'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
I know it’s the onset of Autumn and downtime for nature but for me September is my business springboard. It’s a great month for planning.
It always just feels so right, and just this morning I was reminding myself why.
For some, January may seem like the obvious choice, the beginning of a new calendar year with new year’s resolutions, and a full twelve months stretching out ahead of you.
The downside is that you’re coming out of the Christmas holiday period, possibly still feeling bloated and hungover, certainly feeling that little bit poorer, and maybe you still have the kids off school – you’re probably already half way through January before you can even think about fresh plans.
It’s a foggy time of year too – the weather’s awful, usually dank and dull, and business-wise January and February may be slow, so there’s really not much to get you energised and excited enough to start planning.
April is the next obvious choice with spring in the air and new beginnings.
But April is all about tax and getting your finances sorted – personal tax, business tax. It’s all very numbers oriented, which is great, if you’re building your plans entirely around numbers, but not if you’re looking at the other crucial areas of your business, like people, products, promotions. It’s a busy time for a lot of businesses, so you’re not necessarily in the right head space to plan.
June, you’re then going into the holidays. You’ve got July and August round the corner, and the challenges of the long school break, your team taking their holidays, maintaining a healthy cash flow etc.
September on the other hand, is the perfect time to plan.
With September comes excitement!
Think about it.
It’s the start of a new school year, the start of a new term, stepping up to the next year group – I don’t have children but I do still remember going to school and looking forward to what the next year would bring.
You’re often just back from your own holiday away from the business, you’ve had quality time with family and friends, you’re feeling refreshed and re-energised – you’ve had time to think, to take stock. Maybe you’ve just finished reading, ‘Simple Logical Repeatable’ on the beach and you’re bursting with ideas that you’re dying to put into practice :)
You’ve got three meaty months ahead of you – September, October, November. Even if you only finish your plans mid September, you’ve still got three full months to mid December before the whole ‘I haven’t started my Christmas shopping’ panic kicks in.
For me it is the perfect month to plan.
So here we are heading into September – time to get preparing. Have you jotted down all those ideas you had whirring while you were on holiday? Have you gone from beer-mat to mind-map, expanding on those initial thoughts? So you’ll be ready to turn them into goals with deadlines? Are you going to make them happen?
Or have you been sucked back into the day to day, reacting to your mobile phone, slave to your inbox?
Are you going to be looking back in another twelve months wondering where the year went, and what happened to everything you were going to achieve?
Do one thing: Take back control of your life!
Download our How To Mind-map for some great advice on getting those initial thoughts down onto paper - see below.
Take one day away from your business this September – yes you can if it’s important enough to you – and plan out the next twelve months.
Or, if you feel that you’ve just been repeating the same year after year in the same Groundhog day fashion, join us for a two day bootcamp and learn how to evolve from startup mode.
“The Systems4Scale Bootcamp was invaluable to our business in being able to take key team members out of the office for 2 whole days to work on the business instead of in it. I've been working on this for a while (not always successfully), but taking team members along too made this shift a lot easier for all of us.
Marianne makes everything clear and simple. She encouraged and supported us to think differently and help us to implement the systems she was teaching. I felt like she was on my team with us.
We gained so much from the two days - a vision of where we are going, excitement over it, ability to implement systems that will help us get there and make everyone's life easier.
We've implemented several areas which have had great benefit and are already ahead of our 1 year goals! Thanks Marianne!”
Jennifer Page (no relation!) - Business Owner, Affinity Gymnastics
Thanks for reading. Have a great week
It’s that time of year again, my car is due its MOT. I sit there waiting for the phone to ring. All those moving parts, they can’t all be in perfect working order, can they? So it’s always great when I get the ‘all clear’. Not that it’s always that straightforward, because you’re then faced with the dreaded traffic light system: green for fine, amber for ‘will need attention soon’ and red obviously, for a fail. I hate getting an amber on a tyre. Is it a green-amber, or an amber-red? What if something happens on the motorway and I haven’t changed it? So I invariably get a new one.
I can understand why MOTs are mandatory, the roads are bad enough without a load of faulty cars on them. It does make you think though, how many other areas of our lives would benefit from a top to toe, annual health check? It would certainly be great for a business, and for a business owner – but where do you go to find a leadership MOT, to have the traffic light system run over your behaviours, to tell you what you’re doing well, what needs attention and what has to stop!
Where do you start?
Well I start with an overview of how well the business is doing because all the leadership that you’re giving is ultimately to that end. Your business dashboard will keep you on track with the headline business figures your leadership is ultimately achieving. How your key performance indicators are doing, things like sales, turnover, profit, customers, speed of service, etc those things by which you’ll judge success.
Then there are other facts that can inform you, for example, how many people resigned, did you let go, failed probation this year? How many people have you promoted? How many are borderline needing help?
A bit of self analysis doesn’t hurt either – getting off the hamster wheel once a month or once a quarter, taking the time to re-visit your vision and values, using the traffic light system and a healthy dose of honesty, to assess how you’re measuring up.
But a great way of checking out your effectiveness but also finding out what people need/want from you as a leader is to ask them. A simple 360 degree feedback system can be really effective. I’m not talking about bells and whistles and expense but a simple question. When you conduct performance reviews ask: ’What’s the most important thing you want from me as a leader?’
Make a note of the answer and at the next review ask how you did. It can be that simple. If you are that busy business owner or manager how great would it be to know the main thing that each of your team want from you and how much easier to focus on delivering it.
You can step that up to a second question: ‘What can I do to make your job better/easier?’
Add caveats if needs be, so if a pay rise is not on the cards let them know so they don’t waste their question. Then follow up at their next performance review - ‘How did I do?’
And then if you’re brave and you can encourage a climate of trust introduce a third question: ‘What do I do that stops you doing a better job or perhaps from enjoying your job more?’
And then follow up again at their performance review.
I have found this so useful over the years and some great ideas have come from it. It’s often little things as well that can be put right but which make a big difference to the individual. You know how sometimes a small niggly thing gets in your head and you can’t think straight?
It’s also great if you have team members who aren’t as vocal in team meetings; by getting them to voice their opinions one to one it starts to build their confidence to speak up in groups.
And as a leader, the follow up at review time really concentrates your mind to make time to do what you said!
The upshot is that people feel they’re being proactively listened to and their ideas acted on which is great for two-way communication, your relationships, team morale and ultimately productivity.
You may want to ask your customers too, ‘What are we doing well?’ and ‘What could we do better?’
I know this works if you stick with it and build trust. It may take time for people to realise that you’re not just ticking a box but that you’re serious about learning and improving. You need to also rein in your reactions and not go on the defensive which I know can sometimes be easier said than done.
You above all need to take action and then follow up at review time just as you would with tasks you’ve set your team members.
In my experience it’s definitely worth it.
Another way to get a really good feel for what your team are thinking and feeling about working with you is to get someone independent in to talk to them confidentially & one to one. We have done this a number of times for clients, and it’s amazing the really honest feedback and ideas for improvement you get from team members who open up to an outsider in a way that they might not feel comfortable doing with you. You get a real feel for what’s having an impact on them personally, or on the performance of the team, whether it’s a small niggle or a massive block. We then feedback the key themes & ideas anonymously to you as the business owner and help you to develop a plan for action.
Do one thing: Give yourself a leadership MOT, and build what you find into your personal improvement plan. Find out more about what we do here
Thanks for reading.
In my business I often come across managers with one thing in common; they are flying by the seat of their pants! People who are ‘accidental managers’. You know, the great team member who is plucked from their team and given a management role or the talented business owner who finds themselves managing people as their business grows. They have little or no training or development and rely on what they’ve learned along the way from managers around them, good or bad. And if you need a great management role model, we can learn some really crucial lessons from Gareth, and his signature waistcoat.*
Lesson 1 - Nurture your Culture
Many clients say to me, ‘I really want to improve the culture of my business. I want to get it right.’ So what can we learn from Gareth? First of all, he had a really clear idea of what he wanted the culture of Team England to be. The thing with culture is that it starts with values; it starts with the values of the person at the top. Gareth clearly is a man who has strong opinions, strong values, a really clear idea of how he wants to operate. What I think he did brilliantly was choose people for his team who shared those values. I don't think it's any mistake that certain people were not brought into the England setup, people who maybe had massive egos, big superstar baggage or people for whom it was ‘all about them.’
Just look at the individuals within that team and how well he brought them together. Regardless of what team they came from, he managed to bring in those people who shared his values, who bought into the idea that ‘we are one team,' and he did a fantastic job of building that culture.
He talks about the England DNA. If you think about the last 20 plus years, the England DNA has been big egos; it's been superstars; its been cliques, it’s not been about pride in wearing the England shirt. Look how many people have pulled out of playing for England, have not seen it as a real privilege. They've seen it as a chore, and he, in a very short space of time, has been able to turn that around.
The fact that he'd raised a few of these guys from a very young age as manager of the England under-21s, proves there’s an awful lot to be said for growing your own talent - bring in the attitude and then develop the skill.
Obviously, with football you have to have natural talent, but attitude is so, so important. In a lot of situations it's not the superstars who win, it's the collective, it's the team. Look at Croatia - great example. Look at England - great example. We got all the way to the semi-finals, and Argentina with Lionel Messi went out. Portugal with Ronaldo went out. The collective, bringing together a great team, will always win, and Gareth Southgate as the manager was responsible for that.
So great first lesson, nurture the culture you want to build. Think about your values; it starts with values, then bringing in people who share those values.
Lesson 2 - Build Unity
Within the England setup, there was no us and them. There was no ‘the staff and the players’. That was really clear from what you saw on TV, how they were with the physios and the psychologist and with Gareth himself. Although a few of them did slip into calling him ‘Gaffer’ they mostly called him Gareth, which was just unheard of in the past. There was no us and them. Absolutely, they were one.
Gareth Southgate was great as a manager in sharing any praise. It was always, ‘We, the team,’ ‘We, the squad,’ ‘We, the entire group of staff and players.’ And taking responsibility for any blame, ‘Yeah, I'm responsible. I'm the manager.’ I absolutely loved that he was brilliant at sharing praise and shouldering blame.
He was also very good at supporting those who were having a hard time. Take Raheem Sterling, the England scapegoat; Gareth was great at protecting him and keeping his confidence high. Not just because he recognised that Raheem was so crucial to the team effort, but also just because this was in line with his values, that he would look after the team. He would keep that person feeling confident and part of the team.
So the second lesson is unity. Make your business one team.
Lesson three - Develop Relationships
As a manager, you need to build great relationships, and Gareth did just that with his competitors.
When you saw him going around at the end of each match they played, he seemed genuine in his congratulations to the other players, to the other staff, made a really big point of shaking hands with everybody. Perhaps that’s easy when you’ve won, but even in defeat, when it must have been absolutely killing him when they lost to Croatia, you saw him going around to every single member of their team and to the staff, hugging them, congratulating them.
Then going to his own team to just remind them how far they'd come and how well they’d done. Building relationships was really important, just as he did with the managers of the players he brought into the England squad. He didn't antagonise them in the old ‘club versus country’ way, but was just very firm, fair, and friendly with everybody that he had dealings with.
So the third lesson is about building relationships.
Lesson 4 - Inspire and Motivate
One of the common questions I get asked by people on our Management Development Programme is, ’What's the difference between a manager and leader?’
There'll be books written on how managers are the logistic experts, they just keep things ticking along. A big part of a management role is making sure that the attention to detail is there, that mistakes aren’t made and if they are, that they're learned from and so on.
But these days in any business, you have to be a leader as well. You have to inspire and motivate the team, and quiet as his media persona was, our Gareth was clearly a very inspiring and motivating guy. He didn't immediately crack the whip. When he first met with the squad, he took them into a room and shared his vision of what it was like to be an England player and how privileged they were to wear the three lions shirt.
That is something I find that a lot of managers and business owners miss. They miss sharing their vision. ‘Where is this all headed? Where are we all going together as a team and why?’ He inspired and motivated them so well.
He clearly showed them how much he believed in them, and as a result, they believed in themselves. Every interview there was no talk of, ‘Oh, well, crikey. If we get to the quarterfinals, we'll be lucky. We'll have overachieved.’ No. ‘We're going to win this. We're going to win this.’ That's what inspired the country. It's coming home. He got those players to believe that they could win it, that they really could win it.
He also treated them like adults. Sometimes, particularly new/young managers feel their role is to be the boss, to talk at people, to tell them what to do. When you have adults or adult conversations with people in your team, when you give them the training and development and support that they need, when you really believe in them and remember that you have a responsibility to help them to fulfil their potential, that's when you get your team to take ownership. That's when people start to step up and go, ‘All right. I'm responsible for this. This is my job.’ And you saw that right through the tournament with England. The team were taking ownership. The team were taking responsibility, and they were acting like adults.
Fourth lesson - look to inspire and motivate your team to build ownership and belief.
Lesson Five - Have fun!
It became obvious as the tournament progressed that the team were enjoying themselves. They had an enormous amount of fun, which was something, again, that Gareth Southgate encouraged. He wanted them to enjoy themselves.
We are lucky with what we do, a lot of us, and why not have fun doing it? Why not encourage our teams to have fun? People are at work for so many hours of the day, it's part of our responsibility as managers to help people enjoy it, not to dread coming into work and be managed by us.
Fifth lesson- create an enjoyable workplace. This goes back to culture and values as well.
Lesson 6 - Learn, learn, and then learn some more!
The final thing that I really wanted to bring up as a lesson from Gareth was his desire to learn, his desire to be the best possible manager he could be. Look how he went and studied other really successful people, both in sport and in industry. He really wanted to learn how the most successful teams operate, and he left no stone unturned. He will continue to learn. He'll have already learned lessons from this tournament. He'll already be preparing for the next because he wants to be the best he can be.
That's really what I want for each of you. I want you to be the best possible people managers that you can be. So think about the lessons from Gareth. Think about your values and your culture. Think about how you can create unity in your team. Think about the development and support that you're giving not to the team as a whole, not just to the stars, but to every single individual, however minor their role is in the team.
Think about the relationships you're building and how they will help you to be a better manager. Think about how much you're inspiring and motivating the team who work with you, and then think about how you're going to become a better manager, what you need to do, the skills you need to develop, where you can learn those lessons that you need to learn to keep improving, keep developing, and be the best manager that you can be.
*waistcoat optional ;)
Do two things: think about how you need to develop as a manager then think about the areas you need help.
We run a highly successful online Managers' Development Programme; the next is starting in August. To find out more, click here
‘I'm only two modules in, but I've already grown in confidence in leading my team and I'm no longer nervous around giving them constructive feedback. Thank you to Marianne for her wisdom and expertise!’ - Maddy Kelly, Boda Skins
‘Since starting this programme, my team’s productivity and progress is going up, consistently, month on month. And not just by a few percent! It’s significant. I’ve got my team into a really good position. Everybody knows what’s expected of them. Everyone is looking at their performance, and looking at their goals. I’ve shared my knowledge with other team leaders in the business, and they are starting to implement change in such a positive way throughout the whole company.
On a personal level, I’ve gained confidence, I’ve become more direct and clear with my expectations. I feel like a manager now, and I can also manage upwards to my boss effectively.’ - Ryn Moser - Chief Language Officer, Supertext
I saw a tweet the other day by a business owner saying that we should all be teachers - his mate was off for his third trip to the Northern hemisphere this year!
Just imagine those six weeks+, how switched off, how re-energised you could be…? I’m not saying that teachers don’t have a shed-load of work to catch up on and prepare for the next year, but to have that space away from work, and to be able to travel…
It’s a sad stat that 52% of all small business owners in the UK say they only took five days holiday or less last year, with 21% per cent not taking any days off at all!
I hear business owners all the time, saying that they’re working hard for their children, to give them a better life, a better future. But if they asked their kids which they’d prefer, you can bet they’d rather spend time, having their fun with mum and dad right now…not at some distant point in the future.
When I ask clients what their ideal future looks like, one of the first things they say is they want ‘a great relationship with my kids’. What many don’t get is that it’s hard to pick things up when you’ve made your millions and your kids are turning eighteen. You need to build those blocks from a young age, by being there for school sports days, reading stories, teaching them stuff.
Of course it’s not just relationships that suffer; working without breaks can break you. Your health can suffer both physically and mentally. And how can you do your best work if you’re constantly tired? Holidays re-energise you, re-invigorate you, and re-focus you, and if you’re anything like me, you always come back refreshed and bursting with ideas and inspiration for the business.
The more holiday the better - for you and your business.
So how can you holiday like a teacher?
How can you go away for weeks at a time, and completely switch off, no phone calls, no e-mails, no stress?
Well, you need systems in your business…of course; that ‘one, right way’ to do everything.
And then you need someone to be you when you’re away. Someone who is your voice with the team, who shares your vision and values.
Someone you know will use their initiative if things don’t go to plan.
Someone who takes the day to day in their stride, and has the respect of the team. Someone who you trust.
When business owners realise that they need this person in their business, they often throw money at the problem - offering a big salary, thinking that money, and a great CV will guarantee them a great manager.
They throw out everything they’ve learned about hiring to your values, and go for the best CV, which as you know, doesn’t always work out. Sometimes they get lucky, and their new (very expensive) manager works out well. But sometimes it doesn’t, and they’ve not only wasted time and money, but also often upset and unsettled their team.
The other route that many business owners take is to promote someone from their team - very often the person who is the best performer, great at what they do. But of course, the best workers don’t always make the best managers. Not everyone wants to be yanked away from a job that they are really good at, and that they love, to manage a team.
The person you’re looking for is already respected by the rest of the team - they listen to him or her. The person is solid and dependable, but also motivates the rest of the team when the pressure is on. They have high standards, and they love training new people, and picking up on any sloppiness with the old hands. They’re not necessarily the most technically gifted, but you love working with them
Identify that person in your team, and then develop them as a manager. Skills can be learned if there’s a sound base, so invest in their development - either teach them yourself if you have the skills and the time, and if not, get someone like me to do it for you.
The investment you make will pay dividends in a happy and engaged team, and not just great for your business but for your life.
You want to holiday like a teacher?
Build your systems | Develop your managers | Free yourself
Do one thing: Send an email requesting to join our mailing list at: email@example.com for free tips, advice and information about how we can help you to holiday like a teacher.
‘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.’
So says Michael Gerber in the ‘E-Myth’, the bible for so many entrepreneurs, and rightly so, in my opinion.
In the E-Myth, Michael Gerber talks about this whole idea of being a technician i.e. people who start their business because they’re really good at something. They’re a florist, an electrician, a carpenter. Or maybe they’re a dentist, and I pick on a dentist because I’ve just been to mine and his business is a good example so I’ll refer to this dentist as ‘him’. A dentist spends years and years learning his trade, honing his skills, learning everything that he needs to learn to be a really good dentist, to serve and satisfy this customers/patients.
So, you go to the dentist, either for your regular checkup, or because you’ve got tooth trouble. He’ll invariably sort you out. Ideally, he hasn’t caused you that much pain, and so you leave the dentist, and you tell everybody what a great dentist you have, and how it’s pain-free, and he’s lovely, and so on. In most cases, the dentist will do the job himself; certainly the one I go to, there’s rarely anybody else in the room during my appointment. Some may have an assistant or a receptionist but mine is a self-contained system just like the electrician, or the carpenter, or the florist. They don’t really need anybody else.
The problem is that when the dentist goes on holiday, so does his income, because he is his own self-contained system. Really, this is a huge problem for many business owners, because as 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.
Proper business owners and entrepreneurs can take time off whenever they want and their income still comes in. They have two fundamental things. They have systems, and they have good people to run the systems.
When I go on holiday for three weeks, I won’t be taking any work with me, and I don’t plan to get into it with the team while I’m away. I’m not saying this to boast. I’m not saying this to get you mad at me. I’m saying it because it actually took me a while to get to the point where I have that level of trust. That trust has come from now having the strong systems in place that I need, having the team in place to get on and follow the systems, and achieve the goals. And I know that they’re going to get there. It took time, but I do trust that everything will go well. I trust that it’ll go better than well. They’ll probably do things that I wouldn’t have thought of, because that’s the sort of environment and culture that we’ve created, within the business. 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.
Simple, logical, repeatable systems, and a good team to run them.
So let me ask you, what did you do this Mayday bank holiday? We’ve got another bank holiday weekend coming up shortly. Will you be having three days off work, or do you see it as a great opportunity to catch up on odd-jobs or to stop and take stock, because you never have time to do that when you’ve just been too damn busy managing the day to day palaver?
So will that long weekend be time off with your family and friends, or just relaxing and doing what you love to do, or are you going to be working? Now of course, there are always going to be business owners who really look forward to things like bank holiday weekends and Summer holidays because it’s when they make their big money. If you’re in the leisure industry, obviously that isn’t the time to take off, but I’m talking about generally. I’m talking about taking that precious time to rest, to relax, to recuperate, to re-energise.
Certainly 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. I’d love you to think about how you’re going to use the next bank holiday weekend. Great systems and well trained people equals financial and time freedom. So here’s my challenge to you;
by this time next year,
Instead, you’ll be spending quality time with the people that you love, with your animals or whatever you love doing beyond your work.
If this resonates with you, but you feel a bit overwhelmed thinking of how to even begin, then we can help. We run a two day bootcamp where you can come away from the workplace, away from all the day to day hassle and distractions and start to work ‘on’ your business, not ‘in’ it, to quote Gerber again. Come along, with your team, to our Systems4Scale Bootcamp, where over those two days, you really get to work on your systems with our support and expertise. Our clients hit the ground running on their return armed, not just with know-how, but with the firm belief that this ‘freedom’ is achievable.
Do one thing: follow this link to find out more here
Our next Bootcamp is 13th & 14th June 2018 – email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest
How to Foster a Culture of Improvement
‘Do this and your business will fly!’
Feedback! The key to improving performance. And yet so many people feel awkward about giving it or shy away from it altogether. So why do people find it so difficult? Perhaps you’re one of them. You may be the person who makes a joke of everything or someone who says, ‘Well, they know what I think from my body language.’
We all approach feedback differently. To those of us who have a British upbringing, feedback can often be seen as awkward, negative & confrontational. We see giving feedback as daunting. For me, the only reason to give feedback is to inspire improved performance. ‘Inspire’ is the key word. You want people to be walking away thinking, ‘I know how I’m going to do it better next time now,’ and wanting do just that.
So how do we deliver that? Let’s take a look at ways of giving feedback which will remove the angst. There are two methods. There’s informal feedback – the ongoing, day to day feedback, and then there is the formal performance management to back that up.
Find someone doing something good everyday!
Ongoing, day to day, when someone in your team is doing really well, you want to showcase and highlight that to the rest of the team. Have a philosophy of ‘trying to acknowledge someone doing something good, each day.’ Publicly acknowledge the event and explain why you’re pleased – perhaps it positively impacts a customer or the rest of the team and so forth. It’s all about positive reinforcement – you want more of this.
Spot learning opportunities everyday!
Don’t just walk past the bad stuff. Don’t allow it to happen without addressing it – nip it in the bud. Inaction does nothing to sort the problem and worse still, erodes the trust and respect of the other team members if they think you’ve let it slide. This, if you like, is ‘just in time’ coaching where you again, on a daily basis, seek out learning opportunities. In these circumstances just have a quiet word, there is no need for public humiliation. This time ask the person ‘why’ – ‘Why is this not acceptable?’ Give them the opportunity to work it out for themselves and see the effects of their behaviour. ‘When you said that to John, how do you think it made him feel?’ If they can work it out for themselves they will take it onboard more than if you simply lecture them. Make it a genuine learning experience.
The EEC Model
Within the McFreedom System we talk about the EEC model.
Continue or Change – ‘Continue’ if it’s something really good or ‘Change’ if it’s something not so good.
What’s caused me to comment on the way you’re working? Maybe the way you answer the phone, maybe the way you spoke to a client, maybe the way you completed a piece of work. What is the reason I’m talking to you?
What effect has it had on me, on the client, on the business, the team? Is it a good effect or not so good? Did you forget to smile when you answered the phone, making your voice sound sombre and moody? Did you complete this piece of work, but it wasn’t absolutely spot on in terms of accuracy? Did you get a great customer review?
and then either Continue
‘Thanks so much. You did a great job. Loved the way you’ve got absolutely every detail correct, keep going with that. Customer x was thrilled with that. Do more; continue.’
When it’s something that you want to correct, then you’re talking about how you want somebody to change their performance. What can they do differently? What do they need to do to be up to standard? Give people the chance to get things right next time.
When it comes to formal feedback, remember that nothing should ever be a surprise. All of the informal feedback that you’ve given feeds into your formal, sit down performance review. We recommend that you do formal performance reviews at the end of each quarter. That you make it routine. It’s a chance to sit down with your team member to talk to them about the great things they’re doing, and to inspire them to do even better.
Many people shy away from that whole idea of sitting down with each team member. Either that, or they only sit down with them when something bad has happened and they want to tell them off. No wonder their team members dread the call, it’s like when I was little, our dogs hated the car because the only time they got in it was to go to the vets! When you make delivering feedback routine, it becomes a more positive interaction between you and your team. It becomes a conversation, a discussion. ‘How can I do this better? How can I improve? I really want to improve, how can I do it?’
Encourage your people to keep their own development journals
This will become a useful tool for development because it will help to highlight where your team would like to go, how they want to improve, and what they need from you in order to achieve this.
Encourage them to jot down the things they did really well, their ‘Proud Page’.
To note when things didn’t go to plan – what were their learning points; if they had some training or coaching – what three things would they do differently next time as a result, their ‘Learning Page’.
Their ‘Aspirations Page’ – what challenges would they like, what training/development would help them get there.
The formal appraisal should be their story – you just need to listen. Then ask these question, ‘What do you need from me? What can I do differently that would help you?’ That is how to build trust.
People are more likely to ask for support if you’ve made this whole performance management system part of ‘the way we do things around here’. The way we do things round here is we give honest and open feedback, whether something is good, or needs to be improved. We are always honest and open; though honest doesn’t mean brutal! Make that part of your culture, and you have a real picture of continuous improvement. Everybody always looking to do that little bit better to make that marginal gain.
Do this and your business will fly.
Do two things:
1. Diarise those 90 day formal review slots now and make it routine.
2. Hand out development journals with a ‘How to’ for their use.
Thanks for reading 🙂
‘Systems are not chains to tie you down, they are wings to help you fly.’
This week I delivered a keynote presentation at the prestigious north west business club the ‘K-Club’, posing the question, ‘What if business was easy?’ It challenged the thinking of the 80-strong audience of business owners, and led to an interesting Q&A.
So I wanted to ask you if it’s something you’ve ever considered?
What if business was easy?
What if you didn’t have to miss another school sports day or parents evening, if you never had to make an excuse for pulling out of a day out with friends or date night with your other half?
What if you didn’t buy into the school of thought that says that the only way to grow or scale your business is to work harder and harder and to make more and more sacrifices?
What if easy was a choice?
I know that easy is possible, because that’s what I experienced at McDonald’s – easy, flowing, well-oiled machine. Easy is good…really good…when you get there. Easy makes things more efficient, more profitable, more scalable.
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s I witnessed massive growth and scale at McDonald’s – one new restaurant a week, with a constant stream of crew and managers needing to be trained and deployed to run them.
Since I left McDonald’s, I’ve seen business owners who came to me because they wanted to sell their business, fall back in love with it when they realise that business can be easy; that they don’t need to work in it all the time; that they don’t need to slog through the day-to-day of their operation; that they can free themselves completely.
I’ve seen complete control freaks take eight week holidays; people who would maybe leave the country, but have their laptop with them, checking in every single day to make sure their team were doing things right.
Going away, and just letting the business run because you know that everything is in place for it to run well, that’s really what ‘easy’ is all about.
And how do you get to easy?
First, you have to believe that it’s possible.
You have to believe that your people are smart, capable and resourceful; that they’ll work well as part of your team; that they’ll try their hardest for you when they know that you trust them.
And you have to believe in the power of systems; that systems in every area of your business will free you, and your team; that systems are the foundation of every business that wants to grow and scale.
Believe that systems are not chains to tie you down, they are wings to help you fly; a launchpad for freedom – freeing your people, making things easier for your customers, and certainly freeing you.
Once you’ve sorted your mindset, then it’s time to take action – to create simple, logical, repeatable systems, to run your operation, to train your people, to free them to take ownership; to make your life easy.
Are you ready for that sort of action?
Are you tired of being the block in your business – the person that everyone has to come to to get things done – the person that has to check everything before it’s signed off?
Are you tired of missing out on stuff – of working on your holidays – of being ruled by your phone and your inbox?
Are you ready to make your life easy, but you’ve hung round with the people who tell you ‘the only way to success is through harder work and more sacrifice’, for so long that you’re just not sure?
Then why not invest 70 minutes of your time and let me share with you how simple and straightforward it can be to get to ‘easy’.
Join me for one of the two webinars I’m running over the next two weeks, and in return I’ll give you simple tools and strategies that will have an immediate impact on your life and definitely make it easier.
Do one thing: Take action! Check out the dates and times for the webinars and get yourself signed up HERE. Look forward to seeing you there.
Britain is 3rd in the world for start-ups but only 13th for scale-ups!
It’s hard to escape the news at the moment about the lack of productivity in Britain and what that means for the economy going forward. I don’t know about you but when I start thinking on that sort of scale I get incredibly overwhelmed!
But what if we break it down; just imagine if each business in the UK, however small, did their bit. Imagine what that would look like. That’s what the challenge is. It’s not for ‘the country’ to do, it’s for each one of us in business to drive the improvement in productivity and growth, that collectively will make such a difference.
I was really fired up at the Great British Scale-up Conference in London this week. Can you believe that Britain is 3rd in the world for start-ups – there’s 600 million of them. But when it comes to scale-ups, we’re only 13th. What is it we’re doing wrong? Why are so many businesses staying in start-up mode?
Is it because they don’t have the people?
Is it because they don’t have the systems?
After all, scaling is all about these two things.
In last week’s blog I wrote about the importance of finding the right people, and not ‘settling’ for anyone who isn’t absolutely right for you. Once you have the right people, it’s all about keeping them.
How do you do that?
By inspiring them. That’s got to be the goal; don’t just engage them; inspire the life out of them.
Inspired people will stay with you, they’ll grow with your business. So involve them every day, be upfront about the challenges ahead and seek their opinion. If you want to improve the way you do things, ask the people doing them how, don’t always think you know best as the boss.
Communicate, communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. Make yours a business where people are falling over themselves to be a part of what you’ve got going. Give them a sense of emotional ownership so they want to stay. Give them the training and development they need, and then trust them to get on and do their job, take pride in how they do it, and feel that responsibility and ownership for their part in your business success.
Are you ready to do this?
I read an article recently that said two out of three people feel that they work for a ‘bad boss’. A bad boss doesn’t necessarily mean a bully or a lazybones. A bad boss can be lovely, but just not good at the job.
How many times have you come across people promoted to ‘manager’ because they were good at what they do? How many business owners, find themselves managing people as their business takes off? Of course some people are naturally gifted, and some may get training & support, but how many don’t?
Someone once coined the phrase ‘Accidental Manager’, and that’s exactly what these people are – flying by the seat of their pants, fire-fighting, feeling under-pressure, losing sleep over their daily people problems. The joy has gone. They’re now bogged down with people issues instead of doing what they love.
And what does that mean for the team? What does that mean for the business?
Chaos, inefficiency, confusion, and a group of people who would rather be anywhere but working in your business.
So what can you do?
Well, I know what I’m going to do… I’m going to run an online training session, aimed at giving these talented, but struggling managers, tools and strategies for overcoming their people problems, and moving their team from chaos to consistency. In fact that’s what I’ve called it!
If you are one of these accidental managers; if good people keep leaving your business, and you don’t know why; if your team don’t do what you say, or work to the standard you expect; if you’re drowning on your own, but the thought of employing people brings you out in a rash… then you’ll want to be there, to learn:
How to change your mindset around people management
The 3 things all employees want from their managers
The strategies McDonald’s use to get every task done ‘the right way’ every time
How to give feedback & why it’s important
The 3 essentials for building a high performing team
Don’t let the people management in your business chain you to start-up status forever. Break free and reap the rewards of building your very own high performing team.
Do one thing: Put 28th November at 12.30pm in your calendar now, and join me for this free training. It might just change your life. Follow this link to register…do it today…do it now.
Have you ever had someone leave your business after ten minutes?
Let’s take a look a few of the perils and pitfalls of people selection, and how to prevent them.
In the last few weeks, three new clients have had issues while recruiting that might have put other business owners off recruiting for life!
So, could any of these have been avoided? Maybe, maybe not, and if not, how do you overcome this sort of challenge?
The girl wanting more money
How to avoid
Be upfront. I’m a big believer in being upfront in interviews. As far as you possibly can, tell people what it’s like to work in your business, what the salary is going to be, perhaps why it’s set at that level. Maybe you’re a very small business just starting out. Maybe you have a set pay structure, just be clear and open about it, and manage their expectation.
Talk about the other benefits of working with you beyond their salary
If you take great pride in the training that you give every employee, and the development that you give them as people, that’s a great selling point. Your performance management system is too – people want to know what their job is, they want to get feedback on it, and they want to know that they’ll be rewarded when they do a good job.
Involve team members in your recruitment, and give them the opportunity to talk to your potential new recruits about how they’ve benefited from these systems.
Put yourself in their shoes. Think about what you would want if you were them. What would you want to hear that would make you feel more comfortable about the fact that, okay, maybe the salary isn’t quite at the level you wanted, or the level you’re coming from. Get them to feel the excitement of getting on board with your business, with somebody whose going somewhere, somebody who has got a big vision.
How to deal with it
You’ve heard the expression, ‘Don’t negotiate with terrorists.’ For me, this sort of person is an employment terrorist.
Because you’re hiring to your values, you’ll be saying, ‘Whoa! I’m not actually sure that you’re right for us. I’m not sure that our values are aligned. If our values aren’t aligned before you start, what’s it going to look like further down the line?’
If somebody’s prepared to hold you to ransom before they start working with you, what is going to happen in the future?
Keep that in mind.
Is it a massive short term pain finding someone else.absolutely! But better that, than the long term pain of having somebody on your team who believes that they have you over a barrel.
If somebody does this to you before you hire them, they’re doing you a favour because they’re saying, ‘I’m not right for your team.’ So thank them, and let them go.
The two day guy
How to avoid
The best way to avoid this happening, is to offer on job experience. It gives people the opportunity to see what they’re walking into; to experience the culture, what it feels like to be in your environment; the buzz, the good and bad, just the whole sensory blast of what it’s going to be like.
It also gives you and your potential employee a chance to check each other out and decide if you’re the right fit.
How to deal with it
In this example it was great that the guy said, ‘You know what? I’m really sorry. This just isn’t right for me,’ and to leave after two days, instead of three months. Again a case of short term pain, but much better for everyone long term.
The ten minute runner
How to avoid
Who really knows what happened in this case, maybe the girl realised before she walked in, that it wasn’t really what she wanted. Maybe the thoughts of flying solo were just too scary.
How to deal with it
This one possibly could have been avoided through really clear communication upfront. I recommend you do this with every new starter – be really clear about what’s going to happen on day one, in their first week; what their probation period looks like. Think about what you would want to know if it were you. There should be no surprises, or in this case, shocks; you’ve managed their expectations.
I am a big believer in hiring great people, and then helping them to fulfil their potential. It’s the foundation for building a high performing team, and when you have the right mindset around hiring, it will be a joyful experience.
Of course you’ll make mistakes, and there will be incidents like the above; don’t worry about them. They’re just part of building an A plus, high performing team. Remember though, never settle. If you’re building high performing team, never make do with anybody who isn’t A plus.
Good luck with your recruitment. Enjoy it, see it as a wonderful challenge, and start building that high performing team.
Do one thing: talk to your most recent recruits and ask what they found good and bad about their experience and their ideas for improvement.
Date For your diary: Tuesday 28th November 12.30 pm join Marianne to learn how to ‘Move your team from Chaos to Consistency’. It’s for you if you want to become a more effective people manager. If you want to build a high performing team that doesn’t need you around to work well.
E mail email@example.com to register your interest.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)