27 Sep

Why you need to prioritise your goals

A few years ago I wanted to shed a few kilos, and get fit for a cycling holiday. Piece of pie I thought. I would be incredibly disciplined, focus on both goals and pull this off in no time. Unfortunately, reality hit when my dietician at the time informed me that I should be prioritising. Lose weight or get fit, which one would I like to achieve first?

This principle can be applied to business too. Think about your main business goals. Have you prioritized them or are you trying to provide equal focus and attention on all of them at the same time?

The problem with not prioritising is that there is a risk of objectives clashing with each other. This could result in time being wasted in decision making, internal conflict, employees getting frustrated or confused and you land up not achieving anything.

Say you have selected four or five main objectives for the year, and increasing sales and product innovation are two of them. Before drawing up your action plans you should confirm how your resources will be split up to achieve these objectives. You likely have funding constraints and therefore resources must be allocated strategically. So should you focus on increasing your sales first, or will you place the focus on research and development for product innovation?

If you decide that innovation is your first focus, you will acknowledge that sales growth will need to come in at second place. Why? Your resources, such as money, time and people will be directed to innovation and development. Not to say that sales growth is not important, but by clarifying which objectives take priority and therefore the bulk of the resources, it ensures that everyone is reading off the same page. This in turn allows for your team to have laser focused attention for the selected timeframe, which saves time, money and relationships.

Define your objectives, clarify their importance, develop your action plans and assign your resources.

30 Aug

The difference between training and coaching

The other day a friend mentioned that his business had brought in a training company to conduct some personal development programs with their staff. He commented that he was a little bit disappointed due to the fact that the trainer didn’t conduct any follow up after the training was completed.

Firstly let me say that I love hearing that businesses are investing in their teams, especially on personal development and soft skills training. I wish more businesses would do this.

Secondly, my response to him was as follows: That’s the difference between training and coaching. Quite simple.

So many businesses will do one or the other, but very seldom both. To get maximum return on your training investment, both disciplines, training and coaching need to be taking place within your business.

Training is all about teaching or introducing new concepts or skills. It doesn’t or very seldom alters the training delegate’s behaviour. They learn something new which can tweak their curiosity, but then the training ends and they go home. Perhaps there may be some altered behaviour change for a week or so after the training has taken place, but on the whole, most people will go back to their old habits.

To counteract this and to really get bang for buck I would highly recommend that coaching is introduced straight after every training initiative. Coaching is the safety net or the catalyst for change. The new skills are taught in training and the coaching is there to help reinforce these new skills after the training has taken place.

Naturally human beings find it very difficult to change a habit or implement a newly learnt skill straight away. It is even harder when that change is completed in isolation or not supported. We need help to stay on track and keep focused. This is the role of the coach.

A coach is there to help you define your habit change and then to support you through the change process.

To really set your team up for success, by all means give them the opportunity to attend training sessions, but then make coaching available to them afterwards.

Let them reinforce their newly learnt skills over time so they can then add the right value back into your business.

16 Aug

Coaching is not a swear word!

“I would like you to coach some of my team members, but I don’t want anyone to know”.  Wow, was my first reaction when I heard this from a manager last week. Besides my initial  surprise this request also made me feel sad.

I liken this kind of request to Richie McCaw doing an under the table deal with his head coach for coaching received or Usain Bolt carrying out undercover sprint coaching in the dead of night, so no one would know. Should I add a dark cloak, dark glasses and large brimmed hats to my business attire?

What is wrong with openly acknowledging the fact that you or your team members need help to improve?

I look at many of my clients and I see bright, intelligent and driven human beings who  want more out of their lives, jobs or businesses. They are prepared to look at their challenges and creatively think of ways to overcome the hurdles in their lives. It takes a special kind of person to do this inner reflection and coaching should therefore be celebrated, not hidden away as if it were a dirty secret.

Unfortunately this attitude is entrenched into the culture of many  businesses. There is an underlying expectation that every employee needs to be a specialist in all disciplines and heaven help you if you ask for help.

I am sure there are many reasons for this mindset, but I can honestly say it’s not helping anyone. By ignoring the need for coaching it causes frustration for both the team member and the business. Instead of employees growing within a business through coaching and training, they get frustrated and leave.

Think about your own team or colleagues. What would coaching do for them or what could it do for you? If coaching was part of your company culture, how would your business benefit?

 

 

25 Jul

Reasons why you don’t always reach your goals

Stopping smoking, losing weight or improving your time management. These are common examples of goals we set ourselves from time to time, with many coincidentally being set with great pomp, ceremony and champagne around about the beginning of the year. New Year’s resolutions we call them. We convince ourselves that change needs to take place as a new year rolls around. A new year, a new me! For some this may be what’s required to get moving and achieve the desired results, but for most these “new goals” fizzle out within the first two weeks of the year and everything goes back to normal with the idea of improving ones time management being a dark and distant memory.

So what went wrong? Firstly, goal setting shouldn’t be controlled by the time of the year. If you want to achieve something start doing it as soon as possible. Stop waiting for the new year, a new moon or the next leap year to make things happen. Waiting causes you to lose momentum and motivation and procrastination starts kicking in. Secondly, setting a goal and just doing it, is not always as straight forward as we think. The secret to achieving a goal is understanding that your habits and behaviours need to change first. As an example, to achieve the goal of improving your time management, stop thinking about being a time management king/queen. Instead, start thinking about the following;

  1. What habits/behaviours are  currently preventing you from achieving this goal?
  • Going to bed too late and waking up late.
  • Saying yes to every request that comes your way
  • Not keeping a consistent diary

2. What habit, from the above list can you change right now?

  • Setting an earlier bed time or setting the alarm to wake up earlier.
  • Before saying yes, check what tasks and priorities are currently needing your attention. Then say yes, if you can manage it or get into the habit of saying no.
  • Start using a diary.

These are simple habit or behaviour changes. It’s about focusing on changing just that one habit and making it a part of your everyday life, making it a norm. Once the habit has been altered for the better you, can move onto the next habit-changing task. Very soon, you will  realise that you are actually achieving your main goal. Successful goal achievement is not about big wins, it is about understanding what habits or behaviours are holding you back, and figuring out the best way to change them.

28 Jun

Selecting and developing future leaders in your organisation

What is your organisation’s leadership development acceleration plan? What programme is your business establishing to ensure that you capture the right talent to grow and develop the future leaders of your business?
I recently spoke on this topic at a leadership summit. My focus however was on the developing and grooming of future leaders as opposed to the selection of potential future leaders.
The reason for this is quite simple. Businesses can spend a huge amount of time, energy and money on selecting the right people with the right leadership traits and experience, but what happens to them when they arrive in your business? As Jim Rohn so aptly said   “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, so it is quite obvious  that these new future leaders will not be operating in a bubble. On the contrary, they will be constantly interacting with their team members and colleagues.
So let’s paint the picture. These new leaders of the future come into the business with their own set of traits, but they are also unavoidably adopting new traits as they engage with other employees, customers and suppliers. This could be very beneficial for their development and the future of the business if they were being exposed to sought-after leadership traits from their working environment, or it could destroy all of the hard work and effort that was spent on the initial selection process if they are constantly being bombarded by undesirable behaviours.
So before you spend time and money on expensive assessment models and recruitment services, think about the existing people and culture of the business. Think about who these future leaders will be spending their time with and evaluate those people’s leadership and management abilities.
Also, where do you stand with your leadership traits? The long list of non-negotiable traits which have been set out in the future leaders job description, how well do you match up to them?
It’s about accepting that future leaders will not function in silos and that the people they are permanently working with within your organisation will influence their behaviour and belief system in some shape or form. Besides building a future leadership programme spend time on your existing team members and the future leaders supervisors. Build their skills and capabilities, build their soft skills and build their leadership skills. Adopting the mindset that everyone within the business has the ability to grow and develop themselves is your first win.
Create an environment in your business that will nurture your future leaders, not chew them up and spit them out at the first chance it gets.
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.