22 Dec

How good was your year?

A common practise for many of us at this time of the year is to reflect on the year’s past achievements, wins and challenges, and then to set goals and plan for the year ahead.

An unfortunate trend that is seen during this reflection process is that people start off thinking only about their business wins and losses. They become extremely motivated to get stuck in and busily start planning the business goals and setting action plans so they are the first out of the starting blocks when the new year rolls around. They sadly overlook their well being and personal goals and when questioned about them, it is assumed that these goals would just “fit in” with everything else.

So let’s take one step backwards and start off with some reflection. In your own time, answer the following questions and then think about how your answers have affected your life over the past year.

  • What were your eating habits like this year?
  • What were you sleeping habits like this year?
  • What were your alcohol and caffeine habits like this year?
  • What were your exercise habits like this year?
  • How much time did you spend with your loved ones this year?
  • How much time did you spend on your own this year?

If any of your answers were “Could have been better” then start to think of ways you can improve this area of your life. Why? Well if your “could have been better” answers had been better this past year, how would they have positively influenced your life and contributed positively to your business?

These questions are really basic, but these issues always seem to be the first things to be neglected when we get stuck into “work mode”. And the first things we yearn for when we hit the proverbial wall.

The funny thing about change is that it happens whether we like it or not, but if you do nothing, the changes that take place will probably be for the worst, causing dangerous habits to develop. So in order to control the change and to implement good healthy sustainable habits, you need to alter your thinking, attitude, values and behaviour.

The last area I’d like for you to reflect on, is how well did you manage to switch off your “being connected” button this year?

Lately I have been reading Roald Dahl and specifically the Oompa-Loompa’s rhymes and songs, from Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The one poem that truly resonated with me can be read below. When reading it, think of yourself and your smart phones, laptops, iPads and any other device that keeps you connected to the world. So connected, they seem to suck you in, take over your life and turn you into a connection addict. Think about your daily routine and habits that have been formed from the result of viewing these devices and then think of how they are affecting your personal life  and business, positively and negatively. How could you manage these for the better? The learning from this poem is not just aimed at children, but at us as well.

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

13 Dec

How much do you invest in your business?

When I think business, I think people. Why? Well in order to have a business or even a successful business it first needs people to add value, before value can be provided to  clients.  Without people or without the right people, there is no business.

So let’s rephrase our initial question. How much do you invest in your people?

When this question gets asked, so many people assume that it refers to a financial investment and their eyes glaze over and the common answer is, “We don’t have the budget right now!”

So, if you don’t have the budget, does it mean that you cannot invest in your people?

The funny thing is often employees are not always wanting the financial reward. Don’t get me wrong, extra money is great, but its not the only thing. Employees actually want other “investments” from you their employer.

Investment #1 – They want to be treated as  equals

Why did you hire your employees? You hired them to do a job, which you couldn’t or didn’t want to do. If you hired them correctly then they would be an expert in that specific field. You might be the boss, but they are the expert. They know the right way and the wrong way to achieve certain outcomes. They need you to take their opinions, recommendations and advice seriously. They need you to listen to them. Not to patronise them, but to engage with them as equals and show them that you appreciate the value that they are adding.

How can you achieve this? Be present. Focus 100% of your attention on them and what they are saying. Being distracted and impatient in their presence can be perceived as showing a lack of interest and these specialists might will lose interest and move on.

By treating your people as equals you are including them. You are sending out a message that they are not just working in your business, but they are collaborating with you and working on building the business. They become instrumental in the business success.

Investment # 2 – They want to be developed

Good people will continuously look for challenges, growth and development. They are always wanting to improve their skills. If they are stuck in the same role they get bored and start looking for greener pastures.

People development can be achieved by in-house or external training, mentorship programmes and coaching initiatives. You can even ask your employees where they want to focus their growth and how this development will align to their current or future position within the business. You might be surprised with what you hear?

Investment # 3 – They want regular communication

This doesn’t have to be a formal sit down session. It can be a 10 minute chat  over a cup of coffee. The conversation doesn’t even have to be about work, it can be about family, personal interests or even the weather. That small investment of your time goes a long way to proving you are actually approachable. Regular conversations, regular engagements and regular contact is key to building loyal team members and strong employee relations.

Investment # 4 – They want recognition

People want to know they have done a good job. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you fill, everyone wants to hear “Well done! Great Job!” every now and again.

When last did you compliment your people for a job well done? You may find the following article interesting – Thank you!

Investment # 5 – They want responsibility

Good employees are people who want to be able to make decisions. If you demand that all decisions are passed through you first, then expect for your good people to leave.

By providing your people with the business vision, mission and values they are able to align their decisions to these business fundamentals when the need arises.

Allow your people to feel accountable for their positions and their decisions. By following this practise, you are not only developing your team, but you are building their confidence, their self-esteem and their loyalty to your business.

03 Dec

Why your business needs coaching

I was chatting with a lady the other day and she told me flat out, “We don’t do coaching in our business”. Unfortunately this view reflects many businesses out there, that (for a number of possible reasons) haven’t realised the value in coaching.

So what are they missing out on? Here are six of the top benefits:

  1. By introducing proper coaching practises into your business you are sending a message to all employees that they are important to the business. That the business would like to see them growing and developing in their current positions, in their careers and in their own personal lives. This type of investment in your employees results in increased company loyalty and a decrease in employee turnover. More time is spent growing the skills and capabilities of the teams and building the business than wasted on long and tedious recruitment and on-boarding processes.
  2. Engaged and motivated team members results in increased productivity.
  3. Good coaching programmes improve communication skills. When people start to communicate properly they are able to build trust relationships with each other.  They know where each party stands on important issues.  Assumptions, miscommunication and misunderstandings can be eliminated.
  4. Good coaching practises results in having clearly defined goals and action plans where achievements, progress and challenges are discussed and reflected on on a regular basis. This increases team morale as the team members can see their progress and successes.
  5. Coaching allows for businesses to have succession planning. An integral  part of the business, which ensures that key decision making positions are filled by competent and deserving individuals.
  6. If there is a coaching culture within your business, by default managers become more approachable. For employees to know that they can approach their bosses for advice and operate in a non-judgemental environment, makes a significant difference to any employee.

These coaching results don’t just happen over night and it takes time, effort and buy-in to get there. However by just starting off and introducing coaching into your business you are on the right path to achieving these results.