31 May

Can you coach your subordinates?

Quite simple, the answer is no you cannot coach your subordinates. Why, you may ask?

A coaching relationship is seen as an equal partnership between two people and unfortunately whichever way you dress it up, you and your subordinates within the business environment are not equal parties. You are their boss.

It is therefore recommended that you take on a mentorship role, which is the type of relationship which works extremely well in this type of situation as the mentor’s job is to impart their knowledge, experience and learnings onto a less experienced mentee. The relationship is equal in respect, but not in status.

If however you want your team members to engage in a positive and impactful coaching experience then you must accept that you are not the right person for the job and that a colleague from another department or an external coach should be earmarked for the job.

You may have the most genuine of intentions to enter the coaching relationship completely open, unbiased and non-judgemental. You may even verbalise this genuine intent to your subordinates. However, a positive, trusting coaching relationship starts with the coachee feeling completely free to talk about their own experiences, feelings and goals and unfortunately doing this with their boss is not a winning formula. In their eyes, you are not an equal or an unbiased objective voice. They see you as the boss, the person who completes their performance appraisal. The person who they seek advice and guidance from during challenging times. You may merge some coaching techniques into your management style, which is extremely commendable, but it doesn’t make for a coaching relationship.

You may disagree, so for arguments sake let’s turn this scenario around and answer these questions.
1) How comfortable would you feel if you were being coached by your boss?
2) How truthful would you be about how you felt if you were coached by your boss?
3) How would you feel about your relationship with your boss outside of the coaching relationship? Would you be able to draw a clear line between boss and coach?
4) How truthful would you be in the coaching session, if your boss was your coach?

Remember, coaching is not about what you or the business wants for the coachee or what you think is best for the coachee. It’s about them and what they want. Doing what’s best for them, may just include the option of bringing in an external coach.

24 May

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

I have the privilege of coaching some amazingly talented individuals. From all walks of life, cultures, ages and skill sets. Everyone’s goal is unique and every coaching session is different. You never go into a session knowing how it will end, it is always an interesting journey of discovery.
It’s a beautiful experience to be invited into their space of vulnerability, curiosity and exploration. I always feel very honoured to bear witness to some amazing transformations.
As much as everyone is unique in their ways there is one common thread I see quite often in coaching sessions. Something that affects both men and women, but in my experience, an issue which predominately affects women. That is Imposter Syndrome. The feeling of not being good enough and that one day someone will “catch you out” for not being the person you say you are. It doesn’t matter how talented or brilliant the individual is, they still believe that their career advancements and accolades came from pure luck or being in the right place at the right time.
As a coach, I have pondered this issue many times and what I’ve deduced is that one of the main reasons why people suffer from this syndrome is because they believe they need to be perfect. They strive everyday to achieve this unattainable goal of becoming the “perfect person”. When they have failed they seem to fall deeper into the idea of being an imposter.
The reasons behind this could come from many sources. However in coaching we look at the present and build new habits and strategies to help us move forward. Here are a few techniques you could look at implementing into your life, should you be someone who suffers from Imposter Syndrome.
1) Environment
Who you spend your time with and the people you surround yourself with everyday is a key influencer to how you see yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want people pandering to your every whim or agreeing with everything you say. You want people in your corner who will add value, who will help you grow, positively challenge you and support you. People who genuinely believe in you and your goals.  Are you keeping good company?

2) Acknowledge and accept your weaknesses

We all have weaknesses, whether we like them or not, they are part of who we are and make us unique. By ignoring our weaknesses and sweeping them under the carpet we prevent ourselves from accepting who we are. We  create a very distorted picture of ourselves, believing we are perfect. Acknowledging our whole being, our faults as well as our strengths allows us to create a realistic picture of ourselves. No filters, lies or stories. By facing our weaknesses we are not only able to start improving ourselves, but we can comfortably accept that we are not perfect and challenge the idea of being an imposter.
3) Celebrate your successes
We strive to achieve our goals everyday and when we do achieve them, we either ignore them, glance over them or challenge their credibility. Why? Stop it! Get into the habit of celebrating your successes everyday and every week, even the smallest ones. A win is a win and should always be celebrated. By acknowledging your successes you are re-enforcing the fact that you are not “winging it”. You are debunking the idea that your successes came from pure luck.
4) Partner with a coach or a mentor
Sometimes we need a sounding board, an objective voice who is not a family member, friend or colleague. An independent person who will provide you with that safe space where you can unload, question yourself and develop good strong habits.
Asking for help or guidance shows strength and is another way for you to shift your mindset out of thinking you are an imposter. It’s okay to not be able to do it on your own.
If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, make the decision today to start taking control of your future. You get to decide on who you want to be, nobody else.
26 Apr

What it takes to be a Leader

Throughout history there have been some exceptional leaders, Ghandi, Churchill, and Nelson Mandela are a few that come to mind. All these great leaders have stood out over the decades and have mastered the art of leading a group of people, where in some circumstances have had to lead in the most harrowing of circumstances. What was the reason that people chose to follow these great leaders?

There has been extensive research completed by many universities and organisations over the years to try and pinpoint what exactly are the traits or qualities of a good leader. The research has apparently come back inconclusive. As you can guess, every exceptional leader who has stood out in a crowd has come with a different background, value system, experiences and character. Unfortunately there is no such thing as one neat little set of leadership traits. If you had to compare Ghandi and Churchill, these two men were polar opposites in their leadership styles, even missing a few key leadership traits some would say. However, they are still regarded as great leaders of our time.

There are however two traits that do rise above the countless leadership traits that we see on personal development lists and job description requirements and those two are as follows.

  1. Good leaders have the ability to adapt to their circumstances: A leader is someone who can assess and acknowledge the environment for what it is. Expecting the environment to be perfect for their unique requirements would be an impossible ask. Good leaders can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a situation as well as identify future opportunities.  Never wishing what could be, but knowing what the results will be into the future. Good leaders truly believe in the vision themselves, so much so that their passion and motivation for achieving their vision shines through in all that they do.
  2. Good leaders understand the need for building relationships: Leaders understand that in order to reach the ultimate vision they need the people around them to firstly buy into that vision. Once that has happened only then can action plans be  executed.

How do you get people to follow you or buy into the vision? Well, this could be the place where some of the other important traits come in. Good leaders know that it’s not about spitting out orders and expecting results. It’s ultimately about building relationships. What are some of the characteristics of a strong relationship? What should a good leader be practising everyday?

  • Respect: Earning respect from the team by practising active listening, being accountable for one’s actions, practising what they preach and  stepping up and leading from the front.
  • Empathy: Taking the time to understand the team and how they view the situation. Considering their feedback and suggestions to make them feel part of the process.
  • Loyalty: Being honest and open with the team builds loyalty and trust.
  • Treating everyone as unique: Good leaders take the time to get to know the individual team members. Their style, strengths, challenges, personal goals and dreams. The leader will help each team member to grow, develop and reach personal goals whilst working towards the business vision.

Do you have these leadership traits? If not, what do you need to do to develop them?

05 Apr

What comes after success?

What comes after success? What happens after you’ve achieved your first big goal?
The meaning of business success will always be unique for everyone. We are all aiming for different goals with different focuses, which is what makes my job so interesting. But what happens after you have reached your unique success?
Do you have a plan for how to maintain this success or haven’t you thought about this yet?
I believe we spend too much time thinking about the journey to success, the marketing, client acquisition, brand awareness, and not enough time on what happens after that. We tend to focus on the chase, the fun, exciting and sexy tasks in the business and don’t often think about what will be required of us after we’ve built the brand or secured some clients. What comes next? Is the plan to sit around patting yourself on the back, or building a sustainable and successful business?
So whilst you are plotting world domination, think about the following and perhaps plan for these before you conquer the world or at least do this at the same time.
1. Your role: What will your role look like once you have reached your goals? Will you still be working as passionately in the business or could you delegate or outsource certain responsibilities? It’s like climbing a staircase, every time you reach a new step your observation point changes. A new set of goals would need a new focus. Business owners often find themselves “stuck” or stagnating in the same role, often due to lack of direction. I like to call it “ground-hog day syndrome”. This complacent manner is not very healthy for the business owner or business growth, moral and business culture. To prevent this stuck feeling, plan the next step or start thinking about the next step, the next goal now before you even reach your initial goal.
2. Your team: Your people plan – what does that look like? If you’re a one-man band you may decide either to expand, to hire new team members or to stay on your own. Think about your team now (if you have one, or imagine one ). What would the perfect organogram be in your business? Before you can take on a new role you should define your people strategy. Teams also need to be guided, motivated, managed and lead. What is your current skill set around these key characteristics? Start defining your skills needs, and build that into your planning. It’s all about being proactive and being in control of the plan instead of being reactive and spending your precious time putting out fires.
3. Your product/service: These would always be evolving and adapting to your current and future market. In order to be ahead of the game, what is your innovation plan? Whilst working on and delivering the current  product/service offering there should always be an on-going product/service evaluation. What’s going well, what’s needing an update? What are your customers asking for? Looking externally at various issues and how they could affect your offering, such as environmental, political, social, economic, legislative and technological factors.
4. Your processes and systems: Think about the perfect system(s) you could implement into your business. Systems that would streamline your workload, improve your time management, communications and overall help to maintain your business structure. You may not be aware of these systems or even able to afford these systems right now, but could you budget for them and do some best practise research? Always begin with the end in mind, think about what it needs to look like and plan towards that vision.
This is an example of working on your business, not just in your business. Taking the time to future proof your business. Take a look at the following checklist, which can help you identify areas which you would need to focus on to ensure you are building a sustainable business. Future proofing your business checklist
22 Mar

If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?

Work-life balance – a phrase we hear all too often. But some people will roll their eyes, put the thought of balance into the “too hard” box and carry on with the juggling act they call life. Sound familiar?

When the topic of work-life balance comes up in a coaching session, and it comes up often, people have a range of opinions. They either believe that it’s too selfish on their part to have a balance in their lives, in other words they are not worthy of balance; or they don’t believe that all components of their life carry equal weight. For example work is seen as more important than spending time with family and friends or exercise.

The funny thing is, is that no one in your life is going to create balance or happiness for you. You have to make it happen for yourself. Stop waiting for permission, stop waiting for someone to make you happy and take control of your own balance and happiness.

Here are two questions I would like you to think about.

  1.  If you had balance in your life, how happy would you be?
  2. How are your personal goals aligned to your work/business goals?

If you think your life is unbalanced and you are unhappy in your current situation because of this, either working too hard or playing too hard. Think about if you changed your current situation, how happy would you be or how much happier would you be?

We cannot separate our personal lives from our working lives, so are your goals in alignment, or do you try and live two separate lives? How’s that going for you?

One tool which you can use to help you reflect on all areas of your life and to create a starting point for change is the wheel of life.  After you have rated yourself on each of the eight areas, think about a goal that you would like to achieve for each of these areas. Let each goal be as important as the next. Then put your thinking cap on and come up with a way to achieve these goals.

Remember, no-one but you is going to create balance for you.

01 Mar

Do things right the first time

Recently I was asked what my best tip or advice would be around time management. How can one run a business and be effective in managing their time?

There is not just one answer, since it depends on where you are in your business, what systems and processes are in place and how many resources you have.

There are the general tips of prioritising your tasks, delegating and building micro-goals into your routine, but the one piece of advice that really stands out for me is the following in the form of an analogy.

In order to build a strong house, which will withstand all weather conditions you naturally begin by building a strong foundation. Once the foundation has been built you then start with the framework and from there you fill in the detail. I’m no builder, but even to me it makes sense. Building a strong foundation and then moving systematically through and completing one project after the other, makes for good building sense.

So, relating this to business, if you want to spend your time wisely and make sure your business can withstand all “weather conditions”, make sure you have a strong foundation in the business. This would include having the right people in your business, the correct systems and processes, defining an accurate target market and being clear on your product or service offering. Spend time in the very beginning to get these elements right would be building your foundation and framework and then actively put time aside every quarter to review your progress.

Every new project you initiate in your business, from innovation and developing new products and services to on-boarding new employees, make sure the foundations are strong and the support network or framework is in place. Having to re-visit failed projects due to lack of planning and preparation can be incredibly expensive, demotivating, stressful and a complete time waster.

Unfortunately many business owners waste so much time running around in reactive mode putting out fires  all day, because the initial foundations and business framework are not in place or are incredibly weak. Having a fancy bathroom or walk-in cupboards can be great, but if the walls of the house are crumbling down, a stand-alone victorian bath can seem pretty useless.

Good time management is about doing the right thing first and making sure you don’t need to keep going back to patch up the errors.

16 Feb

Preparing your business for new hires

Recruiting new people into your business can be one of the best decisions you make, especially if you are a small business and need additional help or missing specialist skills. Extra hands can take on additional load, alleviate time pressures, help to grow your business and allow you to start working on, instead of in, your business.

If done correctly, it can be the answer to you being able to work a -smarter-not-harder-forty-hour-work-week. But get it wrong and it can be a costly mistake.

Turning your business from a one-man-band into employing staff or contractors  will change your business forever. You are not just looking after and directing yourself, you are also directing other people’s actions. You are not just managing a business, but you are managing other people who are managing your business. This changes the dynamics completely, so if you’re not prepared for what comes with a new hire, then think twice about how you will alleviate the pressure or delegate the workload, before you start signing off contracts. Perhaps there is an alternative to hiring?

If you make the decision to hire think about the following:

Reality check # 1 – Direction from day one

New employees or team members want to be told what their areas of responsibility are. This would come in the form of a job description. Yes, you have hired them for the specific skill set, but they still want to be given direction from the beginning. Before hiring a new person, think about what this new role will be doing in the business. Think about the working conditions, roles and responsibilities, how the role’s performance will be measured and what type of contract is needed. Think about how you will manage this role. Then very importantly, hire the person to fit the job requirements and business culture. Don’t randomly hire someone and try and fit the job around the person. You may need to bring in a recruitment expert.

Reality check # 2 – Delegation

Even if you delegate work to your new hire or contractor, you will still need to follow up on their work. You are still responsible for the outcome. Read more about delegation.

Reality check # 3 – Set them up for success

In your head you have a very clear understanding of your business. Its vision, mission and values. You know how you want the world to see you and you know how to communicate to your existing clients and potential clients. If you do not pass this vital information on to your new hire and just assume that they know what to do or “they’ll just pick it up as they go along”, then you are doing your business and your new hire a huge injustice.

Before you bring anyone into your fold, make sure there is a meeting of two minds. Make sure that there is no chance for “assumption” to come into the conversation. Set them up for success, not failure.

This set up would be tackled by developing your own business bible or operations manual. Once this has been compiled, make sure the new hire is actually trained on the information. Test their knowledge. Would you let someone who doesn’t have their driver’s license drive your new car? Probably not, so don’t allow someone who doesn’t have a clear understanding of your business, engage with your clients.

Reality check # 4 – Constant communication

No-one wants to be an annoying micro-manager, but you do need to communicate frequently with your new hire. Assuming that no news from them is good news is a dangerous assumption. Make sure that you have regular check-ins with your new staff members to make sure that you are both reading off the same page. This check-in isn’t just for you to ensure they are in the right direction, but team members want to feel supported and heard. They want to know that they are doing a good job and if required they can seek help with any challenges they may face. They should feel that they can also share new ideas and solutions in the safe space that you have created.

Take the time to set yourself, your business and new recruits up for success. Put in the right systems and process to successfully support the on-boarding of new team members. Do it right the first time, you will not be sorry.

26 Jan

What does it take to build a sustainable business?

There is no such thing as a silver bullet strategy when it comes to business success , that being one action or activity that will miraculously build a successful business. We all intrinsically know this, but yet, so many business owners set themselves up for failure and disappointment by taking on for example the mindset of, “If I just do this one promotion, then everything will be fine.

Not to put a damper on your efforts, but sometimes we do need a reality check. One of the key components of achieving one’s goals is that you must be realistic, very simple. If you want to build a sustainable business and avoid being a one hit wonder there are a few key components you will need to ensure are part of your business structure and business ethics.

Vision and mission

Before you excitedly start setting business goals, think about what your long term vision is.  What is your ultimate goal and how do you want to be seen in five or ten years time? Once that has been defined then confirm your mission statement.

Completing your business vision/mission statement shouldn’t be done begrudgingly, rushed through or be viewed as an afterthought. Put the time aside to build this part of your business. Why? Your vision and mission are your guiding lights whenever a business decision needs to be made. They keep you focused in good times and very importantly  they guide you when times are tough and there will likely be many tough times in your business. Therefore, establishing strong, powerful and bright guiding lights makes good business sense.

Courage, resilience and grit

In my opinion these are probably some of the most important character traits to have when running a business . Having the strength and courage to pick yourself up after failure will turn you into a survivor. If you have the ability to do this, you can achieve anything. These character traits do not always come easily and we are often only asked to prove ourselves when we have already fallen on hard times. No opportunities for test driving these qualities.

To boost these character traits it is advised to have a solid business plan and a business purpose that is true to your values. It can be tricky and extremely demotivating to be courageous if you don’t really believe in your purpose one hundred percent.

Support

Being a business owner is not for the faint-hearted. So make sure you have a good strong pool of people you can call on during the tough times. This can take the form of business partners, family, friends, mentors, coaches or professional networking groups.

Support is also good to have in times of success, sharing your wins with your support network can be extremely rewarding.

Consistency

Consistency in business builds trust and loyalty with your customers. Whatever your business goals are make sure you are consistent in your delivery, follow through and follow up. Customers will very quickly look elsewhere if you are inconsistent and unreliable.

To make sure you are consistent in your business, always have a plan. Yearly, quarterly, month, weekly and daily. There is much to be said about the saying, “proper planning prevents poor performance”.

Business success will be different for every business, depending on what the end goals are, however one thing that all businesses have in common, is the need to achieve the goals.

So, when you are planning your goals for the year or quarter ahead, also think about these  components. Do you have a strong vision? How courageous are you and how would you persevere during tough times? Who is your support network and do you operate your business in a consistent manner? Some food for thought.

11 Jan

Mis-en-place a recipe for success

About a million years ago, when I was studying at hotel school I learned about and practised the french discipline of ‘mis-en-place’.

Roughly translated it means, “putting in place” or “everything in its place”.  This practise is not just a term, but actually a way of life for any chef who wants to have a highly organised, productive and efficient kitchen. To ensure a successful end-result, which would be happy customers eating well prepared dishes, you should always have all of the ingredients, utensils, equipment and staff at the ready before even thinking about starting any cooking.

How does this have anything to do with business you may be thinking? Well, it is extremely relevant and pretty simple. If you want to be successful, to work smarter not harder, you need to be pre-prepared before heading out into the big wide world of business.

Ingredients

In the kitchen these would be the very best fresh produce, meats, dry goods, herbs and spices. Think about why you would go to a restaurant and order a specific dish. Is it because it’s something you cannot create yourself? Is it something not commonly available, so unique, so indulgent that it makes your mouth water just thinking about it, and you know for certain that you just have to order it?

In business, your ingredients would be your products and/or services. Do you believe your products and/or services are unique to your target audience and that the value they add is so good that your customers will return, because they cannot purchase it anywhere else, or that it is so good they just have to have it? If not, what would you need to do to make your products and/or service a high demand item or service?

Equipment and utensils

Depending on the desired end result, the chef  could use something as simple as a chef’s knife or as complex as a food processor. It just depends on the need.

In business I would equate this to your systems and processes. Do you believe you have the best procedures and structures in your business to guarantee the best outcomes? Do your processes allow you to work smarter, cut out the unnecessary clutter and provide the customers with the best service?

If not, what would you need to do in order to make this a reality?

Staff

A restaurant can have the best location, state of the art equipment and top notch suppliers, but if the staff working in the kitchens as well as in the front of house are unskilled and incompetent you might as well close your doors.

Think about the team members in your business, or if you are a one-man band, think about our own skills and capabilities. Are you able to deliver on what you are promising and not stopping there, what is the self-development plan for the future?

What is the mis-en-place that you need to do in your business to ensure that you are on the road to success?

05 Jan

Hi, my name is …, and I’m a workaholic

Imagine this scenario, after years of job-hopping, dabbling in various industries and clock-watching until the end of the work day, you have finally found your calling in life! You have discovered what you were put on this earth to do. Every morning you jump out of bed with great energy and gusto, full of creativity, ideas and solutions, ready to get stuck into work for the day.

The euphoric feeling of loving your work, feeling valued and having the right “fit”  is incredible. You feel like you could go on working forever with no sleep as if you were permanently on cloud nine. Herein however lies a problem, if you jump in boots and all, continuing at the same pace and intensity with no boundaries, you may find yourself waking up one day realising that your life is all about your work and nothing else.

If you don’t want to be classified as a workaholic or a “work martyr” and you want to maintain the love for what you do in your work and still maintain some sort of balance, then think about implementing the following guidelines into your day. This way you can have your cake and eat it too.

1. Have beginnings and ends

Have set times every day to start and end your work day.  By keeping these time boundaries in place it prevents you from encroaching into your personal time. Sticking to this every day allows you to start building a positive routine into your life.

You may believe that by extending your working hours it will be beneficial to your business, more hours means getting more work done? Actually working more hours does not make us more productive. According to a study completed at Ohio University the human brain needs a 15 minute break after every hour of work. Unfortunately not many people carry out this practise, which results in a decrease in productivity. Interestingly, another study published in 2014 by John Pencavel of Stanford University showed that an employee’s output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours. All that is achieved is a waste of time and an increase in your frustration levels.

2. Have daily micro-goals

To-do lists have their place, but one component that is most often missing from this list is a deadline. This can be dangerous especially for someone who is prone to shifting into workaholic mode. To-do lists can go on forever and we tend to keep adding to the list without including deadlines.

So here is a challenge for you. Every day pick 3 micro-goals, tasks which you can achieve in one day. This helps to re-enforce the “beginning and end” concept. Ending the day at a set time, knowing that you have completed the set tasks for that day provides a sense of closure.

3. Have a hobby

It’s not about rushing out and joining a book club or scrapbooking group for the sake of having an interest. It’s about acknowledging the fact that work is not everything. Finding something that inspires you, motivates you, challenges and excites you besides work is key to creating that work-life balance we hear about so often, but don’t always achieve.

Something I learned growing up was “too much of a good thing is not good for you.”  A simple principle that has kept me in check over the years. Everything in moderation, that includes work.

You may find the workaholics anonymous assessment helpful if you believe you may be a workaholic.