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.
I love Vera. I love her complex character played by the great Brenda Blethyn, the people in her CID team and of course gorgeous Durham and Northumberland. And the storylines are just perfect Sunday night viewing, for me anyway.
Whereas she has got some great qualities as a leader (more of that later), when it comes to her management style, I have to take issue with a few things.
First of all I frequently find myself saying ‘please’ out loud as she gives another directive to the team. Now I don’t know if this is how the police operate since it is a command and control structure. I have no experience of working in an environment where people have to call me ‘ma’am’ but even if you do give out orders, I still think you could add a ‘please’.
I know in the police, the armed forces and the operating theatre there will be times that you need to snap an order in the quickest possible time because of the urgency of the situation. By the time a surgeon has asked, "Would you mind awfully passing me a scalpel please", the patient might have died. So ‘scalpel’ has to be barked out, and that seems reasonable.
The thoughts of the army shouting, "Fire! please," wouldn't be quite right either. But I just wonder then, if someone is used to operating like this, say in the NHS (no pun intended!), how easy it is to revert to a more collaborative or even merely polite style in everyday situations. If anyone has worked in this type of environment I’d love to know what your experience is.
When my dad ran his coal business I don’t think he would ever have got his lads together to ask how they should do something. His was very much ‘do this or that’ and that style was very much of it’s time. But my experience at McDonald’s and with clients since, has shown me how much more people buy in and take ownership when they’re treated like adults and are involved in establishing and developing the ‘one right way’ for an exceptional customer journey.
The other thing I wonder about with Vera is how she treats her team individually. The long-suffering Kenny receives a fair bit of rib-pulling and mockery which a less robust individual could wilt under. And then I’m never sure about how fairly she treats them. Which would I rather do, get driven round the countryside in a gorgeous old Defender, meeting potential suspects or look through six hours worth of CCTV footage? Mmm tough one that. So maybe Aiden her sidekick is a higher rank than the others but if not, the others could feel hard done by.
And there’s the dilemma for business owners or managers. How to keep people sweet when you probably do prefer some of your team members to others or when someone is great at a role but which they find maybe boring or unsatisfying. Do you change roles round to keep people happy and potentially lose effectiveness or productivity? How do you ensure you’re not playing favourites even subconsciously?
If you have a ‘one right way’ of doing tasks in your business, it is much easier to train people up, to multi-skill. That is one of the ways where people can develop and have variety in their work. You may also uncover a diamond, and people over time have a chance to develop niche roles if that’s what you’re looking for. As for playing favourites, I think you just have to ‘police’ yourself :)
So that’s two things I don’t like, but there are a couple of things about Vera as a manager that I absolutely love. Firstly she really really cares about the victim whoever they are and secondly she perseveres until she succeeds.
So despite some of her management short-comings, I will continue to be a huge fan of Vera and tune in every Sunday night.
Do one thing: watch Vera and see what you think about how she manages her team and then think about your own style. Are there any similarities or things you’d like to improve?
Thanks for reading.
Image property of the Radio Times
Much as I love the words ‘please', ‘thankyou’ and ‘sorry’, there’s another word out there that can make a big difference.
It’s a principle of human behaviour that if you’re asking for a favour, you’ll be more successful if you give the reason why. If you’re asking people to do something they like to know why they should.
A psychologist Ellen Langer carried out a simple experiment on the power of ‘because’, back in the day. She asked if she could go ahead of a large queue of students waiting to use the xerox machine (before the digital age) to make 5 copies. When she offered no reason, 60% let her cut in. When she explained, “because I’m in a rush” people letting her cut in significantly increased to 94%
Now you could think that people had done her the favour since “being in a rush” was a valid reason but she tried a third time using ‘because’ but with a feeble reason: “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” Once again 93% complied.
The researchers surmised it was not the reason as a whole, but the word ‘because’ that made the difference. This was true even when the reason was not very compelling. They theorised that people go on automatic behaviour as a form of short-cut, and that hearing the word “because” followed by a reason, no matter how feeble, increased the likelihood of compliance.
They repeated the experiment for a request to copy 20 pages rather than 5. In that case, only the “because I’m in a rush” reason resulted in a heightened figure.
So they summarised: “When the stakes are low people will engage in automatic behaviour. If your request is small, follow your request with the word "because" and give a reason - any reason. If the stakes are high, then there could be more resistance, but still not too much.”
This has got application for management, sales, trying to get your kids off their phones or trying to queue jump when you’re in a rush. (I wonder if “Now wash your hands” followed with “because x y z..” would work!)
This is the reason why we advocate developing ‘how to’s’ which not only explain or demonstrate the ‘one right way’ to do the task but also explain the reasons behind that process. So useful too when you're training new people in that task that they understand the 'because'. People respond much better knowing the reasons and benefits rather than just being told what to do. (And of course being involved in establishing the ‘one right way’ increases buy in even more.)
Now the question is, "Is ‘because’ still as powerful today; after all, the research was from 1978?"
Do one thing: Try the power of ‘because’ and see if it works either in a ‘safe’ environment or, if you’re feeling brave, try it next time you’re in the queue at a coffee shop….
I would love to hear how you get on. I’m going to experiment too just not sure how brave I’ll be!
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 don’t know about you but I love posts you see on social media about businesses going the extra mile for their customers. Delighting the Customer, going the extra mile, or as I heard it referred to as, Sprinkling the Pixie Dust, costs businesses very little but the repercussions, the return for just naturally putting their heart into service can be huge.
So I thought I’d share what happened to my sister recently. She was gutted to lose her prescription sunglasses and wanted an up-to-date prescription for their replacement. She opted for Specsavers (in Loughborough - to give them a plug) who had a free eye test, (being a true northerner :) ). They also do retinal checks for £25 so she thought she would check out white flashes she’d had in her eye. The optician could not have been more thorough and told her she had a retinal detachment and to get straight to eye casualty before they shut. My sister grabbed the referral letter and flew out in a state of anxiety to get there on time. Only later that night she remembered she had not paid.
The eye casualty confirmed the retinal detachment and next day lazered her eye. She got home that evening to find a message from her optician and she thought it would be just to remind her she’d forgotten to pay. But no; no mention of money, just her optician personally ringing to ask how she’d got on and hoping that she was okay. This for a first time customer who hadn’t paid her bill! On ringing to thank her and pay her bill, she was told that the bill had been voided. Guess who my sister will be going to from now on? And talk about fate; if she hadn’t lost her sunglasses….
As if that wasn’t enough, she was having a Tesco delivery that day and was saying to the taxi driver on the way home from hospital that she thought she’d be back just in time. The next minute her taxi driver is talking to his mate who delivers for Tesco to check if he was delivering to her, with a view to saying they were nearly there! As it was he was on a different route but again just such a thoughtful thing to do.
Great stories… great customer experience.
Do one thing: Sprinkle a little Pixie Dust for your customers.
Oh and if you happen to get white flashes in your eye when you switch the light off at night, may be worth getting them checked out!
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.
Your daily routine is the key to your personal productivity and effectiveness. It should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your focus and efficiency, and move you closer to achieving your big vision. If you’ve already sorted your to do list into, ‘ditch delegate or do’ then you’ll be focussing on those tasks which only you can do as a business owner. Now it’s a case of maximising your time.
I like the habit of planning my day the evening before (and my week on a Sunday evening). At the end of the day you’re usually very clear about what still needs to done, what the priorities are, what tomorrow’s priority will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running. It can also make for a better night’s sleep as you put tasks to bed!
Chunk your tasks
I recommend chunking your work into ninety-minute segments. This is a good timeframe for focus, and focus is the key word; don’t multi-task – if you’re going to work on a sales letter, work on it for the full ninety minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it quicker.
Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak; for me it’s first thing in the morning, and use that ninety minutes to ‘eat your frog’ – i.e. do the thing that you don’t necessarily want to do, but that’s weighing you down mentally, because you know you really need to get it done. Just get focused and eat the damn frog….gulp! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
Set yourself mini deadlines, always good for those of us who like a bit of ‘last minute pressure’; make them ‘drop-dead’ lines too! Absolute must delivers!
Breaks are always a good deadline. Holidays are also excellent. Ever noticed how much more you get done in the days leading up to a holiday, or the minutes leading up to any deadline. Both breaks and holidays are essential for your long-term productivity too – refreshing and re-energising your mind and body. The most successful businessmen and women really get this and have made breaks, long and short, a habit they will always keep.
Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body include taking at least thirty minutes exercise a day even if it’s just a walk down the road and back and drinking plenty of water – two litres is the recommended amount, isn’t it? I’m no scientist, but I can testify to the power of a lunchtime walk for clearing your head and re-charging you up for a productive afternoon.
Do one thing: take a look at your existing routines and decide if they need a tweak.
Thanks for reading :)
Hiring the right person for you, first time, every time! Wouldn't that be great?
By the time you’ve read this blog, I want to have convinced you that it’s possible. Not only possible but pleasurable; that it’s an exciting opportunity to build your high-performing team and grow your business.
I’ll go through the three steps to a great job advert and there’s a template too which you can download. I’m going to share with you my two golden rules for hiring and show how, if you embrace these, you will be well on the path to hiring a ‘keeper’.
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, and also a little surprised, as 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, the rotten apple in the barrel. ‘Ugh John, what a pain’ or ‘It’s just Janet, she’s always miserable.’
You've put up with Janet and John for years rather than removing them from the team; knowing that neither should ever 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.
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.
You’re hiring a mind and a heart, not a body.
Things go wrong when you ignore the golden rules and only look at skills and experience; when you hire in a hurry cos it’s all just too much hassle; when you abdicate responsibility to a third party.
Change your mindset around hiring - see it as an opportunity to add to your highly engaged, high performing team - invest time and energy in this crucial task…and get creative…even with your job ad.
So many people put out the job description as a job ad. ‘You will be responsible for, you will have so and so reporting to you, you must be able to do this, that and the other.’
Who's inspired by that sort of job ad?
No-one. So when it comes to your job ad I want you to lead with three things.
So let’s recap.
Take your time when you're hiring.
Know your vision and values.
Write your job ad to inspire your ideal candidates.
And you will be well on your way to hiring the right person for you, first time.
Of course, there’s more to it than just that, but all in good time!
Do one thing: Download your job ad template here and use it for your next hire.
ps Don’t miss out on the launch offer for my new book ‘Simple Logical Repeatable’ - only 99p for the kindle version on Amazon, 18th & 19th July.
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve probably noticed I’ve been talking quite a lot about McFreedom and having a McFreedom mindset recently.
And you’ve possibly been thinking ‘ What on Earth is this McFreedom thing all about?’
Well McFreedom is a word I use to describe ‘The freedom to scale, grow, sell or franchise your business or run it from a beach somewhere if that's what you really want to do.’
The Mc of McFreedom is a little nod to McDonald's who inspired it and the Freedom, because that's what The McFreedom System®️ will give you.
Ok. But why the focus on Mindset?
Because most people have a very strange mindset around systems in relation to their business. They see them as really hard work; something that they have to do in addition to their day job and the thought of systemising really doesn’t rock their boat.
Personally, I don't like the word 'process', largely again because of what it inspires in people. It makes them think of bureaucracy and box-ticking and all of that really boring, soul destroying stuff that they think they’ll have to do.
McFreedom - and The McFreedom System®️ - is all about making your life easier, and to do that you need to change your mindset around systems.
Mindset is one third of something I like to call my big MAC ... what a surprise!
Mindset because you really do need to change your mindset around systems and what they will do for you.
Action because you absolutely have to take action. What’s the point in learning something new if you don't take action on it. And
Consistency because you need to be consistent in the action that you take. You need to make it routine. You need to follow it, if not religiously, then with a real fervour and a relish and a belief that it's going to make your life that much easier.
So Mindset, Action, Consistency ... your big Mac.
Do you have a positive big MAC when it comes to systemising your business?
Do one thing: Think about it!
[Adapted from Marianne's new book Simple Logical Repeatable available from an Amazon near you https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simple-Logical-Repeatable-Systemise-McDonalds/dp/1781332266]
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on email@example.com
Over the past few years I’ve talked to a lot of business owners who are struggling with how much they have to get done, and let’s face it, us business owners have a lot of ‘stuff’ to do. So much stuff and all of it urgent. A bulging inbox controlling our day, forcing us to react, impossible to prioritise.
Of course, everyone has days like this – where you can’t see the wood for the trees, where your to-do list for the day is so long it will take you to the middle of next week just to get through half of it. Those days when you don’t feel like your life is your own; when you’re working to other people’s priorities and everyone wants a piece of you; when you feel completely chaotic and out of control.
As one-offs, these days are manageable – there are simple tools and techniques to get you through them, to deal with them, and still get stuff done. But it’s when these days start to merge, when as a new client said to me, ‘Overwhelm becomes the norm’, when you forget where the hell you’re going, let alone how you’re going to get there.
That’s when overwhelm has become a real issue. That’s when you lose focus on your vision; when what’s really important to you seems a million miles away. So what do you do? You go chasing off down rabbit holes looking for the answers – in time-management programmes and apps.
You start subscribing to lots of ‘successful people’ – you know, those people who seem to have it all – looking for the magic pill that’s going to bring you their success. And of course, that’s exactly what it is – their success. You start to believe that success only comes through long hours and even harder work. You lose sight of what’s really important to you; what success means to you; what your ideal future looks like.
So, what can you do about it?
Well, you can start by asking yourself this one killer question:
What am I trying to achieve, and why?
I’m a pretty organised person these days, and this one question (ok, technically two) still has a massive impact on how focused I am, and how much I get done on a day-to-day and month- to-month basis.
It’s a powerful question, whether you’re thinking about the next year, or the next hour.
To find your answer, go back to what I talked about in this blog a few weeks ago, when I asked you to look at your personal vision – what you really want for yourself – the Big Dream.
Are you really clear about what you’re trying to achieve, and why? Because when you are, you’re ready for the simple exercise that will get rid of overwhelm every time it raises its ugly head.
And here it is:
Decide on the timeframe that’s overwhelming you. Is it what you have on today, tomorrow, the coming week, the coming month?
Next, get yourself a big sheet of paper and a pen.
Write down everything – and I mean everything you believe you have to get done in the coming week: personal, business, everything...
Once you’ve done that–once you’ve exhausted everything – and you’re sure you have it all on that sheet of paper, grab a big, black marker pen.
Go through your list and cross off everything that doesn’t move you towards what you’re trying to achieve; everything that doesn’t move you towards your big vision.
Be ruthless here, look for other people’s priorities on this list and get them crossed off. Look for things that are easy to do, or that feed your inner procrastinator – like setting up a to-do list app, or reading through all those emails you’ve subscribed to – and get those crossed off too.
Cross off anything that doesn’t move you to where you now know that you want to be. Ruthless is the key word.
There will be things on your list that do have to be done, but most of them should not be done by you; things like book-keeping, expenses, managing your database.
These things can stay, but they get moved onto a second list, called ‘Delegate’. Add all the things that need to be done, but not by you, to this list
Recognise those things that you may be busying yourself with that are not moving you, or your business, or your life in the right direction.
What you are left with after this exercise are three lists:
In a future blog we’ll talk about who to delegate to, and how to delegate effectively, but for now, just give this a go and see what it does for your overwhelm. I promise you, it works like magic.
You have to be ruthless though, and you have to get over your guilt about ditching other people’s priorities. Just remember that’s exactly what they are – other people’s priorities, not yours! You have plenty of your own to be getting on with.
Do One thing today: Your DO, DITCH OR DELEGATE exercise!
[This is an excerpt from Marianne’s new book, Simple, Logical, Repeatable, available now on Amazon at: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781332266]
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)