement…or worse.

    All of this is understandable and natural. It’s comfortable to ignore what could be bad news and instead choose to live in the blissfulness of ignorance. However, if you want your business to be successful, to grow…you must measure what matters and use what you find to make adjustments. This is the most direct (and speedy) path to business growth.

    More than half of UK businesses don’t survive past five years,[1] and one contributing factor is the unwillingness of business owners to track their own progress (a.k.a. step on that virtual scale). Improvement is practically impossible without knowing what areas need improvement—and in what order and to what degree.

     

    Tips for Making Figures your Friends

    Tracking the progression (or regression) of your business can be a tricky habit to form. Not only can the undertaking be fear-inducing, it takes time. Here are some pieces of advice for getting starting and staying on-track with tracking:

    • Establish a starting point. Your second measurement will only give you as much information as your first measurement allows. So get going! Launch the analytics. Open a spreadsheet. Start recording this month’s net profits, new customers, returning customers, website visitors, new social media likes/follows/shares/Retweets, referrals, customer complaints, merchandise returns, lead time for order fulfilment, employee turnover, shipping costs…and whatever else will serve as an indicator of your business’s progress.
    • Define your focal points. Determine what three areas of your business are most integral to the fulfilment of its mission, then focus most intensely on those areas. Determine what number(s) will most accurately measure the performance of those areas. Put these at the top of your tracking list.
    • Set improvement goals. After you’ve gotten into the swing of recording your metrics of business performance, set goals for improvement. A 2% net profit increase or a 5% increase in employee retention over the next two years are examples of performance goals.
    • Stay committed. As your business grows, you will try new things and explore new markets. The only sure-fire way to know if any of this is working is to measure the results. AND the only sure-fire way to assign specific results to specific actions is to measure regularly (monthly). Skip your tracking exercises for even one month, and results will be skewed.
    • Utilise a syndicated service. As your tracking becomes more sophisticated, you are likely to benefit from the use of a syndicated tracking and measurement service. Google Analytics is just one example.

    It’s so easy to make excuses—to take a guess at how your business is doing. The unfortunate truth about this behaviour is that your business is likely to join the majority of start-ups laid to rest in the business graveyard.

    If you want your business to thrive and grow, it must be cared for, tracked, measured, monitored…and nurtured. Close attention to the numbers that matter will not only tell you if you’re on track, they will highlight areas in need of improvement so that your business can be the best it can be.

    Need more information on how you can track your business’s progress and use what you learn to grow it? Then let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll discuss your unique business, your goals and the best way to achieve them. Contact me here.

    [1] RSA (a British commercial insurer)

  • 5 Tips on How to Be More Effective

    Manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    There’s a lot of talk swirling around about time management – but what is it, really? Time cannot be managed. It marches on, whether or not you complete the tasks necessary for executing your business strategy.

    What you can do though is manage yourself and be disciplined in the choices you make about what you do with your time.

    In order to become more effective in our actions, we need to learn to focus on outcomes, with ends not only in mind, but with intense concentration on those ends. This means eliminating distractions.

    We all live in the new age: the “dimension of distraction”.  With the relentless use of email, constant 24/7 bombardment of media from all different channels, and a sense that we need to be connected socially at all times, focusing has become more difficult than ever. In fact,

    The average manager is interrupted every 8 minutes[1] and the average employee spends 28% of their time wrapped up in unnecessary interruptions (plus recovery time)[2].

    These distractions can take up a huge portion of the workday and significantly reduce your level of productivity…if you let them.

    How can you, an entrepreneur focussed on success, eliminate the time you and your employees waste in distracted behaviour? How can you increase productivity? How can you elicit high-level activity for the realisation of goals in alignment with your business strategy? How can you enhance “time management?”

    Here are some tips for achieving all of the above:

    • Dissect every long-term goal into smaller, manageable short-term goals. And then, focus on each one without interruptions. Log out of email. Shut down social media. Silence your phone. Focus specifically, and solely, on the task (goal) at hand, and watch how quickly these things get done without distractions.
    • Designate “open door” times. An open-door policy dictates that you will be available for questions, comments and conversation during a predetermined times (e.g. 3-5 pm). At all other times, your door is closed while you work on executing your business strategy. Remember that every distraction requires five minutes’ worth of recovery. Multiplied over a week’s time, that’s hours of productivity lost.
    • Keep a journal to discover your most productive activities and times of day. Ever notice how some days are more productive than others? And how you seem to be most industrious in some environments (more than others)? Write down where you are, what times you’re there and what you’ve accomplished every day. Look for positive production patterns and repeat them.
    • Follow the 80/20 rule. Remember that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your work and time investment. Find out what’s most important to your business strategy, couple that with your most productive times, places, and tasks…and come up with your very own unique plan for getting the most done in the least amount of time.
    • Replace to-do lists with an appointment book. Appointment books aren’t just for meetings anymore. Use one to schedule tasks necessary to the implementation of your business strategy, and watch your commitment to, and results of, getting those tasks done improve. Block out times to work exclusively on specific tasks, in order of importance. Eliminate distractions during those blocked times. Assign a desired outcome to every time block / task, so you’re continually striving toward a short-term goal.

    Are you struggling with too many distractions on a daily basis and looking for the most efficient way to manage your attention to tasks…and therefore “manage your time?” Then might I suggest that we schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which you and I will discuss your unique business strategy and how to best execute it? Contact me here to schedule an appointment.

    [1] Priority Management

    [2] Basex

  • 7 Benefits of Delegating

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed.

    In the previous blog, you learned the difference between accountability and responsibility, and now it’s time to learn how you can remain accountable while delegating responsibilities to others.

    Many of you will admit that delegating is difficult. For some, it’s perfectionism or a lack of trust that keeps them from handing over tasks. Others feel that it’s just easier to do it themselves, they don’t want to impose, they enjoy the tasks they’re completing or they just don’t feel they have the time to monitor and follow up on delegated tasks.

    Letting go and trusting that others will complete tasks is a big problem for many business owners. They think that micromanaging is a better, more comfortable solution…but they end up disempowering their staff and generally driving down their businesses.

    The practice of business owners doing the highest value jobs, whilst passing other lower-level tasks to employees (or to managers, who then delegate to employees), is a good business practice that will ultimately result in the following benefits:

    1. You can devote the majority of your time to those tasks most important to building your business, its relationships and its reach.
    2. Employees get opportunities to grow and to feel empowered with responsibility.
    3. Employees feel challenged and proud of what they’ve accomplished, meaning they will be champions for your business—at work and on their own time.
    4. You are not highly skilled in every task. Chances are that someone else within your organisation is better at a lower-level task than you are.
    5. There’s no better or more efficient way to get things done than to delegate tasks to those people who are best equipped to complete them.
    6. Something that feels tedious to you will feed someone else’s passion.
    7. Developing your delegation skills (and overcoming your fear of it) is a valuable skill that will help you to advance your career.

    Even with all of these benefits in mind, it can still be difficult to get started in learning to delegate. Many leaders choose to bypass the acquisition of this valuable skill—and unfortunately, their businesses suffer.

    A survey has found that 46% of companies have a high level of concern for their employees’ delegation skills. However, only 28% of them offer training to develop those skills[1].

    It rarely works well for the same person to be both accountable and responsible for any task or project. For this reason, delegation of duties is crucial to success. But as you can see in the above stat, there isn’t a lot of support for developing those skills.

    So, what can you do to get started? The first step is recognising that everybody in an organisation should be doing tasks that are their highest value.  What tasks/roles do you have that add the highest value? Focus on freeing up your time to do more of these higher value tasks and hand down everything else.  Specifically delegate those tasks that are:

    • repetitive
    • a complete task, rather than part of a bigger task
    • of interest to an employee
    • within an employee’s specific skillset
    • important for building an employee’s skillset
    • outside your own skillset
    • of low importance
    • not urgent (yet!)

    After you have identified tasks that would work well for delegation, follow these guidelines when communicating the tasks to your employee(s):

    • Give a clear explanation of what the job entails.
    • Stipulate what you expect the employee to learn by completing the task.
    • Ensure that the employee knows where to go for help or support.
    • Clearly communicate what you expect as an end result, but leave the method up to the employee.
    • Ensure that the employee knows who is accountable for the task (i.e. who should be reported to).
    • Invite questions and opinions.
    • Agree on a plan of action for moving forward (due date, etc.).
    • Articulate your confidence in this person.
    • Monitor their progress, particularly the first few times they complete this type of task.
    • Give feedback and recognise the employee for a job well-done.
    • Remember to reward the completion of tasks, over time, with benefits, raises in pay, promotions, etc.

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed. You may not realise it, but many of your employees are just waiting to be given more responsibility—because that is an indicator of your trust in them. Learn to trust your staff and to delegate and you will be surprised at the level of talent already in your business waiting to be discovered. By learning to delegate you are developing your staff by helping them to grow and increase the highest value tasks that they can do in an organisation.  If everyone spends most of their time doing their highest value tasks your business will grow rapidly.

    Need some guidance as you break through your fear of delegation? Or are you wondering if your current delegation plan is the most effective and efficient it can be? Let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation. We’ll discuss how you can use delegation to fuel your business’s success. Contact me here.

    [1] Institute for Corporate Productivity

  • Failure. Who’s to blame?

    blame

    Turn on any news programme and you’re likely to hear a story about a corporate scandal, political faux pas, horrible accident…and a CEO talking about being responsible, or accountable—or both.

    Here’s the thing: in business and life, there is rarely a situation in which the same person is both responsible and accountable for “what went down.”

    The difference is:

    Accountable: One person is answerable for a project’s success or failure. This accountable person must be capable of giving a complete account of what happened (and how and why). The accountable person reports and monitors tasks as they’re being carried out; however, the completion of those tasks is rarely within this person’s direct power. The accountable person’s main assignments are managing, tracking, and monitoring progress.

    Responsible: A person is charged with completing a task, directly. The person is totally in charge of (responsible for) the task’s success or failure. This person takes hands-on action, and the task’s completion is within his or her direct power. The responsible person generally reports to, and works for, the accountable person.

    In most cases, when a task or project fails, one person is publically accountable for its failure—but is rarely directly responsible for that failure.

    When Donald Trump (U.S. Presidential Candidate) was found to be giving away hats made in China (despite the fact that his campaign touts bringing jobs back to the U.S. from China), he was held accountable for the faux pas—even though he was not responsible for ordering those hats. (He may have been just as surprised as the public to see those tags.) Mr. Trump, because of his position, was required to take accountability for that campaign failure. He was not, however, required to be responsible for it.

    We exist in a business (and life) culture centred on placing blame. When something goes right, we want to take credit. When something goes wrong, finger-pointing ensues. I believe this culture has contributed to a lot of the confusion surrounding accountability and responsibility. And this confusion has, in turn, contributed to an overall lack of accountability.

    However, if we were to increase our knowledge around these concepts, we might be more inclined to put them to work. Consider this:

    The probability of reaching a goal is 95% when a specific accountability appointment is made[1].

    In other words, if someone is made explicitly accountable, a project is more likely to be completed—regardless of whether or not that person is responsible for its completion.

    It can help to remember that, generally, managers are accountable and workers are responsible. This doesn’t mean that managers are never responsible—they often have their own tasks outside the projects they’re accountable for.

    Every task must have an accountable party and at least one responsible party assigned to it. In order to keep projects and tasks on-schedule (to properly carry out the business plan), many business owners and managers have turned to the RACI matrix—a method for organising and tracking the completion of tasks. Here’s how it works:

    • R (Responsible): the worker, the person in charge of completing the task
    • A (Accountable): the manager, the person in charge of managing and tracking progress
    • C (Consult): the person whose consultation is necessary for completing the task (2-way communication before the task can be completed)
    • I (Inform): the person who is informed when the task is completed (1-way communication that may result in their starting of another task)

    In order to create your own RACI matrix, simply list tasks down the left side, people involved along the top, and assign each cell with one A, at least one R, and Cs and Is as necessary. Here’s an example:

    Project ABC

    John Blair Sandy Rob Jenny William
    Interview A R

    I

         

    Case Study

    A I R

    C

       
    Press Release

    A

    R

    C

         
    Campaign A C     R

    R

     

    • John is accountable for the ultimate completion of Project ABC. He must oversee all tasks and monitor them to ensure they’re being completed.
    • Blair will conduct the interview, and he will inform Sandy when it’s finished so she can proceed with the research and writing of the case study.
    • Sandy will consult with Rob for the case study, and will inform Blair as soon as it’s done so he can start on the press release.
    • Blair will consult with Sandy about the case study, so he can write a thorough press release.
    • Jenny and William will consult with Blair in order to create a marketing campaign.

    It’s always helpful to share the RACI matrix with all involved before any project is started, to ensure that everyone understands their role(s). This will promote a smooth workflow, will cut down on the “passing of the buck,” and will help to ensure that clear, defined action is taken in order to fulfil the business plan.

    Are you wondering how a better understanding of the difference between accountable and responsible can help you to get things done, in pursuit of business success? Then I invite you to schedule a 30-minute consultation with me. Let’s talk about your business plan, and how implementing it with purpose and efficiency can contribute to your ultimate success. Contact me here.

    [1] American Society of Training and Development

  • Movie magic in the meeting room – get the popcorn out!

    35

    Business meetings have gotten a bad rep. Not all of them are pointless, but when you consider just how many are, it can be difficult to give the good ones any credit.

    In the U.S. alone, 11 million business meetings are conducted each day, and it is estimated that $37 billion is squandered every year on unnecessary meetings[1].

    So why all the senseless meetings? Why all the waste of time and money? My guess is habit and protocol. For millions of years, people have been coming together to solve problems—and at one time, when the ‘coming together’ was necessary to life and limb, they worked. There was a noted reason for the meeting. A problem had to be solved, or people would perish. As centuries and centuries have passed, the meeting has become less about solving problems and more about coming together just to say ‘we talked about the problem.’

    Action is no longer at the core of business meetings. The meeting has become the core of the meeting.

    How can you make your business meetings more productive?

    Think of it this way: We all love a good movie. We seem to learn more from a movie than we do from most business meetings, and yet the meeting is obligatory and the movie is for entertainment purposes. That just doesn’t seem right, does it?

    What if you could make your business meetings more like an engaging and entertaining movie? Do you think more people would actively participate and remain focused? Do you think more people would learn and go away inspired to make changes and achieve goals?

    So why not fashion your business meetings after movies? Here are a few things you can do to make this happen:

    • Schedule only necessary meetings. No one goes to see the same movie 52 times. So why would you hold the same, useless meeting every week of the year? Start by decreasing the frequency or the duration of these regularly scheduled meetings. Then, move onto scheduling meetings only when necessary.
    • Create a hook for each meeting. When every business meeting is announced, stir up anticipation by hinting that there’s something important to discuss, or that there’s something exciting to announce. You can be vague or specific—the choice is yours. The suspense will get people’s attention, even before the meeting starts.
    • Know your ending. At the beginning of every meeting, state the purpose of the meeting, along with what you intend to accomplish. This will keep attendees focused and motivated to achieve stated goals, and you will remain driven in a particular direction, with one specific goal in mind.
    • Stick to the plot. Make every attempt to stay true to the plot you’ve created for your meeting, and avoid going down rabbit trails. In order to accomplish this, manage the discussion to ensure that it always relates to the meeting’s goal. Getting sidetracked not only meddles with your meeting’s purpose, it eats up valuable time that you could be using to accomplish great things.
    • Choose a narrow cast of characters. Choose attendees in accordance with the purpose of the meeting. Not everyone needs to be involved in every meeting, and when you limit attendance to a need-to-know basis, individuals will feel more responsible for the outcome of what is discussed.
    • Encourage conflict. Every good movie has conflict and resolution…and learning by all involved is a predictable result. When a disagreement or difference in opinion arises, do not discourage it. Instead, ask attendees to weigh in on both sides so the full spectrum is represented. This is how change and forward movement happen.
    • Create a sense of urgency. Like an action flick, every meeting should generate a level of excitement that motivates people to move forward and enact the change that’s been talked about. Positive outcomes should be discussed, so everyone has a clear idea of what completing their tasks will do for themselves and for the organization. Make it clear that the sooner these tasks are completed, the sooner good things will happen.
    • By the end of the meeting, have a sequel in the works. People should not leave the meeting without a clear set of tasks to accomplish before the next meeting. Its purpose is to facilitate action, and therefore change. This can only happen if everyone understands his or her role and the importance of completing their assignments by a set deadline.

    Ideally, every meeting should be unique in that it won’t need to accomplish exactly the same thing as the meeting before it. If you’re hosting reruns, then something needs to change. One meeting should be titillating enough to spark action.

    Are you tired of serial business meetings that are simply perfunctory, with no real purpose? Are you wondering how you can make them more interesting, more productive…something that people look forward to and that feels like a wise investment of time? I encourage you to put the above tips to work, and then schedule a 30-minute consultation with me to take your business meetings to the next level. I think you’ll be thrilled at what a few changes can do to advance your business strategy.

    [1] http://meetingking.com/37-billion-per-year-unnecessary-meetings-share/

  • Stop Being a Procrastinator and Get It Done!

    Picture1

    Now that you’ve begun to take action on your business plan—to bridge the gap between vision and reality—you may have discovered that getting it all done can be a challenge. Maybe you’re missing deadlines, or you’re leaving crucial things undone.

    You’re not alone.

    The average human spends 20% of the workday completing business-crucial tasks, and 80% of the workday on things of little or no value to the success of a business strategy[1].

    And considering that you’re a business owner, it’s likely that your business-related tasks are NOT reserved for the standard “workday.”

    If your habits fall within the above-mentioned statistic, and you’re having trouble getting everything that’s necessary to the execution of your business strategy done, then you can see the problem:

    Attention is being paid, in large part, to all the wrong tasks.

    Human nature dictates that we feel compelled to complete what’s easiest or mundane first, to “get it out of the way,” in some sort of bogus “preparation” for the tasks we know are most fundamentally important. And to go along with that, we tend to put off what we see as difficult, new or scary…and those are typically the tasks crucial to the success of business strategies.

    How can you save your business strategy from falling victim to this type of detrimental behaviour? You can follow these tips for prioritisation and time management. Soon, you’ll see that things start getting done. Then, you’ll see your business strategy begin to blossom, as it is implemented. And finally, your new “get it done” mindset will become your new default…your new way of doing, and succeeding in, business.

    And here’s that list:

    • When you first start to implement your business strategy, everything seems like a priority. You may tend to be of the mindset that everything needs to be done now, and so you either start at the top of the list or you knock out the easiest tasks first (so the list looks smaller, quickly). This is a mistake. Instead, list all of the tasks ahead of you and prioritise them. In order to do this, take things like due/promise dates and incompletion consequences into consideration. Think about the short-term and long-term ramifications of not completing a task or only partially completing it. Consider the profit impact of any incomplete task. Put those tasks that, when completed, will offer the greatest value to the success of your business strategy at the TOP OF THE LIST, to be completed first.
    • Plan, plan, plan. It has been suggested that for every hour spent planning, four hours of scrambling is saved. If you’ve ever executed something after careful planning, and remember how smoothly it went, you’ll have no trouble believing this notion. Just the process of planning, itself is valuable to your overall view of any strategy. As you plan (i.e. organise tasks into a turn-by-turn scheme), priorities will surface and creative ideas for completing those tasks will, too.
    • Avoid becoming bound by details. Too often, perfectionism will not only cause a task to be completed outside of a deadline; that perfectionism will take precedence over the true purpose of the task. Get started. Get it done. The polish will come.
    • Stay flexible, remembering that the priorities you set will change from day-to-day and sometimes from hour-to-hour. If an urgent task presents itself (e.g. a proposal to attain a new account), be prepared to shift everything so that it can take precedence. Prepare your mind for this to happen; then, when something comes up, your overall plan won’t seem thoroughly disrupted. You will feel more in-control.
    • Sometimes, in order to get everything done, you simply must delegate. This could mean handing the really important tasks over to a professional who is better suited to completing them than you are. It might mean appointing someone (like a personal assistant) to complete the more mundane tasks. Whatever it is, use the skill sets at your disposal to get the most important things done first—and well.
    • Eliminate procrastination as an option. One thing put to the side may seem inconsequential; but what if one thing is put to the side every day? In just one month, that’s about 30 things you’ll have to do—and how much profit will you lose when they go undone? How much stress will you experience, thinking about how you’ll get it all done? Keep your desk and your mind uncluttered. Make a plan (either for the immediate future or the near future) to complete every task that you’re presented with, and stick to that plan. Your business strategy will thank you, with clean, uncluttered and focussed execution.
    • Identify time sucks and compartmentalise them. Time sucks are those things that may take only a few minutes at a time throughout the day, but that continually interrupt your forward movement in getting things done. This could be checking email, social media, small-talk or answering the phone. Notice I wrote “compartmentalise” above, rather than “eliminate.” You still have to answer the phone, check email and keep up-to-date with your social media pages. However, if you assign a time during the day for each, where you dedicate your complete attention to that task, then it will take less time overall and you’ll complete more of the important tasks in your business strategy. It’s okay to use a Do Not Disturb sign, to silence your phone or to turn off social media and email notifications. Your business strategy will thank you.
    • Cut out useless meetings. The business meeting has become something rather perfunctory, rather than something necessary to moving forward. Reserve meetings for time when real problems need to be solved, and when business strategy implementation will actually benefit. Avoid regularly scheduled meetings where new business is little more than a revisit of old business.

    This should get you started with prioritising and time management. However, there is so much more to talk about, especially when it comes to your specific business strategy and the tasks involved with implementing it. Why not schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me? Let’s talk about it.

     

     

    [1] Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, founder of the Productivity Institute

  • From Vision to Reality, with ACTION

    Business-Vision

    Search for advice on how to write a business strategy, and the results are overwhelming.

    Look for advice on how to take action, how to implement that strategy…and the results are as disheartening as hearing that 87% of businesses fail to execute their business strategies[1].

    This number is shocking, particularly when you consider how much effort is put into writing a business strategy…and how exciting the big ideas created there can be.

    But it’s not as shocking as this number:

    For every $1 billion spent on business strategy development, $109 million is wasted through failure to execute[2].

    Where does the excitement go?

    Why aren’t businesses converting that energy into action?

    Even among companies that don’t fail—companies that are considered to be “high performance companies,”—33% report delay in action, 34% fail to consistently address a lack of action, and 11% tolerate inaction on a long-term basis[3].

    And to repeat: they are the ones doing well. If your business could bring down those percentages for itself, just think how much you could accomplish.

    How can you do that? How can you create a culture of action among your team members, so that all of the great energy built into your business strategy gets translated to ACTION that increases efficiency and profits?

    Here is a bit of advice for taking the action necessary for implementing your business strategy:

    • View ACTION as a necessity, not as an option. There is only one thing that can bridge the gap between vision and reality, and that thing is targeted action that is aligned with the SMART goals you have set forth in your business strategy. Begin to view action in this way, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or to avoid it altogether.
    • See ACTION as more important than your business strategy. Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it: Isn’t a mediocre business strategy that is implemented more valuable than a brilliant business strategy that is not implemented? Just imagine the results you can experience when you implement a brilliant plan.
    • Stop putting perfection before ACTION. All too often, business owners adopt the belief that all operations, all products, all communications…must be 100% perfect before taking any action. They submerge themselves in self-help, in mentoring, in book-reading, and the procurement of mentoring before taking any action. This thinking generally means that no action will be taken, because nothing is ever perfect. Remember that adjustments can be made whilst marketing, whilst making connections, whilst building relationships…without wasting precious time.

    Perfect = Poverty!

    • Stop using the “I’m too busy” excuse. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of running (or starting up) a business. And sometimes this becomes so consuming that you’ll put it before executing your business strategy, thinking that you must complete those routine tasks in order to keep your business afloat. Always remember this: Without taking action, you won’t be busy for long. Your business will be non-existent. Ask yourself exactly how vital those daily and weekly tasks are. If they are indispensable, hire someone to cover them.
    • Act in the present. Do not dwell on what you should have done yesterday or last month. Do not think about what you will do next week. Instead, be very blunt with yourself about what you can accomplish now, in this moment. No matter if it’s making a phone call, writing an article, submitting a proposal, refocussing a team member…do it now.
    • Understand that ideas—and motivations—go stale. Remember that intense excitement you felt when you came up with your very first business idea? Well, maybe you don’t. You see, immediate action is necessary not just for getting things done, but for motivational and inspirational purposes, too. Every day that an idea sits in your mind without implementation equals a proportionate drop in interest. Before you know it, your brilliant idea doesn’t seem so brilliant any more. Motivation is gone. And you’re on to looking for alternate ideas that are, in all honesty, less likely to be as brilliant as your first. For these reasons, I recommend taking action immediately after your business strategy is written, so that ideas and excitement are fresh, and no opportunity dies in the bread drawer.
    • See ACTION as a competitive advantage. It’s easy to sit and think about what the competition might be doing right now, or wondering how you can match or out-do their actions. It takes courage, however, to focus less on what they’re doing and just do what you do best. Take that step, and believe that you are outdoing your competition with every decision to take action NOW…because statistics say they might not be doing that.
    • ACTION begets ACTION. Once you take action, you may find it difficult to stop taking action. The satisfaction (dopamine rush) you experience from accomplishing something you’ve envisioned is so powerful that you’ll go out of your way to look for more business-enhancing action. This is the only uphill path that will be as easy as a downhill one. It’s the road to success through action, and the more you get, the more you’ll want.
    • Disprove your own self-doubt. Fear and self-doubt are huge players in the condition of inactivity. The voice in your head will tell you, “That won’t work,” “You can’t do that,” “You’re wasting your time,” and more. Make it your objective to prove that voice wrong. Do this enough, and it will disappear completely, slinking into a corner and rarely coming out…as long as you remain active in your business strategy implementation.

    These are just a few pieces of advice you can use as motivation to take action—to take your business strategy from vision to reality. Understand, at all times, that without ACTION, your business strategy is useless. It will do nothing for you or your business. Without execution, the creation of your strategy was a waste of time and resources.

    Are you ready to take action? Are you clear on what actions to take? Contact me for a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll talk about your next move, and the motivation to get it done.

    [1] http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/thirteener.htm

    [2] https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/PMI_Pulse_2014.ashx

    [3] Harvard Business Review, March 2015, Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, Charles Sull

  • Are We Facing a Crisis in Leadership?

    inspiration_article

    A survey by the World Economic Forum of 1,767 world leaders and experts in 2015 found that 86% of the respondents agreed that the world faced a “leadership crisis” and that a lack of leadership was the third most pressing global issue  behind deepening income inequality and persistent jobless growth, and ahead of such challenges as the weakening of democracy, rising pollution, and intensifying nationalism.

    Are we really facing a leadership crisis though?  There are plenty of people in the world who are leading others – in business and in other organisations. Training and leadership development has been a huge growth industry and in 2014 companies worldwide spent USD 45 Billion on developing leaders.

    So what is at the heart of this sense of a leadership crisis and what do we need to do to correct it?

    I believe that the way that we think of leaders needs to change.  Old stereotypes of leadership: positions of authority, asserting power over others, usually male – don’t fit so well in a world where the skills required to lead well are more suited to collaboration, connecting, communicating, planning for the long term, keeping the common interest in mind and empowering others.

    One area in which to examine the impact of the so-called crisis in leadership is in the global workforce. A January 2016 Gallup report stated that in a Worldwide study, only 13% of employees working for an organisation are engaged.  In the UK and the USA the figure is higher at around one third but that is still two thirds of employees who are disengaged at work.   Employees are disengaged at work for many reasons but one of the key factors is that people are not being led effectively.

    So whilst billions of dollars are being spent annually on leadership training across the world this is not having the desired effect in the workplace or community.  It would seem that training in the class room is not focused on embedding the right skills required in reality.  Leadership training is focused on developing leadership skills and styles but misses the focus on what leaders are called to pursue, why, and who benefits. Leaders are not leading with passion, purpose and persuasion – three keys to leadership.

    If you think about who you consider as great global leaders now and in the past, they all lead with passion.   You cannot lead effectively unless you love what you do and are charged up about the key aspects of your role.  If you are leading with passion you are motivated to succeed and this enthusiasm and drive for success rubs off on others.

    Passion alone though this not enough.  Creating a clear vision and direction in the form of a plan, are essential components of being a good leader. Creating a sense of purpose for employees and understanding why you are doing this and who will benefit, will help to engage their hearts and encourage them to go above and beyond at work. Work becomes less about meeting basic needs (income) and more about higher needs, such as: feeling fulfilled, collaborating, making connections and making a difference to others.

    By feeling a greater sense of purpose and personal growth in our work we become more engaged, perform better and earn higher incomes. In return, as we earn more this then allows us to worry less about our basic needs as these are being met and gives us more energy to focus even more on personal growth and meaningful contributions.

    If passion and purpose inspire and engage, it is the ability of good leaders to persuade that encourages people to take action.   Being a good leader is less about having great leadership skills and more about being able to persuade others to take action towards achieving a common purpose or aim. To effectively persuade others to take the right actions you need to engage and find out what motivates them as individuals or as a group. As a good leader you can then set goals with individuals or a team, give them authority to take actions, measure how they are doing and celebrate their success.

    It is by encouraging people to take the right actions towards a common purpose that more leaders will be moulded across all different levels, global issues will be resolved and great companies will be created.

    Are you leading with passion, purpose and persuasion?  Could your staff be more engaged in your company?  Is it time to change the paradigm in your company about what defines good leadership?

    Become part of the solution to the crisis in leadership and lead from the heart.  To find out more about how to impact your ability to lead or that of your senior management team contact me to discuss your company leadership requirements.