• 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)

  • 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

  • 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.