I’m a big film fan and one of my favourite clips from ‘The Untouchables’ is Sean Connery chasing a baddie, then gasping ‘Enough of this running sh*t!’ And I’ve read a few articles recently denigrating business plans which put me in mind of that line. So I was intrigued to know why people held this view.
I found some common themes:
And I suppose that there’s the rub. It’s not business plans that are useless, it’s more a question of how good your planning process is. If your plan is just a wish list, too complicated, if it hasn’t involved the team and it’s merely been done to tick a box then I would wholeheartedly agree. But when used well, I believe it’s a powerful tool to give focus and energy to your business.
Planning is the platform on which your innovation and creativity can blossom and shine. And that’s just one of my top ten:
The benefits of Planning:
1. Helps you to spot opportunities
A consistent planning system, and planning calendar, forces you to step off the hamster wheel once in a while and get your head up. To go from being a hamster to being a meerkat, if you like. It gets you to review your progress to date – what’s worked well, what hasn’t, what lessons can be learned. It provides space and time to think – about what you want to happen, what might get in the way, how you can get round any obstacles. It opens you up to opportunities, that you might otherwise miss.
2. Brings individuals and teams together and breaks down silos
All too often, specialist teams, or individuals within a business, even a small one like yours, can get lost in their own little world, and not be able to see the value that others bring to the business, or the challenges others face to get things done.
Regular planning creates the opportunity to bring people together from different areas of the business to review the way work is done from the customer’s perspective and make plans based on what is best for the whole business.
3. Creates a safe environment for new and creative ideas
Meet ‘that’s not the way we do things round here’ – first cousin to, ‘we tried that before, and it didn’t work’
It’s this type of statement that will prevent the flow of ideas in your business, and even your best people will not put their creative heads above the parapet if they know they’ll be shot down in flames.
Your planning system offers a structured way to talk openly about the challenges facing your business, and ask for new and creative solutions to overcome them.
4. Gives everyone the chance to contribute
How motivating and exciting to be part of something that is growing and achieving success, thanks in part, to your contribution.
Involve your team in your planning, and you involve them in your Vision for the future – you give them the opportunity to create it.
How much more engaged do you think they will be? How much more ownership do you think they will take?
5. Exposes your blind spots
We all have them. We can all be blind to our own strengths and weaknesses, to our innate prejudices, to other people’s talents and the value they add; and often we need others to shine a light on our blind spots.
It’s the same in business – we all see things from our own view point, and benefit enormously from understanding how others see things. Planning gives us a framework for this.
6. Puts the customer first
Life planning puts you first. Business planning puts the customer first, and ensures that the focus is on what’s best for the customer, building trust and ensuring that everyone is focused on what really matters.
7. Keeps your products relevant
It’s your customers who decide whether your products are relevant to them or not, and it’s your planning system that will ensure that you check in with them - that you look for more innovative and effective ways to meet their needs and satisfy their wants.
8. Builds a stronger management team
Regular planning, focused on the business as a whole, brings the management team closer, and helps them to see the value – skills, experience and expertise – that they each bring. It’s also a great way of developing them, teaching them to focus on the end goal, and the strategies and tactics that will get you there.
9. Determines priorities
Your planning system is a key element in your continuous improvement cycle: plan – implement – review – plan. You start the exercise looking at what’s possible, and by the end it’s all about results.
You understand your long term goal and you’ve plotted your course to get there. Together you’ve agreed your priorities, you’ve decided on your 90 day goals, you have your action plan, you know your first step. It’s simple and it’s logical, and it’s all about getting the right things done.
10. Builds ownership and accountability
Any effective plan assigns the who as well as the what, where, how and when. It gives everyone ownership for their own little piece of the business – their role, their goal, their action plan.
Ownership and accountability are the key differentiators between a regular team, and a high performing team. Your plan will drive this.
Do one thing: Start planning this week for a successful 2019
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
A skunk as you know is something that stinks, and nearly all businesses have them. No, I’m not talking about issues with personal hygiene - your skunks are in your operation, your customer journey, your hiring.
So what does a skunk look like?
It looks like something that isn’t adding value to your business and may be actively detracting from it:
Imagine that you’ve only got one person trained on an aspect of your business and you haven’t got what they do recorded, as a How To, a system which anyone could follow. What happens when this person is sick or on holiday? Things don’t get done or not done to the standard you expect. Often it’s the business owner who has struggled to delegate, not willing to give up ‘their’ tasks for fear of losing control.
I smell a skunk!
Say for example you had a problem with quality, so you added a layer of checking and that’s continued for several years. But you’ve never reviewed it since, to see if it’s still necessary. Quality has improved so you’ve left well alone. But what if the problem was fixed at source through recruitment, training or development and the checker has not found a problem in twelve months? It’s wasting time and money and robbing people of taking pride in their work. It’s a skunk.
Waste really stinks and it’s the little things that collectively can reek. When was the last time you found yourself asking, ‘Has anyone seen the xxx?’ Who was last to use the xxx I can’t find it anywhere?’ Or think of a time you couldn’t go straight to a file you were after online.
‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’
I love the factory idea of a place for everything and a picture of what should be there. (I imagine its what a Japanese garage looks like rather than my own!)
Waste also occurs when we reinvent the wheel; I know I’ve been guilty of it. You know those tasks you do infrequently where you think, ‘How the devil did I do this last time?’ And you waste time going round the houses to get it done. And you’re saying to yourself I really must make a note of this for next time but then you’re so relieved it’s done and your to do list is so long…. so it’s left till next time and round you go again.
How often have you added a step in a procedure without really getting down to the root cause of the problem. That sort of analysis and investigation takes a bit of time and you’re after a quick fix so you just throw money at it. But unless you’re lucky, meddling isn’t fixing. Similarly automating a process without first streamlining it can simply automate inefficiency.
Have you ever recruited someone because they weren’t exactly who you were after but they were the best of the bunch and it was an expensive process? How has that worked out? They might have worked out well but if not, how expensive has that been to your business?
As a customer just think of the last time you were infuriated by the hoops you had to jump through to get service. My pet one is telling someone your tale of woe having queued for twenty minutes on the phone only to be told that someone else has to help you and you’re back in the queue again and then having to re-tell the story… You feel yourself losing the will to live and, unless it’s a service or product you really want, you just walk away.
Solutions for skunks
I know it’s tempting to just kill a skunk when you spot one, and a quick fix will work for some skunks. But if you route one out at the beginning of a process it may have a knock on effect down the line.
What you need is that helicopter view of your whole business, starting with a ‘warts and all’ look at your Customer Journey. Working through the journey from start to end, ideally with your team, will show you the inefficiencies, the blocks and the weaknesses; you’ll be able to see how something at the beginning of the journey is causing a problem further down the line; or how you are a block at a crucial point.
With the whole picture in front of you, you can then make a plan to kill off your skunks, one by one.
Your business will never have smelled so good!
Do one thing: Take the Systems Scorecard and find out where the skunks may be lurking in your business.
I’ve always loved team sports, whether I’m playing them or watching them. Watching them always incurs listening to the pundits and of course with the football season underway we’re awash with analysis. I have to admit that I do enjoy it; I love the insight and the banter. Sometimes, worryingly, I find myself joining in, particularly when I disagree. Anyway, moving swiftly on!
Something that resonated with me recently was the pundits’ view that a winning team needs a strong spine. The idea is that if you have a strong spine from goalkeeper, through centre back, centre midfield and up to your centre forward it will:
And it struck me that in business that strong spine is your process. Having a strong spine of simple, logical, repeatable systems and procedures that everyone in your team follows, allows the whole team to be creative, to stamp their personality on your operation, within a structure. It means that every team member knows what to do when problems arise, they trust in the system. It gives you that agility too to take advantage of sudden opportunities.
It’s about being able to do things on auto pilot because you know the system; you’ve been drilled in it, you know that your team mates know it too, so you trust that they will be where they should be when you need them. Great systems can give great results even when you haven’t got the top superstars.
Of course who you have in each position in your business is still important. You want to recruit to your Vision and Values, team players, people passionate about the customer experience. But it’s the systems that run your business, your people who run the systems. That’s how it should be in business, your systems so well entrenched that when you lose someone to holiday, sickness, maternity leave, your well-oiled machine just keeps on moving forward.
If you’re not into football analogies then think about what Pilates or Yoga does for your body. It gives you a strong core which gives you strength, balance and agility. Continuing to develop great systems in your business is like your weekly Pilates class. Both need you to commit the time and money to their development. The rewards are worth every second of the time you put in.
Do One Thing: Download this free chapter (below) from Marianne’s Amazon bestseller, ‘Simple Logical Repeatable’ to discover more.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
You must have seen the arcade game Whack A Mole* which is all about smacking cute little moles on the head as they peep out of their holes. Fun game! Just as you knock one back another appears and another, and another… until your time, or your money, runs out. Fun, but infuriating!
Do you ever feel like that game mirrors your work - maybe your whole life?
Always fixing the latest problem, always dealing with mini or sometimes major crises?
Of course, for those of you in love with the struggle this is all part of the game, part of what you love about being in business. Fire-fighting can be fun!
A crisis occurs and we rush in and save the day. It’s high-octane, high-energy and a great adrenaline rush. As Deming said,
‘One gets a good rating for fighting a fire; the result is visible; can be quantified. If you do it right the first time, you are invisible. You satisfied the requirements. That is your job. Mess it up, and correct it later, you become a hero.’
I'm sure you're not old enough to remember public service broadcasts! They were like adverts only non-commercial, aimed purely at educating and informing the apparently 'not too bright' population of Britain at the time.
Anyway, there was one about a family whose water pipes had burst. It showed how the father had all the family trained to go through a well-rehearsed, well-drilled process of dealing with it - turn off stop cock, get buckets under leak, mop up water with old towels...
At the end of the ad a smug father and his family stand there proudly, crisis overcome. And just as you’re thinking that it's their well-drilled 'crisis management' that's being recommended, an even smugger voiceover pipes up, ‘Well done Mr Mole, but what a pity you let it happen in the first place!’
Fire-fighting can be fun. But! What if our time or money runs out?
It isn't sustainable, it's a waste of our resources, and it's certainly not good for our reputation - with our team or our customers.
Yes, some fire-fighting is inevitable; there will always be the knowns and the unknowable, the controllable and the uncontrollable. No matter how much we plan or anticipate the future there will always be a certain level of uncertainty.
But - if you're constantly fire-fighting, if every business day is a game of Whack A Mole, then maybe it's time to call in MPL pest control* and get some preventative systems in place.
We don’t kill moles, but we do prevent them from digging up your business.
Do one thing: Look back over the last couple of months and check out how much mole-whacking you’ve done. Think about how having systems in place for each area of your business could have prevented this and saved you and your business time and money.
If you need help, our intensive two-day Systems4Scale Bootcamp is for you! To find out more information you can download our brochure here.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week!
*no moles were harmed in the writing of this article.
I’ve seen a number of posts recently about parents proudly and perhaps anxiously getting their kids to school for their first day. It’s that time again; new beginnings. For some their first day at a new school or college. For others their first day in a new role or a new job; maybe their first ever job?
Can you remember back to one of your first days? We’ve all had at least one.
So what was it like?
Were you over-awed, bored or just completely bewildered?
Did you take in every word that was said, or did you go home on a caffeine-high with a numb bum?
I’d love to think you had a great day and came away buzzing with drive and energy dying to tell your other half, mum or dad what a great day you had and how excited you were about the future.
That’s what you want for the individuals joining YOUR team, but is that what happens?
A new recruit’s First Day is your opportunity to make a great first impression. It’s your chance to get a new team member excited about their future with you, to understand what’s expected of them, and get a feel for what’s possible.
First impressions count, and that applies to your team members too. Usually the focus is on giving lots of information; we’ve all been there suffering the slow death by power-point. When what’s really important is to give heaps of inspiration.
Yes, there are some very basic things you have to get across to them - where the toilets are, the fire procedure, where everyone goes for lunch maybe, but keep these as brief and to the point as possible.
The things that are going to inspire them are:
Think about splitting your day into 3 short sections:
If you look at your content and think it’s way too much to take in, then cut it. You want to avoid overload and get most value from their time, and your own, and besides, you don’t have to tell them everything about your business on day one.
Your aim should be for that first day to reflect what you and your business are all about. I’m not talking a song and dance routine, but you want it to be full of high energy, passion and creativity, and as interactive as you can make it.
We’ve got a great little worksheet to help structure your new recruit’s first day, and to make it memorable for all the right reasons.
Do one thing: Download our free worksheet below
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
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?
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Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)