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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

The Silent Complexity of Your Growing Team

You are running a successful business, you have been working long hours, and now it is time to expand your team to manage the extra work.

This is a familiar scenario to most of my clients. Unfortunately, what often transpires is that when the team expands to meet the demand, the complexity issues that arise seem disproportionately extensive.

This can lead to you questioning your skills as a manager, a breakdown of company culture, and sometimes even less productivity than when your team was smaller.

In this video, I explain a formula that I share with my clients to help them get to grips with where this background complexity comes from. Once they understand it, they are far more in control and are better equipped to keep the team, the work, and the culture of the business intact.

When you view each new team addition as a set of relationships with your existing team members, rather than just an individual, you can prepare for that level of management.

Once you understand this formula, you can then employ the strategies that we teach to manage complexity that comes with growth.

That means looking at induction strategies (like knowing the best day to start a new hire) and maintaining team management systems (such as not being a “got a minute boss” and setting up a strong company culture), which ensure that your new team hires can slide into place with minimum fuss and maximum satisfaction and productivity.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to talk about today is the silent complexity that exists in your business. Now, when I’m working with my business clients and their business is doing well, it’s growing invariably, and they end up extending their team size because they need more capacity. Now at that point, of course they are focusing on the size of the team, whether it’s gone one and a half, two times, three times, but what really reminds them most of the time is that it’s not just that number of team members. It’s that there is another factor which is silent, which is there in background, but very critical one. And that straight away gives sense of complexity to our clients and therefore how could they best preempt those issues in the future and how to deal with those issues to make sure that the culture is right and the team stays absolutely productive at its best level so that they can move forward.

Business Formula

What I wanted to do was to share with you a simple formula and it might be interesting for you to calculate and to use that formula in your business. Now this formula is N squared minus N by 2. The N here will be the number of team members that you have in your business including yourself, and the output of this formula gives you the number of relationships that exist in your business.

For example, if it’s you and just another team member, so N is equal to 2 here. Now let’s put this formula and there is one relationship in the business, make sense right? Now imagine there is this new team member who comes on board because the business is growing and you have not two but three relationships here. Now let’s look at another level. Imagine the team is growing so they’re looking at 25 minus 5 divided by 2 which is 10 relationships in this business and the business is growing even more, in this case it goes to say 19 members so you’re looking at 81 minus 9 divided by 2 and it’s 36 relationships. The point that you need to understand and really focus on is that though from this stage to this stage it feels that the team has gone 3 times, of course it is right? From 3 to 9, but then if you look at the numbers of the relationships they have jump from 3 to 36 which is 12 times. Can you imagine the level of the complexity? Can you imagine the issue that can occur in this business if one is not aware of that?

And that’s what I wanted to convey that if you are facing this level of complexity because of the way your business is performing or something that you want even to get better. Then please feel free to reach out because if you don’t deal with this it has a potential to sabotaging your business growth and its potential.

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Stop Adding Value

One of my coaching clients was visibly upset at our coaching session recently. He was having an issue with how his team didn’t seem to be responding well to his feedback. They didn’t seem invested in what they were doing and were not giving 100% to their job.

We did some quick roleplays to find out how he was delivering feedback to his team members. In one scenario the team member’s work wasn’t very good, in another it was ok, and in the final one it was very good.

What these roleplays revealed was a big learning for this client and I thought I would share it with you…

In the end it is important to remember that people do not work hard because of you or your leadership. They work hard because they strive for what success means to them – and that often involves ownership over their work, and pride in their achievements.

So let them shine, and give them value by not adding value to their tasks.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

I’ve just come out of my coaching session by the client and a very interesting one, so I thought I’ll straightaway share some learnings from that.

The Problem With His Team Members

Now I’m sitting down with the director of the company and he clearly looks upset. And he’s like, Shweta, I’m so tired of, you know, giving feedback to my team members and it seems that there is no attention to detail, and you know they’re not really passionate about the work that they’re doing. In fact, it feels that they don’t have the sense of ownership of what they’re doing. And what do I do, I just don’t understand. I’m trying to help them, but it’s just not making sense. So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this.

So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this. Let’s, in fact have a roleplay, or some roleplays, and tell me how you go about those meetings.

Team Management Roleplays Revealed The Answer

So we did some quick roleplays. Okay. In which maybe my work was not that good in one roleplay it was okay. And the other roleplay was pretty good. And I saw and experienced how my client was going about that discussion. And on reflection, I said there is one thing you need to become better at. Which is stop adding value.

You can imagine to that comment he was like “What do you mean? I’m the director of the business. You know I’m the line manager they expect me to add value, what do you mean don’t add value?”

What Do You Mean Don’t Add Value?

And I was like, yeah, no actually it makes sense for you to not always add value. Because think about it like this. Once it becomes a habit that whatever the level of work is, if you are feeling the pressure of adding value just because you are the managing director or the line manager. It’s like the habit formation for the team, that I can never please this person, every time I’ll go to that person will actually add value or make changes or make additions.

And by the time they leave the room it’s no more their work. It’s your version of the work. Think about the ownership. What happens to that level of ownership? It just goes down with every point that you make. Every new suggestion that you’re adding in that document.

The Highest Compliment You Can Give to a Team Member

So the question that I really want you to reflect on is, say you say, do I really need to add value in all the scenarios? When is it best to add value which will give you that incremental upside? And when is it really good to say, “Well done. I can’t think of anything else. This looks good, go back and focus on implementation and obviously keep me updated.”

Now that is the highest form of complement a team member can get from you when you say “No, I don’t want to add any value. It just looks really good. You’ve done a good job there.”

Think about the sense of ownership. Think about what they would want to do next time. They want to have another scenario next time, similar scenario where you’re not able to add any value or you don’t feel the need to add any value.

But the main point is just because you’re the business owner doesn’t mean that you have to keep on adding value. Sometimes, you know, the best way to add value is not to add any value.

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3 Key Attributes of Questions Good Leaders Ask

In the last video blog post, I talked about what kind of questions generally results in excuses from your team members.

Today, I am going over how to make the questions that you ask even more effective. If you want your team to progress and get things done, then keep these 3 key attributes in mind…

This is an example of the tweaks to thinking and actions that I advise my clients on regularly. The result? An even better team and an even greater performing business.

If you keep these three features in mind whenever you sit down to talk to or question your team members about something, I can assure you that you will not only find your team performing to an even greater level than they have before, but you will also maintain a closer and more honest working relationship with them.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi, this is Shweta from London Coaching Group.  

In the last blog, I talked about what is that one type of question that you should never be asking as a business owner. That is, the questions starting with “Why”. This is because, as we discussed, as soon as you ask someone, “Why didn’t you do this?” or “Why didn’t you finish your homework?” generally speaking, people come back with excuses.

Today, what I wanted to share with you is, what are the 3 key attributes to keep in mind when you are asking questions, and when you are actually trying to help your team to make that progress.

In fact, I want you to write them down because they are quite fundamental, and they are very powerful. I want you to become very aware of these 3 attributes. Whenever you are in a situation where you want a team member to do something, make sure that your questioning has got these 3 fundamental attributes.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Forward Moving

Ok, so the first one is, your question should be forward moving. That’s really important.

Whatever you ask should help the team member to think of the present and think of the future, rather than anchoring that question in the past and kind of doing a post-mortem. It doesn’t really help anyone.

So these are questions like, “What do we need to do now so we can finish this in the right time frame?” or “How would you go about completing this task now?”

These are all the questions that are forward moving.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Enough Detail

The second thing is that as you’re building on this questioning, make sure there’s enough detail.

When people start sharing those details with you, they are clarifying their own thoughts, and you also come on the same page as theirs, making sure they are capable and very clear of doing that task.

How to Ask Your Team Questions: Timeline It 

The final attribute is that for every task that you set or you want your team member to do, there should be a timeline. Because remember one thing, if there is no timeline, then there is no clear accountability.

It becomes difficult for you to go back and do your follow up. Or for the team to know what you are expecting. Because as a good business owner, as a good manager, your main task is to make sure that the team is clear, and they are super clear and they are being held accountable as to what needs to be done. Because that’s absolutely essential for a top performing team and a top performing business.

Want more shifts for greater growth?

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How To Stop Getting Excuses From Your Team

At the latest Strategic Growth Intensive one of my clients asked me a question about managing the activities of his team members. He said, “Whenever I ask my underperforming team members a question, they come back with excuses or ‘reasons’. What do I do?”

I asked him, “What do you ask them when they come up with these excuses?”

In answering my question, he learned why he was getting excuses from his team…

When you ask “why”, generally you are asking for your team members to give you an excuse or reason.

When you ask the right sort of questions, ones that are set in the future or the present, you push your team members to think in the future or present rather than get stuck in explaining the past.

That way you can encourage your team to keep progressing and get results rather than keeping your business back by constantly going over reasons.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Show Transcript »

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. What I want to talk about today is one question that you should not be asking if you’re the business owner and the manager of your team.

In my full day event, which is called the Business Growth Intensive, one of my clients, Julian, asked me a question. He said, “Shweta whenever I ask my team a question, they generally come back with excuses or reasons. What do I do?”

So I said, “Julian, what do you generally ask them, to which they respond with excuses?”

“Shweta I ask, why have you not done this? Or why have you not submitted this in time?”

“Julian stop.” Literally, that’s what I said. “Julian stop.” The question that Julian was asking was wrong. He was asking a question starting with ‘why’.

Now I want you to think about it – when you ask a child, “Why have you not done your homework?” or even you ask your team, “Why have you not done what I asked you to do?” generally speaking the response will be full of excuses or reasons.

Now you want to anchor your questions more in the future or present rather than past. This is a very important distinction that I want you to make. Because as the owner, as the manager of the team, it is important that you get your team moving forward.

And therefore the questions like,

“So what needs to happen for us to get this job done?”

“How would you go about completing this task now?”

These are all forward moving rather than doing a post mortem and asking why didn’t you do this?

So knowing what questions to ask can make a huge difference with yourself, with your team, and obviously in your business.

I hope that helps because just increasing awareness is a starting point.

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The 3 Cs of Credibility

One of my clients, Chris, posed an interesting question at his session recently. He asked me, “How do I know I am credible as a leader to my team?”

This is something that is important to a lot of business owners, as credibility and earning trust is a major factor in effectively managing your team.

So I shared a model with Chris, and as I thought it would be something good to share with you too…

So how did you rate yourself on these three variables? What element do you need to focus on and become even better and even stronger in?

Share your own insights in the comments below.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

The Question of Credibility in a Coaching Session

Hi this is Shweta from London Coaching Group. I have just come out of a session with my client, a coaching session, and there was a very interesting question which was posed by Chris.

He asked me saying, “Shweta, what is credibility? It’s like, how do I know that I am credible, as a manager, as a leader, to my team?”

And that’s a very interesting question if you think about it because I’m sure when you are working with your team members, or when you’re working with your prospects, or clients, credibility is a very important factor to you.

So I shared with him, with Chris, this model and I wanted to share it with you as well because I’m sure you will find it very interesting and thought-provoking hopefully, because that’s the intention. 

The Venn Diagram of Credibility

Alright, so let’s have a look. This is what I did, ok? So it’s a Venn diagram. Now this is the credibility point, right? This is the credibility hotspot. There are 3 Cs which are required for a person to have high credibility.

Character 

The first C, the first bit that is required, is called Character. Super essential, because the team is watching you, your clients are watching you, your prospects are watching you and this is the must. This is the foundation.

Competence & Connection

The next C element which is really important is Competence. And then the final element, which again leads to credibility, is called Connection. When one has high Character, high Competence, and a high Connection, that’s where high credibility happens.

What I Want You To Think Through

Now the question is, and this is what I want you to think through, the question is what happens when a leader or a business owner has a high Character but lacks Competence and Connection?

And what happens when a person is very Competent, but the Character is not very strong and the Connection, the engagement, the level of relatedness where the people is concerned is not very high.

And similarly, when someone is big on Connection, a big people person, but not very competent or the character is not at the right level, then what are the implications of that?

And I want you to reflect on it, think it through, and I’m sure if you look at your full team, right, just the entire team, and you try to plot your team members on this model, you will be really amazed with how you will see different people staying in different areas, and it will give you a good insight as to who needs to improve on what.

Rate YOURSELF – What’s Your Credibility?

But most importantly I would love it if you could rate yourself on these 3 variables and saying which is the element where you need to become even better, even stronger to become a really better manager or leader for your team and a great business owner for your prospects and clients.

So speak to you soon.

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Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

Do you remember the last time you made a really big mistake?

If not, then well done for not making any mistakes! Unfortunately, most of us have made mistakes, and will continue to do so, because most human beings operate that way – especially business owners who want learn and grow fast.

But the more important thing is – did you apologise to someone? If you did, did you also ensure that that apology was the most useful and beneficial apology for both yourself and the person you were apologising to?

Let me share with you a learning I gained from my business coach about the best way to make an apology after you have made a mistake – which applies whether you are apologising to a business partner, a team member, a spouse or a friend.

Do you remember a particular apology you have made which moved everyone forward in the best way? Inspire others by sharing your story in the comments below.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi this is Shweta from The London Coaching Group. Let me ask you a question, have you ever made a mistake? Because once I made a mistake, I was having a conversation with my business coach, so let me actually tell you what happened.

So there we are, in our coaching session and my coach was holding me accountable and I made a mistake and I said “Listen, I’m sorry but…”

“Shweta let me just stop you, let me just stop you at that word ‘but’. Let me ask you a question, do you agree that you could have done better? And you made a mistake here?”

“Yes Coach.”

“So let me coach you on what is the best way to make an apology.”

“What do you mean Coach? What’s the best way to make an apology? I said sorry.”

“No let me actually tell you how to apologise. Because you will have many of those occasions in your life. The best way to apologise is to say ‘I’m sorry, and I’ll do better next time.’”

And that life lesson has stayed with me forever, and I try to teach that to my clients, to my kid, and to myself most importantly. Because growing the business, moving the business forward and becoming even better is full of failures, is full of mistakes. But when that occasion happens, one needs to know how to apologise in the right way.

Because you want to communicate to the outside world, and most importantly to yourself about your own intentions.

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