I can remember attending a creative thinking workshop once. Not only did it not get my creative juices flowing, but the few I had, shrivelled up and died!
It was presented and run in traditional, death by powerpoint; slides without images or colour, just bullet points of what was being said. No interaction, no audience participation, no energising fun session. It definitely didn’t do what it said on the tin. Very much, “Do as I say, rather than do as I do.”
Conversely I know someone who used to get new recruits at induction standing on chairs supported by colleagues. Demonstrating things she wanted from them going forward - ‘seeing things from a different angle’ and ‘team work’. Her session was often followed by health and safety; she always hoped the presenters didn’t turn up early and catch her!
What you do and how you behave will always either reinforce or contradict what you say. As a leader, manager, business owner you’re always ‘in uniform’ as it were. I don’t mean you have to be starchy but you need to be aware that your actions and words can have consequences, such is your influence. In my book, the amount of influence we have, just by personal example alone, is often under-estimated, after all, ‘it’s only me’.
Now back to the creative thinking workshop you may be thinking well, the fallout from that wouldn’t be great. The worst consequence may be the waste of money and people no further forward, but there can be far reaching consequences of a mere throw-away remark….
If you’re my age you’ll remember the story of successful high street jeweller Gerald Ratner. For those who don’t, he made a throw away remark about one of his products being ‘total crap’ and his business fell off the edge of a cliff.
Our team will pick up on how we behave:
all send a clear message to our team that this is acceptable and sets the tone for our business.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
It’s important that we understand and model the behaviours that we want to see in our team, and cut out those we don’t, because the way we behave will influence the way our team behaves.
Our values must come first, and demonstrating those values everyday will build our culture. More of that next week.
Do one thing: think back over the last week, have your words and actions had a positive impact on your team?
Thanks for reading.
As featured here in HRD Connect
2020 will be a big year for new beginnings. How can leaders ensure their best people stay put?
A new decade can be a catalyst to kick-start your own journey to accomplish your life goals.
Members of your team who dream to be somewhere else and start their own business, move to the seaside or whatever they aspire to may well be more likely to up sticks this year, however those that do were never fully invested in your business anyway.
So, my question to you is, is the culture of your business a nurturing and positive culture, or is it stagnant and negative?
Do your team have a clear career progression plan, or do they drift along in the day-to-day seemingly ‘stuck’ in their job for life or until they leave? If it’s the later then worrying about the high turnover of your workforce increasing dramatically this year may be valid. If you have a low staff turnover and a happy team, you’re probably on the right track in terms of your business culture.
The real question here is: How do you improve your business culture?
If you want a culture of ownership and accountability, a positive and engaged workforce and lower staff turnover, ask yourself:
Hiring the right people
The ‘right’ people are those who share your values; who get what you are trying to achieve with your business; who see your vision and are inspired by it.
It’s important to immerse every new team member in your culture from day one. Tell them stories that demonstrate how people take ownership in your business, and how you empower and encourage everyone to make decisions and be accountable.
Show what your culture is through your actions: arriving on time, everyone greeting the new starter warmly, explaining your ‘rules of the game’ to them, and demonstrating your personal values through everything you say and do.
Engaging your people
A strong business culture relies on the whole team buying into it. If you’ve taken your time in hiring the right people you will have no problem in engaging them in your vision and goals for the business, and in your culture.
You have the right people, so involve them in finding solutions to problems, planning for the future, setting their own targets. If your current team is far from engaged, call a meeting and share your vision, help them to understand what they’re a part of and why they’re each so important. This isn’t an overnight thing, so keep sharing wins and positivity. Say thank you.
Develop simple, logical and repeatable systems, and train your team to follow them.
Help them to understand why consistency is so important. Make sure that they understand not only what is expected of them, but the high standard you expect them to perform to. Give them all of the information they need to do the job on their own, and then get out of their way and let them get on with it!
Monitoring and measuring performance
Engaging with great people is easy. But on occasion, you will get your hiring all wrong, and you’ll take on someone who just doesn’t fit your culture, your values or the ethos of your business and they will have to go. It may be that 2020 will be the catalyst for this anyway.
It’s always good to give people a second chance, and I’m personally very big on forgiveness, but when a second chance has been wasted, make sure that you have the performance management system in place to manage them out of the business if needs be.
The negative impact of someone who doesn’t fit is simply too great and, in a growing business with a small team, you simply can’t afford the consequences for your customers, your team and ultimately lost revenue and profit.
Have quarterly performance reviews, but at your annual performance review, build the following questions in:
With the members of your team who are the right fit and who are invested in your business and who can see themselves progressing, their answers to these questions will be detailed and show a will to progress up the ladder. They will ask for things from you.
You will also have your loyal ‘steady stayers’ who love their role and don’t wish to progress. This is ok too of course, some people aren’t naturally ambitious. However, still try to work out some sort of target and reward system for these team members and make them feel part of the journey.
Communicate Communicate Communicate
While your business is still growing, you are your business, you are the leader, and people will want to contact you personally – both your customers and the individuals in your team.
How you handle this will say a great deal about you and your business culture.
Communication is vital in any relationship. Your business simply can’t do without open and honest communication through channels that are clear and easy to use. If you want to build a culture of ownership and accountability it’s absolutely essential.
I want to share an interesting conversation I had recently with a control freak. (I use that phrase because I used to be one too!)
Business Owners come to us for help to escape the day-to-day operation of their business, but the truth is that so many find it hard to let go of their role, even the small tasks.
Some believe that they are the only ones that can do a certain task to their exacting standards, and we come across this so often that a large part of our work is changing the mindset of the business owner to let them know that they can trust their team with the right systems in place. They can take a step back to work on growing their business, while it runs smoothly without them, or with only a little input from them.
A particular ‘control freak’ was telling me how he hates to delegate - doesn't trust his employees to do anything without some sort of supervision, because they cock things up, make mistakes, take longer to do the job than he would.
"I check EVERYTHING' he said, 'I don't want my customers to have anything but a perfect service’.
It's the perfect excuse for the control freak - “I’m not doing it for me, I'm doing it for my customers.”
Here's the thing, for those of you who recognise that you may be borderline, if not full-blown freaks, you’re keeping yourself stuck in a rut.
Just like the bindweed in your garden - you know the one with the pretty flower that pretends its trying to make your garden look lovely, while its tentacles set about destroying it? You too are strangling the growth of your people and your business.
You've forgotten that:
You've forgotten that all of the successful people you look up to have built their success on a bucketload of failures, and much bigger failures and mistakes than any of your people might make if you gave them their head.
You want to limit mistakes?
People want to learn and develop, they want to grow - it's much more of a motivator than money. Give them ownership of their job, help them to feel like they belong to something, that you're relying on them to help you build something that you can all be proud of.
I saw this quote on Facebook, and it is oh so true - 'A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust one another.'
Trust your people and build a high performing team, that runs your high performing business.
Get control of your freak. Pull out the bindweed that's stifling your business.
Do one thing: Want to see where you’re at right now? Complete our business effiency test:
Thanks for reading.
One of the questions I always ask my clients is ‘How many of your current team would you re-hire tomorrow if you were given the chance?’ So…how many would you re-hire?
If you say all of them I’ll be delighted for you; that’s only happened to me once since I started asking the question! Most people have at least one person in their business who was never right. You've put up with them for years rather than removing them from the team; knowing that they should never have been hired in the first place - they were never a good fit for you, your team or the business.
So how to avoid this?
I have two golden rules for hiring:
Golden rule No. 1 - Never, hire in a hurry.
Why? Because anything you do in a hurry tends to be botched. You’re rushing to plug a gap; hiring somebody to make up the numbers.
You hire in a hurry, you make mistakes.
Golden rule No. 2 - Always hire to your values; this is key to successful hiring.
Think about why you’re hiring. You're not just hiring a body. You're not looking for someone who's going to clock on, park their brain at the door, and then clock off at the end of the day. You want somebody who is engaged. You want somebody who cares about what you care about - who buys into that goose bump-giving inspiring vision of yours; who has the same values as you.
Which brings me to the main purpose of this week’s blog. If you recognise how important it is to hire to your values but you’ve never really considered what they are….
’Keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise.’
If your vision is your goose-bump-giving, inspiring picture of your future, and your plans are the route map to take you there, then what are your values?
The Dictionary defines values as… ‘principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgement of what is important in life’.
For me, they are the compass that guides every decision, every action, and the way you behave every single day.
We all have values whether we recognise them as such, or not, and our life is much easier when we understand what they are and align our plans, decisions and behaviours with them.
For example, if you value family, but you work 70-hour weeks, you’ll feel internal stress and conflict. If you don't value financial risk, you’re unlikely to start your own business.
Being clear about your values, helps you to make decisions and take actions that are fully aligned with them. When you’re in tune with your values, your gut will reflect them. Go against your gut and you might well be going against your values.
When thinking about what your values are, ask yourself:
Decide what’s important to you and how you’ll demonstrate it in your business, because what you do is a megaphone for what you believe in. You may genuinely believe and therefore say, one thing, but your actions and behaviours may well be saying another.
When writing your values don’t go for catchy slogans, cliches or phrases you got from a book. Think meaningfully about what really matters to you, your core values and then write them as you’d speak them. Surround yourself with people whose values match your own whether recruiting, outsourcing or choosing a supplier.
To grow a successful team, first hire to your core values. I'm not saying hire clones; look for people with diverse perspectives who will add value and have the courage to challenge you. But they must share your fundamental values at heart.
Do one thing: if you haven’t already, establish what your values are (if you have already, re-visit them) and then stand back and look at your business. Does it reflect those values?
Thanks for reading.
"We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.” - Stephen Covey
I was attacked by a wasp the other day. My lovely walk in the country was suddenly interrupted by a severe burning pain in my arm - the little beggar having sunk his stinger into me with no provocation whatsoever.
On my way home, accompanied by what felt like a hundred pixies stabbing my arm with tiny sharp daggers, I pondered on the purpose of a wasp. Wondering if their role in life was simply to cause pain, annoyance and allergic reactions. Why do they exist?
So next day, faced with some serious work to do… I googled, ‘What purpose do wasps serve?’ and was amazed to discover that they actually do serve some purpose as pollinators, though not as efficient as their bee cousins.
To be honest, it kind of ruined the blog I was going to write about the wasps in your business that serve no purpose:
But now I know that the pesky wasp actually does some good, it got me thinking that perhaps we shouldn’t rush to judgement, or take things, particularly people, at face value.
Maybe that person serving at the till had the headache from hell and wasn’t up to smiling.
Maybe that colleague who didn’t return your good morning was too preoccupied with her bulging to do list that she didn’t even hear you. So often we can take things personally when more often than not, people's behaviour is nothing at all to do with us.
Maybe that person you think has struggled since day one, just hasn’t been trained properly, or maybe they would blossom in a different role, or maybe they’ve been doing something quietly, behind the scenes, adding value to your business and just not making a song and dance about it.
Perhaps this person will never be a bee but they make a very effective wasp!
Have you ever employed or worked with anyone like this; someone who you doubted initially who turned out to be a revelation for all the right reasons? (Think of Richard Branson at school and where he is now).
Do one thing: Think about your people and for each of them write down what you believe their main strength to be, then ask them what they think. Finally ask yourself, “Am I playing to and challenging their strengths?” (Okay, that's three things!)
Good luck and thanks for reading :)
P.S. Did you see both the old and young woman in the picture?
Photo Credit: NY Public Library
Any business that wants to anticipate changing circumstances and act with agility needs high-performing, multi-skilled teams. If you consider that, ‘the only constant is change’ then seamless adaptability is key if you’re going to meet challenges head on and continue to give customers the consistency they crave.
Any training that takes place in an organisation has one purpose and that is to take the business forward. Training will mainly be needed:
The question then is ‘how should this training be delivered?’ Should it be focussed on individual team members or on the team as a whole? In my view the nature of the training need will determine the choice of training vehicle. It will usually be a blend of both.
Training the individual
If you have ‘one right way’ to do every task in your business and that one right way is written down (or videoed) as a step by step guide, it provides a solid platform where people can be trained on a variety of tasks. This ability to quickly change between tasks means the business continues without hitch when hit by the unexpected. It runs in a spirit of co-operation to get the job done.
This sort of training will usually be carried out in the workplace on a one-to one-basis and has several benefits:
Training the whole team including their manager has many benefits. As well as the direct benefit of the subject matter (which should be relevant to all and business focussed) there are many indirect benefits:
This is equally important if not more-so for the management team. Training the management team as one unit:
Cross team training is not always used by those larger organisations who like healthy competition between their teams. Keeping small teams in tight units and training them together can build really strong bonds which can have advantages. But personally I prefer co-operation. The downside of the tight knit team comes if it loses sight of being first and foremost part of the business.
If everyone wants what’s best for the business and everyone’s job is customer service then working together in a spirit of co-operation is the way forward. If you want flexible teams with people switching to where they’re needed then you cannot have people protecting their kingdoms. Training as a team, as one business can benefit that culture of learning and co-operation and lead to success.
Do one thing: re-visit your training plan and check:
(Don’t have a training plan? Then take a look at your team and routine tasks; do you have enough people with the skills for an agile business?)
Thanks for reading :)
I read a great quote by Clare Balding the other day about Pep Guardiola. She wrote, “He (Pep) is the manager not just of a team of players but also of backroom staff whom he always values, praises and thanks. He is a leader who makes them all believe the impossible is possible.”
It just got me thinking about how bosses and managers treat their ‘backroom’ team. One of my pet hates over the years is hearing a manager giving someone a task and apologise for it. How does that person then feel? How can they take pride in their job and feel any sort of fulfilment? I’ve seen it in managers who want to be liked or are worried about a possible reaction, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this…’’
Now I’m not suggesting they do a Tarzan swing and ‘big-up’ a simple or repetitive job but rather to explain to people how their role fits in to the bigger picture. You may think cleaning toilets isn’t much of a job. Okay now imagine you work in an office and they’re not cleaned! I know many people who judge an eatery not just by its food and service but also by its toilets. Have you ever come back from the loo and raved about it or returned to your table vowing never to return to the restaurant?
We had a US vice president at McDonald’s who would always make the toilets his first port of call when checking out a restaurant. Not for a call of nature but to make sure they were so clean that he could eat his burger off the toilet floor. (I wonder if he ever did?)
People want to feel that they belong, that they’re valued, that they are part of the business and that they make a difference to its success. I heard a story recently where a school had called a meeting about its future but had just invited teachers to it. Not the facilities people or the grounds team, those people without whom the teaching couldn’t happen. How to quickly make people feel they don’t count!
On the other hand, I know someone who made a point of working late a few times a week to catch the cleaners coming in so she could learn their names, thank them in person and explain the difference they made to the working environment and the business’s success. Yes, these people were employed by an Agency, but she felt they were still part of the team. She would also insist on clear desks and work areas every night explaining that it made it easier for the cleaners and to get her team members to appreciate their work.
An old boss of mine used to love telling the tale of the man he used to pass regularly on his way to work pushing his dustcart round London streets. He was so impressed that this guy was always smiling, acknowledging people as he passed. His cart was decorated and the pride he took in his work oozed from his pores. Imagine if the person giving him that task had been apologetic rather than explaining that the first impression people get of a city is its clean streets.
So going back to Guardiola, I imagine that when he has a team meeting which is about the future, rather than next week’s tactics, he invites the whole team. And what is so great about it is that the extremes in that team would be hard to replicate in most SME’s; famous multi-millionaires and the person who cuts the grass being inspired by the boss about the future of the club.
Do one thing: make time to ask your team members individually how they think their role impacts the business. If they don’t know, then there’s your chance.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
’You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
As business owners, we rightly focus a heck of a lot of attention on our external customers and what we can do to give them a great experience. We can often forget that our people are our customers too, and without them, we can’t provide a great service, or grow a successful business.
We want our team to be full of ‘go-to’ people, leaders and high performers. We want them to support us in our vision, to be loyal to the business, to work hard for us; but what do they want in return?
If you had to choose one thing that has the most positive impact on your team what would it be? ‘Communication?’ ‘Involvement?’ ‘Trust?’ What would you be looking for if you were in their shoes?
Below is a list of the top 20 answers to the question, ‘What makes you feel valued at work?’
Take 5 minutes now to think about how your team would rate your ‘delivery’ in each of these areas, and rate yourself from 1-5 (1=unsatisfactory, 2=needs improvement, 3=satisfactory, 4=good, 5=excellent)
How did you do?
Are there a few there that might get rated ‘needs improvement’ or ‘unsatisfactory’? How would you say that affects your people’s performance or your reputation as an employer?
If you’re unhappy with the results, there is no better time to act than now, because as Walt Disney said,
‘You can dream, create, draw and come up with the best ideas in the world, but you need people to help you turn your dreams into reality.’
Value your people, turn YOUR dreams into reality.
Do one thing: We've created a questionnaire for your team members ready to use and a ‘How to' guide of how to use it (please download below).
If you do use it we'd welcome any feedback about how it went and any improvements we can make.
If you feel on a roll our Business Efficiency Test will give you further insight into how each of the key systems in your business is operating - including your customer experience system - and will give you strategies for improving them in a pdf report. Take the test now, to see how you measure up.
As a business owner you know that a high-performing team is essential for a successful business. But how do you start building a team from the group of individuals who currently work for you with all of their different personalities and egos? Any of these sound familiar?
Of course we’re all different - we all have different strengths and different experience, so what can you do, as the leader, to get all of these people to gel as a team?
Well, you can start by viewing individual personality traits in a positive way, and playing to strengths:
But if you’re serious about building a High Performing Team, then here are my top 10 tips:
‘The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.’ - Phil Jackson
Do one thing: Take a close look at your team, and use our checklist to see how you fare.
And if you or a manager in your business could use some help then check out our MPL ‘Managers' Development Programme.’ Our structured 6-month online programme is aimed at developing the mindset and the skill set of business owners and their managers.
Details and testimonials here:
Thanks for reading.
Business owners, will you be keeping one eye on your e-mails on Christmas Day? According to recent research 1 in 5 of us will be. I can picture it now, a sneaky look at your phone secreted under your Christmas napkin and then all hell breaking loose when you’re spotted!
These stats make for interesting reading:
You could expect these figures for Christmas Day if they were coming from the hospitality industry, and of course retail returns with a bang again with Boxing Day sales, but these are across a wide range of SMEs. So what about other owners? Some will take the ‘down’ time to catch up on paperwork, some to think about the coming year and some may just want the excuse to escape from relatives.
For many though it’s the pressure of having to keep up with work. The ‘one man band’ may not have a choice. Larger businesses work over the festive period perhaps because the owners don’t trust their team and manager(s) to run things without them. It’s said to be the reason why so many businesses in the UK remain in ‘startup’ mode instead of scale-up.
So if you have a team but you still need to supervise and double check their every move, take a moment to think about ‘why?’ And then, what better time with the New Year approaching to think about what you’ll do to change things.
Michael Gerber says in the E-Myth,
“If your business depends on you, then you don’t own a business, you have a job, and it’s the worst job in the world, because you’re working for a lunatic!’’
He’s right, because quite often, as business owners, we are lunatics. We’re control freaks. We’re demanding. Demanding of ourselves. We insist on long hours and hard work, and really, that’s the technician, in us, the person who feels that they have to do everything.
Serious business owners and entrepreneurs can take time off whenever they want and their income still comes in. They have two fundamental things:
I’ll be taking a full two weeks off this festive season. I’m not saying this smugly, I’m saying it because it actually took me a while to get to this point.
To get to the point where I don’t feel guilty to get to the point where I can trust my team to do what needs to be done, where I have that level of trust. And to plan work so that I can also give my team a good break.
The trust that allowed me a totally switched off three weeks last Summer has come from having the strong systems in place that I need, having the team in place to get on and follow the systems, and achieve our goals. We business owners talk endlessly about how to engage and reward people and what better way than enabling them to get on unhindered by our daily meddling. Ask yourself how you would like to work for someone constantly looking over your shoulder and that’s how your team will feel. Simple, logical, repeatable systems, and a good team to run them, are the root to stress-free holidays, to long weekends off, to any weekend off, and to financial and time freedom.
Holidays, for me, are absolutely vital for continuing to do good work for my clients, continuing to come up with new ideas, or better ways of doing things. That all just comes out of resting my brain, stopping the relentless running and rushing around to see clients, or to develop and deliver programmes. It’s really, really important that you take that time to rest and relax, and you can only do that, as a business owner, if you have the systems in place, if you have the team in place.
I’d love you to think about that, if you recognise yourself here.
Simple, logical, repeatable systems, and a good team to run them.
Do one thing: Let this be your goal for 2019.
• you will not be working bank holidays
• you will not be working weekends
• you won’t be working 60 or 70+ hour weeks
Instead, you’ll be spending quality time with the people that you love, with your animals or whatever you love doing beyond your work.
Merry Christmas from all of the MPL team x
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)