27 Feb

Who’s in charge, who’s responsible? Anybody?

A great little story I would like to share with you.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

This may be confusing, but the point of this story is that if we don’t have a clear understanding of what we, our business partners and team members are responsible and accountable for in the business, we land up looking like everybody, somebody, anybody and nobody. We look incompetent not only with each other, but also with our customers and potential customers. Not a good look for business.

I have come across this situation in a number of small businesses. The business starts off as a one man or woman band and a job description doesn’t seem to be too important at the time, as they are doing everything themselves. Gradually over time the business starts to grow and employees or a business partner are brought in to work in the business. “Everyone” assumes that “everyone” knows their job and what they are responsible and accountable for. Well, not actually.

To prevent confusion, frustration and conflict, follow these guidelines:

  1. Ensure that everyone in the business has a job description. Even the boss.
  2. Ensure that each job description is a clear breakdown of main areas of responsibilities, reporting lines and expected behaviour. To ensure buy-in from the beginning ensure that you involve each person in the design of their own job description.
  3. When on-boarding a new employee or contractor, take them through their job description, don’t assume that they have read it. Explain each area of responsibility, so there is no confusion.
  4. Ensure you have an accountability system built into your job descriptions. Every person working in the business, should be held accountable for their tasks, even the boss. Some may even link performance bonuses and rewards to task completion.
  5. The job description is a working document. It should be regularly updated as the job grows and changes.
  6. Accountability check-ins should be consistent. This can be achieved through regular meetings, one-to-one sessions or reporting.

Don’t let something as simple as not knowing who’s doing what to cause you to look incompetent in front of your customers. Provide your team and yourself with peace of mind, get your job descriptions sorted.

20 Jul

5 steps to dealing with limiting beliefs

Put your hand up if you’ve ever doubted your abilities, considered yourself a fraud or an imposter? Have you ever thought you were operating on borrowed time waiting for someone to catch you out, and expose you for the fake you believe you are? These thoughts are what we calling self-limiting beliefs.  Welcome to the club, everybody experiences limiting beliefs at different stages and ages in their lives and careers, it is normal.

The trick here is learning how to keep the nasty little voices in your head at bay and to learn how to manage and control them.

  1. Don’t ignore them

    Trying to ignore these thoughts and push them under the carpet might hold them back for a short period, but they are still under the carpet. Ignoring your limiting beliefs  doesn’t miraculously get rid of the beliefs, it just delays the inevitable, causes a lot of undue stress and creates a tripping hazard in your life. So when you least expect it, you could stumble over the limiting  belief hump which lies buried under the carpet.

  2. Acknowledge and name them

    So often we turn away from these limiting beliefs because we see them as weaknesses and perhaps character flaws. Because we find it painful to deal with them and shamefully believe that these little voices are confirming a truth. The more we turn away from these negative beliefs or ignore them they tend to grow.  They become larger, more hurtful and more controlling. So instead of ignoring them, acknowledge them. Face them head on. Acknowledge their existence and name them. By doing this you are able to start the journey of learning how to manage and control them on your own terms.

  3. Get curious

    Start by taking some time out of your schedule and get really curious about why these limiting beliefs seem to appear in your life. Where do these thoughts originate from? What experience is supporting these beliefs? What triggers these feelings and beliefs? How am I benefiting from holding onto these thoughts? Was there a time were I didn’t have these beliefs and why is there a change?

    Dig deep and question everything. Pull your thoughts apart. Challenge!

  4. Make a plan

    Once you’ve dissected the belief and examined every side of it, warts and all, come up with a plan for how you will deal with it. Depending on what you discover, you may need to work on positive affirmations, learn a new skill, seek professional guidance or work on changing a behaviour, which is not serving you. There are many ways, but it is essential that you find the alternative. This will allow you to take charge. To take control.

  5. Let it go

    Once you’ve started implementing your plan, your habits will start to change for the better. There is no place to store your old limiting beliefs, they just get in the way. Make the decision and learn to let them go.

I am aware that this is easier said than done. It’s damn hard work to wrestle your negative thoughts into submission and sometimes we don’t always get it right. But, ask yourself this. “If you don’t change your limiting beliefs, what will happen?” If you are not satisfied with your answer then go back to point 1 of this article and start taking control of your limiting beliefs.

Need some help with taking charge of your limiting beliefs? Need a coach? Contact Nicole @ nicole@tikumu.co.nz

22 Sep

Is there a bully in your business?

If you think back to your school days, was there a class bully who ganged up against the little guy and stole his lunch money? Or can you think of a bullying incident that took place in your office? Most of us have been bullied at some point, or know of someone who has been bullied. Bullying is rife in our communities and its not just something that goes on in school playgrounds, it takes place in our working environments on a daily basis. According to the latest survey completed by Statistics New Zealand for Survey of Working life, 10 percent of employees have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work in the previous 12 months.
The difference or the problem between the school yard bullies and the office bullies is that the school bully uses more physical intimidation tactics to get his way. Whereas the office bully uses a more subtle approach. They use their position, their influence and their power to intimidate their peers, colleagues and subordinates. According to Work Safe New Zealand, bullying behaviour in the workplace can range from direct bullying such as belittling remarks, ignoring co-workers, physical attacks and then the more underhanded indirect bullying, which is setting unrealistic goals, lack of credit and constant criticism.
What I find scary is that this type of bullying behaviour, is so often passed off as the person being “strong-willed” or that they “just have” an autocratic leadership or management style, and everyone else is expected to work around it or accept it. This might be possible, but they might also just be a big bully.
What is of particular concern though, is that many bullies don’t even realise that they are behaving in this unacceptable manner. To them, it is how it has always been and sadly, in many cases they were managed in this style by a previous manager, so they picked up on the behaviour and naturally repeat it.
As a business owner or manager you are probably thinking about your own office environment at the moment. Running through your team members and thinking about their behaviour styles. If you aren’t doing that then I suggest you do.
While you are re-evaluating their management styles ask yourself the following:
1) If I had to run a peer or staff evaluation survey within the office, what would the result show about the individual team members?
2) What are the employee turnover figures for the business? Is the business losing too many staff members?
3) Why are employees leaving the business, what do the exit interviews say and in some cases not saying?
4) As a business owner or manager, how often do I observe how the team members engage with each other?
5) What is the corporate culture like within the business?
Be curious.
Work Safe have compiled an excellent set of best practise guidelines, which can be utilised in the workplace to assist with combating bullying. Together with coaching and a strong drive to eradicate this behaviour, these guidelines could make a huge difference in your business.
Need some assistance? Contact me nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.
23 Jun

Are you delivering on your promises?

“When the gap between what you say and what you do gets big enough, people stop listening”. Sobering words from Seth Godin.

As a business owner or manager you may have a set of company values somewhere in your working environment. Perhaps they are mounted in a frame on the wall for all to see, or perhaps they are hidden away in a filing cabinet, only to be whipped out and dusted off  at the next yearly strategy session. Irrespective of where your values are, if you don’t practise them everyday, they are meaningless.

Values can be seen as your companies culture building blocks or foundation. Everything that makes up your companies culture is built on your values, or lack of them.

When everything is going according to plan, we are all very quick to stand on our soap boxes and preach on how things need to be done or handled. However, when push comes to shove if what you instinctively say and do are not aligned to the reality of the situation, you will over time lose your team and your customers.

To get a true and realistic understanding of what happens in your organisation when the paw-paw hits the fan, try and recall the three most challenging situations your organisation and team have had to face in the last few years. How did you and your team response to these situations? What was your behaviour like when you are feeling the heat?

Does your initial reaction and behaviour within those situations align themselves to the framed values you have mounted on the wall or are you completely off?

If you are able to answer with honesty that your response was spot on, then you are on the right track. However, if you were off, what do you believe is the action plan within your business to get yourselves back on track? What changes need to be made in your business to close the gap between what you say and what you do and to increase employee and customer retention?

Need some assistance? Contact me. nicole@tikumu.co.nz for professional business coaching.

02 Jun

Do you practise Grudgeology?

There are many positive traits, skills and abilities any good leader will have or want to acquire over their lifetime. One distinguishing quality that definitely stands out for me and that I believe separates a true leader from a “wanna be” is something I learnt from my seventh grade history teacher.
Miss Sandrock was a peach of a women, but everyone of us knew to never cross the line with her. I was never quite sure why, but it was either out of respect for her or the fear of been turned to stone by one of her stern looks.
The difference was was that she never held a grudge. So if you were called out for any transgression whilst under her watch, you knew that once she had had her say it was water under the bridge and life as you knew it went on. You even received your jelly tot quote from her at the end of the lesson.
 How refreshing it was to know that your teacher would not hold onto your mistake and at another completely unrelated occasion embarrass you by bringing it up to remind you of your erroneous ways. How liberating it was to know that you would not be judged or tainted by your error of judgement.
 As a business owner or manager do you believe that you are able to let things go and to not hold a grudge against your team members mistakes? Can you deal with a team member’s transgression and move on or do you store your teams faults and hit the replay button the minute you want the upper hand with them?
You might think its a good idea to have history on someone’s performance and behaviour. It is, but there is a time and place for this type of information. It’s important to understand that everyone is human and people make mistakes. Performance records are good to keep on file for those serious incidents when someone is continuously under performing or damaging your business and for the benefit of the business needs to be exited. However random mistakes should never be thrown into people’s faces or used as leverage against them. This type of management style will only damage your team morale and trust.
 Acknowledge it, deal with it, let it go and move on.
17 Jan

Is your professional behaviour working for or against you?

Thinking of changing your job or career? This can be a major step in your life and the decision to change should not be taken likely. Understanding why you need the change is probably the most important thing to pin down and once confirmed will assist you in choosing the right path. In last week’s post we explored environmental reasons as possible motivators for change. In this post we will look specifically at behaviour.

The behaviour level in Gregory Bateson’s Logical Levels of Change is an interesting one as you can evaluate behaviour in two different ways. Firstly, how you behave within your current work environment. Are you considering a change because your behaviour changes for the worst within your current environment. Secondly, how you observe and react to other people’s behaviour in that particular environment. One could align day-to-day work behaviour with the invisible side of an organisation – its corporate culture.

Let’s firstly examine your behaviour being a reason for change.

Does your current working environment cause you to behave differently? This can be a tricky question as the majority of the time, we like to think that we are stable individuals whose behaviour is consistent between our work and private lives. In some cases this is true, but in others there can be a vast difference.

If you believe your behaviour does change for the worse within your working environment, then is it your actual job and areas of responsibility or is it how you react to the job that requires a change?

Let’s say for example you struggle to manage your stress levels. So when you become stressed out your behaviour changes and you become moody, short tempered and aggressive. The problem could then lie in your ability to manage your stress levels, not necessarily the job.

If you did change your job or career, would that change guarantee a less stressful environment? Probably not, because how you manage your stress levels is not necessarily related to the job or task at hand, but simply how skilled or unskilled you are in managing stress or any other negative behaviour that might arise.

Would it not serve you better to work on your behaviour challenges in your current position than end up relocating your problems to a new environment? Is it the job or is it you?

When analysing your own behaviour take the following into consideration.

  1. How you tend to react in work situations. What is your behaviour pattern at work? Why are you behaving this way?
  2. What is your typical behaviour? On reflection, is that the type of behaviour you wanted to portray?
  3. Is your behaviour different to how you  would normally behave outside of the working environment?
  4. Does your behaviour make you happy, does your behaviour make you proud?

The second part of this evaluation is more challenging as it is an area that you cannot always control and that is other people’s behaviour. Trying to work within a business where other people’s behaviour constantly makes you feel uncomfortable can be incredibly daunting and exhausting.

Consider the following:

  1. If you verbalised your unhappiness, would your behaviour change for the better? In other words, is the behaviour isolated to one or two individuals and thus not a company culture issue.
  2. Are you in a position where you can influence a change in behaviour?
  3. Are you able to overlook your colleague’s behaviour because you enjoy your job?
  4. Do you believe that how people behave and conduct themselves is key to how you perform your duties and tasks?

If you believe your issues are behavioural, what is your action plan to remedy them? What is your change plan?

If you believe that the reason for your career or job change is not behaviour-related, then look out for next week’s blog post where Skills and Capabilities will be discussed.

29 Oct

Corporate Culture – The Invisible Side of an Organisation

›Company A and Company B both spend thousands of dollars on planning new initiatives and rolling out marketing campaigns to drive their businesses forward.  Company A’s results are dismal and Company B’s are a roaring success.

Why are some companies more successful than others?

There are many reasons for performance variance, but it is increasingly clear that a major component is their corporate culture.

Company A’s initiative came face to face with a culture barrier and failed. Company B’s initiative on the other hand was carried through by a high performance team and succeeded in meeting it’s targets.
What is corporate culture and how can it have such a powerful influence on your business?

Corporate culture is often described as the invisible side of the organisation, or the atmosphere of an organisation. Kennedy and Deal describe it as the perception of “The way things get done around here” .

Ravasi and Schultz (2006) say that organizational culture is a set of shared assumptions that guide what happens in organizations by defining appropriate behavior for various situations. It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving and, even, thinking and feeling.

Following on from this definition and looking closer to home, what defines the behaviour in your own business? What kind of behaviour is taught to new members entering your business?

If you are the boss, then the buck stops with you! In Tom Peters’ book In search of Excellence he says that changing a culture boils down to the “100 little things” that take place in a day. Everything we do as leaders communicates a message. If we are to change a culture, we must become acutely aware of what we do and the message it communicates. We must get off of autopilot.

So if you are banging your head against the wall and feeling frustrated about failed initiatives, high employee turnover or poor follow-through, think about your corporate culture. Are you greeted everyday with a motivated team who shares in the company values or do you walk into a working environment that feels tense and breeds conflict, where lack of communication is a common complaint amongst employees?

To understand what your companies current culture is, look out for the following:

  1. What gets attention in the business? Is there a common thread of what gets attention and what get’s sidelined?
  2. Take notice of people’s behaviour. How do your employees conduct themselves around fellow colleagues and visitors? What are the dominant management or leadership styles?
  3. What are the hero stories? What do your employees talk about? What behaviour, values and actions are seen as important? Remember, there are company values and then there is reality. Don’t be blindsided by what things should look like, but look at what is the reality.
  4. Employee turnover figures. What are your exit interviews telling you or should I say not telling you? What are the common threads running through the feedback?
  5. Employee satisfaction surveys. Does your business do them? If not, how do you know how your employees are feeling about working for your business?
  6. AAR – After Action Reviews. Is reflection time encouraged and set aside everyday? Are  behaviour, actions and decisions made in line with the company values and desired corporate culture?
Corporate culture is not something to be shelved and ignored. It is an integral part of your business. Corporate culture can very easily make or break your business.
02 Jul

Smile, you’re on stage!

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink, says that “we learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instructions”.

To illustrate this point I would like to carry out an experiment with you. Think back to the time you supervised someone for the first time. It could be recent or many years ago.  Honestly, how did that work out for you?  I bet that with the responsibilities and added stresses in this new role your default management style was similar to your then or previous supervisor’s management style?  So your first management role was either a success or a disaster?

Whether you like it or not, you subconsciously mimic your superior’s behaviour. You follow their lead and depending on how influential or dominant they are, you often fall into the trap of becoming a “mini-me”. An unwritten rule develops that certain behaviours are tolerated within the organisation, whether they are good or bad, and a “that’s how things are managed around here” culture develops.  It gets passed on from one manager to another through direct experience and example setting.  Incorrect behaviour is justified and made acceptable, just because a superior behaved in that manner.

Remember that you are not just influenced by your direct superiors, but you also influence the people you are suppose to manage, lead and support.

Are you happy with how you are influencing the people who look up to you? If not, how do you break the cycle?

Perhaps consider the following pointers, which will encourage you to become more self-aware:

  • First and foremost  you need to realise that you are permanently on stage within the working environment. Your conduct is continuously on show for all to see and is being imprinted in the minds of your trusting employees. The  behaviour at the coffee station is just as important as the behaviour in the board room.
  • Ask yourself these question.
    • If I behave in a certain way, what will the consequences of my actions be?”
    • “How would I like to see my supervisor handle this matter?” – Then do that.
    • “The behaviour I see in my subordinates, is that my behaviour?” – Stand back and evaluate yourself. Look at improving your own behaviour before trying to change everyone else’s.
    • “Does my behaviour reflect my core and aspirational values?”
    • “Am I able to recognise the difference between my own behaviour choices  vs. previous behavioural influences?”
  • As Vikor E. Frankl says in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.  Remember that “the space” is your ally use it to your advantage. Think before you act.
  • Ask a trusted and respected colleague to provide honest feedback should there be a need for it.

So think before you act or react and always put on a good show!