27 May

Improving employee retention

Are you continually having to re-fill key positions within your team?
Employee retention is an area in business that is often overlooked. It doesn’t sound as sexy as product innovation, marketing initiatives or even evaluating the company’s P & L. So management often pay more attention to these issues, than on how to stop losing team members to the competition, for example.
Not dealing with employee retention problems can be like walking on thin ice. The weight of your business goals become so heavy that the business resources, specifically your team, are unable to support the business demands and eventually something has to give. Without a strong team, there can be no innovation or business growth and you will find yourself sinking into icy water.
Surely it can’t be that hard? Find the right people and give them an offer they cannot refuse. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Job offers don’t stand on their own. New hires also have to accept everything else that comes along with their new position. They are accepting the day-to-day routines, the norms, challenges, reputation and history of your business. They are accepting the leadership team and new peers. They are accepting “how things get done” within the business.
Now if they are happy with these factors, which make up a company’s culture, then performing their new job becomes easy. They are not distracted by non-work office stuff and are able to give their new position one hundred percent focus. The environment or culture will actually boost their performance, morale and efficiency. However, if things are feeling “off” they will be distracted, which will result in lower performance, lack of focus and possible demotivation. This scenario may not end there, as they can even become a disruptor within the business.
So if you are a business that wants to attract the right kind of people, with specialised skills and knowledge to drive your business forward and to remain loyal to your business, then you must take a step back and take an objective look at your business. Don’t just ask if the potentials on the shortlist can do the job, but assess whether they would fit into the company’s culture. Ask yourself if the company’s culture is able to support these people. Is your culture something these professionals will want to be part of, or something that they should sensibly avoid?
It’s not just about the job!
18 May

Adding value to your team members

John Maxwell said, “You add value to people, when you value them”.  So how do you value  your team members? Or, should I rather say, how do you actively show your people that you value them? What characteristics do you want to add to your corporate culture?

Don’t paint everyone with the same brush

It’s important to note that every one of your team members is a unique person and they need to be treated as individuals. Acknowledging them for their own individuality can be done through:

  • One-on-one contact time: Never assume that everyone needs the same level of attention as you do. One-on-one contact or follow-up time needs to be scheduled at mutually agreed times. Think about each one of your team members. Which of them needs regular productive contact time with you and which ones are happy with weekly or even fortnightly contact time?
  • Feedback style: not everyone will react positively to one style of feedback. Are you aware of which feedback techniques each individual team member reacts well too? If not, perhaps you need to investigate this further. Team members who ignore or react negatively to feedback or the manner in which it is delivered can cause damage to your business.

Listen to and acknowledge their ideas

What’s the main reason for these people being in the business? They are there to add value by drawing on their own areas of expertise and unique learning experiences. So why do we ignore them and shut them down? If you want to truly value your team, then stop talking and start listening.

The sad but true reality of the situation is that once someone experiences this type of  treatment of not been taken seriously for their ideas and suggestions, or are regularly shut down, they just stop. They stop suggesting and being creative with business solutions and their motivation levels begin to drop. They become clock-watchers and stop being team players.

Showing gratitude

The power of acknowledgment and gratitude is incredible and the best way I can drive this point home is by telling a story…

A friend of mine had been working for a company for about a year. She and her husband recently shifted house and ended up moving an extra 65km away from their respective workplaces. When I asked her if she was going to move jobs due to the distance and possible inconvenience, she immediately said, “Absolutely not! I love my job and the company is so good to us.  I will take on that extra burden of driving the extra distance because I wouldn’t want to leave them (the company).”  

I would understand this answer coming from someone who had possibly worked for an organisation for a longer period. As there would have been more professional and/or personal time invested into the business. However, when I asked what it was that made them such an awesome company to work for, she simply stated that they looked after them. That the company went out of its way to publicly acknowledge their hard work. They were made to feel needed and appreciated.

This business had made such an impact on my friend that she was prepared to sacrifice her time for them. That type of loyalty is priceless.

It costs a business nothing to value their people. However, high employee turnover can cost a business thousands of dollars a year.

13 May

What I learned from attending a TEDx Event

I am a TED freak. You could go as far as calling me a TED groupie. I love the concept of sharing great ideas and being exposed to amazing people, great thinkers and industry pioneers. Recently I was lucky enough to attend the TEDx FlipSide conference in Auckland.

For two days I was immersed in new ideas, new concepts, interesting discussions and plenty of hearty debate. There were many lessons I would take away from this experience, but as a business coach there were two that stood out for me.

Jayne Bailey, the founder of Project Moroto spoke about the inconvenience of saying yes. That in order to change or move forward in our lives we need to say yes to the difficult things. We need to move out of our comfort zones and accept the fact that we need to give of ourselves in order to grow, develop and change. A concept she battled with prior to jumping in feet first, when developing her life saving and life changing charity.

For me this is the essence of what coaching is all about, and her talk was a perfect example of what happens when you do take the plunge out of your comfort zone and decide to disrupt your life by saying yes. To this day, she has not looked back or regretted her decision.

During the event breaks I heard a number of people say that they felt quite guilty that their lives seem so insignificant compared to some of the TEDx speakers. They started to question their purpose in life and how much value they were realistically adding to their personal and professional lives. These kinds of events can naturally make you question yourself, your path and your goals, but here’s the thing. Its not about having to go out into the world and start an orphanage, design a state of the art wheelchair like Samuel Gibson, join a presidential protection unit like Rory Steyn or even strip down to your birthday suit like Lizzie Marvelly in her campaign #MyBodyMyTerms.  If you believe this is your calling then be my guest and do it. Life is all about choices. But the lesson learnt for me from listening to these dynamic speakers is that its not about having to make big changes in our lives in order to be significant and add value. It’s really about noticing that the little changes we make actually make the biggest differences.

Right here and now we can start making subtle changes in our lives that will have a major impact on the people in our personal and professional lives.

Not judging, listening to others, being kind to our environment, accepting each other as unique, admitting that we are not perfect and being okay to talk about our challenges, testing the norm and being empathetic. These concepts don’t require us to shift countries or to spend thousands of dollars. These actions are free and can be implemented today. Just imagine the difference you can make.

03 May

Hiring the right people for your business, it’s not just about the qualifications.

Expectations. Consciously or subconsciously we all have them. They may be about the day you are going to have, the outcome of the meeting you are about to go into or the meal you are about to eat in the fancy restaurant that has just opened up down the road from your home. Expectations can be met, or sometimes the reality of the experience can fall very short of your desired outcome.

Where do expectations come from? Well, in short they come from our belief system. Our belief system “tells” us how certain things or certain people need to be or act in a certain way. This sounds pretty simple, but it is far from that. Depending on where you are in the world, who you interact with, how you were raised and what media you expose yourself to, all of these experiences add up to every single one of us developing our own unique version of how things need to be done. This makes life tricky, especially if you want to build a cohesive team within your business, where everyone is one hundred percent focused and drives the same action plan in order to achieve the desired goals.

So, as a business owner or manager, how do you get around this? How do you build a strong team and ensure that your team members are the right “fit” within your business? I am sure there are a number of innovative solutions, but here’s one you can try when you’re at that crucial recruitment stage.

Ensuring that your potential new hire is going to fit into your company culture is extremely important and therefore their “fit” suitability should be vetted early, preferably in the interview stage.

Ask your potential new hires what their expectations of the business are. To get a really good idea drill down into specific processes such as;

  1. What expectations do you have with regards to how your team should communicate? Drill down to understand their idea of what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable in how team meetings, correspondence and deadlines should be addressed.
  2. What expectations do you have from your direct supervisor with regards to their management style, one-on-one contact time and their feedback style?
  3. What expectations do you have with regards to office etiquette and general conduct and behaviour?

Their answers will give you a glimpse into their belief system. How they like to see things being done, and how they would happily and comfortably operate in their ideal working environment.

For instance you might find a person, who fits the qualifications of the job, but they are use to working in a controlled and highly formal environment. Your business, on the other hand might be quite casual and relaxed with less formality and red tape.

The thing to note here, is that there is no wrong or right answer. Its just their belief system. You can now compare their expectations to how things are actually done within your business. If expectations match reality,  then this is a tick in the box on the long list of requirements you would probably have in your recruitment process. However, if there is a clash, then it is something to consider quite seriously before bringing the new person on board.  Something as simple as not meeting set expectations, can prevent new hires from reaching their potential within a new role. Feeling uncomfortable, unsettled and dangerously out of their comfort zone from the get-go can be damaging and costly to your business.

It’s not just about the qualifications.