‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!’
Geoff had been with Martin from the start, and had worked hard to help him grow the business. As a result, he’d been promoted to manager, reward for all his efforts. Well, financially he was so much better off, great! But the day-to-day reality felt more like a punishment.
Plucked from a job that he excelled in, and where he felt completely comfortable, even when the pressure was on, he now found himself managing a team of fifteen, actually no, not even a team, a group of people who came together every day to work under the same roof. Their work standards certainly didn’t match his; ‘sloppy’ and ‘slow’ were the two words that summed them up for him.
When I met him he was exhausted, frustrated and disbelieving that this group of people would ever do their job right without him watching over them, let alone take ownership. He was checking every piece of work that went out to clients, working longer and longer hours to do so, and the team, knowing their work would always be checked by him, didn’t bother to check it themselves. Why bother if he didn’t trust them?
Together we set to work on reviewing the customer journey with the team, I introduced them to the concept of simple, logical, repeatable, and we streamlined their flow of work, removing all of the hoops that they and their clients had been jumping through. We developed How-To guides for the most routine tasks, to achieve consistency and raise the basic standards, and we introduced regular meetings to improve communication, daily fifteen-minute huddles to set the expectations for the day, weekly meetings to review what had been achieved and set priorities for the coming week. Once a month I got them to meet as a full team, and to have one of the team do a twenty-minute presentation on something that would be of interest and/or benefit to the whole team. After that meeting, I encouraged them to go out for a team drink, or maybe even a meal, to build team spirit.
With Geoff, I focused first on his mindset, and the notion he had that everyone but him was lazy, useless and not to be trusted. I asked him to focus on training and feedback; to show individuals exactly what he wanted, by using How-Tos, and then to let them get on and do their job, without his interference. I encouraged him to trust that if he trained his people properly, and gave them feedback that encouraged them to improve, then they would, and that mistakes were not the end of the world, but a learning opportunity.
Geoff wasn’t convinced at first, but to his credit, he did listen, and he did change both his mindset and his actions. The daily, weekly and monthly meetings became the norm, and as the team began to blossom, I watched Geoff relax into his role as their manager. Twelve months later, with three further managers grown from the team, Geoff was promoted to Director within the business! Proud or what?
When I started working with Amit, it was clear that he had a problem with the team. For a start they didn’t work as a team, and they were all way too focused on the clock; never a good sign. Turnover was high too; for a business that was five years old, 90% of the people that I met had been there for less than twelve months.
There was one employee though who was driving Amit mad; always turning up late, questioning every decision, doing sloppy work; Amit was at his wits’ end and wanted to know what I would do about it, in his place.
‘Well, tell me one thing first’, I said, ‘Do her values match yours?’
‘Good god, no!’ was the reply, ‘But she had an excellent CV’.
That is so often the problem, and one that you’ll have difficulty overcoming. Hiring to a CV, focusing on the experience that an individual has had, rather than their values, their attitude, their fit for you, and your team, is a big, and a very common mistake.
So, Amit sat her down and had a conversation about his vision and his values, and what he was looking for in the people he worked with. He inspired the woman in question with his passion and drive, and she is now a real advocate of the business and a highly valued member of his team.
Focus on values; find those whose values match yours, you can always train for skill.
Do one thing: have you shared your vision and values with your team? If not, it’s never too late to start or reinforce.
Thanks for reading.
So, you have a big Vision that gives you goosebumps and it’s plastered on your wall in huge letters. You’ve started to plan with your team about how together you’ll make that Vision a reality. And you’re all buzzing about the future and cracking on. Great stuff! I can feel the energy from here.
Now, all that’s missing is an effective Personal Management System. Not the sexiest title I’ve come across but even the most inspiring vision, and the smartest of plans will be wasted if you don't have the means to keep yourself on track.
A Personal Management System
Your daily routine is the cornerstone of your personal management system, and should be crammed full of habits that will maximise your productivity, and move you closer to your Vision.
1. Get into the habit of planning your day the evening before (and your 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 frog* will be. Advanced planning like this makes sure that you hit the ground running.
2. Chunk your work into 90 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 90 minutes, or until it’s done, if you can do it within the 90.
3. Peak Practice - Work out which part of the day you’re at your peak - for me it’s first thing in the morning - and use that 90 minutes to ‘eat your frog’ - *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! It’s a really good success habit to get into.
4. 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.
5. Switch Off. 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.
6. Daily Exercise. Other daily routines and success habits that are good for your mind and body, include taking at least 30 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 setting you up for a productive afternoon.
For budding entrepreneurs, there are three other personal management essentials:
A Personal Management System takes discipline and time to develop, but when you learn to manage yourself, the business will be a piece of cake!
Do one thing: look back over today/yesterday. Did your work take you towards your Vision? Did you have frog for breakfast? If not, look to adopt these good habits and improve your routines.
For more information on how MPL can help you, contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is awash with rhythms. The sun rises and sets, the tides ebb and flow, the seasons come and go, even if not as consistently of late! My business now enjoys a lovely rhythm too and the beat is set by 90 day cycles. I read a great blog the other day on a site called Asian Efficiency (all about time management and productivity) where they were talking about the 90 day timeframe as ‘the range where ambition and planning actually fall reasonably close together’. I like that.
I’m a big fan of 90 day planning. I do appreciate not everyone is keen on planning particularly when it’s something that takes time to do then is filed away and forgotten about. I get that, even if you don’t create an action plan for each goal and work your plan, there is a huge amount of power in thinking about what you want, where you want to get to, and getting the outcome you want down on paper.
I think planning too much detail too far ahead can be a waste of time. Have a great vision, of course, but three years of fine detail is too much since so much can change in that time. Planning too far ahead can result in overestimating what can be done too. That’s why I love the 90 day planning cycle. Starting with the end of that period in mind you can work back till you have a week’s action plan. It’s amazing how the closer you get to the actions needed, the greater the reality check! Of course you should be pushing the boundaries but too much, as it can become a demoralising wish-list. And no one in your team will buy into that. It reminds me of a great cartoon showing a line of productivity on a board with a gap in the middle. ‘What happens here’ says the boss. ‘Ah, that’s where a small miracle happens!’ comes the reply.
We all have a really good feel for what we can get done in 90 days – how far we can move towards a big goal, and plan the steps that we need to take to get there. Our longer term plans, even though it’s valuable to have them, can’t be planned right down to concrete steps; the goals are too big, there’s too much to get done, and if we try to plan the detail we just get overwhelmed, which in turn leads to inaction.
Working with 90 day goals:
Do one thing: Resolve to try out the 90 day planning cycle. I’d love to hear how you get on.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
When I was starting out on my own I had a dream of what I wanted to achieve, but like many dreams, it was hazy and unfocused, and I could never tell anyone what it was all about with any clarity. It was like seeing a shape at the end of a foggy road but never getting any nearer to it. I wasn’t clear where I was going, and we all know what happens when you’re not sure where you’re going...you get lost!
And I did.
I ventured down so many rabbit holes, wandered into so many blind alleys, found myself in so many cul-de-sacs, desperately trying to get to...where?
You could say it was all part of my vertical learning curve, but looking back it feels like 18 months of wasted time, effort, and money!
Knowing your destination is crucial. It keeps you focused. It inspires your team. It gives purpose and meaning to your planning.
What is Your Vision?
When you’re thinking about your Vision, think about your ‘Why’ the impact you want to make, the problems you want to solve, the influence you want to have, the legacy you want to leave.
Look at Richard Branson, he has built a brand that inspires. His ‘Why’ - ‘because UK consumers deserve better.’
He created a movement with a 'Why' that was all about challenging the status quo and empowering people.
My ‘Why’? - ‘because business could be so much easier for so many business owners out there.’
But when I started out I was all back to front. I was thinking ‘what are my skills and knowledge?’ I should have been thinking, ‘what are the problems facing business owners and their customers, what are they struggling with, how could things be better?’ And then seeing where my experience would solve their problems. I started out thinking it started with me; I know now it should have started out all about others.
Your Vision should give you goosebumps every time you look at it, and connect with the hearts and minds not only of your team, but also of your ideal clients. Think ‘the best we can be’. Think ‘making a real difference’. Think BIG!
This is about the future you see for yourself and your business, your destination, so you can write it in terms of the future, but we prefer to write in in the more tangible present tense, so that it feels more real, obtainable:
At MPL (Marianne Page Ltd)
‘We are more influential than Gerber! The go-to mentors for business owners with a growth and scale mindset who want to work on their business not in it; giving every entrepreneur across the globe, the freedom to scale, sell or franchise their business… or run it from a beach somewhere if that’s what they want.’
It’s not about where you are now, it’s where you’re headed - your destination.
What’s the time frame?
People often talk about their 10 year Vision for their business, and it’s a great timeframe for the majority of us. But if your personal plan is to sell up and move to Bali in 4 years’ time, then the 10 year Vision doesn’t really work for you.
Whatever timeframe you choose, be clear about it. Write it in a journal or pin it on your noticeboard as the date you’re working towards. You’ll need it for your Planning.
Who is the Vision for?
Don’t keep your Vision to yourself. Once you’re happy with it, share it with the team, get their input, get them excited about it, and then get it out there on your website, your marketing materials, your training resources.
This is a big deal. Putting it out there is the first step towards achievement, so take it now.
Do one thing: Write down your vision and pin it up on the wall. Ask yourself, 'Does this give me goose-bumps?' and if it doesn't, take it back down, and work on it until it does. This is your future we're talking about!
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
'If you don't know where you’re going, you'll end up someplace else.' -Yogi Berra
My parents as they got older, often got into their car without knowing where they were going exactly. Okay, they knew roughly they were heading for - the Lakes or North Yorkshire or Northumberland but their precise destination or their route? Not really. ‘I wonder where that road goes?’ ‘Do you know, I don’t think we’ve ever gone that way, shall we see what’s it like?’ It was often a magical mystery tour and the start of many an adventure!
But can you imagine trying to run a business like that? You’ve got an idea and you just set off and see where the wind takes you. This might sound far-fetched but you would be surprised how may business owners don’t have a true vision for their business or a plan for how to get there. There are also those who plan their business but don’t factor in their life.
Just stop and think for a minute of the planning you do for a long drive:
You do all this planning for a pretty straightforward car journey. Why would you not put the same effort into planning your business journey?
‘If you want to scale, grow or sell your business, you need to plan.’
It all has to start with you, and what you want for your life!
Whilst working my way through my career in the world of big business, we talked about personal development, and how we could become better at our role within the business or progress to the next level. But what we wanted out of life or what we saw as our ideal future never really came up. Maybe we were all too young, too focused on progression, to recognise that you only get one crack at life, or that, if you plan for it, you can have both - a happy, successful life and a successful business.
I do understand why people say they don’t want to plan their life though. As with any plan, you have to recognise that things happen, things change. We change as we grow and develop. It goes without saying that every successful plan needs to be adjusted and tweaked when the opportunities, or the challenges come.
It’s been a real eye-opener with clients at times when we explore their ‘Vision and Values.’ It’s that light-bulb moment when someone realises that life and business plans are inexorably linked. When they look ahead and say ‘I want great relationships with my kids in the future,’ but realise that leaving the house when their children are asleep and returning when they’ve gone to bed isn’t going to build that bond.
We get to asking: ‘If this is what I want in life, how will my business support and enrich this? Can I find better ways of working so I’m at home for bedtime stories three nights a week, that Sundays always a day off for family?’ For example.
Without that Vision, that wider focus, you’ll start planning for a future you may not want. So put the time in and really drill down to what that is. There’s no right answer, it’s down to you. So I recommend:
3 essentials for Personal Planning
Do one thing: Take some time to answer these crucial questions:
Have a great week and thanks for reading.
Our Systems4Scale Bootcamp on 10&11th October 2018 starts with your Vision and Values. So if this blog resonates with you why not sign up? Here’s a link to our brochure
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)