Are you open to feedback - from your team, from clients, from those nearest and dearest to you?
Do you recognise that you don’t have all the answers? That you don’t always get things right? That, just like your team, you can learn something new, and improve your performance, every single day?
I know that when I was a fresh-faced young manager, back in the day, I didn’t get it at all. I felt I had to be right all of the time - I believed I was right most of the time - and I didn’t take feedback well. My mindset around feedback was all wrong.
The truth is that feedback is a gift.
It may not always be packaged well - not everyone has learned about the difference between negative and constructive feedback - but it’s always a gift, because it gives you choices...
What I learned about myself in relation to feedback, was that while I didn’t always receive it well initially, I would always go away and think about it. I’d reflect on what was said, I’d analyse how valid it was, and I’d make a decision to act on it, or not, based on a thorough examination of the facts.
If you recognise that the feedback given to you is valid, great. Accept the feedback and adjust your behaviour to benefit from it.
If you’ve been given feedback that you really disagree with, go back to the person who gave it and talk it through - explain your thinking, your alternative view, because the truth is those of us who give feedback are not always right either. Sometimes we give feedback based on limited information for example, so it's important to create a culture where somebody can challenge us, can challenge our feedback and say, ‘Thanks for your feedback. I've really thought about what you said, and I'd just like to take you through what I've learned - I think it might change your opinion.’
When you've developed that sort of relationship with your people - where you’re able to challenge one another constructively - that's when great things will start to happen in your team.
Feedback opens new doors, it starts discussion, it adjusts mindsets, and it brings about positive change. Your desire to master and continuously improve your ability to give and receive feedback, will have a huge impact on your success as a leader.
Thanks for reading.
‘To work successfully with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.’ - Sir Richard Branson
Trust has never been such a valuable commodity. With the over night jump in people working remotely, many business owners who have fought against the whole notion of ‘working from home’ for years, believing that their people could never be as productive in their own homes - that they couldn’t be trusted not to spend hours watching Netflix - now have no choice but to trust their team to get things done.
We’re all in different situations right now, facing our own individual challenges, and coping in our own way, but spare a thought for the business owner who is used to micromanaging their people. The boss who’s always looking over a shoulder, who keeps people in the dark, who doesn’t give them the development they need to work independently, who has never learned to trust.
Just imagine what they are going through right now, having never invested in the systems or team training necessary for a team to work without support or supervision, with any level of success.
Now imagine what it’s like for the employee in this business, having got so used to being spoon-fed and micro-managed - from a work point of view they must feel completely alone.
Any business owner who has always judged performance by how long people stay at their desks and how busy they seem, will be at a complete loss right now, being forced to judge performance by results, by productivity and by achievement.
They are going to have to learn to trust, and quickly.
Those people with high-performing, independent teams who have systems and follow them, will have found it much easier to adapt to our new normal. The foundations will already be in place - the nuts and bolts of their operation - which will make dealing with new products, new ways of working or a whole new customer journey, so much easier.
The independent team, where each member has ownership of their role, will have freed the business owner to concentrate on leading, on adapting their strategy, on looking after their cashflow - trusting...knowing...that their team will perform.
Trust is vital in a crisis. Trust between you and your team. Trust between your business and your customers.
But where does trust come from?
Trust in your team starts way back when you hire them. Do they share your values? Care about the same things that you do? Buy into the purpose of your business and your vision for where it’s going?
With the right people in place, their trust in you builds as you train them, as you give them the systems and resources they need to do the job well, as you give them constructive feedback that helps them to grow and develop as people.
When you’re consistent in doing what you say you’ll do, their trust in you grows.
Your trust in your team builds as they follow your systems, get things right first time, show that they care about doing their job well and focus on continuous improvement.
When they’re consistent in doing what you’ve trained them to do, your trust in them grows.
Trust between your business and your customers builds as they enjoy a consistent experience day to day, week to week, month after month. When they can rely on your operational excellence - on getting the same great service and product quality no matter which team member serves them. When the values of your business are clear, and don’t waiver however difficult things become. When they know that you have their back, that you care, and that you value them.
When your business is consistent in all things, your customers’ trust in you grows.
Trust energises individuals, encouraging them to use their skills and gifts, and fulfil their potential. Trust builds highly engaged, high performing teams, which achieve amazing results.
Trust creates the customer loyalty, which can see a business through tough times and deliver long-term success.
To trust and be trusted is a powerful thing.
Have you decided what your goal is for lockdown? Do something transformational in these precious weeks and months, and reap the benefits for years to come.
I’m sure that for many of us the lockdown period has been a chance to rethink what’s really important, and to reset our goals for the weeks and months of enforced isolation; to decide what we want to have achieved and what position we want to be in when the lockdown is over.
Maybe you’ve decided to focus on your children - keeping them entertained - using this time to build a wonderfully close relationship with them.
Maybe you’ve decided to focus on your house - doing the work on it that you've been promising to do fo-rev-er!
Maybe you’re focused on learning a new skill - you've been dying to learn Italian, or play the guitar or cook, or master ‘Fortnite'!
Maybe you're using this time to master an area of your business - your marketing strategy, your product development, or maybe even... your systems!
Whatever you've decided - good for you! But let me ask you this -
“Why have you never focused on this before?”
If it suddenly seems like the best way to spend these precious weeks, what stopped you from getting aboard your chosen goal last month, or last year, or 3 years ago? What have the blocks been that seemed insurmountable, but somehow don't seem to be in the way now?
We all have 4 usual suspects when it comes to blocks to us getting stuff done.
The First Block we throw up is time - we don't have time, we haven't had time, there's just never enough time!
The Second Block is overwhelm or overload - there is just so much on our plate, so many things that only we can do, so much ‘busyness’, that we simply haven't been able to see the wood for the trees, prioritise effectively, and focus on our one thing.
The Third Block is the lack of a clear strategy - we've never known where to start, how to break our goal down into achievable steps and stages, how to know what ‘good ‘looks like.
And then of course there's the real biggie…
The Fourth Block and the main reason why we've probably never achieved this goal before...we haven't had a big enough Why!
Whatever this goal is that we've set ourselves for the lockdown period - it simply hasn't ever been important enough for us to set aside focused time to achieve it. There's not been a good enough reason to do it, we've not felt passionately enough about it to throw the necessary energy and focus at it, there have always been more important things to do.
Systemising your business is a good example of this. You may have decided to finally get your systems foundations in place, to crisis-proof your business, and achieve that consistency in your operation that removes you from it, day to day. That would be a great use of lockdown. It's something that you've known is important for some time, you absolutely get that it's important, but you've never quite given it the focus to get it done.
So here's the big question...what's changed?
In the current situation, time probably isn't an obstacle, and while we may occasionally feel overwhelmed and definitely upset by the whole crisis situation, we're probably not feeling overloaded with work. Given the time, we can clearly research who best to speak to or where to look, to develop our clear strategy. Which just leaves our why.
Do you feel passionately enough about your lockdown goal to see it through and get it done?
Are you focused and energised enough about it? Is it definitely, damn well going to happen?
If not, go back and choose something with a bigger why.
Choose something that you're really passionate about, that you'll see major benefits from now and for years to come, that gets you leaping out of bed in the morning to get to work on it, something transformational.
Decide what ‘it’ is - make a plan to achieve it - work your plan until it’s done!
Then when you look back on this lockdown in the future, you'll be happy and proud and grateful for how well you used this precious time.
I hope that you and those close to you are well and that you're staying safe!
Happy Easter and thanks for reading.
What do you want to achieve in the next few months? Have you set your self goals? Are you really focused on what you're going to get done, and how?
Something really struck me this week, and I feel the need to share it with you.
I want to talk about the importance of your personal management system right now, and for the need to protect yourself and your own time - even though it may seem like time is all you have plenty of right now.
One of the things I’ve noticed over the last week, particularly on social media and in the online groups that I’m part of, is the overwhelming amount of support, and offers of help, in posts, and Facebook lives and videos. There is SO much out there for us all to consume, and get our heads round and work out what it means for us and our businesses - how it can help us.
Of course we’re also all reciprocating by sharing our own offers of support and help, engaging with posts and watching videos - making sure that we won’t miss out on something that may help us through this unique situation we find ourselves in.
And as a result of all of this activity, there’s a very real chance that we will find ourselves at the end of this crisis, not having moved forward because we are so overwhelmed by the mountain of content, and like headless chickens, trying to keep up with everything that’s out there and trying to take too much of it in at once.
So I want you to pause, and to breathe, and to really think about what goals you want to set yourself for the next three months. What position do you want to be in at the end of the next three months, and what does that mean in terms of a concrete plan?
Is there one part of your business that you’ve always wanted to master? Something that you’ve dabbled in, but never really given it the focused effort it needs for you to really get to grips with it?
Maybe it’s your sales and marketing system - your CRM perhaps. Maybe it’s your accounting software. Maybe you’ve always wanted your own podcast, but never had time to get into it. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to achieve consistency in your business, but systems have always seemed like a dark art to you.
What is it that you want to achieve, personally? Is there a new skill that you want to master? Is there something that you want to do for your business that you’ve never had time for but you really want to grab this opportunity to get it done?
Get really clear about what that is. Take a break from social media, have a social media holiday, maybe even for a week, while you work out what it is that you want to achieve, and what help you need to achieve it.
Say you decided you want to set up a podcast and launch it with 7 interviews under your belt. When you come back onto social media, that’s what you then focus on - getting the help you need to achieve this goal. So you’ll listen to other people’s podcasts, you’ll offer to be a guest on a relevant podcast so you learn how other people set up their interviews, you’ll watch you tube videos showing how to set up your tech and where to post.
Focused, goal driven, time well spent.
Obviously I’m going to say that this time we have is perfect for working on the systems in your business - from your customer experience system to your team development system, from your rhythm building system to the personal management system we’re talking about right now - you’ll never have this sort of time again to work on your business rather than in it. And you know exactly where to get help for that! :)
We needs to look after ourselves right now, and this is very much part of that - protecting your own headspace. Remember that multi-tasking is a lie. You can only focus effectively on one thing at a time. So what are you going to focus on for the next week? Or maybe for the whole of April?
What is it that you’re going to achieve in April? Set yourself that as a goal, work out the tasks that will make sure that you achieve it, and then go ask for the help that you need to make it happen.
This is such a fantastic opportunity to work on yourself, to work on your business, to work on your skills. Don’t miss out by being unfocused. Take time to pause, to breathe, to decide what you're going to focus on, then switch off all the other noise, and focus on that one thing until it's done.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)