Archive for Business – Page 2

How time flies

I can’t believe how quicklythe year is going by, and how each day brings me one step closer to my goal of Ironman finisher 2013.

Training is going reasonably well – although the running part is not quite where I would like it, especially seeing I had intended running the Gold Coast Marathon this weekend, but now will line up on the Half marathon start line instead.  It is really only the past two or three weeks that I have, pardon the pun, hit my stride and pushed out some fairly solid, albeit slow, long runs.  I am not buying into limiting beliefs around my performance, chosing to believe that I will indeed run the half marathon rather than walk it, and I will finish inside the cut-off times.  Is this realistic, possibly not given the amount of training.  I am relying on the fitness I have gained in the pool and on the bike to help here.

I am loving the way my body is responding to the training, the weight is finally shifting and I can really notice a difference.  The fact that I am now able to put all my TS14+ clothes in the Life Line bin and return to normal sizing, is a real boost and is keeping me focussed on stayng on track.  I have a wardrobe of different sizes, and now as I move back through the sizes, I bin those that are too big – never to return to them.  I have even cleaned out my training apparel drawers and culled some old running singlets, and some nicks that are past use by date.  This is quite symbolic and I feel that this will open up room in my life for new things to come in.

Excited about going to the Gold Coast tomorrow and breathing in the wonderful salt air – the atmosphere in the race precinct is invigorating and extremely motivating.  Bring it on.

 

 

Stress Reduction Sessions – Woo-woo or Good Business

I recently encountered an organisation that is going through significant change and this is presenting some challenges for rank and file staff.  The staff are concerned for their jobs as they see potential duplication as the organisation merges with another and the stress this uncertainty is creating for some staff is showing.  Other changes are also contributing to the anxiety within the workforce and yet  the leaders do not see an issue.  Offers to avail the services of qualified experts to assist alleviate the stress and anxiety are rejected.

This raises both concerns in my mind, but also piques my curiosity as to just how employee welfare programs such as stress reduction are viewed and just how seriously senior management is viewing the issue.

From my perspective, it is a no brainer – and it is the introduction of these relatively small initiatives that go a long way to helping an organisation achieve the coveted “Employer of Choice” title.  Simply putting it in the values or company vision statement, does not make it so – the leadership teams can chose to believe it as much as they want, but without credible action, it is just an empty statement.

Recognising that most corporates think as level 4 – fact & figures and evidence based, I started looking for empirical evidence and case studies that support my view that stress reduction initiatives are not woo-woo new age “stuff” – BUT PLAIN GOOD BUSINESS.

Aetna, one of the USs largest insurers, partnered with Duke University School of Medicine and found in their study that employees who participated in regular yoga classes were less stressed and as a result introduced yoga to employees.

Stress costs business hard cash.  This comes in the form of absenteeism due to illnesses attributable to stress, but also the cost of lost creativity, productivity and overall performance.  The World Health Organisation has calculated the cost of stress to American business to be as high as $300 billion.  And here’s the scary thing, the incidence of stress in the workplace as escalated over the past 20 years by 18% in women and 25% in men. I have no reason to doubt that the statistics here in Australia are not similar.

Business professors including the renown Michael Porter wrote in the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge that their recommendation was that because of the enormous cost to business of stress related illness business “mount an aggressive approach to wellness, prevention, screening and active management of chronic conditions”.

And yet we continue to see companies that can’t or won’t see the value of focussing on wellness in the workplace.  In fact it could be said that working in quite a few corporate environments is hazardous to the employees health.

One simple low cost initiative is the introduction of half hour employee stress release sessions – compare the cost of taking the employees away from their desks forhalf an hour versus the cost of doing nothing.  To find out more about how to introduce such a program into your workplace, contact me www.theperformancemasters.com.au/contact

 

Inspired Leadership

Imspired leaders derive their power not from a position, a title or in the case of government, a pay grade, but from the very core of themselves.  True inspirational leaders emerge from within.

When we change ourselves to attune with our core essence to become leaders of ourselves first, we do not need to demand that others follow – they will do so without our demands.

Inspired leaders lead from beyond the drama, and melodramatics created by crisis mode management.

There is no doubt that the list of attributes is long, and can be debated, but after looking at the behaviours and studying leaders I consider to be inspirational, seven traits appear to be the most common:

  1. They have a vision and very clear picture of their Big Why – in Values Pendulum terms, they have embraced level 6 thinking in this area – they know why they are doing what they do, and more over are able to communicate this in such a way that it engages those around them.  Moreover they know how to bring the vision to fruition.
  2. The listen, and they do it well. The invest time in developing this vital skill.  They don’t interrupt, they are not thinking of the next thing to say, or something beyond the conversation, and they understand the unspoken signals.
  3. They bring out the best in their teams. They engender loyalty and they genuinely care about their teams.  They see each member for their potential they bring to the team, and do not see them as a commodity that can be tossed aside on a whim.
  4. They live in a state of expanded awareness.  They see awareness as the source of all possibility and through this are able to raise the group consciousness to higher levels, driving performance higher and higher.
  5. Leaders do the do – they take action.  A goal or a vision, remains that, unless action is taken – or as Tony Robbins says – massive action. Inspirational leaders are also prepared to do the things that they ask their teams to do and serve as role models
  6. Take responsibility – for themselves, for the delivery of the results, for the growth of the team, for their state and their feelings, and for how they perceive the world.
  7. They have an abundant mindset – a mindset focussed on plenty and not one of scarcity and lack.  There is always a way, and they persist until they find it.

Inspirational leaders deliver results because they get their ego’s out of the way, and serve.

Are you really getting all the sales you should?

Or are you leaving money lying around for your competitors?

In recent weeks, I have had several instances where money has remained in my wallet, only to be spent in another location, or not at all.  And this is money that could have easily been extracted if the person behind the counter, or online had engaged with me.  Some are relatively minor, small amounts of money – others are larger sums.

The intent of this blog is not to be a rant about poor service, but rather to provide examples and food for thought for small business owners. Maybe it will be an “aha” moment that triggers some training and if you would like some advice around this or find out how cost effective it can be for your business contact me at http://theperformancemasters.com.au/contact/.

Little fish are sweet – the first example happened at a butchers shop – I was wanting some treats for my dog, but the butcher couldn’t cut the bones because he had washed his machines – ok, I get that, but instead of asking me what I wanted it for, and engaging with me, and offering me an alternative, he let me walk away.  How many other sales are walking off, all because the staff are not talking to the customer.  Are your staff just order takers, or are they there to generate sales because they solve the customer’s problem?

At a city shoe store, two young sales assistants stood behind that magical safety barrier that saves them from customers – the counter – messaging on phones while I browsed, picked up shoes, turned them over, walked the entire store, and after one last look to see if they had noticed me, walked out.  Leaving over $100 in my wallet.

And my most frustrating – a sports product company that offered a bonus to participants in an event if they signed up, and purchased on line – the website didn’t work, so I pointed it out – got an apology a few days later, so tried again, finding a bundled product that was what I was after at a price lower than the components but after several unsuccessful attempts to purchase the product, gave up and emailed the company to see if it was user error, or if there was another problem with their website – eventually got a resonse from the marketing manager to say that the product bundle I selected was no longer offered (the products were all still offered individually) – no apology for wasting my time, no acknowledgement that they were continuing to advertise product that they weren’t prepared to sell (wonder what ACCC feels about that).  I haven’t bought anything from them, and still have the funds left on my credit card, so more sales left on the table. And returning to my old brand of sports nutrition.

So my challenge to you is, mystery shop your business, find out if you are missing sales, and if you are, what action are you prepared to take?  If you are ready for a no nonsense practical cost effective approach to putting more dollars in your till, I’m ready to show you how.

What Does Your Website Say About You

Our websites should be the reflection of our business and should be the portal for our clients to interact with us.  And there is a huge body of research that describes the average length of time a person spends on a website before either becoming engaged with you, or clicking away to somewhere else, and one of the factors that determines how a visitor interacts with you is the way you website appears to that visitor.

This blog is not about how to build an amazing website, it contains no technical information, it is however intended to pose the question of just how relevant is your website to your business, and just what does it portray, and more importantly, is it likely to resonate with your target market – how does it look to them.

There are examples of websites that are absolutely laser focussed on their target market and the congruence is immediately apparent.  These websites belong to the whole cross section of business – from some of the top global brands and companies, to very small business that have been built on a shoestring.

So the key is not how big is your budget, but how well do you really understand your target market and what resonates with them.

Using Values Pendulum TM frameworks we can gain insights into the attributes of a website (and by extension, marketing collateral) that are truly congruent with their target market, and those that miss the mark.

Values Pendulum describes how at each values level, your market will want something different from you, and as such your marketing should emphasise the attributes of the level that your market is primarily operates under.  For example, a market that operates from a stability values level will want to know there are systems and process and you have authority and the credentials where as one that operates from a connection level, will want to know that they are part of a community.

At each level, there are different language patterns, marketing images and colours that resonate with the market.

If your target market is in survival eg  a Start-Up business owner, then inclusions in your website such as FREE downloads or FREE cosultations will resonate.  You are wanting to signal to this market that you have a solution for them that gets them beyond their survival mode.  The colours should have neutrals to match where the market is, with some accents of blue to signal stability and a sparingly used red for power.  Your images should include anything that signals direction such as a signpost or compass.

The next level is where the market is focussed on creating a community.  At this level use of pink, purple or pastels will resonate with this market.  An excellent example of this can be found on the Womens Network Australia website – this is a website very congruent with its target market – it is all about community and connection.

Level three is about power and typically where a the market will be looking for success stories, scarcity, strengh and a degree of uniqueness.   The colours that resonate with this market will be strong red, black and orange with a touch of gold.

The stabilily level – Level four – is one where rules and right and wrong are prevalent in the thinking of this market.  This is the level that corporates, government, and religion operate at, so if this is your market, strong use of blues, silver, grey, black and possibly a very dark green to show deep rooted growth.  Gold can be used to show that you implement structure for profit.  There are numerous excellent examples of websites targetting markets operating at this level.  Some notable examples of websites that speak to this market are found at AMP or Maquarie.

Level five is a level where entrepreneurial thinking is found and if this is your market your website should contain oranges, gold, red, black or platinum.  Your website should offer visitors options such as Exclusivity, Inner Circles, Mentoring groups

The final level that is generally found, albeit in a small proportion of the population, is one where the market is linked to a higher purpose.  This market is interested in paying it forward, or contribution, so your website must signal that your business understands the need to leave a legacy, be sustainable and environmentally friendly and take care of the borader community.  Colours such as yellow and green will resonate strongly with this group.  Interesting website is Habitat for Humanity which includes elements of the Level 6, but also talks strongly to the Levels 2 (community/connection).

Like all marketing, the first step is to really understand who your Avatar is, and understand what motivates them and what level they are operating at. If you follow this by matching your collateral and website, you will connect with your market on a deep level which in turn will influence the outcomes you get.

 

 

 

The “I’s” Don’t Always Have It

Successful projects depend on a number of factors, and one of the most critical is the composition of the project team.  Like any well rounded organisation, a project team requires a blend of all behavioural styles and a clear understanding of where and how each fits into the overall result.

A project can be anything ranging from a major building project to delivery of an IT project or even a major new business pitch.  Irrespective of the actual deliverable, the team composition question is an important one, but one which can be overlooked, especially in organisations where process and systems and technical knowledge are highly valued.

No doubt, subject matter experts are vital to the project, but success depends on more than this.  It depends on the ability of the project leader to harness the resources, drive them forward uniformly and maintain an environment conducive to quality output.

A well run project is also one that is not characterised by drama, panic direction changes or last minute critical decisions.  Drama has no place in successful outcomes and yet this seems to be a problem encountered by project teams. In most cases, the drama stems from the leadership, not the workers, and yet it is the workers in the project who bear the brunt of the drama.  Drama impacts productivity and achieves nothing, other than derailing the process, and destabilising the team.

Drama creates fear, uncertainty and can cause significant rework – none of which contributes to a successful outcome.

It can be avoided by taking a number of steps including making sure that the team is balanced from a behavioural style perspective.  One effective way to achieve this is to understand the four different behavioural styles described in the EDISC model, and understand how each typically performs when under pressure.

The ideal candidate for a calm balanced project team, especially as it approaches critical deadlines, is a person with an EDISC profile that has dominant D & C with a reasonable I.  This is opposed to having someone who is a dominant I leading the team – the dominant I is valuable in communicating, engaging clients and stakeholders through the process, but tends to lack the calm determination of a DCI or CDI combination.  The I is better at selling the pitch at the end, not driving the process. At the extreme I will create drama and instability in the team environment.  They may also lack the focus to be able to keep the team on track at critical points in time.

There is no good or bad style, no one style better than the other, but there are styles which are naturally more suited to some situations. This is not to say another style cannot step up and perform in those situations, however it will be tougher and energetically taxing.  A good leader understands this, understands how to play to the strengths and capitalise on the whole behavioural spectrum available to them.

For further information on how to harness the behavioural styles in your organisation, visit http://theperformancemasters.com.au/contact/

Making good staff great

One of the sure fire ways to drive business performance irrespective of size to create a workforce that is engaged and committed and also one which has the skills to effectively communicate with each other, with customers and other stakeholders.

There are many aspects to effective communication, and numerous ways in which it can be improved.  One way which is easy to teach and which when mastered is very powerful comes from the world of NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming).  NLP is a powerful tool that connects the language patterns of an individual with their neurological processes and their behaviour.  Once the patterns are learned and understood, the user develops an acute awareness of the patterns observed in others and as such is able to use language to drive outcomes.

NLP is particularly powerful in client facing and sales roles but is applicable to all roles.  Through understanding the patterns of their clients and their colleagues, staff are able to ascertain how the client is motivated and what sorts of statements are more likely to resonnate and what statements are likely to have little or no impact.  One particular component is the Meta Programs of NLP.

Meta programs are mental processes that guide other mental processes. People use strategies or patterns for making decisions or becoming convinced of something.  Understanding these and learning how to identify them is a key to improved communication outcomes.  There are around 60 in total, but of this, there are a handful which are key.

The key programs I recommend staff learn are:

  1. Moving Towards/Away –being motivated by either moving towards something or away from something to be avoided.  This is powerful in understanding how to get someone to do something.  eg.  In a gym sales transaction – an “away” person would be motivated by a comment such as moving away from feleing sluggish whereas a “toward” person would be motivated by the new clothes they can have when they have a great body
  2. Internal/External Motivation – an internally motivated person will rely on themselves for a sense of satisfaction and knowing they have done a good job, whereas an external person will need the boss to tell them
  3. Sorting by self or others – this one looks at whether or not the person is motivated by things for themselves first, or for others
  4. Necessity versus Possibility – here the distinction is between someone who makes a decision based on whether or not they MUST do it, versus the person who makes decisions based less on what they have to do and more by what they want to do
  5. Independent, Cooperative and Proximity working styles – different people have different working styles, some like to be independent, and have difficulty working under close supervision, others function better as part of a group, and others like somewhere in between .
  6. Matcher versus Mismatcher – this is how people sort information to learn or use – some  will look for commonality, they are the matchers whereas others will always look for differences – how what you are telling them is different.
  7. Convincer Strategy – this program tells the speaker what a person needs to know to be convinced – very powerful metaprogram for sales staff – there are a series of questions that can be asked to find out what the person’s strategy is – and are easily incorporated into the sales training program.  Once learned it is a powerful way to lock in sales.

When these porgrams are integrated into effective communication trainings, the result is instant and impactful.  For further information how to introduce these and other powerful strategies into your business check http://theperformancemasters.com.au/what/business-clients/business-breakthrough-package/

 

Soaring or Falling

This is the time of year when many business owners return to work with a new business plan awash with great hopes for their business for the New Year.  Much like a proverbial Year’s resolution.

For many this will have been an annual occurrence and for some of these owners, the end of the year previous did not meet their expectations – the gloss wore off somewhere during the year and yet for others – the results were bright and shiny and larger than life.

So the big question is “why”.

Why, if the owners had a plan and a set of business objectives – how come they fell short?  And why did others soar?

The usual response from one of those who did not reach their objectives tends to attribute the reasons to somewhere outside themselves, very rarely, if ever, do I hear the business owner say that they were the reason the business did not reach its goals – it was the market, the weather, the poor staff, the customer and so it goes on.

These responses highlight to me a number of fundamental differences between those who are soaring and those who are falling.

The most common is that the ones who are soaring understand that their business is a reflection of them and as such make sure that their thinking is aligned with the business outcomes, and their lives reflective of what they want to achieve. And going beyond this, they embrace responsibility for their outcomes.

Soarers have an unshakeable vision of why – the Big Why- they are doing what they do.  They can articulate very clearly what the purpose of their business is.  This is not just some rhetoric on the wall or their website, but something they live and breathe and something which they are able to communicate to all staff and customers and importantly, have them buy into the vision and jump aboard.

This vision is not something that the leaders of the business pretend that the staff “get” or think that staff are on board with, it is real because the owner and leadership of the business are in touch with the organisation and are able to “sell” the dream to all levels of thinking.  Business owners operating from this perspective understand that within their business, there are people whose lens on life may not be the same as theirs and communicate accordingly.

Flowing on from the Big Why is a series of questions that the soaring owners consider and which form the cornerstone of their plans.  The answers to these coupled with the Big Why are the secret to unlocking their dreams and because any business is a reflection of its owner, the answers must also point the way to unlocking their personal dreams as well.

The questions soaring owners constantly ask themselves define the quality of their outcomes and asking quality questions is an integral part of their daily rituals.  Of all these questions, there are three that generate the power to turn the key and unlock the doors to their dreams.

 

  1. Who do I need to be in order to achieve the Big Why?

Soaring owners understand that there needs to be congruence between who they are as individuals and their Big Why. They understand that the business is a reflection of them and as such, anything other than total congruence will create a different business outcome.

  1. What do I need to start doing and what do I need to stop doing in order to achieve the Big Why?

All outcomes require action. Simply wanting them will not create them.  Successful people take action, and at times massive action. They are clear about what they need to start doing and also have the acuity to know what they need to stop doing.  The stop doing is anything that does not move them in the direction and closer to their Big Why. It is the distractions that waste time but do not contribute to the outcome.  It is spending time with people who are not aligned with the outcome, it is anything that sabotages the forward momentum.

Successful people know how to say “No” and ask the question “For what purpose are we doing this?” They are able to emotionally detach from activities that do not serve the Big Why and move on.

  1. What am I prepared to do and what am I not prepared to do to reach the Big Why?

Soaring business owners have clarity around the boundaries and the extent to which they are willing to make sacrifices or forego opportunities and this illuminates choices that need to be made.  They understand the opportunity cost of their decisions.

In contrast to this, the falling business owner, does not have a clear framework for decisions which results in inconsistency in direction and sometimes finding themselves in situations and positions they are not comfortable being.  This often leads to a spiral into further pressure on business deliverables.

At the end of the day success leaves clues.  The secret is whether or not the filter that the business owner is using to look at life and their business through is clear and focussed, or if it is cloudy and distorted.  Above the line or below the line thinking, it is all a matter of choice – soar or fall.

Molehills not mountains

After a week of experiencing Mountains from Molehills thinking in the workplace, another potential Mt Everest has presented itself on the training front.

Right calf has a couple of small tears in it, which explains the performance ( or lack of) during recent attempts to run.  Physio has said no running, walking ok, so grounded.  This could have been a catastrophe if I had chosen to think that way, but I have taken the view that walking is the way that I originally started my weight loss journey, so maybe this is what I need to be doing right now.

No reason not to swim and bike, so really only a molehill.

The empowering thing is that I know how to change my thinking and I am not locked into the rigid thinking and behavioural styles I see day in day out – but whilst it is frustrating dealing with people who want to be mountain climbers instead of just skipping over the odd molehill, I have decided this is absolute gold – the ability to see how the different lens through which we look at life play out, in real life, is magic.

A week away now for some more learning – no gym at this hotel, so walking will be the order of the day – so looking forward to exploring parts of Albert Park and reacquaint myself with parts of the Melbourne marathon course.  Nothing like some positive anchoring. Bring it on!

All Aboard

When it comes to driving business performance, numerous options present themselves to the business leadership.  One of the most powerful and yet, sometimes underrated, is employee engagement.  According to HR consulting firm HayGroup, there are direct links between employee engagement and profit.

In knowledge based businesses, the workforce is the most substantial asset a business has.  So any method that enables the business’s leadership to leverage the power of this asset, must deliver results. Whilst always relevant, employee engagement and its links to performance are especially relevant during times of change – mergers, downsizing or change in leadership.

The success of the merger depends amongst other things on successful establishment of a unified, committed workforce that understands and embraces the vision of the leadership. The more effectively and efficiently this occurs the faster the change becomes business as usual, the faster results emerge and when shared and embraced, a new vision and purpose presents the leadership with an opportunity to create significant competitive advantage.

Adopting a vision driven approach, there are six key steps that form an ongoing process that enable leadership to create an engaged workforce:

  1. The first step in creating an engaged and by extension productive workforce, is for the leadership to develop a clear vision for the organisation that they can articulate –  A vision which inspires – the ‘why” we are doing this.   A well articulated vision that is congruent and ecological is a critical success factor.  To truly create a transformational impact on the business, leaders must step beyond the run of the mill “values and vision” motherhood statements that lack conviction and are not congruent with behaviours observed on the ground by the staff.  Leaders who do create engaging visions are the ones who are able to embrace muliplistic based thinking – increasing the possibility sets available to the teams and the wider business.  They are leaders who have moved beyond positional leadership to higher levels of leadership where staff follow because they want to rather than have to.
  2. The second is for the leadership to develop an awareness of where the business is in terms of its culture and stage in lifecycle and against this backdrop accept that not all members of the workforce view the business through the same lens as either the leaders or each other.
  3. The third is to adopt a framework for assessing the business, various teams and divisions within the business and the individual team member’s level of thinking.  This is especially relevant in corporate environments where there will be many different levels of thinking occurring simultaneously. A unique and valuable tool available to business leadership is Values PendulumTM which is a dynamic cross-contextual thinking style model that enables the causes of unrealised performance to be identified.  It is not a closed system that stereotypes or pigeon holes individuals into “types” but rather one that highlights the levers that the leadership can utilise to rally the staff – create a call to action – and drive performance.
  4. Fourth step is taking the insights from the assessment of how the different levels of thinking shape behaviour and developing a blueprint for how the business will operate.   The insights also enable the leadership to see that the traditional “default” position of improving processes and systems may not always be the most effective approach by highlighting other levers which exist within the business.  These alternate levers such as culture, relationships, marketing, collaboration to name a few may potentially have a greater impact on rallying the workforce behind the vision, than the “default”.
  5. The fifth is to take the blueprint and distil into targeted plans to best leverage the capabilities of each of the components of the business against the overarching framework of the initial vision.  The plans must always be measured against the vision – against the question of “does this take us closer or further from our vision, and for what purpose are we doing this?”
  6. The final step is to test, measure, evaluate and adjust.  Have the blueprints and the targeted plans delivered a robust, replicable and sustainable growth pattern in the business?  What works, and what needs to change.

Ultimately, employees are the businesses greatest assets and it is their enthusiasm, being “on the bus” that will underpin the businesses growth.  Strong committed leadership, a clear vision, acceptance of diversity and a willingness to see the business through many different filters are all ingredients for a sustainable growth trajectory.